Rural round-up

October 15, 2019

Liberated they sold the plough – Neal Wallace:

Mike Porter reckons he has re-educated himself how to farm in the last five years. Neal Wallace meets the South Canterbury arable farmer who is not afraid of change.

Mike Porter is a considered man.

His views and actions are more than opinions formed from spending too many hours behind the wheel of a tractor on his South Canterbury arable farm.

Porter has carefully considered and studied options to some of the big issues he faces on his 480ha arable and livestock farm at Lyalldale, which he runs with wife Lynne. . .

Stronger YFC, school links the goal – Yvonne O’Hara:

Otago-Southland territory manager Bridget (Biddy) Huddleston, of Alexandra, is keen to see closer ties between the New Zealand Young Farmers clubs, and schools.

”Nationally, we are going to increase our focus on Young Farmers clubs and the [school-based] TeenAg clubs,” she said.

”Moving forward, the challenge for us will be how we are going to structure that.”

She also wants to encourage a greater uptake of the organisation’s education ”Agrication” food production resources, which have been developed by NZYF and teachers, ticked off by NZQA and funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership for schools, which are designed to give pupils a greater awareness of food production. . .

Frost this spring has been ‘unrelenting’, say winegrowers – Maja Burry:

Winegrowers in some regions are reporting a turbulent start to the new grape growing season, with frost-fighting efforts already well up on last year.

ANZ rural economist Susan Kilsby said early varieties were budding which was causing some concern due to the recent cold snap.

“There certainly has been some concern around frost, certainly in the Wairarapa and Marlborough, so everyone’s been out fighting frost, [but] so far I’ve only heard of damage of small areas of some of the early season crops,” Ms Kilsby said. . . 

Held stock boost sheep numbers – Alan Williams:

South Island sheep numbers rose slightly in the latest June year but some of the gain was caused by higher numbers being carried over for processing between July and September.

In the North Island the sheep population was slightly lower on June 30 than a year earlier and also included plenty of carry-over trade lambs in the Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty due for processing, Beef + Lamb says its New Season Outlook.

Total sheep numbers were estimated at 27.4 million, with the North Island at 13.5m, down 92,000 or 0.7%. South Island numbers were 13.9m, up 1.4%. . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s milk price:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2018/19 dairy season.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s base milk price calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was calculated at $6.35 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2018/19 dairy season. The report does not cover the forecast 2019/20 price of $6.25-$7.25 that Fonterra announced in May.

Commission Deputy Chair Sue Begg said this year’s review of the 2018/19 base milk price revealed no new major areas of concern. . . 

Medicinal cannabis company Rua Bioscience seeks experienced grower – Esther Taunton:

A Kiwi company is on the hunt for a green-thumbed project manager, preferably with cannabis growing experience.

Gisborne-based Rua Bioscience was the first local company to secure a license to cultivate medicinal cannabis and is now looking for someone to help grow its budding operation.

Advertised online this week, the cultivation project manager would “play a key role in setting up stage two of our cultivation and growing activities”.  . . 

China is breeding massive pigs that weigh more than a grand piano -Kristin Houser:

Pork Problems

A devastating outbreak of African swine fever has destroyed an estimated half of China’s pig population over the past year or so.

That’s a huge deal given that China consumes more pork than any other nation, so China’s government responded by urging farmers to increase pig production — and some have taken that to mean they should breed the biggest pigs we’ve seen this side of “Okja,” according to a new Bloomberg story.

Making Weight

Bloomberg notes that some Chinese farmers have managed to increase the typical average weight of their pigs at slaughter from 110 kilograms (242 pounds) up to 140 kilograms (308 pounds).

In the province of Jilin, meanwhile, farmers are trying to raise the pigs “as big as possible,” farmer Zhao Hailin told Bloomberg, with the goal being an average weight of 175 to 200 kilograms (385 to 440 pounds) as opposed to the typical 125 kilograms (275 pounds). . .


Rural round-up

May 26, 2019

New technologies will ‘not be enough’ to hit emission targets – Gerald Piddock:

As thousands of schoolchildren held nationwide strikes to demand action on climate change, 200 dairy farmers gathered in Rotorua to hear the latest science around ways the industry can lower its emissions.

What they heard at the DairyNZ Farmers Forum was there are no silver bullets to help the industry lower its emissions enough to hit the 47 per cent target by 2050 outlined in the Zero Carbon Bill currently going through Parliament.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said he supported the principle of what the students were striking on. . . 

Quake farmers back to normal – Annette Scott:

Clarence Valley farmers say there are lessons to be learned following the Kaikoura earthquake that geologists claim is the biggest land uplift ever recorded in the world.

November 14, 2016, is well remembered in the Clarence Valley farming community as the day a 7.8 earthquake transformed their land.

The worst hit, Rick and Julia King of Middle Hill Station, lost everything except their will to keep farming. . . 

Farming his way back to nature – Colin Williscroft:

Hawke’s Bay farmers Greg and Rachel Hart are committed to producing top-quality food by using nature as a guide while re-establishing a connection between people and the land that sustains them. Colin Williscroft visited to see what they are doing.

Optimising life – whether that’s soil life, plant life, animal health or the people who make it happen – is a guiding principle for Central Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer Greg Hart.

Greg, who farms Mangarara Station near Elsthorpe with his wife Rachel and children George, Bill and Emma, operates a farming system focused not only on being productive in the short term. It has a longer-term focus, aiming to regenerate the land while helping build stronger connections between the landscape and people.

A key is balancing relationships between nature and production agriculture as part of ecosystem restoration, including a focus on soil health, carbon sequestration and planting native and food-producing trees. . . 

Mechanised future for fruit orchards – Yvonne O’Hara:

The orchard of the future will be highly digitised and more productive, with fruit being grown in a protected environment and tended by robots, says Plant and Food Research (PFR) scientist Dr Jill Stanley.

She said human workers would still be in demand as labour requirements would be the same but there would be less pressure at peak times.

Dr Stanley was the guest speaker at the Alexandra, Clyde and Districts Business Group’s monthly breakfast meeting last Friday and talked about what the horticulture sector would look like by 2050. . . 

Farmers need to embrace technology – Diane Bishop:

The day before his 50th birthday Conor English left a secure high-profile job to start his own company, Agribusiness New Zealand.

It was a big risk, but one that has paid off for the former Southlander.

English was the keynote speaker at the Southern Primary Sector Update conference, hosted by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill on Friday. . .

Best days ahead at Telford

As you pull up to the gates of Telford, the sight before you may not be what you expected to see in the middle of the South Otago countryside.

An impressive historic stone building surrounded by established rolling gardens is your first glimpse into the state-of-the-art offering Telford gives for anyone who chooses to study at the institution. As the heart of the Telford campus, many young minds have walked in through those doors and work-ready agricultural specialists have come back out.

A staple of New Zealand farming history and agricultural education since 1964, Telford’s Balclutha campus extends over 921 hectares of with halls of residence and facilities, technical workshops (machinery, carpentry and welding), classrooms and livestock units. . . 


Rural round-up

April 5, 2019

Hawke’s Bay Primary Sector Awards: The late Renata Apatu honoured at dinner – Blair Voorend:

The annual Hawke’s Bay Primary Sector Awards were filled with emotion as the late Renata Apatu’s life’s work was honoured.

Apatu, who died after a commercial helicopter crash at Ngamatea Station in June last year, was named as the Hastings District Council Hawke’s Bay Primary Sector Industry Leader Award winner.

The award was presented to Apatu’s wife, Sally Apatu.

Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst presented the award and noted Apatu was being honoured posthumously for his leadership, passion and commitment to the primary sector in farming and in particular in his work for wool. . . 

Massive Ngamatea Station has to feed 50 workers:

Fifty workers, two cooks, 42,000 ewes, 25,000 lambs, almost 1000 bales of wool and at least two weeks.

Thirty chickens, 30 sheep, two deer, six pigs, two boxes of fish and a whopping 300kg of spuds plus all the other vegetables.

Shearers are notorious for their prodigious appetites but shearing at Apatu family-owned Ngamatea Station is several orders of magnitude above anywhere else in the North Island. . . 

Environment plan gives proof –  Gerhard Uys:

With increasing pressure on farmers from national policy, regional councils and the public to reduce the environmental impacts of their farms, farmers should have a Land and Environment Plan (LEP) in place and begin mitigating potential environmental risks, Beef + Lamb New Zealand regional associate Briar Huggett says.

A plan begins with a farm assessment, which should be followed by responses to possible environmental risks in a detailed strategy. 

“The key environmental risks on farms are nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and bacteria loss to water ways,” Hugget said.

The first step in making a plan is to use an aerial farm map to mark farm resources and pinpoint likely hot spots for potential environmental risks. . . 

Family and environment come first for Regional Supreme Winner of Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Webber Family Farm, owned and operated by Ross and Eleanore Webber, was announced the Regional Supreme Winner at this evening’s 2019 Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards champion sustainable farming and growing through an awards programme which sees one Regional Supreme Winner selected from each of the 11 regions involved. These Regional Supreme Winners will be profiled at the Awards’ National Sustainability Showcase in Hamilton, on Thursday 6 June, with each in the running for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy. . . 

2019 Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards Winners announced:

The winners of the 2019 Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year competition believe strong relationships and networks are key to their successful business.

Cameron and Nicola van Dorsten were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Southland/Otago Dairy Industry Awards annual dinner held at the Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill last night. The other big winners were James Matheson who was named the 2019 Southland/Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Caycee Cormack the 2019 Southland/Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year. . . 

The Naked Farmers live off the grid – Sophie Love:

I guess we are accidental farmers; I bought a farm at Tom’s Creek, NSW, to run and write, and Ged had his bush block up the road to retreat to and raise cattle on. 

I met Ged when he came to quote an upgrade of the tiny solar system; he told me I would never be able to use a hairdryer, toaster, electric kettle or vacuum cleaner again. 

Back then we used 1 kilowatt with 15kw/hour of battery storage, now it is 8kw of solar with 100 kw/h of storage that runs two houses, six freezers, fridge, lights, hoover, electric kettle and toaster and air conditioner. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 25, 2018

Formerly gagged Fonterra director seeks re-election – Sally Rae:

Former gagged Fonterra director Leonie Guiney says she can see very clearly how to solve the co-operative’s “reputational issues”.

The South Canterbury dairy farmer is seeking election to the board in this year’s director elections through the self-nomination process.

Mrs Guiney recently settled a defamation claim against the Fonterra board, over a letter the board sent Fonterra’s 10,000-odd farmer-shareholders explaining why it had sought a court injunction gagging her from speaking about the business.

She left the board last year after serving three years. She said she departed because she was prevented from re-contesting her seat when it came up by rotation, the New Zealand Herald reported. . . 

Transforming a ‘nasty little wet farm’ into an award winner:

When you talk to Matamata dairy farmers Rod and Sandra McKinnon about environmental sustainability it’s easy to understand why the couple won the 2017/18 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

When Rod and Sandra McKinnon bought a 44-hectare farm near Matamata in 1992 some people thought they were crazy.

‘I remember someone describing it as a ‘nasty little wet farm’, but it had a stream and some native bush and we could see the potential”, says Sandra.

Fast forward 26 years and following some serious hard work and expansion the farm (now 194-hectares, milking 400 cows on 155-hectares effective) is an award winner, with Rod and Sandra taking out the supreme title at the 2017/18 Waikato Ballance Farm Environmental Awards. . .

NZ Shareholders Association to vote against Wrightson’s sale:

The New Zealand Shareholders’ Association will vote against the $434 million sale of PGG Wrightson’s seeds division to a Danish cooperative.

The retail investor lobby says the mostly cash offer from DLF Seeds is attractive at face value, with a $292 million capital return attached. However, that short-term gain will shrink Wrightson to less than half its current size and leave it holding businesses inferior to the grains and seeds division.

“It seems to us that if shareholders accept DLF’s offer, they will potentially lose in the long run unless PGW can pull a rabbit out of the hat and grow the rump business,” the Shareholders’ Association said.

Discerning customers drive demand for West Coast butter:

New Zealand sales of Westgold butter have just soared past the three million mark, on the back of a consumer shift towards more natural fats.

Produced in Hokitika by Westland Milk Products, Westgold is marketed as the ‘everyday gourmet butter’. It appeared in nearly a quarter of Kiwi fridges last year, and Westgold’s salted butter was the third most purchased butter in North Island New World supermarkets, according to recent Nielsen data. . .

Allbirds: the billion dollar eco trainers brand that’s about to take London by storm – Chloe Street:

Two years ago, San Francisco-based sustainable sneakers brand Allbirds launched with one style of shoe: the Wool Runner; a pair of minimal, slightly fuzzy lace-up trainers crafted from superfine merino wool.

They were the first trainers ever to have been made from the material, and in the first week of trading, Time magazine wrote a splashy article billing them ‘the world’s most comfortable shoes.’

Customers – including half of Silicon Valley’s tech bros – and investors – including the likes of Leonardo Dicaprio – came in droves. Fast-forward two years and the company, who recently sold its millionth pair, has just raised an additional $50 million in funding, valuing it at over $1 billion.

Drystock farm offers a sweet opportunity :

A coastal sheep and beef farm – which also sustains an eco’ tourism business and commercial honey-production venture – has been placed on the market for sale.

Kawakawa Station at Ngawi near Cape Palliser on the south-eastern tip of the North Island is a 1,379 hectare waterfront property traditionally capable of carrying approximately 5115 stock units over winter. As well as running the freehold block, Kawakawa Station also leases some 785 hectares of adjoining hillside grazing land to feed the Romney herd. . . 

Substantial breeding and finishing farms go up for sale:

 A pair of adjoining sheep and beef breeding and finishing blocks – being run as one substantial farming operation serviced by its own airfield and fantastic laneway system – has been placed on the market for sale.

Combined, the two farms near Dannevirke in the Southern Hawke’s Bay encompass a total of 1,738 hectares of rolling countryside fenced into some 160 paddocks, and known as Rolling Downs Station. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 9, 2017

NZ beef, lamb and dairy prices on ‘reasonable’ footing – Simon Hartley:

Two separate New Zealand commodity price indexes have the country’s exports in good health, but the strength of the New Zealand dollar remains a concern.

ANZ agri-economist Con Williams said while the headline ANZ commodity price index dipped 0.2% in April, the underlying detail for New Zealand’s main commodities remained ”robust”.

The headline index was driven lower by dairy – it was down 2.5% month on month – while the non-dairy component rose 1.2% for the same period. . .

Gas to energy project – Rueben on line:

An Isla Bank dairy farm is saving money and preventing harmful greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere by converting waste to energy.

Glenarlea Farm, a Fortuna Group dairy farm, is now converting methane gas captured from the dairy effluent pond into electricity for the dairy shed, as well as for heating water which can be used for wash-down purposes on the farm.

Quick decision lead to success – Neal Wallace:

Weo Maag concedes the Pukepoto Farm Trust does things a bit differently.

A trustee of the entity that owns the 1400ha breeding and finishing property at Ongarue near Taumarunui, Maag said the trust aimed to keep things simple but was a willing adopter of any systems or tools that worked.

An Ahuwhenua Trophy finalist, the Pukepoto trust was formed in 1978 and its 1000 shareholders owned land that was originally used as a thoroughfare for Maori travelling between Taranaki and Whanganui. . . 

Disastrous end-of-harvest for South Canterbury’s cropping farmers – Pat Deavoll:

Twice the normal rainfall in March followed by four times the amount in April has meant a disastrous end to the harvest for South Canterbury’s arable farmers.

Federated Farmers arable chairman for South Canterbury Mike Porter said he “struggled and battled” his way through harvest and finished last week.

“It’s been a very challenging harvest – the most challenging I have ever known.” . .

Dairy women gathering –  Sally Rae:

Dairying women from throughout New Zealand will converge on Queenstown this week for the Dairy Women’s Network conference.

The event, on Thursday and Friday, features practical workshops and keynote speakers, including All Blacks manager Gilbert Enoka and Corrections Minister Louise Upston. . . 

Water scheme will reflect demand – Annette Scott:

Hunter Downs Water will forge ahead with a multi-million-dollar irrigation scheme for South Canterbury despite falling short of its capital-raising target.

What form it would take was being worked through with the contractor in a redesigned scheme to meet the demand from farmers who had committed through the share uptake, Hunter Downs Water (HDW) project manager Stacey Scott said.

The deadline for the uptake of water and development shares in the $195m scheme was on April 28, after its initial April 10 deadline was extended. . . 


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