Rural round-up

July 8, 2014

National Ballance Farm Environment Award Winners Ready to Spread the Word:

 

Mark and Devon Slee celebrating their success with their family

 

Winning the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards gives Canterbury dairy farmers Mark and Devon Slee the opportunity to tell some ‘good news’ stories about their industry and New Zealand agriculture in general.

The Slees were presented with the Gordon Stephenson trophy at the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s National Sustainability Showcase in Christchurch on June 26.

The couple was surprised and delighted to receive the award, accepting it on behalf of the entire dairy industry.

Mark Slee says he and Devon are proud to be dairy farmers. . .

 Soil mapping technology a big step forward  – Tim Cronshaw:

Four South Canterbury cropping farmers were so smitten with the precision of a soil sampling machine that they brought it back with them from the United States.

The Veris MSP3 3150 was imported by Colin Hurst and Hugh Wigley, who farm at Makikihi, in Waimate, and Michael Tayler and Nick Ward, from Winchester.

Commonly used in the big corn belts of the US since 2003, the technology is new to New Zealand, with only one other machine here.

The $70,000 machine is towed behind a tractor, and uses electrical conductivity to map paddocks for soil texture, and infrared measurement to detect organic matter, while constantly sampling soils for their Ph levels. . .

Grower lauds sugar beet ‘wonder fuel’ – Diane Bishop:

Sugar beet is the new wonder fuel, according to Southern Cross Produce owner Matthew Malcolm who has started growing and harvesting sugar beet for the dairy market.

“I can see a real future for it.

“With a lot more wintering sheds going up there will be a bigger demand to take the crop to the cows,” he said.

Malcolm, who has grown 10 hectares of the crop on his Woodlands property in Southland, was keen to try sugar beet which has a higher sugar content than fodder beet. . .

New Hort Graduate School launched:

Massey University and Plant & Food Research have formed a new joint graduate school to increase collaboration between the two institutes.

About a dozen Massey masters and doctoral students are studying topics that would in future be offered at the school.

This number is expected to increase with the availability of new research projects and supervisors from Plant & Food Research. . .

Spinal injury doesn’t stop Dave – Tim Cronshaw:

Dave Clouston knew his life would change the moment his pelvis jackknifed to his chest.

The fit farmer, hardened from years of mustering, was at his working peak and had earlier run through the forest to grab a tractor before his next job of stacking hay in a barn.

Clouston had worked his way up as a sheep and beef farmer on some of the best mustering blocks in Canterbury, and the young married man was managing a family business at Whitecliffs.

“I was stacking some hay we had brought in, and there was some loose hay on the floor of the barn. I jumped off the tractor to clear that away, and while I was bending over to do that the hay unsettled enough to come down on top of me – I never dreamed it would do that – from five high. They were big, square bales, and at least a couple hit me, and I was left pinned under one of them with my pelvis under my chest.” . .

 Shades of grey: ag’s power play – Sam Trethewey :

THE discovery of some snowy strands in my dark brown ‘do this week brought me both pleasure and pain – the ‘pain’ of ageing of course stings, but the pleasure was based on the realisation that the older I grow, the more I’ll be taken seriously in Australian agribusiness.

Most Australian business, including agribusiness, uses age-old management styles. It’s a vertical, top heavy system that that needs ‘workers’ not ‘contributors’. The sector has limited time for innovation and is resistant to change. We live in a fast-paced, globalised world and this structure is failing us.

These old school management styles put a lot of power at the top of the hierarchy and from there it’s a top down management approach (autocratic). . .


Rural round-up

April 23, 2014

Happy Earth Day! If you see a farmer, say thanks for being an environmental steward not just today, but every day!

LIC sets course to $1b horizon:

FARMER CO-OP Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) is revamping its executive team and aiming to raise revenue 500% by 2025.

Directors and farmer shareholders have given chief executive Wayne McNee the go-ahead to trim executive numbers from 11 to 8. The post of chief operating officer is abolished and four new management positions are advertised. Several current executives may settle for non-executive roles or quit.

Staff learned this month of a strategy to earn $1 billion in revenues by 2025; the animal breeding and farm technology service provider earned $200m last year. . . .

Focus shift for Landcorp:

STATE-OWNED FARMER Landcorp is seeking to make subtle but significant changes to its strategic direction.

Outlining the changes to Rural News, chief executive Steven Carden said the SOE wants people to realise there is a direct correlation between a strong Landcorp and a strong New Zealand farming sector.

Directors and staff know about the proposed changes, due for further discussion during another strategy session at a board meeting in a few weeks.

Historically the organisation has been relatively inward looking, he says. Now he’d like to see Landcorp working more collaboratively with other partners and looking well beyond the farmgate and engaging with others. . . .

Why scientific method sorts weak from chaff – Doug Edmeades:

According to my dictionary an anecdote is “a short narrative of an incident of private life”. Anecdotes are frequently used to sell dubious products to unsuspecting farmers. Their use is rife among fertiliser products.

You will all have heard them. “The chap at the end of the road put on some of that stuff – my word his lambs looked good this year”. Or, “This guy sold me some humate, I chucked it on a bad paddock down the back – now there are earthworms everywhere”. And one that has always intrigued me comes from the south, “Joe put some of that seaweed liquid fertiliser on and now hundreds of seagulls follow his plough”.

The seductiveness of anecdotes is that they are derived from observation and only a fool would dare tell a farmer that his observations are BS .. .

Farm Manager Finalists Milking 5000 Cows:

The eleven 2014 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year finalists are together managing 5200 cows producing more than two million kilograms of milksolids.

“These finalists represent a group of dairy farm employees that work extremely hard and put in long hours to harvest the country’s sought after fresh milk in the most cost effective, sustainable and efficient manner,” National Convenor Chris Keeping says.

“The finalists are also passionate about what they do and are keen to progress their dairy industry career.” . . .

Ten Farming Ambassadors Hailed In 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards have finished another successful year, with Supreme winners from 10 regions recognised for their outstanding contribution to agricultural sustainability.

David Natzke, General Manager of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, says the 2014 competition drew a “wonderful group of entrants” and the high standard made it a real challenge for judges to pick out the final Supreme winners.

“Attendance at all the regional award ceremonies was well up on previous years. This reflects a great recognition of the awards and how well they are managed and promoted in the regions.”

Taranaki was welcomed into the competition for 2014 and the announcement of the first Taranaki Supreme winner was another highlight, says Mr Natzke. . .

 

Rural Contractors NZ hits the road during May:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) will be updating its members on the latest changes in health and safety, transport and employment laws – as well as other topics – in a series of road shows being held around the country during May.

RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton says rural contractors need to get to grips with proposed changes to health and safety regulations following the recent introduction of the Health & Safety in Employment Reform Bill into Parliament.

“There are some really major changes planned which will most definitely affect rural contractors,” he explains.

“The penalties for getting it wrong, should someone suffer a bad accident at their workplace, are very severe.” . . .

Great turnout for last Regional Final:

Crowds gathered at the Mackenzie Showgrounds in Fairlie Monday 21 April for the final stop of the AgriKidsNZ and TeenAg competition series.

The Aorangi Regional Final saw Hinds Agris, Ella Yeatman, William Ward and Hayden Jefferson from Hinds School take home the top honour for the AgriKidsNZ competition and High Country Hillbillies, Holly Malcolm and Ella Sanderson from St Kevin’s School were first in the TeenAg event.

The competitions test skills, strength and stamina while introducing youth to the fun side of agriculture. Primary and high school students from all walks of life are welcome to join in. . .

Get Your Entries In For NZ’s First Gaia Awards:

Over recent months, the debate on water quality has reached boiling point with reports and commentary from prominent figures such as Dr Jan Wright Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Sir David Skegg President of the Royal Society of New Zealand and Dame Anne Salmond calling for a shift in farming practices.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of producers bucking a trend of declining water quality and profitability through a focus on soil health. The Association of Biological Farmers (ABF) are hosting NZ’s first Green Agriculture Innovation Awards (GAIA) this August in recognition of these timely innovations. Entries for the Awards are closing soon! ABF wants to congratulate and celebrate not only the farmers and growers but also consultants and bio-fertiliser companies that, at a mushrooming pace, are changing the face of food production in New Zealand. . . .


Rural round-up

July 23, 2013

Synlait Milk jumps 19% in NZX debut after raising $75m:

Business Desk – Synlait Milk jumped 19 percent in its NZX debut after raising $75 million in an initial public offering that was restricted to clients of brokers and institutional investors.

The shares first traded at $2.62 compared with the IPO price of $2.20. They were last at $2.75, valuing the company at $402 million.

Synlait Milk will use the $75 million raised to repay debt and help fund construction of a new lactoferrin extraction and purification facility, an on-site blending and consumer packaging plant, a new dry store, a quality testing laboratory, a butter plant, and a new spray dryer, according to the prospectus. Existing shareholders took advantage of the sale to sell down their own holdings, raising $38.7 million. . .

Strong Chinese Interest in Westland’s New Infant Range:

Westland Milk Products’ launch of its new Westpro NutritionTM range in China on Thursday last week (19 July) was well received with strong interest from customers and Chinese media.

The official launch of Westland’s range of infant nutrition base powders was part of a week-long visit to Shanghai by the company to demonstrate Westland’s commitment to the China market, raise awareness of the Westland Milk Products brand and to promote Westpro Nutrition. . .

International student exchanges opportunity of a lifetime – Pasture to Profit:

International Agricultural Student Exchanges offer an opportunity of a life time experience, few will ever forget. Exchange to another country, another University with a mix of exchangees from many different nations provides endless excitement, friendships & cultural appreciation at an age when you can “suck it all in” big time. I’d like to encourage many more agricultural students to apply for exchanges.

Potential employers look very favourably on any graduate who has taken these opportunities & made the most of them. . .

Entries Open for Next Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Entries for the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on August 1, 2013, and organisers are again expecting strong interest in the popular competition.

Facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFE), the awards promote sustainable land management by showcasing the work of people farming in a way that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

Held in nine regions, the awards are open to all farming and horticultural types. . .

Chair appointed to racing board:

Racing Minister Nathan Guy today announced the appointment of Glenda Hughes as Independent Chairperson of the New Zealand Racing Board’s (NZRB’s) governing body.

Ms Hughes was appointed as Independent Chairperson following consultation with the racing industry.

The racing industry makes an important contribution to the New Zealand economy, generating around $1.6 billion annually and around 17000 jobs. . .

Rotorua to host Maori Forestry Forum:

Registrations are now open for ‘Mai i te ngahere oranga – Māori Forestry Forum’ to be held at Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua on Friday 16 August.

With $2 billion in forestry assets that include land, trees and energy options, Māori are set to become key stakeholders in the future of forestry.

This inaugural Māori Forestry Forum will provide a platform for Māori land and forest owners to discuss their experiences, issues and aspirations for Māori forestry in Aotearoa. . .


Rural round-up

November 1, 2012

Wool’s future far from woolly:

Farmers are counting down the days to when major shareholdings in New Zealand Wool Services International (NZWSI) will be on-sold by the receivers.

“In a green-aware age, bales of wool should be flying out of our woolsheds. As they are not, is why management consultants could describe the wool industry as a ‘problem child’,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson. . .

New Head of Farm Environment Trust Ready for Challenge:

Well-known Wanganui farmer Alistair Polson has been elected chairperson of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

He takes over from North Waikato farmer Jim Cotman who has stepped down after six years in the role.

Mr Polson’s extensive experience in farming politics and business management includes serving as national president of Federated Farmers from 1999 to 2002.

Since 2004 he has been Special Agricultural Trade Envoy for New Zealand. He is a former director or committee member of a number of rural-based organisations, including AgITO, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Veterinary Council of New Zealand and NZ Landcare Trust. . .

Deep in the current – Bruce Munro:

Graeme Martin has been described as everything from a compassionate, principled, visionary genius to an inflexible, stubborn, demanding taskmaster. Bruce Munro examines pieces of the puzzle that make up the influential, complex and soon to retire chief executive of the Otago Regional Council.

“I shan’t forget a very large fist waved very close to my face” Graeme Martin says.

He is sitting in a comfortable chair in a corner office with city, harbour and peninsula views.

Three hundred and sixty kilometres and 45 years separate him from what happened that day in the Addington railway workshops.

But there is no denying the edge to his voice.

“A fist waved in my face because I was working too hard.” . . .

Winemaker celebrates 50 years:

The staff lunchroom might not seem an obvious stop on a tour of a picturesque winery. But Villa Maria’s is immaculate – largely due to the writing on its wall. 

One side of the lunchroom at the company’s winery in Mangere, Auckland, is dominated by information about its lean manufacturing programme, Achieving Continuous Excellence (ACE), running in the company for the past two years. It’s brought efficiencies to the business, but benefits in the physical environment are also obvious. Nothing – not even in the caf – is out of place.

It’s a point of pride for founder Sir George Fistonich, but also gives an insight into how the company, which celebrates its 50th vintage this year, has continued to grow in a tough industry. . .

Soil biology is key to saving saving fertility – Peter Watson:

Complacency is costing us some of our best soils, says ecologist and educator Nicole Masters.

New Zealand is losing 11 tonnes of topsoil per hectare a year, more than 10 times the global average, she said during a recent Beef + Lamb New Zealand field day held at Claire Parkes and Simon Vincent’s farm near Wakefield, and attended by about 35 farmers.

“We live in one of the most blessed soil environments in the world.

“We are fertile, we have good carbon and beautiful rainfall, but we are losing all this topsoil and it’s not sustainable.” . .

Convert to sustainability – Tim Cronshaw:

A farmer with nearly 9000 deer who once never put much thought into improving the environment on his farm, has become a fully converted believer.

Graham Carr estimates he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars during the past four years fencing off waterways and putting in settling ponds, so the water coming off his farm at Peel Forest Estate in South Canterbury is crystal clear.

Carr has built up one of the largest deer herds in the country, since emigrating to New Zealand 25 years ago from Britain, where he came from a joinery background. . .

A2 Corp to take control of NZ marketing, enter North America:

 A2 Corp, which markets milk products with a protein variant claimed to have health benefits, wants to directly enter the New Zealand market and is looking to expand into North America and some European nations having wrapped up a strategic review to speed up growth.

The alternative-market listed company will shift its focus to a number of opportunities in a bid to ramp up growth, including directly marketing into New Zealand, it said in a statement. A2 plans to expand rapidly include entering markets in North America, German, France Italy and Spain via joint ventures, using local contract manufacturers or investing in regional processing, it said. . .


Rural round-up

October 31, 2012

Customers attack Sainsbury’s for ditching Red Tractor – Alistair Driver:

SAINSBURY’S has come under fire on its own website over its decision to drop the Red Tractor logo from the food it sells.

Customers have branded the decision a ‘disgrace’ and some are threatening to stop shopping at Sainsbury’s stores until the logo is reinstated. The move has also been attacked by TV presenter Jimmy Doherty, who described it as ‘an odd thing to do’.

The UK’s third biggest retailer announced it was ditching the Red Tractor logo last week, blaming concerns that consumers were becoming confused about the number of labels on food packaging. It is planning to phase the logo out across its products lines, beginning with fresh meat. . .

CAP reform must not overshadow collaboration on family-owned farms –  Tom Levitt:

SMALLER family farms need better access to rural development funds to enable them to break free of subsidy dependence, a meeting of the Family Farmers Association (FFA) in Westminster heard last week.

NFU vice-president Adam Quinney, whose wife now runs the family farm near Redditch, West Midlands, told the audience that CAP funding was still inaccessible and unfavourable to smaller farm enterprises.

He was especially scathing of rural development funding, split between environmental schemes, modernising the farming sector and helping the rural economy. He said it had been largely ‘wasted’. . .

Times change for big show – Jill Galloway:

A & P shows used to be the the highlight of the social calendar for many people. They were the event of the year and there were public holidays, so people had time off to go to the show.

Now there are just two which have statutory holidays – Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury celebrate their anniversary days the weekend of their shows.

“Twenty years ago, it was about the promotion and sale of livestock,” says Manawatu and West Coast A & P president Lawrence Satherley. Now, Manawatu Showtime, being held at Manfeild Park this weekend, is competing against the Tour de Manawatu bicycle race, the Feilding horse races at Awapuni and the stock cars in Palmerston North. . .

Farm Environment Trust Leader Bows Out After Constructive Tenure:

North Waikato farmer Jim Cotman has stood down from his role as chairperson of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust after a very successful six years at the helm.

Since the Trust was established, its flagship event, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, has gone from strength to strength and is now regarded as one of New Zealand’s premier farming awards. The Trust has also developed a range of other initiatives designed to promote environmental sustainability in New Zealand agriculture.

Mr Cotman says the Trust has played a key role in showcasing sustainable farming practices. . .

What NZ agriculture can learn from the i-Phone –  Milking on the Moove:

. . . New Zealand’s agricultural sector could do well to study Apples business model and supply chain design. I’m really struggling to think of a major NZ agribusiness that even attempts a vertical supply chain.

Fonterra is New Zealand’s economic saviour, but Fonterra is a commodity supplier. It is equivalent to a Korean company that supplies a component to Apples iPad or iPhone and receives less than 7% of the final retail price.
The red meat sector is in the same, farmers are relegated down the value chain and as a result receive only a small fraction of the retail price.
Australian dairy farmers are at the mercy of the supermarkets because they don’t control their supply chain. The same is true for our UK dairy farming friends too. . .

Standards met through pond course:

Over 100 contractors and designers of farm dairy effluent (FDE) ponds are the first to complete a training course aligned with new industry standards.

The Farm Dairy Effluent Pond Training Course was established by DairyNZ in conjunction with InfraTrain New Zealand and Opus International Consultants (Opus).

The course is based on Practice Note 21: Design and Construction of FDE Ponds, released by the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) at the end of last year. . .

Australia on top in new Trans-Tasman series opener:

New Zealand has suffered a double defeat in the machine shearing and woolhandling tests against Australia in Warnambool, near Melbourne.

The Shearing Sports New Zealand team did however derive some success, with a victory to its two blades shearers denying Australia a clean sweep of the three matches at Saturday’s Romney Shears, which also incorporated the Australian national championships. . .

Public Consultation Begins On Proposed Agricultural Vehicle Rule Changes

The NZ Transport Agency is seeking public feedback proposed changes to agricultural transport law.

The proposed changes would establish a two-tier system for agricultural vehicles, based on a 40km/h operating speed. Vehicles operating below this speed will be exempt from warrant of fitness and work time requirements. The proposed changes aim to reduce compliance costs and provide greater operational flexibility for vehicle owners, without comprising safety. . .


Nth Otago farmers win top environment award

June 25, 2012

North Otago farmers Blair and Jane Smith  have won the national title in the 2012 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The Smiths were chosen from nine regional Supreme winners of the 2012 Ballance Farm Environment Awards. They run Newhaven Farms Ltd – a North Otago sheep, beef, forestry and dairy support operation that spans three family owned properties totalling 1528ha.

The Gordon Stephenson Trophy is presented annually at the Sustainability Showcase – an event that salutes people who are farming in a manner that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

NZFE Trust chairman Jim Cotman said Blair and Jane Smith will be great ambassadors for New Zealand agriculture.

“They are successful business people and strong communicators who will be able to effectively convey their sustainable farming beliefs and actions to a wide audience within New Zealand and beyond.”

Mr Cotman said the Smiths were chosen from an outstanding group of regional winners who had clearly proved “they have what it takes to be profitable and sustainable guardians of our natural resources”.

Guests at the showcase were treated to inspiring visual presentations that highlighted what each of the nine regional winners had achieved down on the farm.

The event celebrates the huge contribution farmers make to the New Zealand economy and highlights the efforts farmers are making to find better ways to manage the complex farming systems they work with.

Mr Cotman says the showcase provides an example of “our unique NZ brand”, reinforcing the importance of producing quality food, “based on good practice ethics and the ongoing stewardship of the land”.

You can read more about the Smiths and their farming operation here.

 


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