Rural round-up

November 29, 2013

Irrigation ‘doesn’t always mean dairying’ – Tim Fulton:

A farm adviser who did financial estimates for the Ruataniwha and Central Plains irrigation schemes says access to irrigation doesn’t lead farmers automatically to dairying.

Hugh Eaton, from Macfarlane Rural Business, outlined the options at an irrigation field day at the Rathgen family’s mixed-farming operation near Timaru.

The Rathgens have a home farm at Esk Valley, a dairy block at St Andrews and another at nearby Otaio, some of which may join the proposed Hunter Downs scheme. . .

Nitrate in Canterbury groundwater – Carl Hanson:

Nitrate concentrations in Canterbury groundwater have been prominent in the media recently. Headlines have included phrases like “ticking time bomb”, “scaremongering” and “freaking out much of Canterbury”.

What I want to do in this article is to present the state of nitrate concentrations in Canterbury groundwater, and the trends we see in those concentrations, as objectively as I can, avoiding any emotive language.

First, the concentrations. Based on the data from our regional long-term monitoring programme, which includes approximately 300 wells distributed across the region, nitrate concentrations in Canterbury groundwater fall into two groups:

Sharing ideas in the global farming village – Sue O’Dowd:

Taranaki sheep and beef farming identity Bryan Hocken loves to play host.

He presents a unique blend of bonhomie, humour, a passion for his industry and a ready-to-share approach to anyone who happens to pop along to his 485 hectare Tarata farm, about 25 kilometres east of Inglewood.

Not that you would just pop along.

The farm seems remote after a picturesque drive over the winding Tarata Saddle and along the 3km Toe Toe Rd beside the Waitara River.

On the journey traffic is scarce so a single traffic light in the middle of nowhere on the road to the farm raises a chuckle – as do a plethora of signs saying things like “Wannabe Dairy Farm” and “High St”. . .

Synlait Farms shareholders keen to cash in – Alan Williams:

Synlait Farms shareholders have raced to cash in on the takeover offer led by China’s Shanghai Pengxin group.

The acceptance level had reached 91.16% by last Tuesday, meeting the 90% minimum level that was a condition of the offer just more than three weeks after the offer was received by shareholders and well inside the original December 6 closing date.

SFL Holdings, the vehicle through which Shanghai Pengxin and partners Juliet Maclean and John Penno are making the offer, has extended the date to December 20. . .

Research into apricots ‘exciting’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

Research being carried out at Plant and Food Research (PFR) in Clyde will contribute to higher-quality and better-tasting apricots that ripen more slowly and reach overseas markets in better condition.

Scientist Jill Stanley, based in Clyde, and Dr Ringo Feng, who is based in Auckland, are looking at fruit respiration and ethylene production, as well as fruit maturity, light levels, wood age and atmospheric modification.

Ethylene is a naturally-occurring gaseous hormone given off by the fruit, which accelerates ripening. A range of seedlings have been bred at the Clyde Research Centre which have characteristics that include low ethylene production. . . .

Research targets women – Yvonne O’Hara:

Dairy Womens’ Network (DWN) has launched Project Pathfinder, a programme designed to encourage more women in the dairy industry to take on leadership roles at community and governance levels.

DWN’s trust board deputy chairwoman Cathy Brown, of Tauranga, said DWN had received $180,000 from the Sustainable Farming Fund to develop the three-year project in association with DairyNZ and AgResearch.

”We are at the beginning [of the project] and most of the research will be done in year one,” Mrs Brown said.

One of the first steps was to carry out a survey about dairying women in business and in leadership roles. It finished this month. . .

Angus farmers get lesson from NZ – Tim Cronshaw:

Scottish angus breeder James Playfair-Hannay would like to take New Zealand bloodlines back with him to the home of the breed, after judging the angus fields in the cattle ring at the Canterbury A&P Show.

However, the high praise from the owner of Tofts Pedigree Livestock in Kelso does not extend to every angus entry.

“There are some wonderful functional animals which look to be pretty proficient, and we could use the genetics back home. Then there are some other animals that are not what we are looking for.

“We are looking to produce a 300 to 350-kilogram carcass off grass at 18 months, or earlier if we can.” . . .


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