Rural round-up

April 22, 2014

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Award honours key figure in Waitaki irrigation – Sally Rae:

When Grant McFadden drives through rural North Otago, he is amazed at what irrigation has done for the district.

The retired Maf policy manager was a key support for farmers on the lower Waitaki plains as an irrigation scheme was initiated in the 1970s.

His longtime involvement in irrigation was rewarded recently with the Ron Cocks Memorial Award for outstanding leadership in irrigation.

He received the award jointly with Ashburton-based farm business consultant and rural valuer Bob Engelbrecht at IrrigationNZ’s conference in Napier. . .

Winners share century of experience

When Bob Engelbrecht attended irrigation meetings years ago in Ashburton, the late Ron Cocks would often end up at his home afterwards to continue the discussion.

Little did Mr Engelbrecht imagine he would one day win an award named after Mr Cocks, a Mid Canterbury farmer, for his contribution to irrigation in New Zealand.

For the first time, IrrigationNZ has awarded its Ron Cocks Memorial Award to two people. Retired Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry policy manager Grant McFadden joins Mr Engelbrecht, a farm business consultant and rural valuer, as recipients of the award.

Between them, the two men have more than a century of involvement in advocating for agriculture and irrigation interests.

Mr Engelbrecht credits the last winner of the award, fellow Ashburtonian Brian Cameron, with introducing him to the potential of irrigation. . .

Second award to couple

Kaiwera farmers Andrew and Heather Tripp have won the supreme title in the Southland Ballance farm awards for the second time.

Since first winning the title in the inaugural Southland awards in 2002, Mr and Mrs Tripp have added a dairy farm to their diverse farming operation based on Nithdale Station.

Along with sheep, beef, dairy and forestry, the 1635ha property also runs a genetics business, comprising Romney and Suffolk sheep, and a farmstay.

Judges praised the Tripps’ commitment and passion for the land, which was first settled by Mr Tripp’s grandfather in 1924. . .

Small cheesemaker looks to Asia – Tess McClure:

The Barrys Bay factory still makes cheese the traditional way. But that hasn’t stopped them moving forward into a modern marketplace.

Since Mike and Catherine Carey bought the factory nine years ago and introduced Barrys Bay to supermarkets, business has experienced 20 per cent growth year-on-year.

But New Zealand independent cheesemakers work in a challenging environment, facing ongoing problems with the rising price of raw materials and challenging investment in ageing their cheese.

Mike Carey, clad in factory whites, talks with enthusiasm through an elastic hairnet that encases his beard. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 29, 2014

Land leasing lessons – Rebecca Harper:

Getting started farming in your own right can be a challenge and leasing is a great first option. Rebecca Harper investigates how it works and what you need to know about leasing.

David Skiffington has five lease blocks and has developed his own philosophy and system for leasing, building up to a viable farm business for him and his young family.

He got his first lease block in 2008 and is now leasing land from four Maori trusts and one private landowner in Manawatu, with about 100 hectares all up.

David is dead set against paying market price for a block. “I feel like the market rate is often set by the guy next door who has an advantage. Market price is set at a price where not much is economic.” . . .

Dairy prices may dip as record payouts prompt farmers to boost milk production

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy prices will probably decline over the last few months of the New Zealand season as farmers ramp up milk production to benefit from record payouts.

Prices generally hold up on lower volumes heading into the end of the season in May, however volumes will be higher than normal this year as farmers had favourable growing conditions in the lead-up to the main producing season and bought extra feed to increase milk production in anticipation of higher prices, said ASB Bank rural economist Nathan Penny.

Auckland-based Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, last month raised its payout to farmer suppliers to a record level on the back of strong global demand. New Zealand dairy farmers will probably produce 11 percent more milk this season than last season, which will equate to around a 9 to 10 percent increase in volume for Fonterra, ahead of the dairy group’s forecast for a 7.5 percent increase in volume, ASB says. . .

Bovine Blackmailers and half a kennel – Mad Bush Farm:

The cows know I have a bag of feed just inside the door right now. It’s not theirs to have of course; it belongs to the old man. Sometimes, though, I do give them some of it, even though right now they don’t really need feeding much more than some hay.  Trouble is they’ve cottoned on that I feed the old man twice a day. They have it all figured out, along with how to muck up my recently cleaned windows (forget that now!) . . .

Apples and applesauce – Cabbage Tree Farm:

It’s apple season here on CTF. I am steadily working my way through mountains of apples. OK ‘mountains’ might be a slight exaggeration, but there are certainly quite a few kilos!
Here is a big box of delicious ‘Reinette du Canada’ apples – a French heirloom apple – that I picked yesterday. This variety is great for cooking, but it can also be eaten as a dessert apple. We usually cook it.


Some of these apples get quite big. The biggest one I picked was 500g (18 oz)! . . . 

Good as green for top crop:

A Bay of Plenty kiwifruit orchard has posted a top orchard gate return based on its production of Hayward green in the 2013 season.

Last season it produced an average of 15,109 trays per hectare with size 33 fruit, with an orchard gate return (OGR) in excess of $90,000 compared to the industry average of $43,000. It was the highest OGR recorded for 2013 by the orchard’s management company, Direct Management Services (DMS).

The orchard is owned by the Owen St George Family Trust and managed by Matt Greenbank of DMS. Owen’s daughter, Jackie, also works on the orchard.. . .

Hastings centre stage for next Regional Final:

The East Coast Regional Final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest is set to be held in Hastings next weekend Saturday 5th April at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Showgrounds.

Eight finalists are contending for a spot at the Grand Final in Christchurch 3-5 July and their share of a $14,000 prize pack including products, services and scholarships from ANZ, Lincoln University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.

There is a wide range of competitors for this round of eliminations, with a variety of backgrounds, ages and skill sets. . . .

Value Added Products Get First Taste of Tomato Crop:

Wattie’s value added products are the first to benefit from the company’s 77th annual tomato crop, which is just passed the mid-point of the harvest.

In producing the country largest tomato crop Wattie’s carefully selects tomato varieties to meet and thrive in the Hawke’s Bay climate.

Wattie’s agronomist Jonny La Trobe who is responsible for the tomato crop, says the season is going well, and with half the harvest completed, the fruit quality and yields are good.

“While we may not pip last year’s exceptional volumes, favourable spring weather – which also benefited our peach crop – gave us an excellent start on which to build.” . . .


Rural round-up

January 26, 2014

Girls rule on South Otago dairy farm – Sally Rae:

Who needs a man?

For South Otago dairy farm manager Kara-Lee Clark (33) and farm worker Ashleigh McKechnie (19), assisted by two other female relieving staff when needed, being part of an all-women team is just normal.

The diminutive duo milk 340 cows on a 120ha property, owned by the Clark family near Milton. They are particularly proud of the herd of predominantly large Friesians.

”We get a bit of a hard time about that. They are big cows and we’re not the biggest of people,” Miss Clark said.

Being a female farm manager at the local Milton farm discussion group was quite a rarity, although she was not sure how unusual it was further afield.

When she embarked on a career in the dairy industry, after spending nine and a-half years working as a veterinary nurse at Clutha Vets in Balclutha, Miss Clark admitted she had a lot to prove to her family. . .

Initial trapping survey results in:

The first trapping results for Queensland Fruit Fly in Whangarei have shown no suspect flies detected in all 83 traps in Zone A and in all 90 lure traps from outside the controlled zones.

MPI Deputy Director-General Compliance and Response, Andrew Coleman, says “It’s a good early result but it’s important not to get complacent. We have still got a number of days to go before we know for sure whether there is a breeding population or not.”

The Whangarei community has been hugely supportive and to date has placed 180kgs of restricted produce in bins in Zone A and 70kgs in Zone B.

“We are very appreciative of this support,” Mr Coleman says. “It is vital that material that could contain the fly is not taken out of the zone, just in case there is a breeding population present in the area, which takes in Parihaka, Riverside and parts of central Whangarei.”

This insect is an unwanted and notifiable organism that could have serious consequences for New Zealand’s horticultural industry. It can damage a wide range of fruit and vegetables.

Insecticide ruling brings challenge – Richard Rennie:

The clock is ticking for researchers trying to find an alternative for a broad-spectrum insecticide destined to be phased out by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Following a reassessment of the use of organophosphates and carbamates in New Zealand’s crop and pastoral sector a number are scheduled to be phased out, because the authority considers their impact on human and environmental health to be unacceptable.

A key insecticide set to go by July 2028 is diazinon, which plays a critical role in controlling grass grub in pasture.

The authority issued its ruling on diazinon’s phase-out in the middle of last year but the long lead time to develop alternative chemicals to combat grass grub has researchers scrambling to develop alternatives. . .

Fast soil makes for bigger sink:

Rapidity in the natural world is relative; yet, while the latest findings from a research collaboration between Lincoln University and the University of Washington can hardly speak of comet-like quickness, it does shatter prevailing views, with implications for climate change as well.

Samples collected from western slopes of the Southern Alps have revealed that soil – the chemically and biologically active skin on the Earth’s surface – can be produced from mountainous bedrock almost twice as fast as previously thought. A subsequent proportional increase in chemical weathering of the soil was also observed.

The findings are important, as eroding mountainous regions account for over half of the world’s sediment production. If that sediment is produced by the formation of soil, rather than just slabs of bedrock collapsing off slopes as landslides, there is much greater potential for atmospheric carbon to be stored. This is significant because mountains play the role of carbon sinks – natural reservoirs that can accumulate and store atmospheric carbon. . .

Diesel from dust: using low fertility soils for biodiesel crops:

The escalating issue around peak oil in the context of the far-reaching global demand for fossil fuels is nothing new. Likewise, the increasing pressure this demand places on sourcing alternative fuels is also well established. One option is biofuels.

Producing biofuels comes with its own problems. There can be issues around an inability of supply to meet demand (such as is the case with tallow), but there can also be resistance to using productive land for biofuels instead of using it for growing food.

To meet these challenges, and in the interest of accelerating the young biodiesel industry in New Zealand, Professor of Ecology,  Steve Wratten at the Bio-Protection Research Centre has been heading up a research team to explore ways of growing plants suitable for biodiesel. More specifically, however, the aim is to find ways to grow these plants on low fertility soils and in such a way as to require minimal fertiliser inputs. . .

My old friend is telling me his twilight time is coming near #horses – Mad Bush Farm:

My old friend I’ve had for over eight years has grown very old. Over the last few days his walk has become slower, and the sparkle in his eye is gradually being replaced by that look that says “I’m tired and soon I will go to my forever sleep” I called him this morning from the other side of the farm. Usually, he would be the first one to arrive at a gallop, knowing he would be put onto some lush grass for the day . The ponies do not need it, but old Ed at over 30 years of age needs the best possible pasture each day. Today though, it took him a very long time, longer than usual. He had stiffly made his way back to where I was. I took him nearly 20 minutes to reach me. All four legs have developed arthritis in the last few weeks, and he’s lost some condition. Why? The answer is very simple. He is just very, very, old. It means now for me, I may have to say goodbye to a loyal equine friend I love very deeply. . .


Rural round-up

December 13, 2013

How we manage incidents still needs fixing:

While it is good news that the inquiry into the whey protein incident concludes there was no failure with New Zealand’s dairy regulatory system it simply confirms what we already knew, said Michael Barnett, chairman of the NZ Infant Formula Exporters Association.

“We do have world best regulations. We are world leaders in whey production. Within the terms of reference of the inquiry to look into our dairy food safety system the report is a good outcome.”

However in our view the incident was never a failure of our dairy regulations. “It was a failure to manage the situation and the reputational damage it caused New Zealand. This report will not fix that failure,” said Mr Barnett. . .

Red Meat Profit Partnership underway:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has welcomed the announcement that the Red Meat Profit Partnership is underway, acknowledging the significant opportunities it will provide farmers.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, Mike Petersen says: “The significance of this collaboration cannot be underestimated as it draws together a big part of the red meat processing industry along with farmers and two banks, with the common goal of improving the profitability of sheep and beef farms. Profitability has been too variable and insufficient in recent years, but through this collaboration there is a significant opportunity to improve it.” . . .

Rabobank welcomes signing of Red Meat Profit Partnership:

Agricultural banking specialist Rabobank has welcomed the recent signing and successful contracting of the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).

The finalisation of the $64 million dollar partnership has been announced with the Crown officially contracting its support of the initiative.

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Ben Russell said the bank was pleased to confirm its support as a partner of the RMPP alongside the other co-investors. . . .

Week one in a revolutionary fortnight for red meat  – Jeanette Maxwell:

With red meat industry reform a big topic for farmers, Federated Farmers is welcoming the most comprehensive collaboration ever seen in the sector.  With the Federation going out to its members next week on meat industry reform options, this becomes the first week in a revolutionary fortnight for New Zealand’s number two export industry.

“It seems ironic that I am going to welcome 1.3 million fewer lambs being tailed in 2013 over 2012, but the second smallest lamb crop in nearly 60 years is a good outcome following the 2013 drought,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“To be brutally honest, that 4.7 percent decline to a 2013/14 crop of 25.5 million lambs, underscores how vital this week’s announcement of the Red Meat Profit Partnership is. . .

Government Industry Agreements to strengthen biosecurity:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed Cabinet’s approval of the GIA (Government Industry Agreement) Deed as an important tool in strengthening New Zealand’s biosecurity.

“Under the GIA, industry organisations and the Ministry for Primary Industries can sign a Deed that formally establishes the biosecurity partnership. Partners will share decision making, costs, and responsibility in preparing for and responding to biosecurity incursions.

“The GIA is important because it will give industries a direct say in managing biosecurity risk. Joint decision making and co-investment will mean that everyone is working together on the most important priorities.

“Biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister because it is so important in protecting our economy. We know that unwanted pests and diseases can have devastating effects on our farmers and growers,” says Mr Guy . . .

Biosecurity Government Industry Agreements a major boost

Winning Cabinet approval for any policy initiative is never easy so the efforts of Primary Industries Minster, the Hon Nathan Guy with Government Industry Agreements (GIA), must be acknowledged for the way it will boost biosecurity readiness and response.

“GIA’s are a positive development for biosecurity,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesperson.

“Cabinet approval is the roadmap forward and follows Federated Farmers leadership last year, which successfully unblocked five years of stalled talks by bringing together key industry players.

“For the general public, GIA’s are about ‘Readiness and Response,’ which are the two key planks to our biosecurity system.  . .

Forest owners welcome biosecurity deed:

Cabinet approval of the deed that will govern how the government and primary industries respond to biosecurity threats has been welcomed by forest owners.

“The biological industries need secure borders, effective monitoring for possible incursions and a rapid response if an exotic pest arrives here. It is essential that we all know who does what and who picks up the tab,” says Forest Owners Association biosecurity chair Dave Cormack.

“The forest industry, through the FOA, has partnered with government in forest biosecurity surveillance for more than 50 years and has funded its own scheme for the last 25 of those years. We look forward to formalising this relationship in a Government Industry Agreement. . . .

Warwick Roberts elected President NZ National Fieldays Society:

The Annual General Meeting for the National Fieldays Society was held last Thursday night at Mystery Creek Events Centre.

Experienced dairy farmer and local resident, Warwick Roberts, was elected President of the NZ National Fieldays Society and starts his term immediately.

Mr Roberts had held the position of Vice President of the Society since 2012 and takes over the presidency from Lloyd Downing, whose term ran 2010-2013.

In speaking about his appointment, Mr Roberts said he was very proud to be leading such a prestigious organisation. . .

Start date for farm training scheme – Annette Scott:

The farm cadet training scheme proposed for the upper South Island has a start date.

Mendip Hills Station, in North Canterbury, will host the new farm cadet training scheme aimed at the sheep, beef, and deer industries.

Scheme co-ordinator Sarah Barr signed a statement of intent agreement last week with Lincoln University, incorporating the Telford division of the tertiary institution, for the scheme to start in 2015. . .

Amendments to layer hens code of welfare:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced amendments to the Layer Hens Code of Welfare 2012, in a move to avoid a large increase in the price of eggs.

“The final date of 2022 for all layer hens to be out of battery cages remains unchanged. However, the amendment alters the transition dates by two years:
• Cages installed before 31 December 1999 must now be replaced by 31 December 2018 (previously 2016);
• Cages installed before 31 December 2001 must now be replaced by 31 December 2020 (previously 2018).

The amendments have been made after advice from the independent National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC). . . .

The long and the short of it is  . . . – Mad Bush Farm:

I got what I always wanted. I can wake up each morning, have breakfast and get a friendly greeting at the door. He got my toast,  I got my coffee and the company of an equine friend. Animals can do so much for healing a hurt, and helping us forget our troubles. And in turn we can help them get through their troubles. Most of the horses I have on the farm have had sad backgrounds. Ed too had a hard life before he came to me nearly ten years ago. His days are coming slowly to an end. Soon I’ll have to make a decision about his future. . .

New Zealand Young Farmers raises over $1400 for men’s health:

New Zealand Young Farmers was a proud participant in this year’s Movember campaign – and it was a wild and hairy 30 days.

For the month of November the Young Farmers Movember ambassadors Terry Copeland NZYF CEO, Ashley Cassin ANZ Young Farmer Contest Events Leader, and Nigel Woodhead Pendarves Young Farmers Club member, cultivated impressive moustaches all in the name of men’s health.

A charity quiz night was held on the last Friday (29th) of November at the Blue Pub in Methven as a final drive for donations. It was well attended with 13 teams and over 60 people participating. There were top prizes from Silver Fern Farms, Husqvarna and a sell-out raffle for a Vodafone Samsung Galaxy mobile phone.   . .  .


Rural round-up

July 25, 2013

Korean visit to address fears about trade direction – Marie

Prime Minister John Key heads for South Korea on Thursday for an official visit warning that New Zealand’s fifth biggest trading partner will slip down the rankings without a free trade agreement.

War commemorations will be a central feature of the visit, with 30 New Zealand veterans joining Key’s entourage to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice. 

Key said outside those events, the priority was to make progress on reaching an FTA. . .

Farmer Confidence Rebounds, New Survey Finds:

Federated Farmers’ New-Season Farm Confidence Survey, undertaken at the start of the 2013/14 season, has shown a major turnaround in farmer confidence.  This result is in keeping with other recent farm and business confidence surveys.

“Farmers are showing a lot more optimism in both the wider economy and individual farm prospects,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“You could say farmers are in recovery mode but this bounce back comes off a low base.  There is still a large gap in the sentiment of dairy farmers when compared to the other farming sectors.

“Six months ago, farmers were fairly negative about the wider economy and were very pessimistic about their own profitability.   This was particularly the case for sheep and beef farmers. In contrast, dairy farmers were feeling more optimistic than they had been at this point last year [July 2012], thanks mainly to better dairy commodity prices and growing conditions. . .

Alliance lamb in Oliver’s Russian eatery – Alan Williams:

Alliance Group lamb from New Zealand will be on the menu at the new Jamie Oliver restaurant due to open in Russian city St Petersburg.

The contract was a good boost to the business Alliance had built with Russian food service companies and restaurants over the past 12 years, marketing general manager Murray Brown said.

It highlighted the growing status of the group’s Pure South brand as a leading red-meat export, he said. . .

Eliminating wool’s dirty secret:

With New Zealand’s main-shear approaching, Federated Farmers and the NZ Shearing Contractors Association are backing moves to cut the woolshed contamination of wool. If successful, it could boost farmgate returns by a couple of million dollars each year.

“When you are dealing with a $700 million export, cutting wool contamination translates into a big opportunity for fibre farmers,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“As a farmer, the easiest way for us to increase our returns is to focus on what we can control. Woolshed contamination is a perfect example of this. . .

Head in a bucket – he does that every morning – Mad Bush Farm:

 He’s old, muddy, grumpy and he wasn’t making it any secret he wasn’t going to be sharing his breakfast with Ranger and the other little horses. As for me well the black eye has at last waned to a faded reminder of Muphy’s visit last week to the farm. The cows and naughty little Tempest, are finding out the hard way that an electrified wire is now on the road fence. We’ve had a few fine days, it’s still a bog hole here. My complaints are going unheeded by Mr Winter. He won’t be leaving until the end of August – darn. I’m going back to the mud now to complain some more or mayube I’ll just go and have a coffee instead

Talking of horses I found this beautiful tribute to the Arabian horse done with clips from the Black Stallion and other films. . .

Jousting for poll position – Milk Maid Marian:

Scuffles broke out right across the paddock as the weak winter sun lit the stage for a bovine pugilism festival. The cows were feeling magnificent and, unable to contain their energy, were ready to take on all comers.

The kids and I love watching the cows “do butter-heads” and the cows seem to love it, too. For every pair or trio engaged in warfare, there will be a group of curious onlookers and one scuffle seems to inspire more outbreaks.

Does butter-heads have a serious purpose though? Yes, it does. The herd has a very structured pecking order. Cows come into the dairy in roughly the same order every milking and the smallest and most timid are inevitably last. Mess them up by splitting the herd into seemingly random groups for a large-scale vet procedure like preg testing and you can expect trouble. . .


Rural round-up

June 2, 2013

$10m flour mill opens – Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand’s newest flour mill is “quintessentially New Zealand”, Prime Minister John Key says.

Mr Key was in Timaru yesterday to open Farmers Mill, the country’s only independently owned and operated flour producer.

The mill produces biscuit flour for food manufacturer Griffin’s, but in the near future will also produce a diverse range of flour, including bread and pizza flour.

“You can look out there and see wheat growing in a paddock in South Canterbury and know that it’s coming to a facility like this to be milled into a product like a chocolate chip biscuit,” Mr Key said. “Next time I’m having a Krispie in the Beehive, I’m going to know exactly where that Krispie came from.” . . .

Awards reflect change in focus

The changing face of farming is behind three new categories added to the South Island Farmer of the Year competition run by the Lincoln University Foundation this year.

Winners will each receive $5000 for the new categories in human resource management, technology use and efficient use of resources.

Furthermore, the competition’s top prize has been raised to $20,000.

Foundation board of trustees chairman Ben Todhunter said the top prize was given as a travel grant to allow the winners to go overseas to look at other farming practices, examine new technologies and innovations to improve their farm business. . .

Farmers should run the country – Alan Emmerson:

We’ve had a great autumn here in Wairarapa, according to some of the long term locals the best ever.

We now have a limited amount of cattle feed. I doubted the even remote possibility of that happening three short months ago.

It is all the more surprising considering that in early March we were in the throes of a massive drought. Again, according to some of the local crew, the worst ever.

Then in mid-March it bucketed down, around 180mm. It has been warm and raining ever since. . .

Couple’s composites take ewe hogget title – Terry Brosnahan:

A North Canterbury couple’s perfect recipe won them the 2013 New Zealand Ewe Hogget competition in Dunedin last week.

Jean and Robert Forrester’s composite hoggets scanned a colossal 150% last year and lambed 133%. The hoggets weighed 56kg three weeks before the competition judges’ visited.

National convener Stephen Rabbidge said the Forresters’ type of sheep and the production from them under a relatively high stocking made them winners.

“Every ingredient made the recipe perfect.” . . .

In the dog house and other rubbish – Mad Bush Farm:

We had to get Simon a new kennel, after he totally demolished his old one. You would think that being given a whole brand new warm new house to live in, would spark some excitement.

Yeah right.

Well he wouldn’t have anything to do with it for an entire week. Instead, despite the suggestion that it would keep him out of the weather, now that winter is well and truly setting in, the idiot would actually use it. No of course not. Instead he stubbornly sat on top of what was left of his old kennel, and slept out in the freezing cold. . .


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