Rural round-up

March 12, 2020

Southern Dairy Hub to trial new winter practices for better animal welfare – Damian Rowe:

Cows being able to sit on biodegradable mats instead of mud will be trialled in a bid to improve their health during winter grazing.

Southern Dairy Hub staff with the help of scientists, engineers and rural professionals have teamed up to create concepts on how to improve the farm facilities for winter grazing.

Winter grazing techniques were put under the spotlight last year after a nationwide anti-grazing campaign highlighted some Southland cows standing in mud, and prompted the agricultural minister Damian O’Connor to set up a taskforce in response. . .

From the Ridge: our farms are already regenerative – Steve Wyn-Harris:

There is a bit of wheel reinvention going on.

No, that’s not quite the metaphor that I’m looking for. How about teaching granny to suck eggs? Something like that.

Regenerative agriculture is all the rage, the answer to all our ills.

Really? . . 

Developing leaders for tomorrow:

Last month, 21 developing dairy industry leaders started Fonterra’s year-long Governance Development Programme, with two days of presentations and discussions at Fonterra’s head office in Auckland.

Now into its 15th year, the programme is an intensive year-long commitment built around a series of workshops, distance learning modules and coaching. It exists to help identify and develop governance acumen in future rural leaders. Being custom designed in conjunction with Massey Business School to be specific to the cooperative context, it is unique in New Zealand. Attended predominantly by Fonterra farmer shareholders and herd-owning sharemilkers it is also open to members of other New Zealand cooperatives such as LIC, Silver Fern Farms and Foodstuffs.  . .

Connecting to grassroots New Zealand -Fiona Windle:

It wasn’t a typical Sunday for my family.  We packed a lunch, extra layers and headed an hour south from our home in suburbia Napier for an opportunity to see what goes on behind a farm gate as part of the inaugural nationwide Open Farms day. 

On arriving at Mangarara Station in Central Hawke’s Bay’s Elsthorpe, we followed the signs down a long windy driveway where we and other families were warmly welcomed from our hosts, Greg and Rachel Hart at their guest Eco Lodge.  Nestled in front of the farm lake, among rolling hills and native trees, it was a picturesque and peaceful setting, which had you immediately feeling relaxed, with a sense of belonging. . . 

Keep stock off harvested hemp:

Feeding hemp to livestock is strictly forbidden and as well as contravening the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act, doing so could put New Zealand’s red meat exports in jeopardy.

Matt Ward, B+LNZ General Manager North Island, says according to the Ministry for Primary Industries, hemp or hemp products used as animal feed are regulated under the ACVM Act 1997 and are classed as agricultural compounds.

It is an offence to use any ACVM that is not authorized and there are no hemp products authorized for use in livestock in New Zealand. . .

New 500,000 tonne market on offer as India opens its doors for Aussie malt barley – Gregor Heard:

AUSTRALIAN exporters could be sending malt barley to India as soon as April after the Indian government removed a critical phytosanitary requirement that acted as a roadblock to sales to the subcontinental nation.

It paves the way for a market industry insiders suggest could easily see Australian trade to Indian in excess of 500,000 tonnes in the near term, rising to up to a million tonnes with time to forge closer relationships.

Based on current malt barley prices, the cost of preparing the grain for export and sea freight sales of that volume would mean a windfall of in excess of $180 million for the Australian barley industry based on current Australian port prices of $280/t. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 28, 2019

More good farmland lost forever:

News that two large New Zealand farms have been sold off-shore, largely for forestry is depressing according to 50 Shades of Green spokesman Mike Butterick. The same owner has purchased both properties.

One farm is 734,700 hectares at Eketahuna that sold for $3.35 million. The other is 1037,000 hectares in Wairoa sold for $6 million.

“It’s bad enough having the land sold to foreigners but having good productive farmland sold for forestry and subdivision is criminal,” Mike Butterick said. . .

Decision time at Westland for Yili bid – Keith Woodford:

The time has come when Westland’s dairy farmers must make their decision. Do they want to take the money and go with Chinese mega-company Yili, or do they wish to struggle on as a co-operative?  We will know the answer after the July 4 vote.

If farmers vote to take the money, it will then be up to the Government to agree or refuse to accept Yili as the new owner. I will be surprised if they disallow the sale under the relevant OIO provisions. The ramifications of that would be severe.

Also important is whether or not the approval from Government is quick or drawn out. It is in no-one’s interest that it be drawn out, but OIO approvals can be remarkably slow.  Yili could step away if approval is not forthcoming by 31 October. . . 

NZ First is not alone in worrying at the implications of a Westland Milk sale to Yili – Point of Order:

Is   Westland  Milk   one of  NZ’s  “key  strategic assets”?

NZ  First  is adamant  it is and believes the government  should be a  applying a  “national interest test”   to the proposed  sale of the company  to the Chinese  dairy giant Yili.

Those  who  see  heavily indebted  companies  like Westland Milk struggling to  make a profit and  not  even  matching  Fonterra’s payout  to its suppliers might take a  cooler view  to  the proposed  sale. . . 

Minister heaps more costs on farmers:

The Minister of Agriculture has confirmed he hasn’t bothered asking his officials the costs farmers will face as a result of the high methane target the Government is imposing, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“When questioned in Primary Production Select Committee Damien O’Connor scrambled to confirm he’d seen no specific advice for costs per farm, nor has he even asked for any.

“Cabinet have blindly cooked up a methane reduction target of 24-47 per cent, despite scientific evidence suggesting this is too high and without knowing the costs per average farm and the impact it will have on rural communities. . .

Downsizing opens gate to A2/A2 farm:

He’s a dairy farmer with a passion for breeding, striving to be “at the front of the game.” She’s a converted city-girl who fell in love with the dairy farmer, despite her aversion to typical milk.

It doesn’t agree too well with my system,” Stacey White says.

“I used to have soy and almond milk and I’ve tried both them and rice milk; nothing’s really appealed in terms of taste, and baking with those substitutes doesn’t really work either.” 

So when Stacey became aware of A2/A2 milk 18 months ago, she tried it out and found it tasty, creamy, and, crucially, easily digestible.*  . . 

LIC migrates to NZX’s Main Board:

Herd improvement and agritech co-operative LIC will move to the Main Board of the NZX (NZSX) next month, transferring from the Alternative Board.

This comes as NZX announced it will move to a single equities board from July 1 and close the NZAX and NXT.

Of the companies migrating, LIC is the largest by market capitalisation, at approximately $109 million.

There are around 14 agritech companies featured on the NZX Main Board and only one other farmer-owned co-operative (Fonterra). . . 

How NZ farming is like a Steinway piano – Glen Herud:

I wonder if we rely too much on our pasture-based farming or our beautiful scenery or our clean image.

What if the things we think are our strengths are actually weaknesses?

Steinway and Sons had been the leading maker of grand pianos since 1853 when their business was crippled by Yamaha.

Professor Howard Yu explains how Steinway held on to their main strength for far too long and it eventually became a weakness. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 24, 2018

She Shears star Jills Angus Burney surprises audience at hometown screening – Sam Kilmister:

Shearing ace Jills Angus Burney​ wouldn’t be where she was today if she hadn’t picked up a handpiece nearly 40 years ago. 

That’s what the Feilding-born barrister and shearer told audiences as she surprised them during a hometown screening of her movie She Shears at Focal Point Cinema last weekend. 

The film, which premiered earlier this month at the New Zealand Film Festival, follows the fortunes of five female shearers as they prepare for New Zealand’s annual Golden Shears competition.  . . 

Big investor goes others dig deep – Richard Rennie:

The off-again, on-again Waimea Dam has dodged the loss of its mystery $11 million backer with some of the existing irrigation investors reaching into their pockets to make up the difference.

“At the end of the day the terms were not acceptable and it made more sense for the existing investors to take up the unallocated shares,” Waimea Irrigators spokesman Murray King said.

A key concern of the group is the apportioning of risk, with the investor carrying less while Waimea Irrigators carried substantially more.

A group of 14 businesses will collectively buy 2000 convertible notes in Waimea Irrigation at $5500 a share, the same share price paid by the scheme subscribers. . . 

The environmental benefits of glysophate – Mark Ross:

Glyphosate, the world’s most widely-used weed management tool has extensive economic and environmental benefits for farmers, especially for those involved with New Zealand’s grains industry.

The benefits of reducing farming’s environmental footprint are immense. Not only do glyphosate-based products successfully control a broad spectrum of weeds, they also help farmers grow crops more sustainably. This is because they allow farmers to adopt ‘conservation tillage’ – benefiting soil health, reducing carbon emissions and conserving water.

There are countless benefits to the land, the farmer and the environment from adopting a no-till system. First and foremost, by leaving the soil mostly undisturbed and leaving high levels of crop residues behind, soil erosion is almost eliminated. . .

LIC spends big on research – Alan Williams:

Dairy genetics group LIC has confirmed innovation at the heart of its work and the spend on research and development this year is more than 5% of revenue.

That is a spend of $13.1 million for the year to next May 31, chairman Murray King told shareholders at the annual meeting in Hamilton.

The New Zealand primary sector’s research and development spend averages about 1%, he said.

The ambitious spend will drive sustainable growth and profitability and deliver more value to farmer shareholders. . . 

Capital gains tax punishes hard work – Lyn Webster:

 I watched Jesse Mulligan on The Project recently saying something like the only people who did not support a capital gains tax were rich selfish people, and I could not help but disagree.

I do not own an investment property, profitable businesses, shares or farms, so a capital gains tax will not necessarily affect me, but I do have an opinion on it.

The premise behind a capital gains tax is that people who work pay tax but people that get income from investing in capital – ie: shares, farms, rental properties etc do not and that this is somehow unfair. . . 

The Farmer’s Fast Five – Pete Greenwood – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a Farmer Five quick Questions about Farming and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Proud Farmer and Amberley A&P show President, Pete Greenwood.

1. How long have you been farming?

 I have been farming since I was 16 years old.

2.What sort of farming were you involved in?

Cropping, horticulture briefly. Now sheep & beef.

3.What makes you Proud to be a Farmer?

 I am proud of what we produce & how we produce it. I am also proud of our position on the world stage. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 5, 2018

Discovery that could help save the world – new diet to make cows burp less methane – Gerard Hutching:

New Zealand could be the first country in the world to change a cow’s diet so it burps out less methane.

Dutch nutrition company Royal DSM is developing a commercial feed additive which it hopes will be on the market in two years’ time. Studies had shown it could reduce up to 30 per cent of cattle methane in intensive farm systems.

It is focusing on New Zealand because the country’s livestock produce a lot of methane, one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

A single dairy cow generates about 3 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent every year in the form of methane (CH4). . .

Robotic technology running at Alliance Dannevirke plant :

State-of-the-art robotic technology is now running as part of the Alliance Group’s $10.6 million investment in its Dannevirke meat processing site.

The primal/middle cutting machinery is part of the co-operative’s investment programme in the plant which also included a redsigning the boning room.

The technology is the most advanced system of its kind in New Zealand. The custom-built primal/middle cutting technology features an x-ray unit which analyses each carcass and instructs two cutting machines where to cut.

It automatically adjusts to a wide variation in carcass size, a challenge in the red meat processing sector. The technology also minimises waste and improves the accuracy of the cut. . .

New fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and NZ merino :

A unique, environmentally friendly fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and a New Zealand merino wool blend will be displayed as part of the Material Innovation exhibition at the London Design Museum.

The material, which was created by renowned Danish designers Kvadrat, was designed to be a sustainable replacement for leather in the latest Range Rover model.

Jaguar Land Rover NZ sales operations manager Ben Montgomery says the merino wool blend was chosen by the designers for its premium characteristics. . . 

Kiwi meat can cut the mustard – Annette Scott:

There are no facts in the future. It’s all just an educated or opinionated guess, agri-futurist and digital strategist Melissa Clark-Reynolds told 250 sheep and beef farmers in Christchurch.

In her keynote address to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s FarmSmart 2018 Clark-Reynolds said the biggest challenges in futureproofing farming will come in a changing business farming model.

“The future is already here. It’s just not very evenly distributed,” she said. . . 

LIC takes disease precautions – Glenys Christian:

Breeding companies are gearing up for the busy spring mating season with extra measures to stop the spread of Mycoplasma bovis between dairy farms.

LIC shareholder councillor Mark Meyer, who farms at Tangiteroria, told a farmer meeting in Dargaville AI technicians have already inspected nearly 5000 dairy farms to make sure they have one major suitable entry point and footbaths were in place.

There was 100% compliance with 60 technicians in the field for winter milk inseminations despite some pushback from farmers to start with, he said.  . . 

Best advice to U.S. dairy farmers? ‘Sell out as fast as you can’ – Phil McCausland:

Small-dairy farmers are getting squeezed out by corporate agriculture. “That is not what America is about,” a struggling farmer said.

All Curtis Coombs wanted was to raise cows and run his family’s dairy farm in this slice of Kentucky hill country, less than 35 miles from Louisville. But a few weeks ago, he was forced to sell his milking herd of 82 cows, putting an end to his family’s nearly 70-year dairy business.

On a rain-drenched Monday, Coombs, his father and his uncle struggled to shove their last 13 cows into a trailer destined for auction and slaughter. As the earthy smell of manure filled the air, the men yelled for the Holsteins to move and urged them forward with the whack of a plastic stick. . . 


Dairy Award winners living the dream

May 13, 2018

The winners of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards were announced last night:

The 2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners are smart people who are technologically savvy, care about people, the environment and cows and who are doing very well at dairy farming.

In front of nearly 550 people at Invercargill’s ILT Stadium last night, Dan and Gina Duncan from Northland were named the 2018 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Gerard Boerjan from Hawkes Bay-Wairarapa became the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Simone Smail from Southland-Otago was announced the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth over $202,000 .

“This year there have been a few trends amongst the 33 finalists competing for honours in the awards programme,” General Manager Chris Keeping says. “The finalists are acutely aware of the importance of biosecurity and health and safety with regards to both environmental issues, animal management and sustainability.  It’s extremely positive to see such dedication to these issues within the industry.”

Share Farmer head judge Kevin McKinley, from DairyNZ, says the judges were impressed to discover how educated the entrants were, either tertiary educated or looking to upskill themselves. “We’ve been from one end of the country to the other and we have met a stunning group of people excelling within the industry.”

“We met people who genuinely value other people and how they can help them progress through the industry.  They realise you have to look after staff and value them if you want to keep them. The winners will be excellent ambassadors for the dairy industry,” says Kevin.

Fellow Share Farmer judges Matt Richards, from Southland and Jacqui Groves from Westpac say it’s fantastic to see people putting themselves out there to be judged.  “The industry is in good hands,” says Matt.  “They might be doing it differently to how we used to, but the next generation is growing the industry and evolving and the rest of us have to be ready and prepared.”

Jacqui Groves agrees. “It’s fantastic to see them still seeking advice from more experienced farmers. “They’re seeking out established farmers and asking for support and mentoring,” she says.

The judges say Dan and Gina Duncan can be summed up in three words – passionate, professional and committed.  “They are a friendly, out-going couple who are working on an exceptionally challenging farm.”

“They epitomise living the dream.  They left secure jobs as registered valuers and made the career change to dairy farming, and they’re excelling at it. They’re the complete package.”

“Nothing has come easy for them, they’ve had to work hard” says Kevin.  “When they first began their career, they sought out employers that they thought would be good mentors and role models for them.  They’ve looked for opportunities where people are considered important.”

The Duncans are 50:50 Sharemilkers for the Pouto Topu A Trust milking 1020 cows on the 460ha Pouto property.  Both Dan and Gina, aged 32, hold Bachelor of Applied Sciences majoring in Rural Valuation and Management, with Dan holding a double major including Agriculture.

The former registered valuers have clear, realistic but challenging goals and gave an outstanding presentation which flowed and kept the judges fully engaged. “They managed to get that information across to us in a way we could understand and follow it,” says Kevin.

“Dan and Gina had written a long-term plan on future strategies to improve the property, which they presented to the farm owners.  They called it the Farm Prosperity Report and it encompassed sustainability strategies and solutions to drive the property forward. They had also successfully applied for grants to secure funds for planting on the property.”

In winning the national title and $49,700 in cash and prizes, the couple demonstrated strengths in pasture management and financial management.  They also won three merit awards; the PrimaryITO Interview Award, the Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award and the Westpac Business Performance Award.

“A good example of their pasture management is a comparison report on what quantities a cow would need to eat in Kikuya grass versus Rye grass to receive enough energy to make milk.  It just made it real,” says Matt. “They had calculated all their KPIs of their pasture and they were benchmarking with the rest of Northland, and picked appropriate benchmarks to compare themselves with.”

“They have a good work life balance, they still work hard but they find the time to pursue interests off-farm such as sport, and time with family and friends,” says Kevin

The runners-up in the Share Farmer of the Year competition, Papakura 50:50 sharemilkers Chris and Sally Guy are described by the judges as traditional and solid who are cow and grass focused.

“They were very well organised, it’s a small organisation with not much labour employed,” says Chris.  “They have to be very efficient with their time, and Chris demonstrated this with little bits of technology that he uses, such as an ear-piece he wears in the shed that enables him to record notes.

The couple are in their second season 50/50 sharemilking on Allan Guy’s 80ha Papakura property, milking 200 cows. They also won the Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene merit award and $23,300 in cash and prizes.

Putaruru contract milkers Steve Gillies and Amy Johnson, both aged 31 years, placed third in the competition, winning $13,000 in prizes. The couple also the Federated Farmers Leadership merit award.  The judges noted their financial and analytical strengths and that they had outstanding community involvement.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy and Ravensdown, along with industry partner PrimaryITO.

Dairy Manager head judge Mary Craw, from Marton, says the 2018 Dairy Manager winner targets excellence in everything he is involved with.

“He has great experience as a manger of people, and a great passion for working with people in a large team environment,” she says.

‘Excellent attention-to-detail and an all-rounder’ is how judges described the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year, Gerard Boerjan. “He takes a systems approach to the way he manages the farm, he has good systems in place to ensure nothing gets through the gaps,” says judge Mark Shadwick from DairyNZ. “Everything is well documented, he covers health and safety to an exceptional level and his financial understanding is of the highest calibre.”

Gerard, aged 50 years, has successfully farmed in Portugal and Brazil and is currently Farm Manager for Trevor Hamilton on his 553ha Takapau property.  He won $22,600 in cash and prizes.  Gerard also won the DairyNZ Employee Engagement and the Westpac Financial Management and Planning merit awards.

“Gerard is a stand-alone manager and he doesn’t just assume things are getting done, he closely monitors things.  He regularly reviews the information he gets against on-farm targets,” says judge Dave Hutchison from Westpac.  “He’s always monitoring multiple systems to report back to the farm owners, and has good procedures in place to do so.

“Gerard possesses the ability to manage a large, complex business with an absentee owner.  Every detail of the farm is closely monitored, but there’s a real human touch to it.

“He really cares about his staff, he cares about the people, the environment, his cows, what he grows and how he grows it, but he also understands very clearly that it’s a business he is running and he showed us that.”

“Gerard and his partner Marlene are a strong team and she supports him completely,” says Mary.  “He has consciously chosen to pursue a career long-term in management, rather than farm ownership or contract milking.”

“Gerard is very logical and intelligent person, who considers his answers and has a systematic yet adaptable approach to everything he does. He has a fantastic relationship with the farm owners, and keeps the farm and houses in immaculate condition.”

The judges say Gerard is an excellent example of understated confidence. “He’s experienced, yet humble.  He has a great team approach, even texting his staff to ensure they get home safely every night.”

The Dairy Managerjudges were impressed by the calibre of the finalists and by what they were achieving at a young age.  “The standard was phenomenal,” they agreed.

The Dairy Manager runner-up, Will Green from Canterbury, aged 32 years, also won the Ravensdown Feed Management Award.  Will is the farm manager for Kieran and Leonie Guiney on their 240ha, 830-cow farm at Fairlie and won $11,300 in prizes. The judges noted that he is an extremely focused manager with a real emphasis on his team, and has a philosophy of efficient milk production within the system he works, which he adheres to.

Southlander Jaime McCrostie, aged 32, was placed third and won $5500 in prizes and the PrimaryITO Power Play merit award.  Jaime is the Farm Manager for her employer Steve Smith and farm owners AB Lime on the 370ha, 930-cow farm at Winton. The judges describe Jaime as a ‘machine’, who is extremely capable, energetic, focused and operates great systems on-farm.  Her excellent use of technology was commended.

The 2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year, Simone Smail, presented herself very well, was at ease in the environment and gave considered, accurate answers. She has a quiet confidence and is sincere, says Dairy Trainee head judge Chris Withy from Southland.

“She is an excellent example of someone who hasn’t grown up in a farming environment, but has developed an obvious love of the land and of the stock that she works with.”

“Simone is an example that anyone can go dairying and succeed if they work hard.”

Judge Tony Finch, from DairyNZ, says Simone is considerate and genuine who is thoughtful of other people’s opinions. “She has mana, coupled with a bubbly personality and a mature approach. As judges, it’s fantastic to see young people like her.”

“One thing that is very clear is that this competition challenges the entrants with their own goals and abilities, and after reflection they realise they can achieve even more.  It has given them great confidence and self-belief. There wasn’t much between the top four, it was very close.”

Simone, aged 24 years, won $10,600 in prizes and the DeLaval Communication and Engagement Award and is herd Manager on an Invercargill City Council farm, working for Steve and Tracy Henderson on the 780-cow, 310ha property at Invercargill. 

It was while she was studying for her Certificate in Veterinary Nursing that she discovered her passion for working with cows.  Simone entered the awards to meet like-minded people who are passionate and want to progress in the industry.

The Dairy Trainee runner-up, Donna McKinley, also won the Best Video Award presented by Streamliner.  Donna is 2IC for Davison Trust Partnership milking 330 cows on a Central Plateau 116ha farm. The judges noted she was a confident person who sets goals, puts a plan together, then achieves those goals.  She’s a very determined person.  Donna won $6000 in prizes.

Third placegetter Quinn Youngman, 21 years, works on David Dean’s 245ha, 600-cow farm in Mercer, He was was inspired by his Grandma to look at the dairy industry as his career.  The judges described him as the quintessential young farmer who was a quiet achiever.  He won $3000 in cash and prizes.

Visit www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz for more information on the awards and winners.

Full Results:

2018 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year:

• Winner – Daniel and Gina Duncan, Northland
• Runner-up – Chris and Sally Guy, Auckland-Hauraki
• Third – Steve Gillies and Amy Johnson, Waikato
• DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Simon and Hilary Vallely
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Chris and Sally Guy
• Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Steve Gillies and Amy Johnson
• Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Tim and Melissa Parsons
• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Richard and Wendy Ridd
• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Thomas and Jennifer Read
• PrimaryITO Interview Award – Daniel and Gina Duncan
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Daniel and Gina Duncan
• Westpac Business Performance Award – Daniel and Gina Duncan

2018 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year:

• Winner – Gerard Boerjan, Hawkes Bay-Wairarapa
• Runner-up – Will Green, Canterbury-North Otago
• Third – Jaime McCrostie, Southland
• DairyNZ Employee Engagement Award – Gerard Boerjan
• DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Colin Tremain
• Fonterra Farm Source Dairy Management Award – Anthony Lamborn
• LIC Interview Award – Anthony Lamborn
• Meridan Energy Leadership Award – Sam Moscrip
• PrimaryITO Power Play Award – Jaime McCrostie
• Ravensdown Feed Management Award – Will Green
• Westpac Financial Management & Planning Award – Gerard Boerjan

2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year:

• Winner – Simone Smail, Southland-Otago
• Runner-up – Donna McKinley, Central Plateau 
• Third – Quinn Youngman, Auckland-Hauraki
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Andrew Trolove
• DeLaval Communication and Engagement Award – Simone Smail
• Best Video Award presented by Streamliner – Donna McKinley


More milk from fewer cows

November 29, 2017

New Zealand milk production is up while cow numbers are down:

Daisy and her paddock mates are record-breakers, reveal the latest national dairy statistics released today by DairyNZ and LIC.

Over the 12 months to June 2017, the average dairy cow produced more litres of milk containing more kilograms of milksolids than ever before.

The average dairy cow produced 4,259 litres of milk in the 2016-17 season, containing a total of 381kg of milksolids (kg MS), compared to 4,185 litres and 372kg MS in 2015-16.

The latest New Zealand Dairy Statistics 2016-17 also reveal milking cow and herd numbers have decreased for the second consecutive year. The latest count is 4.86 million cows nationally – down from 4.99 million in 2015-16 – while herd numbers have dropped to 11,748 from 11,918 (-170 herds).

But despite the decline in cow numbers, dairy companies processed very similar milk quantities – 20.7 billion litres of milk containing 1.85 billion kg MS in 2016-17. The previous season was 20.9 billion litres of milk (1.86 billion kg MS).

The results are positive for New Zealand and its farmers, says DairyNZ and LIC.

DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman says the trend for increasing per cow milk production shows farmers are opting for animals that are year-on-year more efficient at converting grass into milk – the industry’s national breeding objective.

“We are producing similar milk quantities from fewer cows, partly because we are breeding better animals and feeding them well,” says Matthew.

Since the 1980s ag-sag sheep numbers have dropped but meat production hasn’t.

Cow numbers have increased in recent years as more farms converted to dairying but now dairying is following sheep with more production from fewer animals.

“The average herd is now 414 cows, down from 419 in 2015-16. Currently we are at the lowest level of cows milked since 2012 – with North Island cow numbers declining 90,000 to 2.89 million, while South Island numbers decreased 46,000 to 1.97 million.”

LIC general manager NZ Markets, Malcolm Ellis, says the stats reflect a shift in the industry.

“Farmers are acknowledging that, as an industry, if they are not going to be milking more cows then they need to be milking better ones,” says Malcolm.

“The lower payout in previous seasons certainly forced some farmers to reconsider their cow numbers as part of a wider farm system review, but these stats prove it can really payoff for a farming business.

“It boils down to the fundamentals of herd improvement – creating high quality herd replacements that will out-perform their mothers in productivity, longevity and fertility.” . . 

It’s a matter of improving production rather than increasing cow numbers.

Doing more with less is better for staff, the environment and income.

Sharemilking structure

Farm ownership structures have also changed over the last couple of seasons, with 27.3 percent of New Zealand dairy herds operating under a sharemilking agreement in 2016-17, compared with 32.4 percent in 2014-15.

Within the sharemilker herds, variable order sharemilking (VOSM) herd numbers declined in 2016-17. In particular, 20-29 percent sharemilkers decreased by 235 herds (-29 percent) to 586. In 2013-14, there were twice as many VOSM herds compared to today (1,357).

Herd-owning sharemilkers (50:50 sharemilkers) declined (-91 herds) for the fourth consecutive season and now account for 19.8 percent of all herds.

Owner-operator herds increased 188 to 8,503 herds in 2016-17, reflecting VOSMs moving to contract milking after financial challenges with low milk prices. . .

Sharemilking started in New Zealand, where it’s governed by an act of parliament, and is rarely used elsewhere.

A reduction in numbers of sharemilkers isn’t good for the medium to longer-term health of the dairy industry.

It has always been a way for dairy workers to get on and up the ladder to farm ownership.

We used to have managers but changed to lower order sharemilkers several years ago.

The change has been better for animal health, staff and production.

Sharemilkers have skin in the game. The better they do, the more they make and that incentive works to get the farms working better.

For the sake of the industry I hope that the reduction in the number of sharemilkers is temporary.

 


Rural round-up

November 5, 2017

Rebuilding dairy farmers’ social licence to operate with the public – Pat Deavoll:

A couple of weeks ago I went along to the Forest Growers Research Conference. I was bamboozled by science except for one presentation by the director of Our Land and Water National Science Challenge Ken Taylor who works for AgResearch. He was a good speaker, and his topic piqued my interest.

Taylor praised the farming leaders, headed by Federated Farmers president Katie Milne, who fronted up and said: “water quality is our problem, we’ll own it and fix it.” Taylor told us that they were seizing the initiative and stepping towards rebuilding farming’s social licence to operate (SLO).

I’d never heard of this term before, but have since discovered that everybody else has. . . 

Tararua nurse first in country to get certificate in rural nursing – Georgia Forrester:

A Tararua woman is the first in the country to walk away with a new rural qualification in nursing.

Rowena Panchaud said her passion for her rural area led to her completing a graduate certificate in nursing practice, with a rural nursing speciality.

The Otago-born woman has lived in Dannevirke with her family since 2006. . .

LIC bulls given all clear from M.bovis:

LIC has confirmed its artificial breeding bulls are free from the Mycoplasma bovis cattle disease.

LIC is a farmer-owned co-operative and the largest artificial breeding company in New Zealand. More than three out of four cows grazing on New Zealand dairy farms are sired by an LIC bull.

Although confident the disease was not present in its bulls, the co-op announced in September it would test for the disease to provide its farmers with greater peace of mind through the dairy mating season. . . 

 – Keith Woodford:

Those of us involved with research relating to A1 and A2 beta-casein know all too well the challenges of publishing and disseminating that research.  Given the extent to which beta-casein research challenges established positions, some of which are held by powerful entities, there are lots of speed bumps.

Events of recent weeks have once again illustrated some of those challenges. I lay out one such example below.     

Together with Boyd Swinburn, who is Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health at Auckland University, I was attempting to disseminate to a wider audience the results of a science review paper that we and other colleagues co-authored. The scientific paper itselfwas published earlier this year in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes which is part of the Nature Publishing stable of scientific journals. . . 

Dairy stays above churn of plant-based substitutes – Charlie Dreaver:

Spending on dairy-free alternatives is on the rise as more consumers turn to plant-based milks, yoghurts and cheeses.

The country’s two supermarket chains Progressive and Foodstuffs have taken notice and are stocking more of the products than ever, but the dairy industry said it was not worried.

Foodstuffs, which operates the New World and Pak ‘n Save chains, reported that sales of plant-based milks – such as nut, oat, soy and rice milks – in its North Island stores had shot up 11 percent since August last year.

Progressive Enterprises, which own Countdown’s stores, now has more than 60 non-dairy milk, cheese, and yoghurt products on the shelves. . .

Golden rice approval needed to produce a life changing staple food – V. Ravichandran:

 Their eyes tell their sad stories as ghostly white irises give way to vacant stares. We can look at them but they can’t look back at us. They’ve gone blind because of malnutrition.

I see these poor people all over India, where I live, but their suffering knows no borders: The problem of vitamin-A deficiency curses dozens of countries in the developing world. It causes visual impairment in millions of people. As many as half a million children go blind each year. Hundreds of thousands die within months of losing their eyesight.

What a heart-rending tragedy.

The good news is that science teaches us how to prevent this crisis. The bad news is that manmade complications keep getting in the way. . .


Rural round-up

November 28, 2016

Aiming for better public science understanding – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Interactions between agriculture and the environment have rarely been so much in the face of the public, and finding a path for the future is proving challenging.

Should New Zealand remain GE-free, ban glyphosate and embrace organics, or should it lead in adopting new technologies to increase efficiencies whilst minimising impact on the environment?

The general problem is that decisions have to be made on issues which arouse high public interest, and where knowledge is incomplete and complexity great. These issues are almost always linked to values, emotions and personal experience — what the Prime Minister’s chief science advisor, professor Sir Peter Gluckman, describes as “the political power of the anecdote”. . .

Improved environmental performance to provide long-term strategic value for New Zealand’s agri sector– industry report:

Improved environmental sustainability should provide long-term strategic value to New Zealand’s food and agri sector, according to a recently-released report by agricultural banking specialist Rabobank.

In the report, Sustainable Returns: Finding the value in Environmental Sustainability, Rabobank says two major types of value have been identified for farmers and food & agribusiness (F&A) companies from improved environmental practices – the immediate monetary benefit of these practices (from a price premium) and the long-term strategic advantages that provide growth and prosperity into the future.

Report author, Rabobank rural manager Sustainable Farm Systems, Blake Holgate says the type of value farmers and F&A companies can derive will vary depending on the product they are producing, how they are producing it, where they sit on the supply chain, and who the end consumer is. . . 

Stronger farm partnerships beneficial:

A national programme to increase profitability and productivity of sheep and beef farmers by strengthening farming partnerships is being scaled up to reach 2800 farms.

Since 2014, almost 500 women involved in sheep and beef farming businesses have completed the Understanding Your Farming Business (UYFB) programme, designed and delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT).  That included 50 women who last month graduated from the similar AWDT programme for Maori women, Wahine Maia Wahine Whenua.

The four-month programme, funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership , builds business and communication skills, and confidence of farming women, empowering them to view themselves and their farming roles differently and help lift farm performance. . . 

South Island leaders in for Australasian agri-business award

2017 Zanda McDonald Award shortlist announced

Three young agriculturalists from the South Island have made it through to the next stage of the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award. The three – Morgan Easton, a 33 year old farm owner and sharemilker from Oamaru, Jolene Germann, a 32 year old dairy consultant from Invercargill and Henry Pinckney, a 34 year old farm owner from Waiau were selected for their impressive leadership skills, passion for their work and determination to make improvements to the agricultural industry.

The three will head to Brisbane next month for the interview round for a place in the finals. They will be up against Australia’s Anna Speer, CEO of AuctionsPlus, Will Creek, a Stud Manager at Stanbroke and Airlie Trescowthick, a business analyst and managing director of The Farm Table. . . .

In the running for agribusiness award – Sally Rae:

Papakaio dairy farmer Morgan Easton has been shortlisted for the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award.

The Australasian agribusiness award was launched by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group in 2014.

It was in memory of Australian beef industry leader and PPP foundation member Zanda McDonald, who died in 2013 after an accident at his Queensland property.

Mr Easton (33), along with Invercargill-based dairy consultant Jolene Germann (32) and Waiau farmer Henry Pinckney (34), have made it through to the next stage of the award.

The trio were selected for their “impressive leadership skills, passion for their work and determination to make improvements to the agricultural industry”. . . 

New plan to target Mackenzie wilding conifers:

A new strategy for tackling wilding conifers in the Mackenzie Basin has been announced today by Conservation Ministers Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

“Currently, wilding conifers impact on almost a quarter of land in the Mackenzie Basin, and without further control they will spread and take over large areas of farm and conservation land,” Ms Barry says.

“Wilding conifers are a major threat to our ecosystems, land and farms. These invasive self-sown trees spread fast and are very hard to eliminate once established.

“Prevention is the best form of management. Removing young seedlings now, before they start producing seeds, costs less than $10 per hectare, but removing mature trees can cost $10,000 per hectare.” . . .

National milk production down 1.5%:

Despite New Zealand dairy farmers receiving the lowest milk prices in 20 seasons, milk production dropped just 1.5%.

That was one of the New Zealand Dairy Statistics 2015-16 released on November 14 by DairyNZ and LIC. They revealed there were 52 fewer herds and 20,522 fewer cows than in 2014-15.

Dairy companies processed 20.9 billion litres of milk containing 1.86 billion kilograms of milk solids in 2015-16. The previous season, they handled 21.2 billion litres of milk, with 1.89 billion kilograms of milk solids. . . 

Increase in seasonal workers for RSE:

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced an increase in the number of seasonal workers who can come to New Zealand to work in the horticulture and viticulture industry under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

The current cap will be increased by 1,000 from 9,500 to 10,500 RSE workers for the 2016-17 season.

Mr Woodhouse says the horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, producing almost $5 billion in exports. . . 

Kiwifruit industry welcomes Government decision on seasonal workers:

• 1000 additional seasonal workers for horticulture

• RSE workers support New Zealanders who remain primary workforce

The kiwifruit industry has welcomed the Government’s announcement of an additional 1000 seasonal workers for the coming season.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) Chief Executive Nikki Johnson says the extra workers in the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme are essential to support the kiwifruit industry’s strong growth. . . 

Crown Irrigation Invests up to $3.4m in North Canterbury – some good news for the region:

Crown Irrigation Investments will invest up to $3.4m in the Hurunui Water Project, an irrigation scheme that will be capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury.

The scheme infrastructure includes water intakes from the Hurunui and Waitohi rivers, with both on plain and dam storage, and a pressurised piped distribution system. The current project cost estimate is approximately $200 million. . . 

Hurunui irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming an investment of $3.4 million into the Hurunui Water Project by Crown Irrigation Investments.

“This is fantastic news for North Canterbury after the recent earthquakes and severe drought they have suffered through,” says Mr Guy.

The Hurunui Water Project is a $200 million irrigation scheme capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares within an area of around 60,000ha on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury. . . 

New Zealand Bloodstock – a victim of its own success:

The record turnout for last week’s New Zealand Bloodstock’s (NZB) Ready to Run Sale at Karaka shows our bloodstock industry is still punching well above its weight says Crowe Horwath’s bloodstock specialist Hayden Dillon. As interest from Australian and Asian buyers continues to grow, the sale saw a record number of entries with 552 horses offered, however, this was tempered by a low clearance rate of 60% compared to the 81% of last year’s record-breaking sale, which left a number of vendors taking their horses back home. Dillon, says “the industry should take comfort that this is not a structural issue for the sale, rather growing pains, and NZB and the vendors will be making adjustments as necessary for the 2017 sale.” . . .

The Cambodian farmers paid to protect birds:

Rice farmers in Cambodia are battling falling regional rice prices and a black market that’s been undercutting them.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, together with a firm called Ibis Rice, is offering to pay above market price for the rice.

In return, the farmers must help protect Cambodia’s national bird – the Giant Ibis. . .


Rural round-up

November 15, 2016

North Canterbury farmers confronted by milk crisis – Tim Cronshaw, Gerald Piddock, Gerard Hutching:

Dairy farmers across the Kaikoura and North Canterbury region will have to dump their milk into effluent systems or find other ways to deal with it because it cannot be picked up.

Fonterra said road conditions in Kaikoura meant there were about 30 farms that might not have their milk collected, while others around the country might have late collections as tankers were rerouted.

A Federated Farmers spokeswoman said local councils had given the go-ahead for milk to be dumped into paddocks, following the midnight quake. . . 

Farmers pool resources to keep milking:

North Canterbury farmers are rallying together by sharing cow sheds and lending generators as they try to carry out the daily business of running their farms despite some suffering extensive damage from Monday morning’s quake.

Culverden dairy farmer Justin Slattery said about half of Culverden, in north Canterbury, had lost power and he was still waiting for it to come back on at his farm.

Slattery had been using his neighbour’s milking shed and was working around him, meaning his 520 cows got milked almost five hours late on Monday morning. He planned to return at 6pm if power had not returned to his property. . . 

 

Low price impact on milk production slight – Sally Rae:

Milk production eased only slightly in 2015-16, despite the lowest milk prices in at least 20 seasons, figures released by DairyNZ and LIC show.

Production was down 1.5% nationally, despite 52 fewer herds and 20,522 fewer cows than in 2014-15.

South Island production increased 2%, with rises in both Marlborough-Canterbury (2%) and Otago-Southland (2%). . . 

Alexandra space research centre taking off :

A Central Otago space research centre has been tipped as a game changer for Alexandra after it was announced this morning it is to be funded as a regional research institute.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce made the announcement at a breakfast meeting in Alexandra.

Mr Joyce said the New Zealand Research Institute of Viticulture and Oenology in Marlborough had been chosen as the first new regional research institute. 

The Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST), led by Alexandra-based research company Bodeker Scientific requested $15million in funding. . .

Constable Rhys Connell says police want to work in partnership with rural communities – Sue O’Dowd:

Police are committed to working in partnership with rural communities, says Taranaki rural police officer Rhys Connell. 

 “Ninety per cent of rural crime is solved by people in the community who see and hear things and let us know about them,” he told about 50 people at a rural crime prevention national roadshow in Stratford.

The roadshow also visited Tikorangi. Eight roadshows have already been in other areas of the country as part of a joint police, FMG and Federated Farmers initiative to promote rural crime prevention measures. 

“You are our eyes and ears,” Connell said. “It’s us together, not you and us.” . . 

Native mussels thrive in Canterbury stream:

Last year, we heard the story of Nigel Gardiner who found some Endangered native mussels as a result of riparian planting and continued work around the stream to improve its health. Here’s the latest update, a year on since the first discovery.

Endangered native mussels, or Kākahi, are continuing to thrive in the creek on FLO – Triangle farm in Canterbury one year after they were discovered by sharemilker Nigel Gardiner.

Kākahi are one of only three species of the endangered fresh water mussels to exist in New Zealand and can live for between 30 and 50 years. . . 

Far from ‘uneducated’ – Life on this Side of the Fence:

If you watched any of the recent presidential election results, you may have noticed a recurring theme.  As traditionally blue states turned red, a common phrase heard among reporters was that the “uneducated rural community” had made a larger turnout than what was expected.  As a member of the rural community, which is quite educated might I add, I saw a few things wrong with this statement.

First, the political affiliations of a certain group of people should in no way merit the assumption of education, or lack thereof.  In a society that claims to be open to all walks of life and discourages the labeling of cultural groups, I felt that the way rural voters were viewed was quite misguided. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 7, 2016

Primary sector leader ‘humbled’ by award – Gerard Hutching:

Agricultural leader Chris Kelly said he was “humbled” by the Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) bestowed on him in the Queen’s Birthday honours.

Kelly, who has been involved in the farming sector all his career, is best known as chief executive of Landcorp. During his 12-year stewardship of the SOE between 2001-13, Landcorp’s value mushroomed from $500 million to $1.6 billion.

“I’m proud to be part of a wonderful industry. The primary sector is not only very important for New Zealand but it’s also a great place to work.

“The most memorable component would have been my sojourn at Landcorp. I feel humbled to have been singled out because there are lots of other people who could have been,” Kelly said. . . 

Harnessing youthful energy at Mangahao – Kate Taylor:

The infamous Mangahao fog doesn’t dampen the farming enthusiasm of the Tararua Farmers of the Year. Kate Taylor paid a visit

Toddler Jack reaches for another piece of his toast as mum Ally puts a cake in the oven and dad Pete Apthorp has a well-earned coffee after sending away lambs in the early morning fog.

“The fog is at least easier to deal with than the dark last week before daylight saving ended. The people who like it lighter in the evenings have obviously never had to get stock away early for same-day kill,” says Pete with a chuckle.

Pete and Ally Apthorp, who are still in their 20s, farm on Mangahao-Pahiatua Rd, otherwise known as the Pahiatua Track to Palmerston North. They have been named the 2016 Rural Aerial Co-op Tararua Farmer of the Year and will host a field day on April 27.  . . 

NZ tech firm raises funds, wins award:

A local agri-technology company is on a high after raising $4.5 million for product development and research and being named the best AG-Tech start up in a Silicon Valley technology competition.

Engender Technologies has worked with two Centres of Research Excellence – the MacDiarmid Institute and the Dodds-Walls Centre – to develop technology to allow dairy farmers to manage the sex make-up of their herds.

It opens the way to a leading position in what’s estimated to be a $3.5 billion market. . . 

Nominations sought for 2016 trans-Tasman agribusiness leadership awards:

Nominations have opened for the 2016 Rabobank Leadership Awards, recognising the contribution of senior and emerging leaders in the success of New Zealand and Australia’s food and agribusiness industries.

The peer-nominated trans-Tasman awards – now in their eleventh year – include the flagship Rabobank Leadership Award, which was last year won by New Zealand business leader Sir Henry van der Heyden, the former chair of global dairy giant Fonterra.

The award is presented annually to an individual in a senior leadership role in the food, beverage and agribusiness sector who has created sustainable growth and prosperity at both corporate and industry level, while also demonstrating a wider commitment to society. . . 

Invasive ants eradicated from Tiritiri Matangi:

An ant considered one of the most destructive invasive species in the world has been successfully eradicated from Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.

“Tiritiri Matangi is one of the few places in the world where Argentine ants have been successfully eradicated, the culmination of 16 years of hard work by DOC staff and volunteers,” Ms Barry says.

“They may be small, but these ants are one of the most damaging of all invasive pest species. The World Conservation Union lists them as one of the 100 worst eco-invaders on Earth.” . . 

Fungi workshop first of its kind:

Some of the world’s leading experts in fungal biology and the study of pest and weed invasions met recently at a workshop organised by researchers from the Bio-Protection Research Centre.

The aim of the  workshop, the first of its kind in New Zealand, was to stimulate discussion between scientists from different disciplines and develop a publication to guide future research in this area.

Sponsored by the New Phytologist Trust the event attracted more than 70 scientists for a day of public talks and a four day writing workshop for key participants.

“This was an incredible opportunity to bring together plant invasion ecologists, fungal ecologists and plant pathologists,” says Professor of Invasion Ecology Ian Dickie. . . 

Dairy: In a tough year, farmers can optimise tax through preferential livestock valuation:

With this years continued convergence of values between the Herd Scheme Value and National Standard Cost for dairy cattle, professional services firm Crowe Horwath says farmers are presented with an opportunity to review their livestock valuation methods and optimise their operations for tax efficiency.

That’s according to Tony Marshall, agri tax specialist who points out that the IRD’s 2016 Herd Scheme (HS) values have drawn to their closest with the National Standard Cost (NSC) in some time. “Valuation choice is important due to the tax treatment of livestock under each scheme,” he notes. “Once livestock are valued under HS, movements in value are non-taxable, whereas movements in value under the NSC method are always taxable, either as income or a deduction.” . . .

LIC bulls deliver top results for farmers:

LIC is celebrating the co-operative’s top bulls with the release of the industry’s latest Ranking of Active Sires (RAS) list – which ranks the top breeding bulls in New Zealand.

”These are our farmers’ bulls, developed by LIC on behalf of farmers for farmers,” LIC’s General Manager Biological Systems Geoff Corbett said.

The co-operative is pleased to see that 26 of the top 30 bulls of all breeds in the country are LIC’s. In other great results, the top 12 bulls across all breeds are LIC’s. . . 

CropLogic Secures New Licence for Global Growth:

Precision agriculture firm CropLogic has signed an exclusive agreement with the New Zealand Institute of Plant & Food Research to expand the marketing of its patented technology to corn, wheat, soybean and cotton farmers in the United States.

The technology — developed over 30 years out of Plant & Food Research, a New Zealand Crown Research Institute, and guided and shaped for international markets by IP investor Powerhouse Ventures — enables growers using the firm’s predictive modelling systems to pinpoint the best times to apply nutrients and to conserve precious water for maximum plant yields. . . 


Rural round-up

May 19, 2016

Forging a path for other young Maori women to follow :

Confidence and self-belief have always help Ash-Leigh Campbell achieve her goals in the dairy industry – and she hopes her success will inspire more young Maori women to follow her lead.

“You have to back yourself. If you know you can do it, everyone around you will eventually buy into that too,” she says.

The enthusiastic 25 year-old from Lincoln is one of three finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Young Māori Dairy Farmer Awards and has big career ambitions.

“I don’t see myself as an industry leader now but the journey I’m on will hopefully fulfil that in future.

“I definitely want to make an imprint on Maori farming in New Zealand and become an ambassador for others. I especially want to publicise that Maori females can do it.” . . .

Up and coming Agri:

The children are the future, but how well do they know the in’s and out’s of agri? 17-year-old Greer Baldwin, an Agribusiness student at St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton, sat down with us to give the inside scoop.

Despite not growing up on a farm, Greer has been around agri her whole life. Her Mum, Karen, works in Agri-tourism and the Baldwin family have been involved at National Fieldays for generations. Karen’s line of work allows overseas visitors to experience a real life Kiwi farm in action and is an interesting line of tourism a lot of young people aren’t aware of.

Thanks to Greer’s experience with her mother’s business, she has grown up fully aware that agri is more than gumboots and milking cows, and now has her sights set on studying agriculture at a tertiary level. Born and bred in the Waikato, Greer is excited to branch away from home and is tossing up between either Massey or Lincoln University where she will study agribusiness and tourism. . . 

New irrigation investments for Canterbury:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed three new investments totalling $7.85 million into irrigation projects in Canterbury from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

“These projects are a real boost to the Canterbury regional economy. A reliable source of water gives farmers certainty and options to invest in such as arable, intensive pastoral, dairy support or horticulture.”

The projects receiving funding are: . . 

Government supports Ashburton water study trial:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has allocated $312,000 to a trial project in the Hinds Plains area which aims to improve water quality and restore spring-fed flows.

The funding comes from MPI’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF) and the announcement was acknowledged by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, during his visit to Canterbury today.

David Caygill, Environment Canterbury Deputy Chair of Commissioners, welcomed the announcement which will allow the Regional Council to carry out the Hinds Managed Aquifer Recharge Pilot Study in an area where groundwater nitrate concentrations are well above the national bottom-line. . . 

Central Plains schemes receive government support:

Government support for the Central Plains Water (CPW) Scheme was announced today by the Ministry for Primary Industries during a visit to the scheme by Minister Nathan Guy.

Through the Ministry for Primary Industries Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF), up to $6.64 million has been allocated to CPW to support completion of Stage 2 of their scheme’s development as well as $898,000 for the Sheffield Irrigation Scheme (a sub-scheme of CPW).

CPWL CEO, Derek Crombie has welcomed the latest funding announcements for the two projects. . . 

Change in responsibilities for Crown irrigation bodies:

A change in responsibilities for the Government’s irrigation programmes will help streamline and speed up water storage projects, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

From 1 July, Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (CIIL) will take over the responsibility for funding grants to regional irrigation schemes in the early stages of development, which are matched by local backers. This role has previously been carried out by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

“It makes sense to have a single agency looking after this funding as well as CIIL’s current role of commercially investing in projects which are investment-ready,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Hold on tight farmers, the future is bright – Farmers’ Forum experts:

Leading industry speakers at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum held in Hamilton this week reaffirmed the view that while another year of low milk prices is on the horizon, the long-term outlook for dairy remains bright.

Deputy Prime Minister Hon Bill English, Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings and Rabobankhead of food and agribusiness research and advisory, Tim Hunt, all reiterated that global demand for dairy products will continue to grow.

Mr English said in the government’s view, the dairy industry will remain the engine room of growth as the second biggest New Zealand exporter behind tourism. But facing up to the reduced milk price is the current challenge. . . 

Fonterra expected to lift milk price – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra is expected to lift its farmgate milk price payout to farmers next season, although it’s likely to mark the third year of prices below the level required by most farmers to break even.

The company is scheduled to hold a board meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, and may release its opening milk price forecast for the 2016/17 season early Thursday morning. Analysts in a BusinessDesk survey expect a payout of at least $4.43 per kilogram of milk solids for next season, up from a $3.90/kgMS forecast payout for the 2015/16 season, and from $4.40/kgMS in 2014/15.

DairyNZ estimates the average farmer required $5.25/kgMS to cover costs this season and hasn’t yet finalised a break-even price for next season. . . 

Sharemilkers lose 49 cows and $73,000 to nitrate poisoning – Gerard Hutching:

Waikato sharemilkers Cam and Tessa Hodgson have lost 49 cows to nitrate poisoning, which could cost them up to $73,000. 

Nitrate poisoning happens as animals graze, and often occurs after a drought when there are high levels of nitrogen in the soil, and is exacerbated by humid, cloudy conditions. 

Cam’s brother Matthew Hodgson has started a givealittle page for them, saying their passion is farming “and to see the cows die in front of them is heartbreaking to them”. . . 

Farmers can cope with stress during busy times – Jill Galloway:

Experts suggest the best way farmers can cope with busy times is by exercising, sleeping and eating well and to never stop talking with people.

Wairarapa farmer, phycologist and rural trust co-ordinator Sarah Donaldson gave stress hints to about 50 people, mainly farmers as well as bank people, trust organisers and rural professionals at last week’s Beef & Lamb New Zealand AgInnovation conference in Palmerston North.

She said it was hard to recognise stress. . .

Food Safety Science & Research Centre launched:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Food Safety Minister JoGoodhew today launched the New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre at Massey University in Palmerston North.

Formed as a partnership between government, industry organisations and research institutions, the virtual centre aims to ensure New Zealand’s food safety system remains among the best in the world.

“The centre will use the best science available to protect and enhance New Zealand’s international reputation as a producer of safe and  trustworthy food,” Mr Joyce says. . . 

New Zealand Apple Industry the most competitive in the World:

New Zealand’s $700 million apple industry has again been named the world’s most competitive performer.

The World Apple Report, out this week, ranks New Zealand first over 33 major apple producing countries.

Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive Alan Pollard said it is a great achievement to have a competitive edge over the world and to keep holding the position. . .  

Johne’s disease solutions available:

Help is at hand for dairy farmers facing a problem with Johne’s disease in their cattle.

LIC is reminding farmers of the options available from their herd improvement co-operative to help them manage the disease, including diagnostic testing and a comprehensive Johne’s disease management guide developed by experts.

“We know Johne’s disease can be a stressful and frustrating challenge for many dairy farmers,” LIC GM Biological Systems Geoff Corbett said. “We want to make sure farmers know there are tools available that can help them manage the disease in their stock.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

April 6, 2016

Marine farming rubbish removed during beach clean-up – Mike Watson:

Marine farmers have recovered almost 20 tonnes of rubbish, much of it non-industry related, from Marlborough Sounds and Tasman Bay beaches in the past five years.

The total tonnage from the marine farming industry-led environmental programme was the equivalent of more than two weeks work every month over the past five years by volunteers cleaning up the region’s beaches, a  review of the programme showed.

The programme had been operating since the early 1990s to help clean up beaches in the top of the South Island. . . 

Pondering life and death down on the farm – Joyce Wyllie:

“When you have livestock, you do have dead stock” is a saying I heard often when I was a vet.

It is a farmer’s laconic way of coping with disappointments, sickness and demise of both farm and pet animals. Death is something we face on farms regularly and rural families do learn to deal with it, although it should never become casual or frivolous. Our garden has a cemetery where the white mice are buried, there are RIP white crosses among flowers, and fruit trees planted on top of deceased dogs.

Our children have learnt that life does end. They have experienced grief, understand sadness of loss and have developed respect for death. . . 

Dairy forum focuses on challenges and opportunities:

The outlook for the wider dairy sector including support available for farmers were the focus of an event near Morrinsville attended by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today.

The event brought together farmers and others from the rural business community, including MPI, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Rural Support Trusts and the New Zealand Bankers Association who together launched a new brochure outlining various support available for farmers.

“While the medium to long-term outlook for the sector remains strong, our dairy farmers are doing it tough this season. Low global prices are having a real impact on cashflows and farmers are rightly focussing on their business decisions and on-farm costs,” says Mr Guy.. . .

Health and safety must be a priority:

WorkSafe NZ’s chief executive says farmers should place a high priority on health and safety plans rather than doing them at the end of the working week.

Gordon MacDonald’s comments come as the new Health and Safety at Work Act comes into force on April 4. He says the new act should come under the banner of ‘looking after my mates’ and become an important part of any business.

He adds the ‘she’ll be right’ approach has no place in the current environment and shouldn’t have had for the past 20 years under the previous act. . . 

MPI imposes tough restrictions on imported seed:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has imposed tough new border restrictions to stop contaminated seed from entering New Zealand.

The move follows the discovery of velvet leaf in fodder beet seeds imported from Europe. MPI, industry bodies and regional councils are currently responding to an outbreak of the invasive weed in farm properties across the country.

“We already have strong border controls in place to stop contaminated seed from entering New Zealand. The new interim measures will provide another layer of biosecurity until we know exactly how the contaminated fodder beet seeds entered the country,” says Stephen Butcher, MPI Manager Import and Export Plants. . . 

Throw a chop on the barbie in Tokyo

JAPANESE shoppers are not normally known for their appetite for sheepmeat products, but changing consumer trends could see more lamb on their barbecues alongside Australian beef.

Food industry marketers say the world’s biggest importer of red meat (by value) is not only a cosmopolitan marketplace with plenty of scope for new taste trends among younger consumers, Japan also has a growing attraction to barbecued meat. . . 

Fifth Grand Finalist Confirmed in FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

James Hoban is the fifth Grand Finalist to be named in the 2016 FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

James is a 30 year old Sheep and Dairy Support Farmer and Farm Environment Consultant who took first place at the Tasman Regional Final in Rangiora on 2 April

Mr Hoban went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from FMG, Massey University, Ravensdown, Meridian Energy, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, STIHL and Vodafone. James also won the Massey University Agri-growth Challenge. . . 

LIC Jersey bulls make a strong comeback:

LIC’s Jersey Premier Sires bulls have cemented their position at the top of the national Jersey Ranking of Active Sires (RAS) list, released at the weekend.

This is good news for dairy farmers who prefer to get their Jersey inseminations from their farmer-owned co-operative.

Among a range of positive statistics on the Jersey RAS list, LIC has all of the top 5 bulls. It also has 8 of the top 10 and 11 of the top 15 bulls on the Jersey RAS list. Of the 11, 9 are new graduates which illustrates the change in LIC’s momentum. . . 


Rural round-up

February 19, 2016

600 apple pickers wanted now – Ryan Bridge:

Are you looking for a job? Or do you know anyone who is?

There are 600 vacancies for apple pickers in one orchard in the Hawke’s Bay right now.

It’s a three-month picking season and this is only one orchard.

Another orchard down the road needs another 120 workers in the next two weeks and it even offers to give you a ride to work. . . 

Spot-on breakthrough – Karen Bailey:

IMAGINE if you could cut your herbicide, insecticide and fungicide bill by using as much as 99 per cent less chemical. 

That’s the claim by an English research company working on the development of an intelligent sprayer that can recognise specific weeds, insects and diseases in agricultural crops.

There are already a few targeted droplet dispensing systems on the Australian market that can do this with varying success, but Cambridge Consultants claims its sprayer features new generation technology that has been transferred across from its medical product development team.  . . 

Creating a new blueprint for hill country farming – Gerald Piddock:

Dan Steele has a vision for New Zealand agriculture. 

It’s a vision where farmers produce high-valued goods that sell the country’s environmental image to the world.

But to succeed, it means a radical shift from the traditional production-per-hectare model that has been New Zealand’s mainstay for the past 100 years. . . 

Big station aims for shepherd Lexie – Amanda Saxton:

Cambridge-raised Alexia Phillips – known as Lexie – came to Otiwhiti a skilled horsewoman but with little else in the way of farming nous. Last year she graduated as both top academic and top cadet from Otiwhiti’s agricultural training school.

A buddy going shepherding while Lexie was still at Hamilton’s Hillcrest High spurred her to sign up at the 3250 hectare station near Hunterville.

“Hearing about my friend’s experiences made me think ‘oh, that could be a bit of me’,” the 18-year-old said. . . 

Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists announced:

Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have congratulated this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy competition finalists, celebrating excellence in Māori farming.

The three finalists are Tahu a Tao farm in Rakaia near Ashburton, Te Ahu Pātiki and Maukatere near Oxford in Canterbury and Tewi Trust in Okoroire near Tirau.

“I commend these finalists for their sheer hard work and fulfilling a legacy left by Sir Apirana Ngata, who helped introduce the competition which encourages proficiency and skills in Māori farming,” says Mr Flavell. . . 

Major Events Fund invests in the World Shearing and Wool Handling Championships 2017:

The Government is investing $260,000 through the Major Events Development Fund in the Golden Shears World Shearing and Wool Handling Championships to be held in Invercargill from 9 – 11 February 2017.

Participants and spectators from over 30 countries are expected to attend the iconic event, with competitors travelling from as far as the Falkland Islands and Isle of Man to compete.

Devorah Blumberg, Manager of New Zealand Major Events, says New Zealand is known worldwide for its thriving agricultural sector. . . 

Farmer leaders sought for DairyNZ board:

Aspiring directors are being sought for DairyNZ’s Board of Directors.

Farmer leaders are encouraged to apply for two associate director roles which provide an invaluable opportunity to see governance in action.

DairyNZ chair Michael Spaans says the associate directors must be dairy farmers who want to move beyond their farm and into industry leadership.

“We will be looking for candidates who can demonstrate a commitment to their personal and governance development,” says Michael. . . 

Owl Farm focus day a valuable resource:

How will changing health and safety legislation affect your farm? Are empty rates higher than normal this season on dairy farms? And what alternatives are there to chicory for summer cropping? These key dairy industry topics and more will be discussed on Wednesday 2 March at Owl Farm’s first farm focus day for 2016.

Owl Farm, the St Peter’s School and Lincoln University Demonstration Dairy Farm, will host guest speakers from Fegan & Co, LIC and PGG Wrightson Seeds. Owl Farm Manager Tom Buckley will give an update on the season so far and give examples from Owl Farm to illustrate the issues at hand. . . 

Hat tip: Utopia


Rural round-up

September 23, 2015

Drought breaks in Cheviot North Canterbury – Jeff Hampton:

 Much-needed rain fell in parched parts of north Canterbury today, raising farmers’ hopes that the serious drought they’re battling may be about to end.

It’s vital for farmers in an area of north Canterbury near Cheviot to get decent rainfall if their spring grass is to grow.

Farmer Louisa McClintock is never happier when there’s a bit of rain, after her district has been in drought all year. . . 

[I think that headline is more than a little optimistic. The rain will have been very welcome but it takes more than an inch or so of rain to break a drought].

Farmers suffer in drought-stricken corner of North Canterbury – Michael Wright:

Dan Hodgen must think the weather gods are against him.

The Hawarden farmer received “about one millimetre” of rain on his drought-stricken north Canterbury property at the weekend, despite solid falls being predicted.

“I’ve given up on trusting the forecast,” he said. . . 

Hard working couple take on velvet challenge – Kate Taylor:

In just seven years, Josh and Penny Buckman have graduated university and built up enough capital to buy 82 hectares near Hastings and a deer velvet business, not to mention starting a family.

They are busy people who wouldn’t have it any other way and are proud of their achievements so far.

“Josh is always up at midnight… thinking, planning. He’s an ideas man. He’s always working through ideas and scenarios and things we can do,” Penny says.

She is in charge of the daily running of Gevir Premium Deer Velvet, which they bought from another Hawke’s Bay couple earlier this year. She is also in charge of three-year-old George, 3, and 11-month-old Anna-Louise. Josh works on contract for Marsh corporate and business insurance and oversees the farm and a nearby lease block. The couple also have shares in other businesses. . . 

Saying goodbye to dirty dairy farming –  Lachlan Forsyth:

How do you achieve the balance between keeping a farm economical, and keeping the environment healthy? Is it actually doable?

Dairy has had many decades of being very good on the economics and not so good on the environment, and now there is a huge amount of pressure to ensure that changes.

Story visited one award-winning Waikato farm to see what’s being done to clean up dairy’s act. . . 

Key defends AgResearch cuts:

Prime Minister John Key is defending the government’s attitude to research and development amid reports that AgResearch intends laying off science staff.

Waikato University agribusiness professor Jacqueline Rowarth says she’s been told the cuts could involve 20 percent of the 500 or so research staff.

Prof Rowarth says she was originally told 82 staff were being laid off but the number had shifted to between 80 and 100.

Former AgResearch scientist Doug Edmeades says he’s been told by a staff member redundancies will be announced on Thursday, and the cuts are due to a drop in funding. . . .

New plant-based milk product under development:

The milk company, Miraka, is working with science and research organisations to create a new UHT milk product using plant-based protein.

Taupo-based Miraka is a predominately Māori-owned company that manufactures milk powder and UHT milk products for export to 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America.

It’s been awarded government funding to work with AgResearch and Plant and Food to develop dairy-based UHT milk products which contain plant or vegetable materials.

Chief executive Richard Wyeth said the scope is broad at this stage, but he wouldn’t be drawn on the ideas that are being thrown around. . . 

Farmers told to limit palm kernel feed:

Fonterra is encouraging farmers to limit the amount of palm kernel extract (PKE) they use as a supplementary feed for dairy cows.

The co-operative is recommending its suppliers feed a maximum of 3 kgs per cow per day.

Farm advisers spoken to by Radio New Zealand said some farmers were currently feeding out 6 to 9 kgs per cow per day, particularly during dry periods. . .

Delaval Backs NZ Dairy Awards:

Global dairy equipment market leader DeLaval has joined the family of national sponsors backing the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

Preparations for the 2016 awards programme are being finalised this week, as organisers and sponsors meet in Rotorua to confirm final details.

DeLaval representatives will take their place at the table, alongside representatives from Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown, and Primary ITO.

Chair Gavin Roden says the awards continue to attract strong support from the country’s leading dairy industry players. . . .

Reporoa feed company taking on the world:

After exporting its equine feed products into Asia for many years, Reporoa-based company Fiber Fresh has also now launched its calf feed products into the international marketplace.

Fiber Fresh is New Zealand’s largest animal nutrition export company, specialising in high nutritional equine and calf feed products. It celebrated 30 years in business earlier this year.

The company’s launch into the calf feed market in Japan also includes a research partnership with the school of veterinary medicine at Rakuno Gakuen University in Hokkaido.

Fiber Fresh founding director Michael Bell says launching into the Japanese calf market is a milestone for the company. . . 

Paula Nickel's photo.


Rural round-up

June 12, 2015

Commission opens consultation on dairy competition review:

The Commerce Commission today released a consultation paper outlining its proposed approach, timeframes and scope for its review of the state of competition in the New Zealand dairy industry.

Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale said the Commission was now seeking submissions on its proposed approach.

“Our review will look at whether the regulations are helping or hindering the efficient operation of the New Zealand dairy industry. To do this we intend to examine how competition has developed since Fonterra was established and what it might look like in the future,” Dr Gale said. . .

 Te Kuiti farmer appointed to Deer Industry New Zealand board:

William Oliver of Te Kuiti has been appointed to the Deer Industry NZ board for a three-year term.

One of three candidates for a vacant producer position on the eight-strong board, he was appointed yesterday following interviews by the Deer Farmers Association’s Selection and Appointments Panel.

Panel chair Paddy Boyd says a “robust” interview process highlighted the skills of the candidates.

“It is very reassuring in terms of governance and succession to have people of William’s calibre standing for the board, especially at a time when Deer Industry NZ has major initiatives underway to build deer farm profitability and to halt the decline in the national herd,” he said. . .

 Centrus 84 takes out International Innovation Award:

Waikato Milking Systems has taken out the International Innovation Award with its Centrus 84 Rotary Platform at Fieldays® 2015.

The Centrus 84 is the first fully-composite rotary platform and is 80% lighter than previous platforms and five times stronger.

“Sometimes you get a feel for something,” says Executive Manager Dave Cassells. “When I saw the concept drawings for this one, I knew we had something unique.

Federated Farmers Fielday Seminar: ‘Precision agriculture’ :

Agri Innovation expert, Mark Burgess, has told Federated Farmers seminar at the Mystery Creek Fieldays this morning that automation is king amongst the technology options for farmers.

He said that automation is the primary driver for farmers investing in new technologies on-farm whereas technologies that support improved farm management are lagging.

“Farmers are at risk of being overwhelmed with more data than they can make use of, however we are beginning to see integration through increasingly sophisticated farm management software, which is removing barriers enabling farmers to use more technology in support of their farm management decisions.” . . .

Cow sickness not from genetic modification:

Federated Farmers’ President and science spokesperson William Rolleston says recent stock sickness or deaths are likely to have been caused by a high sugar content in the fodder beet they have been eating.

“It’s got nothing to do with genetic modification as GE Free New Zealand has speculated.  Fodder beet has only recently been brought into widespread use in New Zealand and unfortunately some farmers are still coming to terms with how to best feed it to their stock.”

“We know there is a problem with stock feed transition and there is some cautious advice, such as that from Dairy New Zealand, on how to manage feed of fodder beet without complications.” . .

Fieldays a pathway into the primary industries – Chris Lewis:

Today marked the start of Fieldays, an event I have enjoyed going to since a kid, now I take my two children to experience it. I guess it’s a pathway into the primary industries where you start as a young one looking at all the agriculture equipment, eventually graduating to talking shop with sales reps and renewing relationships with your key suppliers.

My children remember the farm servicing people that came on farm to help us and then recognise them again at Fieldays when we talk business. This is how relationships start for generations and good companies recognise this with many businesses I deal with being family owned and generational. . .

New partnership to provide enhanced pasture management for farmers:

Farmer-owned co-operative LIC has entered into a partnership with Precision Farming Ltd, supplier of GIS-based systems that manage the application of farm nutrients to optimise pasture growth including fertiliser and effluent.

The two companies have signed an agreement whereby Precision will share its nutrient management functionality for integration with the co-op’s MINDA farm management system used by more than 90 per cent of NZ dairy farmers.

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee said it would provide enhanced information for farmers about their pasture and feed availability. . .

 

KPMG Agribusiness Agenda 2015 highlights the importance of improved rural broadband:

Today’s release at NZ National Field Days by TUANZ member, KPMG, of the Agribusiness Agenda 2015 highlights the importance of improving access in the rural sector to high speed broadband. The Agenda notes that since the last release in 2014 there has been an increased priority attached to delivering high speed rural broadband. This year it has risen four places in a list of strategic issues of concern to be the second equal along with food safety. The first issue of concern being ensuring a world-class biosecurity system.

Ian Proudfoot, KPMG Global Head of Agribusiness, said that “Fast connectivity in rural areas not only supports economic growth. It enhances healthcare delivery, overcomes isolation, and enables the unemployed to develop skills and become productive.” . .

 


Rural round-up

April 26, 2015

China’s illegal meat trade hugs – Alan Williams:

As much as 80% of China’s meat imports could be taken in through the so-called Grey Market, dwarfing the level of New Zealand shipments sent in through highly-regulated official channels.

Most of the grey trade is beef and about half of it is from India, shipped in via Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand or Cambodia, international reports indicate.

The illegal trading has come to light again after about US$1 billion of food, including meat, was seized by Chinese authorities and 100 people were arrested.  . .

Kumera are transgenic – Grant Jacobs:

Kumara have a long history in New Zealand, being brought here by early Polynesian settlers and are well-known to Kiwis.[1]

They’re a crop that has been cultivated in South America for about 8,000 years that have been spread to other parts of the world.[1]

Research just published show that they are transgenic plants, plants with genes from other species in them. . .

Farm Prices Steady but Sales Volumes Falling in March Quarter:

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 47 fewer farm sales (-10%) for the three months ended March 2015 than for the three months ended March 2014. Overall, there were 425 farm sales in the three months to end of March 2015, compared to 464 farm sales for the three months ended February 2015 (-8.4%) and 472 farm sales for the three months to the end of March 2014. 1,802 farms were sold in the year to February 2015, 2.2% fewer than were sold in the year to March 2014. . .

Mint bull to go down in history on hall of fame:

An elite artificial breeding bull that has delivered a significant contribution to dairy farms nationwide will forever be recognised as one of the very best after being inducted into LIC’s prestigious Hall of Fame last week.

Fairmont Mint-Edition, a Holstein-Friesian sire bred by Barry and Linda Old of Morrinsville, is the 53rd animal to be recognised on the Hall of Fame in more than 50 years of artificial breeding in New Zealand. . .

 

Dairy Awards Finals Judges Clock up the Km’s:

Final judging in the 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards is underway, with judges set to travel thousands of kilometres and the length and breadth of the country to select the winners.

“There’s a lot at stake for the finalists as success in any one of the competitions can open up considerable opportunities and be career and life-changing,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“It’s also a time when both the finalists and judges gain from participating in the awards – through learning about their farm business, defining goals and identifying opportunities to make improvements.” . . .

New general manager appointed at DairyNZ:

DairyNZ has appointed Andrew Reid as its new general manager of extension, the role that leads the industry body’s regional consulting officer teams.

Andrew will start in the position on 4 May.

Andrew was previously general manager of sales with Ballance Agri-Nutrients, leading a field team of 120. . .

 

 

Last Grand Finalist Confirmed in ANZ Young Farmer Contest:

Douglas McGregor is the seventh Grand Finalist to be named in the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The thirty year old dairy farmer took first place at the Northern Regional Final in Dargaville on Saturday 18 April after a very tense and closely scored competition.

Mr McGregor went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.
This was Douglas’s second attempt at Regional Final level of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest. Douglas is a very active member of the Bay of Island Young Farmers Club and is the Northern Region Vice-Chairman. Douglas was competing against 26 year old Anna Simpson, who doubles as the winner’s partner. . .

 

Food safety reaches new heights as AsureQuality moves its IT to the cloud

Global food safety and biosecurity services company AsureQuality has completed a successful move to the TechnologyOne Cloud, reducing IT risk and positioning itself for future growth.

New Zealand-based AsureQuality is owned by the New Zealand Government and was already using TechnologyOne’s enterprise software in an on-premise environment.

TechnologyOne Executive Chairman Adrian Di Marco said TechnologyOne’s Software as a Service (SaaS) solution had empowered AsureQuality to prepare for a cloud-first, mobile-first world. AsureQuality is also using TechnologyOne’s new Ci Anywhere platform, which allows the firm’s employees to access their information anywhere, anytime using smart mobile devices. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 22, 2015

The kumara’s transgenic origins revealed  – Dan Satherley:

Kumara, a South American native that became a Kiwi favourite, has been naturally genetically modified with bacterial DNA, researchers have found.

But the foreign genes are generally only found in kumara – also known as sweet potatoes – that have been cultivated by humans, suggesting they bring with them beneficial traits.

Researchers hope the finding, published in the latest issue of journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will help to break down negative perceptions of genetically engineered crops. . .

Boost for Maori leadership in agriculture:

A South Island iwi-led agricultural training programme is expanding and offering higher level qualifications as it seeks to boost Māori leadership.

Whenua Kura is a tribal-led training partnership between Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Te Tapuae o Rehua, Ngāi Tahu Farming and Lincoln University.

It started last year as a one-year certificate in agriculture providing both classroom learning and on-farm experience at the Ngāi Tahu farms. . .

No Supermarkets Or Major Butchery Chains Implicated in Preservative Prosecutions:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand support the actions taken by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in the prosecution of 15 meat wholesalers/retailers and three company Directors for the non-compliant use of sulphites/sulphur dioxide in raw meat.

Charges were laid after an MPI operation in the greater Auckland area in 2013 after meat samples were tested and these cases were heard in the Manukau and Auckland District Courts in late 2014 and early 2015.

None of those prosecuted are part of any major supermarket or high profile butchery chains. . . .

Interesting Demographics in Farm Manager Contest:

The demographic make-up of the 11 finalists contesting the 2015 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year competition ensure an interesting mix of talent.

“There’s a real lolly scramble in that the finalists represent a bit of everything – we have young versus not so young, males up against females as well as couples and those that are relatively new to the industry up against some old hands,” national convenor Chris Keeping says. “It’s going to be really interesting to see who comes up trumps!”

National judging begins today , with the three judges – a farmer, banker and consulting officer – visiting the 11 finalists on their farms over a 10-day period. The judges spend two hours on each farm and score the finalists on aspects like their financial planning and management, HR practices, farm environment, future aims, and community and industry involvement. . .

 

Unique Farm-Scale Dairy Trial Confirms Live Yeast Benefits:

Improving rumen function in grazing cows through addition of the active live yeast Vistacell can improve dry matter digestibility by 30%, lift average daily milk yields by 2.1 litres/cow and increase cow liveweight (LW) by up to 20kg in just five weeks.

The results come from a unique farm-scale study using a herd of 300 robotically-milked cows in Waikato. The herd contained a mix of autumn and spring calvers, with all cows also having access to a mixed ration of grass silage, maize silage, straw and concentrates, plus an extra 3-6kg/day of concentrates fed during milking depending on yield. . . .

 

Bluelab to spend growth grant taking new product to market – Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Bluelab Corp, which makes electronic metering and control devices to aid plant growth, will use a new research and development growth grant to speed up taking a new sensory product to market in the next year.

Tauranga-based Bluelab decided in 2004 to focus solely on manufacturing measuring equipment which is used in controlled growing spaces such as greenhouses, hydroponics and aquaponics by commercial growers and backyard hobbyists. It exports nearly all it produces to 15 countries, with the major markets being the US, Australia, and the UK. . .

LIC and Lely enter R&D partnership in farm sensor technology – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Livestock Improvement Corp, a farmer cooperative that sells bull semen and manages a dairy genetics database, has entered a research and development partnership with Dutch agricultural company Lely Group.

As part of the deal the Hamilton-based company has acquired Lely Sensortec, the Dutch company’s Hamilton-based development division, whose five staff design farm sensor technology to monitor animal health and production, for an undisclosed amount, the companies said in a joint statement. The deal will accelerate development of sensor technology used on farms and support wider global distribution of its inline milk sensors. . .


Rural round-up

February 11, 2015

More to farming than money‘ – Kate Taylor:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmer Mark Toulmin says winning the Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year title opened a lot of doors for his family’s farming operation. Entries for this year’s competition close on February 13.

“I would encourage anyone to give it a go,” he says. “It’s worth it. It introduced us to new people and new ideas, financial opportunities . . . and people trust your opinion.

“Put your business out there, especially if you’re doing something different or thinking outside the square, that helps if you’re not just doing the same as everyone else.”

Toulmin says it’s not all about finances, either. . .

Kiwi grower sets new oilseed rape yield record of 6.31t/ha – Andrew Swallow:

Virgin land, the ideal climate and good weed control are the key components of a New Zealand grower’s record-breaking crop of oilseed rape.

Chris Dennison harvested a moisture-corrected 64.37t off 10.2ha on 23 January, a yield of 6.31t/ha. This beats the 6.14t/ha record set by Tim Lamyman, of Worlaby Farms, Lincolnshire, last July.

Mr Dennison, a former world record wheat yield holder from near Oamaru, on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, says reading about Mr Lamyman’s feat in Farmers Weekly spurred him to “have a crack” at the OSR record. . .

Death of top Jersey Bull a huge loss:

The late Manzello

CRV Ambreed’s highest ranked Jersey bull passed away over the weekend which his breeder said is a huge loss to New Zealand’s dairy industry.

Pukeroa TGM Manzello’s breeders, Alan and Vivian Lockwood-Geck, said they were saddened to hear their star sire had passed away while still in his prime. . .

 LIC team to visit Southland farms:

Farmer-owned co-operative LIC has a team of more than 140 meeting in Invercargill next week, to check out the local dairy scene and connect with Southland farmers for its biannual sales conference.

The three-day event, which includes a number of visits to farms in the area, brings LIC’s nationwide team of farm solutions managers together to learn more about what’s happening on-farm, the challenges farmers are facing this season and solutions the co-op can provide.

Chief executive Wayne McNee says it is the first time the conference has been held in the South Island. . .

LIC forms strategic partnership with SCR world-leading cow intelligence provider:

Farmer-owned co-operative LIC (NZX:LIC) has secured a new strategic partnership with the world-leading cow monitoring and milking intelligence solutions company, SCR.

The partnership includes a distribution agreement whereby SCR, recently acquired by Allflex Group, will distribute the co-op’s DAL milking sensors internationally and LIC will become a New Zealand distributor for SCR’s cow reproduction and health monitoring system, Heatime®.

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee says the partnership is part of the co-op’s strategy to grow the business overseas and provide New Zealand dairy farmers with more choice.

“SCR is a world-leading provider of cow intelligence systems with a strong history of delivering solutions to improve farm efficiency worldwide. This agreement aligns with our vision to improve the prosperity and productivity of our farmers, and our focus on key international markets that will add value for shareholders in New Zealand. . .

At a time when we need our forests to remove carbon from the air, why push for farming methods that demand more and more land be used for agriculture because it cannot produce as much food as non-organic farms? (Image: Pico van Houtryve (CC))


Rural round-up

December 20, 2014

More accurate picture of ‘actual’ water use emerging:

A more accurate picture of ‘actual’ water use in Canterbury is emerging as growing numbers of the region’s irrigating farmers provide water monitoring data to Environment Canterbury, says IrrigationNZ.

The regional council’s 2013/14 Water Use Report includes data from more than 50% (50.4%) of all consented surface water and groundwater takes in the region. Last year’s report contained water monitoring data from less than 40% of Canterbury’s takes abstracting water at a rate of 5 litres per second or more.

“That leap alone shows significant progress is being made. Farmers are getting the message that they need to install water metering systems, not just for compliance, but to improve their irrigation efficiency and nutrient management. Now we have more than 50% of Canterbury’s water takes being monitored we’re getting closer to a true picture of ‘actual’ water use based on real-time data that farmers are willingly providing,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO. . .

 Helping other women to take up leadership – Sue O’Dowd:

A desire to help other women reach their potential motivated a New Plymouth vet to join a programme to develop her leadership skills.

Andrea Murray has just graduated from the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s (AWDT) escalator programme established in 2010 to boost the leadership and governance of women in agriculture. A total of 53 women have graduated since it was set up.

She undertook the 10-month programme to develop her networks and to improve her governance and leadership. “I’ve achieved that and I’m really pleased,” she said.

She was impressed by the level of support the programme’s 14 participants received.

“We were challenged in a way that made sure they got the best out of us. The programme has clarified for me where I can best contribute to the primary industries in New Zealand.” . . .

New reports show value of growing Māori agribusiness:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has released two reports today showing good progress in developing the potential of Māori agribusiness.

“These reports confirm the importance of partnering with Iwi, Māori asset owners, local communities and industry, and show very promising results,” says Mr Guy.

“A report by Kinnect Group evaluates the Government’s work to build partnerships with Māori asset owners, a core part of MPI’s Māori Agribusiness programme. The aim is to help owners make informed decisions on improving their assets by connecting them with the right skills and knowledge.

“This has involved a range of projects covering different property sizes, land-holding structures and uses. The evaluation found the programme made a “valuable and worthwhile contribution”. . .

Forestry opportunities in Maori Agribusiness:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has welcomed the release of a report highlighting the economic opportunities for forestry through more productive use of Māori freehold land.

The report ‘Growing the Productive Base of Māori Freehold Land – further evidence and analysis’ was commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries and identifies the potential economic gains from improving the performance of Māori freehold land at regional and national levels.

“By utilising underused land and increasing productivity Māori freehold land has the potential to contribute to an increase in GDP of $1.2 billion between now and 2055,” Mrs Goodhew says. . .

NZ dairy and deer through to agri-business award finals:

Two New Zealand farm managers have made it through to the finals of the inaugural Zanda McDonald Award – a trans-Tasman agri-business initiative created by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group.

Twenty nine year old Athol New, Farm Business Manager of Synlait’s Dunsandel Dairies based in Rakaia, and Luke Wright, 32, Farm Manager of Landcorp Farming’s Stuart Farm, Te Anau, Southland, have been invited to the PPP annual conference in Darwin in June 2015 – where the award recipient will be announced.

They will be joined by third finalist, 27 year old Emma Hegarty, Beef Extension Officer at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) in Queensland, Australia. . .

New PGP Investment Advisory Panel members:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced three new members of the Primary Growth Partnership’s independent Investment Advisory Panel (IAP).

The three new members are primary industry and business specialist Barry Brook, experienced businessman Harry Burkhardt, and entrepreneur Melissa Clark-Reynolds.

“The IAP plays a crucial role in the success of the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) that aims to boost the value, productivity and profitability of our primary industries,” says Mr Guy. 

“IAP members are responsible for using their expertise and judgement to advise on decisions about the investment of PGP funds, and to help ensure that PGP investments are supporting the overall aims of economic growth and sustainability. . .

 

LIC announces joint venture with Brazilian distributor:

LIC has purchased the majority interest of its Brazilian genetics distributor, NZ Brasil Genetics Producao Animal Ltda.

The joint venture (JV) includes exclusive supply of the farmer-owned co-operative’s dairy genetics for an initial period of 10 years, through a new entity called LIC NZBrasil.

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee said the co-op began exporting genetics to Brazil in 1999, but the new JV will seek to deliver a better return to farmer shareholders in New Zealand.

“Brazil is the fifth largest dairy industry in the world, with more than 23 million dairy cows. Huge growth is expected over the next 10 years and this presents a significant opportunity for LIC, and our shareholders. . . .

 

 


Rural round-up

December 14, 2014

Sweet success for bee team:

A group of Whangarei high school students has won the top award in the Enterprising Primary Industries Career challenge on how to attract young people into working with bees.

The competition requires students to identify different careers within the primary industry sector and market them to their peers.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy presented the Year 10 students from Huanui College the award for their entry ‘Bee in the Scene’. . .

Designer genes on show:

Designer genes will be the focus of a field day in Central Otago today for fine wool growers on the hunt to find the perfect fit.

The event is organised by the New Zealand Merino Company.

Production science manager Mark Ferguson said as well as animal health and forage being discussed, 40 groups of sheep would be on show in Cromwell to highlight genetic differences. . .

Fonterra Shareholders Council gives nod ‘with caveats’ to new milk supply plan – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The Fonterra Shareholders Council is “broadly supportive” of plans for the cooperative to start sourcing milk from South Island suppliers who are not also shareholders, with a couple of caveats.

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, yesterday announced a new milk sourcing subsidiary, mymilk, which would try to get milk in the Canterbury, Otago, and Southland regions where competition for milk supply is most intense from new suppliers on contracts on up to five years without the obligation to purchase shares. The feedback, particularly from new farmers who have recently spent a large amount of money converting farms to dairy, is that they can’t currently afford to now buy shares in the cooperative but would do so at a later date. . .

 

Who owns the rain? – Gravedodger:

Well apparently in Oregon State of the US, not the land owner whose land it falls on.

Gary Harrington 64, owns 170 acres and has constructed three ponds that accumulate and store around three million liters of snow melt and rain runoff. One of the ponds has been stocked with large mouth bass and the whole resource is available for fire fighting.
My understanding is Harrington did not dam waterways in his water conservation scheme.
Poor old Gary is or has recently spent 30 days in the clink for continuing his storage of water falling on his acreage.
Fonterra Shareholders Council gives nod ‘with caveats’ to new milk supply plan
What  in Oregon State has done, is common across NZ farmland where stock water is a restraint on production. There are countless Dams across NZ pastoral lands and the most efficient and longer lasting are built to collect rainfall from very small catchments and not from damming waterways. . .

CRV Ambreed opens new bovine semen production and distribution facility:

Primary Industries Minister Hon. Nathan Guy officially opened CRV Ambreed’s new world-class domestic and export-approved bovine semen production and logistics centre today.

The CRV Bellevue Production and Logistics Centre, based on the outskirts of Hamilton, is a purpose-built facility which future-proofs the company with additional capacity to meet the market’s growing demand for its bovine semen products.

The Centre houses a semen collection facility, a semen processing laboratory, storage space for export and domestic products, a warehouse with farmer AI banks, and 38 hectares of grazing paddocks. . .

 

Leading farm automation businesses to merge:

LIC is merging its farm automation and milking sensor businesses to deliver more integrated technology and meet demand from farmers.

The co-op’s Protrack business will transfer into subsidiary Dairy Automation Limited (DAL) in 2015.

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee said the move follows the co-op’s acquisition of DAL in February, and a lot of discussion between both businesses on how they would work together as one.

“Since the acquisition of DAL we have witnessed a number of key market developments that we will be better placed to leverage as one entity. . . .


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