Rural round-up

August 30, 2014

Writing software, beet machine snag awards  – Kelsey Wilkie:

Judges broke the rules by announcing two winners at the Innovate business competition last night.

They could not choose between a computer program that helps children with writing and a machine to reduce the growing cost of fodder beet, so they awarded both $10,000 each.

Innovate is a Manawatu-based competition to help take an idea for a new business, an invention, early-stage research or technology with commercial potential and turn it into reality. . .

Challenge boosts protection of biological heritage:

The National Science Challenge – New Zealand’s Biological Heritage Ngā Koiora Tuku Iho – is to receive funding of $25.8 million over five years for research to protect and manage the country’s biodiversity, improve our biosecurity, and enhance our resilience to harmful organisms.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says the Challenge spans a wide range of scientific disciplines and will include researchers from nearly all New Zealand’s relevant research institutions.

The Challenge will be hosted by the Crown research institute Landcare Research. It includes researchers from the other six Crown research institutes, and all eight New Zealand universities. . . .

Device may boost quad bike safety  – Jack Montgomerie:

A South Canterbury man thinks the anti-roll bar he designed could reduce quad bike accidents.

Farmer and rural contractor Charles Anderson, of Fairlie, said he was inspired to design the retractable “anti-roll bars” after learning of several fatal and serious accidents involving quad bikes rolling over.

“I was just getting sick of reading about all these accidents. I couldn’t believe there were that many.” . . .

Taranaki farm wins effluent fitness warrant – Sue O’Dowd:

What is believed to be the first dairy effluent warrant of fitness in Taranaki has been awarded to an Okato farm.

The warrant of fitness scheme was developed by Dairy NZ to improve farm dairy effluent infrastructure around the country. Certified assessors determine whether farm infrastructure meets industry good practice.

New Plymouth assessor Colin Kay, of Opus Consultants, awarded the warrant to Blue Rata Investments after auditing its 204ha (effective) Okato farm, named for the nearby bush reserve on the banks of the Stony River. . .

From the worst dairy farm to one of the best:

A Thames farming company has turned its business around after prosecution on four environmental offences led to instructions to stop milking.

Tuitahi Farms Ltd was investigated by Waikato Regional Council after an aerial monitoring flight in September last year.

When council officers investigated the farm, they discovered a range of unlawful discharges of milk vat waste and dairy effluent into farm drains that flow to the Waihou River and the Firth of Thames.

The council initiated a prosecution for offences against the Resource Management Act. The farm was convicted on four charges and fined $47,250 in the Auckland District Court in July. It was also ordered not to commence milking until a new dairy effluent system was in operation. . . .

Spring cereal sowing underway:

Canterbury’s grain growers, responsible for nearly two thirds of New Zealand’s total annual grain harvest, are looking to make up lost ground this spring after poor weather stymied autumn seeding for many.

“The Canterbury Plains are NZ’s cereal bowl and the key planting period is upon us. Farmers and contractors are already busy servicing and readying their tractors and seed drills for what they hope will be a productive spring,” says Thomas Chin, general manager of the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association (GSTA).

Where the soil is dry enough the bulk of Canterbury wheat, barley, oats and maize crops, for both the feed and food processing industries will go into the ground over the coming weeks. . . .

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