Rural round-up

January 12, 2019

The story of genetics and Mt Albert’s forbidden fruit – Farah Hancock:

A controversial new apple created by New Zealand scientists has to be seen to be believed – and has to be eaten offshore. Farah Hancock reports.

The red-fleshed apples developed by Plant and Food Research’s scientist Professor Andrew Allan and his team are so contentious they’re not allowed to eat them in New Zealand.

“In the end we had to take them to America.”

The cores were removed from the apples so no seeds were present. They were triple-bagged and sealed. Phytosanitary certificates were gained to get approval to move the apples from their glasshouse in Auckland’s Mount Albert to the airport, and then on to the United States. Allan and the science team flew the precious cargo to San Francisco where a taste-testing panel of 50 people waited. . . 

Good grass growth but drought on horizon if rain delayed for Taranaki farmers – Mike Watson and Leighton Keith:

Taranaki dairy farmers are keeping an eye out for rain clouds with the summer heat taking a toll on grass cover.

Favourable growing conditions since spring, following a devastating one in 40 year drought last summer, meant many farmers had good supply of feed to prepare an extended dry period.

“The conditions have been good, in fact fantastic, to date but it is starting to get dry now and we will be looking for some rain by the end of the month,” Okato farmer Ray Barron said. . . 

Plant pines, not natives to make money from carbon farming, says consultant – Heather Chalmers:

Landowners planting forests for carbon credits should plant pine trees rather than natives to achieve the best returns, a carbon consultant says.  

Ollie Belton, a partner of Permanent Forests NZ a Christchurch-based carbon consultancy, said that the rate that natives absorb carbon dioxide was much lower than for pinus radiata. 

Sequestration calculations used by the Emissions Trading Scheme for forests under 100 hectares showed that pinus radiata absorbed almost 1000 tonnes of carbon over 25 years, while native forests absorbed less than 300 tonnes.     . . 

Short stature corn on the way from Bayer Cropscience – Gil Gullickson:

Farmers who have waded and stumbled through corn decimated by green snap or stalk lodging may be in luck in a few years. Bayer CropScience is developing what it calls short-stature corn that company officials say will likely debut early next decade. Bayer officials discussed this development and others on a conference call this week with agricultural journalists. 

“Over the next two to three years, we will demonstrate them (short-stature hybrids) to growers and give them a feel and sense of how they will work on their farms,” says Bob Reiter, Bayer CropScience head of research and development. “I think this is a little like what was experienced with the Green Revolution in rice and wheat through Norman Borlaug, which is the foundational shift in how crops are produced and how growers will be able to unlock and enjoy additional productivity value.” . . 

Help for SMEs to accelerate Health & Safety appreciated:

Extra investment in workplace injury prevention, with a focus on small to medium businesses, will pay dividends not only in reducing pain and suffering but also in economic terms, Federated Farmers says.

“We see the announcement by ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway this morning of a $22 million, five-year programme to incentivise SMEs to boost Health & Safety efforts as very useful,” Feds President Katie Milne says. . . 

Te Pa Family Vineyards & Cloudy Bay Clams team up for Marlborough Wine & Food Festival 2019:

Two award-winning, family-owned local Marlborough producers, te Pa Family Vineyards and Cloudy Bay Clams, are teaming up for the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival for 2019 and the companies are celebrating their collaboration with a series of exciting events, competitions and food pairings.

The two flourishing Marlborough companies, will be selling award-winning wine and sustainably harvested clams, marking their collaboration at the much-loved festival, which attracts around 8000 guests each year. Attendees can expect to see beautiful fresh clams on the half shell, paired with lively and expressive Marlborough te Pa Sauvignon Blanc, and crispy and decadent fried popcorn clams served with light and effervescent Pa Road Sparkling Rosé. . . 


Rural round-up

March 27, 2017

24-hour shearing marathon for suicide prevention raises thousands – Leighton Keith:

The buzz of clippers went silent and was replaced by cheers and applause in a Taranaki woolshed as a 24-hour shearing marathon came to an end.

The event, held just out of Whangamomona on Sunday, had been organised by John Herlihy to raise awareness for suicide prevention following the death of his son Michael in January 2016.

Michael’s death, a suspected suicide, shocked New Zealand’s close knit shearing community and came just 10 days before he and his five brothers, Paul, Mark, Craig, Tim and Dean were planning to set a new world record by shearing 3000 lambs in just eight hours. . . 

The Green Issue: Linkwater dairy farmers see benefits in more sustainable farming practices – Mike Watson:

Linkwater dairy farmers Jason and Amber Templeman​ entered the region’s leading environment awards to show the positive aspects of the dairy industry, they say.

“The dairy industry has been getting a lot of bad publicity over environment standards,” Jason says.

“Entering the awards was an opportunity for us to show what the dairy industry was doing positively.” . . 

In the field – Guy Williams:

For the past two summers, teams of academics and students from the University of Otago have made field trips into a stretch of spectacular high country between Arrowtown and Lake Wanaka. Queenstown reporter Guy Williams finds out what they are up to.

It is a glorious morning after a night of wind, rain and broken sleep at the Skippers camping ground.

On the final day of a three-day field trip to Coronet Peak Station, two University of Otago summer bursary students are helping Dr Christoph Matthaei, a freshwater ecologist from the university’s zoology department, take water samples from a tributary of the Shotover River.

The hustle and bustle of Queenstown is only 20km to the south, but in this gully on the flanks of the Harris Mountains, it feels like the middle of nowhere.

The trio are on the western edge of Mahu Whenua (Healing the Land), the name given to a vast tract of country encompassing four high country stations stretching from Arrowtown most of the way to Wanaka’s Glendhu Bay. . . 

Commodity prices hide ‘solid’ Fonterra performance – Dene Mackenzie:

Volatile commodity prices hid a solid performance from dairy company Fonterra when it reported its first-half profit last week, Forsyth Barr broker Lyn Howe said.

In a detailed analysis of the result, Ms Howe said Fonterra had continued to shift volume from commodity areas towards its higher value consumer and foodservice business.

Fonterra posted normalised earnings of $607million for the six months ended January, down 9% on the previous corresponding period. The result was ahead of Forsyth Barr expectations. . . 

Yili expects more jobs as plant grows – Shannon Gillies:

A promise of more jobs came from dairy giant Yili as it celebrated the opening of its stage two development at its Glenavy production plant on Saturday.

Official celebrations were in Auckland, but Glenavy and surrounding areas should be gearing up for employment opportunities at the Oceania Dairy production plant, a company spokeswoman said.

She said while stage two was not operational, it was due to be ready for production in August. . . 

Ashburton wool growers top sale:

The feature of the South Island wool sale on Thursday was the sale of a small amount of merino wool offered by Rata Peaks Station, Ashburton, CP Wool spokesman Roger Fuller said.

The wool created heated demand from exporters. A line of merino hogget 17.7 micron reached 3104c clean and 1900c greasy.

”This was on the back of the Australian market reaching highs not seen for many years.” . . 

2018 Dairy Industry Awards to be held in South Island:

The 2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are heading south!

At the Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards dinner on Saturday in Invercargill, it was announced that the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will hold their national awards dinner at ILT Stadium in Invercargill on 12 May 2018.

The last time the Nationals were held in the South Island was 2011, when they were held in Queenstown.

The awards oversee the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions. . . 


Rural round-up

March 21, 2017

Stock should be allowed on rural roads, say farmers – Mike Watson:

Rural roads are designed to move stock, say farmers in Marlborough threatening to ignore a proposed traffic bylaw.

The proposal would require farmers to get permission, and pay a fee, to move stock along any district road.

Any farmer refusing to get permission could be fined up to $20,000. . .

New Zealand calf feeder innovation sold in 18 countries within year of winning Fieldays competition :

A calf feeder now selling in 18 countries is yet another farming invention spawned from a NZ Agricultural Fieldays competition that has become a commercial success.

Less than a year after winning a major category in the Fieldays Innovation Awards, Cambridge couple Ursula and Mark Haywood have commercialised their TrustiTuber and FlexiTuber feeders in countries including the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan.

Ursula Haywood said their company, Antahi Innovations Ltd, had gone from strength to strength after the launch of its “kinder” calf feeders at last year’s awards at Mystery Creek near Hamilton. . .

NZ log prices hit new record highs on buoyant demand – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Buoyant New Zealand activity has pushed up local log prices to new record highs.

The average price for roundwood logs used in the horticulture sector rose to $92 a tonne in March, up $2 from February’s average price and at the highest level since AgriHQ began collecting the data in early 2002, according to AgriHQ’s monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers. Structural log prices also increased, with S3 logs hitting $114 a tonne, the highest since AgriHQ began collecting the data in early 1995, while S1 logs rose to $122 a tonne, the highest since mid-1994. . . .

Brazilian beef and poultry industry plunged into major scandal – Jim Breen:

Authorities in Brazil have suspended over 30 government officials in response to allegations that some of the country’s biggest meat processors have been “selling rotten beef and poultry for years”, according to the reports from the BBC this morning.

The BBC has said that “three meat processing plants have been closed and another 21 are under scrutiny”. While some of the meat produced by the factories is consumed domestically, much of it is exported here to Europe. Brazil is currently the world’s largest exporter of red meat. . . 

Forest Owners urge farmers to plant more trees:

Forest Owners say the new Federated Farmers’ policy on climate change is a major step to help farmers understand trees are not an alternative to farming, but rather trees are tools to assist farming’s survivability.

Federated Farmers has announced a new policy accepting the reality of human-induced climate change, after years of policy uncertainty from the farmer organisation on the issue.

New Zealand Forest Owners Association Chairman Peter Clark describes Federated Farmers’ policy stance on the use of trees as ‘absolutely correct and potentially far reaching’.


Rural round-up

February 7, 2017

Sellers withdraw from wool auction as prices plummet – Sally Rae:

Unprecedented levels of wool withdrawn or passed from the market resulted in the smallest offering South Island wool brokers have presented.

Of the original 13,900 bales put up for auction last week, 2100 were withdrawn on the day as sellers chose to hold, as prices were now well below long-term sustainable levels for wool growers, New Zealand Wool Services International chief executive John Dawson said.

The balance of the offering of 11,819 bales had 64% sold, and the remainder was passed in, Mr Dawson said.

Even the grower resistance could not halt further price slippage for crossbred wool, with lamb’s wool and poorer style fleece again being the most affected, PGG Wrightson Wool’s South Island sales team. . . 

Farmers say plan to regulate privately owned bush is heavy handed – David Burroughs:

Farmers have accused the New Plymouth District Council of “confiscating their land rights” with a plan to regulate areas of privately owned native bush.

Nearly 200 farmers from North Taranaki and further afield filled the Urenui Community Hall on Thursday night to listen to the council’s proposal on Significant Natural Areas (SNAs), with many of them speaking out against the proposal.

Under the plan, around 361 areas would become legally protected, with farmers needing a resource consent to make changes to them, such as building a track or making a hut. 

But many of the farmers said they already took care of the land without the need for regulation and bringing in the new rules was heavy handed of the council. . . 

Marlborough shearer ‘sorted’ for international competition – Mike Watson:

Crutching 1000 lambs could prove the ideal warm up for Marlborough shearer Sarah Higgins as she heads to the All Nations shearing championships in Invercargill.

Higgins is the sole Marlborough shearer competing at the All Nations event which has drawn 400 entries.

“It’s part of my practise run towards the championships,” she said. . . 

Water restrictions affect irrigators too:

They’re as much a part of the traditional kiwi summer as burnt sausages and backyard cricket and despite their late arrival, water restrictions are now in place in most regions. While most of us can accept that our carefully-tended lawn will soon become a pocket square of brown dirt, we tend to get a little bit upset when just down the road we see irrigators operating.

“It’s natural for people to question it” said IrrigationNZ CEO, Andrew Curtis. “But what they often don’t understand is that irrigators operate under the same regulatory regime that town water supplies do, and that town water supplies actually have a priority – irrigators always get restricted from taking water from a river or aquifer long before towns do.”

However, in urban areas, household restrictions are driven by the infrastructure’s capacity to supply; no town water supply system is built to cope with peak demand,  which is everyone watering their garden at the same time in the height of summer. . . 

Pupils take on farm study:

St Hilda’s Collegiate Schoolpupils have been getting their heads around lamb weights.

The Dunedin school was among 26 nationwide to trial a red meat profit partnership programme last year, aimed at engaging primary and secondary school pupils in farming.

The resources, including assessments within the programme, have received the New Zealand Qualification Authority quality-assured assessment materials trademark, and the programme could be used to gain NCEA credits. It will be rolled out to further schools this year.

St Hilda’s head of maths, John Bradfield, said the school had coincidentally been looking for dairy farming data at the time the RMPP programme “popped across the radar”. . . 

It’s a dog’s life as trial season begins – Sally Rae:

Dog trial season is under way, with a big week ahead in May for the Otago centre.

The South Island championships will be held at Warepa, in South Otago, starting on May 1.

The centre’s first trial for the season was held recently at Lowburn and entries were well up on last year.

It was a particularly good couple of days for members of the Omakau-Earnscleugh Collie Club, who featured among the prizewinners.

Duncan Campbell, from Earnscleugh Station, won the long head with Zip, while his father, Alistair, was third in the straight hunt with Ra. . .

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Rural round-up

November 3, 2016

Chinese investment fears unfounded – Neal Wallace:

New Zealand pretty much has everything a cash-rich, densely populated country like China desires and needs.

It had an abundant supply of high-quality food and the NZ China Council described the other desirable features as a stable economic and political environment and investor-friendly policies.

But there were two other significant features attracting Chinese investment.

NZ businesses had historically struggled to attract investment capital, especially for the primary sector, and the Chinese government’s Going Out policy encouraged Chinese companies to invest offshore. . .

Extra staff and water crucial for dairy farm production boost – Mike Watson:

Murray and Tanya Frost’s Linkwater dairy farm may seem an oasis of lush, green pasture cover to the casual observer.

But it is clear to the couple more water and more staff are crucial if they are to meet their long term yearly production target of 200,000 kilograms of milksolids.

The couple are about to enter their fifth season of milking after buying the 263 hectare farm on Kenepuru Road four years ago after a stint farming at Cape Foulwind, south of Westport. . .

Is forestry the answer? – Keith Woodford:

In late 2015, the New Zealand Government made a commitment at the Paris climate negotiations that by 2030 New Zealand will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 percent compared to the 2005 levels. This overall commitment includes methane and nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture. These agricultural emissions are converted for carbon-accounting purposes to the equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide. The daunting and unique challenge for New Zealand is that agriculture emissions comprise some 50 percent of total emissions.

Given the fundamental biology of ruminant animals, there are limits as to what can be done to reduce livestock emissions without drastic destocking. And destocking would have a major impact on the whole economy. Also, in a global context, and unless everyone goes to a vegan diet, eliminating New Zealand’s pastoral agriculture would not make a great deal of sense. This is because New Zealand is one of the more efficient producers of milk and meat on a relative GHG intensity basis. . .

Irish Uni tells students to work down under  – Peter Burke:

Ireland’s largest university is encouraging its dairy business undergraduates to get work experience in New Zealand, and students say the event is a highlight of their four year degree course.

University College Dublin (UCD) is described as Ireland’s global university and its School of Agriculture and Food Science is among its largest schools.

It offers degrees in agri-environmental sciences, food science, human nutrition, forestry, horticulture and a range of options under the broad heading of agricultural science. . .

Rural banking beckons top Massey ag student – Peter Burke:

The winner of the Massey Agricultural Student of the Year prize, DairyNZ scholar Jack van Bussel (20), is planning a future in rural banking.

The award is for the student judged to have made the largest contribution to the wellbeing and reputation of his/her fellow agricultural students.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “When they started describing who the winner was I thought ‘that sounds like me’, but I never really thought it could be. I am honoured to get it, I still can’t believe it and I really appreciate it.” . . .

New biological control for rabits to roll out in 2017 – Bridie Edwards:

A NEW weapon to fight the exploding wild rabbit population will be trialled at 418 sites across the country next year.

The RHDV1 K5 virus will be launched as part of the coalition’s $1.2-million campaign to research and develop new wild rabbit control methods.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, along with community organisations, Landcare groups and government land managers will be participating in the national roll out of the virus. . . .


Rural round-up

August 25, 2016

Is it normal to tie a cow to a tractor?:

When a concerned citizen saw a cow chained to a tractor in Southland, they thought it was odd enough to ring police about.

But instead of being an animal welfare issue, the case turned out to be a common(ish) farming practice.

It was Sunday afternoon when the police station phone rang – the caller having just seen the bovine suspended in its field along Gore’s Waikaka Rd. Officers were told the animal couldn’t get food or water, and the owner was nowhere to be seen.

The matter was referred to animal control.

Though what looked like cruelty was in fact the opposite, the farmer says – insisting it’s a life-saving measure. . . 

Forestry industry must remain vigilant about health and safety:

WorkSafe New Zealand says the latest forestry death in Hawkes Bay is a sad reminder to the industry of the need to remain vigilant about health and safety.

Monday’s death follows three earlier confirmed forestry fatalities so far this year, and is the second death in the Pohakura Forest.

“It is obviously concerning to see two deaths in the one forest within a matter of months. Any deaths are a tragedy for family, friends and co-workers and the wider community,” says WorkSafe’s chief executive Gordon MacDonald. . . 

Picton predator-free group targets less than 5 per cent pests by 2020 – Mike Watson:

A Picton group that pre-empted the Government’s predator-free push by 12 months plans to create a line of defence surrounding the entire town.

Volunteer group Picton Dawn Chorus has already started setting 150 traps, or a trap every 100 metres, on public walkways in the town’s Victoria Domain to kill rats, stoats and possums.

The next step is to set more than 700 traps in private gardens and outlying coastal and bush areas, eventually covering an expected 2000 hectares. . . 

Videos Highlight Sustainable Deer Farming:

NZ Landcare Trust has been working with deer farmers to capture examples of excellent sustainable land and water management from around the country. This information has been distilled into fifteen short videos that are now available to view online. The final five videos from Waikato and Southland join the ten previously released (Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury) to create an informative video based resource.

NZ Landcare Trust’s Regional Coordinator Janet Gregory said, “I’d like to thank the deer farmers who welcomed us onto their properties. They have taken the time to share some of the good management practices that they have put in place on their respective properties, demonstrating a proactive approach to addressing issues around the environment and water quality.” . . 

Interest in dairy sheep builds :

The dairy sheep industry is gaining traction as a viable alternative to traditional land uses, say rural property experts.

As the ability to convert to dairying faces greater challenges on environmental and economic fronts, the option of leaving the land as a milking sheep unit is coming into focus for farmers in regions like Southland and central North Island.

Invercargill-based Bayleys rural consultant Hayden McCallum says his patch of New Zealand’s rural landscape offers some significant opportunities for milking sheep, given its well established sheep sector and strong pastoral property base. . . 

Farm life in Taradise – Brad Markham:

Have you ever slipped your hand inside a cow having difficulty calving, felt two large front feet, and thought ‘I’m going to need a lot of lube to get this one out’? I’ve had to deliver a few monster calves this winter. Several were almost half my body weight. I often joke that semen from a certain bull with a reputation for producing huge calves, should come with a complementary container of lube. . . 

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Rural round-up

August 22, 2016

 

Employment breaches ‘wake-up call’ for Marlborough wine industry – Oliver Lewis:

Widespread employment breaches have been unearthed by an investigation into labour contractors servicing the Marlborough wine industry.

Several labour contractors, who supply wine companies with workers, were found to have breached employment standards by failing to pay their workers minimum wage, holiday pay, or keep proper employment records.

The joint investigation, carried out by the Labour Inspectorate, Immigration New Zealand and Inland Revenue, involved random visits to 10 independent labour contractors around the region. . . 

Old school thinking stunts export gains – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand is stuck in the past figuring how to produce even more low-cost export commodities while the marketing of fine products it already has is “woeful”, says New Zealand Merino boss John Brakenridge.

“We sell commodities at an export value of around $37 billion that reach consumers globally at a value of over $200 billion,” says the chief executive credited with driving merino’s monumental shift from a nearly 100 per cent commodity sold at auction to 70 per cent grown under lucrative contracts to elite wool product makers.

Brakenridge’s call for New Zealand to dramatically lift its marketing and branding game follows another gathering at Stanford University, in the heart of Silicon Valley, of New Zealand’s primary sector “bootcamp”, the Te Hono Movement.  Te Hono, founded in 2012 by Brakenridge, says it has so far united 178 chief executives and leaders representing 80 per cent of the primary sector, in a goal to collaborate to transform New Zealand’s approach to doing business globally. It was Te Hono’s fifth workshop at Stanford, where participants work with professors at the world-leading research and new technology university and Silicon Valley business innovators.  . . 

Cashflow boost for Fonterra farmers – Dene Mackenzie:

Fonterra farmers have received a cashflow boost with confirmation of a further 10c per share payment of the co-operative’s 2015-16 40c forecast dividend.

The co-operative had already brought forward an earlier dividend payment during the last financial year.

Its intention was always to declare a further dividend in August, subject to financial performance supporting the forecast earnings per share range of 45c to 55c, chairman John Wilson said in a statement. . . 

North Otago surprised by early, strong arrivals :

Calves have arrived “early and strong” on North Otago dairy farms, Lyndon Strang says.

The Federated Farmers North Otago dairy section chairman said most farmers had started calving about five days ahead of schedule.

“That’s pretty much across the board.”

He could not determine the cause, but said it was going well and there was “plenty of feed available”. . . 

Proud Marlborough beekeeping firm faces challenges as century celebrated – Mike Watson:

Beekeepers are like any other farmers except they don’t have fences for keeping the stock in, says a Marlborough beekeeper celebrating 100 years of commercial honey making.

“At the end of the day, like any farmer, we need healthy stock to control pests and diseases,” said J Bush and Sons managing director Murray Bush.

“We do selective breeding programmes like the sheep and beef guys and we have similar concerns as they do. . .

Ethanol: bad for cars, bad for consumers, bad for the economy and really, really bad for the environment – Mark J, Perry:

An excerpt appears below from my op-ed in yesterday’s US News and World Report “Unwind the Ethanol Mandate” about one of the biggest political boondoggles in history – ethanol and the ethanol mandate. Back in 2007 when political cheerleaders like Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa (the “king of ethanol hype”) were promoting ethanol with fantastic claims like “Everything about ethanol is good, good, good,” Rolling Stone magazine responded with the best sentence on ethanol I’ve ever read: “This is not just hype — it’s dangerous, delusional bullshit.” And what’s notgood at all about demon ethanol (Paul Krugman’s phrase) are the serious negative effects it’s having on the environment: . . 


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