Do you hear the people . . .

June 21, 2014

Protests by the usual suspects on the left aren’t unusual.

It takes a lot more than the usual disgruntlements to get other people on to the streets in any number which makes yesterday’s Don’t Damn the Dam rally a serious sign of popular support.

RivettingKate Taylor recorded the rally in words and photos:

CHB people gathered in Waipukurau in their droves this morning to support the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme. The dam.

I was going to say hundreds of people lined the streets, but I really have no way of quantifying how many people were there. Watch the news tonight – they might tell you. Suffice to say, in Kate terms, there were lots and lots.

Farmers, bankers, fertiliser reps, spreader drivers and two former regional councillors Ewan McGregor and Kevin Rose, who are probably secretly glad the decision is not up to them anymore.

There were tractors, utes, motorbikes, stock trucks and a few huntaways. . .

After clogging up the state highway system for a wee while, the vehicle possession (bigger than the annual Christmas parade but no Santa!!) parked up and the “green space” on “post office corner” was filled with claps and cheers for Mr Streeter and Mr Heaton, HB Federated Farmers president Will Foley and local fifth-generation farmer (and CHBDC district councillor) Andrew Watts. We also heard from someone from Timaru who had seen the growth in South Canterbury from the Opuha dam and resulting irrigation systems. . . .

I think the someone from Timaru was Federated Farmers vice president William Rolleston.

Feds is firmly behind the project, but Hawkes Bay provincial president Will Foley is concerned about nutrient limits:

Last month, Massey’s Dr Mike Joy told a Canterbury audience, “The nitrate toxicity in some waterways is 10 times the safe level already. We have gone from safe levels of 1.9 millilitres a litre, to 3.8ml/l in Canterbury.”

With the Tukituki Board of Inquiry proposing a limit of 0.8 milligrams per litre for dissolved inorganic nitrogen, it would seem contradictory, but its draft decision is about a very different limit – what it believes is good for ecosystem health.  And on the nitrate toxicity score, the draft National Objectives Framework has set 6.9ml/l as the bottomline and the Tukituki is not even remotely close. 

So let’s park Dr Joy and focus on what we all want to achieve for the Tukituki. 

That means remembering why we started out in the first place.  It was to tackle an algae that’s been with us forever called Periphyton.  Everyone agrees it’s a problem so what’s the solution?

We get Periphyton because the Tukituki is a rocky river running warm during summer low flows.  Its growth is exacerbated by nitrogen and phosphorus so Hawke’s Bay Regional Council came up with a three-pronged approach hitting phosphorus, managing nitrogen and increasing water flows. 

In all the debate since, this environmental solution with strong economic benefits has been parked out of sight.

You can only increase water flow during summer by storing rainwater and that’s where Ruataniwha comes in.  This extra water helps to cool the Tukituki during summer while flushing it of Periphyton.  That’s been the experience of South Canterbury’s Opuha scheme on a similar river. 

We’ve had a similar improvement in the Waiareka Creek from the North Otago Irrigation Company scheme.

It used to be little more than a series of stagnant ponds. Now with guaranteed minimum flows from irrigation water it runs clean and wildlife has re-established.

Another experience is the economic boon Opuha has been to South Canterbury.

Yet during the Board of Inquiry, Dr Joy’s colleague Dr Death, helped to shift the focus off Periphyton and towards the stream life of rivers using a model developed for the Manawatu; a very different river to our Tukituki. Arguably, that’s how a limit of 0.8mg/l entered the minds of the Board of Inquiry, but how many invertebrates found in water doesn’t correlate to any one nutrient. 

Ironically, it was Fish and Game’s Corina Jordan who confirmed that while nitrogen and clearly phosphorus have impacts, so does river flow, sediment, light intensity and temperature.  The upshot being that there is no straight line relationship between a limit of 0.8mg/l and invertebrate health. 

Farmers like me are not in denial because Federated Farmers is okay with having a number, but that number must be an indicator and not chiselled into granite.  Especially since that number was derived from a model not validated for the Tukituki River and especially since Dr Death’s use of the Macroinvertebrate Community Index happens to be an indicator itself.

The Hawke’s Bay community needs a solution but the proposed limit of 0.8mg/l is so blunt, it makes Ruataniwha untenable. 

The Port of Napier is right to call Ruataniwha a game changer for the entire Hawke’s Bay region.  Before Ruataniwha’s viability was compromised we were talking about a quarter of a billion dollar boost each and every year.  If 0.8 remains as a hard limit, it not only kills the dam but means the region going forward will become $50 million poorer each year.  

Unless 0.8 becomes an indicator it will seriously compromise all the farming we currently have.  We’re not just talking sheep and beef but the guys who grow crops, the guys who run orchards, those who milk and even the guys who grow the grapes our region is famous for.

A hard limit of 0.8 means no Ruataniwha leaving us with Periphyton, a worsening economy and increasingly, rivers suffering from ever lower and warmer flows due to drought.  If farms convert to forestry we can possibly add sediment to that list.  Can anyone tell me what the environmental or community upside is? 

Dr Doug Edmeades wrote recently, “the best pieces of advice I was given as a young scientist: ‘Edmeades, I do not give a damn for your opinion what are the facts.”  Opinion seems the basis for 0.8mg/l but it is fact that it’s 14 times more stringent than the international standard for drinking water.  Don’t damn our dam.

Water storage and the irrigation it enables can improve both water quantity and quality.

It provides recreational opportunities and a significant economic boost. Farmers will make the biggest investment and take the biggest risk but as the people rallying yesterday obviously realise the benefits will flow right through the community in more jobs and more business opportunities with the economic and social boost that will bring.

The people of Hawkes Bay spoke through their support for the rally yesterday.

The Regional Council will show whether or not it heard them when it makes it decision on supporting the project, or not.


Don’t damn dam rally

June 20, 2014

Two Waipawa businessmen who are organising a rally in Waipukurau to support the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme:

Gavin Streeter and Shane Heaton are directors of Isaac’s Pumping and Electrical and have taken it upon themselves to show there is grassroots backing for the project.

“The project has been bashed to pieces in the media with the coverage focusing on the Environmental Protection Authority and how councillors are voting.

“We want to take a different approach – this is a rally by the people for the people – the entire Hawke’s Bay community needs to get behind this and show their support in the face of the negative attention the process is receiving,” Mr Streeter said.

Through their business they deal with farmers as customers and said there is a lot of positivity in the farming community about the project.

“The farmers have been doing their bit over the last few months. We thought we would do something on behalf of the local business owners, as it’s not only the farmers who would benefit from this.

Contrary to the anti-irrigation brigade irrigation doesn’t just benefit farmers.

They put up most of the money and have most at risk but the benefit is spread through the community to those who work for, service and supply them.

“If it goes ahead, it might mean we could employ five more local people at our business,” said Mr Heaton.

To that end they were out and about beating the streets in Waipukurau yesterday, visiting as many businesses as they could to spread the word about the rally dubbed “Don’t damn the dam”.

“We don’t just want people from Central Hawke’s Bay to attend, though. We want the big industries in Hawke’s Bay such as Pan Pac, Heinz Watties and McCains to get involved too – this project will have long-term benefits for the whole region,” Mr Streeter said. . .

Those industries will benefit too with more produce to process and sell, which will create more jobs.

Federated Farmers is backing the rally:

“We are calling on every person and business in Hawke’s Bay who wants to have a better future here, to get in their car, ute, tractor or truck and be at Waipukurau’s memorial hall car park on Friday at 12pm,” says Will Foley, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay provincial president.

“This Friday is our chance to show New Zealand how much Hawke’s Bay wants to create a positive future for our kids and their kids. The dam will provide so much opportunity for Hawke’s Bay.

“We are expecting a strong show of support and are positively backing Ruataniwha because this is our last shot before the Board of Inquiry delivers its final decision.

“Nothing of any worth has ever come from being negative.

“That’s why we need a positive show of support to demonstrate what we the people who live here want. The feeling in the community is positive and we need to make a stand to show how much of a game changer the dam is going to be for the region.

“The South Island’s Opuha scheme is a shining example of how the whole water storage package works for the economy and the environment.

“The answer to reversing the population drift to Auckland and reversing the loss of businesses and services is as simple as ‘just add water.’

“Federated Farmers is okay with having a number for nitrogen, but let’s make it an indicator and not chiselled in granite.  The whole scheme’s viability hinges on this policy point.

“That will only happen if we show everyone just what Ruataniwha means to us.

“You can do that by making a slogan banner to hang off your vehicle this Friday at midday at Waipukurau’s memorial hall car park,” Mr Foley concluded. . . .

From outside Hawkes Bay seems to have it all – good climate, good soils, a variety of viable businesses, a vibrant arts community . . . .

But it has an underbelly with high unemployment and the social problems which go with it and it’s drought-prone.

Irrigation would provide insurance against droughts, boost other businesses and create more jobs.

This is the province’s chance to lay a strong foundation for the future and the rally will indicate whether the people are willing to take it.


Rural round-up

May 22, 2014

Dambusters must not damn Hawke’s Bay’s future:

The draft report from the Tukituki Board of Inquiry is a poor outcome for the entire Hawke’s Bay community, not just farmers.

“The recent Board of Inquiry draft report won’t be a good outcome for Hawke’s Bay if it ends up blocking the single largest environmental and economic opportunity we’ve got from progressing,” says Will Foley, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay provincial president.

“We mustn’t kid ourselves that Ngai Tahu’s polite wording in its withdrawal, simply reflects the kicking Ruataniwha got in the draft decision. 

“They are a big loss but Ngai Tahu is also one very smart farmer.  If it can see the scheme is a financial goer then I am certain they’ll be back, as will other investors. . .

Recovery from Psa and record returns drive rebound of orchard values:

New Zealand kiwifruit growers have received the highest-ever average per-hectare return for supplying Zespri Green Kiwifruit, Zespri’s 2013/14 annual results show.

While the return to the individual grower is influenced by factors such as orchard yield, costs and fruit characteristics, the average $42,659 per-hectare Green return underlined confidence in the industry’s future, Zespri chairman Peter McBride said.

“After the impact of Psa over the past three years, there is a real sense of optimism in the industry now. Orchard prices have rebounded, investment has started again and the future looks bright,” Mr McBride said. . . .

Federated Farmers backs wool levy vote:

Federated Farmers welcomes the opportunity wool growers will have to vote on whether to reinstate a levy on wool.  It urges its members to engage in the process to come, to talk with the Wool Levy Group we’ll help to set up meetings with and above all, to vote.

“Wool has been the quiet export achiever worth $700 million to New Zealand in 2013,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“At that level, it easily eclipsed the exports of personal, cultural, and recreational services, which, by the way, includes motion pictures.

“We are here now because the pan sector Wool Levy Group has learned from history. It is defining what the levy will fund and do but boy, do we need to crack some industry good issues that are holding wool back. . .

$33,000 sale ‘amazing highlight’ for family – Sally Rae:

Selling a bull for $33,000 at the national Hereford sale at AgInnovation was an ”amazing highlight” for the Paterson family from Greenvale, near Gore.

Waikaka Skytower 1289 was bought by Peter Reeves, from Mokairau Station at Gisborne – the third-highest-priced Hereford bull at the sale.

The Paterson family, from Waikaka Station, have been breeding Herefords since 1954 and it was the highest price they have achieved. . .

Student ‘gets his name out there’ – Sally Rae:

It may have been his debut at the Hereford national show and sale – but young Middlemarch breeder Will Gibson made his mark.

His bull Foulden Hill McCoy was third in the Honda Motorcycles Impact Sires led class and went on to sell for $9000 to Nelson Hereford stud Lake Station.

Mr Gibson (20), a third-year student at Lincoln University studying agricultural commerce, also received the Hereford herdsman award. . . .

The simple answer to MPI milk chilling regulations:

There are very few dairy farmers who will not be affected by the new MPI milk chilling regulations. An innovation first revealed at Central Districts Field Days promises to be the simple solution, with some added advantages. And it’s already creating a flurry of interest in the industry.

Matt Parkinson and Dale Stone are already well known in the dairy and refrigeration industries and Snapchill is their answer to the issues that the MPI’s regulations will create.

Snapchill is a milk chilling solution aimed at the 75% of New Zealand farmers who have herds if between 300 and 600 cows. The unit can typically be fitted in a day or two and does not require a power upgrade to the farm supply. It sits between farmers’ existing pre-chillers and the bulk milk vat and works by creating ice during off-peak times when power is cheaper. As it does so, it recovers heat – enough to make a tank full of water at around 82° for the plant wash. . . .


Irrigation long-term investment

May 21, 2014

Ngai Tahu has withdrawn as a potential investor in the $275 million Ruataniwha water storage scheme in Hawke’s Bay.

Ngai Tahu said it had a series of criteria that needed to be met for continued investment, including the right investment partner with the appropriate experience.

Electricity firm TrustPower, which has a lot of experience with dam storage and irrigation, withdrew from the investment in March. It said the project did not stack up with the level of returns the company required from new investments. . . .

Irrigation is a long-term investment.

It requires a lot of money up-front,. It’s years before it returns any dividends and many of those are indirect through the environmental, financial and social benefits that come from it.

Ngai Tahu’s decision will be a blow to the scheme’s proponents but it doesn’t have to be a killing one.

Finding more, smaller investors will require more work, but with the backing of farmers, the regional council and the government through the Crown Irrigation Fund, and others who understand the value it will bring to the province it could still go ahead.

 


Rural round-up

May 3, 2014

 Govt reallocates $24 million for Rotorua water clean-up:

The Government will reallocate $24 million to a new project that encourages land owners in the Lake Rotorua catchment to switch to low nitrogen land uses or find other ways to reduce the amount of nitrogen polluting the lake water, Environment Minister Amy Adams has announced.

“The Rotorua community has asked us to shift existing funding commitments to a land use management and change project, as part of the Rotorua Te Arawa lakes water quality improvements programme,” Ms Adams says.

“The original plan was to use the money for diverting nutrient-rich streams flowing into the lake and capping sediments to stop nutrients flowing up from the lake bed. Cabinet agreed with the lake stakeholder advisory group that these short term initiatives really just shifted the problem somewhere else. . .

Rotorua farmers pleased with Government contribution to nitrogen reduction:

Farmers in the Lake Rotorua catchment were relieved to hear confirmation on Monday that the Government will fund half of a $48 million scheme to reduce nitrogen losses from pastoral land around the lake.

This money had been budgeted for “in-lake” actions so there is no additional cost to taxpayers and ratepayers who share the cost equally. The scheme is part of a wider effort to improve water quality in Lake Rotorua by reducing nutrient inputs – both nitrogen and phosphorus – from urban, rural and natural sources.

Rotorua farmers are working with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and other stakeholders to develop draft rural land use rules around nitrogen. Those rules will target a 140 tonne nitrogen reduction by 2032, in addition to an incentive scheme target of 100 tonnes.  . .

Australia and New Zealand partner to fight animal disease threat:

Australia and New Zealand have agreed to work together to prepare for the unlikely event of a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in either country.

Australian Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and New Zealand Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, met today in Melbourne and welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to stress the importance of collaboration in combating the disease and its devastating impacts.

“Our number one plan and focus of much of our biosecurity efforts is to keep FMD out of Australia and New Zealand—but you can’t stick your head in the sand about something this significant —you have to plan for the worst,” Minister Joyce said. . .

Vets work on drug resistance:

Vets and doctors have an obligation to work together to face the threat of resistance to anti-microbial drugs, New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) president Dr Steve Merchant says.

“The threat of anti-microbial resistance is recognised as one of the greatest risks to human and animal health and is a high priority for the veterinary profession,” he said.

“After more than 70 years since the first use of penicillin in human medicine there are a number of bacteria in circulation across the world that are resistant to one or more anti-microbials. . .

 

 Abuzz about chainsaw safety – Rebecca Malcolm:

She’s come straight from big-city beauty salons to farming, so it’s fair to say Jodie Vaughan has had a few things to learn.

The former Aucklander has been on an Atiamuri farm for only a matter of weeks after she and partner Rhys Williams moved down to take over farm management roles on the family property.

On Thursday Miss Vaughan was one of more than a dozen women who took part in a chainsaw safety workshop run by Stihl New Zealand as part of Chainsaw Safety Awareness Week, which finishes tomorrow. . .

Farmers urged to attend Ruataniwha public meetings:

With Federated Farmers’ Hawke’s Bay annual general meeting taking place next Wednesday, the Federation is urging its members to find out all they can from Hawke’s Bay Regional Council on the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

“It is true members are now putting Ruataniwha under a microscope, especially following the recent Board of Inquiry draft decision,” says Will Foley, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay provincial president.

“I genuinely imagine Ruataniwha will be a talking point at our provincial annual general meeting, next Wednesday at Vidal’s Restaurant in Hastings. . .

 


Farming for the future

September 26, 2013

Federated farmers provincial president Will Foley writes that the Ruataniwha water Storage Project  will provide a future for our children and our children’s children.

He concludes:

If we focus on what we are good at, producing high quality food and beverages, then our future is strong because the global demand for quality primary goods is strong. Our climate and landscape makes the Hawke’s Bay a brilliant destination for tourists for the same reasons I live here. I farm on the plains, I tramp in the Ruahines and I fish out at sea. I have a vested interest in enhancing all aspects of the Hawke’s Bay economy and its environment; we can have the best of both worlds.

But we now stand at a cross-road. Shutting down farming won’t get us a pristine environment because we humans have been modifying it for over a thousand years. How bad things would get without the jobs, wealth and infrastructure the primary industries brings in, is as clear as the nose on my face. Those left would be bombarded by more burglaries, more home invasions and a worse environment. Alternatively, we can have farming taken to a new level where farms are highly productive, adaptive to new technologies and a changing climate, as well as being environmentally responsible stewards of the land. That’s the progressive Hawke’s Bay I want for my children and my children’s children.

Everything we do impacts on the environment.

Leaving it all to nature doesn’t necessarily help as successive droughts have shown and all the impacts from human endeavour aren’t negative.

The solution to those that are isn’t to stop progress but to encourage it in a sustainable way,

That will provide economic development, create more jobs and do so in a way that protects and enhances the environment.


Rural round-up

February 6, 2012

Richard Steele and his son, Dan, run an eco-tourism operation on their 1500ha sheep and cattle station near Owhango, which is south of Taumarunui and which borders the Whanganui River.

 They delight in showing visitors one of the river’s special dwellers, the whio, or blue duck. This area is one of the bird’s last strongholds, in part because the Steeles declared war on the stoats, rats and feral cats that drove the birds to the edge of extinction . . . .

Irrigation fund’s first project great news for Hawkes Bay – David Carter:

 This week’s announcement of the first project as part of the Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF) is great news for the Hawke’s Bay region.
The go-ahead for the project delivers on the Government’s promise to lift economic growth through efficient use of water storage.
The Government and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will jointly fund a $3.3 million feasibility study of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Project. . .

James Cameron is a Titanic opporutnity for farming:

With James Cameron stating to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) that he not only intends to make New Zealand home, but that he intends to farm the two properties he has purchased, Federated Farmers believes it unlocks a titanic opportunity.

“This successful application by Mr Cameron shows why Federated Farmers position on overseas investment, is that the rules we have must be applied without fear or favour,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“The hope we have from skilled immigration is that it betters the whole community.

“One example of what I mean is Federated Farmers Board member, Anders Crofoot, who was a past Wairarapa provincial president.  Anders and his family moved from the United States to take over Castlepoint Station in the Wairarapa. . .

Rowath to lead agri-business:

Professor Jacqueline Rowarth, a regular NBR columnist, has been appointed Professor of Agribusiness at the Univerity of Waikato Management School (WMS).

“The Waikato is agribusiness heartland, close to the HQs for Zespri, Fonterra, Ravensdown, Ballance, TruTest and Gallaghers among others — and the University does a lot more with agribusiness than people realise,” she says. . .

Wool press on display – Sally Rae:

The latest in rural technology, equipment and ideas will be on display at the three-day Southern Field Days at Waimumu this month.   

More than 26,000 visitors are expected at the 16th biennial event, about 12km from Gore, from February 15 to 17.   

Among the technology will be the Mosgiel-designed and built Micron wool press, manufactured by P and W Engineering, which will be on display at the Elders site. . .   

Funding for bio farming:

THE DAIRY industry is funding a scoping study into biological farming systems.  

DairyNZ will sponsor the study by New Zealand Biological Farming Systems Research Centre (NZBFSRC). The study will identify research interests and needs on biological farming systems in New Zealand. This will be done by contacting farmers, firms and other research organisations who have been working in the area of sustainable farming. . .

New wheat cultivars anticipated from cereal breeding partner:

An expanded breeding programme will result in new varieties of wheat and barley being made available for New Zealand growers, delivering high yields and improved resistance to disease.

Plant & Food Research and Luisetti Seeds have signed an agreement to renew and expand their cereal grain breeding programme, the largest of its kind in New Zealand. The programme will focus on the breeding of new high yield wheat cultivars with good milling quality and dough properties, as well as new wheat and barley cultivars for animal feed. . .

Weather sweet for busy bees – Jacqui Webby:

Beekeepers in North Otago are having an  excellent season with the  reasonably mild start to the spring and timely showers of rain to keep the clover flowering.

Beekeeper Michael Lory, of Windsor’s Snow Crest Apiaries, said the honey season was still in full swing and it had been excellent. . .

Promoting excellence in irrigation:

Time is closing in on the search to find the best innovation in the New Zealand irrigation industry.

Innovation, discovery and achievement making a positive contribution to irrigation and efficient water management are set to be rewarded by the industry’s national body with an award that aims to uncover the industry’s progressive and exciting happenings.

Entries are due to close for the‘Innovation in Irrigation’ award being co-ordinated by Irrigation New Zealand in association with Aqualinc. . .


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