Rural round-up

August 14, 2013

Ploughs Need Cigarette-Style Warning on Them:

In Holland the first beef burger without disturbing a cow has been eaten, globally governments intend to ban smoking and, in New Zealand, a soil scientist is campaigning to outlaw the plough.

World authority on soil science, Dr John Baker, says ploughing or conventional tillage contributes to global warming, crop failure, soil erosion and eventually famine in areas of the world.

Ploughing is like invasive surgery. It releases carbon into the atmosphere which add to global warming and depletes the micro-organisms which enrich the soil.

Over time tillage leads to soil erosion, crop failure and drought.

Dr Baker, who has a MAgrSc in soil science and Ph.D in agricultural engineering from Massey University, says the single greatest challenge facing the world today is feeding the extra 50 percent population by the year 2050. . .

Land monitoring critically important – Sally Rae:

When it comes to farming, Barrie Wills is an advocate for striking the right balance between conservation and production.

Brought up on a Timaru farm and now living in Alexandra, Dr Wills has spent more than 30 years as a research scientist.

He was initially involved with soil conservation control under the then Ministry of Works and Development water and soil division, and then pastoral management, revegetation and erosion control in semi-arid and high-country environments under Landcare Research and AgResearch, until 2004. . . .

Paramedic up in air, on road – Sally Rae:

Annabel Taylor feels privileged to serve the rural community.

As a paramedic based at Taieri, Miss Taylor (36) works for both the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter and the Dunedin St John ambulance service.

She was recently awarded a $3000 Rural Women New Zealand/Access scholarship, which will help cover her expenses while she studies for a year-long postgraduate certificate in specialty care, advanced paramedic practice, at Whitireia Polytechnic in Porirua next year. . .

Rules push over feeding pigs food waste – Ruth Grundy:

A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) spokesman says the ministry has been using various means to educate backyard pig farmers about their biosecurity obligations and the precautions they must take before feeding food waste to pigs.

MPI import and export animals manager Howard Pharo was responding to questions put to the ministry last month by Courier Country and raised by New Zealand Pork Industry Board chairman Ian Carter and lifestyleblock.co.nz website editor Kate Brennan. . .

Greenshell New Zealand Takes Home Supreme Award at American Chamber of Commerce Awards:

Greenshell New Zealand proved just how strong its mussel business is at last week’s American Chamber of Commerce DHL Express Success & Innovation Awards, scooping up two prestigious awards.

Held at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland, the family-owned business was recognised and rewarded for exports of its innovative products under the award-winning Ikana brand.

Presented by Prime Minister John Key, Greenshell New Zealand won both The Exporter of the Year to the USA Award from the $500,000 to $5 million category and The Supreme Award 2013. . .

Fishery officers use Facebook to catch paua poacher:

A Rotorua man has been sentenced to 200 hours community service after pleading guilty to paua poaching charges.

On 31 July 2013, 34 year old unemployed man Raymond Major appeared in the Rotorua District Court on charges under Section 232 of the Fisheries Act 1996 relating to the illegal sale of paua.

Major was initially identified after offering both Paua and Kina for sale through his Facebook page. A Fishery Officer was then deployed to make contact with the defendant and arrange to buy seafood from him. . .


This is water pollution

March 18, 2013

More than 12,000 dead pigs have been found in Chinese rivers.

Nearly 9,000 dead pigs were fished out of the Huangpu river in Shanghai, and 3,600 others from rivers and lakes in Jiaxing, with the search continuing in both cities, ‘The South China Morning Post’ quoted government sources as saying.

Authorities have also found traces of a common pig virus in some of the animals floating in the Huangpu River this week.

I am not suggesting this excuses any water pollution elsewhere but it does put our problems in to perspective.


Bad press for pigs depressing for pork farmers

April 30, 2009

New Zealand pig farmers are already concerned about the impact imports of pork and associated products will have on their business and now they’re worried that swine flu will put people off bacon, ham and pork altogether.

It’s already happening in the USA where the price of pigs has fallen and  several countries have taken the opportunity the outbreak offers to impose non-tarrif barriers by banning imports from Mexico and parts of the USA.

As goNZo Freakpower  noted:

You can’t get pig flu from eating pork, but banning imports does help favour domestic interests.

But fear doesn’t worry too much about the facts and if people are worried about swine flu they might take the better safe than sorry approach to pig meat regardless of where it comes from.

The European Union Health Commission is trying to stem the tide against pork by changing the flu’s name:

“Not to have a negative effect on our industry, we decided to call it novel flu from now on,” European Union Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou told reporters in Brussels.

I don’t think that will work. Swine flu strikes me as a very appropriate name for an illness which, what ever you call it is a pig of a thing and has already given rise to a rash of jokes .

Not that it’s a laughing matter and the over reaction in Egypt where an order has been made to cull all pigs  is no joke.

It’s not going to stop the spread of the virus and while it will certainly reduce the supply of pig meat, fear of flu will also depress demand – even though there is no risk of infection from eating pork.

There’s no comfort in that for pig farmers here, but their loss may lead to gains for sheep and beef farmers. Lamb sales increased when outbreaks of BSE put people off beef and people who stop eating pork because of swine flu might turn to beef and lamb instead.


Emotion Beats Facts

June 14, 2008

We pride ourselves on our agricultural efficiency but I have yet to see anything here to rival a small farming cooperative on the outskirts of Sorrento, in Italy, when it comes to using every square centimetre of land.

 

Eleven families pooled their small, uneconomic units to form a four hectare farm. Their main crops are lemons and olives. They plant olive trees between the rows of lemons and the olives grow taller so their fruit is above the shade of the citrus trees’ leaves.  Some of the trees were grafted so they produced oranges and lemons from the same trunk to diversify production without taking up any more space. They grew grape vines along the outside rows of trees too. The farm also kept four pigs and three cows – all of which were housed inside; and in a bid for both self-sufficiency and organic production, their manure provided the fertiliser for the orchard.

 

The farm produced its own olive oil, and made cheeses, wine and limoncello. It also welcomed tourists to walk through the orchard, inspect the olive press, watch the cheese making, taste their produce and of course buy it. Our guide didn’t talk about budgets or bottom lines, but the cooperative looked prosperous and if the slick operation of the tour and size of the farm shop, where the visit ended, were anything to go by then tourism made an important contribution to the income.

 

The main emphasis of the tour was horticulture and only passing reference was made to the stock, but as we passed them I wondered about the quality of life for animals which are housed inside all year round. This thought was reinforced by an article headlined “The Ethics of eating Meat” which I read in a Bangkok newspaper on the way home.

 

The author argued it was unethical to eat meat because of the environmental cost of growing and harvesting feed for animals raised on feedlots, although he had no problem with pasture-grazed stock. He didn’t mention welfare issues but I remember looking at cattle standing on concrete under mid summer sun in both the United States and Argentina and wondering how happy they were. Those who knew more about animals than I do, assured me that their demeanour, health and condition indicated they were quite content, and pointed out that there was shade available which the stock chose not to make use of.

 

 

I couldn’t argue with that, but I still felt something was wrong and in matters like this science takes second place to sentiment. I remembered that when we passed a herd of cows standing in the mud on a cold, wet day as we drove from Queenstown to Dipton. It was obvious they were being break-fed and were about to be shifted which I know gives animals better quality grazing, does less damage to soil structure and is a more efficient use of pasture than letting them roam the whole paddock at once. But anyone who knew nothing about our farming practices, and on this prime tourist route there would be many of them, would have seen abject misery. That is not the picture we want them to recall when next they see our meat in their supermarket chiller.

Efficiency of production and quality of produce will count for nothing if customers think our practices are unethical; and arguments to the contrary will be worthless because emotion beats facts in marketing.


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