We’re opening up on water

November 23, 2017

These visits will show the good reality and help counter bad perceptions:

Federated Farmers says opening dairy farms to all New Zealanders is a brave gesture and an opportunity for farmers to debunk some myths around farmers’ environmental management.

Dairy co-operative Fonterra has this week announced its “open gates” imitative where selected farms from around the country will open exclusively for one day on December 10.

“This is a great idea and an opportunity for all kiwis rural and urban, to visit a farm and see at first-hand the environmental work farmers have done and are still undertaking,” says Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Chair Chris Lewis.

The Federation had already staged farm days in the provinces which was a similar concept and had been successful in building community engagement with farmers.

“Everyone is welcome and especially those people who have been less complimentary towards farmers. They can ground truth themselves and see what perception is versus actual reality.”

To visit a farm, you have to register on Fonterra’s website. There were 40 farms taking part and they all represented different aspects of environmental stewardship that has been completed or in progress.

If you wanted to know what a riparian strip is, how effluent management works or look at how farmers protect biodiversity this was your chance.

“There might be some scrutiny as to why these farms were selected. Well, they’ve been picked for a variety of reasons including logistics.

“For one, they need to meet criteria around car parking and health and safety. The reality is you can’t have dozens of people trooping across properties or paddocks, it will have an impact and so these selected farms are suited to handle that rate of activity,” says Chris.

The open day would also provide visitors with experience of on-farm biosecurity practices and what famers do daily to manage pests and other threats to animal care and the environment.

“Those who choose to take up the invitation to visit these farms will have a greater understanding of dairy farming in 2017 and its future. That’s the whole purpose, we want them to see that farmers are environmentally smart and committed to ongoing improvements.

“As a farmer, it’s our day to showcase our business and the pride we have in what we do.”

Chris recommends that other farmers should visit a selected farm in their area. Check out the environmental work being undertaken and perhaps get some ideas from the innovation on show.

“If you’re a Feds member, I encourage you to get involved and go along. Show support to your fellow farmer and make yourself available to answer questions.”

You can book a visit at Open Gates.


Rural round-up

November 20, 2017

Out fishing while his cows milk – Mark Daniel:

Dairy farming was always a likely career path for Graham Barlow, of Fermanagh Farm, in the Piako district of Waikato.

The farm name gives a clue to the family heritage: a great-grandfather came to New Zealand from County Fermanagh in northwest Ireland many moons ago.

Milking 320 Jerseys calving in March (75%) and November (25%) on 90ha, Barlow went straight from schooling to dairy farming, soon realised he hated milking but was interested in all things technical; he describes himself as a techno-geek. . .

62 years and counting:

AI technician Don Shaw (79) has been surrounded by dairy cows his entire life, bringing many calves into the world.

Raised on an Ohaupo farm, Shaw is a fourth generation New Zealand dairy farmer. For the last 62 years he’s worked as an AI technician, inseminating about 250,000 cows.

Although now retired from a sales consultant role at CRV Ambreed, Shaw is still an AI technician, working October and November on four Waikato farms, inseminating cows. . . 

First and second wins for southern family in Mate & Wool cup – Pat Deavoll:

The Gibson family of Foulden Hill, Middlemarch earned a quinella when their cattle took out first and second places in the Meat & Wool Cup at the Canterbury A&P Show.

Yearling hereford bull Foulden Hill Mustang narrowly pipped its two-year-old santa gertrudis colleague to take the title. 

What’s more, Mustang had earlier won the Junior Meat & Wool Cup over a charolais heifer owned by the Fisher family of Banks Peninsula. . . 

Open Gates:

The whole country cares about what’s happening with our waterways, including us.

And we want to show you what we’re doing to protect them. Things like planting, fencing to keep cows out of the water and managing nitrogen. So, come and visit one of the 40 farms we’re opening.

Open Gates is a chance to talk first hand to farmers, walk around their farm and see what they’re doing to care for the environment and their animals. It’s also an opportunity to ask them about their farm management and future plans.  . . 

Gene discovery may halt world-wide wheat epidemic

University of California, Davis, researchers have identified a gene that enables resistance to a new devastating strain of stem rust, a fungal disease that is hampering wheat production throughout Africa and Asia and threatening food security worldwide.

The discovery by UC Davis wheat geneticist Jorge Dubcovsky and his team will help breeders more quickly develop varieties that can fend off the deadly pathogens and halt a worldwide wheat epidemic.

The findings were recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Wheat and stem rust have been in an evolutionary arms race for more than 10,000 years. . .

Collecting information from farm machinery ot gain insight – Johanna Legatt:

DON’T be thrown off by the odd-looking acronym and the complex-sounding jargon.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is really just a fancy way of talking about new technology that talks to each other with minimal human intervention.

“The concept is simply based around connected devices — they can be sensors, monitors or some sort of data-collecting device, that help perform an automatic action, such as closing a gate or recording the soil temperature,” explains General Manager of Research at the Australian Farm Institute Richard Heath.

“These devices then talk to other devices that help farmers make better decisions.” . . 

 


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