Rural round-up

27/03/2021

Kill rate sparks breeding flock concern – Neal Wallace:

A high mutton kill has commentators worried the country’s core ewe breeding flock could take a sharp fall.

AgriHQ senior analyst Mel Croad says 3.1 million ewes were forecast to be killed this year, but up to February 13 – 19 weeks into the season – the kill was well on the way, sitting at 2.2m.

The five-year average kill for the remaining 33 weeks of the season is nearly 1.5m, potentially pushing this year’s ewe kill to about 3.7m.

Croad believes some farmers are looking at the capital tied up in breeding flocks and looking for less financial risk. . . 

Meat man’s mission ending – Sudesh Kissun:

It was around 27 years ago when Rod Slater agreed to step in as interim chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

He recalls getting a call from then-chairman Dennis Denton, who was worried about the future of the organisation. The chief executive had “gone AWOL” and things were looking dire.

Slater, then a board member of B+LNZ, had just sold out of Mad Butcher, the iconic NZ chain he had started with Sir Peter Leitch.

Slater told Rural News that was happy to help bail out B+LNZ. . .

Mid-Canterbury sheep milking business looks to expand – Maja Burry:

A Mid Canterbury sheep milking business is looking to establish itself as a major player in local industry with plans to take on more than 20 farmer suppliers over the next three years.

Matt and Tracey Jones from Sheep Milk New Zealand began commercial milking in 2019. As well as selling raw milk to other producers, they have developed their own fresh milk product range Jones Family Farm and a skin care range Sabelle.

Matt Jones said at the moment it had two farmer suppliers, but it would be taking on five more this coming season and 17 more were lined up for the season after.

“We’re building more processing facilities for that … because someone’s got to buy the milk and we’ve got to process it and sell it.” . . 

Millions of South Canterbury sunflowers heading for bottling plant – Eleisha Foon:

It’s hard not to miss the bright sea of yellow which turns heads just south of Timaru on State Highway 1.

Millions of sunflowers on a South Canterbury farm, are just weeks away from harvest.

Row upon row, standing two feet tall, they’re past their best now and are beginning to sag.

By next month the sunflower seeds will be processed into cooking oil, making it one of New Zealand’s only locally grown sunflower oil – soon to be ready for the domestic market. . . 

HortNZ welcomes Govt’s moves to improve housing supply – but not on highly productive land:

HortNZ says the Government’s latest moves to improve housing supply are welcome but the new houses must not be built on highly productive land used for vegetable or fruit growing.

‘Every New Zealander deserves a house just like every New Zealander deserves fresh, healthy locally grown vegetables and fruit,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive Mike Chapman.

‘We can have both but current policy settings favour housing over food security, and keeping New Zealand’s most highly productive soils safe from urban creep.

‘In August 2019, the Government launched its draft National Policy Statement on Highly Productive Land. This was at an event attended by two Government Ministers in Pukekohe, where some of the greatest pressures are. . . 

Actress Antonia Prebble joins Spring Sheep Milk Co to launch toddler milk:

Actress and mum to 20-month-old Freddie, Antonia Prebble is delighted to be helping introduce New Zealand to a brand-new source of toddler nutrition. Antonia is working with Kiwi company Spring Sheep Milk Co. as it launches its new premium Gentle Sheep Toddler Milk Drink, a product made with grass-fed New Zealand sheep milk.

Antonia was drawn to Spring Sheep Milk Co.’s gentle approach to nutrition for Kiwi toddlers and the rich nutritional and digestive benefits of sheep milk.

“I am really mindful when it comes to what I give Freddie to eat and drink, and working with the team at Spring Sheep, I saw early on that they are just as passionate about what goes into their product. . . 


Rural round-up

11/02/2021

Southland farmers nervous about proposed 15 percent livestock reduction – Logan Savory:

Southland farmers are wary about what impact a reduction of livestock numbers will mean for the agriculture sector in the south.

A Climate Change Commission report has been released which outlines the draft plan to cut New Zealand’s emissions.

Included in the draft plan was the national reduction of livestock by 15 percent by 2030. Exactly how that reduction will be rolled out is not clear.

Paul Turner, who farms between Wreys Bush and Mossburn, when asked, for an example, what a 15 percent reduction might mean on his farm, he replied it would mean losing about 300 cows, which in turn would see about $1m drop out of the economy. . . 

Climate focus highlights the need for water – Vanessa Winning:

We should no longer be afraid of the conversation about water storage, dams, and reservoirs in the right places, as they are necessary for a sustainable, inclusive, productive and decarbonised economy, chief executive of Irrigation NZ Vanessa Winning writes.

It has been hot, very hot, especially in the central north island, Canterbury, Nelson, and Otago areas.

Then it was cool – still dry for most of us, but temperatures dropped a minimum of 10 degrees in the space of 24 hours in the height of summer.

Southerlies have settled into the lower North Island and we may get a storm next week in the South. Climate scientists tell us that these swings are expected to get more extreme all year round. . .

From The Ridge: you don’t get something for nothing – Steve Wyn-Harris:

We had a mini heatwave like many of you last week.

Over a few days, temperatures sneaked into the low 30s and working in the afternoon heat felt like you were in a furnace.

My thermometers are in well-shaded spots, so I’m doubtful about the claims of 40C from near here.

However, I do know that some of you had official recordings in the high 30s, so I guess I have little to complain about.

I made sure I drank plenty of water as I toiled in the afternoon sun, but it was surprising how thirsty I still was in the evenings and despite topping up, the body sucked it up, as little piddling was going on. . . 

Sheep milking to be showcased :

Matt and Tracey Jones will display their sheep milking operation tomorrow at Strathclyde Stud, in an open day event at Kirwee.

Sheep Milk New Zealand will join with the Joneses in running the open day at Tuscany Downs on West Coast Road, from 1pm.

There will also be industry speakers — able to highlight an industry capable of generating $250million in sheep milk export products by 2024, and which is already generating profitability for farmers in the North Island — and sheep milking demonstrations on show.

The Joneses started farming East Friesians in 2011 and established Strathclyde Stud in 2012, after a career in traditional sheep farming practices. . . 

Smash – dairy workshops for everyone – Yvonne O’Hara:

Smash is holding its first workshop in the southern region.

Smaller Milk and Supply Herds (Smash) was originally formed for farmers “at the smaller end of things”, with about 300 cows or fewer, organiser Will Rolton said.

However, the information delivered at its workshops was often also relevant to those with larger herds and all dairy farm owners, sharemilkers and contract milkers were welcome to attend the free workshops. . .

Chatham High School welcomes rare Tarentaise cattle – Lucy Kinbacher:

A Taree agriculture teacher is not only excelling in the classroom but becoming a key figure in keeping a number of near extinct cattle breeds alive.

Yan Kleynhans of Chatham High School has a strong passion for rare domesticated animals and recently managed to secure seven of the last 14 known Tarentaise cattle in the country for his crop of enthusiastic students.

The Tarentaise will join a Drakensberger heifer (also one of a handful left in the country), five Limousins and commercial cattle that run across the school property and another 141 hectares (350 acres) of agistment. . . 

 


Rural round-up

21/04/2020

Our greatest opportunity – Penny Clark-Hall:

After 10 or so years of a society dislocating itself, with the farming community being challenged to meet the evolving values of its urban counterparts, we have been given a gift. A chance to reconnect.

We’ve been bemoaning the fact that no one wants to listen to the good stories for years. Who would have thought it would take a global pandemic to give us a window to be able to have that voice again? It seems bad taste to be observing silver linings and opportunities whilst so many are suffering however, an opportunity to connect and support our country can only be a positive for everyone in my books. The primary sector’s social licence and our economy depends on it.  . .

Sector wants deal on reforms – Neal Wallace and Colin Williscroft:

Primary sector leaders have been in discussions with the Government to try to reach a consensus on freshwater reforms.

The 11-member Food and Fibre Leaders’ Forum, which represents the primary sector, is adopting a similar approach to last year’s accord on reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and for several months has had regular meetings with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and senior Cabinet ministers.

The Government’s Essential Freshwater reforms have been temporarily stalled by covid-19 with Environment Minister David Parker saying dealing with the crisis necessitates the reconsideration of priorities and timing. . .

Wanna job? We’ve got it – Annette Scott:

Primary industries face a serious staff recruitment pinch of grave concern to AgStaff director Matt Jones.

The impact of covid-19 is alredy starting to bite and with hundreds of vacancies on his books it’s only going to get worse over the next year, Jones said.

Through his employment businesses Jones recruits staff for jobs from farm and agricultural contracting and food processing to seasonal staff and quality assurance experts, many coming from around the globe to work in New Zealand.  . . 

Are pine trees killing kauri?

A new study suggests that kauri dieback disease may be connected to the lack of protective fungi in plantation pine forest soil.

Published in FEMS Microbiology Ecology, the study, by Bio-Protection Research Centre PhD candidate Alexa Byers and others, looked at the differences in the bacteria and fungi living in the soil of kauri forest and surrounding pine plantations in the Waipoua area. It found soil in the pine forest’s neighbouring kauri forests lacked several species of fungi and bacteria that protect plants, promote growth, and improve their health (for example Trichoderma and Pseudomonas).

“The loss of core microbiota from native soil microbial communities… surrounding remnant kauri fragments could be altering the forest’s ability to respond to pathogen invasion,” Ms Byers wrote. . . 

Energy farm to trial zero carbon solutions – Nigel Malthus:

Lincoln University has unveiled plans for what is expected to be a globally-unique Energy Demonstration Farm to help the primary sector meet its future zero-carbon obligations.

The farm is designed to be fossil fuel-free and feature solar and wind power, bio-fuel, and energy storage solutions while showcasing the range of technology available and how it can be applied, as well as providing data for research and innovation.

Project leaders Dr Wim de Koning and Dr Jeff Heyl say the farm would allow the University and their research partners to make mistakes, so farmers won’t have to.

Fury of British farmers as public sector caterers vow to cut meat served ins cools, hospitals, universities and care homes by 20 percent to improve diets and help environment – Jack Wright:

  • British farmers are furious at public sector caterers vowing to cut red meat servings in schools, hospitals, and care homes by 20 per cent
  • NFU board member Richard Findlay described move as ‘frankly ridiculous’
  • He called #20percentless a ‘misguided project’ that is ‘wholly inaccurate’
  • The aim is to cut greenhouse gases linked to livestock and boost public health
  • Hitting the target would remove nearly 20million lb of meat every year in the UK . . .

Rural round-up

24/03/2020

Farmers want essential services clarity :

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne is urgently seeking clarity from the Government about what primary sector activities will qualify as essential after the Government effectively put the country into lockdown for four weeks to stop the spread of covid-19.

Milne said she has made it clear in conversations with the Government the definition of essential business has to be as wide-ranging as possible so farmers can keep functioning.

“They are part of the food chain and we need them. 

“The people who do service farming, they have an as equally critical role as us who are growing the food.  . . 

Otago farmers nervous about labour from border restrictions :

Uncertainty over travel for the international workforce is compounding what has been a difficult season for orchardists in Central Otago.

Border restrictions and reduced airline capacity in response to Covid-19 are creating anxiety in the industry.

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and chief executive of 45 South – New Zealand’s largest cherry exporter – Tim Jones said traditionally two-thirds of his workforce came from overseas, half on Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) visas and half backpackers.

“As a grower, I sit here nervous about labour and we know we use as many Kiwis as we can but to supplement that we employ RSE labour and we employ a lot of backpackers and our obvious concerns are they may not be around in the sort of numbers we’ve had recently. . . 

A DIRA decision – Elbow Deep:

As the world is faced with torrents of horrific news as the pandemic sweeps the globe, it feels like there is little to be positive about. But over recent weeks there have been two small gems for New Zealand dairy farmers.

The first piece of good news was Fonterra’s half year financial results, which are a remarkable turnaround from the Co-op’s first ever loss posted last year. The loss wasn’t insignificant or so small it could be dismissed as a rounding error, the Co-op lost over half a billion dollars which only makes the recent turnaround even more impressive.

At a time of mass uncertainty when many people don’t know if they’ll still have a job in a few months, it is somewhat relieving that these results will see Fonterra inject more than $11 billion into the New Zealand economy through milk payments to their farmers. Those farmers will in turn spend over half of that in their local communities, communities which need money now more than ever before. It’s not just Fonterra farmers who will benefit from the Co-op’s strong performance; independent processors around the country will be benchmarking themselves off the Co-op’s strong performance. . .

Rural sector crying out to recruit more staff – Jacob McSweeny:

While thousands of people around the country are facing joblessness a recruiting company is calling out for workers in the primary sector, saying there were 40 jobs in South Canterbury available now.

Agstaff, Canstaff and New Zealand Dairy Careers managing director Matt Jones said the need for workers had increased as a result of implications from the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The work does not stop — it’s ramped up as some of our clients in the primary production sector increase production to meet New Zealand’s needs.

“The cows still need milked and the crops must be picked,” Mr Jones said.

He said he had a client in South Canterbury who needed 40 people to start immediately. . . 

Post-quake study reveals hort potential – Nigel Malthus:

Large areas of North Canterbury and South Marlborough – affected by the 2016 Kaikoura Earthquakes – offer wide potential for horticulture.

A Plant and Food Research investigation has found that several crops – in particular, apples, grapes, hazelnuts and walnuts – could be grown in pockets throughout the region.

It identified 41,515 ha of land – or about 9% of the total 466,000ha – that would potentially be suitable. . . 

Vets offer Covid-19 advice:

The New Zealand Veterinary Association has some advice for animal owners amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association representing New Zealand veterinarians says COVID-19 should not reduce the care owners give to their animals’ health and welfare.

“We appreciate there are many issues that people are dealing with in relation to COVID-19, particularly those self-isolating or with family members taking this precautionary measure,” says New Zealand Veterinary Association chief veterinary officer, Dr Helen Beattie.  . . 

Why cradle-to-cradle needs to be included in fashion’s sustainability rating tools :

A review of a leading environmental impact tool for apparel finds that unless improvements are made, weaknesses in the underlying science could lead to misleading results, with potentially far-reaching consequences for the environment.

What do textile lifecycle assessment tools do?

Textile lifecycle assessment (LCA) tools aim to understand, quantify and communicate the environmental credentials of textiles with the intent of minimising environmental impact.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Material Sustainability Index (MSI) is increasingly being adopted by industry but this LCA method currently fails to account for the complexity of the textile industry.

“Several significant environmental impacts and processes are excluded from the MSI and PM, including recyclability, biodegradability, renewability of resource used, microfibres, abiotic resource depletion (minerals) and abiotic bioaccumulation,” said Dr Steve Wiedemann of Integrity AG & Environment.  . . 


Rural round-up

31/12/2019

Land Champion: helping girls gain confidence – Neal Wallace:

Laura Douglas has successfully slayed her demons and is now using everyday farming skills to help teenage girls confront theirs.

Depression four years ago thrust the 32-year-old Southlander into some dark places, places unimaginable today given her boundless energy, endless positivity and zest for life and people.

Douglas addressed her depression by taking small steps, getting out and doing things such as volunteering at a horse refuge and celebrating small achievements. . .

Alliance aiming for ‘greater value’ as part of evolution – Brent Melville:

Southland-based  farmer co-operative Alliance Group wants to capture “greater value” from its products as part of its evolution to a food and solutions business, chairman Murray Taggart says.

Last month, Alliance Group announced a profit of $20.7million before distributions and tax, on revenue of $1.7billion.

It has now paid $9million to its supplying shareholders.

Mr Taggart said it was the best trading result since 2010.

“While this year’s result enabled us to reward shareholders with a profit distribution, we recognise the need to lift the profitability further. . . 

Land Champion: Many string in Jones’ bow – Annette Scott:

From humble beginnings 19 years ago Matt and Tracey Jones now do business worldwide to help Canterbury farmers staff their farms and have launched a world class learning environment in rural Mid Canterbury to provide elite education to strengthen New Zealand primary industries. Annette Scott caught up with the agribusiness entrepreneurs.

Mid Canterbury couple Matt and Tracey Jones’ agricultural staffing businesses is going world-wide recruiting and training people to work across all sectors of New Zealand’s primary industries.

Starting out as Mid Canterbury Casual Employment Services in 2001 their recruitment and training business has evolved and expanded to meet agriculture’s increasing needs. . .

$42.55m in I billion trees project funding:

Figures released by Te Uru Rakau (Forestry New Zealand) this week show 228 grant applications were received for funding under the Government’s One Billion Trees Programme this year, a total of $42.55million being allocated across 42 projects.

Te Uru Rakau acting deputy director-general Sam Keenan said $22.2million of that had been approved across 10,758.4 hectares of new planting.

“To date approximately 17,056,165 trees comprised of 9,785,067 native and 7,271,098 exotic trees have been funded.” . . 

Ngāi Tahu hopes to raise funds for undaria management by selling the seaweed – Louisa Steyl:

It’s a frigid morning off the coast of Dunedin when a wetsuit-clad diver rises to the surface clutching a slimy prize.

The trophy is a seaweed known as undaria pinnatifida – a pest native to Japan and Korea – and physically cutting it out is the only way to control it. 

On board the Polaris 2, a research vessel stationed just a few metres away, members of Ngāi Tahu is processing and packing the seaweed for research.

Its trying to determine the possible uses of undaria in the hopes that harvesting it could pay for control efforts.  . . 

 

Planning to feed? Try the calculator app to help come with complex decisions :

Livestock producers are now planning for difficult conditions through summer and autumn, going into winter.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Local Land Services have advised producers to use available tools and tactics to develop feasible solutions for worst case to best case scenarios.

DPI sheep development officer, Geoff Casburn, said the free Drought and Supplementary Feed Calculator app is available from the Apple App Store and Google Play to help calculate feed requirements, costs and budgets and develop cost effective feeding strategies. . . 

 


Rural round-up

16/11/2019

Hear our voices – Colin Williscroft:

Country went to town in Wellington on Thursday with hundreds of farmers marching on Parliament to protest against what they see as increasing afforestation of productive farmland, often by overseas owners.

However, it wasn’t the only reason people were there with others expressing disapproval of policies focusing on everything from environmental regulations to gun control.

After gathering at Civic Square the protestors, many with placards and led by a tractor carrying a sign saying “Farmers have had enough” marched down Lambton Quay to Parliament where they delivered a petition, signed by more than 11,000 people onlinem, calling for the rejection of legislation that incentivises blanket afforestation of farmland. . .

Young farmer airs concerns – Henry Gaddum:

A young member of the region’s farming community has written an open letter in which he expresses deep concern himself, and on behalf of others, about the future of the region when it comes to land use and Henry Gaddum wants to do something about it.

Here is his letter —


“To a fellow Kiwi.

We are a group of young farmers in the Gisborne/East Coast region and we are seriously concerned about the future of not only our local environment and economy, but also the whole country in relation to Carbon Credits and Pine Trees.
We are fully engaged and enthusiastic about farming sustainably, keeping our creeks clean and re-establishing native trees and wildlife, but we are seriously worried what our countryside is going to look like in the near future, and what our future generations are going to have to try and deal with, if we as a country continue to sell our land to overseas investors.

It seems mad to be blanket planting the lands of one of the most efficient food (carbon footprint) producing countries in the world, just for a less efficient country to take up the slack in global food demand.
How is this helping the climate change problem
? . .

More restrictions in new gun laws – Neal Wallace:

A proposed new firearms register will require licence holders to constantly update the movement of weapons and ammunition, a firearms lobby group warns.

The Council of Licensed Firearms Owners Association describes the proposed regulations on firearms while they are being moved or loaned as onerous and devoid of practical reality.

“What this law is actually doing is looking at the possession of firearms and ammunition not the ownership,” spokeswoman Nicole McKee said. . .

Meat processing sector trials ‘wearable’ technology to reduce injuries :

New wearable technology designed to reduce the risk of injury is being trialled by New Zealand’s meat processing sector.

The Suit-X Exoskeleton is a spring-loaded, non-mechanical device worn by workers to provide strength and support for mechanical and repetitive tasks.

The suits cut the risk of injury and increase productivity, especially during periods of sustained bending and overhead reaching. . .

NZ’s newest training college:

Training is set to become New Zealand’s newest education provider Agri and will be based in Mid Canterbury. The Agri Training programme will be fully user pays and has a goal of lifting training in the primary industries to a new standard in partnership with the world-renowned City & Guilds who have been providing technical skills education and corporate learning development training programmes since 1878. The partnership with City & Guilds complements the Agri Training programme, and as a result offers the diplomas credibility for graduates and employers. The programme will have specialist streams across dairy production, arable, sheep & beef, and deer offering students skill choices for the future and a wide-ranging knowledge as part of a new, innovative strategy that will offer a unique approach to training and assessment across the agricultural industry.

The Agri Training programme has been in the making for several years and has been guided to its launch by Co-Founder Matt Jones who has had a long involvement with agribusiness and recruitment over a 20-year period. . .

Forget the hunger games, greet the driverless tractor – Marian L. Tupy & Chelsea Follett:

If you are a sci-fi fan, then you have probably noticed the dystopian character of movies about the future. From the classics, such as Soylent Green and Blade Runner, to modern hits, such as the Matrix trilogy and District 9, Hollywood’s take on the future is almost invariably negative. The story lines tend to centre on depletion of natural resources, like in the Mad Max movies, the emergence of highly stratified societies, like Elysium, or both.

In Hollywood’s rendition, the future consists of a few people at the top, who partake in the good life and enjoy what’s left of earth’s resources, while the much more numerous masses suffer some form of enslavement and destitution. That is, until one day, a messianic figure emerges to overthrow the existing order, slaughters the oppressors, liberates the untermenschen and ushers in an era of peace and prosperity.

One of the most recent installments in Hollywood’s ceaseless torrent of dystopianism is the widely popular Hunger Games franchise. The plot warns of the dangers of authoritarianism and of the utter failure of central planning. Thanks to capitalism, the future will look very different. Before we get to that, here is a quick summary of the plot. . .


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