Rural round-up

July 1, 2014

A specialist land-based institution is essential for New Zealand :

Lincoln is New Zealand’s specialist land-based university. Its research and qualifications cover agriculture, yet also life sciences, conservation and ecology, environmental management, tourism, agribusiness, property management, and landscape architecture. This is a tried and true, and successful, model internationally.

Lincoln suffered in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes.  It is now recovering. Unlike most other New Zealand universities, international student numbers at Lincoln are growing strongly, and domestic student numbers have been maintained over the last few years. This is most likely a reflection of the extremely high employment rate of Lincoln’s graduates, and the increasing demand for them as reflected in a recent Ministry of Primary Industries’ report.

The one or two recent opinion pieces regarding the university’s reorganisation are unfortunate, but perhaps not surprising. The University is strengthening its focus on its core purposes – to help Feed the world, Protect the future and help people Live well – and this has necessitated changes in the organisational structure and staffing of the institution, as well as its portfolio of qualifications. . . .

Landcorp considers business case for milking sheep – Pam Graham:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp, New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer, is having a serious look at milking sheep and will decide in a few months whether there is a business case for it.

Chief executive Steven Carden, who is about one year in the job, says the board gave him a broad mandate to look expansively at opportunities and milking sheep is one he has come up with.

Landcorp has a flock of about 850,000 ewes, none of which it milks, but it leases about 1,500 to Invercargill-based Blue River Dairy, an existing processor of sheep milk.

“Landcorp has been a very successful sheep farmer for many years,” Carden said. At present the state-owned company produces wool and meat but sees an opportunity in the sheep milk industry where there is no real international player. Sheep milk consumer products are established in many countries but they are largely produced domestically. . .

FE research to save farmers millions

A partnership of CRV Ambreed and AgResearch is helping reduce the impact of facial eczema (FE) in dairy cattle by developing genetics that make cows more tolerant to the disease which costs the dairy industry $160 million a year.

The artificial breeding company and AgResearch were working together under the auspices of the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP).

CRV Ambreed genetic development strategist Phil Beatson said dairy farmers knew facial eczema was a cruel disease that could be incredibly stressful for cattle and an economic risk to their businesses through lowered milk production, weight loss, and stock deaths. . .

Cotton onBernard Lilburn:

Brothers Jono and Jack Lilburn from Manawatu were in a gang of six Kiwi blokes taking on the cotton harvest at Cubbie Station last summer. The numbers are huge, just like the machinery. Bernard Lilburn visited his sons to check out their day job.

The numbers around growing cotton in Australia are truly mind boggling. Contractor Steve O’Brien, based in Gunnedah in northern New South Wales, is a true blue Aussie and one that has some serious commitment to the cotton industry in his region. 

His “region” covers an area about the size of the North Island of New Zealand and he has four 7760 John Deere cotton pickers or round module balers (RMBs) with a replacement value of US$880,000 each! He usually replaces two every year. He also needs at least two 300 horse power tractors to pick up the bales as they come out of the pickers. . .

New pasture tool in the pipeline:

A NOVEL pasture meter jointly developed by English and Irish entrepreneurs was unveiled on the Enterprise Ireland stand at Fieldays.

The Grassometer uses four optical sensors to gauge pasture covers as the operator walks the farm. Its developers believe it is more accurate and convenient than the Platemeter or C-Dax now sold.

“The data is instantly transferred to your computer or smartphone as you walk the paddock and there’s no converting centimetres of pasture into kilogrammes of drymatter: it’s all done for you,” Sam Hoste, commercial manager of Monford Ag Systems, told Rural News. . . .

The Caveman Couch Potato: Lincoln researchers analyse the evolution of sedentary behaviour:

They are credited for the latest diet fads and lauded as exemplars of physical fitness, but were the cavemen and women of our distant past really the best examples of a healthy lifestyle?

The modern epidemic of obesity and disease is often blamed on the rise of a sedentary society, in which we alternate between sitting at the office and on the couch, with only a car ride in between. However, in a paper on ‘Sedentary behaviour and chronic disease’ published in Perspectives in Public Health, two Lincoln University researchers, Associate Professor  Mike Hamlin and Senior Lecturer Adrian Paterson have highlighted that modern society isn’t necessarily more sedentary than that of early hunter-gatherers. They also argue that sedentary behaviour has an important role in society that was as useful to our ancestors as it is today. . .


Rural round-up

June 16, 2014

Grassland dairying in Colombia – Keith Woodford:

This week I am writing from Bogota in Colombia, where I am leading a team of five Kiwis on an MFAT-funded dairy design project.  This is part of New Zealand’s ‘Agricultural Diplomacy’ program, which fits within New Zealand’s broader official development program.  It is also linked to developing links between New Zealand and Colombia, and the proposed development of a free trade agreement. New Zealand already sells electric fencing, seeds and other farm inputs here in Colombia. The project we are designing will run for an initial four to five years. . .

 NZ’s farming paradise disappoints import – Tony Benny:

When arable farmer Bill Davey moved to New Zealand from England 13 years ago he was told “the world’s your oyster, you can have what you want here”, but so much has changed in the intervening years that he’s now reliant on the dairy industry and is even considering milking cows himself.

“It’s turned out that we have been channelled into doing something that we’re not really comfortable with,” Davey says.

Disillusioned with subsidised farming in the United Kingdom, Davey, with wife Lynda and son Nick, arrived in Mid-Canterbury in 2001. . .

Big NZ farmer may milk sheep – Pam Graham:

Heads are turning at the prospect of one of New Zealand’s largest farmers milking sheep.

Landcorp chief executive Steven Carden chucked the idea in a speech in Hamilton on Thursday when the huge annual Fieldays agricultural show was being held down the road at Mystery Creek.

“Farming new products such as sheep milk are also being explored,” he said.

The idea is not new but it is being picked up by a very large farmer.

Landcorp is a state-owned enterprise which owns or leases 137 farms.

“We are one of New Zealand’s largest farming organisations,” Landcorp says.

Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers’ meat and fibre vice-chairman thinks it could be a bold new chapter for New Zealand’s most numerous farmed animal. . .

How “big data” could shape farming  – James McShane:

THE Rabobank Global Young Farmers Master Class has been a phenomenal experience and that certainly came to a head yesterday when we ventured onto the hallowed ground of the Rabobank head office in Utrecht, Holland.

The glass tower extends 26 floors above city with modern curves giving the appearance of binoculars from the sky.

Yesterday we ventured into the conference centre to hear guest speakers talk to us about the future technologies in farming and life in general. . .

Foresters to Meet up in the Hawkes Bay:

Forestry professionals are gathering in ‘sunny Hawkes Bay’ early July to attend the NZ Institute of Forestry’s annual conference. “Tackling Challenges and Delivering Value”.

The conference focuses on a number of Hawkes Bay’s challenges says Committee Chair, Bob Pocknall however it will have a national perspective and examine ways to deliver value despite changing times. . . .

And thanks to West Coast AgFest  and their Facebook page:

Under 3 weeks till AgFest… Remember to wear your gumboots on Saturday July 5th and help smash the AgFest 2012 record!!!

Under 3 weeks till AgFest...  Remember to wear your gumboots on Saturday July 5th and help smash the AgFest 2012 record!!!


Rural round-up

October 12, 2013

Living up to our global responsibilities – Bruce Wills:

Not to give you the wrong impression, but I am writing this column from Geneva, where I have co-presented the World Farmers Organisation’s trade policy to the World Trade Organisation. I am back in Europe thanks to the WTO but it has helped to advance New Zealand’s agricultural diplomacy.

As a trading nation, we absolutely depend on trade in a world that is utterly dependent upon food. There are some things which keep me awake at night. Adverse weather events and biosecuirty being chief among them but there is a third which increasingly gnaws at me. That is a perfect storm of food production not keeping pace with a world population expected to hit 9.3 billion stomachs in the year 2050; an amazing 2.3 billion more than today.

Henk-Jen Brinkman, of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office, called food insecurity “a threat multiplier”. . .

Angus farmers see grass is greener – Tim Cronshaw:

New Zealand’s grass-based feeding system for cattle was the main talking point of 110 international visitors at Te Mania Angus, during one of the first stops of a South Island tour, before the World Angus Forum in Rotorua next week.

Overseas visitors were treated to a wide selection of angus heifers with calves, mature calving cows, yearling bulls and herd sires, at the breeding operation at Conway Flats, south of Kaikoura.

They were also impressed by food prepared by celebrity chef Al Brown for their Monday visit at one of the largest angus breeding operations in New Zealand, and its setting next to the sea, with a snow-topped mountain backdrop. . . .

Milk powder scare will cause long term disruption – Alan Barber:

It may be a statement of the obvious, but the effects of Fonterra’s botulism scare will last much longer than originally hoped or imagined. Its impact on New Zealand’s international trade reputation gives the impression of being more disastrous than an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, always assumed to be the biggest disaster that could possibly happen.

Economically there is no comparison between the two, because the botulism that wasn’t has initially done no more than cause infant formula manufacturers a loss of business. There has been no apparent impact on dairy payouts or even global auction prices. Fonterra appears to be pretending the whole saga wasn’t even its fault, if its reaction to Danone’s damages claim is any guide.   . .

Sainsbury’s evaluating merits of docking – Alan Williams:

Big United Kingdom supermarket chain Sainsbury’s will be guided by the science on issues it is working on with leading lamb supplier Alliance Group.

These are the docking of lambs’ tails and the use of high-sugar grasses as a livestock feed in New Zealand.

Animal welfare and sustainable production were key parts of Sainsbury’s strategic vision and its work with Alliance was part of the process to have matching values between the main UK lamb supply group and NZ suppliers, the chain’s agriculture manager Philip Hambling said.

The first year of a three-year tail-docking research programme, reported in The New Zealand Farmers Weekly, has been completed.

It produced interesting findings but it was too early to draw conclusions, Hambling said. . .

Gisborne forest boom predicted – Pam Graham:

The harvesting of forests in the Gisborne-Tairawhiti region on the East Coast will create 630 jobs by 2020, potentially reducing drug abuse and crime in the region, according to a report.

A study by Waikato University for the Eastland Wood Council says that by 2020 up to 10 percent of the population of Gisborne will be involved in, or derive a living from forestry.

Salaries and wages to Gisborne residents are likely to increase to $151 million a year in that period.

The number of people receiving welfare benefits will go down, schools will benefit from having parents employed and there may be less drug abuse and crime. . .

Weather helping croppers – Murray Robertson:

THE weather has been helping the district’s croppers in the past week to catch up with their planting programmes after heavy rain last month.

This is a crucial time for every crop and cropper in the district.

Leaderbrand general manager Richard Burke said they had everything they needed at this time.

“Things are pretty good really. . .

Awards offer chance to put spotlight on sustainability – Sue O’Dowd:

There’s no time like the present to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, says national judging co-ordinator Jamie Strang.

Earlier this week the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET) confirmed eight entries had been received for the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The prestigious awards, which are held in 12 regions, are being staged in the province for the first time.

While some farmers said they wanted to delay entering the competition because they thought their farm wasn’t quite ready, often they’d say the same thing in following years, Strang said.

Many farmers did not like being in the spotlight, but entering the awards offered many benefits. . .

Solid start to avocado export sales:

The first of this season’s New Zealand avocados have started hitting the supermarket shelves in Japan this week in a buoyant start to export sales there, and opening prices in Australia are at their best.

Rival Mexican supply is lower, which has allowed Avanza, the international export brand channel for AVOCO, to start early season negotiations in Japan at significantly improved market prices. While this is partly offset by an unfavourable exchange rate it still reflects a significant improvement in grower OGR (orchard gate returns).

At the same time, interest in New Zealand avocados is proving to be strong in developing markets such as Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia and there are encouraging signs that Avanza sales will resume in Hong Kong after a two-year absence. . .


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