Rural round-up

June 20, 2019

Resilient farmer moves on to new fields:

Doug Avery, author of The Resilient Farmer, has launched a new workshop to help farmers improve their mental health and their businesses.

Avery is changing direction in his life, hitting the third age with a new venture.

Over two decades, Avery took his family farm – Bonavaree, near Lake Grassmere in southern Marlborough – from a 206ha struggle to a 2600ha multi-million venture thanks to “God’s own plant” lucerne. . . 

Fully automated milking several decades away – Dairy NZ – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Industry body Dairy NZ sees fully automated milking as a major opportunity to lift on-farm productivity, but doesn’t expect it to be commonplace for several decades.

About 44 percent of the country’s dairy herd are milked in more efficient rotary dairy sheds, despite the style accounting for just over a quarter of the nation’s sheds. About 72 percent of the country’s dairy sheds are the less efficient herringbone style.

In its submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the impact of technology on the future of work, Dairy NZ said rotary dairy sheds have the highest uptake of automation, with 77 percent using automated technology. However, out of New Zealand’s 12,000 or so dairy farmers, there are just 25 fully robotic dairy sheds. . .

More sheep with facial eczema amid prolonged Autumn conditions:

Prolonged, mild weather in Autumn appears to have caused high rates of facial eczema in sheep in some parts of the North Island.

The disease is caused by toxin in a fungus that grows in grass. The toxin affects cattle, sheep, goats and deer and can result in liver and skin damage and weight loss, which can stop animals from falling pregnant and in some cases result in death.

It is estimated that production losses caused by the disease are around $200 million annually in New Zealand. . .

Awards call for biosecurity champions:

Entries are now open for the 2019 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards. These Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding contributions to protecting our country against pests and diseases.

The Awards acknowledge people and organisations across New Zealand who are contributing to biosecurity – in our communities, businesses, iwi and hapū, government, in the bush, our oceans and waterways, and in our backyards.

“Some New Zealander’s don’t understand that the work they’re doing is part of our biosecurity system – from trapping, to pest and disease management in our forests, rivers and oceans, these are all biosecurity actions,” Roger Smith, Head of Biosecurity New Zealand said. . .

Primary ITO gains fresh recognition:

Primary ITO has received the Minister of Education’s seal of approval to continue its work as an industry training organisation.

Under the Industry Training and Apprenticeships Act, ITOs apply for “recognition” every five years, undergoing a thorough check by central agencies and requiring them to seek indications of support from relevant sectors.

“It is great news that the Minister has approved Primary ITO’s ongoing coverage of our agriculture, horticulture, processing and services sectors,” says Primary ITO chief executive Linda Sissons. . . .

Pastoral sector poised to cope with gas limits:

As the government’s rules on managing green-house gases becomes clearer, New Zealand’s pastoral sector is well positioned to handle the changes that the rules will bring to it.

Announced in early May, the Zero Carbon Bill aims to differentiate between carbon dioxide release and methane losses from livestock, and has set separate targets for each.

Farmers are required to reduce methane losses from livestock by 10% by 2030 and 24-47% by 2050, while the economy’s entire carbon dioxide emissions have to drop to zero by 2050. . .

Land O’Lakes CEO: Farmers are in crisis—and America isn’t paying attention – Beth Ford:

Imagine, if you can, a computer virus that cut the productivity of AppleGoogle, and Facebook in half. Or try to imagine Wall Street’s investment bankers seeing a season’s worth of deals washed away. Such calamities would dominate our nation’s news and drive swift political action. Yet that is precisely what America’s farmers face right now. And, as a country, we aren’t paying nearly enough attention.

Farmers are generally too proud and humble to speak out, but the truth is we are living through an extremely difficult period of market turmoil and natural disasters. Due largely to sustained low commodity prices, average farm income in 2017 was $43,000, while the median farm income for 2018 was negative$1,500. In 2018, Chapter 12 bankruptcies in the farm states across the Midwest that are responsible for nearly half of all sales of U.S farm products rose to the highest level in a decade. . . 


Rural round-up

November 30, 2018

Flying the flag for female farmers – Sally Brooker:

Kerry Watson is a can-do person.

The Five Forks dairy farm worker is the only woman in the Aorangi regional final of the Young Farmer of the Year competition.

But rather than being concerned about its physical challenges, she is more worried about the theory.

Miss Watson (27) grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Cumbria, in the northwest of England, until her family emigrated to New Zealand when she was 11. . . 

Farm advisors helping improve water quality – Pam Tipa:

Fonterra’s director of sustainability Carolyn Mortland says she is very heartened by the work farmers are putting into the environment.

“I think we will see it really turning around in future years,” she told Dairy News.

Fonterra recently put out a progress report on its six commitments to improve waterways — one year on from launching the actions. . .

Partnership approach pays off – Pam Tipa:

The partnership approach was a key to Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) winning the industry award at the 2018 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards last week, says KVH chief executive Stu Hutchings.

The partnership approach has ensured the industry was better placed for any future biosecurity event, he says.

“There is no doubt that by working in partnership we can achieve better biosecurity outcomes,” Hutchings says. . . 

What’sthe beef with methane? – Eloise Gibson:

The Government’s proposal for a Zero Carbon Bill has exposed an argument between scientists about the importance of methane. But it’s not really about science, as Eloise Gibson reports in this deep-dive news feature.

There’s beef in the world of methane. Like a piece of marbled Wagyu, it is probably quite healthy — if consumed in moderation.

The argument is over when and how much New Zealand should reduce the methane from cow and sheep burps, which make up almost a third of our emissions, as we currently record them. . .

Anonymous anti-dam brochure reckless, says MP:

Nelson MP Nick Smith is concerned at the distress being caused by an anonymous anti-dam brochure delivered to all households in Brightwater that makes false claims of the town being at risk of an eight metre tidal wave if the dam proceeds.

“I am appalled that dam opponents have resorted to this sort of desperate scaremongering. I have had frightened older residents contacting my office scared witless and mothers in tears at the A & P show over the weekend out of fear for their family. Nobody should be publishing or distributing made up claims on issues as serious as earthquake and tidal wave risks.”

“It is bad enough that those responsible for this scaremongering have not put their name to it, but worse that they have tried to give it credibility by using the good names of Dr Mike Johnson of GNS and Tonkin and Taylor. These experts have dismissed the accuracy of the claims in the brochure, saying they are “very misleading” and “mischievous.” . . 

Farmers’ perspective vital to long-term improvements in agricultural practices:

A study published by scientists from The University of Western Australia jointly with farmers is one of the first to address the role of temperate perennial grass pastures in contributing to soil organic carbon in south-western Australia.Intensive sampling was conducted on a trial site near Wagin consisting of a mix of temperate perennial and annual grasses that had been sown over a ten-year period. The results demonstrated the potential of perennial pastures for short-term gain in soil organic carbon stocks.

Emeritus Professor Lynette Abbott from UWA’s School of Agriculture and Environment and Institute of Agriculture said temperate perennial grass pastures are currently an uncommon choice in this region but have the potential for future development.  . . 

Yorkshire shepherdess and her nine VERY free-range children: Christmas presents for £2, no computer games and six mile walks to buy a packet of peanuts – meet the ultimate antidote to helicopter parenting:

  • Amanda Owen gave birth to five of her nine children in a car or an ambulance 
  • She lives in an isolated farmhouse in the Yorkshire Dales with her large family
  • She grew up in suburban Huddersfield but fell in love with the idea of rural life  
  • Her family were filmed on and off for a year and will star in a TV show next week

Five of Amanda Owen’s nine children were born in either cars or ambulances at the side of the road. Quite frankly, on the tortuous (if scenic) journey to her farmhouse high in the Yorkshire Dales, you wonder how she made it to hospital with any of them.

On the map, it looks as if Amanda, better known as the Yorkshire Shepherdess, lives just a hop and skip from civilisation. In reality, the drive is a precarious one involving a twisty road, with sheer drops. The nearest maternity unit is two hours away. For a woman in labour, in the dark, this must be the road to hell.

Little wonder, then, that when the contractions started for baby No 8, Amanda didn’t even wake husband Clive and tell him to get the car keys. She simply piled towels in front of the fire, gave herself a stern talking to, and eased the baby out with her own hands. . . 


Rural round-up

October 17, 2018

Big Nelson irrigators line up to complete finance for Waimea Dam as private investor pulls out – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – Large-scale Nelson-based agricultural interests have stepped in to provide the final $11.5 million needed to finance the Waimea dam project, after an unnamed private investor pulled out of the deal.

The irrigators, who had previously said they had no resources of their own to complete the project, appear to have found the money and stepped back in, after deciding the private investor’s demands were becoming greedy.

BusinessDesk understands the Waimea Plains water users, including dairy farmers, horticulturalists and winemakers, became more comfortable about putting up their own capital when they realised they could use the same convertible notes financing formula for reducing their investment risk as the private investor had been proposing. . . 

 Local farmers help fund $102m Waimea Dam plans – Eric Frykberg:

Funding details of the revived Waimea Dam scheme near Nelson have been made public. 

They involve 14 agricultural businesses agreeing to provide an extra $11.5 million to Waimea Irrigators Limited for the project.

The proposed dam would be 53m high and store 13 million cubic metres of water in a 70ha lake in the Lee Valley, inland from Richmond. . .

NZ red meat exports top $6.7 billion in 2017-18:

Latest export figures from Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) show New Zealand’s red meat exports (excluding veal and co-products) were up $1.2 billion (21 per cent) on 2016-17 to over $6.7 billion in 2017-18 on the back of sustained high value per tonne and increased volume for lamb, mutton, and beef.

“While the highlights of the season were record high average values per tonne for lamb and mutton, the average value of beef exports remained high since the marked increase in 2014-15,” says B+LNZ’s Chief Economist Andrew Burtt.

“Good farm-gate prices and strong average values per tonne for exports occurred throughout the season, even during the fast start to the processing season driven by the dry conditions in December 2017.” . . 

Responsibly grown New Zealand wool blazes a new trail:

UK retail giant Marks & Spencer (M&S) has become one of the first major clothing retailers to launch a menswear range with wool certified under the global Responsible Wool Standard (RWS).

The launch reflects the increasing importance that retailers are placing on developing truly sustainable products, underpinned by ethical land management and animal welfare practices by farmers.

The new range of men’s blazers and waistcoats feature New Zealand lambswool, grown by RWS-accredited, Wools of New Zealand growers. . . 

Brewers hop on to opportunity to boost market gains

Backers of a new $13 million hop breeding programme hope it will bolster exports by creating a signature style of New Zealand beer.

Wellington craft brewer Garage Project and Nelson-based hop grower Freestyle Farms are committing $7.95 million to the seven-year project.

The remaining $5.3m is being delivered by the Ministry for Primary Industries through its Primary Growth Partnership programme. . . 

EPA chemical reassessment rational, says Agcarm:

A strong food supply and healthy livestock are vital for the future of New Zealand’s primary industries and economy. The government reviews the tools that play an essential role in the fight against pests and diseases that threaten these.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) today announced its decision on the chemicals it will reassess. Part of this review evaluates the benefits and potential health risks posed by pesticides – ensuring they meet environmental and health safety standards.

The EPA has ranked 727 chemicals with an A to F ranking, with A being the most harmful. Despite recent attention, Glyphosate has been given an E rating (low risk). . . 

On the farm: What’s happening around rural NZ:

What’s happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

Te Ika-a-Māui/North Island

In Northland, temperatures have been nice and warm during the day all week but nights have been cooler, which means pasture growth is good but yet to hit full stride. Some farmers have delayed putting in summer crops like maize and turnips for another week while waiting for warmer temperatures. There has been concern about this week’s announcement on Fonterra’s milk prices but our correspondent says overall people are positive – so long as that milk price has a 6 at the front, things should be relatively healthy.

The first of the early potatoes are now being harvested in Pukekohe under dry conditions and in hard soil. The rain arrived on Thursday and Friday. Although the amount may struggle to reach 25milimetres, it will be close and useful for a few days. . . 

Search begins for next Kiwi delegate to ‘plant their path’ at the 2019 Youth Ag Summit in Brazil:

100 young agricultural enthusiasts aged 18 – 25 from across the globe will be chosen to attend the summit in Brasilia, Brazil in November 2019
• One lucky Kiwi delegate will be chosen to represent New Zealand on the world stage
• This year’s theme: how to feed a hungry planet in a more sustainable manner 
• Applications are now open until January 10, 2019

Now’s the time to step up and share your ideas with the world – that’s the call from Bayer New Zealand, which is on the lookout for a Kiwi delegate to represent New Zealand at the Youth Ag Summit in Brasília, Brazil from 4th – 7th November, 2019. . . 

New Zealand’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards – top honours announced:

Winners in New Zealand’s most prestigious competition for olive oil were announced last night at a formal dinner held in Masterton. The New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Awards are run by Olives New Zealand, the national organisation for olive oil growers.

Loopline Olives from Wairarapa took out the 2018 Best in Show as well as Best in Class in the Commercial Medium Single Varietal Class with their Loopline Picholene. Loopline also took out Reserve Best in Show with their Loopline Picual which was Best in Class in the Commercial Intense Single Varietal Class. . . 

Biosecurity Award finalists reflect huge national effort in biosecurity:

There is a heartening national effort taking place to safeguard the country’s biosecurity, says New Zealand Biosecurity Awards judging panel Chair, Dr John Hellstrom.

“We were excited to receive over 60 very high calibre entries, making the judging task difficult, but rewarding,” Dr Hellstrom says.

The Biosecurity Awards were established two years ago to recognise and celebrate exemplary contributions to protecting our taonga (precious natural resources) and ensuring New Zealand’s biosecurity system remains resilient, effective, and world-leading. . . 


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