Rural round-up

May 20, 2020

Kiwi lamb in limelight – Annette Scott:

Changing consumer demand in China has opened an opportunity for New Zealand lamb to take centre stage.

In a move to encourage online sales of NZ lamb in China, Beef + Lamb and Alliance have joined forces to launch a digital campaign aimed at leveraging the new consumer behaviour.  

The e-campaign is focused on driving online red meat sales as Chinese consumers seek out healthier food options in the wake of covid-19.   

“Alliance and B+LNZ are co-investing in the initiative to drive the awareness of NZ’s healthy and natural grass-fed lamb but ultimately to drive sales,” B+LNZ market development general manager Nick Beeby said. . . 

Wallaby curse – Farmer refuses to be caught on the hop – Sally Brooker:

Wallabies have been marketed as a cute local attraction in Waimate, but farmers curse the day they crossed the Ditch.

The problems began soon after Bennett’s wallabies from Tasmania were taken to The Hunters Hills in the Waimate District in 1874 for recreational hunting.

Their population boom led to damaged farm pasture, crops and fencing, and native bush and forestry plantings.

A 2017 Ministry for Primary Industries report predicted the cost to the economy of not controlling wallabies in the South Island could be $67million within 10 years.

Anecdotal reports say the numbers are increasing again in the Waimate area. Many farmers are upset about it, but few would go on the record.

Walter Cameron had no such qualms. He has been dealing with wallabies at his family’s 3900ha Wainui Station, near Hakataramea, for most of his life and knows how to keep them in check.  . . 

High paying environmental jobs not realistic:

The Government’s $1.1 billion idea of redeploying people into environmental jobs is great in concept but difficult to turn into reality, National’s Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson says.

“It’s a struggle to get Kiwis to take well-paying jobs in the horticulture or farming sector, so convincing people to become rat-catchers and possum-trackers in the numbers the Government is hoping for will be an enormous challenge.

“It’s all very well allocating the funding, but there’s no detail on how the job numbers will be achieved and this Government has a poor track record of delivering on their big policies.

“The $1.1 billion for 11,000 jobs means they’ve allocated $100,000 per job. There is no detail about how much of this is going to workers on the ground doing the environmental work and how much of this is going to added bureaucracy in Wellington offices. . . 

Training our rural doctors – Ross Nolly:

Attracting general practitioners to work in small rural areas has been challenging at times, which has led people to delay seeking medical care. Ross Nolly caught up with one Taranaki rural GP who says there are a lot of benefits to working in small communities.

In recent years finding doctors willing to work in rural general practices and rural hospitals has been difficult.

The Rural Hospital Medicine Training Programme is a subset of the Royal New Zealand GP College. It’s a relatively new programme and its aim is to give doctors an experience of rural hospital medicine. 

The programme has been operating at Hawera Hospital in South Taranaki for three years and shares some elements with general practice with many doctors practising rural GP and rural hospital medicine simultaneously. . . 

The power of community – James Barron:

Chairman of Fonterra Shareholders Council, James Barron on Fonterra, COVID-19, and the importance of community.

He waka eke noa – we’re all in this together. It’s a phrase that seems to be coming up a lot lately, and it reminds me how powerful community can be.

For wider New Zealand, the challenges brought about by COVID-19 have been significant.

But they have also presented some unexpected opportunities – to rediscover community spirit, spend quality time with our families, and do what’s best for the greater good. . . 

Tree planting is not a simple solution – Karen D. Ho and Pedro H. S. Brancalion:

A plethora of articles suggest that tree planting can overcome a host of environmental problems, including climate change, water shortages, and the sixth mass extinction (13). Business leaders and politicians have jumped on the tree-planting bandwagon, and numerous nonprofit organizations and governments worldwide have started initiatives to plant billions or even trillions of trees for a host of social, ecological, and aesthetic reasons. Well-planned tree-planting projects are an important component of global efforts to improve ecological and human well-being. But tree planting becomes problematic when it is promoted as a simple, silver bullet solution and overshadows other actions that have greater potential for addressing the drivers of specific environmental problems, such as taking bold and rapid steps to reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. . . 


Rural round-up

February 18, 2020

Working to nurture rural wellbeing – Sally Rae:

It’s been a tough time to be a farmer in the South.

But, as he helped man the Ag Proud New Zealand stand at the Southern Field Days at Waimumu last week, Mossburn dairy farmer Jason Herrick was still wearing a beaming smile.

Mr Herrick is heavily involved with the Ag Proud NZ initiative, set up last year to promote positive farming practices and raise awareness of rural people’s mental health. . . 

Solutions may have negative effect

Environmental solutions sought in New Zealand could have unintended global consequences, according to research presented at the Farmed Landscapes Research Centre workshop.

Ravensdown innovation and strategy general manager Mike Manning says there is debate over whether the environmental effects of food production should be calculated by hectare or by unit of food produced.

“If globally we want to continue to feed the world with the least impact environmentally then it is important to have the lowest footprint per unit of food and to maintain the investment in technology to reduce this footprint. To do otherwise simply has a worse global environmental outcome.”

In their research Manning, Jacqueline Rowarth and Ans Roberts looked at the production and environmental aspects of organic and conventional systems, taking into account economic aspects such as government subsidies. . . 

Big load to carry but couple pulls together – Sally Rae:

They say the couple that plays together, stays together.

In the case of Southland couple Brett and Lisa Heslip, their shared hobby is of the very noisy kind; they are enthusiasts of tractor pull, a phenomenally loud and curiously fascinating combination of sheer grunt and horsepower.

Tractor pull involves four different classes of tractor: standard, pre 85, sport and modified. Participants compete to see how far they can drag the Tractor Pull New Zealand weight transfer sled.

It was easy to find the tractor pull area at the Southern Field Days at Waimumu on Friday, as it just required following the noise. . . 

Farming fits the lifestyle – Ross Nolly:

Autumn calving is relatively new in Taranaki but one couple made the switch immediately when they bought their first farm. Ross Nolly reports

Switching to autumn calving wasn’t about making more money for Taranaki farmers Jaiden and Hannah Drought.

It was solely so they could enjoy long summer days with their children.

The couple who milk 360 cows on their 105ha effective farm at Riverlea near Kaponga say the pros of autumn calving far outweigh the downsides. . . 

Vineyard trialling native planting as herbicide alternative:

A commercial vineyard is investigating planting native plants and cover crops under vines as an alternative to spraying herbicides on the area.

Villa Maria Winery is running the trial with funding support from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund.

Villa Maria’s co-ordinator for the project, Raquel Kallas said conventional practice in New Zealand vineyards was to maintain a bare strip under the vines by applying herbicides, typically two or three times per season. . .

Getting smarter at growing grass – James Barbour:

Trewithen is a 288ha farm with 1,100 cows in New Plymouth, owned by the Faull Family from Waitara. In his third season, sharemilker James Barbour takes us through the farm’s approach to nutrient management.

The problem

We cover a large area, so paddock variability is an important issue for us. If we just apply a blanket rate without testing or targeting, the costs mount up very quickly because of the scale of the operation.

We’re milking all year around with various winter run-offs. We have an ambitious target of 600,000kg MS. Our focus is on growing more grass, taking care of the animals and becoming increasingly efficient. And we’ve managed to cut our stocking rate while increasing production. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 16, 2020

COVID-19 is a black swan – Keith Woodford:

COVID-19 is the black swan event that no-one saw coming. There is no precedent and so historical models tell us very little as to either the global health implications or the global economic implications. Much of the commentary we are reading is both facile and fallacious, often tailored to fit prior perspectives, and in other cases based on fundamental ignorance.

My own take on events is that the global outcomes are going to be major and that COVID-19 is going to be with us as a global black swan throughout all of this year. Export-focused agri-food will be less affected than most sectors.

For those not familiar with the term ‘black swan’, it is a random event, unable to be given a risk probability in advance, that changes many things. The associated hypothesis is that most of the mega-events that truly change the world are black swans. . .

Blips give trade hiccups – Annette Scott:

Food producers were in a strong position with high expectations of improved global growth heading into 2020 but unexpected disruption has put paid to that, ANZ agribusiness economist Susan Kilsby says.

In a keynote address at the Blinc Innovation 2020 Agri Outlook workshop at Lincoln Kilsby cited coronavirus and its impact on China as the biggest disrupter.

“In 2020 so far we have had missiles in the Middle East, drought, fire, flooding, Trump acquitted of impeachment, Brexit happened and the coronavirus outbreak. . . 

Value in our shared values – Sarah Perriam:

Whose values really matter the most? The food producers’ because they intimately understand the science and challenges the most and should be trusted. Or the consumers who, without the producer, wouldn’t have a business? But then what if we actually share the same values?

This week in Sarah’s Country we hear from Kate Acland, co-owner of Mt Somers Station and a diverse range of value-added products shares her views on the importance of centring our businesses around values.

Sarah Perriam, the host of Sarah’s Country, is this week joined by guest co-host Elizabeth Soal who is the chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand. . . 

Growers want a fair deal – Sudesh Kissun:

It’s been a busy 12 months for Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA) first female president Kylie Faulkner.

Since taking over the reins at PVGA, Faulkner has been involved with two key pieces of legislation proposed by the Government: national policy statements on highly productive land and water. Land and water are the backbone of PGVA’s 230 growers and their operations.

They are no minnows when it comes to food production; a recent Deloitte report says while Pukekohe accounts for just 3.8% of the country’s land under fruit and vegetable production, it contributes to 26% of the nation’s value of production of vegetables, and a lesser proportion of fruit. . .

The Garden of Eatin:

Ross Nolly is looking forward to writing ‘maggot farmer’ on forms asking for his occupation.

The former butcher, now writer and photographer, has a small lifestyle block in Taranaki where he tries to live as self-sufficiently as possible.

He hunts for meat, has a food forest, grows his own vegetables, keeps ducks and chickens and farms maggots to feed them. . .

Getting the balance right – Colin Miller:

Many sunsets ago, I learnt from one of the older father figures in my life the ageless truth that, “Balance is the key to life”.

Six simple words easily put together; quick and easy to read, but so much harder to live! I well remember thinking at the time; ‘Huh … whatever is that all about?’ I didn’t get it at all back then. If it sounds a little patronising for you at the moment, then how about this old adage from yesteryear – “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.

Yep, balance is the key to life; these six simple words are surely packed with wisdom we humans need to hear. I have seen too many examples of exactly this gone wrong; and sometimes up close and personal with good friends and family. The end results have at times been tragic. . .


Rural round-up

June 19, 2019

Oh DIRA – Elbow Deep:

As a Fonterra supplying dairy farmer you have every right to be disappointed with the release of the Government’s changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Fonterra will still have to supply raw milk at cost to new, presumably foreign owned processors who can then export value-added product in direct competition with the co-op, all without having to establish their own supply chain.

Fonterra will still have to accept new milk under the open entry provision, albeit with a few tweaks around new conversions and environmental concerns, which is worrying enough, but wait until you delve deeper: the flawed reasoning behind keeping this provision is MPI’s  belief Fonterra can already control supply through the milk price. How this belief persists when legislation exists specifically to prevent milk price manipulation is beyond me, and this is where my disappointment turns to anger. . .

Dairy champion: a balancing act – Ross Nolly:

Dairy Woman of the Year Trish Rankin is a primary school teacher, full-time farmer and a passionate environmentalist among other things. Ross Nolly reports.

When Trish Rankin heard her name announced as the winner of the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award she was completely taken by surprise. 

She has always followed her passions but never set out to strategically target an award.

Entering the 2013 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards and winning the 2016 Northland share farmer competition set the ball rolling for her. It brought about a realisation that people, many in the higher echelon of the dairy industry, are interested in what she has to say.  . .

Pets or steak? The inside story of a bovine brouhaha in the ‘burbs – Alice Neville:

An urban farm in Auckland has been raising cows for meat for years. This time, they decided to involve the community in the process – but the backlash was so intense, the plan was canned. Alice Neville talks to those involved about what went down, and what we can learn from the saga. 

Asprawling, hippy-esque bucolic paradise surrounded by multimillion-dollar white villas, Kelmarna Gardens is a bit of an anomaly at the epicentre of one of Auckland’s most bougie neighbourhoods.

Covering four and a half acres of council land on the Grey Lynn/Ponsonby/Herne Bay border, it’s a city farm and organic community garden headed by a trust and mainly run by volunteers. In recent years, local chefs have got behind the gardens: you’ll see Kelmarna produce name-checked on menus all over town. . . 

The foul-smelling bugs threatening NZ wine – Farrah Hancock:

Hold your pinot noir a little closer tonight. If brown marmorated stink bugs establish themselves, New Zealand’s red wine could taste unpleasant. Italian stink bug expert Professor Claudio Ioriatti visited New Zealand and shared lessons from Italy’s smelly bug invasion with local growers and scientists.

Tasting notes for New Zealand’s red wines could look very different if brown marmorated stink bugs establish themselves here.

New Zealand Winegrowers biosecurity and emergency response manager Ed Massey said stink bugs could cause a loss in production as well as a serious quality issue.

“They’re called stink bugs for a reason.” . . 

Organic product to tackle selenium deficiency in soils – Chris Balemi:

A new generation of organic selenium supplementation will be introduced into New Zealand this year, helping to solve NZ soil’s issue of low selenium.

Selenium is an essential trace element for ruminants and required for growth, fertility and the prevention of mastitis and calf scours. However, selenium deficiency is prevalent in soils NZ-wide. This presents an issue every farm manager would benefit from understanding better.

A new generation of organic selenium supplementation (called Excential Selenium 4000) will be introduced into NZ this year. It’s an important development because it will greatly improve on previous options for selenium supplementation on the farm.. . 

Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate – Frank M. Mitloehner:

As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.

My research focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. In my view, there are many reasons for either choosing animal protein or opting for a vegetarian selection. However, foregoing meat and meat products is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe. And if taken to an extreme, it also could have harmful nutritional consequences. . . 

Trump’s $16 billion farm bailout criticised at the WTO – Bryce Baschuk:

The European Union joined China and five other World Trade Organization members in criticizing the Trump administration’s $16 billion assistance program for U.S. farmers, indicating the bailout may violate international rules.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest farmer assistance program could exceed America’s WTO subsidy commitments and unduly influence U.S. planting decisions, according to a document published on the WTO website June 17. .  .

 


Rural round-up

February 5, 2019

They’re doing the impossible – Ross Nolly:

A Taranaki family has its eye set firmly on farm ownership. Ross Nolly reports.

When Glen and Trish Rankin entered the Dairy Industry Awards one of the things they looked forward to was the feedback from judges.

However, when it came, it was unexpected and set them aback, especially when they were told farm ownership might not be achievable.

“Feedback from the second time we entered was that we were pulling in different directions and that they couldn’t ever see us owning a farm. It felt blunt at the time but was spot on,” Trish says.

“They suggested we pool our skills and focus on driving our farm business. We’d just had baby number four, we were frantically busy but still not getting ahead. We decided to search for a 50-50 job.” . . 

Extra grazing slows start to meat season :

Good grass growth has dominated the season for central South Island meat processors.

Anzco Foods Canterbury processing general manager Darryl Tones said wet weather before Christmas caused a slower than usual start to the season but meant farmers had quite a lot of feed and the stock was in good condition.

The plant was running at ”full seasonal capacity for beef and lamb with day and night shifts operating for both”, Mr Tones said. . .

Planet-saving diet has pitfalls – Richard Rennie:

Richard Rennie examines a report that suggests the world eat far more grains, nuts and beans with less of everything else.

A report from medical journal The Lancet calls for significant shifts in the types of foods people eat.

It is a shift in diet that has the planet as much as human health firmly in mind but has been challenged on grounds New Zealand is already well down the path to providing the planet with a sustainable diet. . . 

 

Pania Te-Paiho Marsh teaches Kiwi women how to hunt – Kirsty Lawrence:

Every time Pania Te-Paiho Marsh takes a group of women out hunting she sees their confidence grow. 

What started as an innocent Facebook offer has grown into a list filled with more than 1000 women who want the experience of going bush. 

Te-Paiho Marsh started Wahine Toa Hunting in August and said the idea came about as she wanted people to live a better lifestyle. 

“I wanted to help women become more self-sufficient, to walk what I talk.”  . . 

Ozone in the vineyard – Tessa Nicholson:

The word ozone conjures up images of big holes in the atmosphere, stronger UV light, the risk of severe sunburn and CFC’s — at least in this part of the world.

However if you are a vineyard owner, then maybe you want to think again about this particular compound, as it could be a saving grace out there among the vines.

Ozone or O3, is an unstable bluish gas, that has long been recognised as a sterilising agent in wineries and dairy units. . . 

Drought and a creeping emptiness in NSW – Perry Duffin:

Smaller farming communities across NSW are shrinking in the face of economic and social headwinds but those who remain fear the current drought is accelerating the decline.

Between 2006 and 2011 the Riverina-Murray population increased by 18,000 people overall, according to the census.

But a closer look at migration data reveals smaller towns lost thousands to regional centres such as Wagga Wagga and Albury. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 5, 2018

Seed of interest planted at young age – Sally Rae:

In a year marking the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, South Pacific Seeds managing director Charlotte Connoley has become the first woman in the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association’s 100-year history to be elected to its executive. She talks to Sally Rae.

Charlotte Connoley likes nothing better than getting back to her rural roots.

As well as catching up with Kurow-based family, it was also an opportunity to share a taste of her own farming upbringing with her two preschool-aged sons.

Whether getting them in a woolshed or shifting sheep, it helped give them an understanding of where their food came from and how it was produced, Mrs Connoley (39) said. . . 

All about taking Southdown ‘to next level’ – Sally Rae:

Southdown sheep might be a breed steeped in history — it is the oldest of the terminal sire breeds in the UK — but a group of breeders in New Zealand is firmly focused on positioning it for the future, as  Sally Rae reports.

Lawrence farmer Don Murray quips he is a novice when it comes to breeding Southdown sheep.

There were stalwart breeders who had been there “forever” and from whom he had learned a lot since establishing his stud in 2006.

Mr Murray said he had always liked breeding sheep and was interested in recording. His father-in-law, who had bred Southdowns, further encouraged his interest to venture into stud breeding. . . 

Good health needs to be worked on – Mark Daniel:

Rural life, and agriculture is driven by changing seasons that dictate on-farm tasks and operations and busy times can mean pressure on owners or employees.

The pressure of a high workload over an extended period can create illness or fatigue, often in the form of the “silent killers” such as high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity.

While you wouldn’t baulk at making informed decisions about stock, pastures or crops, it’s sometimes too easy to forget about making good decisions about the overall management of your staff and indeed your own time to keep things on an even keel. . . 

Vet’s life brings variety – Ross Nolly:

Many country kids who grow up on a dairy farm dream of becoming a vet and working with large animals. 

But even though they have probably come in contact with a vet numerous times they often don’t know the realities of the job. 

Cathy Thompson who only recently retired from the Taranaki Veterinary Centre was a large animal vet for well over 30 years. A large proportion of her workload was on the region’s many dairy farms.

When she began her career only 20% of vets were female and it was a novelty for a farmer to have a female vet attend a call-out. 

Now 80% of new vets are women. . . 

Fonterra likely to cut forecast payout to farmer shareholder:

Fonterra Cooperative Group is expected to cut its forecast payout to farmers when it publishes first-quarter results on Thursday.

Record production in New Zealand and weak global dairy prices are seen weighing on the cooperative, which currently predicts a payment of $6.25-to-$6.50 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2019 season, down from a previous forecast of $6.75/kgMS and the $7/kgMS opening prediction in May. Fonterra paid $6.69/kgMS in the 2018 season. . .

Americans have planted so much corn that’s it’s changed the climate – Eric J. Wallace:

CORN FARMERS IN EASTERN NEBRASKA have long claimed weather patterns are changing, but in an unexpected way.

“It’s something I’ve talked about with my dad and grandad many times,” says fifth-generation corn farmer Brandon Giltner. Along with his father and brother, the 45-year-old lives in the 400-person village of Giltner and grows about 2,000 acres of corn each year. From above, the area looks like a blip of homes surrounded by an expansive grid of circular fields. Though Brandon’s grandfather is retired, he takes an active interest in the business. “Contrary to what you’d think should be happening, both him and my dad swear up and down [that] droughts used to come more often and be a lot worse,” says Hunnicutt. “Considering it’s been 30 years since we had a really bad one, I’ve started kind of taking them at their word.” . . 

 

More milk please – Saul Morris:

Dairy consumption is a much debated topic among nutritionists. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends reducing saturated fats to less than 10 percent of total energy intake and reducing trans-fats to less than 1 percent of total energy intake.

This recommendation is translated into “practical advice” to “replace” butter with oils rich in polyunsaturated fats and eat reduced-fat dairy foods, among other suggestions. But is this advice in line with the latest evidence, and is it appropriate for populations in Africa and Asia that currently have very low consumption of dairy products and may not find it easy to access to reduced-fat products?

A study published this month in the leading medical journal The Lancet casts doubt on the epidemiological evidence base for discouraging dairy consumption. The authors followed up, for an average of nine years, more than 136,000 individuals aged 35-70 years from 21 countries from five continents. They measured their diets using locally appropriate food frequency questionnaires and tracked their subsequent rates of serious heart disease and death from all causes. They found that dairy consumption was protective against both serious heart disease and death from all causes, and that this protective effect was particularly marked for whole-fat dairy. Milk and yoghurt both showed the same protective effect when analysed separately; cheese and butter did not show statistically significant effects. . .

 


%d bloggers like this: