Surfing start for new wool boom?

December 4, 2018

New Zealand wool prices tripled overnight when the USA sought to build up its strategic stockpiles during the Korean War.

It was all down hill from there as synthetics replaced natural fibres.

Merino has had a renaissance thanks to firms like Icebreaker and All Birds using its eco-friendly, comfort, temperature regulation and odour resistance credentials to sell clothes and shoes.

But farmers are lucky to recoup the cost of shearing crossbred wool.

While that’s not good now, lower prices make it less expensive to experiment and develop new wool-based products which could lead to greater demand, and better prices, in the future.

That could include raw material for surfboards:

New Zealand surfer Paul Barron was laminating a board a decade ago when he accidentally spilled resin on his sweater. It gave him an idea: What if he built a surfboard shell out of wool? Traditional foam boards are typically housed in resin and fiberglass for structural integrity. But fiberglass can be harmful to workers and isn’t easily recyclable; board makers have long sought a greener alternative. This month, the Carlsbad, California, company Firewire Surfboards is releasing Barron’s WoolLight board–showcasing a technological advance that could change how other products are designed, from yachts to cars . . .

Barron partnered with the New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) to develop the wool composite technology:

. . .The technology is a new high value market for New Zealand strong wool, at a time when the industry is struggling with low wool prices and looking for alternative markets.

According to NZM Chief Executive John Brakenridge what Firewire is doing producing wool surfboards is the start of a movement and the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wool composite technology.

“While the first application of this technology is being used in surfboards, it has the potential to replace fibreglass in many other products such as boats, aircraft and furniture.

“The wool’s natural performance such as tensile strength means that products made with this new technology are lighter and more flexible than traditional fibreglass, while maintaining its strength.

Tauranga based surfboard maker Barron first came up with the idea when he spilt resin on his wool jersey (jumper). It gave him the idea to build a surfboard shell out of wool. Traditional foam boards are typically housed in resin and fiberglass for structural integrity, Barron’s wool technology replaces fibreglass with wool.

“With this technology we can produce a surfboard that has the potential to outperform traditional boards. Basically you grow a sheep, shear it, wash the wool twice in water and make a material that is light, flexible, durable and fast,” says Barron.

Firewire CE Mark Price is in New Zealand this week to meet with Barron and the Pāmu farmers who will supply the wool for the ‘Woolight’ boards. Price, along with surfing pro Kelly Slater who is a co-owner in Firewire, has a desire to steer the company to zero-landfill by 2020 and they see wool as a component of this process.

“We’re sourcing ZQ wool that is ethically sourced and at the end of its life it will biodegrade and give back to the environment.

“Not only is NZ a country with a long and rich surfing tradition the growers that we are sourcing the wool from share our values of doing things in a better way.

“Surfers by definition commune with nature on a daily basis, so they have a heightened sensitivity towards the environment and can relate to the technology that wool offers in terms of performance, and obviously the sustainability story is off the charts,” says Price.

Pāmu Farms of New Zealand will supply the bulk of the wool fibre that is used in the ‘Woolight’ surf board. According to Pāmu CE Steven Carden, the partnership with Firewire gives sheep farmers a sense of pride and confidence that the future for wool doesn’t have to be the status quo.

“We hadn’t thought surfing would ever provide the channel to take a positive New Zealand wool story to the world but it makes sense that those that enjoy nature so closely would be those that can solve environmental and performance challenges – we can learn from this, says Carden. . . 

The ‘Woolight’ surfboard range will be available for sale in New Zealand around April/May 2019.

Wool is odour and fire resistant. That might not matter in surfboards but could be beneficial in furniture, yachts and cars.

Wool is also renewable and biodegradable which ought to matter who anyone who claims to care about the environment.

Surfing could start a new wool boom and it doesn’t have to stop there. Wool is already being tested by Nasa for use in space.

 


On a lighter darker note

August 22, 2017

North America experienced a total solar eclipse yesterday their-time, this morning in NZ.

NASA explains it here.

And  Cowsmopolitan Dairy Magazine reacted with this:

Image may contain: one or more people and text

Once upon a time there was light in my life. But now there’s only dark at the barn. Nothing I can do. A solar eclipse at the farm.

 


Rural round-up

November 29, 2014

Changes afoot in red meat sector – Allan Barber:

The much maligned red meat sector may at last be about to undergo a structural change if a majority of processors and farmers can reach agreement on a proposed capacity moratorium. Past history suggests that is a big IF, but a document being circulated among processors, Meat Industry Association (MIA), Beef + Lamb NZ, Federated Farmers and the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group contains a realistic basis for agreement on a solution to the capacity problem which has dogged the industry for years.

The concept proposes to issue plant and chain licences which would effectively freeze (excuse the pun) the number of sheep and beef processing plants and chains at the current level from the start of next season. The document suggests a 12 year moratorium on any new licences being issued as a means of protecting existing owners’ investment in the industry. . .

Lack of dairy workers a real concern – Susie Nordqvist:

Dairy New Zealand is warning the agricultural sector is in dire need of workers, and if we don’t do something to plug the gap there’s no way we’ll meet our target of doubling our primary exports by 2025.

Agriculture is an industry where jobs go begging, and the next generation of workers are in short supply.

“I think farmers need to pull up their socks a wee bit,” says dairy farmer David Fullerton.

By 2025 it is estimated there could be a shortfall of 8000 workers – so why isn’t agriculture attracting young workers?

“Each individual farmer has to build up a reputation of being fair and that’s time off, remuneration, housing, the whole works,” says Mr Fullerton. . .

Essential steps to protect irrigators:

Point, park and anchor – the three essential steps farmers have been advised to take to protect expensive irrigation equipment from being knocked down and damaged during high winds.

Rural insurer FMG has posted a new guide on this on its website.

The company and Lincoln University launched a joint study following the violent wind storms that hit Canterbury in September 2013, causing massive damage to plantations as well as hundreds of pivot or travelling irrigators on dairy and cropping farms.

It resulted in farmers and growers lodging more than 260 claims with the FMG at a cost of $7.6 million.

FMG’s advice and insurance general manager, Conrad Wilkshire, says more than 100 Canterbury farmers also contributed to the guide with practical advice on preventative measures taken to protect their machines. . .

Merino out of this world  – Tim Cronshaw:

Merino clothing has gone where no sheep has gone before – the final frontier.

Space is the latest extreme environment where high-performance merino T-shirts made from New Zealand wool are being worn. Nasa astronauts wear them on board the International Space Station and during training on Earth.

Armadillo Merino, a British company owned by the South Island family of Andy Caughey, began manufacturing a merino base layer range last year and has secured contracts with national military and police services and now the United States space programme.

Caughey said Nasa had up to 100 astronauts training at any one time, and their clothes needed to be suitable for both orbit and Earth. . .

Farmers and sheep protest at Eiffel Tower

French farmers have brought their sheep to the Eiffel Tower to express their frustration over increasing attacks by wolves that some say have been over protected by the government.

Some 300 sheep grazed at the foot of the French capital’s most famous monument on Thursday (local time) as the farmers gathered under foggy skies to demand an effective plan to stop the wolf attacks.

“Today farmers, tomorrow unemployed,” read one banner, while one of the protesters dressed as a wolf carried around a lamb.

But a rival demonstration by animal rights activists, calling for the wolves to be protected, also made an appearance under the Eiffel Tower. . .

All I want for Christmas is more AB:

LIC is making plans to get more cows in-calf at Christmas in response to high demand for its short gestation genetics offering and as farmers find new ways to maximise the benefits this season.

The leading genetics supplier for the national dairy herd has already set a new semen record this season with 142,006 straws for artificial insemination dispatched from its Newstead laboratory in one day. More than five million straws will be processed by Christmas Eve when the peak time usually ends – but this season farmers want more.

“It’s been a cracker of a season here at LIC, and the massive response to short gestation has been a huge part of that,” says Malcolm Ellis, SGL breeding programme manager. . .

 


One small step

August 26, 2012

Where were you on July 20 1969 when Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the moon?

It would have been July 21 in New Zealand. I must have been at school and I think we were allowed to watch the news that night on our neighbours’ television but I have only very vague memories of the occasion.

I was too young to really appreciate the moment but that Apollo 11 trip was one of the major scientific achievements in my lifetime and the words of the astronaut are burned in my memory: ” . . .one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind“.

Armstrong, the man who said them died this morning, aged 82.

NASA’s obituary:

Neil Armstrong: 1930-2012
08.25.12
 

› View Photo Gallery

Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, has died, following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. He was 82.

Armstrong’s words “That is one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind,” spoken on July 20, 1969, as he became the first person ever to step onto another planetary body, instantly became a part of history.

Those few words from the Sea of Tranquillity were the climactic fulfillment of the efforts and hopes of millions of people and the expenditure of billions of dollars. A plaque on one of the lander’s legs that concluded “We came in peace for all mankind,” further emphasized that Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin were there as representatives of all humans.

Armstrong is survived by his wife, two sons, a stepson, a stepdaughter, 10 grandchildren, and a brother and sister.

“Neil Armstrong was a hero not just of his time, but of all time,” said President Barack Obama. “Thank you, Neil, for showing us the power of one small step.”

Armstrong’s family released the following statement on Saturday:

“Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati.

While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.
› Read Full Family Statement

The family will be providing further updates at www.neilarmstronginfo.com .

As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them, remembered for taking humankind’s first small step on a world beyond our own,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

“Besides being one of America’s greatest explorers,” Bolden added, “Neil carried himself with a grace and humility that was an example to us all.”
› See Administrator Bolden’s Full Statement

Apollo 11 lunar module pilot and fellow moonwalker Buzz Aldrin on Armstrong’s passing: “I am very saddened to learn of the passing of Neil Armstrong today. Neil and I trained together as technical partners but were also good friends who will always be connected through our participation in the Apollo 11 mission. Whenever I look at the moon it reminds me of the moment over four decades ago when I realized that even though we were farther away from earth than two humans had ever been, we were not alone.”

Apollo 11 command module pilot Michael Collins said simply, “He was the best, and I will miss him terribly.”

“The passing of Neil Armstrong has shocked all of us at the Johnson Space Center,” said Center Director Michael Coats. The whole world knew Neil as the first man to step foot on the Moon, but to us he was a co-worker, a friend, and an outstanding spokesman for the Human Space Program. His quiet confidence and ability to perform under pressure set an example for all subsequent astronauts. Our role model will be missed.”

“Neil Armstrong was a very personal inspiration to all of us within the astronaut office,” said Bob Behnken, Chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office. “His historic step onto the Moon’s surface was the foundation for many of our personal dreams to become astronauts. The only thing that outshone his accomplishments was his humility about those accomplishments. We will miss him as a friend, mentor, explorer and ambassador for the American spirit of ingenuity.”


January 10 in history

January 10, 2010

On January 10:

49 BC Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, signaling the start of civil war.

1776 Thomas Paine published Common Sense.

Oil painting by Auguste Millière 

1806  Dutch settlers in Cape Town surrender to the British.

1810 The marriage of Napoleon and Josephine was annulled.

Joséphine kneels before Napoléon during his coronation at Notre Dame.

1815 Sir John Alexander Macdonald, first Prime Minister of Canada, was born.

1834 Lord Acton, British historian, was born.

1838 French Bishop Jean Baptiste François Pompallier, a priest and brother of the Society of Mary, arrived at Hokianga.

Catholic missionaries arrive at Hokianga

1863 The London Underground, the world’s oldest underground railway, opened between London Paddington station and Farringdon station.

1901  The first great Texas oil gusher was discovered at Spindletop in Beaumont, Texas.

1903 Barbara Hepworth, English sculptor, was born.

 

 

 Hepworth’s Family of Man in bronze, 1970

 1908 Bernard Lee, English actor

Lee as M in The Man with the Golden Gun.

1920 The League of Nations held its first meeting and ratified the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I.

1922  Arthur Griffith was elected President of the Irish Free State.

1930  Roy Edward Disney, American film executive, was born.

1936 Burnum Burnum, Australian activist, actor and author, was born.

1945 Rod Stewart, Scottish singer, was born.

1946 The first General Assembly of the United Nations opened in London. Fifty-one nations were represented.

1948 Donald Fagen, American musician (Steely Dan), was born.

1949 George Foreman, American boxer, was born.

George Foreman signing.jpg

1959  Fran Walsh, New Zealand screenwriter, was born.

1962  NASA announced plans to build the C-5 rocket booster. It became better known as the Saturn V moon rocket, which launched every Apollo moon mission.

The first Saturn V, AS-501, before the launch of Apollo 4

1972 – Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returned to the newly independent Bangladesh as president after spending over nine months in prison in Pakistan.

1974 Jemaine Clement, New Zealand actor, was born.

1984 – The United States and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations.

1990  Time Warner was formed from the merger of Time Inc. and Warner Communications Inc.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

Climate change debate distorted by dogma

July 20, 2008

University of Otago geographer, Professor Geoffrey Kearsley, says that while human activity is changing the climate there is an increasing body of science that says the sun may have a greater role than previously thought.

It is now pretty much taken for granted that global warming is ongoing, that climate change is being driven by human activity and that it is critically important that extraordinary changes be made in fundamental aspects of our economy and way of life.

On the small scale, people plant trees, examine food miles, purchase carbon offsets and modify their travel behaviour.

Cities and even countries vie with one another to become carbon neutral; as a nation, we are contemplating emission controls, taxes and carbon-trading schemes that will have a profound effect on individual households and the national economy alike.

When linked with the other great crisis of our times – peak oil – it has become not only socially desirable to embrace all of this, but sustainability has achieved the status of a higher morality.

It has become politically unacceptable to doubt any of the current dogma.

So politics not science is driving the debate.

Not to subscribe wholeheartedly to the sustainability ethos is to be labelled not just a sceptic but a denier, with overtones of Holocaust denial and a wilful, unreasonable immorality.

It is said that we are now beyond the science and that the science of global warming has been finalised or determined and that all scientists agree.

Sceptics and deniers are simply cynical pawns in the pockets of the big oil companies.

And no one points out the vested interests in what has become the climate change industry.

This is unfortunate, to say the least.

Science is rarely determined or finalised; science evolves and the huge complexity of climate science will certainly continue to evolve in the light of new facts, new experiences and new understandings. Read the rest of this entry »


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