Rural round-up

December 26, 2017

‘Drag ‘n drop’ grazing now a reality – Nigel Malthus:

The idea of virtual fencing has been around for 20 years, but AgResearch believes its time has come and will soon start testing an Australian product.
Farm systems scientist Warren King, of AgResearch Ruakura, says it has been watching the technology for years and now believes the eShepherd product from Melbourne company Agersens is “the real deal”.

New Zealand’s Gallagher Group is a lead investor in Agersens, with marketing manager Mark Harris on the board. . .

Recent heat boost for lavender crops:

A South Canterbury lavender grower is experiencing an early start to the season.

Rob Martin, of Limestone Valley Estate, near Cave, said his crop of Pacific blue lavender was two weeks early this year, and his other varieties were following close behind.

He put the ”very early” start down to the year’s weather patterns, which were ”excellent” for lavender.

”[There was a] sudden heavy wet winter and spring and that immediately changed to hot weather,” he said. . .

Mozzarella plant on track for May start – Alexia Johnston:

Clandeboye’s $240million mozzarella plant is on target for commissioning in May.

AThe project, which is the third mozzarella plant for Fonterra’s Clandeboye site, is three-quarters complete and has already created 75 new jobs.

A further 25 employees will join the team in February.

Clandeboye operations manager Steve McKnight was among those watching progress.

”There’s a real buzz in the air on site as we have more people on site and the plant takes shape,” he said. . .

Decades of service:

The 2017 NZ Winegrower Personality of the Year goes to the NZSVO and its departing Executive Officer, Nick Sage and the recently announced life member, Rengasamy Balasubramaniam – better known as Bala.

There seems to be a common thread when you look at the retiring committee members of the NZSVO. All seem to have landed the job after being lured to an AGM by the offer of free wine. . .

I can’t wait for when we don’t have any possums – Andrew Austin:

The rabbits populating my neighbourhood seem to have begun breeding like, well, rabbits.

They are all around – on the roads, in the gardens, in the paddocks. They are a menace. As I am not a gun owner, I simply have to live with them.

The dogs give them (literally) a run for their money, so at least they don’t come too close to the house.

But even worse than rabbits are the possums. I drive along a one kilometre-long shared rural driveway to get to my house and every night I see at least one possum waddling along the road. Workmates and others tell me that I should aim for them and run them over. I have tried, but always seem to pull out at the last moment. . .

Gove tells Brits to be more patriotic about cheese buying habits

Brits who are worried about the price of their foreign produce going up after Brexit should be more patriotic about their choices, according to Michael Gove.

Mr Gove, who attended the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) on Wednesday (20 December), has criticised claims that the price of cheddar cheese will go up by 40 percent if Britain leaves the EU without a trade deal.

The Defra Secretary said Brits should instead focus their priority on British cheddar. He said that, in a WTO scenario, if cheese prices rise steeply then the British public should buy more British cheese. . .


NZ predator free by 2050

July 26, 2016

Prime Minister John Key has announced the government’s goal of New Zealand being predator free by 2050.

“While once the greatest threat to our native wildlife was poaching and deforestation it is now introduced predators,” Mr Key says.

“Rats, possums and stoats kill 25 million of our native birds every year, and prey on other native species such as lizards and, along with the rest of our environment, we must do more to protect them.”

Mr Key says these introduced pests also threaten our economy and primary sector, with their total economic cost estimated at around $3.3 billion a year.

“That’s why we have adopted this goal. Our ambition is that by 2050 every single part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats and possums.

“This is the most ambitious conservation project attempted anywhere in the world, but we believe if we all work together as a country we can achieve it.”

The Government will lead the effort, by investing an initial $28 million in a new joint venture company called Predator Free New Zealand Limited to drive the programme alongside the private sector.

This funding is on top of the $60 to $80 million already invested in pest control by the government every year and the millions more contributed by local government and the private sector.

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will be responsible for identifying large, high value predator control projects and attracting co-investors to boost their scale and success.

The Government will look to provide funding on a one for two basis – that is for every $2 that local councils and the private sector put in, the Government will contribute another dollar.

“This ambitious project is the latest step in the National-led Government’s commitment to protecting our environment.

“We are committed to its sustainable management and our track record speaks for itself.

“This includes the decision to establish the world’s largest fully protected ocean sanctuary in the Kermadecs, better protection in our territorial sea and our efforts to improve the quality of our fresh waterways.

“We know the goal we have announced today is ambitious but we are ambitious for New Zealand.

“And we know we can do it because we have shown time and again what can be achieved when New Zealanders come together with the ambition, willpower and wherewithal to make things happen.”

This is a BHAG – a Big Hairy Audacious Goal and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry is right when she says it will take a team effort to achieve it.

“New Zealand’s unique native creatures and plants are central to our national identity. They evolved for millions of years in a world without mammals and as a result are extremely vulnerable to introduced predators, which kill around 25 million native birds every year,” Ms Barry says. 

“Now is the time for a concerted long-term nationwide effort to rid ourselves of the introduced rats, stoats and possums that have placed so much of our natural heritage in jeopardy.”

Under the strategy the new government company, Predator Free New Zealand Limited, will sponsor community partnerships and pest eradication efforts around the country.

“By bringing together central and local government, iwi, philanthropists, and community groups, we know that we can tackle large-scale predator free projects in regions around New Zealand,” Ms Barry says.

“Project Taranaki Mounga and Cape to City in Hawke’s Bay are great examples of what’s possible when people join forces to work towards a goal not achievable by any individual alone.”

The Predator Free 2050 Project will combine the resources of lead government agencies the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries to work in partnership with local communities.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the goal of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 will have major positive impacts for farmers and the wider primary sector.

“Possums and ferrets are the main carriers of bovine TB, which is a very destructive disease for cattle and deer. In this year’s Budget the Government committed $100 million towards combined eradication efforts with industry starting with cattle and deer by 2026,” Mr Guy says. 

“By pooling our resources and working together we can jointly achieve our goals of both eradicating bovine TB, and achieving a predator free New Zealand.”

Not all the technology to make New Zealand predator free yet exists, and the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge will have an important role in developing the science to achieve the predator free goal.

“New Zealand is a world leader in conservation technology and research,” Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says. “The Biological Heritage Challenge has an established network of scientists who are ready and willing to take on the Predator Free Challenge. For the first time technology is starting to make feasible what previously seemed like an unattainable dream.”

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will have a board of directors made up of government, private sector, and scientific players. The board’s job will be to work on each regional project with iwi and community conservation groups and attract $2 of private sector and local government funding for every $1 of government funding. 

Four goals for 2025 have been set for the project:

  • An additional 1 million hectares of land where pests have been suppressed or removed through Predator Free New Zealand partnerships
  • Development of a scientific breakthrough capable of removing at least one small mammalian predator from New Zealand entirely
  • Demonstrate areas of more than 20,000 hectares can be predator free without the use of fences
  • Complete removal of all introduced predators from offshore island nature reserves

“These are ambitious targets in themselves, but ones that we are capable of reaching if we work together,” Ms Barry says. 

“New Zealanders have rightly taken great pride in our conservation efforts to date. If we harness the strength of everyone who is keen to be involved in this project, I believe we will achieve the vision of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 and make our landscape a safe haven again for our native taonga species.”

 

Predator free in 34 years is a BHAG but Forest and Bird says it’s possible:

“A country free of predators would allow forests, towns and cities to fill with native bird life such as kiwi, kākāriki (parakeets), pīwakawaka (fantails), tīeke (saddleback), kōkako, and kākā. Other species like tuatara, hihi (stichbirds), toutouwai (robins), insects, and native snails would repopulate forests and other wild places,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“The objective of a predator free country is one that many environmental groups, large and small, have been tirelessly working towards for a long time. However, Forest & Bird intends to look very closely at the detail of how the Government is planning to roll out their vision. For example, if the proposed Predator Free NZ Ltd. company is set up to deliver this programme, what will the role of the Department of Conservation be?”

“Reversing centuries of misguided predator releases and their ongoing devastating effect on our native species and habitats will take commitment, investment, and collaboration, but is entirely achievable by 2050, with the right resources, experts, and framework in place,” says Mr Hackwell. 

“A predator free country will also be of huge value to public health and our agriculture industries which currently spend many millions every year combating waste, contamination, and disease due to pests like rats and possums.”

We spent five days sailing round the Fiordland coast last year, landing occasionally to see native bush much as it would have been when Captain Cook first saw it in 1773. He would have been greeted by bird song but the bush through which we walked was almost silent.

Human and animal predators decimated the bird population and in too many places pests are still winning the battle against the birds.

The Department of Conservation is making a concerted effort to eradicate pests and re-establish species like the kakapo.

That’s not easy on islands and it is even more difficult on the mainland with possums, stoats, ferrets and rats breeding freely and preying on eggs and young birds.

Predator-free fences around bush have been established in several places but the Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 strategy recognises a lot more needs to be done.

It also needs to be done carefully with regard to the whole food chain. Rats prey on mice which prey on birds’ eggs. Eliminating rats would not be enough if that allowed the mouse population to explode.

It will take a lot of money and a lot of work but it will be worth it if it results in burgeoning bird populations with better public and animal health as a bonus from the eradication of pests which wreak havoc on native flora and fauna, and carry diseases.


Rural round-up

February 28, 2015

Dairy commits $5 million to ambitious zero pest plan – Suze Metherell:

New Zealand’s dairy industry has committed $5 million over two years to the fight against stoats, rats and possums, which destroy native flora and fauna, and can carry bovine tuberculosis.

The Zero Invasive Predators scheme, or ZIP, formed after a $10 million injection from philanthropic fund NEXT Foundation, and a further commitment of $5 million from the Department of Conservation. The funds will be used to develop the Wellington-based conservationist’s barrier system, which aims to prevent the reintroduction of pests in cleared zones, without using fences.

New Zealand’s major dairy companies, including Fonterra Cooperative, Westland Milk Products, Open Country, Synlait and Tatua, have contributed to the programme, which is trialing its system on the 400 hectare Bottle Rock peninsula in the Marlborough Sounds. The dairy industry wants to eradicate possums because of the TB threat to dairy herds. . .

 Dairy funding for predator control welcomed:

The announcement that the dairy industry will join an initiative to tackle the predators decimating New Zealand’s native wildlife is another positive step on the way to achieving the long term goal of a predator-free New Zealand, Forest & Bird said today.

Five major dairy companies, including Fonterra, have committed $5 million to the Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) programme, which was founded late last year by NEXT Foundation and the Department of Conservation. The partnership intends to find new ways to eradicate introduced predators such as rats, stoats and possums from large areas of land.

Forest & Bird Group Manager Campaigns and Advocacy Kevin Hackwell welcomed the dairy industry involvement in the campaign to stop the decline of our native wildlife due to invasive predators. . .

NZ business confidence gains in February as agri sector gets more upbeat – Paul McBeth:

  (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand business confidence improved in February as recent gains in dairy prices turned sentiment around in the agriculture sector, and as low interest rates stoke hiring and investment expectations.

A net 34.4 percent of firms are optimistic about the general economy, up from 30.4 in the previous survey, according to the ANZ Business Outlook. That was aided by a turnaround in agriculture to a net 15.2 percent becoming optimistic, having previously been dominated by pessimists. Firms’ own activity outlook showed a net 40.9 percent of respondents upbeat on their prospects, compared to 37.3 percent.

“General confidence, profit expectations and employment intentions in this sector (agriculture) have flipped from negative to positive,” ANZ Bank New Zealand chief economist Cameron Bagrie said in his report. “Higher dairy prices are no doubt working their magic. Such a bounce-back is particularly welcome considering challenges delivered by Mother Nature.” . .

 

Fonterra’s journey – Keith Woodford:

[This is the second of five articles on Fonterra that I have been writing for the Fairfax NZ Sunday Star Times. This one was published on 8 February 2015. The previous article was titled ‘The evolution of Fonterra’ ]

Last week I wrote about the battles that led to the formation of Fonterra in 2001. However, Fonterra’s structure and associated institutional culture have moved a long way since then.

Sufficient time has elapsed since Fonterra’s formation battles that they can now be seen in reasonable perspective. But subsequent events are still raw. In line with corporate policy, the participants have largely kept their opinions private, and the official line is a product of the public relations team. However, in a co-operative structure, it is inevitable that information does leak. One thing for sure, is that some of the internal debates have been vigorous. . .

Forest safety council underway:

The forest industry has established a safety council to make forests safer places to work. This was a key recommendation of the Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel that reviewed forest workplace safety in 2014.

The Forest Industry Safety Council will formally get underway in early April. But in the meantime a working group representing forest owners, contractors, workers, unions and the government is putting the building blocks in place. An independent chair and national safety director are being recruited.

There were 10 workplace deaths and 169 serious harm injuries in forestry in 2013. This led to the industry establishing the review panel which reported in late October 2014. . .

Sailor convicted after biosecurity ramp-up in Northland:

A sailor who appeared in the Kaikohe District Court last week (17 February) has become the first person convicted for deliberately concealing biosecurity goods on a visiting yacht.

The conviction follows increased biosecurity scrutiny of arriving yachts by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) at Northland this yacht arrival season.

Sylvie Berthe Barre, 61, a retired French national, had earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of knowingly possessing unauthorised goods, and misleading an official. She was fined $3000.

She is currently staying in New Zealand on a three-month visiting visa. . .

2015 Northland Field Days Could Be Biggest Ever:

The 2015 Northland Field Days is shaping up to be the biggest ever according to organisers with more exhibitors, more competitions and better facilities than ever before.

From February 26 to February 28 people from Northland and beyond will flood into Dargaville for the Northland Field Days with high expectations

With over 450 companies exhibiting at the event this year Northland Field Days president Lew Duggan says interest has never been higher with exhibitors taking the extra effort to make site displays more dynamic and exciting than ever.

Those interested in getting a glimpse into Northland’s history will be getting a special treat this year say organisers but not one but two heritage organisations having displays at the event. . .

 Mammoth donkey heads for record books – David Farrier:

Jenny Clausen is famous in Taupiri for a very specific love – donkeys.

The locals call her the “donkey lady” thanks to the 30 or so donkeys she keeps at her and her husband’s dairy farm.

But Ms Clausen may also soon be in The Guinness Book of World Records for one of her donkeys.

Nutmeg is a mammoth donkey born and bred in New Zealand, and she’s bigger than your normal mammoth. . .

New Zealand and Australia Tie in the Trans-Tasman Wine Challenge:

New Zealand Winegrowers injected some old fashioned rivalry in ‘The Great Trans-Tasman Wine Challenge’ on Thursday evening in Auckland ahead of the New Zealand and Australia Cricket World Cup game at the weekend. The two nations channelled their trans-Tasman rivalry as they met head-to-head in a blind wine tasting.

After some rigorous judging lead by Bob Campbell MW and Nick Stock, the ‘dream team’ of top 12 wines turned out to be a perfect split from Australia and New Zealand with each nation claiming six places each. Australian wine, Campbells Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat NV, was crowned “player of the match”. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 26, 2012

New Zealand urged to protect its brand – Sally Rae:

For an export nation like New Zealand, being “clean and green” is not enough any more, Oritain Global chief executive Dr Helen Darling says.

‘We actually need to be clean, green and clever,” Dr Darling said yesterday, while referring to the increasing instances of global food fraud.

Food fraud was an emerging risk for both consumers and producers worldwide, with the OECD estimating it cost legitimate producers about $US250 billion every year and that figure was growing, she said. . .

Local water focus urged – Howard Keene:

This month’s release of the third and final Land and Water Forum report marks a new consensus-driven approach to reform laws and practices around freshwater management in New Zealand, but its success will depend on how much the three reports the Government is willing to adopt.

The report recommends that local communities make decisions on individual catchments, acting within a national framework and bottom lines set by the Government. It also says water should be made more easily transferable between users.

While the report has received a mostly positive response there have been some cautioning voices. . .

Sweet smelling possums may help eradicate TB:

Using sex pheromones to capture possums is one example of the cutting-edge TB control initiatives featured in this year’s Animal Health Board (AHB) annual report and research report.

A two-year study into using sexually receptive female possums as a way to capture possums of both sexes in areas where numbers are low is among the scientific work forming part of the $2.5 million annually allocated by the AHB to research.

AHB chief executive William McCook said the two reports show the continuing significant progress being made in controlling and eradicating bovine TB from New Zealand, with the support of a range of government and industry partners. . .

Landcorp goal 80% fixed price sales – Alan Williams:

Landcorp sold more than 70% of its export lambs under fixed price contracts in its latest year, as part of a longer term goal to have 80% of all red meat sales handled this way.

This makes more than 230,000 lambs on fixed contracts out of a total 330,000 sent to processing companies in the year ended June 30 by the state-owned farmer.

Prices were on average higher than those achieved on traditional schedules, Landcorp livestock marketing manager Andrew Hall said in the written annual report.

About half the fixed price lamb contracts were for supply to the United Kingdom’s biggest grocery chain Tesco, he later told The New Zealand Farmers Weekly. . .

Rabobank Report: A New Wine Frontier:

With maturing or declining sales in many traditional markets, wine companies across the globe are increasingly searching for new growth markets. Emerging markets are attracting the interest of nearly all major wine companies. But those companies that were late to invest in these markets often have a greater challenge as the competition has already established routes to market and has garnered share of mind with the consumer. While China and South Korea probably rank as the most attractive emerging wine markets, Rabobank has identified Mexico, Brazil, Poland and Nigeria as four ‘hidden gems’ that have the potential to become important growth markets. Early investments to establish a route to market and build brand awareness hold the key to long term growth in these markets. . . 

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