Rural round-up

14/11/2020

Predator control, native species protection hard work but ‘worth it’ for these farmers – Kate Guthrie:

Dan Herries manages Taramoa Station in Puketitiri, Hawke’s Bay, a 564 hectare sheep and beef farm which lies between two significant and beautiful blocks of forest – an 800-year-old, unmilled podocarp forest known as Ball’s Clearing Scenic Reserve and Kaweka Forest Park where once-burnt faces have now regenerated with manuka and softwoods and original red and mountain beech grows in the gullies and on the tops.

The stunning landscape and rich birdlife has a deep influence on his farming philosophy.

“Taramoa has a 10km forest park boundary,” Herries explains. “It’s the only land between the two reserves. There are kiwi, kaka, kakariki, robins and bats at Ball’s Clearing and on the farm, as well as the usual tomtits, tūī, bellbirds etc. We have a holistic philosophy of farming the whole ecosystem,” he adds. “We open our eyes to what we’ve got and work out what we need to do so they thrive.” . . 

Farmer fuelled by flour power:

Keen bakers around the country are making muffins with flour milled by a cocky from Canterbury.

Marty Scurr is a cropping farmer at Sheffield and is milling his own wheat using a stone mill he imported from Austria last year.

“It’s basically a large scale trial to see if it works, and it’s terribly inefficient for time, but it’s looking promising!”

He believes he’s the only conventional farmer in the country milling grain to make flour. Currently he’s growing three varieties of single-origin milling wheat for the process. . . 

Statistics reveal New Zealanders ate one million more blueberry punnets last season:

 New Zealanders are devouring an additional one million punnets of blueberries every year and our renewed focus on maintaining good health will likely see sales skyrocket again this summer.

New grocery statistics show we consumed a record 8 million punnets of blueberries last year worth over $30 million – a 1.1 million punnet increase (or 15.2%) on the 2019/20 blueberry season. An almost identical rise was recorded the year before, confirming a huge surge in popularity for the humble blueberry.

Blueberries New Zealand Chairman Dan Peach attributes that success to a number of factors including the fruit’s high-profile partnership with Olympian Eliza McCartney who has been their ambassador for the past five years.

But he also predicts our COVID-19 lockdown experience will likely push sales up even further this summer. . . 

Waikato makes world’s first tea gouda – Sudesh Kissun:

Two Waikato producers have joined forces to create the world’s first tea-infused cow’s milk cheese.

The Tea Gouda cheese is a fusion of green and black tea grown in the Zealong Tea Estate near Gordonton and Gouda cheese made by Meyer Cheese, which runs its dairy farm and cheese factory just outside Hamilton.

The cheese is sold online via Meyer Cheese website.

Meyer Cheese general manager Miel Meyer told Dairy News that the collaboration was not a one-off idea but an evolution of thoughts after a few years of connecting, drinking tea and eating cheese and discussion around business and Waikato related topics.  . . 

Ex-farmer lends a helping hand :

Ex-farmer Daniel Payton is now using his knowledge and practical experience to help farmers make changes to their system, while retaining a viable and profitable business.

Payton, 37, is Perrin Ag’s newest consultant. One of his first projects is working as part of a larger team to complete work for the Government’s One Billion Trees Programme – an initiative that aims to increase tree planting across New Zealand, targeting one billion trees planted by 2028.

Perrin Ag is being funded by Te Uru Rākau (Foresty New Zealand) and key industry organisations to develop case studies from ten farms across the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Rangitikei.

The aim of these studies is to demonstrate how different species of trees can be successfully integrated into a variety of farming systems. . . 

Beyond Blue’s $100,000 donation from Zoetis :

Animal health company Zoetis has once again raised $100,000 to support the mental health challenges facing rural Australians.

Since the campaign with Beyond Blue started in 2016, Zoetis has raised more than $500,000.

For the fifth year in a row, Zoetis has achieved its $100,000 goal by donating $5 from each sale of the company’s cattle, sheep, pig, poultry and goat vaccines and drenches.

The funds raised have gone directly to the Beyond Blue Support Service to continue supporting people, including those living in remote areas, by providing free advice, counselling and referrals 24 hours a day, seven days a week. . . 


Rural round-up

10/08/2020

No long term business without animal welfare: farmers – Bonnie Flaws:

Farm or Harm: In this series we look at the rules, expectations and attitudes guiding the New Zealand primary sector’s treatment of animals.

Animal welfare should be the priority if farmers want to build a successful business, say a leading dairy farming couple.

A number of cases of mistreatment of animals have put the spotlight of some farmers and industry practices.

But for award-winning Taranaki sharemilkers Simon and Natasha Wilkes animal welfare simply makes good business sense. . . 

From pasture to pastoral care – Mary-Jo Tohill:

If you’d asked South Otago pastor Alex McLaughlin back in his Canterbury farming days if he was interested in becoming a minister, he’d have said, “Never, it’s just not me.”

The religious conviction was always there; he started running Sunday school at the age of 17 but never envisaged it becoming a fulltime role. Yet, now 62, here he is.

“Being a pastor in a rural community requires being able to roll with whatever comes your way and there is no real way to prepare for the wide variety of tasks that are expected of you.”

He is also pastor at Silver Fern Farms’ Finegand plant and the Southern Institute of Technology’s Telford campus near Balclutha.  . . 

No working dogs but lots of kiwi on Okaihau dairy farm – Kate Guthrie:

Jane and Roger Hutchings haven’t had a dog on Lodore Farm, their 450-hectare Northland property, in over 20 years – but they do have a lot of North Island brown kiwi.

“We estimate we have at least 50 pairs of North Island Brown kiwi,” Jane says. “We do the kiwi call census every year in two different areas of the farm. I’ve sat in the same spot for the last 8 years and Roger has another area he has counted in the last few years.”

This gives the Hutchings an idea of how many birds they have in certain areas. Calls identify male or female birds, a compass bearing and distance apart. The good news is counts are going up meaning young birds are surviving.

Jane’s call-count spot is a mixture of pasture and regenerating bush while Roger counts kiwi calls from an area of mature bush. . . 

Southland cleared of M.bovis cattle disease – Louisa Steyl:

It was considered the origin of New Zealand’s Mycoplasma bovis outbreak in 2017, but today, Southland is infection free.

Ministry of Primary Industries regional recovery manager Richard McPhail praised the farming community for their co-operation as he shared the news on Friday that there are no longer any active properties, or properties under a Notice of Direction, in Southland.

“There’s been a lot of heavy lifting done to get to this point,” he said.

But there was still work to be done, McPhail said. “There’s an expectation that more infection will be found, [albeit] not necessarily in our area.” . .

Arable farmers pleased with 2020 harvest yields:

Final harvest data for wheat, barley and oats (milling/malting and feed) in 2020 show yields were up 17% overall across the six crops.

The July AIMI (Arable Industry Marketing Initiative) Survey report shows these results were from a reduced number of hectares planted (down 6%), with the net result being a 10% increase in total tonnage compared to last season.

“For context, keep in mind when making the comparison that 2019’s results were below average,” Federated Farmers Vice-Chairperson Grains, Brian Leadley, said.

“Nevertheless, we have those reported strong yields and even a new world record.  While the 17.398 tonnes/hectare of Kerrin wheat harvested on Eric Watson’s Ashburton farm is testament to great management, it’s also a reflection of a pretty good growing season.” . . 

Spat hatchery business in the wings for eastern Bay of Plenty:

Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and Aotearoa Mussel Limited have joined forces to build a land-based mussel spat hatchery in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, to enhance New Zealand’s growing aquaculture industry.

Te Whānau-ā-Apanui will invest $1.2million in a research and development programme with support from Callaghan Innovation. The programme is scheduled to commence in early September 2020.

Rikirangi Gage, CEO of Te Rūnanga o Te Whānau has assumed a sponsorship role in the project. He said that “the hatchery concept is a perfect fit with a burgeoning mussel industry in New Zealand, particularly within the Eastern Bay of Plenty”. . . 


Rural round-up

10/02/2019

Collars corral cattle

Farm fences could be history as an Otago farm tests some cattle collars with a difference.

State-owned enterprise Landcorp owns two farms in the Waipori area, both of which have land bordering Lake Mahinerangi.

However, it faces the problem of fencing hundreds of kilometres to stop stock entering waterways.

As a potential solution, this week it started a two-month trial, run by AgResearch, to test virtual fencing technology. . . 

Dairy debt an outcome of wayward policy and land-banking – Keith Woodford:

In a recent article, I wrote that high debt levels within the dairy industry will constrain the industry transformation that needs to occur.  Subsequently, I have been exploring how the industry got itself such a debt-laden pickle. Here is what I found.

Despite the industry now being well into the third season of good milk prices, dairy-farm debt with banks has been showing no sign of decreasing. The latest figures for December 2018 show total dairy-farm bank debt of $41.6 billion (RBNZ S34 series). This compares to $41.0 billion a year earlier and $40.9 billion two years earlier.  This equates to around $22.00 per kg milksolids (fat plus protein). . . 

Farmer urges young people to take up career in fencing :

Isaac Johnston wants more young people to consider fencing as a career option.

Johnston, a member of the West Otago Young Farmers took out a national fencing competition in Christchurch, along with Luke Kane.

Kane, 30 (also a West Otago YF member), and Johnston, 25, won the PGG Wrightson Fencing Competition, which was held as part of the AGMARDT NZ Young Farmers Conference. . . 

The British obsession with food production vs obesity and climate may hurt their local producers and help NZ farmers. Saputo shakes things up. China infant formula market changes – Guy Traffod:

The Lancet continues to challenge the status quo around food production. This time in its recent report it says “unhealthy subsidies” in agriculture are costly and do enormous harm to developing country farmers and agriculture-based development policies.

Most New Zealand farmers would be happy to support this attitude. However the Irish have taken exception to the report particularly when it compares “big farming” to the tobacco industry and not only should it not receive subsidies, but it should be banned from being able to lobby and engaging with governments.

“Governments need to regain the power to act in the interests of people and the planet and global treaties help to achieve this. Vested commercial interests need to be excluded from the policy table, and civil society needs to have a stronger voice in policy-making,” it said. . . 

Kea and 1080 – nesting success demonstrated  – Kate Guthrie:

Not only do kea nest on the ground, but it takes about 4 months from egg-laying until kea chicks fledge. Four months is a long time to be sitting on the ground facing off the local stoats. Kea eggs, chicks and even adult incubating females are very vulnerable to predation.

Aerial application of 1080 can knock back the predators, but the timing needs to be right and the benefits to nesting kea must outweigh the known risks that some kea will eat the bait themselves.

So do more chicks survive to fledge? Department of Conservation Biodiversity Group researchers Joshua Kemp, Corey Mosen, Graeme Elliott and Christine Hunter investigate, in a paper recently published in the New Zealand Journal of Ecology. . . 

LIC Half-Year Profit Rises On Improved Performance And New Product Innovations

www.halfyearinreview.lic.co.nz

Performance Highlights H1 FY18-19:

• $161 million total revenue, 5% up from $153 million in the same period last year.

• $409 million total assets, up from $371 million on the same period as last year.

• $59.3 million earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA)[1], up 3% on the same period last year. . . 


Rural round-up

27/03/2018

MPI cattle cull “the right thing” – Jono Edwards:

The  farming industry is viewing a Mycoplasma bovis cull of more than 22,000 cattle as a tragic necessity.

The Ministry for Primary Industries announced yesterday it would begin a cull of 22,332 cattle today on all infected sites after scientific testing and tracing confirmed the disease was not endemic.

It was working immediately with farmers to kill the stock on the 22 active infected properties which still contained cattle, it said.

The disease can cause pneumonia, abortions, lameness and mastitis and can result in the deaths of infected cows. . . 

Sheep goes for $8k at first NZ auction of Beltex ram lambs – Maja Burry:

About 300 people attended the first ever sale of Beltex ram lambs in New Zealand on Friday.

The Beltex, whose name combines Belgium and Texel, are a breed of muscle heavy sheep that have higher meat yield.

Beltex breeder Blair Gallagher said the interest around the inaugural sale, which was held at his mid-Canterbury farm was very positive.

On offer was 16 purebred Beltexes, 20 Beltex-Poll Dorsets, 18 Beltex-Suffolks and 10 Beltex Perendales. . .

Farmers given food for thought – Sally Rae:

Hakataramea Valley farmers have been given some food for thought with the suggestion they could market their products directly to consumers.

The idea was raised by Prof Keith Woodford during a field day at Waikora Station last week organised by the Hakataramea Sustainability Collective.

The collective, set up in 2016, comprises a group of farmers whose aim is to assist and encourage the protection and enhancement of the valley’s environment and promote profitable and sustainable farming practices for future generations. It has been working closely with the New Zealand Landcare Trust, Environment Canterbury, the Department of Conservation, Fish and Game, local iwi and the Waimate District Council to ensure a collaborative and cohesive approach. . . 

Thermal imaging reveal Tekapo pests predator – Kathy Guthrie:

When Sam Staley went to the Defence Force’s Tekapo Military Training Area back in 1996 to run the Military Camp and Training Area for a three year stint, one of the tasks at the time was pest control. Today, 22 years later, he’s still there, and so are some of the rabbits, but after two decades of the comprehensive rabbit control operation which Sam initiated, the rabbits are nothing like the problem they used to be on the 19,000 hectare military site.

“The training area is unique,” Sam says. “It’s a very special bit of dirt! It’s probably the most intensively managed, non-grazed piece of high country land in Canterbury. It includes unique and nationally threatened plants and native fauna like alpine weta, rare butterflies and moths and many endangered vertebrates such as the Mackenzie Basin skink.” . . 

Robots are trying to pick strawberries. So far they’re not very good at it – Dan Charles:

Robots have taken over many of America’s factories. They can explore the depths of the ocean, and other planets. They can play ping-pong.

But can they pick a strawberry?

“You kind of learn, when you get into this — it’s really hard to match what humans can do,” says Bob Pitzer, an expert on robots and co-founder of a company called Harvest CROO Robotics. (CROO is an acronym. It stands for Computerized Robotic Optimized Obtainer.)

Any 4-year old can pick a strawberry, but machines, for all their artificial intelligence, can’t seem to figure it out. Pitzer says the hardest thing for them is just finding the fruit. The berries hide behind leaves in unpredictable places. . . 

Dairy farmers plea for help after Dean Foods ends milk contracts –  Sarah Gisriel:

Sixteen percent of the nation’s dairy farms are in Pennsylvania, but that industry is in crisis.

Two weeks ago, life changed for 26 farmers in Lebanon and Lancaster counties.

“I went to the mail, and in it was a certified letter from Dean Foods,” said Alisha Risser, the owner and operator of an 80-cow farm.

The letter told farmers that Dean Foods was ending its contract by June 1, due to a market surplus of milk.

“It’s the most difficult thing we’ve ever had to do in our lifetimes. To get that notice, and your world is absolutely rocked,” said Kirby Horst, of Lynncrest Holsteins. . . 


Rural round-up

06/12/2017

Wrapping bales a job for kings – Liam Hehir:

If I could do anything with my life, it would be this…

When you grow up on a small farm you find that weird affections stay with you for the rest of your life. For example, the whiff of silage is really comforting to me. Same with cows first thing in the morning and the relentless beat of the engine room in the shed. It’s weird.

Then there are things like the wonderful feeling that comes with walking home after the morning milking, the day still crisp and new. Getting in bone tired from a miserable day, kicking off your boots and overalls and drying off in front of the fire is another one. So is letting a bunch calves into a paddock for the first time since they were born — the sigh of which will never not make me smile.

But nothing ever made me happier than the prospect of wrapping baleage in the early summer. If there were some way I could do that for a job and support my family, I’d take it in a heartbeat. Not even joking. . . 

European Meat Sector issues dire warning about impact of hard Brexit – Allan Barber:

The European Livestock and Meat Trades Union (UECBV), the body that represents producers, consumers and distributors of meat, has commissioned a report entitled The EU Meat Industry in a hard Brexit scenario – CRISIS. The major finding of the report concludes the impact of a hard Brexit would be a catastrophic disaster for both UK and Europe because of the reversion to WTO tariff arrangements.

A hard Brexit would arise if there is no agreement between the UK and Europe on key issues – divorce bill, the Irish border, citizens’ rights, future trade relationship – by the end of March 2019 when the notice period expires. At this point, nearly 18 months since the referendum voted to leave the EU and eight months since the final exit date was triggered, but looking at it from the outside British negotiators had made no tangible progress at all until an announcement of an unspecified agreement on the exit cost late last week. . . 

“Knack’ required to work with deer – Yvonne O’Hara:

Logan Bain and Caleb Neilson are among the next generation of deer farmers.

Both work at Landcorp’s Thornicroft Station near Lake Mahinerangi and both are interested in deer and can imagine their futures linked to the industry in some way.

Mr Neilson (22) is the station’s deer manager, along with station manager Lindsay Cunningham.

Mr Bain (21) has just finished his last year at Lincoln University and was on his second day as shepherd at the station when Southern Rural Life talked to him.

Mr Neilson starting working with the station’s sheep and cattle before moving to the deer unit, which has about 2500 hinds plus fawns, and 100 stags.

He grew up on a sheep and beef farm in the Maniototo but had always liked deer. . . 

Farmers’ Satisfaction with Banks Remains Stable, Survey Shows:

The level of investment required in modern dairy farming is underlined in the latest Federated Farmers Banking Survey, with the size of mortgages and the number of dairy farms with overdrafts increasing.

Across dairy and non-dairy sectors, three quarters of the 480 farmers who responded to the survey said they felt under the same pressure from their banks as six months ago. Eight per cent said they felt under more pressure and just under 10 per cent were feeling less pressure. . . 

New podiTRAP a long time in the making – Kate Guthrie:

Inventing a new kind of trap can be a slow kind of process. Sometimes you don’t even know you’re on that journey until you’re well on your way. Take the podiTRAP for example. It’s probably still a year away from commercial release, but the podiTRAP may well be ‘the tool to use’ in the future.

“I never expected it to be where it is now,” says its inventor, Pouri Rakete-Stones. “It’s evolved into this big monster project!”

Pouri is an engineer by trade. He spent 10 years as a fitter/welder, doing research and development work on machinery, before getting involved with Hawkes Bay kiwi conservation and outdoor education organisation ECOED in 2010. . . 

Bugs as snacks among UF/IFAS experts’ predicted 2018 food trends – Brad Buck:

From eating bugs for protein to raising chickens in your backyard to eat their eggs, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences experts say some food trends grow in popularity over time. Here are the food trends for 2018, as predicted by some UF/IFAS faculty:

Are you bug-eyed for protein?

Insects are trending as a food source and are now being termed “micro-livestock,” said Rebecca Baldwin, a UF/IFAS associate professor of entomology. In fact, a chef who advocates for edible insects has attracted the attention of the Entomological Society of America and will speak to the group in Denver in November. . .


Rural round-up

12/09/2017

Every New Zealand has benefited from farming let’s not get divided – Alan Wills:

A couple of generations ago most New Zealanders had either come off a farm, had relations who were farming or knew people on the land.

We were a farming nation.

Everyone, including successive governments, understood this great country of ours was built on farming. Somehow this narrative has been lost over a relatively short period of time.

With diversification of our economy, urbanisation of our people, immigration and for a whole host of other reasons, farmers are now almost public enemy number one in the minds of some folk.

Certain political and environment groups are milking (no pun intended) that notion for all it’s worth. . . 

Rural-urban divide ‘encouraged’ by water tax policies – farmer – Alexa Cook:

Many political parties are using farmers as an easy target for emotive policies that appeal to urban people, a South Canterbury farmer says.

In the lead up to the election, RNZ Rural News is talking to farmers across New Zealand about what they think of the policies that have been put on the table.

Farming and environmental issues have been hot topics in the election lead up.

South Canterbury sheep and beef farmer Mark Adams, who is also the Federated Farmers president for the region, said farmers feel unfairly targeted. . .

Luddites are undermining society’s self confidence – Doug Edmeades:

 “Damn the dam,” I thought. This news from the Hawke’s Bay had me scurrying to my history books. Luddites, that’s what they are, these dam-stoppers. A bunch of thoughtless technophobes with an irrational fear of the future – “Stop the world I wanna get off.”

Luddites take their name from an early 19th century chap, probably mythical, called Ned Ludd. They were weavers whose skills were made redundant by the machines of the industrial revolution. They became activists and went on the rampage, smashing the new machinery that did their work better and at less cost.

From this experience an ideology has developed that believes progress is bad for society and probably the work of the devil. Today, Luddite simply means to be against technology. The Amish of the Midwest of America are Luddites when it comes to the internal combustion engine. . . 

Progress in high country issue: DOC – Sally Rae:

Progress is being made collectively to address the challenges in the high country, Department of Conservation partnerships manager Jeremy Severinsen says.

His comments followed a scathing attack on Doc by retired high country farmer Tim Scurr, now living in Wanaka, who said the high country had to be restored and replanted urgently.

Mr Scurr said he had grown up admiring the mountain tops of the high country “and all that they provide”, particularly water.

But management of those mountain tops had “fallen into the wrong people’s hands”.  They did not understand a balance of what was needed for sustainable land. Snow tussock  held snow back, shading and protecting, keeping the snow as long into the summer dry as conditions allowed, Mr Scurr said. . . 

2050 birdsong worth the wait – Mark Story:

It goes without saying that all that glitters, at this pre-election juncture, is not gold.

However, every time a public official suit mentions the initiative “Predator Free 2050” I get a warm feeling in the belly.

The traditional voter cornerstones of health, wealth and education seem to drift off into the ether when I sit and watch the kereru pair that this time each year feed silently in the plum tree at the dining room window.

The green-cloaked couple, dangerously oblivious to the threat my species poses, let me get to within a metre before branch hopping to a safer distance.

It’s true. The predator free goal is perhaps a tad aspirational. Many say it’s more about predator suppression than outright eradication. That could well be the reality. But I’m still excited by the push. . . 

Blame not all ours – farmers – Rebecca Nadge:

“It’s upsetting for farmers. We feel there’s a big divide between town and country – how did it get to this?” Matakanui Station owner Andrew Paterson lamented.

In response to Labour’s proposed water tax, Mr Paterson posted a video online challenging farmers around the country to test the water quality of streams on their properties. He said farmers were being unfairly blamed for poor water quality, but townspeople needed to take responsibility, too. . .

More offal to be processed:

Alliance Group is spending $1.7million at its Pukeuri and Lorneville plants in a bid to capture more value from its products.

The investment would improve the recovery of offal at Pukeuri,  with an upgrade of the beef pet food area and a new facility created to help boost the recovery of blood-based products for sale to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries.

The blood products were used in the development of vaccines, cancer treatments and drugs to treat neurodegenerative, haematological and endocrine disorders. . . 

Tea-strainers help fight ‘Battle for Banded Rail’ – Kate Guthrie:

Tracey Murray, Trapping Field Officer for ‘Battle for the Banded Rail’  recently bought 150 mesh tea-strainers online, importing them from a manufacturer in China. So what does anyone do with 150 mesh tea-strainers?

Tracey handed them out to her volunteer trappers at a recent ‘Trapping Workshop’ get-together – and not because her volunteers enjoy a good ‘cuppa’.

“You put the bait inside the tea-strainer,” Tracey explains. “We aren’t targeting mice but mice have been taking our bait and don’t set off the trap. The mesh stops the mice getting it so we don’t have to keep replenishing it as often Using the mesh strainers also prevents wasps eating the baits over the summer months when they are also a problem.” . . 

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year nominations open 11 September:

Dairy Women’s Network is putting the call out for the next inspiring industry leader. Nominations open for the 2018 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Award on 11 September.

This is the seventh year for the prestigious award which celebrates the outstanding leadership of women in the business of dairy.

Dairy Women’s Network chair Cathy Brown says the network has a proud history of celebrating the success of women and leadership in the dairy industry. . .


Rural round-up

09/02/2017

Synlait increases forecast milk price to $6.25 kgMS:

Synlait Milk has increased their forecast milk price from $6.00 kgMS to $6.25 kgMS for the 2016 / 2017 season.

“International dairy commodity prices have improved further since our last announcement in November and although prices have eased slightly in early 2017, we believe $6.25 kgMS is now a realistic estimate for the current season,” said Graeme Milne, Chairman.

Mr Milne said global dairy production, with the exception of the United States, has continued to decrease and followed the trend of previous months. . . 

Stu Muir brings life to dying wetlands – Kate Guthrie:

Stu Muir is a Waikato dairy farmer and, in contrast to some of the headline-grabbing stories you may have read about dairy farmers, Stu and his family are putting a huge effort into restoring natural waterways on their block. Such is the magnitude of their effort and the success of their project,that they even featured on the 50th Anniversary episode of ‘Country Calendar’.

Stu’s family have been farming in New Zealand since the 1850s. On a block of land his great great grandparents
bought back in the 1890s, there is a swamp and until recently that swamp was clogged with willows and pampas – so badly blocked that you couldn’t move through the stream. Water couldn’t move either and with no current flowing through the wetland was full of pondweed and dead or dying throughout. . . 

‘You can’t afford to have a short-term view’ – Maja Burry:

A ban on collecting shellfish and seaweed species in Kaikōura has left some pāua divers jobless – but they are still supporting a government proposal to extend the closure further.

The Kaikōura earthquake lifted parts of the seabed by up to four metres, exposing thousands of pāua and other sealife to dehydration and prompting the fisheries closure.

The current ban is due to expire on 20 February, but the Ministry for Primary Industries has been seeking feedback on its plan to extend it another nine months. . . 

Trump vs. global supply chains: US agriculture edition – James Pethokoukis:

Donald Trump wants to rework NAFTA to somehow bring back manufacturing jobs. (Reality check here.) But I guess it isn’t just factories that have complex, enmeshed supply chains. US agriculture has a big stake in possible re-negotiations, too. From the FT:

Corn is the biggest of the US’s $17.7bn in agricultural exports to Mexico, a value that has risen fivefold since the countries signed the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico’s exports to the US have grown even faster to $21bn, led by fruits and vegetables such as lemons and avocados. … The US president has pledged to revise Nafta, wall off the border and possibly slap Mexican imports with tariffs. Trade in agriculture could end up a casualty. … Mexico is the third biggest destination for exported US farm products. They range from corn and wheat to dairy foods and high-fructose corn syrup. . . 

Manuka honey’s reputation hit by Queen’s grocer’s move – industry:

The reputation of manuka honey has taken a hit after the Queen’s official grocer pulled it from its shelves, says the local industry.

Fortnum-and-Mason removed the New Zealand-made product, after testing showed it had lower-than-expected levels of a key ingredient.

John Rawcliffe, from the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association, said he did not know who supplied the honey to the upmarket grocer. . . 

  First round of Regional Awards finalists announced:

The 2017 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards is in full swing, with judging underway and the first regional finalists announced.

The awards, which oversee the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions, received 424 entries.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, and Ravensdown, along with industry partner Primary ITO. . .

Tough contest for dairy industry scholars:

DairyNZ has awarded 55 scholarships to Lincoln, Massey and Waikato university students as part of a wider drive to support motivated young talent into the dairy industry.

The annual scholarships were awarded to students undertaking degrees in agriculture or related fields, with a particular interest in the dairy industry.

Susan Stokes, DairyNZ industry education facilitator, says the quality of applications this year was exceptionally high and bodes well for future talent coming into the dairy industry. . .

Final Results for Karaka 2017:

New Zealand Bloodstock’s 91st National Yearling Sales Series concluded on Sunday after six action-packed days of selling.

The increased international presence at Karaka 2017 was a highlight of the Sale Series, with purchasers from nine countries including Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, Great Britain, and Japan securing purchases through the three Sale sessions.

Spend by the Australian buying bench increased by over $5.6 million (+18%) on last year’s edition with receipts totalling $36.9 million for 290 horses purchased (up from 251 in 2016). . . 

Blooming marvellous… New Zealand’s biggest commercial nursery placed on the market for sale:

The land, buildings and business making up New Zealand’s biggest commercial wholesale plant and shrub nursery have been placed on the market for sale.

Growing Spectrum is a 9.635 hectare ‘all-in-one’ seedling, nursery and potting operation at Kihikihi near Te Awamutu in Southern Waikato. The business grows more than half-a-million plants for sale annually – supplying virtually all of New Zealand’s garden centres and selected home improvement mega store outlets.

The family owned and operated business was established 40 years by husband and wife horticultural entrepreneurs Peter and Carol Fraser. It now employs 36 full-time staff, with the company’s sales growing consistently over the past three completed financial years – reaching $4.76 million in the 2015/2016 period. . . 


Rural round-up

10/01/2017

Eradication helicopter pilot Peter Garden recognised for international work – Debbie Jamieson:

Wanaka man Peter Garden started his flying career as an agricultural pilot in Southland and went on to become one of the world’s pre-eminent eradication helicopter pilots.

The 70-year-old has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to aviation and conservation and said it was circumstances that led him to the work he is being recognised for. . . 

Let the fleeces fall fast – Sally Rae:

Nathan Stratford had been looking forward to sitting down and enjoying a beer over Christmas.

But a successful campaign on the shearing board at the Canterbury A and P Show in November ended that plan.

The Invercargill father-of-two edged out hot favourite Rowland Smith to nail the second spot in the New Zealand team for the world shearing and woolhandling championships.

Come next month, Stratford (42) will be pulling on his moccasins in front of a hometown crowd, albeit peppered with an international flavour, in the ILT Stadium Southland. . . 

The light between ordeals: From drought to storms – and an earthquake – Virginia Larson:

“I should hate this place by now, shouldn’t I? But I don’t. If anything, I’m even more excited about living here.” Doug Avery is on the phone from the family farm at Grassmere, 40km south of Blenheim. The line’s a bit crackly, but not Doug. “It’s the volcanoes and earthquakes and faultlines that have created this country. It’s what we love about it. And now, well, we’re making New Zealand great again!”

I’ve tracked down Doug because I figure if he’s given up after the November 14 Kaikoura quake, there’s no hope for any of us. We might as well hole up in our panic rooms and wait for the apocalypse. . . 

Kiwi are thriving – and so are kereru – Kate Guthrie:

The magnolias aren’t looking too good at Arthur Hinds’ place. His wife Diane used to complain about the damage possums were doing. But that’s not the problem nowadays.

The Department of Conservation dealt to the possums in 2000, just before the Whenuakite Kiwi Care Group started their predator control programme. Arthur joined the Kiwi Care Group early on and today Diane’s magnolias are the victims of the group’s success. Their buds are devastated by an exploding population of kereru. . . 

Actually, raising beef is good for the planet – Nicolette Hahn Niman:“The damage from the kereru is much worse,” says Arthur. “The possums ate the buds, but the kereru are killing the trees.”

People who advocate eating less beef often argue that producing it hurts the environment. Cattle, we are told, have an outsize ecological footprint: They guzzle water, trample plants and soils, and consume precious grains that should be nourishing hungry humans. Lately, critics have blamed bovine burps, flatulence and even breath for climate change.

As a longtime vegetarian and environmental lawyer, I once bought into these claims. But now, after more than a decade of living and working in the business—my husband, Bill, founded Niman Ranch but left the company in 2007, and we now have a grass-fed beef company—I’ve come to the opposite view. It isn’t just that the alarm over the environmental effects of beef are overstated. It’s that raising beef cattle, especially on grass, is an environmental gain for the planet. . .

An NFL player who has made $37 million spends 12 hours a day working on his family farm in the off-season – Cork Gaines:

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson is in the second year of a four-year, $39 million contract and has already made $37 million in his career. But when the playoffs are over, he will return to his family farm in tiny Riley, Kansas, where every off-season he goes to put in a full day’s work.

In an interview for a recent issue of ESPN the Magazine, Nelson said he works up to 12 hours a day on the farm, driving a combine to cut wheat or rounding up the 1,000-cow herd in the town whose population is 992.

“Working cattle is my favourite farm duty,” Nelson told ESPN. He said he identifies “more as a farmer” than as a football player. . . 

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Farmer Nutrition Facts  % Daily value *:

Patience 200%  Common sense 200% Dedication 200%

Love of the land 300% Passion 200% Grit 200%

Sleep 50%

*Percentage daily values may vary depneding on the day.


Rural round-up

02/11/2016

Asian milk demand continues, but with little fat for exporters:

While demand from China and ASEAN countries for New Zealand milk continues to grow, export margins have been squeezed and could potentially tighten further, according to a recently-released industry report.

The report, Liquid milk exports to Asia – avoiding the crush, by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says competition in Asian markets will remain fiercely competitive as both international and local brands fight for market share and consumer spend.

Report author, Rabobank senior dairy analyst Michael Harvey, says the automatic premium that international brands had historically received was unlikely to be repeated. . . 

Children need to know about agriculture – Ann Thompson:

Getting children interested in agriculture is important if we want our future agriculture workforce to come from within New Zealand.

It’s also important if we want people to understand where their food comes from and why the country is so good at producing it.

A new online learning resource has been developed, tailored to suit the curriculum for Years 5-8. The Soil, Food and Society web-based resource covers how food is grown and takes the student from the nutrients in the soil to what appears in the lunch box, with experiments to back it all up. . . 

Work continuation of lifelong passion for beef – Sally Rae:

Beef cattle have long been a passion for Natalie Howes.

Mrs Howes (29), nee Marshall, grew up on a farm at Taramoa in Southland where her family have the Benatrade Angus stud.

It was a natural progression for her to become involved in both showing and judging cattle.

She travelled to Australia several times, including as the recipient of the New Zealand Angus transtasman scholarship.

After completing her secondary schooling, Mrs Howes was intent on studying veterinary science but she wanted to add to her farming skills. . . 

Merino farmers make the most of a lull in the Aussie market – Tim Cronshaw:

A shortfall of Aussie merino fleece gave Kiwi farmers something to smile about at a Melbourne sale.

The large offering of 2800 bales landed on an Australian market short on merino wool because of wet conditions.

The New Zealand offering sold for an average greasy price of $12.40 a kilogram, about 40c/kg up on the last sale two weeks ago of 2500 bales which also met a rising market. The average price included part tender wool, hogget wool and oddments. . . 

Adventure eco-tour company grows with forest – Kate Guthrie:

From the ziplines and swing bridges built high in the canopy of Rotorua’s Mamaku Forest there’s a phenomenal view of what a New Zealand forest looks like when it’s not full of possums and rats. There’s an abundance of green palatable species now that the hordes of grazers are gone. Gary Coker, conservation manager for Canopy Tours and a qualified arborist, has been amazed at the speed of recovery since the eco-tour company began trapping in 2013. He reckons few New Zealanders realise what a healthy native forest actually looks – and sounds – like.

Mamaku Forest is noticeably louder now and last fruiting season the tawa seed was thick on the ground. It means there’s more food around for native birds and Gary says that wood pigeon numbers in the forest are incredible. There are tomtits, tui, bellbirds, whiteheads, fantails and kaka too and rare North Island robins will sometimes eat from your hand. . . 

Navigating the highway during peak milk – Gerald Piddock:

Every day is a new journey for Rick Sanford.

While travelling to farms and collecting milk remains a constant for the Fonterra tanker driver, the unknown journey is the part of the job he enjoys the most.

“You do the same job every day, but there is a variation in where you go.” . . 

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Behind every successful woman is herself – Pink Tractor.com


Rural round-up

03/10/2016

Red meat earnings potential missed – Andrea Fox:

It’s time red meat and fibre farmers woke up to the potential to lift their earnings that is right under their noses instead of blaming meat companies and markets and the dairy industry.

That’s the crux of the message to farmers at workshops highlighting missed earning opportunities due to lack of business planning and constant measurement of production performance.

Presented by ANZ, the country’s biggest rural lending bank as part of its red meat industry extension commitment, and agribusiness consultant Will Wilson, the ongoing workshops hammer the message that the most opportunities for beef and sheep farmers exist in their paddocks, not beyond the farmgate.

Beehive thefts annoy bee keepers – Kirsty Lawrence:

Beekeepers are wondering what more they can do to protect their hives as the prosecution rate for theft remains low.

In the past year, 375 beehives have been reported stolen between Palmerston North and Whanganui, a distance of about 75 kilometres.

In Northland, about $500,000 worth of hives were stolen earlier this year.

A 50-year-old salesman from rural Palmerston North has been charged with stealing eight beehives in Manawatu recently. . .

What about the rabbits? – Kate Guthrie:

If we knock back ferrets and feral cats will rabbit numbers soar? It is a concern that’s frequently raised, particularly in farming areas where rabbit control is already an issue. As rabbits are the main prey of ferrets and feral cats, it seems intuitively logical that rabbits will thrive without their predators. But there is a lot more going on with respect to what really controls rabbit numbers – as research into rabbit population dynamics reveals.

In response to the farming community’s concerns, Landcare Research scientists Grant Norbury and Chris Jones reviewed the current research literature on rabbits. . . .

A welcome for the shearers – Anne Hughes:

Running the shearing shed can be physically and mentally demanding. The lead-up to shearing requires good planning to bring sheep to the yards, allocate grazing after shearing and maximise returns from your wool clip.

This usually means lots of mustering and long days in the yards, especially when shearing is combined with weaning and drenching.

 

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No farmer, no food.


Rural round-up

29/09/2016

Farmer allegedly shot at by poachers – Paul Mitchell:

An elderly farmer gave chase after he was allegedly shot at by a group of poachers in the early hours of the morning. 

The farmer, 75-year-old Alisdair Macleay, had no second thoughts about his actions.

“I’m 75, so I don’t mind dying in the chase. I wasn’t going to let them get away,” he said. . . 

Grant Norbury – testing potential predator control techniques – Kate Guthrie:

A week or two ago, Alexandra-based Landcare Research scientist Grant Norbury found himself alone in the middle of the remote Mackenzie country, syringe in hand, squirting Vaseline onto rocks. He had to laugh.

“It’s such a weird way to protect dotterels,” he says.

Yes it is. But weirdness aside, the science behind his latest ‘chemical camouflage’ research project is fascinating. It’s all about making predators bored with birds, so that they stick to their normal prey like rabbits and mice. . . 

Bayer’s Monsanto deal to be closely watched by NZ farmers as agri-chemical players dwindle – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Bayer’s US$66 billion acquisition of Monsanto, creating the world’s biggest supplier of seeds and agri-chemicals to farmers, will be closely watched by New Zealand’s rural sector as the latest in a series of deals that has shrunk the number of competitors in the market.

Bayer and Monsanto are two of the big seven companies selling agricultural chemicals in New Zealand. Of the other five, Dow Chemical is in the process of a global merger with DuPont and Swiss seed giant Syngenta is close to being acquired by China National Chemical Corp, which already owns Adama. Of the others, ASX-listed Nufarm had a distribution agreement with Monsanto for its Roundup glyphosphate products up until 2013, while Bayer rival BASF reportedly held inconclusive talks with Monsanto earlier this year . . .

International Judges to preside over record entry for the New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards:

A record of 136 entries has been received for the 2016 New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards; 117 Extra Virgin and 19 Flavoured olive oils. The previous best entry was less than 100.

The international judges are Reni Hildenbrand from South Africa, Georges Feghali from Lebanon, Robert Harris from Germany/Australia along with New Zealand judges Charlotte Connoley from Auckland, Rachel Priestley from Greytown and Rachel Costello from Nelson. . . 

Wagyu sire progeny test underway:

THE Wagyu breed is set to benefit immensely from Australia’s first sire progeny test where net feed intake (NFI) is assessed in a commercial feedlot situation.

Australian Wagyu Association and Kerwee Lot Feeders on Queensland’s Darling Downs have developed a comprehensive program with the first intake of 180 head representing nine sires in the feedlot since  the start of August.

Kerwee has installed GrowSafe feed bins, the first available in a commercial feedlot in Australia, in two pens with a total capacity of 180 head.  Three intakes a year can be assessed. . . 

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We work in acres not hours – Pink Tractor


Rural round-up

31/07/2016

World trends that will influence future farming – Pita Alexander:

The oldest son in a farming family has returned home from a trip overseas after completing his degree at Lincoln University.

Before coming back to the farm and making a career of farming the son spent a year in Australia, North America and Europe. He wanted to obtain a picture of where farming might be heading during his tenure.

Among his many observations in a report he prepared for his family were the following:

– A formal licence to farm is looking like a certainty for New Zealand within the next 10 – 15 years and the banks may lend at lower interest rates with this certificate.

–  Killing farm animals before they are fully grown is getting some air time in some countries.

– Traceability from the farmer to the eating and buying consumer is already present, but is going to get more complicated and will hopefully bring more value to the farmer.

–  About 25-30 per cent of the world’s food production ends up being wasted and not eaten  – this will have to be improved upon well before 2050. . . 

ASB punts on Fonterra sticking with $4.25 milk price – Jamie Grey:

ASB Bank is punting on Fonterra leaving its 2016/7 farmgate milk price forecast unchanged at $4.25 a kg of milk solids when the co-operative releases a market update on Monday.

However the risks were “skewed” to a figure as low as $3.90/kg because of a consistently strong New Zealand dollar, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said in a research note.

Penny said it was still early days in the season, which started on June 1, and that there was plenty of time for dairy prices to rise. . . 

More research is needed if farming is to progress – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Climate variability, farm gate prices for food and fibre, and increased concerns about the environment are combining to create unsustainable farm systems.

Alternatives need careful evaluation before decisions are made in an attempt to avoid unintended consequences.

The latter can be worse than the current state – Brexit, for example. 

Increased warm temperatures, drought, floods and long cold springs mean that farmers are adapting systems to cope. Use of supplementary feed has been part of the development of resilient farm businesses, but the urban perspective is that costs have increased without an increase in income. . . 

Resistance or resilience – which best characterises the red meat sector? – Allan Barber:

The Red Meat Sector Conference held in Auckland on Monday did not have one single theme, but a series of themes across the day, starting with the question ‘resistance or resilience?’ Past history suggests the answer might most logically be both rather than a choice between the two options.

In his introductory remarks MIA chairman John Loughlin said the volatile global situation contrasted with a relatively stable environment at home with a predictable meat industry, while Beef + Lamb chairman James Parsons highlighted the need to reduce on farm costs while achieving incremental gains across the supply chain. . . 

Queenstown tracks to get ratepayer funding:

Queenstown’s council has agreed to pay to maintain 11 walking and biking tracks being developed across two high country stations.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council yesterday agreed to pay $10,000 a year to maintain the existing and planned tracks, which will go across Glencoe and Coronet Stations.

The land is partially owned by the Crown under pastoral lease, and partially by Soho Properties, which has entered into an agreement with the Queen Elizabeth II Trust to protect the land. . . 

Better baits and better trapping – Kate Guthrie:

Peanut butter has long been used as a lure for rats. Possums have a fondness for the scent of cinnamon. But are they the all-time favourite foods of rats and possums? Researchers at Victoria University of Wellington used chew cards to check out what really tickles the tastebuds of two of our more common urban pest species. Home trappers might like to give these food lures a go too…

Many tests of trap lures are done with laboratory animals, but in this project the researchers compared food-based products on free-ranging, wild rats and possums. They assessed the chew card results for attractiveness and consumption and found that wild rats preferred cheese, milk chocolate, Nutella and walnut to the peanut butter standard. Possums statistically preferred apricot and almond to cinnamon. . . 

Farmers need to be bank ready:

With the dairy pay out remaining stubbornly low and equity positions becoming more precarious many farmers are seeing more of their bank manager, according to Crowe Horwath’s Head of Corporate Agribusiness, Hayden Dillon.

Dillon is quick to point out that this increased level of contact isn’t always a bad thing and proactive discussions between banker and farmer are an important step to take in dealing with the current financial pressures both parties are facing.

However, it can be intimidating for some and a recent Federated Farmers’ survey found that one in ten farmers were feeling an ‘undue’ level of pressure from their bank. . . 

#431AM top ten calving tips:

We asked our #431AM farming community how to get through #calving16.

Here are some of our farmers’ top tips for the calving season. Thanks to everyone who contributed!

We’d love to hear your #calving16 tips – hit us up on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #431AM. 

 

  • Eat well, sleep well, know your body’s limits. Good communication amongst your team and don’t let things get to you. It’s farming, it’s life and things go wrong. It’s how you manage the situation that counts. Being negative will make time go so much slower, and above all think of our girls. We get days off during the season but they don’t, without our girls we are grass growers. Richard H
  • We have 3 meetings a day. We have a work safe meeting to work out what safety gear we will need before we’re out the door. Yesterday with snow on the ground it was too dangerous for workers to leave the house. You have to have more meetings. 1 a day is not enough. Ann-Maree G
  • Take time to get off farm, even for an hour. Keep in touch with others, especially when things are at their toughest. Chances are others are also feeling the burn. Sue M
  • Set a roster, keep the fridge stocked with food snacks, have morning meetings with coffee and snacks and last thing at night after milking. Ask what people want to discuss at tomorrow’s meeting and what was their highlights and/or best achievements for the day. Geoff M . . .

 

South Island Wool Bounces:

New Zealand Wool Services International LTDs CEO Mr John Dawson reports that despite a strengthening NZ dollar, the varied selection at this week’s South Island auction attracted strong support.

Of the 7700 bales on offer 85 percent sold.

The weighted currency indicator was up 2.06 percent compared to the previous week’s auction.

Mr Dawson advises that a selection ranging from 21 micron merinos to 42 micron coarse wools with a cross section of styles and lengths provided attractive options to buyers which overrode the possible negative impact of the stronger dollar compared to the similar South Island offering on 14 July. . . 

Fine wines of New Zealand revealed:

Six of the nation’s leading independent wine experts have come together to create “The Fine Wines of New Zealand” – a list of the country’s most prestigious wines.

A selection panel comprising Masters of Wine Alastair Maling, Michael Brajkovich, Sam Harrop, Simon Nash and Steve Smith along with Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas has agreed on the list for 2016 which includes 47 wines representing seven varietals.

This group of leading New Zealand wine experts met several times in late 2015 and in the first half of 2016 to define the criteria that had to be met for a wine to earn the prestigious Fine Wine of New Zealand status. One of the key criteria is consistency, with a wine having had to have been produced to an exceptional standard for a minimum of five consecutive years. . . 


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