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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