Rural round-up

September 6, 2017

Ag-tech edge requires boldness – Conor English:

Just as the axe handle allowed the human race to prevail, New Zealand needs to put its mind to discovering the next combination of technologies that is going to keep our country at the forefront of ag and food technology.

That is going to take capital, risk, and some out-of-the-box thinking.  There is much to do if we want to lead the race, writes Conor English.

The axe handle was incredibly important for the human race.

By combining three previously separate elements — a stone, a stick and string — humans invented a tool that gave them leverage and strength to better hunt animals that were faster and stronger than us. . . 

New technologies helping clean up NZ’s waterways:

New Zealand farmers and companies are starting to use Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, data analytics and automation to decrease impact on New Zealand rivers, a leading national tech expert says.

In countries, right across the world the IoT devices are being used to help clean up water, New Zealand IoT Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker says.

Irrigation is by far the largest use of water in New Zealand, making up 65.9 percent of water use between 2013 and 2014, the Ministry for the Environment says. . . 

Farmers becoming ‘lepers’ due to cattle disease scare – Gerard Hutching:

South Canterbury and Otago beef farmers are unwitting victims of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis even though testing so far has shown their livestock are free of any traces of the disease.

A farmer who rears calves as dairy support told Stuff he had a contract worth $100,000 for 200 calves cancelled as soon as the buyer heard the animals were being tested.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has indicated these farmers will not be eligible for compensation. . . 

Provisional tax relief at last – Chris Cunliffe:

Provisional tax has long been difficult to get right and expensive to get wrong.

But not anymore: the much-maligned old rules have been put out to pasture.

These assumed farmers and growers could correctly forecast their income tax liability ahead of time, but if their prediction was not spot-on they got slapped by Inland Revenue’s steep interest on top of the underpaid amount.

Now new rules provide greater certainty about payments and reduce compliance costs for businesses who calculate their payments using the standard method. This method means you base your payments on 105% of last year’s income tax liability (or 110% of the previous year’s liability if your return has not been filed). Most taxpayers pay provisional tax this way. . . 

Dunedin produces mastitis diagnostics – Sally Rae:

A Dunedin-based startup has produced a diagnostic test kit to help farmers deal with the costly problem of bovine mastitis.

Mastitis, which is inflammation of the udder, is a major financial burden to the dairy industry, both in New Zealand and globally.

It was predominantly treated using antibiotics and mastitis treatment was the largest single use for animal health antibiotics.

On average, it was estimated to cost about $60,000 a year for an 800-cow herd, and the industry, as a whole, about $280 million.

Mastaplex founder Dr Olaf Bork has been developing products for treating mastitis at the Bayer Centre for Animal Health, before patenting his own research and founding the startup company. . . 

Wet flattens milk curve – Hugh Stringleman:

The extraordinary number of wet days over winter has raised the worry of a repeat spring milk production plateau rather than peak.

Soils in almost all dairying districts were saturated and fine weather was needed to kick-start spring grass growth and milk production.

Dairy farmers in northern provinces had almost completed the extended winter pasture feeding rotation when cows were break-fed the saved autumn pasture growth for 90 days. . . 

Major increase in community conservation funding:

Conservation work in New Zealand will be supercharged by substantially increasing the amount of money available to hard-working volunteer groups, National Party Conservation Spokesperson Maggie Barry says.

“We have a beautiful natural environment, and the efforts of local communities are crucial to protecting our landscape and native species for future generations,” Ms Barry says.

To support these groups, National will more than double the amount of funding available through the Department of Conservation Community Fund, from $4.6 million to $10 million a year. . . 

Spring farm sales upturn expected – Alan Williams:

Winter calving and lambing preparations and rainfall impacts have slowed the rural real estate market but prices have remained firm.

With an increased milk payout and higher beef prices “a quiet air of confidence or perhaps relief is quietly growing with the rural sector”, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.

Sales for the three months to the end of July were down by 76 to 392 compared to the end of June when there were 459 sales. In the July period last year there were 468 sales. . . 

New Zealand King Salmon fy17 result and dividend exceed expectations:

A combination of operational achievements and a successful market positioning strategy underpins strong growth for New Zealand King Salmon Investments Ltd which today reported its full year result for the twelve months to 30 June 2017 (FY17). The Board affirms the Company’s full year FY18 forecast as presented in its Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) dated 23 September 2016, prepared for its Initial Public Offering (IPO).

Key highlights include:

• Net profit after tax of $22.8 million, up 778% on the comparable twelve month period to 30 June 2016 (FY16) and 125% ahead of the Prospective Financial Information forecast (PFI) . . 

Fieldays reveals post-event survey results and theme for 50th anniversary in 2018

Results from a recent visitor and exhibitor survey has New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays celebrating another successful year as preparations begin for their 50th anniversary event in 2018.

In the survey, 96 per cent of visitors rated their experience of Fieldays 2017 as “good” to “excellent” and 92 per cent of exhibitors said they would exhibit again.

The iconic event, billed as the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, saw a record 133,588 people through the gates – its highest visitor number yet. . . 


Rural round-up

April 11, 2015

Big jump in number of agriculture students:

Beef and Lamb New Zealand is welcoming an increase in enrolments in agricultural courses at Massey and Lincoln universities as a sign that more school leavers are considering careers in the primary sector.

Massey University has had its biggest intake into agricultural courses for at least 25 years, with almost 190 first year students enrolling in the compulsory Plants in Agriculture class.

Lincoln University’s Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Diploma in Agriculture programmes both attracted 20 percent more enrolments than last year, and enrolments have doubled for the new Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing and the Master of Science in Food Innovation programmes. . .

Motivated dairy couple aim high – Gerard Hutching:

Matt and Tracey Honeysett are hoping it will be third time lucky when the national sharemilker/equity farmer of the year category is decided later this year.

In 2009 the couple won the Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa farm manager of the year title, and this year the Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa sharemilker/equity farmers of the year, milking 1200 kiwi cross cows for the Pahautea Ltd Partnership. 

The farm is 420 effective hectares, with 266 ha support.

It is the fourth time they have entered the dairy awards. . .

Mastitis, antibiotics and milk – Milk Maid Marian:

Why do we use antibiotics on our farm? Very simply, because despite everything we do to look after their well being, cows, just like people, sometimes fall ill and need antibiotics to get better.

It’s very rare that any of our 260 milking cows become lame with an infection while digestive problems are almost unheard of here and, in any case, do not require antibiotics.

The number one illness we treat on our farm is mastitis. If you’ve breastfed a baby yourself, there’s a fair chance you’ve experienced mastitis. In both cows and women, the symptoms include swelling, warmth and redness for light cases. Nasty cases bring flu-like symptoms that, in cows, can progress to become extremely serious. . .

Rural women and olive oil – what a great mix! And it all came about over a cup of coffee:

Where to house the new community olive press was the big topic of conversation when Gendie Somerville-Ryan, President of Awana Rural Women on Great Barrier Island, met Carol and Trevor Rendle of Barrier Olive Growers Ltd for coffee. Awana Rural Women, a branch of Rural Women NZ, owns its own premises – a hall and a garage. The garage was undergoing a major upgrade and would make the perfect place for the olive press. All it took was a cup of coffee and a chat and the olive press had a new home.

“Awana Rural Women activities encourage community cooperation and development and what better way to demonstrate this than to help promote economic growth through horticulture,” said Mrs Somerville-Ryan. “Our facilities are centrally located, of a high standard and well-known around Great Barrier Island. Housing the olive press is very much in line with our philosophy of helping the community to help itself through education, personal development and building community capacity. It’s a win-win for everyone.” . . .

 

Fodder beet poised to revolutionise beef production:

The beef industry is poised for a revolution driven by explosive growth in the adoption of fodder beet by Kiwi farmers to finish cattle faster and cheaper than it has ever been possible before.

That was the simple message Dr Jim Gibbs, a senior lecturer in animal science at Lincoln University, gave farmers at a fodder beet field day in Middlemarch.

“The beef industry in New Zealand ought to be one of this country’s premier primary industries, but it’s not,” he told NZ Farmer later. “For 15 years it has just been treading water or probably going slightly backwards.” . . .

Kiwifruit orchard top returns, again :

For the second time in two seasons, Owen St George’s kiwifruit orchard has posted a top orchard gate return (OGR) for its green variety with post-harvest company DMS.

This year, despite producing less fruit than the previous season, the Te Puna orchard saw an increased OGR of $99,000 based on 11,760 trays per hectare, thanks to an outstanding $3.37 per tray Kiwistart payout. Last year’s 15,109 trays per hectare produced an OGR of $90,000, after having been stored throughout the season.

Owen says the two top consecutive results – albeit on opposite sides of the scale – are all about income consistency. . .

Hokonui rural radio hits South Taranaki airwaves – Sue O’Dowd:

South and Central Taranaki radio listeners can now tune in to a dedicated rural radio station.

They’ve been able to listen to Hokonui Radio on 88.2FM or 1557AM since Tuesday.

Announcer Bryan Vickery has moved from Coast to host the new Hokonui breakfast show from 6am to 9am weekdays.

“It’s a privilege to be the first presenter to front the Hokonui breakfast show,” Vickery said. “I’m excited because its local radio at its very best.” . . .


Feds seeks post-cordon debrief

October 7, 2009

Federated Farmers wants a debriefing with police and Fonterra after farmers were unable to return to their properties to tend stock during the hunt for fugitive gunman David Bourke.

This is not a criticism of any individual police officer, but it seems some very strange decisions were made throughout the course of this incident,” says David Hunt, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay Dairy chairperson.

“Although the two-day manhunt for fugitive David Bourke was extraordinary, such events are sadly becoming more common. You need look no further than Napier gunman Jan Molenaar’s three-day siege with police in May.

“In the case of Norsewood, however, I have to question some of the decisions made by the police when dealing with an incident in a rural area. Not allowing farmers access to their properties to milk and check on newborn calves puts the welfare of nearly every animal within the cordon in jeopardy.

“Farmers have a strict obligation to the Animal Welfare Act and codes of practice. So, too, do police or in the very least, these officers of the law must be aware of the importance of animal welfare.

Cows would have have been short of feed, they’d have been very uncomfortable when they weren’t milked on time, are likely to get mastitis because of that, and their production will be affected. Calves were left without milk too.

People’s safety must be the police’s first priority but animal welfare shouldn’t be ignored.

UPDATE:

PMofNZ and rivettingKate Taylor have local knowledge.


Mothering not always natural

June 30, 2008

Deborah Coddington  is right to be concerned about the lack of care new mothers and their babies are getting from our health system.

Current policy concerning mothers and babies is to get them out of the hospital as soon as possible, regardless of how they are coping.

I blame the feminists who, in declaring quite rightly most deliveries are straightforward and mothers are not ill, went overboard in their quest for minimising hospital care (especially if male obstetricians or general practitioners were in charge of the birth) and made mothers feel pressured to get off the delivery trolley, pick up their blinking newborns and sail home pretending they could cope.

When our children were born 23, 21 and 19 years ago it was usual for women to have 5 days in hospital following a normal delivery and up to 10 days after a caesarean.

Now Ministry of Health policy stipulates that the Lead Maternity Carer will determine when mother and baby are clinically ready to be discharged; and that this is usually within 48 hours of the birth at least a day before breast milk comes in.

  

The Ministry’s list of reasons for delaying discharge includes feeding problems, so in theory mothers and their babies are able to stay until breast feeding is properly established. But this isn’t what happens in practice: women are often discharged within hours of birth and some maternity centres even offer incentives such as free napkins to encourage early discharge.

 

 Some women are happy to get home as soon as possible after delivery and of course should be free to do so; others may be unable, or choose not to breast feed. But many wish to feed their babies themselves and some of these need the immediate assistance which is available 24 hours a day in maternity centres to do so.

 

Without that help there is an increased risk babies will fail to thrive and mothers will develop mastitis or opt for bottle feeding in desperation.

 

I haven’t found any research into the link between feeding problems and our appalling record for violence; but an unhappy baby and the unexpected expense of formula will put strain on a family.

 

A birth blip has put pressure on maternity services and even without that it isn’t sensible to tie up tertiary and secondary hospital beds with well women. It may be better to establish mother care units but however it is done we need facilities that ensure 24-hour, on the spot assistance and advice is available from lactation specialists until breast feeding is established.


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