Rural round-up

March 20, 2019

Trees pose big risk to farmland – Richard Rennie:

While a canopy of brick and tile subdivisions threatens farmland in flatter areas near the country’s major cities it is a canopy of trees that represents a greater threat to the sheep and beef industry’s capacity over coming years.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1

The Government’s bold 50,000ha a year tree-planting policy for a low-carbon economy is the second part of the pincer that has pastoral New Zealand squeezed between urban land demand on the flats and forestry expectations on the hill country.

While farmers and growers on flatter country might face the challenge of urban sprawl, Beef + Lamb NZ policy-makers are more preoccupied with the impact millions of hectares of extra forest planting could have on the sector’s capacity, its insight manager Jeremy Baker says.

B+LNZ has welcomed Forestry Minister Shane Jones’ billion trees initiative, if done the right way with the right trees.  . . 

Migrant workers the backbone of the dairy industry, doing the work Kiwis won’t – Pat Deavoll:

Navdeep Singh has worked on dairy farms in New Zealand since 2007. Originally from India, he came to New Zealand in 2006 to study tourism at Lincoln University but gave away the course to go dairying.

“I started at the bottom and worked my way up to become a contract milker,” he says.

“I don’t want to go back to India where you can work, but you won’t get anywhere.” . . 

Another milestone looms for Roland Smith

Shearing giant Rowland Smith moved to the brink of a 150th open final win when he claimed the Waimarino Shears title for an 8th time in nine years on Saturday.

It was win number 149 for the 32-year-old Hawke’s Bay shearer who is in his 13th season of open-class shearing and who, after a successful breeze through the lowers grades, had his first open victory in January 2008 at Kaikohe.

He has had 14 wins in a row since starting the new year with a win at Wairoa on January 19, including gaining a place in this year’s World Championships by winning a 6th Golden Shears open title. . .

Action group think is paying dividends:

Like-minded farmers working together to improve their businesses’ productivity and profitability is paying dividends, Southland sheep farmer Pete Thomson, who’s part of a Red Meat Profit Partnership Action Group, says.

He is one of nine Southland farm businesses that have got together under the RMPP Action Network, a proven model for supporting small groups of farmers to turn ideas into on-farm action.

“It can get lonely out there as a farmer and this opportunity is exciting. . .

The Nelson family business that’s turning feijoas into a year-round treat – Amy Ridout:

When feijoa season begins, and trees buckle under the weight of the green fruit, the country grabs a spoon and feasts. And then, the feijoas are gone, and we’re left waiting for the next season.

Unless you can track down a packet of Little Beauties, that is. With his two sons, Ian Wastney’s Moutere operation dries and packages feijoa, kiwifruit and boysenberries, so we can enjoy the fruit year round.

The small factory is set in the heart of a 10 hectare feijoa orchard in Tasman, the largest in the South Island, Wastney says.  . . 

Ag’s $100b goal will work, but it needs more than farmers – Andrew Marshall:

Despite the odds, farmers can easily achieve Australia’s lofty ambition of reaching a $100 billion agricultural production goal by 2030.

However, big changes are needed within their regional communities to make it really happen.

Modern farms can’t survive, let alone flourish, without supportive, well serviced, well populated and digitally connected rural towns backing them up, last week’s Outlook 2019 conference was told – repeatedly. . . 


Rural round-up

March 3, 2019

Stemming lifestyle bock growth – Richard Rennie:

 Soaring kiwifruit orchard values have helped take some steam from the lure of subdividing quality land into smaller blocks in Western Bay of Plenty.

However, the Western Bay of Plenty District Council has also had to tighten up on development plans to help prevent the loss to uneconomic lifestyle blocks.

Alongside Tauranga City, Western Bay of Plenty is one of the country’s fastest-growing districts, recording a population increase from 27,000 in 1986 to 46,000 in 2013. . .

Farmingin the city – Luke Chivers:

When New Zealanders think of Auckland few think of farming. But a young Karaka dairying couple are combining their love of the city with their passion for the land. Luke Chivers reports.

IT WAS Gypsy Day 2016.

Traditionally, it is the start of the dairying calendar when accounts are settled, stock is bought and sold or moved to a new farm and new careers are launched. At least that was what Chris and Sally Guy hoped when their sharemilking agreement on a well-nurtured and developed inland slice of rural New Zealand kicked in. The couple are 50:50 sharemilkers with his parents Allan and Wendy who own the 80ha Oakview Farm in South Auckland.

New fertigation trial examines effects on nutrient loss – Pat Deavoll:

A new project to trial the use of fertigation, which could help reduce nitrogen leaching on farms, is underway.

State-owned farmer Pāmu was working with IrrigationNZ and Ballance Agri-Nutrients on the trial which had received funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund.

Fertigation is the application of small quantities of fertiliser through an irrigation system. Fertigation is used overseas but was uncommon in New Zealand. . .

Shearers clip for cancer – Toni Williams:

They came, they shore and they conquered, raising more than $85,000 for charity.

Around 70 vintage shearers from New Zealand and overseas, including current and former world champions, stars of the movie She Shears and All Black greats, appeared on the stands at the Shear For Life event at the Ewing Family property, at Hinds in Mid Canterbury on Saturday.

It was the brainchild of shearing mates Rocky Bull, Alan ”Bimbo” Bramley and Steven ”Dixy” Lynch, who wanted a chance to catch up with a few of the old shearing crowd. . .

Wyndham farmer Matt McRae’s community engagement contributes to Otago/Southland Young Farmer of the Year award  – Blair Jackson:

 Community engagement is something Wyndham farmer Matt McRae values highly.

It’s part of the reason he was recently named Otago/Southland Young Farmer of the Year.

Although his rugby career has taken a hit – he will play in Wyndham’s second string side to focus on his farming study and work – he enjoys what he does. . .

Glass bottles. Make a come-back on Country Calendar – Melenie Parkes:

A Nelson dairy farm is looking to the past to take it into the future. These dairy disruptors are using new technology to reinvent an old-fashioned favourite.

When Julian and Cathy Raine’s winter contract was cancelled by Fonterra in 2012, they had to come up with a plan to generate another source of income.

Their solution was to sell milk direct to the consumer using innovative vending machines, sourced from Europe and dotted throughout Nelson. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 18, 2019

New foot and mouth threat to New Zealand – Annette Scott:

An emergency all-agriculture meeting to discuss tighter border controls is being considered after Australian authorities seized imported meat containing foot and mouth disease and African swine fever.

“There’s some pretty sinister things coming in (to Australia) and with New Zealand tourism following similar patterns this is a real wake up call for the industry and needs to be treated with the utmost seriousness by our own border agencies,” NZ Pork chairman Eric Roy said.

“The discovery of FMD in the latest samples of products found in Australia should be of particular concern for anyone in the livestock sector. . .

Houses, trees swallow up land – Neal Wallace:

The area of land devoted to agricultural production fell by almost a million hectares or 7% in the decade to 2012 and will fall further as new Government policies encourage forest planting.

According to the Ministry for the Environment report, Our Land – Land Use Statistics 2018, most of that decline was caused by tenure review of South Island pastoral leases, subdivision and lifestyle blocks.

But between 1996 and 2012 the main shift in land cover was from exotic grassland and shrubland to exotic forest followed by a 10% increase in New Zealand’s urban area, which reached 230,000ha.

Driven by the population growing from 3.7 million to 4.4m, urban areas in Auckland grew by 4200ha, Waikato 4000ha and Canterbury 3800ha. . .

Life story: Veteran Canterbury stockman John O’Carroll a community hero– Tom Kitchin:

 John O’Carroll​ worked on his farm until his early 90s, and even then he’d never say he had retired.

O’Carroll​ was not only one of the best known stockmen in North Canterbury, he was one of the last surviving World War II veterans in the district and put in years of community volunteer work.

He died on January 15, aged 98. . . 

Molesworth Station: What’s next for our biggest farm? – Pat Deavoll:

The view from the top of Ward Pass is sublime. To the north lie the rolling downs surrounding the Molesworth Station homestead, backed by the drama of the Inland Kaikoura Range. This culminates in the summit of 2885-metre Mount Tapuaenuku.

To the south, the Acheron River stretches into the distance hemmed by arid scree-capped peaks and golden tussock flats. The Acheron Road winds its way across the flats, and far away, the slow crawling dot of a 4WD moves up the gravel road, dwarfed by the landscape that surrounds it.

This landscape belongs to 180,000 hectare Molesworth Station, New Zealand’s largest farm, leased and farmed by Landcorp and managed by the Department of Conservation on behalf of the Crown. It belongs to all New Zealanders and its fate is up for grabs.  . .

Possum cull planned after cattle catch TB near Dunedin :

Possum control will be carried out near Dunedin next month, after two cattle herds in the Flagstaff area tested positive for Bovine tuberculosis.

Bovine TB can cause weight loss and death in cattle and deer herds.

Possums are the main way the disease is spread, and humans can be at risk if they drink raw milk from an infected cow. . .

No need to panic over Brexit – Alan Barber:

In spite of the fast approaching deadline of 29th March, when the UK is due to leave the EU, not to mention the latest shipment date able to meet that deadline, there may be no need to get too concerned. There is a huge amount of media-inspired speculation about the potentially dire consequences of Prime Minister May’s inability to achieve an improvement of the exit terms leading to a No Deal Brexit, but word from Britain suggests this is highly unlikely. After all, both the EU and the British Parliament have specifically ruled out leaving without a deal.

The most likely short term outcome will be an extension of current membership terms under Article 50 which would give time for legislation to be passed either in the improbable event May succeeds in obtaining a new deal acceptable to her own parliament or further negotiation is required to reach a final agreement. . . 


Rural round-up

January 28, 2019

Change coming as Waikato’s farmers look to lower their emissions – Gerald Piddock:

Shifting to a zero carbon economy will see the biggest upheaval in farming since the end of subsidies in the 1980s.

Waikato’s estimated 9000 farmers are the region’s biggest emitters. As such, it will see some completely change how they farm and others will adopt new technologies as they become available.

For some, there will be merely tweaks for their food production. . . 

Ewe prices rocket :

It was a sale agents predicted where demand driven by industry confidence pushed prices at the Temuka annual two-tooth ewe fair on Wednesday.

“There’s plenty of confidence to buy today, there’s stability in the market and there’s confidence in the red meat industry from both farmers and processors alike,” PGG Wrightson auctioneer Jonty Hyslop said.

“With a good past 12 months following on from some years of drought and industry uncertainty I expect we will see some good confidence that will drive what farmers are prepared to pay and that’s likely to be getting up there,” industry stalwart Peter Walsh said. . . 

New Zealand wool making the difference for innovative Danish carpet manufacturer – Pat Deavoll:

A leading European carpet manufacturer is now using specially blended New Zealand wool in its innovative production process.

Based in Denmark, Ege is a global market leader in the printed carpet sector. It recently came into PGG Wrightson’s Wool Integrity Programme, following collaboration by the two companies to develop a wool blend for Ege’s carpet printing process.

PGG’s head of in-house wool export and marketing, Palle Petersen said printing enables much greater detail to be included in the design of a carpet than traditional manufacture, at far lower cost. . . 

Bovis eradication is still the plan – Annette Scott:

Testing and surveillance of Mycoplasma bovis is in for the long haul as eradication continues to be the priority.

It will continue until there’s absolute certainty of its eradication, Primary Industry Ministry Mycoplasma bovis programme director Geoff Gwyn says.

The ministry’s priorities are identifying, tracing and removing infection while supporting affected farmers.

Gwyn acknowledged 2018 was a big year “with a lot of heavy lifting by farmers”. . . 

Tariffs put squeeze on tomato exports – Barry O’Neil:

An increased focus on exports for New Zealand tomatoes could see the sector double its 2014 value by 2020.

Tomatoes New Zealand represents NZ’s 123 commercial fresh tomato growers who produce about 42,500 tonnes of fresh tomatoes in 120ha of greenhouses.

The fresh tomato industry has an annual farmgate value of $130m, including export sales of over $10m per year. . . 

The Shutdown is holding farmers back from spring planting – Debbie Weingarten:

In Asheville, North Carolina, vegetable farmers Becca Nestler and Steven Beltram are stuck between the impending spring season and the trickle-down effects of the government shutdown. Last week, when I spoke with Nestler — my friend since college — I asked about the farm. “We’re just stuck,” she told me. “We can’t even talk to our loan officer.”

The longest government shutdown in history has rendered many federal agricultural services unavailable, including the thousands of Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices that assist farmers with dozens of programs, such as disaster relief and annual farm operating loans. This is the time of year when Nestler and Beltram should be working with their FSA officer to prepare their annual loan packet — but with the office closed and their officer furloughed (and prohibited from using work cell phones or email to respond to farmers), they’ve had no choice but to wait.

 


Rural round-up

January 19, 2019

Are farmers really just a bunch of whiners and whingers? – Pat Deavoll:

Farmers are forever getting it in the neck for being a bunch of whiners.

They are seen as operating in a constant state of discontent. Too much rain, or not enough rain. Crossbred wool on a downward spiral. The gross domestic product teetering on the verge of collapse. The price of grain too low; the cost of fertiliser too high. Too much compliance. The list of complaints seems endless.

I beg to differ. Sure, the ups and downs of farming make the news, but farmers have it far from easy, even in this day of uber-technology and precision farming.

I grew up on a farm in North Canterbury, and I still think of my father, who farmed from the 1950s through to the 2000s, as being the hardest working, most uncomplaining person I’ve ever known. . . 

Lamb prices exorbitant – Annette Scott:

Buyers at the 24th annual Rakaia Gorge lamb sales hope prices hold up this season with lambs going under the hammer at record high prices.

Agents and farmers alike acknowledged the strong demand for store lambs right across the board, reflecting a booming industry with sheep on a high.

Favourable weather has created an abundance of grass that is driving exceptional demand for both store lambs and capital stock.

Pushed by the continuing strong demand for store lambs in Canterbury, buyers bid up briskly on the 10,000 lambs offered at High Peak and Snowdon Stations to ensure they didn’t miss out. . . 

Grass surplus not wasted – Richard Rennie:

South Wairarapa drystock farmer Mike Warren has had to look to a mechanical mouth to help keep up with rampant grass growth on his 1200ha property. 

While working hard to control the grass quality on his steeper country by stocking it as high as possible he has been selectively baling up flatter country and now has the dilemma of where to store 540 wrapped bales, 150 hay bales and 50 bales. 

The property comprises 30% steep hill country and the rest flat to flatter. . . 

Wetlands labour of love – Toni Williams:

It has taken nearly 20 years, but the wetlands of the Riverbridge Conservation Park are doing just what conservationist Russell Langdon hoped – offering a habitat environment for nature to thrive.

The park, nestled about 500m from the Ashburton River at Westerfield, south of Ashburton, has been a labour of love for the Mid Cantabrian.

Thousands of back-breaking man-hours have gone into its development, taking the park from the bare farmland paddock it once was to a fully formed wetland with multiple ponds and native forest grounds, all mostly unplanned and planted to encourage wildlife to thrive.

And it is still not finished. . . 

Prime arable and grazing research station for sale:

After 72 years of contributing to local and regional research, AgResearch’s grazing and arable Research Station at Winchmore, North-West of Ashburton is to be sold.

Winchmore was originally purchased in 1946, with a focus on providing local research into the use of border dyke irrigation. Long term fertiliser trials were started in the 1950s and together the site has contributed to more than 500 science publications.

AgResearch Director of Infrastructure John O’Dea says, “Projects and priorities have changed in recent years, which has seen more research conducted on commercial farms or small scale intensive research. This means the Winchmore site has primarily focused on the long term fertiliser trials.” . . 

Eat-Lancet report good opportunity for New Zealand:

The EAT-Lancet Commission’s report on healthy diets from sustainable food systems highlights the importance of sustainable, grass-fed red meat produced in countries such as New Zealand.

“New Zealand is already adopting many of the strategies recommended by the report’s authors including committing to healthy diet goals, reorienting agricultural priorities to producing high quality healthy food in a sustainable way and supporting biodiversity,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Chief Insight Officer, Jeremy Baker. . .


Rural round-up

December 26, 2018

One half of New Zealand’s kūmara-saving couple dies – Harrison Christian:

At the age of 85, Fay Gock was still driving a tractor and tending to her market garden.

The woman who, with her husband Joe, is credited with saving New Zealand’s kūmara, died peacefully last week after a sudden illness.

Her daughter, Jayne Gock, recalls her mother’s generous spirit. Fay Gock was a “loving, caring, and giving person,” with a strong desire to contribute to her community — and country. . . 

Kiwi shearing industry is heading for a crash as Aus beckons – Pat Deavoll:

Its 7.45am in a North Canterbury shearing shed and the day is in full swing. The walls vibrate with the hum and rattle of the machines; the air is pungent with the sweet-sour smell of sheep and sweat, and the radio blares.

Four men take sweeping blows with their handpieces across the sheep they grip between their knees. The wool cascades to the floor. The shearers tattooed arms shine with sweat, even though it is still early morning and chilly. . . 

‘Small city’ of Lake Dunstan summer visitors leads to camping changes:

Authorities in Central Otago have introduced a new regime to tackle freedom campers as “a small city” of visitors descends on the area.

Land Information NZ (LINZ) and Central Otago District Council have teamed up to ensure visitors to Lake Dunstan respect the area.

Self-contained vehicles are a must at most camping sites in the area and a three-day maximum stay is being enforced.

LINZ deputy chief executive for crown property Jerome Sheppard said the new approach was in response to a massive increase in visitor numbers. . . 

Nurses’ accord concerns rural hospitals – Mike Houlahan:

Otago rural hospitals are bracing for possible industrial action next year, as the implications of the Government’s much heralded nursing safe staffing accord begin to affect them.

Under the accord, signed in July as part of the deal to settle the nurse’s pay dispute, DHBs and the Government committed to safe staffing levels in all hospitals.

All DHBs have been scrambling to hire more nurses – the Otago Daily Times last week reported that the Southern DHB had hired 16 nurses and was looking for more staff. . . 

Farmers’ champion gives up desk – Annette Scott:

People have kept Kevin Geddes associated with Federated Farmers for 60 years but at 80 he’s decided it’s time to call it a day.

Clutching a personalised Federated Farmers life membership certificate presented to him at the national council meeting in Wellington on November 29 Geddes feels very honoured to have worked so long with such amazing people.

He was speechless when given the recognition for a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the business and sustainability of agriculture through innovation, determination and practical leadership. . . 

Outlook for lamb looks fair for farmers – Sally Rae:

International lamb prices might soften a little, but tight supplies in New Zealand and Australia and a weakening New Zealand dollar should ensure any slippage at the farm gate is modest.

That was the message from Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface in the latest Agri Update where she outlined the outlook for lamb, which has experienced bumper prices.

On balance, international prices were expected to slip a little from current levels as growth in China slowed and Brexit continued to weigh on the UK economy.

But back at the farm gate, . . 


Rural round-up

December 20, 2018

Arable farming the silent partner to sheep ,beef and dairy – Pat Deavoll:

There is an art and a fair bit of luck to growing arable crops. The water levels, the soils, the temperatures must be optimum. It must rain at the right time, the sun must shine at the right time.

“Then it’s, do I irrigate harder or hold back? Is the crop bulky enough? Will the bees pollinate?” South Canterbury farmer Guy Wigley says of the ordeal of closing in on harvest time.

“There was a harvest of several years ago when five inches of rain (127mm) and then a further three inches of rain decimated my barley crop.” . . 

50,000 cows culledin M bovis eradication bid:

More than 50,000 cows have been culled and 50,000 more may go as New Zealand attempts to become the first country to eradicate the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

Faced with a growing number of suspected cases at farms across the country, Kiwi lawmakers this year made a call to attempt what no other country before had managed – a costly, part-government-funded mass eradication.

The condition has serious animal welfare implications – including causing abortions and pneumonia – but poses no risk to humans or to food or milk safety. . .

Timely survey on working conditions in horticultural industry –  Anusha Bradley:

Several hundred people have been surveyed just as slavery charges were being laid against Hastings orchard worker. 

An insight into how big a problem modern-day slavery might be among horticultural workers in Hawke’s Bay could be known by the end of the week.

Workers from five of the region’s biggest growers have just been independently surveyed in a pilot study asking them about their working conditions. . .

PGG Wrightson’s seeds business to make a 1H loss after Uruguay woes – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson says its seeds business will make a loss after tax in the six months ended December and that it has had to bail out its joint venture partner in Uruguay.

Wrightson also says its rural services operations have been “trading solidly, although slightly behind last year” due to a later start to spring sales and a delayed recovery following recent heavy rain across much of New Zealand. . . 

Latest study confirms an animal-free food system is not holistically sustainable – Sara Place:

Let’s be clear, a healthy and sustainable food system depends on having both plants and animals. Researchers at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and Virginia Tech just published a study in the Proceedings of National Academies of Sciences confirming this socially debated fact. The study examined what our world would look like without animal agriculture in the U.S. The bottom line? We’d reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by 2.6 percent, and 0.36 percent globally[1] — but we’d also upset our balanced food ecosystem and lack essential dietary nutrients to feed all Americans. . . 

Hortinvest launches extensive Lindis River cherry project:

New Zealand horticultural investment company, Hortinvest Limited has released a $15.5 million cherry orchard project at Central Otago to savvy investors seeking a slice of the premium cherry pie.

The 80-hectare Lindis River project near Cromwell is double that of Hortinvest’s first cherry orchard and significantly bigger than most currently planted in the region. It is projected to send between 18-20 tonnes per hectare to market in the lucrative cherry season when it reaches full mature production by 2025/2026. . .

Relief for drought affected farmers – Andrew Miller:

Drought-affected families are receiving a welcome and much-needed financial lift on the eve of Christmas.

The Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul Society and Rotary Australia World Community Service are providing financial support from the Federal Government’s $30 million Drought Community Support Initiative to people across parts of drought-hit Australia. . .


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