Rural round-up

December 26, 2017

‘Drag ‘n drop’ grazing now a reality – Nigel Malthus:

The idea of virtual fencing has been around for 20 years, but AgResearch believes its time has come and will soon start testing an Australian product.
Farm systems scientist Warren King, of AgResearch Ruakura, says it has been watching the technology for years and now believes the eShepherd product from Melbourne company Agersens is “the real deal”.

New Zealand’s Gallagher Group is a lead investor in Agersens, with marketing manager Mark Harris on the board. . .

Recent heat boost for lavender crops:

A South Canterbury lavender grower is experiencing an early start to the season.

Rob Martin, of Limestone Valley Estate, near Cave, said his crop of Pacific blue lavender was two weeks early this year, and his other varieties were following close behind.

He put the ”very early” start down to the year’s weather patterns, which were ”excellent” for lavender.

”[There was a] sudden heavy wet winter and spring and that immediately changed to hot weather,” he said. . .

Mozzarella plant on track for May start – Alexia Johnston:

Clandeboye’s $240million mozzarella plant is on target for commissioning in May.

AThe project, which is the third mozzarella plant for Fonterra’s Clandeboye site, is three-quarters complete and has already created 75 new jobs.

A further 25 employees will join the team in February.

Clandeboye operations manager Steve McKnight was among those watching progress.

”There’s a real buzz in the air on site as we have more people on site and the plant takes shape,” he said. . .

Decades of service:

The 2017 NZ Winegrower Personality of the Year goes to the NZSVO and its departing Executive Officer, Nick Sage and the recently announced life member, Rengasamy Balasubramaniam – better known as Bala.

There seems to be a common thread when you look at the retiring committee members of the NZSVO. All seem to have landed the job after being lured to an AGM by the offer of free wine. . .

I can’t wait for when we don’t have any possums – Andrew Austin:

The rabbits populating my neighbourhood seem to have begun breeding like, well, rabbits.

They are all around – on the roads, in the gardens, in the paddocks. They are a menace. As I am not a gun owner, I simply have to live with them.

The dogs give them (literally) a run for their money, so at least they don’t come too close to the house.

But even worse than rabbits are the possums. I drive along a one kilometre-long shared rural driveway to get to my house and every night I see at least one possum waddling along the road. Workmates and others tell me that I should aim for them and run them over. I have tried, but always seem to pull out at the last moment. . .

Gove tells Brits to be more patriotic about cheese buying habits

Brits who are worried about the price of their foreign produce going up after Brexit should be more patriotic about their choices, according to Michael Gove.

Mr Gove, who attended the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) on Wednesday (20 December), has criticised claims that the price of cheddar cheese will go up by 40 percent if Britain leaves the EU without a trade deal.

The Defra Secretary said Brits should instead focus their priority on British cheddar. He said that, in a WTO scenario, if cheese prices rise steeply then the British public should buy more British cheese. . .

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Rural round-up

October 25, 2017

Nitrogen-busting genetics could prevent millions of kilograms of nitrates landing on dairy farms – Pat Deavoll:

Nitrate reducing forage plants and bacteria, denitrification walls and now nitrate-busting bulls are being developed to lower farming’s impact on the environment.

Thanks to an international breakthrough by dairy herd improvement company CRV Ambreed, bulls have been identified that pass lower nitrate levels through their urine onto soils.

The company has selected bulls genetically superior for a trait related to the concentration of urea nitrogen in milk. . .

Sone up, some down, some firm – Nigel Malthus:

Lamb, sheep and deer prices are likely to remain firm, but cow and bull prices could soften, according to the Alliance Group’s projections for the new season.

Heather Stacy, Alliance’s general manager livestock and shareholder services, told a recent meeting of shareholder farmers at Little River, Banks Peninsula, that prime beef prices should remain similar to last year at $5.00 – $5.40/kg early season and $4.80 – $5.20/kg post-Christmas. . . 

Kiwifruit’s bright outlook – Peter Burke:

There’s gold for New Zealand growers in Zespri’s SunGold kiwifruit.
Overseas demand is high for the new Psa-free variety and prices continue to rise.

As a result, Zespri chairman Peter McBride is forecasting a net profit after tax of $96 million to $101m for the year ended March 31, 2018. Profit last year was $73.7m. . .

Science to rule on farming’s role in ETS:

Farmers are relieved that science – rather than politics – will decide whether agriculture should be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Under the coalition agreement unveiled yesterday, a new Climate Commission will make the decision.

Other details made public yesterday include scrapping the controversial water tax, but introducing a royalty on bottled water exports, along with higher water quality standards for everyone.

Labour went into the election promising to make the country carbon neutral by 2050. . . 

Dairy fund takes stake in Lewis Road to support NZ, international expansion – Sophie Boot:

Dairy farming investment fund Southern Pastures has taken an undisclosed but significant stake in Lewis Road Creamery, with executive chairman Prem Maan set to join the Lewis Road board.

The investment “will enable further expansion of Lewis Road’s popular product portfolio in New Zealand, and support the company’s push towards exporting to lucrative overseas markets”, Lewis Road said in a statement. Founder and chief executive Peter Cullinane will remain the company’s largest shareholder. . . 

Increase in illegal seafood sales on Facebook prompts warning:

A significant increase in the number of illegal seafood sales via Facebook has prompted the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to warn those offending that they will face penalties for violating the Fisheries Act.

Since the beginning of the year, MPI has received more than 160 calls and emails reporting Facebook posts by people selling recreationally caught seafood including crayfish, kina and pāua.That’s up on the previous year where 96 complaints were received and the year before that when 57 complaints were registered. . . 

The many paradoxes of life on and off farm – Joyce Wylie:

Paradoxes are part of our lives, and they are not skydiving medical teams. Paradox is defined as “a person or thing exhibiting apparently contradictory characteristics” which can make them both humorously absurd and irritating nonsense.

For example 3.57 million New Zealanders enrolled for our recent election. So, 79.8 per cent of us used our democratic privilege meaning 2.63 million votes were cast and counted. But amazingly after this major public participation the final result came down to a small number of candidates who didn’t win a single electorate seat between them. They made a choice behind closed doors about who holds power in the 52nd parliament of our country.

10 things only a farmer’s child would know – Hayley Parrott:

We recently had a chuckle at an article about 10 things anyone marrying a farmer can expect to encounter and it got us thinking. Lots of us in the Farmers Weekly office grew up on farms and here are a few memories we think those of you born and bred on a farm might empathise with.

1. Summer holidays. Or so-called “holidays”. For those six weeks you await with such anticipation, you will spend most of it helping to feed the chickens, walk the dogs and painting fences. You’ll be granted a well-earned break on the day of the county show. . .


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

July 6, 2017

Farmers’ social licence fast expiring – warning – Nigel Malthus:

Dairying has a lot at stake as the world enters the fourth industrial revolution, says former DairyNZ chairman John Luxton.

A dairy farmer, businessman and former National minister of agriculture, Luxton gave the opening keynote address at the 2017 South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) conference at Lincoln University.

He says farmers’ social license to operate as in the past was now fast expiring. Rules and regulations requiring farmers to improve farm systems were becoming more and more complex. . . 

Military cameras help red meat – Sudesh Kissun:

Cameras used by the military are helping the New Zealand red meat sector produce premium lamb products.

One camera, installed in a South Island meat plant, scans eight lambs a minute, collecting from 45 data points per lamb in a round-the-clock operation. The technology is not available anywhere else in the world; AgResearch needed special approval to get the military-grade camera into NZ.

Chief executive Tom Richardson says the technology has the potential to help farmers double their income. . .

NZ support for agriculture innovation

Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced an $11 million boost to global agricultural research.

“New Zealand is a world leader in international agriculture research and we want to help meet global food needs in ways that are positive for the environment,” Mr Brownlee says.

“New Zealand is committing $11 million over two years to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a network of research institutes around the world that focus on agriculture, forestry and fishing. . .

Feds’ commend Government on investment in global agriscience:

Federated Farmers commends the Government on investment of $11 million towards global agricultural research.

The announcement today, made by Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee, is a progressive step that will drive science and innovation in the agriculture sector.

“There is a great deal of work that governments and farmers worldwide should be collaborating on in the pre-competitive space to not only lift livelihoods in rural sectors, but also improve environmental outcomes,” says Federated Farmers’ National Vice President Andrew Hoggard. . .

Horticulture ripe for investment:

World-wide consumer interest in healthy food, growers being early-adopters of innovation, and rapid growth make horticulture in New Zealand ripe for further investment, says Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman.World-wide consumer interest in healthy food, growers being early-adopters of innovation, and rapid growth make horticulture in New Zealand ripe for further investment, says Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman.

“Today, the government has released a business-focused overview in The Investor’s Guide to the New Zealand Produce Industry 2017 which shows potential investors how well fruit and vegetable production in New Zealand is going,” Mr Chapman says.  . .

Healthy humans, lusty lambs:

Managing the diets of sheep to boost human health and keep stock in prime condition will be on the menu when NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) researchers present their latest findings at a Graham Centre sheep forum in Wagga Wagga on Friday July 7.

NSW DPI livestock researcher, Edward Clayton, has investigated ways to lift omega-3 fatty acid levels in lamb to deliver human health benefits, which could decrease risks of cardiovascular disease and treat inflammatory conditions, including eczema and arthritis.

“Omega-3 fatty acid, found in high concentrations in oily fish, is also a component of red meat and levels can be altered considerably through the animal’s diet,” Dr Clayton said. . .


Rural round-up

June 8, 2017

Te Mana lamb – Jo Elwin:

Standing high on a hill on Minaret Station was no place to be this cold, blustery snow-on-the-way day, but there I was, exhilarated and remarking at the pretty white faces of the lambs being shepherded around us. “They are very good looking sheep,” says Matt Wallis, one of four brothers who own the station, “but we are careful who we say that around.”

It was one of many quips from Matt and his brother Jonathan as they helicoptered me around their 50,000 acre property, which has no road access but enjoys 27km of Wanaka lakefront. Matt’s focus is the hospitality side of the business. . . 

New stock exclusion rules require greater flexibility – Feds – Nigel Malthus:

New rules excluding stock from waterways are coming, but they have to be sensible, practical and affordable, says Cathy Begley, leader of Federated Farmers’ water team.

Begley told attendees at the recent Feds South Island high country group conference that the proposals could affect the way they run their farms.

She says that since the Minister for the Environment, Dr Nick Smith, and the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, announced in February the goal of having 90% of rivers swimmable, her group has been making submissions on how farmers could be affected. . .

Rural sector achievements and value highlighted in honours list:

Federated Farmers congratulates all those who received awards in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list this year and is delighted to see the rural sector and the people involved in it commended for their outstanding achievements and contributions.

“The number of Queen’s Birthday Honours which have an agricultural connection shows the significant contribution farmers and agribusiness continue to play in New Zealand.

“These awards recognise contributions in science and innovation, mental health, business and the environment indicating the diversity of effort in the rural community,” says Dr William Rolleston Federated Farmers ‘ National President. . . 

Rotorua woman excited and thankful for honour – Shauni James:

Rotorua’s Wendy McGowan is excited and thankful about being made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rural women.

Mrs McGowan has been a member of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) since 1975 and has held offices with the Kaharoa Branch, Provincial and Inter-Provincial Committees.

She said she felt excited about the honour and very thankful to the people who had nominated her. . .

Maori growing part of NZ ag – PM:

Prime Minister Bill English says in most regions Maori now have the potential to become the largest long-term investors.
People are starting to realise Maori are not fly-by-night investors, he says. They are in business – farms, commercial buildings, investments — for the long haul.

English said this at an event celebrating the award of the Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Maori sheep and beef farm, this year won by the Omapere Rangihamama Trust farm, near Kaikohe. . .

Rural fuel stop from a paddock – Christine McKay:

A partnership between Pongaroa and Allied Petroleum is a first for New Zealand, pumping profits back into the community.

On Monday the first sod was turned for the Pongaroa Fuel Stop, which will be a driver for community development, thanks to the unique relationship between the fuel company and the community.

“When we were approached about the fuel stop, our overwhelming view was yes,” Paul Peetoom, territory manager for the lower North Island for Allied Petroleum, said. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 6, 2017

Queen’s Birthday Honours: Doug Avery:

Doug Avery
MNZM
For services to agriculture and mental health

Douglas Avery is a farmer in the Awatere region and has contributed to developing farm and land practices, as well as being a spokesperson for mental health issues within the farming community.

Mr Avery has successfully adopted land use techniques to drought-proof his farm and has spoken to audiences around New Zealand, Australia and Argentina about his new farming systems that have provided a basis for sustainable environmental and financial growth. . . 

Progress made: farming leader – Dene Mackenzie:

Federated Farmers president William Rolleston is calling for better recognition of the efforts farmers are making in ensuring the improvement in water quality.

Speaking at the Local Government NZ conference, Dr Rolleston said his message to the non-governmental organisations was for them to understand the dynamic and sheer hard work so many farmers put in every day.

The NGOs needed to realise science was providing the tools which would make a difference and was already showing, in most catchments, simply slashing numbers was not the only or the best solution. . .

Pledge to make rural waterways swimmable – Peter Burke:

The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord is a rock solid commitment by dairy farmers that they are taking action to make rural waterways swimmable.

So said DairyNZ’s chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle, speaking at the release of the three year review of the accord recently.

Mackle says many waterways running through dairy farms are already swimmable but no one is in any doubt that more has to be done. . .

‘Get out and tell your stories’ – Nigel Malthus;

Canterbury dairy farmers are being urged to get involved in telling positive stories about their industry.

Cameron Henderson, of Oxford, told attendees at a recent DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum held at Lincoln University’s Ashley Dene farm that farmers are “a bit p***ed off with how the media is portraying us”.

“Yes, we have some changes to make, but the media is blaming us for a whole lot more than that, and I think it’s something we farmers want to do something about.” . .

Massive dairy plant rising – Nicole Sharp:

Block by block, Mataura Valley Milk’s $240million milk powder manufacturing plant is coming together.

The company has reached the next stage of the project, announcing on Monday it would start laying utilities infrastructure this month which would connect the McNab plant to Gore.

About 5km of utilities would be laid, the route following MacGibbon Rd, then passing under the Mataura River to River St, before heading south to the Gore District Council’s oxidation ponds. . .

Big input cuts, production barely wobbles:

Reducing nitrogen on pasture need not be a detriment to great results when it comes to dairy farming, research by the Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) shows.

The SIDDC (South Island Dairying Development Centre) runs the Lincoln University Dairy Farm on behalf of the university.

In 2010-11, the centre determined the farm should focus on productivity and efficiency to lift profitability, and operate within its historical environmental footprint. . .


Rural round-up

April 10, 2017

Taste is tops – Neal Wallace:

ONE of the biggest consumer taste tests ever has revealed the eating quality of New Zealand lamb is consistently high with very little variation.

The finding followed more than 3200 consumer taste tests in NZ and the United States last year and showed factors such as breed, gender, pasture, growth rates, fat cover, marbling, confirmation and locality had a minor effect on eating quality.

The research was part of a FarmIQ Primary Growth Partnership programme in conjunction with Silver Fern Farms, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Landcorp.  . .

Sound science needed in policy making  – Mark Ross:

New Zealand’s strong export focus is unusual because our GDP relies heavily on our primary industries and export markets.
Revenue from these exports is estimated at $36.7 billion this year, but is at risk from unsubstantiated, over-hyped nonsensical claims.

The products we use to protect our animals and crops from pests and diseases have never been more thoroughly tested and screened to ensure product safety. But pseudo-science puts NZ farmers and growers’ chances of being world leaders in productivity at risk. Pseudo-science is beliefs or statements not backed by scientific evidence. Its promoters frequently play on people’s fears and cause needless confusion. . .

Farmers urged to use science to improve profitability:

Farmers are getting a push to use the “masses of science” available in New Zealand to improve their profitability.
Confusion exists about the key focus needed to increase farm profitability, says high profile farm veterinarian and consultant Trevor Cook.

The key point is how much product we produce per hectare, he says. And though body condition score and feed allocation are also key performance indicators, they alone are not the drivers of profit. . . 

Planting good for soldiers, farming – Nigel Malthus:

Even Canterbury’s arable farmers would benefit from the increased biodiversity offered by native reforestation, claims the man leading the largest dryland reforestation effort on the plains.
Tai Tapu native plant nurseryman and consultant Stephen Brailsford is managing the replacement of exotic trees at Burnham Military Camp. The project, three years on, has seen up to 45,000 natives planted.

Sparked by wind storm damage in September 2013, the project is to replace most of the camp’s exotic trees with the kind of native bush originally standing on the Canterbury Plains’ dry soils. . .

Dairy wants to play its part – Stephen Bell:

Fonterra recognises dairy is a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and wants to do something about it, environment manager Francesca Eggleton says.

The industry faced a potentially extremely large liability.

Dairy produced gases from cows, effluent, fertiliser, deforestation to produce palm kernel, energy use and transport.

Of the gases produced 85% were created onfarm, 10% from processing site and 5% from distribution.

The Dumfries House declaration:

On September 9th 2016, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales as Patron of the Campaign for Wool in association with M&S, hosted the historic Dumfries House Wool Conference in Scotland.

The conference brought together 250 leading members of the wool industry supply chain, from farm to store, to discuss the current challenges facing wool and how its further use can benefit the planet as a whole.

In his address to the conference, The Prince of Wales officially endorsed the Dumfries House Declaration.This is a ten-point declaration of intent to support an environmentally responsible, sustainable, and commercially viable wool industry. . .


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