Rural round-up


Environmental Protection Authority releases annual report on aerial use of 1080 :

The latest annual report on aerial use of 1080 has been released, showing that while use of the pest control poison increased in 2019, new research into alternatives is continuing.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) report, titled 1080 use in Aotearoa New Zealand 2019, showed there were 44 aerial operations covering 918,000 hectares of land.

Aerial operations rose due to a mega-mast event in 2019, where beech seed, tussock seed, or podocarp fruit flower at once in forests, dropping seed and driving rat populations up, which then threaten native species.

However, according to the report, the average application rate was just above three grams of 1080 per hectare, which equates to roughly one teaspoonful of 1080 on a rugby field. This is well below the maximum allowable rate of 30 grams per hectare, the report stated. . . 

Working on an orchard – how hard could it be? – Marty Sharpe:

So how hard is it really to pick fruit?

It’s a topical question, what with the horticultural sector crying out for workers in light of their regular labour force drying up.

Covid-19 has meant the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme has been slashed and backpackers are scarce.This has led the sector to implore Kiwis to have a crack at working in the fields.

In a quest to get an idea of just how hard this could be, I arranged to spend a sweltering Wednesday this past week on an orchard just outside Hastings. . . 

Time to cut the No 8 wire concept – Peter Burke:

Scottie Chapman says New Zealanders should stop extolling the virtues of the No 8 wire concept.

The head of Spring Sheep Dairy says the No 8 wire concept was a success story of our past when, because of travel times, NZ was a long way from everywhere and we had to find a way to improvise

However, Chapman believes the link to improvisation in the form of the No 8 wire concept – from the past to the way we operate today with modern technology and transport – is completely wrong.

“The No 8 concept was important 150 years ago because it helped get us where we are today,” he told Dairy News. . .

Passion for chasing sheep key trait – Matthew Mckew:

Walter Peak High Country Farm rural operations co-ordinator Peter Hamilton is in the business of showing the public what the working dog can do.

His demonstrations educate people on the rich agricultural heritage of the country and display how dogs help keep the economy moving.

Mr Hamilton got his first dog — Sprite — when he was just 12, and has worked with the short-haired English collie since then.

Sprite is no longer able to get over the fence and chase the sheep, but she still watched from the sidelines. . . 


Kudos for landmark fertility research :

Ground-breaking collaborative research into improving dairy fertility genetics has been recognised in the annual Kudos Awards.

The Improving Dairy Fertility Genetics research project has determined new ways to select inherently fertile cows and that genetic selection for cow fertility will improve herd reproduction.

The project is part of DairyNZ’s Pillars of a New Dairy System research, which has funding from DairyNZ and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Additional support comes from AgResearch, LIC, CRV Ambreed and AbacusBio. . .

Fewer anti-drug laws lets cannabis research gather pace :

Cannabis research and genetic improvements are gathering pace thanks to new genomic technologies, combined with fewer restrictive laws governing cultivation, research and use of the plant, according to a La Trobe University study.

In their paper published in New Phytologist, researchers from the La Trobe Institute of Agriculture and Food, home for the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Medicinal Agriculture (ARC MedAg Hub), reviewed international studies of cannabis genomics and identified significant gaps in the research.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Mathew Lewsey said cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated plants believed to have unique medicinal properties, but for decades research into identifying those properties had been restricted by anti-drug laws.

“These rules have meant that while our understanding of the basic biology and properties of other crop species has advanced through the use of genomics for example, our knowledge of cannabis has lagged,” Lewsey, who is Deputy Director of the ARC MedAg Hub, said. . . 

Country car



The petrol station attendant said, “You from the country?”


I followed his eyes from the mud-encrusted tyres, up the dusty sides to the number eight wire which does duty as a radio aerial and grinned weakly. I’d meant to wash the car before I left home just as I always mean to give it the regular valet service it undoubtedly deserves. But regular seldom translates into frequent and who would notice if it did when I live on an unsealed road?


When it’s dry the cleanest car will be dusty again by the time it’s driven the first 100 metres from our cattle stop. And if it’s wet the sides will be splashed with mud before I’ve even made it to the gate.


This explanation for exterior mess does not however, excuse the interior muddle caused by the debris which gathers inside the vehicle. I could justify the sunglasses, AA book, maps, first aid kit, box of tissues, duster, CDs, sunscreen, umbrella, child’s emergency bag, pens and small change. Even the old sack in the boot might be excused as being prepared for an as yet unencountered emergency.


But I have no excuse for the shopping lists, hair bands, logbook last used in February 1988, long-lost toys and the other yet to be discarded detritus of family life.


It’s just as well the car is generally regarded as on-road transportation because if keeping it respectable is difficult trying to keep farm vehicles clean and tidy is bordering on the impossible.


The raddle, stock books, tools, rope, dog chains and other less easily identifiable necessities of farm life to be found in the cab accumulate so fast they might well be regarded as fittings. Then there’s the dust and mud and worse which collect inside and out which are an inescapable by-product of working outside in all weathers.


None of this matters when the vehicle is used solely for farm work and the driver is dressed appropriately. But it can leave those using it for other duties in better clothes decidedly the worse for the encounter as I discovered when I took the truck to town and arrived with a broad and dirty stripe where my once white blouse had met the seat belt.


But my worst trip in the truck was one with a toddler at my side and our second child only a few week’s from birth. All went well until I tried to get out. After a brief and fruitless struggle with the door I remembered my farmer had mentioned it sometimes stuck.


His advice in that case was to unwind the window and open the door from the outside. That was all very well for those with the required length of arm and upper body strength but I lacked both.


The only alternative was to get out the passenger door which was easier said than done. Trying to squeeze a pregnant belly past the steering wheel and toddler’s car seat to the other side was quite an act.


The fragile grasp I had on my sense of humour wasn’t helped when having done it, I met the eyes of an onlooker who was coping with an advanced case of hilarity caused by my antics.


I remembered this when my farmer needed the car and offered me the truck in its place a couple of weeks later and decided to stay at home.

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