Rural round-up

November 25, 2019

Merino passion recognised – Sally Rae:

A Central Otago farming family recently received recognition for the quality of its merino wool. Business and rural editor Sally Rae visits Matangi Station.

At Matangi Station, the Sanders family are firm believers in the adage that there are only two types of sheep in the world – merinos and others.

Four generations have pursued a passion for the breed and that looks set to continue with the fifth generation – Todd – already exhibiting a love of animals and the lifestyle the Central Otago high country property affords.

The family’s pride in producing high-quality fine wool was rewarded recently when Matangi was presented with Reda Group’s Marque of Excellence 2018-19 – or top supplier in New Zealand – at a function at Lake Hayes. . .


Prices go crazy
– Annette Scott:

Red meat prices, buoyed by demand for protein, are sailing in uncharted waters with wethers fetching $373 a head at Coalgate on Thursday, Hazlett livestock general manager Ed Marfell says.

Despite the season tracking behind in both grass and lamb growth, stock are fetching record prices.

“It was a slow start but the way the season is unfolding now it is difficult to say where it might be headed. . .

Lucrative opportunities in horticulture for school leavers:

School leavers should consider horticulture as a career filled with variety, relevance and opportunities to see the world. 

‘Horticulture has a massive range of careers to choose from,’ says Erin Simpson, Head of Capability Development at NZ Apples and Pears. ‘It’s not about picking bags and ladders anymore.

‘The horticulture sector is expecting growth of nearly 4% this year on top of massive growth last year.  This growth is creating fantastic opportunities for school leavers wanting to work in a sector that can take them places and pay them well.’ 

Erin is part of the Horticulture Capability Group (HCG), which was promoting the industry at this year’s Careers and Transition Education Association (CATE) Conference. . .

NZQA exam questions portray unbalanced view of farming:

NZQA needs to front up to concern that has been created by questions in their exams painting a one-sided picture of New Zealand’s farmers, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“Students who sat their NCEA level three English exam were tasked with a question that described waterways as being ravaged by farmers and spoke of a ‘town vs country’ divide.

“There needs to be some balance in how our education system portrays farmers. We have the most sustainable farmers in the world but this rarely gets mentioned.

“Coupled with our national museum Te Papa advising our children they should be giving up meat and dairy for the sake of the environment, there is a concern our kids are being convinced that farming drives environmental degradation. . .

Connectivity powers irrigation efficiency:

Internet connectivity and technology are playing a vital role in the growth of Ashburton-based Plains Irrigators, which has grown from a local business into a large South Island enterprise employing around 40 staff.

The company started in the 1990s with the beginning of centre pivot irrigation. It designs, installs and services pivot and lateral irrigators, and retrofits existing systems.

Manager Dan Stephens describes internet connectivity as crucial to the company’s growth. . .

The farmers who started out with student debt and big dreams – Charley Adams:

When Lewis Steer was 16, his parents gave him three sheep as a reward for doing well in his GCSEs.

It was an unusual present but Lewis and his girlfriend Flora Searson had an unusual goal – despite coming from non-farming families, they dreamed of running their own farm.

Now in their mid-20s, that’s something they’re doing, rearing three flocks of rare-breed sheep on rented land in Dartmoor, Devon.

They explain what it’s been like breaking into an industry that’s often associated with a suspicion of outsiders. . .


Rural round-up

November 15, 2019

Talking key on young farmers’ road home – Alice Scott:

The pressures of the modern world are taking their toll on the mental state of the country’s young people. Alice Scott talks to a young rural lad who has been through it and come out the other side.

Ticking along in his tractor at 11kmh, Harry Railton is drilling the last of the 100ha of oats for the next season, the ryecorn paddocks are up next and then that will be him for the season, as far as tractor work goes.

We establish that his location, in Tekapo, is somewhat outside the Southern Rural Life delivery zone, but, he agrees, it doesn’t matter; battling one’s own inner demons is a universal issue and one that is becoming more important to talk about as the modern world becomes just too much to take for some . .

National and Freshwater November 2019 – Elbow Deep:

I was less than enthusiastic at the thought of attending National MP Todd Muller’s water meeting in Ashburton last month. This wasn’t through any fault of Muller, National’s spokesperson for agriculture, but rather his party’s approach to the raft of challenges farmers are currently facing.

National’s proxies have been advocating for public protest both openly on social media and behind closed doors with industry groups. Protest was a disaster for farmers at the last election and, no matter how good it may have been for the National Party, I still don’t see it as a constructive or useful tool.

Another reason for my antipathy was the recent policy announcement coming from the National Party leaders; the dog whistling has been so loud my Labradors are in a constant state of confusion. Even if there was evidence unvaccinated children of solo mums had caused the measles outbreak in Auckland, and there isn’t, cutting the benefits of those parents still wouldn’t have prevented it. . . .

Political parties and GMOs: we all need to move on – Grant Jacobs:

Recently more than 150 post-graduate students and young scientists presented an open letter to the Green Party via The Spinoff, encouraging them to reconsider their position on genetic modification. Their target is tackling climate change issues.[1]

Can any party continue to be dismissive about genetic modification (GM) contributing to better agriculture?

We all want safe food, and the environment and climate change are important issues to tackle. New varieties can contribute, including those developed using GM. . . .

Couple’s jersey venture promoting wool:

Two years ago, Lawrence farmers Julie and Murray Hellewell decided to seize the day and find their own answer to the dire state of New Zealand’s strong wool industry.

”We just got sick of seeing people not wearing wool. Everyone is going on about doing something about the state of the wool industry but no-one ever actually does anything. We just decided we might as well have a go ourselves,” Mr Hellewell said.

The Hellewells teamed up with wool buyer John Milne of Balclutha’s Ken Milne Wools to establish contacts in the wool sector. All of the fleece is from the Hellewell’s Perendale lamb flock; at 30 microns, the lamb fleece is used for the outer shell of the jersey and lined inside with New Zealand merino wool which is supplied through the knitwear factory. . . .

Dairy sheep open day draws huge crowd– Mark Daniel:

300 plus rurals turned up at the fifth annual Spring Sheep Co open day at Matangi near Hamilton.

The high turnout was little surprise with New Zealand’s bovine dairy industry under the pump. Pushing the message ‘Discover New Zealand’s Gentlest Milk’, building on advantages for those struggling to digest cow milk, the presenters talked the audience through Spring Sheep’s journey so far.

That journey centred around bringing together aspects like the NZ production environment, building a scaleable supply chain, understanding the needs of consumers and new product development. . .

Red meat ‘most perfect food’ for humans, closely followed by milk – Abi Kay:

Red meat is the ‘most perfect food’ for humans, closely followed by milk, according to a leading nutrition expert.

Professor Robert Pickard, emeritus professor of neurobiology at Cardiff University, said the agricultural industry had been ‘the butt of an enormous journalistic effort to sell copy by producing totally indefensible headlines’ about red meat causing cancer.

Prof Pickard also hit out at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report which claimed processed meats ‘definitely’ cause cancer and lean red meat ‘probably’ causes cancer. . .


Rural round-up

October 21, 2019

Awards help farmers put spotlight on environmental progress:

It’s never been more important for farmers to showcase to fellow New Zealanders the work they’re doing to lighten their environmental footprint, Federated Farmers says.

“We’re in the middle of a national debate on the best regulatory settings to help drive improved water quality in our rivers and lakes.  Some of the talk might drive an impression that we’re in some sort of downward environmental spiral, when the truth is many farmers up and down the nation are putting in huge amounts of sustainability and biodiversity enhancement work,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Deadlines for the 2019 Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Horizons, Wellington and Waikato have already passed, but it’s not too late for farmers in eight other regions around New Zealand. . .

Shearing costs eat wool cheques  – Alan WIlliams:

A fourth straight year of poor strong-wool prices lies ahead for sheep farmers.

After the increase in shearing charges in 2018-19 Beef+Lamb has estimated that combined with continuing abnormally low strong-wool prices that in the North Island, where nearly all the wool clip is crossbred, shearing costs take up 90% of farm wool receipts.

Until the start of the downturn four years ago shearing costs typically accounted for just 45% of wool returns. . . .

Fewer cows produce more milk – Neal Wallace:

An emerging approach to dairying might let farmers obey environment rules while maintaining or growing milk production.

The farm system change project has found farmers can run fewer but higher-performing cows while maintaining or growing milk supply.

It is done by accurately managing costs, feed quality and quantity to maintain cow condition, which results in a more efficient farm and conversion of feed by cows. . .

Seaweed feed could reduce cattle greenhouse gases :

 

The Cawthron Institute will receive $100,000 from the Government, to help it turn a native red seaweed into a greenhouse gas-busting cattle feed supplement.

The money comes from the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund and was announced by the Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister during a visit to the Nelson-based research institute today. . .

Chicken virus can be eradicated MPI says  – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries believes its is possible to eradicate a chicken virus that was recently detected here.

Last month MPI reported routine industry testing at two Otago egg farms owned by Mainland Poultry had identified the likely presence of Infectious Bursal Disease type one.

The virus can affect the immune system of young chickens but doesn’t pose any risk to human health. . .

‘Hyperactive’ 80-yr-old vet Jakob Malmo retires to run two dairy farms – Marion MacDonald:

Jakob Malmo says he’s too old to be lying in the mud delivering a calf so Gippsland’s legendary dairy vet has retired at 80 – to run two large dairy farms with his new wife, Jean.

Admitting others have described him as ‘hyperactive’, Dr Malmo is not one to sit still.

The achievements across his 58-year veterinary career are so many, it’s hard to know where to start but the man himself was most proud of the Melbourne University Rural Veterinary Unit he and Professor Doug Blood established in Maffra. . .


Rural round-up

November 27, 2018

Only two left for new Fonterra vote – Hugh Stringleman:

John Nicholls of Canterbury and Jamie Tuuta of Taranaki and Wellington will contest the rerun of the Fonterra director election to fill the one remaining vacancy.

One-term director Ashley Waugh has decided not to run again though he came within a whisker of being re-elected in the first round of voting.

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council chairman Duncan Coull sent an email to all farmer-shareholders explaining the rerun process and the council’s reasons for not opening it up to new candidates.

The rerun was necessary because only two of five candidates for three seats received the required 50% approval of farmers, Peter McBride at 80% and Leonie Guiney at 63%.

Waugh got 49%, Nicholls 44% and Tuuta 40%. . . 

Dairy-farm price per hectare plunges – Sally Rae:

Farm sales across the country for the year to October were down more than 10%, while dairy farm  per-hectare prices have pulled back almost 30% during the past year.

In Otago and Southland, there was strong activity in finishing, grazing and arable properties, but dairy farm purchases in both provinces were affected, with restricted supply of capital.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said for the three months to October there were 263 sales, just two more than a year ago.

Across the country for the year to October 1475 farms were sold, a 10.5% decline on the same period last year. Dairy farm sales were down 7.7%, grazing farms fell 5.6%, finishing was down 13.2% and there were 22.5% fewer arable farms. . . 

Genetic changes will allow merino sheep come down from the mountains – Heather Chalmers:

Synonymous with the South Island high country, merino sheep may be farmed more widely as farmers are lured by high fine wool prices and genetic improvements. 

Merino woolgrower Bill Sutherland, of Benmore Station near Omarama, said it was boom times for the New Zealand merino industry. 

“In a time when strong wool prices are at a historical low, the prices for merino wool have rarely been better,” he told the New Zealand Grassland Association conference in Twizel.  . . 

New boss hears farmers:

Farmers delivered a stern message to new director-general of primary industries Ray Smith at a meeting in Ashburton on Wednesday – they want to be top of his list.

He attended the meeting, facilitated by Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers in response to desperate calls for help from local farmers affected by the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovi, off his own bat.

Farming leaders from across the country including national dairy chairman Chris Lewis and meat and wool chairman Miles Anderson also attended the closed session.

“This meeting was organised so these national leaders could hear from affected farmers and get their stories straight from the horse’s mouth,” Mid Canterbury dairy chairman Chris Ford said. . . 

Interest in competition suggests promising future for agriculture – Sally Rae:

McKenzie Smith grasps every opportunity to learn new skills.

Mckenzie (17), a year 13 pupil at Southland Girls’ High School, is chairwoman of the school’s TeenAg club.

TeenAg — which comes under the umbrella of New Zealand Young Farmers — is aimed  at introducing and promoting a positive picture of agriculture and agricultural careers to pupils from an early age. The club has organised an AgriKidsNZ competition at Southland Girls’ High School on Thursday, for years 7-8 pupils, and team numbers have more than doubled from last year. . . 

Jersey cows eat differently – Abby Bauer:

Each dairy cattle breed has its perks and its quirks, and Jerseys are no exception. On our Hoard’s Dairyman Farm, we certainly notice differences in personality and behavior between our Jerseys and Guernseys.

These breed differences are what led the American Jersey Cattle Association and National All Jersey Inc. to partner with university and industry experts to create a webinar series focused on the Jersey breed. One of their webinar topics was feeding the lactating cow, and the presenters were Bill Weiss and Maurice Eastridge from The Ohio State University.

The pair of professors pointed out that much of the research in the field of nutrition has been done on Holsteins. While many of these recommendations can fit other breeds, there are a few ways that Jerseys are unique. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 17, 2018

’Cutest sheep in the world’ turns heads in Christchurch

A new breed of sheep debuting at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch is proving very popular with the crowds.

The Swiss Valais Blacknose, which are considered to be the “the cutest sheep in the world,” have a black head and black knees, and a fluffy white fleece.

Wairarapa farmer Christine Reed, along with several business partners formed Valais Blacknose NZ and imported the breed as embryos from the UK about a year and a half ago. . .

Biosecurity experience bears fruit :

When kiwifruit bacteria Psa-V appeared in New Zealand in 2010, it reshaped the industry’s biosecurity practices. Inside Dairy spoke to one grower about how dairy farmers facing Mycoplasma bovis can learn from his experience.

Kiwifruit growers Robbie Ellison and his wife Karen run Makaira Orchards in Te Puke, south east of Tauranga. When the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced in November 2010 that Psa-V had been discovered in a neighbouring orchard, the airborne disease was found on the Ellisons’ crops.

“We were right in the thick of it,” says Robbie. “I never want to go through another summer like that again. DairyNZ and dairy farmers were very supportive of kiwifruit growers during our crisis, so I’d like to return the favour now they’re dealing with Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis).” . . 

Money saving tips shared – Ken Muir:

 Dairying can be a tough life for many farmers but it’s especially difficult if you’re a woman on your own with a family to raise.

However, Northland farmer Lyn Webster, who spoke to the Dairy Women’s Network in Gore last week, has turned a need to make best use of her resources into a publishing and online enterprise, sharing her money-saving practices with anyone who cares to listen.

She’s sold out the first edition of the story of her frugal lifestyle Pig Tits and Parsley Sauce and a new edition with a new title Save, Make, Do will be published by Random House next year.

Ms Webster was born and bred in Otago and went to Taieri College followed by university after a period of working. . . 

Nature’s power pack meat & veges :

 What is Nature’s Power Pack when it comes to eating? Is it meat? Is it vege? Is it superfoods? Is it a certain type of dietary regime? It’s probably no surprise for those omnivores that enjoy including meat in their diet, but to get a big bang for nutrition buck don’t look past a moderate portion of protein such as lean red meat with a good portion of veggies. Yep it’s that simple.

So here’s two reasons why animal protein should not be overlooked as a smart dietary choice.  . . 

Veganism was behind the ‘meat tax’ hype – so what happened to critical thinking? – Joanna Blythman:

Much media reporting of food and health is fatuous and lazy, but coverage of the proposed ‘meat tax’ hit a new low of ignorance, or if you’re less charitable, intellectual dishonesty.

Was it too much to ask that journalists who reported as unimpeachable scientific ‘fact’ the recommendations from the University of Oxford’s Oxford Martin School – which describes itself as ‘a world-leading centre of pioneering research that addresses global challenges’ – tempered their headlines with the fact that the lead researcher, Dr Marco Springmann, is a loud-and-proud vegan?

It’s naive to think that his beliefs didn’t influence the design of this number-crunching research. Mathematical modelling (the type used here) is about as weak and unreliable as research gets. It is based on highly debatable assumptions and doesn’t take full account of ‘confounding factors’, such as smoking, exercise, alcohol and class. . .

The enduring legacy of merino – Katrina Kufer:

Dubai Opera’s Sky Garden exclusively hosts the Loro Piana, in partnership with Tashkeel, Merino wool cloud installation that showcases the World Record Bale alongside a special commission by Calligraffiti artist eL Seed.

Under the royal patronage and support of H.H. Sheikha Lateefa bint Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, founder and director of Tashkeel, Italian luxury textiles brand Loro Piana’s The Gift of Kings and The Record Bale, The Noblest of Woolsinstallation comes to Dubai after premiering at Art Basel Hong Kong. Featured alongside a special commission by French-Tunisian street artist eL Seed — known for large-scale ‘Calligraffiti’ works — the immersive installation is created from the world record holding Merino wool in its raw form. . .

 


Rural round-up

September 30, 2018

Promising results from biodiversity stocktake of North Canterbury irrigation scheme – Emma Dangerfield:

Freshwater mussels have been found during a stocktake of land and waterways within the Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) scheme. 

More than 200 sites of biodiversity interest were discovered, and CEO Brent Walton said the stocktake had provided WIL with an overview of sites which could be further developed to enhance Waimakariri’s biodiversity values.

“WIL shareholders are committed to improving the environment and this process has provided us with some key areas of potential for further development.” . .

Rogue cattle and local officials create biosecurity risk:

A ho-hum attitude to wandering stock in Northland highlights continuing ignorance around biosecurity, says Federated Farmers Northland provincial president John Blackwell.

This week in Northland local council officers found wandering cows and placed them in a nearby paddock without telling the farmer who owned the property, John says.

The farmer found his own heifers the next day socialising with the lost stock. . .

Sustainable Whanganui celebrates 10 years with talk by farmer and conservationist Dan Steele

Floods, river rescues, evacuations by helicopter and honey extraction are all part of the working life of Blue Duck Station owner and manager Dan Steele.

He’s the guest speaker as Sustainable Whanganui Trust celebrates its 10th anniversary on October 14. The talk is open to the public and starts at 2pm in the Harakeke/Education Room at the Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre in Maria Pl, next door to the Fire Station.

Blue Duck Station had two major events in close succession this year. In February 14 young whio (rare and endangered blue ducks) were released there . .

New resource launched to help measure farm abusiness performance:

A new resource designed to help farmers measure their farm business performance has been launched by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).

The Key Performance Indicators (KPI) booklet includes detailed descriptions of 16 core KPIs, some example calculations and resources for farmers who are considering how improvements can be made to their farm business.

The KPIs, which were developed in conjunction with a group of industry professionals and farmers, include lambing percentage, ewe flock efficiency, calving percentage, fawn weaning percentage, gross farm revenue per effective hectare and live weight gain. . .

NZ merino prices jump as Australian drought dents supply of luxury fibre – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand merino wool prices are being pushed up as drought in Australia prompt farmers across the Tasman to cull stock, reducing the amount of the fine premium wool available for sale.

Eighteen-micron Merino wool, considered a benchmark for the fibre, sold at $28.90/kg at this week’s South Island auction. That was up from $22.40/kg at the same time last year and the five-year average of $16.70/kg for this time of year, according to AgriHQ. . .

Wool surfboard is ‘a drop in the ocean’ of potential composite product uses – Terry Sim:

WOOL will replace fibreglass in revolutionary surfboards to hit the Australian market next year. The boards will be released in Australia in February next year under the Firewire Surfboards brand ‘Woolight’. . .


Rural round-up

September 25, 2018

Counting sheep a new challenge for Northland science students:

Counting sheep is often touted as a remedy to help troubled sleepers nod off.

But for Whangarei Boys’ High School students, counting sheep has become part of the curriculum.

Two classes of Year 11 science students are studying a learning module called ‘Keep calm and count sheep’.

The resource examines the nutritional requirements of ewes and the factors that influence sheep growth rates. . .

Strawberry crisis: How NZ growers can prevent ‘crisis contagion’ – Daniel Laufer:

The reputation of New Zealand’s strawberry industry could be contaminated by the needles found in Australian fruit, but our growers can still minimise the damage, writes Daniel Laufer.

New Zealand strawberry growers face a challenging situation with the tampering of Australian strawberries. How can they convince consumers to continue buying strawberries, despite the highly publicised incidents of needles in strawberries grown in Australia?

The issue has made the headlines here in New Zealand with the first reported case yesterday of tampered Australian imported strawberries in an Auckland supermarket. . .

Major fresh produce traceability project underway in New Zealand:

In light of the recent shocking Australian strawberry tampering event, the New Zealand produce industry is taking every action possible to reassure customers their safety systems are robust.

United Fresh is the New Zealand pan-produce organisation that is currently leading a major New Zealand-led project reviewing traceability systems in our produce sector. . .

Final candidates for Fonterra elections announced:

Following the completion of the Self Nomination Process for the 2018 Directors’ Election Process, there are five candidates standing for three places on the Fonterra Board in 2018.

Peter McBride, Jamie Tuuta and Ashley Waugh were announced two weeks ago as the Independent Nomination Process candidates. All three candidates were nominated by the Fonterra Board after being recommended by the Independent Selection Panel. The process for their nomination was supported by the Shareholders’ Council in accordance with the Independent Nomination Process . .

Outspoken Fonterra critic launches campaign for board seatB –Nikki Mandow

Sept. 24 (BusinessDesk) – Outspoken former Fonterra director Leonie Guiney, who was temporarily gagged by the cooperative after losing her seat on the board last year, is seeking re-election in November.

Guiney, who has strongly criticised the strategy that led to Fonterra investing approximately $1.5 billion in now-failing assets like Beingmate and China Farms, is one of two self-nominated candidates. There are three official board nominees, and three places available. . .

Dairy co-operatives struggle without retained earnings – Keith Woodford:

Currently there are three dairy co-operatives in New Zealand – Fonterra, Westland and Tatua.  The first two are struggling for capital, whereas the third, the tiny Tatua, has been an ongoing success story of prosperity.

The essence of the difference lies in retained earnings and their productive use.

Comparative statistics for the three co-operatives are available for the six years from 2010/11 through to 2016/17. In that time Fonterra retained a total of 70c of capital per kg milksolids, Westland retained 84c, and Tatua retained $4.85. Those numbers spell it out in spades. . .

FarmIQ powers Farmlands’ SafeFarm:

New Zealand’s most comprehensive farm management software provider has partnered with the country’s largest farmer retail co-operative, Farmlands, to launch SafeFarm, a complete Health and Safety software system designed with New Zealand farmers in mind.

SafeFarm is built on FarmIQ’s software platform, utilising much of the mapping, recording, reporting and analytical capabilities inherent in FarmIQ.

The SafeFarm software package is available free of charge to Farmlands’ shareholders. Users of the application can seamlessly upgrade and trial FarmIQ’s newly launched range of farm management subscriptions from within SafeFarm. . .

 

The original performance fibre merino wool proves its natural function for transseasonal delivery – Louisa Smith:

As the original performance fiber, wool, in particular merino wool, has reemerged as a key contender for the sports and outdoors market. Natural, recyclable and also biodegradable, it is fast becoming a key contender for its breathability, thermal regulation and anti-odor, all inherent functions that appeal to the consumer, combined with its natural DNA.

Sustainability is a key factor through recycling and biodegradable functionality

Natural fibers, including cotton and silk are entering the performance sector, but for merino wool, the anti-odor benefits give it a heads up as this becomes a major trend in the sports and outdoors sector. Not just for the elimination of nasty body odors after high impact activity, but also a reduction in home launderings that benefit and environmentally friendly approach. . .


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