Rural round-up

August 8, 2019

Meat industry concerned by education shake-up :

A shake-up of vocational education could be a backwards step for training in the meat industry, the sector’s leaders say.

Last week, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced seven key changes in store for on-the-job training and apprenticeships, which included the creation of a “mega-polytech”.

Up to seven industry-governed Workforce Development Councils would also be created to “replace and expand” Industry Training Organisations (ITOs). . . 

Consumer trust is key for future success of NZ food industry:

Consumer trust has never been more valuable to the New Zealand food industry and is set to play a key role in its future success, a visiting international agricultural expert has told the horticulture sector. Yet winning and sustaining this trust has also never been more complex.

Speaking at the New Zealand Horticulture conference in Hamilton last week, the Sydney-based general manager for RaboResearch Australia and New Zealand Tim Hunt said consumer trust was becoming an increasingly precious commodity for New Zealand food producers.

“New Zealand’s emerging markets, like China and South East Asia, place a high value on food safety and the process of food preparation, while more mature wealthy markets are willing to pay for sustainability, animal welfare, fairness and attractive provenance,” he said. . . 

‘No ordinary job’: Dairy farmers put in the hard yards over calving – Esther Taunton:

Most calves are born like Superman, with their front legs up over their heads, but sometimes even Superman needs a hand, Taranaki sharemilker Jody McCaig says.

McCaig and her husband, Charlie, farm at Te Kiri, inland from Opunake, and like dairy farmers around the country, they’re headed into another busy calving.

At the height of the season, up to 50 calves a day will be born on the 1000-cow, 320-hectare property. . . 

Stop pigeonholing farm systems– TIm Fulton:

Support for regenerative agriculture is building across New Zealand and Australia. As Crown-run Landcare Research seeks state funding to test the principles and practice Tim Fulton spoke to Australian soil science leader Professor John McLean for an assessment of the movement.

At home with a newborn in southeast Queensland Associate Professor John McLean recently read a an article on regenerative agriculture in the special Fieldays issue of Farmers Weekly.

Bennett is a principal research fellow at the university’s Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems and the immediate past president of Soil Science Australia. . .

New Zealand’s first carbon neutral milk plant – Nigel Malthus:

French global food company Danone says it will spend NZ$40 million on its Nutricia spray drying plant at Balclutha to achieve net carbon neutrality there by 2021.

NZ operations director Cyril Marniquet says it will make the Balclutha plant NZ’s first carbon neutral one of its kind.

A NZ$30m biomass boiler will reduce the plant’s CO2 emissions by 20,000 tonnes per year – the equivalent, the company says, of removing 60,000 cars from NZ’s roads. And a more efficient waste water treatment plant will meet Danone’s stringent global clean water standards.  . .

China confirms it is suspending agricultural product purchases in response to Trump’s new tariffs – Kate Rooney:

China confirmed reports that it was pulling out of U.S. agriculture as a weapon in the ongoing trade war.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said Chinese companies have stopped purchasing U.S. agricultural products in response to President Trump’s new 10% tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods.

“This is a serious violation of the meeting between the heads of state of China and the United States,” the Minister of Commerce said in a statement Monday that was translated via Google. . . 


Rural round-up

February 15, 2019

Promising results from denitrification wall :

A world-first denitrification wall at Silverstream, North Canterbury designed to reduce high groundwater nitrate levels is working as anticipated.

The trial is led by the Institute of Environmental and Scientific Research (ESR).

So far the nitrate levels in groundwater have been reduced from 7.1mg/L to 0.5 mg/L by the wall at Silverstream Reserve. . . 

Thanks John, for the milk price – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers have former Fonterra chairman John Wilson to thank for the milk price they enjoy today, says Sir Henry van der Heyden.

In a eulogy at Wilson’s funeral in Hamilton early this month, van der Heyden told of Wilson’s relentless push for a fair and transparent milk price.

“His relentless questioning and his ability to process and retain vast amounts of information means we have a tremendous legacy from him in the milk price,” he said. . . 

Feds backs wool levy if there is a sound plan of action :

The Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Council has today voted to support a compulsory wool levy on producers – but only if the cross-industry Wool Working Group comes up with a clear, practicable and compelling blueprint for lifting wool’s profile and returns.

Delegates from the 24 Federated Farmers provinces meeting in Wellington agreed that unless a collaborative plan for wool research, development and marketing is formulated – and then widely backed – the death-knell for the crossbred wool industry in New Zealand would be sounded. . .

Are deer the new moa: Ecosystem re-wilding or a flight of fancy? – Nic Rawlence:

It’s the depths of winter and I’m squatting in the snow, surrounded by southern beech forest, using a pair of tweezers to pick up fresh steaming deer poo.

My wife Maria, and palaeoecologist Jamie Wood, from Landcare Research, are doubled over in laughter, having just given me the official job title of pooper scooper.

We’re helping Jamie collect deer poo as part of a project investigating whether introduced deer fill the same job vacancy as the extinct moa in what remains of our unique ecosystems – an ecological surrogate to re-wild New Zealand. . . 

You call that meat? Not so fast cattle ranchers say – Nathaniel Popper:

The cattle ranchers and farm bureaus of America are not going to give up their hold on the word meat without a fight.

In recent weeks, beef and farming industry groups have persuaded legislators in more than a dozen states to introduce laws that would make it illegal to use the word meat to describe burgers and sausages that are created from plant-based ingredients or are grown in labs. Just this week, new meat-labeling bills were introduced in Arizona and Arkansas.

These meat alternatives may look and taste and even bleed like meat, but cattle ranchers want to make sure that the new competition can’t use the meat label. . . 

Calling all young nurserymen and women :

We are delighted to announce the 2019 Young Achiever Award run by New Zealand Plant Producers is now open to receive entries.

The competition seeks to reward and recognise the best young nursery people in the country. The costs of running the competition and the prizes are generously supported by the HortiCentre Charitable Trust.

NZPPI chief executive Matthew Dolan says, “This is a fantastic opportunity for young people with careers in the primary sector to take the next steps in their careers and to compete with other nurserymen and women.” . .


Rural round-up

October 16, 2018

Farming with depression a daily battle for young Waikato Farmer – Gerald Piddock:

Paige Hocking takes it one day at a time in battling depression while working on a dairy farm.

She seldom makes long-term plans because she never knows when the black dog might wander in.

It all starts in the morning when she wakes up on the 125-hectare farm she works as a dairy assistant near Waiterimu in Waikato.

The 21-year-old was diagnosed with depression three years ago. She describes its effects as like shaking up a bottle of soft drink. . .

Scheme’s success testament to conscience of rural community – Richard Davison:

Water quality in New Zealand’s creeks and rivers has become a hot-button issue during recent years, and much has been made of the failure to live up to the nation’s “100% Pure” branding.

Given recent headlines declaring Otago’s waterways to be “horrific”, and with only 60% considered better than “fair” over the course of a 10-year analysis, it would be easy to believe the message has not been getting through to where — and to whom — it matters.

Those often bearing the brunt of blame for deteriorating water quality have been farmers, but their characterisation as wilfully ignorant, environment-wrecking profiteers could not be further from the truth, according to Landcare Research environmental scientist Craig Simpson. . . 

Bees taking farmer on busy journey – Sally Rae:

Julie Kearney is getting a buzz out of bees.

Mrs Kearney and husband Tony farm sheep and beef cattle on Shingly Creek Station, a 2000ha property on the Pig Root.

Nearly three years ago, the fifth-generation farmers were discussing how they did not see many bees on the farm.

So Mrs Kearney completed a certificate in apiculture through Taratahi and she now has 14 established hives. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis compensation mired in delays as plot thickens – Keith Woodford:

The messages coming from MPI, and also mirrored by Prime Minister Jacinda Adern’s recent comments, are that good progress is being made with Mycoplasma bovis eradication and that MPI is getting on top of its problems. The reality from where I stand is somewhat different.

As of 12 October, official data shows there have been 400 claims lodged for compensation, starting back in the late 2017. Of these, 183 have been either partially or totally paid, leaving 217 waiting in the system. Of those that have been paid, MPI provides no data as to how many are partially paid and how many are total.

In the last four weeks, MPI has averaged 14 payments per week, with an average total weekly payment of around $1.1 million.   At that rate, it will take about four months to clear the existing backlog to get even partial payments. . . 

Massive leap forward for New Zealand sheep genetics:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics has just launched a new $5 million genetic evaluation system – a transformative step for the country’s sheep industry.

B+LNZ Genetics General Manager Graham Alder says the new evaluation is the result of four years of research, developing new cloud-based computing systems and testing.

“It is based on Single Step technology, whereby genomic information is incorporated into the evaluation, alongside traditional genetic measures. The result is a faster, more accurate evaluation, which allows New Zealand ram breeders to make better, more-timely decisions around the selection and dissemination of profitable and consumer-focused genetics. . .

New NZ Young Farmers CEO plans North Island road trip to visit members:

NZ Young Farmers’ new chief executive will “couch surf” her way around the North Island next month.

Lynda Coppersmith has announced plans for a road trip to meet members in Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki and the Waikato.

She will also join 40 teachers on a Teachers’ Day Out event in Hawke’s Bay on November 6th. . . 

’Jaw dropping’ : New Zealand offers lessons in tackling climate change – Peter Hannam:

Scott Simpson, New Zealand’s National Party environment spokesman, stunned a trans-Tasman investment meeting last week by stating that climate action was “too important to be playing politics with”.

Or rather, it was the Australian delegates who were shocked, so used are they to the toxic debates in Canberra.

“It made my jaw drop, that’s for sure,” said Emma Herd, chief executive of the Investor Group on Climate Change. . .


1080 or death to natives

September 12, 2018

Doc, Federated Farmers, Ospri, Royal Forest & Bird and WWF-NZ are countering the emotion against 1080 with facts:

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is fully committed to the use of 1080 to protect our forests and native wildlife in the face of the current campaign of misinformation and is joined by other agencies in standing up for the use of this pesticide.

New Zealand’s native wildlife is in crisis. The flocks of native birds that used to fill our forests have been killed and replaced by vast populations of rats, possums, stoats and other introduced predators. This is not the future most New Zealanders want.

These animals also carry diseases which pose a danger to people, pets and farm animals.

DOC, OSPRI (TBfree NZ), Federated Farmers, Forest & Bird and WWF-NZ all agree that 1080 is an effective, safe and valuable tool in the fight to protect New Zealand’s forests and native birds, bats, insects and lizards.

The agencies above, along with community groups and volunteers, invest huge amounts of time and effort to protect out native taonga from predation. There are multiple tools and technologies used to control predators of which 1080 is one. 1080 is a highly effective toxin and a necessary tool to help protect our native species.

We use a range of methods including the latest self-setting traps and there is significant research being undertaken into pest control technologies. However, Forest and Bird volunteer trappers agree they could never cover the vast and inaccessible areas that aerial 1080 operations can. Biodegradable aerial 1080 is the most effective tool we have for suppressing rats, possums and stoats in one operation over large, difficult to access wilderness areas—where most of our native wildlife lives.

Huge areas of native bush is inaccessible by foot and the only way currently available to kill pests where trapping is impossible is 1080.

Scientific and technological advances, including genetic modification, might provide alternatives in the future but there are no viable alternatives now.

These organisations use or advocate for 1080 because it is backed by years of rigorous testing, review and research by scientists from Landcare Research, Universities, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Ministry of Health and the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

In 2011, the former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright wrote a comprehensive report on 1080 and the current Parliamentary Commissioner, Dr Simon Upton, stands by Dr Wright’s analysis and recommendations.

The results are clear that where 1080 is used, our birds and native wildlife start to flourish.

We understand that some New Zealanders have genuine concerns and fears about 1080 in relation to the environment, water, animal welfare and wild food sources. We urge them to seek out www.1080thefacts.co.nz that addresses these issues.

New Zealanders have a choice: use 1080 to protect our native species over large-scale wilderness areas or end up with collapsing and denuded forests and our native species restricted to pest-free islands and fenced sanctuaries.

https://www.doc.govt.nz/standupfor1080

Lou Sanson, Director-General, Department of Conservation

Chris Allen, Board Member, Federated Farmers

Barry Harris, Chair, OSPRI

Kevin Hague, Chief Executive, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society

Livia Esterhazy, Chief Executive, WWF-NZ

Predator Free 2050 is an ambitious goal which will need a range of pest control measures to achieve, including some not yet invented or feasible.

Until science and technology come up with effective alternatives, the choice is 1080 or death to native birds, bats, insects and lizards, and the destruction of native fauna.


Rural round-up

August 29, 2018

Financial incentives no silver bullet for sustainable agriculture – study – Charlie Dreaver:

A Landcare Research study shows financial incentives to encourage more sustainable practices on farms are not enough.

The research, as part of the National Science Challenges, investigated the best incentives to promote changes within the agriculture sector in the face of approaching climate change.

One of the authors, Landcare Research senior scientist Nick Cradock-Henry said he had been working with farmers over the last seven or eight years and had found awareness around climate change was growing.

Dr Cradock-Henry said it was partly due to recent severe weather events. . .

Destocking not the answer – Dr Jacqueline Rowarth:

It is a great pity that some people have embraced – with little question – the concept that farmers can make a ‘reduction in stocking rate and still make the same money, while leaching less nitrogen’.

Destocking is now being offered as the panacea to environmental woes, and hence a goal for the country, without examination of impacts or alternatives. Nor is the issue of climatic variability being considered; a region once ‘summer safe’ or ‘winter dry’ may be no longer.

Of even more importance is the starting point: destock from what? And did the high stocking rate mean animals were under pressure for feed? And, of course, what is the milk price and the cost of importing food to the milking platform? . . .

No excuse:

 Farmers are unhappy and confused with the NAIT changes rushed through Parliament into law.

Social media has been abuzz with angry farmers demanding a ‘please explain’ from DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ on why they are publicly backing the changes.

One Northland dairy and beef farmer tweeted “please explain why [you] supported the draconian changes to the NAIT Act which treat farmers like terrorists. Why should I pay my levy/sub if u can’t stand up for us?” . .

Fertiliser made from sea squirts shows student ingenuity :

More than 30 student businesses from 11 high schools around Northland competed in this year’s Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) trade fair at the Old Packhouse Market in Kerikeri, and market patrons found plenty to attract their interest.

For YES the students come up with a product or service, set up a real-world business, and end the year with a real profit – or loss.

The fair was the young entrepreneurs’ first chance to test their wares and marketing skills on the public, with shoppers voting for their favourite business and secret judges rating the best stalls. . .

Food price ‘to rise 5%’ because of extreme weather :

Meat, vegetable and dairy prices are set to rise “at least” 5% in the coming months because of the UK’s extreme weather this year, research suggests.

Consultancy CEBR said 2018’s big freeze and heatwave would end up costing consumers about £7 extra per month.

It follows price warnings from farmers’ representatives about peas, lettuces and potatoes. . .

The world’s first floating farm making waves in Rotterdam – Simon Fry:

The world’s first offshore dairy farm opens in the Port of Rotterdam this year, with the aim of helping the city produce more of its own food sustainably. But will such farms ever be able to produce enough to feed the world’s growing urban populations?

A Dutch property company, Beladon, is launching the world’s first “floating farm” in a city port.

It has built the offshore facility right in the middle of Rotterdam’s Merwehaven harbour and will use it to farm 40 Meuse-Rhine-Issel cows milked by robots. . . 


Rural round-up

May 9, 2018

Natural Fibre Exchange aimed at providing greater efficiency :

In a significant step forward for the wool sector, industry participants have come together to develop and launch an independent online trading platform.

Modelled on the Global Dairy Trade Events (GDT) platform, the Natural Fibre Exchange (NFX) is scheduled to go live with its first trading event on 22 May 2018.

NFX Ltd shareholders Wools of New Zealand Ltd (WNZ) and Alliance Group have teamed with CRA International (CRA), an acknowledged leader in online trading platforms. CRA, which also designed and manages the GDT platform, has developed and will manage the NFX platform. . . 

Short and long-lived gases need separate regulatory baskets – Keith Woodford:

A key issue for New Zealand is how to meet the Paris commitments for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Fundamental to any analysis is the different attributes of long-lived and short-lived gases.  In particular, how should methane be accounted for, and how should it be brought into any emission trading scheme?

Back in 2016, current Commissioner of the Environment Simon Upton raised the importance of placing short-lived gases in a different regulatory ‘basket’ from long-lived gases. Remarkably, our rural leaders appear to have failed to pick up on the importance of this issue.  

More than any other country in the world, NZ’s gross emissions are influenced by methane-producing ruminant animals. No other developed country has a comparable emission profile, with the arguable exception of Uruguay. . . 

Cheaper lab meat to put pressure on farmers by vying with mince and other red meat cuts – Jill Galloway:

New Zealand farmers are in danger of becoming redundant as synthetic meat took consumers away from red meat, says a strategic science expert.

Dr Anna Campbell, managing director of agribusiness consulting company AbacusBio, said synthetic meats would get cheaper and global consumers would choose them because of their light environmental impact and zero animal treatment.

Campbell was a key speaker talking to about 180 farmers and agribusiness people at the AgInnovation conference in Palmerston North on Wednesday.

“At the moment, synthetic meat-makers take some cells, some blood and other things, spin it around, and get mince.  It’s mince for hamburger patties that is spat out. It is expensive at the moment, but the companies will scale it up and make it cheap.”  . . 

Age not wearing this farmer – Peter Burke:

Moyra Bramley was born in 1933, the year Sir Apirana Ngata and Lord Bledisloe inaugurated the Ahuwhenua Trophy to recognise excellence in Maori farming — now Ms Bramley has at least a 50/50 chance of winning that trophy.

Bramley is in the running for her role as chairwoman of the Onuku Maori Lands Trust, one of two finalists in the competition. 

Onuku’s entry in the competition is its 72ha Boundary Road dairy unit is near Lake Rotomahana, 30km south of Rotorua. It is one of four farms run by the trust.  . . 

Looking into using drones differently – Mark Price:

Wanaka beekeeper Daniel Schweizer is investigating a use for drones that is yet to catch on in New Zealand.

He can see potential for “spray drones” that target weeds in difficult-to-get-to places in the high country.

The weeds would include gorse, broom and wilding pines.

“The only options at the moment are a helicopter and a man with a knapsack, and one is $20 an hour and one is $2000 an hour,” he said. . . 

Drought will bring more crop disease scientists warn:

New Zealand’s land-based primary industries need to get ready for more, and more serious, crop disease as climate change causes more and longer droughts, according to new research.

In the journal Australasian Plant Pathology, the authors say that climate change is expected to bring more droughts in many parts of New Zealand, and more droughts are “likely to increase the severity of a wide range of diseases affecting the plant-based productive sectors”.

Scientists from the Bio-Protection Research Centre, Scion, Lincoln University, AUT University, Landcare Research, and the University of Auckland analysed the potential impact of climate-change-induced drought on several commercial plants and their diseases. . . 


Rural round-up

April 26, 2018

Land use tipped to change on Waimea Plains, near Nelson, if dam gets nod – Cherie Sivignon:

Waimea Irrigators Ltd chairman Murray King is putting his money where his mouth is to support the proposed Waimea dam.

The dairy farmer and long-term proponent of the dam project said he had committed to buy more water shares, at $5500 a pop, than he needed for his 57ha block of land on the Waimea Plains.

“We’re fully subscribed, a little bit over actually.”

His “60-something” shares would cost him more than $300,000. . .

Retaining soil carbon the answer to managing agricultural GHG emissions – Gerald Piddock:

A Matamata dairy farm has become ground zero for a team of Waikato scientists searching for ways to lower agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Soil carbon and nitrous oxide losses are being measured on the 200 hectare farm owned by Terry and Margaret Troughton and managed by their son Ben and wife Sarah.

Their findings so far in a project funded by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre were outlined at a field day on the farm.

Better pasture management, genetics, feed and nutrition had been done well, but new strategies were needed to take the project the next step forward, Landcare Research’s Jack Pronger​ said. . . 

Farmers give thumbs down to new taxes:

Any move to introduce a capital gains, land or environment tax will meet stiff opposition from farmers, a Federated Farmers survey shows.

The Federation asked its members for their views last month, to help inform the farmer group’s submission to the Tax Working Group. The nearly 1,400 responses indicated strong opposition to some of the new taxes that have been suggested.

Just on 81 percent opposed a capital gains tax excluding the family home, with 11 percent in support. However, 47 percent would support a CGT on property sold within a five year ‘bright line’ test. There is currently a two-year threshold, and the measure is seen by some as a way of discouraging speculators. . . 

NZ farm sales fall 11% in March quarter as mycoplasma bovis keeps farmers nervous –  Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand farm sales fell 11 percent in the March quarter from a year earlier, as the mycoplasma bovis cattle disease outbreak weighed on purchasing intentions and spanned a period where smaller plots of rural land were captured by the regime to screen foreign buyers.

Some 388 farms were sold at a median price of $27,428 per hectare in the three months ended March 31, down from 438 farms at a median price of $27,509/ha in 2017, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures show. Fewer dairy and grazing farms accounted for the drop, with gains in finishing farm sales coinciding with strong prices for beef and lamb meat. . . 

Calm ewes produce more than nervous ewes:

A calm temperament in ewes improves ovulation rate and successful pregnancies, according to a study published by The University of Western Australia.

The study, which was conducted in collaboration with researchers from Uruguay, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA and UWA, has implications for the impact of stress in human reproduction.

The team investigated the reproductive outcomes of 200 Merino ewes known to have either a calm or a nervous temperament. They found the ovulation rate and rate of successful pregnancies to be higher in the calm ewes. . .

Shearing at the end of the world –  Tomas Munita and Russell Goldman:

Life at the end of the world can be lonely.

For weeks at a time, Roberto Bitsch and gauchos like him might not see another human being. They see horses, both wild and tame. They see the dogs they work with. But mostly, they see sheep — thousands of them.

Locals mark time by the length of the sheep’s woolly coats here on Isla Grande, the largest of the Tierra del Fuego islands at the tip of South America, closer to Antarctica than to Chile’s capital, Santiago. . . 

 


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