Rural round-up

June 13, 2017

Making cropping great:

FAR 2017 – 2021 Strategy launched in Wellington.

The Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) has launched its 2017-2021 Strategy, which aims to make cropping the highest returning and most sustainable broadacre land use for New Zealand farmers.

CEO Nick Pyke says the strategy builds on FAR’s strengths as a provider of quality research and extension and on the innate strengths of New Zealand’s cropping industry.

“New Zealand’s temperate climate, quality soils, plentiful water and highly skilled farmers provide us with some key advantages over other food producing nations. Accordingly, FAR’s new strategy has been designed to ensure that our research team works alongside the cropping industry, helping it to reach its full potential as New Zealand’s most economically and environmentally sustainable farming system. . . 

Disease testing advance ready – Sally Rae:

CRV Ambreed is collaborating with Otago-based Disease Research Ltd to enable dairy farmers to access further information about Bovine Viral Diarrhoea and Johne’s  disease from their herd testing.

From this month, farmers would get their normal herd test information on BVD and Johne’s disease but were now able to directly take that a step further with DRL. Until now, the herd testing provided farmers with an initial positive or negative result for the diseases through an “alert” service, which told the farmer there might be  an issue  needing further investigation. The extended service offered by DRL provided farmers with the option of follow-up testing of individual cows, ensuring properly informed management and control, CRV Ambreed managing director Angus Haslett said. . . 

Hunter Downs Water Ltd given requiring authority status:

Minister for the Environment Dr Nick Smith has granted Hunter Downs Water Limited requiring authority status to develop and operate the Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme in South Canterbury.

“The irrigation scheme will take water from the Waitaki River to irrigate land between Waimate and Timaru. Hunter Downs Water has previously obtained water-take consent from Environment Canterbury and a development grant from Crown Irrigation Investments Limited. This scheme has the potential to irrigate 40,000 hectares, bringing benefits to 200 farmers. The economic benefits to the region are estimated at an increase in output of $830 million per year, and 1840 jobs in South Canterbury. . . 

Feds’ withdraw Mackenzie Basin appeal:

Federated Farmers has withdrawn its appeal on the Environment Court’s Mackenzie Basin decision, opting for less time in court, more time around the table for discussions.

“As we’ve said right from when the decision on Plan Change 13 was issued, our appeal was lodged in order to get clarity around a couple of key aspects,” Federated Farmers’ High Country executive member Andrew Simpson said.

There is still concern about several aspects of Judge Jackson’s decision, including apparent contradictions between what the Mackenzie District Council has said around enabling traditional farming and the ultimate findings of the Court. . . 

Kaikōura funds query ‘disappointing’, farming group says – Alexa Cook:

A farming group questioned about the spending of earthquake relief money says all of the funds have been spent helping the farming community get back on their feet.

Questions have been asked about how more than $30,000 raised by the NZ Farming Facebook page through Givealittle, for Kaikōura earthquake relief, was spent.

Nearly $60,000 was donated in the appeal, which aimed to get supplies to earthquake-hit farmers and to cover fuel costs.

It was reported by Fairfax in February that the group had spent $27,000 on hiring heavy equipment, providing food and accommodation, and transport costs, and that the rest would be spent on special projects in the community.  . .

NZ’s Organic Businesses Call on the Government to Regulate their Industry:

Some of the country’s largest organic businesses have just hosted MP’s in Hawke’s Bay, calling on the Government to regulate the organic sector and provide a national standard to protect the word “organic”.

The organisation that represents the New Zealand organic sector, Organics Aotearoa NZ (OANZ) hosted a field trip for the Primary Production Select Committee.

OANZ CEO Brendan Hoare says the organic sector is growing 11% each year and is now worth more than $0.5 billion dollars to the economy. . . 

Blue Pacific Minerals to launch innovative new granulated feed supplement MaxiMin at Field Days:

Blue Pacific Minerals will launch its innovative new feed supplement MaxiMin at this week’s National Field Days.

Tokoroa-based Blue Pacific Minerals (BPM), New Zealand’s premier zeolite and perlite minerals processing company, has come up with the new value-added, dust-free supplement, which combines Magnesium and Calcium with its long-standing Optimate product in a granulated form.

“MaxiMin is a breakthrough product for farmers,” says BPM Agriproducts Account Manager Kelvin Johansson. . .

Advertisements

Rural round-up

June 5, 2017

It’s Complicated: Is NZ Media’s Relationship with Kiwi Farmers Busted? – Ben Stanley:

I’m a farm kid, and a journalist, and right now that’s an awkward position to be in.

There’s a name you don’t say out loud in rural New Zealand right now unless you want to draw scorn and outright disgust.

It’s the name of one of my childhood heroes.

For the majority of the 1990s, Cameron Bennett was New Zealand’s foreign correspondent; our eye on international conflict and disaster. He’d travel to Iraq, Russia, Afghanistan and the West Bank and report back home with his gritty, but revealing, insights on war and why people make it. . .

A water battle looms in NZ’s Middle-Earth desert – Matthew Brockett & Tracy Withers:

In the rugged heart of New Zealand’s South Island, a high-altitude desert where the men of Middle-Earth made their last stand in the “Lord of the Rings” movies has become a battlefield once again.

Environmentalists and farmers are clashing over the Mackenzie Basin, an area known for its scorched-brown grasslands and crystal-blue lakes – and now, massive irrigation systems that are spreading circles of emerald-green pasture across the Mars-like terrain.

“It’s similar to greening the desert of Nevada or California,” said Annabeth Cohen, a freshwater scientist at environmental group Forest and Bird. . .

Mackenzie Basin set to lose $1.2b in farming production if wildings aren’t controlled  – Pat Deavoll:

The Mackenzie Basin could lose $1.2 billion in farming production a year if the spread of wilding conifers is not brought under control, said Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) wilding programme manager Sherman Smith.

Few species would survive if the basin was smothered by wildings, he said.

“If the basin is taken over by wildings, that’s 50 cumecs (of water) drained out of the Waitaki system, biodiversity that would suffer and there would be a lot of species that wouldn’t survive,” said Smith at the Federated Farmers High Country Conference, . .

Cut debt or go  – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers with unsustainable debt who can’t build equity buffers with profits should exit the sector, Reserve Bank governor Graham Wheeler says.

But Federated Farmers dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard says Wheeler used outdated figures when he warned the dairy sector was still a financial risk to the economy and banks should monitor it closely.

“The uncertain outlook for dairy prices and the rising proportion of highly indebted farms means there remains a risk that non-performing loans could increase in coming seasons. . . .

Whitehall kiwifruit growers come out the other side of Psa disease – Gerald Piddock:

It’s been a slow road to recovery for Mark and Robyn Gardiner since Psa ripped through their kiwifruit business.

Called Seudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae, the deadly viral disease was first discovered at their 200 hectare Whitehall Fruitpackers operation in 2010.

Left unchecked, Psa destroys green and gold vines and spawns leaf spotting, cankers and shoot dieback.

At the worst point of the outbreak, Mark cut out 40ha of his 16 Gold kiwifruit crop as well as partial cuttings of green fruit. At the same time, the more resistant G3 variety was grafted to the vines. . .

Farm win gets civic reception – Hugh Stringleman:

Winning the Ahuwhenua Trophy for Maori Excellence in sheep and beef farming was the achievement of a lifetime for Northland farm manager Lloyd Brennan and his staff, he told Hugh Stringleman.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy might be scheduled for another visit to Kaikohe, the Northland town that needs to celebrate success and encourage more young Maori into farming.

A civic reception was being planned by the Far North District Council with the Omapere Rangihamama Trust (ORT) and its board of trustees, headed by Sonny Tau. . .

National ambassadors for sustainable farming recognised:

The winners of the national ambassador title for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards describe their farm as the largest lifestyle block in Taranaki.

Ohangai sheep, beef and dairy farmers Peter and Nicola Carver won the National Ambassador title over 10 other regional supreme winners at the National Sustainability Showcase event at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill on May 31.

Operating as Holmleigh Trust Partnership, the couple combine dairy and dry stock farming on their 515ha family property east of Hawera. . .


Rural round-up

April 20, 2017

Good PR is a self-help exercise – Neal Wallace:

A united agricultural sector needs to promote itself by telling positive farming stories, public relations expert Deborah Pead says.

Industries such as dairy were constantly under scrutiny and having to defend themselves when the correct strategy was to get in first and tell the public what they were doing to address those concerns.

“It is hard to argue when you see a river dried up and farmers are flat-out irrigating but what is the solution? What are farmers doing about it?” . . 

High country community divided by fence plan – Conan Young:

Green groups are outraged at a plan to spend ratepayer money on a fence that would allow iconic high country land to be more intensively farmed.

The 6km fence is proposed for Flock Hill Station, which is leased by a US-based company and contains scenery made famous in 2005’s The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Until now, Coast Range Investments has only been allowed to graze it in a low-level way, so as to have a minimal impact on the landscape and its environment. . . 

Water Fools? – Greening of Mackenzie – Kate Gudsell:

It’s the closest thing New Zealand has to a desert. The Mackenzie Basin landscape is not replicated anywhere else in the country, let alone the world, and it is being changed irreversibly.  

Not just the land is being changed, the once-pristine lakes are showing signs of strain too.  

The area has been at the centre of a 10-year court battle after farmers and landowners opposed tougher development rules proposed by the Mackenzie District Council.  . . 

Stable milk price crucial for strong farming season – Sally Rae:

Rabobank is picking a farm- gate milk price around $6.25 for the 2017-18 season, as it says a figure in that area would finally allow dairy farmers to ”emerge from the woods”.

Global dairy prices were now better balanced than at the start of this season.

This was likely to flow through and create largely stable commodity pricing in the new season, a bank report said.

However, despite the improved market balance, the possibility of further lifts to the current season milk price was limited, report author and Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins said.

The price rally experienced since the second half of 2016 had ”some of the gloss” removed, with stronger-than-anticipated New Zealand production impacting on prices.

Job Seekers drawn to plant – Sally Rae:

Hordes of job seekers from Nelson to Dunedin – including a group of Cadbury employees – converged on Fonterra’s Clandeboye site for a recent recruitment day.

A $240 million mozzarella plant development at the South Canterbury site is under way, creating full-time employment for a further 100 people.

There was a “fantastic” response to the recent recruitment day, with between about 1500 and 2000 people attending. That led to about 700-odd applications for the roles, operations manager Steve McKnight said.

The mozzarella plant, the third at Clandeboye, was the single largest food service investment in the history of New Zealand’s dairy industry. . . 

Cervena seeks its place in the sun – Annette Scott:

Marketing Cervena venison as a lighter summer eating option in Germany will be a challenge but it’s a move Deer Industry New Zealand has confidence in, venison marketing manager Marianne Wilson says.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) had begun marketing Cervena in Germany during the northern hemisphere summer as part of a market development trial. While relatively small the trial was symbolically important, Wilson said.

Traditionally the deer industry had been heavily reliant on sales of venison to the German game trade which was highly seasonal, with demand and prices peaking in the northern autumn and winter. . . 

Image may contain: one or more people and people standing

 


Dark sky reserve status for Mackenzie

June 11, 2012

We were amazed by the number of people at the Mount John observatory in the middle of the day a couple of months ago.

The 360 degree views over the Mackenzie Basin justify a visit though the beauty of the night sky requires bookings if you plan to go when it’s dark.

Now the basin has been designated a dark sky reserve it will be even more of a destination.

The newly designated Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve joins a select group of just 17 International Dark Sky Places worldwide, and is only the fourth International Dark Sky Reserve, following on from Mont Megantic in Canada, Exmoor National Park in the United Kingdom, and the NamibRand Nature Reserve, in Namibia.

Steve Owens, chair of the IDA’s Dark Sky Places Development Committee says for many of the other 16 places, tourism was one of the main drivers in their bid for dark sky status and they were already seeing the dividends.

“Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park in Scotland has recently begun to assess the impact of dark sky astronomy tourism in the local economy, and a sample evaluation in the region recently showed that 77% of local guest houses and bed-and-breakfasts had reported an increase in bed-nights due to the dark sky park. The report also stated that the money spent on lighting refits was already paying for itself: for every £1 spent on achieving the dark sky status £1.93 has been generated for the local economy within the first two-and-a-half years.

“Anecdotally too astronomy business is booming, with hotels in Galloway and Exmoor running regular stargazing weekend breaks, meteor watches and astronomy talks. Dark Sky Tourism has become such a big part of the area around Galloway that work is almost complete on a £600,000 public observatory to the north of the park, which will attract school groups, families, and stargazers from far and wide to come and marvel at the beauty of a really dark sky,” Mr Owens says.

The Honourable Margaret Austin, who chairs the Starlight Working Party which has been working since 2006 to get the Mackenzie Basin internationally recognised as a Dark Sky Reserve, says the night sky in the Mackenzie basin is a truly magnificent sight and is particularly fascinating for overseas visitors who come from areas where light pollution masks the stars from view.

“This is a truly exceptional environment, landscape and night sky that we want to protect and promote,” Mrs Austin says.

The designation is the result of six years of hard work and was announced at the third international  starlight conference in Tekapo at the weekend.

Not all locals were supportive of the bid because the reserve status imposes restrictions on outdoor lighting.

However, the economic boost for the area should more than compensate for that inconvenience.

If you google timelapse Tekapo you’ll find several videos which give an idea of just how beautiful the night sky is.


Mackenzie Trust trusts locals

February 15, 2011

The Mackenzie Sustainable Futures Trust proposal is being set up to bring together a variety of interest groups to develop a shared vision for resolving land use issues in the Mackenzie, Ohau and Omarama basins.

The impetus for the trust came from the debate on land use in the area. What happens is of interest to people throughout New Zealand but Environment Minister Nick Smith has said from the start that solutions must be locally driven:

“. . .  this Government believes the best solutions are going to come locally. We see any solutions which are imposed on the community as flawed and will fail.”

He reinforced this at a meeting on Friday:

[He] told the 40 stakeholder representatives present that locals who were concerned they could be ‘out-voted’ by outsiders need not be concerned, as the Trust would not work like that.

“The Government would not support anything unless it had local buy-in, particularly from the district councils,” he said.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean who has responsibility for setting up the trust said she was pleased with the high degree of good will and open mindedness displayed by those who attended.

“Those concerned about personal property rights had their fears allayed when, after an intelligent and constructive debate, the meeting unanimously agreed to add a special statement on property rights as part of the scope of work.

“This includes an assurance that any individual property owner can veto any proposal on or affecting their property rights, but not the working party’s findings.  It was an illustration of the collaborative spirit in action, and bodes well for the future of the process.”

That is a very important step which reinforces the commitment to local solutions the the trust being put in locals to do what’s best for their backyard.

The hard work involved in getting groups like  Forest and Bird, Mackenzie Tourism and Development Trust, Waitaki and Mackenzie District Councils, ECan, Fonterra, Twizel and Omarama communities, mountain clubs, irrigation interests and Federated Farmers engaged and co-operating should not be underestimated.

There are many competing and opposing interests represented by these organisations and Jacqui should be congratulated on getting them to this stage.

The chances of sustainable solutions for the Mackenzie Basin are greatly improved now these diverse groups are talking to each other and working together.


WDC consents for Mackenzie dairying quashed

July 30, 2010

The High Court has quashed resource consents and certificates of compliance which the Waitaki District Council issued for three cubical dairying operations in the Mackenzie Basin.

The Environmental Defence Society, which brought the action, said:

  “Clearly there has been a failure of public policy at all levels. The Government has failed to provide national guidance; the regional council has failed to identify nationally important landscapes; and the two district councils have failed to develop coherent and effective district plans.

“There is now a real window of opportunity to prepare a long-term Strategic Plan for the area. In our view that should be led by the local community but both Environment Canterbury and the Ministry for the Environment should be involved. It needs to look at the landscape, natural values and social and economic development options for the Mackenzie Country over the next 25 or more years.

The court quashed the consents becasue of an error of process, it did not consider the merits or otherwise of the case.

I wonder if opponents to the application realise the applicants could run the same number of beef cattle without having to apply for any consents at all because pastoral farming is a permitted activity?

Resource consent was needed not for the number of animals but the type of farming. Dairying required the construction of housing and disposal of effluent. Neither of these would apply for free range beef cattle.


Their land, our water

January 28, 2010

The paddocks on the side of the road between Tarras and the bridge over the Clutha near Luggate used to be dry and barren for most of the year.

Some of them still are, but others are green and productive, thanks to irrigation.

Which looks better is a matter of opinion but I prefer the green and admire the increased productivity farmers are getting from it.

Some of the irrigated farmland which would have struggled to support a few sheep is now able to feed bulls. These bulls no doubt have the same sort of outputs as dairy cows, but there is a major difference between the Upper Clutha farms and the dairy operations proposed for the Mackenzie Basin and that’s scale.

The bulls grazing paddocks beside the Tarras-Luggate road number in the low 10s. The Mackenzie dairy proposals are for nearly 18,000 cows.

In announcing that he’s calling in the consents for these big operations, Environment Minister Nick Smith said that stock will produce effluent similar to the amount produced by a city of 250,000 people.

That’s an awful lot of waste and helps explains why Environment Canterbury received around 5,000 submissions on the applications for resource consent.

Some were about animal welfare which do not come under the Resource Management Act and I’d be very surprised if any of the concerns were valid. Keeping cattle indoors may not be the way we’re used to farming here but it doesn’t by itself constitute any welfare issues.

Some were about what irrigation and dairying would do to the views. That is entirely subjective, what some regard as beautiful productive paddocks, others will see as blots on the landscape.

Although, it’s not just about how the landscape looks but what’s happening to it. Those travelling through at 100 kilometres an hour don’t appreciate the environmental damage that unrelenting heat and wind can do.

In the January 2-8 Listener, Simon Williamson of Glenbrook Station, was asked about the cost to the landscape of irrigation. He replied:

“I don’t see how it detracts. A green foreground and brown hills. Before it would have been a brown foreground and a dust storm.” *

Many of the other submissions were on the potential threat to water quality and these  submitters are on stronger ground.

Housing the cows as is proposed in the applications allows the farms to have much more control on the dispersal of effluent than if the stock was grazing pasture. But systems are only as good as the people who operate them and can never be fool-proof.

Besides, whether inside or out, these cattle will produce a lot of effluent. The Minster’s appointees will have to be satisfied that there is no danger to water quality from it and that may be very difficult to guarantee.

It is the applicants’ land but their right to do what they will with it doesn’t extend to polluting our water.

* The Williamson quote isn’t online, but the rest of the feature from which it came, Mainland dust-up, is on line and well worth a read.

Update: Federated Farmers media release on the calling in is here.


%d bloggers like this: