Rural round-up

February 26, 2020

Wharves in China can’t take more logs from New Zealand:

Lack of space in Chinese ports is bringing a virtual halt to New Zealand log exports to China.

The Forest Owners Association says precautions in China against coronavirus have resulted in almost no offtake of logs in China for processing and exporters understand that the remaining log yard space at most ports near processing centres is quickly disappearing.

The Association President, Peter Weir says exporters had hoped that business would return to normal after the extended Lunar New Year holiday finished in China two weeks ago. . . 

Northland drought: iwi to divert farm water to Support town supply :

Northland iwi Te Rarawa and Ngāi Takoto are on stand-by to supply water to drought-stricken towns, including Kaikohe and Kaitaia.

The water will be sourced from an aquifer which runs through the iwi-owned farm, Sweetwater.

Once a 4km pipe is installed, up to 2700 cubic metres of water will be pumped from the aquifer a day . .

Chickens come to (mobile) home to roost – Sally Rae:

It is the ultimate in mobile homes.

Thousands of hens are living the life of Riley on Tony and Michelle Pringle’s South Otago farm; pecking their way around the 445ha property near Clydevale from their transportable hen houses.

When it comes to their farming operation, the couple, who milk 450 cows and farm 6500 laying hens, think outside the square — and a lot.

They have a focus on regenerative agriculture and soil health to produce nutrient-dense food. Hens were part of that as they added “another system within a system” — introducing poultry to their farming operation, while not affecting their stock numbers.

The Pringle family, who feature on the first episode of the new series of Country Calendar on March 1, started with 50 hens and quickly discovered people liked their eggs. . . 

Hemp farm opens gates to the curious to promote ‘wonder crop’ – Katie Todd:

Growers of industrial hemp say red tape is stopping industries from making the most of what many regard as a potential wonder crop.

Although it lacks the mind-altering power of its close cousin marijuana, hemp can only be grown and sold subject to Ministry of Health restrictions.

Brad Lake, co-founder of Christchurch hemp food company The Brothers Green, helped organise a hemp farm open day in Culverden yesterday, to showcase the farmers and business utilising the crop and help de-mystify how it’s grown and used. . .

Backing the trillion tree campaign to combat climate crisis – Tom Crowther:

Politicians and influencers are signing up to the campaign, but to get things right we must keep in mind the science behind it, says Tom Crowther:

The recent explosion of interest in tree restoration has transformed the climate change conversation. Although the trillion tree campaign – 1T.org – is now in the realm of politicians and influencers (Greta Thunberg: Davos leaders ignored climate activists’ demands, 24 January), it emerged from scientific literature. But what exactly did the science show?

We estimated that there is up to 0.9bn hectares of degraded land that might support a trillion trees outside of existing forest, urban or agricultural land. Although the exact carbon storage potential is debated, scientists agree that ecosystem restoration is a powerful tool for carbon drawdown.

But with anything this powerful, the risks of getting it wrong can be huge. To avoid these risks, any organisation pledging to the trillion tree campaign should uphold these basic principles. . .

Industrial property investors set to plough funds into agricultural engineering site up for sale:

The land and buildings housing a long-standing farm equipment and machinery engineering plant in the heart of the North Island’s premier dairying region has been placed on the market for sale.

The premises at 5855 State Highway 2 in Netherton features a 620 square metre industrial building complex sitting on a 1.89-hectare block of land zoned rural 1A under the Hauraki District Council plan.

The property has been the headquarters of Quinn Engineering since the 1960s – with the company producing hay-bailing machinery, crate-lifting forklift extensions, and tractor extensions for crop and soil management. Its products are sold throughout New Zealand as well as Australia and the South Pacific. . . 


Rural round-up

January 16, 2020

Simplistic climate change lessons counterproductive, Federated Farmers says:

Introducing school children to the science underpinning climate change is positive and worthwhile but great care will be needed to ensure there is balance, Federated Farmers says.

“Teachers will need to present and explain the pros and cons of various courses of action in response to global warming, and in particular guard against the lessons fostering feelings of panic or hopelessness,” Federated Farmers climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

While much of the material in the ‘Prepare today, live well tomorrow’ teacher resource is instructive and compelling, some of it is misleading unless the nuances of the topic are explored, Andrew said. . . 

How the trees and birds returned to Camp Hill – Guy Williams:

Thirteen years ago, a Californian movie software engineer and psychotherapist bought 73ha of land at the head of Lake Wakatipu.

Lifelong environmentalist Rob Lay had a growing sense of alarm about climate change, and decided the best thing he could do was plant trees. Guy Williams visited him at Camp Hill to ask about a  restoration project that has produced stunning results.

When Rob Lay bought Camp Hill in 2006, it had three forlorn patches of forest.

The stands contained mountain and red beech trees hundreds of years old, but sheep and cattle grazed beneath them, preventing the growth of a forest understorey and natural regeneration.

He had come to New Zealand the year before to commercialise digital effects software, including helping Weta Digital with its work on Peter Jackson’s King Kong. . .

Iwi catch the horticulture wave – Hugh Stringleman:

Planting has begun on a large avocado orchard in Maori ownership near Kaitaia, in the Far North, while debate continues over the sustainability of irrigation to keep that new development and many others in the region alive and productive.

Ngai Takoto’s farming business, Rakau Ora, has started planting a 20ha orchard in the northern Sweetwater district, west of Awanui.

Further planting of 40ha is planned over the next two years and 200ha in total in a decade, Ngai Takoto chief executive Rangitane Marsden said. . . 

Changing South: The Huntaway :

New Zealand has its own breed of dog: the hardy, uncomplaining Huntaway.

They’re essential team members on many a station – the “take ’em away” experts moving sheep to the farmers’ whistles.

As part of a series Newsroom is running over summer, Christchurch documentary-maker Gerard Smyth catches up with Jude, Frank, Jett and Floyd, some of the Huntaways on the 126,000 acre Mt White station in Inland Canterbury. . . 

Former Wellard boss vows to design new era of livestock carriers – Vernon Graham:

Six months after he “ceased” employment as CEO of Australian-based livestock exporter, Wellard, Mauro Balzarini has announced he is launching a new venture to build cleaner, smarter livestock carriers.

He left Wellard last June, ending 40 years of involvement with the company by his family.

Mr Balzarini had been the chief executive officer of the business for 15 years and led it to a public listing on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2015. . . 

Natural England beef over ‘anti-meat’ TV after Channel 4 show that called for end to all farming – Helena Horton:

Channel 4 show calling for farming to be completely scrapped and replaced by factories which produce food out of bacteria has been criticised by the head of Natural England.

The show, Apocalypse Cow, aired on the public broadcaster on Wednesday night, and was fronted by vegan activist George Monbiot, known for being arrested at the Extinction Rebellion protests last year.

In it, he argues that farming is responsible for the world’s environmental ills and calls for “farm-free food” made in laboratories.

Tony Juniper, the head of Natural England, disagreed with his claims that grazing animals are bad for the planet. . . 


Rural round-up

April 23, 2018

I founded Happy Cow Milk to make a difference in dairying. I failed – Glen Herud:

He founded an ethical dairying company that would allow calves to stay with their mothers. Last week, Glenn Herud had to admit that his enterprise had failed.

I’m a third generation dairy farmer. The milk business is the only business I know. Four years ago I decided to find a way to do dairy in a more sustainable way.

I know New Zealanders want this. They want the land treated better, they want rivers treated better, and they want animals treated better. And they would like the option to buy their milk in something other than plastic bottles.

I founded Happy Cow Milk to make a difference. But last week I had to admit to myself that I failed. . . 

Record butter prices expected: economist – Simon Hartley:

Households, restaurants and bakeries be warned, butter prices are expected to rise well above last year’s records, already sitting just 5% below the highs set last September.

ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny said butter prices were already well up on the same period a year ago, and the seasonal lull in New Zealand milk production was still to come.

“We anticipate butter prices will shatter last year’s records over coming months,” Mr Penny said.

In October last year, butter prices were up more than 60% against a year earlier. By November, one Dunedin supermarket’s cheapest 500g block cost $5.90 and there were reports of $8 blocks in other Otago towns. . . 

Commercial Mycoplasma bovis test being developed:

A commercial diagnostic tool which will allow farmers to test for cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis themselves is being developed by a partnership comprising commercial laboratories, industry representatives and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The tool will be released once sampling guidelines, a testing strategy and possibly an accreditation programme have been developed – to ensure the test can be accurately applied and interpreted. . . 

There’s more M bovis to come yet – Glenys Christian:

Up to three to four years of Mycoplasma bovis monitoring will be needed and more infected animals will probably be found next year, Primary Industries Ministry senior policy analyst Emil Murphy says.

“It doesn’t make animals sick directly,” he told Auckland Federated Farmers executive.

“It’s more like a cold sore where something happens to an animal which is weak already and M bovis  jumps in and makes it worse.”

Genetic analysis showed the local strain of M bovis is quite different to that seen in Australia for the last 10 years. . . 

Iwi in peat-mining venture say wetland is a wasteland:

The iwi involved in a peat mining venture in the Far North says it’s disappointed the Conservation Minister wants to derail it.

The Auckland company Resin and Wax Holdings has been granted resource consents to dig over land owned by the iwi Ngāi Takoto, in the Kaimaumau wetland.

The company plans to extract valuable industrial compounds from the peat, using a chemical process perfected in the United States.

The project has had several government grants from the Callaghan Innovation fund. . . 

Co-ops also present in German ag – Sudesh Kissun:

The power of cooperative agriculture is proudly on display at a dairy farm near the German city of Dresden.

The Agrargenossenschaft Gnaschwitz (Agri Co-op), in the town of Gnaschwitz, milks 460 cows year round with eight Lely robotic machines. Lely recently unveiled its new Astronaut A5 machine.

The co-op is owned by about 100 shareholders, each owning a small parcel of the farm. Following the reunification of Germany in 1990, land seized by the former communist regime in East Germany was returned to people if they could show evidence of their family’s ownership. .  .

Human ingenuity and the future of food – Chelsea Follett:

A recent article in Business Insider showing what the ancestors of modern fruits and vegetables looked like painted a bleak picture. A carrot was indistinguishable from any skinny brown root yanked up from the earth at random. Corn looked nearly as thin and insubstantial as a blade of grass. Peaches were once tiny berries with more pit than flesh. Bananas were the least recognizable of all, lacking the best features associated with their modern counterparts: the convenient peel and the seedless interior. How did these barely edible plants transform into the appetizing fruits and vegetables we know today? The answer is human ingenuity and millennia of genetic modification.

Humanity is continuously innovating to produce more food with less landless water, and fewer emissionsAs a result, food is not only more plentiful, but it is also coming down in price.

The pace of technological advancement can be, if you will pardon the pun, difficult to digest. Lab-grown meat created without the need to kill an animal is already a reality. The first lab-grown burger debuted in 2013, costing over $300,000, but the price of a lab-grown burger patty has since plummeted, and the innovation’s creator “expects to be able to produce the patties on a large enough scale to sell them for under $10 a piece in a matter of five years.” 

People who eschew meat are a growing demographic, and lab-grown meat is great news for those who avoid meat solely for ethical reasons. It currently takes more land, energy, and water to produce a pound of beef than it does to produce equivalent calories in the form of chickens, but also grains. So, cultured meat could also lead to huge gains in food production efficiency.  . . 

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Rural round-up

December 22, 2015

Federated Farmers praises farmers on Lake Brunner improvement:

Federated Farmers is praising the efforts of local farmers in improving the water quality of the West Coasts largest river, Lake Brunner.

Years of hard work by the Lake Brunner farming community has resulted in the water quality target, set out by the government, being reached five years ahead of schedule.

“The early achievement of the target is a great example of how we can reverse deteriorating water quality when farmers work together to reach a shared objective,” says Federated Farmers West Coast President Katie Milne. . . 

Curse of the Christmas tree – Lachlan Forsyth:

It’s arguably the biggest pest in New Zealand, but one of the least known.

Pinus contorta, otherwise known as wilding pine, may look like a lovely Christmas tree, but it is a vicious weed which is strangling the life out of our forests.

It has already infested seven percent of the country – 1.7 million hectares.

Left unchecked, it’ll infest 20 percent of New Zealand within two decades.

Not to be confused with pinus radiate, the common tree in forestry blocks, pinus contorta is a nasty, twisting tree, and it is rampant. . . 

Rabobank Global Beef Quarterly Q4: Ongoing Tight Supply to Support Prices:

Tight supply will support prices in 2016 as demand is expected to remain firm even though supply pressure is easing. China and the US will be the main import markets to watch in 2016—in particular the strength of demand, given high prices. According to Rabobank’s Global Beef Quarterly Q4 2015 report, Australia, Brazil, India and the US will be the main exporters to watch—in particular the supply of cattle and beef, in response to rebuilding pressures at different points in the cycle.

China continues to play a critical role in the global beef market despite a slowing economy. Although the domestic market has been volatile due to the impact of the grey channel, it will continue to offer sustainable opportunities for the rest of the world. . . 

NZ lamb exports likely to drop this season amid weak demand in China, UK – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand farmers are heading for lower returns for their lambs this season amid weakness in the country’s two largest export markets in China and the UK.

While prices for the first of the new season lambs processed in October and November for the UK Christmas chilled market were similar to last year, that won’t be enough to offset weakness in the broader market as the season cranks up to its peak production period from now through till May, according to AgriHQ senior analyst Nick Handley. . . 

1080 report shows poison being used responsibly:

The latest report by the Environmental Protection Authority on the use of 1080 in New Zealand provides further reassurance to the public that the poison is safe and is being used responsibly, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“1080 is a vital tool in protecting our native wildlife, like Kiwi, and preventing the spread of bovine tuberculosis. The area of land treated has doubled to almost one million hectares because of the “Battle for our Birds” but with very few incidents. This is a huge credit to the professionalism of the Department of Conservation (DOC) and TBFree New Zealand. . . 

Landcorp inks agreement with iwi for Sweetwater farm in Northland – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer, will continue to be involved in the management of Northland farm Sweetwater after iwi take ownership of the property under a Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

Northland iwi Te Rarawa and Ngai Takoto will take ownership of the 2,480 hectare property near Kaitaia tomorrow, as part of a 2010 settlement. Landcorp, which has been managing Sweetwater in consultation with the iwi, will continue to provide farm management expertise, livestock and technology under a new joint-management and profit-sharing arrangement, the Wellington-based state-owned enterprise said in a statement. . . 

HBRIC Ltd Update:

Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company Ltd (HBRIC Ltd) is confident it can confirm a preferred investor mix for the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme before the end of the year.

HBRIC Ltd told today’s Hawke’s Bay Regional Council meeting that intensive work is being done with three potential investors and it continues to target the end of the calendar year to confirm investors for the scheme. However it says it won’t make the decision public until very early in the New Year. . . 

Kaingaroa Timberlands profit rescued by foreign exchange gain as log prices fall – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Kaingaroa Timberlands, the nation’s biggest forestry business, posted a 37 percent gain in full-year profit as a foreign exchange gain more than made up for a drop in international log prices.

Net profit rose to US$332.8 million in the year ended June 30, from US$243.7 million a year earlier, according to the company’s financial statements. Profit included a US$281 million gain on foreign exchange movements, compared to a year-earlier charge of US$149.7 million. Revenue fell 22 percent to US$355.2 million, of which the bulk came in reduced log sales. . . 

Rural and Southern businesses best place for work life balance:

If you are planning to start a new business in the New Year and still want to have some time to enjoy the best of the Kiwi lifestyle, it could be worth thinking about moving to the country or heading down South.

According to the latest MYOB SME research, a net 54 per cent* of business operators working in rural New Zealand are satisfied with their work/life balance, while only 45 per cent of those working in the city are happy with how they split their time between work and leisure. . . 


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