Rural round-up

January 20, 2019

Wilding pines march across the Wakatipu landscape – Keith Woodford:

The Wakatipu Basin, with Queenstown as its main town and Arrowtown a secondary town, is a key location for the war between wilding pines and humans. On the human side, the war is led by the Department of Conservation (DOC), but there are also lots of community volunteers. There are battles to be fought. It is not clear who is going to win.

New Zealand’s wilding pines include at least 11 species. They can be any North American or European conifer which has blown  in on the wind to where it was not intended to be. And that is what is happening across the tussock grasslands of the South Island.

In its natural state, the Wakatipu Basin was stark, There were very few trees. And so the early European settlers planted trees that came from their homelands.  These trees have greatly softened the landscape.  Indeed much of the beauty of the valley floors is associated with these trees, particularly the deciduous trees in autumn. . . .

Stepping up to genetic plate – Luke Chivers:

Waikaretu Valley sheep and beef farmer Kate Broadbent is committed to improving the odds for New Zealand sheep farmers against natural hazards. Luke Chivers reports. 

Sheep and beef farmer Kate Broadbent from Nikau Coopworth in Waikaretu Valley in Waikato is combining her passion for the land with sheep genetics and performance recording.

The former Canadian has a longstanding connection with the primary sector, science and innovation.

“I grew up on a dairy farm in Nova Scotia, Canada and it was there my love of farming was born,” Broadbent says. . . 

Big day for the southern guns:

Southern shearers opened a big weekend of shearing sports in New Zealand with a near cleansweep of all five places in the Open shearing final at the Northern Southland Community Shears near Lumsden today.

The rout in the Selbie family’s Five Rivers woolshed, including the biggest Open-class win in the career of former double Golden Shears lower grades champion Brett Roberts, 24, of Mataura, came in the first of two-back-to-back A-grade Southland shows this weekend. . . 

The shearing the fun shows of the north:

Waikato farmer Lee Cheyne isn’t going to let a few hundred kilometres stand between him and the chance to help boost the shearing competitions over the next few weeks.

It’s all about fun, he says, and while he won’t be at the Kaikohe show which kicks off the second annual ANZ Northland Shearing Competition on Saturday he says he will make the trip north for at least three of the other shows all of them at least two hours away – one close to four. . . 

Health Canada stands by approval of ingredient in Roundup weed killer :

Health Canada scientists say there is no reason to believe the scientific evidence they used to approve the continued use of glyphosate in weed killers was tainted.

On Friday they rejected, again, arguments that the ingredient in herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup causes cancer if the substances are used as they’re supposed to be.

The department’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency is required to reassess herbicides every 15 years and after such a reassessment in 2017 it approved glyphosate for continued use in Canada with some additional labelling requirements. The review looked at more than 1,300 studies and concluded glyphosate products pose no risk to people or the environment as long as they are properly used and labelled. . . 

 

Mystery surrounds potential world record trout catch:

Fish and Game is trying to confirm reports of a giant trout – a potential world record – recently caught in the Mackenzie Country hydro canals.

Eyewitnesses report seeing an angler land a 24.9kg (55 pound) brown trout in the Pukaki-Ohau A canal.

If confirmed, it would be a new world record for a brown trout. . . 


Rural round-up

November 20, 2018

Has the time come for genetic modification?– Charlie Dreaver:

Trees with red trunks and apples that are red right the way through and flower all year round. Should we back or block the genetically changed plants New Zealand scientists are growing? Charlie Dreaver reports for Insight. 

Gene edited plants are just as safe as normal plants, according to one scientist. At a Plant and Food Research greenhouse in Auckland, one of the sections is filled with $300 apple trees, and Andy Allan, a professor of plant biology, is pointing out one of his favourite experiment, a tree with bright, fuchsia-coloured flowers.

“The particular red gene we’re testing is under a strong expression, so the roots are red, the trunk is red, the leaves are copper and the fruit goes on to look more like a plum, it’s so dark.” . . 

Hope for kiwi comeback from 1080 project targeting stoats – Jono Edwards:

The first western Fiordland 1080 project will start mid-next year in the hope of bringing the stoat-ridden area’s kiwi back from the brink.

As part of the Department of Conservation’s “Save Our Iconic Kiwi” initiative, the operation will target 50,000ha of rugged, inaccessible terrain at Shy Lake, between Wet Jacket Arm and Breaksea Sound.

Non-toxic baits to accustom rats to the bait are planned for late winter next year, followed by toxic baits in September and October. The stoats will then eat the poisoned rats. . .

Native vegetation on sheep and beef farms summary report:

A report from the University of Canterbury has revealed that 24 per cent of New Zealand’s native vegetation (approximately 2.8 million hectares) is estimated to be on sheep and beef farms. This is the largest amount of native vegetation present outside of public conservation land. 

The report has also uncovered that 17 per cent of all New Zealand’s native forest is estimated to be on sheep and beef farms and is likely playing a vital, but often unheralded role in supporting biodiversity.

B+LNZ CEO Sam McIvor reflects that “This is a great acknowledgement for our farmers and the work they’re doing as stewards of the land. I hear sheep and beef farmers talking every day about what they’re doing on farm to support biodiversity and it’s great we have been able to develop evidence to back their passionate voices”. . .

Less effective killers cost more – Jacqueline Rowarth:

 Glyphosphate, commonly sold as Roundup, has been in the news again, this time because of a link to antibiotic resistance.

Canterbury University’s Professor Jack Heinemann has done some interesting work in the laboratory. He has also acknowledged agar plates in controlled conditions are a very long way from field use.

More research is required. Of course.

And scientists love having a reason to do more research.

It’s different in Russia – Keith Woodford:

This last week I have been working in Russia on issues of A1 and A2 beta-casein.  I am still there, but today is Sunday and together with my wife Annette, I am on a fast train from Moscow to St Petersburg.

It’s late autumn over here, but to a Kiwi lad it seems like the middle of winter. Until today, the weather has been fine and clear but with temperatures below freezing. Today the snow has arrived, and it will now be on the ground for at least the next four months.  There is not much sign of global warming over here!

Travelling by fast train at 250 km per hour, I am fascinated by the lungs of Russia. By that I mean the hundreds of kilometres of trees, largely pines, with just the occasional village.  Somewhere there must be some farm lands, but they sure aren’t in sight from the train. . . 

Signs mount that Fonterra will have to cut its payout forecast –  Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – The risks are mounting against Fonterra holding its current forecast milk payout and this week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction could be yet another nail in its coffin.

The auction results will be released early Wednesday, New Zealand time.

Fonterra’s current forecast is a rate of $6.25-to-$6.50 a kilogram of milk solids but Mark Lister, the head of wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, says the trends in both dairy pricing and the renewed strength in the kiwi dollar could see the actual payout settle closer to $6.00 or $6.25. . . 

Fonterra too helpful to councils – Hugh Stringleman:

The ever-increasing compliance load on dairy farmers was forcibly questioned at the Fonterra annual meeting by Cambridge dairy farmer Judy Bryan.

She alleged Fonterra accepts and facilitates regional councils’ demands for environmental actions that load costs on farmers.

“We may be getting $6 something in milk price but look where a lot of that is going, on compliance. . .

Careful! You might miss New Zealand’s latest luxury lodge:

New Zealand’s newest luxury lodge epitomises discretion, from blending seamlessly into its secluded rural location to the luxe surroundings and discerning service of a high-calibre luxury destination.

Set to become New Zealand’s newest luxury destination, The Lindis which opened this month in a dramatic South Island high country valley, blends so perfectly with the surroundings that you’d be forgiven for missing it.

Try spotting The Lindis from the air and you’re liable to miss it thanks to outstanding architecture designed to blend with the stunning landscape surrounding the building’s resting place in the Ahuriri Valley. The valley lies in a stretch of South Island high country between Mount Cook and Wanaka and the lodge name associates with The Lindis Pass, a picturesque alpine roadway linking the Mackenzie Basin with Central Otago. . .


Rural round-up

October 22, 2018

The business giving tourists a taste of the country – Sally Rae:

It is probably just as well that Laura Douglas has ditched her stiletto heels, given her days can include chasing errant pigs.

And while leading a runaway porker next to a state highway might draw a few odd glances from passing motorists, it is all in a day’s work for the self-confessed farm girl.

In a gutsy move, Miss Douglas (31) traded in a successful corporate career to establish an agri-tourism venture near Kingston in late 2016. In a major development for her fledgling business, Real Country recently confirmed a contract with international bus tour company Contiki to provide travellers with an authentic Southland farm experience.

Shares wobble as rules change – Hugh Stringleman:

Sharemarket high fliers A2 Milk and Synlait have lost considerable market value over the past month as investors try to make out the impact of forthcoming Chinese e-commerce regulations.

The prospects for both dairy companies run in tandem because Synlait produces most of A2 Milk’s infant formula and A2 now has a 17.4% stake in Synlait.

Both reported the doubling of sales and profits for the 2018 financial year when their share prices nudged $13 but A2 has since fallen to $10 and Synlait to $9. . . 

 

Butlers put berry farm up for sale – Chris Tobin:

Donald Butler (78) has spent most of his life growing berry fruit – strawberries especially – but now he and wife Jacky (76) have decided it’s time to step back.

The couple have placed their cafe and 11.95ha property at Hook, on State Highway 1 north of Waimate on the market, and will move to another property they own to run sheep.

Mr Butler has lived in the Hook area his entire life and has always been on a farm. ”My parents farmed on the Lower Hook Road and had 14 cows and apple orchards on a 40-acre [16ha] block. . .

Glysophate foes driven by hatred for Monsanto – Peter Griffin:

The NZ Environmental Protection Authority made the right call last week to leave glyphosate​ off a list of chemicals it will reassess to determine their risk to people and the environment.

In doing so, it resisted political pressure to put use of glyphosate-based weedkiller like Roundup in the spotlight. Associate Environment Minister and Green MP Eugenie Sage had wanted the EPA to consider classifying glyphosate as a hazardous chemical.

There’s a movement, particularly in Europe, to have glyphosate banned. . .

Property steeped in history on market for first time in over a century – Pat Deavoll and Rob Smith:

A historic farm near Culverden in North Canterbury is up for sale for the first time in 110 years.

PGG Wrightson real estate agent Bruce Hoban said that Mandamus Downs, owned by the Hammond family, had a “fine heritage” and was “held in high regard by North Canterbury farmers.”

“This is one of the Amuri Basin’s most admired grazing properties. It has an excellent scale, a good balance of hills, downs and flats, and has never been offered for sale before.” . . 

If we’re going to eat cattle let them eat grass – Jared Stone:

Stories about impending environmental apocalypse circulate almost daily, especially in drought-ravaged California. Many of these stories tend to blame agriculture — and specifically, beef — for gobbling up our resources. Though numbers vary widely and are hotly contested, some researchers estimate that it takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce each pound of beef.

The real problem, however, isn’t cattle. It’s industrial feedlots, where more than 70% of U.S. cattle eventually live.

In an industrial feedlot, potentially thousands of animals are packed together in an enclosure of bare, unproductive dirt. Nothing grows there. Operators have to bring in water for the cattle to drink, and for the enormous manure ponds that contain the cattle’s waste. But the majority of the water used in raising industrial cattle goes into growing their feed. These operations are tremendously resource-intensive. . .


Glyphosate unlikely to cause cancer – EPA

August 15, 2016

Glyphosate,  is unlikely to cause cancer in people, according to a new safety review by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

It’s a herbicide widely used in agriculture and by gardeners, and one of the most common brands using it is Roundup which has been targeted by people and organisations opposed to sprays.

The report commissioned by the EPA concludes that based on the weight of evidence, ‘the broad-spectrum herbicide is unlikely to be carcinogenic and should not be classified as a mutagen or carcinogen under the HSNO Act’. This is the latest in a long line of technical and scientific reports by expert bodies and regulators confirming the safety of glyphosate.

Agcarm chief executive, Mark Ross says, “I urge our councils and communities to take heed of this report and rest assured that the use of glyphosate in our parks, gardens and play areas poses no threat to the health of our people, pets or children.

“Glyphosate is an efficient and cost-effective means to keeping our country weed-free, our agricultural economy growing, and our environment protected.”

Agcarm commends the EPA for conducting this review and addressing the concerns that the public has raised about the herbicide. The results help to curtail the fear-mongering around the use of crop protection products – which are among the most highly-regulated substances in the world.

Experts from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) recently concluded that glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet.”

The European Food Safety Authority, an independent agency funded by the European Union, also concluded that glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans”.

“I anticipate that we can put this matter to bed and continue to use a very practical, economic and safe solution – so we can keep our parks and gardens weed-free,” says Ross.

Glyphosate has recorded over 40 years of safe use and has been the subject of over 800 studies, all of which confirmed its safety. It continues to be rigorously tested by regulators in New Zealand and throughout the world, with more than 160 countries approving its safe use.

Unlikely to be carcinogenic  is unlikely to satisfy those most strongly opposed to glyphosate but there are few absolute certainties in these matters and it is virtually impossible to say anything is 100% safe. Even water, on which all life depends, can kill if ingested in sufficient quantities.

Agcarm is the industry association of companies which manufacture, distribute and sell products which include glyphosate and is not a disinterested party but the EPA is unbiased and bases its finding on research.

Its report is here and concludes that there is no convincing evidence of an association between glyphosate exposure and the development of cancer in humans. .


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