Rural round-up

December 30, 2017

Earlier crop worrying for winemakers – Louise Scott:

Gibbston winemakers say they also could be faced with a shortage of seasonal workers after hot weather conditions mean they are ahead of schedule for grape picking.

Grant Taylor, of Gibbston’s Valli Vineyard, has never seen such an early harvest in more than 25 years in the industry.

While perfect conditions will ensure a bumper crop, he worries labour could be an issue.

“It is a real concern that because things are early there won’t be enough pickers in the region. Usually we pick in April but I wouldn’t be surprised if we were picking at the middle of March.” . .

Milk once a day to avoid burn out – Christine Allen:

The co-ordinator of Northland’s Rural Support Trust is urging the region’s dairy farmers to reduce to once-a-day milking and plan for time off over the summer holidays to prevent burnout and stress later on in the year.

Northland Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Julie Jonker said those working in agriculture could often resist taking time off as, unlike many other business models, they can’t just “close the door and leave”.

Ms Jonker said that while most farmers took their large break later in the year, once cows were dried off, they still needed to plan for days, or half days, away from the farm as many had been working hard since calving earlier in the year. . .

Golden fleeces flow from progeny testing and elite breeding – John Ellicott:

On the Monaro, the quest for the golden fleece is no legend, it’s a woolgrowing victory fashioned over the decades, making finer wool but increasing fleece weights. Access to top stud stock, improved pastures and adapting shearing times has created the legend.

Steve Blyton from TWG Cooma has seen average microns for the Monaro reduce from 21 microns to about 18 microns due to “breeding being so good in the area”. Some growers have seen a 3 micron improvement in their flock fleeces with fleece weight gains. . .

NZ genetics sought after says South American expert Luis Balfour  –

Whitestone Boers stud owners Owen and Annette Booth, of Milton, recently hosted Argentinian genetic importer/exporter Luis Balfour on their Milton property. Southern Rural Life talked to Mr Balfour about his interest in New Zealand stock.

Argentinian genetic importer/exporter Luis Balfour says New Zealand pedigree stock is attractive to his clients in South America as New Zealand breeders provided the ”best package” of desired traits.

Mr Balfour has been involved with importing and exporting cattle between Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Canada, the US, Great Britain, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand for more than 30 years. . . 

Genetically modified insects next for agriculture – Chris Bennett:

Want to crash an insect population? Slip in a self-limiting gene and topple the family tree in two to three generations. The promise of biotech mosquitoes to combat the pest that spreads Zika, dengue and yellow fever grabs the headlines, but just off center stage, the same technology utilizing genetically engineered (GE) insects is being tested on U.S. farmland.

With the flick of a genetic switch, agriculture could turn the sex drive of an insect against itself. The arrival of GE insects in farming could usher in a new wave of pest management, based on species-specific tools targeting pest insects, and result in a significant reduction in broad-spectrum insecticide applications. GE insects may provide growers with a major new pest weapon if all goes according to plan. . . 


Rural round-up

December 27, 2017

More than 100 people help farming family after tragedy – Andrew Owen:

About 40 shearers and a support crew of more than 60 helped a farming family complete one of the biggest tasks of the year, days after a tragic accident cost the lives of their son and his friend.

Craig “Yopp” Murphy, 31, and his mate Jason Payne, 34, died on December 9 when their ute rolled on a remote, privately-owned farm in Kohuratahi, in the Whangamomona Valley, about 76 kilometres inland from Stratford.

Craig Murphy’s funeral took place on Saturday, December 16, and four days later more than 100 people got to work helping his bereaved parents, Whangamomona Valley farmers Dan and Kathy Murphy, shear their 3400 sheep for free, a task that needed to be finished at the peak of the season before Christmas. . .

Hunter Downs scheme meets share target – Daniel Birchfield:

The 12,000ha Hunter Downs irrigation scheme is to go ahead, after the required number of shares were sold.

Hunter Downs Water Ltd, the company behind the proposal to use water from the Waitaki River on land towards Timaru, held its annual meeting on December 14, when it was expected a decision would be made on whether to proceed or return funds to those who had already made the commitment to take water.

After a delay of several days, Hunter Downs Water Ltd chairman Andrew Fraser announced yesterday the company had “secured sufficient farmer uptake to now enable it to proceed” and finalise the funding structure and contractual arrangements to start construction, which was likely to be early next year. . .

New trapping project already successful – Louise Scott:

A pest control operation to protect native birds in the Rees-Dart River delta is proving successful just one month in.

Glenorchy local Russell Varcoe has built and set four new trapping lines as part of the Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust’s Braided River Project.

That includes 601 traps — of which 574 had been placed by last Friday.

It is hoped the project will protect five species classified by the Department of Conservation as either endangered or threatened: wrybills, black-fronted terns, banded dotterels, black-billed gulls and black stilts . .

Leading questions: Synlait Milk founder and chief executive John Penno:

Business leaders discuss the year just gone and what will affect them in 2018. Today: Synlait Milk founder and chief executive John Penno.

What is 2018 looking like for your business?

2017 was very busy – after opening a new infant formula blending and packaging facility in Auckland, and nearing capacity at our Dunsandel site, we are entering 2018 looking to build an infant formula manufacturing site somewhere in the upper North Island.

We’ll also be constructing a $125 million world-class milk packaging plant in Dunsandel to supply fresh milk and cream to South Island families through our new partnership with Foodstuffs South Island. . . 

 

 

Rain on Christmas wish-list as drought conditions become critical in outback Queensland – Eric Barker:

With less than half the average rainfall across many parts of western Queensland this year, rain is top of the Christmas wish-list for most graziers.

While widespread winter rain in 2016 lifted spirits, most of central and south-west Queensland has been officially drought declared for the past four years.

Grazier and Blackall Tambo Shire Mayor Andrew Martin said most of the area had been suffering below-average wet seasons before the drought declarations. . .


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