YF president & Ngāi Tahu manager Dairy Woman of Year

May 7, 2020

Ngāi Tahu farm manager and Young Farmers’ president Ash-Leigh Campbell is the 2020 Dairy Woman of the Year:

The other finalists were Auckland based microbiologist and bio chemist Natasha Maguire and West Coast dairy farmer Heather McKay.

Dairy Women’s Network Trustee who heads up the judging panel Alison Gibb said all three woman contributed to the dairy industry in very different ways which highlighted the depth and diversity of how women are contributing to the dairy industry in New Zealand.

“Ash-Leigh exudes energy and passion for the dairy industry and has actively sought opportunities to both contribute and grow in an industry she loves,” Gibb said.

As the Farming Technical Farm Manager for Ngai Tahu Campbell has been working for the South Island Maori iwi farming operation for over three years. In her current role she is responsible for assisting with the management and performance of eight dairy and dairy support farms that includes 8000 cows.

After leaving high school the 28 year old studied at Lincoln University doing diplomas in Agriculture and Farm Management and a degree in Commerce majoring in agriculture. It was during this time she had her first taste of the Dairy Women’s Network, becoming a Dairy Women’s Network Regional Leader and the driving force behind the DWN Lincoln group which has now merged into Selwyn.

She also assists with operational and environmental performance (audit and compliance), analytical projects and the implementation and improvement of sustainable farming practices. She is also Chair of the New Zealand Young Farmers organization.

Winning the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award was “amazing recognition” of just how far she had come in the industry, Campbell said.

“The opportunities Fonterra and Dairy Women’s Network have provided have given me the confidence to step out and grow in the industry in 10 short years,” she said.

“I’ve been bold, I’ve been brave and I hope this journey I’ve been on can showcase to other young wahine that anything is achievable.”

Fonterra Chief Executive Miles Hurrell says the Co-op is proud to recognise and help develop women in dairying who set high standards for themselves and for our industry.

“I want to congratulate Ash-Leigh for winning this award and also the two other finalists. They are all outstanding ambassadors for our industry and are contributing to the pathways that will enable the next generation of farmers to succeed.

“Ash-Leigh’s commitment to sustainable farming and environmental protection is clear to see, and makes a real and positive difference in her local community and our industry.”

As Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year, Campbell receives a scholarship prize of up to $20,000 to undertake a professional business development programme, sponsored by Fonterra.


Rural round-up

February 27, 2020

Water will be currency of 21st century – Todd Muller:

Water is one of our nation’s critical strategic assets, perhaps second only behind our people. Therefore water storage is essential for ensuring we have a thriving primary sector for years to come, writes National’s Agriculture spokesman Todd Muller.

Water will be the currency of success in the next century.

In the 19th century it was coal, in the 20th century it was oil and in my view in the 21st century it is water.

We are a tradeable economy and water is a critical strategic asset in developing our commodities. The ability to store it will be a key infrastructural necessity if we are to leverage the value of water over the next few decades. . .

Wild rabbit enterprises shot down by red tape:

Federated Farmers is dismayed by reports that at least two businesses which process meat from wild rabbits are being strangled by compliance costs.

“It’s tough times on farms at the moment, with rising rabbit numbers in dry conditions.  With all the focus on predator-free and biodiversity, surely we should be working with and encouraging the commercial use of pest species, not making it harder for operators,” Feds Meat & Wool Chairperson Miles Anderson says.

Radio NZ has reported that the owner of a business supplying wild rabbits to high end restaurants, and for pet food, is spending up to 40 hours a week on paperwork, never mind growing MPI audit fees at $176 an hour.  As with another Canterbury-based processor, he told Radio NZ he was thinking of closing down. . .

Dairy returns too tiny for farmers – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers have many reasons for optimism though three out of four say the returns are not worth the effort, DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Bruce Thorrold says.

Many farmers are asking themselves why they still bother dairying and his task is to help clear the fog and rekindle motivation, he told the DairyNZ Northland farmers forum.

Farmers are worried about environmental, banking, farm value, alternative food, drought and disease pressures. . .

Weevil win – we knocked the bastard off – Karen WIlliams:

Hats off to you, Wairarapa.  In the words of another Kiwi who achieved a world-first, “we knocked the bastard off”.

Okay, eradicating the region’s pea weevil incursion isn’t as grand as Ed Hillary and Tensing Norgay climbing Everest but in terms of biosecurity, and protecting an industry that earns us $50 million in domestic sales and $84 million in exports, it is a big deal.  It’s also another bug we don’t have to spray for.

As far as we know, no other country has successfully combatted this pest after an incursion.

It’s taken a region-wide and government agency effort to get where we are – that’s growers/farmers, home gardeners, Federated Farmers, local councils, Greater Wellington, local MPs, MPI, Biosecurity NZ, the Foundation for Arable Research, Assure Quality…a big thank-you to you all for your perseverance, flexibility and understanding. . .

New app to help hunters track tahr during culling –

A long-term plan is being developed to control Himalayan tahr in the South Island.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) said the large goat-like animals, introduced to New Zealand during the early days of European settlement, posed a threat to the country’s native alpine plants.

To combat the loss of native vegetation, DOC said it had been working with ecological experts to start a new monitoring system.

The long-term control plan is led by DOC and Ngāi Tahu. . . 

Beef bans based on ‘popular opinion, not facts’, Harper Adams says:

Harper Adams University has said it will never ban beef from its campus menus as it criticises other institutions for their ‘knee-jerk reactions’ to the climate crisis.

In recent years, and even more so in recent months, several UK universities have attracted significant media attention for voting motions to ban beef.

Earlier this month, thousands of students at Edinburgh University rejected proposals to ban the meat in all student union run outlets. . .

 


Rural round-up

December 31, 2019

Land Champion: helping girls gain confidence – Neal Wallace:

Laura Douglas has successfully slayed her demons and is now using everyday farming skills to help teenage girls confront theirs.

Depression four years ago thrust the 32-year-old Southlander into some dark places, places unimaginable today given her boundless energy, endless positivity and zest for life and people.

Douglas addressed her depression by taking small steps, getting out and doing things such as volunteering at a horse refuge and celebrating small achievements. . .

Alliance aiming for ‘greater value’ as part of evolution – Brent Melville:

Southland-based  farmer co-operative Alliance Group wants to capture “greater value” from its products as part of its evolution to a food and solutions business, chairman Murray Taggart says.

Last month, Alliance Group announced a profit of $20.7million before distributions and tax, on revenue of $1.7billion.

It has now paid $9million to its supplying shareholders.

Mr Taggart said it was the best trading result since 2010.

“While this year’s result enabled us to reward shareholders with a profit distribution, we recognise the need to lift the profitability further. . . 

Land Champion: Many string in Jones’ bow – Annette Scott:

From humble beginnings 19 years ago Matt and Tracey Jones now do business worldwide to help Canterbury farmers staff their farms and have launched a world class learning environment in rural Mid Canterbury to provide elite education to strengthen New Zealand primary industries. Annette Scott caught up with the agribusiness entrepreneurs.

Mid Canterbury couple Matt and Tracey Jones’ agricultural staffing businesses is going world-wide recruiting and training people to work across all sectors of New Zealand’s primary industries.

Starting out as Mid Canterbury Casual Employment Services in 2001 their recruitment and training business has evolved and expanded to meet agriculture’s increasing needs. . .

$42.55m in I billion trees project funding:

Figures released by Te Uru Rakau (Forestry New Zealand) this week show 228 grant applications were received for funding under the Government’s One Billion Trees Programme this year, a total of $42.55million being allocated across 42 projects.

Te Uru Rakau acting deputy director-general Sam Keenan said $22.2million of that had been approved across 10,758.4 hectares of new planting.

“To date approximately 17,056,165 trees comprised of 9,785,067 native and 7,271,098 exotic trees have been funded.” . . 

Ngāi Tahu hopes to raise funds for undaria management by selling the seaweed – Louisa Steyl:

It’s a frigid morning off the coast of Dunedin when a wetsuit-clad diver rises to the surface clutching a slimy prize.

The trophy is a seaweed known as undaria pinnatifida – a pest native to Japan and Korea – and physically cutting it out is the only way to control it. 

On board the Polaris 2, a research vessel stationed just a few metres away, members of Ngāi Tahu is processing and packing the seaweed for research.

Its trying to determine the possible uses of undaria in the hopes that harvesting it could pay for control efforts.  . . 

 

Planning to feed? Try the calculator app to help come with complex decisions :

Livestock producers are now planning for difficult conditions through summer and autumn, going into winter.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Local Land Services have advised producers to use available tools and tactics to develop feasible solutions for worst case to best case scenarios.

DPI sheep development officer, Geoff Casburn, said the free Drought and Supplementary Feed Calculator app is available from the Apple App Store and Google Play to help calculate feed requirements, costs and budgets and develop cost effective feeding strategies. . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 4, 2019

M. bovis response far from over:

Increased confidence that cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis can be eradicated from New Zealand should be greeted with very cautious optimism.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor announced last week that international experts were impressed by the eradication efforts and were more confident the campaign was working.

The Technical Advisory Group was more optimistic than six months ago, having confirmed that evidence showed the response was dealing with a single and relatively recent incursion from late 2015-early 2016. . . 

Public wanting cleaner water no surprise – we all have the same vision:

The results from the Colmar Brunton survey of the public that showed the public care about waterways is no surprise, and reinforces that all kiwis care deeply about New Zealand.

DairyNZ CE Tim Mackle says “we believe so strongly that kiwis care about waterways that we’re starting a movement, where the vision is clear – we want all new Zealanders to do their bit to look after rivers, lakes and beaches and you can find out more at thevisionisclear.co.nz” . .

Big plans for predator control in the Mackenzie Basin – Matthew Littlewood:

There are big plans to protect some of our smallest insects and birds in the upper Mackenzie Basin and Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Reporter Matthew Littlewood talks to some of those involved in an ambitious project to make the Basin predator-free.

It’s been roughly 18 months in the making and much of it is still in the planning stages, but already there is momentum building around Te Manahuna Aoraki.

Everything from expanding a breeding area for kakī/black stilt to building a massive predator fence is on the cards as part of the major, multi-agency predator control programme involving Department of Conservation, the NEXT Foundation, Ngai Tahu, local run holders, philanthropists and other agencies.

Be safe on the farm this summer :

Summer is a busy time on the farm, but it’s also among the most hazardous periods for accidents, says WorkSafe NZ.

Almost 550 farmers suffered injuries serious enough for them to take at least a week off work over the last summer (December 2017-February 2018) while there were three fatalities on farms.

Overall, trips, slips and falls, being hit or bitten by animals, hit by moving objects and incidents involving vehicles were the major causes of injuries, according to data from ACC. . . 

Owl farm flying high

Owl Farm uses proven research and good practice and, importantly, encourages young people into the dairy industry.

The joint venture demonstration dairy farm run by St Peters School Cambridge and Lincoln University had its Farm Focus Day in mid-November and gave visitors an overview of how the 2018-19 season was shaping up compared to the previous year. . . 

Red meat and dairy good for a healthy diet, study suggests

Researchers have found that people who eat higher levels of red meat and cheese are more likely to live longer.

The study of 220,000 adults found that eating three portions of dairy and one and half portions of unprocessed red meat a day could cut the risk of early death by one quarter.

Chances of a fatal heart attack decreased by 22 percent, according to the study by McMaster University, in Canada. . .


Rural round-up

December 18, 2018

Government believes Mycoplasma bovis can be eradicated :

The Government is confident that the cattle disease M. bovis can be eradicated in New Zealand.

It would be a world first if successful.

“Based on all the evidence presented to us, we are confident that eradication is possible and that we are on track in what’s a world first but necessary action to preserve the value of our national herd and economic base, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor said today . . 

Federated Farmers cautiously optimistic on M.bovis plan:

Federated Farmers is supportive of today’s government call that we may be able to achieve the biosecurity triumph of being the first country in the world to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis.

While there are farmers throughout the country still battling with the aftermath of the disease’s discovery, Feds believes we can all start to feel more confident about the outcome of the eradication.

“We are cautiously optimistic, and still have fingers and everything else crossed,” Federated Farmers dairy chair Chris Lewis says. . .

Climate research leads world:

A government research programme has positioned New Zealand as a world leader in research into mitigating greenhouse gases from agriculture and adapting to climate change, a recent independent review has found.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change (SLMACC) research programme supports the generation of new climate change knowledge across NZ’s agriculture and forestry sectors.

The independent review found SLMACC has triggered new research and boosted NZ’s understanding of the potential impacts and implications of climate change for a range of primary industries, particularly pastoral farming systems and responding to drought. . .

Farming sustainably – Sonita Chandar:

Tiaki, the sustainable dairying programme launched by Fonterra last year, is ticking all the boxes for farmers.

The programme, which helps farmers farm in more sustainable ways, has been in place for a year. 

At its launch Fonterra set an initial target of having 1000 farm environment plans in place. 

The Dairy Tomorrow Strategy will see all farmers adopting a sustainable dairying plan by 2025

“When we committed to the programme we increased the number of sustainable dairy advisers we had in the field,” Fonterra sustainable dairying general manager Charlotte Rutherford said.

“However, demand has outstripped supply.  . . 

New NAIT compliance officers in the field:

A cohort of 27 new NAIT compliance officers are ready to hit the ground and start working with farmers after graduating from their training programme on Friday.

Animal Welfare and NAIT Compliance Manager, Gray Harrison, says the new officers are part of a stepped-up effort to educate farmers about their NAIT obligations, and enforce compliance with the scheme.

“The new officers will be located throughout the country helping farmers use NAIT consistently and taking action when non-compliance is detected. . . 

Ngāi Tahu backs out of Agria deal, takes stake in Wrightson:

Ngāi Tahu Capital has taken a direct stake in PGG Wrightson, ending a seven-year relationship with Singapore-domiciled Agria as the foreign investor’s grip on the rural services firm remains uncertain.

Last Friday, the investment arm of the South Island iwi ended an agreement that pooled its investment in Wrightson with Agria and Chinese agribusiness New Hope International. Ngāi Tahu Capital was a junior partner in the joint venture with a 7.24 percent stake. At the time, it touted the $15 million investment as diversifying its portfolio and building international relationships. . . 

Computational breeding: Can AI offer an alternative to genetically modified crops? – Greg Nichols:

Hi Fidelity Genetics (HFG), a company that uses sensors, data science, and statistical genetics to create non-genetically modified crops, just raised $8.5 million in a Series A. It’s a sign of the growing importance of data science in agriculture, and it may signal an alternative path to sustainable farming without the use of genetic modification.

The issue is a prickly one. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have been touted as saving the world by increasing food supply and maligned as a lever by which Big Ag constrains the market while doing untold damage to public health and delicate ecosystems. As the debate rages on, GMOs have come to dominate agriculture, accounting for more than 90 percent of the corn, soy, and cotton grown in the U.S., according to the USDA. . . 


Rural round-up

October 3, 2018
Government blamed for pessimism – Neal Wallace:

Growing pessimism among dairy farmers has sent confidence plunging into negative territory for the first time since early 2016. The quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey of 450 farmers reveals confidence in the agricultural economy has fallen from plus 2% in June to minus 3% in September.

Those expecting an improvement in the next 12 months fell from 26% to 20% while those expecting conditions to worsen rose slightly from 23% to 24%. . .

Farmer group aims at land best practice  – Simon Hartley:

A farmer-led initiative covering six Aparima catchments in Southland is looking at ways to improve land management practices to benefit the environment and local communities.

The Aparima Community Engagement (ACE) project, which represents six local catchment groups, has been under way since March this year, and a fortnight ago briefed Environment Minister David Parker on its aims during his visit to the area.

The type of issues being tackled includes identifying best practice around the likes of buffer zones for wintering, and the use of crops and fertiliser. . . 

McDonald’s lauds Maori beef farm  – Hugh Stringleman:

Hapū-owned Whangara Farms, on the East Coast north of Gisborne, has been accredited to the McDonald’s Flagship Farmers programme, the first such appointment in the Southern Hemisphere. Under general manager Richard Scholefield for the past 12 years, the 8500ha group has become the 28th Flagship Farmer for the worldwide restaurant chain and the seventh beef supplier. . .

Hunting lobby wins concessions over tahr cull  – Kate Gudsell, Eric Fryberg:

The powerful hunting lobby has won concessions in the heated fight over the cull of thousands of Himalayan Tahr.

A meeting was held yesterday between Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and hunting groups including the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association and the Game Animal Council as well as conservation groups such as Forest and Bird, and iwi Ngāi Tahu with the hunting industry emerging confident at the outcome.

The hunting fraternity say Ms Sage has pulled back from positions which the industry had found unacceptable and forced her to re-think plans to cull 10,000 Himalayan Tahr from the Southern Alps.  . .

Seeka warns of possible PSA outbreak in Victorian orchard – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka, New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit grower, says it may have found the fruit disease PSA in an orchard it is developing in Australia.

It has notified Agriculture Victoria of unusual bacterial symptoms and is removing suspicious plant material pending further test results. . .

Pāmu releases first Integrated Report – returns to paying a dividend

Pāmu Farms of New Zealand (Landcorp) has released its first truly integrated Annual Report for 2018 today.

Chief Financial Officer Steve McJorrow said the 2018 EBITDAR[1] of $48.5 million, announced on 31 August, was very pleasing, and reflected good milk and red meat returns, along with revaluation of carbon holdings (NZUs).

“We are also pleased to be back to paying our shareholders a dividend, which will be $5 million for the 2017/18 financial year. . .

Dairy Hub farm reserach to be revealed at field day:  – Yvonne O’Hara:

Kale versus fodder beet, phosphorous supplementation and buffer widths will be the focus of the Southern dairy hub’s next field day at Makarewa on October 10.

DairyNZ senior scientist Dawn Dalley said they would be updating those attending about the early results of the studies being carried out on site.

Farm manager Shane Griffin will be talking about the hub farm’s progress and Dr Ross Monaghan, of AgResearch, will discuss results of the nitrogen leaching study.

Dairy apprenticeship programme celebrates first birthday:

Federated Farmers is wishing happy birthday today to the Federated Farmers Apprenticeship Dairy Programme on its first anniversary.

The pilot programme supported by MBIE, the PrimaryITO and Feds, was launched last year with the intention of finding more Kiwis keen to work in the dairy industry on farm, and keen to upskill into a farming career.

After almost a year Feds is proud to say we’ve had 193 employer expressions of interest, and 98 completed farm charters, enabling employers to enter the programme along with 180 eligible apprentice expressions of interest and 62 apprentices in the programme. . .

 

Rural round-up

August 11, 2018

Our farmed meat is a green food – Neal Wallace:

Exporters are not shy in promoting New Zealand red meat as grass-fed and free-range but recent studies by Oxford and Otago Universities have lumped our system in with feedlots to claim the industry is environmentally degrading and unsustainable. Neal Wallace investigates the true environmental impact of grass-fed beef.

Work to differentiate the environmental footprint of New Zealand’s pasture-based red meat sector from feedlot systems that have a far greater impact has begun.

Beef + Lamb NZ chief insight officer Jeremy Baker said NZ grass-fed, free-range beef has been included in international studies that claim beef production is a major contributor to climate change. . . 

Fonterra fund units drop to 3-year low as investors grow dark on capital structure – Paul McBeth:

Aug. 10 (BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund units, which gives outside investors exposure to Fonterra Cooperative Group, fell to a three-year low after the latest dividend downgrade added to scepticism about the efficacy of the cooperative’s structure.

The units dropped 2.7 percent to $4.97, adding to a 20 percent slide so far this year, and fell as low as $4.95, a level not seen since September 2015 when Fonterra was hit by a slump in global dairy prices and offered interest-free loans to its farmer shareholders to tide . . 

Fonterra announcement disappointing, definitive plan of action required:

Duncan Coull, Chairman of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council, has expressed his absolute disappointment with today’s Board decision to reduce the 2017/18 forecast Farmgate Milk Price by five cents to $6.70 per kg/MS in order to support the balance sheet, and the decision to retain more of the Co-op’s earnings which will likely see no further dividend payment to Shareholders over the 10 cents distributed earlier in the year.

Mr Coull: “I can understand the Board’s rationale and that it is prudent to protect the balance sheet, but the fact that we find ourselves in this situation is unacceptable. . .

Fonterra’s credit rating safe but Shareholders’ Council labels payout cut ‘unacceptable‘ – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – S&P Global Ratings said there is no immediate impact on its rating on Fonterra Cooperative Group from the group’s lower farmgate milk price and dividend guidance for the year ended July 31, issued this morning.

However, the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council expressed deep disappointment, saying “the fact that we find ourselves in this situation is unacceptable” and took the unusual step of questioning the cooperative’s value creation record at a time when a new chief executive is being sought and the chairmanship has unexpectedly changed. . . 

Three Rivers catchment group catch up in Southland – Nicole Sharp:

Southland farmers are leading the way in environmental practices and 17 catchment groups are now established in the region. With six more in the wings, and half the region covered, reporter Nicole Sharp looks into some of the achievements to date.

When a group of farmers put their minds to it, anything is possible.

That is how the catchment group idea started in 2013, when some farmers in the Balfour area formed a group. . . 

Canterbury woman Ash-Leigh Campbell elected new chair of NZ Young Farmers Board:

A woman is at the helm of the NZ Young Farmers Board for the first time in 12 years.

Ash-Leigh Campbell was elected chair of the eight-member board yesterday, replacing Jason Te Brake.

The 27-year-old is a technical farm manager with Ngāi Tahu and helps oversee the management of eight dairy farms.

“I feel extremely privileged to be elected chair. I’m really looking forward to the role,” said Ash-Leigh. . .

Cereal yields down but growers remain positive:

Total hectares sown in wheat and barley this season is predicted to decrease by around 8%, but growers are positive about future prospects, Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Karen Williams says.

Results from the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) July 1 Cereal Survey are out and confirm average yields are down compared to last season. Milling and feed wheat yields were down 12%, malting barley down 9%, feed barley down 10%, milling oats down 17% and feed oats down 6%.

“This is no surprise and reflects variable growing conditions (hot, dry, wet, cold) throughout the key crop establishment periods in late spring and early summer,” Karen says. . . 

Major international agritech announcement expected for NZ

In less than a fortnight, more than 30 New Zealand agritech leaders will make history in Silicon Valley.

They will be part of the international 2018 Silicon Valley agritech immersion programme and Conference, involving Silicon Valley Forum, Tauranga’s Wharf42, Agritech New Zealand, Callaghan Innovation, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

Agritech New Zealand executive director Peter Wren-Hilton says the four-year-old Silicon Valley agritech connection will have a significant and long-term impact on New Zealand’s emerging agritech sector. . . 

Kerrygold butter is being taken to court over ‘false’ grass-fed cows claim – Katie Grant:

Customer can’t believe it’s not butter made from exclusively grass-fed cows

The company behind Kerrygold butter is facing legal action for advertising its products as being made from the milk of grass-fed cows.

A US customer has taken umbrage with the butter maker, hitting it with a class action lawsuit claiming that Kerrygold has “misled” consumers, leaving them “unable to exercise their right to choose grass-fed products”.

Kerrygold cow diet Kerrygold cows are fed grass, but not exclusively – they also eat various grains such as soy and corn at certain times of the year, according to Dyami Myers-Taylor, the customer in question. . .


Rural round-up

July 16, 2018

Farm ownership: many routes available, work key – Nicole Sharp:

Farm ownership is never easy, but with hard work, sacrifice and determination, it is possible.

Talking to aspiring farm owners at Country & Co’s Journey to Land Seminar in Invercargill last Wednesday, this was the message five lots of farm owners gave attendees.

All had different stories, from progressing through the dairy industry to immigrating to New Zealand and working to farm ownership and even shearing to farm ownership, with a whole lot of steps in between. . .

Second round of M bovis tests to begin – Sally Rae:

A second round of nationwide milk testing is due to begin later this month, checking dairy herds for Mycoplasma bovis.

Samples would be taken shortly after the start of calving, when cows were most likely to be shedding the bacterium, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said in a statement.

Samples would be collected about four weeks following the start of supply and the first samples were to be collected in the North Island in late July. . .

Synlait Takes up climate change challenge alongside New Zealand’s leading  businesses:

Synlait has signed the CEO Climate Change statement released today by the Climate Leaders Coalition.

Synlait’s signature reiterates their bold sustainability commitments announced on 28 June 2018 to reduce their emissions footprint significantly over the next decade. . .

 

Ngāi Tahu farm manager one of three women to join NZ Young Farmers Board:

A technical farm manager with Ngāi Tahu in Canterbury is one of three women who have joined the NZ Young Farmers Board.

Ash-Leigh Campbell helps oversee the management of the iwi corporation’s eight dairy farms which milk about 8,000 cows.

The 27-year-old was one of two NZ Young Farmers members elected to the board at its annual general meeting in Invercargill. . .

NZ Institute of Forestry recognises outstanding contributions of individuals to New Zealand forestry

The NZ Institute of Forestry recognised the contribution of two of its outstanding leaders at its Annual Awards Dinner in Nelson last night. Peter Clark of Rotorua received the NZIF Forester of the Year award. The award recognises an Institute member who has made an outstanding contribution to either the forestry profession, or the forestry sector over the last 12 months.

The award recognises leadership, excellence and personal integrity, particularly where this demonstrates the character and strength of the forestry profession, and it is one of the highest accolades the Institute can bestow. “The Forester of the Year award is a fitting recognition of the contribution that Peter Clark has made to the sector over a large number of years”, said the President, David Evison. . .

Claims against meat fail to consider bigger picture – Richard Young:

Media attention has again highlighted the carbon footprint of eating meat, especially beef, with some journalists concluding that extensive grass-based beef has the highest carbon footprint of all. Sustainable Food Trust policy director, Richard Young has been investigating.
Year of Publication:2018

A recent, very comprehensive, research paper by Poore and Nemecek from Oxford University and Agroscope, a large research company in Switzerland, has again drawn attention to the rising demand for meat, resulting from population growth and increasing affluence in some developing countries. Looked at from a global perspective the figures appear stark. The study claims that livestock production accounts for 83% of global farmland and produces 56-58% of the greenhouse gas emissions from food, but only contributes 37% of our protein intake and 18% of calories. As such, it’s perhaps not so surprising that concerned journalists come up with coverage like the Guardian’s, Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth. This is part of a series of articles, some of which have been balanced, but most of which have largely promoted vegan and vegetarian agendas with little broader consideration of the issues.

The question of what we should eat to reduce our devastating impact on the environment, while also reducing the incidence of the diet-related diseases which threaten to overwhelm the NHS and other healthcare systems, is one of the most important we face. Yet, the debate so far has been extremely limited and largely dominated by those with little if any practical experience of food production or what actually constitutes food system sustainability. . . 


A day to celebrate being able to do what we want

February 6, 2018

Some countries do national days with a spirit of unity and cohesion.

Neither of those have been features of Waitangi Days past.

The decisions to by-pass the lower marae at Waitangi this year has also by-passed a lot of the political posturing and protest that have marked, and marred, celebrations before.

The national media focus will be on Waitangi, and maybe Opposition leader, Bill English will get a little attention at the other end of the country.

He’s attending the Ngai Tahu Treaty Festival at Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff.

In between there will be various official celebrations in various places and most people, who don’t have to work today, will be doing what they want to do – sailing, swimming, tramping, picnicking, partying, reading . . .

Unity and cohesion have their place but I’m more than happy with a country where for most, celebrating the national day gives us the freedom to do what we want.


Rural round-up

August 26, 2017

Farmers’ voices must be heard – Nigel Malthus:

Heading into an election that will be won or lost in the towns and cities, farmers must get a hearing on environmental issues, says Meat Industry Association chair John Loughlin.

He says with environmental issues “quite significant” in this election year, any changes to environmental regimes must be balanced and fair.

“The outcomes in our rivers don’t just reflect farming; they reflect towns and cities and industries as well.”

He was speaking after the recent two-day Red Meat Sector conference in Dunedin, jointly hosted by the MIA with Beef + Lamb NZ. . .

Urban invaders hurting hort – Sudesh Kissun:

Uncertainty over continued access to fertile land and irrigation water are potentially forcing some vegetable growers out of business.

The Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association president Brent Wilcox says land and water are the main issues facing many of its member businesses; ranging from smaller single property units to large operations with diverse land holdings.

“Over time we are seeing consolidation of many small growers into fewer larger growers; there is uncertainty and many growers are faced with a decision trying to figure whether they can justify the cost of taking land and water issues on,” he told Rural News. . .

Dairy industry tackling shortage of quality environmental advisers -Stephen Macaulay:

Quality advice is key to whether farmers sink or swim in an environmental tsunami, writes Stephen Macaulay.

 A wave of unprecedented environmental compliance is crashing over New Zealand’s primary industries and it’s not just farmers who are working hard to stay afloat.

The implementation of farm environmental plans represents one of the most significant changes in how farmers think about and undertake their work. Solutions now and into the future will involve a fundamental rethink in the way we farm and manage our natural resources.

How the industry deals with those regulations and the associated scrutiny of urban New Zealand and international consumers will impact on the production and profitability of farming operations into the future, as well as farm property values. . .

Farmers are adding value to wool – Tim Fulton:

Home spinning entrepreneurs are defying wool’s doldrums.

Tracey Topp started the Cosy Toes children’s Merino sock range on a kitchen table at Rotherham, North Canterbury, more than 10 years ago.

Recently she branched into bigger sizes for adults and a variety of tights, blankets and clothing.

Topp grew up on a sheep farm at Summerhill, in the Canterbury foothills near Oxford. She still soaks in the smell and the memory of lanolin, tossing fleeces and the banter of the boards.

A Kiwi company makes Cosy Toes’ socks but it took years of hard work to build business credibility.

Fabricators wanted consistent wool supply, including minimum wool weight for dyeing. . . 

Don’t judge a conversion by its cover – Tim Fulton:

Ngai Tahu’s forest-to-farm conversion near the North Canterbury town of Culverden is about beef and dairy support, the developer says.

The iwi’s farming group had transformed part of the old Balmoral Forest over the past two years but it wouldn’t be milking, Ngai Tahu Farming chief executive Andrew Priest said.

The iwi had already transformed Eyrewell Forest on the north bank of the Waimakariri River, (Te Whenua Hou) into dairy farms and drystock units.

In 2016, 360 hectares of land at the west of the Balmoral block was put into irrigated pasture and was now being used for beef finishing. . . 

Cancer survivor, author donating proceeds – Alexia Johnston:

Ex Glenavy farmer Allan Andrews is topping up Cancer Society funds thanks to his many book sales.

His book titled Allan Andrews 70 Years On features a range of subjects, including farming, cricket and his battle with cancer.

It was his family’s history of cancer that prompted Mr Andrews to donate a portion of the book’s proceeds to the Cancer Society.

So far that includes $1000 – $400 to the South Canterbury division, $400 to North Otago and $200 to Ashburton.

The book was launched in late September to early October last year, with the aim of donating a portion of the proceeds from every book to the Cancer Society. . .  

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Farm Girl 1. A person who solves problems you can’t. 2. One who does precision guess work based on unreliable data provided by those of questionable knowledge. See also Wizard, Magician.


Rural round-up

October 18, 2016

Calf milk powder shortage dire – Neal Walllace:

Calf rearers battling a shortage of milk powder are unlikely to get a reprieve this season with a major retailer warning product delays could continue for another four weeks.  

As if that wasn’t enough, farmers report the price of calf milk replacer, or what some are calling white gold, has increased in recent weeks from $53 for a 20kg bag to $75.  

Farmlands chief executive Peter Reidie said his company was not taking any new orders for calf milk replacer (CMR) because suppliers had advised they could not supply any product. . . 

World food trends favour dairy – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra has identified 11 modern consumer food trends it says are very positive for high quality milk production in New Zealand.  

Global consumer and food service chief operating officer Jacqueline Chow said Fonterra had invested $1 billion over the past decade in dairy innovation – in science, sustainability, nutrition and packaging – to position the co-operative to meet the trends.  

Its dairy farmers had also spent $1b over the past five years on environmental initiatives. . . 

More calls to rural support line reported -:

The Waikato Rural Support Trust is receiving unusually high numbers of calls from farmers as adverse weather conditions and the low dairy payout take a toll, it says.

Trust chairman Neil Bateup said a particularly wet spring had caused issues with feed quality and quantity and that had made farming very difficult.

Mr Bateup said the farmers calling were mainly in the dairy industry, with those people also struggling with the low payout of the past couple of years. . . 

Feral Activists Are Worse Than The Pests 1080 Fights:

Activism in New Zealand has sunk to a new low as conservation workers don’t even feel safe going about their daily jobs.

Federated Farmers is deeply concerned for the safety of the country’s conservation department staff and contractors, as so-called activists continue to ignore the fact that 1080 is working well for New Zealand.

“It is simply unacceptable for New Zealanders who go to work every day to protect our environment, to be made to feel unsafe doing their jobs,” says Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston.

“This is madness and it’s activism out of control. . . 

Ngāi Tahu adds horse treks to its tourism stable – Aaron Smale:

Ngāi Tahu has bought a horse trekking business in Glenorchy to add to its tourism portfolio.

The South Island iwi has bought Dart Stables in Glenorchy, which runs horse treks through a region that features heavily in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

Ngāi Tahu Tourism chief executive Quinton Hall said the business fit well with its broader tourism strategy.

“The team at Dart Stables has an excellent reputation with customers and within the local community and has access to some of the most beautiful parts of the country,” he said. . . 

Enterprising Rural Women Awards (ERWA) entrants for 2016:

Six fantastic businesses are competing in three categories this year and the ultimate winner will receive the supreme prize for the Enterprising Rural Women Awards.

Rural Women New Zealand’s annual awards showcase rural women who run their own successful businesses. For the entrants, it is an opportunity to promote their innovative rural enterprise and gain recognition for their contribution to their community.

Each category winner receives $1,000 in prize money and a trophy, with a further $1,000 being awarded to the supreme winner who is judged as an exceptional rural business women. Prizes also include clothing from Swazi Apparel and from the Agri-Women’s Development Trust $400 worth of executive coaching for each category winner and an additional $3,400 professional development package for the supreme winner.

2016 ERWA categories: . . 

International Beef Alliance meets in Taupo:

New Zealand is hosting beef producers from the International Beef Alliance in Taupo this week.

The International Beef Alliance includes the national organisations representing beef cattle producers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay and the United States and it meets annually to progress issues of common interest.

This week the Presidents and CEOs from the Cattle Council of Australia, Associação dos Criadores de Mato Grosso, Associação Nacional dos Confinadores de Brasil, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas, Asociación Rural de Paraguay, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the US National Cattlemen’s Beef Association will meet in Taupo. This group accounts for 46% of the world’s beef cattle production and 63% of global beef exports. . . 

Helping farmers save time and take control:

With volatility in the dairy payout, there has never been a more important time to have a clear picture of your farming business’ performance.

And according to Figured’s marketing manager Monica Shepherd, nearly 40 per cent of farmers surveyed at the New Zealand National Fieldays, said they wanted more advice from their accountants on how to achieve just that.

In response, Dairy Women’s Network is running a free dairy module called ‘Farming in the Cloud’ with its partners Figured, Xero, ASB Bank and Crowe Horwath. . . 

New Zealand’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards – Top Honours Announced:

Winners in New Zealand’s most prestigious competition for olive oil were announced last night at a formal dinner held at Parliament in Wellington and hosted by MP Paul Foster-Bell.

Robinsons Bay Olives from Akaroa took out the 2016 Best in Show as well as Best in Class in the Commercial Medium Blends Class at the New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Awards, run by Olives New Zealand, the national organisation for olive oil growers.

The Old N’Olive Grove Partnership from Wairarapa won the Best in Boutique Category for growers who produce less than 250 litres of certified extra virgin olive oil, as well as Best in Class in the Boutique Intense Single Varietal Class with their Rockbottom Grove Picual. . . 

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Rural round-up

June 15, 2015

Loss forecast if water plan unchanged – David Bruce:

The North Otago and South Canterbury economies could lose up to $42 million a year and 371 jobs if a water allocation plan for the Waitaki River is not changed, according to an economic impact study.

Two-thirds of farmers who irrigate from the Waitaki River would lose a total of about $30 million a year in farm income.

And allocating some of the Waitaki River’s water to Ngai Tahu takes a potential $106 million to $109 million a year and an additional 900 jobs away because of lost future irrigation. . .

Dairy farming leader backs Fonterra – Sally Rae:

Do not sack Fonterra’s leadership – that is the message from one Otago dairy farming industry leader.

Hundreds of jobs are likely to go as part of a review of the dairy giant which began last December.

Fonterra has been in the spotlight this year, amid falling global dairy prices and declining payouts for suppliers.

Yesterday, North Otago Federated Farmers dairy chairman Lyndon Strang said reviews were ”healthy for any business”. . .

Deer farming pioneer recognised – Lynda Gray:

Southland deer farming pioneer, leader and mentor David Stevens is the 2015 recipient of the New Zealand Deer Industry Award.

Stevens’ leadership roles in the industry started in the early 1980s as the inaugural member of the Southland Deer Farmers committee.

He was a key instigator of the National Velvet and Cervena Plates competitions and a hardworking contributor to many deer farming-allied initiatives such as monitor farms, discussion groups and stud breeder initiatives. . .

Aeronavics unveils drone at Fieldays – Paul Mitchell:

A Raglan-based drone company’s new products could help farmers reduce costs and discover crop diseases earlier.

Aeronavics is showcasing the agricultural applications of their next-generation drones at the Innovation Centre this week.

The centrepiece of their booth is three colour-coded drones, each representing one agricultural task.

Aeronavics co-founder Linda Bulk said any one drone could do all three tasks, it was just a matter of swapping out the “payload” attachments. . .

Life on the dingo fence – Emma Downey:

BOUNDARY rider on the dingo fence rider might seem like a job title plucked from the 19th century, but it’s one just as relevant today – perhaps even more so – than it was when the fence was constructed in the late 1800s.

At more than 5000 kilometres long, Australia’s dingo fence has the distinction of being the world’s longest fence, and while utes may have replaced horses as the mode of transport for today’s “rider”, the job remains the same.

Then and now, the boundary rider’s job is to monitor the fence, look for breaches and make repairs to prevent dingos from entering the pastoral zones of the state, and as graziers fear, breed with domesticated dogs gone wild and increase what is already a growing issue. . .

 

 

American Cattlemen's photo.


Rural round-up

April 22, 2015

The kumara’s transgenic origins revealed  – Dan Satherley:

Kumara, a South American native that became a Kiwi favourite, has been naturally genetically modified with bacterial DNA, researchers have found.

But the foreign genes are generally only found in kumara – also known as sweet potatoes – that have been cultivated by humans, suggesting they bring with them beneficial traits.

Researchers hope the finding, published in the latest issue of journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will help to break down negative perceptions of genetically engineered crops. . .

Boost for Maori leadership in agriculture:

A South Island iwi-led agricultural training programme is expanding and offering higher level qualifications as it seeks to boost Māori leadership.

Whenua Kura is a tribal-led training partnership between Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Te Tapuae o Rehua, Ngāi Tahu Farming and Lincoln University.

It started last year as a one-year certificate in agriculture providing both classroom learning and on-farm experience at the Ngāi Tahu farms. . .

No Supermarkets Or Major Butchery Chains Implicated in Preservative Prosecutions:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand support the actions taken by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in the prosecution of 15 meat wholesalers/retailers and three company Directors for the non-compliant use of sulphites/sulphur dioxide in raw meat.

Charges were laid after an MPI operation in the greater Auckland area in 2013 after meat samples were tested and these cases were heard in the Manukau and Auckland District Courts in late 2014 and early 2015.

None of those prosecuted are part of any major supermarket or high profile butchery chains. . . .

Interesting Demographics in Farm Manager Contest:

The demographic make-up of the 11 finalists contesting the 2015 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year competition ensure an interesting mix of talent.

“There’s a real lolly scramble in that the finalists represent a bit of everything – we have young versus not so young, males up against females as well as couples and those that are relatively new to the industry up against some old hands,” national convenor Chris Keeping says. “It’s going to be really interesting to see who comes up trumps!”

National judging begins today , with the three judges – a farmer, banker and consulting officer – visiting the 11 finalists on their farms over a 10-day period. The judges spend two hours on each farm and score the finalists on aspects like their financial planning and management, HR practices, farm environment, future aims, and community and industry involvement. . .

 

Unique Farm-Scale Dairy Trial Confirms Live Yeast Benefits:

Improving rumen function in grazing cows through addition of the active live yeast Vistacell can improve dry matter digestibility by 30%, lift average daily milk yields by 2.1 litres/cow and increase cow liveweight (LW) by up to 20kg in just five weeks.

The results come from a unique farm-scale study using a herd of 300 robotically-milked cows in Waikato. The herd contained a mix of autumn and spring calvers, with all cows also having access to a mixed ration of grass silage, maize silage, straw and concentrates, plus an extra 3-6kg/day of concentrates fed during milking depending on yield. . . .

 

Bluelab to spend growth grant taking new product to market – Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Bluelab Corp, which makes electronic metering and control devices to aid plant growth, will use a new research and development growth grant to speed up taking a new sensory product to market in the next year.

Tauranga-based Bluelab decided in 2004 to focus solely on manufacturing measuring equipment which is used in controlled growing spaces such as greenhouses, hydroponics and aquaponics by commercial growers and backyard hobbyists. It exports nearly all it produces to 15 countries, with the major markets being the US, Australia, and the UK. . .

LIC and Lely enter R&D partnership in farm sensor technology – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Livestock Improvement Corp, a farmer cooperative that sells bull semen and manages a dairy genetics database, has entered a research and development partnership with Dutch agricultural company Lely Group.

As part of the deal the Hamilton-based company has acquired Lely Sensortec, the Dutch company’s Hamilton-based development division, whose five staff design farm sensor technology to monitor animal health and production, for an undisclosed amount, the companies said in a joint statement. The deal will accelerate development of sensor technology used on farms and support wider global distribution of its inline milk sensors. . .


Rural round-up

December 19, 2014

New tool to test sheep meat quality:

An international project testing the eating quality of sheep meat using DNA measurements will enter its final stage next year, with the tool developed set to be tested on commercial flocks in New Zealand.

In September last year, a sheep genotyping tool known as a SNP (snip) chip was created by an international team of scientists as part of the FarmIQ genetics project.

John McEwan, one of the project’s leaders and AgResearch principal scientist, says the chip measures hundred of thousands of DNA variances and allows a sheep’s performance to be predicted by testing its DNA, rather than extensive progeny testing being needed.

“We take an ear punch out of the sheep – just a very small piece of tissue about three millimetres in diameter – and we extract the DNA out of that from the sheep. Then we place that DNA on this slide or chip and develop it with a set of chemicals and the DNA variance appears as different colours.” . .

Farmer contracts not taxing water-take:

Contracts signed so far to take water from Hawke’s Bay’s Ruataniwha dam and irrigation project added up to only about 13 percent of the commitment needed to make the scheme commercially feasible.

But the company running the project says farmers representing more than half of the minimum water-take required have made the decision to join the scheme and have asked for contracts.

The figures are in a report that the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment company presented to the council today.

The company has until the end of March next year to decide whether the dam and irrigation project in the Tukituki River catchment will have enough backing to proceed. That includes having enough farmers signed up to take a minimum of 40 million cubic metres of water a year. . .

Ngai Tahu launches farming diploma:

Ngai Tahu has launched a new Maori Farming Diploma which it hopes will produce the country’s future leaders in agriculture.

Whenua Kura is a partnership between Te Tapuae o Rehua, Ngai Tahu Farming and Lincoln University.

The diploma course is the first of its kind where students will study in a Maori environment and learn how to apply critical Ngai Tahu values such kaitiakitanga (guardianship), manaakitanga (hospitality) and rangatiratanga (self-determination) to land use. . .

It’s always Christmas for farmers – Vincent H. Smith:

It is Christmas time once again and in my part of the world, southwestern Montana, the snow has arrived and will be with us until early March.  Most nights the temperature will fall well below 20 degrees Fahrenheit; some days the thermometer won’t rise above zero.

That’s winter time in the Northern Great Plains and the eastern Rocky Mountains, where cabin fever is a real phenomenon and ranching becomes truly hard work. In this world, cattle can be inconvenient. They need water and calories in places where they can feed and drink, and cows often calve on bitterly cold February and early March nights.

Ranching is also risky in the winter time; herds can be decimated by blizzards and what seem like mile high snow drifts. And ranchers, on the whole, are genuine risk taking entrepreneurs who, for the most part, neither seek nor receive substantial federal bailouts. Most of them also know that country of origin labelling is a bad economic idea that has reduced the prices they are paid by meatpackers and feedlots. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, for example, has recently argued that the US should “reform” and essentially terminate that program rather than appeal a recent WTO finding that the program violates US WTO commitments. . .

A new standard for labelling of export infant formula:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today issued a new standard to clarify the labelling requirements for exports of infant formula.

“The standard has been developed as part of the infant formula market assurance programme announced by the Government in June 2013,” said Scott Gallacher, MPI Deputy Director-General, Regulation and Assurance.

“It is the first of a set of technical regulatory changes that will be introduced progressively over the next six months to further strengthen our assurance system for exports of infant formula products.

“MPI consulted on the new standard during July and August. The new standard clarifies the information that must be on labels of infant formula intended for export, and information or representations that are restricted or prohibited on these products. . .

New labelling standard for infant formula:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has today welcomed a new standard under the Animal Products Act that clarifies the labelling requirements for infant formula exports.

“Currently all export dairy products are exempt from New Zealand’s food labelling standards, they instead meet labelling requirements of the importing country,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“Infant formula is a special product. For this reason, the Ministry has put in place this new standard, which applies regardless of where the infant formula is being sent. This will ensure exporters know what information must be on labels, and what information and images are prohibited.  . .

20 years of selling semen and nothing’s a problem:

Te Aroha local, born and bred, Butch Coombe celebrates 20 years working with CRV Ambreed as a field consultant.

Starting out part-time to supplement the income on his 110-acre farm, his sales patch grew and grew and enabled him to buy extra things for farm like a new four-wheeler with his ‘top up earnings.’ When his area grew to the point where it could support his family, he decided to sell the farm and join CRV Ambreed full-time.

It was a big move for Coombe and his wife Heather, who had been farming their whole married life – some 30 years – but he was pleased not to have to leave the industry or cattle completely. . .

 


Rural round-up

August 17, 2014

Aerial topdressing scheme flies away with top award  – Sue O’Dowd:

A safety programme developed by the agricultural aviation industry to protect the environment has won a major award.

The New Zealand Agricultural Aviation Association (NZAAA) Aircare programme received the Richard Pearse Trophy for Innovative Excellence in the New Zealand Aviation Industry, named in honour of the New Zealand pioneer aviator and inventor, at last month’s Aviation New Zealand conference.

Aircare was an integrated environmental safety and flight safety programme that stopped contamination of waterways by fertilisers and sprays, NZAAA chairman Alan Beck, of Eltham, said. . .

Northlander takers Young Grower crown

Northland kiwifruit and avocado specialist Patrick Malley was crowned Young Grower of the Year at an awards function in Christchurch last night.

The 30-year-old contracting manager from Onyx Capital kiwifruit and avocado orchard in Maungatapere, Northland, secured his place at the national competition after being named the Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower in June.

In the final phase of the competition he topped three other regional champions in a series of practical and theory challenges testing their industry knowledge and skills. . .

Ngai Tahu appeals dairying decision:

South Island iwi Ngai Tahu is appealing against a decision declining an application to develop large scale dairy farms in North Canterbury.

In July this year, commissioners on behalf of the Canterbury Regional Council granted only partial consent to convert 7000 hectares of Hurunui forest to irrigated dairy farming and another 617 hectares for dryland dairy farming.

The decision was based on the unacceptable adverse effects the full development would have on the environment and the water quality of the Hurunui River. . .

Cow lameness costs farmers – Tim Cronshaw:

Cow lameness could be higher than 10 per cent a year nationally and cost dairy farmers an average of $500 for each case of a cow out of production.

Accurate figures are not kept for lame cows because not every incident is reported, there can be repeat cases for the same cow and the extent of lameness can vary.

DairyNZ animal husbandry extension specialist Anna Irwin said lameness was more difficult to measure than mastitis or other animal health issues because it was not routinely measured by all farmers, had different treatments and few cows needed medical treatment. “We have industry estimates of somewhere around 10 per cent and it could be as high as 15 per cent and that’s incidents for the whole year.” . . .

Call for whitebait sock net ban:

Whitebaiters in Buller on the West Coast are demanding an end to the use of large sock nets to catch the delicacy in their area.

Lynley Roberts said she’s collected close to 400 signatures on a petition calling on the Department of Conservation to ban sock nets.

Whitebaiters in Buller on the West Coast are demanding an end to the use of large sock nets to catch the delicacy in their area.

Photo: PHOTO NZ

She said the use of the nets, which she says can catch up to 200 pounds a tide, is greedy.

Ms Roberts said there won’t be time to make any changes before the season starts in Buller on 1 September. . .

Where have all the whitebait gone?:

Whitebait season opened today and many whitebaiters may be asking themselves, “where have all the whitebait gone?” With predictions that it will be only an average season, it’s a very pertinent question.

Whitebaiting has long been a contentious issue, with feuds over the best positions on the river sometimes lasting through generations of whitebaiters.

These days, with whitebait numbers dwindling further and further, the arguments go beyond who has the best spot. Debate now includes the question of where they have all gone, who’s to blame for the declining numbers and if we should still be allowing people to catch whitebait at all. . .

Nominations open today for the 2014 Fonterra Elections:

This year elections are being held for three shareholder-elected Directors for Fonterra’s Board of Directors, two members of the Directors’ Remuneration Committee, and 22 members of the Shareholders’ Council.

Candidates must satisfy shareholding requirements in order to be elected and further procedural requirements are specified in the Election Rules. These include a requirement for Candidates to be nominated and seconded by Fonterra shareholders.

Nomination Papers and Candidate Handbooks are now available by phoning the Election Hotline on freephone 0508 666 446 or emailing elections@electionz.com. Nominations must be received by the Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp of http://electionz.com/ by 12 noon on Friday, 5 September 2014. . . 


Irrigation long-term investment

May 21, 2014

Ngai Tahu has withdrawn as a potential investor in the $275 million Ruataniwha water storage scheme in Hawke’s Bay.

Ngai Tahu said it had a series of criteria that needed to be met for continued investment, including the right investment partner with the appropriate experience.

Electricity firm TrustPower, which has a lot of experience with dam storage and irrigation, withdrew from the investment in March. It said the project did not stack up with the level of returns the company required from new investments. . . .

Irrigation is a long-term investment.

It requires a lot of money up-front,. It’s years before it returns any dividends and many of those are indirect through the environmental, financial and social benefits that come from it.

Ngai Tahu’s decision will be a blow to the scheme’s proponents but it doesn’t have to be a killing one.

Finding more, smaller investors will require more work, but with the backing of farmers, the regional council and the government through the Crown Irrigation Fund, and others who understand the value it will bring to the province it could still go ahead.

 


Rural Round-up

March 9, 2014

Agriculture sector asked for input on health and safety:

WorkSafe New Zealand has released a suite of draft health and safety guidelines for those working in the agriculture industry for public consultation.

WorkSafe NZ’s National Programmes Manager, Francois Barton said that the draft guidelines are based on accepted best practice and have been developed in partnership with industry bodies and subject experts to ensure they meet the needs of New Zealand farmers.

“Good guidance is critical for farmers to know what safe work looks like, and these guidelines will play an important role in helping farm owners and managers understand and comply with their obligations and duties,” Mr Barton said.

“This is a really important opportunity for those most affected to have their say about agricultural health and safety. These are the people closest to the dangers and their views are very important. . .

West Coast cutting rights sold:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has today announced the sale of 22,800 hectares of Crown forest cutting rights on the West Coast to Ngāi Tahu Forest Estates Ltd (NTFE).

“The Crown’s forests are being sold to NTFE under a first right of refusal dating back to Ngāi Tahu’s 1997 Treaty Settlement,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“The land the forests are on was previously purchased by Ngāi Tahu as part of their Treaty Settlement.

“Since 1990, government policy has been to exit from commercial forestry on commercial terms. The sale of forests to Ngāi Tahu is consistent with this policy.” . . .

Invermay vital for the sheep industry:

The Southern Texel Breeders Association has called on the AgResearch Board and management to attend a meeting to explain what science will be left at the Invermay campus following the proposed restructure to Lincoln.

Tom Richardson (CEO of AgResearch) and Sam Robinson (Chair) will be attending the public meeting to be held at the Heartland Hotel in Gore at 1.30pm on Wednesday 12th March.

The association says that the retention of Invermay fits with Government strategy in all aspects of regional development, economic growth and knowledge transfer. . .

Upper North Island dryness a concern:

Federated Farmers is increasingly anxious over soil moisture deficits in Waikato, south Auckland and the West Coast of Northland.  In some areas, the effects are worse than last year’s record-breaking drought.

“We are keeping a very close eye on the next few weeks,” says James Houghton, Federated Farmers Waikato provincial president.

“We’re hoping to get some rain relief but the MetService’s Monthly Outlook doesn’t give me much hope.

“Farmers know summer means sunshine, heat and a lack of rain.  We can cope with that, but what we can’t cope with is when autumn fails to deliver its essential dose of rain. . .

Four pillars of wisdom – a farm accountant’s take– Pita Alexander:

Pita Alexander is a specialist farm accountant at Alexander’s Chartered Accountant in Christchurch. He shares his thoughts with NBR ONLINE on how the agricultural commodity cycle, capital gains tax, escalating volatility and New Zealand’s debt quagmire may affect the economy in the coming years.

12.15 on the clock of the agricultural commodity cycle

“I find that five to seven years is the average cycle over the last 40 years. It just cycles. It’s nobody’s fault. I will be very surprised if those cycles change much. Maybe they will get a bit shorter, such as four to six year, but who knows.”

“Thinking of it as an economic clock, I would suspect right now we are about 12.15 o’clock. It’s a matter of opinion, of course but we are close to the top.

“Within three years, for various reasons, things will turn on us and we need to be ready for it. We need to make money when things are going up on this side of the cycle but we need to make sure we are building our reserves. . .

Barrys Bay Cheese wins New Zealand’s supreme award:

Storms may have lashed Banks Peninsula over the last week with power blackouts common, but the spotlight was on Barrys Bay Cheese as it took out 11 medals including six golds and the coveted Countdown Champion of Champions Award at the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.

The hand-crafted Aged Gouda was described by judges as boasting tropical fruit flavours and was a favourite with the entire panel. Barrys Bay also won golds for its Maasdam, Peppered Havarti, Gouda, Aged Gouda, Gruyere and Nettle Gouda.

The judging panel was made up of 28 of the country’s most experienced cheese connoisseurs and included over 430 New Zealand specialty cheeses. Judge Smith rated New Zealand cheese as “ranking with the best in the world, with certain styles indisputably world class.” . . .


Rural round-up

January 15, 2014

Ingredient for plastic has global potential – Cecile Meier:

It took more than 10 years for Ashburton-based LignoTech Developments to create a technology that turns organic waste material into an ingredient to make lightweight plastic, chief executive Garry Haskett explains.

This is interesting for makers of cars and trucks as they strive to produce lightweight vehicles to make them more energy-efficient, chairman John Rodwell says.

The raw material, corn residue, is worth 12 cents a pound as a stock food. After running through Lignotech’s process, it is worth more than 70c a pound.

With the corn-ethanol industry in the United States alone responsible for more than 40 million tonnes of bio-waste a year, the potential is huge, Rodwell says. . .

Ngai Tahu leads way in sustainable dairying – Howard Keene:

It’s fair to say that while Ngai Tahu has had an increasing influence in the South Island economy in recent times, its participation in the commercial agriculture boom has been minimal up to now.

However, that is changing as it converts its vast tracts of plantation forestry land in North Canterbury into dairy paddocks, which could eventually make it one of the biggest dairy farmers in the country. But more importantly it aims to be a leader in sustainable dairying.

In the 15 years or so since its $170 million Treaty of Waitangi settlement with the Crown, Ngai Tahu has successfully grown its asset base to around $1 billion, mainly through investment in property, fishing and tourism. . .

  Water storage vital in changing climate – James Houghton:

Now most of you will be back from a well rested break, having indulged yourselves silly and feeling a little guilty perhaps? Well just thought you might like to know, like most farmers, I have been kept busy as farming is a 365 day a year job. Thankfully, summer has been kind to us so far and the ever increasing drought has been kept at bay.

Looking to the year ahead, I am hoping we will see an improvement in people and organisations being accountable for their actions and learning from their mistakes. Last year, we saw some disappointing performances in the biosecurity area and animal welfare. We also seem to be struggling with the ever increasing reality that we need a reliable source of water to maintain a sustainable primary industry and our economic independence. When corporates make a mistake, they need to do what is right and not solely focus on the dollar.

My hope is that this year we learn from past experiences and make changes for the better. If we do not learn from them, how are we meant to protect ourselves from risk or make progress and develop ourselves? The climate and water debate paint this picture well, time and time again. . .

Increase in stock thefts over summer – Abby Brown:

Federated Farmers are warning that stock thefts increase over summer.

“There is normally a pre-Christmas binge and then it’s ongoing for the rest of summer,” their rural security spokeswoman Katie Milne said.

The warmer weather made it easier for thieves to get around farms, as they did not have to contend with winter rain and mud.

Christmas visitors often put pressure on family food supplies and so there would be a spike in the black market for meat.

She said there were commonsense ways for farmers to prevent themselves becoming a target of stock theft. . . .

Why farming brings out the best of us – Willy Leferink:

The great thing about the Christmas/New Year break has been the absence of phone calls.  I don’t know if my sharemilkers and farm managers have appreciated having the boss around a lot more than usual, but it’s been great to be among the girls.

I’m not being sexist or implying that I only employ women.  I am of course talking about my cows.  Given my team, cows included, have been going full tilt our ‘Christmas holidays’ will come mid-year at the end of this season.  Right now it’s pretty full on.

The absence of media calls has given me a chance to catch up on some programmes I recorded, like TV One’s NZ Story.  Several have stood out for me given the way farming has shaped their lives for the better. . . .


Shell to drill Great South Basin

January 8, 2014

Shell plans to drill for gas and oil in the Great South Basin off the coast of Dunedin.

Great South Basin joint-venture parties Shell New Zealand, OMV New Zealand and Mitsui E&P Australia will drill an exploration well in the PEP 50119 block (see map).

The western edge of the permit area is about 100km off Dunedin and it stretches down to the south west of Stewart Island and the area borders a marine mammal sanctuary off the the Catlins in Southland. 

The drilling programme will most likely target the early 2016 summer period. . .

The Moeraki runanga is supportive of the plans.

Te Runanga o Moeraki upoko (appointed traditional leader) David Higgins said the permit holder had previously indicated the area was likely to yield ”99% gas”, rather than oil.

The Government had awarded the permits – in this case the Clipper-1 in the Canterbury Basin – and ”there is no way we are going to stop them”.

”But whatever we can achieve for the community, whether it is coastline restoration or whatever, then it is good for the community.”

”We are very proactive about this. You can sit on your laurels and moan and groan about this sort of thing happening.”

”You will find the Ngai Tahu stance is pretty pragmatic. We have always been that way inclined and whatever the tribes do up north, that is fine with us, too.” . . .

Others are less welcoming, including the usual suspects which prompted this tweet:


Rural round-up

December 6, 2013

Farmers keen to come clean – Bruce Wills:

Federated Farmers surprised some people by welcoming Dr Jan Wright’s report, Water quality in New Zealand: Land use and nutrient pollution.  Before Dr Wright released it, she kindly gave us a briefing and that tells me we are not only trustworthy but also seen by her as a positive influencer.  This didn’t go unnoticed and the words of the Otago Daily Times’ editor deserve repeating:

  “…Farmers are making attempts to address the negative impacts of their operations and know their future livelihoods rely on looking after the land. But many mitigation efforts, such as riparian planting, are not effective at controlling nitrogen run -off, particularly in some catchment areas and soil types, and a rethink is needed – and our scientists and researchers play a vital part in that, alongside policymakers and farming industry heavy weights.  There is an increasing goodwill and acknowledgement that all parties need to work together to address issues. Federated Farmers is welcoming the report, with environment spokesman Ian Mackenzie saying the effects on water are “not a future we’d like to be a part of”, significant research is being put into finding solutions and progress is being made…”

In our ongoing discussion about water, we must not forget that New Zealand has some of the best quality water on earth. . .

Lincoln University announces LincolnSheep for education, training and research in sheep farming:

Lincoln University is converting 20 hectares of its farmland at its Te Waihora campus into a facility for teaching and researching sheep breeding and intensive lamb finishing. The land was previously used as the site for the South Island Field Days.

The new site for LincolnSheep will use 15 hectares for a partially-irrigated ‘technology farm’ as a summer-safe sheep breeding unit. The unit will be used to investigate and demonstrate current and future on-farm technologies in the management of sheep, hogget and lamb selection, health, welfare and production, with the ultimate aim of maximising productivity and profitability for sheep farming. . .

More iwi want agriculture help from Lincoln University:

Lincoln University says more and more iwi are wanting to set up agriculture partnerships with the tertiary provider.

It has agreements with tribes such as Ngai Tahu in the South Island, as well as Northland iwi, Ngapuhi and Ngati Koroki Kahukura and Ngati Haua in Waikato.

In Waikato, the university and the two Tainui tribes have outlined an agreement to create an agricultural training centre, and aim to create a new farm certificate course. . .

Push to eradicate genetic disease within four years:

Since its introduction into New Zealand in the early 1990s, the Texel sheep has grown to become one of this country’s key breeds in the national flock, both as a terminal sire and as part of a maternal flock.

“Its high meat yield muscling and hardiness has meant it is a first choice for many sheep farmers,” says Alistair McLeod, Chairman of the New Zealand Texel Breed Committee. “We are always looking at improving and advancing our breed for the commercial sheep farmer, so when we identified a genetic disorder we quickly looked at ways to test for it and eradicate it.” . . .

 

 

Researchers back Canterbury stubble burning – Tim Cronshaw:

The burn-off of stubble from harvested crops may be little used overseas, but researchers are convinced of its value for Canterbury arable farming.

Stubble burning demonstration plots were a talking point for managing crop rotations at the Foundation for Arable Research’s (Far) Arable Research in Action field day at Chertsey on Wednesday.

Research and extension director Nick Poole said the plots were set up to show why stubble burning was important in Canterbury, especially to growers of small seed crops. . .

UK wheat prices to fall, boding well for dairy:

 UK growers should prepare for a further fall in wheat prices – but not enough to put livestock producers in profit, in contrast with their dairy peers, HSBC said. 

The bank – which a year ago predicted, broadly correctly, a drop to £165 a tonne in wheat prices this year, from £227 a tonne at the time – said that values will fall further next year, to £150 a tonne.

While the UK itself reaped a relatively small harvest this year, of 12.1m tonnes, after persistent rains hampered autumn sowings, the world picture for cereals supplies has improved, HSBC said, quoting estimates from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization that stocks, compared with use, has risen to an 11-year high. . .


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