Rural round-up

07/07/2020

Govt accused of ‘greenwashing’ over failure to use Kiwi wool in public buildings – James Fyfe:

Pressure in the farming sector is growing for New Zealand wool products to be used in public-funded buildings and KiwiBuild homes.

Last week Otago farmer Amy Blaikie launched a petition demanding action on the issue, with thousands of people already adding their signatures. 

Wool prices are currently at a record low, with the costs of shearing the wool being higher than what farmers earn by selling it. Blaikie says the situation is “disheartening”.

“If nothing is done to help, inspire or spur the wool industry then the future looks bleak,” Blaikie told Newshub. . . 

Farming in a fishbowl – Sonita Chandar:

Just a 10-minute drive from Auckland’s bustling Queen Street lies a farm where our future farmers are being taught. Sonita Chandar reports.

It’s not easy being a farmer at the best of times but when you are surrounded by townies who just have to look over their back fences to see what you’re up to it is even more important to get it right.

Peter Brice is the farm manager at the ASB Mt Albert Grammar School (MAGS) Farm in the middle of Auckland city. 

Its 8.1 hectares milks fewer than 10 cows, has seven chickens, 21 Suffolk ewes, a Gold kiwifruit orchard and a native tree nursery. . . 

Small dams floated after scrapped Ruataniwha project – Anusha Bradley:

Potential locations for several small dams are being investigated by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

The decision was made by the council’s environment committee today and was being hailed as an important step in securing a long-term supply of fresh water for the drought-prone region.

“Water security is critical to the social, economic and environmental future of the region,” Regional Council Chair Rex Graham said.

“We want to take the ambitious approach and accelerate this work to future proof our water supply in Heretaunga. This will allow for cities and businesses to grow, despite the challenges of climate change,” he said. . . 

New recruits learn to drive tractors after losing jobs in pandemic– John McKenzie:

Four very large wheels, a ton of horsepower and a new career on the farm.

Run at Telford in South Otago, 120 people have signed up for the six-week course.

Most of them recently lost their jobs as airline pilots, jet boat operators, vets, pharmacists and tour guides among others. . .

Finishing line in sight for Extension 350 farmers:

Northland Inc’s award-winning Extension 350 celebrated a significant milestone this week as the project’s first three clusters approached the completion of their three-year journey of change, development, and opportunity.

Farmer-led and farmer-focused, Extension 350 (E350) kicked off in 2016 with the intention of getting a total of 350 farmers involved across Northland over a five-year programme.

The initiative aims to assist farmers in achieving their goals and objectives – profitability, environmental sustainability and wellbeing – through rigorous analysis and benchmarking, the sharing of information with their peers, and regular input from mentors, consultants and the E350 project team.

“The finishing line is now in sight for those first 15 farms and their journeys are almost done,” said Luke Beehre, Project Lead for E350. “The programme is all about providing a network for farmers, a place to share their stories and experiences, and to enable positive things to happen in their businesses and their home lives. . . 

 

Legalising marijuana- environmental negatives?:

There are many groups within NZ including the Green Party that are calling for the legalisation of marijuana for personal/medicinal use and my question for them is: – How can they reconcile that stand with the negative environmental effects from cannabis cultivation?

No matter where you sit on its legalization, growing marijuana affects our environment and that can be in a negative way.

Growing marijuana indoors requires copious electricity through the use of high-intensity lamps, air conditioners, dehumidifiers and much more. In order to grow it outside, streams become sponges, being sucked dry as seen in the outdoor grow-ops in California. . . 


Rural round-up

25/01/2020

Innovation for the future – Samantha Tennent:

When the call of the land became too strong Mat Hocken answered by swapping his business suit for overalls and gumboots to champion the agricultural sector and agricultural innovation. Samantha Tennent reports.

Manawatu farmer and Nuffield Scholar Mat Hocken believes innovation will help the agricultural sector unlock some of the issues and concerns it faces.

So when he received a Nuffield Scholarship in 2017 he chose agri-innovation as his research project.

The scholarship is a prestigious rural leadership programme with a global focus, designed to fast-track the development of emerging leaders in the agri-food sector. Each year up to five scholarships are awarded to people who are expected to assume positions of greater influence in their field in the future. . . 

Scientist says methane from farming should be treated differently to CO2 – Kevin O’Sullivan:

It does not make sense that Ireland is regarded as producing more greenhouse gases than Los Angeles, a city of 13 million people, a US scientist has told a conference on climate action in agriculture.

Prof Frank Mitloehner from the University of California, Davis, told the Irish Farmers’ Association event in Dublin that the case for methane arising from farming being treated differently to long-lived greenhouse gases, such as CO2, was undeniable.

He said that methane, the main greenhouse gas in livestock production, only lasts in the atmosphere for 10 years, whereas CO2 persists for up to 1,000 years, he said. Methane was short-lived but carbon from fossil fuels was “a one-way street” to rising emissions. . .

Central Otago farmer comes up with simple idea to help firefighters in an emergency – John McKenzie:

It’s a simple idea that could save both lives and property across Central Otago.

Otago farmer and regional councillor Gary Kelliher has started fitting fire hose fittings to his farms irrigation scheme, in hopes other farmers will follow suit.

“My goal is right across certainly Otago, but even further afield across New Zealand where it’s dry and where we have irrigation schemes,” he said.

The fittings are quick and easy to install, costing just a few hundred dollars. . . 

Marlborough dairy farmer fears logging operation will destroy property – Tracy Neal:

A recently widowed Marlborough dairy farmer says a logging operation that has sprung up on a neighbouring property is likely to destroy her farm.

Lone Sorensen, who farms in a valley between Havelock and Blenheim, is enraged that a paper road through her property could become a major transport route for trucks and heavy vehicles.

The Marlborough District Council said it was doing what it could to smooth the pathway for all. . . 

Valley of the Whales –  Bill Morris:

The North Otago limestone country holds one of the world’s most important fossil cetacean records, a coherent story of how whales and dolphins evolved in the Southern Ocean. It’s a story that one small rural community has embraced as its own.

BURNS POLLOCK AND I stand in the Valley of the Whales, a deep gulch cut by the Awamoko Stream through the North Otago limestone. Formed on the floor of an ancient sea, this terrain is now far from the ocean, its thin skin of agriculture desiccated by drought.

I’ve often been fascinated by the dramatic contours when travelling through this valley. But it also holds narratives, bound into the cliffs and sculpted recesses—Waitaha rock art hundreds of years old, and the story of evolution embodied in the stone itself. I’ve brought Pollock here because I want to see the place through the eyes of someone who knows it as well as he does. He grew up in this district and has farmed here all his life. He is also a noted artist and his work—sere vistas cradling broken fragments of human endeavour—is unmistakably rooted in this landscape. . . 

Eight young Fruit Growers vie for title

• Emily Crum, Orchard Manager, Total Orchard Management Services, Whangarei
• Bryce Morrison, Technical Services and Innovation, Fruition, Tauranga
• Aurora McGee-Thomas, Trainee Orchard Manager, Strathmurray Farms, Tauranga
• Melissa van den Heuvel, Industry Systems Associate, NZ Avocado, Tauranga
• Katherine Bell, Avocado Grower Representative, Trevelyans, Katikati
• Megan Fox, Orchard Technical Advisor, Southern Cross Horticulture, Tauranga
• William Milsom, Machinery Operations Manager, Oropi Management Services, Oropi
• Harry Singh, Orchard Manager, Prospa Total Orchard Management, Opotiki . . 


Rural round-up

26/11/2019

Security for Otago farmers unclear amid water plans – Jono Edwards:

Some Otago farmers could be left with “unbankable” irrigation schemes as the Government recommends an overhaul of the Otago Regional Council’s planning processes.

Environment Minister David Parker yesterday released a raft of recommendations for the council after an investigation into its management of freshwater.

It said the council was not equipped to transfer hundreds of century-old water rights into resource consents by 2021, and regardless it should not do so because they would be processed under its current “inadequate” water plan.

On top of the rewriting of council plans already in progress, it recommended an interim plan change to transfer the permits into consents in the meantime.

They would be for a maximum of five years, which some farmers say is too short to ensure future security. . . 

Food bowl or toilet bowl? – John Jackson:

New Zealand shouldn’t become a ‘toilet bowl’ of trees for other countries’ carbon dioxide commitments, explains John Jackson. 

By the time this is published, a group representing everything good about provincial NZ will have marched on Parliament under the 5New Zealand shouldn’t become a ‘toilet bowl’ of trees for other countries’ carbon dioxide commitments, explains John Jackson. OPINION: By the time this is published, a group representing everything good about provincial NZ will have marched on Parliament under the 50 Shades of Green banner. I’ve never had much interest in trees. I have always enjoyed their ‘fruit’ – whether a physical product I could eat, a picture of might or magnificence in a singular or landscape perspective, or simply shade or shelter. banner.

I’ve never had much interest in trees. I have always enjoyed their ‘fruit’ – whether a physical product I could eat, a picture of might or magnificence in a singular or landscape perspective, or simply shade or shelter. . .

 

No slacking for M Bovis effort – Annette Scott:

There’s no time to slacken off over the next year if the , programme is to limit the disease, M bovis governance group chairman Kelvan Smith says.

The M bovis governance group, made up of Ministry for Primary Industries director-general Ray Smith, DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle,  Beef + Lamb chief executive Sam McIvor and independently chaired by Smith, meets monthly to discuss and review the eradication programme.

Smith said the group is focused on strategic planning to ensure the programme builds on progress made to date and continues towards eradication.

“To date the programme has found 207 infected properties, stopping further spread of the disease and clearing the infection from these properties,” he said.  . . 

Beef + Lamb puts money where its mouth is- Nigel Malthus:

A ‘model’ sheep and beef farm in North Canterbury is away and running, its founders say.

The North Canterbury Future Farm, set up by Beef + Lamb NZ in partnership with local famers, has had an “OK” first full year of operation, said the organisers of its 2019 Open Day.

BLNZ’s partner is Lanercost Farming Ltd, formed by the landowner, Julia Whelan, with locals Simon Lee and Carl Forrester. . .

A natural blend of grains firms – Tim Fulton:

Two New Zealand-based, foreign-owned seed companies marked a milestone merger in October.

PGG Wrightson Seeds chief executive John McKenzie has seen a good number of mergers and acquisitions over 45 years in the grain and seed trade.

Some deals went well and good and others were distinctly disappointing. The lastest was a natural blend, he said.

The sale of PGG Wrightson’s former grain and seed division has put McKenzie in charge of an Oceania business unit in a global business, DLF Seeds. . .

Pet day a national school tradition :

Dogs of every shape and size, miniature ponies, cats, lambs and guinea pigs put aside their differences and got together for Fairton School’s annual pet day last week.

Fairton School principal Mike Hill said, ”We are a little country school and pet days are a national tradition, and a lot of fun.”

The majority of the pupils had pets at home, so it was good to recognise the way they cared for their animals, he said.

It was also a great chance for parents, and visiting preschoolers from Stepping Stones @ Braebrook, to come to the school and be involved. . . 


Rural round-up

14/04/2018

The Polsons breed the best through artificial insemination at Mangamahu – Iain Hyndman:

The sheep industry is a constantly moving feast and Donald and Liz Polson have entered a joint venture with Focus Genetics in an attempt to stay ahead of the game.

The innovative Whanganui farmers joined with the 100 percent-owned Landcorp company to carry out an AI (artificial insemination) programme to improve the performance of their elite commercial Waipuna flock.

The composite breed was created from an original base using Romney, Finn and Texel stock on the Mangamahu hill country farm. . . 

Company faces up after swede  mix up – Nicole Sharp:

Compensation will be paid to farmers who are tied up in the PGG Wrightson swede mix up.

At the end of February, after the bulbs of swedes started appearing, the company learned 556 farmers were sold HT-S57 white-fleshed swedes after paying for a new seed variety, Hawkestone yellow-fleshed Cleancrop swede.

The HT-S57 swede had been discontinued last year.

At a public meeting in Gore last week, organised by Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker with support of industry bodies Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ, PGG Wrightson seed and grain group general manager John McKenzie, PGG Wrightson Seeds New Zealand general manager David Green faced farmers. . .

Happiness comes before success – Pam Tipa:

The dairy industry has been successful, now it needs to be happy, says 2018 Dairy Woman of the Year Loshni Manikam.

And the former lawyer and human behaviour and leadership expert hopes a profile of the prestigious Dairy Womens Network national award will enable her to help get that conversation started.

The industry needs to shift from only one way of measuring success,” she told Dairy News.

“At the moment the one way of measuring success is financial success. Having that culture that measures our success purely on financial success or failure is a big contributor to the increasing rates of depression and suicide that we have. . .

Gore sheep farmers win Otago Ballance Farm Environemnt Awards:

A love of family, farming and the land has seen the successful succession of Waipahi sheep farm from Ross and Alexa Wallace to their son Logan… and also helped the family win the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Their win was announced at a dinner at the Lake Wanaka Centre, Wanaka, on Thursday night (April 13).

The judges said the Wallace family was a supportive, close family unit with clear vision, great goal setting and financial discipline. “They have incredible enthusiasm and a passion to learn – taking on ideas, good use of external advice and analysing data for the best outcomes. They have a strong environmental focus; land and environment plan, nutrient budgeting, wetland construction, retention of biodiversity and water quality emphasis, as well as an outstanding commitment to community and industry.” . . 

Time to stengthen up your balance sheet as farming economy looks to be cooling – Pita Alexander:

The bottom line in any farm business is that our net farm profit needs to be at least 50 per cent higher than personal drawings.

Anything less than this and over time we will end up knowing our bank manager’s cell phone number off by heart, which is a bad sign. It would be much better to curb our spending.

There are other worrying signs that should have us thinking hard of the consequences.

Personally, I don’t like the feel of the whole palm kernel issue. There is a real risk, I feel, with the amount involved in New Zealand farming and the certification process and in particular the potential impact on our border security. The problem really is that it may take several seasons to replace this feed gap with other options such as fodder beet, maize, management and working capital. It is our fault though for letting the issue develop to its present state. What is the biggest single risk for us and the government? It must be border security because we are so dependent on our exports. . .

Birds call out 1080 silent forest claim:

The use of 1080 for pest control is supported by a range of conservation and farming organisations, but opponents claim forests fall silent when the poison is dropped, saying this is evidence of harm to native bird communities.

To investigate, Roald Bomans used bioacoustics to listen to the sound of native bird species in the Aorangi Ranges in June and the Rimutakas in July.

Bomans, a Victoria University Masters student, set up recording units in the forests five weeks before and after the 1080 aerial drops.

In the Aorangi area, there was no increase in the periods the forest was silent, and in the Rimutakas there was more birdsong after the toxin drop than before. . .

Rookie title last thing on bullrider’s mind – Nicole Sharp:

Ask 23-year-old Matt Adams why he started bull riding.
”I’ve always been in to adrenaline sports,” is the reply.

But when he started bull riding last rodeo season, it was purely for the adrenaline and he never thought only two years down the track he would be crowned the 2017-18 New Zealand Rodeo Cowboy Association National Rookie Bull Riding champion.

Starting bull riding last season (2016-2017), it was a homecoming of sorts for Mr Adams, as he had wanted to compete for a few years. . .


Good science and good farming at Grasslands conference

24/11/2010

An International Grasslands Conference in Ireland five years ago convinced opened my farmer’s eyes to New Zealand’s natural advantages – the climate and soils which help us grow good pasture.

It also confirmed the already positive view he had of Grasslands Association as an organisation.

Farmers tend to be good adopters of science because it’s generally easy to apply findings and measure the benefits. Grasslands’ conferences brings together scientists and farmers for their mutual benefit.

At the conference dinner last week I was immediately struck  by the mutual respect scientists and farmers had for each other and the positive atmosphere. It was great to be somewhere where farming is valued, appreciated and celebrated.

A highlight of the dinner was the presentation of the Grasslands Trust Awards.

The Ray Brougham Trophy for an outstanding national contribution to the New Zealand grassland industry went to John McKenzie, general manager of  Wrightson Seeds.

The Regional Award for exceptional effort above and beyond the normal career contribution that supports the regional pastoral agricultural industry, be it technology development or an aspect of farming itself, went to Andy Macfarlane. He runs his own consulting firm, Macfarlane Rural Business, among many other contributions to farming.

The Farming Awards are given in recognition of  high performance pastoral farming and adoption of new technologies. The criteria includes: 

  • Good grassland farming – an impressive, profitable grassland-based business, run for at least five years on the property.
  • Innovative approach – using the latest grassland technology effectively.
  • Sustainable management – a good degree of sustainability in the enterprise and a strong responsibility for environmental matters.
  • Communication skills – passing on good grassland farming skills to others in the region, and including local community activity.

 These were won by Craig and Ros Mckenzie who farm at Methven, and my farmer.

The certificate says:  The presentation of this honour is a just tribute to outstanding ability and confidence in the potential of NZ’s greatest industry – Grassland Farming.

My farmer is quietly chuffed by  the honour and I’m basking in reflected glory.


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