Rural round-up

October 7, 2015

Staff on research farm also face water plan challenges – Sally Rae:

It’s not just farmers who are grappling with the implications of the Otago Regional Council’s water plan change 6A.

When council staff visited the deer research farm at Invermay, looking for some monitor farms to use as part of their rollout of 6A, AgResearch staff realised they had plenty of on-farm challenges to meet some of the limits.

Now they are using their issues to help other farmers improve their farms, by using the Invermay farm as an example, as they work to mitigate the effects.. . 

Family and friends rally round as south suffolks go up for sale – Kate Taylor:

Selling the right rams to the right farms is important to Simon and Fiona Prouting so they host their own on-farm auction.

This year’s High Plains auction at their Weber farm on Friday December 4 will offer 120 south suffolk rams and 35 poll dorset rams.

“Last year we only offered 90 south suffolks,” says Simon. “Our numbers are growing but also our average is getting up too high. We averaged $920 again last year. We’d rather have the average back to $700 and more people get a ram for the price they’re happy with. People were missing out. It’s important to give everyone a fair go.” . . 

Australian shearer makes it six-in-a-row – Lynda van Kempen:

The national merino shearing title was claimed by an Australian for the sixth successive year but the national woolhandling winner was a hometown favourite.

Damien Boyle (38), of Tambellup, Western Australia, entered the record books again after winning his sixth successive open title at the 54th New Zealand Merino Shearing Championships.

Pagan Rimene (27), of Alexandra, earned the loudest cheers at the prizegiving in Alexandra on Saturday night when she was announced as the winner of the open woolhandling title, ahead of national representative and defending champion Joel Henare, of Gisborne. . . 

Ambitious target set for rural broadband:

Recognising the ever-increasing demand for high-speed broadband across New Zealand, and its importance to regional growth, the Government has today announced a bold new connectivity target for areas outside the UFB footprint.

Under this target virtually all New Zealanders, regardless of where they live or work, will be able to access broadband at peak speeds of at least 50 Mbps by 2025, Communications Minister Amy Adams has announced.

“Our use of, and reliance on, technology and broadband connectivity are increasing rapidly. It’s vital that we set aspirational targets to ensure we keep up with this pace of change. This is about setting a vision of where we want New Zealand to be in ten years,” says Ms Adams.

By 2025, the Government’s vision would see: . . .

Faster broadband just the medicine for rural general practice:

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network welcomes today’s announcement by Government to give almost all New Zealanders, regardless of where they live or work, access to broadband at peak speeds of at least 50 Mbps by 2025.

The Government is saying that by 2025, 99 per cent of New Zealanders should able to access broadband at peak speeds of at least 50 Mbps (up from 5 Mbps under RBI) and the remaining 1 per cent able to access to 10 Mbps (up from dial up or non-existent speeds). . . 

InternetNZ welcomes rural Internet ambition:

InternetNZ is pleased by today’s announcement of new Government targets for rural Internet connectivity. The new targets would see nearly all New Zealanders able to connect and share in the benefits and uses of high speed Internet connectivity. Due to the fast-changing nature of technology, the targets will need to be reviewed on a regular basis.

The Government has today announced new national targets for broadband connectivity of:

• 99% of New Zealanders able to access broadband at peak speeds of at least 50 Mbps (up from 5 Mbps under RBI). . . 

UANZ welcomes Government’s new Rural Connectivity Target:

TUANZ has today welcomed the Government’s announcement from the Minister of Communications, Hon. Amy Adams of a new target for Rural Connectivity of 50Mbps for 99% of the New Zealanders by 2025. Over many years TUANZ has consistently stated that that the availability of good quality high speed connectivity in all parts of New Zealand is a critical economic enabler for the future of the NZ economy.

“One of the 5 key goals in our recently released strategic direction is to continue to advocate for ubiquitous high quality connectivity across the country and this newly announced Government target is a good step forward towards achieving this goal.” said the CEO of TUANZ, Craig Young. . . . 

Celebrations for DWN at annual general meeting:

Celebrating success and reward for hard work will be the upcoming Dairy Women’s Network AGM theme.

The Network’s AGM is due to be held in Hamilton on 15 October at Narrow’s Landing, in the Waikato and chief executive Zelda de Villiers says there is plenty to celebrate with membership numbers up, event numbers up, new commercial partners on board, a stable financial position and innovative ways of working paying dividends.

“Looking back at the last 12 months, we have achieved an awful lot,” she said.

“It has been a year of growth and change and a year of developing pilots and rolling them out, in particular with the modified Dairy Modules, in place of Dairy Days. . . 

The Nutters Club NZ's photo.

Rural round-up

October 6, 2015

Farm skills for youth _ Sally Rae:

The prospect of getting out of bed at 5am to gain work experience on a dairy farm does not bother Caleb Unahi.

The 19-year-old is enjoying keeping busy as part of the Farmhand training programme, which aims to expose Dunedin’s disengaged youth to rural opportunities.

Before starting the 13-week course, Caleb was doing ”nothing much really”, he said.

A family friend encouraged him to apply for the course, which was first held last year.

”I enjoy it. It’s a good opportunity for me to get up off my …”

he said, while learning about fencing at Invermay recently. . . 

Merino industry stalwarts honoured –  Lynda van Kempen:

A couple described as vital cogs in the fine wool industry had their efforts recognised at the weekend.

Peter and Elsie Lyon, of Alexandra, received life membership to the New Zealand Merino Shearing Society. The award – a surprise to the couple – was made during the national merino shearing championships in Alexandra on Saturday night.

The couple run Peter Lyon Shearing, which had a turnover of more than $10 million last year. . . 

The story behind merino wool – Camilla Rutherford:

I am very lucky to live on a high country Merino sheep station here in Tarras, New Zealand. This farm belongs to my husbands family and they have farmed here for over 100 years, which is a long time in NZ! Every year in the first week of September a big muster happens and the sheep are brought down off the hill and into the woolshed to get their yearly hair cut in time for the hot Central Otago summer. This wool is very carefully removed by highly skilled shearers, who have the very tricky task of removing the precious fibres without harming the wrinkly sheep.

Walking into the woolshed can be a little intimidating, with drum and bass blasting over the sound of the clippers, and a multitude of men and women working tirelessly, each with their own roll making the operation of shearing a sheep like a well oiled machine. This precious wool is sent to Merino New Zealand which is spun and made into Icebreaker clothing, which we all know and love. Merino wool is an incredible fibre; sustainable, warm when wet, cooling when you are too hot and keeps the stink off you. What better fibre to wear against your skin? My wardrobe is nearly 100% merino, from underwear, thermals, summer singlets, technical ski wear and awesome hoodies! . .  [whether or not you want to read more, it’s worth clicking the link for the photos]

Ballance Farm Environment Awards application period extended for Canterbury farmers:

Canterbury farmers have been given another three weeks to enter this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The entry deadline has been extended to Friday October 30 to allow farmers more time to get their entries in before judging commences in November.

The Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards Judging Coordinator Sandra Taylor acknowledged that drought and a low dairy pay-out have made for a tough start to spring and for many farmers entering the Awards has been low on the priority list.

“Recent rain and warmer temperatures will hopefully take the pressure off and give farmers a chance to think about getting their entries in.”

She points out the judging process gives farmers the opportunity to benchmark their businesses and get feedback from a team of experienced and knowledgeable judges. . . 

Life-changing win for Young Auctioneer:

With entries now open for the 2015 Heartland Bank Young Auctioneer of the Year Competition, the 2014 winner is urging other young auctioneers to enter the “life-changing competition.”

Cam Bray of PGG Wrightson won the 2014 Competition after entering all three years of the competition. The win enabled him to travel to the 2015 Sydney Royal Show to attend the Australian Livestock & Property Agents Association (ALPA) Young Auctioneers National Final.

Mr Bray said that the trip to Australia resulted in some life-changing experiences.

“The trip to Australia was great – not only for the fact that I was representing New Zealand but to be able to rub shoulders with Australia’s best was an invaluable experience.” . . .

A big win for Rural Contractors NZ:

Agricultural contractors around New Zealand will soon be able to bring in overseas workers much easier than in the past – following a deal struck between its national body and Immigration NZ.

Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet says his organisation has been working with Immigration New Zealand for a long time in an effort to resolve the problems around contractors bringing in overseas workers for the harvest season.

“After many meetings and a lot of hard work by RCNZ – together with Immigration NZ – we believe have come up with a solution that will solve many of the problems that rural contractors currently experience every year and make it much easier to bring in overseas workers,” Mr Levet says. . .

Forest grower poll open:

Voting is now open for the person who will represent owners of smaller forests on the Forest Growers Levy Trust board.

The two candidates are Guy Farman, managing director of Farman Turkington Forestry and Steve Wilton, managing director of Forest Enterprises. Both have strong forestry credentials and are based in the Wairarapa.

Anyone who owns a ‘qualifying forest’ of between 4 and 1000 hectares, planted before 1 October 2003, may vote in the election that opened on Monday 5 October and closes on Friday 16 October. . . .

DataCol Group extends their reach into the rural market with acquisition of pioneering water measurement company Watermetrics:

Data collection and data integrator specialist business DataCol Group, today announced it had fully acquired Canterbury-based Watermetrics, a provider of integrated water flow monitoring, recording and analysis services.

“Watermetrics were pioneers in providing water measurement technology and services to the rural sector, have built a strong brand and significant customer base predominantly in the Canterbury region off the back of that,” says DataCol CEO Bruce Franks.

“Using data collection and measurement technology has become a critical tool for farmers in terms of enhancing productivity, reducing cost and complying with national regulations like water consents. . . 

Queenstown’s Ziptrek Ecotours wins environmental tourism award:

A successful business driven by the ethos of ‘inspiration through adventure’ is how judges described Queenstown’s Ziptrek Ecotours in announcing it as the winner of the Environmental Tourism Award at this year’s Tourism Industry Awards.

After almost six years in business – and a consistent winner of many sustainable practice awards over the years – Ziptrek received the award on Friday night, helping set a benchmark of excellence within the New Zealand tourism industry.

Judges were hugely impressed with the business, describing it as a “wonderful example” of a highly successful tourism business embracing and promoting sustainability in everything it does. . . 

Coronet Peak caps off ‘stellar’ season with visitor experience award:

Capping off a stellar season, Queenstown’s Coronet Peak fought off stiff competition to win the Visitor Experience Award at the New Zealand Tourism Industry Awards this weekend.

The ski area celebrated its final ‘hurrah’ on the snow this weekend with a Rugby World Cup-themed day in support of the AB’s on Saturday. On Sunday, all best efforts to host a Beach Party were somewhat thwarted by wet and wild weather, but a few brave souls managed the Pond Skim to cap off an amazing season.

The final weekend of 2015 winter started well, with Coronet Peak ski area manager Ross Copland accepting the honour in Auckland on Friday night. . . 

Rural round-up

September 8, 2015

Passion for irrigation still runs deep – Sally Rae:

Dave Finlay describes himself simply as ”an irrigation man”.

Ingrained in his memory is his time farming a dryland property at Windsor, in North Otago, battling drought and having to sell his sheep in drought sales. It was, he recalls, ”nightmarish stuff”’.

Those challenging times resulted in him later become a driving force behind irrigation development in North Otago.

At 78, Mr Finlay shows no signs of slowing down, as he continues working as a rural sales consultant for PGG Wrightson Real Estate in Oamaru. . . 

Retailers’ revenge could slow dairy recovery:

While wholesale milk prices may be on their way up, we need to be aware of “retailers’ revenge”.

Lincoln University Agribusiness and Food Marketing Programme Director Nic Lees says two things need to happen for the market prices to recover to anywhere near previous levels.

“Retail prices need to fall to stimulate consumer demand and global supply needs to be reduced. Both of these take some time to occur.

“We are starting to see the milk tap being turned off with farmers’ globally selling cull cows and reducing supplement, and plans for future expansion and conversion are being put on hold.” . . 

Farm kids less likely to have asthma:

A new discovery has found that kids who grow up on farms are less likely to develop asthma and have a bigger immunity to allergies than the average city slicker.

It’s the kind of discovery that could completely change how we treat asthma in the future.

Nanotech scientist Michelle Dickinson joined Paul Henry this morning to explain how and why this is.

She says the study shows that farm dust in young children under the age of two can protect them from allergies later in life. . . 


Last few days to vote in 2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Levy Referendum:

There is still a significant number of farmers yet to vote in the 2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Levy Referendum before it closes on Thursday this week (10 September).

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, James Parsons said as of this morning 5,195 farmers (30 per cent of registered farmers) had cast their vote.

“It’s really important for the organisation that it has a strong mandate from farmers if they want Beef + Lamb New Zealand working for them in the next six years. . . 

Members sought for forest levy board:

Nominations are open for members of the Forest Growers Levy Trust board. There are vacancies for two members representing owners of large forests and one representing owners of smaller forests.

This is the first election since a commodity levy was applied to harvested plantation logs in January 2014. The levy raised $7.96 million in 2014 for activities that benefit all forest owners, including research, forest health, safety and training.

“Half of the six elected board members have retired this year after only one year in office. This sets in motion a rotational retirement policy for directors that will see half their number retiring every second year after a four-year term,” says trust chair Geoff Thompson. . . 

Dairy Graziers proactivity will stave off cost:

As the fallout from the steep decline in global diary prices spreads, Crowe Horwath agribusiness specialist Haylee Preston is advising dairy graziers to be proactive to avoid being out-of-pocket this coming season.

“With budgets under pressure from severely restricted cash flows, dairy farmers are moving to cut costs, with many looking to tweak their farming systems accordingly,” says Preston.

“In many farming operations, supplementary feed and grazing are a significant cost when it comes to production,” indicates Preston. “This means they will be some of the most closely scrutinised costs given the current drive to save.” . . 

Farm Environment Competition Pays Off For Young Taranaki Farmers:

Sami and Laura Werder are young and enthusiastic farmers with big plans for improving the sustainability of their new Taranaki sheep and beef farm. So entering the 2015 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a great way to check their plans were on the right track.

The Werders bought their 378ha breeding and finishing property at Huiroa, east of Stratford, two years ago and are currently in the process of developing the farm through subdivision, improved access and a new water system.

“We were both raised on farms and we were lucky to have help from family to get into our own farm,” says Sami, a former rural banker. . . 

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Annual Report 2015:

The Ballance Agri-Nutrients Limited Annual Report for the year ended 31 May 2015 is now available online at

Our interactive report includes video content and links to additional resources, as well as access to our full financial statements. . . 

Farmers can cut nitrogen loss with new N-Protect:

Farmers facing warm and dry conditions and who need to minimise losses of nitrogen into the air, have a new tool in the toolbox thanks to Ravensdown.

The co-operative’s new N-Protect has a urease inhibitor coating around the urea granule to reduce nitrogen loss to the atmosphere, otherwise known as volatilisation. This can lead to more growth-giving nitrogen kept available for the plant enabling production gains in a critical season for farmers facing El Nino conditions.

“Our advice has always been that there are several ways to ‘skin the N-loss cat’. These range from good management practice to urease inhibiting products like new N-Protect,” explained Lloyd Glenny, Fertiliser Product Manager at Ravensdown. . . 

Be careful with cheap grass seed:

Think twice before buying cheap pasture seed this spring – you may well get more (or less) than you bargained for, and not in a good way.

That’s the advice to farmers looking to save money re-sowing paddocks left bare after winter crop.

With poor germination, high weed content and/or minimal endophyte, cheap seed almost always works out to be anything but cheap at the best of times, pasture experts say.

“It’s even more of a false economy when cash is tight, because farmers need all the good grazing they can get,” says Agriseeds’ Graham Kerr. “No-one can afford paddocks to fail this spring.”

His advice? “Concentrate on sowing a smaller area of land, better. Use proprietary pasture seed which has guaranteed purity, germination and endophyte, so you know what you’re really planting, and do the best job possible of getting it into the ground so it establishes well.” . . 

Rural round-up

September 2, 2015

Tap turned on at Hororata irrigation scheme – Annabelle Tukia:

The tap has officially been turned on for one of the country’s largest irrigation projects.

The Central Plains water scheme will irrigate more than 20,000 hectares of Canterbury farmland.

One Hororata farmer says the massive scheme, which runs off the Rakaia River, will enable him and his neighbours to completely transform their operations.

Rodney Booth has waited a long time to turn the irrigators on at his Hororata farm. . . 

Dairy and travel still our largest export earners:

New Zealand earned $2.3 billion more from exports than we spent on imports during the year ended June 2015, Statistics New Zealand said today.

In the year to June 2015, total exports of goods and services were $67.5 billion, while total imports were $65.1 billion.

Dairy remains New Zealand’s largest export commodity, earning $12.0 billion in the June 2015 year. However, this was down from $15.8 billion in the June 2014 year. Spending by international visitors to New Zealand (travel exports) increased $2.4 billion, reaching $11.7 billion in the June 2015 year.

“Dairy and travel are New Zealand’s biggest export earners,” international statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said. “A fall in dairy exports to China, combined with the increase in expenditure by overseas visitors to New Zealand, has narrowed the gap between the two.” . . 

App helps keep hives humming – Sally Rae:

Brice Horner gets a buzz about educating others about beekeeping.

Now the Dunedin police officer has developed a phone app that helps beekeepers identify whether they have the destructive bacterial disease American foulbrood (AFB) in their hives.

AFB kills bee larvae and infected hives have to be destroyed by burning, as the disease is very difficult to combat. After destroying the bee larvae, spores could survive outside a bee colony for more than 35 years.

It is a serious issue, and beekeepers are legally required to advise the AFB Management Agency within seven days of noticing an outbreak and to destroy the disease by burning within the same period. . . 

Kiwi dairy farmers feeling the pinch are right – their payout is the world’s lowest – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand dairy farmers bracing for the lowest payout in a decade probably won’t welcome the latest analysis of global trends in the industry – their counterparts in every other dairy-producing country are being paid more.

An expected uplift in dairy prices in the overnight GlobalDairyTrade auction won’t change the fact Kiwi dairy farmers are the lowliest paid. AgriHQ analysed milk prices from around the world converted to NZ$/kilogram of milk solids to allow valid comparisons, although some dairy farmers incomes in other countries are boosted by subsidies and support schemes.

Fonterra’s forecast farmgate milk price, which is the price setter in the New Zealand dairy industry, is $3.85/kgMS for the current season, the lowest in a decade. That compares to China at the other end of the scale at $11/kgMS, the United States at $8.15/kgMS, Argentina at $7.57/kgMS, and the UK at $6.95/kgMS. Of the countries analysed, Ireland’s payout of $6.10/kgMS was the closest to New Zealand’s. . . 

OceanaGold raises 2015 production estimate to reflect Waihi acquisition – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – OceanaGold Corp expects 2015 production to increase while costs fall after the gold miner takes control of Waihi Gold Mine later this year.

The acquisition of the Waihi mine from Newmont Mining Corp is awaiting approval from the Overseas Investment Office this month, and once completed, OceanaGold expects to assume the economic benefits and costs associated with Waihi from July 1, the Melbourne-based miner said in a statement. The company increased its 2015 production estimates, and reduced its costs forecast to reflect lower copper and diesel prices and a weaker New Zealand dollar, it said. . . 

Sanford quits Pacific tuna business, lines up buyers for vessels – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, New Zealand’s largest listed fishing group, will quit its underperforming Pacific tuna business and put the unit’s fleet up for sale.

The Auckland-based company sold its San Nanumea vessel and is in talks with a potential buyer of San Nikunau, its other Pacific tuna ship, after reviewing the viability of the business, Sanford said in a statement. On April 9, it entered into a conditional agreement to sell both international purse seiner vessels, according to Sanford’s interim report released in June. . . 

Rural Equities posts 27% decline in annual earnings after milk prices slumped – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Rural Equities, the farming group majority-owned by the Cushing family, posted a 27 percent decline in annual earnings as milk prices plummeted.

The Hastings-based company said operating earnings before interest and tax fell to $4.67 million in the year ended June 30, from $6.43 million a year earlier as Fonterra Cooperative Group slashed its milk price payout to $4.40 per kilogram of milk solids from $8.40/kgMS the previous year. While that impacted its seven dairy farms, the company said its Waikato Puketotara sheep and beef property had a record year and it had steady income from leasing 15 of its 25 farms.

“Operating earnings were satisfactory given the substantial reduction in milk price,” said executive chairman David Cushing. “The company’s portfolio, with a mixture of directly operated and leased farms and diversity by property type and geography, helped provide balance.” . . 

Government grant for East Coast stream restoration:

An $89,700 grant from the Community Environment Fund for the restoration of the Whangawehi stream on the Mahia Peninsula was announced today by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith during a visit to the catchment. 

“New Zealand has a major challenge to improve the management of our waterways, which has to be achieved stream by stream, river by river and lake by lake. The key to the success of these restoration programmes is getting all parties – landowners, iwi and hapū, district and regional councils as well as the Government – working together. This has been achieved on this project and that is why the Government is providing funding support,” Dr Smith says.  . . 

Fonterra Farmers Can Now Apply for Co-Operative Support:

Fonterra farmers can now apply for Fonterra Co-operative Support, a loan to help them deal with the current challenging conditions.

Chairman John Wilson said Fonterra is well placed to help its farmers because of the Co-operative’s underlying strength.

“Being able to help our farmers is all about standing together as a Co-operative and using our collective strength to get through these tough times,” said Mr Wilson. “We have had a lot of interest from farmers who appreciate what the Co-operative is trying to do for them to assist them with their farming businesses in a tough financial climate, and we are anticipating a large number of applications.” . . .


Rural round-up

August 28, 2015

New lecturer pursuing genetic gains – Sally Rae:

Phillip Wilcox credits time spent culling deer for the New Zealand Forest Service for his pragmatic perspective and love of the outdoors.

He now found that passion complementary to his primary sector relationships and technology transfer work.

Dr Wilcox has been appointed by Beef and Lamb New Zealand Genetics (BLNZG) as its inaugural senior lecturer in quantitative genetics at the University of Otago. . . 

Kiwi dairy farmers rethinking careers – Dave Gooselink:

Dairy farmers are being forced to reduce stock and slash costs to try to stay afloat, following the big drop in milk price payouts.

Some farmers are losing staff and taking on more of the work themselves, forcing some sharemilkers to rethink their careers. . . 

World-class soil programme ‘misused’:

A soil scientist who was involved in the initial development of the controversial nutrient management system, Overseer, agrees with critics who say it is being misused.

The computer software programme was designed to help in the assessment of nitrogen and other nutrient losses from farms.

Regional councils are now using Overseer as well to set nutrient discharge levels in their land and water plans.

Independent soil scientist and fertiliser consultant Doug Edmeades was a National Science Leader with AgResearch in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the Overseer concept was born.

He said the Overseer programme is world class – no other country has such a tool.

But Dr Edmeades said it was not being used in the role it was designed for and that it had never been intended to be used as a regulatory tool. . . 

Heartland potato chips a family affair – Audrey Malone:

Raymond Bowan fell in love with potato farming at the age of 17. Wife Adrienne laughs that it’s not potato farming her husband fell in love with, but potatoes in all their forms – mashed, baked, roasted, boiled baby potatoes (without butter so not to interfere with the taste) and of course as chips.

Raymond Bowan’s passion for potatoes and chips has seen Heartland Potato Chips take on the big boys at their own game. With its fifth birthday looming, changes are afoot at the helm but the recipe for success remains the same.

The company, which the Bowans describe as something of a David and Goliath story, has always been a family oriented business. It was started to sustain a family business and it remains central to family, with daughter Charlotte stepping into the role of general manager. . . 

Fonterra: Foreign investment in trees:

The German man felt it was time he checked on his tree.

He brought up his browser on his laptop, went to the Trees For Travellers website, entered his tree identification number and got the co-ordinates for his tree. Then, using Google Earth, he zoomed in on the Kaikoura track which was home to his sapling.

There it was, still protected by its combi-guard (funded by the Fonterra Grass Roots Fund) sheltering the young tree from the elements. He zoomed closer to locate the area and a message appeared telling him his tree was doing well.

If this all sounds a bit unusual, it is the quintessential symbiotic relationship where both parties benefit. Trees For Travellers offers New Zealand native trees for planting around Kaikoura – like many parts of this country a place where native trees have often given way to imported and pest varieties. . .

Italian farm family video wins the first global web video competition:

Sabrina Caldararo, Carmine Caldararo and Gerardo Graziano from Italy won the first prize with their video submission “A modern family farm”. More than 40 videos from 20 countries were submitted for the first YouFarm International video competition, which was initiated by Bayer CropScience in 2015.

“We are grateful our video won out of such a wide range of international videos. Our aim was to give insights into modern Italian farming and the value of regionally and traditionally produced products. It’s great that the online community as well as the jury appreciated our concept,” said Gerardo Graziano. Having been awarded the first prize, Gerardo and his brother in law will now start the “Farmers around the Continent Tour” through Asia. They will meet farmers, visit farms as well as a variety of agricultural sites and parks from tea plantations in Malaysia to vertical farms in Japan. . . 

Rural round-up

August 25, 2015

Five Otago entries for farmer of year award – Sally Rae:

Five Otago farming businesses are among those entered for the 2015 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year award.

Twelve entries have been received from throughout the South Island, including a West Coast farm for the first time in the history of the competition.

Operations range from sheep and beef farms to a marine mussel farm, saffron grower and fruit producer. . . 

Pipes full, water coming soon – Alan Williams:

The pipes are full and ready to start irrigating stage one of the Central Plains Water (CPW) scheme in Canterbury.

Once the control system was fully tested over the next few weeks the valves could be turned on, chief executive Derek Crombie said.

The official target date was September 1 but the practical timing for water to flow to most of the 120 farms involved would be late September or early October, depending on rainfall levels and ground temperatures. . . 

Science close to unlocking velvet’s secret:

New Zealand and South Korean scientists may soon be able to identify the compounds that give deer antler velvet its immune-boosting properties.

If successful, it would allow velvet extracts to be sold with a precise measure of the active ingredients they contain. Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) says this will be an important step in getting such products registered for sale as healthy functional foods. . . 

Conservation planting crowdfunded:

Crowdfunding might be better known for assisting fledgling businesses but it is also helping restore New Zealand waterways.

The Million Metres Streams Project, set up by the Sustainable Business Network in collaboration with Enspiral, is New Zealand’s first conservation crowdfunding initiative.  

Launched in October last year, the project gave people the opportunity to contribute to the restoration of waterways. It has already funded almost 5km of riparian restoration work. . . 

Deadly rattle detected in Cuban maracas:

Biosecurity staff detected a deadly rattle in a set of souvenir maracas carried by two air passengers arriving in New Zealand from Cuba.

The couple declared the Cuban percussion instruments to Ministry for Primary Industries biosecurity staff at Auckland airport earlier this month.

X-ray screening revealed the maracas used red seeds for their rattle. MPI later identified the seed asAbrus precatorius, commonly known as crab’s eye and rosary pea.

The seeds contain abrin, which is more toxic than ricin – a deadly poison associated with spies and biological weaponry. . . 

Feed field days address fluctuations:

Tips and information to help manage the ups and downs of fluctuating milk price will be provided at a series of DairyNZ events in September and October.

The Feed Tactics field days will focus on helping farmers get the best returns from all feeds used on farm.

The nationwide events follow on from one-on-one feed review visits which provided more than 750 farms with an assessment of feed allocation and grazing management in early spring. . . 

Commission reconvenes conference on wool scouring authorisation:

The Commerce Commission is to reconvene its conference on Cavalier Wool Holding Limited’s application for authorisation to acquire New Zealand Wool Services International’s wool scouring business.

The conference will be held on Tuesday 1 September to consider specific issues relating to property valuations, which form part of Cavalier’s application. . . 

GMO ‘Right to Know’ movement takes food off of plates of hungry in Africa, Asia – Michael Dzakovich:

One of the most contentious and polarizing issues today is the use of biotechnology in farming. While many farmers in industrialized countries have been safely and successfully using genetically engineered crops for almost two decades, adoption in the developing world has been significantly slower, only recently eclipsing the U.S. in terms of total acreage.

Many of these crops have been developed to produce naturally occurring nutritional compounds, resist aggressive diseases and tolerate extreme environmental conditions. The benefits of GE crops are not equitably spread throughout the developing world, as those in most critical need often cannot benefit from existing solutions created by public scientists. . . 

Dayton community harvests late farmer’s final crop – Taylor Viydo:

A community came together this week to help a family harvest the final crop of a local farmer who passed away from cancer.

Jim Hanger was still running a 5,000-acre family farm in Dayton when he passed away last week. He lost his battle to cancer at age 66.

“He was always on the tractor, the combines — if it was seeding, he was seeding. If it was harvest, he was harvesting,” said daughter Tracy Hanger. . .

Racheal Trail's photo.

Rural round-up

August 18, 2015

Dairying must take a long-term view – Chris Lewis:

There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Fonterra’s announcement last Friday was a blow.

The politics that followed was not surprising either, but disappointing nonetheless.

But underneath all that noise, what this means for our economy and what the government should be doing, are the dairy farmers directly affected.  Most importantly, we need to be talking about what this means for them and how we can support them.

While some dairy farm businesses will exit the industry following consecutive low pay-outs, the vast majority will be able to farm through the next few seasons with the support of their banks, but farmers need to engage. . .

NZ Pastures to sell off half its shares:

South Island farming operation New Zealand Pastures Ltd, which owns seven farms in Otago and Canterbury, has announced it is putting up half of its shares for sale.

New Zealand Pastures’ largest shareholder is a Netherlands-based pension fund, which will keep its 50 percent stake. The other shares are held by a small group of professional and institutional investors. . .

Rural insurer announces $26.7m profit:

The country’s largest rural insurer, Farmers Mutual Group, has announced an after tax profit of $26.7 million, its sixth consecutive profit.

Farmers Mutual Group (FMG) chief executive Chris Black said the result was underpinned by investment income of about $23 million.

“Eighty percent of our investments are cash and bonds, so very secure and relatively stable. We take a conservative view, and the other 20 percent is in equity investments. We use that profit in a range of ways, firstly adding to reserves.” . . .

Premium US beef supplier likes SFF – Sally Rae:

Lenny Lebovich has travelled the world to see where the best grass fed beef was to be found.

The founder and chief executive of Chicago based company Pre Beef ended up in New Zealand, where he talked to some key companies and felt his company had the most in common with Silver Fern Farms.

Mr Lebovich, who started his career as an investment banker and has traded that for a role in the meat industry, was looking for high quality beef. . .

Little bit of everything at Gore A&P’s fundraising ball – Sally Rae:

Whether you’re in the market for a Hereford or hay, fodder beet or firewood, the Gore A&P Association’s Spring Ball is the place to be.

The ball is being held in the James Cumming Wing on August 22 to raise money for 16 new horse boxes at the showgrounds. It was hoped about 200 people would attend.

The A&P committee needed to raise about $50,000 for the development, committee member Tryphena Carter said. . .

Kate Taylor's photo.


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