Rural round-up

October 6, 2018

Acquifer scheme off and running – John Keast:

A switch was flicked, Rangitata River water bubbled in a basin, then slid along a man-made creek bed in the dry South Hinds riverbed.

It is there it will do its work: increase flows in the Hinds River – often dry in its middle reaches – replenish underlying aquifers, feed newly planted native plants, enhance a wetland and, it is hoped, enhance bores used to supply water to Mayfield.

The water was released last week as part of the work by the Managed Aquifer Recharge Governance Group’s project to boost aquifers, dilute nitrates and lift river and stream flows. . .

Alliance backed on long term approach – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group management has received a strong message from suppliers to keep investing in the company’s longer-term strategy, rather than take a short-term approach, chairman Murray Taggart says.

Mr Taggart and fellow directors and management are travelling the country, attending the co-operative’s annual roadshows.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Times yesterday, he said feedback from shareholders and suppliers had been “pleasantly positive.” . . .

Where once was gorse, blackberry and bracken are fields of lush grass, vegetables, and sprightly calves – Marty Sharpe:

Over the course of his 36 years Hemi Robinson has watched the area he calls home slowly decay.

Rust and algae-covered car bodies litter paddocks, once-loved weatherboard homes crumble quietly into the dirt and wave after wave of blackberry, gorse and bracken encroach and consume once fertile and productive land.

This is Raupunga, between Napier and Wairoa. Population 250-ish and falling. . .

Benevolent history repeats – Ross Hyland:

The Duncan, Perry and Howard families have a long connection with farming.

They were instrumental in setting up Smedley, Taratahi and Massey University and the latest generation is doing it again with a group of farms in Rangitikei, particularly Otiwhiti and Westoe, providing a start on the land for cadets from all round the country.

Much has been said and written of the Duncans of the Turakina Valley but the transformation that has been happening on Otiwhiti Station deserves some focus of its own.

The farm cadet training school was established at Otiwhiti by Charles and Joanna Duncan and Charles’ parents, David and Vicky, in 2006. With the addition of Jim and Diana Howard’s Westoe Farm near Marton it could well be the premier farm cadet training establishment in the region. . .

Farmers have choice of five candidates to fill three seats

Fonterra is conducting a wide-open contest among five nominees to fill three vacancies around its board table, which consists of seven farmer-directors and four independents.

The retirements of former chairman John Wilson through ill-health and of long-serving director Nicola Shadbolt mean Ashley Waugh is the only sitting director seeking re-election.

Because the co-operative recently reported its first loss in 17 years of operations Waugh is exposed to a possible backlash through the ballot box from disgruntled shareholders. . .

An innovative lamb product is vying for two of New Zealand’s top food awards:

Alliance Group’s Te Mana Lamb has been announced as a finalist in two categories of this year’s : Frozen, which is offered in association with Palmerston North City Council; and the NZ Food Safety Primary Sector Products Award.

The Primary Sector Products Award looks for single ingredient foods – those sold in their purest form, with minimal processing – where producers, researchers and manufacturers have added-value to primary products through introducing new varieties, cultivars or breeds.

Te Mana Lamb has been produced as part of the Omega Lamb Project – a Primary Growth Partnership led by Alliance, in association with farming group Headwaters New Zealand Ltd and the Ministry for Primary Industries. . . 


Rural round-up

June 28, 2014

Sustainable farming title goes to Canterbury  – Tim Cronshaw:

Canterbury farmers have made it two years in a row after Mark and Devon Slee were named the national winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Christchurch last night.

The Gordon Stephenson trophy, farming’s top environmental and sustainable silverware, was handed to the couple by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The Slees topped a field of 10 regional winners in the competition run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFE).

Their business, Melrose Dairy, is based on a property portfolio of 1014 hectares in the Ealing district, south of Ashburton. . .

Farming balancing act – Stephen Bell and Bryan Gibson:

The final decision on Ruataniwha Dam represents the way of the future for farming and the environment, which will be balancing competing needs, Massey University ecology Associate Professor Dr Russell Death says.

Farming and environmental groups have cautiously welcomed the Environmental Protection Authority board of inquiry’s ruling on conditions for the $265 million dam in Central Hawke’s Bay.

However, while irrigators said commonsense had prevailed, one environment group said the decision meant the scheme’s viability was questionable.

“I guess to a certain extent both parties are right,” Death said. . .

Dam may be feasible after all – Marty Sharpe:

The correction of a relatively simple but hugely significant error in the 1000-page draft decision of the board of inquiry into the Ruataniwha dam proposal means the project may now be viable.

The board’s final decision on the dam and associated plan change was published yesterday, and corrected an “unintended consequence” in the draft decision, which inflamed farmers, farming organisations and the applicants – the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and its investment arm.

The draft decision held all farmers in the Tukituki catchment responsible for keeping the level of dissolved nitrogen in the river at 0.8 milligrams per litre of water. . .

 

Wanted: young farm workers for the future –  Gerard Hutching:

Need a sharemilker? How about employing a foreigner? Or perhaps a young New Zealander?

At the same time as the agricultural sector needs a big boost in the workforce, it has become harder to entice young people on to farms.

But it is not just a question of working on farms. The primary sector is facing a significant shortfall in skilled staff across the board, as the Government attempts to meet the ambitious target of doubling exports by 2025.

Within the primary sector, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ report People Powered, support services is the area of most acute need, followed by horticulture, forestry, the arable industry, dairy and seafood. Only the red meat and wool sector envisages a fall in workers by 5100. . .

Farming app replaces notebooks, calculators: – Anne Boswell:

A barrage of questions from his knowledge-hungry sons led dairy farmer Jason Jones to develop a livestock management application that removes the need for notebooks and calculators.

Handy Farmer, a highly-customisable app for iPhone and Android, was launched earlier this year, eight years after the idea was born.

Jones, a variable order sharemilker of 470 cows on 140ha effective near Otorohanga, said his sons started asking him “all sorts of questions” as they were learning the ropes of the dairy industry. . .

 

Online fruit and vege sales boom – Hugh Stringleman:

Online buying of fruit and vegetables is growing quickly and customers are more discerning and are prepared to pay more, the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Connections conference in Auckland has been told.

Four speakers gave perspectives from supermarket chains to fruit-and-vegetable stores.

New Zealander Shane Bourk, vice-president fresh food for Wal-Mart in China, said e-commerce was huge in China, although fresh fruit and vegetables lagged. . .


Rural round-up

June 8, 2013

Rules more of a worry – Marty Sharpe:

Farmers are more concerned about the economic and regulatory impacts from climate change than its physical and climatic effects, a study has found.

The study, by University of California PhD candidate Meredith Niles, involved 313 farmers in Hawke’s Bay and 177 in Marlborough.

Niles found that:

– When it came to concerns for the future, farmers were “very concerned” about more economic and policy matters such as regulation, higher fuel and energy prices, new pests and diseases and more volatile markets. . .

Meat consolidation is happening already – Tim Fulton:

The number of New Zealand sheep meat exporters using European lamb and beef quota in the past decade has fallen on the back of mergers, financial failures and new tactics. Tim Fulton reports.

A shake-up of meat processing has been churning away for years with barely a farmer involved, New Zealand Meat Board figures indicate.

The evidence for this, if not the explanation, is in the annual record of companies granted access to European sheep and goat meat quota – and also in the pattern for quota-linked United States beef and veal.

In 2003 the tally of our sheep and goat meat merchants in Europe could fill a sheet of A4 paper, listed alphabetically from Abco Meats to Wrightson. . .

Farming through future eyes – Sue O’Dowd:

Taranaki farmers planning the transition of their farms to the next generation can get help at a forum later this month.

A scheme that provides training for farmers in areas like governance, transition planning, financial systems and establishing health and safety programmes will be explained at a seminar in Hawera on June 20.

It is being hosted by the Taranaki branch of the Institute of Directors, and speakers will include 2012 Dairy Woman of the Year Barbara Kuriger, of New Plymouth, and Bay of Plenty corporate farmer Trevor Hamilton. . .

No deal likely for Feds, Transpower – Richard Rennie:

Despite Horticulture NZ reaching an agreement with Transpower over power line buffer zones on growers’ properties, Federated Farmers is not intending to follow the same path.

The grower group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Transpower agreeing to work with it on issues of access and land use under lines and pylons.

The memorandum follows long-running conflict between growers, farmers and Transpower as it seeks to adjust council district plans to ensure buffer zones exist around transmission infrastructure.

The conflict has been most intense in Western Bay of Plenty, with the issue about to be heard by the Environment Court. . .

Appointment of CEO At Deer Industry NZ:

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dan Coup as its new chief executive.

DINZ Chairman, Andy Macfarlane, noted that Coup, currently Trade and Economic Manager at the Meat Industry Association (MIA), has a unique background, combining an honours degree in genetics and molecular biology with an MBA. Together with his experience at MIA dealing with trade and market access issues, he is well-positioned to leverage off the outstanding work completed by outgoing chief executive, Mark O’Connor. O’Connor departs after 13 years to run his family-owned investment business. . . .

‘Mantis’ and ‘Shrimp’ the new farming robots in Oz:

Moving carefully along a row of apple trees, two of Australia’s newest agricultural workers check if the fruit is ripe or the soil needs water or fertilizer.

Meet “Mantis” and “Shrimp”, agricultural robots being tested to do these tasks and more in a bid to cut costs and improve productivity in Australia’s economically vital farm sector, which exported the U.S. equivalent of $38.8 billion of produce in 2012.

Australia is one of the leaders in the field and, with a minimum wage of about $15 U.S. an hour and a limited workforce, has a big incentive to use robots and other technology such as unmanned aircraft to improve efficiency. . .


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