Rural round-up

July 21, 2018

Crop biotech 3.0: a farmer’s perspective – Craige Mackenzie:

Here in New Zealand, we did not participate in the GE Gene Revolution. Farmers like me see an advantage in making sure that we do not miss the next one. 

You’ve seen the statistics. Farmers around the world have planted and harvested billions of acres of genetically engineered crops. Not long ago, we used to talk about GMOs and conventional crops as if they belonged in different categories. Increasingly—and especially in North and South America—GMOs are the new conventional. They’ve become an ordinary part of agriculture. 

Some nations, of course have resisted the use of GMOs, starting with members of the European Union. New Zealand has taken its own wait-and-see approach, turning it into a sort of permanent delay. The science on GMOs safety to human health and our environment may be settled but my country has wanted to preserve its clean-green image in food production, in the belief that this gives us a competitive advantage as we market ourselves to the world.  . . 

Eradicating cattle disease M. bovis in New Zealand may be costly, even impossible, but we must try – Riachard Laven:

In May this year, the New Zealand government decided that it would attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, a bacterial disease that affects cattle.

A phased eradication means that an additional 126,000 livestock will need to be culled, at an estimated cost of NZ$886 million.

Here’s what we know, what we don’t know and what’s at stake.

How do we know this is a new incursion?

M. bovis causes mastitis and arthritis in adult cattle and pneumonia in calves. It is found around the world, but New Zealand was one of the last disease-free countriesuntil the detection of infected cows on a dairy farm in July 2017.  . .

Career path judged correctly – Sally Rae:

Brooke Flett never intended a career in farming.

But now, settled on the family dairy farm at Scotts Gap in Southland, it was “working out all right”.

“Most of the time, I love it,” she laughed.

Miss Flett (26), who is chairwoman of Thornbury Young Farmers Club, was recently named Young Farmers national stock-judging champion.

She grew up on the farm and boarded at Southland Girls’ High School before studying at Victoria University for a bachelor of arts in education.

But it “never really clicked” and she did not pursue a career in that area. .

Farm sales and prices ease on year June but horticulture farms shine –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Farm sales fell 7 percent on the year in the three months to June and the median price per hectare was down 16.3 percent although horticulture farm prices continued to push higher, according to the Real Estate Institute.

Overall, 427 farms were sold in the three months ended June 30 from 459 farms in the same period a year earlier. Some 1,480 farms were sold in the year to June, down 17 percent on the year. . .

Software to keep containment’s out:

Fertiliser co-op Ballance will commercially launch a new farm environment planning tool, MitAgator, by spring.

Developed by Ballance and AgResearch, MitAgator measures the loss of four main farm contaminants — nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and E. coli.

New Zealand-wide trials are pointing to a launch by late September. . .

Deer velvet looking good in Asia

Long-term prospects for NZ velvet in the major Asian markets are looking positive says Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) Asia manager Rhys Griffiths.

“There has been an explosion in consumer demand for consumer-ready velvet-based products in Korea. Ten years ago this product category didn’t even exist,” he says.

“In the past six months, 23 new velvet-based healthy food products have been launched in Korea; the majority of them using NZ velvet. . .

Importers snap up cheap U.S. soybeans as China stops buying – Karl Plume:

China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. soybeans, threatened for weeks and enacted Friday, have driven down prices and triggered a wave of bargain shopping by importers in other countries stocking up on cheap U.S. supplies, according to a Reuters analysis of government data.

Chinese buyers have so far this year accounted for just 17 percent of all advanced purchases of the fall U.S. soybean harvest – down from an average of 60 percent over the past decade, the analysis found. They are instead loading up on Brazilian soybeans, which now sell at a premium of up to $1.50 a bushel as U.S. soybean futures have fallen 17 percent over six weeks to about $8.50, their lowest level in nearly a decade. . .

The rise of soil carbon cowboys – Peter Byck:

Ranching is a rare occupation. Rarer still are the ranchers pioneering new ways to graze cattle, transforming their ranches and farms into vibrant ecosystems, producing black ink for their bank accounts and giving their incredibly robust animals a great life (with the exception of one bad day).

These new grazing methods have many names — mob grazing, managed intensive grazing, holistic management. Our group of scientists and ranchers call it Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) Grazing.  . .


Rural round-up

March 5, 2015

What drought really means for New Zealand: Jacqueline Rowarth:

As we head into another drier-than-normal season, New Zealand needs to put more thought into water management.

Urban rain and rural rain are different. The quality is the same – drops of water that, in New Zealand, fall out of the sky relatively pure – but interpretation of the quantity is very different.

Urban rain stops barbecues, dampens the washing on the line, and slows the traffic as though rain had never been experienced before. It interrupts activities for humans, but makes little difference to the ability of plants to grow, rivers to flow or dams to fill.

Rural rain does all three. Rural rain soaks into the ground. It reaches roots and allows the micro-organisms to function. When there is rain in sufficient quantity, primary production, and hence the export economy, flourishes. . .

Stead’s mission to help farmers – Sally Rae:

Angela Stead knows how to cook a good lamb roast.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s new extension manager for the central South Island not only has a passion for farming, she is also a trained chef.

Miss Stead started work last month, having returned from Australia where she had been working in the dairy industry and was looking forward to a new challenge. . .

ANZCO share sale bid:

ANZCO Foods founder and chairman Sir Graeme Harrison aims to reduce his shareholding in the company, while Japan’s Itoham Foods is looking to increase its stake.

Itoham Foods would increase its shareholding from 48.3% to 65% if its purchase offer was accepted by other shareholders and approved by the Overseas Investment Office.

In issuing notice to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Itoham said it would buy 9,882,113 shares of ANZCO stock in cash transactions of just over $40 million. ANZCO has annual sales revenue of $1.3 billion. . .

Try the Dutch approach to dairy and use barns – Aalt Dijkhuizen:

New Zealand and the Netherlands are world leaders in dairy.

New Zealand has developed a unique, extensive dairy system with a low cost price. The Netherlands has gained a reputation for highly productive and efficient dairy farming using the latest technologies. Can the two countries develop systems that will satisfy growing demand while being more environmentally sustainable?

The global context of agriculture and food is changing dramatically.

Demand from fast-growing economies in Asia is expected to double over the next decades and there will be increasing scarcity of raw materials and land. To be leaders in green dairy New Zealand and the Netherlands should work together and learn from each other – and make the boat go much faster. . .

Culverden farmer elected to Beef +Lamb NZ board:

Culverden farmer Phil Smith has been elected as the farmer director to represent sheep and beef farmers in the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Northern South Island electorate.

Smith received 6916 weighted votes and Nigel Harwood of Takaka received 5749 weighted votes in the recent election.

Beef + Lamb NZ returning officer Warwick Lampp said the voting return percentage for Northern South Island was 25.88%, being 795 returned voting papers. . .

Farmers disappointed by restrictions in proposed drone rules – Karl Plume and P.J. Huffstutter:

U.S. farmers hoping to use drones to locate lost livestock or monitor trouble spots in their fields were disappointed by what they say are overly restrictive commercial drone rules proposed Sunday by the Federal Aviation Administration. 

Two of the long-awaited draft rules were singled out for particular criticism: a requirement that pilots remain in visual contact with their drones at all times and a height restriction that limits the crafts to flying no more than 500 feet above ground.  These constraints, farmers and drone operators say, would limit a drone’s range – and consequently its usefulness.

    Leading drone makers PrecisionHawk and Trimble Navigation Limited (TRMB.O), farm data services firms, including ones run by Monsanto (MON.N) and FarmLogs, and even some federal lawmakers are saying the proposed rules could delay the development of drone-assisted agriculture in the United States if they are finalized as currently written.

The FAA said farmers can address the line-of-sight limitation by placing spotters to track a drone’s pilot. . .


Rural round-up

January 8, 2014

Milk’s carbon footprint cut by 63 percent:Tom Quaife:

Since 1944, efficiencies in the dairy industry have allowed fewer cows to produce more milk. As a result, the carbon footprint per pound of milk produced has fallen by 63 percent, according to a noted expert.

“In 1944, it took four cows to produce the same amount of milk as a single cow in 2007,” Jude Capper, assistant professor of dairy science at Washington State University told those attending a session at Alltech’s 27th Annual International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium on Monday.

Dairy farmers have made major progress over the years, which is something the industry should be proud of, she said.

Capper has researched this subject extensively and published articles in scientific journals, including the Journal of Dairy Science.

She is also at the forefront when it comes to debunking the myth that modern agriculture is worse for the environment than the farms that dotted the landscape in the 1940s. . .

Scientists help farmers make dairies green:

Cows stand patiently in a tent-like chamber at a research farm in western Wisconsin, waiting for their breath to be tested. Outside, corrals have been set up with equipment to measure gas wafting from the ground. A nearby corn field contains tools that allow researchers to assess the effects of manure spread as fertiliser.

Scientists based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have started a slew of studies to determine how dairy farms can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. They will look at what animals eat, how their waste is handled and the effects on soil, water and air.

Their work is part of a government-sponsored effort to help farmers adapt to more extreme weather and reduce their impact on climate change. The studies also will support a dairy industry effort to make farms more environmentally friendly, profitable and attractive to consumers. . .

Bunnies on the run – Lynda Gray:

Cute and cuddly…almost. Meet Newton, one half of Euan Butter’s dynamic rabbit-busting duo.

Newton, a six-year-old ferret, and his white and pink-eyed side-kick Snowy (2) love nothing better than wreaking havoc in rabbit warrens and holes throughout Central Otago.

Euan, a pro-rabbiter for “donkey’s years” says ferrets are a good secondary rabbit control tool he’s used for the past 15 years, flushing out the last of the pest following major control operations.

He keeps the ferrets at his Alexandra base and carts them around Central Otago on the back of his ute in straw-lined boxes. . . .

Distillers grain prices slump as China rejections clog pipeline – Christine Stebbins and Karl Plume:

The price of distillers’ dried grain has slid 20 percent in a week as U.S. exporters shied away from selling the corn-based feed grain to its top customer China after Beijing rejected shipments containing an unapproved GMO corn strain.

“Everyone is just nervous. If you load something no one knows if someone is going to take it or not,” said Ryan McClanahan, a Kansas City-based trader with Commodity Specialists Co, which supplies DDGs to both domestic and export markets.

“People have just stopped loading vessels, containers domestically so the product is just backing up in the domestic market,” McClanahan told Reuters. . .

Oh rats! – Mad Bush Farm:

This morning my poor mum rang me in a terrible state. The panic in her voice was all too real. The problem? One rat sat on her bench making itself comfortable, oblivious to the drama going on just beyond, by the human occupant making a frantic call on the telephone.Call for help made to second to youngest child in her brood of six children, to come up and deal with said Mr Rat.

 
I went straight up there to sort the thing out. Yes there it was, as large as life cleaning its whiskers, unafraid that doom was now overshadowing its very existence. (cue evil laughter)
 
Fortunately, it wasn’t one of those horrible ugly water rats that show up from time to time. It was a native bush rat or Kiore. Even so, it was not welcome in my mother’s home. A few shoves, and it headed out the door. I chucked some rat bait under the deck and that should have been that. . . .

Winter mountain biking on Heaphy Track permanently approved:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today announced at Karamea on the West Coast the permanent approval of mountain biking on the Heaphy Track from 1 May to 30 September each year.

“The Heaphy Track is New Zealand’s ultimate multi-day mountain biking experience. It traverses dramatic and diverse landscapes from mountain forests, to expansive grasslands and wild West Coast beaches,” Dr Smith says.

“The three-year trial has been a success and it is timely to make it a permanent feature of Nelson and the West Coast’s visitor attractions. Year-round mountain biking has also been approved on two other Kahurangi National Park tracks – the Flora Saddle to Barron Flat and Kill Devil tracks.” . . .


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