Rural round-up

April 1, 2019

Let’s talk relationships – Nigel Malthus:

A Collingwood dairying couple is calling for formal recognition of healthy human relationships and wellbeing as quantifiable benchmarks in dairy farming.

Tim and Deborah Rhodes say the industry acknowledges the need for healthy environments and healthy animals, but not healthy humans.

They have asked Fonterra, via the Shareholders’ Council, to adopt a code of practice they call ‘responsible relationships.’ . . 

Partnership farm trials show GHG possibilities:

An 18-month long project to understand how changes on farm to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may impact a farms profitability and productivity has come to fruition, with the results for the Owl demonstration farm in Cambridge released today by DairyNZ.

“Our aim was to model and apply practical measures to see how we can adapt New Zealand’s highly efficient pastoral farm systems to meet New Zealand’s climate change goals,” says DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle.

“The outcome of this project is important to helping us understand the impact of making improvements or changes to how a farm operates in order to reduce emissions and nitrogen leaching.” . .

 

Technology gains on farm praised – Gina McKenzie:

Making informed decisions using technology has created more productive land use for farms while reducing their environmental impact, according to Eyrewell farmer Mike Smith.

When Mr Smith and his family began their farming partnership in 2010, one of the first tasks was to boost soil fertility, along with adding soil moisture monitors, soil temperature monitors and flow meters.

”We wanted to know where we were sitting with our soil types, soil fertility and soil moisture-holding capabilities to make really well-informed decisions,” he said. . . 

Grower taking quinoa to market – Toni Williams:

The ancient grain quinoa (pronounced keen-waa) is touted as a new superfood but its history stems back to ancient times in South America.

It is successfully grown in New Zealand (in both the North and South Island) but is still imported in large quantities from Bolivia and Peru, as well as Australia.

And that is something Methven farmer Andrew Currie, and his partner Gaewynn Hood, at Avonmore Farm, on State Highway 77, just out of Methven, want to change.

Mr Currie, the third generation of growers on the property, knows of just three other substantial growers in New Zealand: two in the North Island and one in the South Island. . . 

Introducing the 2019 Sheep Industry Ambassadors: Part 2:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand have selected two Sheep Industry Ambassadors to represent this country at the Australia – New Zealand – United States Sheep Industry Ambassadors programme (formerly known as TriLamb). They are Tom Whitford from Northern Waikato and Cameron Russell from Southland. New Zealand will be hosting the 2019 programme and the Ambassadors will be touring New Zealand in late March. In part two, we meet Cameron Russell.

Sheep Industry career-path needs promoting

Cameron Russell is living proof that the sheep industry has a lot to offer young people with the right attitude and a willingness to succeed.

At 26 years of age, he is married with a child and working in a well-paid job as stock manager on Southland’s Diamond Peak Station. . . 

Time to fund the fight against animal activists says Top End beef leader – Vernon Graham:

The cattle transaction levy should be lifted by 50 cents to better fund the fight against the beef industry’s enemies headed by animal activists, says Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association president, Chris Nott.

Mr Nott, Alcoota Station, Alice Springs, told the NTCA’s annual conference in Darwin the time had come for beef producers to stand up to their critics and opponents.

Many delegates were clearly worried the beef industry was losing the battle for the hearts and minds of consumers because of the misinformation being spread by animal activists. . . 

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

March 11, 2019

Silence on the land: Why are NZ Farmers quiet on the prospect of capital gains tax? –  Andrea Fox:

The proposed capital gains tax is a “mangy dog”, Federated Farmers says – but so far it hasn’t provoked much barking in the home paddocks.

Farmers have been almost silent – at least in public – on the spectre of a tax that, according to critics, will add unacceptably high costs and complexity to farmers’ already heavy compliance burden.

But don’t think for a minute they’ve accepted the idea of a tax on land sales.

The suggestion from farmers is that while some feel so hammered by central and local government lately they are shellshocked. Others are more relaxed. That’s because they know Coalition partner NZ First won’t support the recommendations from the Tax Working Group (TWG), for fear of being consigned to political history next year. . .

Aerial “no-till” project set to revolutionise NZ farming:

A successful trial of “no-till” helicropping showcased today in the Southern Waikato promises a step-change in the approach to pastoral farming in New Zealand – ensuring the protection of soils while maintaining productivity.

“We are effectively putting away the plough,” says Sustainable Helicropping Group Chairman, Colin Armer. “The aerial no-till approach means we can establish crops and renew pastures without touching the ground or disturbing precious soil, more like what happens in nature.”

Mr Armer says early results from the $1 million project have proven the potential to address the estimated 192 million tonnes of soil that are lost every year from erosion – according to the Ministry for the Environment’s Our Land 2018 report – 44% of which is from pastoral land. . . 

On the Farm: Our guide to what’s happening in rural New Zealand:

Each week our Country Life reporters talk to farmers and orchardists up and down the country about what’s happening in their area.

Northland’s  kumara need rain.  The harvest is 15 percent through and some moisture would help swell the size of the kumara. The up-side of the dry is it is easy to get them out of the ground.  The crop needs to be harvested by the end of May so there is only limited time to wait for rain and to get through it all.  Kumara have been very expensive in the past couple of years because of a lack of supply and  growers would love it if prices could ease a bit so it’s more affordable for everyone.   

Around Pukekohe the long dry spell continued until Thursday when some scattered showers drifted over the district but our south Auckland correspondent says they may get some “useful precipitation’ from the approaching cold front. He says much of the district’s cultivated land is bare except for irrigated paddocks where brassicas and lettuce are growing or are being planted.  . . 

Meat and dairy up in December:

The volume of meat and dairy product manufacturing rose in the December 2018 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the volume of total manufacturing sales rose 2.0 percent in the December quarter. A 4.0 percent boost in meat and dairy product manufacturing led the rise.

“The meat and dairy industry rebounded after a strong fall in the September quarter,” manufacturing statistics manager Sue Chapman said. . . 

If there’s no water what’s the point? Female farmers in Arizona – Debbie Weingarten and Audra Malkern:

By 9am, it’s already 100F (38C). In the desert afternoons, rain gathers on the horizon, teasing – and then it disappears. There is so much heaviness, so much waiting.

I pulled on to the ranch of Anastasia Rabin with Audra Mulkern, a Washington-based photographer and founder of the Female Farmer Project. We were on assignment for a story and chasing a statistic: according to the most recent US census, Arizona is the state with the highest proportion of female farm operators.

Despite the fact that women have always farmed, they have been left out of our agricultural narrative. An incomplete story has real consequences: women have been left off land titles and bank documents; they have been denied federal loans and training opportunities; and until the 1982 census of agriculture, female farmers were not counted at all. . .

LIC officially opens upgraded facility in Manawatu:

LIC’s semen processing centre in the Manawatu was officially opened this week following an injection of more than $1 million to upgrade the facilities.

LIC, a herd improvement and agritech co-operative, is the country’s largest supplier of artificial breeding (AB) services and dairy genetics.

The refurbishment will enable the dairy farmer-owned co-operative to enhance its export capabilities and use the centre as a back up to its main facilities in Hamilton if required. . . 

Cheaper to travel to Japan than stream the Rugby World Cup:

It will be cheaper for communities in some remote areas of New Zealand to travel to Japan than it will be to stream the Rugby World Cup later this year.

Tim Johnson, CEO of Gravity – New Zealand’s only dedicated satellite broadband provider – says that apart from the challenges of doing homework and running a business in remote areas, capped broadband data rates would make it cheaper for some Kiwi’s to fly to Japan than it would to stream the Rugby World Cup later this year.

For Gravity Internet, who has as one of its shareholders former All Black Andrew ‘Andy’ Ellis, that scenario was intolerable. . . 


Rural round-up

March 2, 2019

Proposed water tax a ‘burden’ on low-water  regions – Stuart Smith:

The proposed new water tax that was announced as part of a swathe of other new taxes potentially facing Kiwis will disproportionally impact on low-rainfall regions like Marlborough.

There are eight new taxes in Michael Cullen’s proposal: the Capital Gains Tax (CGT), tax on vacant residential land, agriculture tax, water tax, fertiliser tax, environmental footprint tax, natural capital tax and a waste tax.

Much has been said about the CGT but the suggested water tax, too, would impact all Kiwis negatively and in particular our farmers, horticulturalists and wine growers in low-rainfall areas. . . 

Partnerships between men and women are critical for farming success – Bonnie Flaws:

With many farms run by married couples, the role of women in farming is a critical one, a female dairy farmer says.

Jessie Chan-Dorman, a former dairy woman of the year, said male farmers could see everyday how women contribute to the business, and they respect that.

“I would say the percentage of women in farming is at least 50 per cent. Nearly every farming business has a partnership that has historically not been seen. But they’ve always been there.” . . 

Studies smoke out fire behaviour – Richard Rennie:

The risk of summer fires is a constant farmers and foresters learn to live with. But the Port Hills fire in 2017 and the Nelson fire last month have brought a human threat to wildfires many Kiwis thought was confined to Australia and North America. With wildfires now affecting rural and urban people Richard Rennie spoke to Scion rural fire researcher Dr Tara Strand about how we are getting smarter at understanding rural fires.

A TEAM of Scion researchers is part of a 27-year history of research into New Zealand’s rural fires, a quiet brigade of climate experts and fire analysts whose job is to help make rural firefighters’ jobs more effective and safer. . .

Grape yield under threat – Joanna Grigg:

Marlborough is experiencing a hydrological drought.

Lack of rain in the mountain catchment has left the Wairau River low, Marlborough District Council hydrologist Val Wadsdworth said.

And summer storage capacity on the plains has been found wanting as a result. January rain of 18mm was soon sucked up by 30C plus temperatures in February.  . .

Matamata to host FMG Young Farmer of the Year regional final :

A Waharoa dairy farmer is facing fierce competition in her quest to be named the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Sophia Clark will take on seven other contestants in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional final in Matamata next month.

It will be the 30-year-old’s fourth attempt at clinching a coveted spot in the national final. . .

Scott St John leaves Fonterra Fund manager’s board as units hit record  low – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra director and veteran capital markets executive Scott St John has left the board of the shareholder fund’s manager, the same day the units plunged to a new low.

A notice to the Companies Office last night noted St John ceased being a director of FSF Management Co, the manager of the dual-listed Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, which gives investors exposure to the cooperative’s earnings stream. He is still a director of Fonterra. . .


Rural round-up

February 21, 2019

Urban run-off floods nearby farms :

Farming on the city limits presents a paradox for Papamoa farmer Andrew Dovaston, one that on his bad days farming sometimes has him thinking about the benefits of cashing up to keen developers.

He is one of about a dozen farmers remaining down Bell Road, the boundary between Western Bay of Plenty District and Tauranga City and over the years he has seen the city’s lights creep ever closer as development pushes southwards from the country’s fastest-growing city.

The second-generation Dovaston family property was developed by Dovaston’s parents when they moved from Britain, initially intent on leaving their farming careers there behind and buying a service station.  . .

Golden Bay farmers suffering under one-in-20-year drought – Tracey Neal:

Nelson-Tasman is struggling with its driest weather in decades, with Golden Bay now in a one-in-20-year drought.

The district’s already ailing farmers and growers are in some areas operating on about 30 percent of their normal water allowances for irrigating crops.

In urban areas like Richmond and Mapua, gardens have dried up due to the total ban on watering.

Meanwhile, the State of Civil Defence Emergency will now be extended a further week as firefighters continue to battle the Tasman fire. . . 

The pain of Mycoplasma bovis is not being shared fairly – Keith Woodford:

Anyone reading the official information from MPI would be entitled to believe that the Mycoplasma bovis eradication campaign was going remarkably well. However, amongst the directly afflicted farmers, things remain far from sweet.

MPI has acknowledged that afflicted farmers have taken a hit on behalf of the industry, but as one greatly afflicted farmer said recently to me, this is the only team that he has been part of where, as a team member, he gets left behind.

I know of three farmers who have had to put their farms up for sale due to the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak and its implications.  There are others heading that way. I have yet to meet an afflicted farmer who does not feel hard done by. . . 

A2 more than doubles 1H net profit – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk’s first-half profit lifted 55.1 percent as infant formula revenue continued to soar.

Net profit rose to $152.7 million in the six months ended Dec. 31 from $98.5 million a year earlier as sales climbed 41 percent to $613.1 million, Auckland-based, Sydney-headquartered a2 said.

Sales of infant formula totalled $495.5 million for the half – an increase of 45.3 percent on the prior year driven by share gains in China and Australia. . . 

It’s not shear luck – Luke Chivers:

Record-breaking shearer Aaron Haynes has sheared his way to land ownership. Luke Chivers reports on his successes.

It was a rare moment at the Central Hawke’s Bay A and P Show in November when the open shearing final was won by a competitor who had never previously a top grade title.

That competitor was Aaron Haynes. And if his name sounds familiar there is good reason why. . .

Drought, pests could force India to grant duty-free corn imports – Rajendra Jadhav:

 Below-normal monsoon rains and an infestation of the fall armyworm, which devastated African crops in 2017, have slashed India’s corn output and boosted prices, increasing the chances the government will grant duty-free corn imports for the first time since 2016. 

The shift to imports in the world’s seventh-largest corn producer, which typically exports to Asia, highlights the breadth of the crop losses due to the drought and armyworm. It also demonstrates the potential harm that the armyworm may wreak on India’s agricultural economy, which supports nearly half of India’s 1.3 billion people.

India harvests two sets of corn crops a year, a winter crop from March and a summer crop from September. . . 

Stop slugs munching your profit margin:

In the last few planting seasons we have seen favourable conditions for slugs, and if favourable conditions occur again this autumn, slug populations will quickly bounce back from the hot and dry summer and pose a risk to autumn-sown crops and grass.

We all know that slugs can be devastating to newly sown crops and pastures, so it makes sense to check paddocks before sowing to see how bad the risk of slug damage is. . .


Rural round-up

January 30, 2019

Tourist demands leave rural practices without a GP for hours – Tess Brunton:

The pressure of having to look after an influx of tourists is leaving some rural doctor’s practices without a GP for hours on end. 

In an emergency, doctors have to abandon the patients at their practices to go out to help. 

They are worried that will happen more often as tourist numbers increase – and they will not have any extra support. . . 

High deer prices sustainable – Neal Wallace:

High and stable venison and velvet prices have been reflected in strong demand for stags with a top price of $155,000 paid for a velvet-trophy animal sold by Crowley Deer from Hamilton.

It was not alone in achieving phenomenal prices.

The Stevens family from Netherdale stud in Southland sold a velvet stag for $90,000, another Southland stud, the Elder family’s Altrive stud, got $75,000 for a velveting stag, Brock Deer from Gore sold a velvet stag for $70,000 and Tower Farms, Cambridge, made $65,000 for a velvet-trophy stag. . .

Cannabis firm soared to new highs – Luke Chivers:

An East Coast company will be the first to import stronger cannabis under new biosecurity laws.

Hikurangi Cannabis in Ruatoria has been granted permission to cultivate 16 new varieties of cannabis – including some of the first high-THC strains to be legally imported – for medicinal use.

The new cultivars include five varieties with high levels of THC, the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis. . .

Pace of change keeps getting quicker – Allan Barber:

Perhaps it’s my advancing age, but it seems as though the changes facing agriculture demand ever faster reactions and responses to stay ahead or even just to keep pace with a whole series of challenges: public expectation, government regulation, consumer tastes, changing climate patterns, and new technologies as well as the usual ones like finances, human resources and health pressures, both physical and mental.

In this age of apparently unlimited opportunity to access advice and assistance, whether from consultants, bankers, accountants, lawyers, IT experts, processors or industry bodies, there’s almost too much choice. The main challenge is choosing between products, services and advice which cover the range from the merely desirable or useful to the downright essential. . .

Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award nominations open in February:

Nominations to a national award that recognises dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainable dairying and who are ambassadors for the industry open February 1st.

The Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award was introduced last year by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards to recognise those dairy farmers who are respected by their farming peers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying. Entry for this award is by nomination only via dairyindustryawards.co.nz . .

Is the vegan health halo fading? – Shan Goodwin:

VEGANISM’S health halo appears to be dissipating with the spread of nutritional advice that highly-processed packaged offerings are little more than junk food and as everyday consumers push back against overzealous campaigning.

Big United Kingdom movement Veganuary, which urges people to ditch animal products for the month of January, has backfired for the anti-meat army, many marketers and nutritional experts believe.

Health writers have used the event to take a close look at the nutritional values of a vegan diet and have come up with headings like “Just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy” and “Vegans take more sickies.” . .


365 days of gratitude

December 5, 2018

It’s World Soil Day, a good day to be grateful for the earth that feeds us and helps us feed the world.


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. . .

 


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