Rural round-up

March 25, 2015

Freeloaders relying on co-ops – Alan Williams:

Using a mathematical formula to work out the level of overcapacity in meat processing won’t work, Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett says.

And nor would the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) proposal for a permanent reduction in capacity offset by a reserve processing plant, funded by the industry and used only at times of  very high demand for killing space. That idea, based on the electricity industry model, was too simplistic.

“You’d have hundreds of people just sitting round most of the time, not doing anything. The issue is more complex than that.”

Hewett agreed with farmers who wanted enough killing space available all the time to cope with seasons like the current one, with drought conditions in many areas. . . .

 Rabobank New Zealand 2014 results:

Rabobank New Zealand Limited (RNZL) has further strengthened its position in the New Zealand rural banking market, recording above market rural lending growth, and reporting its highest net profit after tax (NPAT) of $105.49 million in 2014.

RNZL recorded net lending growth of $342 million in 2014, with the bank’s rural lending portfolio growing by 4.5 per cent, slightly ahead of overall rural debt market growth of 4.3 RNZL chief executive officer Ben Russell said the results were pleasing, as they demonstrated Rabobank’s ongoing commitment to New Zealand’s critical food and agribusiness sector, and were consistent with the bank’s goal of supporting clients to both help feed the world and achieve their goals and aspirations. . .

South American beetle introduced to control weeds:

A tiny Chilean beetle has been introduced to New Zealand in a bid to control a weed that if left unchecked could potentially become as big a problem as gorse.

Landcare Research, a Crown research institute which focuses on environmental science, recently provided Environment Southland with about 70 barberry seed weevils to release just north of Invercargill as a biocontrol agent for Darwin’s barberry. The fast-spreading orange-flowered thorny shrub has become a huge problem across the country, threatening to overrun native plants and farmland – particularly in Southland.

It is the first time this species of weevil, a type of beetle, has been used as a biocontrol agent anywhere in the world. . .

Natural pesticides tested:

New Zealand scientists have begun trials to test the effectiveness of some natural pesticides on one of the world’s worst vegetable pests, the diamond back moth.

The moth caterpillar causes serious damage to brassica crops such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and bok choy.

More than a billion dollars a year is spent on trying to control the pest. The moth quickly becomes resistant to whatever chemical pesticide is used on it.

Scientists working under the Bio-Protection Research Centre based at Lincoln University, with the backing of genetic specialists at New Zealands Genomics, have been trying a non-chemical biological approach. . .

Going FAR for farmers – Annette Scott:

It is 20 years this week since formal practical research was initiated for the New Zealand arable industry.

On Wednesday the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR), established in 1995, will mark a number of arable industry milestones as the organisation reaches its 20th birthday.

FAR was set up primarily to do practical research for arable farmers.

Over the past two decades the levy-funded organisation has developed to actively do research and extension on a broad range of grain and seed crops in NZ and Australia. . .

NZ Kiwifruit Growers United In Support For Industry Change:

Following a record voter turn-out, interim results show more than 90 percent of New Zealand kiwifruit growers have supported the outcomes of the Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project (KISP) to lock-in long-term grower ownership and control of their industry.

KISP’s Independent Chairman, Neil Richardson, said the voter turn-out and interim results were outstanding. They are a clear sign New Zealand kiwifruit growers are united in their vision for the future of their industry, he said.

“Two-thirds of growers, representing 80 percent of production voted in the KISP referendum. This compares to an average voter turn-out in primary industry of around 40 percent. . .

 

Zespri welcomes high turnout and support for positive change in grower referendum:

Kiwifruit growers have made a strong statement about the direction they want for their industry in the Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project (KSIP) referendum. There is a clear mandate for change with interim results from the referendum showing two-thirds of growers, representing 80 percent of production, voting so far, says Zespri chairman Peter McBride.

“Over 90 percent of growers have clearly stated their desire for change in three areas which affect Zespri – ownership of Zespri shares by growers who have left the industry, the mechanism by which the Zespri margin is calculated and changes to Zespri’s board to formalise the three independent members. . .

 

Memories of the working horse – Mark Griggs:

RON Job, now retired at Parkes, says a lot of memories return as he inspects some of the horse harness and gear stored in the tack room at “The Grange”, Peak Hill.

The tack room was attached to the original stables, which have been converted into a machinery shed and workshop now the work-horse days are long gone.

“The Grange” is owned by the Frecklington family who settled there in the late 1800s.

The property is now operated by Ian and Lyn Frecklington, who have kept the old gear stored in the tack room where it was left as motor vehicles took over from real horsepower, and have been close family friends with the Job family for many years. . .


Rural round-up

March 24, 2015

Dairy industry to launch workplace accord:

A new dairy industry workplace accord will be launched in May as part of a range of industry actions aimed at helping farmers attract and retain skilled people to work on farms.

“The Quality Workplace Accord is a commitment to improving the work environment of dairy farms,” says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for people and business, Mark Paine.

“The overarching goal is to achieve quality work environments through helping farmers implement good people management practices. . .

Korea tariff reductions benefit value-added velvet:

The potential to add value to velvet in New Zealand as tariffs reduce is the one big positive for deer farmers to come out of the Korea-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

“It’s no secret that Deer Industry NZ was unhappy with the terms of the agreement in respect to tariffs and taxes on frozen velvet. But we now need to make the most of the opportunity we have gained – elimination of the 20 per cent tariff on processed velvet over 15 years,” says DINZ chief executive Dan Coup.

“It’s a better outcome than some other countries have achieved, and the overall result of the FTA for the NZ primary sector will be very positive. We look forward to the FTA starting as soon as possible because within two or three years the reduction will be quite meaningful.” . .

Deer industry to co-operate with Korean health-food giant:

The New Zealand deer industry is today signing an agreement with one of Korea’s largest health food manufacturers, the Korea Ginseng Corporation (KGC), to help it develop more products containing NZ velvet antler.

The non-binding memorandum of understanding, to be signed by Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup and KGC chief executive officer Kim Jun-gi, will be witnessed by Prime Minister John Key. The signing will take place in Seoul following the signing of the Korea New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

“For seven years our relationship with KGC has strengthened and has increasingly focused on the development of branded consumer products that include extracts from NZ velvet. In that time, KGC has developed a children’s tonic that has become a household name in Korea, taking around 8 per cent of NZ’s velvet production,” said DINZ chief executive Dan Coup. . .

 

Lengthy links in merino field – Sally Rae:

The Merriman name is closely linked with Australia’s merino sheep industry.

Wal Merriman, managing director of the famed Merryville stud, was recently in Otago to judge super-fine and ultra-fine merinos at the Upper Clutha A&P Show in Wanaka.

His family’s association with the New Zealand merino industry extended for 50 years or more, with Merryville’s genetics featuring among the bloodlines of New Zealand sheep, Mr Merriman (62) said. . .

Finalists announced for farm environment awards – Sally Rae:

Five finalists have been named for this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Richard and Kerry France, from Longview Farm, in West Otago, also own the Hazeldale Perendale stud.

The couple bought the 568ha breeding and finishing property, at the northwest end of the Moa Flat area, in 2000.

About 6000 stock units – sheep, deer and cattle – were wintered. Peter and Sarah Adam have been managing Wilden Station, at Moa Flat, since 2000, when the property was purchased by Mrs Adam’s uncle, John Maisey.

It comprises a sheep and beef breeding and finishing operation spread over the home block of 570ha and a run block, 14km away, of 1200ha. About 12,300 stock units were wintered. . .

Mesh cover to fight potato pests:

New research shows a plastic mesh cover laid over potato crops could be the answer to fighting potato pests without using chemical sprays.

Scientists at the Future Farming Centre and Lincoln University say field trials of the mesh cover is showing exciting results in controlling the tomato potato psyllid as well as reducing potato blight.

The psyllid arrived in New Zealand in 2006 and can cause severe crop loss through its bacterium.

Researchers Dr Charles Merfield said the trials over two growing seasons in Canterbury showed potatoes under the mesh covers had reduced numbers of psyllids, increased tuber size and an increase in overall yield. . .

Project brings students back to nature:

As the earth loses biodiversity at a rapid rate and people become increasingly disconnected from nature, we must encourage new generations to take an interest in preserving the natural world, says Lincoln University senior ecology lecturer Dr Tim Curran.

High school students involved in an award-winning biodiversity project aimed at addressing this issue met at Lincoln University last week to examine the plant and animal specimens they collected a year ago during a weekend EcoBlitz near Lewis Pass. 

More than 170 high school students from 21 South Island schools took a trip to the Nina Valley in March last year, accompanied by scientists and students from Lincoln University and many other research organisations.

They found a range of plant, insect, bird, reptile and mammal species, which some of the students set about identifying last Thursday, March 12. . .

Oxfam calls for support as Vanuatu farmers face months without crops:

As aid begins to reach communities across Vanuatu, Oxfam New Zealand have spoken to their development partner Farm Support Association (FSA) to understand the longer term impact Cyclone Pam will have on a society which lives mostly off farming.

Oliver Lato, Senior Extension Officer from FSA was at home in Port Vila when the Cyclone struck. “For me, it was my first time experiencing a cyclone this strong. I was at home. I thought it would take off the roof. There was lots of water overflowing from the creek. Water came into my house, half a meter deep”.

Mr Lato said “Lots of vegetation is destroyed. Root crops are people’s main food. If yam, cassava and taro haven’t been destroyed, they need to be quickly harvested before they rot from flooding. They will need to be eaten quickly, within a week or so they will be spoilt” . .

 Fourth ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Finalist Named:

Sully Alsop is the fourth Grand Finalist to be named in the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The thirty-one year old took first place at the East Coast Regional Final in Greytown on Saturday 21 March.

Mr Alsop 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. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

March 13, 2015

1080 threat will not harm trade but ongoing issues a concern:

Lincoln University experts say the blackmail threat to lace baby formula with 1080 unless the use of the poison is stopped will not have long-term effects on New Zealand agricultural exports.

However, continuously emerging food safety issues could cause concerns.

Agribusiness and Food Marketing Programme Director Nic Lees does not see the threat as having a significant long term effect on either dairy exports or the New Zealand brand. . .

 

Rural health conference opens today:

More than 350 doctors, nurses, medical students and leaders in rural communities are expected to attend the first National Rural Health Conference in Rotorua today.

The Rural General Practice Network and the Rural Health Alliance are teaming up to run the conference over the next two days.

Opotiki GP Dr Jo Scott-Jones, who chairs both bodies, said the conference gives people working in remote places the chance to discuss and share ideas about the health problems rural communities face.

He said suicide prevention, reducing violence and workforce training problems in rural areas are among some of the key topics being examined. . .

Food safety a focus for Food HQ:

Food safety has emerged as a strong focus for the Palmerston North-based Food HQ research collaboration.

Food HQ, described as the power house of food innovation, was launched two years ago.

It is a first time exhibitor at the Central Districts fieldays, which opened in Feilding today. . .

New Zealand Dollar Lifts Wool Prices

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the weaker New Zealand dollar particularly against the US dollar saw all categories dearer this week.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 2.45 percent compared to the last sale on 5th March with many wool types appreciating by a corresponding amount.

Of the 8,000 bales on offer, 90 percent sold. . .

 

Introducing the next generation at Forrest Wines:

Doctors’ John and Brigid Forrest are excited to welcome home to Forrest Wines their daughter Beth. John says that “for Brigid and I this is a significant step in safe guarding the future of our family business. All 3 of our children have grown up here at Forrest; they have been a part of numerous harvests, worked in the vines and more importantly understood the manic hours their parents worked”.

Beth will join John and Dave Knappstein as winemakers for Forrest. Beth says that “I am here to learn as much as I can from John and Dave; to take all their knowledge and add some of my own experience and continue to create great quality wines made with passion. I am hoping neither of them are about to go anywhere.” . .

East Coast Young Farmers to be put to the test in ANZ Young Farmer Contest Regional Final

The fourth ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Finalist will be determined next weekend, Saturday 21 March at the East Coast Regional Final held in Greytown.

“This contest season is shaping up to be very exciting, every year the calibre of contestants continues to improve and impress,” says Terry Copeland, Chief Executive of New Zealand Young Farmers – organisers of the event.

The eight finalists are contending for a spot at the Grand Final in Taupo 2 – 4 July and their share of an impressive prize pack worth over $271,000 in products, services and scholarships from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 11, 2015

Federated Farmers receives threat to contaminate dairy infant formula product:

Federated Farmers has confirmed it has received a threat to sabotage New Zealand infant formula with the pesticide 1080.

The anonymous letter was received at Federated Farmers Wellington offices in late November.  It was addressed to the Chief Executive Graham Smith.

The letter was accompanied by an enclosed plastic bag containing a powder.

Federated Farmers gave the letter and bag to the Police. . .

Fonterra Acknowledges Threat Investigation:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited acknowledges the announcement by the New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Government about an investigation into a criminal threat relating to the Government’s use of Sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) poison as pest control to protect the country’s native flora and fauna.

The Government said today that there was no health risk to consumers. It has assessed the likelihood of the threat being carried out as ‘extremely low’. For further information please go to: http://www.foodprotection.govt.nz

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings said the criminal threat targeted New Zealand and the entire dairy industry. . .

Westland says its products are safe:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy cooperative, says there is no evidence that the safety of its products has been compromised by a threat to contaminate infant and other dairy formula with sodium monoflouroacetate (1080).

CEO Rod Quin says, “We are very confident that our products are secure while within our manufacturing and distribution systems,” he says. . .

 

Synlait Milk confident in its food safety systems:

Synlait Milk is confident that its food safety systems and security standards protect the integrity of its products.

They have been specifically designed to protect against threats such as that announced today by the New Zealand Police and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said Managing Director Dr. John Penno.

“Food safety and product quality is our highest priority. Our standards and systems reflect this,” said Dr. Penno. . .

NZ infant formula among safest in world:

Mothers in New Zealand and around the world can be assured that infant formula sourced in New Zealand is among the safest available anywhere, says the Infant Nutrition Council.

Chief Executive Jan Carey deplored the anonymous threats made to Fonterra and Federated Farmers.

She says infant formula manufacturers and exporters in New Zealand have full confidence in the safety of their products and in the security of their manufacturing processes.

“These products made in New Zealand are safe and always have been safe.

“We are absolutely confident about the safety of infant formula manufacturing in New Zealand and the products sold in supermarkets. . .

Nominations Open for Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards 2015:

Nominations are now open for this annual event that champions the country’s top performing sheep farmers, breeders, and industry innovators.

The fourth Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards will take place in Invercargill on Wednesday 1 July 2015.

“It’s fitting that the New Zealand sheep industry recognises and rewards its top performers, and in doing so profiles the significant contribution it makes to the New Zealand economy,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) chief executive, Dr Scott Champion.

“Productivity levels have improved dramatically over the past 20. Lambing percentages are 20 per cent higher than they were in 1995, and lamb carcase weights are up 28 per cent. . .

 Future of Farming – NZ Landcare Trust:

Former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and current Chair of WWF-NZ Dr Morgan Williams was the guest speaker at a recent Community Catchment Management Workshop organised by NZ Landcare Trust in Murchison. The programme also included presentations from community farming representatives, who highlighted the benefits and successes of community involvement within projects in this region.

Dr Williams began by voicing his support for the work rural communities are doing in sustainable catchment management projects, before outlining his perspectives on broader global and national issues shaping agriculture. . .

 

Career Changes Clean-up in Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Awards:

The three major winners in the 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards had all switched careers to dairy farming in recent years.

The 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Evan and Jan Billington had been in the New Zealand Police and teaching until seven years ago, while the region’s Farm Manager of the Year, James Foote, had been a professional rugby player, and the 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Royce King, was a plumber and gas fitter. . .

 All-Rounder Wins Waikato Dairy Awards Title:

The 2015 Waikato Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Aaron Price, has it all – he’s a young, fit, professional, married man with a plan. He’s also persistent and great to have in the community.

Mr Price, aged 29 years, took out the major title at last night’s 2015 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards, with his win netting him $22,000 in prizes.

The other big winners at the region’s awards dinner held at the Claudelands Events Centre were Paul and Kate Manion, the 2015 Waikato Farm Managers of the Year, and Brett Steeghs, the Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Housing cows not the only way to increase production –  Wayne McNee:

The recent visit by Professor Aalt Dijkhuizen, the president of Topsector Agri and Food in the Netherlands, raised some interested points about how New Zealand dairy farmers can learn from their Dutch counterparts.

But there was a flaw in his argument – profitability and efficiency did not seem to feature highly.

The two go hand in hand here. Profit is the ultimate goal for New Zealand dairy farmers, regardless of the system or technology utilised.

The best way to make a profit is by breeding animals that will efficiently, and repeatedly, convert feed into quality, high-value milk. . .

 Fledgling agri-food course whetting student appetites:

A new multi-disciplinary degree course taking food production beyond the farm gate and onto the world stage is experiencing 150 per cent growth in new enrolment numbers in only the second year it has been offered at Lincoln University.

Developed to meet the needs of an industry decrying a lack of graduates prepared for careers in the agri-food supply chain the Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing degree (B.AFM) has gone from 20 students in 2014 to 50 students this year.

It is one of the success stories at Lincoln University’s Te Waihora campus which has seen good growth in new student enrolments in 2015, both for New Zealand and international students. . .

Moving stock? Think about your Theileria risks:

Industry body DairyNZ is warning farmers to assess the risks to their herds from the tick-borne disease Theileria if they are moving stock this autumn and winter.
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DairyNZ veterinarian and technical policy advisor, Nita Harding, says stock out at grazing such as heifers that will be coming onto the farm could pose a risk, or be at risk of Theileria, depending on the situation on farm.

Nita says farmers can help the industry and veterinarians manage and prevent the spread of the disease if they are moving cattle between Theileria zones this season. . .

Giesen stamps mark in China:

Giesen Wines is earning a growing following in China, where it has been exporting for the past five years.

Its wines recently won acclaim at China’s largest and most prestigious wine competition, CWSA (China Wines & Spirits Awards), which brings together winemakers from all over the world to compete in a blind tasting. Giesen’s haul included a trophy, two double golds, five golds, and it was named the CWSA Marlborough Winery of the Year.

General manager Kyle Skene said Giesen’s total wine portfolio is exported to China, including Giesen Estate, The Brothers (Reserve) and Single Vineyard series. Its wines are sold across 12 Chinese cities and seven provinces. . . .


Rural round-up

February 22, 2015

Region’s rivers dropping to point of possible irrigation stoppages - Rebecca Fox:

Otago rivers are dropping steadily again as the benefits from rain earlier this month evaporate.

The Taieri catchment is again teetering on the edge of a widespread irrigation stoppage and South Otago rivers are dropping steadily after a week of warm temperatures and little or no rain – the greatest amount to fall in Otago was 3.5mm at Sullivans Dam, near Dunedin.

Forecasts again indicated mostly dry weather was to continue, although while a front was expected to move over southern and eastern parts of New Zealand tomorrow and early Sunday, it was only expected to bring showers. . .

Strategic location move pays off:

It’s not an easy task to up sticks and move to a new farm. Steve and Jenny Herries took that an extra step and moved their angus stud from Central Hawke’s Bay to Gisborne.

Alpine Angus used to be at home on 320ha at Mangaorapa, southeast of Waipukurau. “The kids were enjoying their farming but they’d never seen shepherds on big country with teams of dogs. We’d managed other places like Tutira and Akitio, so we knew it could be different.”

They’ve only increased the farm size by 40 hectares but the country is very different. . .

Maori agribusiness on the brink of ‘enormous growth’  – Sue O’Dowd:

PKW’s new livestock company allows the large Taranaki Maori farming operation to further integrate the various arms of its business.

Te Oranga Livestock began operating in September last year.

“Our strategy has grown and our cattle numbers have grown, so we have created our own livestock company to support our long-term goals,” Parininihi ki Waitotara (PKW) chief executive Dion Tuuta said. “It’s a logical progression and allows us to retain value within our own system.”

In 2011 PKW took a major step towards growing its active business, putting managers on some of its dairy farms and taking on herd ownership. A specialist state-of-the-art calf-rearing unit capable of rearing 1800 calves a year at Matapu in South Taranaki followed. . .

Muster offers drover’s delight - Caleb Harris:

Forget running with the bulls in Pamplona – now you can run after them, in Wairarapa.

Cowboys, stockmen, gauchos and drovers have a special lot in life: superb views, magnificent animals, camaraderie, tough but satisfying work, the campfires, the starlit nights.

“The drover’s life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know,” was Aussie bush bard Banjo Paterson’s apt summary.

Now, the owners of one of New Zealand’s oldest farms are inviting all-comers, including city slickers, to experience the ancient lifestyle’s unique charms, in the form of a back-country cattle muster.

It’s not a contrived offering for tourists but a crucial task, done twice a year for more than 170 years – one of the country’s longest unbroken sequences of annual musters.

Riversdale Station in White Rock Rd, an hour east of Martinborough, has sweeping Pacific views, but otherwise little in common with its genteel namesake resort to the north. Nestled along the Haurangi (or Aorangi) Range, it’s gnarled, bush-cloaked country and not for the faint- hearted. . .

Sheep milk has big potential - Anna Sussmilch:

After a year of study, travel and developing contacts in the agricultural sector at home and aboard, the 2014 Nuffield Scholars have submitted their reports. This is the first in a series profiling each of the 2014 scholars, their experiences and their areas of particular interest.

Lucy Griffiths is a woman who clearly likes to keep busy. 

When approached for an interview she was busily preparing to present her Nuffield Scholarship findings at the inaugural New Zealand ewe milk products and sheep dairying conference at Massey University’s Food HQ, training for the Challenge Wanaka half-ironman and had only recently got married.

At the start of her Nuffield journey Griffiths was known as Lucy Cruikshank. . .

Dairy farmers can expect volatility in milk price:

While it may not be what farmers want to hear, a Lincoln University expert says price volatility in the dairy industry may be the new normal. Farm Management and Agribusiness lecturer Bruce Greig says prices will fluctuate widely from year to year ”as we have seen”.

He says the milk price farmers in New Zealand receive is a result of the demand and supply conditions of milk in the international market. It is a commodity market which exhibits characteristic fluctuations.

Dairy farmers may just have to get used to it and implement systems which can cope with these changes, Mr Greig says. . .


Rural round-up

February 21, 2015

Further fruit fly found in Auckland:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms that an isolated population of the Queensland fruit fly has been found in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn.

A resident of the higher-risk Zone A in the middle of the existing Controlled Area found a single fly in a lemon tree on his property, captured it and reported it to MPI.

The fly was formally identified as a recently-emerged un-mated female adult fruit fly. This is the only fly that has been found, over and above the initial trapped fly found earlier this week.

Chief Operations Officer Andrew Coleman says thanks must go to the resident who captured and reported the fly, allowing MPI to act swiftly to scope the problem. . .

Belief in sheep’s milk put to test:

One man who sees the potential in sheep milk opportunites is putting it to the test.

A Lincoln University farm management and agribusiness lecturer planned to manufacture his own ice cream from milking 125 ewes on his property in Darfield, Canterbury.

Guy Trafford said the roof for his dairy plant was to be put on next weekend.

He said the sheep milking industry was an untapped opportunity for farmers. . .

Irrigation gains reflected in updated Overseer:

Irrigating farmers and growers will soon have greater confidence in the outputs OVERSEER® Nutrient budgets (Overseer) generates with the release of the nutrient budget model’s new comprehensive irrigation module.

From late April, Overseer 6.2 will improve the ability to model a range of irrigation systems and practices, dramatically improving its ability to calculate N-loss for irrigated properties.

Overseer General Manager Dr Caroline Read says incorporating the breadth of irrigation systems and management in use today will allowOverseer to address a known shortfall. . .

 Pasture recovery plan – growing grass after the dry:

 Livestock has been the number one priority in areas hit by the recent dry – and rightly so – but now pastures also need attention, to fuel farm recovery after rain, and provide the main source of feed for the next 12 months.

A successful pasture recovery plan has three stages: current management while conditions are dry; actions to be taken when rain comes and an autumn pasture renewal programme.

Pasture specialist Graham Kerr says the best way to start is to assess all paddocks on the farm, and divide paddocks into three categories. . .

 

National Fieldays calls for single, rural blokes:

Entries are now open for the 2015 Rural Bachelor of the Year competition.

Single, rural men wanting to apply to enter the competition face a range of challenges over the National Fieldays week in their bid to be crowned Rural Bachelor and walk away with $20,000 worth of prizes.

Click here for more information.

The competition is held in the lead-up to, and during the New Zealand National Fieldays at Mystery Creek from June 10-13. . .

New Prime Off Mum Challenge launched to New Zealand Farmers:

New Zealand’s largest red meat genetics company is encouraging farmers to get in behind a new initiative which aims to get more prime lambs straight to the works off their mothers and in turn increase farm profitability.

Focus Genetics is launching the new benchmarking challenge “Prime off Mum” open to all New Zealand sheep farmers. Registrations open on Monday February 23 at www.primeoffmum.co.nz.

The challenge will give participating farmers an opportunity to find out how they are tracking against others with similar land classes. . .

 

"In anticipation of this weekend, have a look at our new and exclusive trailer"


A tale of two conferences

February 12, 2015

 

Lincoln University is hosting an international conference on food science and technology:

The overarching theme of the conference is the future of food innovation, nutrition and technology, and it will bring together more than 250 scientists, government officials and industry representatives from more than 50 countries around the globe.

The conference also celebrates the 50 year anniversary of the International Journal of Food Science and Technology (IJFST) – one of the oldest and most established journals in food science and technology in the world.

The conference theme is a highly relevant one, with food science and technology expected to play an increasingly important role in addressing current and future challenges in food production.

A large and rapidly growing global population, deteriorating agricultural soils, increasing demand for water resources, and the need to rapidly modify production methods based on climate change are all providing a serious challenge to the field of food science.

According to Lincoln University Professor in Food Science, Editor-in-Chief of IJFST, and conference chairman, Charles Brennan, the event is a unique opportunity to facilitate an information exchange that brings together industry, universities and research centres.

“The mix of those attending should allow for some good dialogue between both industry and research, which is tremendously important to ensure that tangible and workable projects are undertaken, the right kind of issues are addressed, and new opportunities are identified.

“The conference will also provide a great opportunity to showcase the pivotal role New Zealand plays in the area of food science and product innovation. . .

This conference will highlight the scientific approach to the challenge of feeding the world.

Offsetting Behaviour posts on another conference which provides a stark and unscientific contrast:

A plucky group of scientific outsiders, presenting results outside of the mainstream consensus, hosts its own conference with presentations mostly from those in their heterodox club. They present themselves as providing the truth that is much opposed by big moneyed interests. They’re celebrated in a reception hosted in Parliament by one of the political parties. The media is expected to highlight their alternative take on reality, with perhaps some offsetting commentary from those in the mainstream; the overall effect, though, is to stoke and legitimise popular misunderstandings. . .

This weekend brings GMO-sceptics to Wellington. Presentations include “Pesticides: scilencing the ecosystem and silencing our children” and “Overweight, undernourished, sterile and dying of cancer. Our food is it sealing the fate of humanity?”

And the Greens are hosting them in Parliament: . . .

Imagine the uproar if another party was to host a pseudo-scientific conference in parliament.

A few further notes:

  • The keynote speaker, Gilles-Eric Seralini, found tumours in mice fed GM crops. But his paper was retracted due to concerns like these. It was later elsewhere republished in a friendlier outlet.
  • Vandana Shiva, also there speaking, earned this profile in the New Yorker, which concluded:

    When Shiva writes that “Golden Rice will make the malnutrition crisis worse” and that it will kill people, she reinforces the worst fears of her largely Western audience. Much of what she says resonates with the many people who feel that profit-seeking corporations hold too much power over the food they eat. Theirs is an argument well worth making. But her statements are rarely supported by data, and her positions often seem more like those of an end-of-days mystic than like those of a scientist.

  • On 29 January this year, the American Association for the Advancement of Science released a rather timely survey on scientific support for use of genetic modification techniques in food. Huffington has the summary

    In sharp contrast to public views about GMOs, 89% of scientists believe genetically modified foods are safe.

    That’s the most eye-opening finding in a Pew Research Center study on science literacy, undertaken in cooperation with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and released on January 29.

    The overwhelming scientific consensus exceeds the percentage of scientists, 88%, who think humans are mostly responsible for climate change. However, the public appears far more suspicious of scientific claims about GMO safety than they do about the consensus on global warming.

    Some 57% of Americans say GM foods are unsafe and a startling 67% do not trust scientists, believing they don’t understand the science behind GMOs. AAAS researchers blame poor reporting by mainstream scientists for the trust and literacy gaps.

    The survey also contrasts sharply with a statement published earlier this week in a pay-for-play European journal by a group of anti-GMO scientists and activists, including Michael Hansen of the Center for Food Safety, and philosopher Vandana Shiva, claiming, “no scientific consensus on GMO safety.”

The scientific consensus on GMOs is as strong as the scientific consensus on climate change. Will Browning have to retract this like he had to pull back from endorsing homeopathy for Ebola?

The Greens could play at highlighting the heterodox views on GMOs a couple years ago. But when 89% of scientists say GMO food is safe?

Scientific validity isn’t based on popularity.

But if the Greens decry as deniers those who doubt the high percentage of scientists who support the concept of human induced climate change what are they if they doubt the even higher percentage who say GMOs are safe?

And is parliament the appropriate place for such a conference?

 

 

 

 


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