Rural round-up

22/01/2021

Dollar causes fall in lamb prices – Peter Burke:

A report by the ANZ bank paints a somewhat sombre picture for sheepmeat in the coming year and mirrors a similar prediction in MPI’s Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report (SOPI) published in December.

ANZ says, overall, global demand for lamb products is relatively subdued and as a result farmgate prices for lamb and beef are expected to soften further as the country heads into the peak processing months.

It says while international prices for NZ lamb and beef seem to have stabilised after a fall, the strong NZ dollar is taking the edge off farmgate prices. Lambs destined for slaughter in the North Island are fetching $6.50/kg CW and $6.40/kg CW in the South Island, but the report expects these to fall to around $6.00/kg CW by February. . . 

Playing to our strengths in drought: are we missing Lucerne, the low hanging fruit – Harry Mills & Peter Kerr:

Since the dawn of farming, the rain has signalled renewal and hope while drought has signalled disaster and despair.

When Lincoln University-based plant scientist Derrick Moot returned from studying in the UK in 1996, he was convinced climate change was already impacting New Zealand’s drylands. The east coast of New Zealand, the home of many sheep farms was getting noticeably drier. Drought was becoming more prevalent. The number of hot summer days exceeding 30C was increasing. When summer air temperatures reach 30C, the dry soil temperature rises to 50C. Ryegrass pastures shrivel up and die in 50C heat.

Derrick Moot’s advice to drought-stricken sheep farmers was simple and low cost. Replace your ryegrass with lucerne and graze it in spring. . . 

Viruses can support sustainable food production – Richard Rennie:

2020 proved to be the year where most of the world learnt more than ever anticipated about viruses. Plant & Food Research lead scientist Dr Robin MacDiarmid views this increase in understanding as a silver lining in the covid cloud. But her research is also finding another silver lining in viruses, learning where they can serve good for more sustainable food production. She spoke to Richard Rennie.

A single slice from any flora or fauna sample analysed in a lab may contain hundreds if not thousands of viruses and bacteria, but the number actually known, categorised and understood by scientists may well pale against the total there.

For Dr Robin MacDiarmid, identifying and categorising the viruses represents barely half the job at hand. In recent decades genomic sequencing has made that task simpler, quicker and more affordable for researchers. 

“But once you have discovered and categorised a virus, you are really only at the ‘so what?’ stage. The big questions come after that, in terms of what is its cell biology, and what is the ecosystem it functions in?” MacDiarmid said. . . 

The rise and rise of the merino shoe – Michael Andrew:

Varieties of merino wool footwear are emerging faster than Netflix series about British aristocracy. Michael Andrew takes a look at the rise of the shoe that almost everyone – including his 95-year-old grandma – is wearing.

Some might say it all started with Allbirds. After all, to the average consumer, it was the New Zealand-American company founded by former all white Tim Brown in 2014 that successfully popularised the versatile, comfortable and, lets face it, kind of goofy merino wool shoe that is now synonymous with corporate sustainability and Silicon Valley.

But when we cast our minds – and google searches – back to the early 2010s, we see that sustainable shoe initiatives were happening long before Allbirds came along and dominated the market. . . 

Game Animal Council working to improve new rules for flare arms users:

The Game Animal Council (GAC) is applying its expertise in the use of firearms for hunting to work alongside Police, other agencies and stakeholder groups to improve the compliance provisions for hunters and other firearms users.

The GAC has been a part of the Firearms Community Advisory Forum (FCAF) since 2018 and along with other hunting sector stakeholders successfully advocated for a number of practical changes to the Arms Legislation Act.

“While we continue to have concerns over the fairness and practicality of some aspects of the legislation we are working with Police and other groups seeking to develop practical rules and guidance going forward,” says Game Animal Council General Manager Tim Gale. “A major part of this work is making sure Police fully understand the impact of the new rules from a user’s point of view and apply them fairly.”

Lockdown games teach children about farm safety :

Educational games centred on farm safety have been developed for children studying at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The materials, which seek to raise awareness of the key dangers on farms, include interactive videos and colouring sheets.

Children can use the videos to identify animal emotions and understand the dangers relating to livestock and the rules to follow when coming into contact with them.

They have been created by SAC Consulting and 360 Degree Imagery company Exhibit Scotland for the Farm Advisory Service (FAS). . . 


The Resilient Farmer

31/08/2017

Marlborough farmer Doug Avery had already faced more than his fair share of difficult times when successive droughts through the 1980s and 90s  struck.

It got so bad that he hated to go outside and despair turned to depression. He treated that with alcohol and anger, neither of which helped.

The turning point was a meeting addressed by  Lincoln University professor Derrick Moot.

Doug became a convert to lucerne and started working with the environment rather than against it.

He not only turned himself and his farm around, he used what he learned to help others become more resilient on their farms, in their businesses and their lives.

He’s told his story to many different audiences and now he’s written it in The Resilient Farmer, weathering the challenges of life and the land.

It’s an honest and simply written account of  his life and troubles which could have sunk him and nearly did. It’s sad in places but far from being depressing, it’s an inspirational read.

It’s one of the best stories of or by a farmer I’ve read but that doesn’t mean it will only appeal to people interested in farming and farmers.

The book would make a great gift for Fathers’ Day but that doesn’t mean it would only appeal to men.

It would  be of interest to a wide audience, men and women, country and town.

The Resilient Farmer is co-authored by Margie Thomson with a foreword by Sir John Kirwan.

It’s published by Penguin Random House with a retail price of $40.

 

Doug has a website Resilient Farmer.

Doug and Wendy are interviewed by Kathryn Ryan on Nine to Noon.

There’s more on Doug here

 


Rural round-up

03/10/2012

Foreign investment in the spotlight – Kai Tanter:

The biggest headline in Australian dairy news this week has been the possibility of China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp, investing in the Van Diemen’s Land Company. The Van Diemen’s Land Company, which operates in the Australian state of Tasmania, is looking for AU$180 million in order to expand its operations. The Tasmanian government and dairy industry have both been courting Chinese investors and seem to have met with some success.

This news follows hot on the heels of recent Chinese investment in Australia’s largest cotton farm, the Queensland Cubbie Station. Meanwhile in New Zealand, the dust has only just settled after the Crafar Farms were finally sold to China’s Shanghai Pengxin. . .

Bruce Wills slams environmental activists who use the law to shut down critics while objecting to Fed Farmers’ appeal of decisions with legal errors and scientific fallacies – Bruce Wills:

According to one of our less sympathetic critics, Federated Farmers is a dinosaur.

It seems we are a legal version of Jurassic Park for having the temerity to question the Environment Court’s reversal of independent hearing’s commissioners on the Horizons One Plan.

That of course is the right of that critic because we thankfully live in a democracy. . .

Tatau tops milk payout stakes again:

The country’s smallest dairy co-operative, Tatua, has topped the milk payout stakes again.

The Waikato-based co-op has confirmed its 109 farmer suppliers will be getting a total payout for the past season of $7.50 cents a kilo of milk solids.

That’s 60 cents below the previous season’s record of $8.10 a kilo, but well above Fonterra’s $6.40 total payout for the past season. .

Farm Shop slams supermarkets for ‘overpriced and poorly sourced’ produce – Gemma Mackenzie:

Supermarkets have come under fire for being “too expensive and not providing consumers with enough good quality produce from their region” by the boss of the UK’s oldest farm shop.

Simon Hirst, partner in the family-run Hinchliffe’s Farm Shop in Netherton, West Yorkshire (established in 1974), said consumers were “missing out” by being forced to buy from supermarkets.

“The supermarkets have had a stranglehold on our food chain for so long we’ve been given little choice but to trawl the multiples’ aisles for food that is poor quality, poorly sourced and, particularly in the case of the meat products, over-priced,” said Mr Hirst, the fourth generation manager of the Yorkshire farm, which is famed for its top-quality beef, chicken and on-site butchers shop.

“The supermarkets would have us believe they are cheaper than the farm shops and farmers’ markets but, in many cases, this simply isn’t true.” . . .

How meat farmers can lift returns – Jon Morgan:

Craig Hickson tells a story to illustrate how meat processors can short-change farmers more than $20 on each lamb they send to the works. 

“I woke up the other morning with three women in my bed with an average age of 22.” 

He has the measured, deadpan delivery of a veteran comedian. 

“You’ll be thinking, ‘That’s unlikely, he’s lying – or skiting’.” 

He pauses to let the laughter die down. “One of them was my wife and the others were my granddaughters aged 2 and 4. 

“Your first thought was that they were all aged 22.” 

He pauses again. “And that’s the dangers of averaging.” 

The industry in which he has a strategic stake, with four meat plants in the North Island and now another in Wales, is guilty of this, he says. 

    He is talking to a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farming For Profit field day. The 30 farmers have just watched one of his butchers cut up a lamb carcass, been shown each cut and told its destination.

Lucerne Based Dairy Farm – More Feed, Less Irrigation, Less Nitrate Leaching – Milking on the Moove:

Richard Campion is a lecturer at Lincoln University; he presented a paper to the 18th International Farm Management Congress held in Methven last year. His paper was titled Utilising Lucerne Potential For Dairy Farming”.
 
In his paper he modelled the Lincoln University Dairy Farm using 90% lucerne and 10% winter crop. His report states that the ryegrass and white clover pastures at the Lincoln University dairy farm produce on average 17,000kg DM/ha/yr. Irrigated lucerne stands have been shown to produce 24,000kg DM/ha/yr. But the interesting point is that Lucerne has far greater water efficiency than ryegrass. For this reason irrigated lucerne can grow 25% more dry matter than pasture and it can do it with only 1/3 of the water that ryegrass needs. So if a dairy farmer changed their irrigated pasture system to a lucerne based system, they would reduce the water required for irrigation by approximately 65%. This is a massive potential saving . . .

New Zealand’s ATV Safety Programme Working

Just one recorded on-farm work related fatality to date this year clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of the Government’s approach to the safe use of ATVs (quad bikes).

The Motor Industry Association whose membership includes the major importers and distributors of off road farm bikes, including ATVs, refute the  statement by Dr Lower that the industry was adopting tobacco type tactics to block mandating of the fitment of rollover protection (ROPS) for ATVs.

“ATVs are the modern day horse and we estimate there are between 70,000 and 80,000 in use on farms here in New Zealand,” said Perry Kerr, Chief Executive Officer of the Motor Industry Association. “Naturally we are concerned by any accident and especially a fatality involving these vehicles.” . . .

New Zealand Dairy Farms Have So Few Trees. Why? – Pasure to Profit:

I want to encourage more trees on dairy farms, including perhaps Cider Apple trees.

Mixed Tree Species on farms can add to the environmental biodiversity. Imaginative shelter belts create a better work place. Trees add to the aesthetics of the farm. Effective tree shelter belts are good for animal welfare and may increase pasture growth. Could Cider Apple Trees also create another income for dairy farmers?    . . .

New Tool for Farmers to Manage Effluent Application:

Farmhelp is a recently developed mobile farming app with powerful calculators to assist farmers in determining the effluent loading they apply to the land.

There is mounting pressure internationally for farmers to effectively manage the application of farm effluent. . .

Brassica crops benefit from early planning:

Brassica crops provide high-quality forage for stock, but balancing production goals with input costs is vital to ensure planting a paddock of kale or turnip is a cost effective alternative to pasture.

New Zealand farmers grow about 300,000 hectares of brassicas a year, often as a break crop when pasture quality or performance starts to decline.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Lower North Island Technical Extension Officer Jeff Morton says that to achieve the best result with a brassica crop, nutrient deficiencies need to be resolved well ahead of sowing. . .

 Free workshops to help landowners better manage forests

Northland plantation forestry owners and contractors keen to better manage their earthworks and harvesting are being urged to attend one of five free local authority workshops being offered around the region next week.

The workshops in Kaitaia, Kaikohe, Whangarei, Dargaville and Maungaturoto are being run by the Northland Regional Council and are based on the recently released ‘Forestry Earthworks & Harvesting Guidelines for Northland’. . .


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