Rural round-up

24/02/2021

Lucky to be alive – Nigel Beckford:

Sheep and beef farmer Jack Cocks almost died from an aneurysm. Now he’s sharing with other farmers what his recovery taught him about resilience. 

Jack’s part of the team that runs Mt Nicholas, a high-country merino sheep and cattle station, on the western shores of Lake Wakatipu. “I grew up on a sheep and beef farm, went to uni, travelled overseas and came back and worked in an agribusiness consultancy. My wife Kate and I came here to work in 2009. There’s a team of four of us that run the farm. It’s probably more of a democracy than a lot of farms but it works well. It means we can use all our different skills.”

Jack says Mt Nicholas is a great place to work and raise a family (they have two kids). “Although we’re in an isolated situation, there is a team of us here so we might see more people during our working day than many sheep and beef farmers. I really love what farming offers – that mix of running your own business as well as working outside doing practical things. We enjoy a huge variety of work.”

All that was suddenly at risk when he suffered his aneurysm in 2013.  “I’m very lucky to be here,” he says, remembering the night it happened. . .

IrrigationNZ supports Infrastructure Commission assessment that ‘status quo’ for water management no longer tenable:

IrrigationNZ is heartened by the release of Te Waihanga’s (Infrastructure Commission) state-of-play report #3 on water released today and agrees with many insights .

“The report acknowledges that the status quo of water management is unlikely to be sustainable – and we 100% agree,” says IrrigationNZ chief executive Vanessa Winning.

“We are pleased the report highlights the need for a holistic and long-term strategic view of water to ensure optimal, sustainable and inclusive outcomes. This is long overdue and something we have advocated for. . . 

Regenerative agriculture white paper sets out pressing research priorities :

There is a pressing need for scientific testing of the anecdotal claims being made about regenerative agriculture. A new white paper sets out 17 priority research topics identified by 200+ representatives of New Zealand’s agri-food system.

Regenerative agriculture has been proposed as a solution for some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most acute challenges. Advocates suggest it can improve the health of our waterways, reduce topsoil loss, offer resilience to drought, add value to our primary exports, and improve the pervasive well-being crisis among rural farming communities.

With a groundswell of farmers transitioning to regenerative agriculture in New Zealand, there is an urgent need for clarity about what regenerative agriculture is in New Zealand and for scientific testing of its claimed benefits.

A new white paper, Regenerative Agriculture in Aotearoa New Zealand – Research Pathways to Build Science-Based Evidence and National Narratives, sets out 17 priority research topics and introduces 11 principles for regenerative farming in New Zealand. . . 

Young inventor on mission to transform wool sector – Annette Scott:

The strong wool industry can pin its hopes on a resurgence with $5 a kilogram return for coarse wool fibre in the sights of Kiwi inventor and entrepreneur Logan Williams.

Just 25 years of age and hailing from Timaru, Williams hit the headlines when he developed and successfully exited four revolutionary inventions, including polarised contact lenses to treat photosensitive epilepsy and a system to destroy methane gas produced on farms.

He received awards for his inventions, including a National Merit Award at the Eureka Science and Innovation Competition. . .

Roped in for life by rodeo – Sally Rae:

As the rodeo season continues around the country, Southland farmer and cowboy Greg Lamb has overcome a few hefty obstacles to get back in the saddle again. Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Extraordinarily determined.

That sums up Greg Lamb, a Southland sheep and beef farmer and rodeo champion who has battled injury — and a brain tumour — while pursuing and succeeding in the sport he loves.

Mr Lamb (43), who farms near Waikaka, might be a bit banged up at the moment — he hit the ground with his shoulder “fairly hard” at Wairoa rodeo last month, fracturing his shoulder blade, four ribs and a vertebra — but he is focused on making a return this season. . . 

Westland’s new CEO takes reins :

Westland Dairy Company Limited’s new CEO Richard Wyeth is looking forward to bringing the strength of a global dairy giant to the opportunities that lie ahead for the West Coast dairy processor after taking up the leadership role this week.

Mr Wyeth’s arrival at Westland yesterday was welcomed by resident director of Westland Dairy Company Limited, Shiqing Jian, who stepped down as interim CEO. Mr Jian served as interim CEO following the resignation of former Westland CEO Toni Brendish in August last year.

“We hope Richard is as excited as we are about the opportunities that lie ahead for Westland as he takes stewardship of this iconic New Zealand company,’’ Mr Jian said. . . 


Rural round-up

17/01/2021

A year of opportunity and challenges – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The year ahead for New Zealand’s primary sector is full of promise and opportunity.

Of course, there are challenges and there will be more that haven’t yet been realised. But the very fact that the country is relying on the sector to underpin, enable and drive economic growth means that there will be support. And the goodwill towards the work that the primary sector did during the Covid lockdown is still with us.

Internationally we are highly-respected for what we achieved collectively through Covid. New Zealanders listened to the science, obeyed the instructions and achieved a positive result.

What applied during Covid reflects our general attitude – when the facts are clear, we comply. This is part of why we are trusted as a food supplier. Our food is safe to eat as well as delicious. It is also what people want for health. . . 

Gym for farmers – Nigel Beckford:

A home-built gym was the start of Kane Brisco’s journey from milking shed to social media influencer.  

Kane’s into his seventh year 50/50 share milking at Ohangai near Hawera, in South Taranaki. His progress in the industry’s been rapid and life’s busy on all fronts.

“We have 215 cows which I pretty much milk myself. My wife helps as much as she can with the calves, but she’s working part time as a nurse too. We’ve also got a 6-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. The last 2 years have been hectic with my daughter starting school and the younger one becoming more mobile and racing around.”

Juggling these responsibilities would be a challenge for anyone. How does Kane cope? The answer might surprise some people – as busy as he is, Kane dedicates part of each day solely to meeting his own needs. . .

Passion for or shearing started early for young shepherd – Sandy Eggleston:

A fascination watching shearers as a child has drawn one young woman into having a go herself.

Shepherd Melissa Hamilton took part in the 39th Northern Southland Community Shears held at the Selbie family woolshed, Lowther Downs, near Lumsden yesterday.

Miss Hamilton grew up on a sheep and beef farm near Browns.

“When we were shearing it was the most exciting time of the year — always fascinated watching the shearers.” . .

Heavy rain no dampener for wine makers – Jared Morgan:

The New Year’s deluge of torrential rain has been welcomed by winemakers.

Their gain is in stark contrast to the pain caused by the rain to the region’s orchardists, whose cherry crops were all but wiped out by the heaviest rainfall in 40 years.

The epicentre for flooding of orchards and vineyards was the Earnscleugh area between Alexandra and Clyde.

The flooding was caused by the Fraser River breaching its banks and runoff from the Rocky Range; it was the latter that led to the cellar door and the winery at Black Ridge Vineyard being inundated with about 6cm of water and mud. . .

Why is it so hard to find lemons right now? – Alex Braae:

Supermarket shoppers looking for citrus are seeing a sour trend at the moment – some stores are entirely tapped out of lemons. But why? 

Batches of homemade lemonade will be taking a hit this summer, with life not giving New Zealand shoppers lemons. Prices are high at supermarkets and grocers that have the citrus fruit, and some stores have completely sold out.

The problem isn’t so much domestic problem – the citrus industry in New Zealand is small, but is largely operating as normal. Rather, import difficulties are making it much harder to stack the shelves. . .

Omarama Clay Cliffs – the little slice of Mars hidden in South Canterbury* – Brook Sabin:

New Zealand has no shortage of stunningly beautiful drives, and one of the best is between Queenstown and Aoraki Mt/Cook. This route weaves through some of our most spectacular mountain scenery, with a few hidden gems in between.

From Queenstown, ascend the Crown Range, as you wind your way into a majestic mountainscape that passes through Cardrona village. After an hour you’ll be in Wānaka, where you can stop for ice cream at Patagonia Chocolates, and a leisurely walk along the waterfront to see That Wānaka Tree.

Next, traverse the stunningly sparse Lindis Pass, before reaching the heartland of hidden gems: Omarama, which has two unmissable stops.

This unworldly landscape has to be one of the most underrated attractions in New Zealand. If it were overseas, there’d be ticket queues, cafes and novelty shops scattered around the place. Here, there’s a hand-painted sign pointing towards the entrance and an honesty box which asks for $5 per car to visit . .

* The cliffs are amazing & they’re on the right side of the Waitaki River so in North Otago not South Canterbury.

 


Rural round-up

18/12/2020

A near miss – Nigel Beckford:

A near-fatal accident completely changed Owen Gullery’s approach to life and farming. Now he’s alerting other farmers to the dangers of fatigue and burnout.

Owen contract milks 480 cows on a dairy farm near Cambridge. He’s been in the industry 20 years and loves ‘the daily challenges of farming – good and bad.’

“We’re having a good year, spring’s been kind to us in terms of weather – we’re not swimming round in mud. Everything’s tracking along nicely, the cows are doing well, it’s a nice property and good people.”

Which all sounds cruisy, doesn’t it? In fact, it turns out Owen’s lucky to be farming at all. A few years back a tractor accident almost claimed his life. It’s a moment he still vividly recalls. . . 

Paving the way for nurse practitioners – Annette Scott:

Raised in a farming family on Pitt Island, Tania Kemp’s upbringing had a huge impact on her career path as a rural nurse practitioner. She talked with her Annette Scott about bridging the rural health gap.

South Canterbury-based nurse practitioner Tania Kemp says rural health care needs to be promoted as a specialty area and not seen as the poor cousin to the glittering lights of urban medical practices.

Kemp has been recognised for her commitment and leadership in her drive to improve health care for rural communities.

The recipient of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network 2020 Peter Snow Memorial Award says the inequities of the rural health statistics urgently need addressing. . . 

IrrigationNZ honours Canterbury farmer – John Donkers:

Former IrrigationNZ chair John Donkers has long been involved in the politics of water with his many years of service to the industry recently honoured by the organisation. He talked with Annette Scott about his interest in water and irrigation.

Honorary membership of Irrigation New Zealand recognises outstanding contribution to the organisation and the 2020 honour has been awarded to South Canterbury farm consultant John Donkers.

A farmer and dairy farm consultant for more than 25 years, with involvement in IrrigationNZ since 2003, Donkers has a good understanding of how Canterbury’s water runs.

His initial interest stems from farming in central Canterbury and the need to understand the groundwater network. . . 

Dairy’s record milksolids production in a challenging year:

The annual New Zealand Dairy Statistics publication released today shows another record year for New Zealand’s dairy sector, with total milksolids production at a record high.

The DairyNZ and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) statistics show that in the 2019-20 season, New Zealand dairy companies processed 21.1 billion litres of milk containing 1.90 billion kilograms of milksolids (kg MS). This is a 0.6 percent increase in milksolids from the previous season.

Average milk production per cow also increased from 381 kg MS last season to 385 kg MS this season, while the latest count showed that New Zealand has 4.921 million milking cows – a decrease of 0.5 per cent from the previous season. This is again down significantly from peak cow numbers in 2014/15, which were at over 5 million. . . 

New analysis highlights dairy’s economic contribution:

The dairy sector is encouraged by today’s GDP results that emphasise New Zealand’s economic rebound amid Covid-19.

The dairy sector is playing a key role in a stable economy, contributing nearly one in every four dollars earned from total goods exports and services in the year to September 2020.

Recent Sense Partners analysis, for DairyNZ and DCANZ, shows the sector is delivering $20 billion in export value.

“Today’s GDP rebound may be a short-term benefit from the recovery in retail spending, wage subsidy and a hot housing market. So, it is important we don’t forget to focus on export-led growth moving forward,” said DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle. . .

Careers in horticulture look bright for Northlanders :

A local horticulture expo and ‘speed meet’ attracted more than 200 people from across Northland and the North Island last Wednesday.

Held at the Cornerstone Church in Kerikeri, the speed meet matched jobseekers with Northland growers needing workers for the season, training providers and career advisors.

Bruce Campbell, a Director on the Horticulture New Zealand board, says in the current environment, industry led events like this are critical for growers, and for those looking for immediate employment or to build a new career for themselves. . . 


Rural round-up

12/10/2017

Better communication will bridge rural urban divide – Hayden Dillon:

The farming community needs to step up to help lessen the rift between city and country.

I believe the debates during the course of the recent election campaign oversimplified some issues that are core to the agri sector, such as water and soil quality. These have created divisions that are not helping New Zealand move forward.

As with many complex issues, the rush to simplify the discussions and debate has seen farming, in particular dairying, blamed for many of our environmental problems.

That’s simply not correct. . .

Appreciate world’s best office :

Stopping to appreciate the small things in life really helps people handle the big stuff. 

That was one of the messages coming through loud and clear from farmers involved in rural wellbeing initiative Farmstrong, project leader Gerard Vaughan said.

Over the last two years Vaughan and video maker Nigel Beckford have been busy interviewing Kiwi farmers about what they do to keep well and avoid burnout.

They’ve been sharing the best tips and advice in short video clips on the Farmstrong website – http://www.farmstrong.co.nz. . . 

It’s not smart to tough it out on your own:

It’s Mental Health Week and the theme is “Nature is Key – Unlock Your Wellbeing”.

The idea is to escaping stressful or ‘same old rut’ work and home environments to eat your lunch in a park or at the beach, to take the family for a weekend bush walk, etc.  It can lift spirits, put you back in touch with Nature, and get you thinking about your health, your priorities – and whether you may need to reach out for help or advice.

Federated Farmers President Katie Milne welcomes the focus on mental health and talking through issues and feelings with others.  “Our great outdoors can also be a wonderful tonic.”

But for rural folk, Mother Nature can also be a source of considerable stress.  Storms, floods, ailing livestock, droughts, etc., can ratchet up financial woes, relationship strains and the feeling ‘it’s all too much’.. . .

Mental health support needed for farmers – Alexa Cook:

A Waikato farmer is pushing for the government to provide better mental health support for the rural sector.

Research shows that the suicide rate in New Zealand’s rural sector is up to 50 percent higher than in urban areas.

Dairy farmer Richard Cookson has had his own struggle with mental health, and said while there is good crisis support for farmers, such as the Rural Support Trust, there isn’t enough for depression.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, Mr Cookson said a good start would be free counselling to get farmers in the door, but the sector also needs quite specific help. . . 

Media accepts pseudoscience drivel unchallenged – Doug Edmeades:

 Damn it all. Someone is not listening and I am now forced to repeat myself. My last column ended thus:

“Without an independent principled fourth estate we may be drifting away from being a society in which our policies are based on evidence, rational thought and logic analysis and which encourages and embraces criticism. If we are not careful we could drift back to a time when humans believed in alchemy, witches and taniwha”.

In this last week, as if on cue, three media outlets coughed up three items of demonstrable drivel.

Exhibit 1: The NZ Farmers Weekly (October 2) gave their opinion page to Phyllis Tichinin in an article headlined, Urea cascade cause of problems. She attributes many animal health, soil and environmental problems to the overuse of urea. Opinion yes, evidence no. Her whole thesis fails the logical test of cause and effect. How can one thing – in this case urea – have so many unrelated effects? As one qualified reader expressed it to me: “I struggle to find one fact or one statement that isn’t a falsehood.” . . .

Is this synthetic food thing for real? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Synthetic food is being talked about rather more than it is being eaten.

The balance might change in future as the technologies develop, but at the moment there is more hype and interest than hunger and intake.

The Impossible Burger seems to be the focus at the moment. The burger is made in the laboratory from wheat (grown in a field) and involves a ‘haem’ from legumes. The haem is pink (it is responsible for the colour in healthy, nitrogen-fixing clover root nodules) and so confers the burger with ‘bleeding’ properties. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Doug Avery – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Marlborough Proud Farmer Doug Avery whose Resilient Farmer platform aims to deliver powerful support to New Zealand farmers across the three pillars — financial, environmental and social. Through road shows and ongoing mentoring, he helps farmers to adopt new thinking and practices. Check out his best selling book The Resilient Farmer, and his website http://www.resilientfarmer.co.nz for more information .
How long have I been farming?

46 years but I am only involved in the directorship of the business now and financial control.
What sort of farming are you involved in?
We grow wool, meat, crops , dairy support and people. . .

Fieldays growth underlines primary sector importance:

The importance of the primary sector to the New Zealand economy is emphasised today by Fieldays’ 2017 Economic Impact Report.

A report prepared by the University of Waikato Management School’s Institute of Business Research, reveals that the biggest agricultural expo in the southern hemisphere, generated an estimated $238 million to New Zealand’s GDP, an increase of 24.7 per cent when compared to 2016.

Federated Farmers’ Board member Chris Lewis is particularly familiar with Fieldays and regards the event as a key indicator to how the country is faring. . . 

 


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