Rural round-up

08/08/2022

Gloves off in climate fight over He Waka Eke Noa – Jamie Mckay:

For the past couple of weeks, the gloves have really come off on my radio show over the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and its controversial chair Dr Rod Carr.

First up, fighting out of the Blue Corner, was local body politician and raconteur Jim Hopkins. This is what he had to say:

“If I was Doctor Carr, or indeed anyone in the Government, [such as] James Shaw, I might take a trip to a place called the Netherlands, and have a look at how they manage to deal with things like water, sea level rise and the like.

“And maybe instead of spending, say, $350 million to amalgamate Radio New Zealand, otherwise known as the Green Party at Prayer, and TV One, otherwise known as Jacinda’s little helpers – at least as far as the news department is concerned – maybe they could spend just a few million building bigger stop banks and taking gravel out of riverbeds! . .

All lines of defence are crucial – Mark Patterson:

If there’s one thing that keeps farmers awake at night more than climate, inflation or pending Government regulations, it’s the spectra of foot-and-mouth disease reaching these shores, writes Federated Farmers’ Otago president Mark Patterson.

So I’m guessing I’m not the only farmer watching with a degree of anxiety as it works its way down South East Asia into Indonesia.

Those of us old enough remember vividly the horrifying footage of culled stock being piled high and burnt on pyres from the United Kingdom in 2001. No-one would wish that trauma on their worst enemy.

That’s not to mention the catastrophic economic impact it would have on not only individual farmers, but the economy in general. The Government estimates 100,000 lost jobs and a $16billion economic cost. This disease would ruin us financially as a nation. . . 

Sentiment sours further down on the farm – production expectations slip to a net negative level for the first time in survey – Point of Order:

Warning  signals are  being  hoisted   in  New Zealand’s  rural regions,  the   mainstay  of  the  country’s  export  economy.

In January farmer confidence was at the lowest level recorded in biannual surveys that Federated Farmers has been running since 2009.  Last month’s survey found it had dropped further.

The  government,  seemingly oblivious to the  rural mood, meanwhile appears  to  be  pushing   ahead   with  a climate  change  policy   that – in effect – would tax  farmers  for   the  methane  emissions  of  their  animals.

Climate  Change  Minister  James  Shaw, under  threat  within  his  own party after elements  of  the Greens deposed him from his  co-leadership, is   under  the  whip  to  make  his  climate  change  policy  more  stringent. . . 

New Zealand Young Farmers announce new chair and two new board members :

Inglewood Young Farmer Jessie Waite has been announced as the new Chair of New Zealand Young Farmers.

Waite, 30, was elected to the position at the organisation’s latest Board meeting, replacing Kent Weir who ended his 12-month term as Chair.

“I’m really looking forward to the next 12 months working with the Board, NZYF National Office and members who are our key stakeholders. It’s going to be exciting , but also quite challenging which I think is a good balance,” she said.

South Waikato Young Farmer Chloe Belfield and Mackenzie Young Farmer Nicola Blowey have also officially taken their seats as Board members, after being elected at the NZYF AGM in July. . .

 

Farmers begging for real change :

“The results of Federated Farmers latest farmer confidence survey shows that farmers have had enough and election day can’t come soon enough so we can have real change,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson and Ruawai Dairy Farmer Mark Cameron.

“The survey reported the lowest confidence amongst farmers since its inception in 2009. The Labour Government has been a non-stop shop of on-farm compliance, they’ve introduced an excess of shoddy rules and regulations that has only made it harder for farmers to produce the food that grows our economy and feeds our families.

“Freshwater reforms, winter grazing rules, Zero Carbon Act, limiting migrant workers, other ideological climate policies, Significant Natural Areas, taxes on utes… The list goes on. Farmers have taken a hammering from this government.

“This is reflected by the top concerns in the survey being climate change policy and the ETS, regulation and compliance costs, input costs, debt and interest rates, and biosecurity amidst concerns about foot-and-mouth disease. . . 

Lake Alta, high in the Remarkables, Central Otago – Blog the Globe:

The Remarkables are a magnificent mountain range looming over Queenstown, in New Zealand’s South Island. High up in the mountains, is a glacial lake, the aptly named Lake Alta. It is accessible via the mountain road to the ski fields. The Remarkables are not only imposing, but they are one of only two mountain ranges in the world running north to south. As a result an early surveyor Alexander Garvie named them in 1857.

I’d never previously heard of the lake, but when a friend invited me to hike with her, I was keen.

From the base of the Remarkables Ski Area, we walked for about 40 minutes, following markers placed in the extreme alpine terrain. The alpine flora was beautiful. Succulent plant species seemed to thrive despite the inhospitable environment including rock, providing little in the way of nutrients and extreme winds. The walk was gradual and easy, stepping from rock to rock. If you are unsure about walking on uneven surfaces a walking pole can give you added security, and may be particularly helpful on the return journey. . . .


Rural round-up

04/08/2022

Dairy sours on false defense of EU deal – Nigel Stirling:

DCANZ claims O’Connor ignored Brexit cuts, using out of date figures to talk up a deal that won’t come close to the vaunted $600m a year.

Dairy exporters are keeping up their barrage of criticism against what they say is the Government’s failure to own up to poor dairy market access from the recent trade deal with the European Union.

The Dairy Companies Association has already rubbished the Government’s claims of $600 million in annual gains for the industry from last month’s agreement, saying gains won’t even come close to that figure.

It also accused Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of gifting an advantage to EU negotiators by letting slip a weakening in New Zealand’s negotiating bottom lines for meat and dairy in the final few weeks of the talks. . . 

Learning to spot the warning signs – Kathryn Wright:

Te Anau-based rural counsellor Kathryn Wright knows farmers may be dealing with many compliance issues at the moment.  But there’s one issue she says definitely needs to be in a health and safety plan –  that of how to identify and help a  person who is suffering from poor mental health.

Compliance issues.

Endless demands from the Government that seem to compound year after year. The very last thing I want to do is to lump you with more compliance issues – I am fully aware of how much frustration and even despair they can bring upon farmers.

On the other hand, there is one compliance issue that I would like to see implemented – and if not officially, then morally at least. Basic mental health knowledge, including how to identify and help another human who is suffering mentally. This should be in your health and safety plan. . . 

Iwi make a success of return to the land – Gerald Piddock:

Land once taken from them is now back in the hands of iwi who are looking after it for future generations while making it more productive and sustainable.

Pouarua Farms takes a long-term outlook when it comes to managing the land. For the five iwi who own the Hauraki Plains’ largest dairy platform, that means making decisions that will sustain the land and create an intergenerational asset.

The farms are a taonga asset for their iwi and will never be sold, says chief executive Jenna Smith.

“The outlook’s further than five or 10 years. We’re looking 50 to100 years and it’s about sustaining the land, being productive and keep it returning to the people for generations to come,” says Smith. . .

Making an impact at Young Farmers – Kayla Hodge:

James Hurst is not the quiet wee guy in the back anymore.

The Awamoko farmer has found his passion and confidence through the Young Farmers network, and has moved his way through the ranks of the organisation regionally and nationally.

Mr Hurst’s contribution has been recognised, receiving a national leadership award at the recent New Zealand Young Farmers National Awards, in Whangarei.

Growing up on his family farm, Invernia, a 2700ha beef, sheep and dairy farm in Awamoko, Mr Hurst was exposed to the industry from a young age. . .

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU2207/S00400/ravensdown-reports-95m-profit-in-202122.htm

MG wins HortNZ environmental award:

MG – Market Gardeners Ltd (MG) Auckland Branch – has won a 2022 Horticulture New Zealand Environmental Award.

“MG has won the award in recognition of its real commitment to environmental sustainability,” said HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil who presented the award at a vegetable growers’ function in Pukekohe on 27 July.

“Thanks to MG’s focus and investment, the cooperative has made a measurable long-term difference, delivering a 57% reduction in carbon emissions by converting to natural refrigerants, installing solar and diverting food waste away from landfill at its flagship branch in Auckland.”

Two years ago, MG signed off on its first sustainability roadmap, which has set the direction and defined improvement targets. This included focusing on their Auckland branch, having worked out that the bulk of their carbon emissions came from electricity consumption, refrigerants and food waste. . .

New Gore library and community centre to use wool-blend insulation :

The Gore District Council is using a natural wool blend insulation for its latest building project after copping flak from local farmers.

The new Gore Library and James Cumming Community Centre will feature wool blend insulation in the ceiling, exterior and interior walls.

There will also be woollen carpets in areas with light foot traffic

Gore District Council chief executive Stephen Parry said the project team opted for the wool blend insulation over traditional fibreglass products to support the wool industry. . . 

 


Rural round-up

24/03/2022

ORC plan has far-reaching implications – Mark Patterson:

“Consultation on the Otago Regional Council’s new land and water plan has recently been under way,” writes Federated Farmers Otago president Mark Patterson.

The outcomes will set parameters for farming for the next decade or more.

Stage one is consulting the public on what are our shared visions for environmental outcomes in Otago. I would call it the kumbaya phase.

Everyone, farmers especially, cares about the state of our waterways and safe drinking water. While this phase is a necessary first step it’s hard not to see it as a box-ticking exercise given the outcome is heavily prescribed by the overarching national policy statement. . .

Don’t forget farmers when it comes to fuel prices – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Farming in New Zealand is under threat and overlooking the cost of fuel on-farm is yet another pressure, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

The reality of trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) was made startlingly clear this month.

When the price at the pump went up, the government announced a cut in fuel excise duties to allow people to continue life as usual.

The cut was an acknowledgment of the effect of fuel on the cost of living, which is part of the reason so many countries support fossil fuel subsidies. . . 

Forestry rules about to be upturned – Keith Woodford:

More forestry upheavals are coming as the Government foreshadows big changes to the rules of the game. Sheep and beef farmers including iwi are the big prospective losers.

In 2018, the Government announced that it was moving towards a new regime for New Zealand forestry within the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS).  The plans included a new so-called ‘permanent forestry’ category for introduced species, also known as exotics.

The relevant legislation was passed in 2020 with regulations subsequently added for enactment on I January 2023. Industry has been moving forward on that basis. Things are now about to be upturned.

Over the last 12 months, the Government has been getting nervous about what it had set in place. It took a while, but Government now understands what some of us understood somewhat earlier, that carbon forestry has become the most profitable game in the country.  That was not what they intended. . . 

Protecting bees from killer mites:

The parasitic mite Varroa destructor is a severe threat to New Zealand’s honey bees. Since the mite appeared on our shores twenty years ago, affected bees have not been able to survive without human intervention.

Effective treatment for varroa is essential for protecting our most productive pollinators.

More bee colonies are now being lost due to varroa mites than any other cause, according to the latest Ministry for Primary industries annual bee surveillance report. This was the first time in the survey’s history that the mite had been most frequently attributed to colony losses, with queen problems previously being considered the leading cause.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says “Varroa wiped out wild bee colonies as it spread throughout the country, so it’s essential that beekeepers remain highly vigilant, check for its presence and treat hives with miticides – at the right time and with the right dose.” . . 

Career growth opportunities abound for Canterbury North Otago Dairy Industry Awards winner :

The winner of the 2022 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards is excited about the opportunities for career growth within the dairy industry.

Will Green was announced winner of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at Trott’s Garden in Ashburton on Tuesday evening.

Other major winners were Jaspal Singh, who was named the 2022 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Peter O’Connor, the 2022 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Will has tasted success in the Dairy Industry Awards as the 2018 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year and was also awarded the National Runner-Up title. . . 

New Zealand Young Farmers welcomes new sponsors to the NZYF tournament series :

Four agricultural organisations have jumped at the chance to support the New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) Tournament Series.

With a rich 80-year history, the NZYF Tournament Series now consists of the Hunting and Fishing clay target shooting, Goldpine fencing, NZ Farmers Livestock stock judging and Tavendale and Partners debating competitions.

NZYF Board Chair Kent Weir says these sponsors have made a world of difference to the Tournament Series which starts at grass roots club level.

“It’s fantastic to have these businesses on board to support our Clubs with hosting their tournaments locally and at a national level as well,” he said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

23/03/2022

No out for NZ farming! – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The 2015 Paris Accord on the ‘need for an effective and progressive response to the urgent threat of climate change’, recognised the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger.

The often-paraphrased Article 2.1.b suggests that countries should do everything they can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) without compromising food production. In a world with an increasing population, this makes sense. But it isn’t an ‘out’ for New Zealand.

Even though we produce low GHG per kilogram of milksolids and meat on average, there is a range in efficiency. By identifying factors causing the range, we can do better. This was what the Paris Accord was about.

The introductory statements in the Paris Accord recognise ‘that sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production, with developed country Parties taking the lead, play an important role in addressing climate change’. New Zealand is a developed country with significant expertise in animal and pasture management and the research that supports that management. . . 

Cows, children petrified by boy racers in rural Waikato – Maja Burry:

Some rural residents in Waikato say an incident over the weekend where a milk tanker was attacked is just the tip of the iceberg and every weekend hundreds of boy racers are converging on rural roads, putting locals at serious risk.

Police have launched an investigation into how a milk tanker had its windscreen smashed and milk was poured across the road in the region at the weekend.

Waikato mayor Allan Sanson said the attack happened after the tanker driver tried to push past a group of boy racers who were blocking the road. The area was a regular weekend haunt for boy racers, the mayor said.

It is an issue that Gordonton dairy farmer Bruce knows too well. . . 

New Zealand farmers consider planting more milling wheat in face of global shortage – Sally Murphy:

Arable farmers here are considering planting more milling wheat this autumn to help combat global shortages.

Ukraine is major global producer of wheat – but following Russia’s invasion, the Ukraine government banned the export of wheat to preserve its food stocks.

This has resulted in supply fears causing global wheat prices to rise sharply.

Federated Farmers arable chair Colin Hurst said New Zealand grew about 100,000 tonnes of milling wheat and about 250,000 tonnes of feed wheat for stock. . . 

 

New Zealand Young Farmers scholarship winners announced :

Three New Zealand Young Farmers’ (NZYF) members have been given a helping hand to further their education through the organisation’s three exclusive scholarships.

Lincoln University post graduate student Jeremy Kilgour and aspiring Massey University veterinarian Nerida Bateup have been awarded the NZYF World Congress Charitable Trust Scholarship, receiving $1,500 cash in hand each.

Meanwhile Lincoln University student Georgia Moody is the first recipient of the brand new NZYF Future Me Scholarship, receiving $1,500 for planned professional development.

NZYF Board Chair Kent Weir said he’s very pleased NZYF is be able to provide these opportunities for members to develop their education and skillsets. . .

Sustainability at forefront for Auckland-Hauraki  Dairy Industry Award winners:

The 2022 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winner is excited to see farmers moving forward with sustainability at the forefront of all aspects of farming, ensuring the New Zealand dairy industry will continue to produce top-quality milk for the world.

Danielle Hovmand was named the 2022 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Thames Civic Centre on Friday night. The other major winners were the 2022 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year Jimmy Cleaver, and the 2022 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Jamie McDowell.

The second-time entrant believes the Awards programme pushed her outside her comfort zone and increased networking opportunities.

“By analysing my business and learning to capitalise on my strengths and overcome any weaknesses, I’ve gained a better understanding of my farming business, my farming system, where I want my business to be in the future and how I’m going to get there,” she says. . . 

 

 

Taramakau sharemilker returns to competition as Dairy Industry Awards first timer :

Entering competitions is part of the farming process for West Coast dairy farmer Andrew Stewart who lines up for The West Coast/Top of the South regional title this Thursday.

He describes them as challenging and educational, as well as social and encouraging valuable time outside the farm gate.

Andrew and partner Jill 50/50 sharemilk at Taramakau, just inland from Kumara. The back of the farm is about 700m away from SH73 but the Taramakau River is in between, so it’s 17km back to Kumara to the bridge.

Andrew milks 240 Jersey cows on the 190ha farm, which includes a 30ha runoff with 60 young stock and another 30ha of fenced off wetlands and kahikatea bush (white pine). The farm is predominantly a grass-grazing system with bought-in hay and silage supplementing winter feed. Production is 350kg MS per cow using a flexible milking regime. . . 


Rural round-up

16/11/2021

‘M. bovis’ lessons will fortify system: report – Sally Rae:

An independent review panel is confident the lessons learned from the Mycoplasma bovis incursion — if acted upon — will enable New Zealand to have a “far stronger preparedness platform” for future animal disease incursions.

A review of the cattle disease’s eradication programme found it was on track to achieve a world-first eradication and made recommendations to improve the wider biosecurity system.

It was the largest incursion response ever conducted in New Zealand and, given the country was on track to successful elimination, was a credit to all involved, the report released yesterday said.

No response would ever follow a predictable plan but, in 2017, the readiness and response system was not as well prepared as it was thought to be, it said. . .

Study highlights dangerous disconnect rural hospitals face as specter of Covid-19 looms :

Rural hospital doctors are reporting a lack of support from DHBs during the first Covid-19 outbreak, in new research by the University of Otago.

Dr Kati Blattner, from the University of Otago, says there is a disconnect between different parts of the health system, when it comes to transferring patients, that often ignores both local expertise and the geography.

“This research puts the spotlight on a sector of our health system that’s generally invisible, as we see it out here, at the end of the dripline,” she told Morning Report.

The study involved interviewing 17 senior doctors across New Zealand in 17 different rural hospitals about their experiences planning for the pandemic. It looked specifically at issues in the way of transferring patients to other bigger hospitals so they could receive advanced respiratory care. . .

Fonterra farmers to vote on co-op’s capital structure proposal :

Fonterra has today announced it will proceed with a shareholder vote on the change to the Co-operative’s capital structure, which would give farmers greater financial flexibility and better enable the Co-op’s strategy.

Fonterra Chairman Peter McBride says the Board and Management are united in the belief that the Flexible Shareholding structure is the best course of action for the Co-operative.

The decision to go ahead as planned has been informed by a significant volume of shareholder feedback that shows strong support for the changes.

“The Board is unanimously recommending the changes to our capital structure to put us in the best position to deliver the value outlined in the strategy and protect farmer ownership and control of our Co-op. . .

Federated Farmers partners with NZ YOung Farmers to offer free memberships :

New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) is excited to announce Federated Farmers has jumped on board as a benefit partner to offer a complimentary NZYF Federated Farmers Membership, exclusive to its members.

It’s already had a strong response, with more than 100 NZYF members having signed up within the first day of its launch.

With more members seeking tangible benefits, NYF CEO Lynda Coppersmith said she was thrilled to add the NZYF Federated Farmers Membership to the list.

“Providing a direct link with Federated Farmers for our members is going to benefit the sector hugely,” she said. . . 

Testing the waters – Country Life:

Christine Finnigan is scanning the stream bed looking for kākahi.

“I found one and it’s very much alive,” she calls to fellow farmer Kim Bills and ag consultant Terry Parminter.

The freshwater mussels, especially baby ones, are a sign the creek is relatively healthy, even though it is in the middle of Bills’ dairy block.

The stream flows through a lush stand of bush, which has been fenced off from the young bulls bellowing in the distance. . .

HortNZ scholarship applications open to support next-gen growers:

Students considering a career in New Zealand’s growing horticulture industry are encouraged to apply for Horticulture New Zealand’s scholarships.

Applications for HortNZ’s annual undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships are open until 10 December 2021 for the 2022 study period.

HortNZ chief executive Nadine Tunley says that the scholarship programme supports students who have a special interest in the fruit or vegetable industry to pursue their careers.

“Young people are the future of the horticulture industry. That is why HortNZ offers these scholarships – worth up to $10,000 – to support the next generation of innovators and leaders. . .

FMG Young Farmer of the year 2022 Otago Southland regional finalists announced :

The finalists for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2022 Otago Southland Regional Final have been chosen for the Contest’s 54th season.

Featuring shepherds/sheep and beef farmers, a fencing contractor and rural and agribusiness bankers, only one person will be named 2022 Otago Southland FMG Young Farmer of the Year in February.

Ben Harmer, Isaac Johnston, Matt Sullivan, Andrew Cowie, Alex Field, George Blyth, Kurt Knarston and James Fox are the top eight competitors in the Otago Southland region, whittled down from 37 competitors over two district contests.

They will go head-to-head at the Otago Southland Regional Final on the 12th of February in Waimumu. . . 

 


Rural round-up

05/09/2021

MIQ freeze adds to staff woes – Gerald Piddock:

The Government’s decision to freeze managed isolation (MIQ) bookings has furthered the frustration of short-staffed dairy farmers desperate for more workers, DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says.

The freeze means a further delay for farmers getting migrant staff into New Zealand granted under the exemption for 200 foreign dairy workers announced earlier this year. The industry estimates it is short of at least 2000 staff.

Mackle says it was unlikely these staff would be now cleared of MIQ before the new year. Any people who are brought in to work in the dairy industry will now be targeted for next season.

“This pause, this further delay is going to push that out even further,” Mackle said. . . 

Red meat and co-products exports reach $870 million :

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth $870 million during July 2021 – marking a 29% increase year-on-year, according to analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

More than 25,300 tonnes of sheepmeat and almost 50,000 tonnes of beef were exported with increases in the value of exports to all major North American and Asian markets.

This included a 1,425% increase in beef exports to Thailand compared to July 2020. Thailand was New Zealand’s tenth largest market for beef by volume during the month, at 347 tonnes.

MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the main reason for the growth in exports to Thailand was the removal of beef safeguards that were put in place when the NZ-Thailand Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) was negotiated 15 years ago. . . 

A stirring idea – Samantha Tennent:

Keeping colostrum stirred was a challenge for a Southland calf rearer until he came with an innovative idea.

Frustrated after running around with a drill and paint stirrer trying to stop stored colostrum from separating, Rex Affleck was looking for an easier solution. He found a pricey food industry mixer in Europe, but the paddle was tiny and the revs were too quick so he started thinking about what he really needed.

“I found a supplier in China that made engine gearboxes and they agreed to sell me a sample,” Affleck explains.

“Two turned up on my doorstep but I didn’t know what to do next. So, I started thinking and mucking around with bits of cardboard and worked out how it could sit on top of a pod, but the next issue was the paddles.” . . 

FMG Young Farmer of the Year kicks off for season 54:

The coveted FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2022 contest will be kicking off with a roar on the 9th of October 2021 for season 54’s first qualifying rounds.

This year, all New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) Club members are being challenged to enter to support their region’s volunteers, have a bit of fun and show their fellow Club members what they’re made of.

16 district contests will be held across the country over October and November to select eight of the best competitors in each of NZYF’s seven regions.

Seven Regional Finals will be held early next year, where the winner from each will proceed to the Grand Final to battle it out for the 2022 FMG Young Farmer of the Year title in Whangarei, in July. . . 

Totara Estate stonework repairs underway:

At Totara Estate and Clark’s Mill in Ōamaru, Allan Ward is the man behind the stonework, who keeps the buildings in good trim. He is currently working at Totara Estate repairing and replacing cracked and damaged limestone in the old men’s quarters.

Allan began working with stone aged 15, during his apprenticeship with Dunhouse Quarry, United Kingdom in the 1960s. He worked in the Orkney Islands, Germany, Canada and Scotland before emigrating to New Zealand in 1995.  

Allan notes that with stonework very little has changed in the tools or the techniques for centuries. “A craftsman who worked on the great cathedrals in Europe could walk onto a job now and the tools would be virtually the same,” he says.

Allan has a long history of keeping Totara Estate and Clark’s Mill in good repair. He repointed all of the Totara Estate buildings with traditional lime mortar in 2012 and gives Smokey Joes a traditional whitewash regularly. This year he repaired a stone garden wall at Clark’s Mill following the January floods. . . 

Growing push for national pet food laws – Chris McLennan:

Calls have intensified for Australia’s pet food industry to be regulated.

There are claims locally produced pet food has become a dumping ground for unwanted or suspect meats.

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has joined the campaign sparked by the death of more than 20 Victorian dogs who died after being fed toxic horse meat.

Australia’s vets have already teamed up with the RSPCA to push for action to regulate the industry. . . 


Rural round-up

31/05/2021

Stringing bells in glasshouses – Hugh Stringleman:

A business that began in a field in Matakana has grown into a global operation with a sophisticated glasshouse enterprise producing seven million capsicums a year. Hugh Stringleman found out how they do it.

Southern Paprika (SPL) of Warkworth is the largest single-site glasshouse grower of capsicums in New Zealand, with nearly one million plants at any one time under 26ha of cover.

Each bell pepper plant produces 40 fruit per season, as the plants grow up strings to 4m in height.

It’s called Southern Paprika because it is in the Southern Hemisphere and paprika is the Northern Hemisphere word for capsicum. . .

Bootcamps and mental health events target Young Farmers:

A new initiative is being funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to help improve the wellbeing of young people in rural communities.

NZ Young Farmers has been allocated $40,000 to organise events in seven regional areas featuring guest speakers, activities, and skill-building sessions.

“It’s important we continue our efforts to give people the skills to look after their wellbeing, manage stress and to recognise and openly talk about mental health,” says MPI’s director of Rural Communities and Farming Support Nick Story.

NZ Young Farmers has a network of 70 clubs, which provide an opportunity for young people to make friends, network, upskill and socialise. . . 

Farming flavour: chocolate and chilies – Country Life:

Feeding the farm crew at docking time, even as a child, was no problem for Johnty Tatham.

Things culinary have been the 24-year-old’s passion for a while.

Now he’s handcrafting chocolate from a cottage on the family farm and his sleekly packaged Lucid Chocolatier products can be found at top-notch Wellington restaurants and artisan chocolate shops.

Johnty and his brother Paddy are back on the Tatham’s sheep and beef farm in coastal Wairarapa forging new paths in the food industry. . .

Study suggests sheep milk farms produce 50pc less nitrogen water pollution :

Sheep milk farms could produce up to 50 percent less nitrogen loss to water compared to regular dairy farms new research shows.

Carried out by AgResearch, the study was done to better understand the environmental impacts of sheep dairy farms.

Although still comparably small to the regular dairy industry, the dairy sheep industry is quickly growing.

There are 17,000 dairy sheep in New Zealand with another 8000 being introduced next season. . .

 

New technology shown to improve pasture growth without harming the environment:

Many of us are just beginning to understand how soils [and soil fertility] truly work. The dominant model, developed 150 years ago by chemists in Germany has been popularised, used very widely and successfully. This model says: “You have a soil that is deficient in nutrients. You are growing a plant that needs the nutrients to achieve full production. Nutrients or fertilisers are applied to correct the imbalance. If you have multiple deficiencies, then you may apply a cocktail of nutrients and fertilisers to address the balance”. Note that in this model the microbiological elements are ignored. More nutrients and chemicals are applied. The soil biology gets hammered. More maintenance nutrients are required – and so the costly circle continues.

The problem with this model is that it is deficient. It misses the critical component of soil microbiology. This has been substantially invisible until recently, when we have had a new tool, DNA to aid study. When you start to look at the interaction of soil microbiology, it has been a largely invisible third party in agriculture. In forestry it has long been known that nutrient deficiencies in plants can be solved by micro biology. Pine trees need mycorrhizal fungi. Without the fungi, the Pine tree doesn’t grow. . .

Packaging-free milk flowing at shared workspace:

An innovative milk processing system developed by Christchurch startup, Happy Cow Milk, is delivering packaging-free Saltworks co-working space.

Happy Cow Milk raised $400k in an equity crowdfund in 2019 to develop its revolutionary “milk factory in a box”. This system allows any farmer to be a fully compliant milk producer and any cafe, workplace or even school to be a retailer.

Founder Glen Herud says the dairy industry needs disruption. “The current system rewards large-scale farming over small, family farms. Happy Cow wants to replace the complicated milk supply chain system to allow farmers to connect and sell milk to their local communities – because we know that sustainable milk is local milk.” . . 

Wairarapa’s Olive Black wins gold at prestigious New York competition:

Award-winning olive oil producer Olive Black is elated New Zealand olive oils are being noticed globally, as the company wins gold at the New York International Olive Competition.

Hot on the heels of winning Best in Show at the New Zealand Olive Oil Awards 2020, for its extra virgin olive oil, Wairarapa olive grower, Olive Black, now also has a gold medal from one of the most prestigious competitions in the world.

This year, there was a record 1100 entries from 28 countries in the New York competition and Olive Black manager Mark Bunny says he is absolutely fizzing. . . 


YF president & Ngāi Tahu manager Dairy Woman of Year

07/05/2020

Ngāi Tahu farm manager and Young Farmers’ president Ash-Leigh Campbell is the 2020 Dairy Woman of the Year:

The other finalists were Auckland based microbiologist and bio chemist Natasha Maguire and West Coast dairy farmer Heather McKay.

Dairy Women’s Network Trustee who heads up the judging panel Alison Gibb said all three woman contributed to the dairy industry in very different ways which highlighted the depth and diversity of how women are contributing to the dairy industry in New Zealand.

“Ash-Leigh exudes energy and passion for the dairy industry and has actively sought opportunities to both contribute and grow in an industry she loves,” Gibb said.

As the Farming Technical Farm Manager for Ngai Tahu Campbell has been working for the South Island Maori iwi farming operation for over three years. In her current role she is responsible for assisting with the management and performance of eight dairy and dairy support farms that includes 8000 cows.

After leaving high school the 28 year old studied at Lincoln University doing diplomas in Agriculture and Farm Management and a degree in Commerce majoring in agriculture. It was during this time she had her first taste of the Dairy Women’s Network, becoming a Dairy Women’s Network Regional Leader and the driving force behind the DWN Lincoln group which has now merged into Selwyn.

She also assists with operational and environmental performance (audit and compliance), analytical projects and the implementation and improvement of sustainable farming practices. She is also Chair of the New Zealand Young Farmers organization.

Winning the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award was “amazing recognition” of just how far she had come in the industry, Campbell said.

“The opportunities Fonterra and Dairy Women’s Network have provided have given me the confidence to step out and grow in the industry in 10 short years,” she said.

“I’ve been bold, I’ve been brave and I hope this journey I’ve been on can showcase to other young wahine that anything is achievable.”

Fonterra Chief Executive Miles Hurrell says the Co-op is proud to recognise and help develop women in dairying who set high standards for themselves and for our industry.

“I want to congratulate Ash-Leigh for winning this award and also the two other finalists. They are all outstanding ambassadors for our industry and are contributing to the pathways that will enable the next generation of farmers to succeed.

“Ash-Leigh’s commitment to sustainable farming and environmental protection is clear to see, and makes a real and positive difference in her local community and our industry.”

As Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year, Campbell receives a scholarship prize of up to $20,000 to undertake a professional business development programme, sponsored by Fonterra.


Rural round-up

08/03/2020

No need to destroy the perfect way of farming – Lone Sorensen:

Why are we accusing farming and in particularly dairy farming for being the cause, at least here in NZ, for global warming?

Would it by any chance be because it is a lot easier finding a scapegoat to blame everything on than actually cleaning up one’s own back yard first.

The atmosphere now contains 409 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO₂), when it is claimed that it can only cope with 350 ppm without a change in climate. The reason for this is that for the last 200 years, or since the industrial revolution, we have overused the earth’s resources of fossil fuels and by industrialising our farming methods also the humus in the soil: basically an overuse of stored carbon in the ground which we have turned in to CO₂, and methane. All this has made our life as humans more comfortable, but it has come at a cost.  . .

Biosecurity cost blowout for councils – Gerald Piddock:

Federated Farmers is warning rural district councils could face cost blowouts in meeting the requirements of the Government’s National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity.

Councils will have to map all land classified as a significant natural area in five years.

They already have to protect and map those areas in district plans and many have already done so. 

However, the new policy changes the criteria of for those areas, meaning some councils might have to redo their mapping, Federated Farmers regional policy analyst Paul Le Miere told about 20 farmers at a meeting in Te Awamutu. . .

Award for irrigation innovation :

Farmers leading the way in responsible irrigation could win a trip to America.

Encouraging farmers to share their ideas for sustainable water management has motivated the launch of an award by agricultural irrigation systems company Zimmatic.

The Zimmatic Trailblazer Sustainable Irrigation Awards aim to celebrate excellence in sustainable irrigation. recognising farmers leading the way in responsible irrigation, innovative water management and environmental stewardship. . . 

Being a good boss:

If you’re a dairy farmer reading this, then ask yourself, are you a good boss?

Do you value your workers and is their wellbeing your priority? 

Most farmers are good employers and to celebrate this, industry stakeholders have launched the Good Boss campaign.

A sector-wide initiative by Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Dairy Women’s Network and NZ Young Farmers it was launched last month . . 

M Bovis research to look at milk yield impact– Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is commissioning new research into the impacts of Mycoplasma bovis on cattle in New Zealand.

Scientists at Massey University would undertake the one- to two-year study, where they would look at the symptoms of the cattle disease, the effects on milk yield and composition and the duration of these effects.

MPI chief science advisor John Roche said the work would help accelerate eradication of the disease from New Zealand farms and minimise the negative impacts. . .

 

Red meat exports reach more than $870 million in January as sector demonstrates resilience:

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth $873.2 million in January 2020, an increase of 26 per cent compared to January 2019, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Despite global market instability as a result of the Coronavirus, the market prices achieved in January were still stronger than the same month last year. The value of beef exports was up by 50 per cent sheepmeat was up by 18 per cent and co-products were up two per cent.

While the average value of sheepmeat exports to China declined from $8.87/kg in December 2019 to $7.63/kg in January, it was still significantly higher than in January 2019 ($6.57/kg). . . 

Whenua Ora Tangata Ora partnership leads the way forward in regenerative agriculture:

An initiative targeted at establishing and supporting a critical mass of New Zealand landowners to use regenerative farming practices was launched today.

Whenua Ora Tangata Ora is a joint partnership between FOMA Innovation, the science and technology arm of the Federation of Māori Authorities (FOMA); Soil Connection, biological farming and soil health experts; and Toha, an environmental impact platform that recently launched Calm The Farm to support farmers to reduce their environmental and climate impacts while improving financial resilience.

“Transforming ‘industrial farming’ practices in Aotearoa through regenerative agriculture to reflect true kaitiakitanga (guardianship) is the way of the future,” says FOMA Innovation lead representative, Te Horipo Karaitiana. . .


Rural round-up

16/03/2019

Scholar keen to bridge urban-rural divide – Sally Rae:

Emma Subtil sees the opportunities in the primary industries as “endless”.

And when she completes her masters degree in agribusiness at Lincoln University, she would love a job that helped improve relationships between people living in urban and rural areas.

`If I could get a job in that, I’d be a happy girl,” she said yesterday.

Miss Subtil (21) was recently awarded a $1500 World Congress Charitable Trust Scholarship through New Zealand Young Farmers. . . 

New mountain bike park for Wanaka:

A new mountain bike adventure park is set to open near Wanaka later this year.

The park – called Bike Glendhu – will eventually encompass 50km of awe-inspiring trails at Glendhu Bay, a 13-minute drive from Wanaka’s CBD. Located on one of New Zealand’s most picturesque farms at Glendhu Station, the eco-conscious park is designed for riders of all ages and intends to be a natural and positive shared space for the Wanaka community.

Local resident and keen rider John Wilson has joined forces with Glendhu Station owners John and Emily McRae to create the park, set to open to the public in spring 2019. . . 

CGT valuations would pile on costs, benefit no-one:

Valuing every single business, farm, rental property or family bach to comply with a Capital Gains Tax regime would impose billions of dollars of costs on New Zealanders while benefiting no-one apart from valuers, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.

“The Tax Working Group recommends small businesses, rental properties, family baches and farms be subject to a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on all gains made after April 2021. As a result, eligible assets without an up to date market value would need a new valuation.

“Valuations don’t come cheap, especially for business owners who want a value robust enough to stand up in court if challenged by the IRD. If every small and medium-sized business owner in New Zealand had to pay for a new valuation at say $10,000 apiece, the cost to the wider economy would be about $5 billion. . . 

Homes wanted for wild horses mustered from Kaimanawa Ranges:

Homes are urgently being sought for 70 wild horses that are being mustered out of the Kaimanawa Ranges next month. 

The Department of Conservation said the animals needed to be removed from the the Waiouru Military Training Area in the Central North Island to keep the herd of wild horses there at a sustainable level of 300.

DOC operations manager Dave Lumley said this allowed for the horses in the herd to maintain best condition and also protects the fragile ecosystems, unique to the Moawhango Ecological Zone. . . 

 

‘Quality issues’ affect avocado growers in difficult season – Charlotte Cook:

Avocado growers profits have taken a hit due to quality issues among 2018’s smaller crop.

New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular said wet weather, early maturity and growers not always following best practice were contributors to the difficult season.

Ms Scoular said the main avocado harvest ran from July to February but things had wrapped up a couple of weeks early this year with yields down.

Ms Scoular said 65-70 percent of all avocados grown in New Zealand were exported overseas, about 80 percent of which to Australia. . . 

Gold (and green) rush is underway:

The gold (and green) kiwifruit rush is underway.

The 2019 kiwifruit harvest has officially kicked off with the first of an estimated industry-wide 150 million trays picked and packed in Gisborne.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) Chief Executive Officer Nikki Johnson says Poverty Bay leads the charge because the crop matures more quickly there than the rest of the country. “Over March, orchards in the Bay of Plenty, Northland, Counties-Manukau, Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, the lower North Island and Tasman will follow suit – it’s going to be a bumper crop.” . . 

2019 Waikato Dairy Industry Award winners announced:

The major winners in the 2019 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards are first-time entrants who have wanted to enter the Awards since reading about the national winners in 2012 whilst still living in Wales.

Marc and Nia Jones were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Waikato Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Sir Don Rowlands Centre at Karapiro last night. The other big winners were Joe Kehely, who became the 2019 Waikato Dairy Manager of the Year, and Matt Dawson, the 2019 Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year. . . 

2019 Central Plateau Dairy Industry Award winners announced:

A first-time entrant with a passion for dairy farming, the environment and animals has won the 2019 Central Plateau Share Farmer of the Year.

Tom Bridgens was announced the winner of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Central Plateau Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Energy Events Centre in Rotorua last night. The other big winners were Laurence Walden, who was named the 2019 Central Plateau Dairy Manager of the Year, and Harry Phipps, the 2019 Central Plateau Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The 22-year old is Contract Milking 300 cows on Rex and Loris Bates’ Tokoroa 80ha property and won $15,480 in prizes and four merit awards. . . 

2019 Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The major winners in the 2019 Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards, Matt Barr & Genna Maxwell believe one of the strengths of their business lies in being fourth-generation custodians of a family legacy, with opportunities for diversification.

The couple were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the TECT The Action Centre Pongakawa last night. The other big winners were Janamjot Singh Ghuman, who was named the 2019 Bay of Plenty Dairy Manager of the Year, and Alex Sainty, the 2019 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Matt and Genna, are Lease Farmers for Viv Barr, on her 110ha, 410-cow Awakeri property. “Viv is an actively supportive land owner,” they say. . . 

2019 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The 2019 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners have found success through effective team work, increasing their skills and knowledge, and challenging themselves.

Ethan and Sarah Koch were named the 2019 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Karaka Pavilion last night and won $12,900 in prizes and five merit awards. The other major winners were the 2019 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year Kyle Brennan, and the 2019 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Rebecca Casidy.

Ethan and Sarah (both aged 28), have backgrounds in building and teaching, and were runners-up in the same category in 2018. . . 


Rural round-up

26/02/2019

Tough choice – houses or food :

With almost half of New Zealand’s land area committed to pasture and crops it would be easy to think that despite our growing population there is still plenty of land to spare.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1But in the past two decades some of the country’s highest quality land has gone under cement and tarmac for urban development. Despite having a population the size of Melbourne in a land area the size of Britain some people are starting to question whether a country that earns its living off its soils can afford to keep paving over its key resource to support population growth. 

The loss of productive soils to housing is a subject economist Shamubeel Eaqub has given considerable thought.  . . 

Bulls, ewes and tepees, a rare mix– Luke Chivers:

Sheep and beef farmers James and Sarah Glenn are fuelling the intergenerational Sheep and beef farmers James and Sarah Glenn are fuelling the intergenerational transfer of their farming business with a rare mix of bulls, sheep and tepees. Luke Chivers reports. 

On a coastal slice of rural New Zealand a young couple are combining their passion for family with farming and tepees.

Te Akau sheep and beef farmers James and Sarah Glenn have a longstanding connection with the primary sector. 

Farming dominated their teenage years. . . 

Otago woman developing fine eye for stock :

Otago woman Elizabeth Graham (21) has won a national stock judging competition in Christchurch.

She is a member of the Strath Taieri Young Farmers Club, and while at the New Zealand Young Farmers Conference in Christchurch earlier this month, won the stock judging competition.

The competition attracted the young farmers teams from throughout the country.

”It was a huge honour to take out the overall title,” she said.

”This year’s competition included alpacas, which made things a little interesting.” . .

The highs and lows of running an organic orchard

The recipient of New Zealand’s top sustainable farming award says she’d like to see more kiwifruit orchardists provide full-time employment for their staff.

Organic kiwifruit grower Catriona White and her husband Mark are the first horticulturists to win the Gordon Stephenson trophy, which is awarded to one of the 11 regional winners in the annual Farm Environment Awards.

Catriona says she and Mark pay two staff on their Opotiki orchard for a 40-hour week regardless of whether the weather allows them to work the hours or not.

“You look after your staff and your staff look after you.” . . 

Feds calls for regulation of stock agents:

The Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Council is calling for compulsory regulation of the stock agent industry.

“No-one likes more rules and regulation but to protect all parties in the sale of livestock we believe it is the best way forward,” Feds’ Meat & Wool chairperson Miles Anderson says.

“Discussions about this topic have run hot and cold for years.  We need some finality.”

The NZ Stock and Station Agents Association has created a code of conduct and set up an independent body that can adjudicate on complaints about the actions of stock agents. . . 

Cows get own Tinder-style app for breeding – Aine Quinn:

Cows and bulls searching for “moo love” now have a mobile app to help their breeders.

A U.K. farming startup introduced a Tinder-style app, called Tudder, that lets farmers find breeding matches by viewing pictures of cattle with details of their age, location and owner. Users hear a mooing sound as they swipe — right to show they’re interested or left to reject possible matches.

Hectare, which designed the app, says it “seeks to unite sheepish farm animals with their soulmates.” Selling animals using social media can speed up a process that often involves transporting animals long distances for breeding. . .


Rural round-up

24/02/2019

Don’t take us for mugs – Katie Milne:

Farmers are out of patience with local and regional councils treating them as cash cows.

A recent Federated Farmers survey shows fewer than 4% of farmers believe they get good value for money from their local government rates. It is local government elections this year and those wannabe councillors chasing farmer votes can expect some pointy questions from our sector.

Such as: why have average council rates in New Zealand jumped 79.7% between June 2007 and June 2017, when inflation (CPI) for the same period was only 23.1%? . . 

Not so wild about pines:

Concerns about the continued spread of wilding pines are coming from both ends of the country.

Warnings have been sounded in recent weeks about the serious menace not only to the high country but also to Northland’s coastal margins and dune lakes.

NZ Deerstalkers’ Association spokesman Bill O’Leary, of Nelson, says recent events have highlighted the fire risk. . . 

NZ Young Farmers club established in Kaikoura

A new group has been set up in Kaikoura to help connect young people with an interest in the agri-food sector.

A NZ Young Farmers club has been established, after new resident Hannah Bradshaw noticed a need.

“I moved to Kaikoura late last year. The first thing I noticed was the district didn’t have a place where like-minded young people working in the rural sector could connect,” she said. . . 

Drought or tempest on a farmer’s land may fall – Samantha Motion:

“Worm or beetle, drought or tempest on a farmer’s land may fall. Each is loaded full o’ ruin but the mortgage beats ’em all.”

Growing up, a cheery cross stitch bearing this quote by American poet Will Carleton hung in the hall of my family’s farmhouse near Rotorua.

It was meant to be a light-hearted message, I think, but the older I got and the more I understood about the family business, the more ominous I found the words. . . 

 

 

Today’s extreme winter weather can impact tomorrow’s crop farming – Jim Foerster:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 90% of crop losses are related to extreme weather – but it’s not just the direct impact of summer drought, floods and severe storms. Last week’s cold snap – and others that could still happen in these final weeks of winter – will have significant impact on crops that we may not see for months.

While it’s easy to see how the extreme cold can impact farm-related things like livestock safety, fresh water availability and farm machinery, there are many other impacts of the cold as well. With more than 127 million acres of agricultural land in the Midwest, it’s got crop farmers thinking about the future impact of this cold on crops, particularly the 25% of the land that is used for winter wheat, and perennial crops like alfalfa and fruit trees and bushes. . . 

Lab-grown meat could be worse for the environment – Kristin Houser:

Meat farming is a major contributor of the greenhouse gases driving climate change. To ensure we never have to choose between a livable planet and a juicy hamburger, scientists are attempting to efficiently grow convincing imitation meat in the lab using everything from volcano-dwelling microbes to stem cells.

But new research suggests the efforts of those scientists might be in vain — it turns out that growing meat in the lab might actually do more damage to the environment than producing it the traditional way.

Meat Market

For their study, published Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, researchers from the Oxford Martin School compared the potential impact on the global temperature over the next 1,000 years of three cattle farming methods and four potential methods for growing meat in the lab. . . 

 


Still shearing at 80

23/02/2019

Young Farmers’ Agri-Kids completion at the North Otago A&P Show today attracted 50 teams from North Otago and South and Mid Canterbury.

There was also someone a wee bit older – Tom Marshall who is in his 80s and still shearing his own sheep.


Rural round-up

20/02/2019

Fonterra wants many DIRA changes – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra wants to ditch the requirement for it to take all milk if its market share drops below 75% in a region.

It also wants to exclude big processors except Goodman Fielder from accessing its milk at the regulated raw milk price.

Instead it wants to introduce a 12c/kg handling fee, it says in its submission to the Primary Industries Ministry’s review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

All other processors should be required to publish their average milk price paid to farmers and details of how they set it, Fonterra said.

DIRA should evolve to cover the whole dairy industry and not just control Fonterra. . . 

Otago young farmers lay claim to two titles – Sally Rae:

Otago can lay claim to three new national champions – all in the rural sector. Luke Kane (30) and Isaac Johnston (25), from West Otago, won the national fencing competition held recently as part of the New Zealand Young Farmers conference.

Elizabeth Graham (21), who lives on her parents’ farm at Hindon, won the national stock-judging title. . .

Duck eggs hatch into growing business – Luke Chivers:

Taranaki duck farmers Dawn and Glen Bendall are earning a living out of making people, including themselves, healthier. Luke Chivers reports. 

It is 7.30am in deepest, darkest winter.

As daylight breaks on mountainous, coastal Taranaki Urenui duck farmer Dawn Bendall is preparing her children for school before fossicking around in wood shavings up to 25 centimetres deep to retrieve 400 eggs.

“The ducks will dig up, they’ll lay and then they will cover the egg up again.

“It’s their little way of not letting the vermin get to the egg so I don’t know what they think of me,” she says, laughing. . . 

Riparian planting cleans Waikato dairy farm river – Hunter Calder:

From above it looks like any other river.

But up close, the Marokopa River through Ruawai Farm in Te Anga is exceptionally clear.

Data collected by Waikato Regional Council shows the water quality is some of the best in the region.

The river rates particularly highly for macroinvertebrates – tiny creatures without backbones such as insects and worms. The more of those, the healthier the water. . . 

Bounce in deer numbers :

Farmed deer numbers, including the number of breeding hinds and fawns, increased in 2018 according to provisional agriculture census figures released by Statistics New Zealand.

This follows a small recovery in stag numbers in the 2017 census.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup says the trend is a strong indication of growing farmer confidence in the viability of deer in a drystock farming operation. . . 

Wrightson cleared to sell seeds business – Gavin Evans

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson has been cleared to sell its seeds business to Denmark’s DLF Seeds.

The Commerce Commission said the $434 million transaction, announced in August, was unlikely to substantially reduce competition in any of the markets it assessed.

DLF is not at present a close competitor of PGG Wrightson Seeds in respect of ryegrass seeds containing endophytes and is unlikely to be so in the future,” deputy chair Sue Begg said. . .

Trade deals with Africa would help continent grow – Marian L. Tupy :

In December 2018, Donald Trump approved a new strategy for Africa that includes increasing US commercial ties with the continent. According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump’s strategy “is part of a broader effort…to fight for global supremacy with Russia and China”. Geopolitical considerations aside, freer trade between the United States and Africa makes good economic sense that’s bound to become more obvious over time.

Today, the economy of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is small, accounting for some 2 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Between 1960 and 2017, SSA GDP grew from $252 billion to $1.75 trillion. The world economy grew from $11.3 trillion to $80 trillion (all figures are in 2010 US dollars). That amounts to an average annual compounded growth rate of about 3.4 per cent and 3.43 per cent respectively.

The United Nations estimates that over the next 50 years, the SSA and world populations will grow at average compounded annual rates of 2.05 per cent and 0.63 per cent respectively. SSA’s population will thus increase from 1.1 billion to 3.1 billion and the world’s population will increase from 7.7 billion to 10.6 billion. That means that SSA will account for roughly 30 per cent of the world’s population in 2070. . . 

Trace elements a solution close to home :

Despite New Zealand’s relatively benign climate lending itself so well to pastoral farming, its soils can hide some chronic mineral deficiencies that can undo the efforts of the best farm managers as they try to get the most out of their stock.

Richard Sides, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health NZ technical veterinarian is urging farmers to look harder at what may be holding their stock’s performance back, and says the answer may be easier to find than they first thought. . . 


Rural round-up

24/11/2018

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

16/10/2018

Farming with depression a daily battle for young Waikato Farmer – Gerald Piddock:

Paige Hocking takes it one day at a time in battling depression while working on a dairy farm.

She seldom makes long-term plans because she never knows when the black dog might wander in.

It all starts in the morning when she wakes up on the 125-hectare farm she works as a dairy assistant near Waiterimu in Waikato.

The 21-year-old was diagnosed with depression three years ago. She describes its effects as like shaking up a bottle of soft drink. . .

Scheme’s success testament to conscience of rural community – Richard Davison:

Water quality in New Zealand’s creeks and rivers has become a hot-button issue during recent years, and much has been made of the failure to live up to the nation’s “100% Pure” branding.

Given recent headlines declaring Otago’s waterways to be “horrific”, and with only 60% considered better than “fair” over the course of a 10-year analysis, it would be easy to believe the message has not been getting through to where — and to whom — it matters.

Those often bearing the brunt of blame for deteriorating water quality have been farmers, but their characterisation as wilfully ignorant, environment-wrecking profiteers could not be further from the truth, according to Landcare Research environmental scientist Craig Simpson. . . 

Bees taking farmer on busy journey – Sally Rae:

Julie Kearney is getting a buzz out of bees.

Mrs Kearney and husband Tony farm sheep and beef cattle on Shingly Creek Station, a 2000ha property on the Pig Root.

Nearly three years ago, the fifth-generation farmers were discussing how they did not see many bees on the farm.

So Mrs Kearney completed a certificate in apiculture through Taratahi and she now has 14 established hives. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis compensation mired in delays as plot thickens – Keith Woodford:

The messages coming from MPI, and also mirrored by Prime Minister Jacinda Adern’s recent comments, are that good progress is being made with Mycoplasma bovis eradication and that MPI is getting on top of its problems. The reality from where I stand is somewhat different.

As of 12 October, official data shows there have been 400 claims lodged for compensation, starting back in the late 2017. Of these, 183 have been either partially or totally paid, leaving 217 waiting in the system. Of those that have been paid, MPI provides no data as to how many are partially paid and how many are total.

In the last four weeks, MPI has averaged 14 payments per week, with an average total weekly payment of around $1.1 million.   At that rate, it will take about four months to clear the existing backlog to get even partial payments. . . 

Massive leap forward for New Zealand sheep genetics:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics has just launched a new $5 million genetic evaluation system – a transformative step for the country’s sheep industry.

B+LNZ Genetics General Manager Graham Alder says the new evaluation is the result of four years of research, developing new cloud-based computing systems and testing.

“It is based on Single Step technology, whereby genomic information is incorporated into the evaluation, alongside traditional genetic measures. The result is a faster, more accurate evaluation, which allows New Zealand ram breeders to make better, more-timely decisions around the selection and dissemination of profitable and consumer-focused genetics. . .

New NZ Young Farmers CEO plans North Island road trip to visit members:

NZ Young Farmers’ new chief executive will “couch surf” her way around the North Island next month.

Lynda Coppersmith has announced plans for a road trip to meet members in Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki and the Waikato.

She will also join 40 teachers on a Teachers’ Day Out event in Hawke’s Bay on November 6th. . . 

’Jaw dropping’ : New Zealand offers lessons in tackling climate change – Peter Hannam:

Scott Simpson, New Zealand’s National Party environment spokesman, stunned a trans-Tasman investment meeting last week by stating that climate action was “too important to be playing politics with”.

Or rather, it was the Australian delegates who were shocked, so used are they to the toxic debates in Canberra.

“It made my jaw drop, that’s for sure,” said Emma Herd, chief executive of the Investor Group on Climate Change. . .


Rural round-up

10/10/2018

High lamb prices will hit profit – Nigel Malthus:

Alliance Group has warned that its annual result, due to be reported in November, will show a drop in profit.

“The financial performance of the company this year will be down… meaningfully,” chief executive David Surveyor told farmers attending the company’s roadshow meeting in Cheviot last week.

However, he assured shareholders the company is profitable, the balance sheet remains “incredibly strong, and for the avoidance of any doubt we have the ability to make sure we build our company forward.” . . 

3 M bovis farms confirmed through bulk milk testing – Sally Rae:

 Only three farms have been confirmed through bulk milk testing as having Mycoplasma bovis – but the Ministry for Primary Industries says it is too early to speculate about final results.

The second bulk milk surveillance programme was being undertaken now as spring was the best time to test for the disease, the ministry said.

Infected animals were more likely to shed the bacteria after a stressful period, such as calving and the start of lactation
.

To date, almost 10,000 of the country’s 12,000 dairy farms had completed two rounds of testing, MPI said in an update
.

Govt committed to Mycoplasma bovis eradication; $25.6M spent to date – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – The government has paid $25.6 million in compensation claims related to Mycoplasma bovis and remains committed to phased eradication, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor.

One of the biggest challenges for farmers has been navigating the compensation process and Ardern and O’Connor announced a new recovery package aimed at making that easier.

The package includes a team of rural professionals who understand both farming and the compensation process who can sit down and work with farmers on their claims. The Ministry for Primary Industries has also produced an improved compensation form and guide and an online calculator of milk production losses. It will also provide regional recovery managers for key areas. . . .

Marc Rivers: The man with Fonterra’s fortunes in his hands – John Anthony:

Marc Rivers has a TEDx talk. And it’s not about numbers, profit and loss – and there is no mention of balance sheets.

Rivers, Fonterra’s top number cruncher, is not your typical chief financial officer.

Unlike their charismatic chief executive counterparts, chief financial officers are generally regarded as robotic accountant types, capable of presenting a company’s financial position in jargon that few people understand. . . 

State of the Rural Nation Survey finds rural dwellers less likely to talk to health professionals

  • Seven in ten people have felt increased stress over the last five years
  • Those aged 18-39 feeling the most pressure
  • 61 percent said living rurally limits access to mental health resources

A recent survey has found that 70 percent of rural New Zealanders have felt more stress over the last five years.

The State of the Rural Nation Survey, conducted by Bayer New Zealand and Country TV, asked participants several questions regarding their views on critical topics impacting rural New Zealand today, including a series of questions around mental health.

Of those who responded that they had felt increased stress over the last five years, over half (54 percent) attributed financial pressures as the main reason, while the impact of environmental factors (ie droughts, flooding, hail) on people’s work and livelihoods came in at a close second (49 percent). . . 

Gene editing in brief: What, how, why:

Embracing gene editing could have huge benefits for New Zealand’s primary industries and we shouldn’t be scared of the technology, scientists say.

The latest paper in a series from the Royal Society Te Apārangi outlined five ways gene editing could be used in farming and forestry and scientists are keen for Kiwis to discuss the issue.

It sounds scary, though.  So what’s it all about?

Gene editing (also known as genome editing) is the targeted alteration of a specific DNA sequence. While older genetic modification technology typically added foreign DNA to a plant or animal, gene editing involves precise modification of small sections of existing DNA.  . . 

Mental health workshop focus on rural people:

Workshops being held across the country are equipping farmers and rural professionals with the tools to recognise and support those who are struggling.

NZ Young Farmers has organised five of the Good Yarn workshops, the second of which was held in Carterton last week.

Greytown dairy farmer Rachel Gardner, one of 14 attendees last week, is encouraging other young people to talk about mental health. . . 

Meat measurement technology given funding boost :

Adelaide-based AgTech startup MEQ Probe has received $500,000 funding from Meat & Livestock Australia and industry partners Teys Australia and the Midfield Group to test ground-breaking technology to objectively measure the eating quality of meat.

Coming just a few months after MEQ Probe took home a coveted Pitch in the Paddock prize at the tri-annual Beef Australia event, the funding also includes investment from MEQ Probe founder, AgTech betaworks Availer.

It will enable a commercial pilot of the MEQ Probe technology, which uses nanoscale biophotonics to measure the marbling and tenderness of meat; both major drivers of eating quality.   . . 

 

Blueberry orchard for sale offers jam-packed opportunities:

A substantial blueberry orchard with its own commercial processing plant and refrigerated pack-house – producing one of the rarest but highest-yielding blueberry crops in New Zealand – has been placed on the market for sale.

The 8.8-hectare property at Gordonton in the Waikato features some eight hectares of blueberry plantings under canopy cover, along with buildings, equipment, and plant used for picking, sorting, packing and chilling blueberries.

Planted on peat soil and regularly fertilised, the orchard has some 15,000 trees – including 500 of the new Jaac variety of blueberry which produces a heavier-yielding crop than traditional clones. Other blueberry varieties grown in the orchard include Powder Blue, Tiff Blue, Centra Blue, O’Neal, Sunset, and Velluto. . . 


Rural round-up

26/09/2018

Profiting from precision irrigation:

Economic, environmental and social benefits are prompting a growing number of Australasian and US farmers to adopt precision variable rate irrigation systems.

New Zealand, a country generally known for its ample annual rainfall and phenomenal natural crop growth, is an unlikely origin for a precision irrigation development that’s gaining traction globally. However, light soils and sporadic precipitation in some regions, plus readily available water for irrigation, mean close to 800,000 ha or 6.5% of the country’s farmland is artificially watered.

Originally, much of that was with flood irrigation using border-dykes but, in the drive for water use efficiency and environmental protection, spray irrigation has become the norm, mostly with centre-pivots. . . 

Growers get 20,000 plants back after MPI testing clears any risk – Eric Frykberg:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has released about 20,000 apple plants and 400 stone fruit plants which it impounded as a biosecurity risk three months ago.

It has now completed testing of the plants and found no trace of pests or diseases.

As a result they have been freed from all restrictions. . .

MPI slow to pay M bovis compensation – Rachel Kelly:

Some farmers are seeking help from their MP to get compensation claims paid out after their farms have been infected by Mycoplasma bovis.

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker said MPI’s response to compensation claims for M. bovis had improved in recent months, but it still needed to be better.

The ministry said it was aware that some farmers have found the compensation process difficult, but it was important that each claim was assessed and approved properly. . .

Carbon trees ‘opportunity’ for landowners – Toni Williams:

There is ”renewed opportunity” for landowners to get into carbon trees, Carbon Forest Services managing director Ollie Belton says.

And ”hopefully it will mean more trees (planted) on farms”.

Mr Belton was a guest speaker at a Bayleys Real Estate breakfast meeting attended by sales agents and invited guests at the Hotel Ashburton, in Ashburton, earlier this month. . .

Omapere Rangihamama Trust: a country comeback story

In 2007, the Omapere Rangihamama Trust was broke. A decade later, the Far North Trust won the prestigious Ahuwhenua Māori Excellence in Farming Award for the top sheep and beef farm in Aotearoa.

They continued to decline for the next three decades until a new management team with clear strategies and visions was put in place in 2007. . .

Fonterra’s Chilean farmers threaten to break away – Gerard Hutching:

Disgruntled Chilean dairy farmers have threatened to stop supplying Fonterra because they say they are being underpaid for their milk.

The dairy giant has a 86 per cent ownership stake of processing company Prolesur, but some small farmers in southern Chile who supply it are unhappy with their treatment.

Waikato dairy consultant Mike McBeath, who is chairman of Chilean company Chilterra, said it was looking to combine with about 200 farmers to create a rival co-operative. . .

Fonterra has bred an ‘us versus them’ mentality damaging farmers – Louise Giltrap:

I think it’s about time we got some things cleared up around how people think our dairy giant Fonterra operates.

The statement I love hearing the most is: “But you farmers own Fonterra and you should take back some control!”

And the second one just recently has in response to the grandiose five-star functions held over the last fortnight for select Fonterra staff: “It’s not the farmers’ money they are spending!”

Alrighty, so let’s start at the beginning. All the farmers get a vote and that vote is cast on what is selectively put in front of us to vote on. . .


Rural round-up

18/09/2018

Old values and new practices – Glenys Christian:

Richard Cookson and his wife Louise Cullen studied at Lincoln University but then went overseas for work at scientists rather than heading for the farm. However, 12 years ago they answered a call to return home and now run a cow and goat dairy unit.

They not only enjoy it but are proud of what they are doing and want all New Zealanders to be proud of farmers as the keepers of Kiwi values. They are leading by example, not just on the farm but also by giving back to the sector and community and setting environmental standards. . .

Lamb prices pushing the limit – Annette Scott:

Lamb prices are not aligned with global market fundamentals, prompting a warning of a looming correction.

Procurement prices as high as $8.70 a kilogram are out of whack from a global perspective but reflect the limited number of lambs in the market, Alliance livestock and shareholder services general manager Heather Stacy said.

While the weaker New Zealand dollar is playing a key role in keeping lamb prices up, a push-back is imminent. . .

Better understanding of nutrient movement – Pam Tipa:

We need a better understanding of nutrient transport across catchments, says Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE), Simon Upton.

And he says we also need better understanding of what nutrient models can and can’t do to assist in building a picture and better communication of what is happening to water quality. . .

Young Farmers’ Next 50 message: move with he times or wither – Simon Edwards:

There were some blunt words on glyphosate, fake meat burgers and farmers who won’t embrace change at the Wellington Young Farmers Club’s 2018 Industry Function.

During a panel discussion The Next 50: Future of Farming the conversation roved from 3D conferencing and holograms to Maori business models, and from disruptive technologies to milking sheep.

Dr Linda Sissons, of the Primary ITO, agreed with other speakers that increasing numbers of people will need to re-train every 10 or 15 years, if not more frequently.  Her organisation was introducing a suite of ‘Micro-credentials’ – short and sharp courses that farmers and others in the primary sectors could study in between other commitments. . .

German investment company to sell central North Island farms in Taihape and Waikaha – Sam Kilmister:

German company is offloading two central North Island farms, totalling about 1150 hectares.

Aquilla Capital, an asset management and investment company, bought the two sheep and beef blocks in 2012, but the Taihape and Waikaha properties are being offered for sale within the next month. 

The European company bought the farms on a fixed-term investment, requiring them to be sold by a specific date.

MyFarm, a Feilding-based investment service, oversaw on-farm operations. Its sheep and beef director Tom Duncan said the two properties were much better than when they were bought six years ago. . .

Cricketers’ company spins NZ lamb onto airlines’ menus:

Premium airline travellers departing India are now being served Pure South lamb from New Zealand.

Lamb is on the menu for first-class and business class passengers flying Air Canada, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, United Airlines and Air France after QualityNZ, Alliance Meat Co-op’s India partner, signed an agreement with two airline catering companies in India.

QualityNZ, whose shareholders include cricketing legends Sir Richard Hadlee, Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum, is also celebrating success in the foodservice sector with Pure South lamb now available at more than 300 five-star hotels in India. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

01/09/2018

Waimea dam project may be refloated – Cherie Sivignon:

The Waimea dam project may be refloated with a revamped funding model that lowers the estimated cost for ratepayers.

Tasman district councillors look likely to be asked at an extraordinary full council meeting on Thursday to change the “no” vote they made on Tuesday and instead, agree to proceed with the dam project.

However, the issue is scheduled to be discussed behind closed doors although the high public interest is recognised with time allowed in the public forum section of the meeting for people to speak for or against the project. . .

Van Leeuwens face sell-up threat – Annette Scott:

The stress of battling Mycoplasma bovis and trying to keep a multi-million dollar farm business afloat has hit hard for South Canterbury dairy farmers Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen.

The couple blame the Ministry for Primary Industries for the impact on their business as they now face the threat of having to sell farms because of what they see as MPI’s bungling of compensation. . .

Lynda Coppersmith appointed first female chief executive of NZ Young Farmers

A tech-savvy business leader with a passion for the primary industries has been appointed to the top job at NZ Young Farmers.

Lynda Coppersmith, 48, was one of a strong line up of candidates vying for the sought-after chief executive’s position.

“I’m really excited that I’m going to be working in the primary industries again,” she said. . .

LIC introduces world leading measures to combat M. Bovis:

LIC, the largest supplier of artificial breeding services to New Zealand’s dairy farms, is introducing daily testing of bull semen to combat the threat of the Mycoplasma bovis cattle disease.

The daily testing regime is part of a raft of new measures that LIC has put in place to help protect against the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) outbreak and will give its 10,000 farmer customers additional reassurance this mating season. . .

Annabel Bulk announced as Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018:

Congratulations to Annabel Bulk who has become the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018. Ms Bulk was representing Central Otago and is Assistant Viticulturist at Felton Road.

She is thrilled to have won this prestigious title and delighted that all her hard work over the last few years has paid off. She is very passionate about viticulture and has proved she has the skills and knowledge to become one of the New Zealand wine industry’s future leaders. Ms Bulk is delighted she will be taking the trophy back to Central Otago. This is only the second time it has been won by someone in this region – Nick Paulin won the competition in 2011. . .

Robotics Plus appoints CEO as demand grows for agricultural automation:

Robotics Plus, a New Zealand agricultural robotics and automation company, today announced it has appointed Dr Matt Glenn as the company’s chief executive officer. The move comes after a period of accelerated growth for Robotics Plus fuelled by industry demand for its innovative horticulture automation technologies.

“The company is growing strongly and is well funded, so now is the right time to add a professional chief executive to lead our high calibre team. We are very pleased to have attracted someone of Matt’s calibre, he brings over 20 years of experience in business management and the commercialisation of science and technology,” says Steve Saunders, Co-Founder and Chairman of Robotics Plus, who had held the role of Acting CEO. Mr Saunders will remain an Executive Director to focus on the strategy and establishment of a US subsidiary. . .

Agriculture gearing up for “fourth industrial revolution”:

The agricultural industry is gearing up for the “fourth industrial revolution”, where machines will be replacing humans in “thinking” as well as “doing” roles.

This is according to Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, who spoke to BBC Radio 4 about the rise of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).

Although Mr Haldane has predicted that up to 50% of all jobs could be lost to new technologies, in the next four decades agri-tech will need considerable investment before it can address the labour shortage in agriculture. . .

 

 


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