Rural round-up

March 31, 2014

Drought relief some way off – Mike Dinsdale:

Northland’s drought-stricken farmers can’t expect any rain relief over the next two weeks as an urgent call goes out for help with grazing and supplementary feed.

This week most of Northland’s west coast, from Cape Reinga to Pouto Pt, has been classified a localised drought area under government regulations for a small-scale adverse climatic event, covering an estimated 400 dairy farms and 700 sheep and beef units.

It’s the third drought in four years in the area and there’s little chance of any significant rain to end the drought for at least the next two weeks. . . .

 ‘Green’ dairy farming proves profitable – Tina Law:

Mark and Devon Slee are proving dairy farmers can remain profitable while adopting techniques to care for the environment.

The South Canterbury couple, who have 2640 cows on 1014 hectares at Ealing, south of Ashburton, won the supreme award at the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards, announced last week.

Mark Slee said it was great to win the award, and he and Devon were keen to highlight the good environmental practices they had adopted.

“There is a lot of concern about the expansion of dairying, and we just wanted to be out there saying ‘this is what we are doing with our property’.

“It’s worthy of mention,” Slee said. . .

Farmer’s win more significant after near death – Diane Bishop:

Four months after suffering a near-fatal cardiac arrest, Kaiwera farmer John Chittock is at the top of his game.

The 55-year-old won three of the four events at the Mossburn sheep dog trials this month – the short head and yard, the straight hunt and the zig-zag hunt with Blue, Pod and Angus, respectively.

Chittock said he had won two hunt events at a district competition before, but this was the first time he had won three events in almost 40 years of dog trialling.

“I took it with a grain of salt.

“It wasn’t until people started congratulating me that I thought it was pretty special,” he said. . .

Picking up the pace – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s confirmation last week of a record milk payout forecast came with a commitment to stay on course, but pick up the pace.

The forecast cash payout of $8.75 a kilogram of milksolids is 42% more than last season and the first-half revenue of $11.3 billion was up 21%.

Full-year milk production in New Zealand is expected to grow 7% and that means farms will receive nearly $14b this year, at least half of which will be spent in the regions.

However, normalised earnings and net profit in the first half of the financial year were only half those of the previous corresponding period because high commodity prices have slashed margins on value-added products. . . .

Powell wins Shepherd of the Year competition:

The 2014 Shepherd of the Year was awarded to Jason Powell on March 27 after a successful tour of the farm he works on, while answering questions from the two judges Shayne Rankin and George Tatham about his role.

He won $4500 in cash and prizes and the two merit placegetters, Jakeb Herron and Cameron Dallas, both won a Lister handpiece.

The inaugural competition was part of the Wairarapa Farm Business of the Year competition.

The Farm Business of the Year winners were Don McCreary and Anna Johnston and a field day was held on their farm in Hinakura in the Martinborough area.

Of the seven finalists in the Taratahi Shepherd of the Year competition, three were ex-Taratahi students, including Powell.  . .


Rural round-up

August 14, 2013

Ravensdown returns ‘unacceptable’ result – Tim Cronshaw:

Fertiliser co-operative Ravensdown is offloading loss-making Australian businesses to ensure there is no repeat of a pre-tax profit of $6 million made in the 2012-13 year ending May.

The ”unacceptable” result is down 88 per cent from $52m the previous year and the co-operative will be unable to pay farmer shareholders a rebate for the first time in 35 years.

Poor performing Australian investments and slower fertiliser sales during the drought contributed to the small profit alongside high urea prices and a consistently high dollar going against the co-operative’s policy of hedging long term. . .

Lab meat ‘no threat yet’ to NZ – Al Williams:

Laboratory-grown meat is the “stuff of science fiction” and a long way off from posing any threat, those involved in meat production in New Zealand say.

Industry reaction follows a taste test last week of hamburger grown in a laboratory.

Scientists at Maastricht University in the Netherlands developed the burger over five years, with hopes that lab-grown meat could eventually help feed the world and fight climate change.

The project had high-profile funding from Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, who gave €250,000 (NZ$450,000) towards the project, saying he was motivated by a concern for animal welfare. . .

Farming til the cows come home – Peter Watson:

You won’t hear Ted and Clare Ford complaining about getting up early in the morning to milk the cows and feed the calves.

They have been doing it for more than 40 years, still enjoy it and have no plans to stop.

“What else would I do,” says Mr Ford, a fit-looking 66-year-old who, with his wife, has been at the forefront of promoting dairying in the Nelson region.

“You’ve got to have a reason for getting up in the morning and I firmly believe retirement has killed more farmers than farming.” . .

Sellers warned to identify irradiated tomatoes:

New Zealand businesses selling Australian irradiated tomatoes are being reminded they are obliged to label them as such.

The tomatoes are expected to be on sale in the country shortly, after Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye changed the import rules to allow in irradiated tomatoes from Australia earlier this year.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has issued an advisory telling food businesses they must let consumers know the food they are purchasing is irradiated.

The ministry says the mandatory labelling statement must be on the food or close to the food at all points of sale. . .

Students help with animal progeny programme:

A new generation of budding famers is learning first-hand about genetic selection and animal performance.

Students at the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre at Koromiko farm in Wairarapa are helping with the sheep industry’s central progeny trial programme.

The programme aims to develop sheep selection tools to help farmers working on a variety of land types.

Koromiko farm manager Shayne Rankin said the students at the training centre are helping to monitor the performance of rams on hard hill country. . .

More on the trial at Koromiko here.

How bike bashing Rambro went feral then viral – Michael Daly:

A confrontation between a Nelson trail-bike rider and a belligerent ram is raising laughs around the world.

Nelson man Marty Todd posted video of the face-off, which the ram appears to win, on YouTube.

After being picked up on CNN and by Britain’s Mail Online, the YouTube posting has been viewed about 350,000 times.

It shows Mr Todd stopping when confronted by the animal, known to locals as ‘Rambro’, on a track through his rural property.

After a standoff lasting a few seconds the ram charges the bike. Mr Todd gets off and heads several metres up a side track, then returns to the bike, all the while being watched by the glowering ram. . .


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