Rural round-up

October 7, 2018

Quite and capable – Richard Rennie:

A farm apprenticeship course now a year old is starting to have an influence on getting more Kiwis in jobs on dairy farms.

Tirau farm apprentice Kadience Ruakere-Forbes is among the first year’s intake under the Federated Farmers’ Apprenticeship Dairy Programme, a pilot programme supported by PrimaryITO, the federation and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. . . 

Dairy database rules under review – Hugh Stringleman:

The valuable core database of the New Zealand dairy industry is subject to a regulatory review by the Ministry for Primary Industries, to which organisations and people can make submissions.

Consultation will run for six weeks until November 12 and any submission becomes public information, MPI said.

The key issue is whether the regulated dataset remains well aligned with the dairy industry’s current and future animal evaluation needs. MPI said there has been some concern expressed among dairy genetics companies about the management of herd improvement data. . .

Huge costs of pasture pests – Peter BUrke:

Grass grub and porina are causing $2.3 billion of damage to New Zealand pastures annually, according to an AgResearch study.

Of the total estimated annual losses in average years, up to $1.4b occurs on dairy farms and up to $900m on sheep and beef farms.

But scientist Colin Ferguson says this figure relates only to the damage to pasture and doesn’t include the cost of replacing the pasture, destocking and restocking and the long lasting damage to affected pasture. . . 

$11m study dives into high value milk products – Peter Burke:

A five year, $11 million research project has begun, aimed at producing new high value milk products.

Led by Professor Warren McNabb, of the Riddet Institute, Palmerston North, the project will seek better mechanistic understanding of the various milks produced in New Zealand including cow, goat, sheep and deer.

A particular aim will be to develop new products for babies, very young children and elderly people in New Zealand and, especially, for export. . .

 

First failed WorkSafe prosecution:

Athenberry Holdings Ltd grows Kiwifruit near Katikati. Zespri buy the fruit, brand, market and sell the fruit. Zespri engaged Agfirst to sample and test maturity and quality of fruit.

Agfirst use a local packhouse Hume to collect the samples. AgFirst’s sample collector died during the collection of fruit when her quad bike overturned on rough ground next to Athenberry’s kiwifruit block.

She was employed by AgFirst who had contracted a local packhouse – Hume Pack-N-Cool Ltd (Hume). It appears the rider had taken the quad bike over steep and rough terrain away from the area where she was required to collect samples.

Her training and industry practices are that you stick to the offical and mown access paths. No-one was sure why she deviated. . . 

Gene edited food is coming to your plate, no regulation included – Lydia Mulvany:

For Pete Zimmerman, a Minnesota farmer, the age of gene-edited foods has arrived. While he couldn’t be happier, the soybeans he’s now harvesting are at the crux of a long-running debate about a “Frankenfood” future.

Zimmerman is among farmers in several states now harvesting 16,000 acres of DNA-altered soybeans destined to be used in salad dressings, granola bars and fry oil, and sold to consumers early next year. It’s the first commercialized crop created with a technique some say could revolutionize agriculture, and others fear could carry as-yet-unknown peril.

In March, the top U.S. regulator said no new rules or labeling are needed for gene-edited plants since foreign DNA isn’t being inserted, the way traditional genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are made. Instead, enzymes that act like scissors are used to tweak a plant’s genetic operating system to stop it from producing bad stuff — in this case, polyunsaturated fats — or enhance good stuff that’s already there. . . 


Rural round-up

May 11, 2015

$48m contract signed to expand NOIC scheme – David Bruce:

A $48 million contract has been signed to extend the North Otago irrigation scheme to another 10,000ha, with work to start this month and water expected to be flowing in September next year.

It is the major cost of the expansion, which is expected to total about $57 million once company and design costs are added.

The North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC) and McConnell Dowell Constructors Ltd signed the infrastructure contract on Thursday after enough farmers had committed to the scheme in December for the expansion to the Kakanui Valley.  .  .

Government invests in Primary Industry Research Centre:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see two of the country’s top research institutes’ second application for Government funding under the CoREs (Centre of Research Excellence) has been successful.

The two institutes, The Riddet Institute (Massey University) and the Bio-Protection Research Centre (Lincoln University) are crucial to New Zealand’s primary industries and have each made significant advances for New Zealand’s economy, society and the environment thanks to previous Government funding.

“I am thrilled that these highly innovative research centres have made it through the selection process and will now be able to continue their crucial work in sustainable pest management solutions and food science and human health,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers President. . .

Carpet wool comes into fashion:

New Zealand strong wool, renowned for its use in carpets, is set to become world famous for a new use – on people’s feet.

Danish footwear firm Glerups has signed a two-year deal with The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and New Zealand’s largest farming company, Landcorp to exclusively supply strong wool for its indoor shoe range.

The indoor shoes, renowned for comfort, warmth and durability, are felted in 100% pure natural wool with soft leather soles. They are sold throughout Denmark and in more than 20 countries, including New Zealand (www.glerups.co.nz). . .

Climate Change Conversation welcomed:

Federated Farmers welcomes the Government’s public consultation on climate change, ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, in December.

“We live in a global world, where as much as we are a part of its problems we are a part of its solutions,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers Climate Change Spokesperson.

“It is important that the public are a part of the discussion in setting New Zealand‘s post 2020 climate change target. A critical element to having that discussion is that everyone understands the issues and trade-offs involved in setting our contribution.”

“New Zealand’s economy is driven by exports with 73 percent of our merchandise exports coming from the primary industries, worth $35.2 billion. UN projections have the global population peaking at 11 billion by 2075 and the FAO estimates that agricultural output must increase by 60 percent by 2050 to meet this growth. While New Zealand cannot feed the world we will play our part. It would be irresponsible of us to squander or underutilise our resources.” . . .

Unlocking secrets behind footrot:

New Zealand’s fine wool sector is a step closer to eradicating footrot thanks to ground-breaking research in sheep genetics.

The FeetFirst project, part of a Primary Growth Partnership between the New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and the Ministry for Primary Industries, is using genetic testing to identify fine-wool sheep with resistance to footrot.  Researchers are now close to developing a simple test for growers to eliminate footrot using selective breeding. . .

Fund helps township with projects

A Waitaki Valley township is cashing in on its history as tourism grows, particularly because of the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail.

Duntroon is undergoing a transformation to re-create its history, with the help of more than $100,000 so far from the Meridian Energy Waitaki Community Fund.

The Duntroon Development Association is leading the work, based on a community vision conceived about 12 years ago, with several projects, including restoration of Nicol’s Forge and a wetland area.

”It’s fantastic what’s been achieved,” association spokesman Mike Gray said yesterday. . .

Adventure & outdoor conference focusing on the future:

Adventure and outdoor tourism operators will have the opportunity to focus on growing their sector at a one-day conference in July, the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) says.

The Great Adventure 2015, the only conference specifically for New Zealand’s adventure and outdoor tourism sector, will take place in Wellington on 2-3 July 2015. Registrations open today at www.tianz.org.nz/main/The_Great_Adventure_2015

Now in its third year, The Great Adventure will focus on growing a strong and unified sector that succeeds and leads at every level from safety to profitability. . .


Rural round-up

February 20, 2014

4.9 billion reasons why our primary industries rock:

An expected $4.9 billion surge in New Zealand’s primary exports confirms why CNBC labelled New Zealand a ‘rock star’ economy. The announcement came at the Riddet Institute’s Agri-Food Summit.

“It is significant that Riddet Institute’s co-director, Professor Paul Moughan, said New Zealand has great farmers, great processor/marketers and great scientists,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers president.

“Professor Moughan said we stand on the cusp of a revolution and we agree. We now feed an estimated 40 million people around the world and the world is crying out for our primary exports.

“Increasing global prosperity is arguably behind the Ministry for Primary Industries now forecasting an expected $4.9 billion uplift in our primary exports. It is now expected primary exports for 2013/14 will be worth $36.4 billion. . .

Pigging out proves profitable – Jamie Morton:

How do you stop truckloads of unsaleable food from going to the dump – and turn it into something useful? Put a few thousand piggies in the middle.

Each day at the Ratanui Development Company, near Feilding, two trucks deliver around 20,000 litres of whey, to be gobbled up by 8300 pigs.

This by-product of cheese-making – along with other foods such as bread, yoghurt, cheese and dog biscuits – make up about 40 per cent of its hungry hogs’ diet.

“When you drill down on the volume of stuff that these pigs eat, it usually blows people away,” farm director Andrew Managh said.

But more impressive is the idea of what this novel factory-to-farm approach could mean for recycling in New Zealand. The huge piggery is one of 23 farming operations partnered with Auckland-based EcoStock Supplies, which claims its unique business model could dramatically slash the burden on the country’s landfills by millions of tonnes each year. . .

Last stand a fund farewell – Sally Rae:

They’re called simply The Last Stand.

When shearing identity John Hough decided to make his last stand before retiring and contest the national shearing sports circuit, some of his mates decided to accompany him.

Mr Hough, who is soon to turn 70, was joined by Johnny Fraser, of North Otago, Robert McLaren (Hinds), Rocky Bull (Tinwald), Tom Wilson (Cust), Gavin Rowland (Dunsandel), who is also chairman of Shearing Sports New Zealand, and Norm Harraway (Rakaia). . .

Standout season for rodeo rookie – Sally Rae:

Omarama shepherd Katey Hill has had a stellar rodeo season with her young quarter-horse Boots and is leading the national Rookie of the Year title in barrel racing.

But after such a busy season, with a lot of time spent on the road, Miss Hill (22) made the decision, due to Boots’ young age, to ”pull him back a bit” and finish the season on a quiet note.

She said she was heading to the North Island for several rodeos this month, but was borrowing a mount, and Boots was staying at home on the farm. . .

China grapples with food for fifth of world:

Feeding nearly a fifth of the world’s population is no easy feat – and the Chinese government says farming methods will have to be overhauled if it’s going to feed its 1.3 billion people in the future.

A visiting senior Chinese government official and agricultural expert, Chen Xiwen, told a meeting at the Beehive on Tuesday that while agricultural productivity has been increasing, Chinese farming is facing hurdles in producing its own food. . .

A dog’s life focus for photographer – Sally Rae:

Andrew Fladeboe describes working dogs as the ”most noble of creatures”.

That passion for dogs – and photography – has led American-born Mr Fladeboe to travel to New Zealand as a Fulbright fellow.

He was awarded the grant to photograph working dogs and he will work with the University of Canterbury to understand the dogs from social, historical and cultural perspectives.

When it came to selecting a country in which to undertake the fellowship, Australia or New Zealand stood out. . .


Rural round-up

August 7, 2012

Visit highlights ‘extraordinary opportunities’: Sally Rae:

Anna Campbell has returned from a recent trip to China buoyed by the opportunities that she saw for New Zealand’s red-meat sector.   

Dr Campbell, a consultant at AbacusBio in Dunedin, described those opportunities as “extraordinary”.   

She was in China for two weeks, firstly attending a Harvard agribusiness course in Shanghai focused around global agribusiness opportunities, which attracted 60 people from around the world, although she was one of only four women. . .

Fonterra election now wide open – Hugh Stringleman:

The shock resignation of Fonterra director Colin Armer has thrown the forthcoming election for farmer directors of the huge co-operative wide open.

Anti Trading Among Farmers group Our Co-op has confirmed it will stand a candidate in what is expected to be a crowded field. It has not yet decided who . . .

People key to success of agri-food plan – Jon Morgan:

    It would be easy to pooh-pooh the latest strategic plan for agriculture. After all, it follows at least 10 others in recent history, all of which have made little or no impact. 

    This one comes from the Riddet Institute, a bunch of university and government scientists, and is the work of a Thought Leadership Team – a name evocative of ivory towers. 

    But to accept that this plan hasn’t a chance is to give up, admit that the task of harnessing the wonderful potential of the agriculture and food sector is beyond us. . .

Call to Arms to treble agri-food turnover – Allan Barber:

The Riddet Institute, a partnership of five organisations, The University of Auckland, AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, Massey University, and the University of Otago, encompasses the entire New Zealand science sector.

 In its report A Call to Arms launched last week, it challenges New Zealand’s agri-foods sector to take the steps needed to realise its potential which the Government’s Economic Growth Agenda estimates should treble to about $60 billion by 2025. This demands a compound annual growth rate of 7% which, when compared to the present rate of 3%, is a daunting task, unless some truly revolutionary thinking and, more important, action occur very soon. . .

Turners & Growers lifts first-half profit 2.2% to $7.1m:

Turners & Growers said first-half net profit rose 2.2 percent to $7.1 million but didn’t provide any other details.

The fresh produce company said it will release the details of its results for the six months ended June 30 by August 17, as “required by listing rule 10.4.” . . .

2013 Ballance Awards new category energy efficient farming:

The 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards will feature a new category award that rewards energy-efficient farming.

This award is sponsored by New Zealand’s largest renewable energy generator, Meridian Energy.

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust, which administers the annual competition, has welcomed Meridian to the sponsorship family.

NZFE chairman Jim Cotman says the Trust identified the need for an energy award some time ago. . .

Free range hen farm to expand:

A $2 million expansion at the largest free-range poultry farm  in New Zealand will house another 16,000 hens on the property at Glenpark, near Palmerston.   

The 77ha site already has 48,000 Shaver hens, Mainland Poultry general manager for sales and marketing Hamish Sutherland said.   

When the free-range poultry farm opened in 2002, expansion was promised as the free-range market grew. . .

Overseer upgrade released:

Farmers and growers are being offered an enhanced tool to help them use nutrients efficiently.

The owners of the OVERSEER® Nutrient Budgets software are releasing a major upgrade today.

Overseer is available free of charge through a partnership between the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand and AgResearch.

The upgrade to Overseer Version 6 reflects user feedback on previous versions says Mark Shepherd of AgResearch, the Overseer technical team leader. . .


A call to (f)arms

August 5, 2012

An independent report on the future of New Zealand’s agri-food sector has made a  call to arms.

The report commissioned by the Riddet Institute calls for a joint approach from industry and government to drive the activities needed to treble the value of exports by the sector by 2025.

It was developed by an independent team led by Dr Kevin Marshall, in response to a call by industry senior executives, who challenged the Institute  to develop a strategy for science and education-led economic advancement of the New Zealand food industry.

Dr Marshall said, “Our strategies are neither new nor unique, but, in the past, implementation by industry has failed. Crucially we have provided a pathway and a proposed mechanism for action that will work. There is urgency now, because New Zealand faces a mediocre economic future if we don’t drive the major recommendations in this report to fruition.

“Agri-food leaders need to know what to do, how to do it and how to develop the resources they need to do it effectively.”

Professor Paul Moughan, Riddet Institute co-director said, “New Zealand has unrealised potential in agri-food. But until all key parts of the sector work together in a planned way, New Zealand’s economic growth will be not be maximised. It’s time for action by the agri-food industry and action that has a good chance of success. This is not just another strategy, but a blueprint for action.”

The Institute  describes itself as  Centre of Research Excellence focusing on the boundaries between food science and digestive physiology and human nutrition

It’s a partnership between the University of Auckland, AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, Massey University, and the University of Otago.

The report  has come up with four transformational strategies:

       1.   Selectively and profitably increase the quantities and sales of the current range of agri-food products.

       2.   Profitably produce and market new, innovative, high value food and beverage products.

       3.   Develop value chains that enhance the integrity, value and delivery of  New Zealand products and increase profits to producers, processors and exporters.

       4.   Become world leaders in sustainability and product integrity.

And it says:

None of  these strategies is new – all have been raised in one or more previous reports. They are all critically important and complement one another but they have not yet been adequately acted on to achieve the level of growth targeted for the sector.

The targets are expressed as revenue goals but it is important to recognise that volume alone is not the purpose of  the strategies.  The focus on growing customer value thus enabling higher prices, and reducing costs, will together contribute to higher margins and so to more profits for sector businesses.  Lower costs may allow lower prices that may make it possible to compete in markets which are otherwise inaccessible.

 Government has taken many effective steps in the last few years that will contribute to accelerating growth of  the  agri-food sector.  The agri-food industry must now make the most of  the opportunities provided by these initiatives. The targets have been set. Government has set direction and committed increased effort and resources. Industry must now act.

The Institute has a vision for  agri-foods in 2025: that the sector makes an even greater contribution to New Zealand’s social, environmental and economic well-being in a  changing world:

         •    New Zealand’s agri-food sector is globally recognised and valued by customers and consumers as a trusted supplier of  quality goods and services that meet market demands and for which they pay a premium;

         •    Using innovative processes, agri-food businesses have profitably increased overseas earnings to $60 billion p.a., thereby contributing 50% of  the Government’s 2025 goal of  raising the contribution of  total exports from 30% to 40% of  GDP;

         •    Sufficient R&D and capability building has been undertaken such that agri-food businesses are poised to continue to grow export revenue profitably;

         •    Sustainable practices are embedded across all agri-food production and manufacturing industries;

         •    Product standards and regulations have developed in New Zealand in conjunction with industry and are considered to be a source of  competitive advantage rather than an imposed compliance cost;

         •    Employees in the agri-food sector enjoy salaries that are competitive with those of  other industries and countries;

         •    Government agencies and the private sector collaborate closely with a shared vision;

     and New Zealand continues to be a great place in which to live and pursue a career.

The Institute has made a call to arms which is in effect a call to farms and the industries which service and support them from researchers through to processors and marketers.

The world’s population is growing faster than its food production.

New Zealand is well placed to benefit from that but increased production, and the financial rewards which come from that, won’t happen without research and the willingness and ability to implement its findings.


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