Rural round-up

21/04/2022

Entrepreneurial trio create fibre blend – Sally Rae:

What do you get when you combine the skills of a high-country merino farmer with a West Coast dairy farmer and throw a sales manager into the mix?

The answer is Hemprino, New Zealand’s latest fashion label which combines the properties of hemp and merino in a single blend.

It is the brainchild of Siobhan O’Malley, Paul Ensor and Harriet Bell, who met on the Kellogg rural leadership course in 2018 and have a desire to reduce the environmental footprint caused by fast fashion.

As landfills fill with plastic-based clothing, the trio — who were newcomers to the fashion industry — are using natural fibres that are biodegradable at the end of the garment’s life. . . 

Ruling to halt irrigation hit farmers hard, reduced trust – Ben Tomsett:

A Southland farmer has said the trust factor between the rural community and Environment Southland has been damaged in the wake of the unprecedented decision to halt irrigation in the region.

The water direction, which banned irrigation in much of the province, ended last week. It came about as a result of a very dry summer where rivers and aquifers were at lower levels than anything previously recorded.

Southland farmer Jason Herrick, who is also the head of Federated Farmers sharemilker section in the province, said the direction halting irrigation was ill thought out and a reaction to public sentiment rather than science.

“It made absolutely no difference whatsoever to the river levels because the people that were attached to the rivers were already shut off with their consent conditions because the river levels were too low,” he said. . . 

 

When food is your medicine – scientists seek further proof of the healing power of mānuka honey :

Comvita has formed a new scientific partnership with the University of Otago to understand how mānuka honey helps support digestive health | Content partnership

Comvita, New Zealand’s pioneering mānuka honey brand and global market leader have formed a new scientific partnership with the University of Otago’s departments of Medicine and Human Nutrition to understand how mānuka honey helps support digestive health. 

The partnership will conduct groundbreaking research through a $1.3 million clinical trial to investigate the potential of mānuka honey to improve symptoms and quality of life in people suffering from gastrointestinal inflammation and pain related to digestive disorders.  

The programme is supported by the High-Value Nutrition (HVN) Ko Ngā Kai Whai Painga National Science Challenge, a Government initiative “to develop high-value foods with validated health benefits to drive economic growth”. . . 

Waikato growers urged to watch out for fall armyworm caterpillars :

New infestations of a crop-killing moth could cost New Zealand farmers tens of millions of dollars if populations survive winter.

The fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda is the name for the pest’s larvae.

Eggs were found in suburban Tauranga in surveillance traps last month and caterpillars have now been found on two farms in Tamahere, just south of Hamilton.

The armyworm has destroyed maize and sweetcorn plants in Africa, the United States and Australia. . . 

Medicinal cannabis just the beginning for Rua Bioscience :

East Coast-based medicinal cannabis firm Rua Bioscience says it has plenty of other products in the works, after launching its first medicine in New Zealand.

Sales from the medicinal cannabis product, which is available via prescription, will be the first revenue for the business since it listed on the stock market in 2020.

Rua Bioscience is one of two firms manufacturing cannabis products that have met quality standards set by the Medicinal Cannabis Agency.

The company was prohibited from revealing what the product was under medical law and was coy about how much revenue it expects to generate from it but said that it could be used to treat people with acute pain, anxiety or juvenile epilepsy. . . 

Robots bring flexibility to Kaukapkapa waterfront farm :

Technology has turned a North Auckland dairy farm into a lifestyle and investment opportunity for anyone wanting to participate in the dairy industry, without the twice a day commitment in the dairy shed.

Bayleys Country Property Specialist John Barnett is marketing a 179ha dairy unit at Kaukapakapa that features four robotic Lely Astronaut milking machines, which operate 24/7 to milk the farm’s 200 cow herd.

He says the installation of the robotic system by the owners several years ago continues to deliver on its promise of a more flexible farming operation, happy cows, and better use of the owners’ time.

“You can avoid the tie of early morning and afternoon milkings, with a system that is very ‘cow-centric’. Each cow sets her own time for when she wants to be milked, coming into the dairy, and having her milking and production all recorded by the robotic system.” . . 


Rural round-up

19/04/2022

Reality check hits home – Country-Wide:

A RECENT FARMER SURVEY RECORDED farmer confidence had plummeted even though farm gate prices are soaring. Initially I thought: so what, everyone is feeling down with the Ukraine war, Omicron, and rising costs. What was notable was that the survey was taken before the war started, fuel costs took off and Omicron exploded.

What will the next survey tell us?

With Omicron spreading quickly and most people accepting they will live with it, the fear factor is receding. The focus is increasingly on the economy and the basics.

Kiwis are now waking up to the realisation the country has been poorly managed by the Labour Government. Money had to be spent, but wisely. Printing money and chucking it around was unwise as were many of its policies. . .

Rural pressure in days of drought: farmers are notorious for putting animal welfare in front of their own health :

Farmer welfare is a serious concern in Southland after the driest start to a year on record, the Southland Rural Support Trust says.

Meaningful rain has finally fallen in the south this week, but it has come too late to bring any relief to the feed shortage confronting the region’s farmers.

Southland farmers say they expect the economic fallout of the drought to linger into next year.

Southland Rural Support Trust chair Cathie Cotter said everything had landed on the region’s farmers at once with the Omicron wave at its peak in the south. . . 

Hair sheep could be answer to wool woes – Country Life :

Sheep with fur – not wool – are among the latest trials being undertaken by one of New Zealand’s top breeders, Derek Daniell of Wairere Stud.

A trial to develop a New Zealand sheep with hair is underway at one of the country’s top ram studs.

Wairarapa’s Wairere Rams has imported hair-sheep genetics from the UK to cross with some of its Romney flock in the hope of creating an easy-care sheep that doesn’t need shearing, crutching or dagging.

The wool cheque may not even cover the cost of shearing these days and about five percent of New Zealand’s commercial sheep farmers are already voting with their feet and trying out the Wiltshire breed which sheds its fleece naturally, according to Wairere’s Derek Daniell. . . 

Deer devils of the Deep South – Jill Herron:

Catching a glimpse of Bambi through the trees might be a thrill for townie and deerstalker alike, but a growing population of hungry deer spells bad news for native flora and fauna – and Covid gets some of the blame

Outside the southern wilds, feral deer used to be a rare sight. Today, mobs are invading farms and the animals are grazing around roads and towns.

Some spread is coming from areas of protected native forest, where a build-up in numbers is causing serious harm. The pandemic is partly to blame, many say, as well as changes in Government regulations. Shifts in land use, too, are providing habitats that suit these attractive but destructive pests.

In healthy native forest, long-whiskered kiwi shuffle through forest-floor litter, eating bugs and seeds and probing their strange end-of-beak noses into soil to find worms and grubs. When deer have been there, however, that job becomes hard yakka. There’s not much to snuffle in and the ground can be dry and compacted. . .

Manufacturer keen to find NZ source of hemp fibre for clothing :

A New Zealand clothing brand spinning knitwear out of merino and hemp is hoping to drum up demand for a hemp fibre industry here.

The new label, Hemprino, sells knitwear made from a single-blend of New Zealand merino and hemp.

Co-founder Siobhan O’Malley said locally grown hemp fibre for clothing isn’t available in this country yet, but she’s hoping that will change.

“The piece that’s missing in New Zealand at the moment is actually the processing, so taking the plant that’s grown and turning it into a usable fibre for apparel, or for packaging, or insulation, there’s a huge range of uses,” she said. . . 

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO2204/S00082/rural-communities-again-left-in-the-wilderness-by-the-governments-pae-ora-healthy-futures-bill.htm

Rural communities again left in the wilderness by the government’s Pae ORa Healthy Futures Bill :

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network (the Network) is appalled that rural communities have been “left in the wilderness” by the Pae Ora Healthy Futures Bill, which was recommended by the Select Committee to Parliament for a second reading today.

In its oral submission to the Pae Ora Healthy Futures Bill Select Committee in January, the Network made a call for rural communities to be identified as a priority population group alongside Māori, Pacific People and the Disabled, who are already recognised.

The Network argued that if the Bill doesn’t highlight a focus on rural communities, and hold Government Agencies accountable for rural health outcomes, then the health inequities faced by rural New Zealanders will not improve.

The Bill’s purpose is to protect, promote and improve the health of all New Zealanders; and achieve equity by reducing health disparities among New Zealand’s population groups, in particular for Māori. . .


Be merry in merino

20/12/2021


Rural round-up

12/09/2020

New freshwater rules ‘terrible’ for West Coast – regional chair – Lois Williams:

More resource consents, more monitoring, more money and more staff – the government’s new rules for managing freshwater will cost the West Coast big-time, according to regional council chairman Allan Birchfield.

The final policies and regulations on freshwater came into force last week and regional councils around the country now have to enforce them.

Among them, the new wetland rules posed the biggest headache and expense for the West Coast, Birchfield said.

The West Coast Regional Council had spent more than 10 years mapping and defining significant wetlands throughout the region, as required by the government under the Resource Management Act. . . 

Winding up a long career championing New Zealand – Sally Rae:

When Lyn Jaffray walks out the door of Silver Fern Farms’ headquarters in Dunedin tomorrow, it will be the end of an era, as business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Lyn Jaffray is preparing to close his last deal with Silver Fern Farms.

When he retires tomorrow, it will mark a 48-year association with the company which has included more than 20 years managing its China market.

The former All Black’s departure follows a discussion about succession and a year-long transition period, and he was happy with the timing of it.

“I’m comfortable where we are, the company’s going great, I’m comfortable with closing the deal,” he said. . . 

Demand for merino wool drops 40% – Maja Burry:

Demand for Merino wool has taken a hit, with fine wool prices at auction back by about 40 percent on this time last year.

Merino sheep are typically shorn between July and October. The main selling period for this wool runs from August through to early December.

Crossbred wool, typically used in carpets, makes up about 85 percent of New Zealand’s wool clip. Fine wools such as Merino attract a premium price and are often used in high end garments including sportswear and suits.

AgriHQ said at auction fine wool in the 17-18 micron range was fetching $13 to $15 a kilogram clean, down 35 to 40 percent on last year. . . 

US pandemic crisis stalls delivery of quad bikes for NZ farmers– Eric Frykberg:

Covid-19 has hit the farming community in an unexpected way: it is drying up the supply of farm vehicles such as quad bikes.

That is because factories that assemble them in the United States have had their production disrupted by the virus April.

Even where a factory has continued assembling the vehicles, vital spare parts have often been held up when the coronavirus has hit outsourced supply companies, meaning the final product cannot be completed because one vital component is missing.

“Sometimes, we are a month behind waiting for the stock to come in,” said dealer Blair Howden of Winton Motorcycles in Southland. . . 

Green vegetables grow at the foot of big mountains – Keith Woodford:

Green vegetables and hydroponics combine nicely when consumers are close but productive land is scarce

Green vegetables are best produced close to where people live.  But nature often needs a little help to make it happen.  That is where glasshouses and hydroponics come into play.  It is a combination that allows green vegetables to be grown throughout the year in most parts of New Zealand while still being aligned to nature.

Some of my readers will know that I am a fan for the mountains of the Otago Lakes District.  Also, for more than 50 years I have been a skier, becoming even more enthusiastic as the years go by, with skiing now providing both joy and adrenaline for a retired mountaineer. . . 

Rural Insight: NZ trial to crunch regen numbers:

Regenerative agriculture has become something of a buzzword in farming and food circles over the past year, and the subject of well populated field days, chat groups and media coverage.

As a practice, “regenerative” agriculture covers a broad sweep of land use practices, with a focus on regenerating topsoil while also improving water quality, building plant biodiversity on-farm and reducing the level of cultivation and tillage.

For its part, New Zealand is beginning to play catch up on acquiring data on its own regenerative experience.

In Canterbury, the Align Group of farms with four dairy units over 1,500ha has committed to a regenerative trial, effectively splitting the operation into conventional and regenerative across two dairy farms. . . 

 


Rural round-up

25/02/2020

The only way forward for farming is to do it together as a country – Daniel Eb:

Dad and I had an argument recently.

We’re fencing off a stream on the farm soon and I want to include a patch of bush in the job. 

We traded reasons for and against. “It’s good for biodiversity, there’s no feed in there anyway”.

“The stock need the shelter, we’re already losing grazing around the stream.” . .

 

Elle Perriam and Harriet Bremner join forces to empower Canterbury farmers :

Two young rural women who have a friendship with a difference will make their first public appearance together in a bid to change the way those in the rural sector think.

Elle Perriam, founder of Will To Live, and Harriet Bremner, children’s author and safety campaigner have both lived through tremendous grief, suffering the loss of both of their partners.

With a bond shared through their deep grief, love of dogs, horses, farming and passion for people – the duo are pairing up for the first time to tell their stories, hosting an event at the Rolleston School Auditorium on March 2. . . 

How China became NZ’s number one trading partner – Jamie Gray:

China’s coronavirus outbreak has delivered a fast, sharp shock to the New Zealand economy.

From tourism to the meat trade, the disease has highlighted just how reliant New Zealand has become on China.

In less than a decade, the People’s Republic has come to dominate nearly all New Zealand’s major merchandise exports.

Already, some economists are saying the virus – officially named Covid-19 – and a local drought could tip New Zealand into recession this year. . . 

Bovis eradication still realistic – Annette Scott:

Eradicating Mycoplasma bovis is proving realistic, M Bovis Programme communications manager Joe Stockman says.

But it is highly unlikely how it got here will ever be known.

Addressing a large gathering of farmers, rural professionals and community leaders in Oamaru on Wednesday Stockman said there’s confidence in a successful eradication.

M bovis is not right across New Zealand, making eradication feasible.

“The current spread is very limited to the movement of infected animals. . . 

New face for meat body :

Meat Industry Association trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva is the organisation’s new chief executive.

She succeeds Tim Ritchie, who is retiring after 12 years in the role.

Before joining the association in 2015 Karapeeva held a variety of trade, policy and regulatory roles at the Ministries for Primary Industries, of Business, Innovation, and Employment and Economic Development. 

She said the red meat sector is operating in an increasingly complex environment and faces a number of challenges domestically and internationally. . . 

NZ’s ‘largest one-day show’ is coming:

The Mackenzie A&P Highland Show will be held on Easter Monday.

Described by organisers as the largest one-day show in New Zealand, the event at Mackenzie A&P Showgrounds is expected to draw up to 15,000 people.

Organising secretary, Jodi Payne is promising visitors there will be “plenty to see”. . . 

Northern NSW beef producers show faith in future wool industry – Lucy Kinbacher:

A growing number of cattle producers looking for a quick turnover and restocking option after recent rain are entering the wool game and building their own Merino flock.

The new players to the Merino game are doing battle with established wool growers who are also ditching their sideline cattle herds to reestablish their traditional sheep carrying capacity.

Narrabri-based couple Jon and Claire Welsh may be fifth generation cattle producers but their newly acquired the 930 hectare (2300 acre) Guyra property, Oban View, is being stocked with a Merino flock. . . 

 


Rural round-up

25/11/2019

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

15/11/2019

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

21/10/2019

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

27/11/2018

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

17/11/2018

’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

30/09/2018

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

25/09/2018

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. . .


Rural round-up

05/09/2018

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

24/07/2018

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

29/05/2018

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

23/05/2018

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

26/02/2018

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

04/02/2018

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

15/01/2018

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. . . 


Rural round-up

21/12/2017

Southland stock trading  likely to be affected by Mycoploasma bovis outbreak – Dave Nicoll:

Some Southland farmers are frustrated and concerned as calves infected with Mycoplasma bovis may have been traded before the outbreak in Southland was discovered.

Last week, the ministry identified three farms near Winton that had tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

Southland Federated Farmers president Allan Baird said there was some uncertainty among farmers because they knew little about the disease and it was possible some of them had stock from the affected farms.

Baird said he had fielded calls from several people concerned about the disease. . . 

Success of merino held up as example of how to boost languishing coarse wool – Gerard Hutching:

Rattle your dags” – that might be the call to Kiwi merino farmers following the news that the dags of the fine wool sheep are generating three times the price of quality strong wool fleece.

Higher quality regular fibre is selling up to a 700 per cent premium over coarse wool. The contrast could not be greater with the prices of coarse wool fleeces tumbling over the past 12 months, and a lot of wool not being sold has been put into storage until the industry picks up again.

Coarse wool exports fell 28 per cent to $550 million to the year to June as a lack of demand from China weighed on prices.

But New Zealand Merino (NZM) is starting to put a focus on coarse wool and using its marketing nous to turn the industry around. . . 

Streamlining NAIT comes with tougher compliance approach:

Federated Farmers is pleased that moves to streamline the National Animal Identification and Tracing Scheme (NAIT) process are coming in tandem with a tougher approach on non-compliance.

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor has indicated after nearly five years of educating farmers about the importance of NAIT for biosecurity and food traceability, those who continue to ignore their obligations would face prosecution and fines of up to $10,000. . . 

Grant awarded to Paeroa company to study nutritional needs of bees:

It may well be the biggest thing to come out of Paeroa since L&P. 

Paeroa-based biostimulant company AgriSea NZ Seaweed Ltd has just been awarded a project grant from Callaghan Innovation for $74,000. The grant will go towards research and development of their bioactive products and the nutritional needs of honey bees. 

“This grant recognises the innovation happening at AgriSea and will continue to grow our R&D capabilities,” said Agrisea general manager Tane Bradley. “To date there is limited scientific data around the nutritional needs of the honey bee so this is really important.”  . . 

OIO considers $105.5 mln buyout of Harvard dairy farms – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – The Overseas Investment Office is considering the sale of Harvard University’s 5,500-head dairy farms in the South Island to a Singapore-based investor.

Accounts for the dairy farms filed with New Zealand’s Companies Office show that it entered into an agreement to sell its business assets to WHL Otago Operations on May 31, and the sale was now pending OIO approval but the settlement was expected by June 2018. The accounts show that the expected realisation value of all the company’s assets, after the cost of selling, was calculated to be $105.5 million as at June 30, 2017. . . 

Westland Milk Products completes leadership revitalisation:

Westland Milk Products Chief Executive Toni Brendish has completed her revitalisation of the dairy co-operative’s Executive Leadership Team, with the appointment of Jeffrey Goodwin to the role of General Manager, Sales.

Goodwin came to Westland from his role as Vice-President, Global Operations, for James Farrell & Co, which represents United States-based manufacturers in the export of their ingredients and finished goods.

“Jeffrey’s experience in food and ingredients sales is global in scale,” Brendish said, “with a record of success in South East Asia, Japan, China and the United States (among others). . . 

‘Green window dressing’: EU criticised for wasting billions on green farming subsidies:

Attempts to ‘green’ EU farm policy did not lead to any significant increase in environmentally-sound farming practices – despite countries spending a huge chunk of the EU’s annual budget on the scheme.

The UK’s net contribution of £8.6billion from last year went towards the project, but a European Court of Auditors report shows just 5 percent of the EU’s farmland benefited from the scheme.

The auditors found that the new payments added more complexity to the system but had led to changed farming practices on only about five per cent of EU farmland. . . 

Livestock to help offset big fall in grain production – Brad Thompson:

The farm sector appears fundamentally strong following a record year for farm production in Australia, Rabobank says, anticipating a weaker Australian dollar and strong livestock prices will bolster returns for most farmers next year.

Rabobank’s head of research in Australia and New Zealand, Tim Hunt, said Federal forecaster ABARES’ expectation of a 7 per cent fall in the value of gross production reflected less favourable weather conditions for grain growing after a record harvest last year.

“That is a climate story rather than a structural story, as in we are not back into industry decline we have just had a bad grain season,” he said. . . 

Moving beyond the green revolution in Africa’s new era of hunger – Calestous Juma:

A quarter of the world’s hungry people are in sub-Saharan Africa and the numbers are growing. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of hungry – those in distress and unable to access enough calories for a healthy and productive life – grew from 20.8% to 22.7%. The number of undernourished rose from 200 million to 224 million out of a total populationof 1.2 billion.

Conflict, poverty, environmental disruptions and a growing population all contribute to the region’s inability to feed itself.

To tackle hunger, the continent needs to find new, integrated approaches. These approaches – discussed at a recent Harvard conference – must increase crop yield, enhance the nutritional content of people’s diets, improve people’s health and promote sustainability. . . 

 


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