Rural round-up

January 25, 2020

Innovation for the future – Samantha Tennent:

When the call of the land became too strong Mat Hocken answered by swapping his business suit for overalls and gumboots to champion the agricultural sector and agricultural innovation. Samantha Tennent reports.

Manawatu farmer and Nuffield Scholar Mat Hocken believes innovation will help the agricultural sector unlock some of the issues and concerns it faces.

So when he received a Nuffield Scholarship in 2017 he chose agri-innovation as his research project.

The scholarship is a prestigious rural leadership programme with a global focus, designed to fast-track the development of emerging leaders in the agri-food sector. Each year up to five scholarships are awarded to people who are expected to assume positions of greater influence in their field in the future. . . 

Scientist says methane from farming should be treated differently to CO2 – Kevin O’Sullivan:

It does not make sense that Ireland is regarded as producing more greenhouse gases than Los Angeles, a city of 13 million people, a US scientist has told a conference on climate action in agriculture.

Prof Frank Mitloehner from the University of California, Davis, told the Irish Farmers’ Association event in Dublin that the case for methane arising from farming being treated differently to long-lived greenhouse gases, such as CO2, was undeniable.

He said that methane, the main greenhouse gas in livestock production, only lasts in the atmosphere for 10 years, whereas CO2 persists for up to 1,000 years, he said. Methane was short-lived but carbon from fossil fuels was “a one-way street” to rising emissions. . .

Central Otago farmer comes up with simple idea to help firefighters in an emergency – John McKenzie:

It’s a simple idea that could save both lives and property across Central Otago.

Otago farmer and regional councillor Gary Kelliher has started fitting fire hose fittings to his farms irrigation scheme, in hopes other farmers will follow suit.

“My goal is right across certainly Otago, but even further afield across New Zealand where it’s dry and where we have irrigation schemes,” he said.

The fittings are quick and easy to install, costing just a few hundred dollars. . . 

Marlborough dairy farmer fears logging operation will destroy property – Tracy Neal:

A recently widowed Marlborough dairy farmer says a logging operation that has sprung up on a neighbouring property is likely to destroy her farm.

Lone Sorensen, who farms in a valley between Havelock and Blenheim, is enraged that a paper road through her property could become a major transport route for trucks and heavy vehicles.

The Marlborough District Council said it was doing what it could to smooth the pathway for all. . . 

Valley of the Whales –  Bill Morris:

The North Otago limestone country holds one of the world’s most important fossil cetacean records, a coherent story of how whales and dolphins evolved in the Southern Ocean. It’s a story that one small rural community has embraced as its own.

BURNS POLLOCK AND I stand in the Valley of the Whales, a deep gulch cut by the Awamoko Stream through the North Otago limestone. Formed on the floor of an ancient sea, this terrain is now far from the ocean, its thin skin of agriculture desiccated by drought.

I’ve often been fascinated by the dramatic contours when travelling through this valley. But it also holds narratives, bound into the cliffs and sculpted recesses—Waitaha rock art hundreds of years old, and the story of evolution embodied in the stone itself. I’ve brought Pollock here because I want to see the place through the eyes of someone who knows it as well as he does. He grew up in this district and has farmed here all his life. He is also a noted artist and his work—sere vistas cradling broken fragments of human endeavour—is unmistakably rooted in this landscape. . . 

Eight young Fruit Growers vie for title

• Emily Crum, Orchard Manager, Total Orchard Management Services, Whangarei
• Bryce Morrison, Technical Services and Innovation, Fruition, Tauranga
• Aurora McGee-Thomas, Trainee Orchard Manager, Strathmurray Farms, Tauranga
• Melissa van den Heuvel, Industry Systems Associate, NZ Avocado, Tauranga
• Katherine Bell, Avocado Grower Representative, Trevelyans, Katikati
• Megan Fox, Orchard Technical Advisor, Southern Cross Horticulture, Tauranga
• William Milsom, Machinery Operations Manager, Oropi Management Services, Oropi
• Harry Singh, Orchard Manager, Prospa Total Orchard Management, Opotiki . . 


Rural round-up

December 10, 2019

New approach called for on lending – Nigel Malthus:

Banks need to take a different approach to lending to farmers, according to new Lincoln University research.

Banks usually look at historic business statistics and equity levels, but the research suggests that a better indicator of a farmer’s credit worthiness is his or her skills, attitudes and knowledge in running a farm.

Honorary Associate Professor Peter Nuthall said the study emphasised the fact that the world runs on individuals and their skills.

While a lender might form a subjective impression about a would-be borrower…“they rely on those records, credit ratings and so on to make those decisions rather than their personal feelings,” he said. . . 

A2 Milk boss Jayne Hrdlicka exits job suddenly – Jamie Gray:

Shares in alternative milk company a2 Milk had recovered some ground but were still weak after the surprise announcement that managing director and chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka would step down, having spent less than 18 months in the job.

By 12.30 pm the stock was trading at $14.69, down 48c or 3.1 per cent from Friday’s close. The stock had opened sharply weaker at $14.00.

Former chief executive Geoff Babidge has stepped in as interim CEO commencing immediately, a2 Milk said. . . 

Getting the best out of people – Colin Williscroft:

Helping rural women connect with each other and realise their potential has become a source of inspiration for Sandra Matthews, as Colin Williscroft discovered.

Successful farming partnerships are built around a connection between the land and those who work it and for Sandra Matthews that means ensuring women know they belong on farms and have important roles to play.

Sandra farms with her husband Ian inland from Gisborne in a partnership that can be traced back to their meeting 30 years ago at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, when they were on OE.

At the end of their travels they returned to their homes, Sandra to Australia and Ian to Te Kopae Station, the 536ha family farm that borders the Rere Falls, about 50km northwest of Gisborne, where the couple live today. . .

Winner wants to make difference – Riley Kennedy:

The horticulture sector has always been in Simon Gourley’s blood and he is now working hard to make a name for himself in the wine industry. He spoke to Riley Kennedy.

Growing up in Invercargill Simon Gourley spent his school holidays and weekends on his grandparents’ berry orchard in Central Otago, which he believes is what inspired him to work in horticulture.

“I spent a lot of time in the school holidays and weekends up there and I knew it was the path I wanted to take,” he said. . . 

Seasonal workers’ important NZ role – John Gibson:

It’s time to start giving credit to the seasonal pickers, packers and pruners for the role they play in our economy, writes the University of Waikato’s John Gibson

The Government recently announced increases in the cap for visas under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. After the second increase, the scheme will allow up to 16,000 workers to come in the 2020/21 season. These seasonal workers are mainly from the Pacific, and come to pick and pack fruit, to prune, and to carry out other labour-intensive tasks in the horticulture and viticulture industries.

This increase comes as the kiwifruit industry faces the possibility of fruit rotting on the vines if there are not enough workers to pick it. And they aren’t the only export industry facing a shortage. . . 

India shows why the global shift to plant-based diets is dangerousSylvia KarpagamFrédéric Leroy and Martin Cohen:

Vegetarians, much less vegans, would prefer not to be compelled to eat meat. Yet the reverse compulsion is what lurks in the growing proposals for a new plant-based “planetary diet.” Nowhere is this more visible than in India.

The subcontinent is often stereotyped by the West as a vegetarian utopia, where transcendental wisdom, longevity and asceticism go hand in hand. 

Earlier this year, the EAT-Lancet Commission released its global report on nutrition and called for a global shift to a more plant-based diet and for “substantially reducing consumption of animal source foods.” In countries like India, that call could become a tool to aggravate an already fraught political situation and stress already undernourished populations. . . 

New Zealand wool showcased in planes, offices, shops and homes around the globe:

The global marketing efforts of Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool) mean the humble-looking sheep in your nearest paddock could be producing wool that is destined for some very high places around the world.

Through its subsidiary NZ Yarn, which spins wool yarn for use in carpets and rugs, national wool company CP Wool has supplied wool that is gracing the floors of the first class cabins on Emirates airliners.

Closer to the ground, CP Wool’s efforts are seeing New Zealand wool showcased on the world stage in several corporate headquarters in New York; including carpets in the Wells Fargo, American Express, JP Morgan Chase, Time Warner and Chaincode Labs head offices. The London Stock Exchange’s New York outpost also features New Zealand wool soft flooring. . . 


Rural round-up

December 7, 2019

Action needed now:

Houston – or more correctly Wellington – we have a problem.

And that problem is a shortage of workers right across New Zealand’s primary sector.

The latest example is the apple sector (click here for the story), which is facing a potential $80 million loss in the coming season because of a looming labour shortage.

Apples and Pears NZ chief executive Alan Pollard told Rural News that the main reason for this is the Government’s decision not to allow the numbers of overseas workers required under the RSE (recognised seasonal employer) scheme to meet the needs.  . . 

Analysis of regenerative ag needed – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The groundswell supporting the restoring powers of regenerative agriculture is mostly based on examples from overseas.

The big question should be, do the examples stack up in New Zealand? If yes, no problem. If no, what might happen? Would there be any unintended consequences?

Answering these and similar questions is the goal of scientific research.

The foundation for advancing knowledge is laid by identifying the problem and then analysing what has gone before . . .

Setting up for the future:

Key changes made by Waikato dairy farmers Sam and Jacqui Owen have laid their on-farm groundwork for 2020 and beyond. They’re also focused on growing dairying’s next generation.

The Owens stepped up to 50:50 sharemilking in the 2014/15 season at Walton – then the milk price more than halved. That’s when Sam became chair for MP3, a DairyNZ-supported three-year project focusing on ‘profit, planet and people’, starting with 35 Matamata-Piako farms.

“I wanted to help others make their way through that price drop. MP3 also enabled us to grow our budgeting and financial skills to work out that doing that would be profitable for us. . .

Hail limits summer fruit supply – Riley Kennedy:

Some stonefruit will be in short supply this season after a severe hailstorm damaged Hawke’s Bay orchards in October.

The storm hit the region at the most vulnerable time for growers when the fruit was in early spring growth. 

SummerfruitNZ market support manager Richard Mills said the storm was very unusual for the time of year.

“An October hailstorm this bad had not been witnessed before by growers. . . 

Production of red, berry-flavoured kiwifruit is under way:

Zespri expects it will take two years before it can meet demand for its new red, berry-flavoured kiwifruit. 

The company has been trialling the fruit in New Zealand and Singapore, and chief executive Dan Matheson said it had sold well even when priced at 25 percent above green and gold varieties. 

“The response has been quite exciting. We’ve had incredible feedback from our consumers who have been buying the fruit at the supermarket shelf.

“In fact we’ve just had letters coming in from consumers both here in New Zealand and Singapore asking for more of that and ‘why it was only available on the shelf for such short period of time’.” . . 

Imported insect predator to help bees and willow trees to thrive – Eric Frykberg:

Beekeepers are keenly awaiting the arrival of a tiny insect from California which preys on the giant willow aphid.

They say it will help willow trees survive and provide essential food for bees.

Their response follows approval of the parasitoid insect Pauesia nigrovaria by the Environmental Protection Authority.

Scion entomologist Stephanie Sopow said the insect was an an effective control agent. . . 


Rural round-up

September 2, 2019

Government policy, rule changes are hitting farmers in the pocket – Hayden Dillon:

A capital crunch is starting to impact farmers as the banks get more cagey about lending to dairy and the sheep and beef sectors, writes Hayden Dillon, head of agribusiness and a managing partner at Findex.

Things are looking okay externally. The big picture for our safe, efficiently produced protein is still strong, as shown by good commodity prices. But three domestic drivers have converged to cause difficulties for farmers, particularly those with a lot of debt or wanting capital to grow.

Firstly, changes imposed by the Overseas Investment Office have affected the value of and demand for land. We no longer have the same foreign capital coming in for our biggest farming sector – sheep, beef and dairy and our productive assets there. . .

More farmland goes into trees – Pam Tipa:

A large foreign-financed but New Zealand owned investment company has brought a big station in the Wairarapa for forestry development.

Social, employment and environmental sustainability issues will be included in plans to ensure a stable local rural community, it claims.

Kauri Forestry LP, a forestry business built, managed and governed by Craigmore Sustainables, has purchased Lagoon Hills Station in Wairarapa. . .

Could India be the next big thing for New Zealand sheep meat? – Jamie Gray:

Hopes are running high that India could be the next big thing for New Zealand sheep meat exports if the two countries form closer economic ties.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) involves 16 countries – the 10 members of ASEAN, plus the six countries with which ASEAN has free trade agreements—Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand.

The meat industry has expectations that RCEP will form a platform that will allow New Zealand access to India, which at the moment imposes high tariffs on imported goods.

“My personal view is that India is the next big prize,” Tim Ritchie, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, said. . .

 

Online training platform Tahi Ngātahi: A ‘game-changer’ for wool harvesting industry:

Shearing stalwart Jock Martin is the driving force behind online training platform, Tahi Ngātahi, which is revolutionising the way the wool harvesting industry trains its workforce.

Martin has been part of Otago and Southland’s wool harvesting scene for over 30 years and is a second generation shearer.

Passionate about improving skills and safety, he believed new e-learning platform Tahi Ngātahi was the ‘game-changer’ the industry has been waiting for.

Keeping workers injury-free in a physically demanding occupation is a big issue for the wool harvesting industry. . .

From vegan interns to visiting preschoolers, all are welcome at the ECO School – Rebecca Black:

“Do you mind goat’s milk in your tea?” Dani Lebo is a considerate host, though she quickly admits goat’s milk is really the only option because there are no other milking animals on her farm.

So goat’s milk it is, fresh and delicious.

The goats, like everything on five-hectare Kaitiaki Farm, are a deliberate choice. They’re lighter on the steep clay-heavy hills than cattle or sheep. . .

Time to move the ‘meat vs plant’ debate beyond crude headlines – Joanna Blythman,:

After all those months of BBC News regurgitating the bandwagon ‘reduce red meat to save the planet’ script, what a refreshing change it was to hear a thoughtful discussion on the Today programme with Patrick Holden, director of the Sustainable Food Trust, arguing convincingly for more, not less, red meat consumption.

While Vicki Hird from Sustain stuck to the ‘less but better meat’ mantra, Holden moved on this stale and overcooked debate. He argued persuasively that every country should align its diet to the productive capacity of its land. In other words, what’s on our plates should reflect the ecology of the country we live in. Two-thirds of UK land is grass, so red meat and dairy should form a significant proportion of our diets. When these foods come from fully pasture-fed animals, we can eat them, as Holden put it, sustainably, and with a clear conscience. In terms of climate effects, any methane produced by livestock is short-lived and offset by the benefit of the carbon that is sequestered in the permanent pastures they graze. . . 


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