Rural round-up

April 25, 2018

Water the new gold in Central Otago – Sally Rae:

Irrigation New Zealand held its conference in Alexandra last week. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae joined a media tour in Central Otago to see  the benefits of water.

It gives John Perriam such a buzz to see “rabbit s…  being turned into world-class pinot”.

But to do that on Bendigo Station, in the heart of Central Otago, it has taken technology, resources and water.

Bendigo —between Tarras and Cromwell — is a very different place to when the Perriam family first arrived in the late 1970s, having been literally flooded out of their previous property by  the Clyde Dam hydro development.

They took over 6000 superfine merino sheep from the previous owners, the Lucas family, and fine and superfine merinos remained a core part of the operation. . . 

Bonding time:

Determined to realise the potential offered by triplet-bearing ewes, Chris, Julia and Richard Dawkins have, with the help of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Innovation Farm programme, set-up an indoor lambing system on their Marlborough sheep and beef farm.

This is part one of a two-part series looking at the benefits and the economics of this system.An on-farm trial aimed at economically improving lamb survival by lambing triplet-bearing ewes indoors and rearing mis-mothered lambs has got off to an encouraging start.

The Marlborough-based Dawkins family is running the three-year trial on their sheep and beef property as part of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Innovation Farm programme. . . 

Gypsy Day start of new chapter – Toni Williams:

Trudy Bensted is planning the next chapter in her life, packing up her family and moving farms.

She is motivated to succeed in the dairy industry, but also driven to give her children life experiences.

Trudy has a sole charge position in Temuka milking 260 cows but on June 1 – the traditional Gypsy Day – she moves to a new job.

She will be taking on a new venture joining the team at Kintore farms in Mid Canterbury.

”Kintore consists of two sheds south of Ashburton, 1500 cows, excellent apps and systems in place for an efficient and effective farm,” Trudy said. . . 

Politicking put aside on livestock rustling:

Federated Farmers is greatly encouraged by the cross-party support for tougher livestock theft deterrents being shown by members of the Primary Production Select Committee.

Meat and Wool Chairman Miles Anderson spoke to the committee on the Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill this morning. He said it was heartening to see there was no politicking on the issue, just determination to work out the best ways of combating the problem.

“There’s good momentum to put in place effective measures to tackle this serious and growing scourge.” . . 

Digital core to future of New Zealand farming – Ballance:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ today announced changes to its lead team that reinforce digitisation as core to the Co-operative and the future competitiveness of New Zealand farming.

Chief Executive, Mark Wynne, says the creation of a new Chief Digital Officer role reflects a strategy to become a truly customer-centric organisation, with digital at the heart.

Ballance was the first New Zealand organisation to go live with SAP S/4HANA in 2016, providing a foundation for the launch this year of the MyBallance customer experience platform that puts customers in control – providing real-time data and the capability to place and track nutrient plans and orders online 24/7, and with digital mapping the ability to report accurately on nutrient application on their farms. . . 

Tech will have profound impact on NZ agriculture:

The New Zealand IoT (internet of things) Alliance believes cutting-edge technologies will have a profound impact on helping improve New Zealand’s agricultural productivity.

Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker says a major study into the potential benefits of IoT last year found that better use of IoT across agriculture could provide more than $570 million for the economy.

“In an earlier study by the Sapere research group found that if New Zealand firms made better use of the internet it could have a major impact on GDP, potentially lifting it by $34 billion,” Naicker says. . . 


Rural round-up

September 6, 2017

Ag-tech edge requires boldness – Conor English:

Just as the axe handle allowed the human race to prevail, New Zealand needs to put its mind to discovering the next combination of technologies that is going to keep our country at the forefront of ag and food technology.

That is going to take capital, risk, and some out-of-the-box thinking.  There is much to do if we want to lead the race, writes Conor English.

The axe handle was incredibly important for the human race.

By combining three previously separate elements — a stone, a stick and string — humans invented a tool that gave them leverage and strength to better hunt animals that were faster and stronger than us. . . 

New technologies helping clean up NZ’s waterways:

New Zealand farmers and companies are starting to use Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, data analytics and automation to decrease impact on New Zealand rivers, a leading national tech expert says.

In countries, right across the world the IoT devices are being used to help clean up water, New Zealand IoT Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker says.

Irrigation is by far the largest use of water in New Zealand, making up 65.9 percent of water use between 2013 and 2014, the Ministry for the Environment says. . . 

Farmers becoming ‘lepers’ due to cattle disease scare – Gerard Hutching:

South Canterbury and Otago beef farmers are unwitting victims of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis even though testing so far has shown their livestock are free of any traces of the disease.

A farmer who rears calves as dairy support told Stuff he had a contract worth $100,000 for 200 calves cancelled as soon as the buyer heard the animals were being tested.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has indicated these farmers will not be eligible for compensation. . . 

Provisional tax relief at last – Chris Cunliffe:

Provisional tax has long been difficult to get right and expensive to get wrong.

But not anymore: the much-maligned old rules have been put out to pasture.

These assumed farmers and growers could correctly forecast their income tax liability ahead of time, but if their prediction was not spot-on they got slapped by Inland Revenue’s steep interest on top of the underpaid amount.

Now new rules provide greater certainty about payments and reduce compliance costs for businesses who calculate their payments using the standard method. This method means you base your payments on 105% of last year’s income tax liability (or 110% of the previous year’s liability if your return has not been filed). Most taxpayers pay provisional tax this way. . . 

Dunedin produces mastitis diagnostics – Sally Rae:

A Dunedin-based startup has produced a diagnostic test kit to help farmers deal with the costly problem of bovine mastitis.

Mastitis, which is inflammation of the udder, is a major financial burden to the dairy industry, both in New Zealand and globally.

It was predominantly treated using antibiotics and mastitis treatment was the largest single use for animal health antibiotics.

On average, it was estimated to cost about $60,000 a year for an 800-cow herd, and the industry, as a whole, about $280 million.

Mastaplex founder Dr Olaf Bork has been developing products for treating mastitis at the Bayer Centre for Animal Health, before patenting his own research and founding the startup company. . . 

Wet flattens milk curve – Hugh Stringleman:

The extraordinary number of wet days over winter has raised the worry of a repeat spring milk production plateau rather than peak.

Soils in almost all dairying districts were saturated and fine weather was needed to kick-start spring grass growth and milk production.

Dairy farmers in northern provinces had almost completed the extended winter pasture feeding rotation when cows were break-fed the saved autumn pasture growth for 90 days. . . 

Major increase in community conservation funding:

Conservation work in New Zealand will be supercharged by substantially increasing the amount of money available to hard-working volunteer groups, National Party Conservation Spokesperson Maggie Barry says.

“We have a beautiful natural environment, and the efforts of local communities are crucial to protecting our landscape and native species for future generations,” Ms Barry says.

To support these groups, National will more than double the amount of funding available through the Department of Conservation Community Fund, from $4.6 million to $10 million a year. . . 

Spring farm sales upturn expected – Alan Williams:

Winter calving and lambing preparations and rainfall impacts have slowed the rural real estate market but prices have remained firm.

With an increased milk payout and higher beef prices “a quiet air of confidence or perhaps relief is quietly growing with the rural sector”, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.

Sales for the three months to the end of July were down by 76 to 392 compared to the end of June when there were 459 sales. In the July period last year there were 468 sales. . . 

New Zealand King Salmon fy17 result and dividend exceed expectations:

A combination of operational achievements and a successful market positioning strategy underpins strong growth for New Zealand King Salmon Investments Ltd which today reported its full year result for the twelve months to 30 June 2017 (FY17). The Board affirms the Company’s full year FY18 forecast as presented in its Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) dated 23 September 2016, prepared for its Initial Public Offering (IPO).

Key highlights include:

• Net profit after tax of $22.8 million, up 778% on the comparable twelve month period to 30 June 2016 (FY16) and 125% ahead of the Prospective Financial Information forecast (PFI) . . 

Fieldays reveals post-event survey results and theme for 50th anniversary in 2018

Results from a recent visitor and exhibitor survey has New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays celebrating another successful year as preparations begin for their 50th anniversary event in 2018.

In the survey, 96 per cent of visitors rated their experience of Fieldays 2017 as “good” to “excellent” and 92 per cent of exhibitors said they would exhibit again.

The iconic event, billed as the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, saw a record 133,588 people through the gates – its highest visitor number yet. . . 


Rural round-up

July 3, 2017

Crippling footrot could become malady of the past for merinos – Gerard Hutching:

The perfect sheep: that’s the holy grail scientists working for the New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) are chasing as they move a step closer to creating a merino that does not suffer footrot.

Using DNA testing, researchers can now accurately predict how resilient a sheep is to the crippling foot disease. Sheep breeders can use the information to selectively breed for greater resistance to footrot.

One of the outcomes is that the range of the breed might expand from dry high country to lowland regions, and its population could grow from 2 million up to 10 million.   . . 

Wool pile grows – Neal Wallace:

A collapse in the market for some types of crossbred wool has forced the stockpiling of thousands of bales amid warnings it could be another year before the market improves.

For some types of wool, farmers have been told more has been put in storage than has sold in the last nine months.

PGG Wrightson wool manager Cedric Bayly was reluctant to reveal figures but said the firm was storing three times the normal volume because of the drying up of demand from China for predominantly second shear 38 to 40 micron crossbred wool that was 50mm to 75mm in length. . . 

Putting the bounce back into wool returns – Chris Irons:

It’s incredibly frustrating that wool is languishing as the cellar-dweller in returns to farmer producers.

Given wool’s incredible attributes, and world markets that supposedly are clamouring for products that are renewable, natural, biodegradable and healthy, New Zealand wool should be doing just fine.

But while the prices for sheep and beef meat have bounced backed to sustainable levels, the returns from wool remain dismal, with no immediate prospect of an upward turn. . . 

Seafood’s men and women tell their stories:

New Zealand’s seafood industry is publicly promising to protect the environment and secure long-term sustainable fisheries.

A promise to the people of New Zealand will air tonight on mainstream television. It will feature people from throughout the country employed in catching, harvesting and processing the seafood that drives one of the country’s most important domestic and export sectors.

The country’s main seafood companies have collaborated to promote the television and web-based programme, committing to a code of conduct that backs the promise. . . 

Word ‘milk’ banned for use in branding of plant based products

Producers using the term ‘milk’ to market purely plant-based products have been forced to rebrand.

The EU Court of Justice confirmed a ban on products of a ‘purely plant-based substance’ using milk, cream, butter, cheese or yoghurt as a marketing tool – terms reserved by EU law for milk of animal origin or products directly derived from bovine milk.

There are some allowances, including coconut milk, nut butter and ice cream, but the majority rule applies to all products not on the list of exceptions, such as soya and tofu. . . 

Agri business using IoT will jolt the NZ economy:

A new research study has identified agri-business as one of the best opportunities to use the internet of things (IoT) for economic advantage in New Zealand, mainly because of the contribution that agriculture already makes to the Kiwi economy.

The research study was commissioned by the New Zealand IoT Alliance, an independent member funded group of tech firms, major corporates, startups, universities and government agencies. . . 

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Ingredients of an all natural egg.


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