Rural round-up

04/05/2014

Get on the front foot over environment critiques:

FARMERS ARE too defensive in their responses to the issue of the environmental impact of farming.

So says Tihoi, Lake Taupo, farmer Mike Barton, who with his wife Sharon this year won the top award in Waikato in the Ballance Agri-Nutrients awards contest. 

They have taken a leadership role in dealing with Environment Waikato’s controversial Variation 5 that severely limits the amount of nitrogen a farm can leach. . .

Treat farms as cluster of small units:

COLE AND Tania Simmons’ property 20 minutes drive east of Dannevirke can get cold and wet during winter, risking soil damage by stock. Simmons have made provision for this by building a feed pad and by planting shelter trees. 

Dr Alec Mackay, AgResearch, told farmers attending the field day to look at their properties as “assemblages of a diversity of landscape units,” rather than just one big farm.  In the past, people have talked more about average numbers but McKay says this fails to address the reality that parts of a farm differ from each other and need to be treated or managed differently. Better to see a farm as smaller units and see what ‘contribution’ each makes to the business.

“There are opportunities to increase the profitability and performance of a farm by moving away from making average decisions on an average basis across the farm and going out and interrogating the land that makes up the farm.  . .

Hawke’s Bay TB control benefiting native wildlife:

Farmers and environmentalists alike are touting the benefits of planned aerial bovine tuberculosis (TB) control operations this winter in Waipunga near the Taupo to Napier highway. Dennis Ward, of Ngatapu Station, fits into both groups and is also a keen recreational hunter.

“When you look at the practicalities of 1080 in improving the quality of life of our native species, it’s a no brainer. People don’t appreciate that possums, stoats, ferrets and rats do more to decimate our native bird populations than anything else,” said Mr Ward.

He said scientific research has shown the positive effects of 1080 on native birds and forests. “The evidence has convinced me that it is the best method for use, particularly in rugged terrain like the Waipunga area, where ground control is impractical.” . . .

Goodhew visits damaged forests on West Coast:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has visited the wind ravaged West Coast today to experience first-hand the impact on local communities.

“The severe winds on last Thursday have affected the indigenous and plantation forests, as well as the wider agriculture sector from Karamea to Haast,” says Ms Goodhew.

During the storm the strongest gust recorded was 130km/hr at Westport, although the level of damage suggests the winds were even stronger in some areas. The Insurance Council of New Zealand is still assessing the damage.

“In true West Coast style the community has rallied around and demonstrated extraordinary resilience,” says Mrs Goodhew. . .

Wool price focus welcome – Cara Jeffery:

MERINO wool has been their lifelong passion on the land but Rick and Pam Martin know their enthusiasm for fine wools can only stretch so far if something isn’t done soon to improve prices.

The Martins run 1700 breeders and 900 Merino wethers on their property “Burnbank”, at Borambola near Wagga Wagga, and say any ideas that could improve the current situation for woolgrowers should be explored.

Their comments come after it was revealed last week that Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) chairman Wally Merriman had floated an idea with the AWI board to regulate the supply of wool into the auction markets to help stabilise price fluctuations in the market. . . .

Final judging underway:

The final judging is underway to determine the winners in the 2014 New Zealand dairy award winners.

The winners will be announced at a sold-out black tie event attended by 650 people at Auckland’s Sky City Hotel on May 9. About $170,000 in prizes are up for grabs in the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

Judging started on Monday (April 28) for the 11 sharemilker/equity farmer and 11 farm manager regional finalists. A team of three judges – a farmer, banker and farm adviser – spend two hours on each finalist’s farm to critique the finalist and their farm business. The task takes the sharemilker/equity farmer judges from Winton, in Southland, to Whataroa, on the West Coast, and to Ohaewai, in Northland. The last of the regional finalists, the Auckland/Hauraki representatives, are judged on Tuesday (May 7). . .

Sponsorship for ‘Pioneering’ Lincoln research:

Leading maize, lucerne, forage sorghum, and inoculant producer Pioneer® Brand Products has generously agreed to an annual sponsorship arrangement with Lincoln University to assist with projects aimed at ensuring a sustainable farming future for New Zealand.

The objective behind the sponsorship aligns well with the commitment of both organisations to continually look for ways to increase farm profitability without compromising environmental quality.

This year’s sponsorship will support work investigating the use of plants in an agricultural setting – such as around paddock borders and riparian zones – to reduce the build-up of nitrates in the soil. . .


Rural round-up

16/04/2014

“Awareness needed around psychology of hunting accidents”:

Wellington start-up, Hunter Safety Lab says there needs to be greater awareness around the subconscious psychological factors that can cause safety conscious, experienced hunters to mistakenly shoot another hunter.

The comment came in light of the death of a Southland hunter shot by another hunter over the weekend.

It is the hunting season’s second shooting accident to take place in the space of two weeks since it officially kicked off at the beginning of April. . .

No rain reprieve yet for drought-hit farms:

While farming areas in the South Island and the main centres receive rain, very little has fallen in areas affected by the upper North Island’s second consecutive autumnal drought.

“It is clearly a localised drought adverse event covering Waikato and parts of Auckland and Northland,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers adverse events spokesperson.

“I must add that we are also concerned about conditions in Manawatu-Rangitikei too.

“Having been through drought myself last year, I fully understand why farmers up north would dearly like to trade weather with us in the South Island. . . .

Kiwi environmental innovation receives international honours:

Contact Energy’s Wairākei bioreactor – a Kiwi innovation – has been awarded honours at the internationally recognised 2014 IWA Asia Pacific Regional Project Innovation Awards in Singapore. Jointly developed by Contact and Beca, the bioreactor is a unique, world-first solution to improve the quality of water that is discharged from the iconic Wairākei geothermal power station into the Waikato River.

“I’m immensely proud of our bioreactor,” says Contact Energy CEO, Dennis Barnes. “As a world-first it’s great to see this example of Kiwi ingenuity recognised at an international level.”

“To work with Contact Energy from the beginning, developing and testing innovative concepts through to the design and construction of the Wairākei bioreactor has been immensely rewarding for the Beca team”, says Beca CEO, Greg Lowe. “This is another great example of New Zealand talent delivering world class project outcomes.” . . .

Tough Ask to Separate Bright 2014 Sharemilker Finalists:

Choosing a winner in the 2014 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition is a tough task for the judges, due to the varying backgrounds and positions of the finalists.

“It is a really interesting competition this year. A number of the finalists are relatively new to the dairy industry, having changed careers, and they also hold a variety of positions which highlights the many ways people can now progress in the industry,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“The greatest factor they have in common – apart from being ambitious dairy farmers – is the majority of this year’s finalists have Bachelor degrees. This demonstrates the industry is attracting talented people who are applying skills learned on the job or in other vocations to excel.” . . .

Rollout of faster broadband to remote East Cape schools complete:

All twelve rural schools in remote locations around Gisborne and Wairoa now have faster broadband, as a result of the Government’s broadband initiatives, Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams announced today.

Local communications company Gisborne Net has successfully completed the installation of point-to-point wireless broadband for the 12 schools, under a contract signed with the Government last year.

The 12 Gisborne and Wairoa schools are among 57 across New Zealand which will get faster broadband under the Remote Schools Broadband Initiative, because they are beyond the reach of cost-effective fibre deployment.

The schools will have access to broadband capable of peak speeds of at least 10 megabits per second (about four times faster than previous services). . . .

Sales Volumes Strong, With Prices Holding Steady in March Market:

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 94 more farm sales (+25.5%) for the three months ended March 2014 than for the three months ended March 2013. Overall, there were 472 farm sales in the three months to end of March 2014, compared to 534 farm sales for the three months ended February 2014 (-11.6%). 1,842 farms were sold in the year to March 2014, 28.5% more than were sold in the year to March 2013.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to March 2014 was $22,342 compared to $22,317 recorded for three months ended March 2013 (+0.1%). The median price per hectare fell 1.3% compared to February.  . . .

State of the art CT scanner to make quick work of animal yield measurements:

Sheep and Deer farmers in the South Island can now benefit from faster and more accurate carcass measurements, thanks to a new CT scanner in Mosgiel. The scanner, which uses X-Ray technology to create cross-sectional pictures of the body, is a valuable tool for determining meat yield in livestock.

The new CT scanner is being provided by INNERVISION, a joint venture between Landcorp Farming Ltd and AgResearch. It replaces an older scanner that had been in operation for eighteen years.

CT scanner scientist Neville Jopson said the new scanner was considerably faster than the old machine, scanning a whole carcass in around two minutes compared to as much as two hours previously. The ‘spiral scanning’ feature takes measurements over the entire carcass rather than single slice views at set points, providing a much better understanding of composition. . . .

Rabobank opens afresh in central Christchurch:

Continued strong growth in New Zealand has seen specialist agribusiness lender Rabobank relocate to state-of-the-art premises in the new ‘Rabobank Building’ in central Christchurch.

The Christchurch branch of the world’s leading specialist agribusiness bank and the third largest lender to rural New Zealand reopened on Monday 14 April at Level 2, 12 Papanui Rabobank northern south island regional manager David Clarke said the new premises catered for expanding staff numbers and would enable the branch to better service rural farmers and agribusinesses in the Canterbury region.

“We’ve almost doubled in staff numbers in the last decade so we’re excited to move to modern, newer premises with improved technology and more space, which will allow us to grow into the future,” he said. . . .

New Zealand’s First Masterclass for Home Winemakers?

Wine enthusiasts, as well as new and seasoned home winemakers, can learn the secrets of the profession from veteran vintner Justin Oliver.

Oliver is from Matakana’s famous Mt Tamahunga Vineyard and has over 20 years industry winemaking experience at wineries throughout New Zealand and in California. He is also Senior Cidermaker at Zeffer Cider and has distilled professionally. Oliver is in the throes of launching his own wine brand, Free Range Wine Co, specialising in premium wine on tap. 

The Syrah grapes that Mt Tamahunga make into $50 a bottle wine can also be pre-purchased from makewine.co.nz to be collected at the masterclass. The supply is very limited this year – and will be sold on a first in first served. Mt Tamahunga vineyard is one of oldest in the area. It was first planted by the Vuletic brothers for the famous Antipodean Farm wine label of the 1980’s. People may remember a 5-litre bottle of this Bordeaux-styled red selling for $5000 at auction. Those were the days! The Syrah vines were planted in 2004 by new owners, for the premium Mt Tamahunga wine label.  . .


Rural round-up

09/03/2013

Teaching Farm Wins Top Award in East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A well-known Hawke’s Bay station and training farm has taken out the Supreme title in the 2013 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm also collected several category awards at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 7, 2013.

Managed by Terry and Judy Walters, the 5054ha (3186ha effective) sheep, beef and deer farm near Tikokino, northwest of Waipukurau, is home to 22 cadets who are presented with a wide range of learning opportunities during the two years they live and work on the property.

BFEA judges said the intensely scrutinised station sets and achieves high benchmarks.

 “As a working farm Smedley not only practises profitable and sustainable management, it also teaches this ethos to tomorrow’s agricultural leaders.” . . .

Environmentally conscious couple asked to teach others:

An environmentally-conscious farming family in Waikato is being brought on board by Fonterra as part of a project to restore signifcant waterways around the country.

Andrew and Jennifer Hayes farm an 88 hectare dairy farm between two peat lakes – Kaituna and Komakorau (co-mark-a-row), at Horsham Downs in Waikato.

The Hayes have won environment awards for their guardianship of those lakes and Fonterra has asked them to share their knowledge with fellow farmers. . .

Survey Reveals Huge Pasture Investment:

In the past four years New Zealand farmers have sown enough new proprietary pasture seed to cover more than 1.5 million ha of land, new data shows.

“That’s the equivalent of just over 6600 average sized dairy farms,” says Thomas Chin, general manager of the New Zealand Plant Breeding and Research Association (NZPBRA).

Based on tonnages of seed sold for the four years ending 31 December 2012, the data is a NZ first and reveals the ‘colossal’ potential and effect of proprietary plant varieties on NZ farms.

“What this clearly shows is that farmers are using well-bred, well researched, proven plant genetics to get the best out of their land, and their animals,” Chin says. . .

Brown paddock recovery plan – growing grass after the dry:

 Livestock management may have been farmers’ number one priority during recent dry weeks – and rightly so – but now it’s time to think about pastures too.

“We realise you need to look after livestock, however pasture is what’s going to fuel your recovery after rain, and it will be your main feed for the next 12 months,” says senior agronomist Graham Kerr.

“Continued dry conditions in the last three weeks have dramatically changed the pasture situation on many farms, and pasture renewal programmes need to change likewise.”

The best practice in this type of year is to assess all pastures on the farm, and divide paddocks into three categories. This information can then be turned into proactive pasture renewal and pasture management plans. . .

Ambitious Young Winners in Auckland Hauraki Dairy Awards:

At just 28, the 2013 Auckland Hauraki Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, James Courtman, is young, ambitious and already successful.

Mr Courtman won the title and $14,000 in cash and prizes at the region’s Dairy Industry Awards dinner at the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre in Manukau last night.

“I entered the awards for the first time to challenge myself, to develop better goals, and to try and win!” he said. In February he contested the regional Young Farmers Competition final, winning the AGMARDT agri-business challenge. . .

Last chance for Aorangi Young Farmer:

Next weekend will be Phil Campbell’s last chance at a Grand Final in the ANZ Young Farmer Contest. At 31, the last year for eligibility, the sheep, beef and cropping farmer will be the oldest competitor in the Aorangi Regional Final being held at the Methven Showgrounds and Heritage Centre, Saturday 16 March.

Eight competitors will be vying for a spot at the Grand Final in Auckland 16-18 May and their share of a considerable prize pack worth $13,000 thanks to ANZ, AGMARDT, Lincoln University Scholarship, Ravensdown, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, and Husqvarna. . .

Cavalier Congratulates Speed Shearers:

The Golden Shears ‘Big Bang’ speed shearing event shows that New Zealand’s reputation for world class shearing is in good hands, says Cavalier Woolscourers Ltd (CWS).

The ‘Big Bang’ is part of the annual Golden Shears programme of events, and sees world class speed shearers compete in Senior and Open grades.

“CWS congratulates Brett Roberts – who topped a Seniors field of 29 contestants with a time of just 34.5 seconds – and Digger Balme, whose 28.92 seconds saw him triumph in the Open section,” said Nigel Hales, CEO of Cavalier Wool Scourers. . .

Wool prices continue firming:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the combined North and South Island auction offering of 24,400 bales saw a 91 percent clearance and a firm to dearer market across the board.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was practically unchanged compared to the last sale on 28th February, firming by 0.23 percent.

Mr Dawson advises that the Fine Crossbred Fleece was generally slightly dearer with the shear types firm to 2 percent stronger. . .


Dairy Award finalists

06/04/2012

The 36 finalists in the 2012 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will compete for more than $140,000 in cash and prizes at the national awards.

The national winners will take home some excellent prizes and, while they are pleased to win these, most of our finalists are motivated to enter and do well in the awards to boost their confidence and farm business performance,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“A key outcome from participating in the awards is the opportunities presented to progress in the industry. Our entrants are able to take the next step in their career through the feedback they receive from judges, people they meet at the awards dinners, from raising their profile and reputation, and from gaining increased confidence in their ability.”

Mrs Keeping says the final of 12 regional awards contests was held in Southland last weekend to confirm the 12 finalists in each of the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

She says many of the finalists will be hosting field days in the next two weeks and preparing for national judges visits. The judges spend two hours on the farm of the sharemilker/equity farmer and farm manager finalists. An interview will be held once the finalists have gathered in Auckland for the awards dinner on May 12, and is the final judging aspect used to determine the winner.

The dairy trainee finalists will go on a study tour containing judging components. The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles NZ, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and RD1, along with industry partner AgITO.

The 2012 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year finalists:•         Auckland Hauraki –Scott & Alicia Paterson, •         Bay of Plenty –Richard & Amy Fowler •         Canterbury North Otago– Edna & Sarah Hawe •         Central Plateau –John Butterworth •         Hawkes Bay Wairarapa –William & Sally Bosch •         Manawatu Rangitikei Horowhenua – Shaun & Liza Connor •         Northland– Miles Harrison & Lucy Heffernan •         Otago –James & Helen Hartshorne •         Southland – Billy& Sharn Roskam •         Taranaki – Rebecca & James Van Den Brand •         Waikato – Barry & Nicky McTamney •         West Coast Top of The South – Paul& Debra Magner

The 2012 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year finalists:•         Auckland Hauraki– Paul & Amy Koppens •         Bay of Plenty –Grant Clark •         Canterbury North Otago – Mick O’Connor •         Central Plateau – Ian Nelson •         Hawkes Bay Wairarapa – Dean & Rochelle Jones •         Manawatu Rangitikei Horowhenua– Matt Johnson •         Northland – Steve & Donna Griggs •         Otago – Gareth & Angela Dawson •         Southland – Hannes & Lyzanne du Plessis •         Taranaki – Thomas Higgins •   Waikato – Thomas White •         West Coast Top of The South – James Deans

The 2012 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year finalists: •        Auckland Hauraki – Kylie Dunlop •         Bay of Plenty – Brandon Law •         Canterbury North Otago– Nathan Christian •         Central Plateau –Emily Fiddis •         Hawkes Bay Wairarapa – Dyana Barnes •         Manawatu Rangitikei Horowhenua –Shane True •         Northland – Benson Horsford •         Otago – Richard Lang •       Southland – William Mehrtens •         Taranaki –Mark Duynhoven •         Waikato – Mark Jacobs •West Coast Top of The South – Michael Shearer.

Past entrants say while the kudos of winning and prizes are appreciated, what they learn in the process is also very valuable.


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