Rural round-up

February 1, 2017

Space-generated data could boost crops, save thousands:

Space-generated data will create more efficient irrigation and maximise crop yields, potentially saving farmers thousands of dollars, Alexandra farmer Gary Kelliher says.

Mr Kelliher is an implementation group member of the planned Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST) in Alexandra. He said having continual and improved access to space-generated data would allow for more efficient irrigation and greater crop yield,  and that better imagery and  daily information about plant density and health, biomass and fire risks would be some of the key possibilities for farmers once the centre  was established.

“The application possibilities are endless,” Mr Kelliher said. . . 

Border dyke system improving soil health at Masterton waste water plant – Piers Fuller:

Branded as “dinosaur technology”, fears about the effectiveness of Masterton’s $50 million waste water scheme’s irrigation system have  been proven unfounded.

Before the installation of  the border dyke scheme there was heated debate as to whether the method would destroy the soil quality.

Now fully functional, monitoring has shown that the 72 hectares of ground is doing a good job at absorbing the waste water and the soil quality is improving, after it was extensively excavated for border dykes. . . 

Young beekeeper ‘busts his arse’ to get where he is today – Pat Deavol:

Anyone who works a 12 hour day and lives on a work site is dedicated to their profession.

James Malcolm has lived this life for a decade, but the graft and commitment have paid off. At 28 he owns Natural New Zealand Honey Ltd, a beekeeping operation tucked under the tussock and beech-covered foothills of North Canterbury, with 3500 hives, a beekeeping HQ, and 16 full-time staff.

Backtrack 10 years ago and Malcolm had just completed a Diploma of Agriculture at Lincoln University and was helping out his father on the family cropping farm near Ashburton.  . . .

Young shepherd to represent NZ:

A passion for Angus cattle has seen Mount Linton Station shepherd Allen Gregory selected to attend the World Angus Forum in Scotland.

Originally from Gore, Mr Gregory is one of eight young Angus enthusiasts who will travel to the forum later this year,  representing New Zealand.

Last year, 12 people  took part in the selection day  run by Generation Angus.

“It was a mixture of theory and practical. We did some showing and some judging and we also had to write an essay,” he said. . . 

Farm course gets NZQA tick:

A programme designed to engage primary and secondary school students in farming can now be used to gain NCEA credits.

The resources, trialled in 10 primary and 16 secondary schools last year, help students learn more about the sector and promote awareness of the wide range of career opportunities.

It was developed by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP), a Primary Growth Partnership programme working to help the red meat sector increase productivity and profitability.

Resources, including assessments within the programme, have now received the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) Quality Assured Assessment Materials (QAAM) trademark. . . 

Oceana sets 500,000oz gold target – Simon Hartley:

Oceana Gold has boosted its exploration and capital expenditure programme for 2017 to $US252 million ($NZ345.9 million), as it targets more than 500,000oz of gold in a calendar year for the first time in its 27-year history.

Its Macraes mine in east Otago has been the mainstay of operations for decades, and while other Oceana mines are challenging its production dominance, it is getting its fair share of exploration, works and expansion funding within the wider group during 2017.

Oceana, now the country’s largest gold miner accounting for about 98% of output, produced within guidance 416,741 oz of gold in 2016 overall, and 21,123 tonnes of copper from Didipio in the northern Philippines, the latter commodity a by-product of the gold mining which hugely offsets production costs. . . 

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It’s better to sit in a tractor and think about anything than to sit anywhere else and think about farming.


Rural round-up

October 12, 2015

SFF challengers challenged – Neal Wallace:

Those backing an alternative capital underwrite for Silver Fern Farms have been accused by the company’s board of playing a dangerous and irresponsible game.

Chairman Rob Hewett said the board had not been provided with any details on the proposal in which a group of agribusiness leaders have allegedly agreed to underwrite a rights issue of up to $100 million of new capital for SFF.

“The board has not received a proposal. We do not know any details, we do not know who the mystery underwriters are, nor who the supposed bank is. . . .

Dangerous game to stare down bankers, warns SFF chairman – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett says the company’s banking syndicate has become tired of its relationship and it would be “a dangerous game” to test lender support in the event farmer-shareholders don’t support selling a half stake to Shanghai Maling Aquarius this week.

Hewitt was responding to calls from shareholders opposed to the deal to look at alternative funding, which could keep New Zealand’s biggest meat company in local hands. The cooperative that now owns SFF would be showered in cash if the Chinese deal goes ahead. As well as $261 million that would be injected into the business, leaving it debt free with funds to upgrade plant and pursue global growth ambitions, the farmers will get a dividend of 30 cents a share, or $35 million, and the cooperative’s board would get $7 million for its costs – enough to keep it going for seven years at current rates. . . 

 

New action plan to attract the workforce dairy farmers need:

Attracting the skilled dairy workforce that farmers need to run their businesses is the goal of a new joint workplace action plan launched with the Minister for Primary Industries in Canterbury today by Federated Farmers and DairyNZ.

DairyNZ chairman John Luxton says one of the aims of the industry’s 10-year strategy is to see 90 percent of dairy farm businesses having quality work environments by 2020.

“We have put actions and commitments in this new plan to ensure we achieve that part of the strategy. We are competing with all the other career opportunities on offer across the globe. We’re not always the most attractive choice for many young people these days and we need to be if we want to develop and retain the workforce we need,” he says. . . 

Free lease for pub with no proprietor – Rhys Chamberlain:

Are you looking for an opportunity, a change, a slower way of life?

Then the Macraes community needs you.

Stanley’s Hotel, a registered historic place, is without a proprietor and the Macraes Community Trust is on the hunt for the community’s next publican.

Trust member Mat O’Connell is keen to get someone signed up to keep the pub open after failing to attract a lessee over the past year. . . 

A2’s successful capital-raising raises $40m for growth – Dene Mackenzie:

The management of A2 Corporation could now focus on delivering growth following the successful capital-raising announced yesterday, Craigs Investment Partners broker Peter McIntyre said.

A2, which markets milk with a protein variant said to have health benefits, raised $40 million in a discounted share placement to help fund working capital in its burgeoning infant formula business.

The Auckland firm sold 58.8 million shares at 68c apiece in the placement, which was over-subscribed. . . 

Changed lives taking new turn – Stephen Bell:

Five years after their lives were irrevocably changed Jo and Bryan Guy are stepping back from farming, ending nearly a century of family involvement in daily milk supply.

“Someone in the family has been responsible for milking the cows every day,” Bryan says.

It started when Cecil and Mary Guy began dairying in Feilding after World War I.

They milked 20 cows year-round to supply milk at the farmgate for local residents.

In 1954 their son Grahame and his wife Winifred bought the farm and continued to milk every day, supplying town milk with fresh liquid for bottling. . . 

From a single vineyard grew a family dynasty – Russell Blackstock:

For 100 years, the Babich family have stayed true to the ideals of their patriarch.

David Babich has a view from his office window to die for. Twenty minutes after battling through traffic from his home in Auckland’s bustling suburb of Pt Chevalier, he is relaxing at his desk at his family firm in a lush city oasis.

The 47-year-old is general manager of Babich Wines, one of New Zealand’s oldest family-owned wineries.

Today he is raising a glass to the company being in business for 100 years. . . 

Bangladeshi scientists ready for trial of world’s first ‘Golden Rice’ – Reaz Ahmad:

Bangladeshi rice scientists are all set to conduct field tests of the world’s first vitamin A-enriched rice, popularly known as Golden Rice, before taking the variety to production phase.

The success in vitamin A-rich rice comes in quick succession of the world’s first three zinc-rich rice varieties that Bangladesh released over the last couple of years.

Upon completing a successful trial of the genetically engineered Golden Rice in its transgenic screen house, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) is now taking the variety — GR-2 E BRRI dhan29 — to confined field trials in the coming Boro season this November. . . .


Rural round-up

July 28, 2013

Macraes project praised – Dene Mackenzie:

Hopes are high the review of Oceana Gold’s operations – particularly of its Macraes gold project – will not cut deeply into the Otago economy.

Otago Chamber of Commerce president Peter McIntyre said yesterday many people in Otago were not aware that such a constructive mining sector operated within the region.

Macraes was estimated to be worth around $100 million annually to the regional economy. . .

Water collectives recommended – Sally Brooker:

Farmers need to continue with collective ventures for better water quality, Federated Farmers says.

The theme of partnership for water progress was discussed by a panel at the federation’s national conference in Ashburton on July 4. Speaking first, former Rotorua-Taupo federation president Neil Heather said collaboration produced ”powerful action”.

He outlined the gains made in cleaning up Lake Rotorua’s water pollution, saying farmers needed to become informed. . .

Fewer cows can mean better profits – Sally Brooker:

The traditional approach to determining stocking rates needs to change, DairyNZ representative Chris Glassey says.

Presenting a paper at the recent South Island Dairy Event at Lincoln University, he said incoming nitrogen limits would force change.

”The optimum stocking rate is never a constant. This paper challenges the belief that more cows means more profit.” . .

Kiwi shearers fleece British opposition in test series – Ruth Grundy:

The two-man New Zealand shearing team has won the British leg of its northern hemisphere series.

Rowland Smith, of Hastings, and Tony Coster, of Rakaia, beat Ulster at the Rickamore Shears in Ireland on July 13,notching up the third win on their four-event 2013 Elders Primary Wool United Kingdom Tour.

The pair opened the UK series a fortnight earlier with a loss to Scotland at Lochearnhead Shears but quickly bounced back with two wins over England. . .

Bee numbers on the rise – Tim Cronshaw:

Commercial bee numbers are on the rise in spite of the varroa mite disease which has plundered wild bee stocks.

Bees in managed hives were hit hard by varroa, but hive treatment has allowed them to withstand the disease and their numbers have grown as demand for honey production and pollinating crops has increased.

Registered beehives are up about 7 per cent to 450,000 from last year and rising since 2005 along with increasing numbers of registered beekeepers.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury chairman Barry Hantz said good prices for manuka honey had encouraged beekeepers to put in more hives, particularly in the North Island. . .

Didymo find ‘gutting’ – Rebecca Fox:

The battle to keep Fiordland didymo-free has been lost.

The invasive algae has been discovered in the remote Large Burn valley.

Western Fiordland was one of the ”last frontiers” to remain free of didymo in the South Island, despite it being originally discovered in the nearby Waiau River in 2004, Department of Conservation freshwater ranger Lyndsay Murray said yesterday.

”It’s pretty gutting really. It’s the first confirmed positive sample of a waterway west of the divide.” . . .


More gold in them thar hills

July 14, 2010

Oceana Gold has confirmed the discovery of significant additional gold reserves in the Frasers underground mine,  near Macraes in East Otago.

Results to date are expected to extend (the) indicated resource boundary and therefore extend P2 Deeps reserves”, with the potential for an extra 18 months of mining operations at the mine, near the Macraes goldmine.

OceanaGold announced inferred resource of more than 0.5Mt last September in the P2 zone, with around 40% of that upgraded to provable reserves, with mine development starting in March.

The results from the latest drilling “appear as good or better than the current Panel 2 mining area.”

“It is expected that a significant portion of the current inferred resources will be upgraded to indicated resources and then integrated into the mine plan,” OceanaGold said.

The Macraes mine has created dozens of jobs with the positive financial and social spin off for the East Otago community.

Among the conditions of the company’s resource consent is a requirement about leaving the land in good condition when the mining is finished so the environment will be no worse, and possibly better than it was before mining started.

In a past life I wrote a newsletter for a company which serviced the mine and had to do research on the process of extracting gold for a story.

I’ve forgotten the details  but remember that improvements in technology had enabled the company to extract tiny amounts of the metal from large amounts of rock. That was more than 20 years ago, no doubt the process has got even better since then.


Short term mining could leave long term beauty

April 20, 2010

Why the surprise that opinion is divided  on government plans to mine small, low value parts of the conservation estate?

Opposition has been strong of voice but high volume isn’t always a reliable indicator of the numbers who share a view.

If there were plans to touch areas of high conservation value I’d be joining those opposed. But providing it’s only a few,  small areas  of low value land that would be mined, the benefits will outweigh the costs.

It may not be pretty while it’s happening, although that doesn’t mean it won’t be interesting. In Kalgoorlie, mine visits are a tourist attraction and while I’m not keen on enclosed, underground spaces I found it fascinating.

Consent conditions will also require the companies granted licences to ensure that they leave the land in a better state than they found it.

That’s what’s happening around Macraes in East Otago and there are other examples where people have created beauty after minerals have been extracted.

We visited two former quarries while on a farm tour of the North Island last month.

Waitakaruru Arboretum and Sculpture Park near Hamilton has become a 42 hectare place of beauty.

Wrights Water Garden, south of Auckland, featuring native and exotic trees, water lilies and lotus flowers.

The end result of mining tiny patches of conservation land could be economic growth with the social gains that will bring and when the mining’s finished the land could be returned to the conservation estate in a much better condition than it was.


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