Rural round-up

September 5, 2018

Angst on NAIT – Peter Burke:

A rushed change to NAIT regulations has caused growing disquiet about the haste in which the new laws were passed under urgency in Parliament.

The farming industry at first publicly welcomed the changes: DairyNZ and Beef + LambNZ approved, although Federated Farmers said they were rushed.

Many people have told Rural News that they question the hastily enacted new laws and some of the new powers given to MPI. . .

Merino wool fetching strong prices – Sally Rae:

Merino wool is fetching prices at auction not seen since the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Last week’s South Island wool sale in Christchurch was “outstanding” for merino and mid micron wool, following on from the continued strengthening in Australia, Roger Fuller, of CP Wool, said.

Australia was experiencing horrendous drought conditions, which was reflected in the prices being achieved in New Zealand.

The problem would be exacerbated next year as a lot of sheep would not survive the dry conditions, Mr Fuller said. . . 

Changes as event continues to expand – Sally Brooker:

The Otago Field Days are expanding to fit their new name as their October dates approach.

The field days are about to be held for the third time, having sprung up in 2016 as a new initiative from the Palmerston and Waihemo A&P Association.

They were initially called the East Otago Field Days.

”What started out as a small local event has clearly struck a chord with people,” chief executive and A&P Association president Paul Mutch said. . . 

Get in behind Kelvin – the thermokennel, a Kickstarter to change the lives of kiwi dogs:

A dog’s life is about to get a whole lot better thanks to a brilliant bit of Kiwi innovation.

Our hardest working farm hands, the renowned New Zealand working dog, has always had a tough but rewarding job.

All day out in the weather mustering sheep and keeping the farmer company, only to spend the night under a makeshift shelter or kennel, on an old blanket for warmth – that’s the way it’s been since this nation was founded, but one Kiwi entrepreneur thinks it is time for a change. . . 

See more at the Kelvin the Thermokennel website here.

Trial will track calves’ growth:

A trial is underway to measure the growth rates of Angus/Jersey beef calves from birth to finished product.

Initiated by Greenlea Premier Meats, the project will track about 150 Jersey x Angus calves now being born on Zach and Laura Mounsey’s Arcadia Dairies Farm near Otorohanga. 

Semen from the pedigree Angus sire Matauri Crikey G244 was supplied free by Greenlea.  . .

Salute to our struggling farmers as Royal Adelaide Show kicks off

AROUND the Adelaide Showground’s cattle, pig and sheep sheds, farmers from across the state are proving they themselves are the toughest breed.

Low rainfall and high feed prices are putting huge pressure on their incomes and forcing some to make tough decisions about their future.

As the Royal Adelaide Show opened yesterday, behind the draw of the Showbag Pavilion and the excitement of the carnival, farmers who had travelled to Adelaide carried the weight of a tough season on their shoulders.

Among them was Michael Blenkiron, of Keyneton, in the Barossa Valley, who said many working side-by-side in the pig pavilion were “in survival mode”. . . 


Wool best to beat perma-stink

July 24, 2018

Scientists have proved what wool fans know – merino wool is the best fabric to beat the perma-stink:

When Rachel McQueen’s husband was training for a marathon, she noticed the smell emanating from his running clothes was much stronger and lingered longer in his polyester tops than if he had run in a merino wool top.

“I was repulsed,” said the textile scientist. Even freshly laundered, her husband’s running tops still stunk. “The smell was as strong as if they had just been worn and I realized you can get perma-stink.”

McQueen, who has made it her mission to find the causes of perma-stink, conducted a study in which she compared the relationship between and different fabrics. She had male volunteers wear test T-shirts, which had swatches of polyester, cotton and stitched to the underarm regions. They wore the shirts for two consecutive days and then the swatches were removed for testing. Smell tests using sensors were conducted on each after one day, seven days and 28 days of storage.

“Polyester was by the far the most odorous,” she said. “Wool was the least smelly, and cotton was low to medium.”

The chemical odour-binding sites within fibres are key in determining the stink level, so McQueen focused her attention on the chemical makeup of fibres and how it affects odour retention.

She found that wool and cotton are hydrophilic and absorb more water than polyester.

“Wool is a fibre with an amorphous structure,” explained McQueen. “It has open spaces and is more porous than a synthetic fibre, so it can absorb a lot of sweat.”

That means that if odour molecules are trapped within wool or cotton, we can’t smell them as readily as we can with polyester, which has fewer chemical odour-binding sites.

To keep perma-stink at bay while being active, McQueen suggests the following:

Choose fabrics that have higher cotton or wool content.

“People are generally attuned to their own body odour. If you’re concerned, go with natural fibres,” said McQueen.

Wool went out of fashion, but the development of machine washable merino brought it back and its popularity has been enhanced by its environmental credentials.

Concerns over tiny particles of plastic from synthetic clothing getting to the ocean in washing water is turning the tide back to natural fabrics.

It’s a rare day when I don’t wear at least one layer of merino, it’s my preferred choice for exercising and I always wear it when travelling.

It’s warm when it’s cold, cool when it’s hot and, as science has proved, it’s the best to beat the perma-stink.


365 days of gratitude

May 29, 2018

We woke to fresh snow on the Kakanuis this morning and a light frost  but, as often happens with a frost in the south, we also got a cloudless sky and bright sun.

It was still a little chilly outside but nothing an extra layer of merino couldn’t counter and for that I’m grateful.


Rural round-up

May 23, 2018

All you need to know about Mycoplasma bovis:

As the Mycoplasma bovis disease spreads, here is everything you need to know.

What is Mycoplasma bovis?

It’s a bacteria that can cause diseases in cattle. It can cause untreatable mastitis, abortions, pneumonia and arthritis.

How is it spread?

It’s spread from animal to animal through close contact and bodily fluids. Calves can be infected through drinking milk from infected cows. Farm equipment can play a role in spreading the disease. It’s spread between farms through the movement of cattle.

Can it be spread to other animals?

Other animals are very unlikely to be infected by the disease.

Had it been found in New Zealand previously?

No. The original July 2017 detection was the first time the disease had been found in New Zealand. . .  

A timeline of the Mycoplasma bovis spread around New Zealand :

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is spreading around New Zealand farms at a rate much faster than previously thought. RNZ maps out the spread of the virus over time.

July 2017 – Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) responds to the detection of Mycoplasma bovis on a dairy farm near Oamaru. The farm, part of the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLDG), is put under legal controls to restrict movement of stock and other at-risk goods. Other farms in the group are also put under controls.

July 31, 2017 – A second farm in the VLDG is confirmed to have the disease.

August 2017 – Testing begins on farms bordering VLDG properties.

August 2017 – Four more properties test positive, bringing the total number of infected farms to six. . .

Farmer’s determination pays off – Sally Rae:

When Logan Wallace returned home to take over the family sheep farm in South Otago, he had a big task to take on.

He set some goals, including making sure he farmed sustainably, meeting both the environmental requirements of councils and expectations of consumers.

The young farmer’s determination and ability has already paid off. He and his parents, Ross and Alexa, were this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Award winners and he will also represent Otago-Southland in the grand final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest in Invercargill in July. . . 

Merino and natural fibres could help clothing companies battle scourge of microplastics – Jess Cartwright:

Microplastics are one of the biggest threats to oceans and synthetic textiles are a huge contributor to the problem, but now a New Zealand company is hoping to lead change by promoting the use of natural fibres like merino wool.

The issue of microbeads in beauty products is well known, but tiny plastic fibres from clothing are an even bigger issue for oceans and marine life.

For example, each time people wash their synthetic clothing these microplastic fibres break off and, because they’re so tiny, they’re then carried into rivers and eventually oceans. . .

From a ‘nasty little wet farm’ to an award-winning dairy property – Gerald Piddock:

Sandra McKinnon always remembers the unflattering description made of the farm she and husband Rob bought in 1992.

The 44 hectare property near Matamata was unkindly called by an industry colleague: “A nasty little wet farm and what did we think we were doing buying it.”

She admits it had little going for it at the time. But it did have a a stream and native bush and that was enough.

“It’s an ex-ballot farm, it hadn’t had a lot of work done to it,” she says. . . 

Farmer’s mid-life crisis results in buying a rare sheep breed – Peter McDonald:

 “Honey, I’ve just bought a sheep stud.”

That’s what I said as I put the phone down. I joke that I will just have to throw this one in the bucket with all my other mid-life crisis, although this is starting to wear a bit thin I’m told, as mid-life is well and truly in my rear vision mirror.

The ryeland is classified as a rare sheep breed in New Zealand with about six to seven mostly small flocks scattered throughout the country. Some could say they are a breed that time forgot, their popularity peaked in Great Britain in the 1800s and here through the 1960s.

To give you an idea of their long history as a breed it was reported that Queen Elizabeth requested before the onset of winter that stockings be knitted especially for her from ryeland wool, now this is not the current Queen Elizabeth this story refers to Queen Elizabeth the first who ruled from 1558-1603. . . 

EU co-funded Armenia wool value chain project kicks off in Shirak Province

Within the framework of the European Union (EU) Days in Armenia, Minister of Territorial Administration and Development Suren Papikyan on Sunday attended the official start of the EU co-funded EU4 Shirak: Wool for Jobs project, in Amasia rural community of the Shirak province.

Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, Head of the Delegation of the EU to Armenia, also was on hand at this event, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development informed Armenian News-NEWS.am. . . 


Rural round-up

February 26, 2018

UK expert who identifies Mycoplasma bovis says farmer records of herds must improve – Gerald Piddock:

Richard Laven​ was in his office at Massey University in June last year when a South Island veterinarian called him, asking for advice on sick cows.

The cows had just calved and the veterinarian told the associate professor of animal health that they were suffering from mastitis and lameness and not responding to treatment.

Laven told the veterinarian it was the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis and advised they must ring the Ministry for Primary Industries. . .

Staffing, fall in optimism top farmer issues – Sally Brooker:

Farmer optimism has fallen for the first time in two years, the latest Farm Confidence Survey shows.

Releasing the findings of its mid-season survey last Thursday, Federated Farmers said the stand-out features were a marked drop in farmer optimism and growing concern about being able to recruit suitable staff.

The survey is commissioned by the federation and conducted by Research First in January and July each year. January’s responses came from 1070 farmers.

They included negative views of the economy and of farm profitability, production and spending. Debt levels had increased and fewer farms were debt-free. . . 

Immigration advisory workshop coming up:

Migrants across the rural sector will get a chance to learn about new immigration policy next month.

An immigration advisory workshop is planned for March 7, with the aim of benefiting people in the Waimate, Kurow and Morven areas.

The workshop will be attended by immigration adviser Jojan McLeod, of Immigration Waitaki, who will share her knowledge and advice.

Among the new immigration policy was a change to the minimum hourly rate for someone defined as a skilled worker.

That rate increased on January 15 to $20.65 per hour, which was an increase of 68c an hour. . . 

First Young Farmer contest for Wellington city – Alexa Cook:

A couple of hundred farmers have taken over Crawford Green in Wellington today for a Young Farmer competition, the first to ever be held in the capital.

It’s the Tarananki/Manawatu Young Farmer Regional Final, and the winner from today will go through to the grand final.

The eight contestants, who each came first or second at their district contest, had an exam on Friday night, then today are being put through their paces on Miramar’s Crawford Green, and this evening will also have to perform well in a quiz. . . 

Winner eyes field agronomy role – Annette Scott:

Canterbury young farmer Justin Inwood has won the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association’s annual scholarship.

Open to students studying in the agricultural field at Lincoln or Massey Universities, this year the organisation was swamped with applications.

The scholarship, which started in 2011, got just two applications from each institution in its first year. . . 

Farm to table: how blockchain technology will change the way you eat – Larry Myler:

Forget about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for a minute. The underlying technology is what I’m interested in. Blockchain is working its way into all aspects of B2B commerce, including our food chain.

Here’s the why and how of this latest expression of a technology that is bringing massive change, and benefit, to yet another industry.

According to the World Health Organization, 10% of us fall ill with a food-borne disease each year. Most of these diseases aren’t hard to prevent, but without clear and consistent oversight they remain prevalent. With the meteoric rise of the blockchain phenomenon, food commerce will soon get the shakeup it needs. . .

The wool Press: Tim Brown – Claire Inkson:

The Wool Press: Where we shine the spotlight on a Wool Product or Producer to celebrate wool as an environmentally friendly, innovative, humane and versatile natural fibre of now and the future. Today we talk to Tim Brown, former captain of the All Whites and founder of the worlds most comfortable shoes, Allbirds : The hugely popular runners and loungers made from New Zealand Merino.

1. What made you choose NZ Merino as a textile when you created All Birds?

We wanted to create the world’s most comfortable shoe so it made sense that we would use the world’s finest fibre to achieve that goal. In NZ Merino and their ZQ certification, we found a partner that is the gold standard in the delivery of sustainable and ethically sourced merino and we haven’t looked back since. . .

Wool is cool again and the prices are shear madness – Lucy Craymer:

Wool isn’t just for winter wear anymore, and its use in everything from shoes to underwear briefs is pushing prices of merino, the most popular type of wool fiber for clothes, to near-record highs.

Wool sneakers popular in Silicon Valley from startup Allbirds Inc. helped kick off a global trend. Brands from Adidas to Lululemon and Under Armour are selling wool apparel, touting the fiber’s soft feel and odor-resisting properties. Merino wool, named for a breed of sheep, is even being woven into shorts, tank tops and short-sleeve T-shirts.

Demand has helped drive up merino wool prices at a time when the sheep population in Australia and New Zealand, the world’s largest wool exporters, is near a 100-year low. Many sheep farmers here invested in converting their operations to dairy farming or higher-yielding crops after prices of wool collapsed in the 1990s. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 4, 2018

Govt won’t support irrigaiton while farms dry:

The Government is holding back regional New Zealand through its opposition to water storage projects which help grow jobs in the regions, boost exports and provide environmental sustainability National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s description of funding for irrigation projects as ‘unnecessary’ will come as a huge shock to farmers – especially when he supports the construction of the Waimea Dam in his local area. . .

Allbirds shoe business growing as it highlights connection to NZ merino farmers – Gerard Hutching:

Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but Allbirds wool shoes founder Tim Brown has had enough of the recognition from some rivals.

Late last year Allbirds filed a trade dress infringement lawsuit in the Northern District of California against shoe giant Steve Madden for allegedly copying its signature wool lace-up sneakers.

Steve Madden is not the only established company venturing into the woollen shoes business. Adidas, Nike and Puma are also using wool in sneakers and clothing, as more consumers seek out natural fibres over synthetic.

It is all good news for New Zealand’s 400 merino farmers who are riding the wave of a boom in demand for the fine fibre. . . 

Nixing nitrate with nanoparticles

Smart catalytic conversion technologies are being used to find better ways of improving the quality of water affected by nitrate pollution.

Dr Anna Garden (Chemistry) is leading a research project that seeks a quicker and safer way of removing nitrate from waterways. Garden says that nitrate pollution of New Zealand’s waterways has become a serious problem over recent decades, due to agricultural intensification and associated overuse of nitrogen-based fertilisers such as ammonium nitrate and urea.

“We are putting so much nitrogen-based fertiliser onto our land these days, as well as increasing the density of stock. . .

Riparian fencing poses challenges – HUgh Stringleman:

Northland dairy farmers Richard and Bev Dampney, farming at Otaua, west of Kaikohe, must urgently complete 10 to 11km of riparian fencing to continue supplying milk to Fonterra.

Within only a few farms nationwide still to comply, the Dampneys had argued riparian fencing was impractical on local rivers that flooded an average of six times a year.

Furthermore, cows had reticulated water in troughs and were effectively excluded from the water courses by steep, overgrown banks.

Hot tapes were used to break feed, and where cows might venture down to the waterways. . . 

Late change for honey standard – Richard Rennie:

The manuka honey industry has welcomed the Government’s last-minute revision of honey standards that, left unchanged, would have sliced millions off the value of the country’s premium honey type.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has made a significant change to the level of a chemical marker that defined manuka honey from multi-floral honey only days before the standards are to be formally enforced on honey producers.

February 5 marks the official launch of the new standards.

The MPI standards were released just before Christmas to an industry outcry at their failure to adequately define manuka honey and the impact they were likely to have on multi-floral honey’s ability to be defined as manuka.  . . 

Death threat vegans bombard award-winning dairy farmers:

Vegans have bombarded an award-winning young dairy farmer, his wife and children with hundreds of chilling death threats.

The American activists blasted Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore with a firestorm of vicious non-stop online abuse for five days.

The mob latched on to the couple, who are in their 30s, after they posted on social media about their new triplet calves.

See also: FW Awards 2017 – Diversification Farmer of the Year winners

The Crickmores, who run Fen Farm Dairy in Bungay, north Suffolk, scooped the Farmers WeeklyDiversification Farmer of the Year Award last year. . . 


Rural round-up

January 15, 2018

Cattle categories removed from A&P show –  David Loughrey:

This year’s Otago-Taieri A&P Show will be without cattle categories, as shows across the South take precautions against Mycoplasma bovis.

Kelly Allison said the decision not to have cattle at the January 27 show was made last week in  light of the spread of the bacterial infection, to guard against its transmission.

Mr Allison is on the Otago-Taieri A&P Show committee and on the executive of the Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand.

“I think it’s a very small chance that a cow would transfer it to another cow,” he said. . . 

A radical rethink of NZ’s largest farm is on the table – Emily Heyward & Paula Hulburt:

New Zealand’s largest farm or massive public park? You decide.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is open to a radical rethink of the historic Molesworth Station, the rolling high-country farm linking Marlborough to North Canterbury.

The farming lease at the 180,000-hectare cattle ranch – about the size of Stewart Island – expires in 2020, and the public could help shape its future. . . 

Third generation dairy farmers turn to hemp – Alexander Robertson:

Forget about white gold and our massive dairy industry, green gold could be the new king of the crop.

As the hemp industry opens up in New Zealand, a Rangitikei family is giving hemp a shot as they try get off the herd and diversify their dairy farm in hemp and pumpkin for the first year.

The Welch family have farmed the same land for more than 90 years over three generations.

However, for this family there’s many sides to the dairy industry with ethical challenges. . . 

Blueberry season over earlier than usual in warmer weather – Jill Galloway:

The blueberry season has come and gone early in Manawatū because of warm weather.

Co-owner of Blueacres​ in Pohangina Valley, Gloria Hall said they usually had a season which lasted through January.

But she said every year was different, and last year the wet winter and spring, followed by a dry December brought the berries on early. . . 

Why you need a good merino base layer – Ross Collicutt:

When I was young, we went skiing regularly. We could afford to go skiing, but didn’t have the greatest gear. We’d go with school, with parents, with anyone that was going to the hill. Skiing was great fun, but we’d be shivering by the end of the day.

Getting so cold your lips are blue is fine when you can just grab a hot chocolate in the lodge to warm up. Out snowshoeing in the winter or on a long backpacking trip, getting too cold could have more serious consequences.

Base layers are the most important part of your outdoor clothing system. Yes, it sounds nerdy, but that system is made up of three layers: the outer shell for rain and snow protection, the middle insulation layer, and the-all important base layer on the inside. A merino wool base layer is the best. Here’s why. . . 


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