Rural round-up

July 20, 2019

Social licence about trust – Sally Rae:

Penny Clark-Hall is passionate about helping rural communities.

Ms Clark-Hall is the founder of New Zealand’s first social licence consultancy, helping farmers and agri-businesses earn and maintain their social licence to operate.

She is excited about speaking at the Women’s Enviro Evening in Clinton later this month, saying meaningful change had to come from grassroots, or “the ground up”.

That had a domino effect and, if everyone did their “own little bit” then it all added up to something big, she said. . .

Need for study of winter grazing – Sally Rae:

There is no place in modern farming for winter grazing practices that compromise animal health and welfare, the New Zealand Veterinary Association says.

Chief veterinary officer Dr Helen Beattie, of Dunedin, has strongly advocated for a national-level, pan-sector working group to be formed, saying a collaborative approach is needed to assist farmers through a fair transition away from such practices.

Intensive winter grazing was common and could lead to poor animal welfare and environmental damage, particularly during prolonged periods of wet weather, Dr Beattie said.

“We need to take a second look at these practices and, when animal welfare isn’t protected, find solutions that rectify this safely,” she said. . .

Thinking outside the square – Jenny Ling:

A Waikato couple are finding doing things a bit differently is paying off. Jenny Ling reports.

Hard work, a shared passion for science and technology and sheer grit and determination are helping a Waikato dairy farming couple create their dream property and life together.

Bill and Michelle Burgess milk 340 cows on 100ha of prime land in Te Poi, a small but thriving farming area 10km south of Matamata.

Here they milk and manage their elite herd of mostly Friesian and Friesian crosses and a small amount of Jerseys, while raising their two children, Alex, 3, and Sophie, 5. . . 

Government ‘don’t have a clue’ when it comes to rural living – Kate Hawkesby:

Interesting that 6,000 Aucklanders have moved to Northland over the past 4 years. 

I’m not surprised. 

Auckland traffic’s a nightmare, public transport isn’t up to scratch, property prices are still excessively high, and I think these days we’re getting better at prioritising quality of life. 

We bought a place in the country on a whim, and we haven’t looked back. 

There’s something very soothing about rural life.. trees, birds, animals, rolling hills, quiet roads.  . .

Farmers help pooh-powered milk lorries become a reality :

Farmers who supply Arla are starting to make the most of their cow’s manure by using it to power up milk lorries.

Farmers in Sweden are contributing to a fossil-free fuel future by turning manure into biogas, which in turn powers vehicles.

Biogas can also be a source of the income for farmers, and the biomass that remains after the cow manure is digested can be used as a fertiliser. . .

Rejoice: the earth is becoming greener – Matt Ridley:

Amid all the talk of an imminent planetary catastrophe caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, another fact is often ignored: global greening is happening faster than climate change. The amount of vegetation growing on the earth has been increasing every year for at least 30 years. The evidence comes from the growth rate of plants and from satellite data.

In 2016 a paper was published by 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries that analysed satellite data and concluded that there had been a roughly 14% increase in green vegetation over 30 years. The study attributed 70% of this increase to the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The lead author on the study, Zaichun Zhu of Beijing University, says this is equivalent to adding a new continent of green vegetation twice the size of the mainland United States.

Global greening has affected all ecosystems – from arctic tundra to coral reefs to plankton to tropical rain forests – but shows up most strongly in arid places like the Sahel region of Africa, where desertification has largely now reversed. This is because plants lose less water in the process of absorbing carbon dioxide if the concentration of carbon dioxide is higher. Ecosystems and farms will be less water-stressed at the end of this century than they are today during periods of low rainfall. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 13, 2019

NZ customers admire our values – Mike Petersen:

The international trading system is facing one of its biggest challenges in recent times.

The building trade war between the US and China and the impasse at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are two significant global events that demand the attention of New Zealand in its dependence on trade for continued success.

Alongside these two geopolitical power plays runs a creeping tide of protectionism in the form of nationalist inward-looking policies that challenge the global value chain model which is increasingly becoming the future of food. . .

From the ground up – Penny Clark-Hall:

Rural communities are incredibly powerful and beautiful things. I’ve seen them in action during natural disasters, family tragedies, raising children, supporting each others businesses, families, hopes and dreams. It’s this calibre of people that are now starting to take charge of their own Social Licence to Operate (SLO) – helping and learning from each other. Many forming their own catchment groups and managing, measuring and improving their own environmental impact.

The isolation of rural communities makes them incredibly vulnerable to the calibre of its inhabitants. But thankfully, it is also a breeding ground for creating a rich tapestry of people that build communities out of necessity. Our remoteness creates a much stronger reliance on each other where we all strive to bring something valuable to the community, to make it our own – our home. It’s got a name – resilience. . .

Success in its rawest form

Northland sharemilkers Guy and Jaye Bakewell’s number-eight wire ingenuity is not only helping pay off their dairy cows faster but capitalising on consumers’ growing demand for raw milk. Luke Chivers reports. 

Open any dairy farmer’s fridge and you will likely find it stocked with raw, untreated milk.

Now more and more urban consumers are catching on.

Four days a week in Auckland’s inner-city suburbs many people look twice as a sign-written truck delivers raw milk in glass bottles to residents.

“It’s just like it used to be done back in the day,” 31-year-old Guy Bakewell says. . .

 

Rural mental health lacks detail – Richard Rennie:

Rural health supporters and agencies are not holding their collective breath for a major windfall from the Government’s massive $1.9 billion mental health package in the Budget.

The mental health package is to be spread over five years and includes $455 million to expand access to primary mental health and addiction support, particularly for people experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues.

But Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand executive director Marie Daly said so far there is only resounding silence from government agencies about where rural mental health sits in regard to the money.

Rural mental health has become a pressing issue with statistics recording 20 farmers taking their own lives in the year to June 2018, a figure relatively unchanged over the past five years. Rural health providers are also reporting significant increases in rural depression and mental health issues. . . 

Dual cropping to increase efficiency in commercial hemp farming:

Developments in hemp cropping could place New Zealand at the forefront of innovation globally, says Craig Carr, group managing director of Carrfields.

New multi-purpose cropping innovations being developed by Hemp NZ, Carrfields and NZ Yarn are paving the way for highly efficient use of the whole plant – resulting in higher potential returns for growers.

Under a partnership established late last year, Hemp NZ, NZ Yarn and Carrfields are making changes to hemp harvesting technology which allows the stalks and seed to be separated at harvest. . .

Finding the best diet for you and the planet – Carolyn Mortland:

Fonterra’s Director of Sustainability Carolyn Mortland looks at finding a diet that’s good for you and good for the planet.

It’s hard enough working out what food is nutritionally good for us. But what about throwing in the question around what we eat and how it might impact the health of the planet?

With the challenges we face around climate change and a rising global population, we’re starting to see more studies and assessment tools that look to draw conclusions on what is a healthy and sustainable diet.

The debate is heating up around what foods have the smallest environmental footprint, and what proportion of our diet should be animal-based vs. plant-based. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 7, 2019

New tech boosts packhouse output – Richard Rennie:

While much has been made of the prospects for robots harvesting kiwifruit and other orchards, one packing company has invested heavily this season in robotic technology in the pack house. Apata Group chief executive Stuart Weston outlined to Richard Rennie some of the smarts behind the country’s most robotised pack house, and what it heralds for the industry.

This year’s kiwifruit harvest is enduring another season with dire predictions of labour shortages coming at least partly true. 

Most processing companies report an ongoing need for more staff, both pickers and in pack houses.  . . 

NZ Producers cheesed off with EU – Pam Tipa:

Trade expert Stephen Jacobi says he thinks New Zealand cheesemakers are rightly concerned about a European Union plan to protect the names of common cheeses.

It is a concern in the context of the EU-NZ free trade agreement negotiations, he says.

“The Europeans say they are not looking to penalise in any way the generic names,” Jacobi told Rural News. “They are saying they are only interested in the ones that have geographical connections.” . . 

Southland maternity like ‘Russian roulette’, midwife says – Tess Brunton:

Supplies mishaps are plaguing the Lumsden and Te Anau maternity hubs that were meant to be up and running seven weeks ago, adding to concerns over giving birth in the region.

RNZ has been told pure oxygen – which poses a danger to babies when administered over long periods – was delivered to the Lumsden Maternal and Child Hub, while the Te Anau hub is still waiting for more equipment.

The news is adding to continued concerns over the emergency hubs, which are only meant to be used when expecting mothers are unable to reach a primary birthing centre in time. . .

Rural mums need urgent action:

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker has again written to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after she promised to ‘take another look’ into the Lumsden Maternity Centre downgrade.

“I have written to the Prime Minister and asked for her findings as well as informing her of the second birth in the Lumsden area in just 11 days,” Mr Walker says.

“This could be a matter of life or death. All we have to do is look across the ditch to rural Queensland where since the downgrading of maternity services the death of babies in every 1000 is now at 23.3, compared with 6.1 in rural areas with obstetrics. . .

Farmers ticked off over NAIT ‘fluster cuck’ – Nigel Malthus:

Farmers are bristling over any suggestion they had been slack about re-registering their farm locations in National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) in time for moving day on June 1.

Every person in charge of animals must re-register their NAIT location following a recent upgrade to the system.

Yet only one week out from moving day, the Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor released figures showing that about half of all dairy farms – 8000 out of 15,000 – had yet to re-register. . . 

It’s the little things – Penny Clark-Hall:

What is it that we can do to earn and improve our Social Licence? So many people in the primary sector have asked me this lately and this was precisely what I was wanting to be able to give them from my Kellogg research.

The answer, while no one quick fix, isn’t big either. It’s lots of little things. They require bravery, honesty and accountability, but it’s not going to cost you the world, just time. A resource that I know is probably just as precious, if not more, to farmers than money.

So here is what my key recommendations are. . . 

Dairy a pig of a job – Stephen Bell:

Hold onto your hats folks it could be a wild ride in the dairy industry but without all the fun of the fair.

There are so many things going on here and abroad that will influence not just farmgate milk prices but also input and compliance costs and thus, most importantly profits.

On the face of it things are looking up for the new season with rural economists predicting a starting price somewhere north of $7/kg MS.

But Fonterra, on the back of narrowing its 2018-19 forecast to the bottom end of its range at $6.30 to $6.40/kg MS has given a wide range for this season of $6.25-$7.25. Though the economists are optimistic Fonterra has set the advance rate at only $3.80/kg MS.

And we still don’t know any detail for Fonterra’s new strategy but we can take it from chief executive Miles Hurrell’s comments accompanying the third quarter results that it won’t be plain sailing for a couple of years yet. . . 

Pigeon Valley fire aftermath: ‘Biggest recovery effort ever made‘- Katie Todd:

One of New Zealand’s largest recorded ‘tree salvages’ has been hailed a success in the aftermath of the Pigeon Valley fire.

About 10,000 tonnes of burnt pine trees are being plucked from the ground for use in Canterbury construction projects, Nelson housing developments and to prevent future fires in Tasman.

It comes despite an initial race against time for Tasman Pine Forests, that own about 60 percent or or 14 sqkm of the fire-affected land.

After the fire was out, crews were faced with the task of extracting trees of varying ages and heights, some slightly charred at the base and others scorched to the tips, before beetles and bugs could begin to break them down. . . 

National Lamb Day held where it all began – Sally Brooker:

National Lamb Day was celebrated on May 24 at the place where New Zealand’s frozen meat industry began 137 years ago – Totara Estate.

The historic farm just south of Oamaru prepared a shipment of lamb that arrived in Britain in pristine condition on May 24, 1882.

As Britain looked to its colonies to provide food for its surging population, wool prices here had collapsed by the end of the 1870s.

New Zealand’s huge sheep flocks were increasingly worthless, and the mutton was in such oversupply that it, too, was not valued. Britain represented a massive potential market, but getting the meat there before it went off was no small problem. . . 


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