Rural round-up

April 21, 2014

Taking the crosshairs off farmers – Willy Leferink:

Some politicians and lobby groups hell-bent on making farming a feature of the 2014 general election will be taking names and counting numbers.  Yet if you search online with the words “big targets,” you’ll find the banks are in the gun in the United Kingdom while across the ditch, it is tax cheats.

In the universe which is the European Union, its Climate Commissioner has challenged other carbon emitters to follow its lead.  Those big target emitters are the United States, who contribute 15.6 percent of global emissions and this surprised me, China, which is now up to 23.6 percent.  Then again, a fair chunk of humanity and the global economy resides there and in the other big target emitters; Russia, India, Brazil and Indonesia.

Speaking of Russia, I guess Vladimir Putin has made himself a big target for his ‘hostile takeover’ of the Crimea.  While the west rattled less its sabres and more its teacups,you’ve got to wonder if Putin is reassembling old Russia in some kind of geopolitical Lego.

So what’s the lesson here for farmers? . . .

West Coast farms start recovery:

While the South Island’s West Coast bore the brunt of former Cyclone Ita’s wrath, the defining image is that taken by the Otago Daily Times, of past Federated Farmers North Otago provincial president, Robert Borst, using his digger to rescue a motorist trapped by rising floodwaters.

“This is one of the worst storms I can recall,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers West Coast provincial president and the Federation’s adverse events spokesperson.

“Federated Farmers is working with the West Coast Rural Support Trust and we’d like to ask the media to help us in spreading the Trust’s direct telephone number to affected farmers: 03 738 0038.  I need to stress this applies to the West Coast only.

“Getting the Rural Support Trust’s number (03 738 0038) out there is particularly important to beef farmers or graziers who may be struggling. . . .

Wheat disease develops fungicide resistance – Annette Scott:

New Zealand wheat growers will need to rethink their crop-disease management following confirmation the wheat disease speckled leaf blotch has developed fungicide resistance.

Septoria tritici blotch (STB), or speckled leaf blotch, the principal disease affecting NZ wheat crops over the past four years, has developed resistance to the fungicide group that has been most effective in controlling it.

A research team led by Dr Suvi Viljanen-Rollinson, from Plant and Food Research at Lincoln, working with scientists at Rothamsted in the United Kingdom and Aarhus University in Denmark, has confirmed resistance by the NZ zymoseptoria tritici population to quinone outside inhibitors (QoIs), a fungicide group commonly referred to as the strobilurins. . . .

 

Manawatu River improvement is encouraging:

Federated Farmers is thrilled by the improving health of the Manawatu River. A detailed report for the Manawatu River Leaders Forum reveals that the first three years of the clean up have been a success.

“This report is a huge boost for the farming community,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president.

“While improvements in water quality aren’t able to be measured overnight, we are seeing a downward trend already in nutrient and e-coli levels. With 93 percent compliance and climbing in the Manawatu-Wanganui Region, this improving trend will only continue.

“What we can measure is the actions of our community and the numbers are so encouraging it’s something the farming community can take pride in. Well over 100 kilometres of waterways have been fenced, over 60,000 plants planted for erosion control and riparian margins, as well as farm plans and mapping well under way. . . .

Inaugural Game Animal Council appointed:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith and Associate Minister Peter Dunne today announced the appointment of 11 members to the inaugural Game Animal Council.

“The new Game Animal Council is about giving hunters of deer, thar, chamois and pigs an active voice in the management of their recreation. These appointments include a diverse range of interests in hunting and a geographic spread across the country,” Dr Smith says.

The 11 members are:
· Donald Hammond (chair)
· Thomas (Mark) Brough
· Roger Duxfield
· Professor Geoffrey Kerr
· Steven McFall
· Alexander (Alec) McIver
· William Garry Ottmann
· Terence Pierson
· Roy Sloan
· Carol Watson

 


Rural round-up

October 27, 2013

Great staff equals farm success:

Investing in the relationship with farm workers can boost productivity and improve farm performance according to a visiting academic.

 Associate Professor Ruth Nettle, University of Melbourne’s Rural Innovation Research Group, is visiting Massey and Lincoln universities as a guest of OneFarm: the Centre of Excellence in Farm Business Management.

She is here to discuss mutual research opportunities with New Zealand agriculture academics. . .

Dairy firms share DNA and pioneering approach – Tim Fulton:

Synlait and Bright Dairy work well together because of compatible DNA and a pioneering approach, former Finance Minister Ruth Richardson says.

New Zealanders have become familiar with the story of Synlait, starting from nothing on farms and eventually building a factory to supply the world from central Canterbury.

But Richardson said Bright Dairy’s entry to Synlait’s share register three years ago was just as innovative in that Bright was the first Chinese dairy company to invest offshore.

In some ways the move was similar to Synlait deciding several years before to leave the ranks of the New Zealand dairy co-ops, Richardson said at the China Business Summit. . .

Cereals gain from the good oil – Joanne Bennett:

One need not travel to Tuscany to see vistas of golden fields – 1900 hectares of the South Canterbury landscape is glowing with rapeseed in full flower.

It’s a crop that grows well here, thriving in heavy soils with high rainfall, withstanding cold winters and hot summers. . .

‘Horror stories’ in wake of the big blows- Tony Benny:

Forest owners shouldn’t give up on their crop and assume damage wrought by last week’s and last month’s gales is terminal, says Canterbury forestry consultant Allan Laurie.

“We’ve dealt with well over 150 properties and we haven’t seen one yet that we don’t believe we can extract some value out of so it would be very disappointing for me if people were being told that they have no value in their trees,” Laurie said.

“We’ve already heard some horror stories of where people are being told they’ll get their trees cleaned up for nothing and you could walk away feeling somehow happy. Well, we’re a bit perturbed by that and we don’t see too many stands where you wouldn’t extract some value.” . . .

Genetics merger will benefit farmers – Gerald Hall:

A proposed merger of Ovita, Sheep Improvement Ltd (SIL), and the Central Progeny Test offers strong research and commercial benefits for New Zealand sheep and beef farmers.

Together Ovita, SIL, and the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test are the glue that holds together sheep genetics research and development in NZ and supports industry improvement.

These are key ingredients in the profitability and competitive positioning of sheep and beef farming. . . .

 Barley shows promise in cosmetics – Annette Scott:

Locally grown barley could be a game changer, forming the base of the next generation of cosmetics.

When cereals are mentioned it is usually food that comes to mind. But cereals can be used for a number of non-food purposes.

At a Women in Arable meeting in Ashburton, Dr Nick Tucker, of Plant and Food Research, revealed more opportunities for cereal growers looking to maximise returns, including using barley for cosmetics.

Common plastics are made of polymers, large molecules consisting of many small building blocks. Cereals also contain polymers, polysaccharides and proteins. . .

Travellers – are they really a problem?

A drama of immense proportions has been playing itself out near our farm in Elsham, which adjoins a sleepy village close to the Humber bridge.

One Sunday we were informed by text that travellers had arrived with 10 caravans and were making themselves comfortable on our land. They had arrived and unpacked and the area was covered with dogs and children.

The policeman in charge of the local countryside watch rang the current husband and suggested that the pair of them go and visit the newcomers and assess their intentions. Meanwhile, the jungle drums started up. The nearby industrial estate employed security guards overnight to patrol. The village was up in arms with phone calls asking Andrew what he was going to do about it and the occupiers of the adjoining runway (Elsham was a bomber airfield) were threatening to erect an earth barrier around the travellers, blocking them in or out, depending on the time of day. . .


Precision Seafood Harvesting unveiled

October 2, 2013

New Zealand technology is set to revolutionise the international fishing industry.

Imagine if every fish landed on a trawler was alive, in perfect condition and small fish, sharks and other species could be safely released underwater before a catch was lifted on-board.

The first underwater images ever released of revolutionary New Zealand fishing technology show how a partnership between New Zealand scientists and three Kiwi fishing companies will radically change the global fishing industry and make that a reality for wildfish harvesting.

The technology known as ‘Precision Seafood Harvesting’ does away with traditional trawl nets and, instead, sees fish contained and swimming comfortably underwater inside a large flexible PVC liner where they can be sorted for the correct size and species before being brought on-board the fishing vessel.

The break-through design of the harvesting system allows fishing vessels to target specific species and fish size and greatly increases protection for small fish that can swim free through ‘escape portals’ and non-target fish (by-catch), which are released unharmed.

 New Zealand Snapper in PSH Technology

Once on the deck, the fish are still swimming inside the liner, in perfect condition, meaning fresher, more sustainable fish for consumers and higher value products for fishing companies using the technology.

Precision Seafood Harvesting is the commercialisation phase of nearly ten years of New Zealand research. Fishing companies Aotearoa Fisheries, Sanford and Sealord are investing $26 million into the project under a Primary Growth Partnership with the New Zealand Government, which is matching the industry investment. Scientists at Plant & Food Research are partnering with the fishing companies to develop and trial the technology on commercial fishing vessels.

Sanford CEO and Chairman of Seafood New Zealand, Eric Barratt, who unveiled the new technology for the first time to the New Zealand fishing industry at its annual conference in Auckland today, says the Precision Seafood Harvesting programme was set up in April 2012 and will run for six years to commercialise new technology in the New Zealand fishing industry.

“This is the biggest step forward for commercial fishing in 150 years. What we’ve developed in New Zealand has huge benefits for fish stocks, the environment, consumers and New Zealand’s seafood industry. In the process we’re set to change the global fishing industry for the better.”

Alistair Jerrett, from Plant and Food Research says the new way of harvesting wildfish is a close collaboration between his team and the New Zealand seafood industry ‘who want to do things better’. “This is New Zealand science in action and the industry partners deserve a pat on the back for bringing fishing into the 21st century.”

Jerrett’s team built their own underwater cameras to see into traditional trawl nets. He says the ‘aha moment’ was asking: “Why do we have to strain these fish out, why do we have to exhaust them, why do we have to damage them during harvest – the new system changes all of that.

“One of the objectives is to make sure that any animal that reaches the surface, if we can’t select it out underwater, is delivered back to the sea unharmed.” He says this is true for bigger animals as well, like rays, sharks or any animal that is inadvertently captured.

“In terms of selectivity we design everything to make sure unwanted animals are discharged as fast as possible at depth – we don’t want them to even see the light of day.”

“When you realise you can design a highly selective harvest, you are winning in many different ways. You’re winning in unexplored properties, values we haven’t realised, and you’re producing a humane harvesting system.”

The head of Aotearoa Fisheries, Carl Carrington says it’s good news for sustainability by improving New Zealand’s credentials and “enhances our access to sustainability-conscious consumers, improves product taste and quality, and is good for value growth”.

That’s echoed by Sealord CEO, Graham Stuart who believes Precision Harvesting is an opportunity for New Zealand to ‘lead the world with another great kiwi innovation’. “Seeing Hoki landed from a depth of 300 meters, alive and in fantastic condition is remarkable and will totally change how our fish are brought to market.”

Sanford, Sealord and Aotearoa have been actively trialing the new technology on their fishing vessels for the past six months. Vessel Manager at Aotearoa Fisheries, Nathan Reid says fisherman onboard their vessels are excited about the condition of the fish when they are landed. “Replacing old trawl technology is really important for the industry. We’re going to see better stock recruitment and better stock in the water – it’s better for everyone.”

Sealord too is seeing the positive impact of the technology on its crews. Bill Healey is the Vessel Manager for Sealord. He says crews were sceptical at first, but that’s all changed. “When we talk to them now, when we see their reactions to the fish coming up, we know we’re onto something. I know we’re doing something unique and great when I look at the crews”.

Greg Johansson from Sanford says the new harvesting technology is just the start. “This will lead on to changes in vessel designs and layouts, the way we handle fish and get it to consumers. The opportunities are endless.”

“The customers should really enjoy the story of how this fish was caught, the sustainability, the environmental impact of this technology versus other forms of harvesting.

“This will increase the value of all New Zealand seafood products when the global markets see that we’re taking a big step forward by using a more environmentally-friendly way of harvesting fish.”

Recreational fisher and host of the popular “Gone Fishin” television show, Graeme Sinclair has seen the technology in action and says it’s ‘the future of commercial fishing.’ Sinclair says there’s a tendency with recreational anglers to assume that the commercial industry is not doing anything about problems such as dumping and mortality.

“I’ve seen some innovations and some clever buggers in my time, and I think this is revolutionary: it’s Kiwi, it’s clearly innovative, and what it does for mortality and for targeting specific species is incredibly exciting. It alleviates a whole lot of issues all in one hit.”

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the technology, which was developed through the Government’s Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) scheme.

“The Precision Seafood Harvesting project is developing new net technology which is world-leading. It has the potential for huge economic and environmental benefits. . . .

“New high-tech equipment is being developed, with the aim of allowing fish to be sorted by size and species before even leaving the water.

“This will allow smaller and non-targeted fish to escape, reducing wastage and by-catch. At the same time it allows fish to be landed healthier and in better condition, which will improve their value.

“Being able to target specific fish has the potential to revolutionise commercial fishing,” says Mr Guy.

This is an amazing development which will change the seafood industry internationally, make commercial fishing much more sustainable and provide a significant economic boost for New Zealand.


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