Rural round-up

April 3, 2016

Study shows agri-foods big benefit to economy:

A new study has found the New Zealand agri-food sector contributes around one fifth of the country’s GDP.

The study by the Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit at Lincoln University aimed to measure the sector’s economic impact and to analyse how the sector could continue to grow to support the well-being of New Zealanders.

One of the authors, Professor Caroline Saunders said the study had exploded a myth about agriculture’s contribution to the economy. . .

Rural women juggle work and home – Kate Taylor:

The first meeting of the day for three Hawke’s Bay agri-business women is with each other as they wait for the school bus. It must count as a business meeting… they share each other’s business cards.

There’s a twinkle in the eyes of Ravensdown agri-manager Caroline Kirk, Kells Wool buyer Maureen Chaffey and Lean Meats/Atkins Ranch livestock manager Karen Atkins as they joke about multitasking.

But there’s no joking when they talk about the support of their parents or in-laws and their other half to do what they do.

The trio live down a five kilometre no-exit road in the farming district of Raukawa, south west of Hastings.  Every morning at 7.45am they drive to the school bus corner then drive out to work. They laugh about covering all the bases with farmers with their fertiliser, wool and meat. . . 

Hurunui Water Project gets $520,000 boost:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed new funding of $520,000 for the Hurunui Water Project centred around Hawarden in North Canterbury.

“A reliable source of water in this very dry part of the country has major potential to increase production, grow exports and create jobs,” says Mr Guy.

The funding comes from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund and will help refine the scheme layout and scope the comprehensive work programme. This will help them deliver on Stage 1 in which 10,000-15,000 hectares will be irrigated.

“Once complete the full scheme has the potential to irrigate 35,000 hectares of land. Around 70% of that land will be used for sheep and beef production, with the other 30% being for arable, dairy and other uses.” . . 

Fitch sees milk price recovery beyond 2016 – Fiona Rotherham:

Credit rating agency Fitch Ratings said continued growth in European milk production to ramp up exports will further delay a recovery in global milk prices until beyond the end of this year.

The supply growth has been compounded by weak demand, mainly due to subdued Chinese demand and a Russian embargo on major Western dairy exporters.

Average prices on the GlobalDairyTrade auction fell by around 38 percent in 2014/15 and around 20 percent in the 2015/16 season to mid-March. . . 

Top Dairy Operation Wins Supreme Title In 2016 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A well-managed dairy and forestry farm owned by Parininihi ki Waitotara (PKW) is the Supreme winner of the 2016 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The award was presented to PKW Farms LP, farm manager Matt Kelbrick and farm supervisor Roger Landers at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 31 (2016). The team behind PKW’s No.2 Farm in the Ohangai district also collected the Massey University Innovation Award and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award.

PKW is a Taranaki-based Maori Incorporation that owns 20,000ha of dairy land and a range of other business interests, including crayfishing, forestry and commercial property. . . 

Fish and seafood trade could double under TPP:

The benefits to New Zealand’s fishing and seafood industry will be very significant once all tariffs are eliminated under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Trade Minister Todd McClay told a Nelson Chamber of Commerce audience that the region, the home of Australasia’s largest fishing port, that he believes the agreement will enable the industry to double its exports to one billion dollars.

“Last year, we exported $581 million in fish and seafood into TPP countries. . .

Farmers Are Awesome's photo.


Rural round-up

February 3, 2016

Booklet kicks off Fonterra structure review – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders have received a preliminary booklet on the co-operative’s governance and representation, raising many questions but not providing answers.  

It begins a five-month journey to a revised structure more appropriate for Fonterra’s size, complexity and global ambitions.  Farmer-shareholders will be expected to contribute to the review and vote on the final proposal in May. . . 

Rabobank announces new head of Food & Agri Research:

Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group has announced the appointment of Tim Hunt as new General Manager of its Food & Agribusiness Research (FAR) division.

Mr Hunt takes on the role after five years with Rabobank in New York, where he served in the international position of Global Strategist – Dairy.

In his new role, Mr Hunt will lead Rabobank’s highly-regarded food and agri commodities research team – comprising 10 specialist analysts – in New Zealand and Australia. . . 

Alliance drafter has eye for winner – Sally Rae:

Warwick Howie received a little good-natured ribbing when he won the Paddock to Plate competition at the recent Otago-Taieri A&P Show.

Mr Howie, a drafter for Alliance Group, laughed that he had ‘‘copped a bit of flak” following the victory.

The competition, which attracted 41 entries, has become an annual fixture at the show, with proceeds going to the A&P Society. . . 

Course already tidy for Legends – Sally Rae,

When it comes to maintaining the Tokarahi golf course, greenkeeper Marty McCone has the same philosophy as for his farm – he likes it tidy all the time.

So preparing for this month’s PGA Legends Tour, which is returning to Tokarahi for the second year, did not require an extraordinarily massive effort.

‘‘I try and keep the course up to speed all the time. There’s a lot of little things you do to have it really tip-top,” Mr McCone said. . . 

Synlait revises milk price forecast to $4.20:

Synlait Milk has revised its forecast milk price for the 2015 / 2016 season from $5.00 per kgMS[1] to $4.20 per kgMS.

Chairman Graeme Milne said the revision is driven by the sustained low global commodity prices since September 2015, and a view that the recovery will be slower than anticipated.

“Our previous forecast of $5.00 kgMS expected prices to recover somewhat by this stage in the season, however this hasn’t happened and our revised forecast reflects this,” said Mr Milne. . . 

World Wetlands Day celebrated:

World Wetlands Day is a chance for New Zealanders to find out more about some of the country’s most important natural treasures, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry and Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner say.

To mark the day the Department of Conservation has released a new online resource,Our Estuaries, to help people explore and look after the wetland environment.

“New Zealand has more than 300 estuaries, and they are home to a wide range of native plants, fish and birds,” Ms Barry says. . . 

Rethink needed over dairy farm planting incentives:

The cost and benefits of planting trees to help mitigate environmental effects of dairy farming need to be shared by us all for it to succeed, a new study says.

Evaluation of an agri-environmental program for developing woody green infrastructure within pastoral dairy landscapes: A New Zealand case study says Government incentive programs are ineffective in overcoming barriers to planting such as the higher cost and slow growth of native plants, and the perception of planting being of little direct benefit to farmers’ operations.

Lead author, Lincoln University Landscape Ecology Senior Lecturer, Dr Wendy McWilliam, says the Government and the dairy industry need to work closely together to develop and maintain a landscape-scaled woody vegetation network on both private and public land. . .

Forestry show NZ way to better safety:

A sharp drop in forestry deaths and serious injuries after a massive safety overhaul in 2014 shows what can be achieved when an industry joins together to make improvements, the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum says.

The fall is welcome and sets an example for other industries to follow, says Forum Executive Director Francois Barton.

“Forestry has shown us some of the things that need to be done to bring down high fatality and serious injury rates in an industry,” Francois says. . . 

Good Progress – But More Work to Do to Make Forestry Safe:

A reduction in deaths and serious injuries in forestry since 2013 is encouraging but there is more work to be done yet, the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) says.

WorkSafe figures show serious injuries halved to 78 in 2015 from 160 in 2013, FISC National Safety Director Fiona Ewing says.

“The trend is going in the right direction but we can’t rest on our laurels. Three forestry workers died in 2015. That’s well down on the 10 who died in 2013 but it’s up from just one in 2014.. . .

Irrigation scheme loan approved:

An $8 million loan from the Selwyn District Council means design of stage two of a multi-million dollar irrigation scheme can go ahead.

The council approved the loan to Central Plains Water last month, with the money expected to transfer over next week.

But a community group told RNZ News rate payers should not be lending money to fund a private shareholder scheme. . .

Ruataniwha Dam: Investor mix still being finalised:

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment company (HBRIC) says work on getting farmers to sign up to buy water from the proposed Ruataniwha Dam is on hold until the project’s investor mix becomes clearer.

HBRIC has been looking for institutional investors to put money into the dam since Trustpower and Ngai Tahu pulled out in early 2014, saying the risks surrounding the dam were too high and the returns too low.

The company said it had countersigned contracts for 31 million cubic metres of water with a minimum of 45 million cubic metres needed to be sold to make construction financially viable.

It said finalising the investor mix for the Ruataniwha Dam was its current focus. . . 

Global slump in fert prices benefits NZ farmers:

New Zealand farmers stand to benefit from significant savings on their farm nutrient inputs with Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ latest round of price reductions, effective 31 January.

The price review sees urea drop $50 to $525, DAP reduce $25 per tonne, sulphate of ammonia by $15 and potash by $10. These changes will flow through to product blends.

Ballance CEO Mark Wynne says the move comes on the back of a global slump in fertiliser prices, driven by strong supply and soft demand. . . 

Lowest urea price since 2007:

Farmers stand to benefit from a $50 per tonne saving for urea from 1st February, when Ravensdown will drop its prices.

Chief Executive Greg Campbell says he is pleased that Ravensdown is again leading on a price reduction for farmers who are facing increasing costs in many aspects of their business whilst their returns are under pressure.

“We said it not long ago, with our recent superphosphate cap,” Greg says, “that we are about delivering all-year value to our shareholders, and we’re demonstrating it again with urea and other products.” . . 


Rural round-up

January 27, 2016

NIA shows duty cuts to major export destinations – Neal Wallace:

Annual duty savings of $272 million will be removed on exports to five signatories to the Trans Pacific Partnership with which New Zealand does not have trade agreements, the Government revealed today.  

Trade Minister Todd McClay released the national interest analysis (NIA) on the 12-country agreement which largely confirmed trade benefits it had announced earlier.  

The NIA revealed exporters paid duty of $334 million a year on exports to five countries with which NZ does not have free trade agreements, the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Peru. . . 

Westland Lowers Pay-Out Predictions as Global Dairy Prices Predicted to Remain Low:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, today announced a drop in its pay-out predictions for 2015-16, saying a forecast 15 to 25 percent reduction across all commodity products for the remainder of the season is the driving force behind the decision.

Chairman Matt O’Regan says the new predicted payout of $4.15 – $4.45 per kilogramme of milk solids (kgMS) (previously $4.90 to $5.30 per kgMS) will be grim news for Westland’s shareholders but, given the widely publicised state of the global dairy market, not unexpected. He says lower prices are expected to remain for this season and probably into the second half of 2016 – the beginning of the 2016-7 season. . . 

New Zealand’s future agri-leaders in running for trans-Tasman award:

• 2016 Zanda McDonald Award finalists announced

Two young New Zealand agri-business professionals have made it through to the finals for the 2016 Zanda McDonald Award.

Dean Rabbidge, a dairy, beef and sheep farmer from Wyndham, Southland, and Erica van Reenen, an agricultural and environmental consultant with AgFirst, based in Manawatu, have been selected as finalists alongside soil scientist, Wesley Lefroy, from Western Australia.

The three, who attended interviews in Brisbane late last year, will join the PPP ‘Capital Connections’ Conference in Wellington in March – where the award winner will be announced. . . 

Drought in South Island enters second year:

Widespread drought conditions in the South Island mean the medium-scale event classification will be extended until the end of June, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Extra funding of up to $150,000 will go to local Rural Support Trusts with $40,000 of this going to the North Canterbury Trust,” says Mr Guy. 

Speaking with farmers at a sheep and beef farm in Weka Pass, Hurunui, Mr Guy acknowledged this is the third time the classification has been extended.

“Marlborough, Canterbury and parts of Otago were originally classified as a medium-scale event on 12 February 2015 and have had very little rainfall for more than a year now. . . 

Drought resistant pasture being investigated:

Scientists have identified a type of plant that recovers quicker than others after drought and are taking the next steps to get it on to farmers’ paddocks.

But they say it could be eight to 10 years before it is available.

The Primary Growth Partnership – Transforming the Dairy Value Chain is funding the research into pasture resistance.

It comes at a crucial time with 2015 being the hottest on record and Marlborough, Canterbury and parts of Otago enduring their second season of drought. . . 

Industry Challenged by new forest technology:

Foresters face paradigm shift for logging steep slopes

The tables are being turned on foresters and logging contractors in British Columbia. Disruptive technology from New Zealand is set to create a whole new way of logging in B.C.’s forests. When meeting challenges to safely harvest NZ’s steep sloped forests, practicing foresters found convincing safety advantages with the new harvesting technology.

In recent years, loggers in New Zealand’s forest industry faced safety challenges in tree falling, especially on steep slopes. There was no choice but to reduce accidents. Up and down the steep, forested country, people turned to the safety of mechanised harvesters. Simultaneously, safety and productivity improved. . . 

Intensifying workplace laws means there are no longer any ‘family farms’ and they can’t be an extension of a backyard playground – John Brosnan:

It’s a new year on farm.

You have negotiated the Christmas and the New Year breaks with the team, so now is a good time to take a breath and consider – what next?

Well first out the gate will be the new WorkSafe legislation which comes into force 1st April this year. Are you prepared for this? Have you prepared an operational plan and put in place a robust health and safety policy? Do you and all your employees have a means to adhere to it? . . 

Canterbury dairy farm penalised for employment law breaches:

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ordered Viewbank Dairy Ltd near Rakaia to rectify employment law breaches discovered by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate and pay $7,500 in penalties.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate visited the farm as part of an audit to check for compliance with minimum employment standards on dairy farms. A number of breaches were identified and an Improvement Notice was issued. The Inspector brought the case before the ERA when the employer failed to comply with parts of the Notice.

Labour Inspectorate Southern Regional Manager Stuart Lumsden says the investigation found that several workers had been treated as casual employees when in fact they were permanent. . . 

Take advantage of steady nutrient costs:

The Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC) says current stability around fertiliser prices will give farm budgets an early boost for 2016 – but only if farmers are quick to seize the opportunity.

The two main fertiliser manufacturers, Ballance and Ravensdown, have kept costs for major nutrients under control since September 2015 – despite economic volatility caused by last year’s slide in the value of the New Zealand dollar.

The FQC says there’s no knowing for how long the good deals will continue and urges farmers to take advantage of the co-ops’ goodwill while it lasts. . . 

Karaka Select Sale Commences Today:

The first day of the Karaka Select Sale commences today at 11am with Lot 448 to Lot 670 going under the hammer.

The Sale will be streamed live online. To view the live stream, click here.

There have been 27 Group 1 wins from graduates of the Select Sale over the past three seasons. The new season has seen Mongolian Khan (Holy Roman Emperor) and Tarzino (NZ) (Tavistock) both land Group 1 races during the Melbourne Spring Carnival. . . 


Rural round-up

January 14, 2016

Partnerships the key to China business models – Allan Barber:

It’s true of any marketing and distribution strategy, but China’s size and comparatively underdeveloped cold chain make this factor even more important for the successful development of agricultural business there.

With all export markets it is important for companies to analyse and select the preferred product type and form, business segment, geographic target area, and method of reaching the identified market. Market access and tariffs are other important considerations. When an export destination has been selected, a scattergun approach almost certainly won’t work, while a too narrowly defined market may be equally unsuccessful. . . 

Sprout Agribusiness Programme & Who Wants To Go Mobile Milking? – Milking on the Moove:

For the last 2 years I’ve been working full time to set up an experimental prototype dairy system. The plan has always been to “pave the way”so other people, like me can go farming even if they don’t have any land or very much money.

I believe it was Peter Brock who said “Bite off more than you can chew and then chew like crazy”.

That describes my last two years quite accurately.

Without going into all the details, I’ve learnt a lot over the last two years and now it’s time to crank things up and get this show on the road for real. . .

Novel idea helps rebuild South Island crayfish stocks  – Dave Gooselink:

A forestry company has taken on the job of rebuilding stocks of freshwater crayfish in the South.

The unusual combination came about as a way of finding other uses for the forests’ emergency fire ponds.

The freshwater crayfish known as koura are listed as a threatened species by the Department of Conservation. Now they’re getting a boost, thanks to an unusual project by forestry company Ernslaw One.

It came up with the idea of farming koura in their fire ponds, as a way of bringing in extra income between harvests. . . 

Bad to best: all because of steep slope innovations:

New Zealand forestry has gone from a bad performer to being one of the best, and John Stulen says this is because of the new innovations in steep slope harvesting.

In recent years, New Zealand forestry has faced massive hurdles in safety, especially on steep slopes. Too many accidents occurred because workers were facing too many risks in the workplace – it had to stop. However, leaders in the forest industry have stepped up to the challenge, hugely reducing the number of serious accidents.

“It’s no coincidence that forest workplaces have become safer,” says John Stulen, co-organizer of the Steep Slope Logging Conference. He says a completely new generation of hi-tech steep slope harvesters has made the forest workplace much safer for everyone working at the felling face. . . 

Rare sheep conditions unites industry:

A combination of rare conditions has tormented sheep farmers Hamish, Annabel, Alastair and Sue Craw on their Banks Peninsula farm Longridge Agriculture Ltd for the past 10 years.

Since 2004, the Craws have been dealing with a range of animal health issues that have yet to be explained. To start with, their sheep were wasting away with an extreme case of wearing teeth. In 2013 an extremely rare calcium deficiency was causing their lambs’ legs to fracture, and in 2015 milk fever issues also arose in their ewes.

Alastair Craw says in the beginning the situation was having a significant economic impact on the business, with the more productive animals faring the worst. . . 

T-shirt competition launched to celebrate 30yrs of sponsoring Young Farmers:

This year will be Ravensdown’s 30th year sponsoring the FMG Young Farmer of the Year. To celebrate the farmer owned cooperative is launching a national t-shirt competition.

Greg Campbell, Ravensdown Chief Executive says the key to any long standing sponsorship or business relationship is a mutual respect and interest.

“We’re thrilled to be celebrating such a big milestone with Young Farmers. We’ve been right behind them for such a long time because we believe in supporting the next generation of farmers who are the future of our industry.” . . 

A new generation beginning to take over the reins at Hunter’s:

One of the leading ladies of New Zealand wine, Jane Hunter says her Hunter’s winery is seeing a new generation of winemakers step up and take on key roles as Hunter’s approaches 30 years.

She says Hunter’s produces about 100,000 cases and export to 23 countries and this is her 29th year in the role of owner and managing director of Hunter’s.

“Things have certainly changed in Marlborough since I arrived here in 1983 to take up the role of Viticulturist for Montana Wines. . .


Rural round-up

November 4, 2015

Animal welfare taken seriously by SPCA and MPI – Jill Galloway:

The needs of animals have to be met by lifestylers and farmers, but prosecution is a last resort for authorities dealing with animal welfare, writes Jill Galloway.

No one sets out not to care about the animals they look after, but sometimes other things such as finances or a messy marriage break-up take precedence and the animals slip down the priority list.

“Something else is often going on in someone’s life and they can’t put the animals’ needs on top of the list.  Sometimes someone is just too old and not coping anymore with being in a remote place,” says Jim Flack from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). . . 

New Plants Bring Added Value at Peak:

New processing plants around the country have helped Fonterra process more than 86.9 million litres of milk on the Co-operative’s biggest day of the year.

The peak of Fonterra’s milking season was reached on October 22nd this year, with five new plants each contributing to a performance that has seen a record amount of peak milk made into value-added products.

Managing Director Global Operations Robert Spurway says the additional capacity has given the Co-operative more options in its product mix. . . .

Kiwi Tractors – a Humble National Icon – Beattie’s Book Blog:

Kiwi Tractors: A Humble National Icon

by Steve Hale

Bateman – Hardcover – RRP $39.99

From lifestyle blocks to vineyards, high country stations to boat ramps, the humble tractor is a much-loved and instantly recognisable feature on any New Zealand landscape. The tractor is a part of our national identity, as Kiwi as pavlova, Marmite, and a silver fern on the sacred black jersey.

In Kiwi Tractors, Steve Hale elicits some delightful stories of affection from Kiwi owners for their tractors.

During his research for Kiwi Tractors Steve found himself continually taken aback by the depth of knowledge possessed by various tractor owners, their zest for restoration and passion for collecting. . . 

Allied Farmers wants to buy back stake in NZ Farmers Livestock – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Allied Farmers wants to buy back a stake in NZ Farmers Livestock that it sold down last year to pay debts.

The Stratford-based company said subsidiary Allied Farmers Rural agreed to buy a 9.3 percent stake, or 950 shares, in NZ Farmers Livestock from Stockmans Holdings through the issue of $1 million of new shares. It currently owns 57 percent of NZ Farmers Livestock, while Stockmans owns 27 percent, according to Companies Office records.

Last year, Allied sold 1,026 shares in NZ Farmers Livestock for $1 million to Stockmans and Agent Co to enable it to help repay $2 million owed to Crown Asset Management following the failure of its Allied Nationwide Finance unit. . . .

Sir Brian Elwood awarded Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal for 2015:

Last night Sir Brian Elwood was awarded the 2015 Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal in recognition of the leadership he has displayed as chairman of industry regulator Kiwifruit New Zealand (KNZ) over the past 10 years. The award was presented at an industry dinner in Mount Maunganui which followed Zespri’s inaugural Kiwifruit Innovation Symposium.

Paul Jones is chairman of the Kiwifruit Industry Advisory Committee, Zespri director and chairman of the Hayward Medal judging panel, and he explains that Sir Brian’s legacy is the way in which the Kiwifruit Regulations have been administered to the overall benefit of NZ growers and suppliers.

“Sir Brian has a very fine legal mind. The Kiwifruit Regulations call on KNZ to exercise extensive judgement and discretion in their administration and Sir Brian’s thorough, meticulous analysis and vast experience has served the industry well,” says Mr Jones. . . 

MPI reminds consumers to take care when drinking raw milk:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is reminding consumers to take care when drinking raw unpasteurised milk, which is considered a high-risk food.

“We have seen a number of recent cases of foodborne illnesses linked to raw milk and it’s important that consumers remember and understand that there are risks with drinking raw milk,” says MPI Director Animal & Animal Products.

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurised (heat treated) to kill harmful bacteria like Campylobacter and Salmonella that are potentially present in the milk.

“Many people who drink raw milk do not always fully understand the risks and don’t realise that there is the possibility of getting sick from the harmful bacteria in the milk.” . . .

Fonterra Farm Source Delivers Millions in Value:

Fonterra Farm Source has delivered millions in value to more than 9,000 Fonterra farmers since it was launched in Methven a year ago.

Director Farm Source Stores Jason Minkhorst said farmers have already earned 5.7 million in Reward Dollars through Fonterra Farm Source, which is on track to deliver $14 million in discounts on key products by the end of this year.

“Fonterra Farm Source was created to make the most of the unity and strength of our Co-operative and provide a whole new level of support for our farmers. We’ve combined services, expertise, rewards, digital technology and financial options together with local Farm Source hubs to support the major dairying regions throughout the country,” Mr Minkhorst said. . . 

Kiwi arboricultural champions recognised

The recent 2015 Asplundh New Zealand Arboricultural Association (NZ Arb) conference and Husqvarna National Tree Climbing Championships in Nelson saw national champions announced and industry stalwarts celebrated.

The competition saw events testing competitors’ ability to professionally and safely manoeuvre in a tree, while performing work-related tree-care tasks efficiently. The final event Masters’ Climb then saw the National Champions crowned – women’s national champion Stef White (Central Otago) and men’s national champion Dale Thomas (Auckland). . . .

Multiple factors influence the economics of growing maize silage on-farm:

Maize silage grown on-farm is at its cheapest per kilo of dry matter in low pay-out years, reveals Ravensdown Agri Manager Bryce Fausett in a paper he is presenting to the New Zealand Grassland Association Conference today.

The paper titled ‘The true cost of maize silage’ is co-authored by J.S Rowarth and F.G Scrimgeour, and challenges assumptions that growing maize silage on-farm is the more economic choice. It details the multiple factors that influence the true cost of growing maize. . . .

Wattie’s (R) and Palmers join forces in the search for New Zealand’s ultimate SuperRed tomato grower!:

Legendary food brand Wattie’s – who have been supplying Kiwis canned tomatoes since 1936 – and gardening great Palmers have come together to lend their muscle to the inaugural Wattie’s & Palmers SuperRed Tomato Growing Competition 2015.

What makes this competition extra special is that for the first time, the Wattie’s tomato seed used to grow their iconic canned tomatoes is available for purchase by the public. Wattie’s field tomatoes, aka Wattie’s ‘SuperRed’ seedlings, are unique to traditional ‘beefsteak’ tomatoes. They grow as a bush and not a vine, with firm, flavour packed fruit that are more elongated than round. The fruit is relatively high in natural sugars and lycopene, and the fruit on the bush ripen around the same time making them perfect for Wattie’s Canned Tomatoes. Now they can be grown at home to enjoy fresh and for a season of homemade chutneys and relishes. . . 

Woman made her favourite cow bridesmaid at her wedding:

Like most brides, Caroline Conley Buckingham wanted to be surrounded by her loved ones when she walked down the aisle on her big day.

Buckingham says her wedding wouldn’t have been complete without one honorary bridesmaid — her favorite cow. And, no, that’s not a fat joke.

The Jonesboro, Tenn. native has a self-proclaimed “cow obsession” and she couldn’t have imagined saying, “I do,” this June without her favorite cow, Roxie, by her side. Buckingham loved her cows long before her husband, Ethan, came into the picture. . .


Rural round-up

September 23, 2015

Drought breaks in Cheviot North Canterbury – Jeff Hampton:

 Much-needed rain fell in parched parts of north Canterbury today, raising farmers’ hopes that the serious drought they’re battling may be about to end.

It’s vital for farmers in an area of north Canterbury near Cheviot to get decent rainfall if their spring grass is to grow.

Farmer Louisa McClintock is never happier when there’s a bit of rain, after her district has been in drought all year. . . 

[I think that headline is more than a little optimistic. The rain will have been very welcome but it takes more than an inch or so of rain to break a drought].

Farmers suffer in drought-stricken corner of North Canterbury – Michael Wright:

Dan Hodgen must think the weather gods are against him.

The Hawarden farmer received “about one millimetre” of rain on his drought-stricken north Canterbury property at the weekend, despite solid falls being predicted.

“I’ve given up on trusting the forecast,” he said. . . 

Hard working couple take on velvet challenge – Kate Taylor:

In just seven years, Josh and Penny Buckman have graduated university and built up enough capital to buy 82 hectares near Hastings and a deer velvet business, not to mention starting a family.

They are busy people who wouldn’t have it any other way and are proud of their achievements so far.

“Josh is always up at midnight… thinking, planning. He’s an ideas man. He’s always working through ideas and scenarios and things we can do,” Penny says.

She is in charge of the daily running of Gevir Premium Deer Velvet, which they bought from another Hawke’s Bay couple earlier this year. She is also in charge of three-year-old George, 3, and 11-month-old Anna-Louise. Josh works on contract for Marsh corporate and business insurance and oversees the farm and a nearby lease block. The couple also have shares in other businesses. . . 

Saying goodbye to dirty dairy farming –  Lachlan Forsyth:

How do you achieve the balance between keeping a farm economical, and keeping the environment healthy? Is it actually doable?

Dairy has had many decades of being very good on the economics and not so good on the environment, and now there is a huge amount of pressure to ensure that changes.

Story visited one award-winning Waikato farm to see what’s being done to clean up dairy’s act. . . 

Key defends AgResearch cuts:

Prime Minister John Key is defending the government’s attitude to research and development amid reports that AgResearch intends laying off science staff.

Waikato University agribusiness professor Jacqueline Rowarth says she’s been told the cuts could involve 20 percent of the 500 or so research staff.

Prof Rowarth says she was originally told 82 staff were being laid off but the number had shifted to between 80 and 100.

Former AgResearch scientist Doug Edmeades says he’s been told by a staff member redundancies will be announced on Thursday, and the cuts are due to a drop in funding. . . .

New plant-based milk product under development:

The milk company, Miraka, is working with science and research organisations to create a new UHT milk product using plant-based protein.

Taupo-based Miraka is a predominately Māori-owned company that manufactures milk powder and UHT milk products for export to 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America.

It’s been awarded government funding to work with AgResearch and Plant and Food to develop dairy-based UHT milk products which contain plant or vegetable materials.

Chief executive Richard Wyeth said the scope is broad at this stage, but he wouldn’t be drawn on the ideas that are being thrown around. . . 

Farmers told to limit palm kernel feed:

Fonterra is encouraging farmers to limit the amount of palm kernel extract (PKE) they use as a supplementary feed for dairy cows.

The co-operative is recommending its suppliers feed a maximum of 3 kgs per cow per day.

Farm advisers spoken to by Radio New Zealand said some farmers were currently feeding out 6 to 9 kgs per cow per day, particularly during dry periods. . .

Delaval Backs NZ Dairy Awards:

Global dairy equipment market leader DeLaval has joined the family of national sponsors backing the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

Preparations for the 2016 awards programme are being finalised this week, as organisers and sponsors meet in Rotorua to confirm final details.

DeLaval representatives will take their place at the table, alongside representatives from Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown, and Primary ITO.

Chair Gavin Roden says the awards continue to attract strong support from the country’s leading dairy industry players. . . .

Reporoa feed company taking on the world:

After exporting its equine feed products into Asia for many years, Reporoa-based company Fiber Fresh has also now launched its calf feed products into the international marketplace.

Fiber Fresh is New Zealand’s largest animal nutrition export company, specialising in high nutritional equine and calf feed products. It celebrated 30 years in business earlier this year.

The company’s launch into the calf feed market in Japan also includes a research partnership with the school of veterinary medicine at Rakuno Gakuen University in Hokkaido.

Fiber Fresh founding director Michael Bell says launching into the Japanese calf market is a milestone for the company. . . 

Paula Nickel's photo.


Rural round-up

September 20, 2015

Shifting the Kiwi ‘can-do attitude’ to ‘can-do safely’:

Dairy Women’s Network is shifting its members’ Kiwi can-do attitude to a ‘can-do safely’ attitude with its new Dairy Modules titled ‘Step up to Safety’ being offered from late October.

The Step up to Safety workshops are run by DWN members who are experienced in the field of Health and Safety and are supported by expert organisations Worksafe NZ and Hazardco.

“The most important thing participants will get out of these free workshops is a 90-day Health and Safety action plan. They will leave having made a start with their Health and Safety system or some actions identified to progress to next steps,” said project manager and Farmer Wellness specialist Lynda Clark.

She said the challenge is that some farmers may have fallen into complacency and think they have been let off the hook following the Government’s recent Health and Safety legislation announcements. . . 

Remote-controlled tree-felling reduces hazards – Annabelle Tukia:

New Zealand’s first remote-control forest-harvesting machine is being put to work in Nelson.

It’s hoped the technology will reduce the safety hazards associated with the forestry industry.

Tony Irvine is still getting to grips with his new machine. He’s normally in the cab of a 40-tonne self-leveller cutting down trees on the steep slope, but this week he’s started trialling a remote-control operation.

“It’s a lot better in this machine,” says Mr Irvine. “You feel a lot safer.” . . 

Mya leads city kids to animals

While the girl has been taken out of the country, at least for part of the day, the country remains firmly with Mya Taft because she brings a piece of it to her city classmates.

The schoolgirl from Ngakuru near Rotorua was well into her first school year at St Mary’s Catholic School in Rotorua as a year 6 student when she realised how much she would miss Ag Day, such a big part of the calendar at her previous school, Ngakuru Primary.

Mad keen on animals, a devoted calf-rearer and future vet, Mya decided to take matters into her own hands and arrange an Ag Day for her city classmates. . . 

Fonterra director John Monaghan pans dairy doomsayers, defends cooperative’s debt level – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group director John Monaghan said critics who claim dairy is doomed, and the economy with it, show a lack of understanding of the market and the structure of the dairy company.

Monaghan told the New Zealand Shareholders Association conference at the weekend that the news was full of gloomy predictions with falling global dairy prices that not only was it the end of the golden weather for dairy farmers, but also the end of the industry.

“Farmers are worried, anyone would be when their incomes are halved in the course of a year,” he said. “The US, Europe and Australia will have to consolidate and learn to live without subsidies but we’ve already done the hard yards and the cooperative is in the best position to weather the storm and come out the other side. Dairy is not doomed or dead.” . . 

Early days but PGP trial farm excited by potential:

The opportunity to precisely manage a fertiliser analysis and application programme, on highly variable hill country, has East Otago farmer Rob Lawson excited.

The trial is a part of Ravensdown’s Pioneering to Precision Primary Growth Partnership programme in partnership with the Ministry for Primary Industries and supported by Massey University and AgResearch.

Rob, who farms with his brother Willie, father Jim and their families on their steep-to-rolling hill country, is also looking forward to the reduced workload that the programme is expected to make possible. They run about 10,000 stock units on a ratio of about 70% sheep and the remainder cattle on their 2,330 ha property just south of Waikouaiti.

The programme aims to improve the use, and application, of fertiliser, and Rob has welcomed the opportunity for his farm to be a part of it. . . 

Sprout looks for help to grow:

National agritech business accelerator Sprout is looking for a startup with the potential to be New Zealand’s next global agritech superstar.

Sprout is searching the country for eight budding entrepreneurs with new agritech businesses for a new development programme.

Sprout Programme Manager James Bell-Booth said the chosen eight would receive a cash injection of $20,000 and be mentored by world-class business and technical experts.

“One of the things we are looking to equip is the next generation of agri-entrepreneurs,” he said. . . 

Unmanned Helicopters to Revolutionise Agricultural Industry:

Yamaha Sky Division New Zealand represents the future of the agricultural industry. The introduction of the Yamaha RMAX unmanned helicopters will enable property owners, licenced operators and contractors to maintain the land and crops remotely, from the air, and without the hassles that come with more traditional farming methods.

Weighing in at 99kg and at a total length of 3.63m and a height of 1.08m, each helicopter has a load capacity of 28kgs and runs on a 2 stroke, horizontally opposed 2-cylinder engine. The newest member of the Yamaha Sky Division is the ultimate piece of farm machinery for the 21st century.

The versatility of this new technology means that operators can spray weeds, crops, or spread seed in a more cost effective and accurate manner. . . 

Corrections recognises the support of Wairarapa REAP:

Wairarapa REAP (Rural Education Activities Programme) was this week recognised for its partnership with Corrections in helping community-based offenders increase their literacy levels and employment and education prospects.

Corrections Deputy Chief Executive Christine Stevenson presented Wairarapa REAP Director Peter McNeur with a community work partnership award at Masterton Community Corrections on Tuesday.

Corrections Service Manager Mel Morris said the award recognises the contribution Wairarapa REAP has made to community-based offenders’ lives.

“Corrections values the commitment of our community work partners like Wairarapa REAP that allows offenders to learn new skills and behaviours, and provide role models that make a positive difference to others.

“Wairarapa REAP has done a tremendous job in providing offenders with the tools that could turn their lives around,” she said. . . 

Why Getting Nepal the Right Seeds After the Earthquakes Matters – Kelsey Nowakowski:

When two major earthquakes hit Nepal this past spring, it devastated the country’s agricultural sector. Cultivated terraces were washed away by landslides and covered in rubble. But farmers lost more than just their crops, cattle, and homes (see Nepal Earthquake Strikes One of Earth’s Most Quake-Prone Areas). Gone, too, were the seeds they had uniquely adapted to their land over the course of decades.

Farming communities in central Nepal’s mountainous region were some of the hardest hit areas in the country. Seeds, tools, food stocks, and buildings were destroyed. In the six most-affected districts, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that about 60 percent of food and seed stocks were destroyed in farming households. . . 

 


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