Rural round-up

18/05/2022

Dairy event will be all about change – Sally Rae:

Dynamic.

That is the theme of the South Island’s largest dairy event, SIDE 2022, which is being held in Oamaru on June 8-9.

It was the first time the event had been held in the town and it was expected to attract more than 350 farmers, rural professionals and sponsors.

Event committee member Rebecca Finlay, who came up with the theme, said dairy farmers needed to be dynamic — they could not be stuck in their ways.

There was constant change as they dealt with the likes of new compliance and regulations and they had to be agile and responsive to that change. . .

Exile on Main Street – Neal Wallace:

This week, Farmers Weekly journalists Richard Rennie and Neal Wallace investigate how two different districts, Opotiki and Gore, are trying to encourage new workers and address an ageing workforce while facing a static or falling population.

New Zealand’s rural-led economic recovery is being hamstrung by a shortage of working-age staff, an inability to retain people and intergenerational social issues.

Some rural districts already struggling for staff face even greater labour challenges in the coming years if demographic predictions proved accurate.

Work by retired University of Waikato demography professor Dr Natalie Jackson, is forecasting that in the next decade 75% of the country’s regional authorities will experience a decline in their working age population as young people either leave for bigger urban centres or are not being born. . . .

The ag-sector’s Budget 2022 wish list is for science – Business Desk:

If increasing productivity is the name of the government’s game, then the agriculture sector’s wish list for budget 2022 is all about science. 

The farming sector helped bankroll the economy through covid-19, generating 30% of the country’s export income at a time when sectors like tourism were at a standstill.

Rather than being rewarded, however, the sector is under immense pressure from rising costs, scarce labour and, increasingly, regulation and compliance.  

You’d be hard-pressed to find a farmer who doesn’t want to increase productivity and farm for better environmental outcomes but – across the board – they want more research and development to help them get there. . .

A sick joke – Rural News:

When the Covid pandemic broke out over two years ago, Jacinda Ardern waxed lyrical about the importance of the rural-based primary sector and how it would pull the NZ economy through the tough times ahead.

It has delivered on that with interest.

The sector has come together like never before, from workers on farms, in orchards and processing plants – not to mention the marketers and managers who have got our product to market on time and at good prices.

However, it’s come at a price: people in rural NZ are fatigued and are having to cope with the additional burden of a bundle of stressful compliance. . . 

All hands on deck – Peter Burke:

Growers are mucking in and helping staff to pick this year’s kiwifruit crop. At this point, the Ruby Red variety has all been picked and about a third of the gold crop has also been harvested, with workers now starting to pick the green crop.

NZ Kiwifruit Growers (NZKGI) chief executive Colin Bond told Hort News that everyone in the industry is working together to ensure the crop gets picked this season.

He says many growers themselves have been out in the orchards with the picking crew and also helping out in pack houses.

Bond says there have been instances of staff who normally just pick the fruit, doing shifts in the pack houses on wet days when it’s not possible to pick fruit. . . .

2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Award winner taking all opportunities:

For the first time in the Awards 33-year history Canterbury/Otago has achieved a clean sweep of all three major categories and the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award, with national finalists from that region taking home the silverware.

The 2022 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year is driven, inspirational and a great example of a farmer who is taking every opportunity the New Zealand dairy industry offers.

Will Green was named the 2022 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year, the region’s Jaspal Singh became the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Peter O’Connor, also from Canterbury/North Otago, was announced the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes from a pool worth over $200,000.

The winners were announced at a Gala Dinner held at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre on Saturday, in front of more than 540 people, making it the largest dinner to be held at the new venue since opening. . . 

Fonterra responsible dairying award winner lead change through innovation :

Craigmore Farming Services, Canterbury/North Otago were named the 2022 Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award winners during the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards on Saturday night and received the John Wilson Memorial Trophy.

 The prestigious award was introduced by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and Fonterra to recognise dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainability and who are respected by their fellow farmers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying.

“It was a privilege to engage with all three finalists and the quality of the presentations was exceptional,” says head judge Conall Buchanan.

Fellow judge Charlotte Rutherford from Fonterra, agrees. “The future of the industry feels in such good hands when you are able to spend time with people like our finalists.” . . 


Rural round-up

28/04/2022

Rural focus missed in health reform – Neal Wallace:

Rural communities should be a priority health focus alongside women, Māori, Pacific and people with disabilities in the Government’s health reforms, according to a NZ Rural General Practice Network (NZRGPN) submission.

The NZRGPN says the proposed legislation ignores the needs of 740,000 rural people and will mean the continuation of poorer health outcomes for those living in rural communities.

The Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill, which amalgamates the country’s District Health Boards into a centralised body, will be reported back to Parliament later this month.

Despite the economic importance of rural-based industries, the network claims that unless “rural people” is added to the Bill as an identified priority population, then health inequities and the rural health staffing crisis will continue. . . 

Government regs take their toll on hort growers – Peter Burke:

Horticulture NZ’s chair is genuinely concerned about the wellbeing of growers with confidence at rock bottom.

Barry O’Neil told Rural News the pressure that growers are facing is on many fronts, including a plethora of new government regulations. He says 2022 will be the hardest year the sector has experienced for many and the heat is on growers because of this.

“It’s not just Covid, it’s all the other issues that are building in respect to the environmental settings the Government wants to achieve,” O’Neil explains. “There are shipping disruptions, labour shortages and rising costs on orchard as well.

“It’s not just about change – this is about the amount of change and the speed at which this happening.”  . . .

Planting trees ‘binds our community’ – Sally Rae:

“We are all in this together.”

As Emeritus Professor Henrik Moller points out, although 90% of voters live in urban centres, New Zealand’s biological industries — particularly farming and forestry — earn about 60% of the country’s national income.

Urban dwellers often went “hunting and gathering in supermarkets” and there was increasingly less understanding of the struggles their rural counterparts had.

“The more we understand, meet and support each other, the safer our country will be. Our future depends on it,” he said. . . 

‘Right tree, right place’ plan proffered

Environment Southland has proposed a “right tree, right place” policy in response to concerns about forestry taking over pastoral land as climate change bites.

In an extraordinary meeting of the council earlier this month, Environment Southland discussed its response to a document released by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) which proposes changes to forestry settings in the New Zealand emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The MPI is considering changes to the ETS, including a blanket ban on exotic forestry receiving carbon credits or a ban on nominated exceptions. Keeping the status quo is also being considered.

There is a concern good pastoral land is being eaten up by forestry being planted to earn carbon credits, which have more than doubled in price since June 2020. . . 

New research shows opportunity for NZ wool in US :

New research has found that Americans have different ideas about wool compared to New Zealanders – one that offers growers a huge opportunity.

The research commissioned by the Campaign for Wool NZ (CFWNZ) found a large education gap in how US consumers think about wool, CFWNZ chairman Tom O’Sullivan said.

“For example, 53% think of cashmere when they hear the word wool. Although they are aware of wool, it sits quite a bit lower down in their consciousness when compared to New Zealand consumers.”

The research by Fresh Perspective Insight canvassed 3000 consumers across three markets – New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States in November last year. . . 

JB Fairfax Award to Kate Newsome – Andrew Norris :

A budding journalist from Glen Innes with a passion to provide a voice for people in rural areas has been awarded the 14th JB Fairfax Award for Rural and Regional Journalism and Communications.

Kate Newsome has been undertaking a bachelor of arts and bachelor of advanced studies in media and communications at the University of Sydney, said the award’s benefactor, John Fairfax, during his presentation to Kate at Sydney Royal Show.

“… we need talented and well-trained journalists, individuals who can bring to all of us … balance and factual accounts of the many things that affect our lives,” he said.

“Kate is a great girl and she hopes to use a career in the media to bring greater attention to many of these issues.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

11/04/2022

Feed shortage a concern for dry south – Neal Wallace:

Dry conditions continue to grip farms in Southland and Otago, worsening already stretched feed supplies compounded by delays in getting stock processed.

Between 8mm and 30mm of rain fell over Southland and southern Otago this week, but temperatures have also fallen.

Weather forecasters are offering little prospect of significant regular rainfall for the remainder of April, although there another southerly next week could deliver a further 20-40mm.

“It’s still below average but much better than we have had in the last few months,” WeatherWatch chief forecaster Philip Duncan said. . . 

Global dairy prices weaken as China reduces its demand – Point of Order:

The ANZ world commodity price index hit a new record in March, lifting  3.9%.  Prices are very strong across most commodities, although none of the sub-indices are currently at record levels.

In local currency terms, the index gained just 0.5%, as local returns were eroded by a 3.1% gain in the trade weighted index (TWI).

While farmers were  digesting this  news, the latest global dairy auction  recorded a dip in prices as  demand weakened from Chinese  buyers.  The GDT  price index slid 1% to 1564 at the  auction following a 0.9% fall at the previous bimonthly auction.

Dairy prices have risen steeply at auction this year, pushing the index to record levels, as tight supply underpins demand. . .

Kiwifruit picker reveals secret to earning $60 per hour – Annemarie Quill:

Is it really possible to earn $60 an hour picking fruit? “Absolutely,” says Maketū’s Trish Townsend, who has been a kiwifruit picker in the Bay of Plenty for four years.

“I did $60 per hour yesterday, and I am looking forward to $90 an hour at Easter when we’ll be on time-and-a-half. As long as the weather stays fine, I will be going hard.”

Last month Stuff revealed that high pay rates of up to $60 per hour, and incentives such as cash bonuses, prizes and free transport, accommodation and food, are being offered to lure pickers to the kiwifruit industry, which is experiencing its “toughest-ever season” due to the impact of Covid-19.

The industry usually requires 24,000 people to pick and pack over a typical harvest, but is drastically short this season due to a lack of international workers, such as backpackers or seasonal workers from overseas. . . 

Cannabis farm gets 32m grant new generation coming into agriculture – Tessa Guest:

The government has given a cash injection to the country’s largest medicinal cannabis grower, saying it could become as successful as the wine industry.

Puro, a specialist cannabis grower near Kēkerengū, between Blenheim and Kaikōura, was given a $32 million grant today.

The $13m is coming from taxpayer money, and the remaining $19m is from private investors.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the “weird and wacky” grant would kickstart the organic medicinal cannabis industry in New Zealand. . .

Mountain bike trails put new spin on Whanganui farm – Country Life:

Sheep bleating and shearing machines whirring are sounds of the past at the Oskams’ old woolshed.

Nowadays you are more likely to hear the buzz of bike chains, the hiss of tyre pumps and the whooping of mountain bikers stopping for a break after whizzing around the trails above.

Bikes hang in the sheep pens, the sheep dip has been turned into hot showers and the wool sorting table is used for preparing feasts when there’s a big crowd.

Tom Oskam spent his boyhood here on the land which is snuggled into a bend in the Whanganui River. It used to be part of a much bigger farm used for sheep, beef and forestry.   . . 

New Ravensdown chair to focus on pathways to progress :

Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer Bruce Wills has been elected the new Chair of Ravensdown as current Chair John Henderson concludes his term on 31 May 2022.

The former Federated Farmers national president is excited about the recently evolved strategy of the co-operative which is sharpening its focus on improving farmers’ and growers’ environmental and productive performance.

Bruce was voted in as a Ravensdown director in 2015, working closely with John Henderson who has been a director since 2004 and Chair since 2014.

“It’s been an eventful seven years on a Ravensdown board that, alongside the staff and management, have worked tirelessly towards a vision of smarter farming for a better New Zealand,” said Bruce. “I am passionate about Ravensdown’s role as the nutrient leaders in the areas of science, supply and solutions for an agsector striving for more sustainable ways forward.” . .

 


Rural round-up

01/04/2022

HWEN submission – Keith Woodford:

Readers of this website will be aware that I have been supportive of the HeWaka Eke Noa (HWEN) concept as an alternative to agriculture being included in the ETS (Emission trading System).  However I have been critical of what I regard as muddled thinking and poor communication of the HWEN proposals.

Accordingly, over the last ten days, I have come together with Graham Brown and Jane Smith to put together a joint submission on the path forward. This is laid out below, and also attached as a pdf.

I plan to write a further article setting out some of the challenges now facing HWEN, including managing internal tensions, together with emerging tensions between HWEN partners and Government Ministers, plus tension between HWEN and some industry groups.  It is indeed a complex situation!  However, that article is some days away. So here in the meantime I present the submission itself which the three of us, as well as submitting to HWEN itself, are now sharing with industry. . . 

Road access an issue after week long rain event  – Colin Williscroft:

One of the farms hit by the recent storms that damaged properties and rural roads across the Tairāwhiti and northern Hawke’s Bay regions received 1.2 metres of rain in a week, 700mm of which fell in a six-hour period.

Dan and Tam Jex-Blake are sheep and beef farmers whose property is about 55km southwest of Gisborne, at the top of Waingake Valley.

Dan said the rain began about midday on Monday, March 21, and didn’t really let up for the next seven days, although the real damage came on the Friday, when they received 700mm of rain in six hours, accompanied by 128km/h winds.

The fourth generation of his family on the farm, he said he’s never seen rain like it there before.

Given the amount of rain, he said the farm itself hasn’t fared too badly, with access across the property the biggest issue. . .

Dry south classified as medium scale adverse event – Neal Wallace:

The Government has classified the drought conditions in Southland and Clutha and Queenstown Lakes districts as a medium-scale adverse event, acknowledging the challenging conditions facing farmers and growers in the region.

The decision unlocks up to $100,000 in Government funding to support farmers and growers from now until October

“The funding will go to the Southland and Otago Rural Support Trusts to help with both one on one support and community events, with extra technical advice also available from industry groups, including feed planning advice,” Minister for Rural Communities Damien O’Connor said.

“Our primary sector is crucial to our economic recovery from covid-19. While currently returning record exports, the sector is exposed to climatic events and where we can support them through we will, while also working in partnership to strengthen the climate resilience of the sector in future.” . .

 

Ute tax here – no joke – Mark Daniel:

You can thank Jacinda Ardern for the latest price increase of any new ute you now buy.

Having passed its final reading on February 17, the Government’s Land Transport (Clean Vehicles) Amendment Bill, and the so-called feebate system, commences on April 1 – April Fool’s Day.

The scheme now expands on the 2021 teaser that saw the cleanest battery electric vehicles (BEV) being awarded a rebate of up to $8,625 on the purchase price. This resulted in a marked increase in sales of these vehicles.

However, at the same time there was also a significant rise in sales of the so-called ‘gas guzzlers’ – namely utes and SUVs – as owners tried to beat the proposed penalties scheduled to be introduced on 1 January 2022. The Government’s proposal to reduce the average CO2 output of all vehicles to 171 g/km was condemned by most of the country’s vehicle importers and distributors – not because of the intent, but the accelerated timescale to hit the magic 171 number as early as 2025. . . 

Rankin named DWN chair :

Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) has announced that 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Trish Rankin will take up the role of chair.

Former chair Karen Forlong will remain on the Trust Board as the newly-appointed chair support.

“It goes without saying that it has been a humbling privilege to be the chair for the last two and a half years,” says Forlong.

“This new role will allow me to be there to support Trish and pass on knowledge from my time as chair, and to still have a voice around the board table to support the Network,” she says. . . 

Silver Fern Farms continues strong investment and transformation through disruption :

Note: the following information covers the results for two separate companies; Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Limited, and its investment, Silver Fern Farms Limited. Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Limited and Shanghai Maling Aquarius Limited are the equal joint owners of Silver Fern Farms Limited.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and its investment, Silver Fern Farms Limited, have today released their Annual Results for the 2021 year.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chair, Rob Hewett, says that while 2021 posed many challenges, Silver Fern Farms has continued its transformative investment programme across the business.

“The Board’s focus through 2021 has been providing stability through a continued period of change and uncertainty, but also ensuring the operating company continues to increase investment in sustainability, technology, and infrastructure for the long-term benefit of shareholders,” says Hewett. . . 


Rural round-up

31/03/2022

Practical and powerful resources growing great workplaces in food & fibre sectors :

Farmer Hamish Murray knows first-hand what it feels like to be short of the resources needed to create a great workplace. In 2014/2015, he and his family’s high-country sheep and beef farm suffered from one of Marlborough’s toughest droughts.

“My cup was empty; I had nothing left to give. When I reached emotional breaking point, it was obvious that to be successful at leading others, I needed to look at myself first. Soft skills aren’t a typical priority on-farm, but they matter the most if you want to attract, train and retain the best team.”

Hamish embarked on a series of coaching courses, mentoring and a Nuffield scholarship. Empowered by his new-found skills and knowledge, he then shared what he had learnt with his team.

“I worked out what I can control or change, and what I can’t. I learnt how to ask better and more open questions. We created a team, not a hierarchy. Accessing some very practical and powerful resources, improved my wellbeing, grew our staff’s self-awareness, and made our family business a better place to work.” . . 

Farmers stressed as Southland’s ‘green drought’ unlikely to break soon – Rachael Kelly:

John Smart looks out the window in the morning, sees the clear blue sky, and thinks it is going to be ‘’another crap day”.

He says he has never seen conditions so dry in his 30 years of farming in Southland, and he is worried that if rain does not fall soon, farmers are going to move from being ‘’stressed to really struggling’’.

“I’ve seen it dry before, but this is different. There’s no wind drying anything, and it’s staying warm even late into the evening.’’

Only 6mm of rain has fallen this month on the farm he is managing just outside Invercargill. . . 

Lack of staff, bad weather and Covid-19 creating challenges for wine harvest – Piers Fuller:

Ripe grapes don’t like the rain, and east coast vineyards are doing their best to get their harvests in before bacteria and mould takes hold.

After a hot summer the grape crops were in great shape, but heavy rains in February and March, and labour shortages are causing headaches for some wineries, particularly in Wairarapa.

Pip Goodwin of Martinborough’s Palliser Estate said it was “all hands to the deck” as they rushed to get their harvest in this year before the grapes were too “compromised”.

“It was a very challenging harvest. The fruit got a little bit compromised by the rain, and then we had no pickers.” . .

Race to beat ute tax – Neal Wallace:

Attempts to beat the ute tax, which comes into force on April 1, have been hampered by supply issues delays.

Vehicle retailers reported exceptional interest as potential purchasers try to beat the levy and replace their utilities, but supply issues have caused delivery delays of up to six months for some models.

The Clean Vehicle Act imposes a levy on high carbon-emitting vehicles, with the money used to rebate or subsidise the purchase cost of new electric vehicles (EVs).

Implementation has already been delayed from January 1 due to covid. . . 

Hunters advised not to release deer into new regions :

Ahead of the hunting season kicking off in earnest, OSPRI and farmers are asking hunters to think again if they are considering illegally releasing and relocating deer into new areas.

Deer hunters can unintentionally spread bovine TB by moving/releasing deer from one area to another area. Over the years OSPRI has worked hard to eradicate TB in possums from large areas of New Zealand. This work can all be undone by the reintroduction of TB infected deer with the potential of spill back of infection into the possum population.

Waikato farmer Leith Chick says Sika deer from the Central North Island in particular, pose a threat of infecting others if they are released in TB free areas.

“Farmers who are getting deer released onto their land should be aware that they are exposing themselves to the risk of bringing TB to their farm,” says Leith. . . 

Comvita partners with Save the Kiwi to help safeguard taonga species :

Comvita has partnered with conservation organisation, Save the Kiwi, in a significant sponsorship agreement that will ultimately provide more safe habitat for the iconic birds across the North Island.

Starting with Makino Station, home to one of Comvita’s mānuka forests in the lush Manawatu-Whanganui region where kiwi already reside, the ambition is that over time Comvita’s properties will become kiwi-safe habitats.

The partnership will see the implementation of predator management plans on land managed by Comvita that will enhance biodiversity and provide kiwi safe habitats to help the endangered population and other native flora and fauna thrive.

Save the Kiwi executive director Michelle Impey says partnering with Comvita is a new and exciting approach for kiwi conservation. . . 

 


Rural round-up

26/03/2022

Tairāwhiti flood damage ‘will take about a year’ to clean up – Niva Chittock:

A Gisborne farmer and former councillor is predicting it will take Tairāwhiti a year to recover from this week’s flooding.

The region has been saturated over the past three days, with rain turning roads into rivers, washing away cows, caravans and bridges.

For Tokomaru Bay, this is the second severe flood in less than a year.

The town was hit by extensive flooding in June last year, which left Hatea-a-Rangi School students out of their classrooms for eight months while repairs were completed. . . 

Central Hawke’s Bay: Deluge washes dead animals into waterways, roads closed, rivers rise – Jake McKee:

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council is anticipating an expensive bill as it prepares to clean up from heavy rain that has hit the area over the past two days.

There have been significant road closures – peaking at 30 roads closed simultaneously, some with serious damage – and water restrictions that officials say could last days.

River levels got so high in some areas that they are lapping at the bases of bridges, including washing away a swingbridge the council says is “beloved”.

Mayor Alex Walker said it had been an “intense” couple of days and the district had not seen rain like this for 10 years. . .

Southland, Otago farms grappling with dry conditions – Neal Wallace:

A FOUR-MONTH dry spell in Southland and parts of Otago is making this summer the toughest in memory for many farmers, compounded by a lack of access to meatworks and a shortage of supplementary feed.

Coastal Southland is the driest since Environment Southland started keeping records 50 years ago, with most areas recording just 60% of the normal rainfall from December through until the end of February.

Dry conditions are spreading north into the rest of Southland, South Otago and West Otago.

Total rainfall in normally summer reliable Southland from October till now at one site is 300mm below normal, with just 2mm falling so far in March. . . 

Caring for the rural community – Neal Wallace:

An endless appetite for work is a feature of many young farming couples, but as Neal Wallace discovers, by any measure Southlanders Jono and Kayla Gardyne have shown an exceptional commitment to their futures – albeit in different areas.

The tribe of magpies chose the wrong time to invade the Gardyne property.

A shotgun resting against a wall was evidence Kayla could no longer handle the disruptive noise and activity outside her home office window, as she studied for her medical degree.

The pests progressively came off second best with six magpies dispatched, reinforcing that not only were they unwelcome, but that Kayla needed to focus on her studies. . . .

New Zealand Institute of Rural Health to join Hauora Taiwhnua Rural Health Network:

The New Zealand Institute of Rural Health (the Institute) will bring a wealth of rural health research history and knowledge when it joins forces with Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network when the new organisation officially launches in July 2022.

Since its beginning in 2001, the Institute has supported several large rural research projects and supported a variety of other important work.

Some of these achievements include the establishment of the national e-learning service in conjunction with the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, the development of support programmes for undergraduate students, and the publication of the New Zealand Rural Health Care – Standard Treatment Guidelines First Edition.

Trustees of the Institute believe its vision of a healthy future for rural New Zealanders is shared by Hauora Taiwhenua, and that uniting as one will strengthen the shared voice of both organisations. . .

NAIT defers a decision to increase levies to further consider submissions received :

The National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme, NAIT Limited, closed consultation with farmers and collection agents on proposed increases to NAIT levies on Friday 25 February 2022.

Together with proposed increases in Crown and deer industry contributions, it is proposed that these levies will be used to continue the important work NAIT Limited has been doing since the M. bovis outbreak in 2017 to improve the traceability system so that it is easy for farmers to use and performs in the event of a disease outbreak.

The consultation proposal was distributed to all registered persons in charge of NAIT animals, funders, and collection agents. The consultation proposal was also promoted extensively using rural media, radio, and social media.

Throughout the 5-week consultation period, NAIT Ltd ran 4 public webinars and attended 19 committee meetings and primary sector events to discuss the proposal and allow stakeholders an opportunity to ask questions and have their say. A total of 147 submissions were made with a mix of submitters, including levy payers, primary sector groups and collection agents. . . 

 

Learning the key for West Coast Top of SOuth Dairy Industry Award Winners :

First-time entrants who say they live and work in paradise have been announced as the major winners in the 2022 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards.

Kevin and Kyla Freeman were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year Category at the annual awards dinner held in Shantytown on Thursday night. The other big winners were Robyn Mare, who was named the 2022 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year, and Lisa Peeters the 2022 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Freemans are 50/50 share milkers on Mark and Julie Freeman’s 140ha Nelson farm milking 390 cows. They won $10,895 in prizes and five merit awards.

“We entered the Awards programme to look at every aspect of our business with others to critique,” they say. “It was a chance to analyse, learn and improve areas of weakness and identify areas of opportunities to grow.” . . 


Rural round-up

16/03/2022

Concern over freshwater rules implementation – Neal Wallace:

The NZ dairy herd increased 82% between 1990 and 2019, with some of the largest increases in Canterbury and Southland. Neal Wallace investigates the future of dairying in those regions and talks to some innovators who are confident that with the use of technology and management changes, dairying has a future.

The impact of the Government’s new freshwater regulations could invariably end dairying in Southland or result in a 20% decline over 20 years, depending on who you talk to.

Similarly, there are forecasts the number of dairy cows in Canterbury could decline by up to 20% over that period, depending on how regional councils implement National Policy Statement on Freshwater (NPS-FW) limits on the use of synthetic nitrogen and controls on leaching.

New regulations limiting nitrogen use will require changes, worrying farmers, especially in Canterbury and Southland, where dairy expansion has made nutrient loss to waterways an issue. . . .

Telling our carbon footprint story :

AgResearch’s world-class Life Cycle Assessment team provides an evidence base to help maintain NZ’s export market edge.

As New Zealand seeks to maintain its position as a leading food producer to the world, measuring and reporting the environmental impact of its products has never been more critical.

This is where AgResearch’s world-class Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) team plays a pivotal role: by delivering research to prove the efficiency and sustainability of food production in New Zealand, and how it stacks up against the rest of the world.

“I use the analogy of writing a story,” explains AgResearch scientist and LCA team member, Dr Andre Mazzetto. . .

Let the good times roll! – Rural News:

Last week New Zealand dairy farmers woke up to fantastic news on two consecutive days.

The first was the early morning signing of a free trade deal between New Zealand and the United Kingdom in London.

The second was the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) price index rising for the fifth straight time; more importantly whole milk powder and skim milk powder, used by processors to set the milk price, posted solid gains.

The two doses of good news come as farmers grapple with issues including rising costs, a pandemic and a looming levy/tax on greenhouse gas emissions. . . 

Chasing a perfect shearing day – Gerald Piddock:

An award-winning shearing couple, who spent their careers chasing the perfect shearing day, say there’s no greater feeling than finding your rhythm and getting into the ‘zone’, because that’s when the tallies start to happen. They spoke to Gerald Piddock.

Being a top shearer means chasing perfection.

It’s about having a perfect day in the shearing shed where the wool flows off the sheep from the shearer’s blade.

Chasing that perfection has elevated Emily and Sam Welch to be regarded among the best in the industry. For Emily, it has seen her become a world record holder and industry role model for female shearers. . . .

New Zealand’s borders open for kiwifruit workers :

Ever fancied being paid to work outdoors amongst New Zealand’s beautiful landscape with the nation’s iconic fruit?

New Zealand’s borders have just opened to backpackers again and the country’s kiwifruit industry is crying out for help to pick and pack it’s small, fuzzy fruit.

If you’ve ever wanted to visit New Zealand, Working Holiday Visas are available from today and the kiwifruit industry has lots of jobs up for grabs.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) are leading the call for people to visit their beautiful country. “I strongly encourage everyone to roll up their sleeves and join the team”, says NZKGI CEO Colin Bond. “Picking is a great opportunity for those who like to be in the outdoors, while the packhouse is suited to those who like to have fun in larger teams indoors”. . . 

Farm housing in short supply – Shan Goodwin:

DONGAS and relocatable homes in strong demand on farms are now in very short supply on the back of the same shortages of building materials and labour that has wreaked havoc in the construction business.

Waits on new relocatable homes have pushed out to 18 months, prices of second-hand dongas have tripled and some manufacturers have even shut up shop until supplies come back on line.

Ironically, the supply challenges have coincided with ramped up demand for both farmhouse replacements and additional dwellings on agriculture properties on the back of strong commodity prices.

David Rowe, from Victoria’s Bond Homes, which has been building relocatable homes at Ballarat for more than three decades and has strong custom in replacing old farmhouses and installing new dwellings for farm workers, says pandemic material supply issues are now being amplified by the Ukraine war. . .


Rural round-up

18/02/2022

Climate scientists urge countries to adopt split gas approach :

In a paper published in the prestigious Nature journal, 33 leading climate scientists call for countries to take a split gas approach when setting targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction, such as New Zealand did in our Climate Change Response Act (Zero Carbon Bill).

The paper also encourages countries to use a split gas approach when determining their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. 

The natural extension is that countries should report on warming rather than just emissions, something B+LNZ has been asking for for some time.  

The paper is an important and valuable contribution to conversations about reporting and targets. We’ll be using it as part of our ongoing advocacy efforts, alongside like-minded organisations such as the Meat Industry Association, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Deer Industry New Zealand and others. This means sharing it with Government officials and providing information to media outlets to build understanding.  . . 

Staff shortage still a struggle despite new policy – Neal Wallace:

Just a handful of foreign dairy farm workers and agricultural machinery operators have been granted access following Government changes to the class exception policy approved in December.

Data supplied by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) reveals just 51 foreign dairy farm workers and 15 mobile plant operators have been granted visas under the new class exception policy.

Despite pleas from the meat industry for a class exemption for Halal butchers, approval for inclusion in the scheme is yet to be considered by Cabinet.

The uptake of the revised policy is well short on the number the Government allowed for. . . 

Passion for farming goes a long way – Colin Williscroft:

Align Farms chief executive Rhys Roberts recently won the 2022 New Zealand Zanda McDonald Award, which supports talented and passionate young professionals in the ag sector. Colin Williscroft reports.

He may be chief executive of a company that operates seven farms, a market garden, a milk factory and a yoghurt brand, but Rhys Roberts’ pathway was one that has traditionally been followed by many in the dairy sector.

Roberts and his wife Kiri were Canterbury sharemilkers before joining Align Farms nine years ago as farm managers.

Then after a stint as operations manager, he was appointed chief executive in 2017. . . 

Woolly thinking pays off

Serial entrepreneur Logan Williams will be a guest speaker at this month’s East Coast Farming Expo.

He may only still be in his 20s, but Williams has a track record that is the envy of many. The inventor and entrepreneur has already developed and sold four inventions to international corporations, including one that could create a turning point for the struggling wool industry.

Williams is currently combining coarse wool with polylactic acid derived from corn starch and other polymers to produce Keravos pellets that can be used instead of plastic. Torpedo 7 is about to launch a kayak range made from the revolutionary material and trials are well underway with ski boots, furniture, and other products.

“Our factory in Hamilton can make four tonnes a day of these pellets, so the plan is that we partner with large companies who are already making product and away we go – plug and play,” he explains. . . 

Fonterra, NZX and EEX enter GDT partnership for future growth :

Fonterra has agreed a strategic partnership with New Zealand’s Exchange (NZX) and the European Energy Exchange (EEX) to each take ownership stakes in Global Dairy Trade (GDT) alongside the Co-op.

Subject to the approval of Boards, clearance from European or any other relevant competition law authorities, and finalisation of transaction documentation, the partnership is expected to be completed mid-2022, with Fonterra, NZX and EEX each holding an equal one-third (33.33%) shareholding in the global dairy auction platform.

Fonterra Chief Executive Miles Hurrell says the move to a broader ownership structure marks the next step in the evolution of GDT – further enhancing the standing of GDT as an independent, neutral, and transparent price discovery platform, giving it a presence in prominent international dairy producing regions, and creating future growth opportunities. . .

New Zealand’s first plant based milk bottle hits South Island shelves :

  • Anchor’s plant-based bottle, made from sugarcane – which is a natural, renewable and sustainably sourced material – is now available in the South Island.
  • The new bottle is an example of sustainable packaging which is something that is important to Anchor and its consumers.
  • Since the plant-based bottle was launched in the North Island in 2020, Kiwis have saved enough emissions to travel from Cape Reinga to Bluff 363 times*
  • Anchor’s plant-based bottle is recyclable in kerbside recycling collections . . 

Rural round-up

09/02/2022

Staffing shortages cause processing delays – Neal Wallace:

Farmers already facing up to six weeks delay getting stock killed are being warned to prepare for a longer than usual season as the meat industry continues to struggle with staffing shortages.

Silver Fern Farms has warned suppliers that for the season to date the ovine kill is 8% behind the same stage last year and bovine by 3%.

“Early indications show that for most stock classes it will not be until July before we will catch up with current backlogs,” chief executive Simon Limmer told suppliers in the newsletter.

Just how late will depend on any impact of Omicron. . . 

Robots offer a tireless staffing option – Richard Rennie:

The prospect of autonomous robotic tractors has long been a lure for growers and farmers, often pushed beyond the bounds of reality by cost and existing technology. But a Blenheim company has been quietly building a fleet of automated machines that are proving their worth with one of the region’s largest winegrowers. Richard Rennie reports.

For any innovative agritech company, New Zealand’s small market size demands founders have an eye out from the start on their tech’s applicability in larger global markets. For the founders of the Oxin automated viticulture tractor, Marlborough has proven an appealing place to start, prior to making that international leap.

“We have been fortunate to have an excellent industry partner right from the start in Pernod, one of the largest grape growers in the region, but also one that has very strong international connections,” Smart Machine director Andrew Kersley said.

Blenheim’s unique concentration of 35,000ha of vineyards, grown primarily by only a few large industry players, makes the company’s ability to showcase the technology, and get it dispersed, a simpler task.  . . 

Stud owners ready for a new chapter – Sally Rae:

For more than a century, the Punchbowl name has been synonymous with stud sheep breeding in North Otago.

But a new chapter is looming for its current owners, Doug and Jeannie Brown, who are holding ewe dispersal sales in Oamaru this month.

It was Mr Brown’s grandfather Henry (HJ) Andrew — a legendary figure in the stud sheep industry — who came to Punchbowl, near Maheno, in 1915 after graduating from Lincoln College.

Originally from the Leeston area, he shifted south with his parents and began breeding Southdowns. Over time, his Southdown stud became very prominent at a time when Southdowns were the main terminal sire breed in New Zealand. He exported sheep to many parts of the world and also imported sires. . . 

Seeds of traceability in digital move – Tim Cronshaw:

Arable growers will enter the digital world for their seed certification this month.

All the paperwork will be replaced by online entries in a $2million industry and government investment, which industry chiefs have called a watershed moment.

About $400million of certified seed crops — including brassicas, herbage grasses and legumes — will be checked throughout their growing cycle for quality control and consistency by about 800 growers, seed merchants and Assure Quality inspectors.

New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association manager Thomas Chin said the app-based system would provide traceability so quality assurances could be given to overseas markets that export seed shipments leaving the country were ‘‘true-to-label’’. . . 

Potato milk hits UK supermarket shelves :

Described as “deliciously creamy” and the “perfect foam” for your cuppa, potato milk is the latest contender to the plant milk market.

Milk developer at Lund University professor Eva Tornberg said she was working with a potato starch company in Sweden when she came up with the idea.

The amino acid composition of potato protein is much like milk and egg, she said.

“I thought perhaps it would be good to use potato protein to make a milk.” . . 

Farmer who flipped car cleared of criminal damage because ‘Englishman’s home is his castle’ – Martin Evans:

A farmer who wrecked a car parked on his land with a tractor has been cleared of criminal damage after he successfully used the 400-year-old legal principle that “an Englishman’s home is his castle”.

Robert Hooper, 57, became an internet sensation in June last year, when a video of him using the spikes on his telehandler to flip a £16,000 Vauxhall Corsa went viral on social media.

The hill farmer from Upper Teesdale said he had been forced to take action after he came under attack from a “strutting and agitated” shirtless youth, who had refused to move the car from his land.

Mr Hooper said he did not call police because he had been burgled eight times and found they were often slow to respond. . . 


Rural round-up

04/02/2022

Feds: High price on NZ farmers will increase global emissions :

Price penalties won’t drive down livestock emissions without affordable and practical new technologies being available to farmers – unless the aim is to kill off the sector, Federated Farmers says.

The Federation is baffled by comments by Climate Change Minister James Shaw that “…Pricing isn’t the only tool in the toolbox, but it remains the best way to reduce emissions directly – and that’s name of the game.”

Feds President Andrew Hoggard said that was “an overly-simplistic and domestic focused solution to a complex global problem.

“The global atmosphere does not benefit from New Zealand shrinking food production, even if our politicians can crow about local emissions reductions. Our farms’ emissions footprint is world-leading; forgone production here would just shift offshore to less efficient farmers.” . . 

Gain and pain in move to carbon pricing – David Anderson:

Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison concedes that the two alternative options to the ETS that the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) partnership has developed are not perfect.

However, he says they are as good as they can be and describes the upcoming consultations on them as one of the most important issues for farmers in 2022.

“It’s a complicated topic and we’re strongly urging farmers to come along to a roadshow event to find out more and to have their say,” Morrison told Rural News.

He believes that farming leaders made a significant gain by collectively getting a split gas outcome in the Zero Carbon Bill. . .

MIQ border changes ‘too late’ for sector – Neal Wallace:

The Government’s gradual opening of New Zealand borders is too late for worker-short primary sector employers seeking an injection of foreign workers for the harvest season.

Under a five-step graduated process announced today, New Zealanders fully vaccinated against covid living in Australia and those with border exemptions can return home from 11.59pm on February 27, with 10 days of self-isolation.

From 11.59pm on March 13, the borders will open to New Zealanders and eligible travellers under current border settings from the rest of the world.

Under this step, self-isolation will reduce to seven days. . .

Agriculture needs to adapt or die – Nigel Stirling:

NZ’s agricultural sector needs to recognise Covid-19 as the “new normal,” says leading expert on international trade, Professor Hamish Gow.

He says a lot of firms have used the pandemic as a positive opportunity and have been very successful in driving change within their firms, their value chains, and their industry.

“Then there’s other ones who have sat back and said, ‘We don’t need to change, this will all be over’,” Gow told Rural News. “And we’re now into our third season and they’re still trying to run everything the same way, complaining that they can’t, for example, find workers.

“But they haven’t done anything to change and they’re in the same situation that they were at the start of the pandemic.”

Plans to ‘blanket’ plant trees across Wales could ‘decimate’ farming communities, campaigners claim – Dan Whitehead:

Rural farming communities in Wales could be “decimated” if blanket afforestation is allowed, according to the president of the National Farmers Union in Wales.

The warning comes amid large scale government plans to plant millions of trees across the country to create a new national forest.

But there is concern from some communities about the number of Welsh farms being sold to large-scale investment firms, which plan to create woodland to offset carbon emissions.

In the tiny Carmarthenshire village of Cwrt-y-Cadno, Frongoch Farm was sold earlier this year to Foresight Group – a multi-billion pound private equity firm based in The Shard. . . 

NZ agri-tech start-up Cropsy Technologies successfully raises $15 million in an over-subscribed capital raise:

Cropsy Technologies has successfully completed its first capital raise, with the award-winning ag-tech company raising $1.5 million in an over-subscribed round, ensuring it is perfectly positioned to commercialise its world-first AI-enabled crop vision system.

CROPSY unlocks the full potential of crops with its unique visioning technology that combines mobile, continuous and GPS-tracked high-definition image capture, with AI-enabled software to analyse crops and aid decision making for growers. Attached to a tractor and powered by the tractor battery, the Cropsy vision system sees and understands every single plant while a grower runs their daily crop operations, profiling every leaf, fruit, shoot, cane, and trunk in real-time as the tractor passes by. Eliminating sun, shadows, and reflections from the captured images preserves accurate colours and textures regardless of the time or weather.

The technology enables growers to identify pests and diseases early, for targeted spraying and reduced crop loss, as well as efficiently understanding crop growth and saving time for vineyard and orchard managers. It will boost sustainability goals for growers by ensuring resources are not applied when not needed. . . 


Rural round-up

24/01/2022

Time to do the maths – Jacqueline Rowarth :

Confusion abounds in the discussion about agricultural greenhouse gases (GHG) and misinformation is rife.

Well-meaning people are muddling metrics, targets, reporting, science and policy. The result is that a conversation about a particular component becomes a conclusion about another. The outcome could be extremely detrimental for the agricultural community.

What is at stake is the way we are taxed for biogenic emissions – the emissions to do with animals. Fuel use is already taxed through the emissions trading scheme (ETS). Fertiliser will be brought in. What is sometimes overlooked is that agriculture is already in the ETS but has been given 100% free allocation until 2025.

After that, we will be included at 95%, decreasing 1% a year until 2030, and by 2050 we will be entirely included. . . 

What happens if I stop feeding 6,000 people? – Will Prichard:

The irony of being asked to write a Farmer Focus article is that if there’s one thing I’m struggling to do right now, it’s focus.

Since my last column there has been consolidation in nearly every aspect of my life.

The purchase of two dairy farms has signalled an agricultural midlife crisis of epic proportions, with security and incremental gain being preferred to operational growth on borrowed land.

Cow numbers float between 850 and 1,000 head, depending on the squeeze of a vet’s caliper. TB remains a 60-day game of bovine Russian roulette that challenges even the most experienced farmers in West Wales. . . 

Demand drives record prices – Neal Wallace:

Driven by unfulfilled global demand, beef and lamb prices reached historic highs in December.

AgriHQ senior market analyst Mel Croad says when measured in cents/kg, farmers are currently receiving more than ever for prime livestock, with global demand such that it slowed the traditional New Year farm gate price correction.

“It’s a great news story,” Croad said.

“Values have gradually risen, enabling steady upside to farm gate prices rather than a boom-bust pricing scenario to develop.” . . 

 

NAIT levy increases must achieve user-friendly system :

Nobody welcomes extra costs but if OSPRI is to catch-up on under investment in the NAIT platform and deliver on its workability and farmer support, levy increases are probably necessary, Federated Farmers says.

OSPRI is consulting on proposals to increase the NAIT tag levy from 90 cents to $1.35 and the slaughter levy from 50 cents to $1.77. The initial levies in 2012 were $1.10 and $1.35 respectively but in 2014 were dropped to the current lower figures and haven’t been reviewed since.

“It is frustrating for farmers to see levies take big jumps due to historical underinvestment in industry assets such as NAIT. It would be far better to have appropriate, well-planned investment with gradual increases in levies rather than big increases to fix problems,” Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Chairperson William Beetham says.

“But now, if we’re to achieve a user-friendly system that delivers biosecurity critical to the sustainability of our industry, we’ll need to get the revenue in place and hold OSPRI to account to deliver a system that empowers farmers, not frustrates them.”  . . 

NAIT Limited begins public consultation on investment to strengthen traceability system :

National Animal Identification and Tracing Scheme (NAIT) manager, NAIT Limited, has begun formal consultation with farmers and collection agents on proposed increases to NAIT levies.

Together with proposed increases in Crown and deer industry contributions, these levies will be used to continue the important work NAIT Limited has been doing since the M.Bovis outbreak in 2017 to improve the traceability system so that it is easy for farmers to use, and it performs in the event of a disease outbreak.

Head of Traceability, Kevin Forward, says of the system:

“Farmers rely on us to provide the tools and information they need to help reduce their on-farm biosecurity risk and manage disease. Having accurate, up to date, on-farm data, and a reliable animal tracing system plays a vital role in limiting the impact of a disease outbreak, supports food assurance, and helps NZ maintain access to international markets. . . 

Potential pesticide ban could have disastrous effects – study – Jamie Brown:

A BAN on two common pesticides in Australia would increase cropping costs and decrease farm profit according to a study recently published in the journal Agricultural.

Written by The University Of Western Australia masters student Alison Walsh and co-authored by professor Ross Kingwell, the study explored the impact on farm business and farming systems if the use of glyphosate and paraquat were banned.

Due to the growing public perception that they are a threat to human health, governments around the world have already banned these herbicides.

Using the bioeconomic farm model MIDAS, Ms Walsh estimated the likely impacts on farming systems if such a ban were to occur in Australia. . . 


Rural round-up

02/12/2021

Milk price forecasts are being lifted ahead of critical vote on Fonterra’s capital structure – Point of Order:

As dairy farmers prepare for the critical decision  they have to make  on the capital shape of the big co-operative Fonterra,  they  will   be  buoyed  by  the  strong markets across the  globe  for  dairy products — so  strong  that economists are  revising   their forecasts  for  this  season’s  payout.

Fonterra  itself  has  already revised  upwards  its  original forecast range from $7.90 – $8.90kgMS, from  $7.25 – $8.75  kgMS.

The Advance Rate which Fonterra pays its farmer owners will be set off the mid-point of the range. This has increased from $8kgMS to $8.40kgMS.

ANZ  Bank  economists have  raised   their  forecast  to  $8.80  while others,  citing  the  futures  market, see  it  breaking  $9. . . 

Rounding up on Round Up – Leo Argent:

There’s growing talk around New Zealand and the world about glyphosate being a health hazard, possibly a carcinogenic.

Glyphosate is a broad spectrum herbicide that serves as the main ingredient in weed killers like Round-Up and others. It is the most widely used herbicide in the world.

Numerous district councils in New Zealand and foreign countries are attempting to phase out glyphosate, while some are even banning it out right. This has many farmers and others worried.

A NZIER report shows that herbicides are worth between $2.7 to $8.6 billion to New Zealand agriculture, with an average impact on output of up to 20%. . .

Meat, dairy still preferred protein options – Neal Wallace:

The red meat and milk sectors appear to have successfully fended off initial competition from alternative proteins, which are struggling to make market gains.

New Zealand exporters are not dismissing the long-term threat from plant-based alternative protein products, which are being heavily discounted and repositioned to less favourable places on retail shelves.

Financial losses are mounting as international manufacturers struggle to reach sales targets and share prices plummet, but observers note the covid pandemic has encouraged consumers to flock to naturally nutritious products such as red meat instead of highly processed products.

The Financial Times this week reports that in September alone, US sales of plant-based meat alternatives fell 1.8% compared to the year before, taking the decline in sales for 2021 to 0.6%. . . 

Māori agribusiness crop trials hold hopes for local employment :

It is hoped trial crops planted as part of a Māori agribusiness project in eastern Bay of Plenty will help create jobs for locals.

The Whangaparāoa Māori Lands Trust with help from The Ministry for Primary Industries is exploring the potential of their whenua near Tihirau.

The project which started in 2019 involves the owners of 25 Māori land blocks which cover 18,000 hectares of land, with about a third (6000 ha) suitable for livestock, horticulture or arable farming.

Land owner co-facilitator Rika Mato said the group undertook research to investigate options for profitable and sustainable land uses for the whenua. . . 

Report funded to inform councils on farmland use and forestry – Maja Burry:

Local councils concerned that too much productive farmland is being converted to forestry are funding a report which they hope will show a way forward.

In September, the Tararua District and Wairoa District mayors wrote to rural provincial councils about developing a collaborative approach to responding to the increase of forestry planting throughout New Zealand and the impacts on communities.

Fourteen councils stretching from Southland to Waitomo have now opted to come on board, with the farming group Beef and Lamb New Zealand and Local Government New Zealand also providing funding support.

Wairoa District Mayor Craig Little said the aim of the work was to present a high-level document on land use issues, which the government could use to inform policy moving forward. . . 

From wiped out to a $30m business: The Our Cow story – Shan Goodwin:

WHAT began out of pure necessity just to stay in farming has become one the country’s most successful agribusiness ventures that is chipping away at disrupting the boom-and-bust cycle of cattle production.

When drought, bushfires and rock-bottom cattle prices threatened to wipe out Bianca Tarrant and Dave McGiveron’s dreams of being beef producers, they launched a meat box subscription service to sell their product direct to city customers.

That business, Our Cow, is today a $30 million affair, with a boning and packing plant, 30 employees and a hundred other producer suppliers. It delivers premium beef, lamb, chicken and pork to 20,000 customers from Cairns to Adelaide.

Pandemic-driven consumer desire to know where food comes from and how it’s produced, and to support Australian farmers, has fuelled what was already a strong emerging trend for paddock-to-plate purchasing beyond the imagination of the young entrepreneurs. . .


Rural round-up

02/11/2021

Farmers want clarity over vaccine mandates – Gerhard Uys:

Farmers and farm advocacy groups say they are not receiving clear guidelines from the Government on how to navigate vaccine mandates and subsequent staff management for farm businesses.

Chris Lewis, national board member and Covid-19 spokesman for Federated Farmers, said Covid guidelines seemed to be a moving target.

“We have had no indication from [Government] what exact guidelines farm employers should follow. Farm businesses are no different to other businesses operating during uncertain times and need clarity. Are we allowed to mix vaccinated and unvaccinated staff, what is safe and not safe, we don’t know,” Lewis said.

Lewis believed that businesses would begin to take the lead in determining requirements, with the Government playing catch up. Corporations like Fonterra have already begun setting some guidelines for milk suppliers to follow. . .

Farmer protest group keen to meet Jacinda Ardern for answers on new rules –  Rachael Kelly:

The leaders behind one of the biggest farmer protest group in New Zealand are seeking a meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and say they are sick of being ignored.

Groundswell NZ galvanised thousands of farmers in July and protests were held in 50 towns nationwide, but since then the Prime Minister has never directly responded to their concerns about some Government freshwater rules not being practical to implement.

Groundswell NZ founder Bryce McKenzie will be in Wellington next week, and it’ll be the second time the group has tried to get a meeting with Ardern.

“We’re hoping she’ll meet with us this time, because the people of New Zealand that turned out for our last protest have essentially been ignored,’’ McKenzie said. . .

 

A rule of thirds – Neal Wallace:

It was not their original intent, but Central Otago’s Lake Hawea Station is at the sharp end of what some termed contentious innovation. Neal Wallace meets manager David O’Sullivan.

DAVID O’Sullivan admits he needed an open mind as he oversaw the transformation of the Otago high country fine wool property, Lake Hawea Station.

The station manager says a combination of the skills of the staff, input from consultants and the branding and business backgrounds of owners Geoff and Justine Ross, founders of vodka company 42 Below, created a powerful team that is not wedded to a particular farming system.

That diverse thinking reflects the station’s shift to regenerative farming but also a different approach to managing carbon emissions and sequestration.. . 

Sustainability sells: strong wools’ half billion dollar export opportunity:

New Zealand’s strong wool sector is sitting on at least a half a billion dollar opportunity thanks to a wave of eco-consumerism, coupled with innovative Kiwi businesses pushing the limits of wool.

Since the 1980s the export price of strong wool has tanked from a high of around $10 a kilogram, to now just over two dollars. But as eco-consumerism rises and plastic products lose their popularity, a group of New Zealand businesses are ready to drive strong wool’s resurgence.

Strong Wool Action Group executive officer Andy Caughey says for the first time in forty years the market conditions are optimistic for strong wool, a courser fibre than the likes of fine merino, which is exceptionally resilient and versatile in its use for homewares. . .

Ravensdown renews sponsorship of NZDIA :

Entries to the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) continue to be accepted online until December 1st as national sponsors continue to commit to the programme.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is rapt to confirm that Ravensdown have renewed their sponsorship for the next two years.

“Ravensdown bring a particular style to their sponsorship. They care deeply about farmers and this is obvious through the Relief Milking Fund and that they want to be involved with education and development of farmers’ businesses and careers,” says Robin. . .

DJAARA’s new land acquisition protects country and culture – Annabelle Cleeland:

Culturally significant Buckrabanyule, in North Central Victoria, has been purchased by Traditional Owners and conservationists, in a bid to be protected from further land degradation and development.

Located between Boort and Wedderburn, the land covers 452 hectares, and was recently purchased by conservation group, Bush Heritage, to be jointly managed with Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (DJAARA).

The land is infested with the invasive wheel cactus, a thorny pest plant that classified as a weed of national significance. Djarrak rangers have spent recent months working at the site to control the weed, using mechanical chemical and bio-control methods. . . 

 


Rural round-up

11/10/2021

Pomahaka river project hits half-way mark – Neal Wallace,

A three-year project to plant 230,000 native trees and shrubs and build 100km of riparian fencing on Otago’s Pomahaka River, is officially halfway completed.

The milestone for the Pomahaka Watercare Corridor Planting Project was marked with a function at the Leithen Picnic Area this week.

The $3.7 million project between the Primary Growth Fund, One Billion Trees Fund, 105 local farmers and the Pomahaka Water Care Group is designed to protect the Pomahaka River and its tributaries and offer employment opportunities post-covid-19. . . 

Farmers urged to have a Covid plan – Gerald Piddock:

Dairy farmers have been told to make an on-farm plan in case themselves or one of their staff tests positive for covid-19.

That plan had to be easily accessible and documented and communicated to all staff members, DairyNZ covid project manager Hamish Hodgson said in a webinar.

This plan was crucial for the farmer to be ready for covid.

He said he knew of one farmer organising campervans to be brought on-farm if they needed to be able to isolate people. . .

New Johne’s test based on Covid technology :

The same technology used to detect Covid-19 in wastewater is now being used to help dairy farmers manage Johne’s disease in their herd.

Johne’s disease is a contagious infection estimated to cost New Zealand more than $40 million in lost production each year.

It is caused by a bacterium which infects the gut of dairy cows and other ruminant animals. Common side effects include lower milk production, difficulty reproducing and rapid weight loss.

Herd improvement co-operative LIC has developed a new test which detects whether the bacteria responsible for Johne’s disease is present in a farm’s effluent wastewater. . .

Hemp industry builds infrastructure to secure its future – Country Life:

New Zealand’s largest hemp grower says farmers around the country want to start growing hemp but, before more come on board, markets need to be developed and infrastructure secured.

Hemp New Zealand’s Dave Jordan says it’s a ‘chicken and egg’ situation.

“There are a lot of ideas around and it’s all very well to have the ideas but you have got to actually have action on the ground and show people the benefit of it (hemp) and get customers to buy it.”

The company is working with 100 growers who grow 1000 hectares of hemp.

NZ shearer with 100 wins to pick up clippers again this year – Sally Murphy:

A farmer who was first in the world to win 100 blade-shearing finals isn’t ready to stop competing just yet.

Tony Dobbs from Fairlie won his 100th title at the Waimate Shears Spring Championships last year and considered retiring after being diagnosed with cancer.

This year’s Waimate Shears starts today with some of the country’s top shearers and wool handlers going head to head.

Dobbs was set down to judge the competition so thought he might as well compete too. . . 

On-farm quarantine the next step for ag workers – James Jackson:

After years of drought, farmers are finally facing an opportunity to reap the rewards of their hard work as bumper crops loom on the horizon. But labour shortages remain a significant and stubborn hurdle to reaching record-breaking harvests, and primary producers cannot afford to wait for the state to reopen to muster enough workers in time for their summer harvests.

NSW Farmers has joined forces with the National Farmers Federation to call for an immediate solution to get more workers to farms as quickly as possible. We propose a limited pilot of on-farm quarantine for 200 agricultural workers from low-risk countries, commencing when 70 per cent of adults in NSW are fully vaccinated.

A transition to on-farm quarantine arrangements in NSW as vaccination rates rise would alleviate a number of challenges the agriculture sector has faced in the hotel-quarantine model. The availability of hotel quarantine places in NSW is limited and further constrained by Sydney’s disproportionately high intake of returning residents, increasing the likelihood agricultural workers will miss out on a place. . . 


Rural round-up

29/09/2021

Farmers grapple with ‘significant emotional stress’ and community pressure over forestry conversion sales – Bonnie Flaws:

A Wairarapa farmer Steve Thomson says selling his sheep and beef station to forestry three years ago was a difficult decision but he had struggled for two years to sell to other farmers.

Tensions around the issue of farms converting to forestry has been increasing because of the impact it could have on rural communities. But most see the problem as stemming from Government policy rather than greed, farmers say.

Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said there was no transparency about how much farm land was going to forestry because only the current land use is recorded at the time of the sale. . . 

Passion to serve rural New Zealand – Neal Wallace:

Wilson Mitchell is a young man on a mission. The University of Otago medical student is passionate about rural communities and the health and wellbeing of those who live there. He spoke to Neal Wallace.

Wilson Mitchell attributes the hours spent crutching and drenching sheep over weekends and school holidays for helping fuel his desire to work in rural health.

The satisfaction of an honest day’s physical toil is one reason for his infatuation but more so mixing with rural people and observing the dynamics of their communities.

He may just be 23 years old and five years through his studies, but Wilson’s commitment to rural health has already extended beyond good intentions. . . 

Daylight savings on the dairy farm: ‘The cows wonder why you’re an hour early’ – Bonnie Flaws:

Southland dairy farmer Bart Luton says his cows always notice something isn’t quite right when daylight savings hits.

“My cows will be wondering what I am doing in the paddock because I am an hour early or so. It takes them a couple of days to get used to it. They look around and think ‘you are too early’, and while you’re milking the cow flow will be a bit slower. They definitely need adjusting to it.”

Daylight saving time starts on Sunday when clocks will be turned forward one hour. Sunrise and sunset will be about an hour later than the day before and it will be lighter in the evening.

Canterbury farmer Alan Davie-Martin said cows were behavioural animals and knew when to gather at the gate. It usually took a few days for them to get used to the new timetable. . . 

Confident, not cocky: Uni student vows to run marathon in gumboots – Maia Hart:

A Marlborough teen who plans to run a marathon in her gumboots says the nerves are there, but she plans to “run it off”.

Emma Blom, who has moved to Christchurch to study at Lincoln University, is planning to run the Queenstown Marathon in November in her gumboots and overalls, to raise money for Outward Bound scholarships.

The scholarships would be aimed at people who work in the rural sector.

“I’m hoping to raise $10,000, so that four people can go on an 8-day discovery course,” Blom said.  . .

Deer industry to address emissions pricing – Annette Scott:

Deer farmers be warned, greenhouse gas (GHG) pricing is coming so get prepared, is the message from industry.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) is urging deer farmers to get up to speed with GHG pricing that will impact on the way they farm.

While Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb NZ and DairyNZ are holding consultation meetings over the next two months, the deer industry as a sector will not be officially involved.

Deer Industry NZ chief executive Innes Moffat says despite standing alone it’s important industry’s voice is heard and is not drowned out by views of other industries. . . 

LeaderBrand’s ambitious construction plans forge ahead despite ongoing lockdown interruptions :

LeaderBrand’s construction plans on their ambitious eleven hectare undercover farming project is forging ahead despite the ongoing interruption from lockdowns over the past couple of years.

In October 2019, Kānoa, Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit, confirmed LeaderBrand was successful in securing a $15 million loan to help fund the construction of their undercover growing facility.

The project will accelerate crop growth all year round in a more sustainable manner, help to mitigate weather impacts, and create more consistent product which will secure more jobs across the year. The technology incorporated in the greenhouses is innovative and will revolutionise the way LeaderBrand will farm in the future. This includes significantly reducing fertiliser and water usage as well as protecting soil structure. . .

 


Rural round-up

23/09/2021

Think about us – Rural News:

The dairy sector has a simple message for the Government – please take our plight seriously.

Frustration is rife among farmers because the Government seems to be paying lip service to a crucial sector that has kept the company’s economy buzzing for the past 18 months.

Like most primary producers, dairy farmers have been crying out for more overseas workers. However, it’s becoming clear that the Government isn’t genuine about helping dairy farmers.

In June, the Government announced that it will grant border exceptions for 200 dairy farm workers and their families, comprising 150 herd managers or assistant farm managers and 50 farm assistants for critical-need areas only. Within that announcement they specified that herd managers be paid a salary of $79,500 and assistant managers a salary of $92,000 per annum. . .

Councils weigh pest impact – Neal Wallace:

Numbers of pests and game animals are rapidly increasing in parts of the country, regional councils report.

Successive mild seasons, reduced hunter pressure and growing resistance to rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD), is leading to increased numbers of deer, goats, wallabies and rabbits in many areas.

The Otago Regional Council’s (ORC) environmental implementation manager Andrea Howard says rabbit density differs across the region, but remains high in parts of Central Otago.

“Several factors influence rabbit populations, including lack of consistent control – and secondary control – by landowners, the naturally reducing impact of introduced viruses, climate change, land-use change, urban spread into historically rabbit-prone rural land and associated reduction in available control tools,” Howard said. . .

Escalating women leaders :

To be a good leader, you have to first know your ‘why’, says Ravensdown shareholder and Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) Escalator programme graduate Donna Cram.

“For me it is to connect people across agricultural communities using values-based communication to empower collaboration.”

Cram, a dairy farmer at Wylan Dene farm near Awatuna in South Taranaki, was one of 14 women chosen by AWDT to take part in their annual Escalator programme. It gives women in the food and fibre sector “the mindsets, skills and connections to lead, govern and inspire”.

Cram says the experience has helped her understand more about her own leadership qualities. . . 

Business grew from quest for flooring :

A business was born when some West Otago dairy farmers were floored by a problem.

White River Holstein Friesians owners Paul and Kyllee Henton struggled to find suitable flooring for their 600-cow wintering shed on their 171ha farm in Kelso.

The fruitless search motivated them to research, develop and manufacture their own flooring solution of heavy duty interlocking rubber mats.

They run their mat company Agri-Tech Imports alongside their 580-cow herd operation.

Mrs Henton, a registered veterinarian, said they had run the farm for 15 years after entering an equity partnership with her parents to buy the property. . . 

Tackling challenges of cheese foe decades – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Plucked from the lab and picked for his first production supervisor’s role in his early 20s, Richard Gray has been saying cheese for 23 years.

From test tubes to testing himself in leadership, Fonterra’s general manager of operations for the lower South Island is helping steer the dairy giant through perilous pandemic times.

Based at Edendale in Southland, Mr Gray said it had more or less been business as usual through the alert levels.

‘‘From the supply chain point of view there has been disruption with delays or longer lead time to deliver, but we’re still exporting well. But it’s the timing, having to adjust some of the production planning processes to allow for that longer lead time.’’ . .

Pocket knife fine sparks alarm – Chris McLennan:

Rural Australians have reacted with alarm over a fine dished out to a Queensland man for carrying a pocket knife.

Wayne McLennan, aged 75, was last week fined $100 for unlawful possession of a weapon because of a small pocket knife he carried in a pouch on his belt.

Many country people right around Australia wear the same, either a knife or a multi-tool, not for self-defence but for the hundreds of daily chores they may be called on to do while remote on their properties.

As one farmer said on social media last night, strapping his Leatherman to his belt in the morning was as automatic as pulling on his boots. . .


Rural round-up

21/09/2021

Down on the Farm – Paul Gorman:

Rural life has always had its challenges, but environmental politics and the complexities of modern farming have brought new pressures. For some, the load becomes too much to carry.

When he was a kid, Sam Spencer-Bower used to help out his grandfather Marmaduke in his massive vegetable garden, just across from the farm cottage where he lived with his parents. He didn’t realise at the time that his grandad was something of a legend in Canterbury farming. His family had worked on this land ever since great-great-grandfather Marmaduke Dixon came from Claxby in Lincolnshire and in 1852 established a large farm in North Canterbury, near the gravelly north bank of the Waimakariri River.

In fact, Marmaduke Dixon was one of the first in New Zealand to irrigate his land, initiating flood irrigation from the Waimakariri before 1900. Sam’s grandfather, Marmaduke Spencer-Bower, farmed the land until he was about 95 and wrote a book about the farm and Marmaduke Dixon’s legacy. In other words, Sam Spencer-Bower — middle name Marmaduke — had a lot to live up to.

By the time his grandfather died at the age of 98, Spencer-Bower was already well on the road to taking over the fifth-generation family farm. He was studying for a degree in farm management at Lincoln University. That’s where he met his wife, Jo, who was herself from a sixth-generation farming family (her brother is former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw). At the time, Jo recalls, she liked the fact that Sam had a “sensitive side”, that he was “not a big showman”. . .

Flood fund criteria way off the mark :

Nearly four months on from the floods that devastated much of rural Canterbury, the Government has fallen short of the promises it made to local farmers, says National MP Nicola Grigg.

“Jacinda Ardern and Damien O’Connor flew into Ashburton with cameras rolling to announce a $4 million Canterbury Flood Recovery Fund – indicating that it was just a start, that they were still working to establish the full scale and cost of the damage – and that there would be more where that came from,” says Grigg who is MP for Selwyn.

She says the fund offers grants of up to 50% of eligible costs with a total limit of $250,000 and will contribute to uninsurable costs to enable productive land to return to a productive state as quickly as possible.

“Essentially, it can only be used for the clearing up of flood debris such as boulders, gravel, trees, and silt on productive land. Insurable costs, such as replacing fences, have not been targeted by the fund.” . .

Farmers weigh weather impact across islands – Neal Wallace & Colin Willscroft:

A wet spring is proving a major challenge for southern South Island farmers, causing sleepy sickness, forcing dairy farmers to milk once-a-day, feed out supplements or stand cows off paddocks.

While annual rainfall is about average, the pattern in which has fallen, with up to 85mm already falling this month, is causing sodden ground conditions, especially on the Southland coast

Otago Federated Farmers meat and wool section chair and Clinton farmer Logan Wallace says a dry autumn meant he went into winter with low pasture cover, which required his hoggets to be sent to grazing. He says much of South Otago is similarly short of feed.

He applied urea, which provided a brief respite before a recent cold snap reduced its effectiveness, and recorded more than 75mm of rain in the week to the middle of September, equivalent to that month’s average rainfall. . . 

Paddocks ablaze with colour as sales plummet for daffodils – Country Life:

Sweep into Clandon Daffodil’s driveway on the outskirts of Hamilton you’ll be treated to an unusually vibrant spectacle.

This year, because of Covid-19 restrictions tens of thousands of unpicked daffodils are dancing in the paddock, unable to be sent to Auckland’s flower market.

Clandon is one of New Zealand’s biggest daffodil growers and owner Ian Riddell says Auckland usually takes three quarters of its daffodils.

“We’re getting plenty of comments from people who come in and are saying ‘wow it’s amazing’…It certainly is a sight. It probably won’t happen again. . . 

Call for SI specific residency visa – Neal Wallace:

An immigration adviser is calling for a rethink on how long-term migrant workers are treated, saying up to 6000 in the South Island face an uncertain future.

Ashburton-based Maria Jimenez says these migrants are employed in healthcare, hospitals, construction and agriculture and have an expectation they could apply for residency after meeting work criteria.

Because of covid’s impact on the immigration office, the Government suspended Expressions of Interest (EOI) selections for the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) last year, closing a pathway to residency for many migrants.

The Government is also resetting immigration policy in a move to reduce the reliance on imported workers. . . 

Public back gene-editing tech as climate worries rise :

The public want farmers to have access to new precision breeding techniques such as gene-editing to respond better to climate change, a new survey says.

It indicates rising concern about the environment following a summer of droughts and heat waves, including the hottest temperatures recorded in Europe since records began.

The YouGov survey of over 2,000 adults, carried out on behalf of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, shows public enthusiasm for new approaches to farming in light of these extremes.

The majority of those surveyed (81%) agreed that farmers should be able to benefit from innovations that could help them play their role in meeting the UK goal of reaching net-zero by 2050. . . 


Rural round-up

13/08/2021

Nats’ proposal on migrants welcomed – Richard Rennie:

National’s proposal for a clean out of New Zealand’s daunting migrant visa application backlog has been given a thumbs up from dairy farmers still grappling with labour shortages.

National party leader Judith Collins has proposed Immigration NZ be required to clear the backlog of skilled migrant workers already here and seeking residency status. 

These are estimated to be over 30,000 and include vets and dairy farm herd managers. 

National has also proposed a “de-coupling” of skilled migrant staff from specific employers, instead making them tied to a sector or a region. . .  

Concern over ‘rushed reforms’, lack of detail – Neal Wallace:

The hectic pace of Government-initiated reform will result in poorly drafted legislation that will create a windfall for lawyers, warns National Party Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson.

Replacement draft legislation, such as for the Resource Management Act (RMA), lacks detail or an understanding of unintended consequences, he says, which will be determined by litigation.

“Either way the legislative changes coming at us like a steam train do not have that detail,” Simpson said.

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) acknowledges it has a heavy workload developing policy to reform the RMA, climate change, indigenous biodiversity and water. . .

Water sampling technology on trial – Shawn McAvinue:

It is a data stream with a difference.

AgResearch Invermay senior scientist Richard Muirhead is developing new technology to help farmers wanting to improve water quality to make better decisions.

For the past two years, Dr Muirhead has been working on a project to get sensors to measure the levels of nitrogen, sediment, E.coli and phosphorus in waterways.

Sensor technology had been imported to measure the first three contaminants but the search continues for technology to measure phosphorus. . .

Tekapo -the Dark Sky Project is the place to stargaze – Jane Jeffries:

In the heart of the Mackenzie country is the small, quaint town of Tekapo, famous for the Good Shepherd church and the stunning vista through its window behind the altar. However, when the lake and mountain views disappear after dusk and the skies darken our twinkly solar system is exposed. It’s paradise for star gazers and a wonderful sight for young and old.

Whether you are a star gazer or just want to find out more about our solar system the Dark Sky Project in Takapo (Tekapo), is the place to start.

But before I talk about Tekapo’s terrific night sky, the town’s name needs an explanation. Tekapo was originally called Takapo. Takapō is the name the Ngāi Tahu tribe ancestors recorded. At Dark Sky Project they are extremely proud of their region and use the name Takapō, so that’s what we will call it.

Firstly, Takapo is one of the best places in the world to observe the night sky and it’s easily accessible. Minimal light pollution means the night sky views stretch as far as the eye can see. . . 

Farmland director elections nominations open :

Nominations are being sought for this year’s Farmlands Director Elections.

Two seats – one North Island and one South Island – are being contested. Farmlands Directors Dawn Sangster and Gray Baldwin are retiring by rotation in 2021 and both have indicated they are standing for re-election.

Farmlands Chairman Rob Hewett says having a say in governance is crucial to the ongoing success of the co-operative.

“Having high calibre shareholder representatives is critical not only to Farmlands but all rural co-operatives,” Mr Hewett says. “We have made tremendous strides in growing the talent pool of rural governance, alongside Silver Fern Farms, through the To the Core programme. . . 

Grazing cattle can improve agriculture’s carbon footprint – Adam Russell:

Ruminant animals like cattle contribute to the maintenance of healthy soils and grasslands, and proper grazing management can reduce the industry’s carbon emissions and overall footprint, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist.

Richard Teague, Ph.D., professor emeritus in the Department Rangeland, Wildlife and Fisheries Management and senior scientist of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture and the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Vernon, said his research, “The role of ruminants in reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint in North America,” published in the Soil and Water Conservation Society’s Journal of Soil and Water Conservation presents sustainable solutions for grazing agriculture.

The published article, authored by Teague with co-authors who include Urs Kreuter, Ph.D., AgriLife Research socio-economist in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life SciencesDepartment of Ecology and Conservation Biology, Bryan-College Station, was recognized at the society’s recent conference as a Soil and Water Conservation Society Research Paper for Impact and Quality.

Teague’s research showed appropriate grazing management practices in cattle production are among the solutions for concerns related to agriculture’s impact on the environment. His article serves as a call to action for the implementation of agricultural practices that can improve the resource base, environment, productivity and economic returns. . .


Rural round-up

11/08/2021

Southland farmers raise concerns about Australia luring workers across the Tasman

Australia is providing financial incentives to lure New Zealand immigrant dairy workers across the Tasman.

Southland Federated Farmers sharemilker chairman Jason Herrick said the incentives amounted to thousands of dollars, including relocation costs and bonuses for staying in jobs at least eight weeks.

And they will be re-united with family currently still overseas.

Herrick said immigrant workers on his farm were telling him almost daily of workers leaving New Zealand – although he acknowledged that had slowed a bit with Covid-19 issues. . .

Water reforms could heavily impact rural New Zealand – Annette Scott:

The Government’s intention to reform local government water services into multi-regional entities has the potential to impact heavily on rural communities.

In July 2020, the Government launched the Three Waters Reform programme, a three-year programme to address the challenges facing council-owned and operated three water services.

Government is proposing to establish four publicly-owned entities to take responsibility for drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure across New Zealand. The Government has considered the evidence and proposes that four large water entities will create an affordable system that ensures secure delivery of safe drinking water and resilient wastewater and stormwater systems.

At present, 67 councils provide most of the country’s three waters services. . .

Water reform details scarce – Neal Wallace:

District councils are questioning the lack of detail with the Government’s Three Waters reforms, but are so far reserving judgement.

Its proposal creates four publicly-owned water companies to manage drinking, waste and stormwater assets, along with debt appropriated from 67 councils.

Mayors are frustrated the Government is not listening to their concerns, evident by being given just eight weeks to provide feedback on the proposals.

Other concerns included consultation, the speed of the reforms, local input into the new entity’s decisions, asset valuation, what happens to councils who decline to join the new entities and how communities decide whether or not to be involved. . .

Spring lambing percentages expected to dip – David Hill:

Spring lamb numbers are expected to be down around the region.

North Canterbury scanning contractor Daniel Wheeler said scanning results had been mixed around the region and the season’s drought had taken its toll.

The Amberley-based contractor pregnancy scanned ewes in the North Canterbury and Ellesmere areas.

He estimated scanning percentages were down about 10 to 20%. . .

New T&G company VentureFruit to develop new berry and fruit varieties :

Fruit and vegetable producer and marketer T&G Global is launching a new business to develop and commercialise new fruit varieties.

The new company called VentureFruit will focus on new varieties of boysenberries, blackberries, blueberries, hybrid berries and other fruit trees.

Coinciding with its launch, VentureFruit has signed two key partnerships. It is co-investing alongside science organisation Plant & Food Research in a range of new berries, of which VentureFruit will be the exclusive global commercialisation partner.

In addition, it is also partnering with Plant IP Partners to test and evaluate new varieties of apples which have been bred in New Zealand. . . 

 

 

Farmers urged to push 2021 Love Lamb Week campaign :

Sheep farmers are being encouraged to get behind next month’s Love Lamb Week to help promote the sector to the general public.

The UK sheep sector is preparing to celebrate another Love Lamb Week at the beginning of September following a year of market turbulence.

Farmers are being encouraged to spur on their local community to get involved in promotional activities for the annual campaign.

Now in its seventh year, Love Lamb Week, running from 1 to 7 September, encourages the domestic consumption of UK lamb at its peak season of availability. . . 


Rural round-up

09/08/2021

GDT slump impacts forecasts – Hugh Stringleman:

Eight consecutive falls of the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) price index have all but wiped out the extraordinary 15% rise in the market at the beginning of March.

In the five months since, nine out of 10 fortnightly actions have been downward moves in the market and the GDT price index has dropped 13.2%.

In the first auction for August, whole milk powder (WMP) prices fell by 3.8% and have now fallen 19% since March.

The GDT index lost 1%, as the fall in WMP was balanced somewhat by butter increasing 3.8%, anhydrous milk fat (AMF) by 1.3% and skim milk powder (SMP) by 1.5%. . . 

Soil carbon context important – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It makes up approximately 58% of organic matter, which is the first of seven soil quality indicators in the New Zealand assessment. The prime position of organic matter is because of the attributes associated with it. It holds water and nutrients; soil organisms live in it and decompose it for energy (and nutrients) for their own growth and multiplication; the organisms and the organic matter aid soil structure which in turn assists aeration, infiltration and percolation of water.

A considerable amount of research has been done on building up soil carbon, and on what to avoid in order to prevent a decrease. Some of the results appear to be conflicting. Should we cultivate, strip till or notill to do our best for the environment? Should we flip soils? Can we actually sequester carbon in our soils as other countries are promising to do and so benefit from becoming part of the ETS?

The answer, as so often, is ‘it depends’ – on starting point, soil type, season, crop and all the other usual variables. Context is vital, but sometimes overlooked in enthusiasm for a technology.

The effect on soil carbon of conventional cultivation or conservation (reduced) tillage depends on the measurement depth. . . 

B+LNZ calls for carbon farm limits – Neal Wallace:

Competition from carbon farming is driving up land prices and pushing first-farm buyers out of the market, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Chief executive Sam McIvor says a commissioned report compiled by BakerAg calculates carbon farmers bought an estimated 31,000ha in the four years since 2017, 34% of the 92,118ha of the sheep and beef farms purchased for conversion to forestry.

“One of the interesting aspects which is parallel with housing, is the fact that carbon farming is driving land prices up, which is putting farms out of reach of young people,” McIvor said.

While timber prices have boosted demand for land, the report attributes a significant reason to climate change policies making revenue from a combination of forestry production and carbon, or carbon-only, more attractive. . . 

Researcher finds chemical-free pest killer to save tomatoes –  Sally Murphy:

A PhD student who has come up with a solution to deal with a tomato plant pest is hoping more large scale greenhouses will try it to prove its success.

Emiliano Veronesi discussed his research at the Horticulture Conference in Hamilton this morning.

He set out trying to find a biological control solution to tomato potato psyllid or TPP which is a bug that can prevent fruit from forming on plants and reduce yields.

And he managed to find a predator for the bug, Engytatus nicotinae, which he has since tested in greenhouses at Lincoln University. . .

Pioneering new food in Southland – Country Life:

Expect to hear a lot more from New Zealand’s latest self-declared food bowl – Southland.

The southernmost province is aiming to put itself on the map nationally and internationally for premium food products.

Southland proudly produces dairy products, lamb, beef, fish, wild meat, oysters, honey, carrots, grain, potatoes, cabbages and swedes. An oat milk factory is in the planning.

The province has the most abundant food bowl in New Zealand, says Mary-Anne Webber, food and beverage manager at Southland’s regional development agency Great South. . . 

Growers may give up double shearing due to shearer drought – Mark Griggs and John Ellicott:

Leading players in the wool and sheep industry have expressed true alarm at the oncoming shearer shortage.

It’s believed no Kiwi shearers will arrive in Australia for the rest of the year due to concerns with local coronavirus outbreaks, a loss of 500 shearers, affecting crutching season.

Growers at a field day near Warren highlighted concerns, some saying it will force woolgrowers to shear only once a year. They’ve called on government and peak wool industry body Australian Wool Innovation to increase training and have trainees working in the wool stands now. . . 


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