Rural round-up

December 11, 2018

Plant a tree grow a community – Luke Chivers:

Matawai farmers Eugene and Pania King are dedicated to sustainability but it isn’t just about the environment. Luke Chivers reports.

Sheep and beef farmers Eugene and Pania King from Kiriroa Station at Matawai are combining their passion for the land with hard work and whanau support.

The couple have a longstanding connection with their family, their environment and their local community.

“We both grew up in rural New Zealand and a career in agriculture was inevitable,” Pania says.  . . 

 

Wee dog helps child farm safety – Alan Williams:

A serious little dachshund and a devil-may-care miniature fox terrier are the heroes in a new book aimed at making children safer on farms.

Ted the foxy races round doing silly things but Poppy is always close by teaching him to put his think-safe brain on.

“They’re both very small and they highlight just how small a child also is on a farm and through them being out and about I’m trying to help children understand about making good decisions,” author Harriet Bremner said. . . 

Farm safety story book launched in wake of tragedy:

A woman who lost her partner in a farm incident has launched a book to keep children safe on the farm.

Harriet Bremner’s partner James died in a farm machinery incident in Hakataramea Valley in January 2017. Now, her new book, Be Safe, Be Seen, sees her miniature dachshund Poppy take on the challenges of keeping safe on the farm as a little dog.

Primary School teacher Harriet hopes that kids will heed the safety messages in the book and that families reading the book to their children will be reminded to make safe choices at work every day. . . 

Fonterra’s strategic reset interacts with new Board dynamics – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s December update shows that the strategic reset is under way, albeit at an early stage.

Key indicators include that the Beingmate JV is being unwound and that Fonterra’s China Farms are under heightened scrutiny. The big shock is that Tip Top is on the market. The ownership of Soprole in Chile must also be under scrutiny, although little has been said publicly.

I will return to those issues within this article, but first it is necessary to understand something of the dynamics within the new Fonterra Board. . .

A2 rings in more executive changes under new CEO Hrdlicka – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka’s executive team is going through more changes as two senior managers depart – one for early retirement and one to pursue another opportunity.

Long-serving executive Simon Hennessy, who is currently general manager international development, will take early retirement. Relative newcomer Michael Bracka, who heads business development in emerging markets, will leave this month to pursue another opportunity, the company said. . . 

Major breakthrough for Mānuka farming initiative:

A ground-breaking milestone could see more Hawke’s Bay farmers producing high-grade mānuka honey worth millions to the New Zealand economy.

Scientifically-bred mānuka cultivars planted on a 130 hectare trial site at Tūtira, Hawke’s Bay between 2011 and 2013 have produced their first crop of mānuka honey with an average Unique Mānuka Factor (UMF®) value of 7. One sample reached medical grade by exceeding UMF® 10. . . 

Dairy and meat products lead manufacturing fall:

A fall in dairy and meat products pushed overall manufacturing sales down for the September 2018 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the volume of total manufacturing sales fell 1.6 percent in the September 2018 quarter. This fall was led by a 6.7 percent decrease in meat and dairy product manufacturing.

“Most meat and dairy products in New Zealand are exported and occasionally, the timing of exports, price changes, and exchange rates can affect manufacturing sales,” manufacturing statistics manager Sue Chapman said. . . 


Rural round-up

November 25, 2018

Love of cattle leads to stud – Fritha Tagg :

Determined 14-year-old Waikato girl Tayla Hansen who is putting her stamp on the Speckle Park beef breed is quite possibly once of the youngest stud owners in the land.

Hansen, who lives with her mum Brenda, dad Andrew and siblings Cooper, 12, Alexis, 9, and Mitchell, 7, on a small lifestyle block at Orini near Huntly is the proud owner of Limited Edition Speckle Park stud.

As a young girl attending a country school she always had a calf for calf club but had to give them back to the farmer. She wanted a calf of her own that she could keep.  . . 

Science and complexity a great challenge – Barbara Gilham:

Creating the perfect cow for New Zealand herds is at the heart of LIC’s work. Barbara Gilham reports.

THERE are three things Wayne McNee looks for in a job – complexity, challenges and science.

As the chief executive of Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) he is in charge of overseeing the nation’s herds and their reproductive performance so deals with all three daily.

Add to that about 700 staff throughout New Zealand, increasing to 2500 during the peak dairy breeding season and LIC’s offices in Britain, Ireland, Australia and the United States and agents in South America and South Africa and he has plenty to keep him occupied. . . 

Meet DairyNZ’s biosecurity team:

Diversity and reach come to mind when talking about DairyNZ’s biosecurity team, as each member comes from a different background and works with many others from DairyNZ and beyond. We put our biosecurity senior adviser Dave Hodges under the spotlight.

What does your team do and why?

There are four people in our team: Liz Shackleton started as biosecurity manager last month, based in Wellington, while Nita Harding and I are in Hamilton, and Katherine DeWitt is in Invercargill.

We work across science, policy and farmer engagement, focusing on insect pests, weeds and diseases and preventing new organisms getting into New Zealand. We talk directly with farmers and work with (and are supported by) DairyNZ staff across the business, plus others in the sector and elsewhere. . . 

Large scale mānuka investment a first for New Zealand:

Comvita has partnered with rural investment company MyFarm to offer New Zealanders the opportunity to own mānuka plantations for honey production.

MyFarm chief executive Andrew Watters said the collaboration was the first large scale mānuka investment of its kind in New Zealand and signalled a new era for North Island hill country profitability for specific locations.

“This partnership and investment opportunity ticks all the boxes. It will increase export returns from high value mānuka honey and generate excellent returns for investors. From an environmental perspective, we are storing carbon, reducing soil sediment loss and improving biodiversity. We don’t foresee a more green investment than this.” . . 

Achieving target weights in hoggets:

Veterinarians and farmers working together to improve stock performance must emphasise two aspects of hogget growth, say the authors of a guidebook published by Massey University Press.

These are, firstly, regular recording of bodyweight from weaning to first mating; and secondly, the monitoring of animal health and feed requirements.

Guessing the thrift and weight of ewe lambs and hoggets is not reliable; many a farmer who claims to have a ‘good eye’ for stock has been astonished when confronted with ‘hard data’ of weighed sheep. . . 

Red meat’s structure “a burning platform” – Shan Goodwin:

THE possibility the way the red meat industry is set up and run could be driving division between sectors of the supply chain is what has fuelled a review of the document that governs it, the Memorandum of Understanding.

In a rare and comprehensive insight into what is behind the forming of a high calibre taskforce to pick through the structure and operations of the industry, the man at the helm of industry umbrella body the Red Meat Advisory Council has spoken candidly about how resources and investment levels are perhaps being constrained.

Don Mackay says it is supply chains that produce food for customers, not farmers or processors operating in isolation. . . 


Rural round-up

October 1, 2018

Getting to the next generation – Glenys Christian:

Ken Hames thinks a lot about the big issues facing farming and society. He accepts change as part of life and gets on with doing the necessary work then moves on as he keeps looking to the future. He talked to Glenys Christian about his views on the challenges facing farmers and what they need to do to meet them.

Northland farmer Ken Hames always has an eye to the future.

So, when he pays local school children $1.20 for each tree they plant on his Paparoa farm he is already thinking about what will happen when they’re adults.

Seventy percent of them will be living in cities,” he said.

Rural New Zealand needs to get wider NZ on side to lock in our licence to farm and this is how we can influence the next generation. . .

 Nebraska tour generates new ideas :

A team of farmers and irrigation experts has returned from a trip to Nebraska with some fresh ideas about how to improve environmental management in New Zealand.

IrrigationNZ organised a five-day trip to Nebraska for its members. The 25-member team included 15 farmers; the team also included farm and environmental consultants and irrigation schemes and service industry representatives.

The party visited the Husker Harvest days – the world’s largest irrigated farm show, the University of Nebraska’s Water for Food Global Institute, research farms and research trials, irrigation schemes, natural resource districts which manage water resources and irrigation manufacturers.

 Study looks at kumera as potential baby health food–  Charlie Dreaver:

New Zealand researchers are hoping to find out if kumara could promote healthy bacteria in an infant’s gut.

The work is part of the High Value Nutrition National Science Challenge, using a technique dubbed ‘reverse metabolomics’.

Infant health programme principal investigator Clare Wall said when infants were introduced to solid food for the first time, they underwent a transformation of their microbiome, or gut bacteria. . .

Manuka scores in runoff trials  – Peter Burke:

A new field trial in Wairarapa is using native plants to clean up farm runoff into Lake Wairarapa.

Scientists from ESR (Institute of Environmental Science and Research) are looking at the potential of mānuka and other native trees to reduce the leaching of nitrate and other pathogens from farm runoff.

Dr Maria Gutierrez-Gines, a scientist at ESR, says laboratory work show that mānuka and kānuka enhance the die-off of E.coli in the soil and reduce nitrate leaching more effectively than pasture or pine trees.

On the farm – what’s happening in rural New Zealand:

What’s happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

The North island-Te Ika a Maui

In Northland, the farmer we called was drafting bulls on Friday morning. He suggested a good pair of eyes and one arm to draft well. As for the whole of the North Island it was cooler in the north this week, around 9 to 10 degree days. Farms are also a little wetter than usual so grass is only just turning a corner in terms of growth. Prices for store cattle are only just starting to pick up
.

Industry teams up to double genetic gain:

MerinoLink CEO and Project Manager Sally Martin has been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of participants in a project designed to double the rate of genetic gain in participating Merino flocks by 2022.

The DNA Stimulation project is a collaboration between the not-for-profit research group MerinoLink, University of New England, stud and commercial Merino breeders and MLA Donor Company (MDC).

It aims to double the rate of genetic gain among participating flocks within five years by providing breeding program support and expertise. . .


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. . .


Rural round-up

June 5, 2018

Cold facts don’t diminish need to look after farmers – Liam Dann:

Economists and business writers tread a fine line between staying true to the data and the reality of the experience suffered (or enjoyed) by individuals.

There is a risk of coming across cold and robotic.

Take the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

I felt a little cold hearted this week pointing out the scale of the cattle cull is not statistically large. . .

Not worth the stress farmer says – Sally Rae:

Mycoplasma bovis-affected farmer Kerry Dwyer believes the huge amount of stress placed on farmers through the massive cull of cattle will not be worth the result.

Last Monday, the Government unveiled an $886 million plan to eliminate the disease, rather than undertake long-term management. If successful, New Zealand would be the first country in the world to do so.

The cull, of about 126,000 cattle in addition to the 26,000 well under way, would take place over one to two years.

Mr Dwyer, who voluntarily sent 400 calves to slaughter, said success relied on the premise the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) testing regime was accurate and no animals “slip through the net . .

Farmers roast MPI – Annette Scott:

The heat was on Ministry for Primary Industries officials as they sat before 800 farmers at a where-to-from-here Mycoplasma bovis meeting in Ashburton last week.

As the questions and criticism flew from the floor so did the eyebrows rise at the front table that included MPI director-general Martyn Dunne, MPI response veterinary adviser Eve Pleydell and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

The turnout was indicative of the concern the district stands to lose 25% of its dairy herd. . .

Demand for seedlings stuns mānuka farming group – Esther Taunton:

An offer of free mānuka seedlings has been so popular, the scheme is almost 200 per cent oversubscribed. 

Mānuka Farming New Zealand (MFNZ) offered 1.8 million seedlings to landowners, enough to cover about 1635 hectares across New Zealand.  Within a week, 70 applications were received, accounting for 3.6 million seedlings.  . .

All the cowshed is a stage for singing dairy farmer – Jane Matthews:

Every day Patrick Johnson dresses up for work and sings to a crowd of 750 for about three hours.

But Johnson’s not a musician; his costume is an apron and gumboots and the audience never applaud him – they’re cows.

Johnson is a South Taranaki dairy farmer who recently started recording himself singing while he was milking cows and posting a video on the internet everyday in an attempt to make fellow farmers smile. . . 

 

Taking the lead on water – Sally Rae:

Irrigation New Zealand has been involved in the development of Good Farming Practice: Action Plan for Water Quality which will be launched tomorrow. Sally Rae talks to Irrigation NZ chief executive Andrew Curtis about water — and his varied career.

Andrew Curtis has no interest in “getting back to old Blighty”.

The affable English-born chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand (INZ) is happily settled in Canterbury with his family.

Their lifestyle block is stocked with Belted Galloway cattle and they consider New Zealand “home. . .

We have a responsibility to help our farmers says chef and restauranteur Matt Moran – Matt Moran:

I’m proud to say that I’m a fourth-generation farmer. I had a rural upbringing on a cattle and dairy farm near Tamworth and still have a commercial farm in the NSW Central Tablelands.

Throughout my childhood we, like most farmers, hit both bad times and good and I thank this rural upbringing for instilling in me a work ethic and a certain toughness. It also gave me a genuine understanding of just how hard farmers work to supply us with the food we rely on at every meal and the quality we demand.

With all the discussion these days about food and sustainability, many of our farmers are struggling to be sustainable in even the most basic sense of making ends meet. . . 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

January 13, 2018

Seasonal labour a vital ingredient – Mike Chapman:

Research New Zealand recently conducted a survey reporting on the impacts of the RSE scheme, where it has directly enabled:

– The area under cultivation to expand consistently over the last three years.

– The employment of more permanent and seasonal New Zealand workers.

– A more stable workforce, with better and more productive workers.

RSE workers supplement other seasonal employees, and account for roughly one in five of all seasonal workers across the country. In areas where unemployed is very low, more RSE workers are employed, while in areas with higher unemployment, fewer RSE workers are employed. . .

Storm helped cure dry spell for Waikato farmers – Ruby Nyika:

The storm that battered the North Island last week left lasting damage for some.

But for farmers, the heavy dump of rain was magic.

The lengthy dry spell that preceded it had been stressful.

I think it’s been a bit of a relief for every farmer,” Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven said. “Not for the poor townies having their holidays, but for farmers it’s been a relief to get some moisture back in the ground.” . .

MPI and dairy industry extend milk testing programme for Mycoplasma bovis:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and its dairy industry partners have decided to extend the current Mycoplasma bovis milk testing underway in Canterbury, Otago and Southland into a national milk surveillance programme.

While there is no indication that the disease is present beyond the areas currently identified, checking for other possible regional clusters is essential to building a complete picture of the disease in New Zealand.

The programme will involve testing 3 milk samples from every dairy farm. One sample will be taken from bulk milk as part of the regular sampling process at milk collection. Farmers will also be required to provide 2 samples from ‘discard milk’ (milk unsuitable for collection, for example, from cows with mastitis). Mycoplasma bovis is more easily identified in milk taken from otherwise sick animals, which makes testing of the discard milk a valuable surveillance tool. . .

Concern about cattle disease in Hawes Bay – Jill Galloway:

Manawatū and Tararua dairy farmers are getting anxious about future outbreaks of Mycoplasma bovis after the disease was confirmed in Hawke’s Bay.

Farmers are looking more closely at the source of their feed supplies and where they graze their young stock.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman, Murray Holdaway said he hoped the Ministry for Primary Industries would be able to tell farmers more in the coming weeks.

“Not as many cows go to [Hawke’s Bay] as there used to be six to eight years ago, but it is always an alternative if things get really tight on the feed front, here.” . . 

Trans-Tasman war of words over ‘mānuka’ honey gets stickier :

Australia’s honey industry is calling for an armistice in the ongoing battle over use of the term “mānuka honey”, after Tasmanian producers claimed they produced it first.

The Australian Mānuka Honey Association says New Zealand apiarists should join forces with their Ocker cousins to peacefully assert Antipodean dominance over the global market.

Mānuka honey is produced by European bees feasting on the pollen of the plant Leptospermum scoparium – known here by its Māori name, mānuka. . . 

Celebrity farmer suggests badger caused death of sheep on viral social media post :

A celebrity farmer has caused a stir on social media after suggesting badgers killed his sheep.

Martin Irvine, who has appeared in BBC documentary This Farming Life, posted a photo on social media of his dead sheep with a gory wound.

Mr Irvine wrote on Facebook: “Badgers decided to have this ewe for Christmas dinner, she’s still alive for now. About time we were allowed to control this destructive vermin!” . .


Rural round-up

October 3, 2017

Mānuka roots found to assist water quality – Alexa Cook:

A new study has found that mānuka and kānuka plants reduce nitrate leaching into waterways.

Researchers planted young mānuka, kānuka, and radiata pine trees in containers, called lysimeters, which measure drainage and evapotranspiration from the soil, and then fertilised the plants with urea for 15 weeks.

They applied the equivalent of 800kg per hectare to each pot to simulate urine patches, because research shows that on grazed land, animal urine adds nitrogen at rates up to 1000kg a hectare, contributing up to 70 percent of nitrate leachates. . .

Westland Milk vows to up game – Simon Hartley:

Beleaguered Westland Milk Products has achieved a profit turnaround and promised co-op shareholders to do better this dairy season.

It has also confirmed its target forecast payout range of $6.40-$6.80.

Westland Milk Products payout to farmers of $3.88 per kilogram of milk solids, was the lowest in the country in the 2015-16 season, as the company booked a $10.3million loss. . . 

One new property positive for Mycoplasma bovis:

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ testing programme has identified one new property as positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The newly identified property is a Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farm which was already under a Restricted Place notice under the Biosecurity Act. . . 

New Zeapri chief picks up reins

Zespri’s chief executive of nine years Lain Jager stepped aside last week for new executive and long-time company man Dan Mathieson. Mathieson spoke to Richard Rennie about where he sees the marketer going after a period that has included the worst of times and the best of times for the industry.

Only four days into his new position Dan Mathieson is having to think hard about how he will balance the local, supply-focused challenges of growing more fruit in Bay of Plenty and beyond with the rocketing market growth being experienced out of the company’s Singapore marketing hub.

To help achieve that he intended to spend his time split evenly between head office in Bay of Plenty and the Singapore base he had headed up as Zespri’s global sales and marketing manager. . .

Beef exports hitting headwinds – Simon Hartley:

Further declines in beef prices have been predicted as the strength of the New Zealand dollar and falling United States prices weigh more heavily on exporters.
Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate said beef prices had dropped “marginally lower” during the past quarter.

However, further downward price pressure was expected in the months ahead from increased Japanese tariffs on frozen beef imports, creating additional headwinds for Kiwi exporters, he said. . .

Win propels youngster on confidence track:

The confidence boost from winning the 2010 Dairy Trainee of the Year award is propelling a young sharemilker along a valuable career track, he says.
Blake Korteweg, a young herd manager from Otago, in 2010 entered the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and won the Southland-Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year competition.

Later that year at the national awards gala dinner in Rotorua he was named 2010 Dairy Trainee of the Year.. . .

 

 


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