Rural round-up

November 28, 2018

Sheep burping project given wheels – Sally Rae:

This is a tale of burping sheep.

Among the work AgResearch scientists have been doing to reduce methane emissions from agriculture is a project to breed sheep that naturally produce less methane – the gas released in the burps of ruminant livestock.

Having determined sheep could be bred for lower methane emissions, the project was now being rolled-out to farms, giving breeders the opportunity to measure and select sheep with lowered environmental impacts.

Scientists had been working on the prospect of low methane sheep for quite some time, AgResearch Invermay-based senior scientist Dr Suzanne Rowe said yesterday. . . 

Weather, labour stalls contractors – Ken Muir:

While the weather has meant a testing time for farmers and contractors in the south, labour issues continue to be a major constraint in keeping up with work on farms, Southland agricultural contractor Peter Corcoran says.

‘The weather has undoubtedly been better than last year and the recent variations we’ve had have caused some backlogs,” Mr Corcoran said.

”While this has been annoying, we are undoubtedly in much better shape than we were last year.”

At that stage, he said, contractors were sitting around with nothing to do, but at least this year things were off to an early start. . . 

 

Postharvest scientist honoured by NZIAHS:

Plant & Food Research scientist Dr Jeremy Burdon has been awarded a Fellowship of the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science in recognition of his longstanding contributions to postharvest science that supports New Zealand’s fresh fruit industries, particularly kiwifruit and avocado.

Dr Burdon is a leading postharvest scientist well respected by industry and academic peers. Over a career spanning 30 years, he has consistently demonstrated outstanding skills in innovative thinking and scientific excellence in partnering science with business. He is especially noted for the science underpinning the successful commercialisation of new kiwifruit cultivars and his practical advice to packhouse and coolstore operators. . . 

Vertical farming has limits:

Vertical farming – where food is grown indoors in high stacks – will not replace traditional fruit and vegetable growing in New Zealand, but it may supplement it in future if technology makes it economically viable, research released today finds.

As part of her Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme, Horticulture New Zealand environmental policy advisor Rachel McClung has published a report, “Can vertical farming replace New Zealand’s productive land to deliver high quality fruits and vegetables in the future?”

“Growing towns and cities are reducing access to some of New Zealand’s most productive land for growing fruit and vegetables,” McClung says. “There is some complacency about this because of the misconception that fruit and vegetables can be grown ‘somewhere else’. But the combination of the right soils and climate is necessary.  . . 

When good sense takes control of the wheel:

 Today marks a big win for on farm safety and biosecurity, says Federated Farmers dairy chair Chris Lewis. In the Government’s announcement of its Employment Relations Bill today, a change Federated Farmers advocated for appears to be included.

The Bill allows union representatives the right to access worksites where union members are covered by or bargaining for a collective agreement, but requires consent from employers in all other circumstances. . . 

Glyphosate and TIME magazine: writer employed by advocacy group a dubious choice – Grant Jacobs:

TIME magazine has a story on DeWayne ‘Lee’ Johnston who took Monsanto to court claiming RoundUp caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma.[1] The story has obvious appeal, but is crying out for balance and it’s provenance is, to be kind, awkward. I’d love to read his account of his experiences since the trial — but from a source I can trust. I’m dubious that a writer employed by an advocacy organisation can be sensibly used as a journalist.

A reply

responded on TIME’s Facebook page, . . 

Tulips from Balfour – Blair Drysdale:

Quite often when farmers share their frustrations about the weather in conversation with others, we’re accused of just being a “whinging farmer”. But for farmers and horticulturalists alike among others, it dictates our day-to-day operations, our state of mind and the bottom line result at the end of the financial year.

And this year just like all before it, has had its perils and is no exception. A dull winter with little sun and few frosts, has continued on well into spring with plenty of precipitation, a combination of a lack of equinox winds and little sunshine to dry the soil out, has made it very frustrating trying to get spring barley in the ground here. . . 

On the farm – what’s happening in rural New Zealand:

What’s happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

Northland warmed up as the week progressed. It has had a drop or two of rain – 30 to 40mm in the west, less in the east. That has nudged along sluggish grass growth, which has given farmers the confidence to buy cattle. Two-year-old steers have been fetching between $1200 and $1500 and yearlings $650 to $1000. Female cattle have not been doing so well. Prices are down for younger cattle by 8 to12 percent compared with last year. . . 


Rural round-up

February 27, 2018

Kellogg report puts a human face on small rural business challenges – Kate Taylor:

There are challenges facing people with small rural businesses all over the world.

But in rural New Zealand, it is not always easy to solve them in isolation.

Rural people know how special rural New Zealand is, that’s why we fight so hard to stay out there running businesses alongside our farms or lifestyle blocks or within our homes.

I say we, because I own a small rural business. When I’m not writing for NZ Farmer I’m a freelance writer – communiKate – and I have been self-employed in rural Hawke’s Bay for almost 18 years. . . 

School introduces agribusiness as subject – Sally Rae:

The introduction of agribusiness as a subject at Kavanagh College signals “exciting times” in education, head of commerce Jill Armstrong says.

On Friday, pupils from the Dunedin school visited origin verification company Oritain, animal parasite diagnostics company Techion Group and Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells’ dairy farm on the Taieri.

It was a “fantastic” field trip and followed on from the introduction of agribusiness as a subject at NCEA level 2 this year, Ms Armstrong said.

At Oritain, Sam Lind gave an overview of the company and why it had become so important  for businesses to be protected from fraud. . . 

Top dairy women announced as finalists for Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award:

A dairy consultant, a district mayor, and a leadership coach are finalists in the 2018 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year awards.

Hawke’s Bay dairy consultant Rachel Baker, Tararua district mayor Tracey Collis, and Southland dairy leadership coach Loshni Manikam are in the running for the coveted dairy award, which will be announced at an awards ceremony during Dairy Women’s Network’s conference in Rotorua on Thursday 22 March. . . 

Local leaders recognised by Dairy Women’s Network:

Two women with generations of farming experience behind them are finalists in the 2018 Dairy Community Leadership Awards.

They are dairy farmers Kylie Leonard, from Reporoa in the Central Plateau, and Lorraine Stephenson, from Dannevirke in Manawatu.

The Dairy Community Leadership Awards are a Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) initiative recognising the unsung heroes of rural communities. This year’s award will be presented at an awards ceremony during the Network’s conference in Rotorua, 22-23 March.

Sponsored by ASB and Tompkins Wake, the award recognises the voluntary role dairy farming women have in leading their communities and sharing their time and skills beyond the farm gate. . . 

Fears for seed industry after red clover moth found nationwide – Eva Corlett:

A moth that attacks red clover, with “devastating” effects has now been found nationwide.

The red clover casebearer moth was first discovered in Auckland two years ago. It has now been found in pheromone traps at the bottom of the South Island, leading researchers to believe it has actually been in the country for around 10 years.

The larvae eats the red clover’s seed, spurring fears for the seed industry, the seed research manager for the Foundation of Arable Research Richard Chynoweth said. . . 

Sports award finalist acknowledges teamwork – Sally Rae:

Jude McNab isn’t one to seek the limelight.

In fact, the Owaka-based shearing sports administrator much prefers to be “behind the scenes and hidden under the table”. But she acknowledged that being named as a finalist for this year’s Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards — in the contribution to the rural sports industry category — was a “real honour”, despite deflecting attention from herself.

“I don’t do this on my own. It’s a team effort with everything. I’m probably the bossy britches,” she laughed.

The awards were about celebrating traditional sports and the people who kept events running year-in and year-out in towns and settlements across the country. . . 

Rural recycling a no-brainer – Simon Andrew:

Supporting farmers and growers to clear more waste and preserve New Zealand farms for future generations is the mission of the rural recycling programme, Agrecovery.

In tackling the plastic used by our rural communities, the leading product stewardship programme recycles over 300 tonnes per year. “That is enough plastic to cover a rugby field six feet high,” says Agrecovery General Manager, Simon Andrew. . . 

It’s time to tell the world about British farming – and heal our rural-urban divide – Minette Batters:

Farming is changing. In all the talk of technology reshaping society, some might have assumed that farming would have been left untouched by this rapid pace of change. But there has been revolution and evolution in the fields of Britain. An agricultural revolution, with the introduction of new productivity-enhancing technologies, and a food evolution, with a relentless drive for high standards. . .

 

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Rural round-up

September 15, 2017

Dairy conversions falling:

DairyNZ says a fall in the number of dairy conversions in Canterbury signals strongly that fears of a big rise in dairying there are unwarranted.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) reports 20 consents were granted for new dairy farms in the last financial year — nearly half last year’s figure and a huge drop on the 110 granted in 2011.

The last year in which only 20 conversions were consented was 2007. . . 

Dairy farming a game changer for Englishman

Poacher turned gamekeeper is an idiom as old as the hills, but gamekeeper turned Waikato dairy farmer? Now that’s new. The dairyman and former gamekeeper is Ben Moore, who with wife Lizzy farms 450 cows at Okororie, near Tirau in Waikato.

Ben, from Hampshire, in the south of England, was a professional gamekeeper of pheasants in Rotorua when he met Lizzy, daughter of Federated Farmers leader and former dairy industry director Tony Wilding, nine years ago.

New Zealanders would be rightly surprised to discover that right here at home exists a world straight out of Downton Abbey including plus-fours, gun loaders, ground beaters and all. . .

Rural sector underpins growth – Alexia Johnston:

South Canterbury’s rural sector is being credited as a major contributor to recent economic growth.

 Latest economic development figures from Infometrics show the Timaru district has experienced 1.3% growth in the latest June quarter.

That figure is well above the 0.8% recorded for wider Canterbury, but was below the nationwide figure of 2.8%.

Timaru district’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the year to June was $2318million. . .

Wings stabilise irrigators in wind – Maureen Bishop:

The design trials are over; now the field trials have begun for a new irrigator ”wing” aimed at providing stabilisation in times of high winds.

The galvanised wing is the brainchild of farmer Greg Lovett and kite-maker, inventor and engineer Peter Lynn.

The high winds of spring 2013 which destroyed hundreds of irrigators, prompted Mr Lovett to look at some method of stabilising irrigators which could prevent them toppling over.

He sought expertise advice from Mr Lynn. As a pioneer of kite surfing and buggying, and the holder of the record for the world’s largest kite, Mr Lynn knows a lot about wind and its power. . . 

Southland arable farm thrives when dairying flourishes :

Balfour arable farmer Chris Dillon says the first rule of arable farming is that you don’t treat your soil like dirt.

Dillon became the Federated Farmers Southland arable chairman this year and feels strongly that arable farmers deserve strong representation even if they are a small group in the region.

“Arable farms are a minority group in Southland but we play a very important part in it as well,” he says . .

Hail and wet weather take a toll on vegetables – Gerard Hutching:

Hail in Pukekohe and cold, wet weather throughout the country have hit vegetable crops but it is too soon to say how much more consumers might have to pay for potatoes, lettuce and cauliflowers this spring.

Pukekohe grower Bharat Bhana said the hailstorms which came through the region in the last few days had done more damage than wet weather, but in other parts of the country a wet spring has come on top of a soggy winter.

“Onions are smashed, lettuce have got bullet holes in them, looks like a flock of chickens has gone through,” Bhana said. . . 


Rural round-up

February 23, 2016

Thousands of dairy farms face closure as debts reach crisis level – Elizabeth Anderson and Rhiannon Bury:

As many as one in five of the UK’s 10,000-plus dairy farms could be forced to close this year, as falling milk prices and rising debt reach crisis levels for farmers across the country, various industry bodies have warned.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) said many dairy farmers are at the end of their tether, operating at a loss and unable to receive any more finance from banks.

“We’re expecting an awful lot to exit the industry by the end of this year, when lots of farmers will have eaten up their savings. Last year the figure was 4pc, but the expectation is more will exit this year, whether it’s 10pc or 20pc,” said the organisation’s chairman Rob Harrison, who also runs his own dairy farm and says he lost £150,000 worth of income last year. . . 

Hurricane’ Carter :

Reuben Carter’s choice of the word “hurricane” for both his email address and sheep stud name couldn’t be more appropriate.

In his 31 years he’s been through three careers – as a fitter and turner, a tractor mechanic and now agronomist. He was runner-up in the 2014 Young Farmer of the Year competition, has just completed the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme and has his eyes firmly set on a Nuffield scholarship in the next few years. He is also heavily involved in the farming and development of his family’s sheep and beef farm at Opononi at the southern end of Hokianga Harbour in Northland, albeit from a distance.

His parents, Northland farmers Bill and Tric, didn’t name him after Reuben “Hurricane” Carter, the American boxer wrongly convicted of murder and immortalised in the Bob Dylan song of that name. But he was left in no doubt that after finishing Whangarei Boys’ High School as a boarder he could not come straight back to the Opononi farm. . .

These aren’t your grandmother’s GMOs – Jennifer Blair:

Of all the tools that plant breeders have at their disposal, a compelling story is perhaps the most important — and the most challenging to find.

“That’s one of the things in the modern breeders’ tool kit that needs improvement — our message out to the public and how it’s going to come across,” said geneticist Sean Myles of Dalhousie University. “We’re not good at it right now.”

Scientists have faced an uphill struggle in sharing facts about genetically modified organisms with consumers, partly because of how they were created in those early days, Myles said in a presentation at FarmTech last month. . . 

When size doesn’t matter – Andrew Hoggard:

Consultation on Fonterra’s Governance and Representation Review has begun, and credit where credit is due, I like how Fonterra have approached this.

The document outlines all the issues that farmer shareholders need to be considering, and the questions to be answered by the farmer, in shaping what the representation and governance of Fonterra needs to look like going forward.

 One of the concerns I have is everyone will just get focused on the board size argument. While that may well be one aspect that could well be changed depending on farmer sentiment, it is not the only one.

 And, if we get too myopic on that we could well ignore other issues in this document which I feel are equally important. . . 

Young leaders announced for upcoming primary industry technology event:

Young leaders in New Zealand’s primary industries are essential for increasing the future prosperity of the sector. One of the key highlights at the upcoming MobileTECH 2016 event is the ‘Meet the future leaders’ panel. This session focuses on the next generation of farmers, orchardists and foresters and what their views and big ideas are for the future.

“While we will be heading a lot about new technologies at this event, it is equality as important to hear what the youth of today want to see developed”, said MobileTECH Programme Manager, Ken Wilson. “The young leaders have grown up with technology and there’s no doubt they will be the early adopters and visionaries for working with technology within our primary industries,” he said. . . 

Putting fun back into the community:

Manawatu and Rangitikei farmers will be encouraged to think fun rather than falling dairy prices and dry conditions at a rural family day in Rongotea on 9 March.

The event – dubbed the Rural Family after Five – is being hosted by Manawatu/Rangitikei Federated Farmers together with members of the local farming community and rural support groups with the aim of helping to boost spirits in the region.

“There’s a lot of pressure on our farmers at the moment, so we wanted to create something for the whole community, bringing them together and taking some time off farm to focus on something more positive,” says Federated Farmers Manawatu/Rangitikei Provincial President James Stewart. . . 

Federated Farmers welcomes Bee Industry Unification:

Federated Farmers welcomes the announcement that the outcome of the National Beekeepers Association (NBA) special vote is positive.

The positive vote for change means the NBA will become Apiculture New Zealand as of 1 April 2016.

Members of the NBA voted for 58.63 per cent in favour which indicates a continuation of support for unification, creating a single and effective industry body. . . 

Giesen Wines announces internship winner:

Blenheim born Andrew Jeffries, 21, is no stranger to working in vineyards, and it’s this experience that has helped him to win the inaugural graduate internship at Giesen Wines.

Andrew, who attended Lincoln University, studying for his Bachelor’s degree in Viticulture and Oenology, has just begun work with the family owned producer, working at Giesen’s premium organic high-density vineyards in Marlborough.

He is already well versed at working in vineyards as his parents own a small 22ha block in Marlborough, and as a teenager Andrew was busily employed during the holidays. For the past two years, he has been in a technical support role for Giesen Wines. . . 


Rural round-up

February 13, 2016

Proliant’s Feilding plant expected to bolster Manawatu economy – Paul Mitchell:

Proliant’s new cattle blood plasma manufacturing plant in Feilding is expected to be a huge boost to Manawatu’s economy.

The $30 million plant takes blood from cattle and makes it into products such as diagnostic test kits and vaccines for research and in drug production.

It was officially opened on Friday by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

Vision Manawatu regional manager Mark Hargreaves said the benefits to the region’s economy started two years ago with the plant’s construction bringing a lot of jobs to Manawatu contractors and freight companies.  . . 

Proliant Biologicals Opens New Zealand Facility:

Proliant Biologicals is proud to announce the opening of its New Zealand Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA) manufacturing facility. The facility is located on the North Island of New Zealand, in Feilding.

The facility was designed and constructed to replicate the “Closed Loop” system, developed and instituted in Proliant’s U.S. facility located in Boone, Iowa. The equipment design and installation was done to functionally duplicate the systems in the U.S. facility, with critical processing systems coming from the same vendors used for U.S. installations. . . 

All about fariness – Neal Wallace:

Alliance Group is addressing inequality not accumulating fresh capital by deducting money from suppliers’ animal payments, chairman Murray Taggart says.  

From today the co-op will deduct 50c a head from lamb, sheep and calves, $2 a head from deer and $6 a head from cattle for shareholders who need to increase their shareholding to match their supply calculated on a three-year rolling average.  

Taggart said the move was about creating equitable shareholding and not a capital-raising move. . . 

MIE won’t get B+LNZ backing:

Two remits being presented by the Meat Industry Excellence to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s annual meeting next month won’t get the industry-good board’s backing.  

The board considered both the remits and agreed not to support either, chairman James Parson said.  

In its push for reform, despite an agreement for Chinese company Shanghai Maling to buy into Silver Fern Farms, MIE last week notified two remits it would present to the B+LNZ meeting on March 23.  

The remits would be mailed with the B+LNZ voting papers this week with MIE chairman Dave McGaveston urging farmers to get thinking early. . . 

Dairy farmers visit Vatican for help – Chris McCullough:

European dairy farmers have reached out to Pope Francis for some spiritual blessing, in the hope it can help boost the ailing milk sector.

Around 140 dairy farmers, who are members of the European Milk Board, travelled to the Vatican in Rome to ask the Pope for some assistance.

They travelled from France, Lithuania and many other countries, all asking for the same thing, a future for their industry. . . 

Red wine and a dinner party – Grassroots Media:

I promise this isn’t a blog about the effects of red wine after a dinner party. Ok maybe it is, but not in the way you’re thinking.

In May 2015 I saw myself at a cross roads – ‘What did my future hold?’ I had a secure job, I was working with great people but felt I was missing a little something.

It turns out that little something, was a big challenge.

While having drinks with the Kellogg’s Rural Leadership cohort in Wellington, I came across participants of the Agri-Women’s Development Trust Escalator course, who were also enjoying a wine or two. There, I met two women who would eventually change the road I was travelling on. . . 

 

Food Tank: The Food Think Tank's photo.


Rural round-up

March 1, 2015

Northland water storage study shows potential:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the commissioning of a new report to examine the potential of water storage and infrastructure in Northland.

“This study will identify areas where improved water supply and potential water infrastructure could deliver economic growth and other benefits to Northland,” says Mr Guy.

“The study is an important step in a joint project involving the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund, Northland Regional Council, and economic development agency Northland Inc.

“More reliable irrigation will help develop sectors like farming and horticulture, meaning more local jobs and exports.” . .

 Dramatic figures show human cost – Neal Wallace:

In the three hours it took for the Otago launch of the Safer Farms project on February 20, 16 farm workers filed work-related injury claims with ACC, a statistic that reinforced farming as New Zealand’s most dangerous occupation.

Each year on average 17 people were killed and 20,000 people would lodge a claim with ACC for a farm-related injury and those dramatic statistics aside, the Government’s focus of improving farm safety would bring the sector into line with the legal obligations of other businesses.

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse said 120 people had been killed on farms since 2008, with the 20 who died last year four times as many as the forestry or construction industries.  . .

 We’re in business. Mobile milking approved & the milk is flowing – Milking on the Moove:

Two weeks ago The Ministry For Primary Industries approved my Risk Management Programme!

It’s a huge achievement & it means that mobile milking & more specifically mobile milk processing is possible in New Zealand.

This now opens up a huge range of possibilities for us to develop some pretty radical and truly sustainable dairy farming systems.

I made my first delivery on the 10th February to our first and only customer C1 Espresso in Christchurch. . .

Fonterra’s global reach – Keith Woodford:

[This is the third of five articles on Fonterra written in early 2015 and published in the Fairfax NZ Sunday Star Times. This one was published on 15 February 2015. Earlier articles in the series were titled ‘The evolution of Fonterra’ and ‘Fonterra’s Journey’ ]

Within Fonterra, there is inevitable tension as to its role on the global stage. From a farmer perspective, Fonterra is a business with assets of about $20 billion (about half equity and half debt) which processes the milk produced by five million New Zealand cows. It then markets the resultant dairy products across the world.

Most of the value of these dairy products lies in the farm gate price of the milksolids contained therein. Accordingly, ask any of Fonterra’s farmer owners as to what they most expect and demand of Fonterra, it is likely to be that this farm gate price is maximised. . .

Rural course revamp leads the way:

The highly-respected Kellogg Rural Leadership programme for 2015 has begun at Lincoln University with a new structure and fresh content. A group of 23 participants working within primary industries from around New Zealand started the revamped six-month course in late January. It includes three residential components and an industry-based project. 

“The changes introduced this year include a shortened six-month programme and a second course starting in June. This provides better options for different seasonal sector commitments,” Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme general manager Anne Hindson said. . .

Breeding oomph back into our apples – Laura Basham:

Roxy and Big Daddy are set to make it big. They are colourful characters, and tasty.

They have been in the making for 20 years and now it’s planned to put them on the international market.

The pair are new apple varieties, the darlings of Nelson orchardist and breeder Bill Lynch who reckons there are too many boring, tasteless apples on supermarket shelves.

He wants to put some oomph into the industry that has been his life and leave a lasting legacy, not only for his orchardist son, Dan, but for other growers and the country. . .

 


Confidence and contacts

November 27, 2009

What did you get from the Kellogg Rural Leadership programme? 

I asked this of fellow graduates at the programme’s silver jubilee celebrations last night. The answer was that we had all gained confidence and contacts. 

Kellogg started at Lincoln 30 years ago but hasn’t run every year so the current intake was the 25th

One of the people who’s spoken to every group is Ruth Richardson who addressed us last night. 

She left us with two messages: public policy matters; and the most important meeting we have each day should be with ourselves – i.e. we should always make time for an hour of exercise. 

The other speaker was Dr David Hughes, Emeritus professor of food marketing at Imperial College London.

He pointed out that the developing economies where we’re hoping to sell more produce eat a lot more white meat than red.

He also said that New Zealand’s reputation for very high standards of food safety is our biggest asset. But while people overseas think we produce good food most can’t name anything we grow because we produce more ingredients than value added food.


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