Rural round-up

08/07/2020

Let them eat wood – Dame Anne Salmond:

The farmers are right. As the price of carbon rises, the settings in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will make it more profitable to plant pine trees than to grow food (or native forests) in many parts of New Zealand.

On the East Coast, for instance, a landowner will be paid 10 times more by year 5 for planting pine trees instead of native forest, and farmland is going under pine trees in many places. With wool prices at historic lows, and rising carbon prices, this trend will only accelerate.

On highly erodible soils, the folly of planting shallow-rooted pine trees and clear-felling them every 25-30 years is obvious. Witness the tsunami of logs and sediment that have drowned streams, rivers, houses, fields, beaches and harbours in places like Tolaga Bay, Marahau, and many other parts of New Zealand.

With two-thirds of the forestry industry owned overseas, like the logs, the profits are exported, but the costs remain behind. Ravaged landscapes, wildling pines, roading networks wrecked by logging trucks, workers killed and injured in the forests. . . 

Farmer’s pitch to big biz: My land, your trees, planet’s gain –  Jo Lines-MacKenzie:

One farmer’s novel pitch to big firms to use her land for carbon offset tree planting is being touted as a win-win for both the business and agricultural sectors.

Federated Farmers says the idea could catch on and they could be the organisation to make it work.

The idea has been sparked by King Country farmer Dani Darke who posted a proposal on social media to offer up 10 hectares of her own land to plant native trees.

She pitched the idea to Air New Zealand, Genesis Energy, Contact Energy, Z Energy, and anyone else who wanted to participate. . . 

Strath Taieri the new food bowl of New Zealand – Sally Rae:

Strath Taieri is a traditional farming district, best known for sheep and beef cattle. But an irrigation proposal being mooted has the potential to see it diversify into other areas, including horticulture. Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Strath Taieri — the new Food Bowl of Dunedin?

That’s what the Strath Taieri Irrigation Company (STIC) believes could happen if the Taieri Catchment Community Resilience Project wins approval.

It is a project that has been talked about for decades but which, in recent times, has gained momentum, with an application for funding made to the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund. Without reliable water, the future for the district would be bleak, STIC said.

And by bringing more irrigation water to the area and ensuring certainty of supply, there was potential for diversification of the traditional sheep and beef farming area into the likes of horticulture, as well as increasing productivity within existing farming operations. . . 

Direction of horticulture industry aligns with Fit for a Better World:

Horticulture New Zealand says the horticulture industry’s future focused strategies align well with what is proposed in Fit for a Better World

‘Horticulture is already well into the journey that has been identified and proposed in these reports, and this journey will continue,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘Immediately post lockdown, our entire industry – comprising more than 20 different fruit and vegetable product groups – got together with key government departments to develop and implement a strategy and work programme that will see horticulture spearhead New Zealand’s economic and social recovery from Covid.

‘We are encouraged to see that the proposal identifies a key opportunity to accelerate the horticulture industry’s development, which fits perfectly with our own work. . . 

Low-methane ‘elite’ sheep breeding project finds success – AgResearch scientist – Eric Frykberg:

Low methane appears to be a breedable trait that does not affect economic value in sheep, and could lead to a cumulative 1 percent reduction in emissions each year, farmers have been told.

AgResearch scientist Suzanne Rowe told a webinar organised by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Council that research into such animals had been going on for a decade.

Rowe said a study of 1000 sheep divided into high emitting and low emitting animals found these traits were passed on to successive generations.

“After three generations we have 11 percent less methane per kilogramme of feed eaten,” she said. . . 

Bingara producers turn to embryos to breed back out of drought – Lucy Kinbacher:

Bingara producer Rhonda King and her 86-year-old father Alf were steaming ahead with their Speckle Park herd when back-to-back droughts crippled their momentum.

In January they had made the decision to sell the final remnants of their 300-head herd at Doctors Creek when rain came not long after and saved them from the decision.

With cattle prices soaring to record levels Ms King opted to use her lifetime travel savings to purchase embryos rather than replacement livestock and is hoping to breed her way back into business.

Their herd currently consists of about 90 Speckle Park including cows, heifers and bulls with an additional 11 Angus recipients purchased from another stud. . . 


Rural round-up

02/04/2020

Farming, a privilege – First Rock Consultancy:

New Zealand farming has over the last couple of years under the current government has been berated, belittled & blamed for almost all of the pollution problems that we are facing as a country.

This coalition government has produced many polices aimed at the farmers of New Zealand that are supposedly going to fix all of the problems that we have with pollution of our land & waterways and protection of our national indigenous biodiversity.

Yet now they state that farming is privileged to be working, the same farmers that this current coalition government has made to feel like they are the cause of all the country’s problems in relation to pollution particularly of our waterways. . .

Farmers ask Regional Council to take time with consultation – Richard Davison:

Farming advocates have expressed anger over the “rushed” pace of consultation on a core Otago Regional Council policy document.

The council held a series of public Regional Policy Statement (RPS) meetings across Otago recently.

The statement will shape ORC policy on ecosystems and biodiversity; energy and infrastructure; hazards and risks; historical and cultural values; natural features and landscapes; and urban form and development for the next 10 years. . .

Another day at the office for farmers in lockdown – Esther Taunton:

While urban Kiwis struggle to adapt to life in coronavirus lockdown, it’s business as usual for farmers.

Arable farmer Matt McEvedy said not much had changed in the day-to-day operation of his farm at Southbridge, on the Canterbury Plains.

“The only real change is in daily interactions among ourselves, just taking a bit more care and making a few policy changes around that sort of thing,” he says. . . 

 

Pulling together as a community while also staying apart – Andrew Hoggard:

Andrew Hoggard elaborates on his tweet from last week where he urged people to “be a good bugger, don’t be a dick”.

Last week I sent out a Covid-19 Alert Level 4-related tweet that got a bit of attention – “be a good bugger, don’t be a dick”.  This is the longer version.

These are not “business” as usual times.

In the last week Italy has lost more people from Covid-19 than live in Balclutha or Hokitika or Raglan or Greytown. In the past month more Italians have died from the virus than live in Te Puke, Morrinsville, Kerikeri or Otaki. . .

Coronavirus: More farmers heading online to keep livestock trade active – Lawrence Gullery:

Farmers tasked with keeping the nation fed are migrating to an online auction to ensure they can continue to trade livestock through the coronavirus lockdown and beyond.

Sale yards around the country have closed forcing farmers and their stock agents to look at more innovative ways to do business.

Many are taking up a virtual livestock trading platform called bidr, developed by PGG Wrightson Livestock at the Ruakura Research Centre in Hamilton. . . 

 

Isolation in the back of beyond – Greg Dixon:

A tale of early life on a remote sheep station can teach us a lot about isolation.

“Road not recommended,” read the sign. It wasn’t bloody joking. Beyond its plain, wry warning was a narrow, unrelenting snake of a road, a thing of gravel and grief that wound for 32 long kilometres through Skippers Canyon above Otago’s Upper Shotover River.

In spring, there would be washouts and landslips. In winter, there was ice and snow and flooding. For months of the year, it could be impassable. And all year around there were dizzying hairpins, step climbs, slippery turns and precipitous drops. It made drivers tough, and it broke some, too. More than one who’d made it from Queenstown to the end of the Skippers Rd refused to drive back.

But at its end, on a high country sheep station, between the Richardson and Harris mountain ranges, a young family lived remote from the rest of the world in a solitude that’s hard to imagine in 21st-century New Zealand. It was in this isolated place, at the end of the country’s worst road, that Terri Macnicol and her husband, Archie, made a family and a life of hard yakka leavened by homely pleasures. . . .

Struggle’ to get shearing contest off the ground – David Hill:

When Roddy Kidd proposed having a shearing competition at the Oxford A&P Show back in 1971, he was told it would never catch on.

But he went ahead anyway and Oxford shearers were due to celebrate 50 years of shearing at the show on April 4, before it was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

‘‘We struggled to get it going. The then-president was a farmer, but he wasn’t keen. He said, ‘It won’t do any good’.

‘‘But we finally got him round to it and there was a lot of help from the Oxford community to get it going.’’ . .

Wool demand in key markets will be flat for six months – Vernon Graham:

Some wool factories have reopened in China while others have lost orders from buyers in the United States, Australian Wool Innovation chairman Colette Garnsey has told growers.

“The Italian factories remain shut and it is unclear when life and industry will return to normal there, (along with) the United Kingdom or the United States.

“For the next six months overall consumer demand for wool in those three markets will be weak. . .


Rural round-up

26/03/2020

COVID-19: Support rural businesses – Rural Women NZ – Pam Tipa:

We need to make sure that our rural businesses are well supported, says Fiona Gower, Rural Women NZ national president.

“With the lack of tourists coming through we need to ensure the small businesses can survive because without them we don’t have a community,” she told Rural News last week.

“Once they are gone it is really hard to get them back.

She says digital communication will also play an important part in the coronavirus response.  . . 

Rural businesses band together – Colin Williscroft:

Rural businesses Farmlands, PGG Wrightson and FarmSource have pledged to work together during the covid-19 response.

In an open letter, the companies’ chief executives said they will harness their collective supply chain to maintain productivity.

“It is time for us all to do what we can to try and continue to support you through these challenging times,” the letter says.

“We are working closely together to ensure that all farmers and growers across New Zealand have the necessary products and supplies to keep your businesses operating.  . . 

Rules driving farmers out – Sudesh Kissun:

New farming rules around sustainability are driving elderly farmers out of the dairy industry, says agri-economist Phil Journeaux.

He says over the past three years, there’s been an increase in farmers, in their 60s and 70s, looking at other options. Journeaux, AgFirst Waikato, spoke at a Smaller Milk and Supply Herds (SMASH) seminar in Te Aroha last week.

Attended by about 50 farmers, the event went ahead despite the coronavirus outbreak. . . 

Maize volume okay but feed still tight – Richard Rennie:

The maize silage supply has shaped up better than might have been expected despite one of the driest summers on record stifling production.

Bill Webb of Bill Webb Feed Solutions near Te Puke said crops on lower, wetter country have performed better this year than last season when heavy rain washed out many crops on the same land.

“But on the higher, drier country the yields have proved to be quite variable. Average block yields would still be 22 tonnes a hectare but there are some on that lower country that would be up to 26t.”  . . 

2020 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards medals winners announced:

In a world that’s a little topsy-turvy it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to celebrate great New Zealand produce with the announcement of 2020 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards medal winners.

Twenty-five judges and eight stewards worked in panels to assess a record 225 food and drink entries at AUT School of Hospitality & Tourism on Saturday 7 March 2020. Following the judges’ assessment of aroma, appearance, taste, texture and quality which accounted for 75% of marks, products were assessed for sustainability and brand story. Shoppers will recognise outstanding food and drink as they proudly wear Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards gold, silver and bronze medals—a guarantee of product quality. . . 

Maori orchardists capitalise on global demand for organic produce – Bonnie Flaws:

Māori orchardist Otama Marere has embraced organic kiwifruit production, converting a total of 7 hectares of its 45 hectare block into organic SunGold kiwifruit, with further conversions being considered.

The trust that manages the land has also held educational days on the land for other Maori kiwifruit growers interested in organic production, says orchard manager Homman Tapsell.

The land, near Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty is a former Māori settlement on the banks of the Kaituna river, with the name coming from a nearby pa site that was occupied by Rangiiwaho and his whanau. Trust members are the descendants of Rangiiwaho, he said. . . 


Rural round-up

17/01/2020

Meat industry pans climate-change teaching resource that recommends cutting meat, dairy – Dubby Henry:

A recommendation that students eat less meat and dairy to take action on climate change has raised the ire of New Zealand’s meat industry.

The new resource – Climate Change: Prepare Today, Live Well Tomorrow – is from the Ministry of Education and is aimed at Level 4 teachers teaching children aged 7-10 about climate.

Suggestions for taking action include talking more about global warming, reducing electricity use and driving and flying less.

But it’s a short blurb that suggests reducing meat and dairy intake that has riled the meat industry’s lobby group, Beef + Lamb NZ. . . 

The problem with veganuary – Jacqueline Rowarth:

As people are encouraged to take part in “Veganuary” in the New Year, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates the problems with the idea of eating less meat to save the planet.

Veganuary – the northern hemisphere initiative involving becoming vegan for a month – will not solve climate change.

Becoming vegan forever will likewise do little, despite the calls to “give up meat to save the planet”. . . 

New Year’s Honour a family achievement for Nelson farmer and conservationist – TIm Newman:

Nelson farmer Barbara Stuart says her New Year’s Honour was a recognition for her whole family’s work for the environment.

The Cable Bay resident has been awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in the 2020 New Year’s Honours list, for services to conservation. 

Stuart said she was very privileged to receive the award, but it had been an effort made by her whole family. 

“You don’t feel you deserve it, but I sort of see it as award for the family for the work that earlier generations have done – I feel it’s a recognition of all of those things.” . .

Central Otago shearer on the benefits of Tahi Ngatahi

Shearer Tamehana Karauria works in Central Otago. He’s one of 800 shearers, wool handlers and farmers who’ve signed up for online, video-based learning platform Tahi Ngātahi. The initiative aims to reduce workplace injuries by 30 per cent.

Tamehana first picked up the hand piece working with his family in Gisborne and has been in the industry ever since.

What’s a good week look like for you?

As long as the sun’s shining, the sheep are dry and we’re at work, I’m in my happy place.

How does Tahi Ngātahi work?

It is all done through the Tahi Ngātahi website. You watch the videos and answer the questions. Some of the questions can be tricky, so you’ve got to watch the videos properly. . . 

Forestry investment far from straight forward venture – Scott Mason:

As forest fires, and climate change debate, rage across the Tasman (and our thoughts and best wishes go out to our Australian cousins), the topic of forestry in NZ has arisen over the Christmas break.

Most of the barbecue conversations have been quite generic, for example focusing on what the true impact of the planting of a billion new trees will have on our ecosystem as we strive towards addressing our carbon neutrality goals via a massive carbon sink consuming hundreds of thousands of acres, whether intense forestation of otherwise productive land will have a material negative cash-flow consequence for NZ in the short term (e.g. milk sells annually, trees are harvested every 25 years or so), and whether the regularity of forest fires in NZ will also increase as we experience forestation and climate change.

We even debated the concept of farming carbon credits, versus (or to exclusion of caring about) wood, and the long-term impacts that could have on good forestry management. . . 

What will happen with dairy markets in 2020? – Chris Gooderham:

Despite the uncertainty in 2019, the market value of milk in the UK was the most stable it’s been for a decade. But as we enter the next decade, how long will that stability last? We take a look at the key dynamics that are playing out in the dairy markets at the moment.

Globally:

  • Global milk production is set to grow by just 1% in 2020. The majority of the additional milk is expected to come from the US and EU. Australian production has been declining as it struggles with impacts of record high temperatures and drought, and the recent widespread bush fires. Growth in New Zealand production is expected to be relatively flat.
  • Global dairy demand is forecast to rise by 2.1% for fresh product and 1.5% per annum for processed products, according to the latest FAO-OECD predictions. Demand may however be impacted by a slowdown in economic growth over the coming year, particularly from the oil rich countries who are large importers of dairy. . .

 


Rural round-up

04/12/2019

An exciting future – Mike Petersen:

Special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says New Zealand leads the field in many areas but cannot rest on its laurels.

These are exciting but also challenging times for New Zealand agri-food and fibre. 

At a time when demand and prices for NZ food are at near-record highs the mood among farmers is subdued with new environmental policies being developed and fears about the impact from the brinksmanship being played out in the complex world of international trade.  . . 

Chinese ban on Oamaru Meats lifted Jacob McSweeny:

A suspension to the China market has been lifted on Oamaru Meats Ltd (OML) and the company has begun trying to re-recruit seasonal workers and suppliers.

The meat processor shut down on September 13 after its access to the Chinese beef markets was suspended. Some 160 seasonal workers were laid off temporarily.

Yesterday, OML director Richard Thorp said the suspension came after some beef fat packaging was not up to standard. . . 

AgriSea boss takes women’s award – Annette Scott:

Seaweed products pioneer AgriSea is the 2019 supreme winner of the NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business Awards.

Celebrating and showcasing entrepreneurship and innovation by rural women the annual awards take in seven categories with the supreme winner judged from the category winners.

While excited about the win AgriSea business manager Clare Bradley said it was unexpected given the high calibre of every woman in the finals.

“We are often caught up in keeping our heads down, working hard to achieve our goals in our businesses, communities and families.

“The awards are an opportunity for both me personally and our whanau at AgriSea to take a breather and celebrate where we’ve come from.  . . 

 

Looking back moving forward:

Five farmers featured in Inside Dairy in 2019 tell us about their year, where they’re heading in 2020 and what they’d like others to know about dairy farmers and the dairying sector.

Mark and Vicki Meyer – Tangiteroria, Northland

Most proud of in 2019?

“On the farming front, we’re proud of how we managed to turn around our end of 2018/19 season. We’d ended up slightly down in production, due to minimal rain in autumn and a lack of grass growth.

“We’d been staring down the barrel of going into winter with skinny cows and not enough pasture for feed. We bit the  bullet and made the hard decision to dry off the cows earlier than normal, which enabled us to get cows off grazing earlier and build cover here on the farm. This worked well, as we had awesome winter growth. . .

Abuse of farmers only strengthens corporate agriculture’s hand – Adam Currie:

Condemning agriculture and tarring all farmers with the same brush does nothing to further environmentalists’ cause, argues Adam Currie.

Are there simply too many cows in our country? Or are urbanites just aggressively exacerbating the farming crisis from their sterile offices?

The inconvenient truth is that both are true.

We urgently need to change our approach to land use and kai production – or our environment will experience irrevocable collapse. But this urgency needs to be communicated in a new way, because the current paradigm not only unhelpfully condemns all farmers as ‘bad’; the pressure it puts on farmers also only serves to stir up hatred and division. If nothing else, framing the debate in such an antagonistic way puts a damper on political support for any environmental measure deemed to be ‘anti-farming’. . .

Cosmic Crisp: the apple that can last a year in the fridge :

A new breed of apple that took two decades to develop and supposedly lasts for up to a year in the fridge is going on sale in the US.

The apple – Cosmic Crisp – is a cross-breed of the Honeycrisp and Enterprise and was first cultivated by Washington State University in 1997.

The launch of the “firm, crisp, and juicy apple” cost $10m ($NZ15.6m).

Farmers in the state of Washington are exclusively allowed to grow the fruit for the next decade. . .


New Zealand begins genetic programme to produce low methane-emitting sheep
– Ben Smee:

The New Zealand livestock industry has begun a “global first” genetic program that would help to tackle climate change by breeding low methane-emitting sheep.

There are about six sheep for each person in New Zealand, and the livestock industry accounts for about one-third of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

The livestock industry’s peak body, Beef and Lamb New Zealand, already uses a measure called “breeding value” to help breeders select rams with characteristics they want to bolster within their flocks. Within two years breeders will be able to select rams whose traits include lower methane emissions.

“Farmers are more interested than I anticipated,” said a stud breeder, Russell Proffit. His family has been producing rams for more than 40 years. . . 


Rural round-up

15/08/2019

WeatherWatch launches new site: RuralWeather.co.nz

WeatherWatch.co.nz has launched a new website and it’s the biggest weather data dump in NZ history: www.RuralWeather.co.nz.

The new website gives people all over the country the power of weather data, allowing for a much clearer and deeper understanding of incoming weather trends and patterns, particularly useful for farmers, gardeners, market growers, surfers, pilots…and of course, every day weather nerds!

We’ve included trends for dew-point, which helps with fog forecasting (and yes city/town folk, you can use our new Fog Forecaster in the main centres too if you’re about to fly somewhere!). We also have air pressure trends, rainfall figures, frost forecasting and much more – and it’s all incredibly granular and specific to where you live. . . 

A quarter century of transforming Taranaki’s river and stream banks – Mike Watson:

The year is 1993. 

Jim Bolger’s National Government has been returned with a one seat majority, MMP is voted in as Winston Peters establishes NZ First, and Taranaki’s Regional Council (TRC) embarks on an ambitious riparian management plan to encourage farmers to fence off plant trees and flaxes along the banks of every river, stream and drain on their properties.

Fast forward 25 years to 2019.

A Labour-led coalition Government grapples with transitioning the country to a low emissions economy within 30 years, Winston Peters is deputy Prime Minister, and farmers speculate what their economic future will look like by 2050. And the TRC celebrate a significant milestone.

The council-promoted and implemented riparian management programme has reached a 25 year anniversary and the milestone brings with it impressive statistics that would appear to underline the scheme’s success. . . 

Smith promises more MPI engagement – Peter Burke:

MPI’s director-general, Ray Smith, wants his staff to engage more with the rural sector.

He told Rural News this is a key element in his just released strategic plan for this year.

Smith says he’s told his management team to engage more, be agile, open and proactive, and be much more available to local communities.

We have to be seen to be listening and acting on things people want us to do to support them. We are the Ministry FOR the Primary Industries and our job is to back industry to win,” he says. 

Pigeon Valley fire deemed accidental :

Fire and Emergency New Zealand has confirmed that one of the country’s largest plantation forest fires was accidental.

The Pigeon Valley fire was started on 5 February by sparks from an agricultural contractor working in a dry, stony paddock.

The report found that sparks from the discing equipment – from metal on stone or metal on metal contact – ignited dry grass in the paddock.

Strong winds at the time spread the fire quickly, and over the next couple of weeks it burned through 2300 hectares of commercial plantation forest, property and pastures. . . 

Ravensdown to reinvest in innovation and environment on back of good result :

Ravensdown has announced another good financial result with profit before tax and rebate from continued operations of $52 million (2018: $63m, 2017: $51m) for the year ending 31 May 2019.

The co-operative is paying $35 million in total back to farmers who bought fertiliser in the financial year. As part of its commitment to responsible governance and balance sheet strength, 23% of the profit ($12 million) is being retained by the co-operative to reinvest in improved infrastructure, research and development, product innovation and new technology.

A total rebate of $30 per tonne is made up of the $15 early interim rebate paid in June plus $15 that will be paid in August. “After five years of consistently profitable results, our shareholders tell us that the rebate in any one year is not the be all and end all,” said John Henderson Ravendown’s Chair. “What matters to them is a sustainable co-operative that offers great service, quality products, surety of supply, competitive pricing throughout the 12 months and ways to help them perform in the long term.” . . 

North Canterbury farm shows off new rare breed calf – Emma Dangerfield:

A new arrival to a Rangiora farm is making waves in bovine and rare breeds circles.

Stonewall Farm this week announced the birth of a three-quarter Nadudana Zebu heifer.

Nadudana Zebu Cattle are one of the world’s oldest cattle breeds and the only true miniature cattle breed. . . 

Breeder looking to provide what the customer wants – Gregor Heard:

THE HEAD of one of Australia’s largest plant breeders has said her company was looking to engage with end-use customers more than ever before to create products the market wants.

Tress Walmsley, Intergrain chief executive, said there was a strong focus on working with customers at the end of the supply chain, both locally and abroad.

“We recently visited a brewer in Vietnam and it was the first time they had ever been visited by a plant breeder, they welcomed the chance to tell us about what they wanted from barley,” Ms Walmsley said. . . 


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