Rural round-up

14/12/2020

Environmental Protection Authority releases annual report on aerial use of 1080 :

The latest annual report on aerial use of 1080 has been released, showing that while use of the pest control poison increased in 2019, new research into alternatives is continuing.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) report, titled 1080 use in Aotearoa New Zealand 2019, showed there were 44 aerial operations covering 918,000 hectares of land.

Aerial operations rose due to a mega-mast event in 2019, where beech seed, tussock seed, or podocarp fruit flower at once in forests, dropping seed and driving rat populations up, which then threaten native species.

However, according to the report, the average application rate was just above three grams of 1080 per hectare, which equates to roughly one teaspoonful of 1080 on a rugby field. This is well below the maximum allowable rate of 30 grams per hectare, the report stated. . . 

Working on an orchard – how hard could it be? – Marty Sharpe:

So how hard is it really to pick fruit?

It’s a topical question, what with the horticultural sector crying out for workers in light of their regular labour force drying up.

Covid-19 has meant the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme has been slashed and backpackers are scarce.This has led the sector to implore Kiwis to have a crack at working in the fields.

In a quest to get an idea of just how hard this could be, I arranged to spend a sweltering Wednesday this past week on an orchard just outside Hastings. . . 

Time to cut the No 8 wire concept – Peter Burke:

Scottie Chapman says New Zealanders should stop extolling the virtues of the No 8 wire concept.

The head of Spring Sheep Dairy says the No 8 wire concept was a success story of our past when, because of travel times, NZ was a long way from everywhere and we had to find a way to improvise

However, Chapman believes the link to improvisation in the form of the No 8 wire concept – from the past to the way we operate today with modern technology and transport – is completely wrong.

“The No 8 concept was important 150 years ago because it helped get us where we are today,” he told Dairy News. . .

Passion for chasing sheep key trait – Matthew Mckew:

Walter Peak High Country Farm rural operations co-ordinator Peter Hamilton is in the business of showing the public what the working dog can do.

His demonstrations educate people on the rich agricultural heritage of the country and display how dogs help keep the economy moving.

Mr Hamilton got his first dog — Sprite — when he was just 12, and has worked with the short-haired English collie since then.

Sprite is no longer able to get over the fence and chase the sheep, but she still watched from the sidelines. . . 

 

Kudos for landmark fertility research :

Ground-breaking collaborative research into improving dairy fertility genetics has been recognised in the annual Kudos Awards.

The Improving Dairy Fertility Genetics research project has determined new ways to select inherently fertile cows and that genetic selection for cow fertility will improve herd reproduction.

The project is part of DairyNZ’s Pillars of a New Dairy System research, which has funding from DairyNZ and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Additional support comes from AgResearch, LIC, CRV Ambreed and AbacusBio. . .

Fewer anti-drug laws lets cannabis research gather pace :

Cannabis research and genetic improvements are gathering pace thanks to new genomic technologies, combined with fewer restrictive laws governing cultivation, research and use of the plant, according to a La Trobe University study.

In their paper published in New Phytologist, researchers from the La Trobe Institute of Agriculture and Food, home for the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Medicinal Agriculture (ARC MedAg Hub), reviewed international studies of cannabis genomics and identified significant gaps in the research.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Mathew Lewsey said cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated plants believed to have unique medicinal properties, but for decades research into identifying those properties had been restricted by anti-drug laws.

“These rules have meant that while our understanding of the basic biology and properties of other crop species has advanced through the use of genomics for example, our knowledge of cannabis has lagged,” Lewsey, who is Deputy Director of the ARC MedAg Hub, said. . . 


Rural round-up

25/08/2020

Group to prioritise staff shortages – Yvonne O’Hara:

Addressing the shortage of primary sector staff in Southland will be one of the key roles for the new Southern Primary Sector Workforce Action Group (SPSWAG) co-ordinator.

The job will include matching jobseekers with employers in addition to establishing a regionally focused database of jobs and implementing a pastoral support programme.

Federated Farmers’ Southland provincial vice-president Bernadette Hunt said the group, which was launched in June last year, had received several “very good quality applications” for the one-year-contract position and they were now deciding on a shortlist of applicants to interview. . . 

Covid 19 coronavirus: Sir David Fagan on how the pandemic is affecting Kiwi shearers – Matthew Mckew:

Covid-19 restrictions mean there’s no shortage of shearers at the moment, but Sir David Fagan sees trouble ahead for the industry.

The reason there were plenty of Kiwi shearers about right now was that they can’t travel anywhere, the world champion told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“We’re not getting New Zealanders going back to Australia for the season. So they’re here now shearing. I guess the winter time shearing’s pretty good for the workforce.” . . 

Dairy Trainee of the Year takes the reins on Fairlie farm :

Even though Nicola Blowey’s parents sold their dairy farm in Devon just before she was born, farming has remained in her veins. After studying agriculture in the UK she came to South Canterbury to work on a dairy farm.

It was meant to be for 12 months but four years on she’s still here and rising up the industry ranks. Last year the 26-year-old won the Dairy Trainee of the Year title in the NZ Dairy Industry Awards. She then took up a farm manager position on one of Kieran and Leonie Guiney’s dairy farms near Fairlie.

Nicola now has three staff and a large herd of KiwiCross cows to look after. She’s loving the increased responsibility. . . 

 Velvet trumps venison – Sally Rae:

It is a tale of two halves in the deer industry as venison schedule prices drop to their lowest level in more than a decade while consumer demand for velvet remains robust.

ANZ’s latest Agri Focus report said venison markets were “extremely challenging”; venison was highly exposed to the European restaurant trade and the industry was scrambling to move more products into the retail space to reduce reliance on the food service sector.

Farmgate prices for deer might have “ticked up a tad” recently but prices had not been at such low levels for more than a decade.

“It is a real blow for an industry that was doing so well and had appeared to have moved away from the volatile cycles of boom and bust that have long plagued the industry,” the report said. . . 

Why Synlait has nothing to fear from a2 Milk’s foray into infant formula – Jamie Gray:

A2 Milk will soon try its hand at infant formula making if it is successful in buying the debt-laden Mataura Valley Milk, but its supplier – Synlait Milk – has nothing to fear.

The dual-listed a2 Milk is in talks to buy three-quarters of the China-owned Mataura Valley Milk in Southland for $270 million.

A2 Milk has made a non-binding indicative offer to acquire a 75.1 per cent interest in Mataura Valley, based on an enterprise value of about $385m. . . 

Vegans urged to switch to cow milk instead of soya to save the planet – Rob Waugh:

Vegans should avoid soya milk if they want to save the planet, and even consider drinking cows’ milk instead, a sustainability charity has said.

The Sustainable Food Trust said that soya beans are associated with rainforest destruction, and that soya meal is also used in animal food, but that the amounts required to create soya milk meant that cow’s milk is healthier for the planet.

Researchers from the Sustainable Food Trust and the University of Nottingham calculated the amounts of soya used in both soya milk and cows’ milk in a new review of evidence.

The charity wrote: “Vegans and others who buy milk substitutes made from soya are also harming the planet. . .


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