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

27/06/2020

Heavy machinery driver shortage leads to plea for overseas workers to be allowed :

A government backed course aimed at giving heavy machinery training to people made redundant by Covid-19 is attracting a large number of immigrants on work visas.

The organisation Rural Contractors New Zealand say they will be short of 1000 skilled tractor and heavy machinery drivers this summer and it is calling on the Minister of Agriculture to allow overseas workers in under the essential worker category.

Minister Damien O’Connor said he realised there were skills shortages and that may require looking at how to bring some people safely back into the country to plug those gaps. . .

Feds say plan change unworkable – Gerald Piddock:

Waikato’s Health Rivers plan change 1 is confusing, poorly worded and unworkable farmers at a meeting near Lake Karapiro said.

While the intent of some rules is right the way they are written goes against the intention to improve water quality in the Waikato and Waipa Rivers, Federated Farmers’ regional policy manager Paul Le Miere told about 30 farmers.

The meeting was one of several seeking farmer feedback before the federation lodges its appeal to the Environment Court.

“They’re trying to do the right thing but the way it’s written it doesn’t really work.” . . 

Federated Farmers’ first female president steps down

The first woman president in Federated Farmers’ 118 year history is ending her three year term today.

Katie Milne stepped down at the organisation’s AGM on Friday. She became the first women president when she was elected in 2017.

Milne said it had been a privilege to serve in the role and it was a mixed bags of emotions to see her term come to an end.

“I’m really pleased with the great succession coming up behind me and the amount of young people that are coming through the organisation,” she said. . . 

New Federated Farmers’ board mixes experience with new blood :

Federated Farmers Chief Executive Terry Copeland is confident the newly-elected national board encompasses the depth of experience and expertise needed to maintain the organisation’s role as an effective voice for all farmers.

“Feds has been a grass roots-driven organisation for all of its 120 years and the elected leaders of our 24 provinces and our six industry groups have chosen high-calibre and committed people to sit at our top table,” Copeland says.

Manawatu dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard was confirmed as the new President at the national AGM today. As Vice-President for the three-year term just ending, Andrew has proved himself as an energetic and able representative, especially in his roles as spokesperson on climate change, commerce and connectivity, Copeland says.

Wairarapa farmer Karen Williams, who has a background in resource management and environmental planning, finishes her term as Arable Industry Group Chair and takes on the Vice-President role. The new Arable Chair is South Canterbury’s Colin Hurst, the 2019 ‘Arable Farmer of the Year’. . .

New educational tools for beekeepers :

Ecrotek, New Zealand’s largest beekeeping supply company, has developed new education tools for beekeepers. With hive numbers growing from 300,000 to over 1 million, the beekeeping industry has seen significant expansion over the past 10 years.

Many beekeepers now have less than 5 years’ experience. Although not a given, lower experience levels can be detrimental to the industry, resulting in higher rates of disease and starvation, lower honey yields and decreased operational efficiency.

In order to address this issue, Ecrotek, in partnership with Dr Mark Goodwin, a world-leading beekeeping scientist and Sarah Cross a Plant and Food Research Associate have produced a new book, Best Practice Beekeeping, that covers the ‘should’ and ‘should nots’ of beekeeping in a simple easy to read format. . . 

Think Big” industrial hemp can help New Zealand’s economic recovery post Covid-19:

Now is a great time to introduce a new raw material for industry, allowing the new normal to be sustainable and regenerative

Aotearoa/New Zealand needs to think big and pay attention to market trends if they want to be operating at scale in global markets.

NZHIA welcomes the government’s support for creating jobs and promoting the wellbeing of current and future generations of New Zealanders. The 2020 Budget has allocated a lot of funding to support primary production, building homes, rebuilding infrastructure and support for positive health and family outcomes – and we want to help them achieve this. . .


Rural round-up

11/06/2020

Open letter on the value of animal agriculture’ – penned by a global farming community:

Almost 70 groups and individuals representing farmers, producers, vets and researchers from across the world have written an “open letter” to highlight the valuable role that animal agriculture has held during the Covid-19 pandemic.

From Europe to the US, from New Zealand to Africa and Canada leading farming associations, agricultural academics, producer associations, and other high-level industry stakeholders are “pushing back” against what is described as “misinformation” around animal agriculture that has circulated throughout the outbreak. . .

DoC leaves concessionaires in the lurch:

The Department of Conservation (DoC) has shown a lack of compassion towards businesses permitted to operate on conservation land, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

When the border shut, concession holders saw a large chunk of their business dry up overnight. Despite having no income from international visitors, they are still having to pay full concession fees to DOC.

Those affected are often small businesses like cafes and tourism operators. . .

Feral deer sightings spark concern for kauri forests :

Northland residents are being urged to report feral deer sightings after several animals were spotted in the area.

Four deer were recently seen – and one shot – from a helicopter in the Bay of Islands.

Wild deer are classed as an ‘eradication species’ in the north and it is illegal to release or move wild deer in or around the region.

Northland Regional Council biosecurity manager Don McKenzie said Northland is one of the few regions in New Zealand that has no established wild populations of deer and it would be “disastrous” for the area’s kauri forest if this changed. . . 

Protecting NZ fries as part of PNZ pandemic recovery & transformation plan:

Potatoes New Zealand has met with Minister Faafoi this week to discuss investigating the potential importation of heavily discounted frozen potato chips into New Zealand.

With MBIE’s support we are undertaking an investigation to gather evidence of the potential import threat. 

KEY POINTS

    • PNZ want growers to feel confident in the industry recovering from pandemic crisis
    • PNZ want to discourage the Europeans from attempting surplus import
    • We are gathering economic trade data and carrying out public interest analysis . . 

Barley use for brewing and malting ‘lowest in 10 years’ :

Barley usage for the brewing, malting and distilling sector in April has fallen to the lowest figure in over a decade, according to analysis.

New figures – the first full month of data showing the implications of the Covid-19 lockdown – show that barley use for the sector was just 114,700t.

The last time that barley usage for brewing, malting and distilling fell below 120,000t in a month was August 2009, when just 111,500t was used. . . 

Cheese price hits record highs – Lee Miekle:

Dairy prices ended May in far better shape than at the beginning of the month, and block cheese prices entered June Dairy Month at record highs.

The cheese handily topped $2 per pound for the first time since November 2019 in the Memorial Day holiday-shortened week. The 40-pound Cheddar blocks closed Friday at $2.23 per pound, up 29.25 cents, all on unfilled bids, and 51.5 cents above a year ago.

The 500-pound Cheddar barrels finished Friday and the month at $2.0225, up 13.25 cents on the week and 48.25 cents above a year ago. . .


Rural round-up

30/05/2019

Fonterra is investing in  artificial meat but would you eat it? – Bonnie Flaws:

Are cows evil? You could be forgiven for thinking so.

If the alternative protein companies are right, it’s much better to eat reconfigured soy-protein with genetically modified heme, or even meat grown in a lab, than eat an actual cow.

The question is timely because in a surprise move Fonterra announced last month it was  investing in Motif Ingredients, a Boston biotech startup that wants to use genetic engineering and cultured ingredients to “make foods that are more sustainable, healthier, delicious, and more accessible”.

While people had different feelings about eating lab-cultured meat, there was a common concern around healthy and safety from those spoken to. . .

Federated Farmers urges perseverance on NAIT re-registration:

Technical and other issues are not helping with re-registration for the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme but Federated Farmers is urging all farmers to persevere.

“This is too important to backslide on. The Mycoplasma bovis issue has highlighted why we need excellent levels of compliance with NAIT,” Feds Dairy Chairperson Chris Lewis says.

“All of us – farmers and OSPRI – need to pull together to get NAIT working well. In terms of eradicating M. bovis, to borrow the words of Ed Hillary, that’s the way we’ll ‘knock the bastard off’.” . . .

M Bovis: Thousands of dairy farms not on tracking system as moving day looms :

Almost 8000 dairy locations are yet to re-register to a national tracking system, with just days to go until moving day, when sharemilkers move their cows to new farms around the country.

The Ministry of Agriculture says there are 14,940 dairy locations around New Zealand; 7034 have re-registered, 7906 are yet to do so – so more than half. One farm can consist of several NAIT locations, a ministry spokeswoman says.

It means moving day will be an anxious one for many because the main way Mycoplasma bovis spreads is through the movement of animals. . . 

Merino growers celebrate their best – Sally Rae:

Excellence in producing merino wool has been recognised at the Otago Merino Association’s annual awards function.

About 170 people attended the event in Alexandra on Friday night, where the winners of the Clip of the Year and Child Cancer Foundation fleece competition were named.

The overall Clip of the Year title went to the Sutherland family, from Benmore Station, a property synonymous with high-quality fine wool. . . 

Finalists announced for inaugural Primary Industry Awards:

The following nominations are the successful finalists for the Primary Industries Awards, to be presented at a gala dinner sponsored by FMG in Wellington on July 1.

The awards are part of the Primary Industries Awards Summit, on July 1 – 2.

The awards aim to shine a spotlight on the important role the primary sector plays in the economy and honour the most successful and innovative primary industries’ producers and supporters. . .

Wairarapa Cricket Farm to provide 100% Kiwi cricket flour:

A cricket farm in the Wairarapa will be the first of its kind in New Zealand to provide 100% locally sourced cricket flour.

Rebel Bakehouse began work on its cricket farm 18 months ago, to ultimately provide flour for its new cricket flour wraps which were launched into Kiwi supermarkets in March 2019.

Chris Petersen, of Rebel Bakehouse, says making cricket flour and cricket wraps respond to consumer demand for healthier alternatives in the bread aisle. . .

NZ Horticulture exceeds $9.2 billion:

New Zealand horticulture is well on track to meet its goal of $10 billion by 2020. The industry was valued at $9.2 billion in the year ending 30 June, 2018, up $400 million from 2017. The increase was driven by a strong growth in exports, which rose to $5.5 billion from $5.1 billion the year before.

According to the latest Fresh Facts, published annually by Plant & Food Research since 1999, horticultural exports tripled from $1.7 billion 20 years ago. They now accounted for almost 10% of New Zealand’s total merchandise exports. . .


Rural round-up

26/05/2019

New technologies will ‘not be enough’ to hit emission targets – Gerald Piddock:

As thousands of schoolchildren held nationwide strikes to demand action on climate change, 200 dairy farmers gathered in Rotorua to hear the latest science around ways the industry can lower its emissions.

What they heard at the DairyNZ Farmers Forum was there are no silver bullets to help the industry lower its emissions enough to hit the 47 per cent target by 2050 outlined in the Zero Carbon Bill currently going through Parliament.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said he supported the principle of what the students were striking on. . . 

Quake farmers back to normal – Annette Scott:

Clarence Valley farmers say there are lessons to be learned following the Kaikoura earthquake that geologists claim is the biggest land uplift ever recorded in the world.

November 14, 2016, is well remembered in the Clarence Valley farming community as the day a 7.8 earthquake transformed their land.

The worst hit, Rick and Julia King of Middle Hill Station, lost everything except their will to keep farming. . . 

Farming his way back to nature – Colin Williscroft:

Hawke’s Bay farmers Greg and Rachel Hart are committed to producing top-quality food by using nature as a guide while re-establishing a connection between people and the land that sustains them. Colin Williscroft visited to see what they are doing.

Optimising life – whether that’s soil life, plant life, animal health or the people who make it happen – is a guiding principle for Central Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer Greg Hart.

Greg, who farms Mangarara Station near Elsthorpe with his wife Rachel and children George, Bill and Emma, operates a farming system focused not only on being productive in the short term. It has a longer-term focus, aiming to regenerate the land while helping build stronger connections between the landscape and people.

A key is balancing relationships between nature and production agriculture as part of ecosystem restoration, including a focus on soil health, carbon sequestration and planting native and food-producing trees. . . 

Mechanised future for fruit orchards – Yvonne O’Hara:

The orchard of the future will be highly digitised and more productive, with fruit being grown in a protected environment and tended by robots, says Plant and Food Research (PFR) scientist Dr Jill Stanley.

She said human workers would still be in demand as labour requirements would be the same but there would be less pressure at peak times.

Dr Stanley was the guest speaker at the Alexandra, Clyde and Districts Business Group’s monthly breakfast meeting last Friday and talked about what the horticulture sector would look like by 2050. . . 

Farmers need to embrace technology – Diane Bishop:

The day before his 50th birthday Conor English left a secure high-profile job to start his own company, Agribusiness New Zealand.

It was a big risk, but one that has paid off for the former Southlander.

English was the keynote speaker at the Southern Primary Sector Update conference, hosted by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill on Friday. . .

Best days ahead at Telford

As you pull up to the gates of Telford, the sight before you may not be what you expected to see in the middle of the South Otago countryside.

An impressive historic stone building surrounded by established rolling gardens is your first glimpse into the state-of-the-art offering Telford gives for anyone who chooses to study at the institution. As the heart of the Telford campus, many young minds have walked in through those doors and work-ready agricultural specialists have come back out.

A staple of New Zealand farming history and agricultural education since 1964, Telford’s Balclutha campus extends over 921 hectares of with halls of residence and facilities, technical workshops (machinery, carpentry and welding), classrooms and livestock units. . . 


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