Rural round-up

29/07/2014

Cuff calling time as CEO – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff is stepping down in December after nine years in the position.

Yesterday, Mr Cuff (56) told the Otago Daily Times his decision was not sudden and he had been thinking about it for a while, looking for the right time to stand down.

During his 24-year tenure with Alliance Group, Mr Cuff held various executive positions including general manager commercial, chief financial officer, chief operating officer and chief executive. . .

Beet + Lamb New Zealand give support to MIE business plan:

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Board has approved funding for the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group’s Business Plan to support red meat sector initiatives.

The decision to approve the funding application comes following farmers voting in support of an MIE remit at the B+LNZ Annual Meeting in March of this year, seeking funding support for MIE initiatives.

The $219,000 project includes MIE contracting independent consulting firms to research improved procurement models, flow on effects on industry profitability and communicating these findings to the sector. . .

DOC: 1080 drop last chance to save mohua – Neil Rately:

The Department of Conservation has confirmed it will dump 1080 on almost 7000 hectares of Waikaia Forest in Northern Southland because of high rat counts.

An aerial drop of 1080 is the only way to ensure the survival of the endangered mohua (yellowhead) and other threatened species during a heavy beech mast, DOC says.

Catlins services ranger Cheryl Pullar said pest control might be the last chance for Waikaia mohua, which was thought to be lost during the beech mast in 2000.

Environment Southland had granted DOC consent for the drop and it would go ahead in August or September, she said. . .

Workers with experience in high demand – Rob Tipa:

Where have all the skilled farm workers gone?

That is the question that has plagued the dairy industry for years but it now extends to a shortage of experienced farm managers and shepherds with well-trained teams of dogs on sheep and beef farms.

Despite relatively high unemployment levels nationally, the chronic shortage of trained staff in the dairy industry has been well documented.

But a new survey of farmers suggests the shortage of workers affects all sectors of agriculture. . .

Overseer expands for new demands

As the nutrient-budgeting computer-modelling program Overseer becomes ever more central to fresh water management in New Zealand, its developers are working flat-out to expand its capabilities to match new demands.

First developed in the 1990s, Overseer has steadily evolved as a farming tool, becoming ever- more complex, able to calculate loss of nitrates to water, phosphate run-off and greenhouse gas emissions from nine separate farming systems, including dairying and arable.

Regional councils are now using Overseer in the development of water plans, with Canterbury farmers now expected to use it to calculate their average nitrogen losses over the past four years to establish their “nitrogen baseline”, the upper limit for future farming enterprises. . .

Semen collecting is tricky and dangerous – Sonita Chandar:

Working with penises, semen and testicles is no laughing matter but a sense of humour is essential, says a bull whisperer.

Interposing yourself between an amorous bull and the object of its lust is a dangerous occupation, but for semen collector Robyn How, of the Tararua Breeding Centre in Woodville, it is a fascinating way of life.

Born and raised in Australia, How became passionate about cattle after helping a friend with show animals. While doing an artificial insemination course, she found she had a natural ability to read bulls.

She bought a 6ha lifestyle block in Woodville in 1997 and started the breeding centre the next year with Auckland-based business partner and embryo transfer veterinarian Eddie Dixon. . .


Rural round-up

10/03/2014

This land of milk & honey of ours: – Willy Leferink:

The former U.S president, Ronald Reagan, was well known for his turn of phrase. At one farmer meeting Reagan delivered this advice on politicians peddling a plan: “the 10 most dangerous words in the English language are, “Hi, I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help”.

I was reminded of what Reagan said when, by chance, I caught Parliament a few weeks ago just as the MP Andrew Little let rip:  “This is a Government obsessed with mucking around in the same puddle of water we have been in, frankly, for far too long – more primary production, more mining, more commodity goods to be sold at commodity prices. The challenge for this country is to make the shift in our economy into totally new productive enterprises and into the new economy…”

It’s some puddle when ‘primary production’ will be worth $36bn this 2013/14 season!  It is even more of a puddle when dairying has helped New Zealand to a record trade surplus in January, or, as Statistics NZ’s Chris Pike put it, “dairy export prices helped lift the terms of trade to their highest level since 1973.” . . .

Sheep do most harm to farmers – Neil Ratley:

Southland and Otago farmers have been flocking to ACC with farm animal-related injury claims.

And sheep top the list of most dangerous animals.

Across the south, there were more than 1000 farm animal- related injury claims made to ACC in 2013. Sheep were responsible for 473 of those, with cattle being blamed for 367 injuries and horses coming in with 131.

However, in Southland where dairy cows command the paddocks, cattle inflicted the most pain on farmers with 123 injury claims last year.

But the district’s sheep also got in on the act, with 116 incidents reported to ACC. . .

Gorse attacked to halt nitrogen runoff:

A plan to eradicate gorse in the Lake Rotorua catchment as a way of stopping nitrogen runoff into the lake has been launched by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Council general manager of natural resources Warwick Murray says gorse can contribute as much nitrogen as a dairy farm but because it’s so widely spread, the control of it rests with landowners.

He says it’s a very difficult task to accomplish because the gorse is often on steep, difficult country and comes back quickly after being cleared unless some alternative vegetation cover is established. . .

Day a chance to give it a go – Sally Rae:

Sarah O’Connell says she did not choose agriculture as a career – it chose her.

Ms O’Connell, now an extension officer for Beef and Lamb New Zealand, was addressing a Get Ahead career experience day at Totara Estate, just south of Oamaru, last week.

More than 130 pupils from John McGlashan College, Taieri College, East Otago High, Otago Boys’, Timaru Boys’, Craighead Diocesan, Mackenzie College, St Kevin’s College, Waitaki Girls’ and Waitaki Boys’ High School attended the day, while just over 140 attended a similar day in Gore earlier in the week. . . .

Winton newlyweds’ winning form  – Sally Rae:

March will go down as a memorable month for Winton 50% sharemilkers Steve Henderson and Tracy Heale.

Not only did they win the 2014 Southland Otago sharemilker/equity farmer of the year title, but they also got married.

Mr Henderson (27) and Ms Heale (28) met at Lincoln University, where they completed agriculture degrees before starting in the dairy industry in 2007.

Both came from farming backgrounds, with Mr Henderson brought up on a dairy farm and Ms Heale on a sheep and beef farm in the North Island. . . .

Tractor pulling gains popularity – Sonita Chandar:

Wheels will be spinning and the dirt flying when the big rigs roll in to Feilding for the annual Norwood Tractor Pull competition.

All leading tractor manufacturers will be represented at the event which runs as part of the Central Districts Field Days from this Thursday and put through their paces by the Tractor Pull New Zealand tractor pull sledge.

Modified tractors will be running daily – providing all the noise-making, smoke-generating and wheelie- popping action you can handle. . . .


Rural round-up

07/12/2013

Lochinver set for record price – Stephen Bell:

Lochinver Station on the Napier-Taupo Road is expected to set a New Zealand farm price record of more than $70 million.

Though bigger farms have been sold in the South Island Lochinver is the most productive rural property ever put up for sale in NZ, Bayleys managing director Mike Bayley said.

The land was waste and scrub when Sir William Stevenson bought it in 1958.

It is now being sold as Stevenson Group, one of the country’s biggest privately-owned companies, rebalances its investment portfolio to exclude farming, chief executive Mark Franklin said. . . .

Trade deals coming thick and fast – Alan Barber:

The TPP may not be happening as soon as expected, but free trade agreements with individual markets, Chinese Taipei and Peru, will come into effect, some aspects immediately, and provide more immediate rewards for our exporters.

Although multinational trade negotiations make more dramatic headlines, history suggests that they have a similar gestation period to an elephant, in fact quite a bit longer in the case of WTO rounds. The TPP looks as if it will follow a similar course because of the USA’s demands about trade partners’ internal arrangements, like Pharmac, and farmer lobbies in countries like Japan and South Korea. This makes it extremely difficult to conclude a binding agreement that meets the requirements of all the countries participating in the negotiations.

Unilateral trade agreements are not as highly regarded or sought after, but they are an essential part of international trade and, for New Zealand with its high trade dependency, very important to our future prosperity. . .

Police fear poaching fatality – Neil Ratley:

Farm workers and their houses are being caught in the spotlights of poachers, and southern police fear someone will be killed unless the illegal practice is stopped.

Constable Steve Winsloe of Winton said police and farmers were taking a collaborative approach to the problem to prevent a potential tragedy.

Landowners had had enough and were working with police to prevent poaching and other rural crime, he said.

“Farmers are getting caught in the spotlights when they are out working after dark. It just takes one poacher to see a glint of an eye that may not be an animal and they pull the trigger” he said.

“The last thing police want is a fatal shooting.” . . .

ANZCO bounces back into profit – Alan Williams:

ANZCO Foods has released early its trading result – a pre-tax profit of $12.6 million – in response to what it says are rumours about its financial strength.

The company was not only profitable in the year ended September 30 but increased its operating cashflow and equity ratio on a year earlier.

Revenue increased to $1.28 billion, from $1.21b previously.

It will also pay a dividend to shareholders, as it has done every year since the shareholding structure was put in place in 2001, chairman Sir Graeme Harrison said. . . .

Alliance operations on move – Collette Devlin:

The Alliance Group is in the process of transferring beef rendering operations to its new $25 million rendering plant at Lorneville in Invercargill.

Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff said the company started moving operations from the Mataura beef plant about a week ago.

It was also clearing out the rendering plant at Makarewa, where lamb slinks processing finished about a month ago, he said.

Alliance Group is consolidating its southern rendering operations at the new Lorneville plant to improve productivity. . . .

Flood of interest in storage dam idea– Matthew Littlewood:

The burgeoning Rangitata South Irrigation Scheme in South Canterbury has led to a rush of applications for water storage dams.

Environment Canterbury’s consents spokeswoman confirmed that none of the 21 applications within the Arundel-based scheme’s 16,000 hectare “command area” were declined, because all of them fitted within its notified Land and Water Regional Plan.

“To clarify – these are off-channel storage dams (no waterways were dammed) and these include four certificates of compliance (where a dam met the permitted activity requirements and no consent was required),” she said.

The capacity of the storage dams ranged from 8000 to 210,000 cubic metres. . . .


Rural round-up

02/07/2013

Dairying drives region’s growth – Neil Ratley:

The agricultural industry ensured Southland was one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing regions during the global financial crisis, new figures show.

Statistics New Zealand this week released the first official measure of regional economies, analysing 15 regions between 2007 and 2010.

Although the figures are three years old, Venture Southland enterprise services manager Alistair Adam said agriculture and manufacturing remain the two biggest drivers of Southland’s economy.

The conversion to dairy has strengthened the agricultural industry while the global financial crisis impacted on the manufacturing industry, he said.

“In the past 18 months, it has been a difficult time for manufacturing but we are seeing some good growth in the industry in Southland,” Mr Adams said. . .

Feed an issue as cows lose condition – Tony Benny:

Saturated paddocks are making it difficult for Canterbury dairy farmers to feed their stock and cow condition is suffering as a result.

“The amount of feed wasted over the last 10 days to two weeks has just been phenomenal,” said South Canterbury sharemilker Ben Januay. “We’re probably only getting 50 per cent utilisation and we’ve lost two weeks of putting condition on cows so we’re now right behind the eight-ball.”

Januay milks 2200 cows on a farm near Rangitata but the herd is being wintered on a runoff at Waihao Forks, near Waimate. “We’re the same as every farmer I think in the region – flooded paddocks, flooded rivers and mud up to your waist. Every farmer I talk to says they’re just struggling to get into paddocks to feed stock.” . . .

Acting Director-General of Ministry for Primary Industries announced:

State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie has today announced the appointment of Scott Gallacher as Acting Director-General and Chief Executive of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Mr Gallacher is currently MPI’s Deputy Director-General Resource Management and Programmes. He will take up the position from 29 July 2013 when the current Director-General, Wayne McNee, leaves MPI to take up a role in the private sector.

Mr Gallacher joined the Ministry of Fisheries in January 2009 as Chief Legal Adviser. He moved to become Director Strategy, Planning and Governance in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in early 2011 before taking up his current role in MPI in late 2011. . .

New chair for dairy industry awards:

SOUTH AUCKLAND sharemilker Gavin Roden is the new chair of the Dairy Industry Awards organisation.

Roden has been on the executive committee since 2011 and takes over from Southland farmer Matthew Richards who’s chaired the awards for the usual three year term.

“It’s business as usual for the awards this year,” Roden told Rural News. “The focus is the 25th anniversary of the Sharemilker competition.” . . .

Trophy treasured – Sally Rae:

When Outram stock agent and farmer Geoff Edgar won the Doug Lindsay Memorial Trophy in the annual Otago-Southland beef competition, he admitted it gave him ”a bit of a kick”.

Mr Edgar described the late Taieri cattleman as a ”grand old gentleman”. He had learnt a lot from him.

Mr Edgar received the trophy for winning champion on the hoof with a Limousin steer, which was described as having tremendous quality and finish. He also won reserve champion on the hoof with another Limousin steer. . .

Future of farming – robo hamster balls:

The hamster ball. Great for exercising hamsters, bringing stress levels down in humans and, according to Spanish scientists, the future of farming.

The Robotics and Cybernetics Research Group from the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid have devised a robot that can effectively check moisture levels of farm soil.

Watch the robo ball in action below . . .


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