Rural round-up

January 24, 2020

Failure won’t be farmers’ fault – Arthur Tsitsiras:

Farmers, like any business people, always look to keep costs down and make a profit. 

Farming, however, is an industry with a unique set of variables. Droughts can severely affect crop and livestock growth, floods and storms damage crops and infrastructure, unexpected disease outbreaks and wavering demands in certain products can all have wide-ranging impacts completely out of farmers’ hands. 

In addition, farmers are now expected to be conscious about their environmental impact.  . . 

Primary Sector Council’s starry-eyed vision – Nigel Malthus:

Late last year, the Primary Sector Council (PSC) unveiled its vision for the future of New Zealand’s primary industries.

It centres on the Māori concept of Taiao, which emphasises respect for, and harmony with, the natural world.

The council was established by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in April 2018 on a two-year mission to provide strategic advice on issues and to develop a sector-wide vision for the future. . . 

Here comes the sun . . . (flowers) – Sally Brooker:

One of North Otago’s favourite crops is making an impact again.

Sunflowers are maturing in paddocks on Thousand Acre Rd, between Oamaru and Kakanui, attracting photographers and adding a feel-good element to the landscape.

They are grown by the Mitchell and Webster families for their animal feeds company Topflite.

“You never get sick of them,” general manager Greg Webster said of the giant yellow flowers. . . 

Robot start-up Radius Robotics seeks to solve world’s soil depletion – Catherine Harris:

Farming by robot is no longer a fantasy, and it also could be a breakthrough for preserving our soil quality, a group of Kiwi entrepreneurs say.

Christchurch’s Radius Robotics is developing a wheel-based robotic system which would direct drill seeds with a minimal footprint, irrigate, weed and collect data.

Reducing the amount of land having to be tilled was one of its key aims, co-founder Henry Bersani said. . . 

Farmers encouraged to seek advice on farm succession planning – Sam Kilmister:

A series of workshops is designed to get farmers thinking about life after the farm.

Farm succession is a pressing topics among sheep and beef farmers, with more than 50 per cent of sheep and beef farms expected to change hands over the next decade.

The Red Meat Profit Partnership will hold a series of workshops educating Rangitīkei farmers on business transition and help them to navigate what can often be a difficult process. . . 

Fonterra leaves impression:

An internship at Fonterra proved to be just as valuable to Massey University science student Victoria-Jayne Reid as it was to the dairy co-operative with the development of a new testing regime.

The third-year science student spent her summer at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre across the road from Massey’s Manawatu campus helping to validate a new test for fat content in milk products that has proved to be robust and simple.

“The old reference method was highly laborious, it involved hazardous chemicals, manhandling and it took a long time,” Reid says. . . 


Rural round-up

October 18, 2018

Courses help women add value – Annette Scott:

Demand from women for new skills and confidence in their farming businesses shows no sign of abating with a national programme set to scale up for the third successive year.

Funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) and delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT), the Understanding Your Farming Business (UYFB) programme builds financial and communication skills that empower farming women to contribute more strongly to their businesses.

RMPP chairman Malcolm Bailey said the programme supports women in their role as critical farming partners by building on their business knowledge, skills and confidence. . .

Hard-working family on Greenvale farm since 1907 -Sally Rae:

Stud breeding is in the Paterson family’s blood.

Waikaka Station is home to the fourth and fifth generations to farm the Greenvale property — Laurie and Sharon Paterson and son and daughter-in-law Ross and Steph — while a sixth generation is looking promising.

Young Ollie (8) cannot wait to get on his motorbike while Emmie (6) is aiming to ride around the stock with her grandmother on horseback this summer.

Leo, the toddler of the family, has his boots on in the morning before his father, Ross quipped. . . .

Founder of stud mentioned in WW1 dispatches – Sally Rae:

Back in 1953, Matthew Kirkpatrick founded the Hereford stud that is now Waikaka Hereford.

One of Laurie Paterson’s earliest recollections of his grandfather was him driving an old, white, badly-dented Dodge car ‘‘rather like a tank’’.

‘‘So much so that one of the contractors always parked his car on top of the loading bank as he reckoned it was the only place safe from the boss.’’

Mr Kirkpatrick’s wartime experiences resulted in him being mentioned in dispatches for his work in the Imperial Camel Corps. . . 

Skills day and bark off planned by North King Country Young Farmers:

North King Country Young Farmers is on a mission to double its membership.

The active Te Kuiti-based club has a diverse member base of shepherds, dairy farmers and local rural professionals.

“Our aim is to help connect people and provide opportunities to socialise and upskill,” said member Christin Bentley. . .

Farmers play a pivotal role in fertility research success:

Dozens of scientists and more than 2000 farmers have been working together to improve cow fertility in New Zealand dairy cows. DairyNZ’s Jane Kay explains how this exciting four-year project is producing astounding results, with further studies planned in the future.

The North Island-based fertility project began in 2014, under the ‘Pillars of a New Dairy System’ DairyNZ-led research programme. This programme – funded from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), New Zealand dairy farmers (via their DairyNZ levy) and AgResearch – aims to provide management and genetic solutions to improve cow fertility and lifetime productivity. DairyNZ scientists Chris Burke and Susanne Meier headed the project, working with geneticists from New Zealand Animal Evaluation Limited (NZAEL), Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), CRV Ambreed and AbacusBio. In 2014, farmers provided 2500 cows, contract-mated to selected sires, to produce two groups of heifers with extreme differences in their fertility breeding values (Fert-BVs). . .

New Zealand Winemaker awarded World Pinot Noir trophy for the second year in a row:

New Zealand winemaker Andy Anderson has again beaten wines from the best in the world at London’s prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) to take out the World’s Best Pinot Noir Trophy.

Anderson was awarded the world’s best Pinot Noir trophy for his 2014 Takapoto Central Otago Pinot Noir. The win continues a 12 year long winning streak for New Zealand taking out the IWSC World Pinot Noir trophy. . .

Labour shortages, hours of paperwork and uncertainty lead farmers to push for new ‘ag visa’

Fruit and vegetable growers say a lack of workers is keeping a lid on industry growth and leaving hundreds of tonnes of fruit at risk of being left on the ground every year.

Many are hoping a promised ‘agricultural visa’ for foreign farm workers will solve industry labour woes by allowing farms to hire a dedicated overseas workforce on a temporary basis.

In late August the National Party promised the visa would be delivered in “days, not weeks”, forcing senior Liberals to put the plan on ice saying it would cause diplomatic problems with governments in the Pacific. . .


Rural round-up

September 30, 2018

Promising results from biodiversity stocktake of North Canterbury irrigation scheme – Emma Dangerfield:

Freshwater mussels have been found during a stocktake of land and waterways within the Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) scheme. 

More than 200 sites of biodiversity interest were discovered, and CEO Brent Walton said the stocktake had provided WIL with an overview of sites which could be further developed to enhance Waimakariri’s biodiversity values.

“WIL shareholders are committed to improving the environment and this process has provided us with some key areas of potential for further development.” . .

Rogue cattle and local officials create biosecurity risk:

A ho-hum attitude to wandering stock in Northland highlights continuing ignorance around biosecurity, says Federated Farmers Northland provincial president John Blackwell.

This week in Northland local council officers found wandering cows and placed them in a nearby paddock without telling the farmer who owned the property, John says.

The farmer found his own heifers the next day socialising with the lost stock. . .

Sustainable Whanganui celebrates 10 years with talk by farmer and conservationist Dan Steele

Floods, river rescues, evacuations by helicopter and honey extraction are all part of the working life of Blue Duck Station owner and manager Dan Steele.

He’s the guest speaker as Sustainable Whanganui Trust celebrates its 10th anniversary on October 14. The talk is open to the public and starts at 2pm in the Harakeke/Education Room at the Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre in Maria Pl, next door to the Fire Station.

Blue Duck Station had two major events in close succession this year. In February 14 young whio (rare and endangered blue ducks) were released there . .

New resource launched to help measure farm abusiness performance:

A new resource designed to help farmers measure their farm business performance has been launched by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).

The Key Performance Indicators (KPI) booklet includes detailed descriptions of 16 core KPIs, some example calculations and resources for farmers who are considering how improvements can be made to their farm business.

The KPIs, which were developed in conjunction with a group of industry professionals and farmers, include lambing percentage, ewe flock efficiency, calving percentage, fawn weaning percentage, gross farm revenue per effective hectare and live weight gain. . .

NZ merino prices jump as Australian drought dents supply of luxury fibre – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand merino wool prices are being pushed up as drought in Australia prompt farmers across the Tasman to cull stock, reducing the amount of the fine premium wool available for sale.

Eighteen-micron Merino wool, considered a benchmark for the fibre, sold at $28.90/kg at this week’s South Island auction. That was up from $22.40/kg at the same time last year and the five-year average of $16.70/kg for this time of year, according to AgriHQ. . .

Wool surfboard is ‘a drop in the ocean’ of potential composite product uses – Terry Sim:

WOOL will replace fibreglass in revolutionary surfboards to hit the Australian market next year. The boards will be released in Australia in February next year under the Firewire Surfboards brand ‘Woolight’. . .


Pathways to farm succession

September 15, 2018

Any business succession can pose challenges.

With farming, where the business is also the home it can be particularly problematic.

The Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) shows how it could be done:


Rural round-up

September 3, 2018

Beef + Lamb steps up farm plans push – Yvonne O’Hara:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) is ”on a mission” to continuously improve its Land and Environment Plan (LEP) programme as a key part of implementing its environment strategy, which was released in May.

Environment capability manager South Island Matt Harcombe said a survey of LEP workshop participants was carried out from October 2017 to March this year, and the findings would help improve the LEP resources and how they were delivered to farmers.

”We want to continue to build farmers’ confidence in the process of developing farm plans and understand how we can work with others to co-ordinate better support for farmers as well as encourage them to work together at a larger catchment-scale,” Mr Harcombe said. . . 

Getting behind New Zealand’s waterway restoration movement:

 This week is World Water Week and 3,000 decision-makers, scientists and experts from over 130 countries are converging on Stockholm, Sweden to develop plans to preserve this precious natural resource. In New Zealand, the health of our waterways is receiving similar levels of attention.

Our streams, lakes, wetlands and rivers have suffered over the last 150 years because of the effects of rural and urban development. While efforts to improve freshwater have mainly focussed on limit setting and development rules, we’re now seeing a rapidly growing grass-roots movement driving waterway restoration initiatives. These community efforts have developed because New Zealanders know the task of reversing the impacts is too big for a single owner or sector, so working together is the only way forward. . .

Change of dairy chairman for Federated Farmers – Ella Stokes:

If you have a passion about something get involved with it, says the newly appointed Federated Farmers Otago dairy chairman.

Dairy farmer Mathew Korteweg recently took up the role after previously being the sharemilker chairman for two years.

Mr Korteweg and wife Catherine, along with son Beau (1), have been 30% sharemilkers on Mr Korteweg’s family farm which has had a herd of 550 cows for the past five seasons.

For the past two seasons, they have taken on a neighbouring farm where they were contract-milking a herd of 550 cows. . . 

Synthetic wine and whisky soon to go on sale – Gerard Hutching:

First it was fake meat, cheese and milk. Now it’s pretend wine and whisky.

Forget about terroir, centuries old grape vines and peat-infused single malts from the famed island of Islay. San Francisco-based Ava Winery has shown it’s possible to create sauvignon wine and whisky in a laboratory.

At the Bragato wine conference in Wellington this week, winegrowers sniffed and sipped a molecular whisky and sauvignon blanc and handed out their verdicts. . . 

Why lamb is the most ethical meat to eat – Lizzie Rivera:

Forget Easter, now is the best time to eat British lamb, which is one of the most naturally reared animals, says Lizzie Rivera in the final instalment of our series investigating the myths and realities of meat production.

The importance of us knowing where our food really comes from has been highlighted by yet another food scandal, with the country’s largest supplier of supermarket chicken allegedly tampering with use-by dates.

This suggests it’s time for us to eat less meat or at the very least spread the load of our carnivorous diets by buying from smaller producers and varying our choices, perhaps even by rediscovering our love of lamb – and now couldn’t be a better time.

“The time to eat lamb at it’s absolute best – the highest quality eating, beautiful, flavoursome lamb – is in the autumn of the year. It’s just fantastic,” says Richard Smith, senior farms manager at Daylesford.

IFMA22 Congress opens $2500 bursary for ‘next gen’ farm managers – Johanna Baker-Dowdell:

Tasmania’s two major industries – agriculture and tourism – intersect at the next International Farm Management Association Congress.

Organisers are expecting a switched-on audience full of up to 400 farmers, educators, researchers, consultants, government staff and businesses, but they are particularly interested in the agricultural industry’s next generation.

The 2019 congress will be held at Launceston in March and the theme is Growing Agriculture @ 41 Degrees South. . .


Rural round-up

June 29, 2018

Kindness is the best way to train a cow, dairy leaders say – Esther Taunton:

Dairy farmers were quick to condemn the “training” methods of a Northland sharemilker filmed beating cows with a steel pipe, saying kindness and positivity were more effective.

The hidden camera footage, released to Newsroom, shows the sharemilker repeatedly hitting animals with an alkathene pipe, a stick and a steel pipe during milking. 

When asked if he hit the cows, the sharemilker told journalist Melanie Reid he did, but only to train them and the best approach was to be “kind and firm”.  

“You’ve got to train your cows. You can’t let your cows rule you,” he said.

However, dairy industry leaders rejected his methods and said brute force was never warranted. 

Federated Farmers sharemilkers’ chairman Richard McIntyre said training dairy cattle was about making them want to do what the farmer wanted. . . 

Bridgit Hawkins’ app is helping farmers save water, money and time – Simon Pound:

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt. This week Simon is joined by Bridget Hawkins, CEO of Regen, an app helping to drive efficiency on farms.

We love a good chat about the things being done to improve farming practice on this show. And today’s guest is the CEO of an app that helps farmers use less water and more efficiently use nitrate fertilisers to only irrigate at times the soil is ready, meaning less runoff of fertiliser and effluent – meaning less crap getting into our waterways.

Sounds pretty good already. But it also helps farmers save money and keep to their council water usage consents  – so it is a tool that you don’t have to be a big greenie to want. . .

New technology finds a greener way to improve NZ’s crops – Charlie Dreaver:

A new research project that’s underway has the potential to give New Zealand’s horticultural industry a bumper crop.

Hot Lime Labs, through Callaghan Innovation, has created a way to use wood chips and limestone to pump CO2 into greenhouses.

They say it will increase crop production and is cheaper and greener than the current alternative.

It’s no secret in the horticultural industry that pumping extra CO2 into greenhouses can significantly increase crop growth.

But Tomatoes New Zealand’s general manager, Helen Barnes, said giving plants an extra dose of CO2 could be difficult. . .

Red Meat Profit Partnership brainstorm ideas to increase profitability:

Farmers are known for their ingenuity and the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) is asking them to bring ideas to the table.

The Red Meat Profit Partnership, which is a joint project between government, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) and the Meat Industry Association, is offering funding to farmers in the form of action groups.

BLNZ southern South Island extension manager Olivia Ross said RMPP was established to increase profitability across the industry. . .

Agriculture sector salary increases:

After little movement in wages in recent years, people working in primary industries have made gains in what they earn according to the latest Federated Farmers Rabobank Remuneration Survey.

The report released today was developed following the survey conducted in late 2017 and early 2018.

Responses were collected from 940 employers on 13 separate farm positions across the dairy, sheep and beef and arable sectors. In addition to information on salaries the report also provides a range of other data including weekly hours worked by employees, employee age, length of employment and recruitment ease. . . .

Leon Clement Announced as Synlait Milk’s New CEO :

Synlait Milk  is pleased to announce Leon Clement will join the organisation as Chief Executive Officer from mid-August.

The appointment is the outcome of a global recruitment search undertaken following co-founder and inaugural CEO John Penno’s announcement in November 2017 of his intention to stand down.

“Leon has led major businesses internationally, specifically in Vietnam and Sri Lanka, and has deep experience in the branded dairy sector,” says Graeme Milne, Chairman. . .

Synlait commits to a sustainable future with bold targets:

Synlait Milk has committed to reducing its environmental impact significantly over the next decade by targeting key areas of their value chain.

The commitments were revealed at Synlait’s annual conference in Christchurch on Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 June to staff, dairy farmers and partners:
• Reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 35% per kilogram of milk solids on-farm (consisting of -50% nitrous oxide, -30% methane and -30% carbon dioxide) and 50% per kilogram of milk solids off-farm by 2028
• Reducing water consumption by 20% per kgMS both on-farm and off-farm by 2028
• Reducing nitrogen loss on-farm by 45% per kgMS by 2028
• Significantly boosting support for best practice dairy farming through increased Lead With Pride™ premium payments, including a 100% PKE-free incentive . . .

Sensible solutions making forest safety seamless and smart :

A major national conference on forest safety practices is set to showcase how our forestry leaders have delivered both safety and productivity benefits for people across a range of workplaces.

“Some of our most inspiring forestry leaders have developed safety improvements in both crew culture and harvesting technologies,” says Forest Industry Engineering Association spokesman, Gordon Thomson.

“We’re delighted to have skilled industry leaders outlining their teams’ experiences – especially people who know that safety and productivity can be improved simultaneously. It’s an intriguing line up of case studies for this year’s conference,” he added. . . 

‘Silver Fern Farms National Youth Scholarships applications now open:

Applications are now open for Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships. In their second year, the scholarships award six young people around New Zealand $5000 to assist with developing their careers and capabilities in the red meat sector.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says the response to last year’s inaugural scholarships indicate a bright future for the red meat sector. . . 

Forget the Hunger Games, greet the driverless tractor – Marian L. Tupy and Chelsea Follett:

If you are a sci-fi fan, then you have probably noticed the dystopian character of movies about the future. From the classics, such as Soylent Green and Blade Runner, to modern hits, such as the Matrix trilogy and District 9, Hollywood’s take on the future is almost invariably negative. The story lines tend to centre on depletion of natural resources, like in the Mad Max movies, the emergence of highly stratified societies, like Elysium, or both.

In Hollywood’s rendition, the future consists of a few people at the top, who partake in the good life and enjoy what’s left of earth’s resources, while the much more numerous masses suffer some form of enslavement and destitution. That is, until one day, a messianic figure emerges to overthrow the existing order, slaughters the oppressors, liberates the untermenschen and ushers in an era of peace and prosperity. . .

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Rural round-up

June 2, 2018

The farm action group that ‘crunches into life’ – Tony Benny:

A group of North Otago farmers are working together to find ways to increase profitability, taking advantage of the support offered by the Red Meat Profit Partnership’s Action Network initiative. Tony Benny reports. 

Ross and Jo Hay and their friends Gareth and Sarah Isbister got a taste for working with experts and getting access to the latest research and information when they joined  the Red Meat Profit Partnership’s pilot farm programme. They were part of RMPP partner Silver Fern Farms’ red meat eating quality project, looking for ways to consistently produce the most succulent, best tasting, and most valuable lamb.

For about a year they talked about how valuable it would be to form a farmers’ group that “really crunched into life”, that drilled down into financials and objectively analysed their respective businesses. When they went to an RMPP workshop in Christchurch, they found what they were looking for.

“We heard Richmond Beetham from Baker Ag talking about the business groups they have running in the Wairarapa and we were like, ‘That’s what we want to do’,” recalls Jo Hay. . . 

Winners inspired by industry solidarity – Pam Tipa:

The winners of the 2018 NZ Dairy Industry Awards, Dan and Gina Duncan, are overwhelmingly positive about the industry.

The former registered valuers won the ultimate award – 2018 NZ Share Farmers of the Year.

They say the way dairy farmers interact with each other is fantastic. 

“Look at the discussion groups and how willing people are to share what they are doing,” Dan told Dairy News. . . 

Synlait, Westland spruik higher milk payments for farmers in upcoming season – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – South Island dairy processors Synlait Milk and Westland Milk Products have raised their forecast milk payment levels to their farmer suppliers for the upcoming season, following a similar move last month by larger rival Fonterra Cooperative Group.

Rakaia-based Synlait raised its forecast milk price for the 2017/18 season which officially ended yesterday to $6.65 per kilogram of milk solids, and said the average premium payment of 13 cents would lift the total payout to $6.78/kgMS. It announced an opening price forecast for 2018/19 of $7/kgMS, based on milk fat prices remaining firm throughout the season.

Dairy Manager of the Year great with people :

The 2018 Dairy Manager of the Year winner Gerard Boerjan aims for excellence in everything he does.

“He has great experience as a manger of people and a great passion for working with people in a large team environment,” dairy manager head judge Mary Craw says.

“He takes a systems approach to the way he manages the farm and has good systems in place to ensure nothing gets through the gaps. . .

Food technology and money speeding up change: Protein Conference

An upcoming conference in Auckland on alternative proteins offering consumers new food choices will include a debate on whether new plant-based proteins will disrupt traditional meat producers’ markets or simply bring more cheaper food choices to the masses.

Last week in Britain, ahead of expectations, Tesco and Dutch-based plant food company Vivera jointly announced the immediate stocking of 100% plant-based steaks on supermarket shelves there. . .

Agriculture opens doors for youth :

Kalu, in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia, is home to 28-year-old Yimam Ali.

However, many young people from this region of Ethiopia move to the Middle East looking for work and a better life. The amount of job opportunities in the country has not matched its growth. 71 percent of Ethiopia’s population is under the age of 30 and many of them lack opportunities to make a decent living.

Yimam decided to go to Saudi Arabia where his sister was living.

His journey, to what was meant to be a better life, was not an easy one: . .

Pioneering New Zealand avocado orchard placed up for sale by its international owner:

One of the first large-scale commercial avocado orchards to be planted in New Zealand – as part of a multi-national growing consortium – has been placed on the market for sale.

The 29 hectare property at Awanui just north of Kaitaia was originally established by Californian-based owners in 1990. It was planted with Hass on Zutano and Duke 7 avocado varieties grown on some 20 hectares of plantation land. . .

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