Rural round-up

18/06/2020

Farmers must drive change – Colin Williscroft:

Catchment groups offer farmers the chance to take the lead in freshwater quality enhancement while maintaining profits. 

In the process they encourage thriving farming communities, presenters told a Beef + Lamb eforum.

Rangitikei Rivers Catchment Collective chairman Roger Dalrymple said community catchment groups let farmers make change from the bottom up rather than having it forced on them from the top down, which has often been the approach.

Farmers in catchment groups can help lift knowledge and education and have more control of pressure to make environmental improvements while ensuring their businesses remain sound. . . 

Tough road ahead for wool – Sally Rae:

The costs incurred in shearing crossbred sheep are starting to seriously impede the profitability of sheep farming, ANZ’s latest Agri Focus report says.

Strong wool prices were at the lowest level recorded this decade while shearing costs accelerated, a trend that would only continue. Returns were “absolutely dismal” and that situation was unlikely to improve significantly until existing stocks had cleared, the report said.

Wool had built up throughout the pipeline with in-market stocks elevated, local wool stores full and product starting to pile up in wool sheds.

End-user demand for coarse wool remained tied to carpet production. Wool carpets were generally still expensive relative to synthetic carpet which would make selling wool products even more challenging as global economic conditions imploded. . . 

Too important for lazy labels – Mike Manning:

The espoused benefits of regenerative agriculture have captured headlines recently. Proponents argue climate, soil health, waterways and food nutrition can all be improved by taking a regenerative approach. 

That’s quite a list for a cure-all.

Before we throw the export-dollar-generating baby out with the conventional-farming bathwater it pays to probe beneath the buzzword. Where did the concept come from and what is actually meant by the word regenerative?

The concept of regenerative agriculture originated from justifiable concerns about how continuous arable cropping can degrade soils, an example of which occurred in North American wheat and cornfields. The notorious dust bowls of the 1930s were the result of soil problems such as loss of organic matter, compaction, reduced water-holding capacity and diminishing fertility. . . 

New sheep breed key to organic success for Southland family :

Imagine a breed of sheep that requires no dagging, shearing, vaccinations or dipping. It is highly fertile, lives a reproductive life of 15 years or more and puts all of its energy into producing meat.

It has been a 30-year labour of love for Tim and Helen Gow and their family at Mangapiri Downs organic stud farm and this year they are busy selling more than 100 Shire stud rams.

The Gow family established their Wiltshire flock in 1987 after seeing them in England a couple of years earlier.

“Wiltshire horned are believed to have descended from the Persian hair meat sheep brought to Britain by the Romans as the first British meat sheep,” he said. . . 

Reproductive results: Bay of Plenty farm almost halves its empty rate:

A focus on cow condition helped Jessica Willis almost halve the empty rate on a dairy farm she managed for four years.

The 31-year-old ran a 48-hectare farm, milking 150 Holstein Friesians at Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty until May 2020.

The flat property was below sea level and got extremely wet during the winter and spring.

“It was a constant juggling act to ensure cows didn’t pug paddocks and damage pasture when it was wet,” said Willis. . . 

Farming for the future – Virginia Tapscott:

In a eucalyptus forest east of Monto in central Queensland, fat, glossy cattle have retreated to the shade to escape the midday sun. The sun in northern Australia stings even in the cooler months. Flicking flies with their tails, the animals seem completely oblivious to the vital role they have played in the transformation of Goondicum Station. They have enabled Rob and Nadia Campbell to capitalise on the dawn of an unconventional agricultural trade — natural capital.

Not only is the private sector paying them for their bushland and the carbon it captures, but the bank manager is on board too. National Australia Bank has recognised the value of environmental improvements that began at Goondicum in the 1960s, cutting interest rates on parts of the station under conservation. The grazing systems developed by successive generations of the Campbell family have allowed large areas of native vegetation to regenerate and encouraged native wildlife populations to increase. . . 


Rural round-up

11/01/2020

‘Tragic start’ to 2020: Six deaths on NZ farms in six days – Eleisha Foon:

Six people have died in workplace incidents on New Zealand farms in six days this year

The latest death came today when one person died in a quad bike crash on a Wharepuhunga farm, south of Cambridge.

Another death earlier this week included a 67-year-old man who died when the tractor he was driving rolled down a bank at the Goldfields Mining Centre near Cromwell on Wednesday. . .

Farmers take the lead – Sandra Taylor:

Two Rangitikei farmers are driving a bottoms-up approach to improving water quality in their region by encouraging and empowering farmers and their communities to work collectively to address water quality issues.

Roger Dalrymple, who farms Waitatapia Station, a large-scale mixed cropping operation near Bulls and Taihape sheep and beef farmer Mark Chrystall, were instrumental in setting up the Rangitikei Rivers Catchment Collective (RRCC) two years ago. This group acts as an umbrella organisation for community catchment groups based around three major river systems in the region. Collectively these groups involve at least 250 farmers and numerous other community stakeholders.

Roger, who like Mark is a passionate environmentalist, says over the past 100 years, everything about environmental management has been driven from the top down and it is a model that has failed. . . 

Trade Secrets makes its predictions for 2020 – Alan Beattie :

Happy new year and all that. Now, where we were? Ah yes, indefinite global trade tension and Brexit.

Making predictions is the done thing around this time of year, and we’re not unknown for sticking our necks out. So in today’s newsletter we give you ours (or at least this particular writer’s) for events in the trade world.

We plead in mitigation that predicting trade politics, particularly the timing of events, is difficult at the best of times given the interminable bureaucratic processes involved. And these days we have Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, possessing respectively no consistent decision-making criteria at all and a genius for unacknowledged U-turns. Also, Iran. Sometimes it feels like you might as well be betting on raindrops running down a window. Be kind to us if some of these forecasts turn out wrong. Our chart of the day looks at something which definitely did happen, namely the slump in trade between South Korea and Japan last year. . . 

Students push rural health work – Colin Williscroft:

Nursing students joined medical students late last year on a tour designed to promote rural health careers to pupils in rural schools.

Third-year Wellington nursing students Rachael Rowe, Lagisi Wirangi, Katrin Scott, Laura Winter and Mickey Walker took part in a five-day trip through Wairarapa and Central Hawke’s Bay to Napier and back to encourage country children to consider medical and health careers.

It was the first time nursing students took part in the tour, Whitireia Polytech nursing programme manager Leanne Pool said.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for our students to promote nursing as a career choice to young people.” . . 

Reading to Reporoa – Sophie Barnes:

When Alexandra Lond began studying English Literature in 2012, the thought that, seven years later she’d be in Reporoa, New Zealand, managing an 800-cow herd would never have crossed her mind.

English woman Alex’s route into farming began while studying at Reading University. She befriended agricultural students during hockey practice, after hearing all the farming chatter “made me want to know more.”

A friend put her in touch with Sally Manford, of Hinxdon Farm, in Kent, and volunteered her way into a job.

“I spent two months shadowing the milker, working for free, before heading to my day job in town,” she says. . . 

Sticky wicket for honey producers – Richard Rennie:

Honey producers face a season of lean returns as prices plunge to well below break-even, leaving some having to decide if this year’s crop is even worth harvesting.

Beekeeping Incorporated president Jane Lorimer said prices for bulk honey have dropped to $3.50 to $4 a kilo, well down on the $6-$7 a kilo needed to break even on production costs.

Lorimer, a Waikato producer, said she has been lucky also having income generated through kiwifruit pollination, which will be a valuable side income. . . 

DairyNZ to host Farmers Forum

DairyNZ will hold a series of farmer meetings over the next two months to help participants better understand what is driving changes in the sector and how to respond.

The Farmers Forum 2020 programme kicks off in Northland on February 18. Events will follow in Waikato, Southland, Taranaki and Canterbury.

The events are free DairyNZ levy players and their staff. DairyNZ says farmers will get updated on regional and national policy development, latest science and an overview of the industry body’s activities. . .

Leading livestock photographer Ben Simpson shares his favourite photos – Lucy Kinbacher:

Have you ever seen a bull dance?

If you’ve got a paddock of stud sires, chances are you have. But it isn’t until you look behind the lens of Ben Simpson’s camera that you truly notice the ballroom spectacular taking place.

Dancing with Bulls is one of the many moments captured by this globally recognised photographer that the average human would probably fail to see.

When Ben was encouraged by a mate to buy his first Pentax camera while living in America, little did he know it would shape the rest of his life. . . 


Rural round-up

05/10/2013

Mild confidence boost in NZ beef sector – Rabobank:

Much improved climatic conditions throughout the winter and a favourable weather outlook for spring have certainly boosted confidence across the New Zealand beef industry, particularly after the challenging drought conditions of summer and autumn, according to agribusiness specialist, Rabobank.

Rabobank’s Beef Quarterly report says that, in line with the seasonal low point in beef supply – which occurs towards the end of winter and into spring – farmgate prices have improved, while average export returns have also seen some encouraging upwards movement.

Rabobank animal proteins analyst Matthew Costello says the decline in the New Zealand dollar against the US dollar, which has eased around seven per cent between April and the end of August, was also helpful in boosting confidence in the Kiwi beef sector. Unfortunately, the currency has since rebounded to the highest level since May, putting downward pressure on schedules and challenging New Zealand’s price competitiveness in the export markets. . .

Farmers with the real smarts:

The Dalrymple brothers, Hew and Roger, farming just out of Bulls, have a second pair of eyes looking over their property.  Actually the word is ‘i’ – as in smartphone technology. Peter Burke reports on the technology in use and the savings that result.

FOR SIX generations the Dalrymple families have farmed in Manawatu and slowly built their land base. 

The current 2200ha freehold plus 200ha leased property is diverse – forestry, cropping, horticulture, sheep and beef trading and some specialised stock business, mainly managing dairy heifers prior to export to China and elsewhere.

Roger runs the sheep and beef, Hew looks after cropping.  This year they’ll plant at least 450ha in maize, 30ha in potatoes, 10ha in onions, 40ha in squash, 120ha in barley and 14ha in wheat. 

Lamb trading numbers vary each year, usually about 25,000, plus up to 10,500 cattle and about the same in dairy heifers. They also contract-finish, making it a big, complex operation. . .

Fonterra Appoints New Managing Director of Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA):

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited announced today the appointment of Pascal De Petrini as Managing Director of its Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa (APMEA) business unit.

The APMEA business unit comprises all of Fonterra’s consumer operations across Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Mr De Petrini will join Fonterra at the beginning of November and takes over from Johan Priem who has been Acting Managing Director APMEA since May.

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings said, “Pascal is a strong, strategic people leader with a proven track record in delivering significant growth as well as turnarounds in Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) businesses. He has more than 25 years’ experience across the markets of APMEA and in senior leadership roles at Danone which will greatly benefit our consumer, nutritional and foodservice growth in Asia. I am delighted that we have someone of Pascal’s strengths and experience joining Fonterra. . .

Canterbury irrigation firm plans storage ponds:

A Canterbury irrigation scheme that has been taking water from the Waimakariri River for 15 years wants to build a large storage pond so it can continue to operate when water restrictions are in force.

Waimakariri Irrigation Limited is a run-of-river scheme that supplies water to about 200 properties, ranging from dairy farms to lifestyle blocks, covering 18,000 hectares on the northern side of the river.

It is seeking a land use consent to build a double pond combination on a site it owns near Oxford.

Manager Brent Walton says the ponds will allow users to continue irrigating during dry periods when the river level is low and there are restrictions on taking the water. . .

Never too old for new ideas

ADVERSITY MAKES you struggle, so think and look for answers, say horticulture industry pioneers and innovators Fay and Joe Gock.

The pair, both in their 80s, have for 60 years wheeled out good ideas: they were the first in the world to put stickers on fruit, they’ve grown seedless watermelon, and they pioneered using chilled polystyrene boxes to export broccoli.

They were winners this year of the horticulture industry’s highest honour, the Bledisloe Cup. And they won an award from the Dominion Federation of NZ Chinese Commercial Growers “in recognition of your lifetime of innovation and contribution to the horticulture industry”. . .

US Government shutdown warning to our farmers:

The budgetary deadlock, which has sections of the United States Government shutting down, should serve as a warning to New Zealand farmers to run conservative farm budgets.

“Following record milk price forecasts and increases in the ANZ Commodity Index across the primary industries, farmers may be very bullish about the current 2013/14 season,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“The optimism is most welcome since the ANZ Commodity Index has hit its third highest level. Meat and Fibre farmers will be relieved to see the international price of wool, our green and renewable fibre, increase 13 percent in a month. Yet it is right across the primary board, from red meat to apples and logs, we just seem to be in an export sweet spot.

“Some may be tempted to anticipate outstanding forecasts for this season by taking on debt. . .

Entries open for New Zealand’s Prestigious Royal Show:

The Royal A and P Show New Zealand promises to be an affair for the whole family featuring entertainment, sideshows and livestock exhibits from some of New Zealand’s elite farmers.

The countdown has begun and entries are now open as Feilding and the wider Manawatu gear up to host the most prestigious A and P show on the calendar – the Royal A and P Show New Zealand.

Entries are now being taken for this spectacular event across all livestock sections ranging from Alpacas to equestrian classes to beef and dairy cattle, pigs and everything in between. . .


Rural round-up

26/08/2013

New irrigation system being trialled – Sally Rae:

The development of a new irrigation system, being trialled in North Otago, has been described as a potential ground-breaker for the industry.

RX Plastics, the Ashburton-based manufacturer and distributor of the K-Line irrigation pod and sprinkler system, has produced the G-Set irrigation system, which it believes meets a gap in the market for an efficient system that irrigates more challenging areas.

G-Set was an embedded system that could be installed anywhere that irrigation pipe could be run, making it more suitable for more difficult terrain, hill slopes and irregular shaped pastures, sales and marketing manager Phil Gatehouse said. . .

Sour times in the dairy industry – Sally Rae:

Queen Elizabeth famously had one in 1992. Now it is dairy giant Fonterra – New Zealand’s largest exporter – that has experienced an ”annus horribilis”, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports.

January 2013: Fonterra moves to persuade global customers that New Zealand dairy products are safe in the wake of the discovery of dicyandiamide residue in milk.

Chief executive Theo Spierings says the co-operative’s testing found only minute traces of DCD – a nitrification inhibitor used by the dairy industry to reduce nitrate leaching into waterways and greenhouse gas emissions – and they were about 100 times lower than acceptable levels under European food safety limits. . .

Think of rural communities – Rebecca Harper:

Earthquakes have become too much of a regular occurrence for many New Zealanders.

The earth moving can be a frightening and destructive thing.

The latest significant quake was centred in Seddon on August 16. The force was reportedly comparable to that felt in central Christchurch on February 22, 2011.

Almost every home in Seddon was damaged by the earthquake swarm, which began with a magnitude 6.6 quake at 2.31pm on Friday, August 16. About 50 aftershocks of magnitude four or more rocked the region in the 30 hours after the initial jolt. . .

Making money in the hills and on the flats:

HILL COUNTRY farmers should put their efforts and energy into increasing lambing and calving rates, rather than trying to finish stock.

Meanwhile finishers should focus on daily liveweight gain and maximum return on feeds.

That’s the message large-scale finisher Roger Dalrymple, Bulls, gave a recent BRIG (Beef Returns Improvement Group – see panel) seminar near Hunterville, Rantikei.

“The one thing that hill country farmers can influence most is their lambing percentage and if they increase this from say 110% to 130%, their returns will skyrocket,” Dalrymple says. . .

POTATO TOM, a probable world first:

ONE PLANT, two crops: it’s a bit like having your cake and eating it and for New Zealanders it could be reality this summer.

How? With an innovation Tharfield Nursery, Katikati, is marketing nationwide in what it believes is a world first commercialisation. The Western Bay of Plenty operation has grafted thousands of Gardeners Delight tomato plants onto Agria potatoes to create the POTATO TOM, a trademarked seedling it is distributing under its incredible edibles brand. “It will produce a great yield of potatoes and tomatoes,” says nursery general manager, Andrew Boylan. While the idea of grafting a tomato with a potato is not new this could be the first time anyone has successfully developed this combination at a commercial level globally, he adds. . .

Woodchip wins stand-off study:

WELL MANAGED woodchip is the best stand-off for cow care judging by the findings of a Dairy NZ research project.

Agresearch scientist Karen Schulz presented the results of the three month trial at a recent field day at Fonterra’s Jordan Valley farm, Northland.

During the trial 80 pregnant non-lactating cows were split into groups and allocated to one of four different stand-off surfaces for eighteen hours/day, and pasture for the remainder of the day.

After four days of this on-off regime, they had a week on pasture with researchers continuing to record lying times as well as signs of leg health, walking gait and dirtyness. . .


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