Rural round-up

05/05/2020

Coming out of the crisis – Todd Muller:

National’s agriculture spokesman, Todd Muller on why the recovery from COVID-19 needs to include strategic water storage infrastructure.

A few months ago, I penned a column where I noted the challenging conversations farmers were having across dinner tables up and down the country because of the Government’s proposed freshwater reforms. Now, barely six months later, so much of New Zealand is closed with the exception of our farms and hospitals. T

he tough, painful and fearful kitchen table conversations are occurring in many houses across the country.

We are still in the highly fluid part of the crisis, where only hard choices sit in front of us. The ‘stay home, save lives’ strategy will slowly morph into the ‘safety first, but slowly restart’ phase.  . . 

Dairy sector wants New Zealanders to consider farm work as Labour shortage looms – Robin Martin:

The dairy industry wants New Zealanders to fall back in love with life on the farm.

With Covid-19 meaning the migrant workforce is not available, it is predicted the sector will need to fill 1000 jobs in time for Moving Day on 1 June – the first day of the new dairy season.

The Fortuna Group is a corporate farming operation in Southland which milks about 12,000 cows across 19 farms.

At any one time 50 percent of its 100-strong workforce are migrants, predominantly from the Philippines. . .

New health, safety and wellbeing movement for rural women launches in New Zealand with industry wide support:

Save a life, listen to your wife – that’s the message of a new health and safety movement for rural women being launched in New Zealand today.

Safer Farms has partnered with Australia’s Alex Thomas to bring The #PlantASeedForSafety Project across the ditch.

The #PlantASeedForSafety Project profiles women from all parts of rural industries and communities who are making positive and practical improvements to the health, safety and wellbeing of those around them. From farm owners, shepherds, wives and partners, to nurses, doctors, teachers and even the local barista – every person living rurally has an impact on their community. . .

First farm – a 15 year journey to farm ownership :

Just over a year ago Michael and Susie Woodward packed up their four children, a herd of cows, 50 goats, chickens, five dogs and all of their farming equipment and moved islands onto their own farm. They’d beeen 50/50 sharemilking in Canterbury and had been working towards farm ownership for 15 years. It’s been a challenging 12 months. Winter was wet, summer a drought, some of the cows succumbed to a disease the Woodwards had not encountered and animals and humans on the King Country farm have had to adapt to living on hills.

 

AgTech Hackathon Solution Challenge winner announcement:

With a deft pivot around a global pandemic, the fourth annual AgTech Hackathon successfully completed its first ‘AgTech Hackathon Lite’ – a virtual version of their popular annual event. This quickfire competition takes participants through an ideation process before producing an innovative idea to solve challenges faced by the Food and Fibre sector.

Proving innovation doesn’t quit in the face of a nationwide lockdown, the winning team was announced on Friday, scoring themselves $1000 and an answer to the Zespri horticulture challenge.

While many people are using spare isolation time to to perfect their sourdough starters and TikTok dances, Beta Team – a Manawatu based team, developed Bugkilla, an all-in-one product which attracts, monitors and eradicates BMSB and provides real-time monitoring and eradication of bug infestations for fruit growers and horticulturists. . .

Europeans urged to eat their way through steak, chips and cheese glut – Emiko Terazono and Judith Evans :

Belgians have been asked to eat more fries, the British are being urged to tuck into steak and the French have been pressed to up their cheese intake. The unusual pleas come not because people need comfort food as the coronavirus pandemic rages, but to help clear a glut of produce languishing in storage as the crisis shuts restaurants, hotels and workplace eateries across Europe.

With customers on lockdown, the continent’s farmers and food producers are trying to persuade them to increase consumption of their products at home. In Belgium, the world’s largest exporter of frozen fries, trade association Belgapom is urging people to eat an extra portion a week to reduce its 750,000-tonne potato surplus. 

“The frite is an intangible cultural heritage. It is a tradition that [Belgians] have frites once a week. We are asking people to increase that moment of joy an extra time in the week,” said Romain Cools, Belgapom secretary-general.  . . 

 


Rural round-up

08/07/2018

Sheep milk gains to be tested by AgResearch:

AgReseach senior scientist Dr Linda Samuelsson says results of the trial to test the benefits of sheep milk for human consumption should be available next year.

In what is believed to be a world first, AgResearch is about to begin a clinical trial to test the benefits of sheep milk for human digestion.

The trial, which will see AgResearch scientists working alongside those at the Auckland University’s Liggins Institute, with support from Spring Sheep Milk Co in the central North Island and Blue River Dairy in Southland, comes at a time of rapid growth for the dairy sheep industry in New Zealand . . 

Portable footwear cleaning station to help stop farm contamination – Gerald Piddock:

A Waikato couple have created what they believe might be the world’s first portable biosecurity system for footwear.

The Jacson Cube, whose name is derived from its creators – husband and wife team Jacqui Humm​ and Russell Knutson​ – is a portable cleaning station that is small enough to fit in the back of a ute.

“It’s a step up from your bucket and brush particularly for those people travelling from farm to farm,” Humm said.

The system took two years to create, and Humm said it was her husband who came up with the idea. . .

Dairy farmer’s passion for goats:

Dunsandel farmer Michael Woodward may be Federated Farmers North Canterbury dairy chairman but his real passion is the angora goats he inherited from his father John.

John Woodward, of Pukekohe, is a pioneer of the mohair industry: he set up its pool marketing system about 1982, is a board member of Mohair Producers NZ and now manages marketing of the North Island mohair clip.

Michael Woodward, meanwhile, is sharemilking on 300ha at Dunsandel with his wife Susie. . .

Hemp is not marijuana, it is a formidable vegetable, says social entrepreneur:

Social entrepreneur Michael Mayell is speaking out about the beneficial properties of hemp to help inform and inspire Kiwis to embrace new business opportunities around what he calls a ‘formidable vegetable’.

“Hemp is food, fibre and medicine. Hemp is cannabis without any of the psychoactive properties of its cousin marijuana and is fuelling an emerging market which is an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors,” says Mayell, who started his food journey as founder of Cookie Time in 1983 and went on to found Nutrient Rescue, a social enterprise, in 2016 and the Drinkable Rivers in our Lifetime campaign. . .

Farmers encouraged to plan ahead by looking at green projects :

Farmers have been encouraged to plan ahead and look at green projects as the future of UK farming looks set to change.

Various grants and funding are on offer for farmers to encourage green growth, coupled with future government subsidies post-Brexit leaning towards environmental stewardship.

In recent debates regarding the future of farming subsidies, the government has strongly indicated that any future funding is likely to be based on farming practices that provide ‘public goods’. . . 

 

It’s time to “Join the Ag Revolution’ –

Agriculture is on the cusp of a revolution, with renewed enthusiasm fueling a transformation. 

Precision ag, increased production capabilities, and water-saving innovations are all reflective of an industry brimming with opportunity.

And now one of Australia’s rural heartlands is calling forth an agricultural army – a vibrant, skilled workforce to lead into the new age. 

‘Join the Ag Revolution’ is an initiative of Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association (GVIA), created to showcase and promote rural industries, and the passionate people behind them. . .


Rural round-up

28/10/2017

Pride is about best practice – Alan Williams:

Synlait Milk’s Lead With Pride programme is all about best practice across all farm operations, Michael Woodward, one of the first farmers to sign up to it, says.

The process was very involved and Ecan deciding it did not have to duplicate Synlait’s audit system was not a step back for the environment.

Dunsandel-based Woodward was the fifth farmer to sign on with Lead With Pride, in 2014.

Synlait’s flagship programme now had 50 farmers involved, out of a supply base of 200, with several more in the process of joining. . . 

Lower carbs and calories spuds – Sudesh Kissun:

Three years ago fruit and vegetable trader T&G told Pukekohe growers about a potato with lower carbs and fewer calories, called Lotatoes.

Two family-owned businesses, Balle Brothers and Masters Produce, were chosen to trial the new variety.

This month, Lotatoes fended off four other food innovators to be crowned overall winner of the Ministry for Primary Industries Primary Sector Products Award at the 2017 New Zealand Food Awards. . . 

‘Never again philosophy drives regional programme:

The devastating flooding across much of the Manuwatu in February 2004 was the catalyst for a programme to address the loss of natural capital stocks and in doing so mitigate the source of much of the sediment finding its way into the region’s rivers and streams.

“The visible devastation on the hill country and across the plains, to infrastructure, people and their businesses, schools and homes was a real shock for the community at the time,” says AgResearch scientist Dr Alec Mackay.

Following the February 2004 storm, Horizons Regional Council held a meeting with a wide range of community representatives to discuss what could be done to reduce hill country erosion and flooding of the region’s plains. . . 

Upper North Island dominates race for New Zealand’s top horticulturist 2017:

This year’s search for New Zealand’s best young horticulturalist has a distinctly Upper North Island flavour with four out of the five contestants for New Zealand’s top young horticulturist 2017 coming from Gisborne, Auckland, Te Puke and Waiheke Island (and one from Christchurch).

Elle Anderson Chair of RNZIH Education Trust says that not so long ago few people would have thought of the Auckland region as a centre for primary production.

“That is changing fast, as horticulture gains traction as a major player in New Zealand’s economy. There’s a lot of good wine and vegetables coming out of Auckland and surrounds.” . . 

Wayne Dickey – FARMAX:

Waikato dairy farmer Wayne Dickey came home to manage his family’s 90 hectare Manawaru dairy farm in 2010 after working as a builder for 18 years.

It wasn’t the easiest transition having been ‘out of the game’ for a while, but four years on, Wayne is now the third generation Dickey to farm the land.

Wayne said that while there is a lot to learn from family who have gone before him, it’s definitely not business as usual on the pretty farm nestled in the lush pastures beneath Mount Te Aroha.

The reality is that Wayne is tasked with transforming the business into a ‘farm of the future’ under a contract milking arrangement with semi-retired parents John and Ngaire. Wayne is a 10 per cent shareholder in Crosskeys, the business that owns the farm’s 280 cows. . . 

What is behind the rising price of butter? – The Conversation:

Have you noticed that some of Australia’s favourite baked goods, such as croissants and buttery biscuits, have been creeping up in price? This becomes less surprising when one considers that globally, the price of butter has risen by around 60% over the past year.

In Australia, just as milk producers keep expressing concerns about farm-gate milk prices offered by cooperatives and dairy processors, butter prices have reached record levels on international commodity markets.

While butter prices have more than doubled since July 2016, farm-gate milk prices in most producing areas have remained stable. Is there a paradox? Not really. The key ingredient butter producers require is not just the milk – but rather the milk fat. . .

 


Vandals pollute

25/10/2017

Was this random vandalism or misguided environmental activism?

Farming leaders in Canterbury hope a spate of vandalism was not motivated by radical environmentalists.

On Friday night, October 20, a valve was opened on a vat allowing about 6000 litres of milk to escape on a Leeston dairy farm and the same night 30 tyres on four irrigators on a Hororata farm, an hour’s drive away, were punctured by a battery-powered drill.

The dairy farmer whose vat was opened was Environment Canterbury councillor John Sunckell who said he was at a loss whether it was a burglar frustrated at not getting access to anything valuable or an environmentalist wanting to make a statement.

“I don’t want to draw a conclusion but it is hard not to,” he said, referring to the irrigator tyre slashing incident on the same night.

Sunckell said police asked him if it could have been a disgruntled employee but he did not think so.

In recent months Greenpeace activists had illegally occupied the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme, other environmental groups had openly pursued an agenda opposing irrigation and surveys in Christchurch had shown opposition to farming and irrigation.

Sunckell said he was talking publicly about the incident because the vandalism was reflective of a growing split in the community.

“We have got to get away from this urban-rural divide but I don’t know how we are going to do it.”

The volume of milk exceeded the capacity of the drainage and wetland filtering and containment system and the milk overflowed into a drain then a waterway.

So the vandalism caused pollution.

North Canterbury Federated Farmers dairy section chairman Michael Woodward hoped the two incidents were not motivated by anti-farming sentiment.

“It is hard to know if it is coincidental or the same people.”

If it was environmentalists, it was counterproductive given the tyres would be dumped and the milk ended up in a waterway, both damaging to the environment.

Irrigation was a contentious issue in Canterbury and Woodward said he would be disappointed if activists chose to vandalise private property to promote their cause instead of talking to farmers.

The federation’s provincial president Lynda Murchison was also reluctant to speculate on a motive but said if it was environmentalists she was saddened and fearful that people misinformed about water quality issues and the role of irrigation would resort to those tactics.

“Angry people damaging property never got anyone anywhere.” . . 

Whether or not the vandals were environmental activists they’ve not only broken the law they’ve added to pollution and waste.


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