Rural round-up

November 14, 2017

Landpro director gets time away – Sally Rae:

Otago’s Solis Norton and Kate Scott were recently named among the latest crop of Nuffield scholars. They talk to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae about their work and the adventure that lies ahead.

Kate Scott quips that Landpro — the Central Otago-based planning and surveying company she jointly founded a decade ago — is “taking over the world, one small regional town at a time”.

From a staff of one to about 30 now, the business expanded  incrementally as its reputation grew, with more people and disciplines added, and there were long-term goals to maintain that growth.

An office was established in Cromwell 10 years ago and there were now also offices in Gore and New Plymouth. . . 

Passionate about energy – Sally Rae:

“It will be an adventure.”

So says Solis Norton, of Port Chalmers, who has been named a 2018 Nuffield scholar, along with Simon Cook (Te Puke), Andy Elliot (Nelson), Turi McFarlane (Banks Peninsula) and Kate Scott (Central Otago).

He expected it would be a  very busy time but  was looking forward to making the most of the opportunity.

Dr Norton grew up in Dunedin’s Northeast Valley and went to Massey University, where he completed a bachelor in agricultural science degree in 1996, a masters degree in applied science and then a PhD in the epidemiology of Johne’s disease in New Zealand dairy herds. . . 

North Island leaders up for Australasian agri-business award:

Three diverse and inspirational young agribusiness leaders have been selected from across Australasia as finalists for the 2018 Zanda McDonald Award.
The award, regarded as a prestigious badge of honour for the industry, recognises agriculture’s most innovative young professionals from both sides of the Tasman.

Lisa Kendall, 25, hails from Auckland, and is owner/operator of Nuture Farming Ltd, a business she established to provide agricultural services to people in and around her home city. She was a Grand Finalist in the 2017 FMG Young Farmer of the Year, and took out the People’s Choice Award, the AgriGrowth Challenge and the Community Footprint Award. Kendall plays an active role in schools, encouraging urban students to consider the career opportunities in agriculture. She is also vice-chair of the Franklin Young Farmers Club. . . 

Joint efforts on water quality – Rebecca Nadge:

The Otago Regional Council is working with Central Otago farmers in a bid to monitor and improve water quality in the area.

At a meeting in Omakau last week, local farmers discussed the strategy with ORC environmental resource scientist Rachel Ozanne and environmental officer Melanie Heather.

The plan involves ongoing testing of water at Thompson’s Creek in a cross-section of three tributaries, as well as regular monitoring in Waipiata and Bannockburn.
Ms Ozanne said the project would continue until May, with testing carried out on a fortnightly basis. . . 

Strong interest shown for Future Farm programme:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s search for a “Future Farm” is in its final stages and farmers are being urged to get in touch if they’re interested in being part of this unique programme.

B+LNZ is seeking to lease a hill country sheep and beef property with around 6,000 stock units for the Future Farm, which will trial new technologies and farm systems. . .

TPP agreement safeguards New Zealand’s export sector:

Federated Farmers congratulates Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the coalition government for recognising the importance of free trade to New Zealand.

Following a frenetic few days of negotiations at the APEC summit in Vietnam, the New Zealand Trade delegation has succeeded in brokering agreement with 11 countries from the Asia-Pacific region- to move the deal forward.

Federated Farmers thanks all the Ministers and officials involved for their dedication and resolve. . . 

CPTPP important to maintain competitiveness:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is welcoming the progress made towards realisation of a TPP agreement (now referred to as CPTPP).

“Timely implementation of the CPTPP market access arrangements is necessary to ensure New Zealand exporters do not end up at a tariff disadvantage into one of our largest dairy markets” says DCANZ Executive Director Kimberly Crewther

The trade dynamic for dairy in the trans-pacific region has evolved in recent months with the European Union and Japan concluding negotiation of an FTA agreement which delivers market access gains to European dairy exporters similar to those agreed for New Zealand under TPP.  . . 

Cultivate With Care After Big Wet – Bala Tikkisetty

Following the wettest winter on record, farmers are currently cultivating their paddocks for pasture or crop rotation.

As they do so, it’s important to be aware of and manage the associated environmental risks.

Sediment and nutrients from farming operations, along with erosion generally, are some of the most important causes of reduced water quality and cultivation increases the potential for problems. . . 

Argentina is saying hello to the world again – Pedro

We’re saying hello to the world again.

That’s the simplest way to understand last month’s elections in Argentina, in which the party of reform-minded President Mauricio Macri made important legislative gains, picking up seats in both chambers of our Congress.

 

As a farmer in Argentina, I’m pleased by this political victory—but I’m even more encouraged by what it means for my country’s general direction.

For too long, we’ve faced inward rather than outward. Although Argentina grows a huge amount of food and depends on global trade for its prosperity, we have behaved as if none of this mattered. The previous government slapped huge export taxes on farm products and didn’t consider the consequences. We stepped away from the world market.

This wasn’t my decision, but rather the decision of former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the head of the Peronist Party. When she took office a decade ago, export taxes were already high—and she worked to raise them even more.

The American President Ronald Reagan once made a wise observation: “If you want less of something, tax it.” . .

Vietnamese farmers flourish in the Northern Territory to become Top End’s top growers – Kirsty O’Brien:

Michael Quatch arrived in Australia as a refugee of the Vietnam War. Now he is one of the most successful growers in the Northern Territory.

During picking season, work starts well before sunrise and does not end, but Mr Quatch is not complaining — he snags a few hours of rest here and there as he works hard to get the fresh produce from his farm at Lake Bennet in the Top End onto supermarket shelves.

The 45-year-old is the biggest hydroponic farmer in the Northern Territory, running 16 hectares of shaded cropping mainly producing tomatoes and cucumbers.

But Mr Quatch had to overcome obstacles difficult to fathom when you first meet this jovial, optimistic farmer. . . 

 

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Rural round-up

October 16, 2017

Federated Farmers: Tell our good stories, don’t feed the trolls – Katie Milne:

One fallout from politicians on the election campaign trail kicking agriculture around as a political football is that lots of city folk have been left with the belief that the rural environment is in a sorry state.

There are certainly challenges ahead for improving water quality and dealing with emissions to meet our Paris Agreement commitments – but that’s true for urban communities as much as rural.

What was largely missing from the campaign rhetoric was mention of the large number of catchment improvement projects under way that are already showing significant progress, not to mention the efforts of thousands of individual farming families to fence waterways, plant riparian strips and covenant many hectares of native bush and forest on their own properties for permanent protection. . .

Taking time and talking works:

Lisa Kendall runs her own hire-a-farmer business serving lifestyle blocks in and around Karaka in South Auckland. 

She has other irons in the fire as well – she’s raising East Friesian sheep and hoping their milk will find a niche market in Auckland’s flourishing cafe scene and supermarkets.

After studying at Lincoln University she moved back north and lives in a renovated barn on her parents’ lifestyle block with her partner who works in the city.

“Often there’s a stereotype where the man does all the farming and the woman does the housework. It’s the other way round for me,” she said. . . 

Awards and schemes breeding the next generation of dairy farmers – Brad Markham:

 A fortnight ago I was standing in front of a room full of farmers in Rotorua wearing nothing more than a calf meal bag and a $6 wig. If I had to choose one word to describe the outfit it would be draughty. 

I was in the geyser city for the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ annual conference. The event attracts former winners, who now volunteer their time to help run the awards programme in 11 regions across the country. 

They all take time away from their jobs or businesses because they’re passionate about helping others learn, grow and progress through the industry.

I co-presented a couple of sessions. As I peered out at the crowd through the uneven fringe of my cheap wig, I was reminded how the dairy industry delivers to those who seek opportunity, work hard and work smart.  . . 

Rabobank Leadership Awards 2017:

Australian beef industry leader David Crombie has taken out the 2017 Rabobank Leadership Award, in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to agribusiness.

Throughout his long career in agriculture, David has constantly striven to raise the bar and expand the reputation of the industry. Alongside running his own family cattle and cropping enterprise in Queensland, David has been leading and shaping the agricultural industry for many years as he has held a range of directorships including past president of the National Farmers’ Federation and previous chair of Meat & Livestock Australia. . .

Meat exports still face uncertainty:

The meat industry faces considerable uncertainty in export trade access and domestic politics, Meat Industry Association chairman John Loughlin and chief executive Tim Ritchie say.

In the foreword to MIA’s 2017 annual report they said the withdrawal of the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership had focused the hopes of exporters on the replacement TPP 11.

“Of particular importance to us is the creation of a level playing field in certain markets, such as Japan, where competing countries already have significant tariff advantage through bilateral trade agreements,” they said.

Brexit had also created trade uncertainty for $1.5 billion of annual trade in New Zealand lamb to the European Union 28. . . 

Road out of poverty a personal story – Motlatsi Musi:

As a child, I would collect dry cattle dung on the outskirts of town. My family burned it to cook food and keep warm. For protein, we often ate locusts. They’re crunchy and you get used to the taste.

Those were desperate times, before I had a chance to settle down and become a farmer. Then agriculture pulled me out of poverty and gave me a better life.

Today, I own 21 hectares of land near Johannesburg, South Africa. Only about a third of it is arable but I rent more, growing maize (corn), beans, and potatoes and also raising pigs and cows. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 5, 2017

2018 Zanda McDonald Award shortlist announced:

A record number of applicants have been narrowed down to a shortlist of seven for the prestigious agribusiness badge of honour, the Zanda McDonald Award.

The trans-Tasman award, now in its fourth year, recognises agriculture’s most innovative young professionals. The four New Zealand and three Australian finalists for the 2018 award were selected for their strong leadership skills, passion for agriculture, and their vision and inspiration for the primary industry.

The Kiwi finalists are Thomas MacDonald, 24, Business Manager of Spring Sheep Milk Company in Waikato and Sir Don Llewellyn scholar, Lisa Kendall, 25, owner/operator of Nuture Farming Ltd and vice-chair of the Franklin Young Farmers Club, Ashley Waterworth 34, who manages and co-owns the family sheep and beef farm in Waikato, and Hamish Clarke, 27, third generation farm manager in the Northern King Country. . . 

Alliance calls fro more merinos and hoggets – Jemma Brakebush:

The country’s biggest sheep meat processor Alliance is calling for more merino farmer suppliers for its Silere brand, as Asian demand for the meat grows.

Alliance took over the brand Silere from New Zealand Merino and Silver Fern Farms last year, when it wanted to expand its portfolio of premium products.

Silere Merino’s season is very short and more lambs are needed to meet the strong demand, Alliance marketing manager for premium products Wayne Cameron said.

Processing here started at the end of September and goes through until Christmas, which is winter in Asia and when consumers prefer to eat lamb. . . 

Life on Muzzle Station – the most remote farm in NZ – Pat Deavoll:

On a bend in the Clarence River, tucked between the Inland and Seaward Kaikoura ranges under the distant towers of Mt Tapuaenuku is New Zealand’s most remote high country station.

Muzzle Station is only accessible by 40 kilometres of rugged, muddy 4WD track that connects it to the Inland Kaikoura road. The track crosses the Clarence and a 1300 metre pass on the Seaward Range.

Deep snow makes it impassible in winter. It takes about three hours to get from Muzzle to Kaikoura and that’s on a good day when the river is fordable and the pass ice-free. . .

Foreign investment crucial for forestry industry – Jemma Brakebush:

Foreign investment in forestry is crucial and New Zealand could never afford to buy back all the forests it has sold, the Forest Owners Association says.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the future of forestry and timber supplies for local mills is one of his party’s priorities as it heads into coalition talks.

He wanted the next government to protect wood supply to domestic mills by creating a Forest Service, and had previously stuck-up for Northland wood processors who said they were being squeezed out of the market by foreign forest owners and buyers.

Commercial forestry is a much bigger industry than most people think, with $25 billion to $30bn invested in plantations, the association’s president Peter Clark said. . . 

Pipfruit industry alarmed at new port fees – Alexa Cook:

The Hawkes Bay apple industry is negotiating with Napier’s port over two proposed levies the sector says could cost it millions of dollars.

The first levy is to cover an extra $2 million in insurance premiums, which have risen because of quake damage in Lyttelton and Wellington.

The second is aimed at the pipfruit sector during peak season. The port is proposing a fee of $100 per 20,000-foot refrigerated container, starting in February. . . 

Lasers from above to zap weeds causing billion-dollar headache:

Drone-mounted lasers could be used to zap weeds that are posing a billion-dollar problem for New Zealand agriculture, AgResearch scientists say.

AgResearch – with partners the Universities of Auckland and Michigan and NZ-based technology firm Redfern Solutions Limited – has been awarded just under $1 million from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s Endeavour Fund to look into how to “map and zap” the many weeds plaguing productive land.

A recent study led by AgResearch concluded from available research that the known costs of weeds to New Zealand agriculture was at least $1.685 billion a year, but that the true cost from all weeds was likely to be much higher. Environmentally friendly tools are being urgently sought for the early control of these weeds. . . 

Last chance for free DDT Muster:

Farmers are being urged to check sheds and chemical stores for DDT or other banned pesticides as The Great DDT Muster does a final sweep of the country.

Funding for this free collection and disposal service for persistent organic pesticides (POPs) is coming to an end but the company responsible for the service, 3R Group Ltd, believes there is still more out there. 

3R’s ChemCollect manager, Jason Richards, says they’ve been running rural chemical collections for a number of years but knew that farmers weren’t having DDT and other POPs picked up simply because it was too expensive. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 10, 2017

Family’s vision for property vindicated – Sally Rae:

Excellence in New Zealand’s sheep industry was celebrated in Southland this week with the annual Beef and Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards, as Sally Rae reports.

When Alan and Jean Hore bought Beaumont Station in 1972, they were told they would never fatten a lamb on the property.

Fast forward 45 years and the Hore family — Alan and Jean and son Richard and his wife, Abby — won  supplier of the year at Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s Sheep Industry Awards in Invercargill.

Richard Hore yesterday acknowledged his father’s vision, adding that what had been achieved on the 28,000ha Otago high-country property had been through family determination and development. . . 

Farmers few in number but big on generating money-making food – Joyce Wyllie:

 All fine folk who produce food to feed peoples of the world please put your hand up. Then bend it behind your head and over your shoulder, then with a backwards and forwards motion of the wrist give yourselves a well deserved pat on the back.

In a Fieldays speech farmers were encouraged to call themselves “food producers” and become “louder and prouder” at telling their good stories. The presenter was Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy. Rather than preaching to the converted at an agricultural gathering, he’s in a prime position to loudly spread that message of pride in food production – and tell this great story – along the corridors of power and city streets.

Championing all the committed people diligently producing food for both local and overseas consumers through all cycles of weather, challenges of changing expectations and undulating prices would be mighty encouraging. . . 

Big kiwifruit growth plans for Maori – Pam Tipa:

About 8% of total kiwifruit production comes from Maori orchards, and now there is an ambitious goal to get up to 20%, says Maori Kiwifruit Growers Forum chairman Tiaki Hunia.

That growth can come in a number of ways, he told Rural News. It can come from new developments on bare land or from mergers or acquisitions, and a large proportion of Maori land is leased to outside investors. . .

Weka farmer takes on DOC: ‘I’m prepared to go to jail’ – Charlie Mitchell:

Decades after he began farming and eating weka, renegade conservationist Roger Beattie is ready to become a martyr.

The Christchurch man has long dreamed of commercialising endangered species as a means of saving them.

He believes weka and kiwi should be farmed like sheep and cattle, cooked and served on dinner plates for a premium price. . . 

All well with Waitaki dairy farms – Sally Brooker:

Waitaki’s dairy farmers and their cows are wintering well.

North Otago Federated Farmers dairy section chairman Lyndon Strang told Central Rural Life that conditions before calving were ”pretty good”.

Heifers on many farms would begin to calve in mid to late July.

Although the mating period had been ”a bit of a problem for most people”, since then there had been good crop and grass growth, Mr Strang said.

”There’s plenty of feed for winter.

”What little rainfall we’ve had has been hanging round. The cows are still on top of the paddocks and wintering quite well.” . . 

City slicker Lisa Kendall a hot chance in rural-dominated Young Farmer of the Year finals

She may be a city girl known as the “Karaka kid”, but Lisa Kendall is holding her own against a bunch of country blokes in the finals of New Zealand’s Young Farmer of the Year.

With the final round of the competition about to get underway, Lisa says acceptance among her fellow farmers was a little more work for her than some of her rivals.

“I get teased a bit for being an Aucklander in the farming community,” Ms Kendall laughs. . .

Living and farming well in the Marlborough region:

Farming well and thinking healthy go together like sheep and shearing.

So, take a breather from the farm on Wednesday 19 July – Farmstrong and the Rural Support Trust have two free events on how healthy thinking can help you live well and farm well.

If you’re a farmer, grower or work in the farming community (including as a rural professional providing support services to farming), you can hear medical doctor and author Dr Tom Mullholland speak in Blenheim first thing over breakfast or over dinner in Ward. . . 

Ag media the pick of choice for Elise:

THE rich tradition of Australian rural journalism is being celebrated once more through the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) Foundation’s JB Fairfax award.

Applications have now opened for the 2018 JB Fairfax award for rural and regional journalism, the scholarship now entering its 10th year.

This year there is a new twist to the award, with the traditional request to write on a subject selected by the RASF replaced with an invitation to write an inspirational piece about a member of rural or regional Australia. . . 


Woodhead 1st Otago Young Farmer of Year winner

July 9, 2017

A media release from the FMG Young Farmer contest:

For the first time in its 49-year history, an Otago farmer is the FMG Young Farmer of the Year with Milton sheep and beef farmer, Nigel Woodhead, convincingly winning the prestigious title after three days of gruelling competition.

The 28-year-old was overwhelmed and emotional after 3 days of intense competition.

“I watched FMG Young Farmer of the Year when I was a child, so to win it, is a childhood dream that I think will take a long time to sink in,” Woodhead said.

A popular winner, Nigel graduated from University with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science before working at Midlands Seed in Ashburton for five years, prior to heading home to the family farm.

The win is particularly relevant in the Woodhead household as Nigel grew up in a family that watched the Contest every year with his Dad competing at a young age.

For Nigel it is the realisation of a dream.

“My wife Leanne and I worked really hard and to win this is incredible!”

Contest Chairman and former Grand Finalist Dean Rabbidge said he was thrilled to see an Otago Southland farmer take the title home.

“History has been made tonight in a proud farming province and we couldn’t be happier.”

NZ Young Farmers CEO Terry Copeland said Nigel was the epitome and pinnacle of what future leaders in the Agri-sector need to be.

“The FMG Young Farmer of the Year continues to showcase the brilliant young leadership our organisation strives to develop. Nigel is an inspiring future leader who showcases the exceptional leaders we strive to develop.”

RESULTS:

FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

First Nigel Woodhead, Otago Southland

Second, Hamish Best, East Coast

Third, Andrew Wiffen, Tasman

AGMARDT Agri-business Challenge winner: Hamish Best

Massey University Agri-Growth Challenge: Lisa Kendall

Ravensdown Agri-Skills Challenge : Nigel Woodhead

Hynds Agri-sport Challenge: Arjan van’t Klooster

Meridian Energy Agri-knowledge Quiz and Speech challenge: Hamish Best

 How the FMG Young Farmer of the Year works:

400 contestants competed in 22 District Contest and Skills Day nation-wide.

56 contestants compete in seven regional finals from Northern, Waikato-Bay of Plenty, Taranaki-Manawatu, East Coast, Tasman, Aorangi, Otago-Southland from February to April.

The seven winners of the regional final will now compete at the Grand Final in the Manawatu this week.

In 49 years only four females have ever made the Grand Final:

Denise Brown who placed Seventh in 1981

Louise Collingwood who was Placed Third and Runner Up in 2001 and 2003

Katherine Tucker placed Seventh in 2012

Lisa Kendall in 2017.

Update:

He’s not the first Otago winner, but he’s the first from the province in more than 20 years.


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