Rural round-up

August 17, 2016

Canterbury sheep sales dry up in drought – Thomas Mead and Annabelle Tukia:

Canterbury livestock sales are starting to feel the impact of the region’s long-running drought, with stock numbers plummeting and prices on the rise.

PGG Wrightson auctioneer Nic Denton says after two dry seasons, many locals have already destocked due to a lack of feed. It was “particularly quiet” with stock numbers down by around 50 percent.

“There’s been some very tough decisions made in north Canterbury with destocking, so obviously it’s a flow-on effect from that,” he says.

“Most of our clients in north Canterbury are probably seeing two-thirds of what they usually carry in normal season.” . . .

Flaxbourne Community Irrigation Scheme considers the benefit of smaller dams – Mike Watson:

A proposed multi-million dollar rural irrigation scheme in Marlborough may use several smaller dams rather than one large dam, supporters of the scheme say.

Cost assessments of the Flaxbourne Community Irrigation Scheme show options available including extracting water from nearby rivers, building more than one dam site for storage, and altering pipe size and pipeline routes.

Ward farmer Kevin Loe said the multiple dam option was being considered by supporters of the scheme as a way to stage the timing of costs to better fit with uptake demand. . . 

Trout disappear from didymo-affected rivers – Hamish Clark:

Trout numbers in the South Island are under threat from the invasive freshwater algae didymo, a new study has found.

University of Canterbury researcher Professor Jon Harding found trout, previously in 20 South Island rivers, are now absent in 60 percent of the rivers with a high didymo biomass.

“The results of our study are of particular concern. We have assumed for some time that didymo will have an impact on fish, but these results show both native fish and introduced sports fish are all being affected by didymo,” Prof Harding says. . . 

Heartland lessens dairy risk – Alan Williams:

Growth in lending has slightly lowered Heartland Bank’s relative exposure to dairy farm debt.  

The dairy sector made up 7% of all lending on the June 30 full-year balance date, compared to 8% on December 31.  

The net group loan book (receivables) on June 30 was $3.21 billion, up $252 million or 9% on a year earlier. . . 

The big question unasked – Craig Wiggins:

The rain and snow turned up on cue with the calves hitting the ground and the banks putting the brakes on spending.  

In some cases paying the necessary outgoings such as winter grazing and feed expenses is not possible until the income starts to filter through so many a farmer, dairy or sheep, will ask why we do what we do.  

This time of year is hard enough to get right without the external pressures over which our control is minimal but the effect has consequences beyond our gate as the flow of revenue slows to a trickle. . . 

Landmark spins wool deal – Annabelle Beale:

AUSTRALIA’S biggest farm services business Landmark is expanding its wool operations while denying speculation a corporate take-over of the company is being negotiated. 

Following 12 months of negotiations, Landmark has purchased the remaining 50 per cent shares in Victoria’s Arcadian Wool brokering company this month, three years after Landmark upped the stake in the company from its founding 40pc in 1985 to nearly 50pc in 2013.

The sale has increased Landmark’s show floor representation by 4.3 per cent to 19pc of the wool traded at Melbourne, including the 36,000 bales sold by Arcadian last year and estimated 120,000 sold by Landmark. . . 

Coolalee experiment pays dividends for Dubbo lamb breeders – Mark Griggs:

AN EXPERIMENT several years ago using Coolalee rams over young first-cross ewes to overcome lambing difficulty from the ewes joining to high indexed Poll Dorsets has paid off so well for Dubbo region second-cross prime lamb breeders, Doug and Robin Godwin, they have continued the practice.  

Further, they are now considering going down the path of maintaining Coolalee/Merino ewe lambs as replacements and joining them back to Coolalees.  “If you do that you are halfway towards a self-replacing flock,” Mr Godwin said. . .

A&P Society elects president :

Wanaka helicopter pilot and fencer Doug Stalker has been elected president of the Upper Clutha A&P Society.

He is joined by Grant Ruddenklau as the new senior vice-president and Mike Scurr as junior vice-president.

Mr Stalker, who was voted president at the society’s annual meeting last week, replaces Tarras farmer Robbie Gibson, who has held the role for the past two years.

Preparations are well under way for the 80th annual show, which will be held on March 10 and 11 next year. . . 

 Mark McHardy wins Cooperative Leader of the Year Award:

Cooperative Business New Zealand has announced Farmlands Fuel General Manager, Mark McHardy, as the winner of the Cooperative Leader of the Year Award for 2015/16.

The award honours an individual who has shown significant co-operative leadership, commitment and support of well recognised and accepted co-operative principles. They also need to display vision and courage for the co-operative model, along with demonstrate successful initiatives that have benefited their co-operative or the co-operative sector.

Cooperative Business New Zealand CEO,  says that Mark was the stand out nominee for this award. . . 


Rural round-up

March 25, 2015

Freeloaders relying on co-ops – Alan Williams:

Using a mathematical formula to work out the level of overcapacity in meat processing won’t work, Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett says.

And nor would the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) proposal for a permanent reduction in capacity offset by a reserve processing plant, funded by the industry and used only at times of  very high demand for killing space. That idea, based on the electricity industry model, was too simplistic.

“You’d have hundreds of people just sitting round most of the time, not doing anything. The issue is more complex than that.”

Hewett agreed with farmers who wanted enough killing space available all the time to cope with seasons like the current one, with drought conditions in many areas. . . .

 Rabobank New Zealand 2014 results:

Rabobank New Zealand Limited (RNZL) has further strengthened its position in the New Zealand rural banking market, recording above market rural lending growth, and reporting its highest net profit after tax (NPAT) of $105.49 million in 2014.

RNZL recorded net lending growth of $342 million in 2014, with the bank’s rural lending portfolio growing by 4.5 per cent, slightly ahead of overall rural debt market growth of 4.3 RNZL chief executive officer Ben Russell said the results were pleasing, as they demonstrated Rabobank’s ongoing commitment to New Zealand’s critical food and agribusiness sector, and were consistent with the bank’s goal of supporting clients to both help feed the world and achieve their goals and aspirations. . .

South American beetle introduced to control weeds:

A tiny Chilean beetle has been introduced to New Zealand in a bid to control a weed that if left unchecked could potentially become as big a problem as gorse.

Landcare Research, a Crown research institute which focuses on environmental science, recently provided Environment Southland with about 70 barberry seed weevils to release just north of Invercargill as a biocontrol agent for Darwin’s barberry. The fast-spreading orange-flowered thorny shrub has become a huge problem across the country, threatening to overrun native plants and farmland – particularly in Southland.

It is the first time this species of weevil, a type of beetle, has been used as a biocontrol agent anywhere in the world. . .

Natural pesticides tested:

New Zealand scientists have begun trials to test the effectiveness of some natural pesticides on one of the world’s worst vegetable pests, the diamond back moth.

The moth caterpillar causes serious damage to brassica crops such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and bok choy.

More than a billion dollars a year is spent on trying to control the pest. The moth quickly becomes resistant to whatever chemical pesticide is used on it.

Scientists working under the Bio-Protection Research Centre based at Lincoln University, with the backing of genetic specialists at New Zealands Genomics, have been trying a non-chemical biological approach. . .

Going FAR for farmers – Annette Scott:

It is 20 years this week since formal practical research was initiated for the New Zealand arable industry.

On Wednesday the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR), established in 1995, will mark a number of arable industry milestones as the organisation reaches its 20th birthday.

FAR was set up primarily to do practical research for arable farmers.

Over the past two decades the levy-funded organisation has developed to actively do research and extension on a broad range of grain and seed crops in NZ and Australia. . .

NZ Kiwifruit Growers United In Support For Industry Change:

Following a record voter turn-out, interim results show more than 90 percent of New Zealand kiwifruit growers have supported the outcomes of the Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project (KISP) to lock-in long-term grower ownership and control of their industry.

KISP’s Independent Chairman, Neil Richardson, said the voter turn-out and interim results were outstanding. They are a clear sign New Zealand kiwifruit growers are united in their vision for the future of their industry, he said.

“Two-thirds of growers, representing 80 percent of production voted in the KISP referendum. This compares to an average voter turn-out in primary industry of around 40 percent. . .

 

Zespri welcomes high turnout and support for positive change in grower referendum:

Kiwifruit growers have made a strong statement about the direction they want for their industry in the Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project (KSIP) referendum. There is a clear mandate for change with interim results from the referendum showing two-thirds of growers, representing 80 percent of production, voting so far, says Zespri chairman Peter McBride.

“Over 90 percent of growers have clearly stated their desire for change in three areas which affect Zespri – ownership of Zespri shares by growers who have left the industry, the mechanism by which the Zespri margin is calculated and changes to Zespri’s board to formalise the three independent members. . .

 

Memories of the working horse – Mark Griggs:

RON Job, now retired at Parkes, says a lot of memories return as he inspects some of the horse harness and gear stored in the tack room at “The Grange”, Peak Hill.

The tack room was attached to the original stables, which have been converted into a machinery shed and workshop now the work-horse days are long gone.

“The Grange” is owned by the Frecklington family who settled there in the late 1800s.

The property is now operated by Ian and Lyn Frecklington, who have kept the old gear stored in the tack room where it was left as motor vehicles took over from real horsepower, and have been close family friends with the Job family for many years. . .


Rural round-up

September 7, 2014

Possum purge dents TB rate – Tim Cronshaw:

Possum control operations are making inroads into the most inhospitable bush and swamps in the challenging upper South Island area to protect cattle and deer herds from bovine tuberculosis (TB).

Of the 68 herds infected with TB nationally, 44 are in the West Coast, Tasman, Marlborough and Canterbury north of the Rangitata River. Southland, Otago and Canterbury south of the Rangitata have 15 infected herds and nine remain in the North Island.

They have been reduced from 1700 several decades ago as a result of work by TBfree New Zealand. . .

Gourmet fungi could boost farmers’ incomes – Tim Cronshaw:

Farmers with tree plots, and other foresters, could add a side business to their main income after research in high-value edible crops has come out with promising results.

Plant & Food Research’s Alexis Guerin and Associate Professor Wang Yun have been investigating the delicacies of saffron milk cap mushrooms and bianchetto truffle on farm sites in Lincoln.

The scientists believe there is room to commercialise the crops on forest blocks, although much research remains in its infancy.

Truffles sell for about $3000 a kilogram, while the saffron milk cap mushroom usually sells for $30 to $50/kg and double that in upmarket European stores. . .

US now top market for NZ chilled venison – Tim Cronshaw:

The United States has toppled Germany as the go-to market for New Zealand chilled-venison exports.

Deer farmers should be in good spirits, as venison prices are slightly ahead of last year’s and until lately exports to the US were sluggish as the global financial crisis continued to dent sales.

Deer Industry New Zealand venison marketing services manager Innes Moffat said a strong economic recovery in the US had encouraged more chilled venison sales.

“There has been a big increase in chilled venison cuts to the US in the last year compared to the year before. The US is now New Zealand’s largest market for chilled venison and over the last year it has overtaken Germany.” . . .

NZ urged to boost value of dairy goodse of dairy goods – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand can no longer wait for world dairy markets to wash over it and now is the time to be aggressive to create new profitability opportunities and focus on lifting productivity, the NZ Institute of Economic Research says.

While dismaying to dairy farmers who had enjoyed record high global commodity prices, the steep fall in global dairy prices this year was a sign of world markets getting in balance, NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub said.

“For a whole bunch of reasons all of a sudden the markets have gone from finely balanced in favour of dairy producers to very much out of favour. 

“We went through a really sweet spot, where the global production side was trying to catch up with a demand that somehow caught us by surprise. . .

Farming ‘breakthrough’ overlooked – Neil Lyon:

THE low adoption of Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) practices throughout Australian broadacre farming areas has soil scientists baffled as to why more farmers haven’t tapped into its many advantages.

By confining weight-bearing machinery wheels to permanent tracks across a paddock, CTF effectively limits soil compaction to about 15 per cent of the paddock and leaves the remaining soil to regenerate and lift crop yield potential.

Despite the system being heralded as a breakthrough for farming nearly two decades ago, a recent survey of eastern Australian grain farmers found that only 13pc were using three-metre CTF, 21pc were using a combination of two-metre and three-metre CTF, and 66pc were using none at all. . . .

Shear adventure – Mark Griggs:

THE adventures of our forebears often intrigues and that is certainly the case for Stuart Town woolgrower, Laurie Pope.

Laurie has long been fascintated by the stories surrounding the journeys made by his grandfather, Michael John Pope, or Mick to family and friends, by bike while he was shearing in western NSW and Queensland during the late 1800s.

The dust is well settled and much now covered by bitumen, but Laurie has always held the desire to retrace his grandfather’s bicycle tracks, so last February, accompanied by neighbour Cliff Hyde, he set out by vehicle to cover the 2077 kilometre round journey from the family property, “Weemala”, Stuart Town, to Eulo, Qld, but was interrupted by rain halfway through at Thurloo Downs Station, Wanaaring. . .

 

Farmers urged to consult their vets as Theileria cases rise:

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is encouraging farmers to consult their vet about suspected cases of Theileria on their farms, and how to best manage Theileria, as the latest data from the Ministry of Primary Industries shows an increase this season in the number of cattle infected with the disease. Naïve cattle that have been moved into affected areas are particularly at risk.

Theileria, which causes anaemia in cows and is spread by ticks, affects cattle and is not a human or food safety issue. Signs of Theileria include lethargy, low appetite and reduced milk production.

Dr Jenny Weston, President of the NZVA Society of Dairy Cattle Veterinarians, says that vets play a key role in working collaboratively with farmers to provide advice, taking both a preventive and proactive approach to minimise the disease. . . .

 


Rural round-up

January 9, 2014

New Zealand farmers John Falkner, Simon Berry set to market cheese made with deer milk – Dominique Schwartz:

A New Zealand farmer and a cheese maker have joined forces to craft what they hope will be the world’s first commercially produced cheese using deer milk.

Scientists say deer milk is rich in nutrients and protein, and could also have wide-ranging therapeutic and cosmetic uses.

Milking sheds are dotted across New Zealand’s rolling pastures, but there are none quite like Clachanburn Station possibly anywhere in the world.

At Clachanburn, in the Central Otago region of the South Island, it is not cows clattering through the milking runs but deer. . .

Farmers show resilience to adapt to changing world – Tim Mackle:

A New Year has arrived, and I’m pleased. Time to move on from 2013.

Not that all went badly last year. Not at all. The dairy industry and Fonterra in particular were in the news a lot – but maybe that helped New Zealanders understand us better.

We came through it together and perhaps, out of it all, we know a little bit more about each other.

2013 may have started badly for farmers with the drought, but it ended well weather-wise and with a positive milk price forecast. . .

Milking goats makes $en$e – Gerald Piddock:

Milking time at the Wade family’s dairy goat farm is a noisy affair.

The chorus of baas from the hundreds of impatient goats jostling outside in the yards sees to that.

“Come on, girls,” dairy milker Gary Bowman says as he opens the gate to the milking shed.

The noise stops as the goats rush forward, knowing a free meal of grain is on offer, while Gary and the other shed workers quickly attach the milking cups to the goats teats.

The process is over very quickly. . .

An oldie but a goodie – Mark Griggs:

BREEDING first-cross (Border Leicester/Merino) ewes as the “traditional mothers” of the prime lamb industry is still consistently profitable.

But Narromine area breeder, Warren Skinner, is worried the time-honoured and proven cross may die out with the older generation, who have traditionally bred that way.

“Most of the traditional breeders have stuck with the first-cross job, but I worry once this generation gets older, the young people that take over may move away and to different breeds on offer,” he said. . .

Stock & Land notches up its century – Alisha Fogden:

IN 2014, Stock & Land celebrates 100 years, and to mark this momentous occasion we have many centenary events and initiatives planned for the coming 12 months.

This marks the start of our weekly look-back pages where we choose a similar date from a corresponding year to show how farming and the paper have changed – or not.

Today, we look back half a century to January 8, 1964, when the paper still had that traditional old newsletter feel in black and white but had already begun to include more pictures and illustrations. . .

Heinz plant closure part of trend squeezing farmers out of Canada’s system, says NFU:

The closure of the Heinz ketchup plant announced last week is the latest of several Canadian food processing plants bought and then closed by investors that move production to other countries in pursuit of higher profits. The trend bodes ill for Canadians who want to eat food that is grown and processed within our borders, and is a direct result of the federal government’s policy drive to expand agri-food exports at the expense of Canadian food sovereignty.

“Since 1989, Heinz’s Leamington plant has shut down the pickle line, its peach, baked bean, soups and vegetable canning lines, the frozen vegetable product line and its vinegar operation. From hundreds of products, now all that is left is baby food and tomato product lines. Even so, the plant was still very profitable,” said Mike Tremblay, Essex County Local NFU-O President. “The new owners want even higher profits, and free trade deals just make it easier for processors to pick up and move, leaving our farmers with no market for their tomatoes and other vegetables, and putting hundreds of local people out of work.” . . .

New blood for farming :

THREE NEW entrants to agriculture, all students at Scotland’s Rural College, have been shortlisted to progress in the prestigious Lantra Scotland Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards – although none have a family background in farming.

Eighteen year-old Kaleem Shaikh grew up and went to school in suburban Uddingston, on the outskirts of Glasgow, but already he breeds pedigree sheep, goats and keeps hens on rented land and has emerged as ‘Best student’ in his year-group at the SRUC Oatridge campus in West Lothian.

Kaleem has been selected in the National Certificate Agriculture category and has moved on to study for a Higher National Certificate at Oatridge.

Ashley Stamper, a 21- year-old from Corstorphine, in Edinburgh, first learnt about farming by visiting a nearby farm as a child to bottle-feed pet lambs and has now completed a Modern Apprenticeship in Agriculture at SRUC Barony Campus, in Dumfries.

She works as a shepherdess and stockperson for a farm services company, based at Hexham, in Northumberland. She goes forward in the Scottish Vocational Qualification in Agriculture Level 3 category.

Cameron Smith, also 18, got interested in farming when his family moved from Coatbridge, via a spell in Northern Ireland, to Doune, in Perthshire, and he made friends with schoolmates who were from farming backgrounds. . . .

Photo: 10 Reasons to thank a farmer on this Monday morning! (From Farm and Dairy)


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