Rural round-up

April 7, 2019

One thing leads to anotherSamantha Tennent:

A Northland farming couple have completed their pathway of progression but still have plenty to do. Samantha Tennent reports.

A farm journey for a Northland couple has been full of ups and downs but one event in particular led them to push themselves to not just move but to forge ahead and buy their own farm.

Don and Kirsten Watson farm on the picturesque Kaipara Harbour milking 260 cows on 112 hectares. They bought the farm in 2017 after spending a month snowbound and without power on their Central Plateau farm at Rangitaiki on the Napier-Taupo highway.

It has been a varied and at times challenging and scary journey but say they wouldn’t change a thing. . . 

Big wetland bush block opens to public after $500,000 crowd funding effort– Mike Watson:

An endangered forest wetland in Taranaki, saved from farmland development by a public fundraising drive, is ready to be opened up to the public.

The 134-hectare Mahood-Lowe reserve, near Kaimiro, 20 kilometres southeast of New Plymouth, included rare kamahi, northern rata, tawa and totara as well as lichens and mosses.

There is also burgeoning populations of kiwi, whio and falcons. . . 

Farmer confidence lifting but concerns over policy remain – Maja Burry:

Farmer confidence has lifted after three consecutive quarters of decline, but it still remains in negative territory.

Rabobank’s first quarterly Rural Confidence Survey for the year – completed last month – has shown the nation’s net farmer confidence has risen to -9 percent, up from -15 percent recorded in the final quarter of 2018.

The bank’s general manager for country banking, Hayley Gourley said greater optimism among dairy farmers was the major driver of the improved overall confidence reading.

“In the last survey of 2018, we saw 34 percent of dairy farmers expecting conditions in the agricultural economy to worsen and only 13 percent expecting an improvement, however, since then we’ve seen a long run of consecutive jumps in the Global Dairy Trade price index,” Ms Gourley said. . . 

Seasonal labour shortage declared for BOP kiwifruit industry:

Declaration is for 15 April until 27 May 2019.

• As of today, overseas visitors can apply to vary the conditions of their visitor visa to allow up to six weeks of seasonal work in kiwifruit in the Bay of Plenty.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) supports the Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD) declaration of a labour shortage for the kiwifruit industry in the Bay of Plenty and the extension of the labour shortage in the Hawkes Bay. The BOP declaration announced today is for the period 15 April until 27 May 2019. . .

Beef + Lamb well placed for the future:

Beef + Lamb NZ has the correct strategies in place to help the sector successfully navigate its way through the next couple of years, says chair Andrew Morrison.

“But it is going to require focus and there will be some hard decisions,” he warned.

“As an organisation, we are now trying to constantly look ahead at the challenges coming, do the research about those challenges and come up with strategies to influence the responses and outcomes to them.”  . .

Self-importing fertiliser is risky business, warns the Fertiliser Quality Council:

The Fertiliser Quality Council of New Zealand (FQC) is urging anyone contemplating importing fertiliser themselves to think again. The organisation, which is responsible for Fertmark, the fertiliser auditing programme that verifies products so users can be certain they know what they are spreading on their pasture, says importing fertiliser for individual on-farm use is fraught with risk.

Anders Crofoot, Chairman of the FQC, explains that the temptation to import fertiliser for private farm use is often driven by cost. However, he warns farmers and growers not to be fooled by ‘cheap’ ticket prices displayed online. . . 

Survey results will detail farmers’ changing attitudes to climate change:

Survey results on how farmers’ understanding of climate change and its impacts have changed over the last decade will be released at the New Zealand Agricultural Climate Change Conference 2019 (NZACCC), in Palmerston North on April 8-9.

The results will also reveal how farmers are now viewing greenhouse gas mitigation efforts in agriculture and give their views on the effective communication of climate change science. . . 


Rural round-up

March 23, 2019

Canterbury farmer credits advances in technology with revolutionising farming – Emma Dangerfield:

A North Canterbury farmer says advances in technology will help him pass on a thriving legacy to his daughters.

Mike Smith and his family began their farming partnership in Eyrewell in 2010 and had been able to improve land production by making use of new technology.

It allowed him to make informed decisions and had reduced the farm’s environmental impact, he said. . . 

China will be hungry for NZ meat – Pam tipa:

African swine fever’s huge impact on China’s pork production this year will be a huge opportunity for New Zealand’s meat industry.

Rabobank’s global strategist for animal protein Justin Sherrard believes the market hasn’t yet fully picked up on the impacts the disease will have.

“This has become a major issue in China,” he told Rural News.  . . 

Sunflowers used to regenerate soil – Yvonne O’Hara:

Mark and Madeline Anderson are trialing a pasture mix that includes sunflowers as a method of soil regeneration and as an alternative polyculture forage on their Waiwera Gorge dairy farm.

They are also looking forward to see their first Normande-cross calves on the ground in August.

They have a 580ha (effective) dairy farm and run 750 milking cows, along with another 300 to 400 young stock.

Mr Anderson said he had sown 50ha using a pasture mix of sunflowers, kale, plantain, phacelia, vetch, buckwheat, various clovers including Persian clover, oats, ryecorn, prairie grass and linseed to create a polyculture rather than the monoculture like ryegrass. . . 

Big wetland bush block opens to public after 500,000 crowd-funding effort  – Mike Watson:

An endangered forest wetland in Taranaki, saved from farmland development by a public fundraising drive, is ready to be opened up to the public.

The 134 hectare Mahood-Lowe reserve, near Kaimiro, 20km south east of New Plymouth, included rare kamahi, northern rata, tawa and totara as well as lichens and mosses.

There is also burgeoning populations of kiwi, whio and falcons. . .

Hectic period for pioneer in deer AI – Sally Rae:

Lynne Currie has the distinction of probably artificially inseminating more deer than anyone else in the world.

Mrs Currie, who lives near Wanaka, is in the middle of a short but hectic season as she travels the country helping deer farmers to diversify the genetic base of their herds.

The first farm was programmed for March 15 and the last on April 8 and much work goes into planning the logistics, including coordinating both vets and farmers. . . 

Dollar a litre demise good news for milk’s nutritional appeal – Andrew Marshall:

A significant flow-on benefit from the past month’s 10 cents a litre rise in prices for supermarket labeled two- and three-litre milk lines will be a restoration of milk’s nutritional and value perception in the eyes of consumers.

Dairy Connect chief executive officer, Shaughn Morgan, described the latest announcement by Coles and Aldi as a valuable initiative in what remains a long journey ahead to find structural solutions to the industry.

“We have long argued that part of the great damage done by $1 a litre milk discounting was to undervalue dairy farmers, the dairy industry and the nutritious fresh milk by denigrating its significant nutritional contribution to human health,” he said. . . 

 


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. . .

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and child

 


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. . . .


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