Rural round-up

February 26, 2019

Tough choice – houses or food :

With almost half of New Zealand’s land area committed to pasture and crops it would be easy to think that despite our growing population there is still plenty of land to spare.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1But in the past two decades some of the country’s highest quality land has gone under cement and tarmac for urban development. Despite having a population the size of Melbourne in a land area the size of Britain some people are starting to question whether a country that earns its living off its soils can afford to keep paving over its key resource to support population growth. 

The loss of productive soils to housing is a subject economist Shamubeel Eaqub has given considerable thought.  . . 

Bulls, ewes and tepees, a rare mix– Luke Chivers:

Sheep and beef farmers James and Sarah Glenn are fuelling the intergenerational Sheep and beef farmers James and Sarah Glenn are fuelling the intergenerational transfer of their farming business with a rare mix of bulls, sheep and tepees. Luke Chivers reports. 

On a coastal slice of rural New Zealand a young couple are combining their passion for family with farming and tepees.

Te Akau sheep and beef farmers James and Sarah Glenn have a longstanding connection with the primary sector. 

Farming dominated their teenage years. . . 

Otago woman developing fine eye for stock :

Otago woman Elizabeth Graham (21) has won a national stock judging competition in Christchurch.

She is a member of the Strath Taieri Young Farmers Club, and while at the New Zealand Young Farmers Conference in Christchurch earlier this month, won the stock judging competition.

The competition attracted the young farmers teams from throughout the country.

”It was a huge honour to take out the overall title,” she said.

”This year’s competition included alpacas, which made things a little interesting.” . .

The highs and lows of running an organic orchard

The recipient of New Zealand’s top sustainable farming award says she’d like to see more kiwifruit orchardists provide full-time employment for their staff.

Organic kiwifruit grower Catriona White and her husband Mark are the first horticulturists to win the Gordon Stephenson trophy, which is awarded to one of the 11 regional winners in the annual Farm Environment Awards.

Catriona says she and Mark pay two staff on their Opotiki orchard for a 40-hour week regardless of whether the weather allows them to work the hours or not.

“You look after your staff and your staff look after you.” . . 

Feds calls for regulation of stock agents:

The Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Council is calling for compulsory regulation of the stock agent industry.

“No-one likes more rules and regulation but to protect all parties in the sale of livestock we believe it is the best way forward,” Feds’ Meat & Wool chairperson Miles Anderson says.

“Discussions about this topic have run hot and cold for years.  We need some finality.”

The NZ Stock and Station Agents Association has created a code of conduct and set up an independent body that can adjudicate on complaints about the actions of stock agents. . . 

Cows get own Tinder-style app for breeding – Aine Quinn:

Cows and bulls searching for “moo love” now have a mobile app to help their breeders.

A U.K. farming startup introduced a Tinder-style app, called Tudder, that lets farmers find breeding matches by viewing pictures of cattle with details of their age, location and owner. Users hear a mooing sound as they swipe — right to show they’re interested or left to reject possible matches.

Hectare, which designed the app, says it “seeks to unite sheepish farm animals with their soulmates.” Selling animals using social media can speed up a process that often involves transporting animals long distances for breeding. . .


Rural round-up

November 29, 2018

Hopping to the beat: drummer turned grower Trevor Courtney :

Trevor Courtney has always liked beer, and now the drummer for ’60s band Chants R& B is growing his own hops.

After a 40-year music career, Trevor and his wife Lyndsay now have a lifestyle block in North Canterbury where they grow hops plants, heritage apples and saffron.

Trevor and Lyndsay’s eight-hectare property is home to two flocks of Wiltshire sheep, but they’re pretty low-maintenance, Trevor says.

“In the spring they start to shed their fleece, so there’s no shearing,…you can leave their tails on. We only meet up with them a couple of times a year.” . . 

Alliance Group more than halves profit –  Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – Red meat cooperative Alliance Group more than halved its net profit as it paid more for livestock and in tax, interest and administration costs.

Net profit for the year ended September fell to $6.6 million from $14.4 million a year earlier, the Invercargill-based co-operative said in its annual report. Revenue, however, lifted to $1.8 billion from $1.5 billion in the prior year and it paid more than $1.2 billion to its farmer-shareholders.

The group also paid $14.6 million in loyalty payments and another $31.6 million in advance payments to support farmers during periods of low cash flow. . . 

What it takes to win the Ballance farm environment award :

Trying different things, learning from mistakes, and working with Mother Nature are part of the ethos of this year’s national Ballance farm environment award winners.

As winners of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy, Bay of Plenty kiwifruit growers Mark and Catriona White are officially ‘national ambassadors for sustainable farming and growing’.

During a round of meetings with agriculture agency representatives and MP Todd Muller in Wellington this month, the Whites dropped into Federated Farmers’ HQ to swap war stories on topics as diverse as workforce shortages, genetic engineering and whether farmers/ growers who repeatedly fail to heed sustainability messages should be left behind. . . 

 

Apple industry already growing jobs for new horticultural degree graduates:

New Zealand’s booming apple and pear industry is already promising great career opportunities for the first graduates of a new stand-alone Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture.

Recruitment is underway for the new three-year degree that starts in February 2019 with a fully industry-sponsored 4ha apple innovation orchard at Massey University’s Palmerston North campus.

New Zealand Apples & Pears capability manager Erin Simpson, who has been a driving force behind the new degree, said never before has there been a more exciting time for young people to enter the industry which is offering them a bright and rewarding future. . . 

Fonterra confirms second director election timing:

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council has confirmed that a second election for the remaining vacancy on Fonterra’s Board of Directors will be held in December. Voting will open on 3 December and close at 1.00pm on 20 December, and the results will be announced later the same day.

Only two candidates from the first election, Leonie Guiney and Peter McBride, obtained more than 50% support from voting shareholders. The Rules of the first election state that if not enough candidates obtain more than 50% support, there must be a second election. . . 

Manawatū agricultural contractor lands deal supplying Auckland Zoo with feed:

Manawatū agricultural contractor Mike Hancock is helping to feed some of the world’s most stunning and endangered animals.

The 23-year-old is a joint operations manager for Bruce Gordon Contracting, north of Marton.

Earlier this year the company received a phone call from Auckland Zoo, almost 500 kilometres away. . . 

Knickers the steer, one of the world’s biggest steers, avoids the abattoir thanks to his size – Jacqueline Lynch and Tyne Logan:

At 194 centimetres high, WA-born steer Knickers is believed to be the tallest in Australia — and one of the tallest in the world.

To put it into perspective, the seven-year-old is almost as tall as NBA star Michael Jordan and weighs more than a Mini Cooper car at about 1,400 kilograms.

That’s double the weight of the average Holstein Friesian and half a metre taller — and could make more than 4,000 hamburger lovers happy.

But owner Geoff Pearson of Lake Preston in the state’s south-west said Knickers was not destined for the barbecue anytime soon. . . 

How we fell out of love with milk – Tim Lewis:

Soya, almond, oat… Whether for health issues, animal welfare or the future of the planet, ‘alt-milks’ have never been more popular. Are we approaching dairy’s final days? 

A couple of weeks ago, some eye-catching billboards began appearing around central and east London. Entire tunnels of the underground were plastered with the adverts; the sides of large buildings were covered. On one panel there was a carton (or, in some instances, three) of Oatly, an oat drink made by a cult Swedish company that favours stark graphics, a bluey-grey colour scheme, and which is a market leader – in a not uncompetitive field – in the tongue-in-cheek promotional messages known as “wackaging”. The adjacent panel, in large, wobbly type, read: “It’s like milk, but made for humans.” . . 

 Sprinklers help nourish refuge elk – Mike Koshmrl:

Each summer a massive $5.25 million irrigation system is cranked on at the National Elk Refuge, showering beads of water over nearly a fifth of the preserve’s 25,000 grassy acres.

With no crops growing and no livestock in sight, tourists and newcomers to Jackson Hole who catch a glimpse must occasionally be bewildered.

But there are actually many reasons for the refuge’s irrigation system, new as of 2010. . . 


Orchardists ambassadors for sustainable farming/growing

June 8, 2018

The Ballance Farm Environment Award has been won by orchardists for the first time:

Bay of Plenty Kiwifruit Growers Mark and Catriona White Are the New National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing.

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET) runs the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and announced the Recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy at an awards function at Te Papa in Wellington on Thursday night – chosen from 11 regional supreme winners gathered from throughout the country.

Ten years ago, the Whites embarked on a quest to find an improved lifestyle for their family away from the city and found it on a bare block of land near Opotiki. Their work and passion has transformed a 5.85ha section of a former organic dairy farm into the Coastal Kiwis Orchard it is today.

Former national ambassador Dianne Kidd from Helensville, who chaired the judging panel, says the Whites demonstrate an excellent understanding of all aspects of sustainable food production.

“They are outstanding strategic and agile thinkers on the key issues for New Zealand and have strong primary sector and community leadership qualities. They communicate and operate exceptionally well as a team and are natural leaders with a wealth of knowledge and experience and a willingness to impart this to others.”

She says Mark and Catriona show a respect for the Maori principles of kaitiakitanga – acting as guardian, protector and conserver – within their kiwifruit orchard management.

“They are strong users of evidence-based science and technology in their business and orchard and demonstrate a broad global market understanding and a real energy to be agents of change. They come from diverse careers into the primary sector bringing their expertise and capital to their chosen horticultural business and the community in Opotiki.”

Catriona’s family has been on the farm for four generations. Although they initially did not know much about kiwifruit, the couple did most of the physical development work themselves, keeping costs down and learning by their mistakes. Mark also did a National Certificate in Horticulture.

The orchard is BioGro certified. It has 3.19 ha of Zespri Organic Green kiwifruit, producing in 2017 a total of 23,483 trays of kiwi-start fruit. Zespri Organic SunGold (G3) is currently grown on 2.65 ha producing 38,362 trays. This production was achieved in a “challenging growing year” which included various cyclones and a very wet and windy autumn. Recently developed blocks of SunGold have come into production this season.

Alongside Kidd on the national judging panel were Warwick Catto from Ballance Agri-Nutrients, NZFET’s Jamie Strang, George Murdoch from Rabobank and Julia Jones from KPMG.

“New Zealand can be proud of the global leading achievements of our farmers and growers,” Kidd says.

“New Zealand media needs to help tell these great stories about our outstanding food producers. A common theme from this year’s supreme regional winners is a focus and clear understanding there is a need to connect with our consumers – a real market focus.”

The supreme winners of 11 regional awards were invited to the Showcase in Wellington to be considered for the trophy named in honour of Waikato farmer and noted conservationist, the late Gordon Stephenson. As a national award it is separate to the regional programme and judged under different criteria.

Chair of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, Joanne van Polanen, says she is looking forward to supporting the Whites fulfil their ambassadorial duties including an overseas study tour. “Catriona and Mark will do the country proud as food producers of the highest quality.”


Rural round-up

February 25, 2018

M. bovis progarmme being speeded up – Sally Rae:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is accelerating its tracing and surveillance programme so a decision whether to proceed with Mycoplasma bovis eradication can be made as soon as possible.

It has urged any dairy and beef farmers who believe they may have animals at high risk of infection to make contact immediately.

”Right now, we need to hear from any farmers who have bought cows and calves or milk for calf feed from farms that have been publicly identified as infected. If these farmers haven’t already heard from us through our tracing work, we would dearly like to hear from them,” director of response Geoff Gwyn said.

The MPI was particularly interested to hear from those who had received cattle or calves from Southland-based Southern Centre Dairies Ltd at any time after January 1, 2016, and had not already been contacted by the MPI. . . 

Swede seed mix up in ‘human error’ leaves farmers with wrong variety – Brittany Pickett:

A “human error” in seed deliveries across much of the country has resulted in hundreds of farmers planting the wrong variety of swedes on their properties.  

PGG Wrightson Seeds has alerted farmers who bought the new seed variety, Hawkestone yellow-fleshed Cleancrop swede, that a different line of white-fleshed swede, HT-S57, had been distributed to customers instead.

HT-S57 swede was phased out in 2016 and replaced with the Hawkestone swede variety.

However, the HT-S57 seed was distributed to farmers for planting for winter feed instead of the new Hawkestone swede variety. The company said in a statement that the mistake was caused by human error.. . .

Demand leaves NZ livestock numbers low – Sally Rae:

Livestock numbers available for processing over the rest of the season are lower than in any of the previous five seasons, a forecast by Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service shows.

Dry conditions and strong prices for lamb, mutton and beef in the December quarter drove high processing volumes.

The average values per tonne for lamb, mutton and beef exports were at record or near record levels in the December quarter, the forecast says.

The total number of lambs available for processing in 2017-18 was forecast to be up 1.3% on the previous season. . . 

Opotiki kiwifruit growers win BOP Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Kiwifruit growers Mark and Catriona White and their Coastal Kiwis orchard have won the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Ten years ago, the couple embarked on a quest to find an improved lifestyle for their family away from the city and found it on a bare block of land near Opotiki.

Their work and passion have transformed part of an organic dairy farm into the successful 5.85ha orchard it is today, the Awards judges said. . . 

Rotorua and Hokitika farmers named as finalists for Māori excellence in farming award:

Two dairy farming operations are the finalists in the Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award.

They are Rotorua’s Onuku Māori Lands’ Trust and the Proprietors of Mawhera Incorporation (Hokitika).

The Onuku Māori Lands Trust’s Boundary Road Farm is a 72 hectare block near Lake Rotomahana, about 30 kilometres south of Rotorua. The farm milks 220 cows which produce about 90,000kg of milk solids. The trust  consists of four dairy farms, a drystock farm, forestry, natural reserves and a manuka plantation.  Onuku has also developed outside the farm gates, starting an export honey business called Onuku Honey. . . 

New beef product on the cards – Hugh Stringleman:

Fast-growing dairy-beef steers slaughtered at about 12 months of age could be the basis of a new-generation beef product range.

Rearing those cattle for the beef industry could address some of the concerns in the rural-urban divide about the two million annual bobby calf slaughter, Massey University researcher Nicola Schreurs said.

The short growing period to maximise growth efficiency should also help address concerns about beef’s high environmental footprint, a consequence of the animals’ two- or three-year life.

She told farmers at the annual Limestone Downs field day in northern Waikato about a  pilot study at Massey’s Keebles Farm where 80 Hereford-Kiwicross steers are being fast-tracked. . . 

 

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