Rural round-up

02/02/2021

We need to science our way out of this:

It’s time for the New Zealand public to get ready for a discussion about how science can lead us out of our climate change crisis, Federated Farmers says.

Yesterday’s report released by the Climate Change Commission was a massive piece of work which dives into every corner of New Zealand’s approach to achieving its climate change goals.

The report challenges Kiwis to rethink just about every part of their lives, Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says.

And farmers are no different to anyone else, except that they’ve been talking about science-based analysis, data gathering and solutions for much longer. . . 

Fewer cows recommendation absolute nonsense :

‘The Climate Commission’s recommendation to reduce livestock numbers by 15% by 2030 is not sensible, practical or justified,’ Robin Grieve, chairman of FARM (Facts About Ruminant Methane) said today.

Reducing livestock numbers will invariably cost New Zealand export income and mean that less food is grown. With an increasing global population that needs feeding this policy is not only anti human and selfish, it will also cause more global emissions as other countries with less efficient farming systems will have to produce the food New Zealand does not. Such a recommendation by the Commission is as silly as New Zealand reducing emissions by cutting Air New Zealand flights and letting Qantas take up the slack.

Reducing livestock might reduce carbon emissions but the bulk of these carbon emissions are sourced from methane and are not causing the warming the system attributes to them. . . 

The case of the catastrophic virus and government’s liability – Nikki Mandow:

This month, kiwifruit growers go to the Supreme Court seeking compensation over officials’ inadvertent release of the virulent vine disease PSA. And the case has far wider implications.

In June 2009, MAF (the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, now part of MPI) granted an import licence for some Chinese kiwifruit pollen, which turned out to be contaminated with the kiwifruit vine killing bacteria pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae, or PSA. 

The impact was devastating. Pollen infected a farm in Te Puke, then more farms, and as the disease took hold across the North Island, entire orchards had to be destroyed and several hundred farmers lost hundreds of millions of dollars.   . .

Summer sunflower crop sows seeds of interest – Ruby Heyward:

Popular sunflowers near Weston are in full bloom, and are attracting more than just birds.

Owners Peter and Sandra Mitchell said the flowers generated a lot of interest and it was not uncommon for people to stop and take pictures.

Although the couple did not mind visitors enjoying the flowers, it became an issue when people entered the field, and took or knocked over flowers.

People would sometimes get a shock when hopping over the electric fence placed around the crop to deter the farm’s cattle, Mr Mitchell said. . . 

Couple’s business inspired by lockdown mushrooming – Ashley Smyth:

Anna Randall and Daniel Eisenhut believe there’s something magical about mushrooms, and something equally magical about Oamaru. They speak to Ashley Smyth about their recent move and watching their fledgling business, Waitaki Mushrooms, take off.

For some, last year’s Level 4 lockdown offered time to reflect on priorities and seize opportunities.

Former Aucklanders Anna Randall and Daniel Eisenhut are two of those people.

The couple had previously considered moving south, but were nervous about leaving the bright lights and busyness of city life. . . 

 

The 20 most influential people in Australian agriculture – Natalie Kotsios , Peter Hemphill, James Wagstaff , Alexandra Laskie and Ed Gannon,

THEY are the people who make ag tick — the movers and shakers of Australian agriculture.

From the absolute peak of world trade power, down to those who keep our farms going day-to-day.

This inaugural list of Australian ag’s top 20 power players reveals an industry that has a strong backbone, yet is at the mercy of global politics and a fragile labour system, laid bare by the Covid crisis.

The power players were chosen by The Weekly Times for their influence on agriculture, for how their actions affect the entire industry, and for their ability to make big decisions. . . 


Rural round-up

30/10/2020

50 years of flower farming  – two families harness the power of sunflowers for bird food company – Emma Rawson:

Two Waitaki families farming in partnership for more than 50 years have developed a bird-loving business out of a crop sown on a wing and a prayer.

Riotous rows of yellow sunflowers beaming from fields south of Ōamaru are a shot of happiness in the Waitaki landscape. Sandwiched between crops of golden wheat and barley, the big friendly giants turn up the colour dial to a saturated yellow.

The exact location of the flowers, grown by the Mitchell and Webster families for more than 50 years, is usually kept on the low down.

Sometimes they are planted on Thousand Acre Road between Ōamaru and Kakanui, sometimes further inland towards Enfield. Crop rotation is the official reason; sunflowers need a five-year interval before being replanted in the same field since they are prone to fungal disease. However, transplanting the lots has the bonus of tricking the birds and keeping humans on their toes until the flowers hit their full two-metre height and yellowy glory at the end of January. . . 

Hawke’s Bay growers consider ‘every possible option’ to fill worker shortage – Thomas Airey:

Horticulture and viticulture growers are trying to be innovative and flexible in order to attract the employees they need to get through a worker shortage for the coming summer season.

There is an urgent need for local seasonal labour, with limited availability of overseas workers due to Covid-19 and 10,000 workers required to thin, pick, package and process the year’s crop between November and April.

The industry has joined up with the Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board and the region’s local government leaders to deliver a plan to the Government next month to resolve the situation.

Part of that plan includes a growers’ employment expo and information session on Tuesday, November 10, through which they plan to showcase the summer work and career opportunities in the sector. . . 

One-size-fits all-model no more – Anthony Beverley:

New Zealand’s farmers are among the most efficient and productive in the world — and they need to be.

Our world is demanding high-quality, environmentally-friendly food. At the same time, regulatory costs continue to build; our weather is increasingly challenging to bank on and farm profitability and balance sheets are under pressure.

As a result, farmers are increasingly looking more closely at the economic contribution of each part of their farms. Not all land is the same; some parts of farms — if farmers are really honest about it — cost them money to farm.

It’s the steep, rough hill country out the back that farmers are taking a second look at. Not only is this land unprofitable, but it’s often difficult and dangerous to farm. This land is typically erosion-prone and topsoil run-off is undermining farmers’ broader environmental efforts. . . 

Award winner a hands-on business owner – Sally Rae:

Whether  about horses or lambs, alpacas or goats — Henrietta Purvis derives satisfaction from positive feedback from happy animal owners.

She and her husband Graeme Purvis operate Purvis Feeds from their Waianakarua property, south of Oamaru, selling lucerne chaff throughout New Zealand.

Very much a hands-on business owner who spends time both in the cutting shed and on the books, Mrs Purvis has been named the innovation category winner in this year’s NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business Awards . . 

Researchers find ‘sweet spot’ for kiwi fruit pollination

Upping the proportion of female flowers in a kiwifruit orchard may boost production, according to new research.

Plant and Food Research scientists and collaborators from the USA have compiled more than 30 years of field-based data from kiwifruit research to create “digital twins” of pollination processes in kiwifruit orchards, and have used these to predict how growers can optimise their fruit set.

Digital twins are virtual replicas of physical systems – in this case mathematical models of the biology of the plants and the behaviour of pollinating bees.

These digital twins gave researchers the ability to examine complex scenarios which examine multiple, intertwined factors at once. . . .

Brahmans from North Queensland are in demand from NSW graziers – Kent Ward:

Demand for larger lines of quality cattle has seen North Queensland become the go-to market for New South Wales graziers as they rebuild their herds.

The strong demand from southern restockers has not only provided competition at northern store sales, but also seen paddock deals culminate in thousands of cattle being trucked across the border in recent months.

Since March of this year, private agency firm Kennedy Rural has successfully sold and overseen the transport of in excess of 10,000 head of cattle into areas of NSW. . . 


Rural round-up

12/05/2014

Beer cheese ‘natural joint project’ – Rebecca Ryan:

Joining forces to create a beer cheese was a ”natural collaboration” for Oamaru companies Whitestone Cheese and Scotts Brewing Company.

Since January, the businesses have been trialling different recipes and techniques to develop a beer cheese.

The final product, an ”Indian Pale Airedale”, is due to be launched in spring, with manufacturing starting in the next few weeks.

”We’ve just come up with one we’re really pleased with,” Whitestone Cheese chief executive officer Simon Berry said. . .

Meat industry reform and the phony war – Keith Woodford:

The current situation in the meat industry reminds me of two famous phrases from the First and Second World Wars. From the First World War, came the term ’all quiet on the Western Front’. And then early in the Second World War there was the ‘phony war’. Both were periods of quiet while the protagonists geared up for major battles. All parties knew that it was actually the quiet that was phony.

The current situation in the meat industry is similar. Eventually hostilities will inevitably break out as the processing and marketing companies compete with each other for survival. In beef there is scope for most to survive, but in sheep meat there have to be casualties. . . .

Turned on the weather – RivettingKateTaylor:

By the time I arrived home from the Farmer of the Year field day yesterday it was raining, freezing and dark. Just an hour earlier I was standing in the sun in the yard at Drumpeel, partaking of some yummy Silver Fern Farms product, catching up with some of Hawke’s Bay’s rural clan.

About 264 people attended the 2014 Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year field day (according to the man counting at the gate!) at the CHB property of Hugh and Sharon Ritchie and their four beautiful children (sorry David, let’s try one handsome son and three beautiful daughters). . .

Kate has more photos of the field day here.

Irrigation agreement signed with ORC – David Bruce:

Otago Regional Council councillors and staff on Thursday saw how the North Otago Irrigation Company and its farmers are managing efficient use of water and flow-on effects before signing an agreement with North Otago irrigation companies and representatives.

Cropping and dairy support farmer Peter Mitchell with the help of the company’s environmental manager Jodi Leckie, explained how variable rate irrigation and close monitoring of soil needs helped both the farmer and the environment on a Fortification Rd property.

The Memorandum of Agreement is with North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC), the Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company (LWIC), and the Waitaki Irrigators’ Collective Ltd and concerns implementation of the council’s Regional Plan: Water for Otago Plan Change 6A. . .

 

Great conditions for olives this season:

The olive harvest is off to a good start with the hot dry summer combining with the industry’s maturing trees to provide lots of high quality fruit.

Olives New Zealand president Andrew Taylor said the harvest began in the far North in late March and will finish up in Canterbury in July.

He said it was the second consecutive summer that the industry had had ideal weather conditions for growing olives, which had led to excellent fruit quality, and the odds of great oil were high. . .

Sustainable piggeries in American Samoa preventing contamination:

Farmers in American Samoa have been told to avoid using water to clean out their piggeries in a move to avoid contamination.

Almost 100 farmers were schooled last week on environmentally-friendly ‘dry-litter’ piggeries, that use woodchips instead of water to deal with waste, which then provides composting options for crops.

The chief piggery compliance officer, Antonina Te’o, says wash-down systems can cause land and water pollution and allow waste material to infiltrate the drinking water supply. . . .

 


Rural roundup

20/05/2013

Communication key in success of group – Sally Rae:

The importance of communication has been stressed by those involved with Mitchell and Webster Group – the supreme winner of this year’s Otago Ballance farm environment awards.

The intensive cropping operation and wholesale business producing bird and small animal feed is based on the Mitchell family’s historic Rosedale farm at Weston and covers 1375ha of arable land in North Otago.

A large crowd attended a field day hosted last week by Peter Mitchell and Jock and Nick Webster and their families. . .

Exceptional Family-Run Business Scoops Supreme Award In Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

An extraordinary cropping and wholesale business run by two families has won the Supreme Award in the 2013 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Jock Webster, Nick Webster and Peter Mitchell of the Mitchell Webster Group received the special award at a Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony in Wanaka on April 12, 2013.

Producing bird and animal feed, their intensive cropping business spans 1380ha of arable land in North Otago and is based from the Mitchell family’s historic ‘Rosedale’ farm at Weston.

The Mitchell and Webster families joined forces in 1972, creating, said BFEA judges, “an extraordinary and inspirational family business that has withstood the test of time”. . .

Scale, diversity of Asian markets noticed – Sally Rae:

An industry-backed trip to Asia has given Blair and Jane Smith a deeper understanding of the challenges facing marketers of New Zealand meat and dairy products.

Mr and Mrs Smith, from Five Forks and the national winners of the 2012 Ballance farm environment awards, recently returned from South Korea, China, Taiwan and Singapore.

They visited various markets for New Zealand sheep, beef and dairy products, with the aim of learning more about offshore markets, exchanging views on topics of interest to New Zealand farmers and of highlighting New Zealand’s stance on agricultural sustainability. . .

Ace shearer special guest – Sally Rae:

Top shearer David Fagan will be the special guest at the Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand’s national Golden Fleece competition in Mosgiel this week.

The Otago-Taieri A&P Society is hosting the event, which is open to both fine- and strong-wool growers throughout New Zealand.

The competition has been held for more than 40 years and has moved around the country, although it had predominantly been hosted in the South Island as that was where most of the entries came from, RAS executive member Kelly Allison said. . .

Slow and steady wins farm race – Annette Lambly:

A simple but effective stocking policy has earned Paparoa farmers Janine and Ken Hames recognition in this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The couple, who own Ewenny Farms, a 351ha (256ha effective) beef-only farm on Paparoa-Oakleigh Rd, achieve meat production of 277kg CW/ha (three-year average).

This is well above average for this class of land (Waiotira clay loam) in Northland and is accomplished with all-grass feeding, with no hay or silage.

Janine, a veterinarian, has a comprehensive animal health plan for the cattle, and does regular drench checks and faecal egg counts. . .

Tradeable slaughter rights useful but may not be the answer – Allan Barber:

The Tradable Slaughter Rights concept, raised by me several weeks ago and promoted last week by Mike Petersen, was first proposed by Pappas, Carter, Evans and Koop in 1985. But its purpose was specifically to solve the problem of an industry that consisted of a lot of weak competitors with little innovation or variation in killing charges. The report identified excess costs between farmgate and shipside of $100 million or 8%.

Although the meat companies are not exactly making huge profits or enjoying strong balance sheets, it would be entirely false to accuse them of lack of innovation and high operating cost structures. What is still relevant is the issue of excess capacity, but the end result today is not too much cost, but too much procurement competition. . .


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