Rural round-up

January 19, 2020

Avocado trees killed in Far North orchard :

An avocado orchard in the Far North has been vandalised – alongside the words “water thieves” – in an apparent protest against water usage in the parched region.

Windbreaks have been slashed and graffitied, water pipes have been cut and about 20 trees have been killed over the Christmas period at Mapua Orchard, near Houhora.

Orchard manager Ian Broadhurst said it wasn’t the first time this had happened, but it was definitely the worst.

He said Mapua was part of a wider group of 17 orchards in the region that had applied to the Northland Regional Council for consents to draw water from the Aupōuri aquifer. . . 

Federated Farmers: Mycoplasma Boris tax hit unfair:

Federated Farmers is seeking Ministerial support for a change to tax legislation so farmers whose breeding stock are culled as part of the Mycoplasma bovis eradication effort are not disadvantaged by the tax regime.

“Currently farmers whose dairy or beef breeding cows are valued on their books under the National Standard Cost scheme and whose cattle are culled as part of the Mycoplasma bovis response will most likely end up with a hefty tax bill. This is not a fair outcome for affected farmers and we believe it’s an unintended consequence of the tax legislation,” Federated Farmers economics spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . .

All work and no play for southern food producers – Jacqui Dean:

For most of us, the first days of the New Year are spent resting, reflecting and rueing the excesses of the Christmas period.

The ham on the bone is being whittled away, the recycling bin is housing a few too many empty bottles and we’re all hoping that someone else will take the initiative and tidy away the Christmas decorations for another year.

But for a great many people, the early weeks of January are all about work.

With Central Otago accounting for nearly 60 per cent of planted summer fruit orchards in New Zealand, it’s fair to say that all eyes are on this neck of the woods as the country hankers after its fresh produce. . . 

Native trees supply looks tight – Richard Rennie:

The nation’s Billion Trees target by 2028 might be missed by a quarter because of a lack of capacity and resources to meet it.

The goal includes having 200 million native trees planted by 2028. 

However, a survey commissioned by the Forests Ministry survey indicates only 160m native seedlings can be supplied by then. 

That is based on a sustainable growth rate of 7.5% a year for a sector that has had 12-15% growth for the past three years but that has been described unsustainable over any length of time. . . 

‘Unusable’ plastic sitting at Smart Environmental has future in fence posts

Change is on the way for the classic Kiwi fencepost, with a new venture making them out of recycled plastic.

Future Post has joined forces with Smart Environmental’s Kopu site, collecting bales of recycling which will then be turned into fence posts.

The Smart Environmental plant services Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Matamata-Piako and Waipā, and Future Post is expecting to save around 15 tonnes of plastic a month.

“It means there’s a reasonable percentage of plastic now being reused; however, there’s still a hell of a lot that is unusable and still has no market,” Smart Environmental’s Waikato and BOP regional manager Layne Sefton said. . . 

Food made from ‘bacterial dust’ is ‘ludicrous’, beef group says :

British beef producers have called a proposal to feed the population with synthetic lab food made from bacteria as ‘ludicrous’.

George Monbiot claimed in the recent documentary ‘Apocalypse Cow’ that conventional farming will end in 50 years time.

Instead of food produced from farms, the human diet will eventually rely on synthetic food made in laboratories, the environmental activist claimed in the show.

Monbiot visited a team of researchers in Finland who unveiled their process for food production – made out of bacteria and water. . .


Rural round-up

January 12, 2020

Dairy farm sales dry up as tighter bank lending, foreign investment take hold – Catherine Harris:

Commentators say dairy farm values are falling, as bank lending tightens and foreign investment becomes harder to get.

According to the Real Estate Institute (REINZ), sales of dairy farms nationally tumbled 55 per cent in the three months to November on the same period in 2018, and 83 per cent on 2017.

Dairy farm prices slid 22 per cent, from $50,964 per hectare to $39,678 per hectare.

Lincoln University farm management professor and commentator Keith Woodford told RNZ that while other types of farms such as grazing or horticulture were holding their own, dairying had suffered, despite improving milk prices. . . 

Border collie saves flock of sheep from wall of fire in Australia: –  Joe Roberts:

A hero border collie has saved a flock of sheep as a wall of fire destroyed farmland in Australia.

Patsy the six-year-old working dog rounded the sheep up with a farmer as the flames bore down on them in the rural town of Corryong in Victoria.

She brought them to the safest paddock on the farm as her owner fought the fire in a tractor with a tank of water.

Thanks to Patsy and her owner, almost all of the sheep were saved, along with the hay bales, silage, shearing shed, and farm houses. . .

‘Mycoplasma bovis’ challenges faced – Laura Smith:

‘‘One of the greatest biosecurity challenges we’ve ever faced’’ — Mycoplasma bovis continues to affect farmers but the Ministry for Primary Industries is confident eradication of the disease can be achieved.

Southland farm owners Ben Walling and Sarah Flintoft had 1700 cattle culled in 2018 after Mycoplasma bovis was discovered on their farm.

Since then they were declared disease-free, but are now awaiting results after tests on cows at one of their three cattle farms.

The bovine disease Mycoplasma bovis can cause mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis and late-term abortions. More than 130,700 cattle have been culled nationwide because of it. . . 

Fonterra rationalises in Chile – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra is buying the minority interests in its Chilean processing partner, Prolesur, to streamline its businesses and give it more options for the future.

Among the options could be an exit from the dairy industry in Chile after several decades of New Zealand involvement, firstly by the Dairy Board in 1986.

Fonterra has agreed to buy 13.6% of Prolesur for NZ$29.3 million from Fundacion Isabel Aninat, a church-owned charity. . . 

Remote island farm on market – Richard Rennie:

A long-held family property on Great Barrier Island offers the chance to own the last piece of land before Chile.

It includes private beaches and an historic grave site for shipwreck victims.

The Mabey family has farmed the 195ha property at the island’s northern end for almost a century and has decided to put the farm on the market as a bare block. 

The land is farmed by Scott Mabey who said he anticipates a buyer will be most interested in building a dream home on one of the farm’s many elevated positions. . . 

The beef farmer eats a plant patty – Uptown Farms:

Well… we did it. We were in a hip little craft beer joint in Nashville, saw the Impossible burger on the menu, and ordered one.

Of course they wanted to send it out with a fresh baked bun, cheese and all the sauces.

But we passed on all of that so we could really get an idea what all the fuss was about. Here’s what we decided:

🌱 It is better with ranch. Matt jokes, “What vegetable isn’t?” (His jokes are getting worse the older he gets.) . . 


Rural round-up

January 3, 2020

Honour well deserved say sharemilkers – Sudesh Kissun:

The New Zealand order of merit awarded to Tirau farmer Tony Wilding in the New Years Honours List has been hailed by sharemilkers.

Federated Farmers National Sharemilkers Section chairman, Richard McIntyre says the honour is well deserved.

“Tony is an absolute gentleman who has represented the sharemilker farm owners well, for the betterment of the sharemilking industry,” he told Rural News online. . . 

Land Champion: love of land and bush passed on – Richard Rennie:

A dairy farming couple’s love of the bush has helped inspire the same passion in a younger generation, preserved some valuable bird species and also promoted a more sustainable way to farm.

Maggy and Karl Buhler of Pongakawa in Bay of Plenty are quietly humble about their efforts over the past 40 years to plant more of the country in native bush. 

But the view from their homestead high above their 100ha dairy farm nicely frames the work that has accounted for about half that period.  . .

 

Land champion: ag passion fires teacher’s mission – Richard Rennie:

Kerry Allen’s efforts to put agriculture and the primary sector back on the radar for secondary school pupils is starting to pay dividends, providing the sector with a growing pool of young talent that risked drying up several years ago.

Allen has been agribusiness curriculum director at St Paul’s Collegiate School in Hamilton for the past three years. 

It is thanks to her efforts the college pioneered New Zealand’s first secondary school agribusiness course.  . . 

FAR researcher of the year – Sudesh Kissun:

The Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) says it has named one of its own as their 2019 Researcher of the Year.

Diana Mathers, who, joined FAR as cropping systems research Mmnager in 2010, has worked to support cropping farmers in the areas of economic and environmental sustainability.

FAR chief executive Alison Stewart says Mather’s award recognises the significant impact she has had in these areas. . . 

Axemen hit halfway mark in Christmas circuit tour – Laura Smith:

Tired arms and sore backs were in store for Southern Axemen’s Christmas Circuit competitors as the tour reached its midway point in Riverton yesterday.

The circuit started in Cromwell last Friday and is set to end in Tuatapere tomorrow. Competitor John Broughton, of Manapouri, said about 40 people had competed at each event.

Mr Broughton said he competed in several events, including the standing block and “pretty much all the sawing”. . . 

Brompton rat controlled grass fires – Stephen Burns:

It was a simple machine, designed and built in a station workshop in western Queensland, and out of fashion now but for many years the Brompton Rat was successful in containing many grass fires on the open plains.

Timely we should be talking about bush fire control, with fires raging out of control along the ranges, and the fire season hasn’t yet started on the plains.

For many years, various inventions were developed each with distinct degrees of success until Gordon Gray and his father Harry designed and built the Brompton Rat on the property Brompton near Mutaburra. . .

 


Rural round-up

December 22, 2019

New Zealand’s largest manufacturing sector is concerned about Government’s freshwater proposals :

The viability of some meat processing plants in New Zealand will be in doubt under the Government’s current freshwater proposals, according to the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

“While we generally support the ambition of the proposals for cleaner freshwater, the planned river quality limits are excessively tight and exceed current limits already consented by regional councils,” says Tim Ritchie, chief executive of MIA.

“These limits are likely to result in substantial economic costs to the me . . 

 

Fonterra resolves Chilean dispute with buy-out – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s announcement that it is purchasing the minority shareholding interests in Chilean dairy company Prolesur solves an acrimonious relationship between Fonterra and the Fundación Isabel Aninat. This may prove to be an early step in the rationalisation and eventual divestment of Fonterra’s Chilean operations.

Fonterra’s Chilean operations are managed under a complex structure. The major asset is the almost wholly-owned Soprole, which in turn owns 70.5 percent of Prolesur. Fonterra also owns additional shares in Prolesur through another structure, giving it a total Prolesur holding of 86.2 percent.

The key minority shareholder in Prolesur is Fundación Isabel Aninat which has ties to the Catholic Church. . . 

Commitment to change lifts audit grades:

A willingness to proactively improve farming practices has seen 89 per cent of Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) shareholders achieve an A or B Farm Environment Plan (FEP) audit during the 2018/19 season; an increase of 21 percent from the 2016/17 season.

C audit grades have decreased from 28 per cent in the 2016/17 season to 9 per cent in the 2018/19, while just one farm received a D audit grade.

Farm Environment Plans help farmers to recognise and manage on-farm environmental risks. Once the plan is in place an independent audit is carried out to check how the risks are being managed and how Good Management Practices (GMP) are being applied to minimise the impact on water quality. . .

Farmstrong: avoid common strains and niggles:

Farming is a physically demanding job and can cause a lot of wear and tear on the body if you don’t look after it so Farmstrong has teamed up with VetSouth to make a series of short injury prevention videos for farmers.

VetSouth director and large animal vet Neil Hume is based in Winton. He and his team have been working with local physiotherapist Dennis Kelly to help staff avoid injury. 

“A lot of the work vets do is repetitive,” Hume says.  . . 

Berries inspire new local brew – Richard Rennie:

A chance conversation over the fence between a blueberry grower and a brewer prompted the men to combine their talents to create a blueberry beer for summer.

Waikato blueberry grower and Blueberries New Zealand chairman Dan Peach said it was a fortuitous encounter with Good George brewer Brian Watson that provided a new market for his crop. 

Watson said it has taken three years to get to the point the beer can be commercialised.  . . 

Young people pitch in at South Arm – Mel Leigh Dee:

One gripe that came out of a bushfire community recovery meeting last week in Bowraville was the lack of young hands being raised to help with the clean up.

Well there’s currently a dozen or so young guns out at South Arm who are working hard to rebuild fences and faith in their generation.

For the past two weeks primary industries students from Macksville High have been volunteering their skills and their brawn to pull down charcoaled fencing and drive in new posts at the Perks’ farm along South Arm Rd. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 9, 2019

Rural rates chan pulls tighter – Richard Rennie:

The Federated Farmers rates report for the year has highlighted the continuing ability of council rates to outstrip other cost indices, with property owners experiencing a 170% increase over the past 20 years.

That rise has left standard cost indices for dead, even when compared to typically high-rising products like alcohol and tobacco, Federated Farmers president Katie Milne said.

Those two products rose 120% over the same period, with significant tax increases on them through that period.

Food prices increased 50% over the same period while transport costs went up 30%.

Farmers are desperate for a handbrake on rates rises but concerned councils appeared to be signalling further rises are likely. . . 

Minister failing to give farmers the facts:

Damian O’Conner has badly let down rural New Zealand by not requesting economic and social analysis on his Government’s freshwater proposals, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“Ministry for Primary Industries officials revealed today in Select Committee that they did not conduct any economic or social modelling prior to the release of the proposals, nor did the Agriculture Minister ask them to.

“It is Damien O’Connor’s responsibility to look out for rural communities and make sure the facts are laid out before hammering them with the most significant policy proposal farmers have faced in years. . . 

Massive high-tech pest control operation in Perth Valley declared a success – Lois Williams:

The company that carried out a massive pest control operation in South Westland’s Perth Valley this year is declaring it a success.

Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) supported by DOC blitzed the remote river catchment near Whataroa with 1080 pellets in two aerial drops, in April and July, following intensive pre-feeding with non-toxic pellets.

But it also set up a network of 700 traps for rats and possums, all connected by radio and satellite to rangers phones and laptops, along with 142 cameras to detect stoats.

The company’s aim is to rid the Perth Valley of all predators and keep them out – something that has never been achieved outside of fenced sanctuaries and islands. . . 

Dairy compliance on the up and up:

The Dairy industry and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council have adopted the shared goal to achieve 100% compliance with all resource consents, and are almost 80% towards the goal, celebrated at this week’s Dairy Compliance Awards.

The Dairy Compliance Awards recognise Hawke’s Bay dairy farmers who consistently achieve full compliance with their resource consents.

This is the sixth year of the Dairy Awards, covering water takes, farm dairy effluent and air discharge consents. Over the years, overall compliance has improved from 71% in 2012-13 to 78% in 2018-19. . . 

Good sense sold up the river – Alan Moran:

Earlier this week some 3,000 irrigators and their supporters rallied in Canberra against government policy on Murray-Darling irrigation and management.  With the  cacophony of dozens of semi-trailers’ blaring horns, it was certainly noisy. Ominously for the National Party, their representatives were treated with considerable hostility, particular anger being directed at water Minister David Littleproud. Enduring the jeers, the Nationals would have been especially dismayed at the warm welcome for Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts.

The current drought has exacerbated a contrived water shortage that government policy has engineered in the Murray. Having set a cap on water extractions in 1999 — roughly a third of the average flow — the productive uses of this “working river” have been gradually reduced.  As a supplier of a vital agricultural input to a formerly barren area that grew to supply 40 per cent of the nation’s farm produce, the river has been de-rated.  At a cost of $13 billion, some 20 per cent of the flow has been diverted to “environmental” use. This has caused a five- to ten-fold increase in the price and forced thousands of farms out of business. . .

Winston Nutritional secures Chinese Government approval for infant formula production:

Winston Nutritional is one of only two New Zealand manufacturers in 2019 to secure approval from China to produce infant formula.

Winston Nutritional (17888) has achieved infant formula plant registration from the General Administration of Customs of the Peoples’ Republic of China (GACC) for its Auckland-based blending and canning facility. It secured a general dairy registration in 2017.

Winston Nutritional (17888) has achieved infant formula plant registration from the General Administration of Customs of the Peoples’ Republic of China (GACC) for its Auckland-based blending and canning facility. It secured a general dairy registration in 2017. . . 


Rural round-up

October 14, 2019

Get on with it – Neal Wallace and Colin Williscroft:

Politicians might be slow acting on climate change but retailers and consumers who buy New Zealand produce aren’t and they expect Kiwi farmers to reduce their carbon footprint, special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says.

He urges food producers to stop arguing about details and start reducing carbon emissions to preserve demand in lucrative markets.

“It is very real in-market,” he said.

Peterson said “If people think this is being dreamed up by NZ politicians to get at NZ farmers then you need to think again.”

It is being driven by those who buy our food.

“Companies and consumers are driving climate change. . . 

Number of natives under one billions trees anyone’s guess -Eloise Gibson:

How many of the one billion trees planted in the next decade will be native species? Government tree planting agency Te Uru Rakau has clarified that it can’t hazard an estimate. 

The Government’s tree planting agency, Te Uru Rakau, says it can’t estimate what proportion of the one billion trees programme will be native species, saying a previous figure it gave to Newsroom was meant to be purely “illustrative”.

The illustrative figure was used to calculate the estimated climate benefit from the tree scheme, which Te Uru Rakau has put at 384 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the trees’ lifetimes. . . 

Bunds offer phosphorus solution – Richard Rennie:

Capturing phosphate in water spilling off farm catchments has been made easier thanks to work done by a Rotorua farmer group and a doctoral student who have developed detainment bunds on trial properties.

A field day later this month gives farmers the chance to look at work that has largely been under the radar but offers a practical, farmer-focused solution to improving water quality. Richard Rennie spoke to the group’s project manager John Paterson.

While nitrogen mitigation has played on the minds of most regional councils and many farmers, phosphorus losses are also required, under the Government’s latest water quality rules, to be measured and curtailed.  . . 

Exotic breeds offer genetic diversity – Yvonne O”Hara:

Anieka and Nick Templer like a bit of variety in their dairy herd, adding panda-eyed, triple-cross Montbeliarde, Normande, Fleckvieh and Aussie Reds to their mix.

They are are 50/50 sharemilkers on 230ha near Balfour, with 630 cows, and they are targeting 500kgMS/cow and 330,000kgMS production this season. Their herd includes 35 pedigree Ayrshires.

The 2015 Southland/Otago Farm Manager of the Year winners have daughter Maycie (5) and employ two Filipino staff: Emman Orendain and David Lupante.

Mrs Templer grew up on a dairy farm and has always been interested in the more unusual cattle breeds. . . 

‘If we lose these communities we won’t get them back‘ :

AgForce Queensland chief executive Michael Guerin says “if we lose these communities, we won’t get them back”, as “unprecedented” drought conditions continue to affect Australian farmers.

Hundreds of drought-stricken farmers have reportedly stopped receiving payments in the past two years, through a government assistance program, after having reached the four-year limit.

Under the allowance, more than 1,300 households are given $489 a fortnight.

“This federal government is working with us, trying to work with communities that are in incredible trouble” Mr Guerin told Sky News host Paul Murray. . . 

The latest flip-flop on red meat uses best science in place of best guesses – Nina Teicholz:

Eggs are bad; eggs are good. Fat is bad; fat is good. Meat is bad; meat is… OK?

That last food flip-flop made big headlines last week. It was a “remarkable turnabout,” “jarring,” “stunning.” How, it was asked, could seemingly bedrock nutrition advice turn on a dime?

The answer is that many of the nation’s official nutrition recommendations — including the idea that red meat is a killer — have been based on a type of weak science that experts have unfortunately become accustomed to relying upon. Now that iffy science is being questioned. At stake are deeply entrenched ideas about healthy eating and trustworthy nutrition guidelines, and with many scientists invested professionally, and even financially, in the status quo, the fight over the science won’t be pretty.

Red meat is a particularly contentious topic because people have such strong objections to eating meat for a variety of reasons: the environment, animal rights and even religion (Seventh-day Adventists advise against it). . . .


Rural round-up

August 16, 2019

Climate experts flat out lying – Andrew Stewart:

An open letter to our Government and the farming leaders of New Zealand.

For the first time in my farming career, which spans 16 years as an owner and a lifetime on the same farm, I find myself doubting whether I would consider encouraging my two daughters into the agricultural profession. 

This negativity has been created by proposed regulations regarding climate change and how we as farmers will have to cope with it and ultimately pay for it. 

Luckily, my children are still young, at seven and four, and I can only hope I still have the time to help rectify this situation before it is too late.

I am writing this as a response to the bombardment of information that has spewed forth in the past couple of weeks regarding climate change obligations in agriculture.  . . 

Bankers circling? Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers are urging banks to take a long term view of their businesses, now under growing pressure to improve their balance sheets.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says some farmers feel they are facing “a banking crisis” because of relentless pressure from banks.

While ultimately farmers must ‘own’ their individual financial positions, Lewis says banks need to go easy.

“They must take the long term view that dairying is a profitable business,” he told Rural News. . . 

Kiwi Climatology: Land of the Long White Clods – Walter Starck:

The science, technology and economics relevant to the possibility of a catastrophic impact on global climate from use of fossil fuels is vast and complex. Vanishingly few persons can spend the time necessary to begin to appreciate the uncertainties, conflicting information and outright misinformation being promulgated.  Unfortunately, we are taught and expected to have an opinion on everything no matter how little we actually know about it and the climate change meme has proliferated into an epidemic conviction of which the chattering classes in particular appear to have little or no resistance.

As professional opinion leaders, politicians seem to be especially susceptible, to the point of engaging in what in effect have become competitive displays of ignorance about climate change. A current example is the recent initiative of the New Zealand government to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  For a start, NZ accounts for about 0.1 per cent (i.e. one-thousandth) of global emissions. Over 80 per cent of their electrical power comes from renewable energy, mainly hydro and geothermal. Their per capita CO2 emissions are among the lowest in the developed world and natural uptakes make them a net CO2 sink. . .

Tougher animal system rolled out after critical report

Changes to New Zealand’s animal tracking system are starting to be rolled out after a report released last year identified a raft of issues with the scheme.

Lax compliance with the National Animal Identification and Tracing, or NAIT, system by some farmers has been blamed for the spread of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

Officials complained they sometimes could not find out which animals had been moved or which calves had been born to which cow. . .

Boffins race stink bug’s spread – Richard Rennie:

The spectacular, soaring peaks around Trento on the edge of the Dolomites in northern Italy shelter a glacial valley that has become the fruit bowl of Europe over the past 50 years. But the region is under siege from advancing hordes of brown marmorated stink bugs threatening growers’ futures. The bug’s speed in establishing and its effect on crops provide a chilling insight to what it could inflict in New Zealand should it ever become established here. Farmers Weekly journalist Richard Rennie visited the region to learn more about the bug’s effect and efforts to deal with it.

New Zealand and Italian researchers at the Foundazione Edmund Mach Research Centre near Trento in Italy are on the front line trying to halt the advance of the brown marmorated stink bug rapidly wreaking havoc on crops. 

“This year we have trapped 10 times the number of bugs we did last year and it was only identified here in 2016,” centre head Professor Claudio Ioriatti said.

“The first reports of crop damage came quickly the following year in 2017 and now growers are having to spray heavily to try and slow the bug’s advance.” . . .

More people to shun plant-based ‘milk’ thanks to campaign :

More than one in ten people will now shun plant-based ‘milk’ substitutes following a major dairy campaign highlighting the benefits of real milk.

11% more young parents are certain to buy dairy products according to research carried out after the second year of AHDB and Dairy UK’s campaign.

The study showed an 8% fall in the number of people cutting their dairy consumption now or in the future.

It also showed an 11% reduction in intentions to consume plant-based substitutes. . .

‘Farmers are being bullied over misplaced anti-meat focus of climate change debate’, union leader says – Ben Barnett:

Farmers are being made to feel “isolated” and “terrorised” because of a deeply flawed approach to tackling climate change, according to the industry’s union leader.

Minette Batters has accused a “metropolitan elite” of bullying farmers by focusing on meat-eating alone to tackle climate change.

The president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), posting on social media, said some sections of the media were “destroying lives” by their portrayal of farming’s contribution to climate change. . . 


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