Rural round-up

May 12, 2019

Changing GM policy will be good for the environment and Carbon Zero – Dr William Rolleston:

The Opportunities Party’s new policy on genetic modification(GM), which lines up with Australian law, has given New Zealand farmers hope that they too may be able to use genetic modification in their battle to improve water quality and mitigate climate change towards Carbon Zero.

During my time as Federated Farmers president, farmers, in response to scientific evidence, shifted their focus from increasing production to reducing our environmental footprint.  

We can continue to produce food and fibre while putting the least demand on our resources by improving productivity, benefiting both environment and farmer.  Local councils recognise this by regulating for environmental outcomes rather than blindly restricting inputs – for example, low water nitrogen targets rather than limiting fertiliser or cow numbers. . .

NZ embracing gene-editing is a ‘no-brainer’ – Geoff Simmons – Finn Hogan:

Successive New Zealand governments have been “deaf to developing science” says The Opportunities Party (TOP) leader Geoff Simmons.

TOP is calling for deregulation of a form of gene editing called CRISPR, a technique that can be used to remove undesirable traits from an organism or add desirable ones.

Gene editing (GE) could be used for things like removing the genetic trigger for cystic fibrosis in a person, making manuka more resilient to myrtle rust or helping kauri trees fight dieback. . .

African swine fever in China will affect NZ dairy sector: report – Sally Rae:

China’s devastating outbreak of African swine fever will have a spillover effect on the dairy sector, a new report by Rabobank says.

China is the world’s largest pork producer and accounts for about 50% of pork production globally.

The African swine fever epidemic was expected to reduce the country’s pork production by 25%-35%, resulting in increased demand for other animal proteins but lower demand for feedstuffs, the report said.

Rising demand for beef could constrain China’s milk production if dairy cow culling accelerated to fill some of the gap in animal protein demand. . .

From gate to plate’ farming on Country Calendar – Melenie Parkes:

When Ali and Dion Kilmister were looking to save on transport costs they bought their own stock truck, which Dion now drives. And when they wanted to sell their beef and lamb direct to customers, they set up their own online meat delivery business. 

With seven farms to run, the husband-and-wife team has had to rely on creativity and self-sufficiency. If there’s something they need, they make it a reality. 

Their farms are spread out across 200km from Dannevirke to Wellington. While operating over such a wide area has its problems, it also has distinct benefits.  . .

Bring on the tough challenges – Andrew Stewart:

Being the boss isn’t easy and it’s even harder going solo on tough hill country prone to long, cold winters and dry summers. But for Taihape farmer Mairi Whittle it’s her dream come true. Andrew Stewart called in to see how she’s getting on.

The Taihape to Napier highway is a sometimes snaky road surrounded by vast landscapes and prominent landmarks. 

Clean, green hills stretch as far as the eye can see and this strong farming country produces sought-after stock. 

But it can be a brutally challenging environment to farm in too. Winters at this altitude are long, cold and punctuated by snowfalls. Summers are becoming increasingly dry with rain far less dependable after the holiday period.  . .

Court rules dairy factory illegal:

SYNLAIT remains committed to its $250  million Pokeno factory despite a court decision that means the plant was built in breach of covenants restricting use of the land.

The milk powder maker says it is confident it can find a solution to the ownership problem now afflicting most of the land on which the factory stands because of the Court of Appeal decision.

That ruling effectively means the factory was built in breach of covenants on the land.
When Synlait bought the 28 hectares of land in February 2018 it was conditional on the seller, Stonehill Trustee, obtaining removal of that restricted its use to grazing, lifestyle farming or forestry
. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 24, 2018

Joint operation to check Nait compliance – Sally Rae:

Knowledge of the National Animal Identification and Tracing (Nait) system has increased in the wake of the Mycoplasma bovis response but some farmers are continuing to break the rules.

In a statement yesterday, compliance investigations manager Gary Orr said the Ministry for Primary Industries and Nait Ltd had been running joint operations around the country to check compliance with Nait requirements.

The disease response had highlighted the importance of tracing animal movements and having complete and accurate information available. It was critical all farmers complied with Nait and tracked all animal movements on and off their farms and those who weren’t were putting the rest of the industry in jeopardy, Mr Orr said. . . 

Manuka protection needs cash – Richard Rennie:

Manuka Honey Appellation Society members are optimistic money will be forthcoming for a bid to protect the manuka honey brand as a trade mark and ultimately as a Geographical Indication (GI).

A high-level conference on manuka’s status earlier this month was met with a largely positive reception from Government officials, society spokesman John Rawcliffe said.

Rawcliffe and others in the industry hope a cash injection to protect the brand for New Zealanders will soon be forthcoming.

“So far, as an industry group, we have invested $1 million into manuka honey for its protection and we have already seen the landmark decision made in the United Kingdom where their Trade Registry has accepted the filing of the term manuka as a certification mark,” Rawcliffe said. . . 

Farming at the southernmost point of NZ -Brittany Pickett:

Dot and Colin McDonald are farming at the end of the world.

Their 534 hectare Haldane farm Stonewood is only a skip away from Slope Point, the southernmost point in the South Island, making the couple among the southernmost farmers in the world.

They bought the west side of Stonewood in 2003, before buying the east side in 2005.

“We had to completely do it over,” Dot said.

Both properties were run-down, with extensive development needed. The one small woolshed was run by a generator, and other than that there were no buildings and almost non-existent fencing throughout the property. . .

Catch contest win a distraction – Neal Wallace:

Mairi Whittle is having quite a year. Last week she won the Fieldays Rural Catch competition and if that isn’t enough at the end of July she takes over her family’s Taihape sheep and beef farm. She spoke to Neal Wallace.

It is proving to be a busy few weeks for Mairi Whittle.

Having won the Golden Gumboot at the Fieldays Rural Catch Competition earlier this month she becomes the fourth generation of her family to run the 6000 stock unit, Makatote Station north east of Taihape at the end of July.

A former rural banker, Whittle, 28, and her family have been working on a succession plan, A former rural banker, Whittle, 28, and her family have been working on a succession plan, allowing her parents Jim and Maggie to retire from the hill-country sheep and beef farm. . .

 Irrigation helps out with sheep production, during dry times

While Walandi Farms White Suffolk and Poll Dorset stud was founded in 2007, moving to a new property has seen stud principals Ash and Janine Murphy seek new markets.

“We’ve moved to a new area and we thought we would open our gates to get some interest from people, where we are now,” Mr Murphy said.

Operating at Kotta, on the Echuca-Mitiamo road, Victoria, the Murphys were former dairy farmers. . .

Could agricultural robots replace glysophate

Glyphosate is a herbicide that’s used to kill undesired plants. Pulling up plants, or “weeding,” does the same thing without chemicals, but it’s very labor-intensive. What if tireless robots could weed fields cheaply?

Professor Simon Blackmore, head of robotic agriculture at the UK’s National Centre for Precision Farming at Harper Adams University in England, says that increasingly sensitive and precise sensors and instruments are being developed that can measure the “complex nature of the growing environment” on every square meter of farmland — the soil and water conditions; the presence of pests and diseases; the location of weeds, and the size of crop plants.

In addition to measuring the state of a crop, robots will be able to actively improve growing conditions, not least by getting rid of weeds. . .


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