Rural round-up

July 16, 2019

Saving the planet one post at a time – Mark Daniel:

Working as a farmer and fencing contractor for 15 years made Jerome Wenzlick very familiar with fence posts — now he’s “saving the planet one post at a time”.

Over these 15 years, Wenzlick says he saw quality slipping, wastage rising because of breaking posts and at times post availability was a problem.

He had a ‘eureka moment’ during a fencing job next to an old rubbish dump where he had posts breaking on plastics hidden below the surface.

“Surely if plastics are this tough we should be making fence posts from them,” he mused. . . 

The nation’s least worst farmers – Luke Chivers:

Banks Peninsula farmer and self-confessed radical Roger Beattie is never short of new ideas for the primary sector. Luke Chivers visited him to hear about some of the maverick’s pet projects.

On the south side of Banks Peninsula, where the wind gives the tussocks a permanent bend and the next stop is Antarctica, Roger Beattie is mustering his next big plan.

The wild sheep breeder, blue pearl and kelp harvester and would-be weka farmer wants to explain how unique foods and fibres can be produced by combining the diversity of nature with Kiwi can-do ingenuity. . .

How to make $700 a day from trees – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Let us talk about planting trees.

It is, after all, the season for doing just that.

I’m not planting the big numbers I once did, mainly because I’ve filled in all the places where trees were a better option but partly because I’m slowing down.

I’ve planted something like 60,000 trees myself, which sounds reasonably impressive until I mention 30,000 were pine trees. . .

From the ground up – Maureen Howard:

We’ll need to feed extra billions by mid century while being kinder to the land and reducing planet-heating carbon emissions to zero. The challenge has prompted some to call for a great food transition.  Maureen Howard talks to a farmer playing his part.

“It’s like cottage cheese, but black,” says Peter Barrett of the soil that lies beneath Linnburn Station, his 9300ha beef and sheep station at Paerau in Central Otago.

Above ground, depending on the time of year, sheep may be spotted grazing beneath the gaze of yellow sunflowers, surrounded by a mix of up to 30 other plant species.

Not just a pretty postcard, Linnburn Station is home to 25,000 winter stock units. In fact, this is farming close the limits. Much of the terrain is exposed rocky high country and for the past two years, the already low mean annual rainfall has declined to just 170mm. Temperatures fluctuate from below zero to 40degC. . .

The record-setting $10,000 dog – Sally Rae:

This is the story of a dog called Jack.

Bear with, as it can get a little confusing given that Jack – sold for a record price of $10,000 at last week’s PGG Wrightson Ashburton dog sale at Mayfield – was bred by another Jack.

Lake Hawea Station farm manager Jack Mansfield (24) bred Jack the heading dog, giving him to his great-uncle, renowned triallist Peter Boys, when the pup was 2 months old.

Mr Boys owned Jack’s sire and it was “general rule of thumb” to give a pup in return.

Mr Boys, a retired farmer who lives in Timaru, named the pup Jack and trained him up. . .

Rural Safety and Health Alliance kicks off – Sharon O’Keeffe:

Sometimes you need to go back to square one when tackling something as important as farm safety, particularly when there hasn’t been a significant improvement in the statistics.

A new partnership of rural research and development corporations is investing in a fresh approach to improve primary production’s health and safety record centred on innovative research and extension.

The partnership, called the Rural Safety and Health Alliance will invest in practical extension solutions informed by industry input on work, health and safety risks. . . .

 


Rural round-up

October 5, 2018

What’s so bad about nitrogen anyway? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

 Nitrogen (N) is the most abundant element in the atmosphere. After carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, it is also the most abundant element in the human body.

It is found in our very DNA – our genetic makeup – and is a major component of the protein that we need to eat to stay healthy. Despite this, nitrogen has been receiving a bad rap with suggestions that we now have a “deadly addiction”‘ to it.

To some people, it appears that nitrogen is in the same class as ecstasy, cocaine and heroin.

People die when they overdose on Class A drugs.

People die when they have insufficient nitrogen. . .

NZ needs to embrace gene editing technology – scientist – Kate Gudsell:

If gene editing technology is not embraced in New Zealand the country is at risk being of being left behind, a scientist warns.

Gene editing is a new technology which enables scientists to genetically modify an organism and would be considered genetic modification under New Zealand law.

The technology allows scientists to be much more precise about changes made in the genome of an organism compared with previous methods.

The Royal Society Te Apārangi’s new discussion paper, The Use of Gene Editing in the Primary Industries, was released today and explores risks and potential benefits for five scenarios of how gene editing could be used for primary production sectors including agriculture, forestry and horticulture. . . 

Rebecca Keoghan named Rural Woman of Influence :

Westport’s Rebecca Keoghan has added another major award to an impressive resume.

The general manager of Landcorp Farming’s Pamu Academy has been named the Rural Woman of Influence at the 2018 awards, presented by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy in Auckland.

Mrs Keoghan was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit last year for services to business, particularly the dairy industry, and was the 2016 Dairy Woman of the Year. . .

Global milk supply growth slowing despite bumper start to NZ season – Rabobank:

While combined milk supply growth across the world’s ‘Big 7’ dairy exporters slowed during quarter three, a bumper start to the New Zealand milk production season has seen soft demand for Oceania-origin dairy products in recent months, according to Rabobank’s latest Dairy Quarterly report, with the bank now forecasting a lower New Zealand milk price of NZD6.65/kgMS for 2018/19.

The specialist agribusiness bank says the slowdown in combined milk production growth seen in quarter two 2018 from the ‘Big 7’ (the EU, the US, New Zealand, Australia, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil), at just one per cent year-on-year (YOY), has trickled through to quarter three, driven by a number of factors including drought conditions in parts of northern and western Europe. . . 

Ministry testing targets farms without M bovis connection – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries will be testing 200 calf-rearing properties across the country as it tries to understand the prevalence of Mycoplasma bovis in beef herds.

A MPI spokesperson Catherine Duthie said it would select farms that did not have a connection to other properties considered at risk of having the cattle disease, so the survey could help establish whether M bovis was more widespread than thought.

If properties were connected others with M bovis they were being discounted from the survey as MPI would already be testing them, she said.

“This survey is another way of testing our assumption that this disease Mycoplasma bovis is not widespread in New Zealand.” . . 

Roger’s tasty sheep – Offsetting Behaviour:

A few years ago, Peter Singer said eating New Zealand lamb was defensible – even for an animal-rights utilitarian. The animals live a joyful life, have one bad day at the end, and graze on land that wouldn’t be suitable for grains anyway.

“I think that there is a defensible argument for saying that if the purchase of Canterbury lamb is a necessary condition for lambs to have what is for 99% of their existence a really good life and even the bad days are not like a day of being tortured for 24 hours… I do think that that … would be a defensible diet.”

Roger Beattie’s gotten rid of the ‘one bad day at the end’ part. His lambs aren’t mustered and hauled to the works; they’re shot on-paddock. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 10, 2017

Family’s vision for property vindicated – Sally Rae:

Excellence in New Zealand’s sheep industry was celebrated in Southland this week with the annual Beef and Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards, as Sally Rae reports.

When Alan and Jean Hore bought Beaumont Station in 1972, they were told they would never fatten a lamb on the property.

Fast forward 45 years and the Hore family — Alan and Jean and son Richard and his wife, Abby — won  supplier of the year at Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s Sheep Industry Awards in Invercargill.

Richard Hore yesterday acknowledged his father’s vision, adding that what had been achieved on the 28,000ha Otago high-country property had been through family determination and development. . . 

Farmers few in number but big on generating money-making food – Joyce Wyllie:

 All fine folk who produce food to feed peoples of the world please put your hand up. Then bend it behind your head and over your shoulder, then with a backwards and forwards motion of the wrist give yourselves a well deserved pat on the back.

In a Fieldays speech farmers were encouraged to call themselves “food producers” and become “louder and prouder” at telling their good stories. The presenter was Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy. Rather than preaching to the converted at an agricultural gathering, he’s in a prime position to loudly spread that message of pride in food production – and tell this great story – along the corridors of power and city streets.

Championing all the committed people diligently producing food for both local and overseas consumers through all cycles of weather, challenges of changing expectations and undulating prices would be mighty encouraging. . . 

Big kiwifruit growth plans for Maori – Pam Tipa:

About 8% of total kiwifruit production comes from Maori orchards, and now there is an ambitious goal to get up to 20%, says Maori Kiwifruit Growers Forum chairman Tiaki Hunia.

That growth can come in a number of ways, he told Rural News. It can come from new developments on bare land or from mergers or acquisitions, and a large proportion of Maori land is leased to outside investors. . .

Weka farmer takes on DOC: ‘I’m prepared to go to jail’ – Charlie Mitchell:

Decades after he began farming and eating weka, renegade conservationist Roger Beattie is ready to become a martyr.

The Christchurch man has long dreamed of commercialising endangered species as a means of saving them.

He believes weka and kiwi should be farmed like sheep and cattle, cooked and served on dinner plates for a premium price. . . 

All well with Waitaki dairy farms – Sally Brooker:

Waitaki’s dairy farmers and their cows are wintering well.

North Otago Federated Farmers dairy section chairman Lyndon Strang told Central Rural Life that conditions before calving were ”pretty good”.

Heifers on many farms would begin to calve in mid to late July.

Although the mating period had been ”a bit of a problem for most people”, since then there had been good crop and grass growth, Mr Strang said.

”There’s plenty of feed for winter.

”What little rainfall we’ve had has been hanging round. The cows are still on top of the paddocks and wintering quite well.” . . 

City slicker Lisa Kendall a hot chance in rural-dominated Young Farmer of the Year finals

She may be a city girl known as the “Karaka kid”, but Lisa Kendall is holding her own against a bunch of country blokes in the finals of New Zealand’s Young Farmer of the Year.

With the final round of the competition about to get underway, Lisa says acceptance among her fellow farmers was a little more work for her than some of her rivals.

“I get teased a bit for being an Aucklander in the farming community,” Ms Kendall laughs. . .

Living and farming well in the Marlborough region:

Farming well and thinking healthy go together like sheep and shearing.

So, take a breather from the farm on Wednesday 19 July – Farmstrong and the Rural Support Trust have two free events on how healthy thinking can help you live well and farm well.

If you’re a farmer, grower or work in the farming community (including as a rural professional providing support services to farming), you can hear medical doctor and author Dr Tom Mullholland speak in Blenheim first thing over breakfast or over dinner in Ward. . . 

Ag media the pick of choice for Elise:

THE rich tradition of Australian rural journalism is being celebrated once more through the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) Foundation’s JB Fairfax award.

Applications have now opened for the 2018 JB Fairfax award for rural and regional journalism, the scholarship now entering its 10th year.

This year there is a new twist to the award, with the traditional request to write on a subject selected by the RASF replaced with an invitation to write an inspirational piece about a member of rural or regional Australia. . . 


Rural round-up

May 12, 2017

Canterbury director and shareholder is Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year

A Canterbury woman who has dedicated her career as a rural professional to New Zealand’s dairy industry is 2017’s Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

Jessie Chan-Dorman, a Fonterra Shareholders’ Councillor, won the coveted title out of a group of three finalists which included CEO of Sirona Animal Health Claire Nicholson and agribusiness consultant Jolene Germann. The awards ceremony was held tonight in Queenstown as part of a gala dinner at the Dairy Women’s Network’s annual conference. . . 

Farmers set to benefit from new high-tech weather stations:

Fonterra farmers will come together to trial innovative technology that will allow them to take insights from the weather and bring greater precision to New Zealand dairy farms.

Fonterra is playing its part in fuelling the revolution of on-farm weather forecasting by working with MetService and BloomSky – a smart weather camera station that delivers hyperlocal weather information in real-time to any laptop, tablet or smartphone. . . .

Rebel with a cause – Eric Crampton:

I love Roger Beattie.

Weka are endangered, but they breed easily on his farm at Banks Peninsula. He’s just prohibited, by dumb rules, against breeding them for profit. Whether this is DoC bloodymindedness, Vogonity, or refusal to be shown up by somebody doing a better job of conservation that DoC is – that’s anybody’s guess.

And so, annoyed with silly DoC rules around farming weka, Roger’s making a point. He’s adding weka feathers to some hats and selling them. . .

UK supermarkets ban fresh NZ lamb – Alexa Cook:

A decision by UK supermarkets to ban fresh New Zealand lamb is bad news for the industry and could turn consumers away from the meat, says Beef and Lamb New Zealand.

Supermarket chain Co-op Food, which is the UK’s fifth largest retailer, is banning fresh New Zealand lamb in response to lobbying from the British Sheep Association. . .

Dairy herd up in North Island but down in South Island:

After a decrease in 2015, the dairy cattle number increased 2 percent in 2016 to reach 6.6 million, Stats NZ said today. However, this was not back to the 2014 level (6.7 million).

The North Island dairy herd increased by almost 250,000 cows last year, led by a rise in Waikato. In contrast, the number of dairy cattle in the South Island fell more than 100,000 in the year to 30 June 2016.
The results also show continuing declines for sheep and deer numbers, with beef cattle being relatively unchanged
. . .

Call to action to save threatened species:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has issued a “call to action” for the nation to get behind efforts to protect New Zealand’s threatened native plants and animals.

Minister Barry launched the Department of Conservation’s draft Threatened Species Strategy at the Threatened Species Summit in Wellington this morning.

“Our unique plants and animals are found nowhere else on earth and help to define who we are as New Zealanders, adding immeasurable value to our culture, our identity and our landscapes,” Minister Barry says. . .

Cutting nitrogen loss in winter – Bala Tikkisetty:

Winter’s a much riskier season for nitrogen leaching from urine patches on pasture to waterways.

Milking cows will excrete, in urine, about 70 per cent of the nitrogen they consume. The chance of nitrogen leaching from urine patches is much higher in winter due to weather conditions.

Also, farmers should be particularly cautious when applying nitrogen fertilisers to pasture or crops during winter due to the extra risks winter weather poses for nutrient loss. . .


Rural round-up

September 19, 2014

Farmers have spent millions in the Horizons region:

A Federated Farmers survey has revealed the average dairy farmer in the Horizons Region has spent over $110,000 on environmental management in the past five years.

“There are huge numbers being invested in the region, which tells a really positive story about where we are heading environmentally and the buy in that is coming from the farmers,” says James Stewart, Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president.

“As people vote tomorrow I genuinely hope they will realise that farmers are doing a lot to farm more sustainably.

“It is very difficult to put a number on environmental spending, but we wanted to try, so we sent a survey out to all 918 dairy farms via the Horizons Regional Council. We were stunned by the response, not just the figures but how many people replied during their busiest time of year, calving season. . .

 

Working group focused on clear advice:

The industry-led working group looking at the issues with swedes affecting dairy cattle in Southland says a key priority will be developing clear and agreed advice for farmers.

The group met for the first time this week, with DairyNZ’s Southland regional leader, Richard Kyte, chairing the meeting. The group includes representatives from Southland veterinary practices, Federated Farmers, Beef+Lamb NZ and PGG Wrightson Seeds. It also has specialist advisors on veterinary pathology and plant science.

“Evidence and science-based information is crucial and will be the focus of this group. Gathering this information is a work in progress and will involve all parties,” says Richard. . .

Dairying business woman takes top role:

Delwyn Knight has taken the role of general manager of Liberty Genetics where she is leading a team that’s making headway in the competitive dairy genetics market.

Although modest about landing the top job, Knight admits that she is one of very few women working in top dairy genetics roles, and she is excited about taking on the position.

“It’s great to be in a position where I can provide value and support to farmers when they are making important farming business decisions,” said Knight.

“I’m really looking forward to working directly with our farming clients, understanding what their needs are and supporting them to get the best results for their herds.” . . .

Robotic sheepdogs unlikely Kiwi farmers say:

At the risk of being out of step with technology, Federated Farmers is dubious robotic sheepdogs will replace the real thing anytime soon.  Reported late last month, European academics believe they have created an algorithm simulating sheepdog behaviour.

“I am not saying it won’t come to pass but it’ll be more like one farmer robot and its droid than dog trials being replaced by droid trials,” says Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“Anyone who works with dogs and sheep knows there’s more to this than an algorithm.

“For starters, there is a primordial instinctive connection between the two animals.  How you simulate that I have no idea. . .

Landcorp completes  full purchase of Focus Genetics:

Landcorp Farming Ltd. is now sole owner of livestock genetics business, Focus Genetics. The announcement comes after Landcorp successfully acquired the remaining 33% shareholding from
Rissington Breedline.

Hawkes Bay based Focus Genetics is New Zealand’s largest red meat genetics business with 17 breeding partners throughout New Zealand.  Formed in 2011, Focus Genetics has since grown its
market share, serving more than 750 commercial farm operations. 

Last year the company sold over 4,000 rams, 800 bulls and 400 stags to farmers in New Zealand and overseas.
Gavin Foulsham, Focus Genetics CEO, said having one owner provided certainty for the company’s plans to invest more towards achieving greater rates of genetic improvement. 

It also means Focus could explore more sales opportunities offshore. . .

I want to eat a weka – Offsetting Behaviour:

It’s been more than five years since I first posted on Roger Beattie’s felicitous “Eat them to save them” campaign. And I still am not allowed to buy a weka for dinner.

Roger is one of New Zealand’s great enviropreneurs: the National Farming Review called him an Eco Anarchist. He loves the environment and sees the best way of saving it as ensuring that it’s profitable to save it. Weka are endangered, but they’re easily farmed and tasty. Why aren’t we raising them for the restaurant trade and conserving an endangered species in the process? The Department of Conservation says no. They say no incredibly incoherently. But their “No” is what matters. . .

Two gold medals for Goldie Wines:

Goldie Wines on Waiheke Island has won its first gold medals for new owners, University of Auckland and winemaker, Heinrich Storm.

Two Goldie Syrah wines from the 2013 vintage took two of the eight gold medals awarded in the Syrah category at the recent NZ International Wine Show.

The Goldie Syrah 2013 and Goldie Reserve Syrah 2013 were awarded gold in what Heinrich says is a significant achievement for the new operation.

“These medals are the first won since the University took over ownership of the vineyard in 2011 from Goldwater Wines,” he says. “Also for me it is significant, because they are my first as winemaker for Goldie Wines.” .  . .


Take market approach to green issues

March 16, 2011

Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers national president, said in his address to the Act conference:

. . . Some believe we ought to be the Rolls-Royce of agriculture. But having been on farms around the world, these artisan like Rolls-Royce’s already exist.

We should instead be the Toyota of agriculture. Trusted food and fibre with an integrity built from excellent animal health delivering safe, reliable and wholesome products. . .

. . . Let’s find out what truly motivates our consumers instead of overlaying the desires of local policy analysts upon them . .

This is why I believe there is scope for a political movement to tackle green issues from a disciplined market approach.

Do you know that led by farmers, 111,000 hectares have been voluntarily protected under QEII National Trust covenants since 1977. If that was a country, it’d be the 184th largest on earth. Who started it? Among others, Federated Farmers.

Being a Scot by descent I can’t abide waste. I know market principles and farming can vastly improve environmental and biodiversity outcomes.

Look at Roger Beattie, Mr Weka Weka Woo.

His weka programme massively out performs DoC’s because he uses farming principles. No farmed species I should add has ever become extinct.

You’d think he would get a trial license to sell weka to high end restaurants or at this weekend’s Hokitika Wildfoods Festival. No siree. Weka could be our turkey but is DoC interested in increasing its numbers by way of commercial farming? No siree.

How about trout? Sanfords has said to us that if the ban on commercial trout farming was lifted Monday, they’d start farming trout on Tuesday.

At US$5.00 a kilogram exported, it could be a US$50 million export within five or so seasons but are we farming trout? No siree, because the funding for a certain lobby group comes from a license ticket. Is its Chief Executive interested in exports? No siree.

This is despite faring would lead to much larger and exciting wild trout under catch and release. Farming salmon hasn’t stopped people from buying licenses to catch a wild one.

While trout is largely farmed in sea cages, it being a member of the salmon family, it can be farmed in artificial ponds that in turns demands water with nutrients. It’s about integrated farm management because our food export potential is vast. . .

Green initiatives and economic progress aren’t mutually exclusive. In general wealthier countries have better environmental standards.

Providing it’s done carefully, lifting the prohibition on farming some native species and introduced ones like trout could create jobs and contribute to economic growth without harming the environment.


Would-be weka farmer wins Agri-Personality of Year

June 26, 2010

Roger Beattie is the Federated Farmers’  2010 Agri-Personality of the Year.

 Roger Beattie is an eco-anarchist combining conservation with business acumen. Roger is passionate about endangered species, but believes commercial farming is a better model for long term survival. His interview on Close-Up with DoC’s Al Morrison of the status quo versus farming weka, saw 83 percent of viewers side with Roger.  Roger has also rescued a flock of wild Pitt Island sheep with a plan to selling them as a gourmet food product.  His latest victory against bureaucracy is the commercialisation of Undaria – an invasive Japanese kelp used in soups and salads overseas.  After a ten year fight he finally got the greenlight to start an industry that, in five years could be worth $10 million a year.   Roger is also the force behind Eyris Blue Pearls – Paua Pearls – exported around the world. 

The Agri Business Person of the Year is Graeme Harrison, founder and chair of ANZCO Foods.

Graeme created ANZCO foods in Japan in 1984, returning to New Zealand nine years later to lead the company’s subsequent growth. Today, ANZCO has annual sales of more than $1.2 billion and employs 2,800 people on 11 production sites within New Zealand and has sales and marketing offices in Japan, Taiwan, North America, the UK and Belgium. Graeme’s vision for the future has been key in ensuring ANZCO’s past and future success and this is evident in the company’s ongoing focus in increasing investment in downstream manufacturing. This includes food solutions, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and food flavourings.  Right through the process of ANZCO’s growth as a company, Graeme has shown leadership, vision and innovation and this has ensured that the business has been extremely successful.

This is the second year Federated Farmers has run the Cream of the Crop awards which Feds president Don Nicolson said gives the organisation the opportunity to celebrate how good farmers are.

The awards were sponsored by Ravensdown whose chair Bill McLeod was one of the judges.

 Other judges were Invercargill Mayor, Tim Shadbolt, farming and All Blacks legend, Sir Brian Lochore, Cathy Quinn, the Auckland based chair of law firm, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts and 2010 Veuve Clicquot businesswoman of the year and Southland netball coach, Robyn Broughton.


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