Birds and people pooh too

November 20, 2017

Water quality in Canterbury rivers is improving:

Recreational water quality sampling has found that, of the 52 monitored freshwater swimming sites, 12 have improved a grade, and four declined.

During swimming season (November to March), Environment Canterbury assesses the health risks from faecal contamination at popular swimming sites around the region.

“We test and grade popular places that people swim in Canterbury.  This year 12 sites have improved.  The year before, 10 sites improved and the year before that only five improved, so the trend is going in the right direction,” said Tim Davie, Chief Scientist.

“The improvement demonstrates the hard work of landowners to exclude stock and protect waterways by planting and fencing.  Reduced runoff from two dry summers has helped as well.” . . 

It’s good to see farmers getting credit for the work they’ve done to protect waterways.

Too often farm animals get all the blam but birds and people pooh too and now the blame for some of the problems is correctly being laid on birds:

. . . Hurunui District Mayor Winton Dalley said large numbers of birds near the Hurunui river were likely to be a major contributor to faecal contamination at the popular swimming spot by State Highway 7, which is the main route to Hamner Springs.

“There is no logic that it is farm related, but we do know there is considerable bird life in the river just upstream of the site,” he said.

But Mr Dalley said he was unsure what could be done to move them on.

“I don’t know what is feasible in terms of whether they can be moved to somewhere else…we will have to talk to bird experts, but we will first have to determine that is the cause,” he said.

Mr Davie said the regional council was continuing testing at the Hurunui site, but it did blame birds for the faecal contamination at Lake Hood’s main swimming beach.

“It’s fundamentally to do with birds and the lake circulation…there was a raft there and the birds sat on it…we had a lot of faecal contamination there,” said Mr Davie.

This isn’t the only place water pollution is caused by birds.

Water pollution isn’t the only problem birds cause.

Growing numbers of native birds is cause for celebration, but the news isn’t all good:

. . . they also warn of a downside if a rampant bird population comes to depend on agricultural crops for food because its natural habitat is too small.

Hawke’s Bay farmer and former president of Federated Farmers, Bruce Wills, has raised the problem.

Mr Wills is a green farmer, and chair of the environmental consultancy Motu.

He also helps eliminate predators on his farm as part of a local wildlife programme, Cape to City, of which he is on the board.

However, Mr Wills said bird restoration might one day be too successful.

“There’s no question, bird numbers have gone through the roof.

“I have never seen the sort of bird numbers that I am seeing now, and most of that is due to the success with predator eradication.”

Mr Wills said large numbers of birds could spread seeds to widespread locations, and there was another problem.

The Hawke’s Bay grows 70 percent of New Zealand’s apples and pears, he said.

“We are bringing the kākā and the kākāriki in from Cape Kidnappers and of course these two birds enjoy eating our apples and pears.

“I have had phone calls of concern from apple and pear growers saying this is great but potentially will have an adverse effect on a quickly growing Hawke’s Bay apple and pear industry.”

Mr Wills said he had no intention of abandoning his support of native birds, but said potential overpopulation was an issue that needed to be faced.

Alan Pollard, of New Zealand Apples and Pears, formerly Pipfruit New Zealand, agreed with him.

“There is certainly a risk because obviously apples are a crop that birds are attracted to, so we need to make sure we achieve good population growth but also protect the growing areas that we have.”

Bird life in New Zealand evolved over millions of years to step in with the bush cover that existed before human settlement.

When that bush cover declined, so did the bird population.

But intensive breeding and predator eradication means the bird population could grow faster than the bush that supports it. This could push the population out of synch with modern New Zealand ecology – which has masses of farmland. . . 

Back to water quality, 16 Auckland beaches are unswimmable and human waste is a big part of the problem:

Ecomatters Environment Trust’s Dan Ducker said this was unacceptable. 

The environmentalist said he’d seen day-trippers defecating at such lagoons.

“This happens especially in summer time when the public facilities are quite full, or at times are closed.”

“It’s complicated, but the major health risks to humans comes from humans.”

The lagoons at Piha and Bethells have been contaminated by faeces for years, he said.

Recent Auckland Council reports showed faulty septic tanks were part of the problem. Dog, birds, and livestock faeces have been found in the lagoons.

Waiheke Island’s Little Oneroa has had similar faeces issues.

But Ducker said human faeces at Piha, Karekare and Bethells lagoons “was the most dangerous aspect for humans”. . . 

Farmers, quite rightly, are no longer getting away with the practices which pollute waterways but councils continue to allow leeway for pollution for people and themselves.

Water contamination from people is common in developing countries. It shouldn’t be a problem in New Zealand and wouldn’t be if councils put the effort, and money, into better storm water and sewerage infrastructure.

 

 

 


Rural round-up

September 15, 2015

Silver Fern Farms Board Unanimously Recommends Partnership with Shanghai Maling:

Board gives unanimous recommendation to accept Shanghai Maling Aquarius Group (Shanghai Maling) as new partner to secure an improved and sustainable future

• A 50:50 partnership with total commitment to our global plate to pasture strategy

• Transaction values Silver Fern Farms’ equity at $311m. This equates to $2.84 per ordinary share, which compares to the $0.35 share price prior to their suspension in July

• Shanghai Maling to invest $261m in cash to own 50% of Silver Fern Farms’ business, in partnership with the existing Silver Fern Farms Co-operative

• A special dividend of $0.30 per share to Co-operative ordinary and rebate shareholders . . .

Cooperatives and private companies work best in agriculture – Allan Barber:

Good company performance demands clarity of purpose which is defined and monitored by a board of directors elected or appointed by the shareholders. There are five main types of company ownership structure that are or have been represented in New Zealand’s agricultural sector and each has advantages and disadvantages.

The five are private and public companies, cooperatives, subsidiaries of an overseas company and State Owned Enterprises. Whatever the structure, good governance and direction are pre-requisites of success.

A privately owned company normally has the greatest clarity of purpose because of the simplicity of the ownership structure, although there is plenty of scope for disputes between individual shareholders, particularly family members. Private company structures range from very simple to more complicated, depending on relative size of shareholdings and the number and origin of the shareholders. . . 

Rural productivity is improving in some sectors, falling in others. Influenced by soil, technology, size and governance according to Motu research:

The agricultural sector produces 40% of New Zealand’s merchandise exports. Not only is agriculture the primary source of employment in many rural areas, its performance influences the success of urban regions and many secondary industries are dependent upon it.

In this study, we estimate the drivers of revenue and productivity in two key agricultural industries – dairy and sheep/ beef. Together these account for about two-thirds of New Zealand’s agricultural exports.

Productivity is an economic term that, in this case, explains changes or differences in output not explained by use of labour, capital, other expenditures or land. Output is measured as revenue excluding income from interest and dividends. Labour is employees and working proprietors. Capital includes stock, depreciation and rent on tractors, irrigation systems and fencing. Other expenditure includes use of fertiliser, diesel, electricity, wormicide and grass seeds; and land is all the land used for production. Productivity encompasses everything else, including management and worker skills and knowledge, technological improvements, unexpected economic shocks (such as the global financial crisis), changing weather conditions (e.g. droughts), and the inherent quality of each farm. . . 

Strong farmer support for sheepmeat and beef levies to continue:

Farmers have given their organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand a strong mandate to work on their behalf for the next six year sheepmeat and beef levy cycle with over 84% support.

The Declaration of Result provided by the independent Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp, of Electionz.com said 84.56 per cent of farmers on a one farmer, one vote basis had voted in favour of the sheepmeat levy with support of 86.04 per cent on a weighted stock unit basis. There was over 84.66 percent support for the beef levy on a one farmer, one vote and 84.60 per cent on a weighted stock unit basis. . . 

Roles review part of a bigger cost savings project Westland says:

Westland Milk Products confirmed today that it is conducting a review of staff roles throughout the company. The review is part of an overall programme to gain efficiencies and reduce costs to help preserve the best possible return to shareholders during the current global dairy price downturn.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says the review is likely to result in some redundancies. However, he was not going to speculate on how many, or what positions might be affected, until the review is complete, affected staff are consulted, and given an opportunity to provide feedback on any proposed roles under review. The review is scheduled to occur over two rounds, with the first round this month (September 2015) and the second in February 2016. . . 

UN issues stark warning on Pacific drought threat:

The UN’s Resident Coordinator, Osnat Lubrani, says communities and governments need to prepare now for the extreme weather changes El Niño usually triggers.

He says some countries are already implementing or drafting drought plans and the UN is ready to help co-ordinate this and to provide technical advice.

Over the coming months, countries on the equator can expect more rain, flooding and higher sea levels, presenting challenges for low-lying atolls already feeling the impacts of climate change. . . 

Getting the better of El Nino before it gets dry:

Tap rooted, reliable and highly productive, one forage herb species could make all the difference to farmers’ summer feed supply as El Nino looms large this season.

Summer crops are being sown early before soils dry out and chicory is already proving to be a popular drought-proofing choice, according to local pasture specialist Paul Sharp.

“With the long range forecast the way it is, 501 Chicory makes a lot of sense. In a dry year, it’s more reliable than leafy turnips and it also has several other advantages.”

Current soil moisture levels are significantly below average in Hawke’s Bay and Sharp, who works for Agriseeds, says many farmers are being very proactive about setting their feed supply up for the months ahead. . . 

Commission releases final report on 2014/15 review of Fonterra’s base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its final report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2014/15 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk and is currently set by Fonterra at $4.40 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2014/15 season.

Having considered public submissions on the draft decision released last month, the Commission’s overall view that Fonterra’s calculation of the 2014/15 base milk price is largely consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 remains unchanged.

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said the Commission appreciated the engagement and effort from Fonterra and the parties they met with during this year’s review. . . 

Funding round starts for new forest planting:

The first funding round of the Afforestation Grant Scheme will see 5819 hectares planted throughout New Zealand, says Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew.

The Afforestation Grant Scheme is a $22.5m programme to help establish about 15,000 hectares of new forest plantations over the next six years.

“Under the first round of funding the total area applied for covered 9044 hectares, far exceeding our expectations,” says Mrs Goodhew. . . 

Farm skills day proves popular – James Kinsman:

On Sunday, August 23, the Waitaki Boys’ Fraser Farm hosted Opihi College, Waitaki Girls’, St. Kevin’s and Geraldine High to our first farm skills day.

School pupils did a lot of prior planning to make the day a success. It was a big learning curve for us and the school. The day started with a dog trialling demonstration by Barry Hobbs, assisted by Allan Thompson.

The visitors watched with interest as his well trained dogs got the sheep into the pen. Next it was off to be put into random groups for modules. Barrie Rae, an enthusiastic Poll Dorset breeder taught them stock judging, helped by Jack Price. . . 


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