Rural round-up

February 18, 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

November 5, 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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