Rural round-up

April 20, 2016

Farm the secret to school’s success:

Northland College’s agricultural focus is helping to turn the once struggling secondary school into a success story, says the school’s Commissioner, Chris Saunders.

Absenteeism was an issue at the Kaikohe school, but truancy has halved since several initiatives were put in place to help prepare students for careers in agriculture, with Lincoln University contributing to Northland College’s curriculum and the operations of its commercial dairy farm.

“I think a big part of the success we’re seeing now is that we’re using the farm to offer students practical, primary industries-based training,” Mr Saunders says.

The University offers curriculum support that allows students to undertake on-farm courses, which will lead on to Lincoln qualifications.

“The farm is a significant asset for a small secondary school to own, so it’s very helpful to have Lincoln playing an active and supportive role with the management of it.” . . 

Woolly thinking in Norway – Sally Rae:

At first glance, the similarities between a Norwegian clothing company and a Gimmerburn farm might appear remote.

But with both enterprises sharing a strong focus on quality and a passion for wool – along with histories spanning more than a century – there were definite synergies.

Three executives from high-performance wool clothing brand Devold, including chief executive Cathrine Stange, recently visited the Paterson family’s property Armidale in the Maniototo. . . 

Merino key to ‘amazing’ new fabrics – Sally Rae:

‘‘It’s not your grandfather’s merino”.

Addressing a group of farmers in the Paterson family’s woolshed at Gimmerburn, Global Merino founder and chief executive Jose Fernandez outlined his business.

Global Merino is a United States-based technical textile manufacturer

founded by Mr Fernandez in 2007. It sold its first product in 2009. . . 

Dairy professor retires after years in dairy industry – Jill Galloway:

Peter Munro is about to retire after spending most of his working life in the dairy industry.

The professor, Fonterra chair in food materials science at Riddet Institute, started his life on the family’s dairy farm in Northland and has gone on to develop new dairy products for New Zealand.

“What I am proudest of is creating value for the New Zealand dairy farmer.”

Throughout a long career Munro has worked on milk protein manufacturing and its use, whey proteins and other products.

Fonterra often gets stick for exporting commodities, but at least 30 per cent of its products is sold in a specialised form, usually for food ingredients, says Munro. . .

My most valuable stock unit – Jamie Mackay:

A recent conversation with a sheep farming mate of mine about the current plight of the dairy industry resulted in me reflecting positively on the bad old days of sheep farming in the 1980s.
 
My friend was somewhat surprised when I declared, off the top of my head, that even during the lows of Rogernomics we never ran our farm at a loss.  This is in stark contrast to some dairy farmers who this season will run at a $300,000-plus loss per annum.
 
So I went back through some old annual accounts from 30 years ago to check I wasn’t looking back at farming through rose-tinted spectacles. Those annual accounts for the year ended 30 June, 1986 made for very interesting, if somewhat sobering, reading. . . 

How hill country can be profitable and resilient – Doug Edmeades:

It seems that we have lost sight of what a good clover-based pasture looks like and have forgotten the skills to grow and manage it, says Doug Edmeades.

A two-day symposium on hill country was held recently in Rotorua.  It was well attended by 300 farmers, consultants and agricultural scientists. Clearly, there is a thirst for innovation, new technologies and knowledge in this sector. 

The aim of the meeting was explicit: “What does a profitable and resilient future for our hill country farming look like?” And, “What do we, collectively and as individuals, do to achieve this future?” 

The output of the symposium, and hence, one hopes, the answers to these questions, is to be formally captured in a “position paper”. More on that after the paper comes out. . . 

Fertile ground for enhancing farming software:

Farmers are fairly enthusiastic about using the latest digital technologies to run their businesses, but there is still room for improvement in the agricultural software area, preliminary Lincoln University research suggests.

Lincoln student Jamie Evans recently undertook an exploratory study that involved surveying some of Canterbury’s farmers about the types of technologies they used and how well they thought they were being served by the programmes.

“With this study, we wanted to identify any issues farmers might have with their software, but the long-term goal is to carry out further research that will help us find solutions and ultimately improve these digital technologies,” says IT lecturer Shirley Gibbs, one of the project supervisors. . . 

Big sell off begins and big dry continues – Brian Wood:

THE big dump has started and, unless substantial rain falls across the Bathurst region, the panic to sell livestock before winter sets in shows no signs of abating.

An incredible 20,000 cattle have gone under the hammer at the Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange during the past two weeks.

Last week’s sheep sale had a yarding of 20,000 and 19,300 the week before, which also shows how the weather is impacting on the rural community.  . . 


Rural round-up

April 3, 2016

Study shows agri-foods big benefit to economy:

A new study has found the New Zealand agri-food sector contributes around one fifth of the country’s GDP.

The study by the Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit at Lincoln University aimed to measure the sector’s economic impact and to analyse how the sector could continue to grow to support the well-being of New Zealanders.

One of the authors, Professor Caroline Saunders said the study had exploded a myth about agriculture’s contribution to the economy. . .

Rural women juggle work and home – Kate Taylor:

The first meeting of the day for three Hawke’s Bay agri-business women is with each other as they wait for the school bus. It must count as a business meeting… they share each other’s business cards.

There’s a twinkle in the eyes of Ravensdown agri-manager Caroline Kirk, Kells Wool buyer Maureen Chaffey and Lean Meats/Atkins Ranch livestock manager Karen Atkins as they joke about multitasking.

But there’s no joking when they talk about the support of their parents or in-laws and their other half to do what they do.

The trio live down a five kilometre no-exit road in the farming district of Raukawa, south west of Hastings.  Every morning at 7.45am they drive to the school bus corner then drive out to work. They laugh about covering all the bases with farmers with their fertiliser, wool and meat. . . 

Hurunui Water Project gets $520,000 boost:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed new funding of $520,000 for the Hurunui Water Project centred around Hawarden in North Canterbury.

“A reliable source of water in this very dry part of the country has major potential to increase production, grow exports and create jobs,” says Mr Guy.

The funding comes from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund and will help refine the scheme layout and scope the comprehensive work programme. This will help them deliver on Stage 1 in which 10,000-15,000 hectares will be irrigated.

“Once complete the full scheme has the potential to irrigate 35,000 hectares of land. Around 70% of that land will be used for sheep and beef production, with the other 30% being for arable, dairy and other uses.” . . 

Fitch sees milk price recovery beyond 2016 – Fiona Rotherham:

Credit rating agency Fitch Ratings said continued growth in European milk production to ramp up exports will further delay a recovery in global milk prices until beyond the end of this year.

The supply growth has been compounded by weak demand, mainly due to subdued Chinese demand and a Russian embargo on major Western dairy exporters.

Average prices on the GlobalDairyTrade auction fell by around 38 percent in 2014/15 and around 20 percent in the 2015/16 season to mid-March. . . 

Top Dairy Operation Wins Supreme Title In 2016 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A well-managed dairy and forestry farm owned by Parininihi ki Waitotara (PKW) is the Supreme winner of the 2016 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The award was presented to PKW Farms LP, farm manager Matt Kelbrick and farm supervisor Roger Landers at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 31 (2016). The team behind PKW’s No.2 Farm in the Ohangai district also collected the Massey University Innovation Award and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award.

PKW is a Taranaki-based Maori Incorporation that owns 20,000ha of dairy land and a range of other business interests, including crayfishing, forestry and commercial property. . . 

Fish and seafood trade could double under TPP:

The benefits to New Zealand’s fishing and seafood industry will be very significant once all tariffs are eliminated under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Trade Minister Todd McClay told a Nelson Chamber of Commerce audience that the region, the home of Australasia’s largest fishing port, that he believes the agreement will enable the industry to double its exports to one billion dollars.

“Last year, we exported $581 million in fish and seafood into TPP countries. . .

Farmers Are Awesome's photo.


Rural round-up

February 26, 2016

A Fonterra thought experiment: where to from here? – Keith Woodford:

Since the turn of the century, New Zealand dairying has been growing rapidly. Currently, the industry produces about 75% more milk than back in 2000. However, the world of New Zealand dairying is now changing and the growth tide has turned.

The forces of change are both economic and environmental.

In the short term, it will be economic factors that determine production. This year we are already seeing North Island but not South Island production decline. There is a strong likelihood that overall production will decline further next year as many farmers try to manage their cash flows by reducing cow numbers and bring support stock back on-farm. . . 

Dairy Industry’s $38b debt problem:

The future of the dairy industry in this country is looking depressing as farm debt reaches $38 billion, an agribusiness consultant says.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has met with three major banks to discuss the dairy debt, as a Federated Farmers poll last week found more than one in 10 are now under pressure from banks over their mortgages.

Mr Guy said the banks told him they would be standing by struggling dairy farmers, and he believed the medium- to long-term outlook for the sector was incredibly rosy.

But agribusiness consultant Alison Dewes was not so sure. . . 

Hastings Orchardists Claim Top Title in East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Resilient, innovative and hard-working growers Graham and Marian Hirst are Supreme winners of the 2016 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on February 25, the couple also collected the CB Norwood Distributors Ltd Agri-Business Management Award, East Coast Farming for the Future Award (as sponsored by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and the Gisborne District Council), Massey University Innovation Award and the PGG Wrightson People In Agriculture Award.

BFEA judges said the Hirsts have committed themselves “in good and bad times” to their business and industry, describing them as “a hard-working couple using their individual strengths to create a strong team that balances innovation with production strengths”. . . 

Agcarm President Mark Christie to the Agcarm Summer Conference:

I’ve mentioned data protection in every speech to every Agcarm conference I’ve ever spoken to since I became President of Agcarm.

So I can’t break with a well-established tradition now. In fact, the four years of me standing in front of you discussing data protection is just the tip of the iceberg. Agcarm has persisted in trying to rectify New Zealand’s dismal data protection regime for well over a decade now.

To demonstrate how far we’ve come and the tenacity Agcarm has had over this issue, I will read to you an excerpt from an Agcarm newsletter to members dating back to August 2001: . . .

Novel approach to get farmers to trust their gut:

Lincoln University researcher Dr Peter Nuthall has a question for farmers.

“How many times do you find yourself thinking about how can you make your farm more successful?”

His answer lies in developing your ability to understand or know something based on your well- informed intuition.

Dr Nuthall says farms are run on intuition every day: every farmer makes a myriad of decisions based on it.

“Successful farm management is totally dependent on the quality of the farmer’s inherent intuition.” . . 

South Island Wool Sale Firms:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that apart from Lambs Fleece, the market lifted generally 1 to 4 percent compared to the sale on 18th February.

Of the 8,600 bales on offer 89 percent sold.

The weighted currency indicator firmed 0.61 percent having little impact.

Mr Dawson advises that emerging new business and shipping requirements for older contracts combined to lift the market for the selection of mainly good style wools. . . 


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

February 11, 2016

Mixed outlook for New Zealand agriculture in 2016 – industry report:

New Zealand’s agricultural sector is looking at mixed prospects in 2016, with dairy facing another difficult year but most other sectors expected to perform well, according to a new industry report.

In its Agribusiness Outlook 2016, global agricultural specialist Rabobank says dairy prices continue to be weighed down by strong supply growth, particularly out of Europe after the recent removal of quotas.

Releasing the report, Rabobank general manager Country Banking New Zealand Hayley Moynihan said the recovery in dairy prices now risks arriving too late to enable a confident start to the 2016/17 season. . .

Marlborough farmers battle two-year drought

Farmers in Marlborough are making the best of some of the toughest climatic conditions in a long time, Beef and Lamb New Zealand says.

The industry body’s northern South Island extension manager, Sarah O’Connell, said recent rain had lifted spirits in the region but had not broken the two-year drought.

The past two seasons were some of the hardest farmers have had, Ms O’Connell said. . .

Alliance plans to start docking farmer payments for shares to bolster balance sheet – By Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Alliance Group, New Zealand’s second-largest meat cooperative, plans to start withholding some stock payments to its farmers from next week to bolster its balance sheet and force suppliers to meet their share requirements.

From Feb. 15, Alliance will withhold 50 cents per head for lamb, sheep and calves; $2 per head for deer; and $6 per head for cattle, it said in a letter to shareholders. The payments will go towards additional shares in the cooperative and will only apply to farmers who have fewer shares than required, it said.

Alliance is moving to entrench its cooperative status as its larger rival Silver Fern Farms waters down its cooperative by tapping Chinese investor Shanghai Maling Aquarius for capital to repay debt, upgrade plants and invest for growth. . . 

New PGP programme to boost wool industry:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed a new Primary Growth Partnership programme aimed at lifting the profitability and sustainability of New Zealand strong wool.

‘Wool Unleashed’, or W3, is a new seven-year $22.1 million Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and The New Zealand Merino Company.

The programme is expected to contribute an estimated $335 million towards New Zealand’s economy by 2025. . . 

New Primary Growth Partnership programme sets sights on strong wool:

A new collaboration between The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), announced today, aims to deliver premiums for New Zealand’s strong wool sector—a partnership that could see an additional $335 million contribution towards New Zealand’s economy by 2025.

“‘Wool Unleashed’, or W3, is a new 7-year, $22.1 million Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme led by NZM that will derive greater value from New Zealand’s strong wool,” says Justine Gilliland, Director Investment Programmes at the Ministry for Primary Industries. . . 

World’s best Pinot Noir winner found passion by chance – Jendy Harper:

Imagine arriving in a foreign country at the age of 13, unaccompanied, knowing no one and not being able to speak the language.

This was Jing Song’s experience when she came from China to Christchurch 16 years ago.

At her family’s advice and expectation, she became an accountant but no one guessed she would find her true passion in a Central Otago paddock.

Fast forward 16 years and Ms Song collected the trophy for the best Pinot Noir in the world at the IWSC competition in London last year. . .

NZ beef exports to Taiwan rise to a record, propelling it to 3rd largest market – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand beef exports to Taiwan rose to a record in 2015, propelling it to the country’s third-largest beef market behind the US and China.

In 2015, New Zealand’s beef exports to Taiwan jumped 36 percent to $188.6 million, while the volume increased 20 percent to 23,442 tonnes, according to Statistics New Zealand data compiled by the Meat Industry Association. That pushed it above Japan in value and ahead of Japan and Korea in volume to become the country’s third-largest beef market.

Taiwan also takes higher-value meat, with an average value last year of US$5.68 per kilogram, compared with US$5.08/kg for the US, and US$4.94/kg for China, according to AgriHQ data. . . 

NZ small dairy farmers content with their lot:

New Lincoln University research has found many small dairy farmers are content with the size of their operation, despite the constant calls for economic growth.

Dr Victoria Westbrooke and Dr Peter Nuthall, from the Faculty of Agribusiness and Commerce, surveyed 330 randomly selected farmers running small dairy farms for the small farmers’ organisation (SMASH). The project was funded by  via OneFarm.

“It was clear from this research, and similar previous work, that the farmers were content to simply carry on working their current farm,” Dr Westbrooke says. . . 

LIC posts half year result:

Livestock Improvement Corporation (NZX: LIC) has announced its half-year result for the six months ended 30 November 2015.

LIC total revenue for the six month period was $145 million, 9 per cent down on the same period last year. Net profit after tax (NPAT) was $15.9 million, down 46 per cent from the previous year.

LIC signalled reduced earnings in October (NZX, 20 October 2015), as a result of the lower forecast milk payout and reduced spending on-farm.

It is now expected that the year-end result will be closer to a break-even position, chairman Murray King said. . .

Silver Fern Farms Premier Selection Awards 2015 winners announced:

Auckland’s Botswana Butchery has taken out the title of Premier Master of Fine Cuisine at the Silver Fern Farms Premier Selection Awards, held in Auckland last night.

The popular restaurant also won awards for Best Beef Dish and Best Metropolitan Restaurant.

Executive Chef Stuart Rogan, who manages Botswana Butchery in Auckland and Queenstown as well as Auckland’s Harbourside Ocean Bar and Grill, impressed judges with his dish: Silver Fern Farms Reserve beef eye fillet, braised short rib with parsley, mustard and horseradish crust, carrot puree, asparagus, whipped garlic and cep jus. Head judge Kerry Tyack described Rogan’s dish as ‘consistent and faultless’. . . 


Rural round-up

November 28, 2015

Trade agreement opens door for agricultural exporters:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has dominated media recently, but a Lincoln University expert says an equally significant trade-related development has gone largely unnoticed.

Agribusiness and Commerce lecturer Eldrede Kahiya said the Global Procurement Agreement (GPA) – which New Zealand became part of in August – opened up a $2.65 trillion-dollar market for New Zealand exporters.

Dr Kahiya said the GPA came within the framework of the World Trade Organization, and was designed to make it easier to compete for foreign government contracts. . . 

Livestock antibiotics to be replaced with vaccines by 2030:

Antibiotics for livestock are likely to be replaced with various vaccines by about 2030, and the value of New Zealand meat exports will grow because of the switch.

That growth was among the findings in a new report by the Veterinary Association, which shows the antibiotic era was coming to an end because of a growing resistance to them.

A consultant for the Association, Eric Hillerton, said antibiotics would still exist but they would not be a first choice in animal health. . . 

Slight drop in production keeps focus on high value products:

Westland Milk Products says its 2.5 percent drop in peak milk processing has meant more capacity available for the co-operative and its shareholders, enabling more focus on added-value product.

Chief Executive Rod Quin today confirmed that Westland hit peak mid November. In total, Westland processed 3,843,250 litres of milk by peak flow, compared with 3,931,022 the season prior.

“This slight drop, combined with our new dryer seven coming into commercial production meant we had greater capacity to put more of the peak milk flow into higher value products,” Quin said. “In previous years peak milk has all been channelled into bulk milk powders to maintain throughput, which give a lower return compared to products such as infant formula. . . 

Peter Tate makes the case for the broker and auction based system to sell New Zealand’s wool – Peter Tate:

New Zealand agriculture efficiently produces large volumes of commodities and while it would be great to have a stake in all the added value from the front end of the commodity chain, the large amounts of capital both intellectual and financial required, makes it difficult to achieve.

There are some companies that seek publicity about sales contracts they have made. That’s fine but often the fanfare is over a very small volume of product. This distorts the view growers have of marketing to the point that they think these companies are the only ones doing anything to market the NZ wool clip.

The real exporters, those with the long track records, continue to stay out of the limelight. This is due to what is called commercial sensitivity, it is an extremely competitive business. More cut throat than meat marketing, hence the old Yorkshire phrase “meaner than a mill boss”. So the firms who are selling and shipping  90% of the NZ clip remain tight lipped about their daily deals. . . 

RSE employers praise seasonal worker scheme:

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says two recent reports show the huge benefits of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme to employers, workers and the Pacific region.

A report into a pilot project involving 640 Tongan and Samoan RSE workers has found that they sent home more than 40 per cent of their take-home income between November 2014 and June 2015 –an average of between $4,600 and $5,500.

“Remittances have been playing an increasingly important role in reducing the scale and severity of poverty in the developing world,” says Mr Woodhouse. . . 

Praise for seasonal employment scheme:

Experience confirms two recent reports showing huge benefits from the scheme to employers and workers, the Rural Contractors Association says.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse released the reports in which employers continued to praise the scheme, with an annual survey showing 95 percent believed the benefits of participating in the scheme outweighed the costs.

Rural Contractors President Steve Levet said it had made great inroads into being able to bring in seasonal machine operators to alleviate a shortage of labour in that area. . . 

Sound science point of difference for Waipara winemakers:

More than two decades of soil science work in the Waipara area has been brought together in a document launched at a Vineyard Soils Day at Black Estate Vineyard this week.

The document was received with enthusiasm as an invaluable resource by local wine growers, who acknowledged the potential for far greater collaboration in research initiatives between wine growers and Lincoln University.  

Former Lincoln University soil scientist Dr Philip Tonkin, Associate Professor Peter Almond, current Head of the Soil and Physical Sciences Department, Trevor Webb from Landcare Research, and other scientists, have spent the best part of the last two years drawing together available information on the geology and soils of the region gathered in the last 20 years, along with the records of former Soil Bureau surveys. . . 


Rural round-up

October 22, 2015

Dear Consumer: They tell me not to get angry.  But If I am honest, sometimes I do. – Uptown Girl:

Dear Concerned Consumer,

The marketing research tells me that I should focus on the positive when I address you.   I shouldn’t talk about the environment, or the health of my soil – they say you do not care about those things.

They tell me not to discuss the challenge of feeding the world.  I should not detail the challenges of feeding my own family on a farmer’s income, with ever rising input costs, unpredictable weather patterns and buyer preferences that change with the direction of the wind.  They tell me this doesn’t register with you. . . 

Dairy downturn costs NZ economy $4.8 billion – Gerald Piddock:

The full scale of the dairy downturn nationally has been revealed after new statistics showed a $4.9 billion fall in dairy-related income from the 2014-15 season.

The statistics from DairyNZ showed the value of milk production to the national economy dropped from $18.1b in 2013-14 to $13.2b in 2014-15.

Waikato has taken a $1.8b loss in dairy revenue, from $4.2b to $2.4b over the same period. . . 

Good practice – good farm – Andrew Hoggard:

The Sustainable Dairying: Workplace Action Plan launched last week at Lincoln is the roadmap to achieving the dairy industry’s work environment objectives.

It is part of  an original initiative developed in 2013 by Federated Farmers and DairyNZ and aims to encourage good employment practice by dairy farmers

Whether we like it or not the dairy industry suffers from a perception problem when it comes to employment practices.

Some of that perception is based on the fact that it’s a dirty job and you need to get up early. We can’t do much to change that. . . 

Hilgendorf legacy marked:

Charlotte Hilgendorf, left, Prue Frost, Jane von Dadelszen, and Henrietta Scott, a granddaughter and three great-granddaughters of pioneering New Zealand plant scientist, Lincoln University’s Professor Frederick William Hilgendorf, were given the plaque from the campus building named after him which is being demolished, at a lunch last week at the University.

Some of the history and architectural features of the building was presented to the family members, as well as some stories from those who worked in it. . . 

Minerality mysteries remain:

Ongoing wine research by Dr Wendy Parr of Lincoln University indicates that while minerality is not a figment of tasters’ sensorial imagination, the source of the perception remains a mystery, and the description should be used with caution in formal wine tasting and judging situations.

Minerality’ is used by wine professionals to describe the character of certain wines, with vague references made to wet stones, crushed rock and soil. Regarded variously as a taste, a smell, a trigeminal (mouth-feel) sensation, or all three, until now there’s been little agreement on what is actually meant by this common but enigmatic term, or whether it even exists. 

Intrigued by the lack of scientific knowledge and the plethora of anecdotal evidence around minerality, Dr Parr collaborated with scientists in France and at Plant and Food Research in New Zealand to investigate what the concept means in Sauvignon Blanc wines, and whether there are cultural differences in perceptions of minerality. . . 

 

 
Rat detected on Ulva Island:

A rat has invaded predator-free Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara off the coast of Stewart Island, the Department of Conservation says.

Rat prints were first detected on a tracking card near the Post Office Bay houses as part of a routine tracking card and trap check.

Rodent detecting dog Gadget and her handler Sandy King found signs of a rat in two areas after checking the island. . . 

Rural city living in Gore – Tracy Hicks:

In late 2013 Gore district councillors, still feeling pretty chuffed with the results from the local body elections, gathered for the traditional post-election retreat.

With our three-year term stretching ahead of us, little did anyone realise that what we were about to hear would significantly impact on our decision making.

A talk by leading demographer Prof Natalie Jackson was the catalyst we needed to stop talking about what we could do to make a difference to our future, and actually start doing something. . . .


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