Rural round-up

26/03/2021

Sensible pause – Rural News:

Finally the Government has made a sensible move to temporarily pause the implementation of the impractical rules that accompany its proposed regulations on winter grazing.

Last week Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced a temporary delay, until 1 May 2022, of intensive winter grazing (IWG) rules taking effect.

For months farmers, industry groups and councils around the country have highlighted the unworkability of the rules and that numerous issues need to be addressed. Hopefully, this extra time will ensure that both politicians and bureaucrats will now listen to the real concerns of farmers and councils, and implement rules that will actually work to benefit the environment and farming.

It is unbelievable that despite empirical evidence about how the IWG rules, that were part of the Essential Freshwater legislation passed in August last year, had a number of unworkable parts, ministers and bureaucrats took so long to act. This ‘we know best’ attitude needs to change as it is a huge hindrance to making any real progress in improving the country’s water. . . 

South Island Agricultural Field Days expects to draw 30,000 to N Canty – Hugo Cameron:

The Canterbury town of Kirwee is expecting to see up to 30,000 people turn up for one of the country’s largest regional field days events this week.

The South Island Agricultural Field Days, founded in 1951, is the oldest show of its kind in New Zealand and is taking place through until Friday.

Event chairperson Michaela McLeod said she was looking forward to bringing the sector together after a tough year due to Covid-19.

“There have been a number of A&P shows and other events cancelled around the country. They are such important events for farmers and traders, and I know it’s been very hard on a lot of people not having them,” she said. . . 

Anger, guilt and optimism: young farmers’ complicated relationship with climate change – Charlie O’Mannin:

As farming confronts its climate impact, Charlie O’Mannin speaks to the next generation about how they feel. In short: it’s complicated.

“If you’re waking up every morning feeling awful about the job you’re in, feeling like you’re the reason climate change is happening, like you need to counteract your emissions, like you need fewer cows, well what would be the point in waking up and getting the cows in?”

Briana Lyons belongs to a generation of young farmers facing a radical future.

Agriculture makes up 48 per cent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Ministry for the Environment’s 2018 Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report. . . 

Two million tonnes of greenhouse gas up for grabs with minimal production hit:

Ravensdown’s recommendations to the Climate Change Commission focus on three specific solutions that can save two million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year with minimal impact on agsector production.

The farmer-owned co-operative’s submission sent yesterday points out the potential savings of using inhibitors that reduce the amount of nitrous oxide being emitted and lost from granulated nitrogen fertiliser and livestock urine.

“Proven urease inhibitors are available for use at scale across New Zealand. Nitrification inhibitors have shown promise in the past and should also be pursued for the future. For both, we’re asking that the Commission looks into how obstacles to adoption can be overcome,” said Mike Manning, General Manager Innovation and Strategy at the co-operative.

“We agree with the Commission that agsector productivity is key – especially when the country is facing such debt and economic uncertainty. At the same time, we believe in smarter farming, in New Zealand’s ambition to hit its climate goals and in the need for practical, scalable innovations to do so,” added Mike. . . 

Leading kiwifruit companies to amalgamate:

Seeka Limited (“Seeka”) and Opotiki Packing and Cool Storage Limited (“OPAC”) are to join via amalgamation. This transaction will see Seeka expand further to be operational in all of New Zealand’s major kiwifruit growing regions in a deal that continues to consolidate the New Zealand kiwifruit industry.

The OPAC shareholders will receive new shares in Seeka at the ratio of 1.4833 Seeka shares for every 1 OPAC share held, valuing the net assets of OPAC at $33.94m provided OPAC shareholders approve the transaction with a 75% approval required. Seeka will assume approximately $25.06m of debt as part of the acquisition bringing the total deal to $59.00m.

The offer is subject to a number of conditions, including approval of OPAC’s shareholders to the amalgamation at a shareholders’ meeting to be held on Tuesday 13 April 2021; and approval by Seeka’s shareholders to the issue of up to 7,042,574 new shares in Seeka at the ASM to be held on Friday 16 April 2021. Further details will be advised in the respective Notice of Meeting to be sent to each Company’s shareholders prior to their meetings. . .

Flood damage: where to find help – Andrew Norris:

As we watch the damage emerge along NSW’s coastal regions as the flood waters move through, you can’t help but feel for those who have copped the brunt of it.

The sheer extent of the flooding has been incredible, and to hear multiple stories about how livestock have been stranded or have turned up in unusual places like the beach or somebody’s backyard is quite bewildering.

This is all before the damage assessment begins in earnest. The extent of infrastructure that will need repairing or replacing and the amount of pastures that will remain unsuitable for grazing will be extensive.

The federal government already has lump sum payments available for which those affected by the March floods can apply, although Moree, which is also dealing with major flooding now too, was not on that list as we went to print (visit www.servicesaustralia.gov.au). . . 


Rural round-up

18/06/2020

Farmers must drive change – Colin Williscroft:

Catchment groups offer farmers the chance to take the lead in freshwater quality enhancement while maintaining profits. 

In the process they encourage thriving farming communities, presenters told a Beef + Lamb eforum.

Rangitikei Rivers Catchment Collective chairman Roger Dalrymple said community catchment groups let farmers make change from the bottom up rather than having it forced on them from the top down, which has often been the approach.

Farmers in catchment groups can help lift knowledge and education and have more control of pressure to make environmental improvements while ensuring their businesses remain sound. . . 

Tough road ahead for wool – Sally Rae:

The costs incurred in shearing crossbred sheep are starting to seriously impede the profitability of sheep farming, ANZ’s latest Agri Focus report says.

Strong wool prices were at the lowest level recorded this decade while shearing costs accelerated, a trend that would only continue. Returns were “absolutely dismal” and that situation was unlikely to improve significantly until existing stocks had cleared, the report said.

Wool had built up throughout the pipeline with in-market stocks elevated, local wool stores full and product starting to pile up in wool sheds.

End-user demand for coarse wool remained tied to carpet production. Wool carpets were generally still expensive relative to synthetic carpet which would make selling wool products even more challenging as global economic conditions imploded. . . 

Too important for lazy labels – Mike Manning:

The espoused benefits of regenerative agriculture have captured headlines recently. Proponents argue climate, soil health, waterways and food nutrition can all be improved by taking a regenerative approach. 

That’s quite a list for a cure-all.

Before we throw the export-dollar-generating baby out with the conventional-farming bathwater it pays to probe beneath the buzzword. Where did the concept come from and what is actually meant by the word regenerative?

The concept of regenerative agriculture originated from justifiable concerns about how continuous arable cropping can degrade soils, an example of which occurred in North American wheat and cornfields. The notorious dust bowls of the 1930s were the result of soil problems such as loss of organic matter, compaction, reduced water-holding capacity and diminishing fertility. . . 

New sheep breed key to organic success for Southland family :

Imagine a breed of sheep that requires no dagging, shearing, vaccinations or dipping. It is highly fertile, lives a reproductive life of 15 years or more and puts all of its energy into producing meat.

It has been a 30-year labour of love for Tim and Helen Gow and their family at Mangapiri Downs organic stud farm and this year they are busy selling more than 100 Shire stud rams.

The Gow family established their Wiltshire flock in 1987 after seeing them in England a couple of years earlier.

“Wiltshire horned are believed to have descended from the Persian hair meat sheep brought to Britain by the Romans as the first British meat sheep,” he said. . . 

Reproductive results: Bay of Plenty farm almost halves its empty rate:

A focus on cow condition helped Jessica Willis almost halve the empty rate on a dairy farm she managed for four years.

The 31-year-old ran a 48-hectare farm, milking 150 Holstein Friesians at Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty until May 2020.

The flat property was below sea level and got extremely wet during the winter and spring.

“It was a constant juggling act to ensure cows didn’t pug paddocks and damage pasture when it was wet,” said Willis. . . 

Farming for the future – Virginia Tapscott:

In a eucalyptus forest east of Monto in central Queensland, fat, glossy cattle have retreated to the shade to escape the midday sun. The sun in northern Australia stings even in the cooler months. Flicking flies with their tails, the animals seem completely oblivious to the vital role they have played in the transformation of Goondicum Station. They have enabled Rob and Nadia Campbell to capitalise on the dawn of an unconventional agricultural trade — natural capital.

Not only is the private sector paying them for their bushland and the carbon it captures, but the bank manager is on board too. National Australia Bank has recognised the value of environmental improvements that began at Goondicum in the 1960s, cutting interest rates on parts of the station under conservation. The grazing systems developed by successive generations of the Campbell family have allowed large areas of native vegetation to regenerate and encouraged native wildlife populations to increase. . . 


Rural round-up

18/02/2020

Working to nurture rural wellbeing – Sally Rae:

It’s been a tough time to be a farmer in the South.

But, as he helped man the Ag Proud New Zealand stand at the Southern Field Days at Waimumu last week, Mossburn dairy farmer Jason Herrick was still wearing a beaming smile.

Mr Herrick is heavily involved with the Ag Proud NZ initiative, set up last year to promote positive farming practices and raise awareness of rural people’s mental health. . . 

Solutions may have negative effect

Environmental solutions sought in New Zealand could have unintended global consequences, according to research presented at the Farmed Landscapes Research Centre workshop.

Ravensdown innovation and strategy general manager Mike Manning says there is debate over whether the environmental effects of food production should be calculated by hectare or by unit of food produced.

“If globally we want to continue to feed the world with the least impact environmentally then it is important to have the lowest footprint per unit of food and to maintain the investment in technology to reduce this footprint. To do otherwise simply has a worse global environmental outcome.”

In their research Manning, Jacqueline Rowarth and Ans Roberts looked at the production and environmental aspects of organic and conventional systems, taking into account economic aspects such as government subsidies. . . 

Big load to carry but couple pulls together – Sally Rae:

They say the couple that plays together, stays together.

In the case of Southland couple Brett and Lisa Heslip, their shared hobby is of the very noisy kind; they are enthusiasts of tractor pull, a phenomenally loud and curiously fascinating combination of sheer grunt and horsepower.

Tractor pull involves four different classes of tractor: standard, pre 85, sport and modified. Participants compete to see how far they can drag the Tractor Pull New Zealand weight transfer sled.

It was easy to find the tractor pull area at the Southern Field Days at Waimumu on Friday, as it just required following the noise. . . 

Farming fits the lifestyle – Ross Nolly:

Autumn calving is relatively new in Taranaki but one couple made the switch immediately when they bought their first farm. Ross Nolly reports

Switching to autumn calving wasn’t about making more money for Taranaki farmers Jaiden and Hannah Drought.

It was solely so they could enjoy long summer days with their children.

The couple who milk 360 cows on their 105ha effective farm at Riverlea near Kaponga say the pros of autumn calving far outweigh the downsides. . . 

Vineyard trialling native planting as herbicide alternative:

A commercial vineyard is investigating planting native plants and cover crops under vines as an alternative to spraying herbicides on the area.

Villa Maria Winery is running the trial with funding support from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund.

Villa Maria’s co-ordinator for the project, Raquel Kallas said conventional practice in New Zealand vineyards was to maintain a bare strip under the vines by applying herbicides, typically two or three times per season. . .

Getting smarter at growing grass – James Barbour:

Trewithen is a 288ha farm with 1,100 cows in New Plymouth, owned by the Faull Family from Waitara. In his third season, sharemilker James Barbour takes us through the farm’s approach to nutrient management.

The problem

We cover a large area, so paddock variability is an important issue for us. If we just apply a blanket rate without testing or targeting, the costs mount up very quickly because of the scale of the operation.

We’re milking all year around with various winter run-offs. We have an ambitious target of 600,000kg MS. Our focus is on growing more grass, taking care of the animals and becoming increasingly efficient. And we’ve managed to cut our stocking rate while increasing production. . . 

 


Rural round-up

05/11/2019

A tale of three shepherds :

Shepherding is more a lifestyle than a job for Kate White, Lesley Pollock and Kacey Johnson.

They’re among the youngest team of women shepherds in the country.

Kate White (23) groans when she remembers her first experience as a shepherd.

“I thought, I’m too soft for this,” she says, manoeuvring a grunty ute up steep hill country on the outskirts of Taupo. . .

Chairman keen to keep up world-class facility status – Yvonne O’Hara:

As the new chairman of the Southern Dairy Development Trust, (SDDT) fourth generation farmer Tim Driscoll brings years of farming and financial experience to the role.

He is a dairy farmer near Winton, milking 600 cows on 200ha with a 300,000kg of milk solids target this season.

The farm was converted to dairy in 2012 from sheep and beef property in 2012. . .

 

Her passion for farming the spur :

Kate Stainton-Herbert is one of the new members of the Southern Dairy Development Trust, which is a cornerstone partner in the commercial and research dairy unit, the Southern Dairy Hub, near Wallacetown.

Q Tell me a little about your background, family, your farm size, stock numbers, production etc. and your current career.

I grew up on a sheep, beef and deer farm in Balfour, Northern Southland.

I am the oldest of three girls, and from a very young age was lucky enough that my parents involved us heavily on farm and passed their passion for farming on to us.

After attending school and university in Dunedin I spent five years working in banking in Auckland. During this time, I gained incredible knowledge and experiences, as sitting in the dealing room during during the 2008 global financial crisis was something you do not see every day. . .

No silver bullet for phosphorus – Mike Manning:

In New Zealand’s soils, phosphorus does a great job at growing plants but unfortunately it does the same thing if it makes it into our water.

Once dissolved phosphate is in surface water, it assists in growing the wrong plants such as oxygen-depleting algae that starve other organisms.

There has been plenty of heat and noise about the Government’s proposed limit for dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) in New Zealand’s waterways and its impact on food creation. But the proposed limit for dissolved reactive phosphate (DRP) deserves just as much focus because the implications are just as serious.

The proposed 0.018 parts per million limit for DRP is certainly ambitious. The impacts of such an in-stream phosphate limit could affect more catchments than the proposed nitrogen limit: approximately 30% of monitored river sites exceed this threshold.   . .

Look ahead with farm confidence – Annette Scott:

A programme to help sheep and beef farming partners plan for their future and adapt to change will next year extend to 20 rural centres.

The two-month Future Focus business planning programme, set up in 2017, equips farming partnerships to set a future path for their businesses, develop systems to achieve goals and lead their teams to success. 

The programme, delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust to more than 130 sheep and beef farmers this year, will reach 320 farmers in 2020 with continued support from the Red Meat Profit Partnership. . .

Genomic testing helps farmers fair-track genetic gain:

David Fullerton can tell before a heifer calf is weaned if it’s going to grow into a profitable, high-producing dairy cow.

David and his wife Pip, along with their sons Alex and Dean, milk almost 600 Holstein Friesians at Ngahinapouri near Hamilton.

They’re using genomic testing to identify calves with the greatest genetic potential, enabling breeding decisions to be fast-tracked.

“Genomic screening has been one of the biggest advancements in cattle breeding in the last 100 years,” said Fullerton. . .

 


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