Rural round-up

March 23, 2019

Canterbury farmer credits advances in technology with revolutionising farming – Emma Dangerfield:

A North Canterbury farmer says advances in technology will help him pass on a thriving legacy to his daughters.

Mike Smith and his family began their farming partnership in Eyrewell in 2010 and had been able to improve land production by making use of new technology.

It allowed him to make informed decisions and had reduced the farm’s environmental impact, he said. . . 

China will be hungry for NZ meat – Pam tipa:

African swine fever’s huge impact on China’s pork production this year will be a huge opportunity for New Zealand’s meat industry.

Rabobank’s global strategist for animal protein Justin Sherrard believes the market hasn’t yet fully picked up on the impacts the disease will have.

“This has become a major issue in China,” he told Rural News.  . . 

Sunflowers used to regenerate soil – Yvonne O’Hara:

Mark and Madeline Anderson are trialing a pasture mix that includes sunflowers as a method of soil regeneration and as an alternative polyculture forage on their Waiwera Gorge dairy farm.

They are also looking forward to see their first Normande-cross calves on the ground in August.

They have a 580ha (effective) dairy farm and run 750 milking cows, along with another 300 to 400 young stock.

Mr Anderson said he had sown 50ha using a pasture mix of sunflowers, kale, plantain, phacelia, vetch, buckwheat, various clovers including Persian clover, oats, ryecorn, prairie grass and linseed to create a polyculture rather than the monoculture like ryegrass. . . 

Big wetland bush block opens to public after 500,000 crowd-funding effort  – Mike Watson:

An endangered forest wetland in Taranaki, saved from farmland development by a public fundraising drive, is ready to be opened up to the public.

The 134 hectare Mahood-Lowe reserve, near Kaimiro, 20km south east of New Plymouth, included rare kamahi, northern rata, tawa and totara as well as lichens and mosses.

There is also burgeoning populations of kiwi, whio and falcons. . .

Hectic period for pioneer in deer AI – Sally Rae:

Lynne Currie has the distinction of probably artificially inseminating more deer than anyone else in the world.

Mrs Currie, who lives near Wanaka, is in the middle of a short but hectic season as she travels the country helping deer farmers to diversify the genetic base of their herds.

The first farm was programmed for March 15 and the last on April 8 and much work goes into planning the logistics, including coordinating both vets and farmers. . . 

Dollar a litre demise good news for milk’s nutritional appeal – Andrew Marshall:

A significant flow-on benefit from the past month’s 10 cents a litre rise in prices for supermarket labeled two- and three-litre milk lines will be a restoration of milk’s nutritional and value perception in the eyes of consumers.

Dairy Connect chief executive officer, Shaughn Morgan, described the latest announcement by Coles and Aldi as a valuable initiative in what remains a long journey ahead to find structural solutions to the industry.

“We have long argued that part of the great damage done by $1 a litre milk discounting was to undervalue dairy farmers, the dairy industry and the nutritious fresh milk by denigrating its significant nutritional contribution to human health,” he said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 25, 2019

NZ trade threatened by WTO stand-off — trade expert – Pam Tipa:

The ability of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to hear any New Zealand disputes arising out of Brexit could be under threat.

It is just one example of problems which may arise if the WTO does not have enough appellate body judges to hear appeals, says trade expert Stephen Jacobi.

Seven major NZ agricultural organisations put their concerns to the Government over threats to the WTO rules before the annual forum of global trade and business leaders in Davos Switzerland last month.

Next big technology step is here – Neal Wallace:

The technology’s name, The Internet of Things, sounds both daunting and obscure. But dig below the label and it refers to some very clever technology that will have an application for farmers. Self-confessed technophobe Neal Wallace talks to Internet of Things Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker.

Many farmers are already dabbling in technology’s latest and greatest applications.

Checking the weather, measuring the growth and quality of pasture or crop, weighing animals and checking soil fertility generate data to assist decision-making and administration is made easier with connections to Nait and with rural professionals.

Those things form the basis of the Internet of Things (IoT). . . 

Norwood NZ Rural Sports Awards 2019 finalists announced:

The finalists have been decided for the Norwood NZ Rural Sports Awards for 2019, which take place on Friday March 8 in Palmerston North.

The finalists are leaders in both traditional rural sports like shearing, fencing, wool handling and dog trials, and newer sports like gumboot throwing, cowboy action shooting and tree climbing.

“The range of rural sports represented in this year’s nominations is extraordinary, and I love the fact we’re honouring people from young athletes just starting to make their mark, to the lifetime achievers, and those who work away in the background to make sure our rural sports can happen,” said Sir Brian Lochore, chairman of the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards judging panel. . . 

Native plantings paying dividends:

Mid-Canterbury farmer John Evans is reaping the benefits of native plantings on his farm, in the form of improved pollination and pest control.

“I can’t put a number on it, but I am spending less time and less money on spraying for aphids,” he says.

Evans farms at Dorie, near the coast just south of the Rakaia River, and has five areas devoted to native plantings, established with the help of Tai Tapu native plant nurseryman Steve Brailsford. .  .

Bringing the primary sector together – PINZ 2019 is coming:

Federated Farmers is teaming up with New Zealand’s leading conference company, Conferenz, to bring the country’s primary industry the conference it’s been missing.

The Primary Industries New Zealand Summit will be held at Te Papa in Wellington, July 1-2.

The event is a partnership between Conferenz and Federated Farmers. Both organisations have long histories of running conferences for the primary sector, and this conference will benefit from their combined industry knowledge and experience. . .

Ground Spreaders Announce New Awards Programme:

The New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers Association (NZGFA) is encouraging agricultural companies to nominate candidates for a set of new industry awards. The awards, introduced to recognise and commend those who have made a significant and positive contribution to the ground spreading industry, have attracted sponsorship from Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Graymont, Ravensdown and Trucks & Trailers.

Nominations for the four awards – the President’s Award, the Innovation Award, the Health & Safety Award and the Young Achiever’s Award – open on Monday 18th February and close on Friday 12th April 2019. Finalists will be invited to attend the NZGFA’s 63rd annual conference in Taupo in July. . . 

Grass-fed beef health benefits – a meat-buyer’s guide –  Kathleen Jade:

Beef that is truly 100 percent grass-fed comes from cows that have grazed in pasture year-round rather than being fed a processed diet for much of their life. Standards and labeling laws for grass-fed beef are controversial and confusing. The terms “grass-fed” or “pasture-raised” are allowed even if your beef really came from cows that spent little or no time outdoors in a pasture setting. U.S. beef labeled as “grass-fed” but not bearing USDA certification may be the result of various combinations of grass and grain feeding including grass finishing. If the label doesn’t specifically say “100 percent grass-fed,” or carry the USDA or similar certification, there’s no guarantee.

Even under USDA certification standards, however, cows labeled “grass-fed”can be confined much of the year and fed antibiotics or hormones. The USDA’s standards are lower than those of the American Grassfed Association (AGA), an alternative organization that, like the USDA, offers certification for grass-fed beef.  . .


Rural round-up

February 2, 2019

Oamaru chef makes the cut – Rebecca Ryan:

Cucina head chef Pablo Tacchini isn’t one to talk up his own reputation – but his food says it all.

Mr Tacchini’s exceptional culinary skills have seen him named a Beef + Lamb New Zealand ambassador chef for 2019.

He is one of five New Zealand chefs to have been selected, all recognised for driving innovation and creativity using New Zealand beef and lamb.

 

Fertigation: a new way of applying fertiliser:

A new guide has been released which will assist farmers and the irrigation industry to adopt the use of fertigation.

The method is a new way of applying fertiliser which is likely to reduce nitrogen leaching and save labour on farms.

Fertigation allows irrigators to be used to apply liquid fertiliser or liquid soluble fertiliser in small quantities at the same time as water. . . 

Potato sector looking chipper – Pam Tipa:

The opportunities for the potato industry lie in a planned series of sustainable developments, says Potatoes NZ chief executive Chris Claridge.

“We don’t see a boom and bust with potatoes, just a gradual improvement,” he says.

The sector is now close to a one billion dollar industry. . . 

NZ blackcurrant harvest improves:

Despite a difficult growing season, 2019 has delivered a high-quality blackcurrant harvest, signalling positive signs for the industry as research and international science point to the unique health boosting properties found naturally in New Zealand blackcurrants.

BCNZ chairman and grower, Geoff Heslop, says this season’s high-quality harvest has come at a good time for blackcurrant growers. . . 

NZ to take ownership of a new global agritech initiative:

New Zealand is going to take ownership of a new global agritech initiative, AgritechNZ chief executive Peter Wren-Hilton says.

Wren-Hilton has just returned from the US where he met a number of key AgritechNZ partners in Farm2050 which was set up to solve the global food challenge. By the year 2050, the global population will reach 10 billion people, requiring a 70 percent increase in food production. . . 

Lamb is meat of choice for environmentally conscious millennials, group says :

As the end of Veganuary comes close, sheep farmers are reminding consumers of the dietary and environmental benefits of locally produced lamb.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has reiterated the benefits of British lamb as the month-long vegan campaign, ‘Veganuary’, comes to an end. Lamb producers have spent much of January responding to queries and giving interviews on why sheep reared in Britain are beneficial for the environment and why consuming British sheepmeat is one of the most sustainable options for the country. . . 

Understanding the values behind farmer perceptions of trees on farms to increase adoption of agroforestry in Australia – Aysha Fleming, Anthony P O’Grady, Daniel Mendham, Jacqueline England, Patrick Mitchell, Martin Moroni, Arthur Lyons:

Agriculture faces increasing sustainability pressures. Land intensification and degradation, energy use and inputs, complex environmental management, social issues facing farming communities and climate change are just some of the headline sustainability concerns threatening the viability of farming. Simultaneously, there is a need to increase food and fibre production and resource use efficiency. For many of these sustainability issues, increasing the number of trees planted in agricultural systems, or agroforestry, can improve the productivity and sustainability of future rural agricultural landscapes. In many parts of the world, the benefits of agroforestry remain under-realised. To understand the reasons behind this, interviews were conducted with 44 predominantly mixed enterprise farmers and farm advisors in Tasmania, Australia.  . . 


Rural round-up

January 3, 2019

Dairy farming: No job for just any mug off the street – Sam Kilmister:

GIVE IT A GO: There is a common misconception dairy milkers merely slap on some cups and watch their herd of cows circle the shed. 

But the battle to find skilled employees is worsening and working in the dairy shed is no job for just any punter off the street.  

To understand why the industry struggles to recruit young Kiwis, I went undercover on Murray Holdaway’s Tararua farm to experience a morning in the life of a dairy farmer.  . . 

Dairy farmers’ profitable sideline – Pam Tipa:

The jersey-cross beef business at his Whangarei Heads dairy farm is a sideline – but it is a valuable sideline, says Murray Jagger.

Last year beef sales – not including bobbies – totalled $155,000 returning back about $30,000 – 40,000, he told the recent Jersey NZ conference in Whangarei. . . 

Happy Cow Milk Company plans crowd-funding campaign – Rob Stock:

Happy Cow Milk Company founder Glen Herud hopes to raise money through crowd-funding in March.

In May last year, Happy Cow went into liquidation, which seemed to end Herud’s dream of re-inventing dairying, with ethical farmers supplying milk to local consumers.

The dream has been reborn, however, with Happy Cow having transformed from a milk company into a technology company with support from 779 people making regular donations through the online Patreon patronage service. . . 

NAIT online to be upgraded:

NAIT says its online system is set to be enhanced by an interactive map to help users accurately define a NAIT location.

The development uses Land Information New Zealand’s (LINZ) parcel data as the primary building block of NAIT’s Farm Location information. The system upgrade is scheduled for early 2019; it follows a recommendation in a review of NAIT. . . 

Data shows farmers are more progressive and engaged than many city folk – Peter Hunt:

THE urban myth that farmers are a bunch of ageing rural red-necks living in isolation on their land has been well and truly busted.

But the growing disconnect between rural and urban Australians mean it’s a battle to debunk the myth, despite survey and census data showing 20-30 per cent of farmers live in towns and regional cities, are more engaged with their communities than city folk and often more progressive, less religious and increasingly female. . .

TPP redux: why the United States Is the biggest loser – Jeffrey J. Schott:

On the first anniversary of President Trump’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the remaining 11 signatories in that pact have agreed in Tokyo to enter into a revised pact without US participation.

The biggest loser from their agreement, not surprisingly, is the United States. US real income under the original TPP would have increased by $131 billion annually, or 0.5 percent of GDP.

Under the new deal without US participation, the United States not only forgoes these gains but also loses an additional $2 billion in income because US firms will be disadvantaged in the TPP markets. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 2, 2019

The good, the bad, and the ugly — 2018 year in review – Rural News editorial team:

As we bid farewell to another year it’s time for the annual review of 2018 in the primary sector as seen by the Rural News editorial team.

The good:

The great start award: to outgoing Zespri chairman Peter McBride for his level-headed, down-to-earth approach on taking up Fonterra directorship. An independent thinker and experienced hand. Is he the next Fonterra chair in waiting?

Straight talking award: kumara grower and Vegetables NZ chairman Andre De Bruin for honest opinion on drugs and employment issues – rather than the usual PR massaged ‘never say anything controversial’ comment that does not face issues head-on. . . 

Sodden, mouldy fruit dumped after rainfall destroys Canterbury harvests – Maddison Northcott:

Southern berry growers are feeling the squeeze as hundreds of kilograms of sodden, mouldy fruits are thrown away after the most devastating season in decades.

Paul Tapper, from Tai Tapu’s Tram Road Fruit Farm, said the unseasonably heavy rain throughout November and December destroyed crops and caused up to 300kg of strawberries to go mouldy before they could be collected. . . 

Japanese farmers set to face-off against NZ imports :

Japanese farmers are set to compete with cheaper agricultural products imported from New Zealand and Australia as the first tariff cuts under the re-jigged Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal take effect tomorrow.

Tokyo’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reports that tomorrow Japan will axe tariffs on kiwfruit, grapes and melons, and cut tariffs on imported beef from the current 38.5 percent to 27.5.

It reports the number of stores selling New Zealand beef are likely to increase and a big company – Itoham Foods – is planning to sell more beef from its New Zealand subsidiary. . .

Fonterra strives for better year in 2019 – Samesh Mohanlal:

South Canterbury’s dairy industry has experienced a turbulent year with an increasingly “impaired” public perception adding to its woes, but Fonterra’s head of Farm Source for Canterbury, Marlborough and Tasman, Charles Fergusson plans to take the bull by the horns and clear the air in 2019.

The biggest hurdle of the year, the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis proved devastating for individual farmers, businesses and the wider community, and Fonterra posting its the first ever loss this year has also kept Fergusson busy.

“The year 2018 has been a tough one for the co-operative,” Fergusson says. . .

Extra production does not necessarily mean extra dollars – Pam Tipa:

The extra and hidden costs of bringing in feed can often mean increased milk production, but not increased operating profit.

In fact, sometimes producing the extra milk can cost money, DairyNZ research scientist Dr Jane Kay told a Northland Dairy Development Trust field day at Wellsford. . .

NFU brings industry together to discuss no deal Brexit:

The NFU brought more than 70 representatives from the agri-food supply chain together in London in December to discuss the impacts of the UK leaving the EU without a deal in place.

The NFU has been clear that the UK leaving the EU without a deal would be ‘catastrophic’ and is ‘not an option’ for UK agriculture.

The whole supply chain was represented – from seed to shop shelf – representing from pre and post farm gate. . .


Rural round-up

December 4, 2018

Superstar spotlights dairy efforts – Luke Chivers:

DairyNZ Environmental Leaders Forum chairwoman Tracy Brown has won a Sustainable Business Network award. She spoke to Luke Chivers about some of the challenges facing the rural sector.

Waikato dairy farmer Tracy Brown has been named a dairy sustainability champion for inspiring farmers to change on-farm practices, protect waterways, enhance biodiversity and lower their environmental footprints.

She was rewarded for her efforts by winning the Sustainability Superstar category at the NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.

The award marks a momentous occasion for New Zealand’s primary industries, Brown says. . . 

Town folks love a good farm story – Pam Tipa:

‘A good story’ was a key motivator for fourth-generation Helensville farmers Scott and Sue Narbey to open their farm to the public.

The couple opened their farm as part of Fonterra’s Open Gates 2018 day.

“We entered the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and when we started writing down all the good things we were doing we thought we were doing a pretty good job,” Scott told Dairy News.

“And we were sick of hearing all the bad things and how people perceive dairy farms. . . 

A hand up or corporate welfare? – Andrea Fox:

Westland Milk Products, approved for a taxpayer-funded Provincial Growth Fund loan branded “corporate welfare” by some critics, says it would have been happy for the commercial terms to be disclosed but Government officials ruled them confidential.

The Westland dairy exporter, which in its 2018 annual report discussing a capital restructure said it had “relatively high debt and limited financial flexibility”, is to get a $9.9 million interest-bearing, repayable loan towards a $22 million manufacturing plant project to produce higher-value goods.

The annual report noted Westland’s cash flow for the year was below expectations, its milk payout to farmers was not competitive and “obtaining new capital would make a significant difference to the co-operative”. . . 

People need to be told ‘what wool is about’ – Sally Rae:

Education is the key to lifting the state of the wool industry, industry leader Craig Smith says.

Mr Smith, general manager for Devold Wool Direct, is a member of the Wool Working Group, which has been working on how to create a more sustainable and profitable sector.

Made up of 20 wool producers, processors and other industry representatives, it has been charged with developing a pan-sector action plan.

Earlier this year, Mr Smith was  the first New Zealander to be appointed to the global executive committee of the International Wool Textile Organisation, and he is also heavily involved with Campaign for Wool. . . 

Hill country’s development risks and opportunities:

Sheep and beef farmers are increasingly finishing stock on hill country forage crops and pastures, with a resultant drop in erosion risk.

But some farmers had difficulty assessing the potential environmental impact and the financial return of hill country development, due to the unpredictability of sediment loss and the costs.

This was discovered by studies done as part of the Sustainable Hill Farming Tool project (SHiFT), says Paul Hulse, of Environment Canterbury (ECan).

The SHiFT project is to tell landowners the best ways to address these concerns, says Hulse . .

Smartphone cattle weighing technology set to expand – Lucy Kinbacher:

A HUNGARIAN developed smartphone accessory is helping producers weigh their cattle without the use of any scales or yard infrastructure. 

Known as Beefie, the new technology allows producers to calculate their cattle weights in less than half a minute by attaching an external device to an Android 5.1+ smartphone and capturing a range of photographs.

Livestock are analysed from two to six metres away, even whilst in motion or partially obscured, with more than 5000 tests on animals producing a 95 per cent accuracy rate.  . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 30, 2018

Flying the flag for female farmers – Sally Brooker:

Kerry Watson is a can-do person.

The Five Forks dairy farm worker is the only woman in the Aorangi regional final of the Young Farmer of the Year competition.

But rather than being concerned about its physical challenges, she is more worried about the theory.

Miss Watson (27) grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Cumbria, in the northwest of England, until her family emigrated to New Zealand when she was 11. . . 

Farm advisors helping improve water quality – Pam Tipa:

Fonterra’s director of sustainability Carolyn Mortland says she is very heartened by the work farmers are putting into the environment.

“I think we will see it really turning around in future years,” she told Dairy News.

Fonterra recently put out a progress report on its six commitments to improve waterways — one year on from launching the actions. . .

Partnership approach pays off – Pam Tipa:

The partnership approach was a key to Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) winning the industry award at the 2018 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards last week, says KVH chief executive Stu Hutchings.

The partnership approach has ensured the industry was better placed for any future biosecurity event, he says.

“There is no doubt that by working in partnership we can achieve better biosecurity outcomes,” Hutchings says. . . 

What’sthe beef with methane? – Eloise Gibson:

The Government’s proposal for a Zero Carbon Bill has exposed an argument between scientists about the importance of methane. But it’s not really about science, as Eloise Gibson reports in this deep-dive news feature.

There’s beef in the world of methane. Like a piece of marbled Wagyu, it is probably quite healthy — if consumed in moderation.

The argument is over when and how much New Zealand should reduce the methane from cow and sheep burps, which make up almost a third of our emissions, as we currently record them. . .

Anonymous anti-dam brochure reckless, says MP:

Nelson MP Nick Smith is concerned at the distress being caused by an anonymous anti-dam brochure delivered to all households in Brightwater that makes false claims of the town being at risk of an eight metre tidal wave if the dam proceeds.

“I am appalled that dam opponents have resorted to this sort of desperate scaremongering. I have had frightened older residents contacting my office scared witless and mothers in tears at the A & P show over the weekend out of fear for their family. Nobody should be publishing or distributing made up claims on issues as serious as earthquake and tidal wave risks.”

“It is bad enough that those responsible for this scaremongering have not put their name to it, but worse that they have tried to give it credibility by using the good names of Dr Mike Johnson of GNS and Tonkin and Taylor. These experts have dismissed the accuracy of the claims in the brochure, saying they are “very misleading” and “mischievous.” . . 

Farmers’ perspective vital to long-term improvements in agricultural practices:

A study published by scientists from The University of Western Australia jointly with farmers is one of the first to address the role of temperate perennial grass pastures in contributing to soil organic carbon in south-western Australia.Intensive sampling was conducted on a trial site near Wagin consisting of a mix of temperate perennial and annual grasses that had been sown over a ten-year period. The results demonstrated the potential of perennial pastures for short-term gain in soil organic carbon stocks.

Emeritus Professor Lynette Abbott from UWA’s School of Agriculture and Environment and Institute of Agriculture said temperate perennial grass pastures are currently an uncommon choice in this region but have the potential for future development.  . . 

Yorkshire shepherdess and her nine VERY free-range children: Christmas presents for £2, no computer games and six mile walks to buy a packet of peanuts – meet the ultimate antidote to helicopter parenting:

  • Amanda Owen gave birth to five of her nine children in a car or an ambulance 
  • She lives in an isolated farmhouse in the Yorkshire Dales with her large family
  • She grew up in suburban Huddersfield but fell in love with the idea of rural life  
  • Her family were filmed on and off for a year and will star in a TV show next week

Five of Amanda Owen’s nine children were born in either cars or ambulances at the side of the road. Quite frankly, on the tortuous (if scenic) journey to her farmhouse high in the Yorkshire Dales, you wonder how she made it to hospital with any of them.

On the map, it looks as if Amanda, better known as the Yorkshire Shepherdess, lives just a hop and skip from civilisation. In reality, the drive is a precarious one involving a twisty road, with sheer drops. The nearest maternity unit is two hours away. For a woman in labour, in the dark, this must be the road to hell.

Little wonder, then, that when the contractions started for baby No 8, Amanda didn’t even wake husband Clive and tell him to get the car keys. She simply piled towels in front of the fire, gave herself a stern talking to, and eased the baby out with her own hands. . . 


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