Rural round-up

November 30, 2016

Training isn’t meeting needs – Neal Wallace:

It requires a liberal dose of lateral thinking to grasp the paradox that is primary sector training.

Recently the Tertiary Education Commission said it wanted to invest more money into primary sector training because there were plenty of jobs.

The primary sector continues to struggle to find staff and this week the Government announced an extension to the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme allowing another 1000 foreigners to work on the coming harvest.

But, incongruously, primary sector training is in upheaval with several high-profile providers responsible for training about 1000 young people, exiting the industry, others looking for a new provider and, in the case of Lincoln University, making 51 staff redundant to balance its books. . . 

Show deal boosts export potential – Colin Ley:

The southern hemisphere’s biggest agribusiness exhibition, the National Fieldays, and Europe’s largest agricultural show, have signed a collaboration deal.

They have signed memorandum of understanding as part of an initiative to boost farm business and trading links between New Zealand and the European Union.

The move would deliver major benefits to NZ’s 130,000-visitor event, held near Hamilton each June, and Eurotier’s 160,000-visitor show held in Hannover, Germany, every second year, Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation said. . .

Govt working with wine industry to secure 2017 Marlborough vintage:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy are working with the Marlborough wine industry to respond to the challenges of the November 14 earthquake and assist with the 2017 vintage.

“The Marlborough wine industry faces some challenges,” Mr Joyce says. “The key impact has been damage to around 20 per cent of the wine storage tanks in the region, and the potential that a lack of storage will affect the ability of the industry to process the full 2017 harvest, which commences in around 15 weeks.” . . 

Animal blamers got it all wrong – Alan Emmerson:

I wrote back in September that we needed to stop playing the blame game over the Havelock North water crisis. We needed to find out and quickly how to fix the problem.

Last week that game reached new heights of absurdity with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council issuing proceedings against the Hastings District Council.

What they’re actually doing is suing their own ratepayers, which won’t achieve anything except lining the pockets of lawyers.

The interesting point is that it’s not farmers who are now in the gun but the Hastings council over bore maintenance and siting. . . 

Westland lifts its payout prediction:

Hokitika-based Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second largest dairy co-operative, has lifted its total operating surplus ( payout) predictionfor the 2016-17 season to range of $5.50 to $5.90 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS).

This is estimated to produce a net return to shareholders (after retained earnings) of $5.30 to $5.70 per kgMS. The co-operative’s previous estimate for the season was a net range (after retained earnings) of $4.55 to $4.95 per kgMS.

Chief Executive Toni Brendish said the lift in payout prediction has been made possible by two factors. . . 

Synlait Increases Forecast Milk Price to $6.00kgMS:

Synlait Milk (NZX: SML; ASX: SM1) has increased their forecast milk price from $5.00 kgMS to $6.00 kgMS for the 2016 / 2017 season.

Synlait planned to provide an updated forecast at the start of February 2017, however Mr Milne said an update now is more appropriate and beneficial for Synlait’s 200 Canterbury milk suppliers.

“We’ve kept a close eye on the global dairy market and the trending increase in dairy prices can’t be ignored. As a result, we’ve increased our forecast milk price to $6.00 kgMS,” said Graeme Milne, Chairman.

Mr Milne said reduced European production over the past three months shows European dairy farmers are responding to lower milk prices. . . 

Dairy volatility has not gone away – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s recent upgraded estimate of $6 per kg milksolids (fat plus protein) for the 2016/7 milk price has been welcomed by everyone in the industry. Given that it is only six months since Fonterra’s initial for this season of $4.25, the current estimate should also remind us of the impossibility of predicting milk prices with any accuracy.

This level of inaccuracy is typical of the last three years, where Fonterra’s initial estimates compared to the final price were out by $1.40 in 2014, $2.60 in 2015 and $1.35 in 2016.

Currently, we are about half way through the milk season in terms of production, and most companies will have sold about half of their total seasonal production. With some forward selling, they may even be ahead of this.  It is about this stage of the season that I bring in my price-range estimate to about $1.80 (i.e. plus or minus 90c around a mid-point).   . . 

Plan to diversify Southland economy:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today announced government support for a new regional growth plan to bolster the Southland economy.

The Southland Regional Development Strategy Action Plan was developed by the Southland Regional Development Strategy Governance Group and is supported by the Government’s Regional Growth Programme, which aims to increase jobs, incomes and investment in regional New Zealand.

“Southland has a relatively small economy which relies on a limited number of industries. While the regional population is growing, for the past ten years population growth has been significantly slower than in the rest of the country,” Mr Joyce says. . .

Predator Free 2050 Ltd board appointed:

The company which will be a key player in achieving New Zealand’s Predator Free 2050 ambition is now up and running, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.

“Today marks the official establishment of Predator Free 2050 Ltd and the appointment of a skilled board of nine directors,” Ms Barry says.

“This company, and its leadership, will be absolutely integral to the success of the Predator Free 2050 programme. Their role will be to direct investment into regionally significant predator eradication projects and the breakthrough science solutions we need to achieve predator free status.”

Formation of the company was signalled in July, when the Government committed to the ambitious goal of eradicating rats, stoats and possums from New Zealand by 2050. . . 

HortNZ celebrates 100 years of representing growers:

 

Today, Horticulture New Zealand celebrates 100 years of representing growers, with its foundations in the New Zealand Fruitgrowers Federation formed in 1916.

“Our focus is on uniting fruit and vegetable growers to give a strong and unified voice on matters related to our part of food supply in New Zealand and our export markets,” Horticulture New Zealand President Julian Raine says.

“Looking back at the history of the organisation, there is very much a recurring theme of creating an environment where growers can innovate and grow and in doing so, contribute to the economy with jobs and exports.” . . .

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Would beef tax help NZ?

November 11, 2016

40% beef tax suggested to pay for climate damage :

Global taxes have been suggested for beef and dairy products to pay for climate damage caused during their production.

The University of Oxford study argues emissions pricing on food could avert more pollution than generated by the aviation industry, save half a million lives and one billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year if implemented in 2020.

The analysis, conducted by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, suggests beef would have to be 40 percent more expensive to pay for the climate damage caused by its production.

Milk and other meats would need to increase by up to 20 percent and vegetable oils would also face substantial rises.

The study estimates the suggested price increase would result in a 10 percent reduction in the purchase of these foods and drive lower emissions. . . 

This wouldn’t be all bad for New Zealand farmers.

Almost all our beef and dairy cattle, and sheep are free range livestock.

A Lincoln University study showed that our meat and horticultural produce had lower emissions than the same local produce in British supermarkets, even taking into account the transport from here to there.

If our produce incurred a lower tax than that from other countries whose production methods are far less efficient we’d have a competitive advantage.

Federated Farmers climate change spokesperson Anders Crofoot said putting tax at the purchasing end, so the decision was in hands of consumers, had some merit.

“Conceptually there are some attractions, but as with most things with climate change it gets pretty complex quite quickly and I wouldn’t see a tax on food was going to be a particularly effective way of doing it.”

He said farmers could benefit from their product being more of a premium.

“I don’t think that reducing meat consumption is actually necessarily something we should recoil from if it can turn it into a premium product that people are willing to pay more [for].”

If there was going to be a tax on livestock and crops, what about other foods?

Nothing would be gained if people swapped from one type of food to another with no environmental gain.

The production of all food must have an environmental impact and that would have to be taxed too.

Some of the better-off might be happy to pay more for their food, others would resent it but could still afford it.

But what about the less well-off, too many of whom already struggle to buy nutritious food?

Rabobank’s Farm2Fork summit in Sydney last week and it’s F20 (F for food) in 2014 looked at the challenge of feeding the world population of nine billion by 2050.

No-one suggested taxing food.

Researchers would be better putting their time and our money into science that would improve the production of food that is healthy for both people and the environment .

 


Rural round-up

September 30, 2016

Pasture to plate approach for DCANZ regulatory manager Dianne Schumacher – Sue O’Dowd:

A Taranaki microbiologist skilled in the development of regulatory strategies for the New Zealand dairy industry brings a perceptive pasture-to-plate approach to her work.

Dianne Schumacher, who owns a 62-hectare dairy farm milking 110 cows near Stratford with husband Chris, joined the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) as regulatory manager in January this year. 

She brings to the role broad international and national food safety expertise gathered during her 30-year career in the dairy industry. . . 

The short-term or long-term game – Rick Powdrell:

With hotly contested demand for stock, farmers and meat processors need to think carefully about their existing strategy and what it means for our industry in the long-term.

Rural New Zealand has been through a challenging climate in recent years, with many farmers still enduring the ‘fallout’ and adjusting their farm policies going forward as they look to return to normal.

Whether you have been through severe drought or de-stocked as a result of last season’s perceived strong El Nino you will be looking to re-stock to more normal numbers. . . 

NZ wins from trade deals –  Mike Chapman:

The question many people are asking is, ‘which trade deal will it be: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPPA) or the Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP)?’

So much focus has been on the TPPA it is very likely few people in New Zealand know anything about RCEP. The main difference is that the TPPA has the US as one of the partner nations, but not China; while, the RCEP has China as one of the partner nations, but not the US. Neither the US nor China is in both the TPPA and RCEP. For many nations, preferential access to both the US and China is a major goal.

The Peterson Institute assessment is the TPPA will increase annual real incomes in NZ by $US6 billion – 2.2% of our gross domestic product. It will increase our annual exports by $US9b –10.2% of our exports over baseline projections by 2030. This is because the TPPA will eliminate 75% of tariffs when it comes into force and 99% of tariffs when it is fully in force. For horticulture there are real trade benefits totalling around $26m per annum directly due to reduced tariffs. . . 

Time to review your calving date? – Wilma Foster:

With calving almost over and mating on the horizon it’s time to have a review of one of the most significant decisions you will make for next season, calving date.

There are four significant decisions you make on farm every year. They are calving date, stocking rate, BCS at calving and pasture cover at calving.

Historically calving dates were 10-14 days later than what we currently calve.

This has been due to a desire to increase days in milk, farmers mating rising 2-year heifers earlier than the main herd to improve their incalf rates, and the use of bulls with a shorter gestation. . . 

Beetle pest deterred by mussel shell mulch:

Research to find natural ways of reducing insect pest damage in vineyards was highlighted at the 2016 Romeo Bragato Conference – the largest conference for wine growers and makers in New Zealand.

Mauricio González-Chang, a Lincoln University PhD student in the Bio-Protection Research Centre, presented evidence that mineral feeding deterrents and mussel shell mulch can protect vines from grass grub beetle attack.  

Mauricio’s study of vines in the Awatere Valley in Marlborough, found that natural silica-containing feeding deterrents, such as kaolin particles (hydrophobic particle films) and diatomaceous earth, reduced the damage caused by beetles by about a third in chardonnay, and a half in pinot noir grape varieties.  

While the silica results were promising, the greatest reduction in damage was seen when crushed mussel shells were spread under the vine rows. The shells affected landing behaviour of the beetles and resulted in a two-thirds reduction in feeding damage. .  .

Bring your ag innovations to the table :

Innovative food and agribusiness start-ups and fledgling ventures will have the opportunity to showcase themselves to potential investors in Sydney in November.

FoodBytes! Sydney will be staged as part of the international Farm2Fork Summit, focusing on future innovation in food and agriculture, to be held on Thursday, November 3.

Originally launched in the United States in 2015, FoodBytes! is designed to find the most innovative concepts in food and agriculture and pair that creativity with the capital needed to bring them to market. . . 

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I am a farmer. I solve problems you don’t know you have in ways you can’t understand.


Rural round-up

September 20, 2016

Prisoners train to fill farming labour gap – Alexa Cook:

New Zealand needs to fill 50,000 new jobs in the farming sector over the next decade, and hundreds of prisoners are training up to fill the gap.

More than 400 prisoners nationwide have earned NCEA qualifications from Level 1 to 4 in agriculture and horticulture in the past year.

Graeme Allomes works for Land Based Training and is the main tutor for Manawatu Prison’s agriculture course.

Each class starts with a maths lesson and Mr Allomes said this got the prisoners’ minds ticking for the day, before moving on to animal care, quad bikes and fencing. . . 

Lincoln keen to see Telford improve – Samuel White:

It is too early to say how a review of Lincoln University’s operations will affect South Otago institution Telford’s future, but everything is on the table, and there is concern about how many students are advancing from the Balclutha campus to complete degrees at Lincoln,  the man in charge of the review says.

“The students who are doing certificates may not have any aspiration or need for a bachelor degree and …  we do respect that, but that was one of the original aspirations [for students] but it has not happened,” vice-chancellor Prof Robin Pollard said.

Lincoln University took over the Telford Polytechnic campus in 2010. . . 

All for cheese in China – Emma Brannam:

Say cheese in China and you might get a grin, especially if you’re a Kiwi.

Sales of the food are up more than 20 percent a year, with much of it shipping from New Zealand.

“It’s not something we had as children, so we’re naturally drawn to it,” said Brian Gu, who owns a restaurant in KeriKeri.

“In China, cheese is regarded as healthy, full of calcium. We want to give our children the best food possible and New Zealand products are regarded as really pure.

“We’re only just beginning to learn all the different ways cheese can be included in the diet.” . . .

Stopping the rain from washing away dairy farmers’ profits:

Dairy farmers who have been experiencing wet weather could be facing unexpected soil nutrient loss due to a common misconception about how urea fertiliser behaves when soils are moist from previous rainfall events.

This misconception is based on a common belief that volatilisation, the process where nitrogen is lost through conversion into ammonia gas, is minimised if urea fertiliser is applied to moist soils or before a heavy dew or light rain.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Science Manager Aaron Stafford says that while he can’t predict the weather, the good news is that a strategic look at your nitrogen fertiliser applications and some smart science can help to get the best from your investment, rain or shine. . . 

Hemp Awareness week next week 19-25th September 2016:

The NZHIA are focused on raising the public’s awareness of the legitimate, regulated industry which is set to massively benefit rural and regional New Zealand.

Industrial hemp can provide, seed and fibre for all mediums of industry, from soap to 3D printing; the naturally grown plant could radically change local business. We have business owners right now making a difference to their bottom line and the economy. And this is set to take off in the future.

Richard Barge from the NZHIA who is part of a road show for hemp awareness week, which starts next week says “we are promoting all the markets for Hemp the seed, stems, roots and leaves.” . . 

Cashmanager RURAL launches new farming forum – join the conversation:

Cashmanager RURAL is committed to improving farm performance and our latest development, Rural Community, delivers on this promise.

Our new interactive forum, Rural Community, has launched.

Rural Community provides a place for like-minded rural people to share news, views, discuss topics and ask questions.

It is a forum where general farming topics can be discussed and our lead moderators will regularly post discussion points related to the farming community.

Also launched today is a new improved Help Centre where our clients can engage with, and learn more about our Cashmanager RURAL product. This could be by using FAQ walk-throughs and video tutorials, or exchanging ideas and opinions and learning from one another. . . 

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Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out – Robert Collier.


Rural round-up

August 31, 2016

Why the green, green grass of home is simply the best – John Roche, Kevin Macdonald:

New Zealand’s grazing system was once considered “the eighth wonder of the world”.

In the 1970s and 80s, a team at Ruakura led by Dr Arnold Bryant undertook grazing experiments that were to revolutionise the way pasture was managed through winter and spring.

The system matched herd demand through assigning the correct calving date and stocking rate with a store of pasture (ie cover at calving) and crop and an assumed winter growth rate. . . 

Westland ups season forecast payout:

New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative Westland Milk Products today announced a 20 cent increase in its forecast 2016-17 season payout.

The company’s forecast average operating surplus has increased to $4.75 – $5.15 per kgMS while the average cash payout range has increased to $4.55 – $4.95 per kgMS.

Chairman Matt O’Regan says this is a result of a recent uplift in international dairy prices for the range of products Westland produces, along with positive August GDT auction results. . . 

Population of honey bees is growing fast:

New Zealand’s honey bee population is growing rapidly, despite recent reports of its decline, according to Apiculture New Zealand.

The industry body was responding to comments from Lincoln University that give the impression that honey bees are under threat in New Zealand.

The university said New Zealand agriculture stands to lose between $295 and $728 million each year if the local honeybee population continues its ‘current decline’.

“I’m pleased to say that hive numbers are growing rapidly,” said ApiNZ chief executive, Daniel Paul. . . 

Wild bees set to save our honey industry from varroa mite – but they need your help  – Jamie Small:

Plant & Food Research is asking for public help to locate colonies of feral bees, as groundbreaking evidence suggests they may save our honey industry from the devastating varroa mite.

Bee numbers in New Zealand are growing – bucking the international trend – thanks to human intervention controlling varroa, says Dr Mark Goodwin, who leads the organisation’s apiculture and pollination team.

The high price and demand for manuka honey is encouraging apiaries to expand in the face of the colony-killing mite and other threats. . . 

Buyers caught napping by potential milk production decine – Gerard Hutching:

A milk futures broker says whole milk powder buyers have been “caught napping” by a potential shortfall in the product, explaining why the price has risen 28.8 per cent at the last two global dairy auctions.

Director of OM Financial Nigel Brunel said the price hike had been “staggering” and taken everyone by surprise.

“Buyers haven’t been able to source WMP at the right price and have been concerned that New Zealand supply could be well down this season. They have been caught napping in a sleepy sideways WMP market for almost a year,” Brunel said.

As a result the buyers had climbed over each other to source WMP and lifted the price. . . 

New appointment to FSANZ Board:

Jane Lancaster has been appointed to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Board, Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew announced today. Ms Lancaster’s term began on 1 July 2016.

“Ms Lancaster will make a valuable contribution to the FSANZ Board with her background in food science, biotechnology, and strong governance experience. In particular, she has professional experience in food safety, food regulation, and the food industry,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“Ms Lancaster replaces Neil Walker, whose second term on the FSANZ Board expires on 30 June 2016. Mr Walker’s extensive knowledge has been highly valued by both myself and the FSANZ Board over this time.” . . 

Environmental impacts come first in EPA insecticide decision:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has declined an application to import an insecticide to control pests on onion and potato crops.

The insecticide Grizly Max contains the active ingredients imidacloprid, novaluron and bifenthrin. These active ingredients are already approved for use in New Zealand, but not in a single formulation. The proposed application rate for the neonicotinoid imidacloprid was much higher than other insecticides already available in New Zealand.

At a 19 July hearing, the applicant, Agronica New Zealand Ltd, noted that Grizly Max had proved to be effective against target pests. . . 

New Appointment to Synlait’s Senior Leadership Team:

Quentin Lowcay, General Counsel and Commercial Manager, has joined Synlait’s Senior Leadership Team.

Since joining Synlait in 2013, Quentin’s role has grown to advise the SLT and Board on legal affairs, risk, corporate governance, insurance and commercial matters (particularly customer and supplier relationships). . .

New Zealand King Salmon confirms intention to undertake an IPO:

There may soon be an opportunity for Kiwi investors to own a stake in New Zealand’s estimated $180 million salmon industry.

The world’s largest aquaculture producer of King salmon, New Zealand King Salmon Investments Limited, has today (29 August) confirmed its intention to undertake an initial public offering of shares in New Zealand and a listing on the NZX Main Board and ASX. The proceeds of the offer will be used to repay debt, fund future investment and working capital, and to enable investor Direct Capital and some other shareholders to realise some or all of their investment. . . 

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Rockburn releases limited edition Stolen Kiss Pinot Noir & Rosé:

Rockburn’s Stolen Kiss Rosé enjoys a cult following around country for a couple of years now and the boutique producer from Cromwell now added another way to enjoy the “fruity and saucy side” of Central Otago Pinot Noir with the launch of their limited edition Stolen Kiss Pinot Noir.

Stolen Kiss wines are made from grapes ‘stolen’ from Rockburn’s best Central Otago Pinot Noir. The name alone evokes images of summertime rolling-in-the-clover frivolity and romance. . . 

Substantial Hawke’s Bay winery operation goes on the market for sale:

One of Hawke’s Bay’s best known vertically-integrated wine operations – featuring multiple vineyards, the winery plant and cellar door retail sales outlet – has been placed on the market for sale.

The assets are run under the Crossroads brand – owned by Yealands Estate Wines. The Crossroad’s vineyard and operations being sold encompass three separate vineyards in the bay, along with a plant capable of pressing more than 700 tonnes of grapes and storing the resulting juice in 59 tanks, and a cellar door retail premises which attracts more than 5000 visitors annually.

The Crossroads brand, business and existing stock in bottles, barrels, and tanks, are not part of the sale. . . 


Rural round-up

August 23, 2016

Young Maori woman brings important cultural perspective to dairy farming:

Lincoln University student Ash-Leigh Campbell, 25, is one of the bright lights of Maori agribusiness in New Zealand.

Recently named as a finalist in the prestigious 2016 Ahuwhenua Young Māori Dairy Farmer Award – the first ever woman to make the finals of the dairy category – Campbell, who is of Ngāi Tahu descent, is passionate about bringing a Maori perspective to the dairy industry.

She graduated with a Diploma in Agriculture from Lincoln University earlier this year, and is currently studying towards a Diploma in Farm Management at Lincoln University. Her sights are set on doing a Bachelor of Commerce and Agriculture next year. Campbell is also an active member of the Dairy Women’s Network Lincoln University branch, and is involved with other industry groups. . . 

Irish Ag role mooted– Peter Burke:

New Zealand banks may have to play a social role with farmers, as do European governments, claims Professor Alan Renwick of Lincoln University.

Renwick says in NZ, with its free market approach, there is an expectation that banks, not governments, will see farmers through troubled times.

He says the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), though much criticised for supposedly keeping farmers on the land when they should not be, in fact has other good points which help manage some of the volatility in the market. . . 

Wool stoush positive – Pam Tipa:

An attack on Wools of New Zealand by its former chief executive has turned out to be a positive, claims chairman Mark Shadbolt.  

He says plenty of backing has emerged to keep going.  

“We have had a strong acknowledgement of support not only from growers, but from the industry in NZ and globally,” Shadbolt told Rural News. . .

Synlait Milk And the A2 Milk Company Reaffirm Infant Formula Supply Arrangements:

Synlait Milk Limited (Synlait) and The a2 Milk Company Limited (a2MC) are pleased to announce a new supply agreement between the two groups for the production of a2 Platinum® infant formula.

The agreement strengthens the current business relationship between a2MC and Synlait by providing certainty around medium term growth plans.

Current production volumes remain the same, but appropriate provisions allowing for increased scale to meet market demand in the medium term have been made.

“We are very pleased to have concluded negotiations in relation to our supply relationship with Synlait. We’ve maintained appropriate flexibility to assess new product and market opportunities as they arise,” said Geoffrey Babidge, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of a2MC. . . 

Comvita posts 15-month profit of $18.5M, lowers dividend ratio to pursue ‘opportunities’ – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the manuka honey products company, posted a 15-month profit that broadly met its guidance while lowering its dividend payout ratio to chase “growth opportunities”.

Profit was $18.5 million in the 15 months ended June 30, after Comvita changed its balance date, from $10.2 million in the 12 months ended March 31, 2015, the Te Puke-based company said in a statement. Comvita reported profit of $17.2 million in the 12 months ended March 31, 2016, and had said that as the April-June quarter was typically Comvita’s quietest the 15-month result was likely to be in line with the 12 months to March 31. . . 

Wine industry converges in Marlborough:

Around 500 grape growers, winemakers, and industry leaders will converge in Marlborough this week to learn, discuss and network at the wine industry’s annual Romeo Bragato Conference.

“In the past year we’ve seen continued strong demand in our key export markets,” said New Zealand Winegrowers CEO, Philip Gregan.

“This year Bragato is all about working to protect the reputation for quality we’ve attained, and gaining a clear understanding of key market and production trends.” . . 


Rural-round up

August 2, 2016

If bees go, so does our agricultural sector – study :

New Zealand’s agricultural sector stands to lose up to $700 million a year if bee numbers continue to fall, according to a new study.

Beehives have been declining in numbers across the world in recent years, including New Zealand, in a process known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). It’s not yet known what’s behind CCD.

Rather than calculate the financial impact using “desktop calculations around the value of crops and the dependency of those crops on pollinators”, researchers at Lincoln University instead went out to commercial fields and covered some of the plants, to see what impact it had in seed yields and fertilisation. . . 

NZ’s tech and agriculture crossover – building the talent pool – Sophie Stanley:

Agriculture used to be New Zealand’s main bread and butter.

Our small Pacific nation at the edge of the earth was bred on a “number eight wire” mentality, where ingenuity and resourcefulness was at the core of what we did, and the number of sheep was 10-fold the number of people.

Turning pieces of scrap metal into revolutionary ideas that caused the world to stand up and take notice is something we have always prided ourselves on. 

William Gallagher, one of the many legendary innovators who invented the trusty electric fence and lead the way in taking NZ agriculture into the future, personifies the very meaning of number 8 wire mentality. . . 

Irish shearer Ivan Scott breaks Kiwi Dion King’s world record

An Irish shearer has stolen the world record away from a Kiwi by just one lamb.

Ivan Scott broke a New Zealander’s world record with a total of 867 strongwool lambs in the UK on Sunday (local time).

The 35-year-old from Donegal, who has made New Zealand home for the shearing season, secured the title with a band of Kiwi helpers. . . 

Farmers quitting in droves and not happy about it – Andrew Marshall:

Agriculture’s fortunes might look pretty good for many at the moment, but more than a quarter of Australia’s farmers are likely to leave their farms by the end of this decade.

Ongoing research by the University of Canberra has also found farmers who are contemplating leaving their farming roles report “poorer wellbeing” compared to those who have no immediate thoughts of retirement or changing careers.

The university’s regional wellbeing study of 3000-plus farmers in 2014 found the 20,000 slump in producer numbers in the five years to 2011 (down to about 157,000) reflected a clear trend set in recent decades which was not slowing as productivity efficiency measures and farm sizes increased or farm income prospects looked up. . . 

Mackenzie Country closer to Heaven – Catherine Pattison:

A weekend away in the Mackenzie Country was just what the doctor ordered for motoring writer Catherine Pattison.

I am not a spiritual person in a religious sense but it was hard not to feel the presence of something divine after a weekend in the Mount Cook Village and the Mackenzie region.

Perhaps it was the peace and quiet, combined with the majesty of the surrounding peaks, including New Zealand’s highest mountain, the village’s namesake.

The tiny settlement has long held an appeal for tourists and mountaineers alike – enticed up the remote access road by the promise of stunning scenery or epic adventure. Nowadays the adventures are to be found within the thriving tourism industry operating from Mount Cook village. In the past, just reaching the destination was a feat of endurance. Displays at the Hermitage Hotel’s Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre describe the tourists who made the journey in 1906 as “arriving jolted almost insensible after a two-day coach trip from Fairlie”. The same journey 110 years later is a comfortable 90-minute car ride. . .

Going with the flow – Derek Grelewski:

I t’s been suggested that it’s the bicycle — not the iPhone, space shuttle or even the silent dishwasher — that is Western civilisation’s highest technological achievement.

The benefits are immeasurable: the fresh-air fitness and the wind in your hair, the scenery and peace, and the sheer pleasure of flowing along the trail at speed, leaning into corners, feeling your lips getting tired from the perpetual grin on your face.

When I moved to New Zealand in the mid-1980s, a mountain bike was one of the first things I got. I fitted it with panniers, a small tent and mobile kitchen, and clocked over 10,000km touring, ostensibly to choose a place to live.

This was how I first saw this land, and how I first came to Aoraki Mt Cook. So there is a memory-lane element to being here, looking at the mountain from a bike again, to sample the pleasures of the 300km Alps to Ocean Trail (the A2O) connecting Aoraki with Oamaru, flowing as the water does, from the mountains to the sea. . . 


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