Rural round-up

February 23, 2018

Southland eyes oats instead of dairy – Baz Macdonald:

Southland is looking into an alternative to dairy farming that taps into surging Asian demand, but uses less capital and water and produces less nitrates and greenhouse emissions. Baz Macdonald reports.

Agriculture represented 4% of NZ’s real GDP in the 2016 financial year, yet an OECD report released last year showed the sector produced half of our countries greenhouse emissions – making NZ the second highest creator of emissions per unit of GDP in the world. The recommendation from the OECD was that we develop “alternative measures to counter the pressures of farming”. . . 

Gita: Motueka orchards hit hard – Alexa Cook:

Orchards in the Motueka area have been hit hard by flooding from Cyclone Gita, prompting fears fruit will not make it to market.

The Nelson region grows a quarter of the country’s apples, and in the past week has started harvesting this year’s crop.

Apple and Pears Incorporated chief executive Alan Pollard said the flooding came at a bad time and was a big set back. . . 

Cyclone devastates ‘up to 50 percent’ maize crops – Alexa Cook:

The pressure is on for Taranaki farmers to harvest maize crops that have been flattened by Cyclone Gita, before the crop starts to die and rot.

The cyclone hit the region on Tuesday with wind gusts of up to 140km/h.

Southern and coastal Taranaki farmers have struggled with drought this summer, but conditions were just right for growing maize – and a bumper crop was expected.

However, Taranaki Federated Farmers president Donald McIntyre said the cyclone might have put an end to that. . . 

NZ’s largest pine-to-native forest regeneration project reaches major milestone:

The last pine trees have been felled in a major Hawke’s Bay conservation project that aims to convert a 4,000-hectare pine plantation back to regenerating native forest.

Over 3,500 hectares of the Maungataniwha Pine Forest have now been logged since 2006 and are now in the process of being re-converted back to native forest by land owner Simon Hall, Chairman of the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust.

The land lies adjacent to the Maungataniwha Native Forest, a 6,120-hectare swathe of New Zealand bush straddling the ridge system between the Te Hoe and Waiau Rivers in northern Hawkes Bay, bordered to the north by Te Urewera National Park and to the west by the Whirinaki Conservation Forest. . . 

Rural women need access to midwifery care:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is very concerned that Wanaka is soon to lose one of the community’s two midwives.

“Midwives practicing in rural communities have long battled the problems of geographical isolation in areas where the population continues to grow,” says Board Member and Health Portfolio Convenor, Margaret Pittaway.

“Resourcing has been lacking for so long that rural families are suffering – it is absolutely unacceptable that expectant mothers and their families have been placed in the firing line. . . 

New Zealanders warned of stink bug risk to their own households:

Warnings are going out about the devastating impact the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug would have on New Zealand households and urban communities as the potential risk of an incursion escalates.

New Zealand Apples & Pears chief executive Alan Pollard is encouraging all New Zealanders to be on high alert because the Stink Bug was not just a risk for orchardists.

The Stink Bug would also be devastating to urban communities where home gardens would be destroyed and houses would become safe havens for the invasive pest, he said.

Mr Pollard praised the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the work that they are doing to protect New Zealand’s borders against the Stink Bug, including four shipments of cars from Japan recently turned away from entering the country. He has also commended Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor, for making biosecurity his number one priority. . . 

Dairy farming – the ancient history of producing milk – K. Kris Hirst:

Milk-producing mammals were an important part of early agriculture in the world. Goats were among our earliest domesticated animals, first adapted in western Asia from wild forms about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. Cattle were domesticated in the eastern Sahara by no later than 9,000 years ago. We surmise that at least one primary reason for this process was to make a source of meat easier to get than by hunting.

But domestic animals also are good for milk and milk products like cheese and yogurt (part of what V.G. Childe and Andrew Sherratt once called the Secondary Products Revolution). So–when did dairying first start and how do we know that?

The earliest evidence to date for the processing of milk fats comes from the Early Neolithic of the seventh millennium BC in northwestern Anatolia; the sixth millennium BC in eastern Europe; the fifth millennium BC in Africa; and the fourth millennium BC in Britain and Northern Europe (Funnel Beaker culture). . . 

Forget sauvignon blanc, New Zealand’s new big thing is pinot noir Elin McCoy:

Actor Sam Neill just finished a six-part television documentary on the voyages of Captain Cook, but right now he’s focused on the role of proud farmer. I’m walking with him on a tour of his organic vineyard in Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand as he shows off his prize pigs and pulls out bottles of his much-talked-about Two Paddocks pinot noirs.

“What do you think?” he asks.

Thumbs up, for sure. 

When it comes to wine, New Zealand is on a roll. According to a just-released Vinexpo study, it’s now the fastest-growing wine-exporting country to the U.S. By 2021, it’s predicted to become the No. 4 exporter to the U.S., right behind Italy, Australia, and France—which is pretty remarkable, considering that the country makes barely 1 percent of the world’s wines. . . 

Young leaders to drive conversations at agritech event:

New Zealand’s agritech community will be joined by some of the country’s best young leaders at MobileTECH 2018. One of the key highlights at the upcoming agritech event is the ‘Meet the future leaders’ panel.

“In addition to unveiling the very latest agritech innovations, we have lined up three emerging leaders to share their visions on just where the technology is heading, what areas they see as the most beneficial to their businesses and how it will impact on the sector’s future,” says Ken Wilson, programme manager for the MobileTECH 2018 event. . . 


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. . . 


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