Rural round-up

May 16, 2019

Tool for assessing water quality not reliable – scientists – Eric Frykberg:

A group of scientists have gone public with claims that the widely-used Overseer water quality system for farms might not be reliable.

They are the former Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group director Martin Manning, Massey University’s professor emeritus of industrial mathematics, Graeme Wake, Massey agricultural senior scientist Tony Pleasants and a retired associate professor of mathematics, John Gamlen.

Overseer is an online software model which was originally designed as a commercial mechanism for farmers to minimise the amount of fertiliser they used relative to their economic output from their farm. . . 

Looking after the people and the land  – Toni Williams:

Pencarrow Farm is a unique property just minutes from an urban shopping centre. Not only is it picturesque but it is a highly productive and environmentally sound enterprise.

It must be, as it has just won five awards in the 2019 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards – the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, the DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award, the Environment Canterbury Water Quality Award, the Synlait Climate Stewardship Award and the Norwood Agri-business Management Award.

It is acknowledgement that owners Tricia and Andy Macfarlane, and contract milkers Viana and Brad Fallaver, are doing the right things. . .

Government’s targets for methane reduction are unrealistic:

Deer Industry New Zealand is disappointed by the government’s announced emissions reduction targets for agriculture. 
Dr Ian Walker, Chair of Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ), says that under current conditions these targets would result in significant reductions in stock numbers. Even if tools and technologies were available to reduce methane and nitrous oxide in the future, the level of reduction would effectively mean that the agriculture sector was being asked not just to cease its own contribution to global warming, but also offset the contribution of other sectors. 
“The deer industry as part of the pastoral sector is prepared to play its part in climate change mitigation. We do not deny human-induced climate change nor our responsibility to mitigate. The pastoral sector is willing to target net zero global warming impact from agricultural gasses.  But the targets for methane announced by the Government go beyond net zero global warming impact. DINZ cannot support these targets,” he says. . . 

Rural Equities sells second-largest property – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Rural Equities, the farming group majority-owned by the Cushing family, has agreed to sell its second-largest property as it rejigs its portfolio.

Puketotara, a beef and sheep finishing operation near Huntly, covers 1,146 hectares and typically carries 12,000 stock.

The company, which trades on the Unlisted exchange, said it expects about $11.7 million from the sale including livestock. The deal will settle on June 20. . . 

YTD tractor and farm machinery sales steady:

Sales of tractors and farm machinery are currently steady compared to 2018 but there are a few challenges facing the sector, says Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) president, John Tulloch.

TAMA year-to-date figures to the end of April showed a total of 1104 sales across all HP categories compared to 1111 in 2018: a drop of 0.6%. North Island sales decreased by 4.7% with 713 sales compared to last year’s 748 but South Island sales increased by 7.4% with 390 compared with 363. . . 

Established blueberry orchards placed on the market for sale:

The land, buildings and orchards sustaining one of New Zealand’s quality blueberry growing and processing operations has been placed on the market for sale.

The portfolio encompasses three separate properties in the Central Waikato areas of Rukuhia and Cambridge – the hub of blueberry production in New Zealand. Some 80 percent of New Zealand’s blueberry crop is grown in the Waikato region, with its nutrient-rich peat-based soils. . . 


Rural round-up

March 14, 2019

Lack of Kiwi workers a problem – Chris Tobin:

Young New Zealanders are still slow in coming forward to work in the dairy industry and it’s becoming a mounting problem, not just in dairy, but also in other sectors.

South Canterbury Federated Farmers dairy spokesman Ads Hendriks said he advertised a position in recent months and only one of the nine applicants was a New Zealander.

”Two were Filipinos already on a farm in New Zealand, two were Indians also on farms here and then there were four others from India.

”The one New Zealander had a CV which had three months on a job, followed by another three months and another three months. That’s the sort of choice you have as an employer.” . . 

Could Overseer be leading to troubled waters? –

Time is fast running out to iron out all the issues with Overseer, writes Federated Farmers North Otago Dairy Chair Jared Ross.

Key Otago Regional Council Water Plan nitrogen leaching rules take effect in April 2020 and your attention is needed immediately.

A recent meeting on the Otago water plan drew a sizeable crowd, who picked a number of gaping holes in the regulation as they tried to understand the real impact on their business beyond April 1, 2020.

Many of these shortcomings relate to the hard numbers based on Overseer contained with the Otago water plan. . . 

Three generations all judging – Sally Rae:

There was something a bit special going on in the equestrian judging at the Wanaka A&P Show.

Three generations of one family were officiating in the ring, led by family matriarch, the remarkable Catherine Bell (81), of Southland. Mrs Bell has had a lifetime involvement with horses and ponies and that interest has been passed on to her daughter Dawn Kennedy, who is in her 60s, and grand-daughter Georgina Bell (22).

All three were at Wanaka, kept busy with various judging duties.. . 

Time for Marlborough to discuss water storage

It is time once again, as the wider Marlborough community, to discuss water storage writes Federated Farmers Marlborough provincial president Phillip Neal.

Liquid gold or water as it is known in Marlborough is our lifeblood.

The Marlborough Environment Plan hearings have just finished after fifteen months. Water allocation was the last issue raised but I think the most important.

This included water allocation from all our rivers, especially our biggest river and aquifer, the Wairau. . . 

Motueka fruit exporter opens cutting edge apple packhouse – TIm O’Connell:

A major player in Motueka’s fruit industry says its new apple packhouse is as “good as it gets in the world” .

Golden Bay Fruit Packers’ new 25,000 square metre packing house has been officially opened on a 4.6 hectare site on Queen Victoria St.

More than 800 guests from the Motueka community and the company’s 200 Pasifika RSE workers attended the opening ceremony inside the new building on Tuesday. . .

Seeka purchases Aongatete Coolstores for $25m:

Seeka Limited today announced that is has agreed to purchase kiwifruit orcharding, packing and coolstore business and assets of Aongatete Coolstores Limited in the Bay of Plenty for $25m.

Seeka Chief Executive, Michael Franks said the acquisition was aligned to the company’s growth strategy and builds on Seeka’s kiwifruit foundation. “Aongatete’s kiwifruit packhouse and coolstore facility processes around 4.5m trays of green and gold fruit, providing Seeka additional market presence in a growth industry. The acquisition compliments our existing business with further infrastructure in a great growing location.” . . .

Dutch cows are about to walk on water: here’s how – Richard Martyn-Hemphill:

This spring in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam, cows will walk on water.

Holy Cow?!

Not exactly: they’ll simply be the first offshore bovine residents aboard a maverick urban agtech project known as the Floating Farm.

Two vast steel mooring poles fasten a buoyant three-story structure of concrete, steel, and polycarbonates to the riverbed beneath Rotterdam’s Merwehaven Harbour.

If it is a bit surprising all those materials stay afloat, it will be even more so once it gets packed, over the next few months, with a hale and hearty herd of 40 Meuse-Rhine-Issel cows.  . . 


Rural round-up

January 24, 2019

Finding the path for dairy – Keith Woodford:

I have always been optimistic about the long-term future of dairy. I think it is likely that dairy will remain one of the pillars that underpins the New Zealand economy. But we sure do have some challenges!

The first challenge is that urban New Zealand does not understand the extent to which our national wealth depends on the two pillars of dairy and tourism. Yes, there are other important industries such as kiwifruit and wine, and yes, forestry, lamb and beef are also very important. But rightly or wrongly, our population has been growing rapidly, and the export economy also has to keep growing. There is a need for some big pillars.

Somehow, we have to create the exports to pay for all of the machinery, the computers, the electronics, the planes, the cars, the fuel and the pharmaceuticals on which we all depend. . .

Overseer transition needed – Ken Muir:

Clint Rissman Clint Rissman Attempts to move beyond the use of Overseer to manage nutrient loss on farms could be hampered by the level of investment already made in the system, Southland soil scientist Dr Clint Rissman says. ‘

‘In many situations, Overseer has been misused as a regulatory tool, mainly because there is a lack of alternatives for regulatory authorities,” Dr Rissman said. ”It’s important that we find a way to develop better tools while preserving the value of the investment we have already made in Overseer.” . . 

Hemp/wool combo spring a good yarn  :

Innovative new products using wool and hemp fibre will be developed under a new partnership between NZ Yarn and Hemp NZ. Farmers will have long-term opportunities to diversify into hemp and those already growing it will be able to sell a greater proportion of their product.

Christchurch-based NZ Yarn Ltd, a world-leading producer of wool yarns for the global soft flooring market, has announced a new shareholder and business partner — Hemp New Zealand Ltd. . .

Perendale top seller – Yvonne O’Hara:

For the second year in a row, a Perendale ram is the top selling ram at the Gore A&P Association South Island Premier Ram Auction.

The ram, owned by Pip Wilson, of Waikaka, sold for $8200, which was $400 down on the top price last year. The nine breeds, totalling 241 rams, were offered at the auction held at the showgrounds on Tuesday and Wednesday last week. . . 

A day’s work is a life lesson for a kid – Uptown Farms:

On a farm there’s always work.

I try not to lose sight of the blessing that is for our family.

Today, a snow day, it meant we could say yes when our oldest asked if he could go to work instead of going to daycare.

He’s had his eye on an expensive LEGO set and he’s looking for ways to earn a few more dollars for it. So today, like a lot of farm kids, he will go to work.

He will sweat a little. He’ll freeze a little. He will probably get hollered at a little and likely goof some things up.  . . 

NZ importers join in India’s largest global food event:

More than US$ 1 billion worth of business was transacted at Indus Food 2019, India’s biggest international food and beverage expo, in New Delhi on January 14-15, according to the Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI).

Indus Food is a global platform where top exporters from India’s food and beverage industry participate and meet with prospective buyers and distributors from across the world invited to the event by the TPCI. . . 


Rural round-up

December 28, 2018

Loss of agricultural training campuses ‘will leave massive hole’ – Piers Fuller:

Carrying $23 million in debt, Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre was forecast to continue hemorrhaging money.

The Wairarapa based organisation which has campuses all over New Zealand including Telford Farm Training Institute in South Otago, went into interim liquidation on Wednesday.

National Party agricultural spokesman Nathan Guy said the loss of Taratahi and Telford would leave a massive hole and he questioned why the Government couldn’t have done more to save it. . . 

Conservation order is rife with uncertainties – Rhea Dasent:

The Ngaruroro Water Conservation Order brings uncertainties that point to an untenable proposal, writes Federated Farmers Senior Policy Advisor Rhea Dasent.

Federated Farmers opposes the Ngaruroro Water Conservation Order because of the uncertainty it brings.

The order is uncertain in three ways: it dumps limits on the community with an accompanying regime to be worked out by someone else later; inconsistent units; and inconsistent timeframes. . . 

People are the cherry on top – Neal Wallace:

It soon became obvious the interview with Harry and Joan Roberts was near the pointy end of the stone fruit season.

The long-time Central Otago fruit growers were amicable and generous with their time to accommodate an early December interview but the season was obviously ramping up, evident by the succession of staff requiring a piece of their time with inquiries.

They were diverse requests: questions about labelling details for the first pick of new season cherries, confirmation of exactly which block of fruit tree needed spraying and there was a constant stream of young people, many foreign backpackers, looking for work. . .

Environment Canterbury happy to make changes to farm-management system– Paul Gorman:

Environment Canterbury (ECan) says it already knows about the pitfalls of Overseer, following a critical report on the farm-management system by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton.

It says it is prepared to make any changes that may be recommended as a result.

In his report earlier this month, Upton said the Overseer model needed to be more transparent if the public were to trust in it as a way of regulating pollution from farms. . . 

Breeder says goats need scale – Alan Williams:

Owen Booth has trophies and ribbons highlighting the quality of his Boer goat herd but says there’s one major drawback for the industry.

There’s just not enough of the breed in New Zealand to provide the scale to ensure good earnings for farmers producing them for their meat.

It’s hard to build markets and get dedicated processing space at meat plants, he says.

Of the 130,000 or so goats killed in NZ each year only 5% to 10% are Boer goats, a specialist meat breed introduced here from South Africa. . . 

US farmers fear lucrative Japanese exports will wither – Jacob M. Schlesinger:

After seeing exports to China tumble, U.S. farmers and ranchers are now bracing for more losses in their next-biggest Asian market: Japan.

On Dec. 30, Tokyo will begin cutting tariffs and easing quotas on products sold by some of American agriculture’s biggest competitors—including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Chile—as part of the new 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. . .


Rural round-up

December 23, 2018

Farmers urged to focus on critical risks to avoid joining summer accident toll:

Summer is a busy time on the farm, but it’s also among the most hazardous periods for accidents.

Almost 550 farmers suffered injuries serious enough for them to take at least a week off work over the last summer (December 2017-February 2018) while there were three fatalities on farms.

Overall, trips, slips and falls, being hit or bitten by animals, hit by moving objects and incidents involving vehicles were the major causes of injuries, according to data from ACC. . . 

Russell forest possums ‘down 80 percent’ since 1080 drop – Lois Williams:

The recent 1080-poison drop on Northland’s Russell State Forest has been declared an outstanding success.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) said results showed rats had been all but wiped out and possum numbers had dropped by 80 percent.

The aerial operation in September covered the Russell Forest north of Whangarei and Cape Brett in the Bay of Islands, and was the first since the mid-1990s. . .

Another assault on local democracy:

The Government should back off local government in the Hauraki Gulf and let the people decide their futures, says Federated Farmers Auckland.

The Government proposes to establish a Ministerial Advisory Committee to implement the Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan (aka Sea Change), clearly stepping on local government, says Federated Farmers Auckland provincial president Andrew Maclean.

“This move is just the latest assault on local democracy from central Government.” . . 

Project highlights nutrient loss challenges for farmers:

Work by farmers on a Hawke’s Bay project aiming to cut their nitrogen losses has provided valuable lessons and highlighted the challenges ahead.

The “Greening Tukituki” project that included two dairy farmers and two drystock farmers from the Tukituki catchment aimed to help them meet their nutrient loss obligations under the Hawkes Bay Regional Council (HBRC) plan change 6.

The project closes amid growing disquiet about the shortcomings in nutrient software system Overseer as a regulatory tool. . . 

Livestock farmers join the GIA biosecurity partnership:

Key players in the livestock farming sector have taken steps to protect their multi-billion-dollar export industries from pests and diseases by joining other primary sector organisations and Government in the biosecurity fight.

Industry organisations DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand consulted with their farmers over a year ago to join the Government Industry Agreement for Biosecurity Readiness and Response (GIA). The final step in the process is the signing of the GIA Deed. . . 

Lightwire announced as partner in rural broadband milestone:

Lightwire announced as partner in New Zealand’s rural broadband milestone

Trans-Tasman telecommunications company Lightwire is proud to be a new partner of Crown Infrastructure Partners’ (CIP) Rural Broadband Initiative Phase Two (RBI2), providing significant additional rural broadband coverage across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty Regions.

This phase of the Initiative will take coverage to 99.8% of New Zealand’s population, bringing innumerable benefits to Lightwire’s rural communities. . . 


Rural round-up

September 10, 2018

Tasman District Council U-turn on Waimea dam draws mixed reaction –  Cherie Sivignon:

The Tasman District Council decision on Thursday to revoke its earlier in-principle agreement to effectively end the Waimea dam project has received a mixed reaction.

Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith welcomed the 9-5 vote to proceed with the $102 million project after a new funding model was presented to councillors, calling it the right decision for the region’s future.

“The big gains from this project are environmental and economic,” Smith said. “It will enable the minimum flows in summer in the Waimea River to be lifted five-fold and fully meet the national standards for water quality. It will also enable another 1200ha of horticulture, creating more wealth and jobs.” . .

Tough job to get staff – Neal Wallace:

Labour hungry farmers and primary industry employers face stiff competition for school leavers with regional unemployment below 5%, secondary school teachers are warning.

Mid Canterbury’s unemployment rate is 2%, creating a competitive job market with school leavers having multiple offers and attractive wages and employment conditions, Ashburton College principal Ross Preece said.

So the days of farmers offering youth rates or minimum wages and expecting them to work 50-hour weeks are gone. . .

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. Upton highlighted several gaps and faults in this information to a recent Environmental Defence Society conference.

The PCE is analysing Overseer as a tool for measuring water pollution from agricultural sources. Upton told the conference he is not yet in a position to preview findings on his Overseer report.

But the need for better understanding of nutrient transport, models and communication were among aspects which so far stand out to him in his findings. . .

Inquiry after lambs killed –  Tim Miller:

Mosgiel man Roy Nimmo says the killing of three of his two-week-old lambs is abhorrent and whoever is responsible should take a long hard look at themselves.

The three lambs were being kept in a paddock next to his home in Cemetery Rd, beside the East Taieri Church, with about 15 other lambs and ewes.

A ewe was also shot in the head but at this stage was still alive, Mr Nimmo said. . .

Agritech deal opens door to US markets – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand’s agritech innovators will have better access to the massive United States market through two new partnerships.

Agritech New Zealand, which represents some of the country’s top tech companies, has signed an agreement with California-based Western Growers, a trade organisation whose members provide more than half the nation’s fresh fruit and vegetables.

Signed last week, the deal will open doors for Kiwi agritech companies to enter the US market via the Western Growers Centre for Innovation and Technology in California and for US-based agritech startups to access the New Zealand market, Agritech NZ executive director Peter Wren-Hilton said. . .

Shortfall of tractor drivers a concern – Yvonne O’Hara:

Although a new apprenticeship scheme will address future labour needs in the horticultural industry nationally, there is also a shortage of skilled tractor drivers and irrigation technicians to work on Central Otago vineyards that needs to be addressed.

The three-year programme provides on the job training and support for 100 new horticulture and viticulture apprentices, and was launched last month.

It is supported by New Zealand Winegrowers, Primary ITO, the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) . .

Don’t take our dairy industry fro granted :

The current drought is showing the detrimental impact that the $1/litre milk and the discounting of dairy products has had on the profitability of dairy farmers across NSW.

Retailers’ behavior to discount dairy products had deteriorated farmers’ economic resilience and the prolonged drought is highlighting the reduced profits of farmers. 

Preparing for drought requires that during good years farmers from across all commodities have extra cash that they reinvest back into their farm to prepare for the lean times. . .


Rural round-up

November 26, 2016

Farmers hit by triple whammy take stock – Gerard Hutching:

No time is a good time for an earthquake, but in the case of North Canterbury, Kaikoura and South Marlborough farmers the timing could hardly have been worse.

Not only is it the busiest period of the farm year, when stock has been fattened up to take advantage of premium prices, but the region was on the verge of recovering from two years of drought.

Nevertheless, people are responding to the emergency with a mixture of co-operation and ingenuity. . . 

Aussie farm labour website eyes NZ – Rob Tipa:

The creators of an Australian website that matches onfarm jobs with available workers hopes to launch in New Zealand soon.

“We already have had workers from NZ applying for work through AgDraft in Australia,” Grace Brennan, of AgDraft, told Rural News at a Rabobank Farm2Fork seminar in Sydney.

The AgDraft website is a platform where farmers can find reliable labour when they need it most, she says. . . 

Lift in forecast payout creates opportunities for farmers:

The recent increase in the forecast pay-out to $6 per kilogram of milksolids for the 2017 season means this year for Fonterra farmers, the perfect opportunity for farmers to enter the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and ensure they on the right track business-wise.

NZDIA General Manager Chris Keeping said farmers entering the Awards this year will use the competitions process to analyse their financial situation and look at how to best utilise the money, when it comes in.

“The Dairy Industry Awards encourage share farmers, dairy managers and dairy trainees to pull their business apart and scrutinise why they operate the way they do,” explains Chris. . . 

Chatham describes how the use of RPR will improve water quality in NZ:

OVERSEER is a software tool widely used by New Zealand farmers and their advisors to tailor fertiliser use to optimise farm production while minimising environmental impacts.

Developed originally by AgResearch, it’s now jointly owned with the Ministry of Primary Industries and the Fertiliser Association. An independent organisation, Overseer Ltd, has been licensed to use the OVERSEER IP to create a sustainable business that delivers OVERSEER to users.

Recently the software application was upgraded and the latest version 6.2.3 was used to compare various farming scenarios to assess what impact changing the type of phosphate fertiliser used has on the amount of P loss to water. In all scenarios evaluated the use of RPR resulted in less phosphate loss to water than would be the case with soluble phosphate fertilisers such as Superphosphate. . . 

Buzzing coastal farm delivers a hive of primary production activity:

A coastal sheep and beef farm with growing revenues from honey production and tourism has been placed on the market for sale.

Te Au Station near the entrance of Mahia Peninsula in northern Hawke’s Bay is a 710 hectare waterfront property traditionally capable of carrying approximately 4500 stock units.

However, entrepreneurial owners Malcolm and June Rough have been diversifying their asset’s revenue streams over the past decade through the development of several complimentary farm operations. . . 

Massive forestry landholding placed on the market for sale:

One of New Zealand’s biggest privately-owned forestry land portfolios – comprising five separate plantations – has been placed on the market for sale.

The extensive land portfolio is owned by Forest Growth Holdings Ltd, a Southland based company. There is a 60-year forestry right leased to Wairarapa Estate Ltd, an Australian-based forestry investment company.

The portfolio encompasses more than 3,061 hectares of trees spread across the Manawatu and Wairarapa districts in the North Island. . . 

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Rural round-up

May 25, 2016

Shareholders unhappy with NZ’s biggest meat company split – Julia Lee:

If New Zealand dairy is our nation’s economic life-blood, then New Zealand meat is our muscle.

At $7 billion a year it’s our second-biggest export earner.

Seven-thousand New Zealanders work for the country’s biggest meat player Silver Fern and 16,000 more have shares in the company.

A company part-owned by the Chinese government are on the verge of signing a deal to split its ownership in half with Shanghai Maling. . . 

Longtime farming families honoured – Samuel White:

More than 200 people from all over the country congregated in Lawrence on Saturday to honour the 33 families receiving a Century Farm and Station Award this year.

The New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards honour and recognise New Zealand families who have continuously farmed the same land for more than a century.

The awards ceremony was held at the Simpson Park Recreation Centre in Lawrence on Saturday night. . . 

Excellence awards for Armidale:

The Paterson family, of Gimmerburn, have won the Clip of the Year title at the Otago Merino Association’s merino excellence awards.

Simon and Sarah, and Allan and Eris Paterson received the award at a function in Queenstown on Friday night, after winning the stud flock category.

Their Armidale merino stud, which has enjoyed considerable success over the years, was founded by Allan Paterson’s grandfather George. . .

Announcement from MPI’s Director-General in relation to independent review – Martyn Dunne:

On 19 May I initiated an independent review into circumstances surrounding specific MPI compliance operations. I have now approved the Terms of Reference which will inform this review, and am making these available to the public.

The credibility of MPI is of utmost importance to its ability to successfully discharge its role as the regulator of fisheries in New Zealand. Each year MPI prosecutes in excess of 300 cases in the fisheries sector and issues more than 3,000 infringements. . . 

Conservation group’s claims slammed:

A campaign launched by a Northern Hemisphere conservation group targeting the New Zealand fishing industry is based on inaccurate allegations, Seafood New Zealand Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst says.

Nabu International is calling on fast food chain McDonald’s to drop New Zealand fish to “save Maui dolphins”.

“McDonald’s use New Zealand hoki. Maui dolphins are not found in the deepwater where hoki are caught, Mr Pankhurst says. . . 

New international cooperation on animal diseases:

The Government has signed three new agreements to work closely with and support other countries in the event of animal disease outbreaks, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“As a Government we are working extremely hard to protect our borders and the primary sector from natural threats. An important part of that is international cooperation in case there is a major incident,” says Mr Guy.

The agreements formalise the participating countries’ commitment to support each other in the event of animal health emergencies, including the sharing of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine in an outbreak and recognition of zoning principles for foreign animal disease outbreaks. . . 

Faster rollout of fisheries monitoring:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today signalled the Government’s intention to speed up the rollout of monitoring equipment on commercial fishing vessels.

“Work is already underway on installing electronic monitoring and cameras on all commercial fishing vessels, however today I’ve signalled to my officials that this work should be fast-tracked,” says Mr Guy.

“This increased monitoring will provide greater transparency of the commercial fleet’s activities and improve public confidence that our fisheries are being well managed. . .

New Zealand poultry industry – new strategies needed to catch next wave of growth:

Strong growth in both volume and value terms is possible for New Zealand’s chicken meat industry, but it needs to focus on alternative strategies to capture new opportunities, according to a new report by agribusiness specialist Rabobank.

In the report, Catching the next wave of growth, Rabobank identifies the development of new markets, the capturing of a greater share of consumer spending and improved margins through productivity gains as three key strategies that will enable the industry to maximise volume and value growth. . . 

Latest Overseer Update Reduces Workload For Users:

OVERSEER Limited released today the latest update to OVERSEER® Nutrient Budgets (or OVERSEER). The new version OVERSEER 6.2.2 reduces the amount of manual data users need to input into the tool.

OVERSEER 6.2.2 lets users access soils data directly from Landcare Research’s S-map database. OVERSEER uses the S-map database to seamlessly provide online data on soil properties affecting farm nutrient leaching. State of the art technologies link the two systems.

“This new OVERSEER version is great news for users, reducing the manual input of up to 18 soil data fields. For the first time, OVERSEER has connected with other software to provide auto-population of data. Our users have been asking for this capability. The new version is an exciting step forward for OVERSEER,” Dr Caroline Read, OVERSEER Limited General Manager says. . . 


Rural round-up

April 29, 2016

Trade negotiations like water dripping on a stone – Allan Barber:

Before he left for China last week, New Zealand’s Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, Mike Petersen, gave me his thoughts on the process of trade negotiation and a brief list of successes he has been involved with since 2003. At that time he was Chairman of Meat & Wool NZ as it was called in those days.

During that 13 year period New Zealand has signed free trade deals with Taiwan, China, ASEAN which comprises 12 countries and at long last South Korea, not to forget the TPPA. No wonder he called trade negotiations ‘like water dripping on a stone.’ Signing FTAs is never quick and demands a huge amount of manpower, preparation, patience and recognition no country ever gets everything it wants.

The reaction to the TPPA, not only here, but also in other signatory countries, notably the USA, indicates a growing feeling of disaffection with free trade deals because of the perceived loss of sovereignty they entail, including domestic employment opportunities, and conversely the benefits to big business. . .

Food ‘knowledge gap’ creates dangers for farmers:

Does a cow need to have a calf to give milk?

The answer should be obvious, but more than 70% of consumers get the question wrong explains University of Guelph associate professor Mike Von Massow. A majority of Canadians also believe that a chicken is processed for meat when it reaches four years of age.

Von Massow shared these findings from his research on consumer perceptions of food at the Farm & Food Care Ontario annual meeting earlier this month. While many of the findings are troubling for agriculture there is also reason to be optimistic. “Consumers feel pretty good about the food they eat in Canada. Generally they believe they have safe, healthy food and they trust farmers,” says Massow. . .

Tribal councils appeal farmers’ discharge consents – John Gibb:

A decision by independent commissioners to grant a consent for a North Otago farmer from 2020 to discharge nitrogen from three farms on to land ‘‘in a manner that may enter groundwater” has been appealed to the Environment Court.

The consent application from Borst Holdings Ltd was the first to be made under Otago’s new 6A water plan change, which concerns itself with the amount of nitrogen being released into the area’s rivers.

The consent for the Borst farms, near the Kakanui River, was granted for 15 years starting from April 1, 2020. . . 

Dairy farmers will pay for next five years say John Mulvany:

MURRAY Goulburn has sheltered farmers from the real global milk price and they’re going to pay for five years, according to a leading consultant.

Gippsland-based consultant John Mulvany said the effect of the overpayment for milk in 2015-16 will result in the deduction of the equivalent of 24 cents a kilogram of milk solids from milk supply during the next three years, or $36,000 a year for a 150,000kg/MS farm, to pay back for this season’s mistake.

“The late notification is absolutely inexcusable,” he said.

“It is not fair to the MG field staff who, until mid-December, were issuing income estimates with three step-ups leading to a milk price over $6 a kilogram of milk solids. . . 

Sweet opportunities in honey industry for locals:

Today marks the first day of work for 11 Work and Income clients, who will be developing Northland College’s mānuka plantation site.

30 hectares of mānuka will be initially planted on Northland College land – an initiative that provides current and future employment opportunities for Kaikohe people.

The Northland College Mānuka Initiative stems from the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan which identifies 58 actions for stimulating the Northland economy. . . 

Horticulture Welcomes Dam Progress:

Horticulture New Zealand has welcomed the announcement of the progress made in funding for the Ruataniwha Dam project in Hawke’s Bay.

The horticulture industry is reliant on sensible management of freshwater in New Zealand and the provision of water for future generations of primary sector business is essential.

“This will see the number of growers increase, and this in turn will improve the sustainability of the proposal,” HortNZ natural resources and environment manager Chris Keenan says. . . 

Expect more gains in nutrient management says Ballance:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is confident that Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord targets around nutrient data collection and efficiency reporting will continue to lift as more farmers understand the direct benefits to their farms and their OVERSEER® nutrient budgets.

Commenting on the release of Accord results yesterday, Ballance CEO Mark Wynne said that while results had fallen short of targets for nutrient management data and the reporting back of nutrient efficiency information, good progress is being made.

The target is for all dairy farms to provide quality nutrient management data. Progress is currently sitting at 75 percent, up from 56 percent last year. . . 

New online financial problem-solving platform for farmers: ASK Crowe Horwath:

Earlier this month accounting and business advisory firm Crowe Horwath announced the launch of the online platform, ASK Crowe Horwath.

ASK Crowe Horwath, an obligation-free, online financial problem-solving service allows questions to be posed by New Zealand agribusinesses and individuals that are then answered by Crowe Horwath advisors – ‘get a real answer from a real advisor’ is indeed the tagline of the platform.

There are no boundaries to the questions that can be asked, with rural professionals covering the full spectrum of financial services. . .

Debbie Kelliher's photo.


Rural round-up

August 28, 2015

New lecturer pursuing genetic gains – Sally Rae:

Phillip Wilcox credits time spent culling deer for the New Zealand Forest Service for his pragmatic perspective and love of the outdoors.

He now found that passion complementary to his primary sector relationships and technology transfer work.

Dr Wilcox has been appointed by Beef and Lamb New Zealand Genetics (BLNZG) as its inaugural senior lecturer in quantitative genetics at the University of Otago. . . 

Kiwi dairy farmers rethinking careers – Dave Gooselink:

Dairy farmers are being forced to reduce stock and slash costs to try to stay afloat, following the big drop in milk price payouts.

Some farmers are losing staff and taking on more of the work themselves, forcing some sharemilkers to rethink their careers. . . 

World-class soil programme ‘misused’:

A soil scientist who was involved in the initial development of the controversial nutrient management system, Overseer, agrees with critics who say it is being misused.

The computer software programme was designed to help in the assessment of nitrogen and other nutrient losses from farms.

Regional councils are now using Overseer as well to set nutrient discharge levels in their land and water plans.

Independent soil scientist and fertiliser consultant Doug Edmeades was a National Science Leader with AgResearch in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the Overseer concept was born.

He said the Overseer programme is world class – no other country has such a tool.

But Dr Edmeades said it was not being used in the role it was designed for and that it had never been intended to be used as a regulatory tool. . . 

Heartland potato chips a family affair – Audrey Malone:

Raymond Bowan fell in love with potato farming at the age of 17. Wife Adrienne laughs that it’s not potato farming her husband fell in love with, but potatoes in all their forms – mashed, baked, roasted, boiled baby potatoes (without butter so not to interfere with the taste) and of course as chips.

Raymond Bowan’s passion for potatoes and chips has seen Heartland Potato Chips take on the big boys at their own game. With its fifth birthday looming, changes are afoot at the helm but the recipe for success remains the same.

The company, which the Bowans describe as something of a David and Goliath story, has always been a family oriented business. It was started to sustain a family business and it remains central to family, with daughter Charlotte stepping into the role of general manager. . . 

Fonterra: Foreign investment in trees:

The German man felt it was time he checked on his tree.

He brought up his browser on his laptop, went to the Trees For Travellers website, entered his tree identification number and got the co-ordinates for his tree. Then, using Google Earth, he zoomed in on the Kaikoura track which was home to his sapling.

There it was, still protected by its combi-guard (funded by the Fonterra Grass Roots Fund) sheltering the young tree from the elements. He zoomed closer to locate the area and a message appeared telling him his tree was doing well.

If this all sounds a bit unusual, it is the quintessential symbiotic relationship where both parties benefit. Trees For Travellers offers New Zealand native trees for planting around Kaikoura – like many parts of this country a place where native trees have often given way to imported and pest varieties. . .

Italian farm family video wins the first global web video competition:

Sabrina Caldararo, Carmine Caldararo and Gerardo Graziano from Italy won the first prize with their video submission “A modern family farm”. More than 40 videos from 20 countries were submitted for the first YouFarm International video competition, which was initiated by Bayer CropScience in 2015.

“We are grateful our video won out of such a wide range of international videos. Our aim was to give insights into modern Italian farming and the value of regionally and traditionally produced products. It’s great that the online community as well as the jury appreciated our concept,” said Gerardo Graziano. Having been awarded the first prize, Gerardo and his brother in law will now start the “Farmers around the Continent Tour” through Asia. They will meet farmers, visit farms as well as a variety of agricultural sites and parks from tea plantations in Malaysia to vertical farms in Japan. . . 


Rural round-up

March 15, 2015

Farmax conference to focus farmers and rural consultants on 2025 export goals:

Decision support software company, Farmax, believes it has a key tool pastoral farmers can use to help the agriculture industry achieve its goal of doubling exports by 2025. The company’s 2015 conference will focus on helping farmers and rural consultants gain confidence in the tools they need to achieve this objective.

Minister for Primary Industries Hon Nathan Guy will open the conference at Mac’s Function Centre in Wellington on 7-8 May.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Dr Scott Champion, OVERSEER general manager Caroline Read and Landcorp Farm Operations general manager Graeme Mulligan will also present over the two-day event. . .

Forestry leases returned to Māori owners:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew joined Māori owners and the community in Northland today to celebrate the surrender of a 740 hectare forestry lease.

The ceremony included the felling of the final trees to mark the end of what was originally a 99 year Crown lease. The trees are to be replanted by the landowner, Parengarenga A Incorporation.

“Partnership between the Incorporation and the Crown has been important to the development of forestry in the Far North,” Mrs Goodhew says. “By stabilising moving sand on the Aupouri peninsula this once unproductive land has been developed into a productive forest. . .

Drought may bite olive harvest:

A Wairarapa olive grower says the extremely dry conditions are taking a toll on trees and will bite into this year’s harvest.

Last year a record olive harvest was recorded in many parts of the country, helped by hot, dry summer conditions.

Olive New Zealand’s president, Andrew Taylor, said it was too early to say what this year’s harvest would be like from region to region, although it was likely that some growers will get lighter crops than the record amount last year.

But grower Ray Lilley, who owns White Rocks Olives at Martinborough, said the weather conditions this season would reduce the harvest, especially on younger trees. . .

Open Country posts record annual profit on surge in sales, sees ‘strong’ 2015:

(BusinessDesk) – Open Country Dairy, the dairy manufacturer controlled by Talley’s Group, reported a record profit for 2014 as revenue growth outpaced rising cost of sales, and said it expects a “strong” result in 2015.

Profit was $29.8 million in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2014, from $18.2 million in a 14-month period a year earlier, according to the Auckland-based company’s annual report. Open Country changed its balance date to Sept. 30 from July 31 in 2013.

Sales jumped to $908 million from $635 million, while cost of sales rose to $858 million from $597 million, allowing the company to increase gross profit by 31 percent. The 2014 year took in a season in which farmers received a record payout for their milk, while global dairy prices tumbled in the second half from near their highest levels in seven years. . .

Steak of Origin Underway:

Beef farmers nationwide are waiting in anticipation to see if their steaks will be named amongst the best in New Zealand.

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin competition, supported by Zoetis, received over 300 entries from farmers, retailers, wholesalers and foodservice suppliers hoping to take out the title of the nation’s most tender and tasty steak.

Entries will now go on to be scientifically tested at Carne Technologies with colour and tenderness results determining the top 20% from each class, which will be announced as semi-finalists. . .

 

Villa Maria named fourth most admired wine brand in the world and first in New Zealand:

Today, Drinks International, one of the most trusted and respected global drink journals, named Villa Maria as the fourth most admired wine brand in the world, the only New Zealand winery to make the top 10 list. More than 200 of the world’s top masters of wine, sommeliers, educators and journalists took part in the annual poll, which pits wine brands from all regions, styles and qualities against each other.

The Academy of Masters of Wine, sommeliers, educators and journalists were tasked with critiquing and recognising the ‘Most Admired Wine Brands’ in the world and measured against the following list: . .


Rural round-up

February 21, 2015

Further fruit fly found in Auckland:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms that an isolated population of the Queensland fruit fly has been found in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn.

A resident of the higher-risk Zone A in the middle of the existing Controlled Area found a single fly in a lemon tree on his property, captured it and reported it to MPI.

The fly was formally identified as a recently-emerged un-mated female adult fruit fly. This is the only fly that has been found, over and above the initial trapped fly found earlier this week.

Chief Operations Officer Andrew Coleman says thanks must go to the resident who captured and reported the fly, allowing MPI to act swiftly to scope the problem. . .

Belief in sheep’s milk put to test:

One man who sees the potential in sheep milk opportunites is putting it to the test.

A Lincoln University farm management and agribusiness lecturer planned to manufacture his own ice cream from milking 125 ewes on his property in Darfield, Canterbury.

Guy Trafford said the roof for his dairy plant was to be put on next weekend.

He said the sheep milking industry was an untapped opportunity for farmers. . .

Irrigation gains reflected in updated Overseer:

Irrigating farmers and growers will soon have greater confidence in the outputs OVERSEER® Nutrient budgets (Overseer) generates with the release of the nutrient budget model’s new comprehensive irrigation module.

From late April, Overseer 6.2 will improve the ability to model a range of irrigation systems and practices, dramatically improving its ability to calculate N-loss for irrigated properties.

Overseer General Manager Dr Caroline Read says incorporating the breadth of irrigation systems and management in use today will allowOverseer to address a known shortfall. . .

 Pasture recovery plan – growing grass after the dry:

 Livestock has been the number one priority in areas hit by the recent dry – and rightly so – but now pastures also need attention, to fuel farm recovery after rain, and provide the main source of feed for the next 12 months.

A successful pasture recovery plan has three stages: current management while conditions are dry; actions to be taken when rain comes and an autumn pasture renewal programme.

Pasture specialist Graham Kerr says the best way to start is to assess all paddocks on the farm, and divide paddocks into three categories. . .

 

National Fieldays calls for single, rural blokes:

Entries are now open for the 2015 Rural Bachelor of the Year competition.

Single, rural men wanting to apply to enter the competition face a range of challenges over the National Fieldays week in their bid to be crowned Rural Bachelor and walk away with $20,000 worth of prizes.

Click here for more information.

The competition is held in the lead-up to, and during the New Zealand National Fieldays at Mystery Creek from June 10-13. . .

New Prime Off Mum Challenge launched to New Zealand Farmers:

New Zealand’s largest red meat genetics company is encouraging farmers to get in behind a new initiative which aims to get more prime lambs straight to the works off their mothers and in turn increase farm profitability.

Focus Genetics is launching the new benchmarking challenge “Prime off Mum” open to all New Zealand sheep farmers. Registrations open on Monday February 23 at www.primeoffmum.co.nz.

The challenge will give participating farmers an opportunity to find out how they are tracking against others with similar land classes. . .

 

"In anticipation of this weekend, have a look at our new and exclusive trailer"


Rural round-up

February 13, 2015

Sheep and beef farmer environment champions:

Seventy sheep and beef farmers from around the country are gathering in Wellington this week to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge they need to negotiate sustainable land and water management regulations in their own regions.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has facilitated the conference given the growing need for sheep and beef farmers to be represented on their local catchment groups and working with their Regional Councils to ensure sheep and beef farmers’ voices are heard as decisions on farming within limits are developed.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Dr Scott Champion said the group of farmers who are attending the two day workshop have put their hands up to say they want to learn everything they can about being involved in environmental decisions in their own regions. . .

 NZ orange roughy exports accelerate as fish stocks improve – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand orange roughy exports are accelerating as catch limits of the deepwater fish, once a poster child for bad fisheries management, increase amid confidence about improving stocks.

Exports of the slow-growing fish, which can live for up to 130 years, rose 6.9 percent to a three-year high of $36.5 million last year, according to Statistics NZ data. That compares with a high of $170.2 million in 1988 when the fishery was at its peak, and a low of $29 million in 2012 when catch limits were cut back. . .

Just how far can Overseer be trusted? –  Doug Edmeades:

Assuming that only matters of great importance to the nation get discussed in Parliament, Overseer is now a national issue.

Hansard records show that on November 26 and again on December 2, 2014, questions were raised in the House of Representatives about the use of Overseer.

Specifically, concerns were raised about Overseer’s fitness for purpose and in particular its use for setting nutrient limits and compliance monitoring in regional council plans.

I will assume that all farmers, except those sent loco by the summer heat, know that the Overseer to which I refer, is not the boss-person. I’m talking about Overseer, the nutrient budgeting tool being promoted by its owners and regional councils to improve nutrient management and in particular to managing nitrate N losses. . .

Conditions not structures cause of red meat price drop – Allan Barber:

The pre Christmas surge of optimism, boosted by high beef and sheepmeat prices when export volumes were low, has largely disappeared. The impact of the drought in the lower North and South Islands has seen slaughter numbers increase dramatically at the same time as a series of negative events have reared their head in world markets.

Unfortunately nobody foresaw such an adverse combination of events coinciding at the same time, although our weakening dollar made a positive difference. Drought always pushes stock prices down because available processing capacity, even in these times of excess capacity, can’t handle the livestock numbers farmers need to get off their farms; overseas customers know they are in the driving seat and, naturally enough, pay no more than they must. . .

Environmental advisor turning farmer:

Q&A with 29-year-old James Hoban, who is in the process of moving across to farming after six years at Environment Canterbury.

Former ECan land manager advisor James Hoban is working towards a career in sheep farming. His key environmental insight for fellow farmers is around completing a farm environment plan. He says 90 per cent of what is covered is generally recording what farmers are already doing.

While most of his family’s 227ha property at Culverden is currently leased for dairy support, James has his eye on a farming career in the medium term and is consulting in the meantime. He left ECan in June and has been kept busy advising farmers in the environmental space ever since. James is a member of the B+LNZ Northern South Island farmer council and is also heavily involved in the “Dryland farmers group”, which is approaching ECan for a plan change regarding the controversial Hurunui/Waiau water zone. . .

DairyNZ addresses price dip, drought:

DairyNZ has launched a campaign to help dairy farmers survive a tough season bought on by a low milk price and now drought.

More than 70 farmers from around 30 farms nationwide have agreed to share their information and host events as part of the Tactics for Tight Times campaign. The campaign is designed to help farmers survive the current season and build their resilience for the future.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the fact the Minister for Primary Industries has declared drought conditions on the east coast of the South Island as a medium-scale adverse event, has highlighted the critical need for extra support for farmers. . .

Ban and fine for animal neglect:

Two lifestyle farmers in the Tararua District have been banned from owning or managing livestock for two years after being convicted of animal neglect.

Gavin Matthews and Wendy Francis Hayward of Pahiatua admitted a charge under the Animal Welfare Act, stemming from a complaint in 2012, about the poor condition of cows on a Pongaroa grazing block managed by the pair.

As well as the ban, they have been fined a total of $8,500. . .

Wallace Corp backs Ligar to commercialise novel polymer products – Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Ligar, a startup developing molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs), has secured an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars from Wallace Corp, operator of New Zealand’s largest animal products rendering facility, to fund a range of industrial trials that could see it commercialise some products this year.

Ligar is developing molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) for purification and extraction that solve a growing need for many industries to extract both valuable and unwanted substances, such as consumable liquids, dissolved minerals, water or ingredients used in manufacturing.

It has already used its specially-designed molecules to remove agri-chemicals and smoke taint from wine and is now investigating food and beverage purification and metal extraction. . .

Cheese, Yoghurt & Butter Unite for Battle of NZ’s Best:

The battle to find New Zealand’s best cheese is set to be fierce with over 400 entries, three new cheese companies, a new cheese type, new international judges and the exciting addition of yoghurt and butter categories.

Now in its twelfth year, the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards bring the country’s finest specialty cheese under one roof, in the hope of winning one of 23 champion titles.

This year is a stand out in award history with the new addition of yoghurt and butter categories, acknowledging the importance of these dairy products alongside cheese in retail chillers.

The future of New Zealand cheese making will also be recognised with the first Primary ITO ‘Aspiring Cheesemaker’ Award. . .

Wool Firms:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the combined North and South Island auction offering 14,000 bales saw a generally strong market with 96 percent clearance.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies lifted 0.43 percent compared to the last sale on 4th February having minimal impact on the market.

Mr Dawson advises that steady sales and quick shipment requirements are continuing to keep pressure on local price levels. . .

 

CRV Ambreed appoints new senior managers:

Leading herd management company CRV Ambreed is continuing to grow its capacity to support New Zealand dairy farmers with two key appointments to its senior management team.

Mathew Macfie and Andrew Singers have been appointed as sales and marketing manager and information management and information technology manager respectively.

CRV Ambreed managing director Angus Haslett said the additions to its senior management team will help the company continue to offer leading herd improvement solutions in New Zealand. . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

July 29, 2014

Cuff calling time as CEO – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff is stepping down in December after nine years in the position.

Yesterday, Mr Cuff (56) told the Otago Daily Times his decision was not sudden and he had been thinking about it for a while, looking for the right time to stand down.

During his 24-year tenure with Alliance Group, Mr Cuff held various executive positions including general manager commercial, chief financial officer, chief operating officer and chief executive. . .

Beet + Lamb New Zealand give support to MIE business plan:

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Board has approved funding for the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group’s Business Plan to support red meat sector initiatives.

The decision to approve the funding application comes following farmers voting in support of an MIE remit at the B+LNZ Annual Meeting in March of this year, seeking funding support for MIE initiatives.

The $219,000 project includes MIE contracting independent consulting firms to research improved procurement models, flow on effects on industry profitability and communicating these findings to the sector. . .

DOC: 1080 drop last chance to save mohua – Neil Rately:

The Department of Conservation has confirmed it will dump 1080 on almost 7000 hectares of Waikaia Forest in Northern Southland because of high rat counts.

An aerial drop of 1080 is the only way to ensure the survival of the endangered mohua (yellowhead) and other threatened species during a heavy beech mast, DOC says.

Catlins services ranger Cheryl Pullar said pest control might be the last chance for Waikaia mohua, which was thought to be lost during the beech mast in 2000.

Environment Southland had granted DOC consent for the drop and it would go ahead in August or September, she said. . .

Workers with experience in high demand – Rob Tipa:

Where have all the skilled farm workers gone?

That is the question that has plagued the dairy industry for years but it now extends to a shortage of experienced farm managers and shepherds with well-trained teams of dogs on sheep and beef farms.

Despite relatively high unemployment levels nationally, the chronic shortage of trained staff in the dairy industry has been well documented.

But a new survey of farmers suggests the shortage of workers affects all sectors of agriculture. . .

Overseer expands for new demands

As the nutrient-budgeting computer-modelling program Overseer becomes ever more central to fresh water management in New Zealand, its developers are working flat-out to expand its capabilities to match new demands.

First developed in the 1990s, Overseer has steadily evolved as a farming tool, becoming ever- more complex, able to calculate loss of nitrates to water, phosphate run-off and greenhouse gas emissions from nine separate farming systems, including dairying and arable.

Regional councils are now using Overseer in the development of water plans, with Canterbury farmers now expected to use it to calculate their average nitrogen losses over the past four years to establish their “nitrogen baseline”, the upper limit for future farming enterprises. . .

Semen collecting is tricky and dangerous – Sonita Chandar:

Working with penises, semen and testicles is no laughing matter but a sense of humour is essential, says a bull whisperer.

Interposing yourself between an amorous bull and the object of its lust is a dangerous occupation, but for semen collector Robyn How, of the Tararua Breeding Centre in Woodville, it is a fascinating way of life.

Born and raised in Australia, How became passionate about cattle after helping a friend with show animals. While doing an artificial insemination course, she found she had a natural ability to read bulls.

She bought a 6ha lifestyle block in Woodville in 1997 and started the breeding centre the next year with Auckland-based business partner and embryo transfer veterinarian Eddie Dixon. . .


Rules without tools

September 17, 2012

The need for standards to ensure we have clean water for consumption and recreation is unquestioned.

How to keep it clean and improve sub-standard waterways is less straightforward.

The proposed Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan would have a radical impact on land use.

“A radical feature of Canterbury’s Proposed Land and Water Regional Plan is consent to farm under nutrient discharge rules,” says Chris Allen, Federated Farmers Mid-Canterbury Provincial President.

“The big problem for any farmer, forester, wine maker or market gardener, revolves around incredibly tight tolerances for land use change.  Most farmers, like me, will not have nitrogen leaching conditions on a water consent because sheep farmers tend to be dryland ones.

“The practical impact means a good lambing may increase stock by just a few animals.  When running this through a nutrient management tool called Overseer, it may tell me my nitrogen loss has increased 10 percent.  That triggers an uncertain resource consent process.

“As large parts of Canterbury are defined as ‘red zones,’ we know the proposed default decision on land use change will be to decline.

“So that leaves me with two stark choices that sicken me as a farmer.  Either we carry less stock, underperforming productively and commercially, or some may be forced to dispose of lambs to remain compliant.

“That’s not farming.  It is dumbly following numbers punched out by an imprecise tool. . .

Submitters on the Otago Regional Council’s proposed plan are equally concerned about its impact.

A group of farmers says the council is acting against its own and national standards and farmers have expressed concerns about the rules.

Further north Horizon’s One Plan will see all but extensive hill country farmers having to seek consent to farm.

There is real concern about the impact these plans will have on people’s ability to farm. One of the reasons for this is that the councils appear to be imposing rules when there are not practical tools to measure water quality in a way that would enable landowners to comply.

Drinking the water every day gives us a very real interest in its quality and only environmental Luddites argue with the intention to maintain clean water and where necessary improve it. But there are real fears that the plans are being over-zealous and that the quest for pure water will threaten the viability of farming.

Those voicing concern aren’t asking to for economic concerns to trump environmental ones. They are asking for a better balance between the two and for rules which will work in practice and take account of the tools available for compliance.


Rural round-up

August 7, 2012

Visit highlights ‘extraordinary opportunities’: Sally Rae:

Anna Campbell has returned from a recent trip to China buoyed by the opportunities that she saw for New Zealand’s red-meat sector.   

Dr Campbell, a consultant at AbacusBio in Dunedin, described those opportunities as “extraordinary”.   

She was in China for two weeks, firstly attending a Harvard agribusiness course in Shanghai focused around global agribusiness opportunities, which attracted 60 people from around the world, although she was one of only four women. . .

Fonterra election now wide open – Hugh Stringleman:

The shock resignation of Fonterra director Colin Armer has thrown the forthcoming election for farmer directors of the huge co-operative wide open.

Anti Trading Among Farmers group Our Co-op has confirmed it will stand a candidate in what is expected to be a crowded field. It has not yet decided who . . .

People key to success of agri-food plan – Jon Morgan:

    It would be easy to pooh-pooh the latest strategic plan for agriculture. After all, it follows at least 10 others in recent history, all of which have made little or no impact. 

    This one comes from the Riddet Institute, a bunch of university and government scientists, and is the work of a Thought Leadership Team – a name evocative of ivory towers. 

    But to accept that this plan hasn’t a chance is to give up, admit that the task of harnessing the wonderful potential of the agriculture and food sector is beyond us. . .

Call to Arms to treble agri-food turnover – Allan Barber:

The Riddet Institute, a partnership of five organisations, The University of Auckland, AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, Massey University, and the University of Otago, encompasses the entire New Zealand science sector.

 In its report A Call to Arms launched last week, it challenges New Zealand’s agri-foods sector to take the steps needed to realise its potential which the Government’s Economic Growth Agenda estimates should treble to about $60 billion by 2025. This demands a compound annual growth rate of 7% which, when compared to the present rate of 3%, is a daunting task, unless some truly revolutionary thinking and, more important, action occur very soon. . .

Turners & Growers lifts first-half profit 2.2% to $7.1m:

Turners & Growers said first-half net profit rose 2.2 percent to $7.1 million but didn’t provide any other details.

The fresh produce company said it will release the details of its results for the six months ended June 30 by August 17, as “required by listing rule 10.4.” . . .

2013 Ballance Awards new category energy efficient farming:

The 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards will feature a new category award that rewards energy-efficient farming.

This award is sponsored by New Zealand’s largest renewable energy generator, Meridian Energy.

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust, which administers the annual competition, has welcomed Meridian to the sponsorship family.

NZFE chairman Jim Cotman says the Trust identified the need for an energy award some time ago. . .

Free range hen farm to expand:

A $2 million expansion at the largest free-range poultry farm  in New Zealand will house another 16,000 hens on the property at Glenpark, near Palmerston.   

The 77ha site already has 48,000 Shaver hens, Mainland Poultry general manager for sales and marketing Hamish Sutherland said.   

When the free-range poultry farm opened in 2002, expansion was promised as the free-range market grew. . .

Overseer upgrade released:

Farmers and growers are being offered an enhanced tool to help them use nutrients efficiently.

The owners of the OVERSEER® Nutrient Budgets software are releasing a major upgrade today.

Overseer is available free of charge through a partnership between the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand and AgResearch.

The upgrade to Overseer Version 6 reflects user feedback on previous versions says Mark Shepherd of AgResearch, the Overseer technical team leader. . .


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