Rural round-up

March 6, 2017

Leading by example – Cheyenne Stein

Like many young girls, Megan Hands dreamt of being a vet. Today she’s a farm environmental auditor at Irrigo Centre helping farmers come to grips with environmental policies.

Megan grew up on her parents’ dairy farm in Shannon and it was during the early days of the Horizons One Plan that she revised her career path.

“When I was younger there were some resource management battles going on in Opiki near our farm and my dad started to get involved with that and that’s when I started to take an interest in the resource management side of agriculture.”

How many cows are polluting urban harbours? – Alan Emmerson:

I was really interested to read articles in the Herald on Auckland’s polluted beaches. Well-researched and well-written they showed me a problem of massive proportions. We have our nation’s biggest city’s beaches polluted by sewage every time it rains.

It is not an insignificant problem either as the Herald’s coverage showed. One million cubic metres of wastewater and raw sewage, the equivalent of 400 Olympic swimming pools, pours into Auckland Harbour each year.

The waste comes from 41 points around the city almost every time it rains.

As a farmer, albeit semi-retired, I found the story fascinating. Every week we read in the paper that Greenpeace, the Greens, Fish and Game or Massey’s Mike Joy are slagging farmers over water quality.

When it comes to our biggest city, however, it seems that councils can pollute with impunity. . . .

Water quality everyone’s goal – Neal Wallace and Richard Rennie:

Manawatu dairy farmer James Stewart believes the goals the Government has set in its latest freshwater standards are aspirational and should engage entire communities, rather than leave the farming sector on its own to solve.

“The goal to make 90% of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers swimmable is a message for us all as New Zealanders to step up and do our bit to achieve that,” he said. . . 

Walking access cut as cattle spooked  – Chris Morris:

Dunedin city councillor Doug Hall is at the centre of a fresh land dispute, after locking the gates on public access to a walking track crossing his farm.

It was confirmed yesterday the council had closed the Cleghorn St track, above St Leonards, and the Campbell St track, near Bethunes Gully, following complaints from the landowner, Cr Hall, last month.

The Cleghorn St track had since been reopened on a ‘‘restricted’’ basis, and walkers had been cautioned to beware of stock, but it appeared the Campbell St track would remain closed for now. . . 

Sleepy Central Otago town of Omakau comes of age – Rhys Chamberlain:

Remember when you could stop at an intersection and not have to wait for traffic to pass? Remember when cheese rolls weren’t fancy? Remember when you could wear stubbies to the pub? 

Omakau still has this. It might be small and slow-moving but all of a sudden people are taking notice.

Seemingly people are looking for a place where the climate is good, their kids are safe, the people are welcoming and which doesn’t have the overinflated housing hype of other Central Otago towns. . . 

Otago student wins Oceania scholarship – Sally Brooker:

Former Waitaki Girls’ High School pupil Tara Willans (18) has been awarded the 2017 Oceania Dairy scholarship.

She will receive an annual payment of $3000 for up to three years, plus the opportunity for paid work experience at Oceania’s milk factory near Glenavy during study breaks.

Tara is starting a bachelor of arts and science majoring in politics and environmental management, with a minor in accounting, at the University of Otago.

”We had more applications this year than any other year we have been doing this,” Oceania Dairy general manager Roger Usmar said.

Award finalists announced:

Six finalists have been named in this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The finalists are sheep and beef farmers Simon and Kirstin Engelbrecht (Stoneburn), Nelson and Fiona Hancox (West Otago), Graham and Pam Hunter (Tuapeka West), Simon, Sarah, Allan and Eris Paterson (Gimmerburn), Robin and Emma Wightman (Tuapeka West) and dairy farmers Ben and Tanya Davie (Clydevale).


Rural round-up

August 1, 2016

Farmers check out challenges in Zambia – Sally Rae:

When Nelson Hancox returned home from a trip to Zambia and had to write a brief statement on what he had learnt, it was not a difficult task.

“I wrote, ‘New Zealand’s a great place to do business’,” the Tapanui sheep and beef farmer said.

Mr Hancox recently attended a Rabobank Global Farmers Master Class in Zambia, which attracted 20 farmers from throughout the world and from a diverse range of farming operations.

The week-long programme brought farmers from nine key food and agriculture-producing countries to observe the potential of the Zambian agricultural sector and to discuss the challenges facing local producers. . . 

New regulations on live animal export rules announced:

New rules that will give the Ministry for Primary Industries greater visibility of the welfare of animals being exported from New Zealand will come into force on 25 August 2016, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced today.

“New Zealanders care deeply about the welfare of animals, and this was reflected during the consultation process” says MPI’s Director Biosecurity and Animal Welfare Julie Collins.

“The changes that are being introduced in August will further strengthen New Zealand’s reputation as a responsible exporter of animals and animal products.

They will give early effect to amendments made last year to the Animal Welfare Act 1999 that would have otherwise commenced in May 2020. . . 

Farming initiative the first of its kind for Northland and NZ:

A brand new farming initiative – Extension 350 – is an innovative programme, the first of its kind for New Zealand. Designed to lift on farm performance through improving farm systems and profitability through shared knowledge.

The programme aims to have 350 Northland farms involved in four years and is modelled on having clusters of five farms working together with business advice and direction provided to a Target Farmer by an expert consultant, with that relationship encouraged by a Mentor Farmer. The expectation is that the Target Farmer similarly influences a group of Associated Farmers.

The pilot scheme which ran at Candy Farm in Okaihau from 2011 to 2014 saw local farmers Alister and Lyn Candy make management changes which have resulted in greater resilience and an increase in profits of around $180,000 per annum. . . 

Farmers cooperating to lift performance:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed an innovative programme lifting the performance of 350 Northland farmers through shared knowledge.

“The first year of the Extension 350 programme will see the start of two dairy clusters and one sheep and beef cluster. Each cluster consists of five top performing ‘mentor farmers’ extending their knowledge, advice and direction to a group of five target farmers,” says Mr Guy. 

“These target farmers then interact and influence a surrounding group of five associated farmers, extending the benefits of top performing farm practice from the original target farmer. The farm clusters are supported with farm consultants and other service providers. . . 

War on predators: capture collective wisdom, Trust says

Plant pests must also be a focus

Hawke’s Bay-based conservation group Forest Lifeforce Restoration (FLR) Trust has welcomed the Predator-Free by 2050 initiative announced by the government earlier this week. It says the target is achievable but that success will rely on collaboration and information-sharing on a scale not yet seen in New Zealand conservation circles and that few have dared dream was possible.

“Conservation in New Zealand can no longer be purely the preserve of government agencies,” said Trust Chairman Simon Hall. “The job’s too big, the battle’s too fierce. Landowners and the private sector all have a role to play.

“It’s crucial for the success of this initiative, though, that Predator Free New Zealand Limited is able to harness not just the collective will, but also the expertise developed from decades of trial and error that exists in pockets right across the country.” . . 

Predator Free community fund to boost local conservation efforts:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has today welcomed the efforts of a young Taranaki conservationist which will contribute to making New Zealand predator free by 2050.

Ms Barry met with 8 year-old Monte Woodward while visiting New Plymouth on Saturday.

“Monte is to be congratulated. He has worked hard to raise money by running sausage sizzles and washing cars to purchase two traps which will help protect some of our most vulnerable native wildlife from rats, stoats and possums.” Ms Barry says. . . 

Briefing Paper: Mt Pisa, Doc & the Hunting Issue
A tragedy waiting to happen:

Earlier this year, historic Mt Pisa Station closed public access gates that run through its property to the adjacent DOC-managed conservation estate.

It was an action taken by the principals of Mt Pisa – Murray, Jacky and Shane MacMillan – for the purpose of safeguarding unsuspecting recreational users from potential danger and death.

The adjacent Pisa Conservation Area is managed by the Department of Conservation and allows uncontrolled access onto its estate for recreational trampers, trail-bikers … and hunters.

At no stage does it warn recreational trampers, hikers and bikers that armed hunters may be sharing their space. . . 

$30 million cash injection from Ballance rebate:

Results at a glance
Total distribution to shareholders of $30 million ($76 million last year)
Rebate payment of $25 per tonne ($55.83 last year)
Total revenue of $837 million ($893 million last year)
Gross trading result of $35 million ($81 million last year)
Total sales volumes of 1.62 million tonnes (1.75 million last year)
Equity ratio of 81% (80.4% last year)

Farm nutrient co-operative Ballance Agri-Nutrients is distributing a total of $30 million to farmers this week, returning 87 percent of its 2015/16 $35 million gross trading result to shareholders. . . 

Sustainable Farming Fund open for applications:

The 2017/18 funding round for MPI’s Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) opens today.

“We welcome any groups keen to tackle a shared problem or develop a new opportunity related to the primary industries to apply for the fund,” says Investment Programmes Director Justine Gilliland.

“SFF supports farmers and researchers involved at grass-roots level and each year we receive a very high calibre of project applications.” . . 

Fonterra & LIC Investigating Tech Solution to Improve Farm Performance:

Fonterra and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) are teaming up to develop a new online technology solution designed to provide farmers with a view of their operation in one place.

The two farmer-owned Co-operatives are combining resources, knowledge and expertise to look at the best way to bring together a farmer’s milk production and quality data, herd data, pasture data, local weather forecasts and more into one easy-to-use online portal.

Farmers will be able to see their private individual farm information in one place, allowing them to make faster and easier decisions about their farming operation. . . 


Rural round-up

November 6, 2014

Farmers flock to Ruataniwha meeting:

IrrigationNZ says it is heartened by the support from Hawke’s Bay farmers and growers who attended it’s ‘It’s Now or Never’ Ruataniwha meeting last night, jointly hosted with Federated Farmers in Waipawa, Hawke’s Bay.

Over 250 turned up to hear the ‘real life’ scenarios presented by South Island farmers with experience of irrigation development, says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“We had farmers from Canterbury and Otago breaking down how they make irrigation pay and what it’s done for their farming operations. They weren’t large scale dairy farmers either. Rab McDowell and Nick Webster showed how sheep finishing, beef, cropping and speciality seed, alongside dairy support operations can all benefit from reliable irrigation. Local irrigators, Arthur Rowlands and Hugh Ritchie also spoke on how and why they would make it work for them.” . .

Canterbury irrigation project making progress –  Kloe Palmer

The company behind a massive South Island irrigation scheme has unveiled the first stage of a project which will transform a swathe of dry Canterbury land for intensive agricultural production.

The huge project near Hororata will take most of its water from the Rakaia River, irrigating more than 60,000 hectares of farmland.

Huge pipes will eventually form a 130km-long underground network, which will be fed from a main trunk-like canal.

It’s still under construction, but soon water from the river will be flowing through it. . .

Dutch and NZ food innovation link:

Greater links between food innovation companies in this country and with those in the Netherlands is being predicted by the head of a Dutch food innovation network.

Roger van Hoesel from Food Valley Netherlands was in this country to attend the Manawatu Agrifood Business Forum.

He was being hosted by FoodHQ, a cluster of New Zealand food innovation organisations.

Mr van Hoesel said because the Netherlands and New Zealand were similar, collaboration would work. . .

New Zealand and Sri Lanka strengthen ties through milk and cricket:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has finished the first leg of a six day mission to Sri Lanka and India this week, promoting trade and New Zealand’s co-hosting of the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015.

Mr Guy met with President Rajapaksa and several Sri Lankan Ministers over the last two days.

“Our two countries are building a stronger relationship through the New Zealand-Sri Lanka Dairy Cooperation Arrangement (DCA). The DCA is our commitment to the development of Sri Lanka’s dairy industry,” says Mr Guy.

“New Zealand has one of the world’s most efficient dairy industries, and a lot of valuable expertise to share with Sri Lankan dairy producers.

“There are only 280,000 cows in Sri Lanka compared with 5 million in New Zealand and they are keen to improve their productivity. Genetics, animal husbandry, feeding techniques and technology can all play a part in this.” . .

Minister congratulates conservation innovators:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has congratulated the winners of the inaugural Conservation Innovation Awards.

The World Wildlife Fund Conservation Innovation Awards were presented at a ceremony in Wellington last night. The awards recognise innovative approaches to conservation issues.

Ms Barry presented the inaugural award to inventor Gian Badraun and Microsystems Research for their product ‘Trap Minder’, an early response system for monitoring predator traps and bait stations.

“I’m very impressed by how inventive and forward-thinking these solutions are in their practical approach to tackling key conservation issues, including the threat of ‘eco-invaders’ to New Zealand’s biodiversity,” says Ms Barry. . .

Challenge to return more value to the farm gate – West Otago grazier heads to global agri master class:

Learning how sheep and beef farmers in other parts of the world are tackling the challenge of “delivering more value back to the farmgate” will be high on the agenda for West Otago livestock farmer Nelson Hancox when he attends a gathering of leading international farmers in Australia this week.

Mr Hancox, a sheep and cattle producer from Kowai Downs, near Tapanui in the South Island, is among five leading New Zealand farmers selected to participate in the Rabobank Global Farmers Master Class, which commences in Victoria later this week.

The week-long Master Class will see 40 progressive farmers from across the globe gather to share ideas and information on the future of farming and participate in the educational program. . .


Rural round-up

October 31, 2014

Seasonality drives the red meat industries – Keith Woodford:

I have previously described the challenges that seasonality creates for the dairy industry. For New Zealand’s red meat industries, those issues are even more constraining. It is a key part of the reason why restructuring the meat industry is so challenging.

Sheep are designed by nature to give birth in the spring, and their fertility is much reduced at all other times of the year. Given that the market predominantly wants carcasses of 17 – 20 kg, this means that most lambs are ready for slaughter between December and April, with the peak slaughter in a shorter period from January to March.

In practical terms, this makes impossible the development of a mainstream consumer products industry based on a 12 month supply of chilled lamb. Trying to configure the national industry in this way would lead to exorbitant production costs. . . .

Dam could lift region’s GDP by $54.5m:

A new report shows the gross domestic product of the Nelson Tasman region could be lifted by more than $54 million if a proposed dam is built.

The analysis by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has been released during a public consultation of Tasman ratepayers into the possible funding models for the Waimea Community Dam.

The report’s author, senior economist Peter Clough said his analysis suggested the benefits of the dam would more than cover the cost of its construction.

Nelson Economic Development Agency chief executive Bill Findlater said the Lee Valley project definitely stacks up. . .

Details about next Tuesday’s Ruataniwha water event:

Federated Farmers and Irrigation NZ have released more details about the free “Ruataniwha – it’s Now or Never” event, taking place from 7pm next Tuesday (4 November), at the Waipawa/Central Hawke’s Bay Municipal Theatre. 

“It is definitely not going to be a theoretical discussion about economic models, but real world examples of farmers and schemes with costs similar to what the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme proposes,” says Will Foley, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay.

“Instead of talking about an economic model, we’re bringing up farmers involved in the comparable cost North Otago Irrigation Company scheme and Mid-Canterbury’s BCI scheme.  . .

Sheep, beef farmers want big changes – Sally Rae:

West Otago sheep and beef farmers Nelson and Fiona Hancox want farmers to ”stand up and be counted” and take charge of their futures.

The couple, who are both passionate about the red meat industry and are involved with various groups and industry bodies, believe it is time for farmers to take control.

Mrs Hancox was nominated to attend the 2014 Rabobank Global Farmers Master Class in Australia next month, where she would have been joining farmers from around the world. . .

 

Maori agriculture selling itself short – Gerald Hutching:

Maori agriculture has “huge” potential for development but only 20 per cent of farmland is well developed, 40 per cent is underperforming, and 40 per cent is under-used, says a Massey University academic.

Lecturer and researcher and Kaiarahi Maori Dr Nick Roskruge said about 720,000 hectares of Maori land was farmed, returning $750 million a year, but its short-term potential was $6 billion.

Maori are most strongly represented in the sheep and beef cattle sectors, with dairying becoming increasingly important. About 15,000 Maori are employed in the sector. . .

Capitalising on a perfect partnership on-farm – Jon Morgan:

Rambunctious is the best name for this ram. He’s a big bruiser, used to getting his own way, and he doesn’t like being manhandled.

He struggles out of Peter Tod’s grip and makes a break for freedom. But the Otane farmer’s determination is stronger and the ram is wrestled into submission for a photograph.

He is picked out from a small mob as the most photogenic because of his open face, long back, well-shaped legs, sound feet, and meaty hindquarters. . .


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