Rural round-up

October 23, 2019

No change to methane targets – Neal Wallace:

Methane reduction targets are to remain but the Environment Select Committee considering submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill is recommending greater safeguards for using forestry to offset emissions.

The committee recommends the proposed Climate Change Commission be given power to consider the form of greenhouse gas emission targets to ensure targets stay fit for purpose and to consider the impact of forestry offsets.

Another change will allow the commission to recommend changes to the 2050 targets if a significant change is likely to occur. . .

Fonterra’s milk price forecast will cheer farmers but govt has given ample cause for grumbling to persist – Point of Order:

At  last,  a  break in the  clouds for  NZ’s  dairy farmers :  Fonterra  suppliers  could be looking at a  sharp  lift in income,  as the co-op revises   its  forecast  range for the  milk price   to $6.55-$7.55 kg/MS.And  the signals  are   strong enough to underpin projections the  milk price  will rise to its  highest level  since  2014  when the price  hit $8.40.

This  may  diminish, if not completely  halt, the   grumbling in the cowsheds  at  Fonterra’s  dismal  performance  over the last  couple of  seasons, racking  up  losses and  cutting  its dividend.

Whether  it  will  eliminate  the  animosity towards the government,  which  is  proposing to penalise dairy farmers  over  methane emissions and through its freshwater  policy, is  less certain. . .

Digging deeper into soil’s black box – Dr Jacqueline Rowarth:

Could soil organic matter be used for carbon credits?

Organic matter is the black box of the soil: it determines many factors in biological activities but predicting the outcomes of those biological activities is not easy.

With sand, silt and clay, organic matter affects soil structure, porosity, drainage and nutrient availability. It supports soil organisms by providing energy and nutrients for growth and reproduction.  . .

Vaccinations protect people, animals – Mark Ross:

As we struggle to fathom how we ended up in the throes of a measles outbreak again, we’re reminded of the importance of vaccinations to protect us from life-threatening diseases.

This is no less true for animals which can share diseases with people. Vaccination vastly improves the health of people and animals and is vital for continuing to meet the health challenges of growing populations. . .

Is technology a threat to dairy? – Danielle Appleton :

The New Zealand dairy industry is facing major disruption from synthetic dairy, similar to the synthetic fibres that triggered the decline of the wool industry in the 1980s.

Technology companies are now making real dairy products, without cows. 

Their aim is to make real dairy products far cheaper than traditional farming can within the next 10 to 15 years. . .

Dairy price prospects firm :

Prospects for a $7-plus farmgate milk price in 2020 have firmed with the lower New Zealand dollar value and a spring production peak that might not reach any great height.

ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny believes the NZ dollar falling below US63c is worth up to 50c/kg to the milk price after the delay of the Fonterra currency hedging policy works through.

Fonterra was already forecasting $6.25-$7.25/kg ahead of any currency boost and ASB has pegged $7 before the possible currency upside, Penny said. . .

$2800 a jar: Hawke’s Bay company’s Manuka honey vintage now the most expensive in world :

One single windswept tree block has produced the most extraordinary and expensive Mānuka honey that the world has ever seen.

Ahuriri-based The True Honey Co is now selling its supplies of its 2017 Rare Harvest to luxury retailers such as Selfridges and Harrods in London.

The retailers are buying up to 10 of the 230 gram jars at a time to secure a supply with each jar selling for £1388 (NZD$2815) in the United Kingdom. . .

Why farmers  should avoid magic and opt for science -Phil Holmes and Ian McLean:

Unfortunately, and to its detriment, broadacre agriculture is not always an evidence-based industry at producer level.

Yes, there are areas where evidence drives what is done, but it is far from universal. Too much attention is placed on fads and searches for silver bullets.

By way of contrast, consider engineering. If it was not based on hard evidence, planes would fall out of the sky, buildings would collapse and bridges would cave in. It is the ultimate discipline in everyday life. . .

 


Rural round-up

September 26, 2019

Trees don’t pay tax. Government’s Action for Healthy Waterways discussion document a massive subsidy for tree planting:

Environmental lobby group 50 Shades of Green says the government’s policy document on waterways will provide a massive subsidy for forestry.

Spokesman, Andy Scott said the problem was it would make sheep and beef farming less economic thereby encouraging farmers to walk away and sell their land for trees.

“Modelling suggesting 68% of dry stock farms in the Waikato/Waipa catchment would be converted to forestry as a direct result of the proposed regulations will send a chill through the entire sheep and beef industry,” Andy Scott said. . .

Time for a ‘cup of tea’ over trees policy:

Minister Jones Needs Assurance That His ‘Trees Fund Branching Out’ Doesn’t End up as a Knot According to 50 Shades of Green.

Conservation Group 50 Shades of Green supports Minister Jones in his efforts to put the right tree in the right place.

It also supports Iwi initiatives to regenerate native bush.

What it doesn’t support is easy access for foreign investors and carbon speculators to plant good farmland in trees for no other reason than to claim carbon credits. . .

Millions poured to ensure mānuka honey is a NZ only product  – Yvette McCullough:

The government is allocating nearly $6 million to a campaign to stop Australian beekeepers marketing their products as “mānuka” honey.

The Mānuka Honey Appellation Society is being granted $5.7 million through the Provincial Growth Fund, including a $1.7 million loan, to help in its bid to secure international property rights.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones accused Australian honey producers of trying to steal what was indigenous to New Zealand. . .

Major dairy producer unveils $30m expansion:

When a group of dairy families opened Idaho Milk Products a decade ago, the company faced a murky future at best.

The $80 million facility began churning out cream and protein during a recession, at a time of painfully low milk prices.

“These dairy families risked everything,” Idaho Dairymen’s Association CEO Rick Naerebout said. “They rolled the dice, put everything on the line that their families had built for generations.”

Ten years and a $30 million plant expansion later, it looks like the gamble is paying off. . .

Welsh dairy farmers plan to blockade lorries of ‘cheap’ Irish beef :

Farmers in Wales are planning to disrupt Irish trucks carrying beef from entering Wales via the Port of Holyhead.

The blockade is planned for Friday 27 September.

According to North Wales Live, the protest is a result of farmer complaints that “prices are down £150-£200 (€170-€ 226) on this time last year, blaming the slump on imports” coupled with the uncertainty of Brexit.

Farmers are urged to make a stand against “rock-bottom beef prices and ‘subsidised’ Irish beef imports.”. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 23, 2019

Leaked report sheds light on mine project – Simon Hartley:

The prospect of an open pit diatomite mine in Middlemarch has caused division, and many are concerned about the effects of hundreds of trucks, mine dust, and the loss of Foulden Maar (MAAR), a “pre-eminent” fossil cache.

There are also corporate links to controversial palm oil plantation developments.

With no information released since mid-2018, Simon Hartley revisits the proposal, based on a leaked investment document penned by investment bankers Goldman Sachs.

A proposal to mine diatomite near Middlemarch for the next almost 30 years appears to have stalled as feasibility studies and regulatory hurdles take their toll. . . 

Farmstrong: Stop and sell the roses :

Time off farm is the number one wellbeing priority for farmers but many are still reluctant to take breaks. 

Kate and Mike Gee-Taylor of Rangiwahia are on a mission to change that.

They own a typical family farm, a 566ha sheep and beef operation in hill country at Rangiwahia in Manawatu. Mike grew up there and met Kate 28 years ago. They still both love the area and the lifestyle.

But life’s thrown up a few challenges too. Two years ago Kate fell ill and nearly died. It took 30 units of blood to save her. . .

Otago farm’s food award:

The Crutchley family from Maniototo high country have claimed a top award in this year’s Food Producer Awards with their Provenance lamb.

The family’s Provenance brand won the Ara Wines Paddock Champion Award for a lamb product judges praised for its juiciness, moistness and good flavours. 

David and Glenis Crutchley’s 6121ha dryland farming operation near Naseby transitioned from conventional farming systems to biological farming eight years ago. They dropped conventional fertilisers for fish-based nutrients and a focus on building up soil micro-bacterial activity. . . 

Representing dairy in the south – Sally Rae:

On May 11, the national winners of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be announced at a black-tie awards dinner at TSB Arena in Wellington. The South will be represented by Southland-Otago share farmers of the year Cameron and Nicola van Dorsten, farm manager of the year James Matheson and dairy trainee of the year Caycee Cormack. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae attended the regional winners field day at the van Dorstens’ property last week.

Farm ownership remains one of the goals of Taieri dairy farmers Cameron and Nicola van Dorsten.

The couple, who won this year’s Southland-Otago share farmer of the year in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, are 50:50 sharemilking 575 cows on a 204ha farm owned by Ray Parker and Sharon Corcoran

Businesses using blockchain, invisible ink to protect mānuka honey – Esther Taunton:

Jars of mānuka honey are being marked with invisible ink and tracked with blockchain technology in an effort to keep counterfeit products off the market.

The honey has become such a precious commodity, producers are using increasingly high-tech methods to prevent imitation.

Midlands Apiaries, manufacturers of Puriti mānuka honey, has introduced jars with 11 consumer security and anti-counterfeit features, including invisible ink and laser etching. . .

Farming is tough but we don’t always want it easy – Glen Herud:

The hard thing about doing hard things is it’s always a lot harder than you expect.

So it’s best to quit right at the start of the project. Quitting early will save a lot of heartache and pain.

The only time you should not quit is when you’re absolutely prepared to pay the price that this difficult project will inflict on you.

But the problem is we don’t really know what the true cost is until we’re well into a hard project. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 22, 2019

Farming to create fresh air – Luke Chivers:

When people think of farming, few think of carbon farming. But Canterbury farmers Warrick and CeCe James are using agriculture to feed people and fight climate change. Luke Chivers spoke to them on-farm.

Imagine carbon emissions and what springs to mind? 

Most people tend to think of power stations belching out clouds of carbon dioxide or queues of vehicles burning up fossil fuels as they crawl, bumper-to-bumper along congested urban roads. 

But in Canterbury’s picturesque Selwyn Gorge the owners of a forest of 18-year-old pine and Douglas fir trees are confident that at harvest age the trees will still be worth more alive than dead and will continue to be indefinitely. . .

Lower carbon food chain challenges – Richard Rennie:

A dive into the little-known field of energy return on investment for his Nuffield Scholarship was the extension of a long-held interest for Solis Norton of Otago. It measures energy flows through New Zealand’s primary food chains to see how we might move to zero emissions by 2050 while remaining a viable economy. He spoke to Richard Rennie.

Nuffield scholar Solis Norton acknowledges the area of energy return on investment (EROI) is not top of mind for many but his year’s study found the field holds important tools for one of this country’s most pressing demands – getting to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Mapping out the transition to carbon zero using economics is a good starting point but mapping our true energy use during the transition is critical too. This is what EROI does. Our path to carbon-zero economic prosperity will collapse if we run short of energy along the way.”  . . 

Mānuka honey regulatory definition throws industry into turmoil :

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) regulatory definition of mānuka honey has thrown the honey industry into turmoil and European authorities are beginning to notice there’s something wrong, a Northland honey expert says.

Dr John Craig, a veteran beekeeper and former professor of environmental studies, said the ministry’s challenged the industry to prove that its definition needs to change.

But he said the ministry’s own research has already done that. . .

High octane’ deer feeds examined at workshop – Yvonne O’Hara:

”High octane” feed was the subject at the Otago Advance Party regional workshop in Poolburn last week.

Deer farmers and industry representatives met at the Poolburn/Moa Creek Hall last Wednesday in a meeting organised by Abacusbio consultant Simon Glennie.

The Advance Party workshop was part of the deer industry’s Passion2Profit programme.

The group visited Poolburn deer farmer Cam Nicolson’s property to look at his deer, then returned to the hall to discuss how he could improve growth rates and profits by using ”high octane” forages. . .

 

Capturing the spirit of New Zealand by turning sheep’s milk into booze – Esther Taunton:

Like many off-the-wall ideas, Sam Brown’s came to him on a night out with friends.

The Kiwi entrepreneur and founder of The White Sheep Co was living in China when he realised New Zealand had no national drink.

“I was out with friends and we decided to have a drink for everybody’s country.

“We had a bit of tequila for a guy from Mexico, some vodka for a guy from Russia and even some brandy for a person from France,” he said. . .

Regional wrap:

Northland still has green grass everywhere, but there’s not much of it .. normally farms would be knee deep in kikuyu and it would be a challenge to manage it, but that’s not the case. It’s not a disaster but lots of dairy herds have been partially dried off.

Outstanding autumn weather has been the main feature this week for Franklin vege growers .. in fact for much of the North Island. . .


Rural round-up

April 4, 2019

Beef and lamb campaign chases conscious foodies – Alan Williams:

Up to 16 million conscious foodies in California are the target of a major new beef and lamb marketing project.

The aim is to make New Zealand top-of-mind for a group passionate about the idea of grass-fed red meat and wanting to know where it comes from.

After months of research Taste Pure Nature was launched in California on March 20 and straight away there were 151 automatic pick-ups on the multi-media release, providing potentially millions of potential impressions among individual consumers, Beef + Lamb NZ market development general manager Nick Beeby said. . . 

‘Devastated’ Northland mānuka honey producers seek chemical markers definition review from MPI – Lois Williams:

The legal definition of mānuka honey could change, if new evidence shows the chemical makeup of the honey is different in Northland, MPI says.

Far North honey producers say the Ministry of Primary Industries’ regulatory definition, published a year ago, excludes up to 50 percent of their honey, based on just one chemical marker – even in areas where the bees have nothing but mānuka to feed on.

About 80 beekeepers and honey producers from Auckland to Kaitaia turned out to challenge MPI scientists at a hui yesterday at Ōtiria marae, near Kaikohe.

They believe the definition established to protect New Zealand’s mānuka brand overseas fails to take into account regional variations in the chemical makeup of the honey. . . 

Diversified and innovative Whangarei orchard wins Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A Whangarei family growing raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and green and gold kiwifruit have won the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The Malley family of Patrick and his wife Rebecca and their children Austin, 4, and Eloise, 1, and Patrick’s parents Dermott and Linzi own and operate their diversified horticulture business, Maungatapere Berries, just outside Whangarei.

Raspberries are the biggest berry crop, processed through a packhouse on the orchard, and sold domestically under their own Maungatapere Berries brand along with blackberries, and blueberries under the Eureka brand. Kiwifruit canopy extends over 16.25ha, including 3.36ha of Gold 3 under cover, to target high-taste, high-production, early season fruit. . . 

Diversity and tolerance – now is the time –  Karen Williams:

Federated Farmers arable sector chairwoman Karen Williams says it is time for bold leadership.

With the traumatic events in Christchurch front of mind it has been hard to focus on topics worthy of commentary when so many of our daily tribulations seem comparatively insignificant.

This atrocity is beyond belief.

It has severely affected the Christchurch community, stunned and saddened New Zealand and sent shock waves around the globe. 

Is there something we can take out of this that will at least in some small way add value to a grieving country?

I believe there is. . . 

Australian snail farmer struggling to keep up with demand

Snails, ants and even fried cockroaches are increasingly popping up on Australian menus, as people seek more environmentally friendly meat.

However, with extreme weather and increased popularity, Australian snail farmers are struggling to meet demand.

Claudia Ait-Touati is a not-for-profit snail farmer in Coonalpyn, about 150 km south-east of Adelaide. . . 

Another pea weevil free year needed in the Wairarapa:

The current Biosecurity New Zealand ban on pea growing in the Wairarapa is knocking down the pea weevil population, but another pea weevil free year is needed to be confident of eradication.

The pest was first discovered in the Wairarapa in 2016 and has been subject to an eradication programme since then.

“Our trapping programme did not find any pea weevils in the 2018 surveillance, which is a promising result after the discovery of just 15 the previous season, says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Dr Cath Duthie. . . 

Kiwifruit orchard with growth potential for sale:

One of closest commercial kiwifruit orchards to Auckland’s urban boundary – with potential to treble its production capacity – been placed on the market for sale.

Known as MacLachlan Orchard, the 12.2-hectare property at 90 Mullins Road in Ardmore is planted on flat land, and is forecast to produce some 42,000 trays of fruit in the current season.

The orchard’s 3.3 canopy hectares of productive land comprises some 2.29-canopy hectares of the Hayward green kiwifruit variety and 1.07 canopy hectares of the G3 gold kiwifruit strain picked off vines which were grafted some six years ago. . . 


Rural round-up

February 6, 2019

Could turning aquifers into managed reservoirs prevent water shortages and seawater contamination?  – Nikki Macdonald:

It seems the neatest of solutions: take the winter water that rages, unneeded, to the sea, put it in a great underground tank, and drag it out again as the summer dry threatens to brown the grass and suck the life out of parched apples, lettuces, peas.

Managed aquifer recharge is the new buzz phrase in the search for answers to New Zealand’s twin problems of increasingly scarce water and weed-choked rivers toxic enough to kill fish.

Proponents tout it as a potential solution to everything from aquifers being sucked dry by irrigation to nitrogen pollution to seawater contamination of drinking water supplies. But critics say it could actually worsen New Zealand’s water pollution problems. . .

Slaughtered cattle dumped in WhanganuI puts spotlight on stock theft bill  – Liz Wylie:

The remains of two slaughtered cattle have been found dumped at Languard Bluff in Whanganui following numerous reports of livestock thefts and moves to introduce tougher penalties for those convicted of such crimes.

Spotted by passersby early yesterday morning, the remains appeared to be fresh and there was still a considerable amount of meat on the bones.

Stock thefts have long been a concern for Rangitīkei MP Ian McKelvie who has introduced a private member’s bill in Parliament to seek tougher penalties for those caught. . .

NZ commodity prices have strong start to 2019  – Rebecca Howard:

New Zealand commodity prices rose in January, arresting the downward trend of the past seven months, ANZ Bank’s monthly commodity price index shows.

The world price index rose 2.1 percent last month but was down 2.1 percent from a year earlier. In local currency terms, the index rose 2.9 percent on the month and 3.8 percent on the year. ..

Vertical farming is not the answer: New Zealand food security in jeopardy at current urbanisation levels – Pearly Neo:

A New Zealand report has revealed that the country’s horticultural industry and food security could face increasing challenges if it intends to rely on vertical farming to replace crops lost to a lack of land post-urbanisation.

This is mainly because vertical farming requires high investment costs, particularly when it comes to paying for electricity to provide suitable artificial conditions for crop growth. . . 

Honey NZ commits to 5 year Manuka planting programme:

One of New Zealand’s largest producers of Manuka honey has committed to plant at least 360,000 Manuka seedlings in the first half of this year, creating what it claims will be one of the biggest privately-owned Manuka plantations worth millions to the country’s future economy.

Auckland based Honey New Zealand has recently added 4,000 acres of land to its owned supply chain in a remote region of native bushland near the town of Taupo. . . 

Nelson Forests’ acquisition of Manuka Island estate confirmed by Overseas Investment Office:

OneFortyOne (OFO) has received confirmation that the Overseas Investment Office has approved Nelson Forests’ acquisition of Manuka Island estate in New Zealand. The completion date for the purchase will be mid-late February.

The Manuka Island estate, currently owned by Merrill and Ring, is approximately 2000 hectares of forest in the Wairau Valley near Blenheim. . .

Comment from Grant Rosewarne, CEO of New Zealand King Salmon:

I stand by the statement that finfish aquaculture has the potential to become New Zealand’s most valuable industry and its greenest primary industry. Salmon farming is one of the most efficient forms of animal food production in the world, and we categorically affirm that our farms are managed in balance with the environment.

The NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers have misunderstood a lot of New Zealand King Salmon’s farming practices and have made the mistake of assuming that fish farming in other countries can be directly compared to New Zealand. The article makes allegations about our farming practices that are unsubstantiated and incorrect. . .


Rural round-up

November 8, 2018

Peony growers flat out until Christmas – Ella Stokes:

As spring turns into summer,  the peony growing season is in full swing. Last week, reporter Ella Stokes went to catch up with Mosgiel grower Rodger Whitson, of Janefield Paeonies and Hydroponics, to see what it involves.

What started as a plan to diversify their property is now a full-time business for Rodger and Cindy Whitson, who have 10,000 peony plants on their 4ha block in Mosgiel.

In 2000, Mr Whitson, originally a meat worker, and Mrs Whitson, a dispensary technician, were looking into ways they could diversify their property.

After looking at a range of flowers to grow, they decided peonies were the best option. . . 

Mānuka honey: who really owns the name and the knowledge – Jessica C Lai:

Adulterated honey and fake mānuka honey have repeatedly made headlines in recent years.

The arguments around adulterated honey are relatively simple. These honeys are diluted with cheaper syrups and their lack of authenticity is unquestionable. The discourse around mānuka honey is different, as there are serious questions about what authentic mānuka honey actually means.

Two warring families

The term mānuka carries with it a premium. Mānuka honey is made from the nectar of the Leptospermum scoparium flower. This plant is native to New Zealand and south-east Australia. It is, thus, not surprising that much of the war around the term mānuka has played out between Australian and New Zealand producers.

There are many registered trademarks in Australia and New Zealand that include the word mānuka and relate to honey-based products. In July, the Australian Manuka Honey Association filed to protect its name. . . 

Research to help regions plan for tourism growth:

Lincoln University is making a major investment to support and grow our understanding of tourism.

A new Lincoln University Centre of Excellence, called ‘Sustainable Tourism for Regions, Communities and Landscapes’, has been created to tackle the dual challenge of growing the value of tourism and enriching the tourist experience in Aotearoa New Zealand, while restoring, protecting and enhancing the quality of regional destinations.

The multi-disciplinary centre is drawing on the expertise of researchers from across the university in such diverse areas as destination management, landscape design, policy and planning, marketing, rural regeneration, parks and protected areas, resource economics and community resilience. . . 

Limited progress on China dairy safeguards ups the ante for other negotiations:

News that the review of the China-New Zealand FTA is unlikely to result in improvement for dairy access is disappointing for the New Zealand dairy industry. The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) says this increases the importance of high quality and timely access improvements for dairy from the other trade negotiations currently underway.

“Despite the close relationship that New Zealand and China enjoy, New Zealand dairy exports to China continue to incur over a $100 million in tariffs each year, with the safeguards regularly triggered in early January” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey. “Additionally New Zealand exporters of milk powder, cheese, and butter will be at a growing tariff disadvantage relative to Australian competitors until these safeguards end in 3-5 years”. . . 

Construction of purpose-built cannabis cultivation and medicine manufacturing facilities on the East Coast is now progressing with Hikurangi Cannabis Company announcing its first wholesale investment round is fully funded.

A small number of high net worth investors have contributed an initial $7 million to complete the next stage of development for the first New Zealand company to receive a cultivation license. Another investment offer is likely to be pursued in the new year as milestones are achieved to further accelerate research and development activities. . .

Joint agreement to protect onion industry:

Biosecurity New Zealand and Onions New Zealand Inc have reached an agreement on funding to prepare for future biosecurity responses.

Both parties signed a Sector Readiness Operational Agreement today (7 November).

“The agreement demonstrates commitment to working in a strong partnership to strengthen readiness for incursions of specific pests and diseases,” says Andrew Spelman, Biosecurity NZ’s Acting Director, Biosecurity Readiness. . . 

Pioneering cattle grazing block up for sale set to become avocado or kiwifruit orchard:

A portion of a pioneering cattle grazing and fattening farm that has been owned by members of the same family for 178 years has been placed on the market for sale.

The 23-hectare property at Maungatapere some 11 kilometres west of Whangarei was formerly a much bigger dairy farm known as Crystal Springs which was the first pedigree Jersey stud in Northland, with a gene-poll of breeding cattle brought out from the United Kingdom. . . 


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