Rural round-up

February 4, 2019

Running Dry – Can NZ thrive without irrigation? – Eric Frykberg:

The government has pulled its backing for big irrigation projects, but smaller ones are still getting financial support. For Insight rural reporter, Eric Frykberg explores whether this middle path will be enough to keep farmers and growers in business and improve the quality of water in streams and rivers?

Stu Wright’s family is part of the fabric of Selwyn district, inland from Christchurch. They’ve worked the land near Sheffield for 125 years.  

The murky drizzle hanging over the furrows of his farm in the foothills of the Southern Alps, near Sheffield are at odds with his on-going struggle to keep his crops well hydrated.

Here he grows seed potatoes, garlic, radishes and rye.

But the way his family have farmed for over a century is no longer working. . . 

Virus has mixed results – Neal Wallace:

The new rabbit-killing K5 haemorrhagic virus has achieved an average kill rate of 47% of rabbits in Otago but rates on individual farms vary from very low to 80%, leading to farmer scepticism about its effectiveness.

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead says while the 47% average is higher than forecast in the import application for the RHDV K5 virus, high immunity levels in parts of the province reduced its effectiveness.

Otago Federated Farmers president Simon Davies has had reports from farmers saying they have not seen any evidence the new strain is working. . . 

 

Woolhandler aiming to go ‘all out’ at champs – Richard Davison:

A Milton woolhandler plans to go “all out” for honours in the Otago champs.

The two-day Otago Shearing and Woolhandling Championships are taking place in Balclutha on February 8 and 9, and competitors will be vying for both podium places on the day and cumulative points towards circuit titles – and ultimately a better shot at nationals.

For Milton woolhandler Cheri Peterson, who started in the shed professionally in 2007 aged 21, this season’s circuit began as simply another opportunity to hone her skills at the table, but has acquired a sharper competitive edge as it progresses. . . 

 

Eight southern tracks to go in NZTR plan – Steve Hepburn:

Gore may get a reprieve but even more galloping courses may be under threat.

Following on from last year’s Messara report, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing produced a report yesterday calling for the reduction of courses around the country. And it is looking to close more courses than Australian John Messara proposed, with Waikouaiti and Riverton fingered for closure among 23 venues.

NZTR said in a release it wanted to drop to 27 venues across the country by 2030. The would leave just nine tracks in the South Island. Eight tracks south of Timaru would close.

The plan was not in reaction to the Government-commissioned Messara report, which proposed a widespread reduction in tracks throughout the country, NZTR said. . . 

New Zealand 2019 apple and pear crop forecast released :

The New Zealand apple and pear industry is forecasting a modest increase in the gross crop for 2019, according to the annual crop estimate just released. A forecast gross crop of 604,500 metric tonnes is 2.5% up on 2018 production.

New Zealand Apples & Pears Chief Executive, Alan Pollard, says that “Notwithstanding some hail in Central Otago, growing conditions across the rest of New Zealand this season have been very good. Adequate rainfall means that all regions have good quantities of irrigation water, and sunlight and warmth are at some of the best levels that we have seen”. . .

U.S. Dairy Farmers Say Billions of Exports at Risk – Lydia Mulvany:

The U.S. dairy industry stands to lose billions of dollars over the next two decades if trade agreements with Japan, one of the biggest buyers, don’t materialize, according to a U.S. Dairy Export Council report released Wednesday.

The Japanese are gobbling up more cheesy pizzas and proteins like whey, at the same time that its own dairy industry is seeing a decline. Exporters are aggressively competing to supply that growing demand, and the European Union has a leg up on the U.S. due to a trade agreement that went into affect at the end of last year. Other major exporting countries are set to benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pact from which the U.S. withdrew. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 7, 2018

Quite and capable – Richard Rennie:

A farm apprenticeship course now a year old is starting to have an influence on getting more Kiwis in jobs on dairy farms.

Tirau farm apprentice Kadience Ruakere-Forbes is among the first year’s intake under the Federated Farmers’ Apprenticeship Dairy Programme, a pilot programme supported by PrimaryITO, the federation and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. . . 

Dairy database rules under review – Hugh Stringleman:

The valuable core database of the New Zealand dairy industry is subject to a regulatory review by the Ministry for Primary Industries, to which organisations and people can make submissions.

Consultation will run for six weeks until November 12 and any submission becomes public information, MPI said.

The key issue is whether the regulated dataset remains well aligned with the dairy industry’s current and future animal evaluation needs. MPI said there has been some concern expressed among dairy genetics companies about the management of herd improvement data. . .

Huge costs of pasture pests – Peter BUrke:

Grass grub and porina are causing $2.3 billion of damage to New Zealand pastures annually, according to an AgResearch study.

Of the total estimated annual losses in average years, up to $1.4b occurs on dairy farms and up to $900m on sheep and beef farms.

But scientist Colin Ferguson says this figure relates only to the damage to pasture and doesn’t include the cost of replacing the pasture, destocking and restocking and the long lasting damage to affected pasture. . . 

$11m study dives into high value milk products – Peter Burke:

A five year, $11 million research project has begun, aimed at producing new high value milk products.

Led by Professor Warren McNabb, of the Riddet Institute, Palmerston North, the project will seek better mechanistic understanding of the various milks produced in New Zealand including cow, goat, sheep and deer.

A particular aim will be to develop new products for babies, very young children and elderly people in New Zealand and, especially, for export. . .

 

First failed WorkSafe prosecution:

Athenberry Holdings Ltd grows Kiwifruit near Katikati. Zespri buy the fruit, brand, market and sell the fruit. Zespri engaged Agfirst to sample and test maturity and quality of fruit.

Agfirst use a local packhouse Hume to collect the samples. AgFirst’s sample collector died during the collection of fruit when her quad bike overturned on rough ground next to Athenberry’s kiwifruit block.

She was employed by AgFirst who had contracted a local packhouse – Hume Pack-N-Cool Ltd (Hume). It appears the rider had taken the quad bike over steep and rough terrain away from the area where she was required to collect samples.

Her training and industry practices are that you stick to the offical and mown access paths. No-one was sure why she deviated. . . 

Gene edited food is coming to your plate, no regulation included – Lydia Mulvany:

For Pete Zimmerman, a Minnesota farmer, the age of gene-edited foods has arrived. While he couldn’t be happier, the soybeans he’s now harvesting are at the crux of a long-running debate about a “Frankenfood” future.

Zimmerman is among farmers in several states now harvesting 16,000 acres of DNA-altered soybeans destined to be used in salad dressings, granola bars and fry oil, and sold to consumers early next year. It’s the first commercialized crop created with a technique some say could revolutionize agriculture, and others fear could carry as-yet-unknown peril.

In March, the top U.S. regulator said no new rules or labeling are needed for gene-edited plants since foreign DNA isn’t being inserted, the way traditional genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are made. Instead, enzymes that act like scissors are used to tweak a plant’s genetic operating system to stop it from producing bad stuff — in this case, polyunsaturated fats — or enhance good stuff that’s already there. . . 


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