Rural round up

August 6, 2013

Westland Milk Products tests clear for clostridium:

Westland Milk Products confirmed today that it has not used any of the whey protein concentrate from Fonterra that has tested positive for clostridium bacteria.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says that Westland’s nutritional formulations use whey protein ingredients purchased from local and international suppliers, but these have not included any affected Fonterra whey protein concentrate.

“We test all the ingredients we buy in and all have returned “not detected” results for clostridium in the last 12 months. Testing of our own products and processes, including whey concentrate, has also returned negative results.” . .

Fork futures – Peter K. Dearden:

It is hard to avoid the news that last night, a beef burger grown in the lab was consumed by a number of people. The idea was that meat, grown in dishes in the lab, could replace meat grown in animals; last night was a demonstration of the principle.

The beef burger in question was grown from muscle stem cells in plastic dishes, the cells collected and squished together to make a meat-like substance. Consumers of the burger made statements such as “lacked flavor” and “needed some fat”, not exactly a glowing endorsement, but perhaps no worse than most folk’s opinion of the ‘mechanically recovered meat’ often lurking in such burgers.

The cost of this burger has been reported as 250,000 Euros ($425,000 NZ dollars), proving conclusively that growing meat in animals is still cheaper and more efficient.  As an aside, most cell culture experiments use animal serum to help grow the cells, meaning this approach is not animal-free. But is this more than just a publicity stunt; are there implications for New Zealand? . . .

Fruit and veg growers recognised for pioneering work:

Mangere fruit and vege growers Fay and Joe Gock have been recognised for their pioneering work, as this year’s winners of the Bledisloe Cup, the industry’s highest honour.

The couple both in their 80s, have come up with numerous innovations in horticulture over six decades of commercial fruit and vegetable growing,

They include being the first first to raise kumara tubers by using under-earth heating in modern hotbeds.

They developed a disease-free kumara strain and with DSIR, a prototype kumara curing shed, reducing crop loss from 50 percent to less than one percent, allowing kumara to be marketed all year round. . .

Former town relocation site placed on the market for sale:

The swathe of bare land once identified as the relocation site for the hydro’ dam township of Twizel has been placed on the market for sale.

The 19.3 hectare site at Lake Pukaki in South Canterbury is the only land within the Mackenzie District Plan with zoning allowing for residential subdivision and commercial business operations.

The land – which overlooks Lake Pukaki and State Highway 8 – is some 14 kilometres north of Twizel, and is being marketed for sale by auction on September 5. . .

Spray season begins for kiwifruit growers:

The spray season for kiwifruit growers is starting, and Bay of Plenty Regional Council is working with the industry to ensure spray drift problems are reduced this year.

Hydrogen Cyanamide, known as Hi-Cane, is sprayed on kiwifruit vines to promote more and larger fruit on the vines, promote bud break, ensure earlier and shorter flowering, and more flowers with fewer double and triple flowers which reduce fruit size.

In recent years the Bay of Plenty Spray Focus Group, which includes representatives of kiwifruit marketers Zespri, NZ Kiwifruit Growers Inc, Kiwifruit Vine Health, the public and Regional Council staff have worked to reduce the effects of sprays on the community, using best practice spraying methods. . .

Southfuels/Northfuels sign three year deal with TeenAg:

New Zealand Young Farmers is pleased to welcome Southfuels/Northfuels as a sponsor of the TeenAg Competition series. Southfuels/Northfuels have signed on for a three year period with the secondary school section within the New Zealand Young Farmers family of brands.

TeenAg aims to introduce and promote a positive picture about agriculture and agricultural careers from an early age. This is achieved via a competition series and a network of High School clubs.

The TeenAg Competition series started in 2011 with resounding success and the programmes popularity continues to rise. The first High School club was established in 2009 and know there are 45 clubs dotted throughout the country. . .

How Farmers Can Reduce Nitrogen Losses and Leaching:

New Zealand’s global image as a clean and green country is continuing to come under fire and with it comes pressure from local governments on the management of our farm lands. Nitrogen fertiliser inputs and how they affect the environment is a very topical story at the moment and with increasing pressures including N based fertiliser restrictions, costs, droughts and production requirements, the farmer has some important decisions to make.

What decision makers on both sides need to agree on is that we need to deliver the highest increase in dry matter and milk production per unit of nitrogen applied the soil. By using a microbial based inoculant like EM we can enhance the nutrient uptake of the pasture thus increasing the growth of dry matter. This enables the farmer to decrease their nitrogen application while maintaining and sometimes exceeding previous pasture levels. . .

And from Grammarly:

This exists. It makes more sense than what the word actually means.


Rural round-up

October 14, 2012

Alarm as PSA confirmed in the Bay – Patrick O’Sullivan:

Hawke’s Bay kiwifruit orchardists are on heightened alert after an outbreak of the devastating vine-killing disease Psa-V in an orchard near Taradale.

A positive test result was confirmed yesterday and industry organisation Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) has established a controlled area that includes 43 kiwifruit orchards in the Hawke’s Bay region. . .

New Zealand Pinot Noirs Triumph at Major International Competition:

New Zealand Pinot Noir shone at this year’s International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC). Over half of the country’s Gold Medals were awarded to wines made from the variety, while the Valli Gibbston Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010 beat all other Pinot Noirs entered from around the world to win the Competition’s coveted Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir Trophy. . .

Further success for Gibbston Valley Winery in their 25th year of winegrowing

A Central Otago Winery is celebrating as it received results overnight from the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London (IWSC).

The IWSC has awarded Gibbston Valley Winery a Gold Medal for its 2010 Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir. This was one of only 12 Gold Medals awarded to New Zealand wines across all varieties, and one of five Pinot Noirs. . .

Eye-opening visit to Canada – Jill Galloway:

Peter Fitz-Herbert has just been absent from his farm at Hunterville, on a trip to British Columbia in Canada, to talk beef cattle.

He won the Beef and Lamb scholarship to the Five Nations Beef Alliance and the Young Ranchers programme.

Fitz-Herbert is stock manager on the family farm in Upper Pakihikura Rd, near Hunterville. He manages 2400 ewes and 220 breeding cattle on 600 hectares. . .

Industry Training for the Primary Industries:

Federated Farmers welcomes the new Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO), following the formal merger launch yesterday of the AgITO and Horticulture ITO. This follows July’s merger of the Seafood ITO and the NZITO (meat and dairy sectors).

“What we are seeing is the natural alignment of the primary industries training organisations ITO’s),” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers spokesperson on education and skills.

“So far this year, we have seen four related ITO’s announce intentions to become just two. This not only reduces duplication but provides a more seamless offer to trainees. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Workshops to Kickstart the Conversation Around Farm Succession:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is holding a series of workshops in Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay to help farming families plan for the future.

A succession plan can help to avoid family rifts further down the track, ease the transition from one generation to the next, and ensure a fair go for all involved.

It’s a big issue for the sheep and beef sector. We’re told that more than 60 per cent of farm businesses are owned by over-60s – the majority of whom want to pass the family farm on to the kids. . .

Award-winning ‘super farm’ goes on the market for sale

One of the biggest dairy farms in the Bay of Plenty – and the recipient of an award for environmental best practice policies – has been placed on the market for sale.

“Lake Farm” near the townships of Matata and Kawerau encompasses some 373 hectares of land – milking 850 cows and producing 306,644 kilogram’s of milk solids over the 2011/12 season. This was forecast to grow to 320,000 kilogram’s of milk solids over the current year.

The farm is owned by former New Zealand Dairy Board deputy chairman Doug Bull, who also held senior roles at the Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Company and which became a part of the single merged Bay of Plenty dairy company known as Bay Milk Products. This year the farm won the environmental section of the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards. . .


Rural round-up

August 28, 2012

More milk. less impact achievable – Hugh Stringleman:

The technology exists to lift milk production and manage the environmental impacts of dairy industry development, according to soil scientist Ross Monaghan and environmental consultant Ciaran Keogh, both frontline speakers to the annual Environmental Defence Society conference session called Greening Farming.

Farmers need clear signals from industry leaders and strong extension networks to adopt best practice for environmental sustainability, according to AgResearch senior scientist Ross Monaghan.

“As a technocrat, I believe we have good management options and systems to manage our resources, grow our industries and yet reduce our environmental footprints, he said. . .

Ministry Formally Warns Growers Following Misuse Of Chemical Spray

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has completed an investigation into the misuse of the antibiotic streptomycin on kiwifruit, and 26 growers who admitted using the chemical outside the strict use conditions have been sent a formal warning letter.

The misuse of the compound constitutes a technical breach of the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act 1997.

MPI Director Compliance Dean Baigent says MPI approved the use of streptomycin on kiwifruit under strict use conditions to avoid any possibility of chemical residues occurring in fruit. The conditions included a maximum of three spray treatments onto leaves prior to vine flowering. . .

Hunterville Farmer Is The 2012 B+LNZ Young Rancher

Hunterville farmer Peter Fitz-Herbert has been awarded a Beef + Lamb New Zealand agricultural scholarship that will take him to the Five Nations Beef Alliance and Young Ranchers Programme being held in British Columbia, Canada next month.

Peter, who is the stock manager on the Fitz-Herbert family farm, will accompany Beef + Lamb New Zealand Northern North Island Director, James Parsons to the Five Nations Beef Alliance. It is made up of producer organisations from Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States and meets annually to discuss global issues and opportunities for the beef sector. . .

Risk expert: banks left farmers in dark –  Rob Stock:

Risk and derivative experts say banks, including ANZ National Bank and Westpac, should not have sold complex interest rate swaps to farmers.

Claims are also emerging that though swaps were sold as “interest rate risk management” tools, unsophisticated farmers lacked the expertise and tools to monitor their position, and were provided with little or no ongoing support or advice to manage their interest rate risks.

One of New Zealand’s best-known risk advisers, Roger Kerr from Asia-Pacific Risk Management, said he believed at least a proportion of the swaps were sold to farmers who did not know what they were buying. . .

Farmers’ bid to revisit divorce deal rejected – Matt Nippert:

A New Plymouth farmer has lost a Court of Appeal bid to recalculate his divorce settlement after judges ruled his sudden recovery from a brain injury and a rapid rise in farm property values could not have been anticipated.

Neil Johnston had been appealing a decision ruling against his claim against a law firm and his court-appointed property manager claiming a five-year delay in settling his divorce left him $780,000 out of pocket. . .

Kiwifruit executive has his hands full – Jamie Ball:

Not even six months in the job but it’s been a week of reckoning for Barry O’Neill, Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) chief executive.

But, cometh the hour cometh the man. The discovery ofPsa-V in two Waikato orchards last week might have taken the wind out of many a sail, but not Mr. O’Neill. It is, after all, what the independent pan-industry organisation was established to minimize in 2010.

With a lengthy career in the biosecurity sector within New Zealand and overseas behind him, Mr. O’Neill, is taking the Psa challenge head-on. . .

Data to be shared in sheep measles’ fight

Confidential information about sheep and deer farmers collected for stopping the spread of sheep measles is about to be shared to strengthen biosecurity in New Zealand.

Ovis Management project manager Dan Lynch said 20,000 sheep and deer farmers’ contact details were obtained from meatworks and held in a confidential database to help control the spread of sheep measles.

The Primary Industries Ministry managed FarmsOnLine and wanted the database details so there could be a swift response in the event of an exotic disease outbreak, such as foot and mouth, he said. “The benefits far outweigh the issues.” . . .

Poppy crop trials continuing – Gerald Piddock:

Australian company Tasmanian Alkaloids is still two to three years away from deciding whether to push for growing pharmaceutical poppies on a commercial basis.

The company has conducted trials of several varieties of the poppies in Canterbury at an undisclosed location, beginning in 2009.

The trials are moving slowly and that decision was still being evaluated, Tasmanian Alkaloids operations manager Rick Rockliff said. . .

Many queries still over plan – Gerald Piddock:

A group of South Canterbury farmers have been left with plenty to ponder as they come to terms with the implications of Environment Canterbury’s Land and Water Plan.

The plan would see new limits brought in on water quality established at a regional and sub-regional level through the zone committees of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.  . .

Rain enough for all but Southland – Annette Scott:

Paddling a kayak out to check on cows has been just one of the challenges faced by southern farmers coping with the rain deluge over the past couple of weeks.

While many regions of the South Island, including Southland, were facing drought conditions following the extreme dry of June and July, that has been rectified at least in Canterbury and Otago.

With up to 300mm of rain recorded in North Otago over the past three weeks, 250mm in South Canterbury and 200mm in Mid Canterbury, most farmers are ready for the sun to dry up sodden farmlands. Southland has capacity for more rain with just 3mm recorded in Gore and 7mm in Invercargill. . .


Rural round-up

August 25, 2012

Wet winter helping to spread killer kiwifruit infection – Jamie Morton:

The wettest winter some kiwifruit growers have seen is hampering efforts to stop Psa-V, at a time when the vine-killing disease is attacking New Zealand’s most popular variety.

The disease, which has ravaged gold kiwifruit orchards throughout the country since its discovery in Te Puke two years ago, is now being seen in a spate of serious cases among the green variety that makes up the bulk of the industry.

More than 60 orchards have notified industry group Kiwifruit Vine Health of possible Psa-V, and it is feared the disease could eventually reach up to half of New Zealand’s green kiwifruit growers. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand working for farmers to get more Americans eating lamb

Two Beef + Lamb New Zealand farmer directors are meeting with the project partners involved with the Tri-Lamb Group which has a goal to get more Americans eating lamb.

Central South Island Director, Anne Munro and Southern South Island Director, Leon Black are in Idaho, representing New Zealand sheep farmers alongside their fellow Tri- Lamb Group representatives from Australia and the United States.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion said the collaborative promotion by the three sheep producing nations is built around the understanding that the profitability and sustainability of the lamb market in the US is important for farmers in all three countries. . .

Unlike humans, fat bees are healthy bees:

Federated Farmers is highlighting how everyone can make a difference to whether bees are healthily ‘fat’ or sickly skinny.

“Just like with all livestock, the health of bees reflects the protein and energy sources available to them,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees spokesperson and an exporter of bee products.

“Good protein and nectar produces fat bees and in nature, fat bees are healthy bees. Federated Farmers I guess is standing up for the right of bees to become fat.

“We are keen to work with anyone and everyone to provide positive environments for the honeybee to flourish. 

“After several years’ work, Federated Farmers Trees for Bees now has ten regional planting guides available for anyone to create a bee friendly space.  While they are available from a number of websites, all you have to do is type “trees for bees” into Google. . .

Varroa is not the only threat to our honey bees – Bruce Wills:

In 2000, the sum of all fears for New Zealand’s beekeepers took place when the Varroa Destructor Mite was confirmed in Auckland.

A mere six years later, Varroa had jumped the Cook Strait to reach Nelson and progressively, over the past six years, has spread south.

This year it reached as south as you can travel in mainland New Zealand; Bluff. If it wasn’t for human intervention, the economic and agronomic effects of Varroa would be like Foot & Mouth disease.

Our economy and farming system depends on honeybees and a pollination workforce involving some 430,000 hives.

While people may judge the bee industry by the honey they purchase at a farmer’s market or the supermarket, that is a drop in the bucket.

The real value of honeybees is as pollinators par-excellence. . .

Varroa spreads but the battle for bees goes on:

By reaching Bluff in the 12 years since the Varroa Mite was first confirmed in Auckland, one of the world’s worst bee threats is close to completing its colonisation of New Zealand.

“Has Varrora had an impact on New Zealand? Absolutely,” confirms John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees chairperson and a major exporter of bee products.

“If it wasn’t for human intervention, the economic and agronomic effects of Varroa would be like Foot & Mouth disease. Our economy and farming system depends on honeybees and a pollination workforce involving some 430,000 hives. . . .

“That should give pause for thought as we celebrate the Honey Bee this week and the massive contribution this mighty insect makes to us all. The value of pollination alone is conservatively estimated at $5 billion each year.

Forest industry transforming itself

The forest and wood processing industries are moving quickly on a strategy to transform the sector.

The Wood Council (Woodco) has just given the go-ahead to a $400,000 research-based initiative which aims to get the highest value out of every cubic metre of timber harvested. Known as Woodscape, it is modelled on a major study carried out for the Canadian forest products industry in 2009.

“In the next decade we will see an increase in the harvest. We are determined to extract the best value we can from this resource and reinvigorate our sector,” says Woodco chair Doug Ducker. . .

PGG Wrightson reports $55m turnaround in bottom line profits

Rural services leader PGG Wrightson Limited (NZX: PGW) has announced an improved operating performance with earnings before interest, tax and depreciation (EBITDA) for the year ended 30 June 2012 at $55.2m compared to $49.4m in the year ended June 2011.

Operating revenue was up 7.2% at $1,336.8m compared with $1,247.2m for 2011, while net profit after tax (NPAT) was at $24.5m, a $55.2m turnaround from the 2011 loss of $30.7m. A substantial turnaround in net operating cash flow to $58.6m (2011: $4.9m) reflected a strong focus on working capital and particularly debtor management, while enabling the company to reduce bank debt. Net interest costs were reduced to $13.8m from $28.1m for the prior period . .

New Zealand’s first Albariño wine awarded a Trophy on debut:

In 2011 one barrel of New Zealand’s first Albariño wine was made by Coopers Creek Vineyard and praised by wine critics. The second vintage has just been released and in its very first outing has been awarded a Trophy at the prestigious Bragato Wine Awards, held during the wine industry’s annual conference. The Select Vineyards Gisborne Albariño 2012 is available in restaurants and fine wine stores nationally. . .


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