Rural round-up

June 15, 2019

Susan Murray wins the Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the Year award:

Radio New Zealand’s Country Life producer and presenter Susan Murray has been named the 2019 Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the year.

The award, presented last night at Mystery Creek Fieldays, recognises people making a significant contribution to communicating agricultural issues, events and information.

Susan has worked on the popular farming-based radio programme for more than two decades, bringing a wealth of agricultural knowledge to the show and building a greater public understanding of the practical and technical aspects of farming life in New Zealand. . . 

Agri-innovations on show at Fieldays – Maja Burry:

Some of the best new agri-innovations have been recognised at National Agricultural Fieldays near Hamilton.

Winners at the Fieldays Innovation Awards included a ‘fit bit’ for rivers, which monitors water quality, an online service to help orchardists find seasonal workers, and a device that keeps a trough free of algae.

The company, Future Post, was also recognised for its work turning 100 percent recycled plastic waste into durable fence posts.

Judges said the product provided a way for farmers to participate in addressing what is a massive environmental problem for New Zealand. . . 

AgResearch wins supreme Fieldays award:

AgResearch and three other Crown Research Institute collaborators have won the overall Supreme Site Award for Best Stand at National Fieldays.

Scion, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and Environmental Science and Research joined forces with AgResearch to showcase innovative science and the research they do to improve New Zealand farming and the food sector.

The award was announced today. It also received a second award – Best Agribusiness Indoor Site award at Fieldays. . . 

ClearTech wins Fieldays innovation award:

Ravensdown’s ClearTech dairy effluent treatment system which was developed in conjunction with Lincoln University has won a Highly Commended Award at the Fieldays innovation awards.

The system uses a coagulant to bind effluent colloidal particles together in order to settle them out from the water. This clarifying process reduces freshwater use, helps existing effluent storage go further and reduces the environmental and safety risk linked with farm dairy effluent (FDE).

“ClearTech is ideal for those dairy farmers who want to save on effluent pond storage and take back control of their capacity and compliance,” said Product Manager Carl Ahlfeld. . . 

Tractor driving bachelor named Fieldays Rural Catch 2019

An Otorohanga tractor driver has taken out the 2019 Fieldays Rural Catch top honours, while a Hamilton dairy technician was named as the People’s Choice.

Eight rural singles showed off their farm skills at the Fieldays at Mystery Creek, hoping to catch the eye of employers – and a potential love interest.

This year’s competition had them brushing up their confidence with some media interviews and sponsor engagements and showing off their skills in the areas of fencing, innovations, chainsaws, health and wellbeing, finance and ATV skills.

Lewis Nichols, who is a heavy machinery operator for agricultural contracting company Bradfields based in Otorohanga was announced as the winner on Friday. . . 

China’s appetite for NZ red meat is surging – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – China has been New Zealand’s largest market for red meat for some time and growth in that market is surging.

Meat Industry Association analysis of Stats NZ figures shows China accounted for 36 percent of total red meat exports in April and sales there that month jumped 62 percent by value from the previous April.

That’s down a little from the 70 percent year-on-year growth in the month of March, although growth in the year ended March was a slightly more sedate 47 percent. . .

Dairy industry receives boost with $25 million sustainable innovation programme:

A new $25.68 million innovation programme for New Zealand’s dairy industry will drive improvements in the health and wellbeing of the national dairy herd and a step-change in sustainable milk production.

The seven-year programme, called Resilient Dairy: Innovative Breeding for a Sustainable Future, launched today and is being led by farmer-owned herd improvement co-operative Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), with investment and support from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and DairyNZ. . .

A Nelson based company creates a world first non-toxic in fighting grape splitting:

Agricultural fertiliser and biostimulant company Waikaitu Ltd has developed a product that could significantly impact the wine growing industry.

Waikaitu Ltd has produced the world’s first seaweed-based product called FruitGuard to help grapes naturally regulate the water pressure inside the fruit and significantly reduce splitting.

Grape splitting can occur at the end of the season just before harvest, potentially ruining harvests with even a single late season rain event. A grape that has split may then allow fungal infection, like Botrytis, to get established in the grape bunches. If the fungus infection is bad enough the grower can lose their entire crop. Fungal pressure intensifies late in grape development – just before the harvest. . . 

Why govt’s GM policy defers logic, hurts farmers :

As farmers under the umbrella of the Shetkari Sangathana start their civil disobedience movement and plant the banned Herbicide Tolerant (HT) GM seeds as well as Bt brinjal, chances are the authorities will treat this as yet another law and order issue and will arrest them; it is, however, not a simple law and order issue. Of course, farmers cannot be allowed to break the law, but it is also true that their protest is against an irrational and farmer-unfriendly policy; more than anything else, it is yet another attempt to get the government to see sense and reverse its policies; indeed, given the prime minister’s avowed goal of doubling farmers’ incomes, the government’s policy on GM make even less sense.

The advantages of Bt cotton in raising crop yields and farmer profits are well known, and that is why almost all India’s cotton acreage is based on Bt cotton; and as a result of productivity surge, India is one of the world’s largest exporter of cotton. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 6, 2019

Gas compromise won’t be enough – Neal Wallace:

It appears the Government has compromised in the treatment of biological and long-lived greenhouse gases but a farming leader warns it is too early to break out the champagne.

Pressure from coalition partners is said to have forced Climate Change Minister James Shaw to agree to separate greenhouse gas reduction targets but Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard says the new levels appear to ignore the views of scientists and studies.

Those studies claim that because methane is short lived in the atmosphere, cutting emissions rather than eliminating it will reduce global warming.

Hoggard declined to release the targets he has heard saying they are not official but says it appears the Government has fallen well short of the advice. . . 

Robots take charge – Sonita Chandar:

It is 2am and though it is pitch-black a small mob of cows is strolling toward the cowshed – it is their third visit in one day.

They are the cows that somehow just know a new is paddock available and the only way to get there is through the shed. 

They are what Auckland farmer Brian Yates refers to as hoons.

“Some girls hoon around the three-way grazing system like three-year-olds on red fizzy, arriving at each new break as it becomes available and getting up to three milkings per day. . . 

Joint opportunity – Sheryl Brown:

Cam and Jess Lea have earned the respect of their neighbours to the point that four farming couples have backed them financially into their first sharemilking position after their second year in the industry. Sheryl Brown reports. 

Four Opotiki neighbouring couples have backed Cam and Jess Lea into their first sharemilking business, holding 16% equity share apiece. Andrew and Kelly Clarke, Dave and Nat Wilson, Rob and Moira Anstis, and Colin and Maria Eggleton are all born and bred in Opotiki and knew a good investment when they saw one.

Cam, 28, and Jess, 27, sold their house, their nice vehicle and their boat to put $75,000 into the equity partnership and borrowed the rest to buy the Jersey herd that was already on the farm. . . 

Collins family’s long history of dairying – Julia Evans:

The Collins family celebrated 150 years of farming in Springston on Saturday. Julia Evans speaks to Murray Collins about his family who have lived and worked the land and their roots in the newspaper industry.

There’s Murray and Judy, their daughter Jenny and grandchildren Elsie, Henry and Leila.

Those are the three generations of the Collins family currently living on Springston’s Pendah Farm, which has celebrated 150 years of operation.

But before them there was William, Walter, Leslie and Jack Collins.

William was a typographer who sailed to New Zealand from the United Kingdom in 1850, after working for the London Morning Post.

Though he did not settle in Canterbury. . . 

Government should fund fire research:

The National Party is calling on the Government to fund potentially lifesaving research into preventing rural fires, National’s Research, Science and Innovation spokesperson Parmjeet Parmar says.

“Crown Research Institute Scion, which specialises in forestry science, is involved in creating a new fire spread model and investigating new extreme fire prevention methods.

This includes developing new response technologies to prevent and suppress extreme fires,” Dr Parmar says.

“I’m calling on the Government to give Scion the security it needs of $3 million a year so it can continue research and come up with new models to suppress wildfires. This research has previously come from contestable funds but there is no security with that funding. . . 

Cows and climate change: A closer look – Andre Mayer:

The extent to which meat production contributes to climate change is hotly contested. We highlighted some of the concernsin our last issue, but heard from some readers who felt it didn’t convey the full picture.

Earlier this year, when U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first started promoting the Green New Deal — the Democratic proposal to mobilize government to address climate change and income inequality — she made comments about the significant impact of “cow farts” on carbon emissions.

That concerned Frank Mitloehner, an esteemed animal science professor at the University of California, Davis, who tweeted at AOC, telling the rookie lawmaker that “meat/milk” was only responsible for four per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. . . 


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

May 9, 2018

Natural Fibre Exchange aimed at providing greater efficiency :

In a significant step forward for the wool sector, industry participants have come together to develop and launch an independent online trading platform.

Modelled on the Global Dairy Trade Events (GDT) platform, the Natural Fibre Exchange (NFX) is scheduled to go live with its first trading event on 22 May 2018.

NFX Ltd shareholders Wools of New Zealand Ltd (WNZ) and Alliance Group have teamed with CRA International (CRA), an acknowledged leader in online trading platforms. CRA, which also designed and manages the GDT platform, has developed and will manage the NFX platform. . . 

Short and long-lived gases need separate regulatory baskets – Keith Woodford:

A key issue for New Zealand is how to meet the Paris commitments for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Fundamental to any analysis is the different attributes of long-lived and short-lived gases.  In particular, how should methane be accounted for, and how should it be brought into any emission trading scheme?

Back in 2016, current Commissioner of the Environment Simon Upton raised the importance of placing short-lived gases in a different regulatory ‘basket’ from long-lived gases. Remarkably, our rural leaders appear to have failed to pick up on the importance of this issue.  

More than any other country in the world, NZ’s gross emissions are influenced by methane-producing ruminant animals. No other developed country has a comparable emission profile, with the arguable exception of Uruguay. . . 

Cheaper lab meat to put pressure on farmers by vying with mince and other red meat cuts – Jill Galloway:

New Zealand farmers are in danger of becoming redundant as synthetic meat took consumers away from red meat, says a strategic science expert.

Dr Anna Campbell, managing director of agribusiness consulting company AbacusBio, said synthetic meats would get cheaper and global consumers would choose them because of their light environmental impact and zero animal treatment.

Campbell was a key speaker talking to about 180 farmers and agribusiness people at the AgInnovation conference in Palmerston North on Wednesday.

“At the moment, synthetic meat-makers take some cells, some blood and other things, spin it around, and get mince.  It’s mince for hamburger patties that is spat out. It is expensive at the moment, but the companies will scale it up and make it cheap.”  . . 

Age not wearing this farmer – Peter Burke:

Moyra Bramley was born in 1933, the year Sir Apirana Ngata and Lord Bledisloe inaugurated the Ahuwhenua Trophy to recognise excellence in Maori farming — now Ms Bramley has at least a 50/50 chance of winning that trophy.

Bramley is in the running for her role as chairwoman of the Onuku Maori Lands Trust, one of two finalists in the competition. 

Onuku’s entry in the competition is its 72ha Boundary Road dairy unit is near Lake Rotomahana, 30km south of Rotorua. It is one of four farms run by the trust.  . . 

Looking into using drones differently – Mark Price:

Wanaka beekeeper Daniel Schweizer is investigating a use for drones that is yet to catch on in New Zealand.

He can see potential for “spray drones” that target weeds in difficult-to-get-to places in the high country.

The weeds would include gorse, broom and wilding pines.

“The only options at the moment are a helicopter and a man with a knapsack, and one is $20 an hour and one is $2000 an hour,” he said. . . 

Drought will bring more crop disease scientists warn:

New Zealand’s land-based primary industries need to get ready for more, and more serious, crop disease as climate change causes more and longer droughts, according to new research.

In the journal Australasian Plant Pathology, the authors say that climate change is expected to bring more droughts in many parts of New Zealand, and more droughts are “likely to increase the severity of a wide range of diseases affecting the plant-based productive sectors”.

Scientists from the Bio-Protection Research Centre, Scion, Lincoln University, AUT University, Landcare Research, and the University of Auckland analysed the potential impact of climate-change-induced drought on several commercial plants and their diseases. . . 


Rural round-up

September 16, 2016

Plant & Food $8.5 million research grant includes GM techniques used ‘in lab’ only – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – An $8.5 million research grant awarded to crown research institute Plant & Food this week for new breeding technologies for high value plant industries includes gene editing which is considered in New Zealand to be part of genetic modification.

The grant was part of the total investment announced this week of more than $209 million over the next five years in new scientific research projects through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) 2016 Endeavour Fund.

Plant & Food chief executive Peter Landon-Lane told the NZBio conference today that one of the new breeding technologies is CRISPR gene editing, which gives biologists the ability to target and study particular DNA sequences in the expanse of a genome and then edit them. . . 

First milk flows through Fonterra’s newest milk powder plant at Lichfield:

The first litres of Waikato-farmed milk are flowing through Fonterra’s newest high-efficiency milk powder plant, as the world’s joint-largest dryer comes online in the South Waikato.

The new 30 metric tonne an hour dryer at the Co-operative’s Lichfield site will be capable of processing an additional 4.4 million litres of milk each day – equivalent to almost two Olympic swimming pools – into high quality milk powder for global markets.
 
Large scale dryers such as this play a key role in driving value for the business, says Fonterra’s Chief Operating Officer Robert Spurway. . . 

Ballance Farm Environment Awards Confirm Viticulture Business On Right Track:

Pictured: Allan Johnson, Pip Goodwin and Blair Savage

Entering the Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a valuable exercise for South Wairarapa viticulture business, Palliser Estate Wines of Martinborough Ltd.

Chief executive officer Pip Goodwin says the operation aims to be a leader in the production of high quality wine using the most sustainable methods possible.

“The Ballance Farm Environment Awards gave us a chance to be judged by our peers and find out what we could do to improve in future.”

Solving sticky problem earns big bio kudos:

Scientists at Scion have solved a growing environmental problem for wood panel manufacturers.

Warren Grigsby and his team have developed the world’s first wood panel resins (glue) using biobased ingredients.

That solution has earned the team the “Biotechnology of the Year” award at NZBIO’s annual conference in Auckland.

When Scion, the Crown Research Institute that specialises in science around forestry, wood products and bio materials, learned the level of formaldehyde emissions from wood panels were being regulated lower in countries like Japan, the United States and in the European Union, with New Zealand following suit, it looked to biotechnology to find ways of reducing the emissions. . . 

What farmers wish you knew about farmers – PinkTractor.com

From ‘farming is easy’ to ‘farmers are rich,’ there are a million things consumers think they know about farmers. We asked our amazing farm community what the one thing they wish people knew about farmers. These are the responses.

Farmers are smart! They have to be everything – plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, scientists, vets and more. Every day!

Farming is a lifestyle, not a job. It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every day of the year. It’s almost impossible to take a vacation, especially if you have animals.

Some farmers have to have jobs off the farm to make ends meet, but they still wouldn’t trade it for anything. . . 

McFall Fuel and VicForests show safety leadership as Conference Partners:

Industry safety champions in both New Zealand and Australia have come forward to show their safety leadership by becoming Principal Partners to the 3rd FIEA Forest Industry Safety Summit conference series – scheduled for March 2017 in Rotorua and Melbourne.

“The leaders of both McFall Fuel in New Zealand and VicForests in Australia see their teams as early adopters of positive safety practices. So they’re keen to show leadership for others in the forest industries by being proactive in safety,” says event director John Stulen from FIEA.

McFall Fuel CEO, Sheryl Dawson actively promotes safety in every aspect of their company’s operations. McFall Fuel’s strong family values of zero harm, respect, trust, integrity, teamwork and a strong work ethic are reflected in every facet of the work carried out. . . 

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Whoever said ‘everything happens for a reason’ has never had a cow step on her foot. – Pink Tractor


Rural round-up

September 13, 2016

Producing more and more milk not New Zealand’s future: Landcorp head:

The chief executive of Landcorp, Steven Carden, on TV One’s Q+A programme says the business is reviewing all land conversions and looking for alternate uses for land that are economically more viable, and environmentally more suitable, than dairy farming.

“I think if you look at Landcorp – and we farm throughout the country – we are looking at all of our land portfolio and thinking, “What is the right land use for it?” And I think what we’ve found is that we can’t really find dairying as the justified new additional land-use conversion option,” he told Corin Dann.

“So we are looking at alternatives. I think New Zealand can sustain a few more cows, so long as there are the farm systems set up to do that. So people are looking at herd homes and other farm infrastructure which would require us to farm quite differently but allow us to produce more milk. Having said that, that’s not our future, I don’t think, as a primary-sector country, to just produce more of a commodity product like milk, necessarily.” . . 

Rustlers slit pet cow’s throat, take legs for meat – Phillipa Yalden:

The grisly slaughter of a pet dairy cow that was dismembered for meat has left a South Waikato farming couple fearful.

Thieves armed with a gun and knives broke into Bev and Trevor Bayly’s 172-hectare farm early one morning and slit the throat of their “friendly” Jersey.

When attempts to shoot the cow dead went wrong, the rustlers took to the animal with knives, cutting off the legs before leaving the carcass behind at the property between Wharepapa South and Arohena, near Putaruru. . . 

Shanghai Maling bid to buy Silver Fern Farms stake under consideration by Upston, Bennett – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office has sent its recommendation on a proposal for China’s Shanghai Maling Aquarius to acquire a half stake in Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s largest meat processor, to the relevant government ministers for a decision.

Land Information Minister Louise Upston and Associate Finance Minister Paula Bennett received the documentation from the Overseas Investment Office last week, and are now considering the application, spokesman Harley Thorpe said. The Ministers are aware of the Sept. 30 deadline Shanghai Maling and Silver Fern Farms had set for the deal and have that in mind, he said. . . 

Boom time for ag robotics:

Robots and drones have already started to quietly transform many aspects of agriculture. And now a new report is predicting the agricultural robotics industry, now serving a $3 billion market, will grow to $10 billion by 2022.

The report, by IDTechEx Research in Britain, is called Agricultural Robots and Drones 2016-2026: Technologies, Markets, and Players. It analyses how robotic market and technology developments will change agriculture, enabling ultra-precision farming and helping address key global challenges.

It describes how robotic technology will enter into different aspects of agriculture, how it will change the way farming is done and transform its value chain, how it becomes the future of agrochemicals business and modifies the way we design agricultural machinery. . . 

Helicopter’s beacon leads to farm rescue :

The pilot of a weed-spraying helicopter used his emergency locating beacon to raise the alarm about a seriously injured farm worker in the central North Island.

The pilot was about to start his spraying job on a farm near Ohura, west of Taumarunui, on Monday when he noticed a man on the property had apparently fallen from his horse. . . 

Lake snot the ‘new didymo’ :

Lake snot will have to be treated like a new didymo, says the Otago Regional Council, which has begun a two-year study into the spread of the algal slime.

The slime – also known as lake snow – was first found in Lake Wanaka in 2004, and has since been found in Lake Coleridge and Lake Wakatipu.

The lake snot has clogged up fishing lines, boat intakes and Wanaka’s laundromats, and has led the Queenstown Lakes District Council to install a filter on the Wanaka town water supply. . . 

Lamb day-care proves a hit:

A primary school north of Auckland has seen its roll surge in recent weeks with the opening of an unusual daycare.

Waitoki School near Kaukapakapa has built a daycare pen for lambs and is encouraging its 90 pupils to fill it with their own woolly companions.

“We have about seven to nine lambs on site at the moment. The kids bring them along and it’s their job to raise them, look after them and feed them,” said the school’s principal Chris Neison.

The lamb daycare was built in mid-August by a team of teachers, parents and grandparents. . .

Native Tree Plan Shows Positive Face of Scion’s Research:

The commercial propagation of indigenous trees in Ngati Whare’s new nursery in Minginui is an exciting development for all New Zealand and shows the benefits of ethical research that does not require release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms into the environment. [1]

Scion has been helping with the project by developing vegetative cuttings using leading edge technology that reflects community values. Ngati Whare and Scion are to be congratulated. This shows the acceptable face of Scion’s work and does not involve transgenic organisms or genetic engineering. Scion had earlier success with the propagation of seeds from the rare taonga plant Ngutukākā (white kaka beak), which have been planted on the ancestral lands of Ngāti Kohatu and Ngāti Hinehika. [2] . . 

Minister Goodhew on food safety visit to China:

Food Safety and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew will travel to China today for bi-lateral meetings and to open a new Fonterra dairy facility in the Shanxi Province.

“The relationship between New Zealand and China has never been stronger, and it is crucial for our economy that we maintain that strong relationship in food safety,” says Mrs Goodhew.

While in Beijing, Mrs Goodhew will meet with Vice Minister Teng Jiacai of the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) for the third Joint Food Safety Commission meeting, to build upon the shared goal for increased communication and cooperation between the two countries. . . 

Events to help make the most of ‘money months’:

DairyNZ’s Tactics for Spring events kicked off in the Waikato last week, aimed at helping farmers manage their pasture during the most productive time of the year on-farm.

The nationwide events are taking place in September and October, the beginning of the ‘money months’ when more pasture will be grown and more milk produced than any other time of the year.

With uncertainty around where milk prices will go DairyNZ research and development general manager Dr David McCall is urging farmers to focus on what they can control. . . 

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The most memorable days end with the dirtiest clothes.

(that’s not a job that usually dirties clothes and I’m not sure why he’s using a ladder).

New winery future-proofs Rockburn Wines in Central Otago:

After leasing premises at the industrial McNulty Road site for 10 years, the team at Rockburn Wines recently completed their first vintage at their new winery in Ripponvale Road, Cromwell.

The award-winning producer acquired the existing winery site in September last year to meet increasing demand and future-proof its operation.

“Due to rapid growth and remarkable popularity of our wines, we were forced to outsource some processes in previous years due to capacity shortfalls. We’re very pleased to bring everything back under one roof from this vintage onwards. The old McNulty Road winery was getting near breaking point and we’re thrilled to have found a site at Ripponvale Road that sets us up for further growth,” says Paul Donaghy, General Manager of Rockburn Wines. . . 


Rural round-up

September 5, 2016

Research breakthrough to boost native forestry – James Morton:

A scientific breakthrough could replenish vast expanses of our countryside with lush native forest – and offer a lucrative new forestry industry for New Zealand.

Scion researchers have discovered how to grow native trees, including rimu and totara, from cuttings taken from parent trees instead of seeds, enabling them to grow much faster and in larger amounts.

The new technology will be used a multi-million dollar nursery site opening near the Bay of Plenty village of Minginui this weekend, in a partnership with local iwi Ngati Whare. . . 

Sports awards to be ‘rural Halbergs’:

 Brand new awards celebrating sporting excellence among New Zealand’s rural athletes were launched today with organisers positioning the event as the “Halbergs for the rural sector”.

Rural sports associations are invited to nominate athletes for the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards presented by the New Zealand Rural Games Trust together with strategic partner, Federated Farmers of New Zealand.
 
An awards ceremony and gala dinner will be held at Awapuni Racecourse, Palmerston North on March 10, 2017, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games at The Square in the city centre, where many nominees will be competing. . . 

More farmers under bank ‘pressure‘ – Sally Rae:

More farmers are experiencing “undue pressure” from their banks and sharemilkers remain the most vulnerable in the sector, the latest Federated Farmers banking survey shows.

Overall satisfaction remained strong, with 80% of all farmers and 78.4% of dairy farmers either very satisfied or satisfied with their banks.

The survey showed sharemilkers were least satisfied. Given the current economic climate, it was no surprise they were the most exposed, Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said.

In relation to overdrafts, 15.8% said they experienced “undue pressure” and 22.2% experienced “undue pressure” concerning mortgages. . . 

The art of the covenant – Guy Williams:

Two years have passed since we learned four high country stations between Arrowtown and Lake Wanaka would be placed under protective covenants, effectively creating New Zealand’s first national park in private hands. Queenstown reporter Guy Williams finds out what is happening on the stations and asks whether the land will be protected and cared for forever.

They are called Mahu Whenua, meaning “healing the land” — four protective covenants covering 53,000ha across four high country stations: Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak.

Their leases were bought between 2003 and 2011 by British record producer and songwriter Robert “Mutt” Lange — in the earlier years with then-wife, Canadian country-pop singer Shania Twain.

Two years ago, the QEII National Trust announced Lange would place 95% of the stations’ area under open space covenants, a decision then-Minister of Conservation Nick Smith hailed as an “extraordinary act of generosity”. . . 

North Canterbury farmer frustrated by mobile technology – Heather Chalmers

Do you have access to high-speed broadband?

If you live in the country then you probably don’t. Cellphone coverage is also probably patchy. And that is significantly holding back farmers, says North Canterbury sheep and beef farmer Dan Shand.

As a former Sydney IT worker and a Nuffield scholar he knows more than most in the agricultural sector about what is possible with mobile technology. He believes it holds the key to a whole wave of advances, both in on-farm decision-making and productivity and in adding market premiums. However, for a number of reasons this potential is being missed. . . 

Happy Valley to set up new A2 milk plant:

South Waikato dairy farmers wanting to join the A2 milk bonanza might have their chance as a new dairy company seeks consent to build a plant near Otorohanga.  

The Happy Valley Milk company was seeking resource consent for the project that would ultimately include two milk driers.  The first would be an eight tonnes an hour drier capable of producing multiple types of milk powders including A2 infant formula.

Project manager Grant Horan said the company was optimistic it could get the consent process through by the end of the year, with an estimated completion date of mid-2018. . . 

 

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Farming noun [fam -ing] the art of losing money while working 400 hours a month to feed people who think yare are trying to kill them.


Rural round-up

November 19, 2015

Feds president leads by example – Amanda Vaisigano:

Bronwyn Muir’s measurement of success is that her influence moves the farming industry towards a more collaborative, sustainable, profitable, and optimistic future.

The Taranaki Provincial President, dairy farmer and Director of OnFarmSafety New Zealand has spent a lifetime in farming and is passionate about supporting the rural industry.

The success of her business OnFarmSafety NZ has seen her win and be nominated for a number of awards, including most recently at the 2015 Taranaki Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards. . .

Estimates for Fonterra’s farmer payout tumble amid weak dairy prices – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Forecasts for Fonterra Cooperative Group’s payout to New Zealand farmers this season have tumbled below the company’s estimate following the third consecutive decline in prices on the GlobalDairyTrade platform.

Four of six analysts surveyed by BusinessDesk pulled back their estimates for the payout today, after whole milk powder prices declined 11 percent at last night’s GDT auction, taking the total decline over the past three sessions to 22 percent. Estimates for the payout now range between $4.25-$4.60 per kilogram of milk solids, pulling the top end of the range down from $5.30/kgMS. Fonterra is set to review its current forecast of $4.60/kgMS in early December. . . 

Freedom Foods sells remaining stake in milk marketer a2 Milk for A$64 mln – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co’s cornerstone shareholder, Freedom Foods Group, has sold its remaining 10.4 percent stake in the milk marketing company for A$64 million, taking advantage of a surge in the share price.

Sydney-based Freedom Foods sold its remaining shares for 85 Australian cents apiece and will reinvest the proceeds in other investments including a buy-out of oat-based cereal and snack manufacturer Popina and construction of a new UHT processing facility. . . 

How now, New Zealand cow?:

New Zealand’s five million milking cows are doing a great job of efficiently producing milk, according to the latest 2014-15 dairy statistics  released today.

New Zealand cows are producing more milk with more milksolids than 10 years ago.

A cow’s annual average production contained 377 kilograms of milksolids (8.9%) in 2014-15, which is what New Zealand’s dairy farmers are paid for, compared to 308 kilograms (8.6%) in 2004-05.

Cows from North Canterbury are the highest producers. On average each produced 4,706 litres of milk in 2014-15 with 416 kilograms of milksolids. . .

Forestry crown research institute Scion first to apply for drone beyond-line-of-sight flying – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Scion, the forestry crown research institute, will become the first organisation in New Zealand to fly drones beyond line of sight when it seeks approval under new Civil Aviation Authority rules to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for forest monitoring.

Scion has been conducting publicly and privately funded trials of UAVs for the past three months, including flying along the edge of forests to evaluate tree harvesting and using a UAV with interchangeable remote sensing technology to transmit information on tree health and pests in North and South Island forests.

A Callaghan Innovation-commissioned report last year estimated flying drones out of the operator’s line of sight could provide economic gains of up to $190 million annually to New Zealand’s farming, forestry and energy sectors. More than 440 commercial UAV users are registered on New Zealand’s Airshare website while the consumer drone market is booming.  . .

Strengthening Spring Rural Market:

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 12 more farm sales (+3.5%) for the three months ended October 2015 than for the three months ended October 2014. Overall, there were 358 farm sales in the three months ended October 2015, compared to 337 farm sales for the three months ended September 2015 (+6.2%), and 346 farm sales for the three months ended October 2014. 1,731 farms were sold in the year to October 2015, 9.9% fewer than were sold in the year to October 2014.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to October 2015 was $27,579 compared to $27,547 recorded for three months ended October 2014 (+0.1%). The median price per hectare rose 6.0% compared to September. . . 

Potatoes New Zealand Inc. appoints new Chief Executive Officer:

Potatoes New Zealand has appointed Chris Claridge as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Potatoes New Zealand Inc. Chairman Stuart Wright said he was delighted to welcome Mr Claridge to the organisation, which has a target of doubling New Zealand fresh and processed potato exports by 2025.

“Chris brings a wealth of horticultural, business, leadership and marketing experience to the role,” said Mr Wright. “That will prove invaluable in building on the very good work that has already been done towards achieving our goals of boosting productivity in the sector for the benefit of growers and the New Zealand economy.” . . 


Rural round-up

May 27, 2015

Olive harvest underway:

The olive industry is welcoming a new processing plant opened in Wairarapa over the weekend.

The Olive Press in Greytown was opened by Primary Industries minister Nathan Guy yesterday, and was expected to be busy over the coming months as growers in Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay prepared to begin the olive harvest.

When we spoke to Olive New Zealand’s president Andrew Taylor he was overlooking snow in Napier this morning, which he said was unlikely to affect the trees. . .

Border clearance levy welcomed:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association are welcoming a border clearance levy, signalled in the Budget 2015 announcement by the Government.

From the start of next year, passengers coming in and out of New Zealand will pay around $16 (inwards) and $6 (outwards) for those departing New Zealand.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Dr Scott Champion said this was an action the organisation had been asking government to consider for some time and so it was good to see some form of user pays applied to those who pose a potential biosecurity risk to New Zealand’s agriculture sector. . . .

MPI risks loss of focus on food safety and biosecurity – Allan Barber:

Most people would almost certainly see the primary role of Ministry for Primary Industries as the protection of New Zealand’s biosecurity, food safety and primary production. The creation of MPI was designed to meet a number of objectives, one of which, probably the most important, must surely have been to ensure a world class agency to deliver this priority.

Since 2012 there has been an increased focus on a series of policy initiatives which appear to the outside observer to be in danger of taking precedence over the core function on which our agricultural sector’s prosperity and survival depend. A reading of the 2013 and 2014 Annual Reports confirms the importance the department attributes to the protection role, but it is only one of a number of business areas which receive equal precedence. . .

Passion2Profit officially joins Primary Growth Partnership:

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have announced today that a new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme, Passion2Profit, will officially begin.

The contract has just been signed for the $16 million, seven-year programme, which is intended to be a game-changer in the production and marketing of venison, delivering $56 million in extra revenues a year from the end of the programme.

Speaking from the Deer Industry annual conference today, DINZ Chief Executive Dan Coup says it’s exciting to be able to begin work on this venture. . .

Minister welcomes new venison PGP programme:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the formal start of a new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme involving the deer industry.

“’Passion2Profit’ is a seven year programme which aims to deliver economic benefits of $56 million per year in additional industry revenue by the end of the programme,” says Mr Guy.

“The partnership between Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) and the Ministry for Primary Industries will set the groundwork for major improvements in the production and marketing of New Zealand venison. . .

UC Forestry part of new multi-million forestry industry research:

The University of Canterbury is part of a new $14 million, seven year collaborative research effort aimed at maximising the value and export earnings of the forestry industry.

The Government recently announced it will invest the research funding in the effort, to be matched dollar for dollar by the forestry industry. The programme will be led by industry-operated entity Future Forests Research, in collaboration with Scion, UC, and the New Zealand Dryland Forests Initiative. The Government funding is provided through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Research Partnerships Programme. Industry fiunding is being provided by Forest Growers Levy Trust and a number of leading forestry companies and Farm Forestry Association. . .

Trust provides funding for two initiatives to benefit New Zealand wine industry

The Cresswell Jackson New Zealand Wine Trust has awarded funding for two University of Otago projects, both designed to benefit the country’s wine industry.
 
The first was awarded to Associate Professor David J Burritt of the Department of Botany to undertake research concerning the process of extracting phenolics during the winemaking process. Professor Burritt said, “The wine industry is incredibly important to the New Zealand economy. We are very grateful to receive this grant, which will be used to support our research investigating the potential for pulsed electric fields (PEF) technology to be used in the New Zealand wine industry.” . . .

SSanford Reports Satisfactory Result and Marks Shift in Customer Focus in Six Month Result:

. . . Sanford Limited, New Zealand’s largest commercial fishing and aquaculture company, has recorded an 18.1% rise in its EBITDA in its interim report for the six months ending 31 March 2015. EBITDA increased to $33.9m from $28.7m for the same period last year. Profitability was affected by one-off impairment charges with respect to Sanford’s fleet and plant and equipment at the Christchurch mussel processing plant. Net profit after tax for the six months was down 18.3% from $11.7m in 2014 to $9.6m for the current half year.

Sanford CEO Volker Kuntzsch says the result is satisfactory, given the challenging conditions faced in international markets. “In particular, in the last three months of the period, we have seen improving results. The team has worked really hard to lift our revenue. Initially, the period was marked by lacklustre sales for a few months, primarily due to weak currencies and political upheaval in some of our important export markets.” . .

2013 vintage wines “amongst the greatest red wines produced in New Zealand”:

GIMBLETT GRAVELS® 2013 Annual Vintage Selection revealed

The sixth year of this initiative from the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association (GGWA), the Annual Vintage Selection serves as a unique snapshot of a particular vintage and helps to chart the evolution of GIMBLETT GRAVELS® wines on a vintage by vintage basis.

The highly acclaimed palate of Sydney based Master of Wine Andrew Caillard MW has been the independent selector for all six vintages, 2008-2013, inclusive. The 2013 selection was the most comprehensive yet, with a record 46 GGWA members’ wines submitted for selection. . .

Taranaki-based AgriPeople are your rural recruitment and People Management experts:

Working with agricultural employers and employees, AgriPeople focus on creating lasting relationships by using practical tools and applying a practical approach.

AgriPeople is made up of a stellar group of highly professional consultants and administrators. “Our consultants all continue to grow through professional development,” says Racquel Cleaver, Consultant and Director of AgriPeople. . .


Rural round-up

May 21, 2015

Extra support for drought affected North Canterbury:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has met with drought-affected farmers in Cheviot, North Canterbury today and says they’re still feeling the impacts of drought.

“North Canterbury – and the Cheviot area in particular – has missed most of the recent rainfall, and continues to face severe drought conditions,” says Mr Guy.

“Because of this, an additional $20,000 is being allocated to the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust. This will help them with more intensive activities, including individual visits and community events. . .

Livestock moved out of Canterbury drought – Hamish Clark:

Farmers have shipped tens of thousands of sheep and cattle out of north Canterbury and hundreds of tonnes of feed in as the drought there deepens.

The worst-hit area is around Cheviot, which is north of Christchurch, and the locals are desperate for rain.

The ewes are sniffing and searching the parched earth for a single blade of green grass, but there is none.

Cheviot farmer and local Chris Jefferies says farmers in the area are really struggling. . .

Supreme winners open their gates:

Environmental farm award winners for the Horizons Region opened their gates and shared their secrets with other farmers last week.

William Akers, Laura Oughton, Hugh and Judy Akers from Broadlands Station in Ashhurst were announced as the 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards supreme winners in March. As part of winning the award, recipients are asked to host other farmers on farm in order to share ideas and inspire others.

Horizons Regional Council environmental manager for land Grant Cooper was on the judging panel for the final round and says Broadlands is a straightforward, efficiently run station. . .

Ministers request report on dairy competition:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith announced today they will request a report on the state of competition in New Zealand’s dairy industry from the Commerce Commission.

The report is required under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, which allowed for the merger of our largest dairy co-operatives to form Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited.

The DIRA contains provisions to ensure contestability in New Zealand’s farm gate and factory gate markets. These provisions are intended to expire when there is workable competition in the domestic dairy market. . .

$5m new funding for forestry research partnership:

The Government will invest $5 million over seven years in a research partnership to increase the competitiveness of the forestry sector, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced today.

“Forestry is New Zealand’s third largest export earner – behind dairy and meat, contributing around $5 billion to our exports. This investment aims to strengthen the ties between research organisations and the industry to produce excellent research driven by industry needs,” says Mr Joyce.

The new partnership is led by Future Forests Research, an industry-operated entity, in collaboration with Scion, the University of Canterbury, and the NZ Dryland Forests Initiative. . .

NZ export log prices hit 3-year low; may start picking up as demand improves – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand export log prices, which fell to a three-year low this month, may start to pick up as demand improves in China, the country’s largest market.

The average wharf gate price for New Zealand A-grade logs fell to $83 a tonne in May, from $94 a tonne in April, marking the lowest price since May 2012, according to AgriHQ’s monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and sawmillers. The AgriHQ Log Price Indicator, which measures average log prices weighted by grade, dropped to 88.40 from 93.29 in April.

The price for New Zealand A-grade logs delivered to China fell to US$99/JAS from US$111/JAS last month, the lowest level since AgriHQ started collecting the data in 2012. . .

Southern Dairy Hub Case to Be Presented:

Trustees of the Southern Dairy Development Trust are very pleased with the support received for the Southern Dairy Hub, with 516 farmers and businesses pledging $1.306 million in support.

“It’s an absolutely fantastic result and a huge endorsement for the Hub project,” Chair Matthew Richards says. “We are grateful and thankful for the support from our community and are confident we will get a good hearing in front of our industry partners, DairyNZ and AgResearch.”

Mr Richards says the official numbers includes postal pledges that arrived following the April 30 pledge deadline and takes the result to 55% of farmers between Dunedin and Bluff as having pledged their financial support. . .

Rural Business Network Launches Free Mentoring Initiative:

Rural Business Network (RBN) in partnership with Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ) has launched a new initiative offering mentoring support to rural businesses throughout New Zealand. The project is called ‘Rural Mentor’ and will provide a tool to enhance on-farm profitability and enable access to skills and knowledge that isn’t commonly known to be available.

The new Rural Mentor initiative sees the BMNZ registration fee waived for a limited number of NZYF and Rural Business Network members

Daile Jones, National Rural Business Network Coordinator says `Farmers in the sheep, beef or dairy sector operating their own business or farm managers that want a fresh perspective, will be matched with a business professional who can offer confidential advice, assistance and support that will help overcome business challenges, set new goals and achieve success. There’s no lack of knowledge out there, just a shortage of knowing what information is available.” . . .

Call OSPRI if you’re moving this Gypsy Day:

Don’t put your livelihood at risk when moving or selling stock over the Gypsy Day period; make sure you call OSPRI to update your NAIT and TBfree details and record all animal movements.

“This will help protect New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of high quality, safe food and maintain access to valuable international markets,” said Dr Stu Hutchings, OSPRI Group Manager.

Up to date NAIT data allows farmers to get back to business sooner in the event of a biosecurity incursion or food safety concern and is already being used to contain existing animal diseases like bovine tuberculosis (TB). . .


Rural round-up

April 5, 2015

Visitors from overseas join bunny hunt – Lynda van Kempen:

The Great Easter Bunny Hunt has gone global, with four overseas hunters joining the ranks of the 27 teams aiming to decimate the rabbit population.

”If you tried something on this scale back home, with dead rabbits displayed in the park afterwards, you’d have masses of protesters,” Harry Stenton said.

Mr Stenton, of Yorkshire, England, said the New Zealanders he had met were more accepting of hunting as a sport.

”Back home, people would think of rabbits as pets and there would be an absolute outcry about a hunting contest like this,” he said. . .

‘Easter Bunny Hunt’ proves perilous for rabbits – Ceinwen Curtis:

Nearly 8500 rabbits were shot in the annual Easter bunny hunt in Central Otago yesterday in Otago, by over 300 hunters taking part.

 The organisers of the annual Easter Bunny hunt in Otago says it’s a shame the rabbits have to be disposed of rather than made into food and pelts after the event.

The hunt began early on Friday morning in Alexandra with hunters keen to enjoy landscapes they would otherwise not have access to.

The president of Alexandra Lions, John Feron, said one team hunting in the McKenzie country was skinning the last of their rabbits in an experiment to see if the meat can be turned into petfood. . .

Honour and Pari rule the roost at vineyard – Caleb Harris:

Two rare native falcons raised on a Martinborough vineyard are growing up, flexing their powerful wings and terrorising grape thieves.

When three New Zealand bush falcon chicks, or karearea, were moved last year from the Wingspan national bird of prey centre in Rotorua to a specialised nesting box at Escarpment vineyard, outside Martinborough, they were cute little balls of fluff.

Five months on, one has fallen victim to a predator – probably a stoat – emphasising the vulnerability of the species, which has only about 4500 breeding pairs left in the wild. . .

Uplifting award success but future uncertainty lingers – Andrea Fox:

Their financial and production performance officially puts them in the top 5 per cent of New Zealand sheep and beef farmers, but John and Catherine Ford of Rotorua’s Highland Station still feel they are farming on a knife edge.

The couple are the supreme winners of this year’s Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards, a competition they entered partly because they hoped any success might strengthen their case with the local regional council, which holds their farming future in its hands.

The council is developing an “action” plan for Lake Tarawera and Lake Rotokakahi or “Green Lake”, and with 80 per cent of their 1240 hectare (922ha effective) property in the Lake Tarawera catchment and the balance in the other lake’s area, the Fords live daily with uncertainty. . .

Forestry industry to trial drones:

Forestry crown research institute Scion will next month trial the use of drones for use in forestry management and hopes to be an early adopter of imminent rule changes allowing them to be flown beyond line of sight.

Scion has teamed up with Raglan-based Aeronavics to field test unmanned aerial vehicles mounted with interchangeable remote sensing technologies which can transmit vital information on various aspects of forestry management such as tree health and pests.

It’s thought the technologies may also prove useful in biosecurity surveillance and eradication operations, along with fire management. . .

Drought a war of attrition – Barry O’Sullivan:

DROUGHT forces the landholder to examine even their most basic order of beliefs: that the family should be on the land; that a simple focus on good laws and good luck will lead to progress and prosperity; that years of research and billions of dollars to improve Australia’s land-use strategies are benefiting agriculture.

Drought throws once-tightly held beliefs and turns them into questions.

When driving through most parts of Central Western Queensland these days you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a moon landscape.

A flat and barren land covered with black dirt and red rocks scattered as far as the eye can see. . .

How to tell if your pig is pregnant – THEKITCHENSGARDEN:

Our pig is pregnant? Isn’t that exciting. Poppy the Hereford gilt (a gilt is a female pig who has not had piglets yet) wishes to announce (though she would prefer NOT to discuss her insides) that she has missed her first heat since being bred.  We have had such a long run of missed breedings, both bovine and porcine, that I am still hedging my bets and in fact my Mentor of all things Pig said she would NOT have bet on it. But the signs are there.  No returning heat and extreme laziness and gentleness. She has not bashed at the gate once! She is a very laid back pig all of a sudden. . . .


Rural round-up

October 20, 2013

Access big hurdle in China – Tim Fulton:

ANZCO chairman Sir Graeme Harrison took the podium at the China Business Summit to argue the big problem for the meat industry in China was market access.

“New Zealand, like all countries supplying meat to China, is currently caught in the midst of a huge reform process, with food safety and related regulatory changes a very prominent part,” Harrison said.

The process of getting NZ meat plants approved by AQSIQ, China’s inspection agency, had been tortuous.

One ANZCO plant the Ministry for Primary Industries certified for export to China in 2009 was finally officially listed by AQSIQ four years later, he said. . .

Alliance profit but no dividend – Alan Williams:

Alliance Group made a profit in its latest year but not enough to allow pool distribution or dividend payment.

Alliance had achieved good cashflow and improved its equity ratio over the year, chairman Murray Taggart told shareholder farmers in Christchurch last week.

Alliance was cautious about markets for this season but there were several positives, Taggart said.

Detailed results of the latest year would be released soon. . .

Mega-merger of dairy industry was ‘miracle’ – Clive Lind:

It was a miracle the New Zealand dairy industry, with it’s strong-willed people and philosophical conflicts, completed the mega-merger that formed Fonterra, says the author of a new book.

Clive Lind, a Fairfax executive and former daily newspaper editor, spent three years researching and writing Till the Cows Came Home, to be published mid-next month.

Through the eyes of key industry people he interviewed, Lind tells the stories behind the multi-billion dollar industry – from 40 years ago when the single-seller Dairy Board was jolted into an urgent search for new markets when Britain started talks to enter the European Economic Community, to the emergence of added-value products, the economics-driven consolidation of more than 100 dairy companies into less than a handful, to the writing on the Beehive wall for the single-seller producer board and the efforts of the industry to find a structure solution for the future. . . .

Plant & Food Research innovation recognised:

Plant & Food Research had two reasons to celebrate at last nights New Zealand Innovators Awards held at Auckland Museum. The Crown Research Institute won the ‘Innovation in Environment and Agriculture’ category for research into insect sex pheromones, while the Biopolymer Network (BPN), a company jointly owned by Plant & Food Research, Scion and AgResearch, also won the ‘Innovation Excellence in Research’ category.

Sex pheromones, the natural chemicals released by the females of many insect species to attract mates, can be used to disrupt communication between insects, reducing their ability to identify mates and subsequently leading to a reduction in the population and reduced reliance on chemical controls. . .

Raw milk venture renews enthusiasm – Tony Benny:

Selling raw milk direct to the public has allowed a Canterbury farmer to get back to what he loves and that’s milking cows.

Geoff Rountree and his wife, Sandra, gave up dairy farming nine years ago because their hay-making business was growing and the days were not long enough to do everything.

“The contracting was building and it was getting a bit out of hand because the cows weren’t coming first, they were coming second and that shouldn’t have been the case,” he said.

The 105 cow herd went and the seven a side herringbone shed at Oxford was mothballed but Rountree missed being a dairy farmer. “Sandra always said to me, ‘stop pining to milk cows, go and milk someone else’s’.” . . .

Tweeting shows common concerns – Abby Brown:

A world-wide live Twitter discussion, #Agrichatworld, on issues facing farmers was a global first and revealed some recurring concerns, organiser Josien Kapma said.

Those concerns included climate, sustainability, ignorance of consumers, ever fewer farmers and complexity around farms.

The conversation also showed that farmers think the public have the wrong view of farmers’ values which is exacerbated by the rural/urban divide.

One of the questions asked by @AgrichatUK was what farmers wish the non-farming public knew about them.

The respondents’ tweets showed that farmers feel the urban/rural divide is alive and well and growing as the non-farming public tend to think as farmers only being about the bottom line and not also wanting to be environmentally friendly and sustainable. . .


Rural round-up

October 16, 2013

West Coast cops blame for cattle’s TB – Matthew Littlewood:

A case of bovine tuberculosis in South Canterbury appears to have come from cattle brought in from the West Coast.

TBFree New Zealand has sent out letters to more than 85 farms in South Canterbury after the reports of incidents at two farms in May.

TBFree’s Owen Churchman said the Rangitata area had been historically free of the disease, but recent DNA-testing indicated “with almost total certainty” the two farms had been infected with a West Coast strain. . .

Record $114,000 Waikato dirty dairying fine – Aaron Leaman:

A Waiuku-based company has been hit with a record $114,000 fine for dirty dairying after deliberately pumping effluent into a stream.

Fenwick Farms pleaded guilty to seven charges of unlawfully discharging dairy effluent into water and onto land between August and September last year.

The $114,000 fine, imposed by Judge Melanie Harland in the Auckland District Court, is the largest fine dished out in the Waikato region for dairy pollution. . .

Honey trademark bid declined – Laura Walters:

An attempt to trademark six labels relating to the antibacterial properties of honey has been rejected by the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) on the basis some could have potentially misled consumers.

Henry Soo Lee’s application to register six trademarks was also opposed by the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) Honey Association.

Lee was ordered by the office to pay $6890 in costs to UMF after all six label applications were turned down. . .

Benefits of Investing In Kawerau Confirmed:

An analysis undertaken by the Crown Research Institute SCION to compare investment returns from wood processing based in Kawerau with those from other parts of New Zealand show Kawerau offers significant benefits in comparison to other wood processing centres.

These benefits are gained by locational, logistics and resource synergies and are measured by improved financial performance of businesses, better regional/national GDP impacts, employment resourcing opportunities and more effective use of co-located resources such as geothermal energy. . .

Milk processing transferred south:

Fonterra is shipping some North Island milk across Cook Strait for processing in Canterbury, as northern dairy farms hit their peak production.

Fonterra operations and logistics director Robert Spurway says the co-operative sends milk in both directions from time to time.

He says the North Island always hits it peak milk flow earlier than the south, and the surge in production from the excellent spring means processing plants in the north are already running at full capacity. . .

Commerce Commission releases draft report on statutory review of Fonterra’s 2013/14 Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission has today released a draft report on its statutory review of Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual (Manual) for the 2013/14 dairy season. The Manual sets out the methodology for calculating the farm gate (base) milk price, which is the price paid by Fonterra to dairy farmers for raw milk they supply to Fonterra.

This is the first of two statutory reviews that the Commission is required to undertake each dairy season under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA). . .

Deer farmers head to hills but profit up – Tony Benny:

While deer farming has been pushed off most of Canterbury Plain and into the hills by dairy farming, it is now the most profitable form of dry stock farming, says Deer Industry New Zealand chairman Andy Macfarlane.

“There was one farm I worked at, this is the 2012-13 results, last week the deer returned $125 per stock unit, the sheep $100 and the cattle returned $75,” Macfarlane said.

“Generally they are well ahead but I think it would be fair to say, like all dry stock classes at the moment, farmers are looking for a confidence booster because clearly the milk price has responded to the world demand for protein quicker than the meat price.” . .

Worms key to soil health:

The anatomy of an earthworm is hardly exciting stuff.

But, Dr Tim Jenkins, a director at the Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Technologies, has a way of making the bodily functions of an earthworm sound kind of interesting.

He told about 80 farmers at a biological farming seminar in Gore recently that earthworms were a key driver of soil fertility.

A good number was 2000 worms per square metre or about 40 worms per spade, but he often found worm populations around 600 to 1000 per square metre because of poor quality soils. . .


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