Rural round-up

January 23, 2020

Farmers, wildlife and residents alike face water shortages as regions dry up fast – Tracy Neal:

Water cuts are looming in pockets of the country drying up fast. 

Councils in affected areas are assembling dry-weather crews, farmers are now giving extra feed to stock, and Northland kiwi birds are now struggling to feed on hard-baked soil, where the dry weather has lingered longer than usual.

Dairy farmer and kiwi conservationist Jane Hutchings said in her 30 years in the area, summer is either saturated by cyclones, or parched dry.

Right now it is the latter, and the kiwi population is struggling. . . 

Farmers’ green tinge growing – Tim Fulton:

Farmers are on a green binge recycling more waste and unwanted products through the Agrecovery scheme than ever before.

Now the Government and agri manufacturers are working on a plan to make industry hitchhikers pay their way.

Agrecovery’s waste collection rates rose 40% in the past couple of years, the animal health and agrichem lobby group Agcarm says.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross said the voluntary returns amount to about 437 tonnes of products, including 11 tonnes of chemicals. The total collected was about half the product in the New Zealand market at any time. . . 

Chinese palate has diverse tastes – Richard Rennie:

Shrink wrapped quail eggs, lifestyle choices and social media are all playing their parts in what and how Chinese will eat heading into the new decade.

Chinese media platform company Radii has analysed latest market trends in the country’s enormous food market as the middle class continues to grow and become a more sophisticated, discerning customer for food imports from the likes of New Zealand.

In its report food journalist Mayura Jain identifies takeout food delivery showing no signs of growth experienced in the past five years slowing down.  . . 

Project aims to give vineyard managers more information in a hail storm – Maja Burry:

Researchers are working to fill the information gap for winegrowers hit by extreme weather events.

The Blenhiem-based Bragato Research Institute has started a two-year project to work out how vineyard managers can best deal with hail storm damage to their vines.

The research follows severe hail in Hawke’s Bay in October last year, which damaged about 600 hectares of vines.

Hail in Central Otago and North Canterbury damaged vines during November. . . 

New market for sunflowers leads to big burst of colour near Timaru– Esther Ashby-Coventry:

It’s hard to miss the stunning burst of yellow in paddocks full of millions of sunflowers just south of Timaru.

They sunflowers may become a five yearly feature on owner Warren Darling’s 70 hectares of land as he takes advantage of a new market.

Usually he grows rape seed, which also produces a radiant yellow display when in flower, as well as wheat and barley, but is now considering sunflowers as part of his crop rotations. . .

Tickets on Sale for Women in Forestry conference:

Tickets are on sale for the Women in Forestry Conference, being held from 30 April – 2 May 2020 in Whangamata.

The Women in Forestry conference will bring together women in the NZ Forestry industry, to connect, learn and share experiences.

The third event of its kind, the conference is organised by the Women in Forestry Network, a grass-roots movement founded to support women in the industry.

Women in Forestry co-founder and General Manager Sarah Davidson says there is a need for more female support in the industry. . .


Rural round-up

January 22, 2020

China deal gives US beef an edge over NZ producers – Pattrick Smellie:

A range of import restrictions affecting New Zealand beef exporters to China will be swept away for their American competitors as part of the new “phase one” US-China trade deal signed in Washington DC on Wednesday.

However, US producers will continue to face tariffs on beef as high as 47 per cent while New Zealand beef exports enter the Chinese market duty-free under the free trade agreement in place since 2008, according to initial analysis of the deal by the Meat Industry Association. Details were still emerging, but newly appointed MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva told BusinessDesk there was no suggestion “that I can see” that New Zealand lost its tariff advantage over US exporters to China. . . 

Application for GMO ‘imitation blood’ raises concerns:

Foods Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has received an application seeking approval for the GE Imitation blood ingredient used in the Impossible Burger to enter the food chain.[1]

The application does not have the proper safety profile for approval of the bacterial ingredient, called leghemoglobin (SLH), derived from genetically engineered soy.

The “imitation Blood” ingredient used in the Impossible Burgers to make them “sizzle like blood” has been trialled in select meals on Air New Zealand flights from the USA. This circumnavigates NZ regulations, because the ingredient cannot be sold in this country. . . 

Drop in China meat prices not expected to last – Alan Barber:

It is difficult to see any real reason for panic over the sudden pre-Christmas reduction in demand for sheepmeat and beef from Chinese importers which has led to prices coming off their peak. Livestock suppliers will already have noticed a drop in schedules from the elevated levels processors had been paying over the first couple of months of the season. It’s tempting to fear the worst given past experience with high prices paid by meat processors which have inevitably been followed by a sudden crash and a long slow recovery. This time the situation really does seem to be different, if you look at the fundamental demand for product in China.

In discussion with AFFCO Group Sales & Marketing Manager, Mark de Lautour, he sees the current situation as more of a hiccup, with traders collectively liquidating inventory in advance of Chinese New Year and the need for cashflow to cover large shipments of South American beef on the water. . .

Hawke’s Bay deer farmers pay record $102,000 for stag – Blair Voorend:

Two Hawke’s Bay men have set a New Zealand record, paying more than $100,000 for a velvet stag at a recent sale in Southland.

At the Brock Deer Sire and Stag sale, Hawke’s Bay deer farmers Jeremy Dearden and Grant Charteris paid $102,000 for the prized velvet stag, $12,000 higher than the previous New Zealand record.

Elliot Brock, of Brock Deer, told Andy Thompson on The Muster radio show that they were over the moon with the haul but that they were expecting to get something in that region. . . 

Robotic technology is revolutionising farming– Mark Ross:

From weeding and spraying crops to taking care of cattle, digital technology is making its mark on agriculture.

Self-driven vehicles are picking and grading fruit as well as detecting and pollinating flowers. Now the latest technology involves detecting and managing disease – helping farmers to become more productive and sustainable. Modern agricultural machines take away some of the more time-consuming tasks and help to protect crops from disease with exact doses and targeted applications of products.

In the last decade, there has been an unprecedented growth in precision farming – with about 80 percent of new farm equipment using it. This advanced digital precision technology can help farmers to use land efficiently and maximise harvests while reducing costs and workloads. . .

Cheesemakers Encouraged to Enter NZ Champions of Cheese Awards

Entries are open for the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2020, which will for the first time have three Supreme Champions.

To ensure the Awards represent the all the country’s cheesemakers from boutique producers through to the very large cheese companies and every producer in between, three Supreme Champion Awards will be made this year. The Countdown Champion of Champions Commercial category for producers making more than 100 tonnes annually and Puhoi Valley Champion of Champions Boutique for companies making less than 10 tonnes per annum will be joined by the New World Champion of Champions Mid-sized category for producers who make between 10 and 99 tonnes annually. . .

 


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

October 10, 2019

Green Rush: will pines really save the planet? – Kate Newton and Guyon Espiner:

Vast new pine forests are being hailed as a solution to New Zealand’s carbon emissions deficit – and promise a lucrative pay-day for investors. But farmers say they’re gutting rural communities, not all environmentalists see them as a silver bullet, and the profits are largely being reaped by foreign owners. 

Want to plant a pine tree? It’ll cost you a dollar. 38 cents for the seedling, a spiky, spindly finger; 55 cents for the labour to plant it; 8 cents for the cost of managing the labour.

John Rogan’s crew have planted about 350,000 of them so far. “Tree here, tree there – it’s like tossing little dollar coins on the ground,” he says. Concentrate on the variations in the grass and, like a magic-eye illustration, the seedlings flip into focus one after the other, every three metres, all the way to the grey horizon at the crest of the hill.

Rogan’s mostly teenage workers, skin burnished by wind and sun, tramp up and down hillsides, lugging 200 seedlings at a time in canvas buckets slung into harnesses. After 10 weeks of planting, their movements with spade, seedling and boot are sparse and sure: stab open a wedge of earth, jab a tree into the ground, stomp the hole closed. Stab, jab, stomp. The crew’s mascot Johnny, a beady-eyed little dog who looks like he was assembled from wispy oddments of wool, scampers behind on short legs. . .

Woman shares partner’s farm death story as lesson – Luke Kirkeby:

Harriet Bremner still struggles to talk about the death of her long-term partner.

But two and a half years on, the Canterbury primary school teacher and children’s author, whose partner James Hayman was killed in a baler in the Hakataramea Valley in 2017, is finding strength in using her grief to prevent other farm workers from putting themselves in harm’s way.

Bremner is working alongside WorkSafe New Zealand, travelling throughout New Zealand to share her story.

She recently stopped in at Putaruru College in the South Waikato where she spoke with a group of horticultural and agricultural students. Since 2013 there have been approximately 16 on-farm deaths in the Waikato alone. . . 

Doug Avery seeks to inspire Yorkshire farmers to adopt power of the positive – Ben Barnett:

Farmers have an “amazing opportunity” despite the challenges that lie ahead, as long as they forge a truly resilient mindset to embrace change, according to the author of a best-selling book about positive mental health.

New Zealand farmer Doug Avery, whose book The Resilient Farmer documents his own journey from debt-heaped depression to one of his country’s biggest agricultural success stories, wants to use his current UK tour to help smash the taboo that stops both farmers, and the wider public, from talking about poor mental health.

A farmer who is empowered by positive mental health can see through their worries and capitalise on opportunities, the 64-year-old told Country Week ahead of a public speaking appearance in Harrogate in 12 days’ time. . .

‘Gran’ shows us how it’s done – Jill Galloway:

It was hard for Suzanne Giesen when her husband John died.

She was just 32, had five children aged from 1 to 11 and had a farm to run. More than 50 years later she is still living and working on the farm.

“When John died, my father-in-law said I should go into town. I have never lived in town and I wanted to stay on the farm,” Suzanne Giesen told Rural News.

The Giesens had leased the farm for 10 years, with the right to buy. When John was around, they set about improving the property. “There was gorse in almost every paddock. I don’t think there was a stock proof fence on the place. The gorse was so thick you couldn’t walk through some paddocks.” . . 

Seeds are earning us big money  – Annette Scott:

Small seeds have yielded big gains for New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar agri-food sector.

The quiet achieving seed sector pumped almost $800 million into the NZ economy last year with pasture and vegetable seeds putting food on the table in more ways than one.

A new economic impact report shows NZ’s world class seed production is one of the country’s smallest primary industries but with a modest footprint it contributes much more to NZ’s bottom line than many realise, NZ Grain and Seed Trade Association general manager Thomas Chin said.

Business and Economic Research (BERL) reports the total output value of seeds grown in 2018 was $798m, adding $329m to NZ’s GDP. . . 

 

Biotech policy a step in the right direction, says Agcarm:

The peak association that represents New Zealand’s animal medicine and crop protection industries welcomes the National party’s new biotech policy.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says that updating New Zealand’s biotechnology regulations to embrace the latest science will “allow life-saving medicines, benefit the environment, eradicate pests and boost food production”.

“New Zealand is being stalled from adopting the latest science due to archaic laws that halt innovation. . . 


Rural round-up

July 28, 2019

88-year-old dairy farmer keeps ahead of technological changes – Gerard Hutching:

“If you don’t comply you won’t be able to supply.”

Ngatea dairy farmer Ken Jones has seen the future – and at 88 years of age a lot of the past.

He knows farmers will soon be confronted with an assortment of environmental rules they will have to abide by – in fact they already are – and he wants to get ahead of the game.

“I don’t know how far off that is but it’s no good hitting your head against a brick wall. I just want to make the farm compliant so I can hand it on to the family.” . . 

Tech journey discussed – David Hill:

Tina Mackintosh admits there were some late nights loading data after she and husband Duncan opted to embrace technology more than a decade ago.

The Mackintoshs, who farm at White Rock Mains, north of Rangiora, shared their journey of using technology to improve their farm system at last month’s Beef + Lamb New Zealand FarmSmart conference in Christchurch.

”We have a curious mind about data and what it can do, and we also believe it’s about sharing the good things when they work and, equally, not being afraid of sharing when the shite happens,” Mrs Mackintosh said.

”As we were going along the journey we had two babies, so we were entering data late at night. There was a lot of data to enter so it was quite frustrating. . .

$10,200 dog makes quick impression – Yvonne O’Hara:

A farm dog that sold for more than $10,000 in Gore yesterday marked the occasion by lifting his leg on his new owner’s gumboot.

Heading dog Glen sold for $10,200 at the annual sheep and cattle dog sale at the Charlton saleyards.

PGG Wrightson Gore sheep and beef representative Ross McKee said his company was calling it ”a New Zealand record”.

”At $10,200 he is in a league of his own.”

Glen was sold by his breeder, trainer and farmer David Parker, of Teviot Valley, and bought by sheep, beef and venison farmer Richard Tucker, of Becks. . . .

The Poison of Precaution: The Anti-Science Mindset -Riskmonger:

In last year’s excellent book, The Wizard and the Prophet, Charles Mann juxtaposed two polemics on the environment in the 1940s during the turning point of agricultural development: Norman Borlaug and William Vogt. Borlaug (the Wizard) took the scientific approach to innovate and develop new tools to solve problems facing agriculture. Vogt (the Prophet and arguably the founder of the modern environmental movement) would see an environmental problem as a reason for man to pull back and let the planet heal itself.

To this day, both approaches (to innovate or to pull back and take precaution) have defined environmental debates. There is no doubt which side I fall on. Borlaug’s scientific route has allowed humanity to thrive over the last 70 years. The Green Revolution in agriculture led to global economic expansions as abundance led to generations of risk-takers being able to leave the land and develop other opportunities for wealth generation. Environmentalists argue that the agri-technologies have led to deeper problems from saturated soil and poisoned water tables to serious human health issues to climate calamity. Social justice theorists are proposing agro-ecology as a Vogtian response in pulling back from seven decades of agricultural development. . .

Landmark report shows value of pesticides to NZ’s land-based industries:

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Development today released a landmark report, showing that New Zealand’s economy would lose up to $11.4 billion without crop protection products – and that crops would lose 30 percent of their value overall.

The report covers forestry, pasture, horticulture, field crops and vegetable production.

Agcarm chief executive, Mark Ross, says that the report highlights the importance of the crop protection industry to New Zealand’s economy. . .

African farmers increase yields and income with their smartphones -Bekezela Phakathi:

From drones and big data to financing apps, advanced technology can be a game changer.

More farmers across Africa are set to turn to digital solutions within the next three years, which will boost productivity and, potentially, employment across the value chain, according to a new study.

The study by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA) and advisory firm Dalberg Advisors, says that several barriers hindering the adoption of digital solutions in agriculture across the continent — notably, limited access to technology and connectivity — will be overcome. . .


Rural round-up

April 18, 2019

Leading is itself a challenge – Annette Scott:

South Canterbury farmer and newly elected Beef + Lamb director Nicky Hyslop is committed to sheep and beef farming, admitting her real affinity with the land and rural people is what gets her out of bed in the morning. She talked to Annette Scott

NICKY Hyslop grew up on a high country station and she’s passionate about contributing to the life and industry she’s always known.

Last month she was elected as the central South Island director on the Beef + Lamb board.

“I have a real affinity with the land and rural people because it’s been woven into my life. . .

New effort to attract youngsters – Luke Chivers:

A programme to promote primary industry careers has been launched by Rabobank, Young Farmers and Lincoln University.

The programme, Rabobank FoodX, is a series of events to expose young people to animals, food production and marketing, agribusiness and science.

Rabobank NZ general manager Hayley Gourley said the programme addresses the shortage of young people in the primary sector. . .

Bacteria turns crusty pond into fert – whatever! – Sudesh Kissun:

Tokoroa farmer Marcel Korsten operates a closed farm system: what doesn’t get out the front gate as milk has to go back onto the farm.

On his 260ha farm, Korsten hasn’t used nitrogen to fertilise paddocks for seven years; instead the whole farm is fertilised with effluent.

Milking about 670 Friesian cows and having a feedpad means a lot of nutrients are added to their diet. About 45% of feed is imported — mostly soyabean, tapioca, straw, maize sileage and some PKE. . . 

Guy Trafford looks at how the meat processing industry structures affect what producers receive and what consumers pay – Guy Trafford:

recent article by John Maudlin prompted me to look at some of the background data he quoted regarding competition within agriculture in the USA where 85% of the steer kill resides with four companies.

While there are over 60 companies existing in the US they are decreasing at a reasonably rapid rate as the big buy up the small. The latest being Harris Ranch Beef being acquired by Central Valley Holding Co. making it seventh in size of US beef packers.

While some may say these amalgamations into larger and larger companies creates more processing efficiencies and are a natural part of competition within a capitalist system there is a growing risk that both producers and consumers miss out as competition moves into monopolies. Despite this, the evidence is that there has not been an obvious reduction in cattle farmer profits and while not hugely profitable farmers have been making reasonable livings. That said, the last two seasons have trended downwards. . . 

Where to for Chiwi agrifood – Keith Woodford:

The current plan for Chinese Yili to buy Westland Co-operative Dairy has brought renewed discussion about the role of China within New Zealand agrifood industries. Of course, the Westland issue is just one part of a much greater issue about the trading and political relationships linking our two countries.

There is a need for ongoing debate because the issues are profound. There is also a need for the debate to be informed.  I hope that what follows here will contribute to an informed debate.

The starting point is to recognise that China is easily New Zealand’s biggest agrifood destination. And every year it continues to grow. . . 

Ensuring the safety of pesticides within New Zealand – Mark Ross

A culture of trepidation about consuming foods which have been exposed to pesticides is misleading and has sparked much confusion of late.

To abate the concerns, a breakdown of the process for getting products to market can reassure consumers that our most nutritious foods of fruits, vegetables and grains are safe to eat. This is reflected in the decade-long process which includes 11 years of research and hundreds of millions of dollars.

At the start of the process, chemicals are tested for their effects on people and the environment. . .


Rural round-up

April 10, 2019

Landowners let down by select committee on firearms changes:

Unless further changes are made to the Arms Amendment Bill, pests will be the winners and the environment will be the losers.

Federated Farmers says the Government has failed to deliver on its commitment to farmers and other major landowners that they would continue to have access to the firearms they need for effective animal pest control.

“Labour has the opportunity to fix the Bill over the next few days – otherwise Federated Farmers will feel duped by this process,” Feds Rural Security spokesperson Miles Anderson says. . .

Hard work ahead in effort to eradicate ‘M.bovis’, programme director says – Sally Rae:

The Mycoplasma bovis eradication effort is on track but there is still a lot of hard work to get done, programme director Geoff Gwyn says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries, Adorns and Beef + Lamb New Zealand recently released the 2019 Mycoplasma bovis National Plan.

The plan set out three goals: to eradicate the disease from New Zealand, to reduce the effect of the disease and the eradication programme for everyone affected, and to leave New Zealand’s biosecurity system stronger. . . 

Agri-food project gets 160 Invercargill students onto Southland farms:

Invercargill student Aimee Paterson isn’t one to shy away from a challenge – especially if it involves agriculture.

The 16-year-old has helped spearhead a food-focused educational project at Southland Girls’ High School.

Paterson’s one of a handful of TeenAg members who teamed up with teachers to teach Year 7 students about farming. . . 

Race to finish line between picking and frosts – Mark Price:

Long days picking and long nights frost-fighting.

That has been the way of it for vineyard owners and workers over the past few days.

Every frost-fighting method available was in action on Saturday night as temperatures in some parts of the Cromwell Basin, along Lake Dunstan, dropped to -3deg C or lower.

New Central Otago Winegrowers Association president Nick Paulin, of Lowburn, said yesterday conditions were “brutal”. . . 

Consultation on high country land management closing soon:

Land Information New Zealand is urging New Zealanders to have their say on the future management of the South Island high country. Public consultation on the Government’s proposed changes to the management of Crown pastoral land closes on Friday 12th April 2019.

Stretching from Marlborough to Southland, the land covers around 1.2 million hectares, nearly five percent of New Zealand.

“It’s important that people take this opportunity to tell us what they think of the proposed changes,” says Jamie Kerr, Acting Deputy Chief Executive Policy and Overseas Investment. . . 

Sustainable products assured by ag association – Agcarm – Mark Ross:

With multiple companies offering disease and pest management solutions, farmers can be guaranteed that products purchased from an Agcarm member are safe, sustainable and of high quality. Agcarm is a not-for-profit trade association, representing over 60 companies that manufacture, distribute, research and sell projects to keep animals healthy and crops thriving.

For over 70 years, Agcarm has taken a lead role in managing issues of importance to the crop protection and animal medicines industries. . .

 


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