Rural round-up

March 29, 2017

Health risk concerns for orchard workers – Pam Jones:

Cromwell orchardists are concerned about the public health risks of continued freedom camping by fruitpickers.

While no cases of illness have been reported, the summerfruit industry body says it has serious concerns about the conditions in which some orchard workers are living and the possibility of a breakout of transferrable disease.

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and Cromwell orchardist Tim Jones said the possible impact on export crops was discussed at Summerfruit’s board meeting last month and about five Cromwell orchardists were concerned. . . 

New leader steps up in agri-tech – Sally Rae:

Tracmap’s new chairman says it is an exciting time for the Mosgiel-based agri-tech company.

Chris Dennison, who farms at Hilderthorpe, in North Otago, replaces Pat Garden, from Millers Flat, who has stepped down after just over a decade.

TracMap was established by Colin Brown in 2006 after he identified a gap in the market for a rugged and easy-to-use GPS guidance and mapping system, specifically designed for New Zealand conditions.

He initially saw the opportunity in ground spreading and the application was pushed wider as it had been developed. . . 

Competition provided impetus – Sally Rae:

Winning the Southland Otago Sharemilker Equity Farmer of the Year title gave Jono and Kelly Bavin so much more than a trophy.

Mr and Mrs Bavin, now regional managers for Southland Otago in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, won the regional title in 2015, which coincided with the dairy downturn starting ”to bite”.

But because they had entered the competition, and really evaluated their business and where it was going, that helped them get through the next two years.

”There’s not many times in your life you pick up your business, throw it on the ground and rearrange it again. That’s what we did,” Mr Bavin said.

Had they not made the decision to enter the competition, then ”things could have been totally different” for the Southland couple. . . 

Calamity on the Coast – Peter Burke:

A ghastly period: that’s how DairyNZ West Coast consulting officer Ross Bishop describes the situation facing the region’s dairy farmers.

They are deeply frustrated and struggling to maintain faith in their dairy company Westland Milk Products, he says.

The company is in a financial mess and chief executive Toni Brendish has the unenviable task of trying to return it to a reasonable financial footing. Already she has made clear there will be a lower payout for farmers and job losses at its factories. . .

Digging into low productive results:

Failure to meet its own goals for reproductive performance (industry targets) has been much talked about at Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF).

Farmers at a February 23 focus day debated the analysis presented and anecdotal comparisons with other farms in the region.

Taking a long term view, particularly if the current season is excluded, reproductive performance has improved on the farm over the past 13 years. But drilling into the detail reveals the farm only once met the industry target of 78% six-week in-calf rate (2013 mating period). Since then the trend in six-week in-calf rates has declined, raising many questions about what is limiting performance. . . 

Our Pinot is pushing the boundaries:

Allen Meadows is a self-confessed, “obsessive” Burgundy lover. So much so that his life is spent compiling advice and information on the world’s foremost Pinot Noir region.

His quarterly reviewBurghound.com was the first of its kind to dedicate itself to the wines of a particular region – and has become the go-to for lovers of the variety.  

While his reviews offer regular updates on Oregon and Californian Pinot, it is not often that other New World countries are included in his extremely popular review. Hence a tasting of 221 wines from New Zealand was an amazing achievement, organised by NZW’s Marketing Manager USA, David Strada. Just getting Meadows to a tasting was an accomplishment – but the end results which featured in Issue 64 of Burghound.com (October 2016) were even more so. . .

More timber trees for planting 2017:

A rise in the number of timber tree seedlings being produced indicates a recent decline in plantation forest replanting may be reversing.

An MPI survey of all 28 commercial forest nurseries in New Zealand shows stock sales in 2016 for planting this year were 52.2 million seedlings, compared with 49.5 million the year before.

Forest Owners Association Chief Executive David Rhodes says the increase in seedling sales is a positive sign the industry is gearing up for increased production, even if the trees planted now will not be harvested for about another 30 years. . . 


Rural round-up

April 9, 2015

Fagan’s last championships:

New Zealand’s most enduringly successful shearer, David Fagan, begins his final competition today before retirement.

The New Zealand shearing and wool handling championships at Te Kuiti in the King Country will be the last for the 53-year old veteran before he retires from the circuit.

He has had a busy final season, racking up 12 open wins from 25 finals.

Doug Laing from Shearing Sports New Zealand said Fagan had the chance of several more titles before the week’s end. . .

Thriving in the best of both worlds:

Taking the good with the bad, being a sounding board for farmers is what Fonterra Shareholders’ Councillor Sandra Cordell thrives on.

Although there are often gripes and grumbles, there are plenty of positives to the job and Cordell says talking to farmers is invigorating.

“I respect and admire farmers’ passion and enthusiasm for their industry,” she says.

“Farming is about making the best of opportunities on the farm and how a farmer makes use of these.  Since being in this role, I have been blown away by farmers’ awareness of sustainability.” . .

Dog trails light up Taranaki – Sue O’Dowd:

Taranaki farming personality Bryan Hocken is claiming a world first when the Tarata community stages sheep dog trials under lights on Saturday evening.

The Tarata Sheep Dog Trial Club  is hosting a straight hunt under lights after its annual sheep dog trials on Friday and Saturday. About 30 huntaways are expected to compete in the trial, with the winner set to take home $1000.

“We’re just testing the interest,” said Hocken, who’s president of the Tarata club, established more than 100 years ago in 1908. “We don’t know if it’s going to take off. You can enter on the day.” . . .

Tussock Creek sharemilkers win Southland Otago award:

Tussock Creek couple Jono and Kelly Bavin have won the 2015 Southland Otago Sharemilker Equity Farmer of the Year title.

The other major winners at the Southland Otago Dairy Industry Awards, held recently in Gore, were farm managers of the year Nick Templer and Anieka Venekamp, and dairy trainee of the year Jeremy Anderson. . .

Trooper seeded Gallipoli memorial – Sally Rae:

High on a hill overlooking North Otago farmland is a very special pine tree. Reporter Sally Rae explains why.

Greg and Julie McEwan always knew their beacon-like landmark was special but didn’t know exactly what made it so precious.

That was until a chance meeting in Oamaru, between Mrs McEwan, from Corriedale, and Ikawai farmer Ron Mansfield, who recounted the remarkable story of his Uncle Joe.

For the tree is much more than a landmark; it serves as a monument to World War 1 and to a soldier who safely returned home. . .

Minister opens NZ primary sector Shanghai office:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has officially opened the Shanghai office of Primary Collaboration New Zealand (PCNZ) – a coalition of New Zealand food and beverage companies pooling their expertise in China.

Mr Joyce, who is currently visiting Shanghai to foster business ties between New Zealand and China, says the new premises will provide a boost to the export ambitions of a number of New Zealand’s major primary sector brands.

“PCNZ is a trailblazing collaboration between New Zealand companies who are showing how innovative models can overcome size and scale challenges in large markets such as a China. . . .

Macraes mine may receive reprieve:

The Waitaki mayor is welcoming news OceanaGold may keep its Macraes mine in north Otago open for another ten years, and start mining tungsten deposits.

The company was planning to shut the mine down in 2017 because of the slump in international gold prices.

The company has declined to be interviewed but a spokesperson says low oil prices and the falling New Zealand dollar against the US currency, now makes the mine more viable, along with its recent exploration success both at surface and underground. . .

Otago bunnies breeding like rabbits:

The Otago Regional Council says the number of rabbits in the region is increasing.

8400 rabbits were killed during the annual Easter bunny hunt at the weekend, 500 more than the year before.

The council’s director of environmental monitoring, Jeff Donaldson, said the summer produced a bumper crop of bunnies.

“With the recent drought we’ve had in Otago there has certainly been an increase in numbers over most properties. Rabbits prefer the drier conditions. . .


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