Rural round-up

February 24, 2020

Dairy farmers must increase risk – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers have to learn to take more risk because staying put is no longer risk-free, independent Cameron Bagrie says.

The pace of change will accelerate not slow and farmers face three to five more years of this grumpy growth, which stems from rising costs and more regulations, he told a DairyNZ farmers forum.

“Stop being so polite and drive the key changes in the things that you can control.” . .

Net zero goal needs new tech – Colin Williscroft:

Agriculture and land use systems will have to be transformed to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, Scottish academic Professor Bob Rees says.

While all sectors of the economy will have to play their part cutting emissions, the likely consequences for agriculture are stark, the keynote speaker at the Farmed Landscapes Research Centre workshop said.

Rees, an agriculture and climate change expert at Scotland Rural College, said emissions from the sector urgently need to be reduced but costs and inertia are significant barriers. . .

Cavalcades bosses keep coming back – Sally Rae:

When Chris Bayne and Sandra Cain drive around the Otago hinterland, they know what lies behind the hills.

For they have been there, among the tussocks, during their combined involvement of more than 50 years with the Otago Goldfields Cavalcade.

The two trail bosses are preparing to head off on this year’s event, which will see hundreds of riders, wagoners, walkers and cyclists arrive in Patearoa next Saturday.

Mrs Bayne’s light wagon and riding trail will meet today at Ardgour, near Tarras, while Mrs Cain’s walking trail will start on Wednesday from Ida Valley Station. . .

Winemaking need not drain reservoirs– Mark Price:

Robin Dicey cannot quite turn water into wine, but he is turning grapes into wine without water. The Bannockburn wine industry pioneer tells reporter Mark Price about his recent vino experiments.

Imagine  growing grape vines in Central Otago without pumping millions of litres of water to them through millions of metres of plastic pipe.

Without an irrigation system, surely they would wither and die in the heat of a Central summer.

Retired Bannockburn wine industry pioneer Robin Dicey is not so sure they would, and has begun an experiment to test that theory. . .

New regional leader award:

A new Regional Leader of the Year Award has been established by Dairy Women’s Network.

Chief executive Jules Benton says more than 70 volunteer regional leaders provide an important point of contact for farmers and play key role in their communities through to organising, hosting and promoting regional events.

They are the face of the network while also in some cases are running million dollar businesses. . .

Farmer confidence plummets amid Brexit and bad weather:

Continued weather conditions and Brexit uncertainty has led to a significant drop in farmer confidence, new figures suggest.

Political unpredictability surrounding the terms of the UK’s post-transition period and the recent flooding is taking its toll on industry confidence.

Results from the latest NFU survey of farmers across the UK shows that short-term (one year) confidence has reduced further from last year, dropping 11 points, to its 3rd lowest level since the survey began in 2010. . .


Rural round-up

February 22, 2020

Workshops to build strong work places – Annette Scott:

Free workshops on building great workplaces are rolling out around the country this week.

The workshops, facilitated by the Dairy Women’s Network, are structured to help build great workplaces on dairy farms.    

Chief executive Jules Benton said the interactive workshops understand how valuable it is for dairy farmers, their teams and their communities to flourish in a positive, supportive environment. . . 

Kiwis hit home at agritech expo – Richard Rennie:

One of the agritech sector’s international leading lights in venture financing has given New Zealand an unequivocal thumbs-up for its ability to punch above its weight in the competitive global scene.

Addressing delegates at the EvokeAg agritech expo in Melbourne, Silicon Valley investment and tech firm SVG Ventures founder John Harnett said he is seeing more NZ agritech start-ups meeting farmers on the ground and integrating well with them to find solutions to their problems.

He also urged Australian counterparts to move further afield in the way NZ, Israel and Irish agritech entrepreneurs have done. . . 

Aussie farmer’s heartfelt message for drought-stricken Kiwis :

A photo shared on The Country’s Facebook page showing severe drought in the Waikato region has struck a chord with one Australian farmer.

After seeing NIWA weather forecaster Chris Brandolino’s post, which featured Sarah Fraser’s sobering image of parched fields, Cindy Bruce left a heartfelt message of support for her Kiwi counterparts.

Bruce, who runs a beef and wheat farm in Central inland Queensland, said the drought had so far cost her over $100k in feed and lost cows and calves, along with a failed wheat crop “which ironically, provided feed for the cows in October”. . . 

Drought’s mixed effects on sectors :

Prolonged dry weather will have mixed effects on commodity prices, says ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny.

For dairy, the drought will put upward pressure on prices as milk production will fall.

“Currently, we forecast 2019-20 production to be flat on 2018-19, but we are reviewing this forecast next week,” says Penny.

Meat changes coming – report – Pam Tipa:

New ideas of what equates to ‘premium’ in red meat are expected to change significantly in coming years, according to a new report from Beef+Lamb (B+LNZ). The traditional characteristics of premium today are marbling and exotic provenance such as Japanese Wagyu, which has been stable for some time.

So says the report called ‘Shaping the future of New Zealand’s Red Meat Sector’ released late last year.

Consumption of acorns by finishing Iberian pigs and their function in the conservation of the Dehesa agroecosystem – Vicente Rodríguez-Estévez*,
Manuel Sánchez-Rodríguez, Cristina Arce, Antón R. García, José M. Perea and A. Gustavo Gómez-Castro :

1. Introduction
The dehesa is an ancient agrosilvopastoral system created by farmers to raise livestock, mainly on private lands. This system is highly appreciated by society and enjoys legal
protection of the authorities because it is rich in biodiversity, a home to critically endangered species (Iberian lynx, imperial eagle and black vulture); a significant carbon
sink; ethnologically and anthropologically valuable (culture and traditions); and is known for its scenic value. The dehesa also underpins rural development and is valuable for, inter
alia, ecotourism and rural tourism; hunting and shooting; fire prevention; wood and charcoal; and for fodder (grass and acorns). However, most of these values do not produce
any benefit to farmers and they do not receive any kind of support from these contributions.

The dehesa is both a resilient and a fragile system; its resilience derives from the perseverance of its operators, and its fragility is its susceptibility to unfavourable economic
factors that influence its profitability (Siebold, 2009). . .


Rural round-up

February 14, 2020

Kiwis import dodgy diets – Richard Rennie:

While New Zealand’s ability to export enough food to feed 40 million people is a rarely challenged source of national pride, research questions whether enough is being done to properly feed the five million at home. Richard Rennie spoke to Elaine Rush, emeritus professor of Auckland University of Technology’s health and nutrition department about the disparity between high quality food exports and the ailing diets of the local population.

Elaine Rush’s paper on New Zealand food exports and imports in relation to dietary guidelines is grounded in her growing concern over this country’s poor eating habits, something the number crunching in her work confirmed.

“It seems when I was growing up in the 50s in South Auckland butter was two shillings a pound, everyone had a veggie garden, diets were simpler but adequate and the level of malnourishment we see as obesity today, it just was not there.” . . 

Building great workplaces aim of Dairy Women’s workshops:

Helping build great workplaces for New Zealand’s most talented workforce is the aim of workshops being run throughout New Zealand by the Dairy Women’s Network.

“We are proud to deliver these interactive Supporting you and your team to thrive workshops aimed at understanding how valuable it is that dairy farmers, their teams and their communities can flourish in a positive, supportive environment,” Dairy Women’s Network CEO Jules Benton said.

“Having great workplaces and talented people is fundamental to the success of any business, so these workshops will focus on understanding why a culture of wellbeing is important, getting familiar with your own values and what really motivates you, understand the well-being bank account model and being aware of how to optimise team performance.” . . 

Former Nelson dairy farm hopping into a new life :

A 175HA dairy farm in Kohatu, Tapawera, 52km west of Nelson, sold in October 2018 for conversion to a hop garden, is another example of change in land use driving sales of rural property.

Joe Blakiston of PGG Wrightson Real Estate, Marlborough marketed the property, which was purchased by primary production investor MyFarm. He says the farm’s owner first approached PGG Wrightson in April to market the property.

“They were aware of developments around hops and knew the farm was suited to growing them, though were in no hurry to sell.  Because the hop industry hasn’t many big players we discreetly marketed it to reach each one,” Blakiston said. .

Kiwi’s deserve better pork; Kiwi farmers need better support:

Kiwi consumers will be left confused, and Kiwi pork farmers will continue to fight for space alongside imported pork if the Country of Origin labelling rules go ahead as proposed.

The Government is currently consulting on the Consumer Information Standards (Origin of Food) Regulations 2019 – following new laws passed in late 2018 which demanded clarity for consumers purchasing products like bacon and ham. Under the proposed application of the law, sausages are left out, and labelling requirements could still be used by manufacturers to confuse consumers. . .

Haast grazing licence granted, but with tight conditions:

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has approved an application to continue grazing an area of the Haast River, provided strict conditions are met.

The application from John B Cowan is to graze 736 hectares of public conservation land along the Haast River, located between the Roaring Billy and the confluence of the Landsborough River.

DOC’s Deputy Director General Partnerships, Dr Kay Booth, who made the decision, says the grazing licence has been approved subject to a number of special conditions to manage the impact of cattle on vegetation and the environment. . .

Dog sleuths sniff out crop disease hitting citrus trees– Christina Larson:

Dog detectives might be able to help save ailing citrus groves, research published Monday suggests.

Scientists trained dogs to sniff out a crop disease called citrus greening that has hit orange, lemon and grapefruit orchards in Florida, California and Texas. The dogs can detect it weeks to years before it shows up on tree leaves and roots, the researchers report.

“This technology is thousands of years old – the dog’s nose,” said Timothy Gottwald, a researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a co-author of the study. “We’ve just trained dogs to hunt new prey: the bacteria that causes a very damaging crop disease.” . .


Rural round-up

December 19, 2019

The good, the bad, and the ugly – 2019 in review:

As we approach another year’s end we again highlight our annual review of 2019 in the primary sector as seen by Rural News’ editorial team.

THE GOOD

Good messaging award: Dairy Women’s Network’s new chief executive Jules Benton for her clear, confident and articulate communication of the network’s aims and aspirations, but in a real and down-to-earth manner.

Celebrating success: A lot of excellent events and conferences this year with a focus on celebrating the success of old and young people. The Massey Ag students’ dinner is a great example of this where some very smart future leaders come to the fore. The same for the Ahuwhenua Awards where Maori agri success is also celebrated in style. Feds, HortNZ and the dairy industry and others all did their bit to show NZ that the ag sector is well placed for the future.  . .

Phosphate vital, industry says – Brent Melville:

With the recent spotlight on importation of phosphate sourced in the Western Sahara into New Zealand, Brent Melville takes a closer look at the phosphate issue and why we rely on it for our food production.

Blocking  the importation of phosphate into New Zealand could have a $10 billion knock-on effect into the country’s food production and export sector, the fertiliser industry says.

The industry, dominated by the farmer co-operative duopoly of Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients, said without access to phosphate rock, rural production would fall by “at least” 50%.

Phosphate rock is the key ingredient in the country’s production of superphosphate, used primarily as a nutrient by sheep and beef and dairy farmers to boost phosphorus and sulphur levels in the soil. . . 

Land champion: it’s hard to find time to retire – Annette Scott:

Federated Farmers high country champion Bob Douglas has contributed to the smooth running of South Island high country farming businesses for 25 years but next year his visits to the back of beyond will be as a tourist. He talked to Annette Scott about his high country office.

Endless dedication to Federated Farmers high country business will come to an end for Bob Douglas in the next few weeks.

By the end of January the South Canterbury Feds stalwart will be waking each morning to a new life.

“And it will be one that will now mean when I go to the high country it will be as a tourist,” Bob said. . . 

Migrant workers worth the effort :

Waikato farmer and Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says employing migrant workers isn’t always easy but is worth the investment.

Experience has shown me what works best. I could talk about this for hours but I will summarise some of the lessons here.

Employing migrants is not the cheap option for New Zealand dairy farmers. In fact, generally, it will cost you more but it is worth it in the long run.

Firstly, you might need some professional help dealing with Immigration NZ once you’ve found a migrant worker to employ. That will generally cost you $1600-$2000. Visa fees cost about $500 . . 

Routine border checks detect unwanted fruit disease:

Biosecurity New Zealand has suspended fresh melon imports from Queensland following a border detection of an unwanted fruit disease.

Biosecurity New Zealand detected cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) following routine border testing on Friday of a consignment of watermelons from Queensland Australia, says Peter Thomson, Biosecurity New Zealand’s plants and pathways director.

CGMMV does not pose a risk to human health. It affects cucurbit fruit, including watermelon, cucumber, honeydew melon, rock melon, scallopini, zucchini, and pumpkin. . . 

EPA’s Annual Report on aerial use of 1080 released:

The 2018 report on the aerial use of 1080 for pest control provides greater detail than previous years, giving more information on operations and research.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Annual Report on the aerial use of 1080 during 2018 shows a near halving of activity compared with the previous year, in terms of both the number of operations and total area treated.

There were 29 operations covering 441,000 hectares of land, compared with 50 operations across 877,000 hectares in 2017. This was due to the Department of Conservation (DOC) using less 1080, as there were no mast events in New Zealand’s forests. Heavy seed fall seasons (known as masts) drive rat populations up, threatening native species. . . 


Rural round-up

December 17, 2019

Ag-Proud founder says rural-urban goodwill already exists – Logan Savory:

Ag-Proud founder John Douglas says they have discovered there is more goodwill, when it comes to New Zealand’s rural and urban folk, than initially thought.

Douglas, along with three others in the Southland farming sector – Jon Pemberton, Jason Herrick, and Jason Checketts – setup Ag-Proud in August.

The point of the organisation was to try to develop some goodwill between those in the rural farming sector and those in the cities. . . 

Making change for the better – Deborah Rhodes:

Farmers are change adaptive, we can make change for the better. When we see a problem we fix it, when something is broken we rebuild it.

Heritage farmers have focused not just on change but improvements for the better, of knowing the challenges and taking them on.

When we see neighbours and locals in need, we wrap around them, when we need labour we provide them with on farm housing because that is what farmers do, and that is what we will keep doing. . .

Expert sees apple varieties blossom and fade over time:

John Wilton starts each day with an apple – and he knows which ones to choose.

John’s been a horticultural consultant for 57 years and was MAF’s national pipfruit and summer fruit specialist for 15 years.

Carol Stiles headed out to an orchard with John to hear about the state of the apple industry and the changes growers have seen.

When John started working on apple orchards in 1962, most of the trees had been planted before WW1. . . 

Gisborne forestry firm fined, council’s lack of action ‘irresponsible’:

A Gisborne forestry company has been fined $152,000 for contributing logging debris that caused millions of dollars of damage during two heavy rainfall events.

Juken New Zealand is one of 10 companies prosecuted by Gisborne District Council after tonnes of debris – known as slash – washed onto farms, roads and waterways in June last year.

In his sentencing notes, Judge Brian Dwyer said Gisborne District Council’s failure to monitor Juken is reprehensible and irresponsible, and it failed to meet its obligations by ensuring the company kept to its consent conditions. . . 

Manawatu strategy wins award :

The Manawatu Agritech Strategy, created by the Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) and Sprout, has won the Best Practice Award for Integrated Planning at Economic Development New Zealand’s annual Wellbeing and Prosperity Awards.

The award was presented at the Economic Development New Zealand delivering inclusive growth conference. Ten organisations were recognised for their outstanding contributions to the wellbeing and prosperity of their communities.

“Having the Manawatu Agritech Strategy recognised for integrated planning is a testament to the leadership, people and organisations in the region who were involved in its creation. This is a win for all of us,” CEDA chief executive Linda Stewart said. . . 

Animal feeding testing upgrade:

New Zealand feed manufacturers are lifting their game when it comes to quality and safety of their products.

New Zealand Feed Manufacturers Association (NZFMA) has introduced a new risk management programme that sees significant upgrades to the auditing and testing conducted by feed manufacturers.

The move comes as more imported non-grain ingredients arrive in the country. . . 

Top women wanted :

A celebration of women who make outstanding contributions to the dairy industry enters its ninth year as nominations for the 2020 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year are now open.

The prestigious award, which celebrates the outstanding leadership of women in the business of dairy, was established in 2012 by the Dairy Women’s Network as a key strand in its support of women in their leadership journeys through providing inspiration, learning and education.

Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Jules Benton said she was inspired by the high calibre of last year’s finalists and is looking forward to see who will be nominated for the 2020 awards. . .


Meet Dairy Women’s Network’s new chair

November 6, 2019

Cathy Brown has stepped down from her role as chair of the Dairy Women’s Network and North Island farmer Karen Forlong has succeeded her.

. . .Dairy Women’s Network CEO Jules Benton said she was looking forward to working more closely with Forlong as “she’s just so passionate about dairy, and in particular women’s role in dairy.”

Benton also paid tribute to the Brown, who has been chair for three years, saying her commitment and support has been invaluable, thanking her for all her efforts and guidance.

“She is not at the front of the bus anymore, but is still on another seat on the bus,” Benton told attendees at last week’s AGM while DairyNZ CEO Dr Tim Mackle said she should be proud of all the network has achieved while she has been its chair.

Farming near Atiamuri, Forlong has been a member since the network was formed in 2000, having experienced various roles that includes conference committee involvement in 2005 and 2012 then becoming Conference Chair in 2014, participation in the Agri-Women’s Development Trust Escalator Program, a leadership and governance programme for women involved in primary industries and rural communities and is Chair of Vetora BoP, a incorporated society vet club with a 75 year history in the Rotorua region.

“I really appreciate what a great privilege it is to find myself in this position now,” she said. “I’m a really inclusive person, and something I’ve learnt from our previous chair Cathy and hold very dear is the fact that the gold is always in the room.”

I see myself as the conductor of a great orchestra, and I’m not actually playing an instrument, I’m just there to bring all of the fabulous components together.”

She says women in dairy can find their sense of belonging and tribe at Dairy Women’s Network. “It was a phone call from Pattie O’Boyle in 2000 asking me to be part of the first meeting of the regional group for Rotorua that gave me a place to land, a tribe, somewhere that was safe and was a place of trust.”

“Dairy Women’s Network realises life is not a series of silo’s but is the complexity of many things coming into balance; family, people, the team, the community, animals, environment and financial wellbeing that are all are reliant on each other.”

“Connection is the cornerstone of a strong culture and our rural communities and Dairy Women’s Network is a connector as it delivers through face-to-face connections and through technology and online engagement.”

“The Dairy Women’s Network as place to land is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago.  That place needs to feel inclusive, that it will stand with you on your journey, support you, bring to the table the truth and separate the noise from the facts and impart clear and concise  .”

She stressed that Dairy Women’s Network needs to grow leaders, to be the enabler and the cheerleader behind the voices of the future, taking on the role as story tellers.

“The industry needs an engaged, full noise voice,” she said.  “One that is consolidated, unified, loud and proud.  We as a Network need to be part of the collaborative approach for our future and as women we are intrinsically wired to function in this state, so we have a responsibility to use this skill and drive it, unrelentingly.”

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Rural round-up

October 2, 2019

Are the water proposals a done-deal? – Mark Daniel:

Big questions have been raised by farmers at an environmental roadshow on the Government’s freshwater proposals.

What’s the difference between a dairy heifer and a beef heifer? It depends. Not a lot if you’re changing from a dairy to a beef operation, as it’s not a problem.

But a change from beef to dairy heifer rearing is demanding and will likely require resource consent as it’s likely to be considered intensification. . . 

Tatua pays $8.50/kgMS for last season’s milk:

Waikato milk processor Tatua has announced a final payout of $8.50/kgMS for last season, beating all other processors including Fonterra.

The co-op, supplied by 107 shareholder farms, achieved record group income of $364 million and earnings of $140 million in 2018-19. Milksolids processed from Tatua suppliers was 14.5 million kgMS, which is our divisor for earnings.

This was lower than the prior season, due to extended dry summer conditions across our milk supply area. . .

Work to control ryegrass flowering :

A quintessential Kiwi landscape usually includes green pastures dotted with livestock munching on healthy, vibrant grass.

Those green fields are generally full of ryegrass and in late spring the ryegrass flowers. When it does, it is no longer as nutritious for the livestock feeding on it.

A research project from the University of Otago’s department of biochemistry is aiming to develop a ryegrass that does not flower on-farm.

That project, headed by Associate Prof Richard Macknight and Dr Lynette Brownfield, was this month awarded $999,999 by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Endeavour Fund “Smart Ideas”
programme. . .

Agcarm affirms safety of glysophate:

Glyphosate is used in New Zealand by farmers, councils and home gardeners. It has recorded more than 40 years of safe use and has been the subject of over 800 studies, all of which have confirmed its safety.

The herbicide offers effective and safe weed control, is low-volatility and degrades quickly in soil. It continues to be rigorously tested by regulators in New Zealand and throughout the world, with over 160 countries approving its safe use.

At the heart of the hype that questions the safety of the herbicide, is a misleading classification by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) made in 2015. IARC classifies substances using terms such as ‘possibly’ or ‘probably’ carcinogenic to define the potential hazard of a substance. This has led to several everyday products, including coffee, bacon and talcum powder, being categorised as ‘possibly carcinogenic’.  But the IARC report is not a risk assessment – it is the type and extent of human exposure that determines the actual risk. . .

Financial workshops aiming to empower dairy farmers planned by Dairy Women’s Network:

Helping dairy farmers gain a better understanding of their farming business and strengthening the relationship with their accountant is the focus of 10 workshops throughout New Zealand being run by the Dairy Women’s Network with support from NZ CA and CRS Software.

“As a not for profit organisation we have a focus of supporting woman in dairying in New Zealand to be the best they can be both on and off farm,” Dairy Women’s Network CEO Jules Benton said. . .

Producing food and capturing carbon – Arty Mangan:

An interview with Ariel Greenwood, a “feral agrarian” and grazer who manages a herd of cattle while restoring ecosystems.

Describe where you work.

I live and work on a 3,000-acre research preserve in the inter-coastal Mayacamas mountain range region of Sonoma County. Pepperwood has around 1,000 acres of open grassland, another several hundred of mixed oak woodland mosaic, deciduous and evergreen, and some serpentine outcropping, and then some dense dark woodlands. We actually have, I think, the eastern most stand of redwoods in the County. There’s a lot of bay trees and scrubby chaparral too in its own natural state. It’s a really breathtaking and in many ways really challenging landscape.

Pepperwood is a private operating research and ecological preserve. Really, every aspect from the vegetation to the soil to the broader watershed, and then even more largely the climate that we’re situated in is monitored and researched here with staff and other visiting researchers, so it’s very much a progressive conservation-oriented place. This is considered quite a robust eco-tone, the meeting of several different environments. . .


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