Rural round-up

October 13, 2016

 – Allan Barber:

Just when we thought New Zealand was about to enjoy the benefits of several new agreements, not least TPP, the world appears to be growing more and more averse to signing up to trade deals. There is a distinct trend towards self-reliance and protectionism among countries that have up to now been champions of the benefits of free trade, most obviously sizable blocs of voters in the United States, EU and Great Britain exercising their democratic right to protest.

The problem with free trade for disaffected voters is the direct connection with the theories of liberal economics and the rise of capitalism which have dominated the global economy for the last quarter of a century. When the benefits of capitalism were shared, resulting in generally higher prosperity, free trade was seen as a force for good, but in the years since the GFC capitalism has got a bad name, deservedly so in many cases. Economic hardship has not been shared equally – banking directors and executives were responsible for billions of dollars of shareholder losses, but most of them have got away with it and many continue to receive bonuses in spite of the losses. . . 

Sicily a melting pot for food production – Allan Barber:

Sicily has been taken over by the Saracens, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans,  Swabia, Austro-Hungary and Spain, before Garibaldi led the rebellion that led to the unification of Italy under one monarch, Vittorio Emanuele I, in 1861. Each of the occupying powers has brought something different to the food and agricultural produce of this unique island.

The Greeks brought olives, the Romans began wheat growing, bread making and wine production, the Arabs brought spices and invented dried spaghetti, the Normans were responsible for salted cod and the Spanish introduced candied fruit and marzipan, while the Italians have refined bread and pastry baking and wine making. There is no evidence of Swabian or Austro-Hungarian influences, although their occupations were fairly brief. . . 

Wool to take its rightful price – Alan Emerson:

Generally, nothing is as divisive in rural New Zealand as the debate about wool and how to market and promote it.

The possible exception is Merino.  Over the years the debates I’ve reported on and the “new initiatives” I’ve commented on have been legendary.  

It would have been the most soul-destroying, internecine and negative saga of our sector and I can remember back to the great acquisition debate and the rise of the Sheep and Cattlemen’s Association.  

The mistakes farmers or their representatives have made over the years have also cost us dearly. . . 

New season brings a new challenge – Sonita Chandar:

A showjumping career came to an abrupt halt for a Manawatu farmer who has found passion in dairying.

But now, contract milker Renae Flett has the best of both worlds – her new job allows her to keep her horse Giant in the paddock by her house – and she has big plans for the farm and her future.

She is the Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year and now has her sights set on the Share Farmer title. . . 

Cellular ag – Robert Hickson:

A US meat company is now an investor in vegan burgers, and selling them alongside meat patties. That’s just one of the signals pointing to big changes in food production systems in affluent nations.

Lab-grown meat gets the headlines, but burgers made from plant proteins are well ahead of that, and likely to have a much lower yuck factor.

Red meat consumption is trending downward in many western countries, which is an important influencing factor. . . 

Buzzing Blagdon bees have been caught 300m away – Brittany Baker:

The case of the missing swarm has been solved, but the hobbyist beekeeper who lost them has missed out on her pot of gold.

On Monday “two balls of bees” buzzed off from Gina Hartley’s garden.

Hartley, who was wanting to expand her at-home hive collection, turned to Neighbourly and Facebook for help in returning them. . . 

Results of Fonterra Shareholder Voting at Special Meeting:

Fonterra shareholders have supported changes to the Co-operative’s governance and representation model, including a reduced Board and changes to the election process for Farmer Directors.

At today’s Special Meeting in Palmerston North 85.96 per cent of votes were cast in favour of the governance recommendation, sufficient to meet the 75 per cent support required under Fonterra’s Constitution.

The results of the resolutions are:
RESOLUTION RESULTS –
% in favour
Resolution 1: Governance related amendments to the Constitution and the Shareholders’ Council By-laws 85.96 . . 

Yealands Wine Group puts in largest solar panel installation in New Zealand – Oliver Lewis:

A Marlborough winery has so many solar panels it could power 86 houses.

The Seaview Vineyard winery, owned by the Yealands Wine Group, has a total of 1314 photovoltaic panels across its roof.

The company first had solar panels fitted at its Seddon winery over the course of 2012 and 2013, which at the time was the largest installation in the country before it was surpassed. . . 

 


Rural round-up

April 12, 2016

Water brings back ‘marvellous’ times – Sally Rae:

“Lower Waitaki – The Community That Water Saved” was the theme of a recent media tour organised by the Waitaki Irrigators Collective and IrrigationNZ and coinciding with IrrigationNZ’s 2016 conference in Oamaru. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae hopped on the bus to discover just what irrigation has done for the area and its inhabitants.  

When Jim Dennison’s father bought Drumena in 1919, the Hilderthorpe farm was in a “desolate state”.

Local women pitied his new bride moving to such a property to try to make a living. . .

Harnessing the sunshine for record-breaking crop yields – Pat Deavoll:

Farmers talk about growing feed, but North Otago crop and dairy farmer Chris Dennison says he is “harvesting sunshine.”

His world record-breaking crops of barley and oil seed rape were the combination of heavy soils, a coastal environment, reliable water and sustained sunshine, he said.

“Here at Hilderthorpe (just south of the Waitaki River) we get a cool easterly wind which gives a lull in the growing season for cereal and oil seed rape, so the crops can utilise more sunshine.”

Dennison took over the farm from his father Jim in the early 1980s. Traditionally it was a mixed sheep and beef property but when Dennison arrived home he brought with him an interest in cropping. . . 

Waitaki water key to reliable farming – Sally Rae:

Reuben Allan’s dairy shed has one heck of a view.

It overlooks the vast Waitaki River which provides not only recreational opportunities for his family, but also has allowed them to transition from a “feast or famine” dryland operation to one with reliable irrigation.

Mr Allan grew up on Fairway Farm, which used to be a dryland sheep property, near Ikawai.

Irrigation began on the hills in the mid-1990s and the move was made into intensive beef finishing. . . 

Irrigation provides reliability – Sally Rae:

Matt Ross first arrived in North Otago “more by accident”.

But his decision to return, once he completed his university studies, was deliberate as he had identified the potential opportunities in the district.

Mr Ross and his wife Julie operate Kokoamo Farms, which comprise two dairy farms near Duntroon, milking 1730 cows at peak, and lease a run-off property.

Their farming operation is a showcase: lush green grass, extensive plantings, including a wetland development that is home to more than 100,000 plants, and impressive infrastructure. . . 

Still turning them (tractors) on at 85:

North Otago’s Don Fraser is a man who loves his tractors. His love affair has been so intense he is still driving them at the ripe old age of 85.

Part of the hard-working team at EGL Pastoral for 26 years, and a farmer most of his life, Mr Fraser remembers the old style tractors (crawlers) when he first started out and recalls they were so noisy you needed hearing aids. “There was no silencers then and we didn’t have air con back in the day, but then we didn’t need it when a keen souwester was blowing through.” . . .

Sheep Industry Awards celebrate success:

This country’s sheep industry will celebrate its best and brightest at Beef +Lamb New Zealand’s fifth annual New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards in the Wairarapa in July.

Entries are open for the Awards which recognises this country’s top sheep farmers, breeders, scientists and industry innovators.

People can put their name forward, or be nominated for the Award categories; Science Trainer of the Year, Innovation, Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry and the Emerging Talent Award. . . 

Focus on forages is key to sustainable farm profits:

Pastoral farming is a huge earner for New Zealand worth over $23 billion in export revenues last year. Forages – the grasses and other plants grazed by farm animals – are a critical part of pastoral farming systems. Industry participants consider there is significant scope to lift the contribution forages make to the underlying productivity and profitability of the pastoral sectors and to achieve these outcomes in an environmentally sustainable manner.

This is why an initiative to improve the sustainability and profitability of New Zealand’s forage grazing systems has the buy-in of everyone representing the pastoral sector. . . 

Bostock New Zealand experiencing highest quality apples for several years:

New Zealand’s largest organic apple grower is harvesting some of the best quality fruit it’s experienced for years – thanks to near perfect growing and harvesting conditions.

Bostock New Zealand Director, David Brasell says the weather has been outstanding for the harvest and the fruit has sized well.

“The quality of our apples this season is very, very good. The colour is great, the fruit is clean and the size is excellent. . . .

Time to guard against costly nutritional deficits:

A small investment in autumn feed testing can be good insurance against mineral deficiencies in dairy and beef cows that can lead to low growth rates and poor milk yields.

Winter feeds like fodder beet, low pasture phosphorus levels in some regions, and lower seasonal availability for copper can lead to deficiencies of both of these key minerals during late pregnancy, early lactation and calf growth.

Consultant nutritionist to SealesWinslow, Paul Sharp, says for around $100 a comprehensive pasture mineral test will provide the right information to farmers. . . 

Yealands Launches NZ’s First Vineyard Tour Guide App:

The first kiwi wine app that allows the user to take a self-guided vineyard tour – and take in Yealands’ famous White Road hot-spots.

One of the only vineyards to actually let visitors drive through its vineyard, wine innovators, Yealands Wine Group have released a mobile application that allows visitors to its Seaview Vineyard in the Awatere Valley, Marlborough the unique opportunity of taking their own self-guided vineyard tour. . .


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