Rural round-up

18/02/2021

Blubbering start – Rural News editorial:

Climate Change Commission chair Rod Carr’s foolish and ham-fisted comment comparing NZ’s farming sector to the country’s defunct whaling industry was an appalling way for him to kick off the consultation period of his organisation’s draft carbon emissions budget.

It is a pity Carr has now blotted his copybook with farmers.

When appointed Climate Commission chair last year, he sounded much more reasonable and measured—even telling the Newsroom website:

“In the agricultural sector, there is no or little denial of climate change…In the agricultural sector there is a growing awareness of the need for change, but also a concern about what is the nature of the change that is needed. I think the agricultural sector is highly innovative, I don’t think they’re in denial. For my money, New Zealand should be substantially increasing its investment in agriculture research.” . . 

The making of a world record :

Gore shearer Megan Whitehead recently set a new women’s world shearing record by clipping 661 lambs in nine hours. A remarkable achievement for a 24-year-old who has only been shearing four years. Farmstrong caught up with her the next day to find out how she did it.

How are you feeling today?

I feel quite normal really. I don’t feel too bad, I’m a little bit tight in some of my muscles but overall, I’m feeling pretty good. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet to be honest. It’s a relief.

Why did you get into shearing?

I love the physical side of shearing and the competitive side, too. In shearing, you get paid on how hard you want to work. I get a lot of satisfaction from pleasing the farmers and leaving work every day after reaching my targets. It’s very satisfying. It’s also fun racing people every day. I love that side of it. . . 

Game changing irrigation system – Sudesh Kissun:

A team of Feilding-based software engineers has helped mastermind a game-changing irrigation prototype that diagnoses its own operating faults and can launch a drone to manage crops at leaf level.

Lindsay, which produces the Zimmatic brand of pivot irrigators, has introduced the concept of the world’s first ‘smart pivot’ to its markets around the globe.

Now, they are inviting New Zealand farmers and irrigation industry colleagues to give feedback so the product can be tailored to their needs. The smart pivot is a new category of mechanised irrigation that moves beyond traditional water application and management to a wide array of crop and machine health capabilities, while also delivering proven water and energy savings.. . .

Born in the USA – Mike Bland:

American-bred and city-raised, he came all the way to the King Country to find his dream job. Mike Bland reports.

Before arriving in New Zealand eight years ago Alex Petrucci, a 30-year-old economics graduate who grew up on the outskirts of Chicago, knew only a little bit about New Zealand and its agriculture.

His father worked for the American Farmland Trust, which employed Kiwi consultants for advice on pasture management. But Alex’s practical skills were limited when he took on his first job milking cows in Reporoa, Waikato.

A year later he met future wife Bronwyn, who was shepherding on Highlands Station, near Rotorua. . . 

Shine a light on Max T – Alex lond:

She had heard about it before, but passed it up. Now Alex Lond is a convert to the Max T method.

Everybody’s talking about it – and I just couldn’t get my head around it. The Max T (maximum milking time) method is becoming more and more popular in and around the Waikato, and I wanted to know why?

After hearing about it from a friend after he won Sharemilker of the Year back in 2018, I somewhat dismissed it as an idea only needed by farmers who didn’t enjoy milking their cows. However, after attending a discussion group last week with a focus on executing the Max T method in herringbone sheds, I have seen it in a whole new light.

I have always enjoyed milking, seeing it as an opportunity to plan my day in the mornings (in my head) and as the final job for the day (most of the time). I am fortunate that milking is not a long, drawn-out affair on my farm. I milk 350 cows through a 29ASHB shed, with recently installed in-shed feeding meaning that the cow flow is always excellent, both in and out of the shed, and the longest milking time this season has been 3 ½ hours from cups-on to taking my boots off for breakfast. . . 

HECS-style loan will encourage more carbon farmers: Menzies Research Centre report – Jamieson Murphy;

THE government could encourage more farmers to take advantage of carbon farming, helping both their bottom dollar and the nation’s emission reduction goals, with a HECS-style loan, a report says.

The policy paper by the Liberal-aligned Menzies Research Centre argues increasing soil carbon within the agricultural sector was a no-brainer, with financial, environmental and climatic dividends.

The report – From the ground up: Unleashing the potential of soil – suggested several practical steps the federal government could take immediately, which could potentially deliver soil carbon gains in a single season

It recommends funding soil carbon baseline measurements through an income-contingent loan scheme, similar to university student HECS loans, which students only have to repay once their wage hits a certain threshold. . . 


Rural round-up

09/02/2021

Environmental reforms putting more pressure on struggling farmers – Nadine Porter:

More mental health resources and shorter waiting times to access help will be needed to support dairy farmers trying to follow proposed new environmental rules, industry advocates say.

Rural Support Trust Mid-Canterbury wellbeing co-ordinator Frances Beeston said there had been at least a 30 per cent rise in farmers seeking support since Christmas, and she believed that would increase further as more environmental reforms were introduced.

The Climate Change Commission released a draft plan last week designed to help the Government meet its promise of reaching net zero emissions of long-lived gases by 2050, and reducing biogenic methane emissions by 24 to 47 per cent by 2050.

The plan noted current policies would lead to an 8 to 10 per cent reduction in New Zealand’s livestock numbers, but said a 15 per cent drop would be needed to meet the Government’s targets. . . 

More trees less stock – Peter Burke:

More science and technology, more trees and fewer livestock is the prescription that the Climate Change Commission has offered up in its draft report on how to reduce greenhouse gases in the agriculture sector.

The report covers all aspects of New Zealand society and includes agriculture. In the 200 page chronicle, the Climate Commission sets out a plan for NZ to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets by 2050.

It is a draft report, based on the commission’s own research and submissions from a wide range of organisations and individuals. It is now out for consultation before a final report is prepared by the end of May.

Commission chair Rod Carr says to achieve the Government’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050, there needs to be transformational and lasting change across society and the economy. He says the Government must act now and pick up the pace. . .

Will wool go the way of whalers? -Pete Fitz-Herbert:

“Being the best whale hunters in the world didn’t protect the whaling fleets.”

That comment from Climate Commission chair Rod Carr about New Zealand’s low-emission beef and dairy production, has Manawatu farmer Pete Fitz-Herbert thinking about the future of the wool industry:

In the future – will farmers be seen as whalers are now?

How long, before the last whale was harpooned off the coast, was the writing on the wall that it wasn’t the career choice that it once was? . . 

Why you should eat your heart out for ‘Organuary’ – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Encouraging people to eat more animal organs for Organuary may seem like a light-hearted response to the vegan movement, but research shows it could reduce greenhouse gases, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates.

Eating the heart of your enemy might seem a bit extreme these days but in the past it was an acceptable part of a surprising number of cultures – surprising until one considers food scarcity, that is.

Eating whatever was available was a matter of expediency and the lore that arose around what each part of the body signified shows an early awareness of basic function.

Eating the brain and tongue gave knowledge and bravery; the heart gave courage and power. . . 

MBIE funds hemp research :

A Taranaki-based medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp venture is part of a group that will investigate ways to turn hemp seed hulls into products for the global market. Greenfern Industries is part of a partnership that was awarded $145,000 in cash and in-kind funding for research into products created from the by-products of hemp seed oil processing. Greenfern will work alongside industry partners Callaghan Innovation and Hemp Connect as part of the project funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Bioresource Processing Alliance (BPA).

BPA invests in research and development projects with the aim of generating additional export revenue for New Zealand by working with the primary sector to get better value out of biological by-products.

Boarding school parents sick of borders closing ‘at the drop of a hat’ – Jamieson Murphy:

THE parents of interstate boarding school students are constantly worried that when they drop their children off at school, they may not be able to get home, with state borders slamming shut “at the drop of a hat”.

The Isolated Children’s Parents Association has called for a nationally consistent and long-term approach to border restrictions for boarding students.

ICPA president Alana Moller said while urban schools were closed for weeks during COVID outbreaks, many rural students were not able to return to their boarding school for months, even several terms due to border closures.

“Students from western NSW who board in Victoria weren’t able to go, because they weren’t sure if they could come back,” Ms Moller said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

03/02/2021

DairyNZ: Climate Commission lays out challenge :

Industry body DairyNZ says the Climate Change Commission’s new report is a welcome acknowledgement of a split gas approach and that methane does not need to reduce to net zero.
DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the Commission’s science-based approach is ambitious and challenging for all of New Zealand and farming is no exception.

Dr Mackle said the Climate Change Commission proposals and underlying assumptions will be closely examined over the next few weeks, in particular the biogenic methane targets and advice on reducing stock numbers.

“The short-term 2030 and 2035 methane targets are ambitious, making the next 10-15 years the most important for adapting farm systems and investment in research and development solutions  for agriculture,” said Dr Mackle. . .

Whaling a most unhelpful analogy:

“Climate Commission chair Rod Carr’s suggestion that New Zealand farmers could go the way of the whalers is an extremely unhelpful start to the six week consultation of his draft carbon emissions budget,” says ACT Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“Asked on radio this morning whether the Commission accepted that New Zealand farmers already produce the lowest carbon-impact beef and dairy in the world, Dr Carr said ‘Given the way we produce it that is true, but being the best whale hunters in the world didn’t protect the whaling fleets.’

“To use as an analogy an industry that wasn’t only unsustainable but which has been outlawed in most jurisdictions because the vast majority of the world considers it to be morally reprehensible is extremely unhelpful.

“This sort of rhetoric risks taking us back to a sort of ‘them and us’ stand-off between farmers and the environmental lobby. . . 

Climate report set up fight over herd sizes – Mark Daalder:

The Climate Change Commission wants the primary sector to reduce livestock herds to reduce emissions, but some farmers aren’t so keen, Marc Daalder reports

The Climate Change Commission proved its independence on Sunday when it broke a political taboo in proposing one way to reduce methane emissions from the agricultural sector: Have fewer cows.

While the Commission estimated current policy settings would already lead to an eight to 10 percent reduction in the size of the national cow – and sheep – herds by 2030, it said something on the order of 15 percent would be crucial for meeting emissions reduction targets.

At issue is the thorny problem of biogenic methane, which is produced by decomposing organic matter (the waste sector is responsible for 10 percent of biogenic methane emissions) and the natural digestive processes of ruminant animals, including cows, sheep and goats (the other 90 percent).  . . 

Fonterra lifts its 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today lifted its 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range to NZD $6.90 – $7.50 per kgMS, up from NZD $6.70 – $7.30 per kgMS.

The midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, has increased to NZD $7.20 per kgMS.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the lift in the 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range is a result of strong demand for dairy, which is demonstrated by the continued increase in Global Dairy Trade (GDT) prices since the Co-op last revised its milk price at the beginning of December.

“In particular, we’ve seen strong demand from China and South East Asia for whole milk powder (WMP) and skim milk powder (SMP), which are key drivers of the milk price. . . 

Surge in demand sees AWDT double intake :

A leading governance and leadership programme for primary sector women is doubling its 2021 intake in response to surging demand from aspiring female leaders across New Zealand’s food and fibre sectors, and rural communities.

The Next Level programme is researched, designed and delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) and runs across two North Island and two South Island intakes in 2021.

“Offering Next Level more widely is a response to the change in mindset of many primary sector women. They are recognising their value as leaders and choosing to step up as agents of positive change, without the need for permission or position,” AWDT general manager Lisa Sims said.

The six-month programme takes a strength-based approach, empowering women to understand their leadership style, define their personal “why” and design their roadmap to making a positive impact for the people and places they care about. . . 

Ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers will arrive in New Zealand next week

Around 900 Ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers will soon travel to New Zealand for work under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme.

Last November, the New Zealand government granted a border exception for up to 2000 experienced Pacific Island RSE workers to address labour shortages.

Local media in Vanuatu report that of the quota for the Pacific, Ni-Vanuatu make up 45 percent of the RSE labour for the February to March intake. . . 

Well-established avocado orchard with huge expansion potential placed on the market for sale :

A well-established and highly-productive avocado orchard in the heart of Whangarei’s foremost avocado growing district – and with the potential to double its production capacity – has been placed on the market for sale.

The 40.1-hectare property at Maungatapere on the western outskirts of Whangarei sits in a volcanic soil valley which was once a dairy and beef farming strong-hold, but is now Whangarei’s most concentrated conglomeration of avocado orchards due to the location’s deep fertile volcanic soil base.

The generally rectangular-shaped orchard for sale at 38 Kokopu Block Road features 10 blocks planted with 1,566 Hass on Zutano rootstock currently under production. Replacement clonal trees have also been planted to fill in all the gaps, and will further boost production over the coming seasons. . . 


Rural round-up

15/07/2020

Dairy challenges the world over – Hugh Stringleman:

Labour shortages and tougher environmental requirements are the concerns of dairy farmers worldwide, an NZX Derivatives webinar has highlighted.

Three industry leaders were asked to speak on the challenges and opportunities in their countries and on their farms.

Irish dairy farmer Patrick Fenton, Molanna Farm, County Limerick, said there is a looming labour shortage as farms amalgamate, now freed from the shackles of European Union dairy quotas.

“We do have opportunities to grow and there is more land available but labour and environmental regulations have to be reckoned with,” he said. . . 

Gas targets might move – Gerard Hutching:

The targets for reducing methane have been set but the message from the Government is they could be changed next year. Gerard Hutching reports.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw has conceded the 24-47% range for reducing methane by 2050 is unsatisfactory and has hinted it might change.

Primary sector groups such as the Meat Industry Association have argued the target, which will affect dairy farmers particularly, has been set too high and the reduction required is only 7%. 

Speaking to a webinar on a low-emissions future entitled Staying the Course, Shaw said the target will be looked at next year by the Climate Change Commission chaired by Rod Carr.  . .

Fonterra warning: Open Country, Miraka fear farmers locked in under new law – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand milk market giant Fonterra is about to get a legislative pass to throw its weight around even more, small dairy companies say.

Miraka and Open Country Dairy are concerned that amended dairy industry legislation is being rushed through that, in loosening the reins on Fonterra’s market power, could lead to milk supply drying up for new dairy processors or those wanting to set up in regions currently only served by Fonterra.

Their chief executives fear that a surprise clause introduced in the Dairy Industry Amendment Bill (No. 3) after lobbying by Fonterra will allow it to deny farmers a previous basic legislative right – to buy back into the big co-operative after exiting for whatever reason. . . 

Māori farming businesses flourish: ‘The world has to eat’ – Susan Edmunds:

Māori farming businesses are booming, and Covid-19 is unlikely to have taken off much of the shine.

Stats NZ data shows that profits for Māori authority farming businesses hit $97 million in 2018, almost double the year before. That is the most recent year for which the data is available.

The role of Māori authorities and their subsidiaries is to receive, manage, and/or administer assets held in common ownership by Māori.

More than 200, or around one-sixth, of Māori authorities are in agriculture. . . 

BVD stealing dairy herd profits:

While M. bovis and Covid-19 may be competing for farmers’ attention this winter, another equally infectious disease that has lurked in the background for years poses at least as big a threat to farm profitability and livestock health.

Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) is estimated to be costing the New Zealand dairy industry at least $150 million a year in animal health costs and lost production, yet experts agree with a focused campaign it could potentially be eliminated in a matter of months, not years.

Greg Chambers, Zoetis veterinary operations manager has been working closely with vets and farmers this year to help raise the profile and understanding of BVD. . . 

Trio team up to trial innovative hemp based food products:

Greenfern Industries has partnered with two other New Zealand companies to commercialise an innovative new hemp meat substitute and hemp snack products.

Greenfern Industries, Sustainable Foods, and the Riddet Institute (Massey University) are working together on the initiative that will see them develop the hemp-based food products and ingredients for both the New Zealand and export markets.

While Greenfern’s primary focus is medical cannabis and wellness products, co-director Dan Casey said it made sense to partner with other relevant industry leaders to utilise the products of Greenfern’s hemp crops.

“We have an abundance of high-quality hemp from which we obtain seed, cake and oil so we partnered with the Riddet Institute to work on background research and hemp product development. We’ve spent 12 months working with Riddet Institute on the product and, after several iterations, we’ve produced some very valuable shared IP.” . . 


Rod Carr to chair Infrastructure Board

25/05/2009

Infrastructure Minister, Bill English has announced the appointees to the National Infrastructure Board.

The board has been set up to provide independent advice to the Infrastructure Minister and to help formulate the first 20-year National Infrastructure Plan, which will be completed by the end of the year.

Members have been chosen on the basis of their individual skills and their collective knowledge of infrastructure planning, investment and asset management methods.

The chair will be Dr Rodd Carr, Canterbury University Vice Chancellor and a former managing director of Jade Corporation and a former Reserve Bank  deputy governor. He was a senior executive of Bank of New Zealand and National Australia Bank; is vice-president of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and a director of Lyttelton Port Company Ltd and Taranaki Investment Management.

Other members are: Sir Ron Carter, Lindsay Crossen, Dr Arthur Grimes, Dr Terence Heiler,  Rob McLeod, John Rae and Alex Sundakov.

It’s an impressive line up and I’m particularly pleased to see Terry Heiler’s name on the list. He’s an engineer, a former director of Landcare Research and chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand.

His profile on the INZ website says:

Dr Terry Heiler is an international consultant in natural resources, specialising in water management and irrigation. His engineering consultancy works with clients in New Zealand, Australia, Asia and with major international development agencies. His prior experience includes 25 years as a principal research engineer – soil and water, and 11 years as director of New Zealand Agricultural Engineering Institute, Lincoln University. He runs a small farming business based in West Melton, Central Canterbury. Terry was appointed as the inaugural chief executive of INZ in July 2006. His role with INZ is primarily leadership of the New Zealand irrigation industry with scientific and accurate advocacy to government and other key decision makers.


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