Rural round-up

February 12, 2019

Nelson bush fire: Richmond’s land-based ark caring for evacuated animals- Jessica Long:

Emotional owners evacuated from their homes in the Nelson fires are leaving animals on Richmond Showground’s 100 acres which has transformed into a land-based ark. 

The grounds have not been used for any large scale events since soldiers trained for World War I, Richmond Showground Nelson A&P Association treasurer John Harwood said.

Streams of cars have flowed into the grounds since a devastating forest fire broke out in Pigeon Valley, about 30 kilometres south of Nelson on Tuesday afternoon. A second fire broke out in Nelson City on Friday afternoon prompting further residential evacuations. . . 

Southern catchment groups hailed as leaders in field – Ken Muir:

The South is taking the lead in the formation of local catchment groups to improve water quality and the environment, says Sarah Thorne, project co-ordinator for the NZ Landcare Trust in Southland.

”Other areas are closely watching the progress of bodies such as the Pourakino catchment group and larger-scale projects such as Aparima Community Environment [Ace] Project,” Thorne said.

The NZ Landcare Trust is an independent, non-governmental organisation that was established in 1996. . . 

‘Shear for Life’ charity event draws some big names:

Current and former world shearing champions, stars from the She Shears movie and former All Black greats are among the shearers getting together at a one-off event in Mid Canterbury this month to raise money for cancer.

The ”Shear for Life” charity shearing event, hosted at the Ewing family woolshed in Hinds, started as a chance for a few of the old crowd to catch up.

But the idea has ballooned, and now 70 international and national veteran shearers will converge on Mid Canterbury to shear 3000 crossbred sheep for fun – and to raise money for Ashburton Cancer Support Group, Breast Cancer NZ and Prostate Cancer NZ. . . 

North Canterbury dairy farmer wants to bridge rural-urban divide through communication – Emma Dangerfield:

Connecting people with different lifestyles is vital for breaking down the rural-urban divide, according to North Canterbury farmer Michelle Maginness.

Maginness runs 220-hectare dairy farm Lake Ernmor in Eyrewell, her fourth farm since starting out as a sharemilker after graduating from Lincoln University.

She said farmers should proactively invite their communities to their farms to show them what they are doing to care for their animals and land. . . 

Farmers’ industry doesn’t make them industrial – Lyn Webster:

Back in the early nineties when I started milking cows the strategic application of nitrogen fertiliser commonly in the granulated form of Urea was widely promoted.

That was done by government agencies, fertiliser sellers, farm consultants and industry good agencies (now Dairy NZ) as the cheapest way to grow grass, and at $200 (now $700) a tonne many started adopting it as good option.

A few years later PKE meal (Palm Kernel Expeller) came into the country and was quickly adopted by dairy farmers as a relatively cheap, easily fed out way to fully feed animals as a complement a pasture-based system.  . . 

Trees can help erosion problems – Tim Warrington:

Hill country farmers’ efforts to prevent soil loss through erosion are being increasingly scrutinised.

This comes from environmental regulators and people wanting cleaner rivers and coastlines, says Northern Hawke’s Bay catchment manager Nathan Heath.

“And there is likely to be increasing regulatory pressure put on landholders who are not doing anything about erosion on their properties,” he says. “But there is money available for landholders to do soil conservation works on their properties.” . . 

Helicopter inspections reveal the worst in north west Queensland – Sally Cripps:

Stock losses of 50 to 60 per cent and more were being estimated across a large portion of north west Queensland this morning as graziers got their first access to the watery bombshell that hit earlier this week.

That will total up to thousands of head dead in one of the worst natural disasters seen in the region.

Winton stock and station agent and grazier, Tom Brodie, said it was a common belief that any places on the open downs black soil country would fare the worst. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 28, 2018

Dairy farmers are an easy target and not alone in environmental guilt– Lyn Webster:

 As a dairy farmer I hear a lot of criticism about the perceived environmental impact of farming animals on land, and this has made me extremely environmentally aware.

Everywhere I look I see the environmental impact of humans: people just moving around, eating, breathing and living their lives.

Every buying decision we make has an impact – whether it be food, clothes off the internet from China or an overseas trip. TV advertising incessantly tells us to buy more and more things to make us happy, to make our children happy and to tick off our bucket list.  

Big shops bring us zillions of dollar’s worth of colourful plastic shaped into seemingly desirable objects, many of which are discarded quickly in the shape of broken toys, cracked garden gnomes and punctured plastic swimming pools. . . 

Sharemilker protects his herd ahead of Gypsy Day – Gerald Piddock:

A nervous Calvin Lauridsen​ has done all he can to protect his prized dairy herd from Mycoplasma bovis ahead of next week’s Gypsy Day.

The Arapuni farmer is in the final stages of packing up and leaving the 138 hectare farm he and wife Nadine have 50:50 share milked with 440 cows for the past eight years.

All that is left on the farm are a few items of machinery and his dairy herd, which is being picked up on Monday , the same day Cabinet will make a final decision whether to try and eradicate the disease or shift to a management regime.

So far, the cattle disease has spread to 39 farms since July last year, including the latest addition of a dairy farm near Cambridge.  . .

There’s more risk on moving day – Hugh Stringleman:

Several hundred sharemilkers and their cows will move farms on Gypsy Day with extra time-consuming and costly animal health precautions because of Mycoplasma bovis.

The spread of at-risk properties shows precautions must be taken for cattle movements in all dairying regions of the country, DairyNZ extension general manager Andrew Reid said.

About 3000 of the nation’s 12,000 dairy farms have sharemilkers and the standard contract length is three years.

Therefore up to 1000 herds could move at the end of the season though more likely several hundred will move on June 1, Reid said. . .

Former Fonterra director calls for chair Wilson to resign – Jamiie  Grey:

A former director of Fonterra has called on chairman John Wilson to “move on” after what he said was the co-operative’s ongoing underperformance.

Fonterra this week issued its nine-month business update which featured a strong farmgate milk price but which also highlighted a downward pressure on the company’s earnings.

Taranaki-based Harry Bayliss, a founding director who served on the board from 2001 to 2006, sent an email to existing board members on March 31 calling for Wilson to step down. A spokesman for Fonterra said it had no comment to make. . . 

Getting the good oil in Central – Yvonne O’Hara:

This season’s long summer has resulted in a bumper harvest for olive growers in Central Otago.

Lowburn’s Stephen Morris, his wife Olivia and his in-laws Alistair and Sue Stark own Olive Press Central Otago (Opco) on the family’s vineyard, St Bathans Range, near Cromwell.

Mr Morris has been busy during the past three weeks cold-processing olives to produce extra virgin olive oil,

The good summer has meant the fruit produces more oil with a better flavour, and promises to be one of the best they have had. . . 

Droving journey highlights ongoing drought in Queensland – Sally Cripps:

When Jodie Muntelwit and PJ Elliott decided to put 1200 head of their cattle on the road last October, they imagined it would only be for a month or two.

Eight months later, the mob of mostly weaners, under the care of Ned Elmy, an offsider and Ned’s 18 dogs, is trudging towards home at Corfield, living on hope and whatever Queensland’s stock routes can offer.

The season didn’t give PJ and Jodie the break they’d hoped for on their country north of Winton last summer, and the 150mm single fall in March at Weeba and Enryb Downs brought a half-hearted pasture response from most of their paddocks. . . 


Rural round-up

February 21, 2018

Farmers face hefty riparian planting bills – Robin Martin:

Taranaki farmers could face hefty bills as the regional council toughens enforcement of its riparian planting programme to clean up waterways.

The council has begun auditing more than 1700 dairy farms and now says their plans for planting along riverbanks and streams must be completed by 2020.

Taranaki’s riparian planting programme – the largest in the country – has received international recognition and is has been credited with improving water quality. . . 

NAIT problems stymie M. bovis response – Nigel Malthus:

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says farmers’ problems in complying with NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) have slowed the response to Mycoplasma bovis.

NAIT could be a lot easier to use, she says.

While it works well for recording animals arriving at a processing works, there are apparent breakdowns in compliance when farmers are transferring stock among themselves. . .

Robotics opportunities in forestry being explored

Forest safety, improving productivity and getting workers off the felling site has been a major push for forestry managers, forest owners, logging contractors and equipment suppliers to modify their wood harvesting operations over the last few years. Another major driver to increased mechanisation has been the skilled machine operator shortages that many forestry companies are now currently facing. The ultimate goal of the industry is to have “no worker on the slope, or no hand on the chainsaw”.

Technology development and the pace of change over the last couple of years, in keeping with other industries, has been rapid and exciting for the forestry industry. Recent research is suggesting that by 2019, 35% of leading organizations will be exploring the use of robots to automate operations. Forestry isn’t any different. In fact, the switch is already underway. . .

Fonterra And the A2 Milk Company Form Comprehensive Strategic Relationship:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (Fonterra) and The a2 Milk Company (a2MC) have today entered into a comprehensive strategic relationship that links Fonterra’s global milk pool and supply chain, manufacturing capability and in-market sales and distribution capacity with a2MC’s brand strength and capabilities.

As part of the partnership, Fonterra will now begin conversations with its farmers to source an A2 milk pool for a2MC products in New Zealand, which is intended to significantly expand over time to help meet the growing demand for a2MC products. A similar milk pool in Australia will also be developed. . . 

MPI targets vehicles and machinery from Japan:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has introduced new measures to reduce the risk of brown marmorated stink bugs arriving in vehicles and machinery from Japan.

The changes will require all used vehicles (cars and trucks) to undergo inspection and cleaning at an MPI-approved facility in Japan prior to export.

In addition, any used machinery or other types of used vehicles from Japan will require certification proving it has undergone cleaning by an appropriate provider, says Paul Hallett, MPI Biosecurity and Environment Manager.  . .

Feedback sought for upgrade of fertiliser-spreader standard:

The (NZGFA) is calling on fertiliser spreaders up and down the country to have their say ahead of a review of the industry’s Spreadmark programme.

Dean Brooks, the NZGFA’s president, says the programme – which was first developed in 1994 to raise the standard of fertiliser spreading performance and to provide a benchmark for best practice – will soon be reviewed by the Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC). . .

Funding request to federal Health Minister met with ‘positive response‘ – Sally Cripps:

We were swamped.” That was how psychologist, Dervla Loughnane, described the overwhelming response to the news that a texting counselling service had been launched for rural people in need.

Announced by the Queensland Country Life at the start of February, it was hoped the Virtual Psychologist service, supported by Aussie Helpers, would save lives and that’s what has happened, according to Dervla.

“It was so overwhelming that in the first 24 hours we had to double our staff on the lines,” she said. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 15, 2016

Aussie townies put us to shame over support for dairy farmers – Jon Morgan:

A campaign in Australia to support hard-pressed dairy farmers by paying an extra dollar for milk has – surprise, surprise – been a roaring success.

Like us, the Aussie farmers are struggling with low prices. But for them, the perceived villain is closer to home.

Because the Australians have a large domestic market, sales of fresh milk to supermarkets are a big money-earner. But this is being undermined by competition between the two big chains, Woolworths and Coles.

They have used milk as a loss-leader and retail prices have plummeted to as low as $1 a litre. Dairy farmers have struggled because of this, and factors such as international prices and drought, and the call has gone out to city folk to help out. . . 

There are not two sides to the GMO story – Julia A. Moore:

Regarding the May 18 Politics & the Nation article “Are GMO crops safe? Focus on the plant, not the process, scientists say”:

Enough already! How many National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reports does it take to give the answer that after decades of research there is no conclusive evidence that genetically engineered crops pose heightened health risks or environmental problems?

Whether it is GMOs, climate change or evolution, two critical issues persist. First, how do you stop partisans from ignoring the weight of scientific evidence and cherry-picking or buying research findings that suit their prejudices or self-interest? And second, how do you build public trust in and regulate scientific and technological knowledge that is hitting us, to quote Isaac Asimov, “faster than society gathers wisdom”? . . 

You can’t buy the rain – Nick Hamilton:

You can’t buy the rain….

Thursday afternoon last week I was rung by a reporter asking if I had time to comment on the effect the drought was having. I got the feeling that she had absolutely no idea when I had to explain the term ‘grazing’ to her, but we pushed on. When she hung up the phone I thought to myself, at least the general public will know that we are still struggling with this bloody drought. Doesn’t help us much but it’s nice to know we are not being ignored.

On Friday morning I got a nice message on Facebook from my Aunty congratulating me on my article in the paper. Must have a look at that at some stage I thought as I leapt out of bed, helped Megan make the school lunches, let the dogs off for a quick run then headed off to work, not on the farm, down the road at Sherwood Estate wines. I was driving the tractor up and down the frosty rows of pruned vines when I got a text from a footy mate. “They’re talking about the drought on Newstalk ZB”. . . .

The story to which he refers is:

Two-year drought drives long-term farmer off his land – Leah Flynn and Gerard Hutching:

The farm has been in Nick Hamilton’s family for four generations, but today it sits barren and stockless.

Hamilton was born on North Canterbury’s Minnivey Downs, but abandoned it after two years of drought made the farm unsustainable. 

He took up work pruning grapes in Waipara to make ends meet.  . .

Recognition for passionate young sheep farmer – Sally Rae:

Ever since he was a young lad, Will Gibson’s passion for the farming sector has been remarkable.

Whether it was exhibiting his coloured merino sheep and fleeces at A&P shows, entering stock-judging competitions with considerable success, or embracing life at home on the farm, he displayed maturity beyond his years.

He was always destined to go places in the industry and, last week, that passion was recognised when he received the emerging talent award at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand sheep industry awards in Masterton. . .

Yards ‘sold out from under us’ – Sally Rae:

Some Upper Clutha farmers are outraged by the sale of the Cromwell saleyards to a property developer, labelling the loss of the facility as a “disaster”.

Tarras farmer Beau Trevathan described the attitude of the Cromwell Saleyards Company’s directors as “bizarre”, saying they were elected to run the facility and ensure it was there for future generations.

“They’ve allowed it to be sold out from under us. As far as the farming community here is concerned, the majority of people are bewildered, to say the least. . . 

Breeding bulls for efficiency :

MILLAH Murrah Angus has taken part in the sire benchmarking program from the outset, with stud principal Ross Thompson a member of the program’s steering committee.

“The program has reached a state of useful maturity,” he said, noting that nominations were now being called for a seventh annual trial.

Mr Thompson said: “Traits such as feed conversion efficiency are very hard to measure without a structured progeny test and that’s one great positives of the sire benchmarking program. . .

Dorper value-adding idea leads Kings to LamHam – Sally Cripps:

It was a flourishing organic Dorper lamb grazing operation, combined with an online paddock to plate business that led Andrew and Maree King to a new lamb food marketing venture that is turning heads around Australia.

The couple were in Dubai in 2014, at the world’s largest food trade show, one of the prizes offered as MLA’s 2013 Queensland Sheepmeat Producer of the Year, when Maree had a “lightbulb” moment.

“We went over there with opportunities for our fresh Dorper lamb in mind but it all changed while we were eating at our hotel, where there were so many smoked offerings – turkey and fish and the like – standing in for bacon and pork. . . 


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