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: . . 


Rural round-up

April 19, 2016

Genetics addicts – Anne Hardie:

Jesse Huffam and Renee Mason have managed a 110-cow herd through to 1600 cows, operated high-input systems as well as grass-based and their ultimate goal is to find a marginal sheep farm in a remote corner of the country that can be developed into a profitable business.

The Springs Junction couple scooped the West Coast-Top of South Share Farmer of the Year title, two years after being placed runners-up in the Waikato Farm Manager of the Year award.

And it would never have happened if Renee hadn’t got hooked on the Australian McLeod’s Daughters television series as a teenager, or Jesse hadn’t turned his back on dairying and followed a career path toward shepherding. . .

Escape to paradise – Anne Hardie:

The Haupiri Valley on the West Coast gets an impressive 4m of rain a year, yet Matt Birchfield prides himself on the pasture management for the 785 cows he manages in an environment surrounded by bush and mountains.  

The 36-year-old took out the 2016 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year in his first attempt at the coveted title, which he entered for experience.  As production manager for farm owners Murray and Gaye Coats he is in charge of the herd, dairy and staff of what was a high-input farm before the payout drop lowered its inputs to palm kernel.  

Measuring pasture is a key aspect of the farm’s management which is collected by a pasture meter on the front of the Gator utility vehicle. . .

National farm sales drop in tough year – REINZ – Tim Fulton & Gerard Hutching:

Farm sales so far this year are down about 10 per cent on 2015, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures show.

Nationwide 383 farms were sold in the three months to March – down 42 on the same period last year.

Dairy farm sales were “dramatically down” but horticulture sales continue to rise, The Real Estate Institute (REINZ) said.

Only 48 dairy farms were sold compared to the 86 sold in the first quarter last year. . . 

Marlborough wine grower co-operative quietly confident for grape harvest – Mike Watson:

Bringing in the grapes is a nervous time for a co-operative’s growers, but there is nothing but smiles on their faces during a “dream” harvest.

Marlborough’s annual wine harvest is drawing to an end but there will be no let up until the last grape has been picked.

Working 24 hours around the clock have been harvesters, truck drivers, supervisors and growers for the past two to three weeks throughout the region. . . 

Profitable farms underpin rural communities – James Parsons:

When farmers do well, rural communities do well. I know this may be stating the obvious to many; however it is a topic worth exploring a little more deeply.

On 23rd March we held the Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) AGM at Waitangi. A good number of farmers turned out, with one couple travelling from as far afield as Gore. The Northern Farmer Council put together a great showcase of leading Northland farmers who had worked with B+LNZ as project farms over the last 10 years. By having a strong team around them, each had improved their business performance significantly. . . 

NZ beef, lamb and mutton prices fall in first half of exporting season – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand export beef, lamb and mutton prices fell in the first half of the current season, which tapered off after a strong start.

Prices for beef and veal fell 2.5 percent to $7,350 a tonne in the six months ended March 31, while the volume of exports fell 3.7 percent to 204,200 tonnes, said Beef + Lamb NZ. The price of lamb fell 4.2 percent to $8,500 a tonne as volume climbed 5.9 percent to 162,700 tonnes. Mutton prices fell 10 percent to $4,800 as volume rose 0.5 percent to 51,200 tonnes.

Beef + Lamb said the price decline would have been worse if not for a weaker kiwi dollar. . . 

Excellent environmental stewardship earns couple supreme title in 2016 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Redcliff farmers Shane Gibbons and Bridget Speight are Supreme winners of the 2016 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 14 (2016), the couple also collected the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with the QEII National Trust and New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, the Environment Southland Water Quality and Biodiversity Award and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award. . . .

 Farmers urged to remain on lookout for late-emerging velvetleaf:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is urging farmers to remain vigilant in their management of the velvetleaf pest plant.

MPI’s Velvetleaf 2016 Response Manager, Carolyn Bleach, says the window of opportunity to control plants that haven’t yet seeded is narrowing and it’s very important farmers remain on the look- out.

“Farmers and landowners need to maintain a watchful eye until crops have been grazed, particularly as some late emerging plants have been found in crops that have already been inspected. . . 

Upgrade for farm menus:

Farmers are being offered extra environmental protection advice through an upgraded version of the hugely popular “farm menus” produced by Waikato Regional Council in co-operation with eight agriculture sector partners.

Since their launch in 2013, the first farm menus have been picked up by more than 4000 farmers and rural professionals in Waikato and elsewhere. They offer methods for reducing the impact of farming operations on water quality.

The initial menus – covering nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment or micro-organisms getting into waterways – had a focus on reducing nitrogen leaching. Now the outcome of further research means the upgraded menus have more options added for reducing phosphorus and sediment loss. . . 

Fonterra to Divest Share in Dairy Technical Services:

Fonterra Australia has today announced it has signed an agreement to divest its shareholding (36.02 per cent) in Dairy Technical Services (DTS) to a consortium comprising Bureau Veritas Singapore and AsureQuality Limited.

DTS was originally set up as a cooperative testing service company for dairy companies in Victoria, and its other shareholders are The Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Group, Murray Goulburn and AsureQuality. . . 


Rural round-up

February 15, 2016

Earnscleugh put to trial – Sally Rae:

Alistair Campbell has clocked up a few kilometres perusing gullies on Earnscleugh Station – all in the search of the perfect dog-trial course.

The Omakau-Earnscleugh Collie Club’s annual trials will for the first time be held at the station, on February 21 and 22.

Mr Campbell, himself a keen dog triallist, said he had done ‘‘some miles” trying to find the right spot, even waking in the middle of the night thinking he had found it – only to find out, in reality, he had not. . .

Bank on bright side but farmers sombre – Sally Rae:

Dairy farmers are facing another tough year but a ‘‘generally strong year” is being picked by Rabobank for most other sectors.

Solid demand in key offshore markets, recent progress in export development and generally tight global supply was likely to bring another good year for producers of beef, wool and horticultural products, food and agribusiness research general manager Tim Hunt said.

While beef prices had lost some ground in recent months, they remained well above multi-year average levels and were expected to receive support from a generally tight global market. . . 

Poachers, fed-up farmers and guns don’t mix – Andrea Fox, Mike Watson:

The potential for flashpoint confrontations between fed-up farmers and poachers on their land has never been higher, a farming leader says.

Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman and a Bay of Plenty farmer, is urging closer communication between rural households and police as landowners face increasing trespass intrusion by game hunters and livestock killers after free, and saleable, meat.  

“My big concern is farmers getting so frustrated with trespassers – whatever they’re doing on the property – that they’re running the risk of confrontation situations.  If you are regularly having stock rustled or whatever, you get bloody determined you’re going to catch them,” Powdrell said. . . 

Top shearers to meet Welshmen in second test:

Manawatu will host the fourth test when New Zealand’s top shearers meet the best from Wales.

The small town of Apiti in northern Manawatu will host the shearing test at its agricultural and pastoral show on February 27.

Then the final test will be held at Pahiatua on February 28.

New Zealand won the first test, held at Marton, and the second was won by the New Zealanders in Balclutha at the the weekend.

Kiwi shearers Dion King and Tony Costerhope took a  2-0 lead over Welsh shearers Richard Jones and Gwion Evans. . .  

Family gem hits the market – Jessie Davies:

AN OPPORTUNITY to bag a slice of one of the biggest and oldest grazing properties in the Bega district has opened.

For the first time since settlement the Collins family’s “Oakhurst” is being offered for sale.

The 388-hecatre (960 acre) property has been in the family for almost 150 years.

The property is priced at $1.4 million through LJ Hooker Bega. . . 

Stocktake of a new kind for farmers:

While farmers may be used to taking headcounts for stock, they’re now being asked to check the number of earth worms in their ground.

A handful of worms collected from a small clod of soil is an indication of a healthy productive pasture.

The Waikato Regional Council wants farmers to count the number of worms in a 20cm cube of soil, with 30 to 35 worms being the ideal number.

Worms increase the depth of topsoil and the carbon content by burrowing, digesting and mixing soil and plant residues. . . 

World-Class Cheese Judged by World’s Best:

New Zealand’s growing international reputation has helped secure the strongest international judging panel yet for the 2016 New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.

Top critics from USA, UK and Australia will join local experts to judge more than 420 entries over a two-day competition this month.

Master Judge Russell Smith, one of Australasia’s most experienced international cheese judges and educationalists, said, “The Kiwi dairy industry is revered around the globe and we are also growing a reputation for quality cheeses and innovative cheesemakers, making the event a drawcard for high-calibre judges.” . . 


Rural round-up

November 27, 2015

Rural NZ areas sit on ‘powder keg’ as temperatures rise – Mike Watson:

Rural fire authorities are warning farmers and contractors to check for potential ‘hot spots’ inside machinery and farm equipment as temperatures rise in Marlborough.

Marlborough Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority chief fire officer Richard McNamara said the rural region was on a “powder keg’ as temperatures rise and hot northwest winds continued to dry vegetation causing significant risk of fire outbreaks.

“It is a real issue, and anyone working with farm machinery and equipment, such as welding or grinding, needs to be aware of the risk of sparks igniting any vegetation nearby,” he said. . . 

Many positives but RMA reforms don’t go far enough:

Federated Farmers cautiously welcomes the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill introduced at Parliament today, but is concerned that proposed reforms do not go far enough.

“What we have is a Bill that looks to make the RMA less costly and cumbersome, and these are positive changes,” says Federated Farmers’ Environment and RMA spokesperson Chris Allen.

“Federated Farmers believes the Bill provides for better plan making and we support the introduction of a collaborative planning approach as long as the right checks and balances are in place, so that this is a robust and productive process.” . . .

Alliance launches new products for Chinese market:

Meat cooperative Alliance Group is launching a new range of market-ready lamb, beef and venison products for the food retail market in China.

Alliance Group has reached an agreement with its in-market partner Grand Farm – China’s single largest importer of sheepmeat – to market the co-branded Pure South-Grand Farm products in the country from next year.

Marketing general manager Murray Brown said with meat volumes going into China becoming more difficult, the company was looking to add value to exports. . . .

Competitive future for “unbroken” NZ dairy – visiting global expert:

New Zealand dairy is well placed to compete in the global market as prices begin to recover in the coming 12 months, a visiting global dairy specialist has told localproducers.

Tim Hunt, New York-based global dairy strategist with international agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says while current market conditions are “extremely tough” for many local producers, the New Zealand dairy sector is “unbroken” and has the fundamentals in place to enjoy a strong, competitive future in the global dairy trade. . . .

Ongoing disruption and volatility in dairy, with winners and losers – Keith Woodford:

In the last two weeks we have seen increasing signs of further disruption and volatility in dairy. First, there was good news with Fonterra announcing that they had turned the corner In relation to enhanced corporate profitability. But then, only two days later, there was another decline on the (GDT Global Dairy Trade) auction – this time of 7.9 percent overall and 11 percent for whole-milk powder.

In the meantime, The a2 Milk Company announced that they were almost doubling their previous estimate of profitability for the coming year, triggering another increase in the share price. Since the start of November through to 24 November the price rose 60 percent on large volumes. . . 

Ruataniwha promoter seeks mix of equity, debt funding – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co, the developer and sponsor of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme, says the $275 million project will be funded with a mix of equity and debt, and is likely to result in a secondary market for water contracts.

HBRIC, the investment arm of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, is in talks with three potential investors and banks about funding. The council is putting up $80 million for an equity stake in a yet-to-be formed irrigation company. The $195 million balance will come from outside investors, bank debt and an expected contribution from the government’s Crown Irrigation Investments, which acts as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure developments. . . 

Cellphone helps save house from Australian bushfire:

An Australian man who saw his farm “explode in a fireball” on CCTV cameras at the property says his house survived because he used his phone to activate a sprinkler system from the other side of the country.

Charles Darwin University vice chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks said the reason his house at the 45-hectare wheat farm on the outskirts of Hamley Bridge escaped the fire was because of his neighbours – and the fact he activated an irrigation system at the property by remote control from Darwin.

Two people have been confirmed dead and more than a dozen injured in the fires which continue to burn north of Adelaide. . . 

Consultation on freshwater management ideas planned:

A report today published by the Land and Water Forum on the next steps needed to improved management of freshwater will be carefully considered by Government and help contribute to a public discussion paper to be published next year, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said today. 

“The Government has an ambitious programme of work on improving New Zealand’s freshwater management.  These ideas on requiring good management practice, of how we can maximise the economic benefit of water within environmental limits, integrated catchment management, stock exclusion and enabling more efficient use of water are a further contribution on how we can achieve that,” Dr Smith says.

“I acknowledge the Forum’s significant efforts in tackling difficult policy challenges and we welcome their recommendations,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Irrigation New Zealand Welcomes 4th LAWF Report:

Irrigation New Zealand welcomes the fourth Land and Water Forum (LAWF) Report.

“The diverse group of forum members have spent a lot of time collaborating to reach the additional recommendations,” said Andrew Curtis, CEO of Irrigation New Zealand. “This has resulted in constructive advice to Ministers for the development of freshwater policy. It’s now time for the government to act.”

“Freshwater is a natural and recurring resource we need to protect, and is a national asset which needs to be properly and carefully managed to bolster our agricultural-led economy. . . .

Barbara Stuart returns to the NZWAC board:

Nelson farmer and outdoor-access supporter Barbara Stuart has been appointed to the Board of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.

The appointment heralds Mrs Stuart’s second tenure on the board, where she previously served from 2008 to 2011.

New Zealand Walking Access Commission chairman John Forbes said Mrs Stuart had long been a champion of walking access and her return was very welcome. . . .

Farm Environment Trust’s Annual Report Highlights Growth:

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and its flagship event, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, have celebrated another successful year.

Now available on the Trust’s website, the 2015 annual report outlines the organisation’s continued growth through 2015, with another region signing up to the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

“We are delighted to have the Auckland region in the Awards for the 2016 programme,” said NZFE Trust chairman Simon Saunders.

“Having Auckland on board is a huge step towards being able to offer a complete national programme. We are almost there.” . . . 


Rural round-up

September 6, 2015

Farmers frustrated with increased poaching – Mike  Watson:

Kit Sandall shakes his head.

Normally mild mannered, the Awatere, Marlborough, sheep farmer is bemused by the sentencing of a helicopter pilot caught poaching on his property earlier this year.

Sandall was reacting to a report that the pilot, Dean Matthews, of Renwick, had been fined $2000 for unlawful hunting after being caught on film poaching on Sandall’s land in April.

The maximum penalty for the court to uphold is $100,000 fine, and/or $200,000 for corporate offending.

Sandall received the $2000 fine payment as reparation but he is still shaking his head. . . 

It’s all about teamwork for Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells – Sonita Chandar:

An award-winning Otago farming couple credit their success to hard work and good governance.

Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells who farm at Outram were this year’s Supreme winners of the Dairy Business of the Year competition.

The couple who are 50 per cent equity shareholders in the business, say the support they receive immeasurable. . .

Crop spraying drone approved:

An unmanned crop-spraying helicopter has become the first drone to be approved for commercial work under new aviation rules.

The Yamaha Rmax, reportedly costing $120,000, on Thursday received the Civil Aviation Authority’s first certification to be used as a commercial unmanned aerial vehicle.

Before August 1, the old rules meant it could not have been used because of its weight (at nearly 100kg) and the intention to use chemicals. . . 

NZ Farm Environment Trust/Balance Farm Environmental Awards:

The lingering effects of the devastating PSA outbreak didn’t stop Bay of Plenty Kiwifruit growers Stephen Kenna and Phillipa Wright entering the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

“We are passionate about the Kiwifruit industry, despite its biosecurity issues, and we thought we had a good story to tell,” Stephen says.

He and Phillipa run a 15ha orchard at Ongare Point, north of Katikati. Like many kiwifruit growers they were hit hard by the vine disease PSA-V, but the couple’s positive attitude and careful planning have helped them cope with the disaster. This impressed judges of the 2015 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA), who awarded the operation three category awards, including the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award. . . 

Nominations open for 2015 Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal

The Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal judging panel is once again calling on the kiwifruit industry to nominate their finest leaders for the 2015 award.

The kiwifruit Industry Advisory Council (IAC) set up the Hayward Medal four years ago to honour the people who have led the industry and established it as a New Zealand export success story, selling more than $1.57 billion of premium-quality Zespri Kiwifruit last year.

IAC chairman Paul Jones says nominations are encouraged for people right across the industry who’ve shown excellence, commitment and leadership. . . 

Fonterra holds Aussie price but gives a warning :

Fonterra Australia has told its farmers to be prepared for the possibility of a step-down in milk price this season.

At the same time it held its farmgate opening price at $5.60 a kilogram of milksolids as part of review.

Fonterra Australia managing director Judith Swales said the company had put its Australian farmgate price and forecast closing price range for this season “under review given the challenging conditions and extreme volatility that are impacting domestic and global dairy markets”. . .

Nurse Loves Farmer's photo.


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