Rural round-up

January 19, 2015

Water not just a pipe dream – Tim Fulton:

The latest Canterbury drought is reinforcing a message in farming: irrigation is valuable, stored supply is better and an alpine water source is best of all. TIM FULTON reports.

When the norwesters keep blowing rain on the Southern Alps and drying out the plains, even irrigators with the most advanced water networks can feel anxious.

Farmer shareholders on the $115 million Rangitata South irrigation scheme are facing tight storage conditions, even though they have access to periodic floodwater.

The network has been “just squeaking along with a rain here, a little fresh there” since it started supplying last spring, chairman Ian Morten says.

More water cannot be delivered from the main pond to farms on the scheme until the Rangitata River flows at 110 cubic metres. . .

Drought fears grow as dry spell continues:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is expected to visit the parched South Canterbury area in the next few weeks as concern mounts that it and some other regions may be heading for a serious drought.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is monitoring the conditions in South Canterbury, as well as North Otago, Wairarapa and southern Hawke’s Bay.

MPI director of resource policy David Wansbrough said it had been talking with farmers and rural support trusts on a weekly basis.

However, he said farmers and communities appeared to be coping so far and the Government was not planning to step in with any support measures at this stage. . .

Drought!!!? – Gravedodger:

Drought is widely regarded in agricultural terms as a prolonged period of low rainfall when pastures and crops become seriously degraded by dehydration.

Yes last spring was one of low precipitation in many districts and having traveled the East coast from North Otago to The Bay of Plenty in the last 50 days there are now pockets with fodder insufficiency from “The Dry” but drought it aint.

Large Parts of Australia have been in that situation for several years and many rural properties are in a savage drought. With livestock having lost a serious degree of body weight, water supplies gone burger and absolutely zero opportunity to remove stock as buyers do not exist, increasing numbers of Aussie Farmers are taking their lives as despair overcomes their will to continue. . .

Big dry affects dairy production – Dene Mackenzie:

Dairy production is likely to slow below previous forecasts as parts of Canterbury and Otago dry off and water restrictions kick in, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

”As we get further into the New Zealand summer, attention is turning to agricultural production. In the case of dairy, production has been good to date this season – albeit uneven across the regions.” . . .

Storage gives power to farmers – William C. Bailey:

United States corn and soybean farmers have a clear understanding that bad markets and low prices will reverse themselves to good times, just as good times will, eventually, fade into bad times.

The challenge, when these high or low points appear, is to prepare for the phase that will follow.

US corn and soybean farmers have enjoyed, over the past three to five seasons, really, really good prices. . .

 Sheep help drive tribe’s farm performance:

Ngati Porou has turned around its farming fortunes, reporting a surplus of $324,000 in its last financial year.

The figure compares to the previous period’s deficit of $1.46 million.

The Tairawhiti tribe said performance of its sheep division had improved, with sheep values and prices increasing.

Ngati Porou also said its lamb crop nearly doubled over two years, reaching 12,224 last year. . .

Rural gig good for peace-lovers – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Possibly every generation throughout history reckons things are getting worse and we are all going to hell in a hand basket.

That’s a little how I’m feeling at the moment.

However, there are great things happening here at the beginning of the 21st century which we should be grateful for.

For much of the world’s population improved healthcare and better food have led to the longest life expectancy humans have ever experienced. . .

 


Rural round-up

September 17, 2014

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Outlines Priorities Ahead of General Election:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has outlined what it sees as the policy priorities for the incoming government.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, James Parsons says the policy manifesto covers a range of issues that will support a confident and profitable sheep and beef sector.

“The red meat sector is hugely important to the New Zealand economy – worth $8.5 billion a year, so it’s critical that the incoming government is aware of the issues that affect our sheep and beef farmers,” Parsons said.

“Our first priority is securing investment in research and development that will increase farm productivity and continue adding value to our sheepmeat and beef products. . . .

 

It all depends on China – Keith Woodford:

New Zealand agribusiness, led by dairy, has hit a rough spot. Some will see this as confirmation that dependence on China involves big risks. More important, is the need to recognise that China is also the solution.

Chinese demand for dairy products in particular has grown so rapidly that it was inevitable there would be speed wobbles. With hindsight, we can see that it was the New Zealand drought of autumn 2013, combined with increasing Chinese demand, that led to shortages of milk products in Chinese supermarkets during late 2013. The Chinese importers then over-reacted, and purchased heavily during our summer months. Increased autumn production in the current year has then coincided with Chinese inventories already fully replenished. . .

Water quality rules ‘work in progress’:

The national water industry body says rules on water quality are not set in concrete and will develop further.

New national fresh water standards which, for the first time, set minimum quality requirements for rivers, lakes and aquifers were announced earlier in the year.

Water New Zealand is holding its annual conference in Hamilton from today. Chief executive Murray Gibb said the rules are a work in progress and would be reviewed in 2016.

“There’s been debate as to whether or not it’s sufficiently tight and there’s been a lot of debate over whether or not the corner-stone policy that it imposes a requirement on councils to maintain and improve overall water quality within their regions might lead to declining water quality in some water bodies. . . .

Make a fuss of scheme:

    The prime minister was in Ashburton last Thursday. He then visited Timaru to wander up and down the main street, talking to voters.

A slight detour between those two destinations would have taken him to the seven massive ponds that are the Rangitata South Irrigation Scheme, at the very time they were being filled to capacity for the first time.

It would have been a great photo op for the prime minister, and a fitting tribute to the scheme’s backers, to have the PM officially “open” the out-of-river storage project.

Maybe such a function is planned but chances are it’s not. And that’s not a snub to the prime minister, but a reflection more of the personality of the man behind the scheme, Gary Rooney.

He’s a doer, not a talker. He doesn’t go looking for pats on the back.

Where the Herald had plenty of coverage of the Opuha Dam as it was being built in the 1990s, with this project it has been like drawing teeth to get updates.

It’s not that Rooney and his workers were being obstructive, they just did not see the need to speak to the media. They were too busy building the thing.

But if he’s not going to blow his trumpet on the project, we will. . .

Generations of shearing in Brett’s family blood – Sally Rae:

Brett Roberts was destined to a shearer.

Not only does his grandfather, Cliff Waihape, have a shearing contracting business based in Mataura, but four of his uncles, Chad, Chop, Cliff jun and Cody, are also shearers.

”Our family, it’s in our blood,” he said.

Mr Roberts (20) started shearing at a young age, while still at school in Menzies College, Wyndham, with his family members showing him the ropes. . .

 

Southland swede group underway:

A cross-sector industry-led working group is coming together to co-ordinate research and advice to farmers following an issue with swedes affecting dairy cattle this season.

Across Southland, there has been a number of cases of cows becoming ill, and in some cases dying, while (or shortly after) grazing on swede crops.

A joint working group with representatives from a range of sector groups will be chaired by industry body DairyNZ and meet for the first time on Wednesday September 17. The group includes representatives from Southland veterinary practices, Federated Farmers, Beef+Lamb NZ and PGG Wrightson Seeds. It will also bring in specialist advisors on veterinary pathology and plant science.
DairyNZ has already sent an email survey to more than 2,600 Southland and South Otago farmers seeking information on whether they have been affected by the issue. It has also been advising farmers to be vigilant if their cows are feeding on swede. . .

 

New appointments at Dairy Women’s Network:

As Dairy Women’s Network grows from strength to strength, so too does its number of professionals grow.

The organisation has most recently acquired an events manager in Kym Gibson of Hamilton and a third regional convenor coordinator in Megan Edmeades of Manawaru (near Te Aroha).

Creating environments and experiences that resonate is a passion for Gibson, and something she is looking forward to fulfilling at the organisation’s 30-plus annual events.

Learning more about the “diverse and dynamic” organisation that is DWN is Gibson’s first challenge in the role, which she started in earlier this month. . . .

 

 


Rural round-up

November 9, 2013

Central Plains Water gets the green light from shareholders:

Thirteen years after it was first mooted, Central Plains Water Ltd (CPWL) Board have given approval for the giant scheme to become a reality after 90% of Stage I shareholders and over 72% of Stage II and III committed to the 60,000ha scheme.

For the scheme to progress it needed commitment for 18,000h of Stage I and 26,000 ha of Stage II and III. Both thresholds have been met fully by existing shareholders.

Chief executive Derek Crombie said that achieving this level of commitment from shareholders is testimony to the phenomenal dedication and hard work put in by so many over the years.

“I’m sure that there were many times when the hurdles seemed too great, so now all that is required is for the board to confirm our construction programme and to allocate shares,which should happen in the next week. To get this high level of uptake for the scheme from the existing shareholders is a fantastic result. This commitment ensures that the ownership remains local. We set a pretty high bar but are now delighted to say that we have managed to clear it,” he said. . .

First water released in irrigation scheme – Tony Benny:

The first water from the Rangitata South irrigation scheme is now available to some farmers as commissioning of the project, that will eventually irrigate 16,000 hectares between the Rangitata and Orari rivers and out to the coast, begins.
One of the project’s seven storage ponds on the south side of the Rangitata, near Arundel, is now 90 per cent full and water has been released into irrigation races to allow leak testing, part of a commissioning process that will take up to four months.

The seven ponds will hold a total of 16 million cubic metres of water, drawn from the Rangitata River when it’s in flood – a flow of more than 110 cumecs, enough to provide 30 days of irrigation storage. Farmer shareholders are also required to have an additional week of storage in their own ponds. . . .

Food safety forum to come to NZ for first time:

A number of food scares, including the botulism scare caused by Fonterra, has inspired the organisers of the Global Food Safety Forum to hold it in New Zealand for the first time.

“NZ has been caught out on a number of occasions and the dialogue and interaction will be focused on preventing further issues,” food integrity consultant Dr Helen Darling said.

The conference, to be attended by the 160 delegates from China, US and Australia, will look at emerging threats and ways to address them before they become a problem she said. . .

Challenges ahead in Ballance awards:

BALLANCE AWARDS organiser, the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust, is gearing up for another big year as it strives to help farmers face the challenges of the future.

NZFE chairman Alistair Polson said at the annual meeting that 2013 was a successful year for the trust’s flagship enterprise, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA). Regional and national BFEA competitions, ceremonies and field days are popular and well supported.

Another highlight for the trust was the addition of the Taranaki region for 2014, bringing the number of regions involved in the BFEA competition to 10. “We hope to include the remaining regions in future.” . . .

Nelson peony venture blossoming – Tracy Neal:

Growing “big blousy flowers” for America is far from Georgia Richards’ early ambition to grow culinary herbs, but the peony venture is proving highly suited to the quiet block of Dovedale land she farms with partner Dot Kettle.

The business is blossoming in a new direction beyond export grade flowers, to one that utilises the benefits of peonies in soaps, skin creams and even tea blends.

The pair have just launched Dove River Peonies soaps and creams, which like many new creations, was driven by need. In their case it was the lack of any good skin products for their sons’ eczema that drove them to create a product specially for sensitive skins. With the help of Nelson firm Global Soap, the soap range was born combining powdered peony root in an olive oil base for sensitive skin, or citrus blends for an “indulgent” soap. . .

It’s blooming time for quality fruit – Farming Unlocked:

Regular readers of my blog will know that I do not particularly enjoy our cold winters. However as spring envelops us, the weather warms up and the sun’s rays soak into my skin and prise something open from within. My heart feels somehow warmer and I feel invigorated and alive.

This is mirrored in my surroundings. At this time of year, no matter which window I look out, I can see a mass of white apple blossom, contrasted against the lush, green of tender new growth. I find myself in an almost constant state of distraction, drawn to gaze out at the breathtaking beauty with a sense of wonderment and respect.

I find that I cannot adequately put into words the magnificent performance that the orchard puts forward at this time of year, so I will try to show it in pictures instead. . .


Rural round-up

February 18, 2013

Call for tighter rules – Gerald Piddock:

Federated Farmers is demanding the rules for importing palm kernel expeller (PKE) be tightened.

This comes after two members of the group’s grain and seed executive observed massive breaches of the New Zealand import health standards for importing 

Federated Farmers is demanding the rules for importing palm kernel expeller (PKE) be tightened.

This comes after two members of the group’s grain and seed executive observed massive breaches of the New Zealand import health standards for importing PKE into New Zealand during a visit to a Malaysian PKE crushing plant.

Mid Canterbury farmer David Clark along with Whakatane farmer Colin MacKinnon visited the country in September last year.

They detailed the breaches along with several recommendations to improve New Zealand’s biosecurity process in a report they submitted to the Ministry for Primary Industries last year.

into New Zealand during a visit to a Malaysian PKE crushing plant.

Mid Canterbury farmer David Clark along with Whakatane farmer Colin MacKinnon visited the country in September last year.

They detailed the breaches along with several recommendations to improve New Zealand’s biosecurity process in a report they submitted to the Ministry for Primary Industries last year. . .

Irrigation scheme on target -Gerald Piddock:

The first of the giant ponds at the Rangitata South Irrigation scheme could be filled by the end of the month, as construction of the project continues.

Workers were one third of the way through lining the surface of the first of the ponds, Rooney Earth Moving general manager Colin Dixon said.

The plastic lining came in large rolls that were unwrapped and the edges were then joined together.

“It’s like a sewing machine, it runs up the seam really slowly and melts them together,” Mr Dixon said.

He estimated it would take four to six weeks to line each pond. The ponds were lined one after the other, rather than all at the same time. As soon as one pond is lined, it can be filled with water. . .

Time to merge ag unis?- Marie Taylor and Rebecca Harper:

Merging agriculture courses offered at Lincoln and Massey universities is one way to make better use of limited resources, Beef + Lamb chairman Mike Petersen says.

It emerged last week that Lincoln was undertaking a major review of its qualifications.

It is the country’s smallest university, with 3500 full-time equivalent students, and has faced a series of financial losses in the past few years. It had a $5 million loss last year and a $5m loss is budgeted for this year.

Lincoln wants to reduce the number of undergraduate degrees it offers from 13 to three land-based three-year degrees, with a common first year. . .

The carbon-neutral dairy farm, is it possible? – Milking the Moove:

What does a dairy farmer have to do to become carbon neutral?

There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth at the prospect of agriculture being included into New Zealand’s Emission Trading Scheme (ETS). 

So I thought to my self, what would a dairy farmer need to do to become carbon neutral?

But first, why would a farmer what to be carbon neutral?

Some may say because it’s the right thing to do for the environment.

Others will want to eliminate any tax paid on the carbon they emit. 

Other people will say that, being carbon neutral gives that farmer a wonderful point of difference in which to differentiate their products.

In order to avoid getting into a debate about whether climate change is real or not, I’m going to approach this from the marketing angle. . . .

Sector pins hopes on golden fleece – Tim Cronshaw:

A golden yarn developed by Kiwi scientists and containing pure gold is expected to be sold to wealthy buyers of luxury carpets, rugs and furnishings.

Unlike the golden fleece in Greek mythology the yarn and completed woollen products will not have a golden colour at this stage.

The Aulana-branded wool has been developed by Professor Jim Johnston and Dr Kerstin Lucas of Victoria University after $3 million of research and development.

A tiny amount of pure gold is combined with wool and the chemistry between the two causes it to bond and produce the colours of purple, grey and blue.

The range is expected to be extended and include a golden hue later. . .

Shearers busy as farmers heed market – Tim Cronshaw:

Canterbury shearers have gone into overdrive after an unexpected surge in sheep needing to be shorn.

The December to early February stint is usually quiet for shearing, but an influx of lambs and cull ewes needing their fleece removed put the pressure on shearers during the hot spell, when temperatures soared above 30 degrees in shearing sheds.

Farmers appear to have moved quickly in line with lower lamb prices and this acted as a catalyst for more shearing.

January was expected to be a slow month for shearing, but only in the last week has the pace slowed, said Barry Pullin,  an owner of Pullin Shearing, and chairman for the New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association. . . .


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