Rural round-up

February 27, 2019

South Canterbury’s Opuha Dam an example for the country – Joanne Holden:

Opuha Dam is a water storage “success story” National MPs would like to see adopted around the country.

The 20-year-old dam was the first stop on Friday for National’s Primary Industries Caucus Committee – hosted by Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon – as they toured Mid and South Canterbury’s primary industry spots.

On the trip were MPs Nathan Guy, Jacqui Dean, Matt King, Hamish Walker, and List MP Maureen Pugh, who also visited Heartland Potato Chips in Washdyke, the Managed Aquifer Recharge in Hinds, and spoke to South Canterbury community members about the future of primary industries. . .

 

Farm conflicts in tourist hotspot – Neal Wallace:

A billionaire lives on a lifestyle property on one side of Chris and Emma Dagg’s Queenstown farm. On the other is a multi-millionaire.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The exclusive Millbrook Resort is nearby and actor Tom Cruise was a neighbour while filming in New Zealand.

The Daggs’ 424ha farm in the Wakatipu Basin between Queenstown and Arrowtown includes some of NZ’s most sort after land for residential development.

A short drive from Queenstown, the rural setting provides a desirable place for the rich and famous to live, putting pressure on landowners in a region short of land, houses and sections. . . 

Rain in Waikato a good start – more please, farmers say:

Rain in Waikato was good news for farmers but more is needed to keep the threat of drought at bay. 

Until the weekend, the region had only received 0.4 millimetres of rain leaving soil moisture levels dangerously low. 

Federated Farmers Waikato president Andrew McGiven said the 10 millimetres of rain received over the weekend “was a good start”.  . . 

Lanercost open to all farmers – Tim Fulton:

The first Future Farm is contributing to the rehabilitation of a bruised Canterbury farm and community. Tim Fulton reports.

Visitors to Lanercost can see its potential as a sheep and beef demonstration farm, the lessees say.

The North Canterbury hill country property near Cheviot is 1310ha modelled on a farm at Lincoln that has allowed the dairy industry to assess innovation.

Farmer Carl Forrester and Mendip Hills manager Simon Lee have a lease to run the 1310ha Lanercost in partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Lanercost’s owner, the T D Whelan Trust. . .

Loneliness in farming community is ‘heart-breaking’, police officers say

Police officers have highlighted how ‘heart-breaking’ it is to see some farmers suffer from extreme loneliness and isolation. The issue of loneliness in the farming community has been highlighted by Dyfed-Powys Police, who have a small team of specialist rural officers. PC Gerwyn Davies and PCSO Jude Parr are working closely with mental healthy charity the DPJ Foundation. They have referred several farmers to the charity for counselling and mental health support. . . 

Soil ecologist challenges mainstream thinking on climate change – Candace Krebs:

How cropland and pastures are managed is the most effective way to remedy climate change, an approach that isn’t getting the attention it deserves, according to a leading soil ecologist from Australia who speaks around the world on soil health.

“Water that sits on top of the ground will evaporate. Water vapor, caused by water that evaporates because it hasn’t infiltrated, is the greenhouse gas that has increased to the greatest extent since the Industrial Revolution,” said Christine Jones, while speaking at the No Till on the Plains Conference in Wichita in late January. . . 


Rural round-up

September 4, 2018

Irrigators asked to reduce water use to restore Opuha Dam:

Irrigators taking water from the Opihi River are being asked to help restore dam levels by reducing water consumption.

A lack of rain over the winter has prompted concern about levels at the Opuha Dam in South Canterbury.

Canterbury Regional Council is requiring the company operating the dam to maintain a minimum flow in the river of 5.2 cubic metres per second when the lake is above 375-metres.

It is now at about 390-metres. . . 

All eyes on the US market for NZ beef producers:

While global beef prices have held up well in the first six months of 2018, a range of developments in the US market have the potential to affect global beef trade and impact New Zealand producers in the second half of the year, according to a recently-released industry report.

In its Beef Quarterly Q3 2018 – All Eyes on the US Protein Complex, agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says activities in the US market have been the focus of attention in global protein trade in 2018 and were likely to remain so for the rest of the year. . .

One month until new animal welfare regulations:

New regulations to strengthen our animal welfare system will come into effect on 1 October 2018.

Ministry for Primary Industries Director for Animal Health and Welfare, Dr Chris Rodwell, says the 45 new regulations cover a range of species and activities from stock transport and farm husbandry procedures to companion and working animals like dogs and horses.

“With under a month to go until these new regulations come into effect, we want to encourage people, who are responsible for any type of animal, to check they are up to date in how they are looking after them,” says Dr Rodwell. . .

A little piece of Clandeboye in half a billion pizzas :

Some already call it the Riviera of the South and now Timaru could also be the pizza capital of New Zealand, as the region becomes the Southern Hemisphere’s largest producer of natural mozzarella cheese.

Fonterra’s Clandeboye site fired up its third new mozzarella line today, meaning it now produces enough of the revolutionary cheese to top more than half a billion pizzas a year.

The cheese, which is made from one of the Co-operative’s secret recipes, is made in hours rather than in months – the time traditional mozzarella takes. It’s destined for pizzas all over the world. Fonterra cheese already tops around 50% of the pizzas in China – one of the fastest growing pizza markets in the world. . .

Livestock grazing ‘vital’ to preserve uplands:

A DECADE-LONG study involving researchers from Yorkshire has claimed that grazing sheep and cattle are vital to maintaining the biodiversity of Britain’s moorlands.

Abandoning grazing on upland environments, which include the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors, would be “incredibly damaging”, researchers found, as it would disrupt important plant and bird communities that rely on each other to survive.

The first long-term study of its kind, which was carried out by ecologists at the Universities of Hull, Aberdeen and the James Hutton Institute, looked at the consequences of different grazing scenarios on multiple plant and animal groups, which consume each other in an upland “food web”. . .

Missouri becomes first state in US to regulate use of the word ‘meat’ – Zlati Meyer:

On Tuesday, Missouri becomes the first state in the country to have a law on the books that prohibits food makers to use the word “meat” to refer to anything other than animal flesh.

This takes aim at manufacturers of what has been dubbed fake or non-traditional meat.

Clean meat — also known as lab-grown meat — is made of cultured animal tissue cells, while plant-based meat is generally from ingredients such as soy, tempeh and seitan. . . 

Demand  brewing for former large-scale hop production operation:

A major agricultural operation which has previously produced one of New Zealand’s most exported high value yet little-known crops has been placed on the market for sale.

The 55.8-hectare site in the Motueka district of Riwaka was established as a hop growing plantation in the 1960s, before the operation was bought out by fruit and vegetable producer/marketer ENZAFruit New Zealand International Limited in the early 2000s and converted into an apple orchard. . .


Rural round-up

January 14, 2018

Opuha River ‘flushing’ to control algae, didymo barely noticeable with river in flood, Opuha Ltd says – Elena McPhee:

It may have been barely perceptible to the eye, but releasing water from the Opuha Dam on Friday has hopefully wiped out a large quantity of didymo and other algae in the river, Opuha Water Ltd says.

Operations manager Craig Moore said the dam released a flow peaking about 65 cubic metres per second (cumecs), or 300,000 cubic metres in total during the “flushing” process in the Opuha River on Friday morning.

The river “pulse” stayed within river margins, and the wave was not really noticeable as it made its way downstream, Moore said. . .

Farmers make tracing stock hard -Neal Wallace:

Eradication of Mycoplasma bovis is still the Ministry for Primary Industry’s goal but farmers appear unconvinced it is achievable.

Another case confirmed on an Ashburton farm this week took the total to 14 but some of the more than 800 farmers who attended packed meetings with MPI officials in Methven and Ashburton last Thursday think that while admirable, eradication is unlikely and they might have to learn to live with the disease.

The ministry’s response incident controller David Yard announced plans to test three samples of milk from every dairy farm in the country from February, including milk entering the food chain as well as milk excluded from the vat in a bid to uncover any infection clusters. . . 

Lambs wool in demand – Alan Williams:

Lambs’ wool was in short supply and sold strongly at Thursday’s wool sales in Christchurch and Napier.

Buyers pushed up prices as they worked to fill orders, especially for fleece at 30 microns and lower, PGG Wrightson South Island sales manager Dave Burridge said.

Those wools were up to 8% higher in price with 30 to 32 micron lambs’ wool up to 4% dearer in Christchurch. . . 

Sex on the farm: How gene editing can revolutionize feeding the world – Ed Maixner:

(Editor’s note: Change can be difficult, especially when it comes to adopting new ways of farming and producing food. But there are big innovations underway in labs and universities that analysts describe as “revolutionary,” enabling the creation of new plants and animals in months rather than decades. For the next few weeks, Agri-Pulse will explore “The Breeding Edge” – a seven-part series on how these new precision methods for plant and animal breeding are set to transform global food production and the potential impact for agribusinesses, farmers and consumers around the world.)

The process of producing food, protecting the environment, and improving animal health is advancing at a seemingly breakneck pace.

These advancements are driven in part by new scientific discoveries, genetic research, data science, enhanced computational power, and the availability of new systems for precision breeding like CRISPR—an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. . . 

C


Rural round-up

November 26, 2015

Farmers on knife-edge as land dries out:

Evidence of a dry El Nino summer is beginning to be seen in Canterbury, and has farmers worried.

Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said the region is not seeing a lot of rain and the nor’west winds are already drying things out.

Fire restrictions have been put in place for the rural district of Selwyn, as have restrictions on taking water from the Opuha dam. . . 

Opuha Dam at 80% capacity:

Early irrigation restrictions have helped South Canterbury’s Opuha Dam reach 80 percent of its capacity.

But with little rain expected in the coming months, farmers are being warned this summer could be harder than last.

The irrigation water supply from the dam was turned off for the first time in its 17 years of operation last February as a result of the drought. . . 

North Canterbury irrigaition proposal rejected:

Independent Hearing Commissioners appointed by Environment Canterbury have rejected a proposal to take water from a North Canterbury stream for irrigation and power generation.

The Kakapo Brook runs through Glynn Wye Station and co-applicants Rooney Group – owner of the station – and Mainpower proposed taking up to 1600 litres per second, to fill two large storage dams on the farm totaling 1 million cubic metres.

The water would be used for irrigating 500 hectares of the high country property and providing hydropower generation. . . .

Fonterra says 2016 forecast payout tied to dairy prices rising next year – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group has affirmed guidance for the 2016 milk payout to farmers, although chairman John Wilson said it was dependent on global dairy prices rising in the first half of next year from current unsustainable levels.

The world’s largest dairy exporter has forecast a farmgate milk price of $4.60 per kilogram of milk solids and a cash dividend of 35-to-40 cents per share for a total payout of $4.95/kgMS to $5/kgMS. . . .

Fonterra targets doubling of China revenue within five years, Spierings says – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, has set a target of becoming the number one dairy player in China and doubling its business in the country to $10 billion within the next five years.

Speaking at the cooperative’s annual meeting in Waitoa today, chief executive Theo Spierings said the new plan meant China could become 25 percent to 30 percent of total revenue.

When asked whether that would expose the cooperative to too much risk in one country, Spierings said China’s provinces could almost be regarded as countries in their own right. . . 

Results of shareholder voting at Fonterra AGM:

Fonterra shareholders have voted to pass seven of the eleven resolutions at this year’s Annual Meeting.

Resolutions eight, nine, ten and eleven, which were special resolutions put forward by Fonterra shareholders, were not passed. The Board and Shareholders’ Council had earlier recommended that shareholders vote against these resolutions.

The results of the resolutions are:

Resolution result / % in favour

Resolution 1: Approval of remuneration of Directors / 85.32%

Resolution 2: Approval of remuneration of Shareholders’ Council / 83.36% . . .

New technologies a paradigm shift for strong wool:

In a move to improve the returns of New Zealand strong wool growers, Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) has entered into a commercial agreement with to acquire the exclusive global rights to an innovative scour and dying process providing new opportunities for New Zealand strong wool previously only the domain of man-made synthetic fibres.

The two innovative technologies will considerably improve the ‘white and bright’ properties of strong wool, along with colour fastness enhancements that will provide a “paradigm shift” in the demand for end products using strong wool. . . .

Texel Poll Dorset Cross wins Mint Lamb Competition:

Hawarden farmer, and long-time corriedale exhibitor, Andrew Sidey took out the 2015 Mint Lamb Competition at the Canterbury A&P Show on November 11. His texel/poll dorset lamb was judged as the country’s best from paddock to plate.

This year the competition had an overhaul with the overall winner being decided on a combination of yield, tender test and taste results as opposed to just taste alone.

Mr Sidey drafted the lamb himself, and after entering for the past four years, believes that experience helped him take out the win. . . 

2016 Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards / Ambassador Chefs to be Announced:

Mark your calendars: The 2016 Beef and Lamb Excellence Award holders will be announced on Tuesday 1 December, alongside five new Beef and Lamb Ambassador Chefs.

The announcement will take place as part of an exclusive 5 course degustation dinner, specially prepared by the five new Ambassador Chefs, on Tuesday December 1 at The James in Auckland.

The 2016 announcement is a special occasion as it marks the 20th anniversary of the Excellence Awards, establishing them as the longest running culinary awards in New Zealand. . . .

Week to Go Til Dairy Awards Entries Close:

There is [less than]a week to go until entries close in the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, including the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

Entries are being accepted online at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz and close at midnight on November 30.

General Manager Chris Keeping says there have been 360 entries received to date, including 358 who entered in time to be eligible for the Early Bird Entry Prize Draw of $12,000 in travel vouchers and spending money*. . . 


Drought reinforces need for storage

January 8, 2015

We woke to mizzle – a misty drizzle – on Tuesday morning.

Holiday-makers wouldn’t have been pleased but we were delighted.

However, by mid-morning the sky had cleared and temperatures were rising.

We haven’t had a decent rain since July and it’s got all the signs of the droughts which in North Otago every few years.

Irrigation schemes using water from the Waitaki River have 99% reliability but takes from the Kakanui River are restricted and will stop altogether if the weather doesn’t break soon.

Further north in South Canterbury it’s drier still.

Less snow melt put less water in the Opuha Dam in spring and those irrigating from it are now on restrictions.

Friends near Waimate ran out of stock water weeks ago and the tanker which comes to collect their milk brings water for them.

There is nothing new about drought but the recurrence reinforces the need for more water storage:

Water restrictions for irrigating farmers look set to follow a similar pattern to the 2012-13 summer, says IrrigationNZ, when drought conditions in the North and South Island wiped more than $1billion dollars from the NZ economy.

“This summer once again highlights the need to fast track alpine-fed* water storage infrastructure in both the South and North Islands. Despite the focus upon irrigation development over the past five years, New Zealand has made very limited progress in this space,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis. “We have modernised and improved our irrigation distribution systems but have failed to invest in alpine water storage to our detriment.”

(*Alpine-fed water storage refers to dams and water storage lakes that are replenished by rainfall and snowmelt within our alpine environments in contrast to streams and rivers that are fed by foothills rainfall. Alpine rainfall is more consistent and plentiful than foothills and plains rainfall, hence its suitability to provide reliable water supply).

‘We’re losing sight of the prize that reliable alpine-fed irrigation water storage could bring to both the environment and economy. Certainty of water supply allows investment in SMART irrigation technologies that greatly improve nutrient management and production. There are also direct benefits from storage including the augmentation of summer river flows or being able to release flushing flows that cleanse rivers of summer algal growth,” says Mr Curtis.

Irrigation restrictions are now widespread in Canterbury and Otago, with Hawke’s Bay dry but maintaining flows.

One of the worst hit areas is South Canterbury with the Opuha Dam, a foothill-fed river catchment, facing unprecedented water shortages. Opuha’s lake level is of major concern, says Opuha Water Supply Ltd CEO Tony McCormick. “Our situation and outlook have not improved and the lake level continues to drop steadily. Today the lake is at 31% full. We are currently on 25% irrigation restrictions and expect to move to 50% restrictions next week when the lake hits another ‘trigger’ level of 25% full. Our current predictions suggest that the lake could be fully depleted by the end of February.”

Mr McCormick says while the initial problem was a lack of stored water, the situation is now being compounded by very dry conditions being experienced across the South Canterbury region.

The Ashburton River is on full restriction which has forced the Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation Company to place shareholders on 85% allocation. However the Rangitata River is currently flowing at a healthy level due to good rainfall in the alps over the New Year, says Jess Dargue, ALIC scheme manager.

While some North Canterbury rivers are on restriction, Amuri Irrigation Limited CEO Andrew Barton says both the Waiau and Hurunui, both alpine rivers, are maintaining flows so scheme restrictions look unlikely in the near future.

While there are no restrictions on major irrigation schemes in the Lower Waitaki at the moment, all fed by the Waitaki River, an alpine river with storages built for hydropower, Elizabeth Soal, Policy Manager of the Waitaki Irrigators Collective says partial restrictions affecting independent irrigators are in effect on hill-fed tributary rivers including the Hakataramea, the Maerewhenua and the Awakino. There are also restrictions (some full restrictions) on some of the South Canterbury Coastal streams and waterways, including parts of the Waihao River, Buchanans Creek and the Sir Charles Creek.

In Otago, supplementary permits off the Kakanui River have ceased with the first minimum flow alert being active, and the river is approaching its absolute minimum flow, which would mean full restrictions kick-in.

Parts of North Otago are extremely dry, with the area receiving a third of the historical average rainfall since August.

“For us down here, it’s much, much drier than in 2012-13. Some are saying it’s the driest it’s been in ten years, so the restrictions will bite even harder,” says Elizabeth Soal.

While the Hawke’s Bay is dry, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Group Manager Resource Management Iain Maxwell, says that’s not unexpected for the region at this time of the year and irrigation water availability is being maintained.

“River flows are holding well and there are no irrigation bans on the main rivers so farmers are still able to irrigate,” he says.

Drought is costly in financial and human terms. It also degrades water quality, threatens water life and can lead to soil erosion.

Drought is a fact of life for farming on the east coast but the consequences of it would be minimised with more storage to capture the excess at times of high flow for use for farming and maintaining minimum flows in water ways during droughts.


Farming will adapt

March 25, 2013

The wailing and gnashing of teeth about New Zealand’s response to climate change is generally motivated by politics rather than environmental concerns.

Anyone who thinks that beggaring our economy to reduce greenhouse gases will make any significant impact on the climate doesn’t understand the numbers.

Our emissions are tiny by world standards and most come from animals which provide protein, the bulk of which is exported.

If we reduce our contribution to feeding the world, farmers in other countries will fill the gap and almost certainly do so in a less efficient and environmentally sustainable way than we do it here.

While the wailers and gnashers are getting political, others, like Federated Farmers’ President Bruce Wills,  are being practical.

As the climate has always changed there are negatives, yes, but many positives too. A more Mediterranean climate may bring new pests and diseases but it will also see off many cold climate ailments too.  

Take Northland, which by the end of this century, could end up with a climate similar to that found in southern Queensland. 

For livestock farmers that will see what they farm and even genetic lines tailored to regional climates.

It may mean commercial crops of soybean, sorghum and potentially rice may become possible.

From reading I even understand everything from mangoes to Thai galangalginger is found in Northland.  Among these and other tropical fruit could be the next ‘Chinese gooseberry’ breakthrough.  It is not beyond the realm of fantasy that even Oil Palm could one day become viable. 

My point is that farming will continue but its nature will evolve and adapt.  We must be open-minded about the possibilities and ensure we have all the tools in place to turn challenges into opportunities.

Take the engine room of any farm; its pasture and crops. We are already seeing a renaissance in deep-rooted Lucerne championed by farmer Doug Avery.

You can add to that drought tolerant crops of chicory, plantain and not to mention deciduous trees like poplars and willows. New cultivars of drought-resistant pasture will also come forward as we add new tools to our toolbox.

Our farm pastures are also a significant if unheralded environmental tool. 

They are arguably our best means of keeping nutrients on-farm and out of water yet it needs three things to flourish; high soil temperatures, long sunshine hours and water. . .

He points out we have tow of these three, but need more of the third.

The Opuha Dam has effectively drought-proofed a large swathe of South Canterbury.

Opuha has been lauded by Labour and National politicians. Even Dr Russel Norman seemed impressed when Federated Farmers hosted him there several years ago. It provides water for farms, an environment for aquatic life, a place to recreate and minimum flows to the formerly summer dry Opihi River.

Economically, it has exceeded all expectations but it also opened back in 1998 and remains our sole example of modern water storage.

For intensive cropping, dairy and horticulture, the benefits of irrigation are self-evident.  Yet much irrigation is dependent upon groundwater or river takes and both are affected by drought or just summer.

Capturing and storing water during winter frees irrigators from river takes and groundwater.

Yet water storage is also a breakthrough for drystock farming too. Irrigating even 20 hectares of a farm becomes a pasture generator reducing that climatic lottery we currently have. 

According to the ANZ Bank the current drought has already cost New Zealand over a billion dollars. Irrigation NZ estimates this sum, if invested in water storage projects, could future proof Canterbury for the next 100 years.

Like Irrigation NZ, Federated believes the solution lies in a combination of regional and on-farm water storage.

Farmers are smart adaptive people but as our climate will change, isn’t it smarter for public policy to enable the solutions we will all need to meet it?

Is it a coincidence that the same people who don’t think we’re doing enough to combat climate change are often the ones who are likely to oppose water storage which is one of the best ways to adapt to it?

Or is it proof that they are more focussed on political problems than practical solutions?


Rural round-up

April 13, 2012

Irrigation problems call for new approaches – Gerald Piddock:

Getting to the future first could see New Zealand become a world leader in sustainable, irrigated agriculture, says a visiting Australian academic.

By achieving an innovative vision for agriculture, New Zealand could then trade this to the world market, Dr Peter Ellyard told delegates at the IrrigationNZ Conference in Timaru.

“I think what you need to do is create a vision for irrigated agriculture for the year 2050 and say `this is what we think we could look like’, and say `why not?”‘ . . .

Management of water resources the problem – Gerald Piddock:

The world does not face a water crisis, but a crisis of water management, an international expert on water says.

The solution to future problems around water management is integrated water resources management by managing the resource across all of its different uses, Danish professor Torkil Jonch Clausen told delegates at the IrrigationNZ conference in Timaru.

This is currently not being done, he said.

“I don’t think the world faces a water crisis, if we act intelligently. We have all the water we need but we do face a crisis in governance in a world of uncertainty.” . . .

Opuha dam held up as fine irrigation example – Gerald Piddock:

South Canterbury’s Opuha Dam should be sold to the public as what irrigation can achieve, the IrrigationNZ conference in Timaru was told. Showcasing such schemes would help improve overall public perceptions of irrigation.

Improving perceptions of irrigation among the wider public could be achieved through better branding and celebrating industry success stories, industry experts said. . .

NZ must make the most of its assets now if it’s to recover – Gerald Piddock:

Growing the levers that generate income is the “only palatable option” in getting New Zealand’s economy back on its feet, ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie says.

New Zealand needed to recognise what it has that is world class which include its water resources, potential minerals, tourism and global reputation, he said in an address at the IrrigationNZ Conference in Timaru.

“They are tremendously powerful areas of strategic advantage.” . . .

‘Wow Factor’ Farm Wins Supreme Title in Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Opio farmers Michael and Karen Blomfield, the owners of an “industry-leading” dairy farm, have won the Supreme award in the 2012 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Ballance Farm Environment Award (BFEA) judges were lavish in their praise of the couple’s 220ha former sheep and beef farm, describing it as an “impeccable and aesthetically pleasing farm with the wow factor”.

“This dairy business can be highlighted as demonstrating all the disciplines we would have expected of a medium scale operation that epitomises near optimum environmental, social and financial sustainability.” . . .

Doug’s drought solution leverages water – Jon Morgan:

Doug Avery admits he’s “a bit flash” on the environment and the need to build good soils.

That’s because the 2010 South Island Farmer of the Year has been through the pain of long drought years that hit his Marlborough farm in the 1980s and 90s.

The “decarbonising” of the Marlborough farmland by generations of farmers left him embarrassed to be a farmer, he told a Hawke’s Bay Future Farming Conference.

“But farmers are not the problem,” he said. “We are the solution. As landholders of this country we occupy most of the land that is not in bush or mountain pasture. We must be the guardians of this valuable and ongoing resource.” . . .

Wool must mean wool – Bruce Wills:

What would happen if a local wine company produced a nice bottle of sparkling wine, so nice, they put ‘Champagne’ on the label? In a matter of days they’d feel some hefty legal muscle because since the 1890’s, the French have protected ‘Champagne’ with passion. The French could so easily have given a Gallic shrug, uttered sacré bleu and seen Champagne become another generic name for sparkling wine. Having once tried a $2.99 bottle of American ‘Champagne,’ there’s a few choice words I could use to explain why the French should protect their $7 billion industry.

The Champagne houses couldn’t do this without the active backing of their government. If you want to deal with France or Europe for that matter, you have to respect what intellectual property means. While I’m passionate about wool, the industry around it has sometimes resembled an epic disaster movie. After the boom years of the 1950’s we got so caught up in minutia and infighting, we lost control of our most precious asset being the word ‘wool’ itself. . .

Orchards struggle to find workers – Peter Watson:

Some orchardists are scrambling for pickers as the apple harvest reaches its busiest period.

A late start to the season means the harvest has been compressed into a shorter period.

This has pushed up the demand for staff.

However, growers are finding it difficult to recruit and retain experienced pickers in particular, as foreign workers resume their travels and Kiwis often find the work too hard for the money they can earn. . .

 

Controversial wood strategy shows promise:

The Wood Council of New Zealand (Woodco) released its Strategic Action Plan for Forestry at the FORESTWOOD 2012 national conference for the forest and wood products sector in Wellington last month.

At the ForestWood Conference a new action plan emerged from within that strategy – one which strongly recommends a steep change and leap forward for the industry. Richard Phillips, of North Carolina State University, made a compelling presentation for a new “mega-mill” in the form of a one million tonne per annum integrated pulp mill built to also house integrated biomass and biofuel production cells. . .

Think solar when building a barn – Business Blog:

Anyone constructing a new agricultural building should consider maximising additional income from a roof-mounted solar installation, says Strutt & Parker.

The firm has just opened one of its first solar barn projects at EW Davies Farms in Thaxted, Essex (pictured below) and says that even with the lower Feed-in Tariffs a solar barn should pay for itself in around 20 years. . .


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