Rural round-up

25/02/2021

The rewards of good data – Peter Burke:

New Zealand’s primary sector is our equivalent of the USA’s Silicon Valley of excellence.

That’s the view of one of the country’s illustrious agricultural economists, Rob Davison, who recently received an award for his outstanding contribution to the primary sector.

The award goes alongside the ONZM he received in 2016 for his services to NZ’s sheep and beef sector.

This latest award is well deserved for a person who has helped build and shape one of the most respected economic institutions in the country. Davison has been with Beef+Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service for more than 40 years, much of that time as its executive director. . . 

Rural trust there for anyone having ‘tough time’ – Shawn McAvinue:

Otago Rural Support Trust chairman Mike Lord, of Outram, said if anyone in Otago’s rural community needed help — or knew of anyone who needed help — they could call the trust.

People called for a “range of reasons” such as financial stress, the impact of adverse weather such as flooding, snow, or drought or any other type of “tough time”.

“I have no doubt we make a difference.”

After Covid hit, a “desperate” farmer called because he had stock and a lack of feed due to meat works taking fewer animals as it dealt with new protocols. . . 

Recommendations ‘ambitious and challenging’ – Peter Burke:

Initial reaction to the Climate Change Commission report has been generally muted, but there are some concerns in the agricultural sector.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern claims the commission’s draft advice, released earlier this month, sets out an ‘achievable blueprint’ for New Zealand. She says the report demonstrates NZ has the tools to achieve our target but calls on us to accelerate our work.

“As a government we are committed to picking up the pace and focusing much more on decarbonisation and reducing emissions rather than overly relying on forestry,” Ardern says. . .  . . 

North Otago chicken farm sharpens its focus – Shawn McAvinue:

Anna Craig knew it was the right time to get cracking and launch a new brand to market the free-range eggs produced on her family’s farm in North Otago.

The Lincoln University agribusiness and food marketing student said she was “torn” about how to spend her summer break.

She could spend it working on her family’s 450ha farm in Herbert, about 20km south of Oamaru, or seek work elsewhere, which might look better on her CV.

She returned to the farm and set herself a goal of launching a new brand to sell some of the eggs laid by about 30,000 free range shaver chickens there. . . 

Strengthen your farming system by leveraging your #1 asset – people:

“Over the years of working with people in many different sized teams, we discovered that it mattered how we were behaving and acting with our team,” says Rebecca Miller of MilkIQ.

Dairy Women’s Network knows that putting people first drives a healthy business and will be running a series of workshops focused on this. They want to ensure that farmers attract and retain talent, and continue to grow the people in the industry.

The free workshops are funded by New Zealand dairy farmers through the DairyNZ levy and align with Commitment #5 of the Dairy Tomorrow Strategy: Building great workplaces for New Zealand’s most talented workforce.

It does not always require big changes to build a great workplace, but small changes that make a difference. The workshops will provide an overview of how to be a good employee or employer and the steps each can take. . . 

 

Handheld breath test device for pregnant cattle to move to industry trials – Joshua Becker:

A device that could change the way farmers preg test cattle is a step closer to commercialisation.

The federal government has offered $600,000 to help a company adapt advances in medicine for use in the grazing industry.

The prototype works by simply putting a device over the cow’s nose while it is in the crush and testing its breath.

Bronwyn Darlington, a farmer at Carwoola in southern NSW and the founder and CEO of Agscent, said the device worked by applying nanotechnologies to what was called breathomics. . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/10/2020

Call for full story on carbon – Hamish MacLean:

A Dunedin city councillor is warning against demonising agriculture as a producer of greenhouse gases.

As the region awaits an Otago-wide inventory of emissions, Cr Mike Lord said if Otago’s emissions profile included what the region exported without considering what the region imported, it could suggest an unfair, unbalanced climate change mitigation strategy was required.

“I just think we need to be careful because the data doesn’t always tell you the full story,” Cr Lord said.

“And I don’t think we want to demonise agriculture — that’s my bottom line.” . . 

Farmer Fears for livelihood amid tenure review – Mark Price:

Charles Innes looks too rugged to be a man who cannot sleep at night for worry.

However, he admits he does, and says he sometimes resorts to a little home brew to solve the problem.

With no tourists using his backpacker accommodation, a predicted 26% drop in average farm profits before tax on sheep and beef farms this season and children to educate at boarding school, Mr Innes has plenty of material for worrying.

He expected completing the tenure review process could help financially, although it might not save the farm. . . 

Deferred grazing a tool to raise farm system resilience :

Deferred grazing is a tool that can be used to combat drought, rejuvenate pastures, improve stock health, mitigate against sediment loss, reduce cost and take the stress out of farming.

A three-year research project to quantify the impact of deferred grazing on the pasture, the soil and the farm system has highlighted the benefits of a practice once regarded as lazy farming.

Deferred grazing is the practice of resting pastures from grazing from mid- to late spring until late summer / early autumn.

The trial, which was carried out by AgResearch (led by Katherine Tozer) and Plant and Food Research, was run on trial sites on three commercial farms in the Bay of Plenty and Northern Waikato. Scientists sought to understand more about the effects of deferred grazing, how to successfully apply it and why it works. . . 

Farmers find niche in wool carding :

A small sign on State Highway 8 near Raes Junction on the West Otago/Central Otago border says Wool Carding 1km.

The track leads to a sheep farm where Barb and Stuart Peel run their carding business from a large shed.

Carding is a mechanical process that opens fibres, disentangling them so they can be used for spinning and felting.

The business was started by Stuart’s father, Don, who farmed sheep on the 160 hectare property. . . 

 

 

National real estate agency and Southland rural property company merge to expand their operations:

Leading national real estate agency Bayleys has expanded the scope of its southernmost operations – acquiring a shareholding in a boutique Southland property company specialising in farm sales.

Bayleys Southland and Country & Co Realty Limited will now be rebranded under the name Country & Co in partnership with Bayleys.

Bayleys Southland is part of Bayleys Real Estate – New Zealand’s largest full-service real estate agency with a network of some 90 offices nationwide and more than 2000 employees. . . 

Belching cows and endless feedlots: fixing cattle’s climate issues – Henry Fountain:

Randy Shields looked out at a sea of cattle at the sprawling Wrangler Feedyard — 46,000 animals milling about in the dry Panhandle air as a feed truck swept by on its way to their pens.

Mr. Shields, who manages the yard for Cactus Feeders, knows that at its most basic, the business simply takes something that people can’t eat, and converts it into something they can: beef. That’s possible because cattle have a multichambered stomach where microbes ferment grass and other tough fibrous vegetation, making it digestible.

“The way I look at it, I’ve got 46,000 fermentation vats going out there,” Mr. Shields said. . .


Rustlers charged

24/12/2011

Central Otago farmers have had an early Christmas present – two men have been charged with stock rustling and police say the case is by no means complete.

The stock thefts have been going on for a couple of years and the charges relate to the theft of about $240,000 worth of stock and equipment but it’s not an isolated case.

The investigation showed no link between the two men and other alleged stock thefts in Central Otago or further afield, Det Evans said.   

Such thefts included about 200 in-lamb merino ewes, worth  about $40,000, from Ribbonwood Station at Omarama in late September; about 160 merino wethers, worth about $13,000,  from Carrick Station in the Nevis Valley in August; and about  1800 merino ewes and an unknown number of lambs, worth about $130,000, from a Queensberry farm block at the end of 2007.   

 “Police have reviewed other stock theft files from our area  as part of this investigation and reiterate that they can  find no link between these men and those thefts. Other alleged stock thefts therefore remain unresolved.”  

The location of the properties, number of stock and other factors point to people who know the area and are used to  working with animals.

The rural grapevine is naming names with good reason but that isn’t the same as evidence that will stand up in court.

We’re all very pleased the police are taking this so seriously because it could happen to any of us.

Federated Farmers Otago president Mike Lord sums up the problem:

 If you go on holiday you can lock your house or lock your garage … with a farm it’s just not that simple.”   

Even when we’re not on holiday we can’t be in every part of a farm every day and rely on a combination of our own precautions, staff, neighbours and an element of luck to keep stock and property safe.

 


Snow’s no good for lambs

20/09/2010

Spring had been merciful to lambs until now.

But Southland and Otago farmers are expecting big losses in the wake of the weekend’s snowfalls.

Federated Farms board member David Rose said:

“Winter in winter is OK but winter in spring is a bit of a disaster.”

They were in the middle of lambing and had quite a few losses because of the weather, Mr Rose said.

“You feel a bit helpless, really … it’s hard to do anything.”

There were only so many sheep they could put inside, which was difficult at the rate they had been lambing, Mr Rose said. “You do what you can … It’s inevitable you’re going to have losses.”

Feds Otago president Mike Lord said those worst affected could lose 200-300 lambs.

Newborn lambs had virtually no chance against the elements on Saturday because of the wind chill, he said.

Luckily, many late-lambing farmers were due to start today and the losses would have been much worse had the blast hit in a few days’ time, he said.

News reports like this often lead to questions of why farmers lamb at this time of year. It’s all to do with feed supply – having enough grass at the right time to flush ewes before tupping in autumn and to feed them and their lambs in spring and early summer.

Besides, storms strike at any time of the year.

Snow isn’t good for the potential fruit harvest either.

Alexandra’s Blossom Festival is scheduled for next weekend and orchardists have been fighting frosts.

A newsletter to shareholders from Fonterra chair Henry van der Hayden said up to eight inches of snow at Edendale prevented tankers getting out to farms. Several farmers had to dump milk into effluent ponds.

There shouldn’t be any environmental damage as a result of that providing it’s sprayed on to paddocks in the right way at the right time and the co-operative will pay out on estimates of milk lost.


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