Rural round-up

May 31, 2017

Meat exports sold to more than 100 countries – Allan Barber:

New Zealand’s meat exporters come in for a lot of criticism, either for selling too cheaply or for not adding value, and certainly because they can’t (or don’t) pay farmers enough for their livestock. This final criticism is presumably a direct result of the first two – the prosecution’s case argues if they sold product at a higher price or added more value, they would automatically be able to pay more for livestock.

Logic says the critics are correct, but they fail to take into account such annoying complications as market demand, tariffs and market access, exchange rates, seasonality, grass growth and the fact lamb in particular is too expensive to be easily converted into affordable ready meals. New Zealand meat exporters have successfully built relationships with overseas supermarket groups, high quality food distributors and top restaurants, as well as food manufacturers and fast food chains. . . 

Course cultivates wider understanding – Sally Rae:

Growing up on a North Otago dairy farm,  Isabelle Keeling’s knowledge of the agricultural sector was limited to the dairy industry.

Taking an agribusiness course has broadened the Columba College pupil’s knowledge of the wider industry. Having never previously studied economics or accounting, Isabelle (16) has been learning about the likes of co-operative business structures and cashflow forecasts.

“I can understand what my dad’s talking about,” she said, during a class at John McGlashan College this week. . . 

Geographical Indications to reinforce wines reputation:

New Zealand wine and spirit makers will soon be able to register their geographical indications, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Jacqui Dean told New Zealand Winegrowers today.

“Legislation to enable the wine industry to formally register their geographical indications in New Zealand is on track to come into force in late July,” Ms Dean says.

“A geographical indication shows that a wine or spirit comes from a specific region, and possesses particular qualities or characteristics as a result. . . 

North Otago farmer on board – Sally Rae:

North Otago farmer Matt Ross has been appointed to the board of LIC (Livestock Improvement Corp).

He replaces retiring long-standing director Alvin Reid while board chairman Murray King has also been reappointed.

Mr Ross and his wife Julie milk 1800 cows on a 580ha property in the Waitaki Valley. The couple won the national Sharemilker of the Year title in 2007. . . 

Farmer’s windblown trees named among world’s most beautiful – Richard Davison:

While windswept vistas are a regular sight in Southland, a group of macrocarpa trees has found worldwide popularity after they were named among the world’s most magnificent. 

US lifestyle website Brightside recently published an online photo article entitled “The 16 Most Beautiful Trees in the World”, in which a stand of windblown macrocarpa from the mainland’s southernmost location – Slope Pt in the Catlins – featured at number three.

The photograph, sourced from Flickr, was taken during a family trip to the area by French-born amateur photographer Ben Rodriguez. . . 

Your organic cotton t-shirt might be worse for the environment than regular cotton – Marc Bain:

The word “organic” is a powerful marketing tool. In clothing—just as in food—brands love to tout their use of organic agricultural products to show they’re doing their part to fight the industry’s outsized environmental footprint. They know consumers want products they believe are better for them and the planet. “Organic,” which generally means something was grown without synthetic additives or pesticides and wasn’t genetically modified, seems to promise as much.

But the reality isn’t always so simple. Your organic cotton t-shirt may have actually used up more resources to produce than one made of conventionally grown cotton, and could have a greater overall impact on the environment.

One major reason, as various speakers pointed out at a May 23 panel held by Cotton Inc., a research group that serves the cotton industry, is that conventional cotton varieties have a higher yield, meaning a single plant will produce more fiber than its organic counterpart. . . 


Rural round-up

April 12, 2016

Water brings back ‘marvellous’ times – Sally Rae:

“Lower Waitaki – The Community That Water Saved” was the theme of a recent media tour organised by the Waitaki Irrigators Collective and IrrigationNZ and coinciding with IrrigationNZ’s 2016 conference in Oamaru. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae hopped on the bus to discover just what irrigation has done for the area and its inhabitants.  

When Jim Dennison’s father bought Drumena in 1919, the Hilderthorpe farm was in a “desolate state”.

Local women pitied his new bride moving to such a property to try to make a living. . .

Harnessing the sunshine for record-breaking crop yields – Pat Deavoll:

Farmers talk about growing feed, but North Otago crop and dairy farmer Chris Dennison says he is “harvesting sunshine.”

His world record-breaking crops of barley and oil seed rape were the combination of heavy soils, a coastal environment, reliable water and sustained sunshine, he said.

“Here at Hilderthorpe (just south of the Waitaki River) we get a cool easterly wind which gives a lull in the growing season for cereal and oil seed rape, so the crops can utilise more sunshine.”

Dennison took over the farm from his father Jim in the early 1980s. Traditionally it was a mixed sheep and beef property but when Dennison arrived home he brought with him an interest in cropping. . . 

Waitaki water key to reliable farming – Sally Rae:

Reuben Allan’s dairy shed has one heck of a view.

It overlooks the vast Waitaki River which provides not only recreational opportunities for his family, but also has allowed them to transition from a “feast or famine” dryland operation to one with reliable irrigation.

Mr Allan grew up on Fairway Farm, which used to be a dryland sheep property, near Ikawai.

Irrigation began on the hills in the mid-1990s and the move was made into intensive beef finishing. . . 

Irrigation provides reliability – Sally Rae:

Matt Ross first arrived in North Otago “more by accident”.

But his decision to return, once he completed his university studies, was deliberate as he had identified the potential opportunities in the district.

Mr Ross and his wife Julie operate Kokoamo Farms, which comprise two dairy farms near Duntroon, milking 1730 cows at peak, and lease a run-off property.

Their farming operation is a showcase: lush green grass, extensive plantings, including a wetland development that is home to more than 100,000 plants, and impressive infrastructure. . . 

Still turning them (tractors) on at 85:

North Otago’s Don Fraser is a man who loves his tractors. His love affair has been so intense he is still driving them at the ripe old age of 85.

Part of the hard-working team at EGL Pastoral for 26 years, and a farmer most of his life, Mr Fraser remembers the old style tractors (crawlers) when he first started out and recalls they were so noisy you needed hearing aids. “There was no silencers then and we didn’t have air con back in the day, but then we didn’t need it when a keen souwester was blowing through.” . . .

Sheep Industry Awards celebrate success:

This country’s sheep industry will celebrate its best and brightest at Beef +Lamb New Zealand’s fifth annual New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards in the Wairarapa in July.

Entries are open for the Awards which recognises this country’s top sheep farmers, breeders, scientists and industry innovators.

People can put their name forward, or be nominated for the Award categories; Science Trainer of the Year, Innovation, Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry and the Emerging Talent Award. . . 

Focus on forages is key to sustainable farm profits:

Pastoral farming is a huge earner for New Zealand worth over $23 billion in export revenues last year. Forages – the grasses and other plants grazed by farm animals – are a critical part of pastoral farming systems. Industry participants consider there is significant scope to lift the contribution forages make to the underlying productivity and profitability of the pastoral sectors and to achieve these outcomes in an environmentally sustainable manner.

This is why an initiative to improve the sustainability and profitability of New Zealand’s forage grazing systems has the buy-in of everyone representing the pastoral sector. . . 

Bostock New Zealand experiencing highest quality apples for several years:

New Zealand’s largest organic apple grower is harvesting some of the best quality fruit it’s experienced for years – thanks to near perfect growing and harvesting conditions.

Bostock New Zealand Director, David Brasell says the weather has been outstanding for the harvest and the fruit has sized well.

“The quality of our apples this season is very, very good. The colour is great, the fruit is clean and the size is excellent. . . .

Time to guard against costly nutritional deficits:

A small investment in autumn feed testing can be good insurance against mineral deficiencies in dairy and beef cows that can lead to low growth rates and poor milk yields.

Winter feeds like fodder beet, low pasture phosphorus levels in some regions, and lower seasonal availability for copper can lead to deficiencies of both of these key minerals during late pregnancy, early lactation and calf growth.

Consultant nutritionist to SealesWinslow, Paul Sharp, says for around $100 a comprehensive pasture mineral test will provide the right information to farmers. . . 

Yealands Launches NZ’s First Vineyard Tour Guide App:

The first kiwi wine app that allows the user to take a self-guided vineyard tour – and take in Yealands’ famous White Road hot-spots.

One of the only vineyards to actually let visitors drive through its vineyard, wine innovators, Yealands Wine Group have released a mobile application that allows visitors to its Seaview Vineyard in the Awatere Valley, Marlborough the unique opportunity of taking their own self-guided vineyard tour. . .


Rural round-up

February 17, 2014

Coach develops forestry safety vest:

A former rugby league coach has adapted a piece of sporting equipment for the forestry sector in an effort to save lives.

Graham Lowe has designed a GPS monitoring vest which can measure workers’ fatigue levels by gathering data on their heart beat and hydration levels, which he said is almost ready to be launched.

Last year set an unwelcome record for forestry incidents, with 10 deaths and more than 150 serious injuries. . .

From riches to dags – Tim Cronshaw:

More than anything, Christine Fernyhough will miss the sky when she closes the farm gate for the last time at Castle Hill Station.

The big, open skyline is the backdrop to craggy ridges descending down steep shingle screes to the station’s broad tussock country, limestone outcrops and productive pastures.

Live long enough at Castle Hill as Fernyhough has and the overhead vista takes centrestage. Its intensity at dusk and dawn is matched by the evening star show and during the day she never tires of its ever changing canvas.

It’s been nearly 10 years since she came to have a look at the South Island and fell in love with the sky. . .

‘Idiots’ back hunting illegally – Lard Harper:

A resident on a far-flung South Taranaki road says police are doing little to protect life and property from illegal hunters.

Tangahoe Valley Rd resident Jill Hardy says “little idiots” were still peppering farmland months after authorities said they would intervene.

But authorities say they are doing everything they can to navigate a difficult issue.

Hardy said her latest complaint, laid against a group shooting from a picnic table on to her land, had gone nowhere. . .

 

NZ milk volumes 4.2% higher for the season – Abby Brown:

New Zealand milk volumes are 4.2% higher for the season to January 31, 2014 the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council says.

The Global Dairy Trade (GDT) prices on February 4 are 40.5% higher than the last event on January 21.

It is up 50% over the same six month period last year.

The council said in its latest Global Dairy Update that milk collection across NZ for the eight months to January 31, 2014 reached 1120 million kg milksolids (MS).

This was 4.2% higher than the same period last year. 

“Rain through December and early January helped maintain milk production above last season’s level with the North Island 3.7% higher and the South Island 5.0% higher for the season to date,” the council said. . .

Wetlands provide many benefits – Julie Ross:

The area of our Kokoamo Farm near Duntroon in North Otago was a boggy, willow-infested corner at the bottom of the farm boundary, fed by a large catchment area and at the head of the spring-fed Kokoamu Stream.

We decided originally to enhance an unattractive part of the farm, while at the same time testing the filtering ability of a created wetland and providing a suitable pond for duck hunting.

Since then, the focus of our work on the wetland has changed and it is now primarily about improving water quality, reducing the environmental impact of intensive farming and providing a habitat for flora and fauna to thrive.

In 2008 we received a $5000 grant from Environment Canterbury but have funded most of the project ourselves. . .

 

Lack of social media training a barrier to farmers – Abby Brown:

Sophie Stanley says the biggest barrier to farmers and agribusinesses from using social media is a lack of training.

One of five New Zealanders awarded a Nuffield scholarship in 2013 Stanley has travelled the world to explore how the agriculture industry harnesses social media.

She said it is an issue the industry should invest in.

“If farmers are interested in networking and sharing industry knowledge Twitter has a wealth of information and a number of farmers domestically and globally that you can interact with,” she said. . .


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