Rural round-up

April 30, 2018

NZ scientists’ anti-cow burp vaccine – Eloise Gibson:

Livestock has directly caused about a quarter of industrial-age warming. Scientists in New Zealand are working on an anti-burp vaccine for those methane-emitting cows. Eloise Gibson reports. 

In a cream-colored metal barn a few minutes’ drive from Palmerston North a black-and-white dairy cow stands in what looks like an oversize fish tank. Through the transparent Plexiglas walls, she can see three other cows in adjacent identical cubicles munching their food in companionable silence. Tubes sprout from the tops of the boxes, exchanging fresh air for the stale stuff inside. The cows, their owners say, could help slow climate change.

Livestock has directly caused about one-quarter of Earth’s warming in the industrial age, and scientists from the US departments of agriculture and energy say bigger, more resource-heavy cattle are accelerating the problem. Contrary to popular belief, cows contribute to global warming mostly through their burps, not their flatulence. So about a dozen scientists here at AgResearch Grasslands, a government-owned facility, are trying to develop a vaccine to stop those burps. “This is not a standard vaccine,” says Peter Janssen, the anti-burp program’s principal research scientist. “It’s proving to be an elusive little genie to get out of the bottle.” . . 

Local choppers can be the difference between life and death:

Saving lives is more important than saving dollars, and that should be reflected in decisions about the nation’s rescue helicopter services, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

6Existing Te Anau, Taupo/Rotorua and Coromandel rescue chopper services were missing from a list of bases proposed under new, larger area contracts put out by the National Ambulance Sector Office (NASO).  Late on Tuesday came news that the Central Plateau could put in their own tender, but it would have to meet the new specifications to be successful.

Rescue helicopters are generally funded 50 per cent by government and 50 per cent by the community through sponsorship and donations.  NASO says the current model is financially unsustainable long-term, and wants all rescue choppers to be twin-engined. . . 

Chilled meat trial proves successful – Neal Wallace:

The meat industry is optimistic the success of trial shipments of chilled beef and sheep meat to China will be extended to other plants.

About 800 tonnes of beef and 400 tonnes of sheep meat were shipped to China from 10 approved plants from June to December, which Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said went well.

“I am not aware of any impediment to suggest it shouldn’t be broadened.” . . 

Dairy farmers key to new food revolution – Gerald Piddock:

City-based future food systems such as cultured meat and vertical farming will rely heavily on the nutrient and water management expertise of dairy farmers, Australian science writer Julian Cribb says.

Food production that took in the emerging innovations would shift to the cities, Cribb said.

For the new systems to succeed, all of the freshwater and wasted nutrients dumped into the ocean via urban sewage and wastewater would have be captured and used in the new food production.

This was where dairy industry expertise would be critical, he said. . .

Christchurch city schoolboy already farming own flock of sheep – Heather Chalmers:

Growing up in a city all his life hasn’t stopped Angus Grant from becoming a farmer, even before he has left high school.

Grant, 15, already has a flock of 50 ewes that he will lamb this spring.

From the Christchurch suburb of Papanui and despite having no family farming background, Grant has always known he wanted to be a farmer. “My mother had been reading me a book about cows and my first word was cow.

“I watched Country Calendar when I was three and that was it.” . .

Farm Babe: no livestock aren’t destroying the planet – Michelle Miller:

The rumours are swirling, but how truthful are they? We’ve heard time and time again from people who say, “Go vegan, save the planet!” But let’s investigate those claims, shall we? First off, livestock don’t only give us meat. What many people may not be aware of is there are actually 185 uses for a pig, from cement to renewable energy, paint to brushes, and life-saving pharmaceuticals. If you haven’t yet seen this TED talk from Christien Meindertsma, check it out! There is lots of fascinating info there. There are also these byproducts that come from cattle. . 


Irrigation delay as bad as drought

October 12, 2013

Immigration NZ’s fast-tracking visas for overseas specialists to repair the 800 irrigators damaged by wind in Canterbury is boosting efforts to get irrigation underway.

But Irrigation NZ says delayed irrigation is a real concern and the economic consequences could rival last year’s drought.

“It’s great to see the help that’s gone into getting irrigators back on track” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis. “The fast-tracked Visas are good news for those desperately awaiting repairs. However we’re very aware that even with overseas assistance, the picture is grim for farmers whose irrigators require complicated rebuilds. Some won’t see irrigation before Christmas which could reduce milk production, threaten crop viability and put pressure on stock food supplies.”

It also causes problems with getting rid of effluent which is usually sprayed on pastures with irrigators.

Ashburton’s Rainer Irrigation welcomed four centre pivot technicians from South Africa this week.

Assistant Manager Lucas Cawte says the sheer workload generated by the wind’s severity far exceeded the company’s resources for a quick turnaround and overseas staff will significantly reduce downtime for farmers.

“We’ve brought these guys in from South Africa to focus on pivots as these sustained the most damage and that’s where the pressure point will be. It was pretty short notice for Visas but IrrigationNZ spoke with Immigration and forwarded contacts and it was a straightforward process. The turnaround was about 24 hours and our guys are now here. That’s unheard of.”  

Rainer Irrigation has already fixed ¼ of the irrigators on its books but Mr Cawte says those repair jobs don’t represent the scale of damage they have seen. 

“We’ve focused on the ones with minimal damage using stock we had. But the next phase will be heavy repairs and we’re still waiting on parts. One container has arrived from Australia where we cleared out their stock and another container is due shortly from the US. Our suppliers have really come to the party as we originally thought it would take six to eight weeks to get parts.”

Mr Cawte says farmers had been very understanding as they knew the scale of repairs the industry was facing.

“Many are helping where they can by providing us with telelifters and other machinery and throwing their own manpower at the job. But it is early days still.”

Immigration New Zealand’s Assistant Area Manager Christchurch, Steve Jones, says the department was happy to work with IrrigationNZ to expedite the application process for offshore irrigation crew.  

An Immigration Manager from the Christchurch branch was provided as a dedicated point of contact. The manager was able to advise on the type of applications for offshore staff and where they should be lodged. Having one point of contact for IrrigationNZ and the various irrigation companies had proved very effective, says Mr Jones.

“We consider requests for urgent processing on a case by case basis and, where there are compelling reasons, we will prioritise the processing of applications lodged. This was clearly a situation where time was of the essence and we agreed to prioritise applications accordingly,” says Mr Jones.

Immigration NZ’s acknowledgement of the urgency is appreciated but even with more specialists from overseas the scale of the work needed means it will be at least a couple of months before all irrigators are repaired.

Some farmers will decided the production lost justifies the expense of replacement equipment rather than repairs.


%d bloggers like this: