Rural round-up


Call to take multi-party approach – Sally Rae:

The state of the red-meat industry was, not surprisingly, a major topic of conversation at Federated Farmers national conference in Ashburton last week.

A session entitled ”Culture Change: The New Beginning In The Meat Industry” was a focus of the meat and fibre meeting, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports.

Former PPCS chairman Reese Hart believes a merger between the co-operative (now Silver Fern Farms) and Alliance Group is not a priority.

”I simply think there are more important things to be done. I think the merger will happen some day but probably not for the reasons we wanted it to happen five years ago,” Mr Hart told Federated Farmers meat and fibre meeting in Ashburton last week. . .

Beef prices expected to firm

New Zealand beef prices are expected to firm over the next quarter, partly in response to tighter supplies resulting from the drought, but also to forecasts of a wet winter encouraging producers to retain stock, Rabobank said.

The specialised agribusiness lender said seasonal pressures still exist, but have since improved from the poor conditions in the first quarter.

Most regions received some good rainfall, with temperatures still warmer than average, which has enabled some good pasture growth, the bank said. . .

Debacle carries big implications for farmers – James Houghton:

While Christchurch was taking in the revelations about its council’s chief executive, former Hamilton City Council CEO Tony Marryatt, farmers were discussing the big issues facing agriculture at Federated Farmers’ national conference in Ashburton.

Fittingly, these discussions included a plenary session featuring Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend, Selwyn District Mayor Kelvin Coe and Ashburton District Mayor Angus McKay, looking at local government and its implications for some of its biggest contributors, the rural sector.

Christchurch City Council has hit some serious credibility issues, with International Accreditation New Zealand withdrawing its ability to issue building consents. It is clear council staff were not meeting the required building code standards. It is also clear they were not meeting the required standards of professionalism needed. . .

Soil health key component of farm economics – Gerald Piddock:

Future farm systems can achieve environmental and economic sustainability, but there are no quick-fix solutions for reaching that goal, a DairyNZ scientist says.

Getting there would require a balance between environmental and production- driven goals, DairyNZ senior scientist Pierre Beukes told scientists and farmers at the New Zealand Society of Animal Production Conference in Hamilton.

Farmers would have to build strong system fundamentals based around soil health, nutrients and cows to withstand the future challenge of farming within limits. . .

Healthy pipfruit profits expected – Peter Watson:

The Nelson economy is in for a much-needed boost with the pipfruit season shaping up as the best in five years.

After losing money in three of the last four years, growers expect to bank a modest to healthy profit this year on the back of record prices for many varieties in Europe and Britain and steady growth in Asia.

They have been aided by a shortage of fruit in key markets and a weakening kiwi.. .

New Zealand shearing team has first win:

New Zealand’s shearing test team has tasted success for the first time on its Northern Hemisphere test tour, levelling the eight-match series at one-a-piece.

Golden Shears champion Rowland Smith, from Hastings, and Rakaia’s Tony Coster combined to beat an English test pairing by three points at the Lakelands Shears in Cumbria. . .

Hawkes Bay Winery scoops four medals at San Francisco International Wine Competition:

Hawkes Bay boutique winery Mangapapa Estates has scooped four medals at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition with its Chateau Waimarama branded wines.

More than 4,500 wines were judged at this year’s competition and out of the four wines entered, all Chateau Waimarama wines attained medals, a Gold Medal, two Silvers and one Bronze.

The Gold Medal was for Chateau Waimarama’s 2009 Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon. . .

DairyNZ has 5 point nitrogen reduction plan


DairyNZ  has a five-point nitrogen reduction plan:

DairyNZ Senior Scientist, Pierre Beukes, will share the latest research on how to reduce nitrogen leaching on farm by 40% at the organisation’s Farmers’ Forum events in Greymouth on 12 April and Woodville on 28 May.

Dr Beukes leads a team who have researched a combination of five nitrogen reduction solutions that, when used in combination, can make a major impact on farm.

“When it comes to reducing nitrogen leaching, there is no one silver bullet; it’s a combination of several options that have the greatest effect. We’ve discovered five strategies, in particular, that when used together can create a 40% reduction,” he says.

Pierre says, first off, there are three things farmers can do to reduce their overall nitrogen load: reduce fertiliser use, reduce stocking rates and lower replacement rates. Doing these three things, he says, in the right combination can be a cost-neutral exercise and, in many cases, lead to higher profitability.

“Our research shows just concentrating on these three factors alone can lead to a 20% nitrogen reduction on farm.”

Points four and five of the five-point nitrogen reduction plan both require some investment, says Pierre.

“These include using a stand-off pad in autumn to capture urine and direct it into your effluent pond for spreading on paddocks in the spring, and using a nitrification inhibitor to treat urinary patches in the paddock.

“These two strategies are more costly – estimated to be around $500 per hectare if you implement both.

“But the payoff is that our research shows using a stand-off pad in combination with a nitrification inhibitor can add a further 20% reduction in nitrogen leaching,” he explains.

Although the use of nitrification inhibitors in New Zealand is currently on hold, Dr Beukes said it was his understanding that the current restrictions on nitrification inhibitor usage are likely to be temporary.

Dr Beukes’ presentation is part of the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum events which are being held in Whangarei, Hawera, Woodville, Invercargill and Greymouth during April and May.

The informative and practical seminars will showcase DairyNZ’s latest research projects. Scientists will speak about their work and, at several events, local farmers will share how they are implementing some of the research on farm.

Each of the Farmers’ Forums events is designed by the local DairyNZ teams to address challenges and opportunities specific to each region.

Farmers can view the programmes and register to attend their local event online at

Registration is essential and free to levy-paying farmers and their staff – there is a $50 charge for all others.

Higher productivity and a reduction in nitrogen leaching ought to be attractive to all farmers.

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