Toughest farming conditions fro more than 25 years – Tim Fulton:
The micro-climate at Tim and Katie Wilding’s farm at Conway Flat in Canterbury is balmy enough for a crop of garden macadamias but the couple haven’t seen dry conditions like this since the 1980s.
All the natural springs “on the hill” have dried up. That’s never happened before, lifelong resident Tim says.
Last summer had lifted soil temperatures to about 50 degrees Celsius. It killed a block of hopeful young grass with barely a fight.
The family runs one of New Zealand’s largest beef cattle studs, Te Mania. Their place is a narrow strip between North Canterbury and Kaikoura that usually gets plenty of rain and sun. hence the macadamias. The Wildings have been in full charge of the herd since 1982. . .
A Nelson farm owned by the same family for 171 years is still going strong – and that’s despite the slump in dairy prices.
The Raine family have owned Oaklands farm since 1844 and began milking cows there in the 1930s, but they reckon weather and urban growth are bigger threats to its future. They have become the oldest family in New Zealand to receive a Century Farms Award, which recognises families who have worked the same land for a century or more.
The farm is now run by Richard’s eldest son Julian Raine and his wife Cathy, who live on a neighbouring house on the property. The farm currently milks 200 cows year-round and is run as part of an integrated farm business alongside other farms and horticultural interests in the Nelson region. . .
The national dairy industry body says at current forecast milk prices, in Fonterra’s case $5.25 a kilo, most dairy farms will run at a loss this season.
To help them survive that, DairyNZ is providing a new service that they can tap into.
Farmers can go on-line and check out detailed budgeting information from top performing farms, which have pared back their production costs to below $3.50 a kilo of milk solids.
DairyNZ’s research and development head, David McCall, says as things stand the average dairy farmer will lose $150,000 to $200,000 this season if they don’t make changes. . .
A significant wetland on the West Coast home to rare birds and plants will be preserved for the public thanks to the Nature Heritage Fund, Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner says.
“The Nature Heritage Fund has purchased 56 hectares of land in Okuru, South Westland to become part of the conservation estate. This land is a great example of open pakihi, a type of wetland characterised by low soil fertility,” Ms Wagner says.
“The pakihi provides a perfect home for the declining South Island fernbird and supports several types of native plants, including sun orchids, carnivorous sundews and bladderworts. . .
New Zealand wine exports to the United States are growing faster than to our traditional international markets of Australia and the UK, and that pace is being matched by increasing recognition at the top competitions.
In the five years from 2010-2015, exports of Kiwi wines increased three times faster than the UK and Australia. For the 12 months ended April 2015, New Zealand exported 5.88 million cases of wine to the US – up three million since 2010. During that period, exports to Australia increased to 6.4 million (4.8 million five years ago), and in the UK to 6.3 million (4.7 million). . .
Tenders have been called for a possible redevelopment of Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ ammonia-urea plant at Kapuni in Taranaki.
The only plant of its kind in New Zealand, Ballance CEO Mark Wynne says the call follows a year-long feasibility study including discussions with international specialists in converting gas to fertiliser.
“This has given us confidence to make the next move and ask global experts to scope and cost a re-development. . .
With the success of James & Wells’ clients at this year’s and previous Fieldays, there’s no denying that agriculture is still a huge part of New Zealand’s economy.
But it’s not necessarily agriculture as we used to consider it – traditionally farming, machinery and fruit growing – but innovation in agriculture that is allowing wealth to be created from ideas.
In the 27 years James & Wells have been involved with Fieldays, we’ve seen plenty of innovative agricultural ideas, and having our roots in the Waikato since the 1970s, we know a good one when we see it. . .