Rural round-up

April 4, 2019

Beef and lamb campaign chases conscious foodies – Alan Williams:

Up to 16 million conscious foodies in California are the target of a major new beef and lamb marketing project.

The aim is to make New Zealand top-of-mind for a group passionate about the idea of grass-fed red meat and wanting to know where it comes from.

After months of research Taste Pure Nature was launched in California on March 20 and straight away there were 151 automatic pick-ups on the multi-media release, providing potentially millions of potential impressions among individual consumers, Beef + Lamb NZ market development general manager Nick Beeby said. . . 

‘Devastated’ Northland mānuka honey producers seek chemical markers definition review from MPI – Lois Williams:

The legal definition of mānuka honey could change, if new evidence shows the chemical makeup of the honey is different in Northland, MPI says.

Far North honey producers say the Ministry of Primary Industries’ regulatory definition, published a year ago, excludes up to 50 percent of their honey, based on just one chemical marker – even in areas where the bees have nothing but mānuka to feed on.

About 80 beekeepers and honey producers from Auckland to Kaitaia turned out to challenge MPI scientists at a hui yesterday at Ōtiria marae, near Kaikohe.

They believe the definition established to protect New Zealand’s mānuka brand overseas fails to take into account regional variations in the chemical makeup of the honey. . . 

Diversified and innovative Whangarei orchard wins Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A Whangarei family growing raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and green and gold kiwifruit have won the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The Malley family of Patrick and his wife Rebecca and their children Austin, 4, and Eloise, 1, and Patrick’s parents Dermott and Linzi own and operate their diversified horticulture business, Maungatapere Berries, just outside Whangarei.

Raspberries are the biggest berry crop, processed through a packhouse on the orchard, and sold domestically under their own Maungatapere Berries brand along with blackberries, and blueberries under the Eureka brand. Kiwifruit canopy extends over 16.25ha, including 3.36ha of Gold 3 under cover, to target high-taste, high-production, early season fruit. . . 

Diversity and tolerance – now is the time –  Karen Williams:

Federated Farmers arable sector chairwoman Karen Williams says it is time for bold leadership.

With the traumatic events in Christchurch front of mind it has been hard to focus on topics worthy of commentary when so many of our daily tribulations seem comparatively insignificant.

This atrocity is beyond belief.

It has severely affected the Christchurch community, stunned and saddened New Zealand and sent shock waves around the globe. 

Is there something we can take out of this that will at least in some small way add value to a grieving country?

I believe there is. . . 

Australian snail farmer struggling to keep up with demand

Snails, ants and even fried cockroaches are increasingly popping up on Australian menus, as people seek more environmentally friendly meat.

However, with extreme weather and increased popularity, Australian snail farmers are struggling to meet demand.

Claudia Ait-Touati is a not-for-profit snail farmer in Coonalpyn, about 150 km south-east of Adelaide. . . 

Another pea weevil free year needed in the Wairarapa:

The current Biosecurity New Zealand ban on pea growing in the Wairarapa is knocking down the pea weevil population, but another pea weevil free year is needed to be confident of eradication.

The pest was first discovered in the Wairarapa in 2016 and has been subject to an eradication programme since then.

“Our trapping programme did not find any pea weevils in the 2018 surveillance, which is a promising result after the discovery of just 15 the previous season, says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Dr Cath Duthie. . . 

Kiwifruit orchard with growth potential for sale:

One of closest commercial kiwifruit orchards to Auckland’s urban boundary – with potential to treble its production capacity – been placed on the market for sale.

Known as MacLachlan Orchard, the 12.2-hectare property at 90 Mullins Road in Ardmore is planted on flat land, and is forecast to produce some 42,000 trays of fruit in the current season.

The orchard’s 3.3 canopy hectares of productive land comprises some 2.29-canopy hectares of the Hayward green kiwifruit variety and 1.07 canopy hectares of the G3 gold kiwifruit strain picked off vines which were grafted some six years ago. . . 


Rural round-up

September 7, 2015

Drones monitor Fiordland’s rainbow trout – Hamish Clark:

Fish & Game is using drones to monitor prized rainbow trout spawning at one of the world’s top fishing spots.

The remote location is the Upper Waiau River, which runs from Lake Te Anau and borders Fiordland National Park.

At the moment fishing is off-limits, as the trout are busy spawning and burying their fertilised eggs. . . 

World-first Kiwi technology can be a big boost to lucrative forestry industry:

A Christchurch company believes it can add tens of millions of dollars to the multi-billion forest industry by cutting-edge hi-tech testing to find out which trees are suitable for the booming housing and building construction markets.

Fibre-gen has produced a world-first harvester head mounted sonic tool, the HITMAN PH330, which measures the strength of trees to see if they are suitable or not for high-end building construction. There are no known direct competitors in the global market as yet.

Fibre-gen is the leader in forest wood segregation sonic technology tools and was a finalist at the 2015 New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards. It has entered the New Zealand Innovators Award, with finalists being named next week on September 10. It is also a finalist in the 2015 Champion Canterbury Business Innovation Awards with winners being named in Christchurch on September 16. . . 

New Chairman leads New Zealand Young Farmers into the future

Jason Te Brake has been elected the new Chairman for New Zealand Young Farmers. Mr Te Brake takes the helm after Cole Groves stepped down after two years in the role.

Mr Te Brake has served on the Board as an elected member since May 2013, in this time he has taken on the role of Vice-Chairman and the Chairman of the National Committee of New Zealand Young Farmers. Mr Te Brake joined Young Farmers in 2010, and while he first joined with social intentions, Jason quickly found his way into governance. . . 

Community groups receive $918,000 in War on Weeds funding:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has announced a $918,000 commitment to the War on Weeds through this year’s round of Community Conservation Partnerships Fund grants.

$500,000 will go to a significant joint programme run by Weedbusters NZ and the QEII National Trust, and will be used to fund voluntary weedbusting efforts by community groups, alongside regional and local councils.

An additional $418,000 will go to other projects tackling problem plants such as old man’s beard, banana passionfruit and other members of the Dirty Dozen weeds launched on August 27. . .

‘Young Hort’ winner calls for more primary industry diversification:

The downturn in prices confronting dairy farmers is a timely reminder to those in horticulture to consider crop diversification now, while kiwifruit, pipfruit and wine exports are booming.

Outgoing New Zealand Young Horticulturist of the Year (YHOY) title holder and Whangarei kiwifruit grower, Patrick Malley, believes local farmers can learn from the diversification practices of their Californian counterparts.

Malley was speaking after just having returned from a fact finding travel scholarship to the United States, which was part of his prize for winning the NZ Young Horticulturist of the Year 2014 competition.

While the dairy industry is at the bottom of its commodity cycle, the kiwifruit and pipfruit industries arebooming, making it a good time to think about diversifying crop types to spread risk and create stability through commodity cycles. . . 

Let Ballance get your career started:

Soil scientists, engineers and farmers to vets, bankers and regulators, there are a wide range of careers which Ballance Agri-Nutrients is proud to support with its annual scholarship programme.

Warwick Catto, Science Strategy Manager at Ballance said the co-operative was always excited to see student talent interested in primary industry careers.

“The recent unprecedented interest in our dairy and red meat sectors sets the backdrop for the importance the sector has on New Zealand’s future growth and our place in the world.” . . 

Zespri launches new $15,000 scholarships:

Zespri has announced two new $15,000 scholarships to encourage New Zealand’s top secondary students to pursue a career in New Zealand’s fast-growing kiwifruit industry.

Zespri General Manager Grower & External Relations Dave Courtney explains that Zespri is looking to support and encourage tomorrow’sleaders into the horticulture sector.

“Kiwifruit is a global business; our industry earned $1.6 billion in sales revenue last year and we’re set to grow strongly over coming years. . . 

Canterbury Dairy Farmers Thrive On Environment Competition Experience:

Ashburton sharemilkers Sara and Stuart Russell have always strived to make their dairy operation as sustainable as possible. Entering the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards helped them confirm they were on the right track.

“We wanted to see how our business compared with others, and we wanted to find out what we could do to improve in future,” says Sara.

She and Stuart, a former builder, 50:50 sharemilk 700 cows on 252ha (effective), south of Ashburton. The farm is owned by Sara’s parents Rick and Diana Bourke via the Bourke Family Trust.

The Russells entered the 2015 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) and won the LIC Dairy Farm Award in their first time in the competition. . . 

Free service boosts feed efficiency for dairy farmers:

In a bid to help dairy farmers in tight times, GrainCorp Feeds has announced that 150 clients nationwide will receive free access to a feed forecasting, tracking and monitoring service.

GrainCorp Feeds is working with technical specialists DairyClub to provide additional on-farm assessment, monitoring and technical support alongside Tracker™, an online tool which measures current milk production and shows how the farmer can use supplementary feed to achieve maximum return.

GrainCorp Feeds general manager Daniel Calcinai says to increase income from milk production, farmers have to feed strategically, which means the right feed at the right time. . . 


Rural round-up

November 22, 2014

The dairy robots are coming – Keith Woodford:

Milking cows is far from exciting. People milk cows for money and not for fun. What if it could all be done by robots?

Well, those days have come. Already there are at least 16 New Zealand commercial dairy farms with robot milkers and the number is increasing rapidly. In Scandinavia and the Netherlands in particular, but also elsewhere in Northern Europe, there are now thousands of these robots. They are also coming to America.

Robots are coming to Europe and the US faster than to New Zealand because of differences between their farm systems and ours. On Northern Hemisphere farms, it is typically just a wander down the barn of 50 metres or so for the cow to meet up with a robot. In contrast, on nearly all of our farms the cows graze pastures and it can be a kilometre or more back to the milking shed. For efficiency, each robot needs a steady supply of cows throughout the day and night, and does not want a whole herd turning up at the same time. . .

Business idea that turns pest pines into high-quality essential oils a winner:

Taking an environmental problem and turning it into a commercial success has seen Queenstown social enterprise team Wilding & Co awarded with the ‘most innovative idea’, the first of three $1,000 milestone awards from Contact Energy, co-principal partner of Ākina Foundation’s six-month accelerator programme, Launchpad.

Over the last century wilding pines, native to North America, have taken over much of the South Island and their eradication has become a focus not only for the government, but also for local communities in the area.

Wilding & Co plays its part by clearing and controlling the spread of wilding pines in the Central Otago region, distilling them into high-quality essential oils and finished products marketed for their scent, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. They have also secured orders for many tonnes of bulk oil from international buyers. . .

Frost-fighting gloves earn prize for innovation:

A project to keep green fingers warm in cold Southern winters earned Otago’s Sarah Fenwick a placing in yesterday’s Young Horticulturist of the Year innovation awards and a $2,500 scholarship.

Ms Fenwick – who qualified for the competition by winning the New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) Young Amenity Horticulturist of the Year award earlier this year – took out second place in the AGMARDT Market Innovation section for ground-breaking glove inners made of titanium lined limestone neoprene. Northland’s Patrick Malley took out first prize for a project to make kiwifruit traceable to the orchard of origin.

Ms Fenwick, a horticulturist working on Dunedin’s green spaces for infrastructure company Delta, says her project is “an innovative approach to guard against the loss of finger sensitivity. . .

 Patrick Malley Takes Out 2014 Young Horticulturist of the Year Title:

Whangarei kiwifruit grower, Patrick Malley, has taken out his third consecutive victory this year by winning the ‘2014 Young Horticulturist of the Year’ title at a ceremony in Auckland last night.

Earlier this year Patrick won the 2014 Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower competition in Mount Maunganui, and went on to win the NZ Young Grower of the Year at the national competition in Christchurch.

In addition to winning the overall title last night, Patrick also took out The AGMARDT Market Innovation Project Award; The Fruitfed Supplies Leadership Award; and The Primary ITO Career Development Award. . .

 ASB Farmshed Economics Report: A case of if, not when, for higher interest rates:

• Interest rates to stay low for longer
• Uncertain times ahead for dairy
• Meat prices continue to shine

Interest rates are staying lower for longer according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report.

“Farmers have been keeping a close eye on the financial markets. With the RBNZ signalling a long pause on OCR rises in the current low inflation environment, it’s looking like interest rates will be staying lower for longer,” says ASB Rural Economist Nathan Penny.

“We expect the OCR to hold at 3.5% until September 2015 and now predict it will peak at 4%.”

It’s been a long hard road for dairy but whole milk powder prices may have finally hit their bottom. . .

New Commitment programme for Wools of New Zealand:

Wools of New Zealand has rolled out an annual wool commitment programme for its growers which it believes is an industry first.

The STAPLE® programme is the latest initiative for the grower owned wool marketing and sales company following implementation of its successful Direct to Scour (D2S) model and more recently, its Stable Price Mechanism, a model aimed at minimising wool price volatility between growers and clients.

Wools of New Zealand Chief Executive Ross Townshend says “the aim of the programme is to provide certainty of supply to customers direct from growers, allowing planning and confidence of meeting contracts. It’s an important tool in reducing price volatility and improving sustained, predictable returns and commercial certainty to our shareholders’ and customers’ businesses.” . . .

Growing dairy heifers – a focus on what good looks like:

A Northland heifer-rearing focus farm is being established along with four others around the country as part of a DairyNZ-led initiative to provide graziers with the tools, knowledge and resources to grow dairy heifers more effectively.

An open day will be held at the Northland focus farm in Okaihau, owned by Alister and Lyn Candy, on November 26 from 10.30am to 2.00pm.

Both graziers and dairy farmers are encouraged to attend with key topics including target weights and feed planning, animal health issues, managing the grazier-dairy farmer relationship and setting calves up for the run-off. . .

Qualified veterinarian and animal health executive joins Simcro as CEO:

Dr Roger Wakelin has been appointed as the new CEO of animal health delivery systems company Simcro. From December 1, Dr Wakelin will assume responsibility for all of the day to day operations. Current CEO Will Rouse will assume the role of Executive Chairman, while continuing to be a director and significant shareholder.

Dr Wakelin’s experience has spanned both production and companion animals. He worked for more than a decade in production and companion animal veterinary practices in New Zealand, Ireland, UK and South Africa. He moved into the animal health pharmaceutical industry and held technical, market development, marketing and senior management positions with companies such as Pitman Moore, Bayer and more recently Merial USA. Rouse says that Simcro’s Board of Directors are pleased and excited about their latest appointment. . .


Rural round-up

September 16, 2014

Vigilance required with Winter Brassica Feeding:

Southland farmers are being advised to keep a close watch on cows that have been grazing or are grazing on swede crops after reports of illness, and in some cases death, on dairy farms.

“The mild winter and lush growth of leaf material on brassica crops, especially swedes, has caused problems where dairy cows have been introduced onto the late winter swedes after wintering on other types of crops,” David Green, PGG Wrightson Seeds (PGW Seeds) General Manager Seeds says.

PGW Seeds is the major supplier of forage brassica products in New Zealand.

“With extra swede leaf material available due to the unusually mild winter it appears some cows have consumed more leaf and less bulb than normal. Consuming more leaf, less bulb and less supplementary feeds during wet August conditions has combined to amplify risk factors that can cause liver disease. . .

 Police say poachers putting lives at risk:

Police in Alexandra say poachers caught on private property give a range of reasons for their offending, but many fail to realise they are putting lives at risk.

Senior Sergeant Ian Kerrisk said poaching was widespread in the lower half of the South Island, where there were large areas of farms and forests, and plenty of people who were interested in hunting.

Mr Kerrisk estimates they receive a call from a forestry worker or farmer once a week with concerns about poachers and have recently prosecuted four people for poaching.

He said it was not easy to say why people poach animals.

“Some of them have said that they hunt because they enjoy hunting, it’s a recreational thing for them, some people have said they believe they have the right to go hunting in the bush, some people have said they need food.”

Mr Kerrisk said the concern is that they are hunting on private property without permission. . .

Protein found on sheep’s back – Nevil Gibson:

University of Otago researchers have won $1 million in government funding for a two-year project that will extract food-safe digestible protein from natural wool. 

Sheep wool is 95% protein with no fat or carbohydrates. This makes it an extremely rich protein source but until now it has been difficult to access, says Associate Professor George Dias.

“Wool-derived protein (WDP) offers an exciting opportunity to add value to New Zealand’s low-valued medium to coarse wool clip,” he says. “WDP can be produced at less than $10 a kilogram, making it extremely cost competitive relative to the gold standard whey protein isolate at $25/kg.”  . . .

$90,000 for kea conservation:

The Government is providing $90,000 from the Community Conservation Partnership Fund to support the Kea Conservation Trust, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.

“The kea is the only alpine parrot in the world and a species endemic to our Southern Alps. The population of these inquisitive and nomadic birds is declining and it is estimated that fewer than 5000 remain. The tragedy of the kea is that over 150,000 birds were killed deliberately when there was a bounty on them for the perceived damage they caused to sheep. More recently, the biggest threat to kea survival is from pests – principally rats, stoats and possums,” Dr Smith says. . .

35-year affair with eucalypts – Alison Beckham:

Thirty-five years ago, Dipton sheep farmer Graham Milligan decided to plant a few eucalypt trees on stony ground next to the Oreti River, where his paddocks seemed to be always either flooded or burnt off.

Now he farms more trees than sheep – raising seedlings and exporting cool climate eucalypt seed all over the world. Reporter AllisonBeckham visited the man who says he loves trees so much he feels like every day on the job is a holiday.35-year affair with eucalypts

At first glance, the eucalpyt trees on Graham and Heather Milligan’s farm look similar. But as we bounce along the farm track Mr Milligan points out different varieties.

There are towering regnans grown for their timber, and nitens, now the world’s most favoured wood for biomass heating fuel. There’s baby blue, whose foliage is sought after by florists, and crenulata, with its delicate star-shaped buds, also popular at the flower markets. . . .

Farm Environment Awards Help Hort Newbies Climb Steep Learning Curve:

Horticultural newcomers Patrick and Rebecca Malley say entering the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a great way to build knowledge.

In 2011 the couple left jobs in Auckland to run Ararimu Orchard with Patrick’s parents Dermott and Linzi. Situated at Maungatapere near Whangarei, Ararimu grows 14ha of kiwifruit and 3.5ha of avocados.

While Patrick grew up on an apple orchard in the Hawke’s Bay, he and Rebecca knew very little about growing kiwifruit when they first arrived. So the learning curve was steep.

Rebecca says they decided to enter the 2014 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) after talking to other people who had been involved in the competition. . . .

Water NZ Annual Conference 17 – 19 September:

Implementing Reform

Water New Zealand’s annual conference is being held this week against a backdrop of the General Election.

“Our members are pleased that political parties have released policies on improving the management of freshwater as declining water quality is consistently rated by New Zealanders as being their number one environmental concern,” Murray Gibb, chief executive of Water New Zealand said.

“It is also pleasing to see the early results of the work that Water New Zealand has been closely involved with over the past five years through the Land and Water Forum and other initiatives.”

Therefore the theme of “Implementing Reform” is appropriate at the conference being held at Hamilton’s Claudelands convention this week over 17 – 19 September. . .


Rural round-up

August 17, 2014

Aerial topdressing scheme flies away with top award  – Sue O’Dowd:

A safety programme developed by the agricultural aviation industry to protect the environment has won a major award.

The New Zealand Agricultural Aviation Association (NZAAA) Aircare programme received the Richard Pearse Trophy for Innovative Excellence in the New Zealand Aviation Industry, named in honour of the New Zealand pioneer aviator and inventor, at last month’s Aviation New Zealand conference.

Aircare was an integrated environmental safety and flight safety programme that stopped contamination of waterways by fertilisers and sprays, NZAAA chairman Alan Beck, of Eltham, said. . .

Northlander takers Young Grower crown

Northland kiwifruit and avocado specialist Patrick Malley was crowned Young Grower of the Year at an awards function in Christchurch last night.

The 30-year-old contracting manager from Onyx Capital kiwifruit and avocado orchard in Maungatapere, Northland, secured his place at the national competition after being named the Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower in June.

In the final phase of the competition he topped three other regional champions in a series of practical and theory challenges testing their industry knowledge and skills. . .

Ngai Tahu appeals dairying decision:

South Island iwi Ngai Tahu is appealing against a decision declining an application to develop large scale dairy farms in North Canterbury.

In July this year, commissioners on behalf of the Canterbury Regional Council granted only partial consent to convert 7000 hectares of Hurunui forest to irrigated dairy farming and another 617 hectares for dryland dairy farming.

The decision was based on the unacceptable adverse effects the full development would have on the environment and the water quality of the Hurunui River. . .

Cow lameness costs farmers – Tim Cronshaw:

Cow lameness could be higher than 10 per cent a year nationally and cost dairy farmers an average of $500 for each case of a cow out of production.

Accurate figures are not kept for lame cows because not every incident is reported, there can be repeat cases for the same cow and the extent of lameness can vary.

DairyNZ animal husbandry extension specialist Anna Irwin said lameness was more difficult to measure than mastitis or other animal health issues because it was not routinely measured by all farmers, had different treatments and few cows needed medical treatment. “We have industry estimates of somewhere around 10 per cent and it could be as high as 15 per cent and that’s incidents for the whole year.” . . .

Call for whitebait sock net ban:

Whitebaiters in Buller on the West Coast are demanding an end to the use of large sock nets to catch the delicacy in their area.

Lynley Roberts said she’s collected close to 400 signatures on a petition calling on the Department of Conservation to ban sock nets.

Whitebaiters in Buller on the West Coast are demanding an end to the use of large sock nets to catch the delicacy in their area.

Photo: PHOTO NZ

She said the use of the nets, which she says can catch up to 200 pounds a tide, is greedy.

Ms Roberts said there won’t be time to make any changes before the season starts in Buller on 1 September. . .

Where have all the whitebait gone?:

Whitebait season opened today and many whitebaiters may be asking themselves, “where have all the whitebait gone?” With predictions that it will be only an average season, it’s a very pertinent question.

Whitebaiting has long been a contentious issue, with feuds over the best positions on the river sometimes lasting through generations of whitebaiters.

These days, with whitebait numbers dwindling further and further, the arguments go beyond who has the best spot. Debate now includes the question of where they have all gone, who’s to blame for the declining numbers and if we should still be allowing people to catch whitebait at all. . .

Nominations open today for the 2014 Fonterra Elections:

This year elections are being held for three shareholder-elected Directors for Fonterra’s Board of Directors, two members of the Directors’ Remuneration Committee, and 22 members of the Shareholders’ Council.

Candidates must satisfy shareholding requirements in order to be elected and further procedural requirements are specified in the Election Rules. These include a requirement for Candidates to be nominated and seconded by Fonterra shareholders.

Nomination Papers and Candidate Handbooks are now available by phoning the Election Hotline on freephone 0508 666 446 or emailing elections@electionz.com. Nominations must be received by the Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp of http://electionz.com/ by 12 noon on Friday, 5 September 2014. . . 


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