Rural round-up

August 24, 2014

Smart switch could save lives on farms – Lauren Hayes:

The scientific smarts of a young Southlander could save lives on farms.

James Hargest College pupil Maria Burnett took home the premier technology award from the NZAS Science and Technology Fair for her project, Smart Switch.

For the project, the 16-year-old invented a shield to cover the power take-off (PTO) shaft on tractors.

The PTO shaft carried electricity from the tractor to the implement attached to it and spun 16.6 times a second, so was very dangerous, Maria said. . .

White truffles could transform forestry industry – Annabelle Tukia:

At $3000 a kilogram, white truffles are a true gourmet delight.

Now a team from Plant and Food Research have come up with a way to cultivate the delicacy on pine tree roots, and they say forestry owners could do the same, adding another stream of income to their business.

Deep in a Canterbury pine plantation, scientist Alexis Guerin is hunting for white truffles, a fungus that could one day transform pine plantations all over the country.

Scientists at Plant and Food Research planted the white truffle-infused pine seedlings 10 years ago and, with the help of truffle-hunting dog Ace, they’re now finding the fruits of their labour cropping up all over this plantation. . .

China’s milk thirst will grow – Stephen Bell:

China’s thirst for imported dairy products will expand over the next five years to equate to New Zealand’s entire annual production, Agrifax senior dairy analyst Susan Kilsby says.

Though NZ had a foot in the door, being first with a free-trade agreement with China, there would be increased international competition, made tougher by Russia’s ban on Western imports, Kilsby, who spent three weeks in China in June, said.

She found China would need to import more dairy produce in coming years than it had so far. . .

Migrant workers need more help – Alan Williams:

Dairy farmers helping their migrant workers to have improved access to English language classes could be the best way to help them integrate more into their communities.

This is the view of people offering support services to the workers, though they say there is also no harm in the various nationalities choosing to stay mostly in their own groups.

Given the challenges involved in living in a foreign country it’s only natural for different groups to gravitate towards their own nationality for comfort, support and advice, Aoraki Multicultural Council executive member Kate Elsen said.

New Zealanders shouldn’t be put off by that, she says, but everyone agrees that the better their understanding of English, the better it is for everybody. . .

Swiss cattle breeder puts rare herd up for sale  – Tim Cronshaw:

Colin Lyon hopes someone with the same passion as him will take on his rare Swiss breed of beef cattle to bigger things.

His small herd of stud braunvieh beef breeding cows, which has twice reached the semifinals of the Steak of Origin contest, was begun by Lyon obtaining embryos from an Australian stud in 2005.

Lyon feels that, having reached 71, beef breeding is a “young man’s caper” and would like to pass on the genetic line to someone else and his herd is for sale.

The braunviehs at his farm near South Canterbury’s Pleasant Point are believed to be the only cattle of their kind in New Zealand. . .

Cows in class:

Nelson dairy farmer Julian Raine is bringing the country into the city, when he teams up next week with the Fonterra Milk for Schools Programme and Victory Primary School. A cow and a calf from Oakland’s, Mr Raine’s family farm, owned and worked by his ancestors since 1842, will visit the school on the morning of Monday 25th August.

The initiative is part of the Victory School’s Year 5 Integrated Study, “From Paddock to Puku”.

Victory School, Deputy Principal, Mr Sullivan, says “The idea for this terms integrated study came from our schools involvement in the Fonterra Milk for Schools Programme, it was important for the students to learn more about where milk comes from and it’s health benefits, together with the cultural and environmental effects of drinking milk.” . . .


Rural round-up

February 13, 2014

Farming confidence bodes well for Southern Field Days – Diane Bishop:

Southern Field Days is the place to be.

That’s according to 789 exhibitors who will showcase their wares at the South Island’s largest rural expo – the Southern Field Days – which starts at Waimumu near Gore today and continues tomorrow and Friday.

Schouten Machines managing director Marcel van Hazendonk said it was his second time exhibiting at the field days.

“You’ve got to be here. It’s important for exhibitors because if you’re not here you could be missing out on business,” Mr van Hazendonk said.

Southern Field Days chairman Mark Dillon expected there would be a “mad rush” this morning as exhibitors completed their sites in readiness for the crowds. “As long as the weather stays like this it will be fantastic,” he said. . .

Not much in farming qualifies as natural – Doug Edmeades:

The word “natural” and its derivatives such as “nature’s way”, “nature’s own”, “grown naturally”, a “product of nature” and “naturally organic” are tossed into product advertising like minties at a lolly scramble.

They convey a feeling that something, a product or a process, is honest and true, as in the way Mother Nature intended, and not artificial or false, in the sense of being man- made.

The implication is always that nature’s way is better than man’s way or more specifically, mankind has screwed nature and we must now bow our heads in penitential shame.

I thought it was time to play with this idea. Is our clover-based pastoral system natural? . . .

LIC’s half-year profit dips – Alan Williams:

Sales were higher but costs of a rebuild of the database and technology platform bit into LIC’s half-year profits.

The dairy genetics company reported today an after-tax profit of $26.9 million for the six months ended November 30 on sales of $135m.

In the same period a year earlier the profit was $30m on sales of $131.2m. Earnings per investment share slipped to 91.3c from $1.01.

High milk prices and stable weather had encouraged farmers to increase investment in a range of information management tools, chairman Murray King said. . . .

 

Solid Energy farm blocks for sale – Lauren Hayes:

More than 2000 hectares of farmland has been put on the market in Eastern Southland.

The land is owned by Solid Energy and is being sold, as one of the largest offerings of New Zealand dairy land, through PGG Wrightson Real Estate.

PGG Wrightson Real Estate general manager Peter Newbold said the block was made up of nine farms, three of which were dairy farms and six of which could be dairy support properties or dairy conversions. . .

 

Progress For Wool:

Over 100 New Zealand wool industry members gathered in late January to listen to international wool leaders discuss the significant progress being made on a global scale by both the Campaign for Wool and International Wool and Textile Organisation (IWTO).

Peter Ackroyd the President of the International Wool and Textile Organisation (IWTO) and Chief Operating Officer of the Campaign for Wool and Ian Hartley, the Chief Executive of the British Wool Marketing Board shared the stage.

Ackroyd shared the background and benefits of the International Wool and Textile Organisation including internationally recognised procedures which are fundamental to trade and manufacturing, coordinated environmental standards, and standardising environmental “foot printing”. . .

February 2014 – Rabobank Agribusiness Monthly & Rural Economics Monthly:

The Rabobank Agribusiness Monthly provides timely information and analysis on agricultural conditions, commodity price updates and commentary on the latest sectoral trends and developments. In conjunction, the Rural Economics Monthly provides a useful overview of the key macro developments in the local and global economies while also covering specific economic developments relevant to New Zealand and Australian agricultural sectors.

Key highlights
Agribusiness Monthly

• Beef – Strong Chinese demand drives growth in beef exports

• Dairy – Chinese supply issues to drive commodity markets in 2014

• Other costs – Baltic Dry Index weak as global economy takes wrong turn

• Fertilizer – All eyes on demand fundamentals in 2014

• Climate – Mostly normal outlook for New Zealand

• Currency – New Zealand dollar supported by solid economic growth . . .

The full report is here.

Nitrogen management made easy by new farming app:

A next-generation product for nitrogen management on-farm will be launched by the innovative Kiwi start-up company, Regen, at the Southern Field Days in Waimumu beginning this Wednesday the12th of February.

Regen, who successfully launched “ReGen Effluent” are now bringing to market “ReGen Nitrogen” – a powerful yet simple product that assists farmers make real-time decisions about fertiliser application.

“ReGen Nitrogen uses on-farm data such as climate and soil information. It calculates the expected response from nitrogen application on any given day and advises the farmer for or against application and the reasons why. The product calculates the kilograms of dry matter likely to be achieved from each kilogram of nitrogen, given the prevailing climate and soil conditions. It also calculates how many cents per kilogram of dry matter that response rate would equate to,” says Bridgit Hawkins, Chief Executive Officer & Director at Regen. . . .


Rural round-up

December 28, 2013

Huge solar power system to milk cows – Gerald Piddock:

Hugh and Sue Chisholm are turning to solar power to help run a more sustainable dairy business.

The Putaruru farmers are installing one of the country’s largest solar powered systems ever to be used on a dairy farm on their dairy shed near Putaruru.

The 28kW photovoltaic (PV) system has 112 solar panels on the roof of the Chisholm’s 64-bale rotary shed as well as two Fronius IG 150 V3 inverters.

Chisholm said the capital cost of the system was a smart investment, and part of an improvement plan for their farm. . .

Sharemilkers not bad people, just bad bosses – Jon Morgan:

Immigration adviser Lyn Sparks is blaming a rise in corporate-owned dairy farms for an increase in workers’ complaints about poor working conditions.

The Christchurch-based adviser says the biggest offenders are some corporate-owned farms run by sharemilkers.

However, he believes there are more good employers than bad in dairying.

“The bad ones are not bad people,” he says. “They just don’t know how to manage.”

But a contract milker says there are just as many bad employees in dairying as bad employers. . .

Sorry tale of swaps no one understood – Fiona Rotherham:

It has been a victory – of sorts – for farmers with the Commerce Commission last week saying it intended filing court action next March against the ANZ, ASB and Westpac banks for “misrepresenting” the sale of interest rate swap loans to rural customers.

I say a victory of sorts because there’s a lot of water under the bridge yet to get compensation for farmers, some of whom ended up more heavily indebted and losing their land.

Sold between 2005 and 2008, interest rate swaps were marketed to farmers as a way to beat rising interest rates. When the global financial crisis hit in 2008 farmers with swaps saw the interest they were paying rise when rates were falling rapidly elsewhere. The banks charged huge break fees for those wanting to exit the swaps. . . .

Bank claims farmer swaps compo call ‘too late’ – Rob Stock:

ANZ says the three-year limitation period has passed under the Fair Trading Act for the Commerce Commission to obtain compensation for farmers who were mis-sold interest rate swaps.

That, the bank warned, meant the commission “will now have to attempt a novel and uncharted method to obtain compensation if it takes the court route.”

The bank’s written statement comes in the wake of the news last week that the commission would launch legal action next March under the Act against ANZ, Westpac and ASB for the sale of the swaps between 2005 and 2008. It is also investigating another bank, not yet named, that also sold swaps and may be joined to the action. . .

Postie’s long run of deliveries nears an end – Lauren Hayes:

After 53 years, millions of kilometres, thousands of early mornings and an unthinkable amount of petrol, a Winton postie is calling it a day.

At 21, Ray Cosgrove used his savings to buy into a Central Southland rural delivery run, and began loading letters into a Hansa station wagon. The Hansa might be long gone and the delivery route altered but, more than half a century later, Mr Cosgrove and his wife, Debbie, are still delivering mail to rural Southlanders.

Mr Cosgrove bought the rural run in September 1960 and stepping into the role was not as easy as many people, including the urban posties, often thought, he said. . .

Year in review – March – Rebecca Harper:

The drought was really hurting rural communities and the bill started to mount for the primary sector with drought declarations coming thick and fast. The entire North Island was eventually declared as being in drought along with the West Coast of the South Island. Dairy production took a hit and the first talk about a merger between the two largest meat co-operatives, Alliance and Silver Fern Farms, started, as farmers looked for the causes of low lamb prices.

This was quickly followed by a call from the newly-formed Meat Industry Excellence Group, a group of lower South Island farmers, for meat-sector consolidation. A meeting in Gore to gauge support and discuss possible reform of the red meat industry attracted 1000 farmers and Alliance chairman Owen Poole put the cost of consolidation at $600 million. . .


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