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. . .


Rural round-up

December 17, 2018

Climate change debate is heating up – Andrew Hoggard:

Science and practicality should underpin the climate change discussion but sometimes that’s de-railed by politics writes Federated Farmers dairy chairperson, Andrew Hoggard.

Debate about how New Zealand will honour the commitments we gave under the 2015 Paris Agreement on global warming and climate change is – if you’ll excuse the pun – heating up.

In the last few months a series of weighty reports on options and forecasts have been published, notably from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE), the Productivity Commission (a whopper, at 620 pages), and earlier this month from BERG (the Biological Emissions Reference Group). . . 

Tararua dairy farmers out to curb nitrate leaching and negative whispers – Sam Kilmister:

Tararua dairy farmers are turning over a new leaf to reduce their environmental footprint. 

Plantain, a common weed, is being injected into pastures to help reduce nitrogen leaching into the district’s waterways. 

The fibrous plant holds less nitrogen, meaning less passes through a cow’s system after they eat it. It also causes them to pass urine more frequently, resulting in less concentrated urine patches in a paddock.  . . 

 

More stories from on-farm :

For the last edition of Farmers Weekly we went back to some of the farmers featured in On Farm Story this year and asked them to look back on the year that’s been, and ahead to what’s in store for New Zealand agriculture.

Morrison Farming

Will Morrison is looking forward to having time to enjoy the farm scenery and healthy livestock.

What has 2018 been like for your farming business?

Seasonality for Morrison Farming feels like an increasing challenge. The consistent, well spread 1000-1200mm annual rainfall and summer-safe tag for western Rangitikei no longer feel so consistent or safe. However, prices were fantastic and financially 2018 has been one of Morrison Farming’s strongest. . . 

Richard Thompson steps down from Landcare Trust

The long-time chairman of NZ Landcare Trust and Whanganui man, Richard Thompson, has retired after 22 years on the board.

And in his place the trust has chosen its first woman chair in Fiona Gower, who is also Rural Women New Zealand national president.

Landcare Trust is an independent NGO that attempts to bring together various stakeholders to work on sustainable water and land quality. . . 

From dust bowl to productive farmland: Farmers visit Nebraska – Pat Deavoll:

A party of 25 farmers and irrigation experts has returned from Nebraska, United States, with some fresh ideas about how to improve environmental management in New Zealand.

“Nebraska was one of the states which were devastated by the dust bowl storms during the depression and farming families had to leave the land,” outgoing IrrigationNZ chief executive Andrew Curtis said, who was part of the group.

“By 1932, 750,000 acres (300,000 hectares) of farmland had been abandoned in Nebraska due to soil erosion and dust storms. . . 

 

There’s Hope for wool in art show :

Dunedin artist Hope Duncan says a wolf-shaped rug made from crossbred wool is the perfect analogy for the state of the carpet fibre industry.

The Dunedin School of Art graduate loves wool but despairs about the state of the crossbred wool sector so for her end-of-year exhibition she chose a two-piece item with a wool carpet in the shape of a wolf as an eye-catching element in a none too subtle dig at how synthetic carpet manufacturers have laid claim to wool’s natural attributes.

Duncan hopes it will provoke conversation about the attributes of wool and issues with synthetic fibres. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 1, 2018

Big leap forward for New Zealand sheep genetics – Pat Deavoll:

Beef and Lamb New Zealand Genetics has launched a $5 million genetic evaluation system set to revolutionise the sheep breeding industry.

Beef and Lamb Genetics general manager Graham Alder said the new evaluation, named “single-step” was the result of four years of research.

“Single-step provides more accurate estimated breeding values in young animals,” Alder said.

“Breeders can work out a rams merit at birth rather than waiting for at least two years until the ram has lambs on the ground. . .

Milk and fires, a tricky combination – Samantha Tennent:

A Foxton Beach firefighter successfully combines fighting fires with milking. Samantha Tennent reports. 

Manawatu farmer and volunteer firefighter Tony Eade had been asleep for only a couple of hours when his pager and cellphone went off.

It was midnight and he was being called out to fight a fire. By the time the brigade put the fire out it was time to head to work. He left the site of the blaze and headed straight off to milk. . .

Telling farmers’ stories :

Every week Ash Robinson packs up his camera, overnight bag and gumboots and leaves his home in Auckland to go On Farm.

It’s his dream job. “It combines my passions for filming and farming.”

Equipped with the knowledge he learned growing up on a sheep and beef farm he heads away to another rural region. . .

Industry offers variety of careers – Yvonne O’Hara:

In the 20 years since Janiene Bayliss and husband David Pratt established their Ata Mara vineyard near Cromwell, she has seen the Central Otago wine industry grow rapidly.

There are increasingly challenging hurdles to over-come and benefits to harvest.

She said challenges included finding more workers to fill the increasing number of seasonal and permanent vacancies and how to provide accommodation for them. . .

Warning to take steps to avoid crime – Richard Davison:

Those living rurally should be taking simple steps to avoid falling prey to current trends in country crime, police say.

Levels of most types of crime remained steady in rural South Otago, and on average police were dealing with an incident every week, Sergeant Robin Hutton, of Balclutha, said.

Because of the remoteness and isolation of many rural properties, a certain segment of criminals targeted them specifically, regarding them as “easy pickings”, he said. . . 

Arable prospects ploughing ahead:

Good seasonal prospects, stronger markets and an increased variety of crop options are putting the cropping sector on a good footing after a two tough years, with farmers optimistic returns will be buoyant for some time yet.

The industry’s latest survey the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative has given farmers and investors an insight to their sector’s success, with the sector appearing to be significantly more positive than only two years ago. . .


Rural round-up

October 22, 2018

The business giving tourists a taste of the country – Sally Rae:

It is probably just as well that Laura Douglas has ditched her stiletto heels, given her days can include chasing errant pigs.

And while leading a runaway porker next to a state highway might draw a few odd glances from passing motorists, it is all in a day’s work for the self-confessed farm girl.

In a gutsy move, Miss Douglas (31) traded in a successful corporate career to establish an agri-tourism venture near Kingston in late 2016. In a major development for her fledgling business, Real Country recently confirmed a contract with international bus tour company Contiki to provide travellers with an authentic Southland farm experience.

Shares wobble as rules change – Hugh Stringleman:

Sharemarket high fliers A2 Milk and Synlait have lost considerable market value over the past month as investors try to make out the impact of forthcoming Chinese e-commerce regulations.

The prospects for both dairy companies run in tandem because Synlait produces most of A2 Milk’s infant formula and A2 now has a 17.4% stake in Synlait.

Both reported the doubling of sales and profits for the 2018 financial year when their share prices nudged $13 but A2 has since fallen to $10 and Synlait to $9. . . 

 

Butlers put berry farm up for sale – Chris Tobin:

Donald Butler (78) has spent most of his life growing berry fruit – strawberries especially – but now he and wife Jacky (76) have decided it’s time to step back.

The couple have placed their cafe and 11.95ha property at Hook, on State Highway 1 north of Waimate on the market, and will move to another property they own to run sheep.

Mr Butler has lived in the Hook area his entire life and has always been on a farm. ”My parents farmed on the Lower Hook Road and had 14 cows and apple orchards on a 40-acre [16ha] block. . .

Glysophate foes driven by hatred for Monsanto – Peter Griffin:

The NZ Environmental Protection Authority made the right call last week to leave glyphosate​ off a list of chemicals it will reassess to determine their risk to people and the environment.

In doing so, it resisted political pressure to put use of glyphosate-based weedkiller like Roundup in the spotlight. Associate Environment Minister and Green MP Eugenie Sage had wanted the EPA to consider classifying glyphosate as a hazardous chemical.

There’s a movement, particularly in Europe, to have glyphosate banned. . .

Property steeped in history on market for first time in over a century – Pat Deavoll and Rob Smith:

A historic farm near Culverden in North Canterbury is up for sale for the first time in 110 years.

PGG Wrightson real estate agent Bruce Hoban said that Mandamus Downs, owned by the Hammond family, had a “fine heritage” and was “held in high regard by North Canterbury farmers.”

“This is one of the Amuri Basin’s most admired grazing properties. It has an excellent scale, a good balance of hills, downs and flats, and has never been offered for sale before.” . . 

If we’re going to eat cattle let them eat grass – Jared Stone:

Stories about impending environmental apocalypse circulate almost daily, especially in drought-ravaged California. Many of these stories tend to blame agriculture — and specifically, beef — for gobbling up our resources. Though numbers vary widely and are hotly contested, some researchers estimate that it takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce each pound of beef.

The real problem, however, isn’t cattle. It’s industrial feedlots, where more than 70% of U.S. cattle eventually live.

In an industrial feedlot, potentially thousands of animals are packed together in an enclosure of bare, unproductive dirt. Nothing grows there. Operators have to bring in water for the cattle to drink, and for the enormous manure ponds that contain the cattle’s waste. But the majority of the water used in raising industrial cattle goes into growing their feed. These operations are tremendously resource-intensive. . .


Rural round-up

September 14, 2018

Fonterra loss could be opportunity for change – Andrew McRrae:

Dairy farmers are hoping the massive financial hit taken by Fonterra will be used as an opportunity to reset the business for the future.

The dairy cooperative delivered a net loss of $196 million for the year ended July, after being hit by compensation payouts and investment write downs.

Revenue rose 6 percent to $20.4 billion.

Orini farmer Allan Crouch said even though a loss had been signalled, it was still very disappointing, especially compared to the $734m profit the year before. . .

Fonterra ponders Beingmate future as part of strategic review – Nikki Mandow:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra is looking at whether it should get rid of its disastrous Beingmate investment as part of an ‘everything up for grabs’ strategic review.

Speaking as the company announced the first full-year loss in its 18-year history, chairman John Monaghan said the company was doing a “full stocktake and portfolio review looking at all our major investments, assets and joint ventures to see how they are performing and where they fit with our strategy”. Beingmate was a key investment under the spotlight. . .

Co-op must do better:

The Chairman of Fonterra’s Shareholders’ Council Duncan Coull has said he is extremely disappointed with the Co-op’s 2018 Annual Results.

“There’s no denying that our farmers are unhappy with current performance, and this year’s results,” he said.

“The underlying result and its impact on earnings, dividend and carrying value is totally unacceptable and one that our farming families will not want to see repeated. Moving forward, it is imperative that our business builds confidence through achievable targets and at levels that support a higher carrying value of our farmers’ investment. . .

A thoroughly modern-day forward-thinking farmer – Pat Deavoll:

If ever there was the epitome of a thoroughly modern-day Kiwi farmer, the new Federated Farmers South Canterbury president would be it.

Jason Grant does it all. He owns and manages two dairy operations and a 1000 hectare dry stock farm, is a director of an irrigation company, an active member of two river catchment groups, a husband to Anna and father to Ruby (11), Oscar (12) and Wills (13), and of course, in his Federated Farmers role, an advocate for the local farming fraternity.

That he has a lot on his plate is an understatement. He says his life is “pretty full.” . . .

Farmers deserve recognition for their hard milk slog – Lyn Webster:

We are living in fantasy land where many people seem to think money grows on trees.

Well, it bloody well doesn’t!

Warning: I am grumpy because I have just lost my job due to impeding farm sale – more on that later.

About 25 per cent of New Zealand’s overseas revenue is generated by dairy farming, which is done by about 36,000 people.  That’s not many people to bring in a huge chunk of the country’s income.  

When the payout drops, which can happen overnight, it can affect your dairy farming business very badly very quickly.  Milk prices are volatile, sensitive to international demand and currency changes. Farmers put their seasonal plans in place, including stock numbers and a budget – if the milk price plummets, you pretty well have to suck it up because you haven’t got much wiggle room. . .

Funds run dry for beekeeper working to eliminate deadly parasite – Maja Burry:

A West Coast beekeeper says his bees are resistant to the varroa mite but that decades worth of work may be lost unless he can urgently pull together enough money to keep his business running.

Varroa mites infest bee hives, feeding on larvae and an infected hive usually dies within three or four years.

Westport beekeeper Gary Jeffery said he wanted to eliminate the parasite by distributing mite-resistant queen bees that he has bred around New Zealand. . .

Fonterra changes vindicated– Hugh Stringleman:

The calibre of new directors and nominees for the Fonterra board vindicates the governance changes and the downsizing of the board and outweighs the initial loss of experience, departing director Nicola Shadbolt says.

Her decision not to seek a fourth three-year term is in accordance with the guideline of nine years as the optimum and 12 years as the maximum.

The three candidates for vacancies around the board table announced last Monday are one-term sitting director Ashley Waugh along with Jamie Tuuta and Peter McBride. . .

Deer market doing well – Ashleigh Martin:

The deer market is achieving well at the moment, New Zealand Deer Farmers Association chairman John Somerville says.

“Venison prices are the best they’ve ever been and the velvet has been really stable for six or more years with some really good pricing.

“We’re hoping for slow steady growth of the deer market


Rural round-up

August 17, 2018

Tru-Test to sell businesses to Datamars for $147.9 million – Rebecca Howard

(BusinessDesk) – Tru-Test Corp will sell some of its business to Switzerland-based Datamars for $147.9 million, it said in its annual report.

Tru-Test announced plans to shed the bulk of its businesses, signing a conditional deal to sell its retail solutions and milk meter divisions, which account for about 85 percent of group revenue.

Those businesses include the weighing, electronic identification, contract manufacturing, electric fencing and milk metering operations. All intellectual property – including the Tru-Test name – form part of the deal. . .

Farming educator explains how forecast hot weather could impact farmers and food:

International scientists have released new forecastspredicting higher global temperatures from 2018 – 2022.

IrrigationNZ strongly believes that as the climate continues to vary, many areas of New Zealand will be at increasing at risk of drought and to mitigate this risk, the country must invest in well-designed water storage.

“In hotter conditions crops need more water. Water makes a huge difference to plant growth – for example a wheat field which is not irrigated will only produce half the amount of wheat as a field which is irrigated,” says Andrew Curtis, Chief Executive of IrrigationNZ. . . 

Our calving season has finally arrived – Bruce Eade:

The biggest event on every dairy farmer’s calendar is finally here, writes dairy farmer and Southern Rural Life columnist Bruce Eade.

Calving is in full swing for most southern farmers with the middle of August upon us.

The mating decisions and choices we made in October last year are all now coming to fruition.

As I’ve said before, I really enjoy this time of year, seeing the next generation ”hatch”.

Will it be a heifer?

The anticipation, the excitement and the disappointment when it’s a bull is all part and parcel of the season. . .

The ‘cutest sheep in the world’ are now running around in Canterbury – Pat Deavoll:

When North Canterbury farmer Melissa Cowan discovered the valais blacknose sheep on the internet, she thought it was the most endearing animal she had ever seen.

With a black face, ears and feet, a shaggy fringe and beautiful white fluffy fleece it was no wonder the breed had become known as “the cutest sheep in the world”. 

They looked like cuddly toys. Plus they had a friendly temperament. Melissa Cowan had fallen in love.

It wasn’t long before she had talked her husband Hayden Cowan into importing valais blacknose embryos into New Zealand to start a flock. . .

 Swiss immigrant creates piece of pastoral paradise on the Christchurch fringe – Pat Deavoll:

Take a drive out the south side of Christchurch, go around a bend or two, and on the right, no more than a minute from the last house you will find a little piece of pastoral perfection.

Trees, both exotic and native shade small grassed paddocks dotted with plump sheep.  Fantails and tuis dart amongst the treetops. If you are lucky you will see a wood pigeon lumbering through the branches.

This 18-hectare farmlet is the 40-year labour of love of Swiss immigrant Ernst Frei, who brought the property with his wife Renate in 1979 with the dream of converting it into an organic market garden . .

RSE scheme better for business and New Zealand workers:

The tenth annual survey of RSE employers is another win for the New Zealand horticulture and viticulture industries – and New Zealanders.

The latest employers’ survey found that nearly nine in 10 employers had employed more New Zealanders – in addition to RSE workers. On average each of those employers has been able to hire five additional permanent workers, and 20 seasonal workers as a result of their participation in the scheme. . .


Rural round-up

August 13, 2018

Synlait Milk’s $2b man John Penno only wanted to be a farmer – Heather Chalmers:

John Penno says he only wanted to be a farmer; instead he set up a major export dairy company.   

On August 10, the Synlait Milk managing director officially stepped down after turning a bare paddock near Dunsandel in Central Canterbury into a multi-product company now worth $2 billion.

With a second $260 million nutritional powder manufacturing site at Pokeno, in north Waikato, set to start processing next year for the 2019-20 season, the company had much more growth to come, he said.   . . 

Lake Opuha holds out for last minute winter snow – Pat Deavoll:

It’s not just the ski fields looking for a late-season top-up of snow.

Opuha Water chief executive Andrew Mockford is hoping “mother nature will finish the winter with a flourish” and provide the much-needed snow to melt and fill irrigation reservoir Lake Opuha in South Canterbury.

There was less snow than usual this year and it was higher up the mountain, he said. . . 

 

Red meat sector confident despite some head winds – Allan Barber:

Since I attended the 2016 conference, having missed last year’s, several things have changed considerably: two years ago Donald Trump wasn’t President, Silver Fern Farms hadn’t concluded its capital raising with a Chinese investor, alternative proteins and non-meat burgers weren’t on the industry’s radar and there was little recognition of the need for a Red Meat Story.

This year the conference programme acknowledged these changes by focusing on disruption to global trade, the China influence, heightened consumer expectations, the effects of the digital revolution and the importance of building consumer trust by telling our story about product provenance, traceability and environmental credibility. The conference was very well attended by farmers, processors and service providers, all of whom were optimistic about meeting the challenges ahead of an industry which has faced many different threats to its survival in the past 140 years. . . 

Unyielding weather for European fruit and vegetable growers, how is the heat impacting crops?

Wrinkled tomato skins, curly cucumbers and small plums – these are some of the effects of drought on fruit and vegetables in Northern Europe. Exactly how great is the impact of heat and water shortages on crops, yields and growers in the region?

Hot and dry weather affects field crop farming the most, says Cindy van Rijswick, RaboResearch Fruit and Vegetable Analyst. “Yields are lower, but fruits and vegetables are also smaller in size and sometimes have quality issues. Because of the high temperatures or lack of water, growers have smaller plums, wrinkled tomatoes, and more misshapen cucumbers. In the coming months, the harvest of apples, pears and potatoes may potentially be smaller in size and yield too.” . . 

Agribusiness professional wins Future Leader role:

As a full-time rural valuer and part-time farmer George Macmillan has insights into many aspects of the agricultural industry.

Based in the Hawkes Bay, he lives close to his family’s 380ha sheep and beef farm south west of Hastings and has recently taken over the lease of a 50ha block. As a foot in the door towards land ownership, he will use the block to grow out the dairy cross beef calves he rears every year to heavier weights and will possibly finish a small number.

George, along with Northland farmer Mack Talbot Lynn, has been appointed a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Future Leader and will represent New Zealand at the International Beef Alliance conference in Canada in September. . .

For farmers, traumas tariffs are far worse than any bad trade deal – Bart Ruth:

As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to open new markets to trade, rein in regulatory overreach, cut government spending, and rebuild infrastructure and communication networks to enable rural America to compete in the global economy.

While there have been some positive changes under President Trump – when it comes to American agriculture, we are headed toward economic disaster.

As a sixth-generation farmer and a lifelong Republican, I am alarmed over the impacts that the administration’s actions are having on the agriculture economy and rural America. President Trump has shown a blatant disregard for international institutions, sound science, proven economic theory, and the history of protectionist policy. . .


Rural round-up

May 4, 2018

Irrigation not an environmental irritation – Jacqueline Rowarth:

 Irrigation can reduce soil erosion.

Of course, the irrigation has to be carefully managed and precision technologies are part of the management. However, there is no doubt that overcoming any drought period during warm temperatures allows increased pasture growth, which is associated with maintenance or an increase in organic matter, which in turn decreases the likelihood of erosion. 

Any increased income resulting from the harvesting of extra pasture or crop can be invested in more environmentally sound technologies. . .

Government-owned farmed tests positive for Mycoplasma bovis – Gerald Piddock:

Landcorp’s Rangesdale Station has been confirmed as testing positive for Mycoplasma bovis.

The sheep and beef property near Pahiatua in North Wairarapa was confirmed as having the cattle disease by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Landcorp (Pamu) spokesman Simon King confirmed the farm had tested positive for the disease and was working with MPI and local veterinary services and were currently culling the impacted herd.

“We had been in touch with neighbouring properties to advise them of the potential that the farm was infected last week, and we held a community meeting on Wednesday to update our neighbours on the situation and the actions Pāmu (Landcorp) is taking. . .

Gathering data on hill country potential, risks – Mark Adams:

Federated Farmers is backing a research project now underway to better understand hill country development practices.  

The end goal is to create a decision tool to aid farmers as they weigh up the benefits, costs and environmental risks of development of their hill country blocks.

Farmers from Canterbury and Manawatu have already shared their experiences on this topic during anonymous interviews conducted by research company UMR.  The next stage of the project, commissioned by Environment Canterbury and supported by Beef & Lamb New Zealand and Federated Farmers (South Canterbury), involves detailed telephone surveys of 150 farmers in the two provinces. . .

No significant drop in rabbits seen yet – Hamish MacLean:

Counts to establish whether the new strain of rabbit calicivirus has taken hold will begin next week, but Otago landowners expecting to see dramatic drops in rabbit numbers could be in for a wait.

When the impending release of 100 doses of a Korean strain of rabbit calicivirus was announced in March, the Otago Regional Council said the pest population could be cut by up to 40%.

Now farmers are saying they have seen no evidence of the impact of the virus.

Council environmental monitoring and operations director Scott MacLean said post-virus release night counts would begin next week but a potential 40% decrease in numbers of the pest would take time. . .

Eighty per cent of farmers aren’t employing technology to be productive in the 21st century – Pat Deavoll:

A red meat industry group discovered in 2011 that high performing sheep farmers earned more than twice as much for their red meat per hectare of land than lower performing ones,

Furthermore, they produced more than double the amount of lamb per hectare. Why? For many reasons, the group concluded.

Farmers in the lower echelons of productivity were notoriously poor at embracing technology. They also failed to integrate with management systems, failed to connect with their banks, processors and advisors, did not employ measurement and benchmarking strategies, and were terrible at budgeting. An estimated five per cent of sheep and beef farmers used an adequate budget, but 65 per cent didn’t bother with a budget at all. . . .

Agricultural sustainability in a water-challenged year – Roberto A. Peiretti:

I strive for excellence on my farm in Argentina—but this year, I’m delighted to be average.

As we bring in our corn and soybeans this month—remember, our seasons are reversed here in the southern hemisphere—we have no right to expect much of a harvest. This cropping season, our rainfall was far below regular levels. Our plants didn’t receive as much water as they need to flourish as well as they can.

Rather than suffering a catastrophe, however, we’re doing just fine: We’ll enjoy an ordinary harvest.

That’s because right now, our soil never has been healthier. We owe it all to a vision of sustainable farming that is astonishing in its simplicity even as it depends on agriculture’s latest technologies. . . .

 

It’s not #sauvblanc day without #nzwine:

On Friday 4 May New Zealand Winegrowers is ready to celebrate what is shaping up to be most successful International Sauvignon Blanc day yet, with an online digital campaign reaching over 50 million impressions via the hashtags #nzwine and #sauvblanc.

“This is on track to be the biggest social media campaign NZ wine has ever been involved in and it is fitting that it is around Sauvignon Blanc Day – New Zealand’s most exported wine varietal,” says Chris Yorke, Global Marketing Director at New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 


Rural round-up

April 16, 2018

Farmers have lost faith in MPI – Annette Scott:

Farmers must not let dairy cattle be taken for slaughter till they are sure they will get compensation, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says.

He wants the Mycoplasma bovis decision-makers to front up as the second round of culling infected herds gets going.

All confidence in compensation promises had been lost, he said.

The Ministry for Primary Industries late last month said a further 22,300 cattle from all infected properties will be killed by the end of May. . . 

Science and technology at every farmers’ fingers tips – Pat Deavoll:

In the three and a half years I have spent as a farming reporter, nothing has struck me more than how hi-tech the industry has become.

Gone are the days when a farmer could step into his father’s shoes and expect to follow the same time-tested methods and be successful.

In this age of uber-production, every sector is based on an application of science, research and technology that is changing at a mind-boggling rate. And farmers are required to change with it. In fact, I read somewhere that by 2025 farmers will need a tertiary qualification to keep up. . .

Lactoferrin – a magic ingredient – Hugh Stringleman:

Lactoferrin became the flavour of the month when Fonterra’s giant New Zealand Milk Products division held an exhibition of its advanced ingredients on the day rival processor Synlait said it will double its production of the pricy protein.

Lactoferrin is an iron-binding milk protein distinguished by its pink crystalline form, produced in small quantities and sold for high prices – perhaps $500/kg or more.

NZMP’s display said it takes 10,000 litres of milk and smart freeze-dry technology to make one kilogram of lactoferrin, which has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancement qualities. . .

Kiwi farmers’ validity at stake – Deborah Rhodes:

As we stare down the barrel of a global consumer revolution we need to be brave to tell them what they want: not what they demand, but what we are going to supply them.

The concept of appealing to every whim of the consumer has driven our farming mentality to that of the oil business: reap now and pay later. Now we are starting to pay as we scramble towards trying to prove in our dairy business that we are different from the rest, and we are — but for how long? . . .

Good – could have done better at Owl Farm – Mark Daniel:

It’s been a challenging season down on the banks of the Waikato River for St Peters School’s Owl Farm.
Tracking behind the previous season, the farm is hoping an extended lactation will help pull things back into line.

Visitors at a farm focus day in late March were told that overall production is down by about 5000kgMS (-3%) and still trending downward.

The farm has more cows (412) than last season (378) but performance per cow has been lower, as has the average yield of 363kgMS versus last year’s 370kgMS in the same period. . . .

As dairy crisis crushes farmers, Wisconsin’s rural identity in jeopardy – Rick Barrett:

Kyle Kurt fought to keep his emotions just below the surface as he talked about selling off his herd of Holstein dairy cows, which he’s milked twice a day, 365 days a year, through good times and bad.

Dairy farming has been Kurt’s livelihood, and his passion, since he graduated from Lodi High School 18 years ago. But come Monday, he’s having an auction to sell his cows, his milking equipment, his tractors and other farm machinery that he’s spent years acquiring.

It’s probably the toughest decision I have ever had to make,” Kurt said, “but I have been told it’s going to be a big weight lifted off my back.”

Scores of Wisconsin farmers are in a similar predicament. And with them, a way of life that has defined much of the state for more than a century and a half is disintegrating. . .


Rural round-up

April 11, 2018

Leading bunch of female students contribute to solving nitrogen leaching problem – Pat Deavoll:

A group of super smart women is helping to find answers to one of the major environmental challenges facing farming – reducing nitrate leaching.

The PhD students  Kirsty Martin, Anna Carlton, Roshean Woods, Lisa Box, Elena Minnee, and Grace Cun have joined a team of scientists from AgResearch, DairyNZ, Foundation for Arable Research, Landcare Research, Lincoln University, and Plant and Food Research to investigate which forages would best reduce nitrate losses.

Based at the Lincoln University research dairy farm, Martin was researching the response of 12 pasture forages to nitrogen.  . .

Allbirds: the Kiwi shoes taking the world by storm – Niki Bezzant:

Food writer Kathy Paterson doesn’t need to think about which shoes to wear when she gets dressed in the morning. For the past year or more she has worn her “uniform” almost every day: casual wool shoes by online company Allbirds.

Paterson is an evangelist for the unusual sneakers, dubbed “the world’s most comfortable shoes” by Time magazine.

She has converted many others to wearing the New Zealand merino wool shoes, she reckons, and at Christmas she bought them as gifts for her parents and sister.

Paterson has two pairs in rotation. “They’re incredibly comfortable,” she says. “I do not take them off, winter and summer. . . 

Bovis cull will be devastating – Sally Rae:

The impact of the impending Mycoplasma bovis cattle cull on milk and beef supply nationally will be much smaller than the “devastating” impact on affected farmers, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface says.

In the bank’s latest Agri Update, Ms Boniface said New Zealand’s dairy herd was about 4.8 million, so the population to be culled accounted for about 0.5%, well within usual seasonal variation in the dairy herd.

While processing capacity might be stretched temporarily at a regional level, there should be ample capacity nationwide to process the additional cow cull. . . 

Strong gales hit Ag Fest site – Laura Mills:

Contractors were out in howling winds and the dark last night to drop four marquees at the Ag Fest site at Greymouth aerodrome ahead of gale-force winds this morning.

The site was a hive of activity this morning as about 30 people helped stabilise tents damaged in the strong south-easterlies, as preparations resumed for the festival opening on Friday morning.

The wintry storm dumped snow on Arthur’s Pass, where the temperature fell to 0degC overnight, and a chilly 11degC in Greymouth this morning. . .

Rabobank Global Dairy Quarterly Q1 2018: turn the pressure down:

A robust import programme by Chinese buyers, combined with a weather-impacted New Zealand season, were the perfect ingredients for the short-term rally in Q1 2018. In the background, the export engine is firing on most other cylinders, as production growth expanded across all other regions, according to the latest RaboResearch report ‘Dairy Quarterly Q1 2018: ‘Turn the Pressure Down’.

The export engine has been running on most cylinders since mid-2017. However, weather risks have now been extended beyond New Zealand. Europe battled a cold front, Australia had localised bushfires, and there are drought conditions at play in Argentina.. . .

Te Mata Estate’s well-kept secret – vintage pickers – Astrid Austin:

Look in any one of Te Mata Estate’s vineyards and you will see a gang of hard-working pickers, although they may not be your average type – a little more vintage you could say.

More than 70 people, averaging 70 years old, but anywhere from early retirement age to well into their 80s, hand pick the winery’s grapes.

Te Mata Estate founder John Buck said: “They are people who epitomise what the unsung quality of Hawke’s Bay is really all about.

“They are just utterly fabulous, so they are a bit of a contrast to all the articles about picking-crew people. They give a lie to it, frankly. . .

The unloved Cinderella of science – Farah Hancock:

Climate change could make insect swarms an issue for New Zealand farmers and a lack of funding for long-term monitoring may mean we won’t have warning a swarm is likely to form.

Unlike other first world OECD countries, New Zealand doesn’t have long-term ecological research networks.

University of Auckland’s Dr Margaret Stanley said overseas research networks collect data on everything, from water and vegetation to insects. The data can predict potential changes based on a pest being introduced, or climate change which could trigger events such as a locust swarm.

Without data Stanley said: “We’re making decisions, puddling around in the dark a little, but not really understanding what’s going on.” . . .


Rural round-up

March 8, 2018

Meat companies must be clear about their purpose – Allan Barber:

When I heard KPMG’s global agribusiness head, Ian Proudfoot, on the radio stating the move away from meat to alternative proteins was happening permanently and quickly and meat companies needed to wake up, I wondered whether I had strayed into the Pop Up Globe to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Surely if meat companies need to wake up to alternative protein, this implies their whole business model is broken and farmers should be sitting in front of their horoscopes looking for a magical answer to the inevitable question “what the hell do I do now?”

Proudfoot’s justification for his opinion is US meat processor Tyson Foods’ announcement it has become protein agnostic and intends investing heavily in alternatives to meat. . . 

Awatere Valley farmers make a dent in “scourge of the high country” – Pat Deavoll:

For over half a century hieracium has been the curse of the high country, engulfing native tussock land and destroying the grazing potential of areas such as the Mackenzie Basin, Central Otago and the Canterbury high country.

Most high country runholders would say the weed continues its spread with little sign of abating, but a small enclave in the Awatere Valley, Marlborough thinks otherwise.

“Yes I think it’s on the decline here,” says Jim Ward, manager of Molesworth Station. . . 

Fonterra launches cutting-Edgar technology taking health and safety into 22nd century:

Fonterra and Beca have partnered to develop a breakthrough virtual reality health and safety training technology. The cutting-edge solution lets employees navigate the Co-operative’s manufacturing and distribution sites without the need to set foot on site and will help substantially reduce onboarding times.

The new technology will place Fonterra at the forefront of global health and safety innovation and is part of a business wide commitment to become a world leader in risk mitigation. . . 

M. bovis’ hurts all down the chain – Sally Brooker:

Mycoplasma bovis is affecting people all along the cattle supply chain.
Oamaru-based Whitestone Livestock Ltd principal John Cheesman said the bacterial disease was ”a real bloody issue”.

M. bovis was identified for the first time in New Zealand in late July on farms near Glenavy owned by the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group.

”It’s not really affecting the Waiareka saleyards as much as farmers’ and everybody else’s confidence to buy animals from this district and any other district,” Mr Cheesman said.

Environmental issues No. 1 focus:

Reducing on-farm environmental footprints is the top priority at Lincoln University.

Speaking at the Lincoln University Dairy Farm’s summer focus day, which was held at the Ashley Dene Research and Development Station on February 22, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences dean Prof Grant Edwards said managing environmental concerns was the No1 focus.

”How can we progress our farms to maximise production within environmental limits?” . . . 

New study finds more omega 3s in milk from grass-fed cows – Hope Kirwan:

A new study shows milk from grass-fed cows has more of a nutrient linked to heart health than conventional and organic milks.

Organic Valley collected 1,163 samples over three years of their Grassmilk, a product line of milk from 100 percent grass-fed cows, and had their fatty acid content analyzed. The study compared the omega-3 fatty acid levels in the milk from grass-fed cows to conventional and organic milk. Researchers found that milk from grass-fed cows had 147 percent more omega-3s than conventional milk and 52 percent more than organic milk.

Omega-3 fatty acid has been shown to prevent heart disease and help control chronic conditions like arthritis. . .


Rural round-up

March 2, 2018

Paving the way for better wool returns – Peter McDonald:

Is another “wool boom” on its way?

Well that’s a bold question to ask considering the prices we are receiving at this present time for our crossbred wool. If we can park the present and try to look to the future we may find some green shoots of optimism regarding wool.

I’m not going to list off wool’s attributes as most reading this column fully understand them and to a large degree here lies the problem. We know these attributes well but an entire generation of consumers has lost the connection with wool as a fibre. These characteristics I believe should be more relevant in the near future to connected modern consumers who are highly choice savvy.

Why am I optimistic? A growing global movement is expanding rapidly around fixing plastic pollution in our oceans. David Attenborough’s appeal through emotive images has placed the plastic catastrophe in our oceans directly into millions of living rooms. . . 

Record export lamb prices nudge terms of trade to new high:

Record export lamb and butter prices helped boost New Zealand’s terms of trade by 0.8 percent in the December 2017 quarter, to another new high, Stats NZ said today.

Export meat prices rose 7.5 percent in the December 2017 quarter, mainly reflecting high lamb prices (up 12 percent).

Total export prices rose 4.9 percent, with dairy and forestry prices also contributing to the rise. . . 

South Canterbury arable farmers lose $30m from stubble-burn ban – Pat Deavoll:

A fire ban and wet autumn and winter may have cost Mid and South Canterbury’s arable farmers more than $30 million, with several of them showing losses of more than $500,000. 

“I think the $30m loss is true, I’ve done the same calculations. It’s cost me a considerable amount of money,” said Federated Farmers arable industry group Guy Wigley, who farms at Waimate.

Wigley said every week of autumn planting which had been delayed had cost him about a quarter of a tonne of yield . . 

Call for farmers to report high-risk animal purchases:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) urges dairy or beef farmers who believe they may have animals that could be at high risk for Mycoplasma bovis infection to make contact immediately.

The Ministry’s Director of Response, Geoff Gwyn, says MPI is accelerating its tracing and surveillance programme so that a decision whether to proceed with eradication can be made as soon as possible.

“Right now, we need to hear from any farmers who have bought cows and calves or milk for calf feed from farms that have been publicly identified as infected. . . 

Farmers must voice concerns – Neal Wallace:

The chairman-elect of Beef + Lamb New Zealand is a Southlander who believes farming should not shy away from challenges or debate. He brought Neal Wallace up to date on what to expect when he takes over from James Parsons.

Andrew Morrison never intended having an involvement in farmer politics until he was drawn to make submissions on regional and district council plans.

Fearing councils could take control of riparian margins and strips and restrict cultivation on flood plains, Morrison lobbied to preserve landowners’ property rights and soon found himself involved with Federated Farmers.

It was an apprenticeship that taught him plenty and ultimately led to him being chairman-elect of Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . . 

High venison prices no big deal – Annette Scott:

European importers are starting to baulk at high New Zealand venison prices but it’s not a major concern – yet, Deer Industry NZ marketing manager Nick Taylor says.

“They are coming over here to negotiate export contracts saying it is very expensive but can we have some more.

“They still want it and they are still buying,” Taylor said.

But some importers are going home empty-handed, reluctant to pay the price some others, both from the United States and the European Union, are paying. . .

 

Richie McCaw’s flying milk run:

Fonterra provided nearly 20 million packs of milk free to 145,000 primary school students last year as part of its Milk for Schools scheme, now in its fifth year.

At the 2012 launch, 119 schools joined and last year 1431 schools took part.

To mark the fifth year, former All Black captain Richie McCaw will fly special helicopter milk runs to schools.

He will visit four schools selected from online entries saying why he should visit. Where possible, he will fly in to deliver milk. Local farmers will also be part of the visit. . .

Fonterra set to make further gains in global market with new Bangladesh partnership:

Fonterra is breaking new ground in South Asia’s rapidly growing dairy market, with the signing of a new distribution agreement that will make Anchor available to millions more consumers in Bangladesh. The deal is part of the Co-operative’s ongoing efforts to win in key overseas markets, by spreading the goodness of dairy nutrition.

The population of Bangladesh has grown by more than 10 per cent in the last 10 years reaching over 160 million people and it now makes up over two per cent of the world’s total population.  Matched by strong economic growth, consumers in Bangladesh are looking for affordable healthy nutrition options, such as high-quality dairy. 

Fonterra’s Managing Director of Sri Lanka and Indian Subcontinent, Sunil Sethi said Anchor is well placed to drive growth, while improving the wellbeing of Bangladeshis. . .

Joint venture company commences operations in Rolleston:

Pure Nutrition Ltd (PNL) the joint venture company formed by Ausnutria and Westland Milk Products, has commenced operation in the Izone business hub near Rolleston.

PNL is a stand-alone blending and canning company. It will can milk powders and other nutritional products sourced from Westland for Ausnutria and other customers. The company was established through an initial investment by Ausnutria of NZ$4.5million cash, and the transfer to Pure Nutrition of land owned by Westland at its Rolleston site, which had a value of NZ$3million. Ownership is 60% Ausnutria and 40% Westland Milk Products. . . 


Rural round-up

February 20, 2018

Niche markets open up for farmers with good animal welfare and environmental records – Pat Deavoll:

Merino farmers front-footing environmental and animal welfare standards are finding better paying niche markets opening up for them.

A property in the Ashburton Lakes area has secured a contract to sell wool direct to a major American retailer, said Rakaia Gorge runholder Willy Ensor.

“I can’t name the property yet, but one of the reasons they pulled it all together was because they had a very traceable animal welfare system and an audited farm environment plan. . .

Milton woolhandler claims Southern Shears title :

Milton woolhandler Cheri Peterson has become the latest addition to the ranks of Open-class winners by claiming the Southern Shears title in Gore.

Uniquely, all three in Friday’s final were gunning for their first Open win in New Zealand, with the South Otago rookie winning by just over 15pts from runner-up South Island-based Foonie Waihape, from Gisborne, and third placegetter Candy Hiri, of Gore, who were separated by just 0.53pts.

While Waihape had the quicker time and both Waihape and Hiri had better board points, Peterson had the better fleece and oddments points, to make extended a unique record at Gore.. . 

Nutritional formula plant will put Gore on the map – Sally Rae:

From bare farmland to a bustling construction site, the rural landscape of McNab, near Gore, has transformed remarkably over the past 18 months.

The population has been temporarily boosted through the day by about 350 people on-site during the construction phase of Mataura Valley Milk’s new nutritional formula plant.

Work began on the site in August 2016, and the $240 million project is on track for commissioning in May.

Once operational, it will be staffed by 65 full-time employees and process about 500,000 litres of whole milk a day to produce 30,000 tonnes of infant formula a year at full capacity. . .

State-of-the-art $30m fertiliser plant unveiled :

The Ravensdown co-operative has unveiled its new $30 million state-of-the-art fertiliser blending plant and distribution centre in New Plymouth today.

The company’s regional manager, Mike Davey, said a feature of the facility is a $5 million precision blending plant imported from the United States.

“So you’re blending the right amount of product, the right amount of nutrients, the fertilizer’s then spread accurately in the exact amount that’s required for that particular job.” . .

Second sweep of the Great DDT Muster gathers pace:

A nationwide initiative to rid New Zealand of banned pesticides like DDT is gaining momentum as farmers turn over tonnes of the dangerous chemicals for safe disposal.

The programme, called The Great DDT Muster, has so far collected some 17 tonnes of banned persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and other chemicals from properties in Northland to Invercargill. . .

Defiant cow flattens farmer and swims to remote island to escape abbatoir :

A resilient cow destined for a trip to a slaughterhouse has taken control of her own fate, smashing through a metal fence, flattening a farmer and swimming to a nearby island.

Workers attempted to load the stubborn bovine onto a truck bound for an abattoir in Poland last month but it quickly became pretty clear she wasn’t having a bar of it.

The beast instead rammed the fence in the escape, breaking one of the farmworker’s arms in the process. . .


Rural round-up

January 27, 2018

Provincial president reflects on future of farming belonging to those who are good at what they do – Pat Deavoll:

South Canterbury sheep and beef farmer Mark Adams has been the provincial Federated Farmers president for the district for almost three years.

His face and opinions are commonplace in online news and the Canterbury farming mags. He farms just north of Fairlie amongst a pleasant, fertile and rolling landscape. In the winter the local ski fields form a snowy backdrop to the farm.

Adams’ term of office with the Feds comes to a close in April. He is reflective on the past three years and says representing farmers in the district has been satisfying. But there’s been a lot to get his head around. . . 

Record temperatures tough on stock – Esther Taunton:

With much of Taranaki hit by drought and other parts of New Zealand experiencing record-breaking temperatures, AgResearch scientists say the pressure is on farmers to carefully manage animal welfare.

The soaring temperatures across the country include the hottest recorded temperature in Dunedin and Invercargill over recent days. The increased heat and humidity raises issues around the welfare of livestock as well as production from those animals.

Over the last 15 years, AgResearch scientists have carried out extensive research into how dairy cows cope with heat. That research has provided important insights for animal management, says senior scientist Dr Karin Schütz. . .

Farmers welcome 90 day work trial retention :

Fears difficulties attracting staff to farming would be exacerbated by employment law changes appear to have subsided with the Government retaining the 90-day trial provisions for small businesses.

Federated Farmers employment spokesman Chris Lewis said allowing businesses employing less than 20 staff to retain the trial would give farmers renewed confidence to employ staff, given the main concern for dairy farmers was a lack of available, motivated workers.

“Many employ few staff, but because of the small size of the business, they simply can’t afford the situation or inconvenience when new staff aren’t suited for the job or can’t fit in,” he said.

Retaining the 90-day trial would give farmers confidence to employ staff. . .

Dear neighbor we need NAFTA, love, your local farm family – Uptown Farms:

Dear Neighbor,

You pass by our local business daily, even though we don’t have a storefront on Main Street. You drive by our production lines to and from work each day, although you probably just call them fields. You probably don’t give much thought at all to the corn, cattle and soybeans we are raising.

It would probably surprise you to know, that right here in our own little county, $126.6 million in sales is created each year by the farm families and that 1,173 jobs that are supported by those sales. For a rural county, with total population just over 12,000, those numbers are rather significan . . 


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