Rural round-up

February 10, 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

January 24, 2019

Finding the path for dairy – Keith Woodford:

I have always been optimistic about the long-term future of dairy. I think it is likely that dairy will remain one of the pillars that underpins the New Zealand economy. But we sure do have some challenges!

The first challenge is that urban New Zealand does not understand the extent to which our national wealth depends on the two pillars of dairy and tourism. Yes, there are other important industries such as kiwifruit and wine, and yes, forestry, lamb and beef are also very important. But rightly or wrongly, our population has been growing rapidly, and the export economy also has to keep growing. There is a need for some big pillars.

Somehow, we have to create the exports to pay for all of the machinery, the computers, the electronics, the planes, the cars, the fuel and the pharmaceuticals on which we all depend. . .

Overseer transition needed – Ken Muir:

Clint Rissman Clint Rissman Attempts to move beyond the use of Overseer to manage nutrient loss on farms could be hampered by the level of investment already made in the system, Southland soil scientist Dr Clint Rissman says. ‘

‘In many situations, Overseer has been misused as a regulatory tool, mainly because there is a lack of alternatives for regulatory authorities,” Dr Rissman said. ”It’s important that we find a way to develop better tools while preserving the value of the investment we have already made in Overseer.” . . 

Hemp/wool combo spring a good yarn  :

Innovative new products using wool and hemp fibre will be developed under a new partnership between NZ Yarn and Hemp NZ. Farmers will have long-term opportunities to diversify into hemp and those already growing it will be able to sell a greater proportion of their product.

Christchurch-based NZ Yarn Ltd, a world-leading producer of wool yarns for the global soft flooring market, has announced a new shareholder and business partner — Hemp New Zealand Ltd. . .

Perendale top seller – Yvonne O’Hara:

For the second year in a row, a Perendale ram is the top selling ram at the Gore A&P Association South Island Premier Ram Auction.

The ram, owned by Pip Wilson, of Waikaka, sold for $8200, which was $400 down on the top price last year. The nine breeds, totalling 241 rams, were offered at the auction held at the showgrounds on Tuesday and Wednesday last week. . . 

A day’s work is a life lesson for a kid – Uptown Farms:

On a farm there’s always work.

I try not to lose sight of the blessing that is for our family.

Today, a snow day, it meant we could say yes when our oldest asked if he could go to work instead of going to daycare.

He’s had his eye on an expensive LEGO set and he’s looking for ways to earn a few more dollars for it. So today, like a lot of farm kids, he will go to work.

He will sweat a little. He’ll freeze a little. He will probably get hollered at a little and likely goof some things up.  . . 

NZ importers join in India’s largest global food event:

More than US$ 1 billion worth of business was transacted at Indus Food 2019, India’s biggest international food and beverage expo, in New Delhi on January 14-15, according to the Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI).

Indus Food is a global platform where top exporters from India’s food and beverage industry participate and meet with prospective buyers and distributors from across the world invited to the event by the TPCI. . . 


Rural round-up

January 20, 2019

Wilding pines march across the Wakatipu landscape – Keith Woodford:

The Wakatipu Basin, with Queenstown as its main town and Arrowtown a secondary town, is a key location for the war between wilding pines and humans. On the human side, the war is led by the Department of Conservation (DOC), but there are also lots of community volunteers. There are battles to be fought. It is not clear who is going to win.

New Zealand’s wilding pines include at least 11 species. They can be any North American or European conifer which has blown  in on the wind to where it was not intended to be. And that is what is happening across the tussock grasslands of the South Island.

In its natural state, the Wakatipu Basin was stark, There were very few trees. And so the early European settlers planted trees that came from their homelands.  These trees have greatly softened the landscape.  Indeed much of the beauty of the valley floors is associated with these trees, particularly the deciduous trees in autumn. . . .

Stepping up to genetic plate – Luke Chivers:

Waikaretu Valley sheep and beef farmer Kate Broadbent is committed to improving the odds for New Zealand sheep farmers against natural hazards. Luke Chivers reports. 

Sheep and beef farmer Kate Broadbent from Nikau Coopworth in Waikaretu Valley in Waikato is combining her passion for the land with sheep genetics and performance recording.

The former Canadian has a longstanding connection with the primary sector, science and innovation.

“I grew up on a dairy farm in Nova Scotia, Canada and it was there my love of farming was born,” Broadbent says. . . 

Big day for the southern guns:

Southern shearers opened a big weekend of shearing sports in New Zealand with a near cleansweep of all five places in the Open shearing final at the Northern Southland Community Shears near Lumsden today.

The rout in the Selbie family’s Five Rivers woolshed, including the biggest Open-class win in the career of former double Golden Shears lower grades champion Brett Roberts, 24, of Mataura, came in the first of two-back-to-back A-grade Southland shows this weekend. . . 

The shearing the fun shows of the north:

Waikato farmer Lee Cheyne isn’t going to let a few hundred kilometres stand between him and the chance to help boost the shearing competitions over the next few weeks.

It’s all about fun, he says, and while he won’t be at the Kaikohe show which kicks off the second annual ANZ Northland Shearing Competition on Saturday he says he will make the trip north for at least three of the other shows all of them at least two hours away – one close to four. . . 

Health Canada stands by approval of ingredient in Roundup weed killer :

Health Canada scientists say there is no reason to believe the scientific evidence they used to approve the continued use of glyphosate in weed killers was tainted.

On Friday they rejected, again, arguments that the ingredient in herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup causes cancer if the substances are used as they’re supposed to be.

The department’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency is required to reassess herbicides every 15 years and after such a reassessment in 2017 it approved glyphosate for continued use in Canada with some additional labelling requirements. The review looked at more than 1,300 studies and concluded glyphosate products pose no risk to people or the environment as long as they are properly used and labelled. . . 

 

Mystery surrounds potential world record trout catch:

Fish and Game is trying to confirm reports of a giant trout – a potential world record – recently caught in the Mackenzie Country hydro canals.

Eyewitnesses report seeing an angler land a 24.9kg (55 pound) brown trout in the Pukaki-Ohau A canal.

If confirmed, it would be a new world record for a brown trout. . . 


Rural round-up

January 9, 2019

Chucks empire lays golden egg – Bryan Gibson:

For many in business 1987 was a bad year but for Max Bryant it was the beginning of something special.

Under pressure from the bank over a kiwifruit development that hadn’t panned out Bryant decided to build a chicken shed at home in Halcombe, the small Manawatu settlement where he lived.

Thirty years later he has sold the company, Proten, for $400 million.

Bryant estimates about $60m of that will stay with shareholders in the district, who were ground-floor investors.

He admits Proten has come a long way since that first shed was built out the back. . . 

A new wave of stress relief – Luke Chivers:

The Gisborne farming community is testing the waters this summer and seeing how surfing can be used as a way to let off steam.

Staff at AgFirst have created a programme dubbed Surfing for Farmers to help rural communities reduce stress and it works, AgFirst consultant and programme founder Stephen Thomson said.

“When you get off the farm and into the water it’s like taking a plunge into another world.

“For an hour or two you forget about everything else.” . . 

It’s time to look at soil health – Dr Han Eerens:

Spare a thought for soil — arguably our most underappreciated natural resource.

Globally, 95% of the food we consume comes from the earth. Soil serves as the earth’s largest natural water filter helping supply the world with fresh, clean water. Additionally, one-quarter of the world’s biodiversity — including millions of microbes which are key to the success of today’s antibiotics — are found in soil. Yet despite all this our soil is being destroyed at a rapid rate. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis eradication is far from done and dusted – Keith Woodford:

There is a widespread belief in both the rural and urban communities that Mycoplasma bovis is well on the way to being eradicated from New Zealand. My response here is that there is a still a long way to travel before any declarations of success are appropriate.

In December, Prime Minister Ardern, no doubt choosing her words carefully and based on official advice, talked of ‘substantial progress’.  However, the broader tone of both MPI and DairyNZ messaging has led to parts of the media and then the general public taking a further step and concluding that the battle is almost over. . . .

A career in dairy might be more different than you think

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer of Farm Source and Global Operations, Robert Spurway, says a career in dairy doesn’t necessarily mean milking cows.

According to Primary ITO chief executive Dr. Linda Sissons, one in five applicants for their new dairy apprenticeship programme are from Auckland. The programme, in partnership with Federated Farmers, is responding to the need for an estimated 17, 000 new workers by 2025. It will encourage more smart, innovative and ambitious people – including those from urban centres – to consider a career on a dairy farm.

This is great news because with increasing animal welfare, environment, and compliance requirements, number 8 wire will only go so far. Today, our farmers need to be everything from agronomists, environmental scientists, veterinarians to high-tech experts. . . .

New Wanaka A&P Show campaign explores what it means to be “local”:

The Wanaka A&P Show today launches a timely campaign about the sense of community and what it means to be a local in Wanaka.

The ‘Call Me Local’ campaign is a tongue-in-cheek inquiry into the tricky question of ‘how long does a person have to live in Wanaka before they’re considered a local?’

Correspondingly, Wanaka is experiencing significant growth, development and change – leading residents to prioritise the sense of ‘community’ even more. The Wanaka A&P Show campaign acknowledges this to remind people about the importance of being part of a community. . . .


Rural round-up

December 11, 2018

Plant a tree grow a community – Luke Chivers:

Matawai farmers Eugene and Pania King are dedicated to sustainability but it isn’t just about the environment. Luke Chivers reports.

Sheep and beef farmers Eugene and Pania King from Kiriroa Station at Matawai are combining their passion for the land with hard work and whanau support.

The couple have a longstanding connection with their family, their environment and their local community.

“We both grew up in rural New Zealand and a career in agriculture was inevitable,” Pania says.  . . 

 

Wee dog helps child farm safety – Alan Williams:

A serious little dachshund and a devil-may-care miniature fox terrier are the heroes in a new book aimed at making children safer on farms.

Ted the foxy races round doing silly things but Poppy is always close by teaching him to put his think-safe brain on.

“They’re both very small and they highlight just how small a child also is on a farm and through them being out and about I’m trying to help children understand about making good decisions,” author Harriet Bremner said. . . 

Farm safety story book launched in wake of tragedy:

A woman who lost her partner in a farm incident has launched a book to keep children safe on the farm.

Harriet Bremner’s partner James died in a farm machinery incident in Hakataramea Valley in January 2017. Now, her new book, Be Safe, Be Seen, sees her miniature dachshund Poppy take on the challenges of keeping safe on the farm as a little dog.

Primary School teacher Harriet hopes that kids will heed the safety messages in the book and that families reading the book to their children will be reminded to make safe choices at work every day. . . 

Fonterra’s strategic reset interacts with new Board dynamics – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s December update shows that the strategic reset is under way, albeit at an early stage.

Key indicators include that the Beingmate JV is being unwound and that Fonterra’s China Farms are under heightened scrutiny. The big shock is that Tip Top is on the market. The ownership of Soprole in Chile must also be under scrutiny, although little has been said publicly.

I will return to those issues within this article, but first it is necessary to understand something of the dynamics within the new Fonterra Board. . .

A2 rings in more executive changes under new CEO Hrdlicka – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka’s executive team is going through more changes as two senior managers depart – one for early retirement and one to pursue another opportunity.

Long-serving executive Simon Hennessy, who is currently general manager international development, will take early retirement. Relative newcomer Michael Bracka, who heads business development in emerging markets, will leave this month to pursue another opportunity, the company said. . . 

Major breakthrough for Mānuka farming initiative:

A ground-breaking milestone could see more Hawke’s Bay farmers producing high-grade mānuka honey worth millions to the New Zealand economy.

Scientifically-bred mānuka cultivars planted on a 130 hectare trial site at Tūtira, Hawke’s Bay between 2011 and 2013 have produced their first crop of mānuka honey with an average Unique Mānuka Factor (UMF®) value of 7. One sample reached medical grade by exceeding UMF® 10. . . 

Dairy and meat products lead manufacturing fall:

A fall in dairy and meat products pushed overall manufacturing sales down for the September 2018 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the volume of total manufacturing sales fell 1.6 percent in the September 2018 quarter. This fall was led by a 6.7 percent decrease in meat and dairy product manufacturing.

“Most meat and dairy products in New Zealand are exported and occasionally, the timing of exports, price changes, and exchange rates can affect manufacturing sales,” manufacturing statistics manager Sue Chapman said. . . 


Rural round-up

November 26, 2018

Does Russia belong in the West or the East? – Keith Woodford:

The issue of whether Russia belongs in the West or the East might seem a strange topic for a New Zealand agri-food systems person like me to be discussing. However, political and food systems, and the associated international trade, are joined at the hip. Politics and agricultural trade are always fellow travellers.

These last two weeks, while working in Russia, I have pondered as to where Russia belongs. From a cultural perspective, I have no doubt it is in the West. Yet from a geopolitical perspective it would seem that Russia’s future is more with China in the East. Here, I explore the dichotomy and the contradiction.

Milk flush is depressing prices – Hugh Stringleman:

Record milk collection in New Zealand over the October peak has continued to depress Global Dairy Trade prices, which, in turn, threaten a reduction in the farmgate milk price closer to $6/kg.

The GDT index fell 3.5% after the auction on November 21, the twelfth consecutive fall or sideways movement since mid-May.

World prices are now 20% below their 2018 peak and 12% lower than this time last year.

Plenty of cattle left – Neal Wallace:

Stirring international and domestic storms have conspired to undercut bull beef prices.

A combination of falling United States prices in the last two months, processors trying to maintain margins and farmers being careful with stock purchases because of Mycoplasma bovis have reduced demand and prices, AgriHQ market analyst Reece Brick says.

At a recent Feilding calf sale those bred on the vendor’s property were $30 to $40 ahead of calves that weren’t. . .

The green, green grass of Maniototo – Jono Edwards:

Green fields in the usually-barren Maniototo have some farmers casting their minds back to the 1970s.

Unusually high rainfall, including a recent heavy downpour, was welcome news for the industry after months of dry heat last year.

Gimmerburn farmer Duncan Helm said things were looking “bloody magnificent”

Mataura Valley’s multimillion-dollar milk plant opens – Margaret Phillips:

The official opening of the $240 million Mataura Valley Milk plant at McNab brought guests from all corners of the globe today.

 MVM general manager Bernard May said the plant was forecast to pour about $90 million annually, directly or indirectly, into the South’s economy. Its major shareholder is the China Animal Husbandry Group. . .

Will Argentina be the first country approving a GMO wheat? -Javier Preciado Patiño:

 “We mustn’t do what other countries have already done; we must do what no other country did” Self-confident and why not a little bit provoker, the CEO of Bioceres, Mr. Federico Trucco, challenged the audience in the formal presentacion of the HB4 Wheat, the transgenic wheat that added drought tolerance to glufosinate-ammonium herbicide tolerance.

The beginning of this development dates from middles ’90 when scientist Raquel Chan’s team identified a gene (HB4) that confers sunflower seed a better performance under drought condition. In 2003, Bioceres reached an agreement with Conicet (the governmental Science and Technology Comission) to develop this finding in a commercial way. In 2007, HB4 was transferred to other crops like soybean, maize and wheat, and now only one formal step is missing to release this technology to the Argentinean farmers.

Mr. Trucco explained the three step deregulation process for a GMO crop in Argentina. HB4 wheat has already been approved by the SENASA (Food Quality and Health Service) and the Conabia (Biotechnology Advisor Commission), because there is not risk to the human health, animal health and the environment, and the characteristics of this wheat are the same of conventional ones. . . 

New app helps farmers finish cattle to retailers’ specifications:

A new app can help farmers finish cattle to retailers’ specifications with greater precision, avoiding lower prices for the farmer and waste in the value chain.

Changing customer tastes mean that almost half of prime beef now fails to meet ideal market specifications.

The app will help farmers finish cattle to retailers’ specifications with greater precision, underpinned by the data to evidence this. . . 


Rural round-up

November 20, 2018

Has the time come for genetic modification?– Charlie Dreaver:

Trees with red trunks and apples that are red right the way through and flower all year round. Should we back or block the genetically changed plants New Zealand scientists are growing? Charlie Dreaver reports for Insight. 

Gene edited plants are just as safe as normal plants, according to one scientist. At a Plant and Food Research greenhouse in Auckland, one of the sections is filled with $300 apple trees, and Andy Allan, a professor of plant biology, is pointing out one of his favourite experiment, a tree with bright, fuchsia-coloured flowers.

“The particular red gene we’re testing is under a strong expression, so the roots are red, the trunk is red, the leaves are copper and the fruit goes on to look more like a plum, it’s so dark.” . . 

Hope for kiwi comeback from 1080 project targeting stoats – Jono Edwards:

The first western Fiordland 1080 project will start mid-next year in the hope of bringing the stoat-ridden area’s kiwi back from the brink.

As part of the Department of Conservation’s “Save Our Iconic Kiwi” initiative, the operation will target 50,000ha of rugged, inaccessible terrain at Shy Lake, between Wet Jacket Arm and Breaksea Sound.

Non-toxic baits to accustom rats to the bait are planned for late winter next year, followed by toxic baits in September and October. The stoats will then eat the poisoned rats. . .

Native vegetation on sheep and beef farms summary report:

A report from the University of Canterbury has revealed that 24 per cent of New Zealand’s native vegetation (approximately 2.8 million hectares) is estimated to be on sheep and beef farms. This is the largest amount of native vegetation present outside of public conservation land. 

The report has also uncovered that 17 per cent of all New Zealand’s native forest is estimated to be on sheep and beef farms and is likely playing a vital, but often unheralded role in supporting biodiversity.

B+LNZ CEO Sam McIvor reflects that “This is a great acknowledgement for our farmers and the work they’re doing as stewards of the land. I hear sheep and beef farmers talking every day about what they’re doing on farm to support biodiversity and it’s great we have been able to develop evidence to back their passionate voices”. . .

Less effective killers cost more – Jacqueline Rowarth:

 Glyphosphate, commonly sold as Roundup, has been in the news again, this time because of a link to antibiotic resistance.

Canterbury University’s Professor Jack Heinemann has done some interesting work in the laboratory. He has also acknowledged agar plates in controlled conditions are a very long way from field use.

More research is required. Of course.

And scientists love having a reason to do more research.

It’s different in Russia – Keith Woodford:

This last week I have been working in Russia on issues of A1 and A2 beta-casein.  I am still there, but today is Sunday and together with my wife Annette, I am on a fast train from Moscow to St Petersburg.

It’s late autumn over here, but to a Kiwi lad it seems like the middle of winter. Until today, the weather has been fine and clear but with temperatures below freezing. Today the snow has arrived, and it will now be on the ground for at least the next four months.  There is not much sign of global warming over here!

Travelling by fast train at 250 km per hour, I am fascinated by the lungs of Russia. By that I mean the hundreds of kilometres of trees, largely pines, with just the occasional village.  Somewhere there must be some farm lands, but they sure aren’t in sight from the train. . . 

Signs mount that Fonterra will have to cut its payout forecast –  Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – The risks are mounting against Fonterra holding its current forecast milk payout and this week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction could be yet another nail in its coffin.

The auction results will be released early Wednesday, New Zealand time.

Fonterra’s current forecast is a rate of $6.25-to-$6.50 a kilogram of milk solids but Mark Lister, the head of wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, says the trends in both dairy pricing and the renewed strength in the kiwi dollar could see the actual payout settle closer to $6.00 or $6.25. . . 

Fonterra too helpful to councils – Hugh Stringleman:

The ever-increasing compliance load on dairy farmers was forcibly questioned at the Fonterra annual meeting by Cambridge dairy farmer Judy Bryan.

She alleged Fonterra accepts and facilitates regional councils’ demands for environmental actions that load costs on farmers.

“We may be getting $6 something in milk price but look where a lot of that is going, on compliance. . .

Careful! You might miss New Zealand’s latest luxury lodge:

New Zealand’s newest luxury lodge epitomises discretion, from blending seamlessly into its secluded rural location to the luxe surroundings and discerning service of a high-calibre luxury destination.

Set to become New Zealand’s newest luxury destination, The Lindis which opened this month in a dramatic South Island high country valley, blends so perfectly with the surroundings that you’d be forgiven for missing it.

Try spotting The Lindis from the air and you’re liable to miss it thanks to outstanding architecture designed to blend with the stunning landscape surrounding the building’s resting place in the Ahuriri Valley. The valley lies in a stretch of South Island high country between Mount Cook and Wanaka and the lodge name associates with The Lindis Pass, a picturesque alpine roadway linking the Mackenzie Basin with Central Otago. . .


%d bloggers like this: