Rural round-up

January 7, 2020

Dead livestock paint grim picture of fire devastation and logistical challenges of recovery effort – Sophie Meixner and Tom Lowrey:

Images of fleeing kangaroos and dehydrated koalas have captured the world’s attention during Australia’s bushfire crisis — but heartbreaking photos of perished livestock paint an equally devastating picture.

In fire-scorched Batlow, New South Wales, animal carcasses line the sides of the road, with farmers beginning the slow, difficult and grim work of loading the bodies onto the trays of utes.

Most are sheep and cattle held on surrounding properties. Most are clumped together, their bodies blackened. . . 

Bushfires – Little Brick Pastoral:

Do you have 2020 vision? 

It’s been a heartbreaking start to the New Year across much of Australia. Whilst we know the threat is not over with a tough weekend ahead, we’re envisioning a year full of wet stuff! Quenching rains for a dry and barren land. And downpours to extinguish fires and provide some relief for our hardworking firefighters.

But it can be hard to know how to help in these times.

In 2018 we wrote about the drought in an extended blog post. This afternoon, we penned the following on the Australian bushfires; how you can find out more, how you can help, and why it is important that we come together.  . .

Bellbird film inspired by director’s upbringing in rural Northland– Mikaela Collins:

While making Bellbird, Hamish Bennett felt he’d be happy as long as the Northland-based film made his family and home community proud.

But its impact has spread wider than that.

The film, set over four seasons on a humble Maungakaramea dairy farm, is charming audiences already with its story of loss, love and hope in rural New Zealand.

Bennett, who wrote and directed the film, said he did not anticipate his first feature film would be as popular as it is. . .

That’s the spirit: botanicals offer scent of success:

The climate that has made some parts of New Zealand so good for growing grass also brings opportunities to develop some niche, high-value crops that are helping to establish new industries alongside traditional pastoral sectors.

Taranaki is an area where a comprehensive economic strategy has identified the region’s climate, including reliable rainfall and rich soils, which meant it was capable of growing a wider variety of crops than it does – with honey and botanical plants identified as new opportunities.

Botanicals are the herbs, roots, flowers, leaves and seeds added to drinks, cosmetics and foods for scent and/or flavour.

From the Ridge: the year Steve put his hand in his pocket – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Hey, it’s me, Ditch.

You remember me.

I was the tiny pup the boss found a few years ago when some sod dumped me in the water table. He rescued me, called me Ditch because he thought Watertable was silly, even by his standards. He thought he’d give me a chance of being a sheepdog but then folk reckoned I was a rottweiler. But I never was. Classic sheepdog with a bit of beardy, judging from my shaggy coat.

I’m big though. The boss had three nice kennels for Gin, Sue and me but I was very snug in mine . . 

Soil moisture: no more looking over the fence – Nigel Malthus:

Farm manager Bryan Mitchell describes as brilliant the SCADAfarm systems that allow him to remotely monitor and manage the irrigation of his 300ha of leased grazing land near Kirwee.

The farm has recently been transformed under Mitchell’s management — and with the landowners, the Hayes family — with comprehensive irrigation including nine pivots, a weather station and soil moisture monitoring, new fencing and stock water.

Internet-enabled SCADAfarm systems (supervisory control and data acquisition) tie it all together to allow Mitchell to manage his irrigation needs from a desktop or smartphone screen.  . .


Rural round-up

June 15, 2018

Government ministers try to build bridges with the rural community, some by ‘friendship’, some by bullying. Also, why are there three national farm databases? -Guy Trafford:

The government certainly seems to be trying to build bridges with the farming sector based upon Damien O’Connor involvement.

Wearing his hat as Minister of Rural Communities he spoke to farmers and others at the Mystery Creek Field Days today. He was announcing the Rural Proofing Policy.

The focus of the policy is to make sure rural communities unique challenges are reflected in government policy. He said, “The bottom line is that rural Kiwis should have equitable access to social and economic opportunities, to reach their full potential,” . .

 NZ biosecurity top-scores in KPMG agribusiness survey :

Biosecurity has remained the highest-ranked priority for the New Zealand primary sector for the eighth year in a row, KPMG said in its latest issue of AgriBusiness Agenda.

KPMG, in releasing its survey results at National Fieldays at Mystery Creek, said biosecurity incursions, environmental challenges, water quality, labour availability, trade wars and rural infrastructure all featured prominently among respondents, who were industry leaders across the primary sector. . .

Waikato farmers need an environmental plan :

Without a vision or a farm environment plan, it won’t happen, reckons Waikato sheep and beef farmer Bill Garland.

And he should know. Bill and his wife Sue have been retiring land — steep land and gullies prone to erosion, severely degraded forest fragments, waterways and other sensitive areas — since the 1980s.

He was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to farming and conservation in 2004. . .

Nesting river birds at risk from ground and air predators – Tony Benny:

A trapping programme in Canterbury’s upper Rakaia River has revealed hedgehogs to be a major threat to the rare and endangered native birds that nest there. Tony Benny reports.

Canterbury’s ever-changing braided rivers are almost unique in the world. Fed by torrential alpine rains, they are constantly bringing down from the mountains gravel and sediment that over millennia have formed the Canterbury Plains.

Before Europeans arrived, the wide, gravelly riverbeds were largely free of plants, thanks to periodic floods. A variety of bird species evolved, specifically adapted to breed in this often-inhospitable environment where they were free of animal predators. . . 

Bia and Kai – the same only different – Brendan O’Connell:

In the next 4 months, as New Zealand enters its winter and Ireland leaves its summer, 2 events will bring together the productive drivers of each country, their farmers. National Field Days, the largest agricultural show in the Southern Hemisphere and National Ploughing Championships, the largest agricultural exhibition in Ireland, will both showcase all that is great about the agricultural capabilities of each country.

Following 6 weeks in my home country of Ireland the likeness of these islands has rarely been more acute to me as I now return to my adopted home of New Zealand, just in time for Fieldays. Like any good relationship, what you find similar kicks off the attraction but what you find different is the real basis for a long-lasting relationship. I’ve often described New Zealand as similar enough to be comfortable and different enough to be exciting.

In these global times of growing populations and shifting wealth profiles there is a lot to gain in exploring the role of these 2 producing nations and the differences that could add up to something. There are rich lessons in differences that encompass include food narratives, market access, farming practices, seasonal supply and technology applications. . .

How Lego and the farm came together to inspire a new generation about agriculture – Laura Chung:

For many young people deciding what career to pursue can be overwhelming.

Aimee Snowden, from the small town of Tocumwal in the New South Wales Riverina district, aims to make it easier for young people to consider a career in agriculture through her project, Little Brick Pastoral.

Little Brick Pastoral is an education tool for students, teachers and adults to learn more about the agricultural industry and careers in Australia through Lego. . .


Rural round-up

December 7, 2017

LEGO farmer helps educate about agriculture – Joely Mitchell:

A small Lego farmer has taken the internet by storm, garnering over 13,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

He’s the brainchild of 27 year-old Aimee Snowden, who is passionate about Lego, photography, and agriculture.

Ms Snowden started Little Brick Pastoral in late 2014, as a way to educate a broad range of people about farming by sharing photos of her Lego farmer on-farm. . .

Little Brick Pastoral’s website is here.

Hawke’s Bay winegrowing future uncertain in face of water order – Victoria White:

Although Hawke’s Bay’s wine industry “can live with” some form of water conservation order (WCO) on the upper Ngaruroro River, it may not survive in future if this extends to the lower part.

This is what the special tribunal considering the WCO application was told yesterday, when the hearing reconvened after a week’s break.

The Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Association opened the day, represented by legal counsel James Gardner Hopkins and deputy chairman Xan Harding. . . 

Dairy on-farm debt leaves little headroom – Keith Woodford:

The latest statistic for on-farm dairy debt held by banks was $40.9 billion at October 2017. This equates to $22 per kg milksolids.

Despite the major upturn in dairy prices of more than 50 percent that occurred between July and December 2016, and with those improved prices then holding through much of 2017, there were lags for the increase to flow through into farm incomes. Debt therefore continued to climb through to July 2017 reaching $41.2 billion. It then declined by $285 million in the four months through to October 2017. Looking back ten years, the dairy debt remains more than double the 2007 figure of $18.8 billion.

The recent decline in debt is surely a positive sign, but in the greater scheme of things the recent decline is modest. Key questions remain as to the long term financial stability of the dairy industry. . . 

Andrew MacPherson elected to Westland Milk Products Board:

Westland Milk Products shareholders confirmed farm owner, company director and former dairy veterinarian Andrew MacPherson as their newest director at the co-operative’s annual general meeting today (Wednesday 6 December).

MacPherson (BVSc, MBA (Dist), FNZIM) has worked in a range of senior executive roles including as CEO. He has extensive experience across a range of agri-sector businesses as governor, senior manager, business owner and farm owner.

He currently lives in Te Awamutu but is part of an equity partnership, Sewell Peak Farm Ltd, a 365ha dairy property milking 920 cows northeast of Greymouth on the West Coast. . .

Honey producers abuzz overr promisingg harvest – Adriana Weber:

A bumper honey harvest is on the cards for beekeepers around the country, according to Apiculture New Zealand.

The industry body said it was early days, but this year’s honey production season was shaping up to be one of the best in years.

The season runs from October to February and the recent warm weather has helped boost production.

Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos said it was a complete turnaround from last year’s poor season. . .

Bronze woolly wether park feature – Sean Nugent:

New Zealand’s greatest sheep will be immortalised in his own Shrek-themed park in Tarras village set to open in March next year.

A new bronze Shrek statue will be the fore figure of the 1ha park, on land beside the Tarras Village car park.

A 50m to 60m path will wind its way up to the statue, lined with native plants from the Bendigo landscape the world famous sheep once called home, as well as storyboards detailing his story and others from the Tarras area. . . 

 


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