Rural round-up

14/03/2021

Setback for China’s producers may boost NZ meat exports – Maja Burry

A second wave of a serious pig disease in China is expected to slow the country’s efforts to rebuild its national herd and help sustain demand for New Zealand red meat.

China is the world’s top pork producer and consumer, but in 2019 [https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/the-detail/story/2018694109/why-we-re-about-to-see-a-global-pork-shortage

a large outbreak of the pig disease African Swine Fever] (ASF) resulted in the culling of about half of the country’s herd.

That outbreak led to scarcity of the meat and big price hikes, which in turn prompted a lift in imports of other proteins into China – including sheepmeat and beef from New Zealand. . .

Live exports ban effects on farmers ‘significant’ – exporter – Maja Burry:

A live cattle exporter is hitting back at calls for the trade to be banned, warning the impact on the farming sector would be significant.

The government launched a review of the trade nearly two years ago and last week told RNZ it was close to making a decision on its future, with options ranging from improving systems to a total ban.

Figures from StatsNZ show more than 100,000 breeding cattle were shipped to China last year, to the value of $255.89 million.

Some animal welfare advocates, including a former head of animal welfare for the Ministry for Primary Industries, want an end to the trade – saying the cattle ended up in poorer conditions than they would have experienced had they remained in New Zealand. . . 

Scenic Hotel Group announces closure of  four West Coast properties including premium Eco Luxe property:

New Zealand’s largest independently owned hotel group, Scenic Hotel Group, has made the tough but strategic decision to place its four West Coast properties into extended hibernation.

Consideration and consultation are currently underway with staff and General Managers of affected properties with the Group undertaking its best endeavours to redeploy staff where they can. In addition to this, Scenic Hotel Group will retain an essential crew of staff to maintain the properties during this period. Scenic Hotel Group Managing Director, Brendan Taylor saying, “Despite strenuous investment by ourselves in the region and a reimagined price point and proposition for flagship property, Te Waonui Forest Retreat, the volume and appetite are simply not there from the Kiwi market.” Taylor believes that over the past year, the Group has exhausted all avenues to stimulate domestic tourism to the region in an effort to make up for the loss of international tourism and ongoing uncertainty around an Australian travel bubble.

In the wake of what he describes as a “Decimated tourism market,” there is now a significant oversupply of accommodation and tourism product in the region. “Whilst unpalatable and at an estimated cost to the Group of around NZ$2m a year, we have made a decision that will hopefully be for the betterment of the region. This will allow smaller operators who do not have the strength of a National Group to take up what tourism dollars are left.” Taylor also expresses a commitment to the Group continuing to promote the region where they can through redirecting online searches directly to other operators. . . 

Turning animal fat into futuristic fuel for cleaner cars – Ben Fahy:

Ben Fahy learns how biodiesel is made and its role in a lower carbon future. 

In the boardroom at Te Kora Hou, Z’s biodiesel plant in south Auckland, the whiteboard is full of chemical equations, an almost-finished packet of chocolate chip biscuits sits on the table, and Glen Carpenter and Wayne Reid – men with good, solid industrial names; good, solid industrial demeanours; and good, solid industrial outfits – are the happiest they’ve been in a long time. 

After a detailed safety briefing, I put on my glasses and hi-viz and head out on a tour of the plant. Carpenter checks to see if his personal gas detector is working and Reid talks about how the fire systems are able to detect invisible flame (methanol, one of the ingredients used in the process, burns clear). 

“We’re in a state of chronic unease,” says Reid, which is a very good attitude to have when you’re surrounded by fuel. . . 

2021 Northland Dairy Industry Award winners announced:

The 2021 Northland Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year is a former police officer who would like to change the opinion of people who criticise the dairy industry without looking at the facts.

Katrina Pearson was named winner of the 2021 Northland Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at Semenoff Stadium in Whangarei on Tuesday night and won $7250 in prizes plus seven merit awards. The other major winners were the 2021 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year Ravindra Maddage Don, and the 2021 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year Bella Wati.

First-time entrants achieved a clean sweep of first, second and third places across all three categories in Northland.

Katrina entered the Awards programme to grow her knowledge about her own business. “I wanted to improve my skills around managing the business and financial side of the job, rather than just focusing on the practical parts.” . . 

Feed your animals not hungry pests :

Unusually high insect pressure saw spring-sown crops take a real hiding in some regions this season.

Now farmers about to drill new pasture seed are urged to plan for similar challenges or risk losing valuable feed.

Between them, Argentine stem weevil, black beetle, black field crickets, porina, grass grub and springtails can make a meal of new grass and clover before you realise there’s a problem.

Sowing perennial ryegrass seed with novel endophyte doesn’t give strong protection of the plant from insects until later in life, so even these cultivars can be heavily predated as seedlings. . . 


Rural round-up

07/10/2018

Quite and capable – Richard Rennie:

A farm apprenticeship course now a year old is starting to have an influence on getting more Kiwis in jobs on dairy farms.

Tirau farm apprentice Kadience Ruakere-Forbes is among the first year’s intake under the Federated Farmers’ Apprenticeship Dairy Programme, a pilot programme supported by PrimaryITO, the federation and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. . . 

Dairy database rules under review – Hugh Stringleman:

The valuable core database of the New Zealand dairy industry is subject to a regulatory review by the Ministry for Primary Industries, to which organisations and people can make submissions.

Consultation will run for six weeks until November 12 and any submission becomes public information, MPI said.

The key issue is whether the regulated dataset remains well aligned with the dairy industry’s current and future animal evaluation needs. MPI said there has been some concern expressed among dairy genetics companies about the management of herd improvement data. . .

Huge costs of pasture pests – Peter BUrke:

Grass grub and porina are causing $2.3 billion of damage to New Zealand pastures annually, according to an AgResearch study.

Of the total estimated annual losses in average years, up to $1.4b occurs on dairy farms and up to $900m on sheep and beef farms.

But scientist Colin Ferguson says this figure relates only to the damage to pasture and doesn’t include the cost of replacing the pasture, destocking and restocking and the long lasting damage to affected pasture. . . 

$11m study dives into high value milk products – Peter Burke:

A five year, $11 million research project has begun, aimed at producing new high value milk products.

Led by Professor Warren McNabb, of the Riddet Institute, Palmerston North, the project will seek better mechanistic understanding of the various milks produced in New Zealand including cow, goat, sheep and deer.

A particular aim will be to develop new products for babies, very young children and elderly people in New Zealand and, especially, for export. . .

 

First failed WorkSafe prosecution:

Athenberry Holdings Ltd grows Kiwifruit near Katikati. Zespri buy the fruit, brand, market and sell the fruit. Zespri engaged Agfirst to sample and test maturity and quality of fruit.

Agfirst use a local packhouse Hume to collect the samples. AgFirst’s sample collector died during the collection of fruit when her quad bike overturned on rough ground next to Athenberry’s kiwifruit block.

She was employed by AgFirst who had contracted a local packhouse – Hume Pack-N-Cool Ltd (Hume). It appears the rider had taken the quad bike over steep and rough terrain away from the area where she was required to collect samples.

Her training and industry practices are that you stick to the offical and mown access paths. No-one was sure why she deviated. . . 

Gene edited food is coming to your plate, no regulation included – Lydia Mulvany:

For Pete Zimmerman, a Minnesota farmer, the age of gene-edited foods has arrived. While he couldn’t be happier, the soybeans he’s now harvesting are at the crux of a long-running debate about a “Frankenfood” future.

Zimmerman is among farmers in several states now harvesting 16,000 acres of DNA-altered soybeans destined to be used in salad dressings, granola bars and fry oil, and sold to consumers early next year. It’s the first commercialized crop created with a technique some say could revolutionize agriculture, and others fear could carry as-yet-unknown peril.

In March, the top U.S. regulator said no new rules or labeling are needed for gene-edited plants since foreign DNA isn’t being inserted, the way traditional genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are made. Instead, enzymes that act like scissors are used to tweak a plant’s genetic operating system to stop it from producing bad stuff — in this case, polyunsaturated fats — or enhance good stuff that’s already there. . . 


Biosecurity alerts

09/11/2017

Plague skinks found near Picton:

Thanks to a sharp-eyed resident, a plague skink (also known as rainbow skink) was captured in Waikawa near Picton in early October. A second skink was subsequently caught at the same location during an investigation by Marlborough District Council, the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Department of Conservation.

Marlborough District Council Biosecurity Coordinator Jono Underwood says plague skinks are native to Australia but have established and spread rapidly throughout the warmer parts of the North Island. They breed prolifically and are thought to out-compete native lizards for food and territory. . . 

AgPest warns of  another pest:

Readiness and responsiveness are key :

And happy retirement Yogi,  thanks for helping to keep out pests:

We’ve recently said farewell to long serving detector dog Yogi from active service at the border.
Yogi is a born and bred MPI detector dog.
He’s has had a diverse career within his role as a biosecurity detector dog. He worked all over the country during his almost 8 year career with MPI including Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Auckland. . . 


Rural round up

31/12/2012

What farmers face in 2013  – Caleb Allison:

Farmers face their most volatile year in recent memory as New Zealand’s agriculture sector remains at the mercy of world markets, according to industry commentators.

While every year comes with a certain level of uncertainty for the farming community, Waikato University’s head of agribusiness, Professor Jacqueline Rowarth told NBR ONLINE it is of particular concern this year.

“Many farmers are already running at a very slim margin. . .

Happy helping Kiwi kids – Hugh Stringleman:

Delivering milk to 56 Northland schools is very rewarding, say Luke and Corrine McDonald, Fonterra Brands franchisees based in Whangarei.

Twice a week they have two of their four trucks on the roads around their large delivery area, delivering the 250ml UHT cartons and picking up the empties for recycling.

Northland was the provincial pilot for the Fonterra Milk for Schools programme, launched at Manaia View School, Whangarei, last March. . .

Paying it forward at Little Acres – Tim Fulton:

Animal care centre run “in the spirit of koha” is getting a make-over, propelled by the kind of generosity that got it started.

Jacqui Emmett and her husband Barry operate the non-profit Little Acres in western Waikato, helping prepare surplus livestock for new homes.

The Te Akau couple charge nothing for taking in animals, despite feed costing them up to $350 a week.

In fact, if money gets tight the humans are the last to be fed. . .

Debt mediation law would rein-in banks: Walker – Jamie Ball:

A farm debt mediation law would reduce the tendency for banks to engage in “reckless” lending practices similar to the mass marketing of complex interest rate swaps to farmers, according to campaigner Janette Walker.

“It will also introduce a level of fairness that will rebalance the power structure, which is presently poorly balanced in the bank’s favour.

“It’s about setting up a more transparent process. The banks have responsibilities and so do the farmers. It also stops the banks doing their snatch and grab,” the farmer’s advocate said. . .

Porina biocontrol promise :

IMAGINE LOOKING across the farm and being pleased to see hundreds of creatures vomiting and dying of dehydration.Sounds surreal, but it’s becoming reality thanks to smart scientists working on porina caterpillar control.

Mark Hurst, AgResearch Lincoln, and his Invermay colleague Colin Ferguson, have, for several years, been working with bacteria Yersina entomophaga MH96, a bug Hurst discovered in native grass grubs in 1996. It’s since been found to be deadly to porina and other insect pests such as bronze beetle and diamond back moth. . .

Bayer and Motutapu Restoration Trust announce forest planting partnership

The Motutapu Restoration Trust has today announced a partnership with Bayer, which is contributing $25,000 for forest restoration to celebrate the company’s 150th birthday in 2013.

In addition to donating to the Trust to support the planting of a block of forest, Bayer will offer its staff an annual opportunity to volunteer on the island to help with planting and weeding.

“In 2013, Bayer celebrates its 150th birthday and we will be marking that in various ways around the world,” Bayer New Zealand Ltd Managing Director Patricia Castle said today. “Helping create a home for kiwi and takahe is something our team in New Zealand would love to support so we’ve chosen to take responsibility for funding the planting and maintenance of two hectares of forest on Motutapu as our birthday gift to New Zealand. . .

TV3 has a video of: Mustering sheep with a remote control quadcopeter.

And NZ Farmers Weekly has a selection of photos of 2012.


Rural round-up

28/11/2012

Chemical-free biopesticide offers hope for porina control

AgResearch scientists are working on a chemical-free biopesticide that can kill one of New Zealand’s worst pasture pests – the porina caterpillar.

The caterpillar and with another pest, the grass grub, cost farmers an estimated $100 million a year in destroyed pasture and control measures.

The biopesticide is based on a naturally-occurring bacterium, Yersinia entomophaga,discovered during a search for alternatives to health-threatening chemical pesticides which are being phased out. . .

What would responsible pastoralism mean? (A strategic ‘glue’) – Peter Kerr:

My contention is, by branding our method (pasture Harmonies) and taking that through on products to the consumer, NZ Inc would become the global custodians for responsible pastoralism.

What would that mean?

In one word, ‘glue’.

I argue that as nation of rugged individualists, the thing that has been missing for our farmers, our agritech, our marketers and our publics is a common sense of purpose. . .

The dairy cliff in America – an Alice in Wonderland of the planned – Life Behind the Iron Drape:

A journalist from the land of fiat money and central banking sat down this week and, no doubt with a straight face, wrote the following about the American ‘dairy cliff’:
As if the “fiscal cliff” and the long-suffering farm bill weren’t enough, Iowans may soon face a new dilemma — a “dairy cliff.”
If Congress fails to act in the handful of weeks it has left in its lame-duck session before adjourning for Christmas recess, the nation’s dairy programs for farmers will expire Jan. 1.

Dairy Awards at 300 Entries

Just over 300 entries have so far been received in the 2013 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

National convenor Chris Keeping is pleased with entry numbers and the level of interest in the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

“We are past halfway in our entry target this year, which is great. I’m hoping for a rush of entries this week as our earlybird entry prize draw closes off on Friday,” Mrs Keeping says. . .

Clearview chocolates – a little piece of paradise

Combining wine and chocolate may be a combination made in heaven for some, but in reality it’s a sweet collaboration coming out of Te Awanga on Hawke’s Bay’s Cape Coast.

Clearview Estate Winery and local (yet French) chocolatier, Anissa Talbi of La Petite Chocolat have joined forces to create two special dessert wine chocolates, one featuring Sea Red and the other, Late Harvest Chardonnay. . .


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