Rural round-up

26/01/2021

Urban issues starting to affect Wanaka :

Environmental group says urban growth a threat to lake’s natural beauty.

The popularity of Wanaka’s pristine natural beauty could prove to be the lake’s downfall — but not if a group of environmentally-minded citizens has something to do with it.

Environmental consultant Chris Arbuckle, along with agribusiness expert Erica Van Reenen and keen local lake swimmer Eddie Spearing, have initiated the Touchstone project, bringing together local people concerned about the Lake Wanaka catchment, raise awareness of water quality issues, and encourage positive action.

While the vast majority of the lake’s catchment is rural, Arbuckle says urban issues are just as significant, if not more so, as Wanaka grows in size and popularity. The district’s population has doubled in the past 10 years, and is estimated to reach 50,000 by 2040. . . .

FE spore counts hit 1.2m in Matamata – Gerald Piddock:

Farmers are being warned to make sure they have an adequate facial eczema (FE) management plan in place after the first spore counts of the year topped nearly 1.2 million from one grass sample in Matamata.

The maximum spore counts analysed by Hamilton-based Gribbles Veterinary on January 14 also reached 30,000 in Franklin and Tauranga, 120,000 in Waikato, 35,0000 in Waitomo and 150,000 on the East Coast.

In the second week of monitoring, samples collected from farms in Waihi, Franklin, Hauraki, Whitianga, Rotorua, Whakatane, Tauranga, Hamilton, Morrinsville, Waipa, Waitomo, New Plymouth and Gisborne were all higher than the 30,000 spores/gram threshold at which veterinarians recommend farmers take action against facial eczema. . . 

Trees are our great weapons against climate change. But what if they stop soaking? – Mirjam Guesgen :

A new study suggests that trees’ ability to soak up carbon could expire. Mirjam Guesgen explains.

Trees have long been held as the saviour for climate change. Plant enough trees and we might be able to balance out some of that carbon-emmitting flying or driving. But a new scientific study says that trees only buy us a certain amount of time. Push a tree too far and it’ll turn on you.

How do trees fight climate change?

The reason trees make such excellent climate fighting machines has to do with chemistry. They suck up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it as one of the ingredients to make sugar, their form of fuel. That’s the basics of photosynthesis. . . 

M. Boris numbers falling – MPI :

The Ministry of Primary Industries says New Zealand is getting closer to the eradication of Mycoplasma Bovis.

Ten properties in Canterbury are currently infected with the cattle disease, including two Lincoln University research farms.

The Ministry is working through depopulation plans with the two research farms, but final cull numbers haven’t been determined. . .

Rain secures feed surplus – Gerald Piddock:

Warm temperatures and frequent summer rain have led to a bumper season for summer feed crops and pasture covers for livestock farmers in most regions up and down the country.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround compared to 12 months ago, where severe drought had written off feed crops and farmers around the North Island were burning through their feed reserves to keep their stock healthy.

DairyNZ general manager of farm performance Sharon Morrell says while it has been a good year for many, regions such as Northland was getting dry and areas of the Hauraki Plains also had declining pasture growth rates. . .

Farmers to showcase farmland bird conservation work :

Farmers are being encouraged to get behind this year’s Big Farmland Bird Count to showcase the conservation work being done on farms across the country.

The Big Farmland Bird Count returns in 2021, and organisers are asking farmers and land managers – who look after 71% of Britain’s countryside – to join in.

The project helps show which farmland birds are benefitting from conservation efforts while identifying the species most in need of help.

The annual count, run by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), is scheduled for the 5 – 14 February 2021. . . 


Nuffield scholars announced

02/11/2014

A diverse group of rural New Zealanders has been chosen as the latest crop of Nuffield Scholars:

Nuffield New Zealand and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have announced the scholarships at a function in Wellington for West Coast dairy farmer Bede O’Connor; Woodville dairy farmer Ben Allomes; Rotorua-based DairyNZ regional leader Sharon Morrell; Whanganui farmer, entrepreneur and conservationist Dan Steele and Fonterra employee Satwant Singh from Morrinsville.

The five new Scholars join more than 145 others who have been awarded Nuffield Scholarships in the past 60 years, which has been a substantial investment in New Zealand agriculture’s past, current and future leaders, says Nuffield NZ chairman Stuart Julian Raine.

“Only a handful are awarded each year so a Nuffield Scholarship is one of rural New Zealand’s most valuable and prestigious awards. To be a Scholar is a life-changing experience.”

The Nuffield NZ Scholarship offers the opportunity for overseas travel, study of the latest developments in a number of leading agricultural countries and provides an introduction to leaders and decision makers not accessible to the ordinary traveller.

One of the current 2014 Scholars is Palmerston North potato grower, agricultural contractor and equity dairy farmer Paul Olsen.

“It has been a brilliant experience for me, seeing other countries and a variety of cultures, mind boggling but also eye opening. New Zealand has a huge opening for the future, in terms of things like food proteins and niche products, it’s there for the taking. It’s a massive opportunity for us to take on the challenge.”

Olsen says the Nuffield name opened many doors.

“I visited some massive operations – people wouldn’t hold back. It was 100 per cent nuts and bolts business information you wouldn’t get any other way.”

He says the contacts made and networks formed will last a lifetime.

“I made some very strong contacts and friendships, especially through the UK, Ireland and Scotland. Many of them are coming to stay here in the next 18 months or so as well, either travelling individually or finishing their own Nuffield Scholarship travels.”

Nuffield Scholars travel internationally for at least four months in their Scholarship year (not necessarily consecutively), participate in a Contemporary Scholars conference with 60 Nuffield Scholars from around the world and attend a six-week Global Focus Programme with an organised itinerary through several countries with other scholars. They also have their own individual study programme with a research report due at the end of their travels.

The 2015 research topics are likely to cover issues such as the internal growth potential of China; recognising and utilising New Zealand’s greatest asset – its people; farming communities’ responses to changes in environmental regulations or other constraints; the potential of “Brand New Zealand” and how having communities involved in conservation will show value in looking after the environment; and farmer understanding of their financial and overall business health focusing around budgeting, risk management, stress levels for farmers, suicide levels and farming pressure.

The five 2015 scholars are:

Bede O’Connor, West Coast

West Coast dairy farmer Bede O’Connor is milking 340 cows on 170 hectares near Westport and is an elected director of the Westland Dairy Co-op. O’Connor, 43, has achieved a 25 per cent increase in production over the past three seasons after purchasing his family’s farm in 2011. He would like to develop a self-sufficient farming system to combat the influences of more frequently occurring climatic events. He is a member of the West Coast TB Free Committee, West Coast Rural Support Trust and the West Coast Focus Farm Trust. He was a regional judge for the Dairy Industry Awards Trainee of the year and is an active member of West Coast Federated Farmers.

Sharon Morrell, Rotorua

Sharon Morrell is a regional leader with DairyNZ in Rotorua. Her role is a mixture of direct farmer interaction and leading a small team running discussion groups, field days and workshops. She also works alongside strategic partners, including the BOP Dairy Stakeholders Group. After gaining a Bachelor of Agricultural Science Morrell worked as a MAF farm advisor. With husband Ross she has worked on farm and raised four children. She did some supervisory and consultancy work before moving to DairyNZ in 2010. She attended the Kellogg Rural Leadership programme in 2011.

Dan Steele, Whanganui

Dan Steele is a farmer and conservationist living and working on Blue Duck Station – a 1460 hectare sheep and beef station and conservation project at Whakahoro, surrounded by Whanganui National Park. After working with his parents on the neighbouring Retaruke Station for seven years, Steele built Blue Duck Lodge in 2005, started Blue Duck Station in 2006 and founded the Wild Journeys commercial jet boats partnership in 2010.

Steele is involved with the Ruapehu Regional Tourism Organisation (Visit Ruapehu), Ducks Unlimited, NZ Wetland Care and the Whanganui National Park Conservation and Historic Preservation Trust.

Satwant Singh

Satwant Singh works for Fonterra during the week and on the family dairy farm near Morrinsville at the weekends. Singh, 30 and her husband Sunil Krishna live in Auckland – during the week she is part of the Fonterra Commodity Risk and Trading team as an Originator. One of her achievements is the Guaranteed Milk Price programme for farmers. She became an area manager for Fonterra in Morrinsville (2008-2012) after working as a Service Specialist for Fonterra (2006-2008). Singh has a Bachelor of Management Studies with Honours (Majoring in Marketing and Human Resources) and a Graduate Diploma in Accounting from the University of Waikato.

Ben Allomes

Dairy farmer Ben Allomes and wife Nicky own a half share in an 850-cow farm at Woodville; are 50/50 sharemilkers on a 400-cow farm at Woodville and a 215-cow property at Ruawhata; and also lease two other properties. Allomes is a farmer-elected DairyNZ director and on their local school Board of Trustees. He has been heavily involved with NZ Young Farmers, Primary ITO, Dairy Industry Awards, Fonterra Network and DairyNZ. While president of Young Farmers, 2007-2009, he helped to restructure and reposition the organisation and jointly led the development of the NZYF leadership “Pipeline” programme now adopted by industry “Generate” Steering Committee.

You can read more about Nuffield here and find a lsit of previous winners here.


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