Rural round-up

February 23, 2018

Southland eyes oats instead of dairy – Baz Macdonald:

Southland is looking into an alternative to dairy farming that taps into surging Asian demand, but uses less capital and water and produces less nitrates and greenhouse emissions. Baz Macdonald reports.

Agriculture represented 4% of NZ’s real GDP in the 2016 financial year, yet an OECD report released last year showed the sector produced half of our countries greenhouse emissions – making NZ the second highest creator of emissions per unit of GDP in the world. The recommendation from the OECD was that we develop “alternative measures to counter the pressures of farming”. . . 

Gita: Motueka orchards hit hard – Alexa Cook:

Orchards in the Motueka area have been hit hard by flooding from Cyclone Gita, prompting fears fruit will not make it to market.

The Nelson region grows a quarter of the country’s apples, and in the past week has started harvesting this year’s crop.

Apple and Pears Incorporated chief executive Alan Pollard said the flooding came at a bad time and was a big set back. . . 

Cyclone devastates ‘up to 50 percent’ maize crops – Alexa Cook:

The pressure is on for Taranaki farmers to harvest maize crops that have been flattened by Cyclone Gita, before the crop starts to die and rot.

The cyclone hit the region on Tuesday with wind gusts of up to 140km/h.

Southern and coastal Taranaki farmers have struggled with drought this summer, but conditions were just right for growing maize – and a bumper crop was expected.

However, Taranaki Federated Farmers president Donald McIntyre said the cyclone might have put an end to that. . . 

NZ’s largest pine-to-native forest regeneration project reaches major milestone:

The last pine trees have been felled in a major Hawke’s Bay conservation project that aims to convert a 4,000-hectare pine plantation back to regenerating native forest.

Over 3,500 hectares of the Maungataniwha Pine Forest have now been logged since 2006 and are now in the process of being re-converted back to native forest by land owner Simon Hall, Chairman of the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust.

The land lies adjacent to the Maungataniwha Native Forest, a 6,120-hectare swathe of New Zealand bush straddling the ridge system between the Te Hoe and Waiau Rivers in northern Hawkes Bay, bordered to the north by Te Urewera National Park and to the west by the Whirinaki Conservation Forest. . . 

Rural women need access to midwifery care:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is very concerned that Wanaka is soon to lose one of the community’s two midwives.

“Midwives practicing in rural communities have long battled the problems of geographical isolation in areas where the population continues to grow,” says Board Member and Health Portfolio Convenor, Margaret Pittaway.

“Resourcing has been lacking for so long that rural families are suffering – it is absolutely unacceptable that expectant mothers and their families have been placed in the firing line. . . 

New Zealanders warned of stink bug risk to their own households:

Warnings are going out about the devastating impact the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug would have on New Zealand households and urban communities as the potential risk of an incursion escalates.

New Zealand Apples & Pears chief executive Alan Pollard is encouraging all New Zealanders to be on high alert because the Stink Bug was not just a risk for orchardists.

The Stink Bug would also be devastating to urban communities where home gardens would be destroyed and houses would become safe havens for the invasive pest, he said.

Mr Pollard praised the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the work that they are doing to protect New Zealand’s borders against the Stink Bug, including four shipments of cars from Japan recently turned away from entering the country. He has also commended Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor, for making biosecurity his number one priority. . . 

Dairy farming – the ancient history of producing milk – K. Kris Hirst:

Milk-producing mammals were an important part of early agriculture in the world. Goats were among our earliest domesticated animals, first adapted in western Asia from wild forms about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. Cattle were domesticated in the eastern Sahara by no later than 9,000 years ago. We surmise that at least one primary reason for this process was to make a source of meat easier to get than by hunting.

But domestic animals also are good for milk and milk products like cheese and yogurt (part of what V.G. Childe and Andrew Sherratt once called the Secondary Products Revolution). So–when did dairying first start and how do we know that?

The earliest evidence to date for the processing of milk fats comes from the Early Neolithic of the seventh millennium BC in northwestern Anatolia; the sixth millennium BC in eastern Europe; the fifth millennium BC in Africa; and the fourth millennium BC in Britain and Northern Europe (Funnel Beaker culture). . . 

Forget sauvignon blanc, New Zealand’s new big thing is pinot noir Elin McCoy:

Actor Sam Neill just finished a six-part television documentary on the voyages of Captain Cook, but right now he’s focused on the role of proud farmer. I’m walking with him on a tour of his organic vineyard in Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand as he shows off his prize pigs and pulls out bottles of his much-talked-about Two Paddocks pinot noirs.

“What do you think?” he asks.

Thumbs up, for sure. 

When it comes to wine, New Zealand is on a roll. According to a just-released Vinexpo study, it’s now the fastest-growing wine-exporting country to the U.S. By 2021, it’s predicted to become the No. 4 exporter to the U.S., right behind Italy, Australia, and France—which is pretty remarkable, considering that the country makes barely 1 percent of the world’s wines. . . 

Young leaders to drive conversations at agritech event:

New Zealand’s agritech community will be joined by some of the country’s best young leaders at MobileTECH 2018. One of the key highlights at the upcoming agritech event is the ‘Meet the future leaders’ panel.

“In addition to unveiling the very latest agritech innovations, we have lined up three emerging leaders to share their visions on just where the technology is heading, what areas they see as the most beneficial to their businesses and how it will impact on the sector’s future,” says Ken Wilson, programme manager for the MobileTECH 2018 event. . . 


Rural round-up

February 23, 2015

MPI confirms fourth fruit fly find in controlled area:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed a fourth fruit fly in Grey Lynn and believes it to be part of the same localised population as previous detections.

A single male Queensland fruit fly was found on Sunday in a trap inside the existing Controlled Area.

There are no changes to the Controlled Area as a result of the find at this stage, says MPI Chief Operations Officer Andrew Coleman.

“We have been expecting to find more flies, so the latest detection is no surprise, and confirms that the trapping systems continues to be successful.

“The find was close to the original detections, so we believe the fly is likely to be part of the same population.” . . .

Te Hui takes out merino record:

King Country shearer Stacey Te Huia has taken out the merino shearing world record in Australia.

He managed to shear 530 finewooled merino ewes in nine hours at Parkdale Stud, about 40 kilometres northwest of Dubbo in New South Wales, on Friday.

He beat the previous record of 513 ewes, set by New Zealand-born Dwayne Black, in Western Australia, 10 years ago. . .

My Interview on Radio New Zealands Country Life Programme – Milking on the Moove:

I featured on Radio New Zealand Nationals Country Life programme on the weekend. You can hear it here if you have 20 minutes spare. . .

Now is time to buy winter feed – Annette Scott:

Cole Groves has big decisions to make for his dairy farming operation at Pleasant Point in South Canterbury.

With the drought creating a severe feed shortage on his property and irrigation no longer an option, it’s “crunch time again”.

“Unfortunately I am on Opuha water,” Groves said.

Without significant rainfall, Opuha would run dry on Wednesday. . .

Sustainable salmon farming subject of $5.2 million research project:

New Zealand government, research and commercial groups are aligning with international salmon experts to make salmon farming here even more sustainable.

The $5.2 million project is spearheaded by Nelson-based New Zealand King Salmon and aims to fully understand the specific dietary requirements of King salmon.

To conduct the programme, New Zealand King Salmon has brought together a research group comprising Seafood Innovations Ltd (SIL), Nelson’s Cawthron Institute, the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) and Danish feed producer BioMar. . .

Dairy trainees not meeting expectations – Bryan Gibson:

Farmers are unhappy with the quality of training provided by agricultural training organisations, Craig Litten from Waikato told the Federated Farmers Dairy meeting last week.

“There are more and more training organisations popping up all the time and it appears to be more of a bums on seats type of scenario rather than an actual (focus on) quality of entrants and the people coming out the other end of the training institutions.”

Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard said Federated Farmers had met Primary ITO chief executive Mark Jeffries who did realise there was an issue in terms of the quality of the people coming through.  . .

Bee numbers rising:

According to Agcarm, bee numbers in New Zealand are on the rise and the crop protection industry will work with government and industry to help keep bees healthy.

 Agcarm says the industry takes pollinator health very seriously and they are keen to work with regulators and stakeholders to encourage further bee population growth.

According to official data, there are now 546,837 managed hives in New Zealand up from 2004 figures of 292,530 hives. . .

Pinot – New Zealand’s answer to burgundy – Fiona Beckett:

These days, even the Burgundians are flocking to New Zealand’s pinot noir heartland.

As you drive out towards the Central Otago region of New Zealand’s South Island, you come across the Kawarau bridge, where the bungee-jump craze started all those years ago. It must have taken a similar leap of faith, you feel, to plant vines in this extreme mountainous region. Yet in less than a generation, “Central”, as the locals call it, has become one of the best places on the globe to find great pinot, even though the area accounts for only 2.4% of New Zealand’s wine production.

Wine has been made in these parts for 150 years, but it took off commercially in the 1980s due to a group of local burgundy obsessives who yearned to get their pinot fix a bit closer to home. They’ve been so successful that, nowadays, young Burgundian winemakers regularly come from France to Otago to see how the Kiwis do it. . .

 Dual focus in the Hunter – Nick Heydon:

SINCE purchasing “Redman Park” in 2006, Stuart and Amanda Thomas have sought to continually improve their property to the point where it stands today – a holding of high quality clearly evident across its two major enterprises: horses and lucerne.

The couple, who are selling in order to downsize, established a horse stud on Denman’s “Redman Park”, running it jointly as a Thoroughbred broodmare farm and a lucerne property.

“We used to have 30 mares plus progeny on the farm, and we have a lot of local clients for the lucerne, some local horse studs, and some clients as far afield as Taree,” Mrs Thomas said. . .


Rural round-up

January 18, 2014

Meat Options Paper Seeks Farmer Opinions – Allan Barber:

Federated Farmers’ Meat Options discussion paper, written by Sarah Crofoot, does an extremely good job of laying out the alternative market orientations companies can adopt. It presents three different focus options from which farmers are asked to select their set of preferences.

It should be noted up front that the discussion paper is aimed at Federated Farmers’ farmer members and its key purpose is to engage those farmers in thinking about what they want their industry to look like in 5,10 or 20 years from now. The final output will not be binding on anybody, but it will provide a more comprehensive summary of farmer opinion than the feedback from the series of Meat industry Excellence meetings.

The paper starts with a late 1980s definition of the industry’s unique characteristics quoting Anita Busby, Editor of Meat Producer at the time:

“Meat industry people don’t need to take advice or listen to new ideas. They already have the answers. They strangle new thoughts at conception. If that fails, they discredit the source. If you haven’t been in the meat industry for years, you don’t know what you are talking about. If you have, you’re washed up…”

Sarah Crofoot with the confidence of youth has nevertheless taken the bold step of producing a set of ideas which merit serious consideration. It is now 30 years since subsidies were removed, even longer since the deregulation of the meat industry, and despite many positive developments, the industry still has fundamental structural problems. . .

More than 4000 sheep perish on live export:

More than 4000 Australian sheep have died from heat exhaustion after 21 days on board a live export ship bound for Qatar from Fremantle.

Exporter Livestock Shipping Service said 4179 sheep perished in August aboard their Bader III vessel – the same ship that was loaded with animals last weekend in Perth despite searing 44-degree heat.

LSS are a Jordanian-owned company based in Perth and are already under investigation by Australian Federal Authorities for two breaches of live export regulations in Jordan and Gaza. . .

No downtime for shearing gangs – Jill Galloway:

When it has been too wet for shearing in one area, sheep have been dry enough in another so shearing has cracked on.

Shearers and contractors say they are not behind, in spite of the recent moist weather. “The boys have not had a day off,” said Feilding-based contractor Erin Bailey.

“They had a few days off over New Year, but they have been working since,” she said.

She and her husband Scott run two shearing gangs from their Feilding base, but shear a lot around Marton and Apiti, she said. . .

Taranaki Trust leads dairy research – Sue O’Dowd:

The Taranaki Agricultural Research Trust provides two platforms for cutting-edge research beneficial to the dairy industry.

The trust leases a 126ha (111ha effective) research farm across the road from Fonterra’s Whareroa site near Hawera and owns the 350 cows milked there. DairyNZ manages the Westpac Taranaki Agricultural Research Station (WTARS) under contract to the trust.

The station, established at Normanby in 1974, has done research into areas as diverse as grass grub, nitrogen and phosphate use, once-a- day-milking and feed conversion efficiency.

It had made a significant contribution to New Zealand farming over the last 40 years, said trust chairman Brendan Attrill. . .

Neil’s pinot empire expands – James Beech:

Actor Sam Neill says his winery’s fourth vineyard acquisition demonstrates ”faith and confidence” in Central Otago and its pinot noir for the global market.

Two Paddocks announced this week it had become the only Central Otago winery with a foothold in all three Central Otago wine-producing sub-regions, owning vineyards in Gibbston, the Alexandra basin and now the Cromwell basin.

Neill said a sum of money which was ”considerable, but both vendors and purchasers think it fair” had bought the established 6ha Desert Heart Vineyard, plus woolshed and house, at the end of Felton Rd, Bannockburn, last week. . .

Don’t let Fonterra’s lawyers run off with the fresh cream – Willy Leferink:

They say bad things come in threes.  We’ve had the news Fonterra is going to “vigorously defend any proceedings” taken by Danone against it for US$400 million.  In recent days, Fonterra Brands has voluntarily recalled 330ml and 500ml bottles of fresh cream sold under the Anchor and Pams brands in the upper North Island. 

As a farmer you wonder, what’s next?

First of all Fonterra is doing things by the book in voluntarily recalling affected bottles of fresh cream stamped “best before 21 January”.  Visit foodsmart.govt.nz and you’ll quickly learn that food product recalls happen irrespective of who’s in government.  In 2008, there were 19 recalls versus the 14 last year and they have involved everything from hash browns to fish fillets to soy milk powder.

While the timing of this is far from ideal given last year’s events, this voluntary recall came from Fonterra’s own testing.  It shows consumers that a company owned by thousands of Kiwi farmers puts food safety first.  When consumers take a Fonterra product off the shelf, they deserve to know someone back at Fonterra is testing it. . .


Rural round-up

June 18, 2013

Address to New Zealand National Fieldays – Tim Groser:

This arresting phrase – ‘Agriculture: New Zealand’s Silicon Valley’ – is not mine. It is Sir Graeme Harrison’s and I can’t improve on it. Sir Graeme, you will recall, is the founder and Chairman of ANZCO Foods, one of New Zealand’s largest exporters.

I like the phrase for three complementary reasons:

· First, it conveys a real sense of optimism – and we have every reason in this country to be optimistic about our future in the first quarter of the 21st Century.

· Second, it captures the reality that agriculture will be as important to New Zealand’s future as it has been to our past.

· Third, it also captures a more subtle idea about our agriculture future. Yes – agriculture will continue to be the economic backbone of our country’s export future. But it will be a vastly more sophisticated agriculture with innovation at its centre. . .

Major New Zealand presence at the International Maritime Organisation:

New Zealand has stepped up its engagement with the International Maritime Organization, with the appointment this week of the Rt Hon Sir Lockwood Smith as New Zealand’s first Permanent Representative.

The Director of Maritime New Zealand, Keith Manch, also participated in the first-ever Symposium on the Future of Ship Safety, held at IMO headquarters in London.

Sir Lockwood, New Zealand High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, presented his credentials to the IMO’s Secretary-General, Koji Sekimizu, today (London time). . .

Winter shearing has payoffs – Jill Galloway:

Sheep might want their wool on their backs for the cold winter months, but farmers say they shear in winter to get heavier lambs and better wool.

However, many urban people see shorn sheep in the winter and are sure they must be feeling the cold.

Shearers have been working at David and Helen Worsfold’s farm near Kiwitea, in Manawatu. He said 700 of his ewes were being shorn with a “cover comb”. . .

Beekeepers Assn turns 100:

The National Beekeepers Association is 100 this year. And the centenary is being celebrated at the association’s annual conference in Ashburton this week.

The national president, Barry Foster, says the industry has had its ups and downs since regional groups of beekeepers formed the national body in 1913. . .

Farmer uses IRB to save stock – Thomas Mead:

A Dunedin farmer was forced to mount an aquatic rescue mission this afternoon to save a herd of cows stuck on his flooded farm.

In a change from the normal four-wheel-drive, farmer Chris Ryalls used an inflatable rescue boat to move around 20 heifers and their calves away from the deep water.

The nearby Taieri River hit record levels following torrential downpours in the region and left much of his Outram farm submerged. . .

Allan Scott Pinot Noir – The Perfect Dinner Guest This Winter

The table is set, the logs are on the fire and delicious, rustic aromas fill the air – so complete the scene and take your annual seasonal soirée to the next level with Allan Scott Pinot Noir, the ultimate dinner guest!

Boasting rich Marlborough dark cherry and raspberry notes with hints of wild herbs, Allan Scott The Hounds Marlborough Pinot Noir 2011 offers a soft and well balanced palate with subtle oak influences – the perfect indulgence for elegant winter dining. . .

 


Rural round-up

August 27, 2012

Smartphone app for smart farmers:

A new Farmhelp app provides practical farming instructions at the touch of a smartphone button, anywhere on a property, any time.

The idea is to deliver instant, practical, time and money-saving information for daily farming situations when it’s needed most – like way out in the back paddock.

“It’s a pocket prompt, accessed easily by smartphones,” says Richard Brown, Baletwine Ltd owner and Farmhelp product developer, in launching the product this week. . .

NZ records July trade surplus of $15 million as dairy shipments to China drive exports

New Zealand recorded a small trade surplus in July, with shipments of dairy products to China making up for weaker exports to Australia, Indonesia and India.

The surplus was $15 million last month, down from a revised $287 million in the previous month, according to Statistics New Zealand. Exports slipped to $4.03 billion from $4.18 billion, while imports gained to $3.99 billion from $3.89 billion.

The annual deficit was $853 million, or 1.8 percent of exports. Economists had forecast a monthly surplus of $33 million and an annual gap of $820 million, according to a Reuters survey. . .

Basmati rice provides fascinating commodity comparison – Allan Barber:

For some strange reason I recently received a research report from India on the Basmati rice industry. But never having previously thought of the rice industry’s dynamics – financial, production or marketing – I found it fascinating reading. I hope some of my readers will share my excitement.

Basmati occupies a small premium niche within the global rice industry, representing 1.5% of total volume, but 2.1% of value. It can only be sold under the Basmati name (or appellation) if it has been grown in designated parts of India and Pakistan, the Indo-Gangetic area of the Himalayas. India produces 72% and Pakistan 28% of total Basmati production. . .

Ballance Farm Business Writing Award entries open

Ballance is encouraging journalists to showcase their work with a new award aimed at heightening awareness of the complexities of running farm businesses.

The Ballance Agri-Nutrients Farm Business Writing Award was created this year as part of the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists Awards.

It was developed to encourage journalists to understand more about the business of running farms and to share what they learn. . .

Wairarapa man wins national Young Viticulture competition

For the first time in the competition’s seven year history, a Wairarapa viticulturist has been named the 2012 Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year.

Braden Crosby (30) from Borthwick Estate in Carterton took the title at the competition, which was held over two days as part of the Romeo Bragato conference. . .

Gibbston Valley Winery Hosts Grand Vertical Tasting:

Some of Central Otago’s oldest and rarest wines are to be collected from the Gibbston Valley Wine library and dusted off for an historic wine tasting.

Legendary wine vignerons Alan Brady and Grant Taylor will join current Gibbston Valley winemaker Christopher Keys on Saturday September 1 to co-host a ‘Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir Grand Vertical Tasting’ at Queenstown Resort College. . .

Grand Jury Européen Rates Lowburn Ferry Amongst Top Pinot Noirs in the World:

The inaugural reserve pinot noir from boutique Central Otago producer Lowburn Ferry has received an outstanding ovation from a panel of international tasters known as the Grand Jury Européen (GJE).

14 GJE tasters recently held a special session in Paris about the styles of various pinots noirs coming from various countries in the world : France, Italy, Switzerland, New Zealand, USA, Argentina, and Germany. Invited producers were asked to provide a wine representing a vintage between 2000 and 2010. . .

And a new (to me) rural blog: Milking on the Moove.


GIbbston Valley’s 25th harvest

July 20, 2012

Gibbston Valley Winery is celebrating its 25th commercial grape harvest with an anniversary dinner:

As part of the celebration and the company’s ongoing commitment to its local community, Gibbston Valley Winery is proud to announce that national charity Cure Kids will be the beneficiary of the night. . . 

Guest speakers on the night will include founding Gibbston Valley winemaker Alan Brady and current Gibbston Valley winemaker Christopher Keys, both of whom will sign the bottles going up for auction, making them real collectors’ items.

Mr Brady was first to plant and commercially produce wines in Gibbston Valley, harvesting pinot noir, pinot gris and a ‘dry white’ blend in 1987, while Mr Keys has been at the winemaking helm for the last six years.

Gibbston Valley Winery was one of the early pioneers of what became the ‘pinot noir phenomenon’, a wine that’s now the second-largest variety in New Zealand to sauvignon blanc.

Twenty-five years later, a dream run of weather producing high quality fruit has the winery predicting an outstanding 2012 vintage. . .

Over the years, Gibbston Valley Winery has won more than 300 national and international awards, helping put the Central Otago wine region on the map.

Thanks to the pioneering spirit of those such as Gibbston Valley Winery founder Alan Brady, the Central Otago region now has approximately 2000 hectares of vines and over 100 producers, and this year’s total harvest is expected to be about 7000 tonnes. . .

Alan Brady was one of Central’s wine pioneers and Gibbston Valley has led the way in combining fine wine and fresh food.

We’ve stopped for lunch at Gibbston several times on our way to or from Queenstown and usually pop in for a visit when we’re hosting friends from overseas.

Every meal has been delicious, complemented by the wine and the service which is always relaxed and professional,even when the restaurant is very busy as it often is.


Culinary Central

May 22, 2009

A Central Otago farmer enjoyed dinner was so effusive in his praise of the meal he’d eaten at a London restaurant that the waiter brought the chef and the restaurant owner out to meet him.

In the ensuing conversation the farmer discovered the chef had trained at Cromwell. The owner added that his only fault was that he’d only work with the best cuts of meat.

Cromwell? Yes, at Otago Polytechnic’s Cromwell Campus  which delivers a variety of courses including turf management, stone masonry, viticulture and hospitality.

The farmer mulled on the conversation with the chef and the importance of ensuring the trainee chefs worked with good cuts of meat so when they graduated and went to work around the world they would use New Zealand beef and lamb.

That mulling eventually led to a dinner at the polytech’s Molyneaux restaurant last night, cooked by trainee chefs and served to the Southern South Island Sheep & Beef Council and guests, two of whom were my farmer and me.

We were served a degustation menu, five little courses of delicious food, beautifully presented and matched with wines.

Italian lamb loin with beetroot pinot jelly, horseradish cream, micro greens and shaved parmesan accompanied by Quartz Reef Methode Traditional.

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Consomme of beef en croute with barley, red pepper and broad been accompanied by Bannockburn Road Pinot Gris – which is produced by Cromwell students.

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Ravioli with ox tail and mushrooms accompanied by a Bendigo Syrah from Aurora Vineyard.

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Herb and macadamia nut crusted rack of lamb with fondant potato, steamed broccolini and braised short rib with a Bannockburn Road Pinot Noir.

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Duo of white and milk chocolate delice with a saffron Anglaise and pistachio tuille accompanied by a 2006 Late Harvest Riesling.

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The chefs are only a third of the way through their training. The meal they served us was a feast for the eyes and the taste buds and left the diners satisfied but not over full.

If they can do so well this early in their training, they will be wonderful ambassadors for our produce when they are in their own kitchens in which ever corner of the world their careers take them.


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