Rural round-up

May 7, 2019

Research needed before tree-planting – Sally Rae:

Landowners considering planting trees need to question whether the benefits to their overall farming business are greater with the land in trees or in its existing use, RaboResearch sustainability analyst Blake Holgate says.

Government policy changes in forestry and climate change would make forestry a more appealing land-use option for some landowners. However, they should carefully consider a range of financial, strategic and environmental issues to ensure they made informed decisions, a new report by Rabobank said.

Mr Holgate, the report’s author, said there was “no one-size-fits-all” approach when deciding whether to plant trees.

It was important landowners gathered the appropriate information and sought expert advice to ensure the long-term implications of planting were well understood and any planting was done in the right place, with the right species for the right purpose. . . 

Farmers want clarity – Guy – Pam Tipa:

Farmers want policy certainty and are petrified about “kneejerk popular politics” similar to what the Government did with the oil and gas industry, says National agriculture spokesman Nathan Guy.

“The agriculture community is very concerned that they could be next,” Guy told Rural News at the Rabobank Farm2Fork seminar in Sydney. “I am picking up at this conference, talking to Kiwi farmers, that there are already headwinds.

So while prices are looking quite good for our farmers, there are very strong headwinds coming at them, to do with water quality, biological emissions, biodiversity and, importantly, capital gains tax and environmental taxes. . . 

First year a ‘learning curve’ for president – Sally Rae:

Simon Davies describes his first year as president of Otago Federated Farmers as a “learning curve”.

Mr Davies, a Toko Mouth sheep and beef farmer, took over from Phill Hunt last May. Now, he is preparing for his first provincial annual meeting in the top job.

It will be held on Friday at the function room at Centennial Court Motel in Alexandra from 4pm.

Part of that learning curve had been the diverse range of topics that he had been asked to comment on.

“It seems like an endless quantity of things that come along,” he said. . . 

Sound study makes water music – Richard Rennie:

Some avid gardeners swear playing music to plants helps accelerate their growth. Now researchers in Canterbury have found directing sound signals at soil could ultimately help improve its health, reduce nutrient losses and save farmers money. 

AgResearch senior scientist Dr Val Snow and Auckland University acoustics physicist Professor Stuart Bradley and have been leading work into better understanding the link between sound, water and run-off. They told Richard Rennie about their work.

A joint research project between AgResearch and Auckland University scientists at the leading edge of technology is using sound waves to determine optimal irrigation levels.

Known as the Surface Water Assessment and Mitigation for Irrigation (SWAMI), the technology is being used to define a relationship between how sound waves bounce off the soil surface and controlling irrigation applications. . . 

Health claims will sell goods – Richard Rennie:

Promoting New Zealand’s horticulture and agriculture sectors as low-input, extensive, often grass-fed sources of food has become a leverage point for the industry, particularly red meat and dairy. But Nuffield scholar and business development manager Andy Elliot challenges it as an aspirational Aotearoa story. He wants to look harder at how products can earn more value through understanding consumers’ dietary and nutritional needs. He spoke to Richard Rennie.

As admirable as New Zealand’s extensive grass-fed farming system might be it’s not enough of a selling point to continue improving margins in an increasingly competitive international market, Nuffield scholar Andy Elliot says.

A year spent examining NZ’s path to markets has left him convinced a better approach is to re-evaluate why people eat, what they hope to get from food and what NZ products offer that others don’t. . . 

$5.7m loyalty payments to top shareholders:

Meat co-op Alliance Group has distributed $5.7 million in loyalty payments to key shareholders.

The quarterly payments have been made to the co-op’s Platinum and Gold shareholders who supply 100% per cent of their livestock to the company. Farmers are paid an additional 10c/kg for each lamb, 6c/kg for a sheep, 8.5c/kg for cattle and 10c/kg for deer.

The payments cover the period January-March 2019. . . 

 


Rural round-up

April 22, 2019

Farming to create fresh air – Luke Chivers:

When people think of farming, few think of carbon farming. But Canterbury farmers Warrick and CeCe James are using agriculture to feed people and fight climate change. Luke Chivers spoke to them on-farm.

Imagine carbon emissions and what springs to mind? 

Most people tend to think of power stations belching out clouds of carbon dioxide or queues of vehicles burning up fossil fuels as they crawl, bumper-to-bumper along congested urban roads. 

But in Canterbury’s picturesque Selwyn Gorge the owners of a forest of 18-year-old pine and Douglas fir trees are confident that at harvest age the trees will still be worth more alive than dead and will continue to be indefinitely. . .

Lower carbon food chain challenges – Richard Rennie:

A dive into the little-known field of energy return on investment for his Nuffield Scholarship was the extension of a long-held interest for Solis Norton of Otago. It measures energy flows through New Zealand’s primary food chains to see how we might move to zero emissions by 2050 while remaining a viable economy. He spoke to Richard Rennie.

Nuffield scholar Solis Norton acknowledges the area of energy return on investment (EROI) is not top of mind for many but his year’s study found the field holds important tools for one of this country’s most pressing demands – getting to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Mapping out the transition to carbon zero using economics is a good starting point but mapping our true energy use during the transition is critical too. This is what EROI does. Our path to carbon-zero economic prosperity will collapse if we run short of energy along the way.”  . . 

Mānuka honey regulatory definition throws industry into turmoil :

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) regulatory definition of mānuka honey has thrown the honey industry into turmoil and European authorities are beginning to notice there’s something wrong, a Northland honey expert says.

Dr John Craig, a veteran beekeeper and former professor of environmental studies, said the ministry’s challenged the industry to prove that its definition needs to change.

But he said the ministry’s own research has already done that. . .

High octane’ deer feeds examined at workshop – Yvonne O’Hara:

”High octane” feed was the subject at the Otago Advance Party regional workshop in Poolburn last week.

Deer farmers and industry representatives met at the Poolburn/Moa Creek Hall last Wednesday in a meeting organised by Abacusbio consultant Simon Glennie.

The Advance Party workshop was part of the deer industry’s Passion2Profit programme.

The group visited Poolburn deer farmer Cam Nicolson’s property to look at his deer, then returned to the hall to discuss how he could improve growth rates and profits by using ”high octane” forages. . .

 

Capturing the spirit of New Zealand by turning sheep’s milk into booze – Esther Taunton:

Like many off-the-wall ideas, Sam Brown’s came to him on a night out with friends.

The Kiwi entrepreneur and founder of The White Sheep Co was living in China when he realised New Zealand had no national drink.

“I was out with friends and we decided to have a drink for everybody’s country.

“We had a bit of tequila for a guy from Mexico, some vodka for a guy from Russia and even some brandy for a person from France,” he said. . .

Regional wrap:

Northland still has green grass everywhere, but there’s not much of it .. normally farms would be knee deep in kikuyu and it would be a challenge to manage it, but that’s not the case. It’s not a disaster but lots of dairy herds have been partially dried off.

Outstanding autumn weather has been the main feature this week for Franklin vege growers .. in fact for much of the North Island. . .


Rural round-up

April 13, 2019

Poll says farmers open to change – Neal Wallace:

Increasing numbers of farmers are focused on making their properties more environmentally sustainable but few plan to take steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

A Nielsen Research survey commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries shows 92% of farmers are addressing environmental sustainability, up from 79% in 2009, but just 23% are focused on reducing greenhouse gases, a drop from 30%.

That is despite 63% of farmers agreeing or strongly agreeing human activity is contributing to climate change, up from 54% in 2009, but lower than the 82% of New Zealanders who believe human activity is contributing to climate change. . . 

A lesson in clean dairying from two Waikato farmers – Gerald Piddock:

Being an effluent compliant dairy farmer is about pride and attitude for Alistair Johnson and Tony and Fran Allcock​.

Knowing that the potentially harmful cow muck is properly contained gives them peace of mind after the two Waikato dairy farmers spent thousands on upgrades for new systems on their respective farms near Te Awamutu and Te Rore.

Both opened up their farms to show off their systems to farmers at a recent DairyNZ field day. . . 

Gut health at heart of biotech success – Richard Rennie:

Chinese consumers’ understanding of the brain-gut health axis is paying dividends for Hamilton biotech firm Quantec following the launch of an award-winning nutrition drink. Co-founder Dr Rod Claycomb and chief executive Raewyn McPhillips spoke to Richard Rennie about the exciting potential of some of the company’s patented ingredients.

QUANTEC took out this year’s supreme award from the natural health products industry for the second time in as many years, making it the only company to do so. 

It is a reflection of the recent success the company has enjoyed following the launch of its milk protein and flax seed oil drink on the Chinese market. . . 

Dannevirke A&P show going to the dogs – Sue Emeny:

Dogs of all shapes and sizes will take over the Dannevirke A & P Showgrounds at the weekend when the Ruahine Kennel Association hosts its Dog Dayz show.

It’s an annual event that attracts dog owners from throughout New Zealand.

Ruahine Kennel Association president Tim Delaney says it’s a busy time for owners of pedigree dogs as there are shows just about every weekend.

The show is run over the two days with judging commencing at 9am on both days. . . 

I left Auckland to take the $150,000 job that no-one wanted – Fleur Guthrie:

Sitting down for a cuppa after cycling through the central North Island’s picturesque Timber Trail, Tracey Goodall turned to her partner, Michal Mudroncik, and made a throwaway comment: “Imagine if we lived somewhere like this.”

The outdoors-loving couple thought nothing more of it as they headed back to Auckland, but serendipity had already intersected.

Several days later, at work, Tracey’s colleague asked if anyone had seen “that job doing the rounds on social media” for a general manager of Forgotten World Adventures in Taumarunui. . . 

Let’s talk law: Bees over the boundary – Amy Cranston:

Gold fever has taken hold in the beekeeping industry.

The value of mānuka honey has led to unprecedented returns on marginal land, in both revenue and land value. Ironically, land once cleared for grazing is now left to revert to gorse and scrub to feed the bees.

Councils too are contributing to the planting of mānuka. In return, landowners are retiring steep or sensitive areas from grazing. . . 

 


Rural round-up

April 11, 2019

Dairy loses gloss – Neal Wallace:

Political and banking uncertainty appears to be taking some of the gloss off the dairy industry with just seven farms in Southland and Canterbury selling in the last six months.

From October to the middle of March just two dairy farms in Canterbury and five in Southland were sold but a broader lack of buyer confidence has eased national dairy land prices by up to 15%.

Real Estate Institute spokesman Brian Peacocke says a perfect storm has taken the wind out of the sector’s sails but he notes activity has started to pick up.

Rules governing the sale of land to foreign buyers have been tightened, banks are viewing lending to dairying less favourably, tax changes are possible, the introduction of environmental taxes and regulations are expected and borrowing costs . . .

Dire worker shortage in orchards – Richard Rennie:

Hawke’s Bay and Bay of Plenty orchardists are grappling again with a seasonal labour shortage, with a shortfall of thousands of workers expected as kiwifruit and apple harvests reach their peak.

The shortage has horticultural heads exasperated at the need for greater understanding from the Government of how dire the situation has become.

The Social Development Ministry declared a seasonal labour shortage for kiwifruit early this month and extended the already declared labour shortage hitting Hawke’s Bay. 

Shortfalls in staff numbers have increased over last year’s with Bay of Plenty’s deficit of 1400 likely to push 3800 at the mid-April harvest peak. Last year the region was short by 1200 staff at this stage of harvest.  . . 

Fruit rotting, workers suffering amid Hawke’s Bay labour shortage

Fruit is rotting on the ground in Hawke’s Bay amid a massive worker shortage and orchardists warn that overworked pickers are suffering more accidents.

The official labour shortage first declared for Hawke’s Bay six weeks ago – with 192 tourists granted approval to work in orchards – expired on Friday.

It was immediately extended, but growers say it’s too little too late.

Phil Paynter from Johnny Appleseed Holdings had to say goodbye to 22 hard-working pickers last week and says that with a little more warning, he could have kept them. . . 

Guy Trafford looks at two current on-farm issues, pointing to some recent relevant history for controlling feral goats, and to the battle of the science over glyphosate – GUy Trafford:

Some farmers are feeling let down by government after the recommendations from the select committee on military-styled weapons have been announced.

The particular piece that they are at odds with is that only .22 calibre rifles (or less) are allowed to be semi-automatic and with a magazine capable of holding 10 shells or less. Any larger calibre rifles are only to be used by licensed contractors.

To be fair to the government, from my recollection, at no point did they indicate that higher calibre semi-automatic rifles would be allowed, and it would have been incredibly naive to think otherwise. The only animals needing these weapons are likely to be goats with possums and rabbits quite able to be culled by .22 or shot guns . . 

Comvita to take full control of China JV – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – Honey company Comvita has entered a conditional agreement to acquire the remaining 49 percent of its China joint venture, Comvita Food and Comvita China, for about $20 million.

Comvita will acquire the JV by issuing 4.05 million new Comvita ordinary shares at $4.35 per share and an additional cash payment of $3.19 million. The acquisition will be earnings accretive immediately on a per share basis, it said.

“This completes the ‘final piece of the jigsaw’ with respect to our China Strategy, which we have been working on for a number of years,” chief executive Scott Coulter said. . . 

Students inspired by agricultural science at UWA Future Farm:

Breaking the city-country divide, Year 12 Geography students from Penrhos College recently had their third annual field day at The University of Western Australia’s Ridgefield Farm in Pingelly.

The UWA Ridgefield Farm is home to the Future Farm 2050 project, which facilitates multidisciplinary research and development of sustainable and economically viable farms at local, national and international levels.

Professor Phil Vercoe from The UWA School of Agriculture and Environment and The UWA Institute of Agriculture introduced the students to the Enrich project, which was part of the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) investigating the benefits of planting native perennial shrubs as livestock feed. . .


Rural round-up

March 20, 2019

Trees pose big risk to farmland – Richard Rennie:

While a canopy of brick and tile subdivisions threatens farmland in flatter areas near the country’s major cities it is a canopy of trees that represents a greater threat to the sheep and beef industry’s capacity over coming years.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1

The Government’s bold 50,000ha a year tree-planting policy for a low-carbon economy is the second part of the pincer that has pastoral New Zealand squeezed between urban land demand on the flats and forestry expectations on the hill country.

While farmers and growers on flatter country might face the challenge of urban sprawl, Beef + Lamb NZ policy-makers are more preoccupied with the impact millions of hectares of extra forest planting could have on the sector’s capacity, its insight manager Jeremy Baker says.

B+LNZ has welcomed Forestry Minister Shane Jones’ billion trees initiative, if done the right way with the right trees.  . . 

Migrant workers the backbone of the dairy industry, doing the work Kiwis won’t – Pat Deavoll:

Navdeep Singh has worked on dairy farms in New Zealand since 2007. Originally from India, he came to New Zealand in 2006 to study tourism at Lincoln University but gave away the course to go dairying.

“I started at the bottom and worked my way up to become a contract milker,” he says.

“I don’t want to go back to India where you can work, but you won’t get anywhere.” . . 

Another milestone looms for Roland Smith

Shearing giant Rowland Smith moved to the brink of a 150th open final win when he claimed the Waimarino Shears title for an 8th time in nine years on Saturday.

It was win number 149 for the 32-year-old Hawke’s Bay shearer who is in his 13th season of open-class shearing and who, after a successful breeze through the lowers grades, had his first open victory in January 2008 at Kaikohe.

He has had 14 wins in a row since starting the new year with a win at Wairoa on January 19, including gaining a place in this year’s World Championships by winning a 6th Golden Shears open title. . .

Action group think is paying dividends:

Like-minded farmers working together to improve their businesses’ productivity and profitability is paying dividends, Southland sheep farmer Pete Thomson, who’s part of a Red Meat Profit Partnership Action Group, says.

He is one of nine Southland farm businesses that have got together under the RMPP Action Network, a proven model for supporting small groups of farmers to turn ideas into on-farm action.

“It can get lonely out there as a farmer and this opportunity is exciting. . .

The Nelson family business that’s turning feijoas into a year-round treat – Amy Ridout:

When feijoa season begins, and trees buckle under the weight of the green fruit, the country grabs a spoon and feasts. And then, the feijoas are gone, and we’re left waiting for the next season.

Unless you can track down a packet of Little Beauties, that is. With his two sons, Ian Wastney’s Moutere operation dries and packages feijoa, kiwifruit and boysenberries, so we can enjoy the fruit year round.

The small factory is set in the heart of a 10 hectare feijoa orchard in Tasman, the largest in the South Island, Wastney says.  . . 

Ag’s $100b goal will work, but it needs more than farmers – Andrew Marshall:

Despite the odds, farmers can easily achieve Australia’s lofty ambition of reaching a $100 billion agricultural production goal by 2030.

However, big changes are needed within their regional communities to make it really happen.

Modern farms can’t survive, let alone flourish, without supportive, well serviced, well populated and digitally connected rural towns backing them up, last week’s Outlook 2019 conference was told – repeatedly. . . 


Rural round-up

March 19, 2019

Waikato plans for more land loss – Richard Rennie:

After losing 4000ha of productive land from 1996 to 2012 Waikato District Council has recognised continued losses of some of the country’s most productive pastoral land will hit the region hard economically.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The council has lost the second largest area of rural land in New Zealand in that time, coming after Auckland lost 4200ha. 

That is on top of recorded land losses from 1991-2001 of 3200ha and the total puts Waikato region’s  productive land loss close to Auckland’s over a 20-year period.

The region accounts for the highest number of dairy cows and the second highest number of beef cattle after Manawatu-Wanganui. It also contains 7000ha of high-value horticultural production land, similar to Auckland. . . 

Beltex-cross lambs in demand – Sally Rae:

A sale of Beltex-cross ram lambs in Southland last week “went through the roof”, PGG Wrightson livestock genetics representative Callum McDonald said.

The Robinson family, from Glenham, near Wyndham, held their first ram lamb sale at Gore showgrounds, offering Beltex-Texel, Beltex-Suffolk and Beltex-South Suffolk ram lambs.

The sale, across the board, averaged about $1776. Top price of $8000 was paid by Guy Martin, and Grant Black from Canterbury, for a Beltex-Suffolk-cross lamb. . . 

FARMSTRONG: Kiwi adventurers raising money:

Three young Kiwis have entered a demanding 3500 kilometre rickshaw race across India to raise money for Farmstrong. 

Crammed inside a seven-horsepower, motorised tuk-tuk with a top speed of 50kmh, going downhill, Nikki Brown, Natalie Lindsay and Gina McKenzie will battle 80 other teams as well 40C heat, dust and the free-for-all of Indian traffic for two weeks. 

The women are one of only three all-female teams.

The race is not for the fainthearted.  . . 

Dairy industry introduced to efficiency system – Ken Muir:

When you use the word ”lean” in the farming area, it’s usually applied in the context of meat and fat content, but a Lean system developed for dairy farmers is something else entirely.

The Lean management process being introduced for dairy farms has its roots with car company, Toyota. The objective being that, as with the production of cars, producing milk would benefit from smoother, more efficient processes and little waste in the system.

The FarmTune system, developed by DairyNZ for dairy farmers, is built on the principles of Lean, and helps dairy farmers sharpen their operations and increase efficiency and environmental performances. . . 

Ewe beauty! Making lamb even better:

In a boost for health-conscious red meat fans, James Cook University scientists have found that lambs fed canola oil or flaxseed oil have improved growth rates and contain more of a beneficial fatty acid that protects against disease – all with no loss in their wool quality.

JCU’s Associate Professor of Animal Nutrition and Genetics, Aduli Malau-Aduli, is the lead author of the new study. He said increased incidences of central nervous system disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers in modern times have been associated with high consumption of red meat.

“This is due to the high levels of saturated fatty acids and low levels of the beneficial long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated (n-3 PUFA) fatty acids in typical red meat meals,” he said. . . 

Adama-STK distribution agreement brings fungicides to Colombia:

Crop protection company Adama and STK bio-ag technologies have signed an exclusive agreement for the distribution of Timorex Gold botanical-based bio-fungicide and STK Regev ‘Hybrid’ fungicide throughout Colombia.

In Colombia, Timorex Gold is approved for the following crops: Bananas, Rice, Ornamentals, Tomatoes, Avocados, Onions, Coffee, Corn, Tobacco, Potatoes, Passion fruit and pitahaya. Colombia has also approved STK Regev on rice, with expected label extension on bananas, ornamentals, coffee and tomatoes. . .


Rural round-up

March 9, 2019

MP says Landcorp is ‘out of touch’ – Sally Rae:

Hamish Walker Hamish Walker Landcorp has rejected a suggestion by Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker that it is “out of touch” with farmers.

Mr Walker contacted the Otago Daily Times after yesterday’s primary production select committee meeting which he described as a “fiery one”.

But Landcorp spokesman Simon King said the company did not agree with Mr Walker’s categorisation of the exchanges “which from our perspective were, for the most part, well mannered” . . 

Lean tools boost performance – Richard Rennie:

Increasing costs, lack of time, poor performance and farmers’ inability to step out of the business prompted a self-help book to give farmers simple tools and concepts to address these issues.

Manawatu management consultant and dairy farmer Jana Hocken has taken some of the principals often used in big multi-nationals and put them into a New Zealand dairying context in her new book, The Lean Dairy Farm.

Hocken’s book is based on the concept of lean, aiming to achieve continuous improvement of things in farmers’ control. . . 

Entries open for inaugural NZ Primary Industries Awards:

Across New Zealand’s agri-sector, it has long been recognised that we need to tell our primary producers’ story better and to celebrate our innovators.  That’s what the new Primary Industries Awards are all about.

“The awards, which will be presented at the inaugural Primary Industries Summit at Te Papa in Wellington on July 1, are a great chance to increase awareness of the vital role the primary sector plays in the economy,” Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

“We want to identify and reward the most successful and innovative primary sector operators, and by promoting those role models we’ll stimulate greater involvement and interest in the primary sector from graduates, investors, politicians and the media.” . . 

Barking drones used on farms instead of sheep dogs – Maja Burry:

Robots aren’t just stealing human jobs, they’re after man’s best friend too – now there’s a drone that can bark like a sheep dog.

The latest drone developments come as more farmers have started using the technology for work on the farm in recent years.

Drone specialist from Christchurch-based DJI Ferntech, Adam Kerr, said the uptake in drones for agricultural uses had now made the National Agricultural Fieldays in Hamilton one of the biggest events in the company’s calendar.

“The past two years have seen farmers embrace drone technology to help with those jobs that are dirty, dangerous or just plain dull,” he said. . . 

2019 Northland Dairy Industry Award winner living the dream:

The 2019 Northland Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners realised while studying at university that the office life wasn’t for them, so they made the decision to chase the New Zealand rural life dream and haven’t looked back.

Colin and Isabella Beazley were named the 2019 Northland Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at Toll Stadium in Whangarei last night, and won $7,927 in prizes plus four merit awards. The other major winners were the 2019 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year Lorraine Ferreira, and the 2019 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year, Daniel Waterhouse. . .
Defra have no Brexit impact assessment for sheep farming

The government has not conducted any analysis of the potential impact of leaving the EU on British sheep farming, it has been revealed.

Defra has admitted, after a freedom of information (FoI) request, that it did not hold any information or documents relating to an assessment of the impact of Brexit on sheep farming.

A response from the department added: “We can confirm that to the best of our knowledge the information is not held by another public authority.” . . 


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