Rural round-up

November 21, 2019

Top farm is 100 not out – Jo Grigg:

Fraser and Shelley Avery, Bonavaree, have taken out top place in the Westpac Bayleys Marlborough Sheep and Beef Farmer of the Year 2019 and a $32,000 prize package.

Together with Fraser’s parents Doug and Wendy Avery, the inter-generational farm partnership first made award headlines in 2010, winning South Island Farmer of the Year.

Since then the business has grown in scale to 2232 hectares (effective) and six staff but the successful recipe around direct grazing of lucerne has not changed. 

Doug and Wendy have moved off the farm but maintain an interest and Fraser runs the business while Shelley has started working full-time for St John Ambulance. . . 

Sustainability award for Stonehenge – Annette Scott:

Otago sheep and beef farmers Andrew and Francine Hore have been internationally recognised for their environmentally friendly farming.

The couple who are fourth generation farmers on the family’s 18,000 hectare Stonehenge property in Maniototo took out the Reda Group’s Sustainability Award.

The Reda Group, a Biella, Italy, leader in the production of Merino wool fabrics held its annual conference in Queenstown earlier this month where it crowned the Hore’s Stonehenge Merinos as its second ever sustainability award winner.  . . 

Will apple trees replace pines in North Canterbury?:

Apple trees could be replacing pines in North Canterbury.

Ngāi Tahu Farming has ordered tree stocks for planting a trial orchard in the Culverden/Balmoral area in 2021.

The initial 15ha commercial pipfruit orchard could be the first in the wider Amuri Basin.

The area is known for long, hot, fine days and low rainfall. Local farmers have been known to grow fruit trees successfully for home consumption and it was partly this knowledge that prompted Ngāi Tahu Farming to consider trialling horticulture as an option in the area. . .

Merino-judging debut leads to success, chance to learn – Sally Rae:

Harriet Gardner has had a successful first attempt at judging merino sheep.

Miss Gardner (25), who comes from a sheep and beef farm at Waihaorunga, near Waimate, won the merino junior judging competition held at the Paterson family’s property Armidale in the Maniototo recently.

That qualified her to compete in the junior judging competition at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch last week where she finished second.

She had previously won a cattle-judging competition, which saw her travel to Australia, but she had not tackled merino judging. . . 

Sisters maintain family tradition in Maniototo – Sally Rae:

It will be a sister act at Maniototo A&P Show in Ranfurly in February.

Siblings Margot Hall and Janine Smith will be at the helm of the show, as president and secretary respectively.

If their duties in those positions do not sound busy enough, Ms Smith will also be exhibiting about 25 sheep.

Mrs Hall was following in the footsteps of her father, well-known sheep breeder Ian Smith, who has had two stints as president.

Ms Smith took over last year from longstanding secretary Neville Wahrlich who was in the job for more than 40 years. “I haven’t got that in me”, she confided. . . 

Federal ‘green bank’ and Mike Cannon-Brookes back new ‘agrifood’ fund – John McDuling:

The federal government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Atlassian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes have teamed up to back a new $30 million venture capital fund targeting the “agrifood” sector.

The CEFC and Mr Cannon-Brookes’ personal investment fund, Grok Ventures, have each committed $8 million to Tenacious Ventures, which describes itself as “Australia’s first dedicated agrifood tech venture capital firm”.

Tenacious Ventures is seeking to raise $30 million and is led by Matthew Pryor, who helped found agrifood tech startup Observant, which was sold to India’s Jain Irrigation in 2017; and Sarah Nolet, CEO of agrifood tech advisory firm AgThentic.The fund plans to invest in early-stage startups focused on the agricultural supply chain and which are trying to lift farm efficiency and reduce waste. . .

Rural round-up

November 18, 2019

Fortitude in face of loss bears fruit – Sally Rae:

A North Otago berry fruit business has grown to be the largest producer of strawberries in the South Island. Business and rural editor Sally Rae speaks to the remarkable driving force behind the operation.

If strawberry plants came in pink, then Leanne Matsinger would probably place a bulk order.

For the North Otago berryfruit grower is particularly fond of the hue and, when she bought a new tractor, she even asked if it was possible to get it in that colour.

Sadly it was not, and when she heads out at 2am with the floodlights blazing to go spraying in the still of the night, it is on a conventionally coloured workhorse.

Wind the clock back to 2010, and Mrs Matsinger did not know how to drive a tractor. Nor how to grow strawberries. . . 

Barns have big footprints :

In a New Zealand first new research from Lincoln University doctoral researcher Hafiz Muhammad Abrar Ilyas is estimating the carbon footprints of pastoral or grass-based and barn dairy systems based on their energy consumption.

This study was done on 50 conventional dairy farms in Canterbury – 43 pastoral and seven barn systems.

Hafiz said the difference between the two systems indicates the barn system has an 18% higher carbon footprint than the pastoral system per hectare of farm area and 11% higher footprint per tonne of milksolids. . . 

Off like a Rockit

The CEO of the company that grows and sells New Zealand’s tiny Rockit apple says no-one expected the apple to be so popular.

“It’s blown away everybody’s expectations, which is terrific,” Rockit’s Austin Mortimer says.

Listen duration19:51 

He says Rockit is the only miniature apple available globally.

“My understanding was when it (the apple) was offered to the big players none of them would touch it because they just didn’t think there was value in a small apples.”

There is.

Rockit apples are now returning about $150,000 per hectare to growers. . . 

Ida Valley wool makes good show – Alan Williams:

Fine wool prices might be below last year’s levels but they still made the sale screen at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch good viewing for Central Otago farmer Jock McNally.

He watched as his 15 to 17 microns Merino wool sold for up to $17.50/kg greasy at the annual live auction on Thursday.

“The prices are still reasonable, still above the averages of the last few years and I’m happy with the sale,” he said. . . 

Boer goat meat to grace Korea tables – Yvonne O’Hara:

Two tonnes of Central Otago Boer goat meat was shipped from New Zealand recently to appear on the menus of three planned specialist restaurants in Korea.

The shipment was organised by Alexandra-based New Zealand Premium Goat Meat Ltd (NZPGM), which is run by John Cockcroft, of Clyde, and Dougal Laidlaw, of Alexandra.

The first new restaurant, called Cabra’s Kitchen (cabra is Spanish for goat), will specialise in meals made using New Zealand Boer goat, as well as New Zealand beef and lamb and Central Otago wine. . . 

NZ 2019 Young Horticulturist announced

Simon Gourley of Domaine Thomson Wines is the 2019 Young Horticulturist of the Year.

From Central Otago, Simon (28) represented the NZ Winegrowers sector at the competition, which celebrates excellence in people aged under 30, employed in the horticulture industry.

It’s the second consecutive year the Young Horticulturist (Kaiahuone rangatahi o te tau) title has been won by a viticulturist. Last year’s winner was Annabel Bulk, who is also from Central Otago. . .


Rural round-up

November 24, 2018

Whanganui berry farm forced to close pick-your-own strawberry service – Jesse King:

Popular family attraction Windermere Berry Farm has cancelled pick-your-own days after repeated thefts and other poor behaviour.

For the second year in a row, staff have been forced to put a temporary stop to the farm’s pick-your-own strawberry service.

Yesterday, people who had paid for the experience were seen wrenching a waratah out of the ground and picking strawberries from a block that was off-limits. . . 

 Fonterra is big but Mataura (nutritionally) aims to be world’s best – Point of Order:

Earlier this week Point of Order drew attention to the contrasting fortunes of key components within New Zealand’s dairy sector, which by any account is a mainstay of the country’s export industry. In that instance it was the contrast between the report of rising revenue and profit of specialist milk supplier A2 Milk and the slide in Global Dairy Trade auction prices likely to lead to another downgrade in the milk payout for Fonterra suppliers.

The contrast was heightened later in the week, first with speculative reports that Fonterra is putting up for sale the iconic icecream company Tip Top (which could yield $400m to reduce debt) as well as its South American operations. . . 

Effluent monitoring paying dividends:

An innovative approach to monitoring dairy farm effluent runoff is reaping rewards for farmers and the environment.

Taupo milk processor Miraka, with about 100 suppliers, is offering bonuses to suppliers who meet the five criteria set out in its Te Ara Miraka Farming Excellence programme: people, environment, animal welfare, milk quality and prosperity.

NZ agricultural technology company Regen is helping Miraka farmers manage their effluent more effectively with a smartphone app. This texts daily effluent irrigation recommendations to farmers, and logs data to prove compliance, meeting the company’s caring-for-the-environment criteria. . . 

Merino muster heads out on the highway – Sally Rae:

 It was hard to know which was the more spectacular sight on the snow-blanketed Lindis Pass yesterday – the weather or the wethers.

Munro family members were continuing a tradition of driving sheep between their two pastoral lease properties, Rostriever, at Otematata, and Mt Thomas, on the south side of the Lindis summit. 

At about 67km, John Munro reckoned it could be the longest sheep drive in New Zealand. . .

Frustrated farmer’s consent renewal attempts :

Turakina dairy farmer Andrew Major is frustrated by the difficulty of renewing his existing consent to spread effluent on sandhills.

He’s had the consent for 24 years. It is due for renewal next year and he is beginning the process of applying to Horizons Regional Council.

He was hoping to be offered help, but has been told he will be emailed a form to fill in.

It’s good that he’s applying early, Horizons Regional Council strategy and regulation manager Dr Nic Peet said. Applying six months before the consent is due to expire means he will be able to continue to operate under the old consent until the new one is decided. . . 

Woolshed injuries targeted :

The wool industry wants a new online training tool to become part of every woolshed in the country, so that injuries occurring in and around the sheds can be reduced.

Tahi Ngātahi was officially launched at the New Zealand Agricultural Show by shearing and farming industry leaders.

New Zealand Shearing Contractors’ Association president Mark Barrowcliffe said most wool harvesting injuries were preventable and all have a detrimental effect on everyone working in the business. . . 

 

Blades shearers cutting a track for France 2019

South Canterbury shearers Tony Dobbs and Allan Oldfield have confirmed their places at the 2019 world shearing and woolhandling championships.

With Fairlie farmer, Dobbs, again winning the New Zealand Corriedale blades shearing championship final, and Geraldine shearer Oldfield placing fourth, it confirmed their positions as winner and runner-up in a series of eight competitions which started at Reefton in February.

They become the first part of the Shearing Sports New Zealand team confirmed for the 18th world championships to be held in Le Dorat, France, on July 1-7. . . 

Milk production up 12% on Donald Pearson Farm:

It’s been a great start to the season for the Auckland dairy farm owned by NZ Young Farmers.

Milk production on the 74-hectare Donald Pearson Farm (DPF) is up “12 per cent on last season”.

The farm’s new manager, Tom Ruki, is being credited with the rise. . . 

Students to learn about food and farming in new ag curriculum – Andrew Norris:

Recommendations from a review into agricultural education and training in NSW completed in 2013 is bearing fruit, with the roll-out of new mandatory agriculture components in the school curriculum from next year.

The Pratley Review was conducted by Jim Pratley, the Foundation Dean of the Faculty of Science and Agriculture at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga.

NSW Education Standards Authority inspector for technology education, Mark Tyler, said recommendations from this review played a crucial role in the introduction of these new courses. . . 


Rural round-up

November 23, 2018

P kicking out dope in the provinces – Richard Rennie:

Rural New Zealand is playing host to a wave of methamphetamine (P) lab production and consumption that has knocked cannabis off its pedestal as the recreational drug of choice in the provinces.

Research by Massey University associate professor Chris Wilkins has highlighted that contrary to popular belief it is rural New Zealand, not large metropolitan centres, where P’s availability has resoundingly surged.

His research work has revealed small towns and rural areas where gang influence predominates are targeted specifically for P use to maximise gang drug revenue. . . 

Heading for a TB-free future – Barry Harris:

Ospri Chairman Barry Harris says New Zealand farmers can be proud of the progress of the TB Plan towards eradicating the infectious livestock disease bovine tuberculosis.

Among the most important challenges facing New Zealand agriculture is managing and eradicating diseases that threaten our dairy and meat exports. 

While Mycoplasma bovis has hogged the headlines recently, the progress of the TBfree programme to eradicate bovine tuberculosis has been quietly progressing as planned.

TB, caused by the similar-sounding Mycobacterium bovis, has been a problem for farmed livestock since they arrived in the 19th century.  . . 

Push for authorities to subsidise farmers’ use of dung beetles to help reduce environmental impacts – Gerald Piddock:

A company that grows and supplies dung beetles to farmers wants to partner up with local government to lift the insect’s uptake across New Zealand.

The insects are another tool to help pastoral farmers mitigate their environmental impact, according to Dung Beetle Innovations director Shaun Forgie​.

Forgie, along with business partner Andrew Barber and Peter Buckley, outlined to Waikato Regional Councillors at a recent committee meeting why it would be economically and environmentally beneficial for landowners and local government to include the beetles in steps for improving water quality and soil health. . . 

Stud stock agent judge of qualities – Sally Rae:

Among the hordes of exhibitors and visitors through the sheep pavilion at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch last week, there was a familiar face.

Stud stock agent Roger Keach is a well-known figure within the New Zealand stud stock industry and  regular show attendee for many years.

This year, he was tasked with judging the Hampshire sheep section and  all-breeds wool ram hogget class. . . 

Getting in behind – Rebecca Harper:

A lack of practical experience made it hard for Ashley Greer to get a foot on the career ladder in the sheep and beef industry, but she refused to take no for an answer. After years of trying, she has landed her dream job shepherding on a progressive sheep and beef farm near Masterton. Rebecca Harper went to visit her.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. It’s an old proverb, but one that is particularly relevant for 28-year-old Ashley Greer.

Ashley set her heart on a career in the sheep and beef sector and began studying towards her Bachelor of Science, majoring in agricultural science and minoring in animal science, at Massey University. In her holidays, she needed to obtain placements on farm. . .

North Otago meat plants ‘flat out’ – Sally Brooker:

North Otago’s two major meat processing plants are working flat out.

Alliance Group Pukeuri plant manager Phil Shuker said the site just north of Oamaru was operating three chains, processing both beef and sheep.

”Lamb is continuing to come through strongly, with the plant having just completed a very busy period processing chilled Christmas orders for the important United Kingdom market. . . 

Thriving horticulture sector behind new degree at Massey University – Angie Skerrett:

A booming horticulture industry has prompted the introduction of a new degree course at Massey University.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) quarterly outlook figures for New Zealand’s primary sector estimates growth in the horticulture sector for the coming year will be 13.1 percent, a $0.7 billion increase on the previous year.

A three-year Bachelor of Horticultural Science degree is set to begin in February to cope with the expected growth. . . 


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