Rural round-up

March 22, 2018

NZ led study reveals DNA of cattle and sheep bacteria – Eric Frykberg:

International scientists led by New Zealanders have identified the genetic makeup of over 500 species of bacteria found in the gut of cattle and sheep.

Previously the genomes of just 15 rumen microbial genomes were available to the scientific community.

The project was led by the former AgResearch scientist Bill Kelly and a current AgResearch scientist Sinead Leahy.

They were joined by nearly 60 scientists from 14 research organisations across nine countries. . . 

Organic dairy dreams backed by science – Fritha Tagg:

Fritha Tagg meets an organic dairy farmer who has the science to make his dreams come true.

Ged Goode is not shy when it comes to improving his herd. “We want to produce the tastiest, healthiest milk in the world,” he says with a big grin.

Dreams don’t get much bigger but this organic dairy farmer who has farmed south of Tokoroa for 26 years has the track record to back it up and the determination to keep forging ahead. His 800ha (500ha effective, the rest is native bush and forestry) farm is home to 680 organic milk-producing cows.

Now he is embracing A2 milk production and establishing a polled herd. . .

Wetlands hold secret ingredient of future water quality – Aslan Wright-Stow, Tom Stephens, David Burger, DairyNZ, Kit Rutherford, Chris Tanner, NIWA:

Wetlands are the kidneys of the land – filtering, absorbing and transforming contaminants before they can affect streams or lakes. DairyNZ’s water science team and NIWA experts share how wetlands benefit water quality.

A NIWA review of research into seepage wetlands in New Zealand over the past two decades showed wetlands are remarkably effective at stripping nitrate, a problematic form of nitrogen, through a process known as denitrification.

The review offers robust evidence into ‘how’ seepage wetlands benefit water quality. DairyNZ commissioned the NIWA work because it firmly believes that seepage wetlands offer a unique opportunity to reduce nitrogen loss and should be prioritised for stock exclusion and protected against further drainage. The independent research commissioned certainly supports those claims. . . 

Federated Farmers pays tribute to John O’ Connor:

Federated Farmers offers its deepest condolences to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and family after the passing of his father, West Coast dairy farmer John O’Connor.

Mr O’ Connor ONZM was a passionate advocate for the dairy industry and was regarded as a pioneer for introducing dairy to the Buller district on the West Coast.

He was a Nuffield Scholar, Federated Farmers National Dairy Chair, West Coast Provincial President and served for 48 years as a director on the Buller Valley, Karamea and Westland Dairy Companies. . .

Rabobank New Zealand announces new board appointment:

Rabobank New Zealand has announced the appointment of Jillian Segal AM to its board of directors.

Ms Segal, a respected Australian company director with extensive regulatory and legal experience, joins the boards of Rabobank New Zealand Limited, as well as Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group’s other major operating entities – Rabobank Australia Limited and Rabo Australia Limited.

Announcing the appointment, Rabobank’s Australia & New Zealand chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said Ms Segal’s extensive board experience across the private and public sectors, including in financial services – coupled with a career-long background in governance and law – made her an “ideal fit” for Rabobank’s New Zealand and Australian boards. . . 

Mammoth kiwifruit property portfolio placed on the market for sale:

One of New Zealand’s biggest privately-owned kiwifruit orchard portfolios has been placed on the market for sale.

The portfolio consists of three separate mid to large-sized productive blocks at Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty – the centre of New Zealand’s highly lucrative kiwifruit-growing industry.

Combined, the three blocks comprise some 98 canopy hectares – on track to produce between 1.2 million – 1.3 million trays once all in mature production, and with the potential to increase production even further. . . 

An easing in the late summer market:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) shows there were 52 fewer farm sales (-11.9%) for the three months ended February 2018 than for the three months ended February 2017.

Overall, there were 384 farm sales in the three months ended February 2018, compared to 396 farm sales for the three months ended January 2018 (-3.0%), and 436 farm sales for the three months ended February 2017.1,524 farms were sold in the year to February 2018, 13.5% fewer than were sold in the year to February 2017, with 20.3% more finishing farms, 19.0% more dairy farms and 32.4% fewer grazing and 36.2% fewer arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to February 2018 was $27,523 compared to $27,395 recorded for three months ended February 2017 (+0.5%). The median price per hectare fell 2.6% compared to January. . . 


Rural round-up

March 31, 2017

Success follows life turnaround – Sally Brooker:

A young man who went into dairy farming after ”falling in with the wrong crowd” at school is earning accolades.

Jack Raharuhi (24) has been named the West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year.

He was presented with $4680 in prizes at the recent New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards regional awards dinner in Shantytown.

Mr Raharuhi, who manages a 482ha Landcorp property in Westport with 1150 cows, began milking through a Gateway programme at Buller High School nine years ago.

”Dad pulled me out of school and into full-time employment as a farm assistant for Landcorp. I’ve been with them ever since.”

He has worked his way up the industry, now overseeing a second-in-charge programme that involves training and mentoring others in the Landcorp cluster. . . 

Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists – models of Māori innovation:

Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have congratulated this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy competition sheep and beef farming finalists, celebrating excellence in Māori farming.

Announced today at a Parliamentary event, the three finalists are Omapere Rangihamama Trust (Kaikohe), RA & JG King Partnership, Puketawa Station (Eketahuna) and Pukepoto Farm Trust (Ongarue).

“These beef and sheep farming stations are shining examples of the commitment Māori farmers have to sustainably developing their land for future generations. I’m proud to acknowledge and celebrate the key role Māori play in New Zealand’s primary industries,” says Mr Guy.

“The asset base of the Māori economy is worth over $42 billion, most of which is strongly focussed on the primary industries. Māori collectively own 40% of forestry land, 38% of fishing quota, and 30% of lamb production, to name just a few examples. . . 

From Seychelles to farming at Toko Mouth – Sally Rae:

It’s a long way from the Seychelles to Toko Mouth.

The path to farm ownership for coastal South Otago farmer Simon Davies has been an interesting one, including working in the seafood industry both in New Zealand and abroad.

Mr Davies (45) and his wife Joanna, with their two young daughters Georgina (3) and 7-month-old Juliette, farm Coombe Hay, a 750ha sheep and beef property boasting spectacular sea views.

Toko Mouth, 50km south of Dunedin and 15km southeast of Milton, is at the mouth of the Tokomairiro River and has about 70 holiday homes. . . 

New drought measurement index launched:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has welcomed the launch of a new tool to monitor drought in New Zealand’s regions.

Developed by NIWA with the support of the Ministry for Primary Industries, the New Zealand Drought Index uses the best scientific information available to determine the status of drought across the country. It is a tool to acknowledge the onset, duration and intensity of drought conditions.

“Until now there hasn’t been one definitive definition of a drought,” says Mr Guy.

“Applying the latest scientific knowledge and technology like this index does, helps us to know exactly what is happening and can better inform producers, agri-businesses, councils and the Government to make the right decisions at the right time.” . . 

New Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farmer Council National Chairman:

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farmer Council has elected Marton farmer, William Morrison as its next national chairman.

Morrison replaces retiring King Country farmer, Martin Coup who has been the chairman since 2012.

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farmer Councils are aligned to the organisation’s geographic electorates and they were established in 2010 as a network for guiding and advising Beef + Lamb New Zealand in identifying farmers’ extension and research and development needs. . . 

Prominent Southland station up for sale:

One of Southland’s largest farming stations is on the market for the first time in 40 years.

Strong interest is expected in the sale of Glenlapa Station, a significant property encompassing 5271 hectares of prime pastureland in Northern Southland. The expansive station has a tremendous capacity of more than 20,000 stock units, making it one of the largest and most successful farms in the region.

New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty sales associate Russell Reddell says it’s uncommon for a property of this magnitude to be up for public sale. . . 

DairyNZ research on show at Farmers’ Forums:

The latest DairyNZ science and innovation will be revealed at Farmers’ Forum events across the country in May.

A selection of science topics will feature at the regional forums, free to farmers, with DairyNZ staff summarising key research.

Session one, ‘Are you making money from milk or milk from money?’, will look at the results of DairyNZ’s farm systems research into the profitability of marginal milk (the milk produced after fixed costs are paid). In response to debate around which farming system is most profitable, DairyNZ has assessed the cost of marginal milk from data analyses and farm systems research. The findings will be presented to help farmers consider marginal milk in their decision making. . . 

Use the natural resource in your own backyard says Australian developer:

New Zealand is missing a prime opportunity to combine its sustainable timber resources with an innovative manufacturing system to build faster and more efficiently.

Daryl Patterson, Head of Operational Excellence at Lend Lease Australia, states Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is that missing link.

CLT is an engineered wood system made from several layers of dimensional lumber boards, stacked crossways and bonded together.

Speaking at the Wood Processors & Manufacturers Association of New Zealand (WPMA) and Property Council New Zealand Tall Timber Buildings seminar last week, Mr Patterson questioned why, given New Zealand’s ample timber resources, there is not greater use of CLT in our construction sector. . . 


Rural round-up

November 24, 2016

SPCA the voice of reason in farm animal welfare debate – Jon Morgan:

To many North Island farmers it must seem like yesterday that they were watching their animals struggle to deal with facial eczema. But now the warnings are here again.

With NIWA’s seasonal weather outlook signalling warm, wet conditions across the island, farmers will be doubly cautious. So far, there’s been an increase in demand – and prices – for rams that have been bred to be FE tolerant.

No farmer likes to see their stock suffer and no farmer likes to lose money, which is what facial eczema means. . . 

Avocado crops thrive under different systems – Anne Boswell:

The phrase ‘chalk and cheese’ has been bandied about when referring to Katikati avocado orchardists Barry Mathis and Bruce Polley.

It is true that the neighbours have a fair amount of differences in both their personalities and the way they grow their fruit, but it must be said that there is also a number of similarities at play. . .

Increase in seasonal workers for RSE:

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced an increase in the number of seasonal workers who can come to New Zealand to work in the horticulture and viticulture industry under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

The current cap will be increased by 1,000 from 9,500 to 10,500 RSE workers for the 2016-17 season.

Mr Woodhouse says the horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, producing almost $5 billion in exports. . .

Great white butterfly eradication success:

The invasive pest great white butterfly has been eradicated from New Zealand in a world-first achievement, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say.

“This is the first eradication of an unwanted butterfly population in the world and is another impressive example of New Zealand’s innovation and skill in removing pests,” Ms Barry says.

Great white butterflies posed a major threat to native plant species and primary sector economy.

“They were first seen in Nelson in 2010 and the DOC-led joint agency eradication effort ran for three and a half years. It’s now been two years since any have been seen, and we’re confident we can declare them eradicated,” Mr Guy says.

Biosecurity 2025 direction statement launched :

The newly launched Biosecurity 2025 Direction Statement will shape the long-term future of biosecurity in New Zealand, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The long term plan was launched today at the 2016 Biosecurity Forum in Auckland and follows widespread public consultation earlier this year.

“Biosecurity 2025 will guide New Zealand’s biosecurity system over the next decade. It provides a shared direction to ensure we can cope with increased challenges such as increasing trade, more complex markets and supply chains, and rising tourist numbers. . . 

Masterclass had lessons for all sectors:

Despite being the only winegrower in the Rabobank Master Class this year, New Zealander Duncan McFarlane says there’s been plenty to learn from the other sectors.
McFarlane, of the Indevin Group in Marlborough, says one issue that everyone is focused on is sustainability.

“We are very fortunate in the wine industry in New Zealand that the economy of the industry is in a strong phase with good growth prospects,” McFarlane told Rural News at the Rabobank Farm2Fork summit at Cockatoo Island in Sydney yesterday. . . 

Showing the boys how it’s done:

Helen Slattery is the rural contracting sector’s first woman to gain a national certificate in infrastructure works supervision Level 5.

A Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) board member and partner in the Matamata firm Slattery Contracting, Slattery has penetrated the ‘glass ceiling’ to be the industry’s first woman to gain a national certificate in infrastructure works supervision Level 5.

The qualification covers core management skills including scheduling infrastructure works project resources, health safety and environment, monitoring project quality assurance and documenting infrastructure works projects. . . .

Hurunui irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming an investment of $3.4 million into the Hurunui Water Project by Crown Irrigation Investments.

“This is fantastic news for North Canterbury after the recent earthquakes and severe drought they have suffered through,” says Mr Guy.

The Hurunui Water Project is a $200 million irrigation scheme capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares within an area of around 60,000ha on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury.

 


Rural round-up

October 11, 2016

NZ lamb prices lift; weak demand likely to weigh on future returns – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand lamb meat prices advanced last month on lower supplies but analysts expect the uplift will be temporary due to weak demand in the UK market, where around two thirds of the country’s lamb legs are exported.

The benchmark CKT price for a leg of lamb in the UK rose to 4.20 British pounds per kilogram in September, from 4.10 pounds/kg in August and 3.40 pounds/kg in September last year, according to AgriHQ data. In New Zealand dollar terms, returns were $7.51/kg in September, from $7.41/kg in August, and compared with $8.04/kg a year earlier.

In New Zealand, the average price from local meat processors lifted to $5.80/kg, from $5.68/kg in August,and compared with $6.05/kg a year earlier, AgriHQ said. . . 

NZ Hereford beef a hit in Germany – Gerald Piddock:

German consumers are taking a liking to New Zealand hereford beef, with demand growing in a market traditionally dominated by pork and poultry.

Fuelling that demand is the cattle’s grass fed diet and New Zealand’s outdoor farming style, importer Christian Klughardt says.

Klughardt and his brother, Oliver, run HP Klughardt, a family business started by their father in 1968. They have bought lamb and venison from Silver Fern Farms (SFF) and its predecessor PPCS for about 30 years. . . 

New app helps farmers manage mastitis:

A new app for farmers has been launched by LIC Automation to help those with CellSense in-line sensors to more easily manage mastitis in their herd.

CellSense is an automated in-line sensor providing farmers with a live somatic cell count (SCC) resultwithin two minutes of cupping the cow. The new CellSense Connected app sends the SCC results straight to farmers’ smart devices. Data is presented in an easy-to-use format on the farmers’ devices (phones and tablets), allowing them to assign a SCC result to a cow during milking.

This means farmers can view reports at their convenience and use them to aid dry off decisions. A flashing light system in the milking shed is an optional extra that alerts farmers to which cows in the herd have a high SCC. . . 

Freshwater management to benefit from new institute:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has today announced the creation of a new freshwater institute between NIWA and the University of Waikato.

Te Waiora, Joint Institute for Freshwater Management (NIWA and the University of Waikato) will be on the university’s Hamilton campus and involve iwi, national and international partners.

“This is a significant step forward in freshwater management in New Zealand, and will enhance our research capabilities and facilities to address future management of our freshwater resources and environments,” Mr Joyce says.

“The Joint Institute will be a world-leading centre for interdisciplinary freshwater research and teaching. It will build capability and capacity across the sciences, engineering, management, law, economics policy, mātauranga Māori and education, with the aim of delivering greater economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits from and for freshwater. . . 

Cycle trail a $37 million boost for regions:

More than a million people used the New Zealand Cycle Trail last year, generating around $37 million in economic benefits for local communities, according to a new report released today by Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key.

The evaluation the New Zealand Cycle Trail, includes an independent cost benefit analysis showing that for every dollar attributable to construction and maintenance of the trails, approximately $3.55 of benefits was generated.

“The New Zealand Cycle Trail has been very effective in attracting high-value visitors to our regions,” says Mr Key. . . 

Parasite-resistant deer on the horizon?:

Deer breeders who want to select deer with natural resistance to internal parasites may now do so. However, they’re taking a punt, as research to find out whether – or how – resistance is linked to growth rates and parasite levels in deer won’t be completed until late next year.

Resistance levels are scored using a saliva test that measures the antibodies triggered when animals ingest internal parasites.

Dubbed CARLA, short for carbohydrate larval antigens, the test was developed by AgResearch scientists for the sheep industry, where CARLA breeding values (BVs) are now a routine part of genetic selection. . . 

Improved road access for farmers:


Farmer Rayawa (on horseback) observes as his road is upgraded.

Small to medium scale crop farmers living along Lutukina Road in the Macuata Province are now able to get their produce to markets faster and with their crops undamaged since their road was recently repaired by Fulton Hogan Hiways.

FHH is contracted by Fiji Roads Authority to maintain the unsealed and sealed road networks in the Northern division.

Running through green terrain, Lutukina Road is located off the Labasa/Nabouwalu highway. It is 45 kilometres from Labasa Town and six kilometres from Dreketi. . . 

Farmers warned not to plant left-over contaminated fodder beet seed:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is cautioning farmers not to plant left-over seed from any of the six lines of fodder beet seed imported last year and known to be contaminated with velvetleaf.

MPI is working with industry players and regional councils to manage the incursion of the pest weed resulting from the importation of the contaminated seed.

Response Incident Controller David Yard says there are hundreds of properties around New Zealand that have velvetleaf on them and we don’t want any more.

“MPI has banned the importation of any of the affected lines, but we believe there are likely to be farmers out there who bought contaminated seed lines last year and could have left-over seed in their sheds. . . 

Continued investment in facilities and infrastructure has led to the most successful winter season on record for Cardrona Alpine Resort:

Continued investment in facilities and infrastructure has led to the most successful winter season on record for Cardrona Alpine Resort this year. Cardrona’s previous skier day record has been smashed by over 30,000 visits this year – a sign of growth in both the snow sports and local tourism industries.

Investing in key areas such as carparking and the Valley View base area, along with a focus on minimising pinch points, has created a more even spread of capacity. Continual investment in terrain management including the SnowSat system, snowmaking capacity and grooming fleet has created a more stable, season-long product.

The entire resort was open top to bottom on Opening Day June 11, including Valley View Quad for the first time in the lift’s history. Early snowfall, increased snowmaking capacity and tactical terrain management saw the resort fully operational from day one. . . 


Rural round-up

May 10, 2016

What impact do milk solids payouts have on the economy?:

Milk solids payouts have been in the news a lot of late with a rollercoaster ride of pricing that has shaken the farming sector’s confidence.

But what impact do these fluctuating prices have on the broader economy?

In the May year 2013/14, Fonterra paid its milk suppliers $8.40/kg for milk solids (excluding the dividend for shareholders). That is $1.3 million for the average dairy herd at the time of 413 cows producing 153,012 kg of milk solids. . . 

Farmers desperate for rain – Rhys Chamberlain:

The seemingly endless summer produced balmy days across Otago but the unseasonably warm start to autumn has caused further headaches for drought-hit farmers.

Niwa statistics show Dunedin is on track to record its second-lowest autumn rainfall on record with about three weeks to go before winter officially starts.

Although another 6mm of rain fell yesterday, Dunedin recorded just 53mm of rain between March 1 and May 7, just 6mm more than the 1939 record low. . . 

Chinese meat processors look to NZ ahead of chilled meat deal:

The new John Key-brokered deal to gain access for chilled meat to the China market is already attracting Chinese meat processors to the Bank of China (NZ) Agri-Business Investment and Trade Conference in anticipation of China relaxing the rules.

During Prime Minister Key’s recent visit to China, he was given an undertaking that the meat protocols between the respective regulatory authorities would be reformed to allow chilled meat exports to China. The deal, when it goes through, will add multi-millions to New Zealand’s trade with China. . . 

Organic dairy farmers reaping just rewards:

The huge rise in the milk payout to organic dairy farmers is a welcome encouragement for the dairy sector to move towards clean, green and high-value production, according to the Soil & Health Association.

Fonterra just announced a big jump in the milk payout to organic farmers, due to increasing global demand. For the 2016-17 season organic farmers will receive $9.20 per kg of milk solids, up from the current organic price of $5.65. Non-organic milk solids fetch just $3.90.

“Consumers worldwide are demanding safe, healthy food, and are prepared to pay for high quality, GE-free, organic dairy products,” said Marion Thomson, co-chair of Soil & Health. . . 

Silver Fern Farms Propose to Relocate Islington Venison Operations to South Canterbury:

 As a result of the pending expiry of its lease, and change in surrounding land use, Silver Fern Farms is consulting with staff at its Islington venison processing plant on options for closing the site and building a new integrated venison processing plant at its Pareora site, in South Canterbury.

Silver Fern farms currently leases land on the Waterloo Road site. The lease is shortly due to expire and the current plant buildings on the site are planned to be demolished to make way for new commercial developments at the Waterloo Business Park.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Dean Hamilton says staying on the Waterloo Business Park site is no longer an option for the company. . . 

Pipfruit New Zealand gains role in protecting NZ biosecurity:

New Zealand’s $700 million pipfruit industry says it will have greater confidence in the country’s biosecurity system now that it will play an influencing role in helping to manage and govern biosecurity and risk.

Pipfruit New Zealand’s chief executive Alan Pollard said growers have welcomed the Government Industry Agreement for Readiness and Response (GIA) and supported the partnership with Government. . . 

Dairy Trainees Embark On Eye-Opening Study Tour:

The 11 finalists in the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competition begin a three-day study tour today, visiting award-winning farmers, Fonterra Innovation and Massey University’s No 4 dairy farm.

The trainees will also have a health check, visit a robotic farm, a goat farm, a raw milk farm and hear from a range of speakers on the state of the dairy industry and also on setting and achieving goals.

The tour will finish in Wellington where the group will join finalists in the New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year competitions. The final aspect of their judging, an interview, will take place on Friday before the winners of the three competitions are announced at the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards national awards dinner at the TSB Arenaon Saturday night . The winners will share about $170,000 in cash and prizes. . . 

Judges Begin Search For National Winner Of Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust has assembled a strong line-up of judges to decide the next recipients of the esteemed Gordon Stephenson trophy.

Comprising six people with a broad range of skills and experience, the National Winner Judging Panel will select the next trophy holders from the eleven Supreme winners in the 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

The recipients will be announced at New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust’s National Sustainability Showcase in Northland on June 22, becoming ambassadors for the primary industry in a role that will take them around the country and beyond as they promote the importance of sustainable farming. . . 

Duncan Venison Unveils The “Bistro Fillet,”

A New, Innovative Premium Venison Cut:

Duncan Venison, one of New Zealand’s original venison producers, has developed a brand new item, which it has named the “Bistro Fillet.” The restaurant quality cut will be available to the public from 1 July, through a recently developed online store at duncan-nz.com.

Andrew and Vinnie Duncan, owners of the company, discovered the fillet when looking into ways to make the venison leg more useable, consistent and convenient for restaurants. They found a way to trim and portion the meat in that area, which has resulted in a tender, top quality cut that is ready for immediate cooking and serving. . . 


Rural round-up

September 24, 2015

Groser: TPPA not a gold-plated deal – Patrick Smellie:

New Zealand negotiators expect to conclude a Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) deal with some improved access for dairy exports to the highly protected markets of North America and Japan but it won’t be a “gold-plated deal”, says Trade Minister Tim Groser.

He acknowledged that comments from Prime Minister John Key on Monday, that whatever deal was achieved would be “at least the very best we can do”, had been interpreted as a sign of a poor deal on dairy in the offing.

But Mr Groser told BusinessDesk that New Zealand negotiators weren’t in “capitulation mode”. . . 

No drought-breaker but ‘darn good help‘:

A farmer in the heart of the North Canterbury drought is welcoming the rain currently falling in parts of the region, describing it as a good morale boost for many farmers.

Vince Daly runs a 160 hectare cropping farm in Cheviot. He said the NIWA weather station on his farm showed the soil moisture level on his farm has gone from 32 percent to 37 percent this week so far. Normally it is at 100 percent at this time of year.

Mr Daly said 43 millimetres of rain had fallen but farmers further inland have, so far, not been so lucky. . . 

Aorere Wins NZ RiverPrize:

NZ Landcare Trust’s Aorere River Project won the inaugural Morgan Foundation NZ Riverprize at the International Riversymposium Gala Dinner in Brisbane last night.

Richard Thompson Chair of NZ Landcare Trust’s Board of Trustees said “What a fantastic result for the Trust and the Aorere community. This is an amazing result given the strength of the competition… it really underlines the value of this project and the work carried out by NZ Landcare Trust.”

NZ Landcare Trust CEO Dr Nick Edgar accepted the award on behalf of the Aorere River Initiative. “I think this is a real victory for community-led grassroots river management in New Zealand. Without the Aorere river community, the story really wouldn’t have happened.” . . 

Rural areas feeling agricultural sector slowdown:

Almost a third of businesses in regions see revenues fall

Three quarters of agricultural businesses expect economy to decline

Businesses in New Zealand’s rural areas are already feeling the effects of a significant slowdown for the agricultural sector, according the latest MYOB Business Monitor survey of over 1000 businesses nationwide, which includes over 200 rural SMEs.

Over the last 12 months, just 18 per cent of rurally-based SME operators have seen their revenue rise, compared to the SME average of 31 per cent. Almost a third (32 per cent) have seen revenue decline in the year to August 2015 (25 per cent SME average). . . 

Fonterra director Farrelly replaces Norris on Fund board – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group director Ian Farrelly will replace Ralph Norris as one of the dairy exporter’s representatives on the board of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund manager.

Farrelly will join the board of the fund’s manager at the close of its annual meeting on Nov.27 when Norris retires, Fonterra said in a statement. Farrelly has been on the board of Fonterra since 2007, having clocked up a 20-year career in banking including 15 years as head of ASB Bank’s rural division. He operates a 400-hectare calf rearing farm in Te Awamutu and has dairy farm interests in Canterbury and Waikato. . .

Lasers: the transformation to come –  Lynley Hargreaves:

Cather Simpson wants every child and parent in New Zealand to know the word photonics – and to consider photonics science or engineering as a career. An Associate Professor at the University of Auckland and Director of the Photon Factory, she’s worked on problems as diverse as robotic surgery and sorting dairy herd sperm by sex. Now as part of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, Associate Professor Simpson is working to give school children, and the general public, a glimpse of the future of laser manufacturing.  . . 

Official start of new PGP lamb programme:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the official start of a new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme involving premium quality lamb products.

“The ‘Targeting New Wealth with High Health’ PGP programme aims to reach existing and emerging markets with a new class of premium lamb products with improved health qualities,” says Mr Guy.

“This is a collaboration between Alliance Group, Headwaters New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). It will help our producers tap further into the increasing demand for premium and healthy foods, and add value to our exports. . . 

Rabobank Agribusiness Monthly (NZ) – September 2015:

Rabobank’s Agribusiness Monthly provides timely information and analysis on agricultural conditions, commodity price updates and commentary on the latest sectoral trends and developments.

Key highlights
Agribusiness Monthly

Dairy – Global commodity prices have shown signs of recovery in recent weeks, as international buyers look for short-term cover, given that prices appear to have reached a floor.

Beef – Steady demand from the US continues to fuel farmgate prices, with record levels reached this September (NZD 6.10/kg cwt). Prices have edged up 33% from last year, supported by seasonal tightening of supplies.

Sheepmeat – Farmgate prices have continued to improve into September 2015, with supply tightening heading into lambing season. . . 


Rural round-up

August 2, 2015

Groser disappointed TPP deal not reached:

Trade Minister Tim Groser is disappointed that the TPP negotiations were unable to reach a conclusion today, but TPP ministers collectively pledged to meet again as soon as possible to finalise the deal.

“Good progress was made this week, but a number of challenging issues remain, including intellectual property and market access for dairy products”, Mr Groser said.

“We will continue to work toward a successful conclusion. This is about getting the best possible deal for New Zealand, not a deal at any cost.” . . .

TPP pressure on Canada, but US is super-star in agriculture subsidies – Lawrence Herman:

Americans provide billions in protectionism to dairy that will have to be given up for trade deal.

We rail against Canada’s supply management system. Rightly so. It’s a Soviet-style regime that is out of step with Canada’s international trade interests and objectives. Every credible Canadian think-tank has said that supply management is a regressive system that distorts the market by guaranteeing dairy, poultry and egg producers a positive return on production, inhibiting competitiveness and, in the long-run, preventing Canada from becoming an exporting agriculture powerhouse. . .

 Groser proves trade credentials by insisting on a good deal:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is commending New Zealand Trade Minister, Tim Groser, for standing firm against enormous pressure to concede to a sub-standard deal for dairy. The Minister and his team of expert negotiators have preserved the ability to conclude a good deal in the future.

“What was on the table fell well short of the deal required to deliver the commercially meaningful access that is needed by New Zealand’s dairy industry” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey, who has been in Maui, Hawaii, where the negotiations took place over the past week.

Agreeing a bad deal would have consigned New Zealand farmers to many more years under the burden of heavy protectionism. Trade prohibitive tariff levels in Japan, Canada and the United States contribute to a thin global dairy market and exacerbate extreme price volatility. . .

 Concerns over strong El Niño:

NIWA fears this year’s El Nino may be as bad as 18 years ago, when widespread drought cost the country a billion dollars in lost exports.

International guidelines indicated a 97 percent chance of El Niño continuing over the next three months and a 90 per cent chance it will continue over summer.

El Niño typically sees the west of New Zealand wet, and the east very dry.

Niwa forecaster Chris Brandolino said it was looking like it could be as significant as the El Nino in the nineties. . .

Where every day is a good day – Kate Taylor:

Discussion groups, monitor farm programmes, running a Gisborne hill country station and his house burning down couldn’t prepare farmer Ken Shaw for being given a 15 per cent chance of surviving the cancer attacking his body. But survive he did.

“Every day’s a good day,” he says, driving his bike in driving, freezing cold rain on his Matawai farm the day before a big snow storm hits the region and dumps a metre of snow on tops of his hills.

Ken and Kirsty Shaw farm the 709ha hectare Elmore Station (680ha effective) on Rakauroa Road at Matawai near the highest point of the highway between Gisborne and Opotiki. . .

Cut unprofitable production – DairyNZ CEO:

With the continued decline in milk price, DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle is calling on farmers to cut unprofitable production from their systems.

“These are extraordinary times. Open Country Dairy’s milk price forecast is under $4 per kilogram of milksolids (kg MS) and all indicators show Fonterra will be forced to lower their forecast on August 7. This price dip is lower and longer than anything we’ve seen in the last decade,” says Tim.

“Assuming a milk price of $4.00 for the average Open Country Dairy supplier, that means a potential deficit of around $250,000 for the year ahead.” . . .

Rural Women as relevant today:

In 90 years, Rural Women New Zealand has grown to a 2700-strong organisation but many of the issues it works on have remained the same.

In July 1925, Florence Polson became the first head of the women’s division of the forerunner of Federated Farmers.

Women’s Division Farmers Union was driven by concerns about health and the effects of isolation for women living on farms. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 13, 2015

 Farmer Wellness Big Breakfast – Nathan Guy

The title of my speech today is “Managing Through Tough Times”.

I came up with the idea of this function when I was out running about six weeks ago and felt the time was right for the Government to communicate two very important messages to our farming families and communities.

Firstly, I want to acknowledge that these are challenging times for many farmers and the wider rural community, particularly in the dairy sector, but that we expect much improved conditions in the longer term.

Secondly, I wanted to reinforce the message that if farmers are struggling, or have concerns about how things are going, you are not alone and help is out there.

We know there are plenty of challenges this year, as there always is with farming. . .

$500,000 boost to help rural mental health:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have announced a $500,000 funding boost to support mental health initiatives targeted at rural communities.

“Rural depression is a significant issue. The physical isolation as well as the uncertainties of being reliant on the land creates different pressures to those living in an urban setting,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industries have each contributed $250,000 to the one off funding boost. . .

Federated Farmers Fielday Seminars: “The essence of farming: water, land, capability”:

Agribusiness expert, Jaqueline Rowarth, has told a Federated Farmers seminar at the Mystery Creek Fieldays this afternoon that investment is necessary for ensuring supplies of sufficient farm water, but meanwhile maintaining water quality.

She said this investment is only possible if primary produce meets the huge challenge of attracting good prices.

Professor Rowarth told the 50 odd people at the seminar New Zealand has both water quantity and quality, which farmers are capturing and using responsibly. . .

 

Greenhouse gas study tour winners announced:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced the two winners of the 2015 Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) – World Farmer Organisation Study Tour in Argentina later this year.

Doug Avery and Zach Mounsey have been selected as winners by a panel including Mr Guy and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew after giving presentations at Fieldays this year.

“The purpose of this study tour is to increase global understanding and engagement on agricultural greenhouse gas research. These two winners will have an important role as ambassadors for New Zealand in sharing environmental management practices that support sustainable productivity. . .

Breeder confident of sheep’s safety:

A Canterbury sheep breeder with stock on board a major shipment to Mexico says she has been in touch with the destination farm and has no concerns about the animals’ safety.

Penni Loffhagen, who is one of the biggest Suffolk stud breeders in the country, has sold 15 young pedigree sheep to a Mexican farm for breeding.

Her ewes and rams are among 50,000 sheep now at sea on the way to Mexico. . .

They’re not ‘our’ sheep – Kiwiblog:

Newstalk ZB reports:

Labour wants assurances that tens of thousands of sheep and cattle being shipped to Mexico won’t be killed when they get there.

The shipment leaves Timaru today.

Leader Andrew Little told Newstalk ZB’s Rachel Smalley the regulations are clear – you can export live sheep for breeding purposes, you can’t for slaughter. . .

PGG Wrightson lifts annual earnings outlook for a second time, warns of weak farmer confidence – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, the rural services firm controlled by China’s Agria Corp, lifted its annual earnings outlook as second-half trading comes in ahead of expectations, but warned weak farmer confidence may weigh on future sales.

The Christchurch-based company expects annual operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be between $66 million and $69 million in the year ending June 30, above the February forecast for earnings between $62 million and $68 million. That in itself was an upgrade from previous guidance to beat last year’s earnings of $58.7 million. . .

New Zealand Avocados Achieve Record Sales Volume:

New Zealand’s largest ever avocado crop has been successfully harvested, packed and marketed with a massive 7 million trays sold during the 2014-15 season.

Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, today announced the new record volume which was 43 per cent higher than last season, and up from a previous industry high of 6.1 million trays sold in 2011-12 and a great industry return.

“Growth in the consumption of avocados in our key markets continues to be very impressive. . .

Best Young Butchers in the Region:

Two of New Zealand’s top young butchers have been named following the Alto Young Butcher & Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year Lower North Island regional final yesterday.

Havelock North local, Justin Hinchco from New World Havelock North took out the Alto Young Butcher category and Vernon Atutahi from New World Marton finished first place in the Competenz Butcher Apprentice category. . .

 

Body condition score to become a breeding trait:

Body condition score (BCS) is to be included as a new trait in Breeding Worth (BW) from February 2016.

Breeding Worth provides farmers with an economic measure of genetic merit (profit per five tonne of dry matter) and is calculated for all dairy cattle. During a National Breeding Objective Review in 2012, BCS (particularly late lactation BCS) was identified as an important trait with economic value to farmers. . .

 

Wool values ease:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the North Island offering this week, made up predominantly of short coarse Second Shear wools compared to the more varied South Island longer selection last sale on 4th June, saw prices ease despite the weakening New Zealand dollar.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies came back by 1.95 percent with a 98 percent clearance of the 9,400 bales on offer. . .

NIWA’s Fieldays stand a winner:

NIWA’s Fieldays team is today basking in the glory of winning the Best Indoor Agribusiness Site awarded by the National Agricultural Fieldays organisation for the 2015 event.

Dr Mark Bojesen-Trepla, NIWA’s manager of marketing and industry engagement, said the win was a great endorsement for the team who had worked extremely hard to put together a space that would be eye-catching and relevant to farmers.

“We are delighted our efforts have been formally recognised but are also looking forward to meeting more farmers during the rest of Fieldays and showing them how we can help.” . . .

 

 


Rural round-up

March 3, 2015

Bluff oyster season ‘looks promising’:

The Bluff oyster season has opened with predictions it will be a good one.

The season for collecting oysters from one of the world’s last remaining wild fisheries opened yesterday and runs until the end of August.

Niwa says the oyster population has declined from last year because of the shellfish disease bonamia – which is harmless to humans. . .

– Keith Woodford:

[This post was first published in the Fairfax NZ Sunday Star Times on 22 February 2015. It is the fourth of a series of five on Fonterra.  The earlier posts were ‘The evolution of Fonterra’, ‘Fonterra’s jouney’, and ‘Fonterra’s global reach’.]

One of the big challenges for Fonterra has been to determine its overall market position. Is it a marketer of commodities? Or is it a marketer of fast moving consumer goods (fmcgs)? Or is it a marketer of specialist ingredients? Can it be all three?

The challenge of trying to be all three is that the appropriate business culture is different for each market positioning. Commodity marketing is all about logistics, efficiency, and financial discipline. Fmcgs are all about entrepreneurship, creation of brands, being fast on one’s feet, and willingness to take risks. Specialised ingredients require a focus on science and technology. . .

Dairy women look to future – Blake Foden:

New Zealand’s leading female dairy farmers will come together in Invercargill next month to discuss strategies and plan for the industry’s future.

The Dairy Women’s Network will hold its annual conference at ILT Stadium Southland on March 18-19, with a series of workshops and guest speakers focused on the theme of “Entering tomorrow’s world”.

Chief executive Zelda de Villiers said in the wake of a difficult season where most farmers were expecting a low payout, early bird registrations had been lower than anticipated.

While money might be tight, the current conditions made it even more important to attend and look to the future, she said. . .

Rabobank Dargaville celebrates opening:

Rabobank’s newest office in New Zealand celebrated its official opening on Thursday 26 February with a special event held at the Dargaville branch to mark the occasion.

Located in the heart of Dargaville, the new Rabobank branch is located at 94 Normanby Street and has been purpose-built to suit the needs of clients and staff frequently accessing the facility.

Rabobank chief executive officer for New Zealand Ben Russell said he was pleased to see the new premises “come to life”.

“We have been developing our plan to open in Dargaville for some time now and it’s great to see the team open the new building for business,” Mr Russell said. . .

Second Grand Finalist Confirmed:

Matt Bell is the second Grand Finalist to be named in the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The twenty-eight year old contract-milker took first place at the Aorangi Regional Final in Oamaru on Saturday 28 February.

Mr Bell went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.
Matt placed third in the 2013 Grand Final and is determined to take out top honours in his final bid to become the ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Champion. In his spare time Matt enjoys getting out on his motor-bike, snowboarding and refereeing rugby. . .

Grow your bottom line with new pasture:

 Cost-conscious dairy farmers take heart – even with the lower payout, investing in new pasture remains highly profitable this autumn.

Financial analysis shows spending $1000 on autumn pasture renewal can lead to a gross return of more than $4000 over the next five years, while spending $1000 on palm kernel actually leads to a small loss this season in terms of milksolids.

“Pasture remains the corner stone of feeding cows in the New Zealand dairy industry, and the amount of pasture eaten per ha is widely acknowledged as a key profit indicator,” explains Graham Kerr, pasture systems manager for Agriseeds. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

November 19, 2014

Peony growers’ business blooming – Sally Rae:

When Rodger and Cindy Whitson decided to get into the cut flower industry back in 2000, they started with a bare paddock and no horticultural knowledge.

They trialled gentians, viburnum and peonies before deciding peonies were best suited to their property, near Mosgiel.

Peony plant numbers have since swelled from 2000 to about 10,000, with plans for more plantings. . .

 Profitable harvest of Jersey Bennes – Sally Brooker:

North Otago’s most famous produce is being harvested for the new season.

Rows of Jersey Benne potatoes are coming out of paddocks in the Totara area just south of Oamaru, renowned for the tarry, fertile soils that produce exceptional early spuds.

A workforce boosted by tertiary and secondary students as they finish their exams is picking and packing the Jersey Bennes.

Organic horticulturist Marty Quennell said his harvest started early this year – the week before Labour Weekend. That meant he had the market to himself for the first three weeks, when a premium price was being paid. With others growers now getting going, the price would drop back, he said. . .

NZ tractor sales set to match records this year on buoyant farming – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand tractor sales are expected to match record highs for the modern farming era this year, as farming incomes are boosted by high milk prices and good growing conditions.

Sales of tractors of at least 40 horsepower, the most common measure for farm tractors, have reached 2,536 in the first nine months of this year and are expected to climb by year’s end to match the 3,515 total for 2005, the highest level since the Tractor and Machinery Association began gathering the data in 1990. Some 60 percent of the nation’s farm tractor sales are estimated to relate to the dairy industry.

Farmers had more cash this year to buy farm equipment such as tractors after Fonterra Cooperative Group paid out a record $8.40 per kilogram of milk solids and the agriculture sector generally benefited from good growing conditions which meant farmers could boost production without having to divert funds into areas such as extra stock feed. . . .

 Ambitious predator-free plan launched:

A group of prominent individuals and private businesses has joined forces with the Department of Conservation in a plan to eradicate all pests from mainland New Zealand.

The Predator Free New Zealand Trust unveiled its vision of an Aotearoa free of rats, stoats and possums at the Place To Live conference in Whanganui today.

Trust chairman Devon McLean said that the secret weapon in the battle against pests would be the thousands of New Zealanders already dedicated to controlling predators.

China-Australia FTA milks NZ’s – Nigel Stirling:

Australia’s new trade agreement with China could give it an edge in milk powder exports unless New Zealand can invoke a clause in its own agreement to get similar tariff concessions.

The two countries yesterday announced the end of ten years of talks for a free trade agreement which Australia says is superior to NZ’s 2008 deal which allowed for the full elimination of tariffs on dairy products by 2019.

Australia’s deal allows for the elimination of tariffs on dairy products within eleven years, but crucially does not include the use of special safeguards by China to protect its farmers from surges of imported skim milk powder from Australia. . .

A2 Milk to list on ASX in 1Q 2015 – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co, the milk marketing company, is planning to list on the Australian stock exchange next year, where it has 9 percent of the fresh milk market sold in grocery stores.

The Auckland-based company doesn’t plan to raise any new capital in a float on the ASX and will keep its New Zealand incorporation and NZX listing, it said in a statement. It has hired Goldman Sachs New Zealand and DLA Piper Australia to manage the listing, and hopes to join the Australian bourse in the first quarter of 2015.

In August, managing director Geoffrey Babidge called the Australian market A2’s “big cash generator”, and said it will bankroll its push into new markets. The company reported annual sales rose 17 percent to $111 million in the year ended June 30, of which 96 percent came from Australian sales. A2 reported a drop in annual profit to $10,000 from $4.1 million a year earlier, as the strength of the kiwi dollar against its Australian counterpart weighed on sales. . .

Ballance helps farmers better weather the weather:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has joined forces with NIWA to bring advanced hi-resolution weather, climate and environmental forecasts to farmers via the co-operative’s Ag Hub online farm management system.

Announcing the partnership, Ballance General Manager AgInformation Graeme Martin said farm profitability and sustainability are increasingly affected by variable weather patterns, growing conditions and the availability of water.

“Farmers are looking for the best possible support to make operational decisions. NIWA’s advanced forecasting systems and its national climate station network are at the leading edge of weather and environmental information. . .


Blue better for water than Green

July 30, 2014

Green isn’t the best colour for water, Federated Farmers environment spokesman Ian Mackenzie says:

The National Policy Statement (NPS) for freshwater may not have razzmatazz, but arose from that exercise in consensual collaboration called the Land and Water Forum [LawF].  It was the first time industry, councils, government departments and groups from Federated Farmers to Fish & Game, sat down to openly address water issues and find solutions.

At the heart of the NPS are our regional councils, who have been tasked with maintaining and improving water quality while bringing the poorest water quality up to a national minimum standard.  With next to no exceptions, this policy applies to all water bodies whether they are in town or country. This was an essential part of the LawF consensus and the government chose secondary human contact as the national minimum standard.  All of New Zealand’s top water scientists were involved in this.

The Green Party claim they are advocates for the environment and I would have thought they would have welcomed this important piece of legislation; whose intent is to keep New Zealand’s fresh water as the best in the world.

Being a farmer and with so many conflicting claims about water quality you may be dubious about what I am saying.  For an objective ‘warts and all’ water picture, can I direct you to the Land and Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website at www.lawa.org.nz.  It confirms our water quality is generally good, with many rivers and streams improving thanks to farmers’ efforts at riparian protection.

What we know is that most swimming spots monitored by regional councils over the warmer months are generally satisfactory for swimming.  The Greens often claim “60 percent of our water” is unsafe, but a vast number of sites are affected by urban runoff.  

When poor water standards are mentioned too many people blame farming but some of the worst water quality is in urban areas and the result of urban activities.

Now, the Green Party wants to make all water bodies swimmable.   This is disingenuous because of the sheer difficulty and cost of achieving it.

There are 425,000 kilometres of waterways in New Zealand, which would have to meet those swimming standards, 24 hours a day and 365-days of the year. 

The LAWA website states, “rivers and streams in (or downstream of) urban areas tend to have the poorest water quality (the highest concentrations of nutrients and bacteria, and lowest macroinvertebrate community index (MCI) scores).” This is because all our urban storm water systems are designed to use urban rivers and streams to take away all this run-off.  

The Landcare Trust is running a community project to clean up some of the urban streams that flow into the Tamaki River. Regardless of that effort and enthusiasm they will never be able to stop those streams from being contaminated to the extent that they will become safe for swimming. Think of the 150-page NZ Standard for public swimming pools, “to ensure the risk to public health is minimised.”  Most small schools have had to close their swimming pools because of problems maintaining that and other standards.   Trying to apply that standard to all fresh water bodies is a nonsense. 

This is where the Green Party is disingenuous.

When they say ‘all water bodies,’ they really mean only those in the countryside because they do not wish to alarm their core urban constituency.  The Green Party ignores the huge shift in farmers’ attitude towards environmental stewardship and underplays quantum leaps in management and mitigation of farm nutrients, the fencing of waterways, riparian planting, the strategic application of fertilisers and nutrient budgeting and the effects these are having on improving water quality.  The Greens do not mention that many of the sites NIWA test for its National Rivers Network that fail swimming standards are in fact rivers and lakes affected by urban run off. Instead they continue to blame farmers.

There is still more to be done but the imposition of higher standards by regional councils and improvements in farming practices are making a positive difference in many areas.

Farmers like me acknowledge that there is a lot more work we need to do and the vast majority of us are adopting practices and spending tens of millions of dollars a year which, given time,  will sort out our contribution.  But we are not the sole cause or the sole solution.  River quality reports are already showing the benefit of a change in farmers’ attitude toward environmental stewardship, but this narrative doesn’t fit the Green’s script.

The NPS by contrast will be law.  It gives communities the power to decide how much progress needs to be made and over what timeframe. It specifically encourages communities to decide what they want for their rivers and lakes while balancing that with the costs to society and the economy. It has the fish hook that over time, all water bodies will have plans for how they will meet community aspirations, so if the students of North Dunedin decide they wish to swim in the Leith at anytime and the ratepayers of that great Southern town can afford it and are prepared to prioritise that spending over all other, then that is their choice. My guess is the cost will have that city’s burghers muttering darkly at their haggis and prevarication will win.  That’s been the case in most major urban centres. 

The NPS may not have the sexy but implausible sound bite ‘swimmable for all’ but it gives that choice to the community to decide. It is practical, pragmatic and is the law. With water we’re in this together and the NPS underscores that. 

 The idea of being able to swim in every body of water is attractive but expensive and almost certainly an impossible standard to reach everywhere.

Dairying and recent intensification is blamed for poorer water quality but dirty water isn’t new.

My father was a carpenter at what was then Waitaki freezing works at Pukeuri  more than 40 years ago. That’s when the company had to build a huge reservoir to hold water which had to be treated because the water from the Waitaki River, which supplied Oamaru and other smaller settlements, wasn’t fit to wash export meat.

We’ve come a long way since then and while dairying is blamed for the problem it’s also working hard to be part of the solution with initiatives such as Fonterra’s Grassroots Fund:

Fonterra Grass Roots Fund

For those of you in Southland, head on down to Fonterra’s Living Water programme tomorrow with the Department of Conservation which works to enhance sensitive water catchments across New Zealand! Hear our plans, suggest ideas and get involved with some future volunteer opportunities. Enjoy demonstrations by freshwater scientists, a live fish tank display of local freshwater species and a BBQ lunch. It should be a great day! Address: Craws Creek Scenic Reserve, Waituna Lagoon Road, Friday 25th 2014 from 9:30 – 12:30. Any questions, please contact livingwater@fonterra.com
Photo: For those of you in Southland, head on down to Fonterra's Living Water programme tomorrow with the Department of Conservation which works to enhance sensitive water catchments across New Zealand! Hear our plans, suggest ideas and get involved with some future volunteer opportunities. Enjoy demonstrations by freshwater scientists, a live fish tank display of local freshwater species and a BBQ lunch. It should be a great day! Address: Craws Creek Scenic Reserve, Waituna Lagoon Road, Friday 25th 2014 from 9:30 – 12:30. Any questions, please contact livingwater@fonterra.com

There is general acceptance of a need to improve water quality in many areas.

The argument is about how far improvements need to go.

National’s policy imposes a a minimum standard.

It leaves it up to communities to decide how much higher they want, and can afford, their water quality to be.

They are the ones with the most to gain from cleaner water and they are the ones who will have to pay for it.

The Green policy sets an impossibly high standard and leaves communities with no choice regardless of their wishes and priorities.

Blue is a much better colour for water than green.


Rural round-up

May 29, 2014

Speech to the B3 Better Border Biosecurity Conference – Nathan Guy:

Thank you to Better Border Biosecurity (B3) for hosting this important conference. The theme is “10 years on – Adding Value to New Zealand’s Plant Biosecurity System through Research”.

Today I want to talk to you about the importance of biosecurity to New Zealand, and the importance of scientific research to back it up.

I want to start by acknowledging the B3 partnership as a great model for working together on research.

The signed up partners include four Crown Research Institutes (CRI), a university based research entity, three government agencies, and an industry group. It’s important that it involves end-users from both government and industry.

The importance of biosecurity

Everyone here has probably heard me say many times that “biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister.” Today I want to say a few words to remind why that is, and why this agreement today is so important.

The primary sector is the powerhouse of New Zealand’s economy, accounting for over 70 percent of our export earnings.

It helps pay the bills for our schools, hospitals and social services, and supports many jobs in our regions and cities. . .

Farmers cream productivity profit:

ANZ Bank economist Con Williams says many people are overlooking the huge improvements in productivity dairy farmers have achieved recently.

Fonterra on Wednesday set next season’s initial forecast farmgate milk price at $7 per kilo of milk solids, which was higher than some had expected.

However, the dairy giant has cut this season’s forecast payout by 25 cents to $8.40 per kilo of milk solids. That would reduce farmers’ incomes by nearly $400 million but Mr said it represented just a little less cream from what was still a record payout.

The average annual yield per cow was close to 381kg of milk solids – a new record and about 7.5 percent ahead of trend. . .

NIWA gets down to brass tacks with farmers – Tony Benny:

National Fieldays seminar host Niwa is taking its science directly to farmers to optimise water use and lessen the negative impacts of dairy effluent.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research’s chief scientist, environmental information, Jochen Schmidt, said the organisation has moved its focus to the one-on-one farmer level gradually over the past five years. 

“This is definitely an area that we’re strategically pushing at the moment. The minister [Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce] is our shareholder and that’s what he told us because the growth agenda is out there and we want to ensure our primary sector is growing while sustainably managing the environment. . .

 

StockSense workshops take pressure off calving:

DairyNZ is running 19 StockSense events in June and July to help farmers prepare for the calving season.

The events are split into two workshops – one for junior staff and one for senior staff – with each workshop focusing on developing skills to help the calving season go well and reduce stress.

Humane slaughter on-farm and udder health will be the focus of the senior level workshop.

DairyNZ’s animal husbandry and welfare team manager, Chris Leach, says the humane slaughter topic is particularly timely due to the expected change in the animal welfare code and the implications for farmers.

“Farmers need to understand what’s expected of them,” says Chris.

The senior workshop will also focus on actions owners and managers can take to reduce stress for themselves and their teams, to help calving go smoothly.

“The workshop will provide tips and tricks to stay healthy during the busy period. Being prepared and staying healthy eases stress and will make for an easier spring,” says Chris. . .

New report shows PGP delivering major benefits:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the findings of an independent report into the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), which estimates it will add $6.4 billion per annum to New Zealand’s economy by 2025.

“The NZIER report further concludes that the PGP has the potential to achieve an additional $4.7 billion per annum by 2025 if all the R&D is successful, the aspirational stretch of PGP programmes is achieved, and the innovations are widely uptaken. 

“This would add up to $11.1 billion per annum to New Zealand’s economy by 2025.

“The PGP is about supporting innovation in the primary industries, which are the backbone of New Zealand’s economy – accounting for over 70% of our merchandise exports. There are currently 18 announced programmes jointly funded by industry and government.” . .

Steak stakes double success:

Ballyhooley Beef has done it again – winning best retail brand with the Murray Grey meat at the Steak of Origin competition last week in Feilding.

But this year, Winton farmer Barry Macdonald and his beef have done one better, as his steak was chosen as the tastiest by the public, also winning the people’s choice award.

In what was a first for the competition, Mr Macdonald’s steak was put up against the other 19 finalists to see which the public liked best. . .

2013 winner a bachelor no more – Sonita Chandar:

Sorry ladies, it’s official – 2013 Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year Simon Washer is now spoken for.

However, a whole new group of eligible young men are set to strut their stuff at the NZ National Agricultural Fieldays in June.

Washer only entered the competition by default as his fellow members of the local young farmers’ club balked at the idea of entering.

“I was the chairman of the club at the time the entry form came through and when I asked the guys if anyone was interested in entering, they all gave me a dirty look,  pointed the finger at me and then nominated me so I didn’t really have much of a choice. . . .

 

 


Rural round-up

October 11, 2013

Effluent may be power house for farmers – Collette Devlin:

Effluent – often a headache for Southland dairy farmers – could soon prove beneficial by offsetting electricity bills, recent research shows.

As part of the Southland Energy Strategy, Venture Southland has been working with farm consultants, Scandrett Rural, Niwa, and EECA trialling the capture of methane emissions from covered anaerobic effluent ponds on dairy farms.

The principle behind the project was to demonstrate that methane could be used as an energy source to reduce electricity use on farms and also reduce greenhouse emissions. . .

Jealous Jillaroo – Jackaroo Joins the Largest Drove In Aussie Memory – Jillaroo Jess:

Something very exciting is happening in eastern Australia at the moment. Well, not for me, I’m stuck at home taking care of the farm. Jackaroo has been lucky enough to be involved in the biggest drove in Australian history. A ‘drove’, is moving cattle/sheep from one place to another, feeding them along the way. They can be very long and hard distances travelled. Often, drovers live on the road, going from one job to the next. Cattle baron Tom Brinkworth has taken advantage of the drought and bad cattle prices by buying 18,000 head of cattle from the ages of 8months to 2yrs old. These cattle are being taken down the TSR (Travelling Stock Route), or ‘The Long Paddock’ to their new properties, some 2500km away (over 1500miles). The herd has been split up into 9 mobs, and are travelling 10km a day. There is about 80km/8days between the different mobs of cattle. . .

Let’s smash a cartel today – Tim Worstall:

I’ve pointed out here before that parts of the fertiliser industry seem to be run as a cartel. Now we’ve evidence that much of the fertiliser industry is run as a cartel.

C. Robert Taylor and Diana L. Moss have written “The Fertilizer Oligopoly: The Case for Antitrust Enforcement,” as a monograph for the American Antitrust Institute. Those looking for examples of possibly anticompetitive behavior, whether for classroom examples or for other settings, will find the argument intriguing.

The effect of which is:

Taylor and Moss write: “Damages from supra-competitive pricing of fertilizer likely amount to tens of billions of dollars annually, the direct effects of which are felt by farmers and ranchers. But consumers all over the world suffer indirectly from cartelization of the fertilizer industry through higher food prices, particularly low income and subsistence demographics. … [I]t is clear that corporate and political control of essential plant nutrients may be one of the most severe competition issues facing national economies today.”

Part of the detail of how the cartel works is that it is not allowed to affect domestic US prices (Ho ho). So therefore the richest farmers in the world are not affected: but all of the poor world ones are. . .

New appointments to Biosecurity  Ministerial Advisory Committee :

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced five new appointments to the Biosecurity Ministerial Advisory Committee today.

The Committee plays an important role in providing the Minister with independent advice on the performance of New Zealand’s biosecurity system as a whole, and on specific biosecurity issues where necessary.

“Biosecurity is my number one priority, and hugely important to New Zealand as a trading nation,” says Mr Guy.

“A world class biosecurity system protects New Zealand from unwanted pests and diseases. This is essential for working towards our goal of doubling the value of our primary sector exports to $64 billion by 2025. . .

New Zealand’s diversity recognised at International Wine and Spirit Competition:

New Zealand’s diverse wine styles have stolen the show at the prestigious UK-based International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC). In the results released today, New Zealand wines beat all international competition to win not only the international Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir Trophies, but the Chardonnay Trophy as well, while Gold Outstanding Medals went to a Gewürztraminer and a dessert Riesling. . .

Ceres Wines wins the coveted IWSC Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir Trophy:

Ceres Wines, a tiny artisan wine producer from Bannockburn in Central Otago, has won the coveted International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) Bouchard Finlayson trophy for Pinot Noir. The trophy is awarded to the top Pinot Noir from entries received from around the globe. It is the third time in a row that the trophy has been awarded to wines produced in Central Otago, with Peregrine receiving the award in 2011 and Valli in 2012. . .

Re-wire on a Hayes Roast:

Hayes Roast is this season’s new addition to the offering at Hayes Engineering & Homestead, a Central Otago property cared for by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT).

“It’s been inspired by the inventions and ingenuity visitors experience at the site,” says Property Manager Scott Elliffe.

“We believe Ernest Hayes – inventor of the Hayes wire strainer that is still in use in farms around the world – would have quickly adapted to the new market of urban trail riders biking past his front door and developed a roasting machine to meet their needs for ‘city coffee, country food’.”

In partnership with Vivace Coffee, the NZHPT asked third generation artisan master roaster Bernard Smith to develop a blend of three original coffee beans that best emulated the strength of the site, the body of the ‘big skies’ Central Otago landscape and the sweetness of its sun overhead. . .


More work to do on water

July 30, 2013

Environment Minister Amy Adams says the release of two environmental water reports paint an encouraging picture of our waterways but also underline the need for the Government’s freshwater reforms.

. . . The river condition indicator is based on data that was collected across more than 300 regional council and NIWA-monitored sites over a ten year period (2000-2010), out of the tens of thousands of waterways across New Zealand.

The report shows that overall concentrations of nutrients and bacteria are either stable or improving at most monitored sites, and that water quality is generally improving.

The swimming suitability indicator provides a summary of monitored swimming sites. It reflects a precautionary approach to managing public health risks, which means that even a very small risk will be flagged through a lower grading.

The report shows that many swimming spots are affected in wet weather as a result of stormwater runoff. At some sites, heavy rain and wind can churn up sediment from the bottom of the waterway, releasing pathogens back into the water.

Other common sources of water pollution are urban stormwater systems, livestock, fertilisers and dense populations of wildlife. . .

Dense populations of wildlife are a particular concern for us.

There’s a large colony of seagulls nesting in a canyon not far above the intake for the water scheme which supplies us.

That’s causing high levels of contamination but because some are a protected species their right to nest trumps our right to clean water.

Ms Adams says the Government’s freshwater reform programme is critical to improving water quality and the way freshwater is managed.

“Issues with our waterways have been building over a number of generations, and it is going to take a similarly long time to fully realise solutions for these issues.

“The key tenet of the Government’s proposals is that improving our water management system will require solutions that start now and build over the long-term. There is no quick fix.”

There are many contributors to poor water quality.

The impact of most has built up over years to decades.

Improvements are being made and more work is needed.

But the Minister rightly points out the problems didn’t happen overnight and it will take time for the solutions to make a difference.

The river condition report is here.

The swimming suitability report is here.


Rural round-up

July 26, 2013

Report confirms drought worst in nearly 70 years:

A comparative study on the 2013 drought released today by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms it was one of the most extreme on record for New Zealand and the worst since 1945-46. The 2013 drought was also one of the most widespread New Zealand has experienced with only the drought of 1972-73 that affected Wairarapa, Tasman, Otago and Southland coming close to its geographical spread.

The report states that the cause of the drought was not El Niño but in fact slow-moving or ‘blocking’ high pressure systems over the Tasman Sea and New Zealand over summer.

Commissioned by MPI and undertaken by NIWA, the study looked at two sets of data records – NIWA’s gridded Virtual Climate Station Network that goes back to 1972, and longer-term station records that go back to the early 1940s. . .

Animal cruelty has no place in the dairy industry:

Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and the New Zealand Veterinary Association, takes a strong stance against animal cruelty on-farms and breaking tails is unacceptable stockmanship.

“As a farmer it saddens me to hear these animal welfare charges because it goes against the very nature of a person working with animals.

“Mr Beaumont broke 40 tails out of the 200 cattle he harmed, goes against the very nature of a person who works with animals. It is indefensible, and he has let the industry down by letting his anger get the better of him,” says Chris Lewis, Waikato Dairy chairperson. . .

Drought takes its toll on Fonterra’s forecast:

Federated Farmers is not surprised Fonterra Cooperative Group has announced a decrease in its 2013 forecast earnings before interest and taxation. This is due to the impact of the drought and pressures in its Australian operations.

“I think farmers will be relieved Fonterra has reconfirmed the forecast cash payout will remain unchanged for the 2012/13 season at $6.12. However, the reality of this announcement is that everything has a flow on effect,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy vice-chairperson.

“All those people who have looked at the increased prices on the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) platform and then decided to buy more Fonterra units on the stock exchange may not have understood how it all works. Increases in GDT prices actually mean tighter margins as the base commodities that Fonterra uses to make its own products also rise in price. . .

Livestock Improvement FY profit falls 3% as bull value gains slow – Tina Morrison:

 Livestock Improvement Corp., a farmer cooperative that sells bull semen and provides a dairy genetics database, posted a 3 percent drop in annual profit because its elite breeding bulls didn’t increase in value as much as the previous year.

Profit fell to $23.7 million in the year ended May 31, from $24.4 million a year earlier, the Hamilton-based company said in a statement. The value of its 866 elite breeding bulls rose $2.7 million compared with a $9.4 million gain on its 870 bulls the year earlier.

LIC, as the company is known, is farmer owned through cooperative control shares and investment shares that trade on the NZAX market. The company, which excludes changes in elite bull valuations when setting returns to shareholders, will pay a record dividend of 54.91 cents per investment share, and 8.4 cents per cooperative control share. . .

Stump to Pump programme receives PGP funding boost:

An innovation programme that will pave the way for generating more value from forestry waste by converting it to liquid biofuels is to receive government funding through the Primary Growth Partnership.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has approved co-funding of $6.75 million for the 14-month ‘Stump to Pump’ PGP programme.

Stump to Pump partners Norske Skog and Z Energy will match funding of $6.75 million, bringing the project’s total funding to $13.5 million.

This relatively short-term PGP programme will study the feasibility, including the cost-effectiveness, of making biofuel from forestry waste. It will determine the commercial viability of establishing a modular test plant to process New Zealand forest waste into sustainable transport fuel. . .

Precision Agriculture Association wins bid to host international conference:

The recently-formed Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand (PAANZ) will host the International Asian Conference on Precision Agriculture in 2017.

The bid was submitted in South Korea and New Zealand beat three other countries – Malaysia, India and Indonesia – for hosting rights. The conference is one of three large international conferences on precision agriculture (PA) held around the world each year. The 2013 conference was held in South Korea and attracted more than 150 attendees.

PAANZ Chairman Peter Barrowclough said the successful bid to host the conference was an early demonstration of the value of now having a national precision agriculture organisation up and running in New Zealand. “And, with our changing export markets and increasingly strong linkages with South East Asia, this will be an excellent vehicle for New Zealand to improve its global networks,” he said. . .


Wet, wet, white

June 21, 2013

We’ve had rain, then more rain and now we’re getting snow.

It’s lying on the paddocks but not very deep and roads around our farm are still open.

Waiology pointed me to Niwa’s Citizen Snow Project:

Snowfall is not routinely measured in New Zealand, but is an important part both of our natural hazards and our water resources.

Snow which falls at high elevations will generally melt slowly in spring; it will be absorbed by soil (for use by vegetation) or become runoff, which adds to stream flow. Snow which falls at low elevations will generally melt quickly after the snowfall, and be absorbed by soil and added to groundwater.

Measurements of snowfall at low elevations around New Zealand are few and far between, and yet the data would be really helpful in understanding how snowfall occurs, and quantifying snow-related risks to infrastructure (e.g. buildings, power lines, etc.) and impact on water resources. After all, the large majority of New Zealand’s population and infrastructure reside closer to the coast than the mountains.

And so we’d like your help to measure snowfall. You can measure the snow depth after it snows and, if you’re extra keen, measure the snow water equivalent (snow density) too.

Your measurements will help us to characterise the complex patterns of snow depth and water content which are important for monitoring New Zealand’s water resources and snow-related risks. . .

Instructions for measurement are at the second link.

Quote Unquote has a photo of 70cm of snow at Lake Heron Station.

And the ODT has a slide show of wintry weather in the south.


Rural round-up

June 12, 2013

2013 New Zealand Wine Vintage Set to Be One of the Best:

The 2013 New Zealand grape harvest has been completed with high quality grapes picked in all regions. Winemakers across the country are heralding it as one of the best vintages in history.

“An outstanding New Zealand summer provided near perfect conditions for growing grapes across the country” said Philip Gregan, chief executive officer of New Zealand Winegrowers. “The result is that we expect the 2013 wines to be vibrant, fruit driven and complex expressions of our diverse grape growing regions. 2013 looks set to be a vintage to remember.”

According to the 2013 Vintage Survey, 345,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested. The 2013 crop is up 28% on the small harvest last year but up only 5% on 2011. . .

Fieldays: new forecasting service for farmers

A new weather and environmental forecasting service has been launched at the National Fieldays by NIWA today.

The service provides farmers with tailored information about weather conditions on their farm.

The web-based weather forecasting information service called NIWA forecast aims to help farmers and growers identify the right time to carry out weather-dependent operations like irrigation, spraying and harvesting.

NIWA chief scientist, atmosphere, Dr Murray Poulter said the new service takes forecasting to another level because different forecasts can now be created for properties as little as 12km apart.

“NIWA forecast can deliver valuable climate analysis and forecasts from the present to 15 days ahead direct to farmers’ and growers’ computers via the internet direct to their farm.” . . .

Meat Industry Excellence gets into the first gear of reform:

With the 2013 National Agricultural Fieldays now underway, so is reform of New Zealand’s red meat sector being championed by Meat Industry Excellence (MIE). MIE is shifting the gears of reform following intensive meetings held in Christchurch and Wellington last week.

“Having met with Beef+Lamb NZ Chairman, Mike Petersen and Federated Farmers’ Meat and Fibre executive, there is recognition and support among farmers for a truly sustainable red meat sector,” says Richard Young, MIE Chairman.

“MIE sees its role as shifting the gear for reform out of neutral. For an industry bedevilled by past infighting it is great to know that Federated Farmers and Beef+Lamb NZ want to work with us. . .

Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre works on reform:

Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre will follow up on a positive meeting with the Meat Industry Excellence Group (MIE) with a discussion on reform and farmer behaviour at its 2013 conference in Ashburton next month.
“MIE gave us an update on where they are at and some of the changes they are working on,” Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson Jeanette Maxwell said.

“We had a highly constructive conversation around meat industry issues and many areas of alignment emerged.

“Both organisations realise they have much in common and want to achieve the same goals. In the next couple of weeks there will be a lot more information to emerge from MIE. . .

Farmers to have equal say in Fairtrade:

Farmers from Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America are to have an equal say in running the global Fairtrade movement for the first time this week.

In a ground-breaking move, producers of tea, coffee, bananas and other goods will have half the votes at Fairtrade International’s annual General Assembly in Germany on Wednesday, 12 June 2013. . .

Fairtrade is the first major development organisation to pioneer such power-sharing between groups in the northern and southern hemisphere. . .


Rural round-up

July 8, 2012

1080 doesn’t contaminate waterways new study shows:

New research by NIWA scientists shows 1080 poison does not contaminate waterways.

1080 is used throughout New Zealand to control animal pests – mainly possums – which spread the livestock disease bovine tuberculosis.

Over the past three months, scientists have placed large amounts of 1080 in a trial catchment on the West Coast and then simulated rainfall in the area.

The aim is to understand how 1080 – a natural toxin – moves through or across soil into waterways and if the run-off degrades the quality of water.

Dr Alastair Suren is the freshwater ecologist who led the research and says the study found that during rainfall 1080 diluted to the point where it became nearly undetectable. . .

Rabobank runs masterclass – Hugh Stringleman:

Some “scary numbers” on world food security were addressed by 50 participants, including six New Zealanders, in the inaugural Global Masterclass held by Rabobank in the home country, Netherlands.

Speakers from the United Nations and giant agribusinesses such as Unilever and Cargill impressed upon North Island sheep, beef and deer farmer William Oliver the need for greater efficiency in farming with labour, energy and capital.

“I came home to see the opportunity in everything and bring more passion and inspiration to my farming,” Oliver said.

The theme of the vent was to promote rural entrepreneurship to fill the world’s food needs . .

My farmer was one of the six New Zealanders at the Masterclass. You can read more about it here and here.

Pear investment coming up rosy – Peter Watson:

In more than 30 years growing pipfruit, Bruce Fraser hasn’t seen a pear with such promise.

Shaped more like an apple and bright red, PremP109 has been stirring up a storm since being released in tiny amounts last year.

Dubbed a “papple” in Britain, it has been selling at Marks and Spencer stores for an eyewatering 1GBP (NZ$2.10) a piece and returning growers back here more than $100 an 18kg carton, a staggering sum at a time of hardship in the industry. . .

Fontera eyes up Studholme plant – Andrea Fox:

The small size of New Zealand Dairy’s Studholme plant means it is well-suited for use in short and specialised manufacturing runs, Fonterra says in an application eyeing up the factory.

Fonterra has a deal to buy the dairy-processing assets of New Zealand Dairies, which is in receivership. But while awaiting a Commerce Commission decision, the dairy giant wants to buy the milk of the failed company’s contracted farmers and operate the plant.

Exporter New Zealand Dairies was founded six years ago to build a wholemilk powder processing plan on 55ha at Studholme. The plant was commissioned in 2007 at a cost of $108m. . .

Winemaker introduces smaller bottles:

Mission Estate has been commended by anti-alcohol campaigners for introducing New Zealand’s first 500ml bottle of wine.

The Hawke’s Bay winery, the nation’s oldest, is now selling sauvignon blanc and syrah in the smaller bottles in a bid to make wine more attractive to modern lifestyles. The standard bottle of wine is 750ml, or 7.7 standard drinks.

Mission chief executive Peter Holley and winemaker Paul Mooney read research that showed New Zealanders were becoming older, increasingly urban and living in smaller family units. . .

Sanford sells virus hit Northland oyster farms  –

Fishing company Sanford has sold its Pacific oyster farms in Northland to Aotearoa Fisheries.

Sanford closed its Kaeo processing plant in December because of a virus that killed many of the juvenile oysters and the likely reduced oyster harvest.

Despite having confidence that there was potential to breed new oysters that have some resilience to this virus, it had decided that it made more sense for it to concentrate on its expanded Greenshell mussel business, Sandford said. . .

“Meating” of minds on advancing sector – Shaan Te Kani:

INDUSTRY ORGANISATIONS and commercial companies will work much more closely together in future, says Beef + Lamb NZ chairman Mike Petersen.

“There has been a bit of discussion certainly since Keith Cooper’s resignation from our board around election time – about the value of industry organisations,” Petersen said at the Federated Farmers conference in Auckland.

“Our view is we are a farmers’ organisation…. It should be up to the farmers to decide whether they want to invest in research programmes, extension work, economic anaylysis, skills and trade programme or market access. . .

Growers fear limits to their water take

SETTING limits on irrigation use in the Poverty Bay Flats was one of the main concerns raised by farmers and growers at the Fresh Water Advisory Group community meeting yesterday.

More than 50 people attended the meeting at Bushmere Arms, which discussed the draft freshwater management plan with Waipaoa users.

Advisory group representatives delivered the plan’s vision, which is to ensure the long-term sustainability of freshwater resources as well as considering economic and social activities. . .

So You Think (NZ) Reitred to stud:

The curtains have been pulled on the racing career of one of New Zealand’s most successful racehorses seen in recent times with the New Zealand bred Karaka graduate So You Think (NZ)officially retired to stud.

Announced by Coolmore yesterday, So You Think (High Chaparral x Triassic) has subsequently been withdrawn from Sunday morning’s Group 1 Eclipse Stakes where he was odds on to claim his 11th Group 1 race.

The son of High Chaparral was found to be lame after exercising yesterday morning in Ireland and it appears he has pulled a muscle in his hind quarter which precludes him from running in the Eclipse Stakes. So You Think will enter quarantine this week as originally planned before making his trip back to Australia to commence stud duties. . .

Potatoes NZ welcomes step towards fresh potato exports:

Potatoes New Zealand has welcomed an Australian Government draft report which is expected to open the door to the export of fresh potatoes for processing from New Zealand to Australia.

The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) draft report proposes that the importation of fresh potatoes for processing into Australia from New Zealand be permitted subject to import conditions.

Potatoes New Zealand Chairman Stuart Wright said that the news was very encouraging for the New Zealand potato industry and it was hoped the Australian market could be open to New Zealand for the 2012-13 season. . .


Rural round-up

March 3, 2012

Mount Linton improves ewes’ genetics – Shawn McAvinue:

Dag-laden sheep should be nervous when sheep genetics manager Hamish Bielski enters their paddock on Mt Linton station.

“I want marbles and handgrenades, instead of slops and plops,” he said.

He looks at the lambs’ faecal consistency twice a year, once in autumn and when they are one year old. . .

Kaiwhakahaere used a “Garry Owen” – Gravedodger:

This week I attended the biennial get together  of the High-Country section of Federated Farmers, this year hosted by the Marlborough area centered on the Middle Clarence Valley.
The commencement was at the Kahautara River on Highway 70 and kicked off by current chair, Graeme ‘Stumpy’ Reid. . .

Investment firms eyes southern dairy farms – Shawn McAvinue and Alan Wood:

 A new investment company is looking to buy “attractive” dairy farms in the south.

The dairy farms would be part of an investment fund that opened to investors yesterday.

Investors can buy into the Pastoral Dairy Investments fund with a minimum commitment of $20,000, plus fees. . .

Pig power proves promising:

There’s a new, unlikely energy source that can power farms while reducing greenhouse gas emissions – pig poo.   

A team of scientists at NIWA in Hamilton has developed a system that stores greenhouse gases from pig manure in a deep pond, from where it can be used as an energy source.   

NIWA research engineer Stephan Heubeck said the system reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere while providing an alternative source of energy . . .   

Protocol frustrates export of apples – Che Baker:

Apple exports from Central Otago to Australia will not go ahead this year after “excessive” biosecurity protocols have made exporting to the country uneconomic.

Pipfruit New Zealand director and Ettrick apple grower Stephen Darling said despite a 90-year ban on apple exports from Australia being lifted in 2010, the fruit would not be exported from the region this year.

Trial supports DCD’s environmental value – Gerald Piddock:

New research has confirmed the effectiveness of the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD) as a tool to reduce environmental impacts of pastoral farming.

The three-year nitrous oxide mitigation research (NOMR) trials commenced in autumn 2009.

They were conducted in the Waikato, Manawatu, Canterbury and South Otago dairy regions. . .

Boysenberry growers call it quits after continuing losses – Peter Watson:

The country’s two biggest boysenberry growers have quit the Nelson-based industry after another season blighted by bad weather and a high New Zealand dollar.

Their withdrawal means not only the loss of export income, but the end to hundreds of seasonal jobs which local people, particularly students, relied on to supplement their income.

Both Ranzau Horticulture and Berry Fields have started pulling out about 80 hectares of vines, although an existing grower is to take over 23ha of the Berry Fields’ fruit on McShane Rd and another is interested in running its pick-your-own operation.

Ngai Tahu wants to farm more fish species – Penny Wardle:

Ngai Tahu Seafoods Resources plans to add new species to its 14 hectare Marlborough Sounds mussel farm.

The Christchurch-based iwi-owned firm has applied to the Marlborough District Council for resource consents covering its plans to farm king salmon and hapuku, trial 13 New Zealand fish species and to grow algae and seaweeds at its Beatrix Bay marine farm in Pelorus Sound.

The company intends to grow fish, shellfish and seaweed together to improve production while reducing environmental impacts. Scallops and dredge and pacific oysters as well as mussels are covered in its existing consent. . .

Oysters on lunch menu – Shawn McAvinue:

Skippers say they look great and the first few hundred dozen oysters in from Bluff will be flown up to the Dockside restaurant in Wellington for lunch. And, so the oyster season has begun in what has been tipped to be a bumper year.

The first oyster boat got in to Bluff at 5.05am before heading back out . . .

Dairy Farms could save energy: study:

New Zealand dairy farms could achieve cost-effective annual      energy savings of at least 68.4 million kilowatt hours (kWh) in the dairy shed, the results of a pilot programme show.   

That was a 10% reduction and equivalent to the annual electricity use of about 7100 households. Individual farms could cut milking-shed electricity consumption by 16%, and a      post-pilot survey showed 46% of farmers would adopt savings technologies if their costs could be recouped within three years.  

Rabbits still a problem – Gerald Piddock:

Rabbit numbers in the eastern Mackenzie Basin have increased post-Christmas, the Canterbury Regional Council says.

The concerning area is 12,000ha and encompasses seven adjoining high country properties, Environment Canterbury (ECan) biodiversity team leader Brent Glentworth said.

The increase could have resulted from the high levels of vegetation this season caused by the wet spring and summer. . .


Spring-like autumn

June 1, 2011

Just over a year ago when I looked from the top of the hill above Enfield towards the Kakanuis, irrigated paddocks would have stood out like green ink on parchment.

When I was up the hill yesterday it was impossible to tell which farms were irrigated and which were not.

Niwa reports we’ve had the warmest May on record.

Data from climate agency Niwa shows the month was almost 2.5 degrees Celcius warmer than usual, with rainfall double normal levels.

The figures won’t be official until tomorrow morning, but principal climate scientists James Renwick said the provisional numbers were extraordinary.

“Two-point-five degrees doesn’t sound like much, but for the average over the whole month that’s huge,” Renwick said.

“Normally 0.5 of a degree is a record-breaker.”

The average monthly temperature had been 13.1C, a temperature normally expected for April, Renwick said.

The previous hottest May, recorded in 2007, had a mean temperature of 12.4C.

Rainfall totals were also extreme, especially in the eastern Bay of Plenty and Nelson regions.

We haven’t had the extreme weather other areas have suffered but mother nature has provided more than enough moisture.

Irrigation hasn’t been necessary and mild temperatures mean grass is still growing so it looks more like spring than autumn.


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