Rural round-up

July 2, 2020

Contractors need staff pronto – Annette Scott:

Without skilled operators rural contractors risk having millions of dollars of essential agricultural machinery sitting idle this spring. 

After an urgent meeting with Primary Industries Minister Damien O’Connor, Rural Contractors is surveying members amid rising concern over the pending labour shortage.

Results so far reveal up to 1000 skilled machinery operators will be needed for the spring and summer.     

Many will need to be brought into NZ, Rural Contractors president David Kean said. . . 

Worker shortage worries pig farmers :

Pork producers are calling on the Government to urgently review its policies on skilled migrant workers as severe staff shortages hit. 

Pig farmers rely on experienced workers from overseas to meet a shortfall in staff with the necessary skills required to work with the country’s herd.

However, they are concerned skilled migrants already working on farms might not have their visas renewed or existing workers trying to return from overseas will be blocked, leaving many farmers with significant staffing shortages.

“The sector’s strong preference would be to have a pool of available skilled and unskilled New Zealand workers,” New Zealand Pork chief executive David Baines said.  . . 

Aerial top-dressing, deer among highlights of past century – Richard Davison:

In common with a record 70 families set to receive their Century Farm awards in Lawrence last month, the Mackies, of South Otago, were unable to share their story when Covid-19 intervened. Here they take the opportunity to do so, looking back over the Copland and Mackie families’ 100 years of farming the same land, with reporter Richard Davison.

Given the ups and downs of farming, it’s no mean feat to stay put on the same land for a century and more.

Every year, though, the Century Farms event in Lawrence marks a swag of families from across New Zealand achieving just that, and last month a record 70 families were due to pick up 100- and 150-year awards.

We all know what happened next, but many of those families’ stories still deserve to be told, helping paint a picture of the gambles, innovations, hard work and lighter-hearted moments of New Zealand farming down the years. . . 

Growing native plants creating legacy – Keri Waterworth:

The quality of water entering lakes, rivers and streams from farms in the Upper Clutha catchment is improving due to the thousands of natives planted around waterways on those farms. One of the nurseries supplying the plants is Wanaka’s Te Kakano Aotearoa Trust nursery. Kerrie Waterworth reports.

Nestled in the shelter of an extensive QE11 convenanted kanuka forest beside Lake Wanaka, the Te Kakano Aotearoa Trust nursery is at the end of an easy walk through the QEII Covenant Kanuka forest beside Lake Wanaka.

On the Tuesday afternoon I visited, it was one of the two nursery volunteer afternoons held each week during winter, and only the second since the nursery reopened following the Covid-19 lockdown/restriction periods. . . 

Wine worker launches petition to ease visa conditions as concerns grow for next harvest – Maia Hart:

A petition has been launched calling for the Government to ease temporary work visa conditions for international winery workers impacted by Covid-19.

The petition, started by Cait Guyette, is calling for the Government to allow grape harvest workers already in New Zealand to stay until vintage 2021.

Guyette, who is from the United States but had a permanent job at a winery in Marlborough, said she felt disheartened there had been no leniency to allow harvest workers to continue working in New Zealand’s wine industry. . . 

NSW buys outback station in state’s largest single property purchase for a national park – Saskia Mabin:

It’s the vast embodiment of outback beauty and heartbreak — a sweeping western NSW cattle station that is, by turns, arid no-man’s land and lush waterbird haven, home to ancient Indigenous artefacts, the ghostly trail of Burke and Wills and now the nation’s newest national park.

“It can be very good and then it can be vile,” said Bill O’Connor, 84, owner of Narriearra station, which has just become the largest block of private land bought for a national park in the state’s history.

With nearby Sturt National Park, Narriearra will create a conservation area of close to half a million hectares, or twice the size of the Australian Capital Territory.

The 153,415-hectare station sits in the north-west corner of the state, with the dog-proof fence of the NSW-Queensland border forming its northern boundary. . . 


Rural round-up

May 25, 2020

Rural life in lockdown: Farming women’s struggle with mental health and work – Bonnie Flaws:

South Island dairy farmer and company director Jessie Chan went to some pretty dark places during lockdown.

The experiences of rural women often go unheard, she said, and lockdown was particularly tough on them.

Between homeschooling her six-year old while juggling a toddler, farm and board commitments, there were often nights she was up at 11pm doing paper work.

Catching up with women in her local community in Dorie, after lockdown eased, Chan realised she was not alone as others expressed how much they had struggled. . . 

Easier without trampers, climbers, walkers, tourists – Kerrie Waterworth:

Running a high country farm next to a national park has been easier during the Covid-19 lockdown because there are no climbers, trampers, walkers and tourists on the road or property.

Fourth generation farmer Randall Aspinall and his wife, Allison, manage the 2300 ha beef and sheep property, 50km from Wanaka, at the gateway to the Mt Aspiring National Park.

It is estimated more than 100,000 people travel through the property each year which can present challenges, the most common of which is shifting stock.

‘‘Normally we would try to do it first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and often it would be a two-person job to stop traffic at some of the choke points, whereas with no traffic you can just go and do it wherever you want to,’’ Mr Aspinall said. . . 

Coronavirus: Govt buying 2000 pigs a week as industry struggles with surplus – Esther Taunton:

With thousands of pigs unable to go to market during the coronavirus lockdown, the Government is stepping in.

Independent butchers were not allowed to open to the public while the country was at Covid-19 alert levels 3 and 4, resulting in a surplus of up to 5000 pigs on New Zealand farms every week and a looming animal welfare issue.

To help clear the backlog, the Government has agreed to buy some of the surplus pork at cost, up to a maximum of 2000 pigs or 112 tonnes a week.

The meat will then be delivered to food banks by national food rescue network KiwiHarvest. . . 

Covid fails to stop moving day – Gerald Piddock:

Moving day is under way again for many dairy farm workers following several weeks of covid-19 lockdown disruption.

Level four reduced the time farmers had to move because it put on hold much of the shifting and preparation done in the lead-up to the move.

Federated Farmers sharemilkers spokesman Richard McIntyre said the resulting uncertainty caused some issues. 

Moving companies were also booked ahead months in advance and the lockdown did lead to stress, he said.

McIntyre’s sharemilking neighbours had bought a farm and were in the process of moving when the lockdown occurred. . . 

Forestry in blood of Dipton man – Yvonne O’Hara:

Many of Nic Melvin’s ancestors were in the forestry and sawmilling business in New Zealand from the 1860s and he knew from an early age he wanted a career in the sector.

From a dairy farm at Dipton, Mr Melvin (19) is in his second year of a four-year forestry science degree at the University of Canterbury.

He has been awarded this year’s Southern Wood Council’s Scholarship, worth $4500 over three years, which he’ll put towards student fees.

His father used to be a tree feller for whom he started working when aged about 13. . . 

Failed petition aims to spark more farming support – David Anderson:

Te Kuiti-based electrician Terry Waite’s demand that the Government apologise to farmers for the way it has treated them – especially over the last couple of years – has failed.

Waite was so sparked up by what he believes is the Government’s poor treatment of farmers that he started a petition, asking people to support it so it could be presented to parliament.

The petition needed to attract 100,000 signatures. He’d tried to get his petition to ask: ‘The NZ Govt to apologise to NZ farmers’. However, the bureaucrats wouldn’t allow that wording.  . .


Rural round-up

May 16, 2020

Frighteningly different priorities – Peter Burke:

In the cities people are clambering over each other to get the first Big Mac or piece of deep-fried chicken, not to mention a ‘real’ coffee.

So fanatical were some individuals for a fast-food fix that they were stupid enough to risk undoing the good work of the rest of the country by not sticking to the rules of physical distancing.

Having said that, a few idiot politicians and community leaders have yielded to temptation and broken lockdown rules, setting a poor example. Their actions are insulting to the rural community – farmer, growers, people who work in meat processing plants, packhouses and other facilities to provide food for these unthinking individuals.

And don’t let’s forget all the other essential workers that are the unsung heroes of this crisis.

Nothing for our most productive sector in Budget – National:

Budget 2020 hasn’t provided anything of note for the primary sector at a time when it is leading our nation’s rebuild, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

He says the Government’s claim of ‘rebuilding better’ is nothing but a meaningless slogan for the primary sector. Muller says costly Government proposals like Essential Freshwater are still on the way, there’s no large-scale water storage funding and not enough support to secure the 50,000 workers needed to stimulate the sector.

“Covid-19 has thrown our country into a deep economic hole and we’re now relying on our food and fibre sector to get out of it.

We should be encouraging this sector to grow and maximise its potential but funding has gone backwards. With farmers and growers across the country experiencing the worst drought in living memory this season, it’s disappointing to see no significant investment in water storage,” he says. . .

Farmers want new house rules – Gerald Piddock:

Dairy industry leaders have asked the Government to amend its covid-19 ban on landlords evicting tenants after reports of dairy staff exploiting the rules by refusing to leave supplied housing as the season draws to a close.

As a result, new staff moving onto the farms can’t move into the houses in time for the new milking season in June.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said the circumstances usually involve a staff member who was exiting dairying when the new rules became law. . .

High country – isolation goes with the territory – Kerrie Waterworth:

Adjusting to the isolation of Covid-19 restrictions has been difficult for many urban dwellers but for families on high country stations isolation goes with the territory.

Duncan and Allannah McRae run Alpha Burn Station, a 4519ha high country beef, sheep and deer farm at Glendhu Bay, 15 minutes drive west from Wanaka.

Before the Covid-19 crisis their two sons, Archie (15) and Riley (13), were at boarding school in Dunedin but they had returned home and were learning online.

Mrs McRae said both she and her daughter, Hazel (10), have had to adjust to having the two big boys back in the house. . . 

Taratahi might host short courses – Neal Wallace:

The Taratahi campus could again be training young people, albeit for short-term courses introducing prospective students to agricultural careers and proviing extra skills for existing workers.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has confirmed the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Social Development are considering funding DairyNZ to develop and deliver three-week industry familiarisation programmes at the Wairarapa facility.

The future of the campus has been in limbo since the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre was put in liquidation in December 2018. . .

Want safe affordable food? Reward those who produce it – Peter Mailler;

The world is certainly a paradise for anyone looking for an issue to express an opinion about this week, but I want to take a different approach.

Rather than trotting out my take on the barley tariffs issue and the complete insanity that is diplomacy with China by media, I thought I would try to foster a discussion on an earlier opinion published in The Gauge section and constructively contest some ideas around an issue that I think goes to the core of how the agricultural sector presents itself to the rest of the country. . . 

 


Rural round-up

April 25, 2020

Permission for private land hunting essential, Feds says:

Clarification of what hunting will be permitted after we move to COVID-19 Alert 3 is helpful, Federated Farmers says, but it is essential the hunters get permission to access private land.

“It’s good to have clarity on the rules that will apply, and that the government is continuing to strike a good balance between a planned return to where we were while keeping the risk of spread of the virus to a minimum,” Feds rural security and firearms spokesperson Miles Anderson said.

The government announced today that recreational hunting for big and small game will be allowed under Level 3 on private land only.   But, as has always been the case, hunters must gain the landowner’s permission. . . 

China’s wild meat clampdown affecting NZ venison exports :

New Zealand venison farmers are being caught out by the Chinese government’s moves to clamp down on the trade of wild meat.

The confusion has prompted some processors here to hold off shipping venison to the country.

China has been tightening its rules on the trade of wild meat in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, which is thought to have originated in a wild-animal market in Wuhan.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer said despite the venison it processes and exports being a farmed product, not a wild one, there had been some clearance issues for shipments to the country. . . 

Farmers offer rural salute to Anzacs with hay bale poppies – Esther Taunton:

Paddocks around New Zealand have been peppered with giant poppies as the country prepares for a very different Anzac Day. 

With official services cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions, Kiwis are coming up with new ways to salute the fallen from the safety of their bubbles.

In rural areas, the humble hay bale has taken a starring role in commemorations, with oversized poppies springing up on farms across the country.

Southland farmer David Johnston said his family had been attending Anzac Day commemorations for years. . .

Whatever it is called, Gypsy Day will go ahead this year and cows will be mooved – but under strict COVID-19 controls – Point of Order:

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor eschewed the words “Gypsy Day”, in a press statement yesterday that addressed dairy farmers’ concerns about what would happen on June 1.  He preferred “Moving Day” and said Moving Day will go ahead as planned this year, but with strict controls to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Reporting this news, Farmers Weekly explained that Moving Day is also known as Gypsy Day and occurs on June 1 each year when many dairy farming families, sharemilkers, contract milkers and employees move to new farms to start new jobs and milking contracts.

Yet another expression was incorporated in a Federated Farmers press statement headline on April 9:  GYPSY / MOOVING DAY. . .

Stunner’ vintage forecast in harvest like no other – Kerrie Waterworth:

Vineyard owners and winemakers are predicting this year’s vintage will be a ‘‘stunner’, which could be the silver lining to a harvest like no other.

Almost all the 170 vineyards represented by the Central Otago Winegrowers Association have started picking their grapes, but this year the pickers have had to abide by Alert Level 4 restrictions.

Maude Wines winemakers Dan and Sarah-Kate Dineen, of Wanaka, said it had made the harvest a more expensive and sombre affair.

‘‘Usually, it is a time to celebrate — we feed our crew well and they all dine together — but we have to change all that because of social distancing,’’ Mr Dineen said. . .

Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards winners praise NZGAPS approach to compliance:

Woodhaven Gardens, the 2020 Regional Supreme Winner at the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards, are fans of how New Zealand Good Agriculture Practice’s (NZGAP) Environmental Management System (EMS) ‘add-on’ makes compliance more straight forward.

‘I see the EMS process as the way of the future. After going through the process, it is very clear that this is the path for the industry to go,’ says Woodhaven Gardens’ Jay Clarke.

The EMS ‘add-on’ complements a grower’s regular NZGAP audit, by including Farm Environment Plans (FEPs) in the suite of tools that NZGAP offers. FEPs are a way for growers to map their property and identify hazards to calculate their environmental footprint, and record improvements over time. . . 

Wattie’s in Canterbury completes a busy pea and bean season like no other:

Wattie’s completed its 24/7 pea and bean harvesting and processing season last Friday under conditions not previously experienced in its 50 year history of operating in Hornby, due to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 protocols.

Like every other business operating essential services, Wattie’s field and factory staff based in Christchurch had to adapt quickly to the strict protocols developed in response to the Ministry of Primary Industry’s requirements.

Graham Broom, the Site Manager for Wattie’s in Hornby, said without question, everyone understood the reasons for the changes in our operations, but the new work practices added significantly to people’s workloads during an already busy time, particularly in the factory. . . 

Sweet charity – Bonnie Sumner:

The director of a South Island honey company is donating 21,000 jars of manuka honey to food banks – and he wants other companies to follow his example, writes Bonnie Sumner.

It’s only money, honey.

At least, that’s how Steve Lyttle of 100% Pure New Zealand Honey in Timaru is looking at it.

Due to a labelling mistake, ten tonnes’ worth of his company’s manuka honey mixed with blueberry cannot be exported as planned. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 1, 2019

Spring venison spike back – Annette Scott:

The return of the spring peak in venison prices is not expected to reach the unprecedented highs of last year.

Deer farmers are starting to see a return of the seasonal venison price increase that traditionally occurs each spring, Deer Industry New Zealand chief executive Dan Coup says. 

It follows an unusual 2017-18 season when venison prices climbed steadily from January 2017 before peaking in October last year. 

The return of the spring peak doesn’t come as a surprise but Coup hopes the peaks and troughs in the seasonal price curve will be less marked than in the past.  . . 

Chasing the rainbow – Tim Fulton:

He can play it for laughs and he can play it serious. There’s a discerning side to social media star farmer Tangaroa Walker. Tim Fulton reports.

Media sensation Tangaroa Walker has X-factor in spades and he wants to use it to lift other farmers out of the mire.

Walker has a virtual arena for the job, his vividly upbeat and out-there Facebook page, Farm 4 Life.

He is a contract milker on a 550-cow farm at Invercargill.

The page is a funny but sometimes poignant look at the industry’s challenges. . .

Crown to net $5 million from Westland Milk sale – Eric Frykberg:

The profit made by the country’s largest farmer from the sale of its shares in Westland Milk Products, will disappear into government coffers via a special dividend.

Pāmu, or Landcorp, owns 10 farms supplying to Westland and is its second-largest shareholder.

Earlier this month Westland’s 350 farmer shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of selling Westland to China’s Yili dairy conglomerate at a rate of $3.41 per share.

This will net the Crown $5m from a sale that ministers always strongly opposed.

The payment of the dividend is being made despite the fact that overall, state-owned Pāmu suffered a big loss. . . 

Important to choose right crop for right animals on right land – Yvonne O’Hara:

Sediment traps, back fencing, portable water troughs and buffer zones are some of the key elements of good winter grazing practices that Wilden sheep and beef farmers Simon O’Meara, and Peter Adam, recommend.

By careful management, both farmers ensure their sheep and cattle are well fed and as sheltered and comfortable as possible during winter break feeding and adverse weather events.

At the same time, by using the same principles, they can also reduce nitrate and sediment loss and enhance water quality on their properties. . . 

Women in wool take on shearing challenge – Linda Hall:

THE ACRYLIC nails are gone, so has the nail polish, their high heels replaced with moccasins.

They don’t meet for coffee on a Saturday morning, instead this group of amazing women dressed in black head to a woolshed ready for some hard yakka.

Every Saturday since March this group of professional women have been training hard. They call themselves Women in Wool and their goal is to raise as much money as possible for Farmstrong — a nationwide rural wellbeing programme for farmers and growers to help them live well to farm well. . . 

Kea playground to be installed – Kerrie Waterworth:

Complaints of missing gloves, stolen food and shredded windscreen wipers at Treble Cone skifield could soon be a thing of the past when a new kea playground is installed.

The familiar mountain parrot has been a regular visitor to Wanaka’s closest skifield for many years, attracted primarily by the prospect of food scraps.

Treble Cone brand manager Richard Birkby said despite erecting signs and staff educating guests about the thieving habits of kea, the skifield still received regular complaints about kea knocking over mugs, flying off with trays of chips and destroying gloves.

Health and safety officer Jessica Griffin said the idea for the kea playground at Treble Cone skifield was prompted by the kea gyms in Nelson and at the Homer Tunnel and Manapouri power station at West Arm, established primarily to keep kea away from roads and damaging cars. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 29, 2019

A united primary sector at last:

The united and unprecedented stand taken last week at Parliament was historic.

Read: Primary sector’s commitment to reducing emissions.

It brought together farmers, growers and other related sectors seeking to solve the vexing problem of agricultural emissions. 

Eleven different groups, including Maori, took a united position on climate change, even daring to challenge one recommendation by the Independent Climate Change Commission (ICCC) set up to advise the Government.

Faced with a hijacking of the climate change issue by greenies and others, the agri sector got its act together in style.  . .

Dutch methane blocker hits NZ roadblock:

A Dutch company trying to get its methane-slashing innovation into the hands of Kiwi farmers says it’s hit a roadblock with New Zealand’s regulations.

Methane emissions from livestock like sheep and dairy cows account for around a third of New Zealand’s emissions.

The animals themselves did not produce methane, but rather a group of microbes, called methanogens, that lived in the stomach (rumen), and produced methane, mainly from hydrogen and carbon dioxide when digesting feed. . .

Hawke’s Bay farm puts meat on the menu at some of New Zealand’s finest restaurants – Simon Farrell-Green:

You’ll find Pātangata on Google Maps if you look, though it’s barely a town, more of an intersection with a tavern beside the Tukituki River, not far from Havelock North where the vineyards and plains of Hawke’s Bay graduate to rolling hill country.

Here, the Smith family – Duncan Smith, Annabel Tapley-Smith and their children Tabatha and Rupert – farm several hundred hectares of rolling country and irrigated flat land, either side of the river, finishing Angus cattle and Suffolk-Texel lambs on grass rather than grain, and producing meat of uncommon quality. . .

Diversity aspect to next year’s A&P Show – Kerrie Waterworth:

Bee keepers, flower growers and other non-traditional farming types will be highlighted at next year’s Wanaka A&P Show.

Event manager Jane Stalker said this year’s marketing campaign focused on the people of the Upper Clutha and was incredibly successful.

She said she hoped to repeat that success, by focusing on diverse local agricultural businesses instead for next year . . .

Hāwera man’s life of music and farming – Catherine Groenestein:

Pat Powell’s neighbours used to listen to him practising Italian opera songs as he worked on his farm.

Powell, who recently turned 90, sang all the arias made popular by Pavarotti decades later and could have made a career as an international tenor, but instead chose to stay in South Taranaki.

“I was invited by Donald Munro to come to Auckland and join the New Zealand Opera Company, but I went to boarding school in Auckland and I hated every minute of it,” he said. . .

 

Montana ranchers can now get paid to sequester carbon using rotational grazing practices

CO2, or carbon, is a dirty word these days – and for good reason. Due to a number of causes including the burning of fossil fuels and widespread deforestation, there is far too much CO2 being returned to the atmosphere, resulting in climate change. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that in 2017 the United States emitted 5.1 billion metric tons of energy-related carbon dioxide, while the global emissions of energy-related carbon dioxide totaled 32.5 billion metric tons.

Despite the grim outlook, there are ways of reversing the abundance of CO2, including sequestration, which is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. An entire marketplace has developed around CO2 mitigation that enables CO2-emitting industries to purchase carbon credits from businesses engaged in offsetting activities, such as the production of renewable energy through wind farms or biomass energy, as well as energy efficiency projects, the destruction of industrial pollutants or agricultural by-products, reducing landfill methane, and forestry projects. . . 


Rural round-up

February 11, 2018

Pest eradication has more birds singing – Kerrie Waterworth:

A four-year plan to trap stoats, rats, possums and weasels in the Matukituki Valley, near Wanaka, is music to the ears, writes Kerrie Waterworth.

This summer, for the first time in years, tourist jet-boat operators report hearing birds in the forests of the Matukituki Valley between Lake Wanaka and Mt Aspiring.

Wanaka-based River Journeys guide James Blunt has been taking tourists up the Matukituki River for six years and said he had really started noticing the birdsong since October.

“We’ve gone from long periods of nothing to now getting four to six species of birds most trips.” . . 

Environmental concerns prompt changes – Pam Tipa:

Concerns about the sensitive environment of the Kaipara Harbour prompted the top-performing drystock unit Te Opu to transition from sheep and beef breeding to a successful unit finishing bulls and lambs.

This gave the farm the flexibility needed to respond to the sensitive environmental challenges of its location on the Kaipara Harbour shores.

The farm is now a three year Beef + Lamb NZ environmental focus farm sponsored from several sources. . .

Fish farms get pollution blame – Tim Fulton:

Fish farming in Mackenzie Basin hydro canals is feeding worms usually found in sewage, aquatic expert Rowan Wells says.

Wells, a NIWA freshwater botanist, monitored the health of the glacier-fed water and said the ecosystem in the waterways around the area’s salmon farms was clearly degraded.

NIWA was reporting to Meridian Energy on algae and periphyton and fungal bacterial matter coating rocks and plants. . . 

First up best dressed – Mark Daniel:

The rising fortunes of global farming are raising the demand for European-made tackle, which might signal supply problems for Kiwi farmers and contractors looking to hit the new season with new toys.

Several importers and distributors — including Origin Agroup that imports Pottinger, Joskin and Alpego, and Power Farming Wholesale that imports and distribute McHale, Kverneland and Maschio – are advising early ordering to guarantee delivery by late August.

“European manufacturers were predicting a 3% rise in volumes for the 2018 season after a couple of stagnant years,” David Donnelly, managing director of Origin Agroup told Rural News. . .

Dual meat-Wool sheep sell well – Alan Williams:

Good prices were secured across the board at the annual Rollesby Valley onfarm lamb sales on Thursday with halfbreds especially in strong demand for their dual wool and meat income.

About 20,000 lambs from 12 vendors were sold across nine properties in the wider Burkes Pass area of inland South Canterbury.

Most were store lambs but a good number of primes sold well for processing,with a top price of $160 and the better types trading up from about $130. The second cut of primes sold at $120 to $129, PGG Wrightson’s South Canterbury livestock manager Joe Higgins said. . .


Rural round-up

February 9, 2018

Watch mates farmers told – Kerrie Waterworth:

Otago farmers are being asked ”to keep an eye on their partners and neighbours” as the stress from the drought, or what has been termed a medium-scale adverse weather event, continues.

Otago Federated Farmers president Phill Hunt said the rain last week was a big boost to the farming community but ”it’s not over yet”.

”The rain and the cooler temperatures have been very welcome; in particular the rain has filled up a lot of dams both for stock water and for irrigation.”

”People who have put infrastructure in for irrigation have been staring down the barrel of not being able to use it; a very expensive clothes line is how it was described to me by one farmer.” . . 

Two more farms infected with Mycoplasma bovis:

The number of properties with the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has risen, with 23 farms now infected.

The latest properties are in Southland and the Waitaki District.

First found in South Canterbury in July last year the disease is now spread from Southland to Hawke’s Bay.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has 38 farms in lockdown and said it was still aiming to eradicate the disease. . .

Friendship and farming for Hugh Abbiss and Patrick Crawshaw in Takapau – Kate Taylor:

Central Hawke’s Bay friends and workmates, Patrick Crawshaw and Hugh Abbiss, will become rivals in the East Coast Young Farmer of the Year on February 17. Kate Taylor reports.

The temperature has been higher than 30 degrees all week, so it’s no surprise to catch Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Hugh Abbiss and Patrick Crawshaw taking the chance to work inside in the shade.

They’re working out feed budgets and stock movements for the next two months as the above average Hawke’s Bay summer has given them an abundance of feed.

The pair work for Foley Farming, where the make-up of the staff is a bit different to most – with four staff, all aged under 30 and three with university degrees. . . 

New take on use of coarse, strong wool for commercial purposes – Annette Lambly:

A Northland farming couple are hoping to add value to the wool they shear from the family flock by creating high value, decorative and functional architectural products which includes a natural wall covering.

Sarah Hewlett and her husband Chris Coffey run Hewlett Point, a sheep and beef farm near Mata around 25 kilometres south east of Whangarei.

Their two young sons are the seventh generation to live on the family farm. . . 

Motion-sensor cameras on farms – Alexia Johnston:

Farmers are turning to hunting technology to protect stock from thieves.

While Parliament is debating a proposed law that would impose harsher penalties on stock rustlers, property owners are already taking steps to protect their stock.

Hunting and Fishing New Zealand Timaru owner Alister Jones said a ”huge” percentage of his sales were now going towards farmers who wanted to protect their land and property.

Previously, sales of motion sensor cameras, also known as game cameras, were predominantly made to hunters who wanted to monitor and catch animals such as deer. . . 

Irrigation an essential tool for Canterbury farmers – Sonita Chandar:

Wet spring conditions followed by a hot dry summer is creating havoc for a Canterbury Dairy farmer 

A Canterbury farmer wants whoever flicked the fine weather switch on, to switch it back to rain for a while.

Robin Hornblow and fiancée Kirstie Austin are farm managers on Willsden Farm Ltd, a 306ha farm at Te Pirita – one of several owned by the Camden Group.

This is their first season on this farm and so far, the weather has not been kind. . . 

Warning over rising facial eczema spore counts:

Farmers are being warned to keep a close eye on their stock as facial eczema spore counts rise around the country.

Spore counts are trending upwards in Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, East Coast and the lower North Island, as well as in Tasman and on the West Coast.

Facial eczema affects cattle, sheep, goats and deer and can result in liver and skin damage, which can severely affect an animal, seriously reduce production and can in worst cases cause death.

It is estimated that production losses caused by the disease are around $200m annually in this country. . .

Autogrow opens virtual innovation community:

Autogrow has opened a virtual agtech and science lab and are inviting indoor ag developers, growers and enthusiasts to join in building a dynamic and innovative community.

Following on from the launch of their Jelly SDK, APIs and Autogrow Cloud platform last year, the Autogrow Lab was set up as a collaborative environment for continued research and development of control systems for indoor agriculture.

“The industry is a fragmented hardware landscape with software and data technology being introduced into the mix. Our goal is to bring much of that together in an open platform, add in the science of plant biology and create a space for discussion, invention and pushing the boundaries,” explains Chief Technology Officer Jeffrey Law. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 27, 2017

Century farmers receive awards – Sally Rae:

Farming is all John Thornton has ever known.

The 73-year-old Taieri dairy farmer has spent his entire life on the Momona property originally acquired by his grandparents in 1916.

Tonight, the Thorntons will be among 36 families recognised at the New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards in Lawrence for achieving 100 or more years farming their land.

Originally from Wigan, in Lancashire, England, Thomas Thornton brought his large family to New Zealand in the late 1800s. . . 

Farmers’ support trusts go national – Kerrie Waterworth:

Maniototo farmer, Landcare Research board member and former National Party politician Gavan Herlihy was recently elected deputy chairman of the Rural Support National Council, a new national body representing 14 regional support trusts. Mr Herlihy has had a lifetime on the land and says the rural support trusts are a lifeline for many farmers “when the chips are down”. He spoke to Kerrie Waterworth.

Q When were rural support services set up and why?

The first one was set up in North Otago in the 1980s following successive crippling droughts. That period also coincided with the aftermath of Rogernomics that had major consequences for farming at that time. After a series of major droughts in Central Otago in the 1990s the trust boundaries were expanded to take in the whole of the Otago region. . . 

New medical centre proposed for Otorohanga – Caitlin Moorby:

Thanks to a $1 million donation, Otorohanga will get a new medical centre.

Sheep and beef farmers John and Sarah Oliver made the charitable donation towards the project, which it is estimated will cost $2 to $2.2 million.

Otorohanga District Council chief executive Dave Clibbery said the donation solves a looming problem  .  . .

Gains seen for SFF with China plan – Chris Morris:

An ambitious plan by China to reboot the ancient Silk Road trading routes could deliver significant benefits to Silver Fern Farms, the company’s chief executive says.

China earlier this month unveiled the latest details of its Belt and Road Initiative, launched in 2013, which will result in billions — and eventually trillions — of dollars being pumped into a new network of motorways, railways, ports and other infrastructure linking Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. . . 

Zespri 2016/17 grower returns sag despite big jumps in volume and turnover – Pattrick Smellie

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s statutory kiwifruit exporter, Zespri, achieved distributable profit for its grower shareholders of $34.8 million in the year to March 31 on a 19 percent increase in turnover of $2.26 billion.

The Tauranga-based business signalled a result roughly three times stronger than is expected in the current financial year, with prospects for an extra interim dividend being paid to growers in August, despite the outlook for total fruit volumes being lower for the season ahead. . . 

Rural people shouldn’t be second class citizens for health services:

A rural health road map which sets out top priorities for healthier rural communities is being explored as one avenue to addressing the challenges the modern day farmer faces.

The Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) got together this week in Wellington for their second annual “Rural Fest’, in partnership with Federated Farmers.

For farmers, focus was on increasing pressure related to industry compliance, and the stress from dealing with frequent and intense adverse events. . . 

NZ Pork welcomes Government focus on biosecurity:

The announcement of additional operating funding for biosecurity is a vital protection for the country’s primary industries, according to New Zealand Pork.

NZ Pork, the statutory board that works on behalf of local pig farmers, says that as one of the world’s leading high-health primary industries, the local pork production sector sees biosecurity as vitally important.

Over $18million of operating funding over four years was included in Budget 2017 to help secure the biosecurity system and protect New Zealand’s borders. . . 

Employment agreements crucial this Gypsy Day:

“In an industry renowned for seasonal averaging, it is important dairy farmers focus on ensuring all current and new employees have the correct employment agreements, especially with the introduction of new employment laws in April,” says Melissa Vining, Agri Human Resources Consultant with Progressive Consulting, the human resources division of Crowe Horwath.

With Gypsy Day just around the corner, it marks the start of a new season when farms are bought and sold, and new sharemilking contracts signed. . . 

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Don’t text and rake.


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