Rural round-up

August 20, 2017

Taxing our water:

Figures released yesterday by Irrigation New Zealand included bad news for Otago when it comes to funding being taken in irrigation tax for “Clean Rivers”.

The figures show Otago will pay the second-highest amount of irrigation tax of $7.8 million when it has 8% of rivers said to be poor for swimming and just 3% of irrigated land.

Canterbury, as could be expected, will pay the most at $41 million. The region has 4% of rivers declared poor for swimming but 11% of irrigated land.

Labour has declared it will implement a royalty on the commercial consumption of water to assist with the cost of keeping New Zealand’s water clean. The royalty will be flexible to reflect the scarcity or abundance of water in different regions, the different quality of water and its use. Royalty levels will be set following consultation and the revenue will largely be returned to regional councils. . .

Award recognises work with SIL – Sally Rae:

Invermay scientist Dr Sheryl-Anne Newman has received national recognition for her work with Sheep Improvement Ltd.
Dr Newman received the Sir Arthur Ward Award, presented by the New Zealand Society of Animal Production.

It recognised the successful application of research or experience to an aspect of animal production in New Zealand.

She is only the second woman to receive the award. Dr Julie Everett-Hincks, also from Otago, received it last year for work she had done to improve lamb survival. . .

Growing virtual plants could help farmers boost their crops – Leslie Nemo:

What if farmers could grow sugarcane in a matter of seconds, not days or weeks? Scientists are doing just that. Of course, these crops are not sprouting from soil. Instead they flourish on a computer screen.

Digital plants like these are part of a new movement in agricultural science called “in silico,” where researchers design highly accurate, computer-simulated crops to help speed up selective breeding, in which plants are chosen and replanted to amplify their desirable traits. Scientists believe the future of farming is not just in fields, but in graphics, too. . .

Dispatch from New Zealand no. 4 lessons for the UK – Jonathan Baker:

New Zealand was easily the most challenging and energising place I’ve visited so far. Having thought about it, I think this is because many of the debates are similar, until they’re not. Meaning the cultural and geographic similarities create a sense of familiarity which means the inevitable differences really jarr. I certaintly spent more time gazing into the middle distance here than anywhere else I’ve visited. There is much more I could say about New Zealand but I’m currently in Korea and the detailed synthesis of my thoughts in NZ will have to wait.

In the meantime, here is a non-exhaustive and slightly long set of lessons for the UK:

  1.  Environmental regulation is inevitable
  2. Be nimble
  3. No subsidy, no problems
  4. Look to solve conflict, with collaboration and consensus
  5. Prepare for political ping-pong
  6. The need for new, improved industry – Government collaboration
  7. Using subsidies to compensate for policy change, can allow for more radical policy change
  8. There is trouble in (farming) paradise. . .

Kokako birdsong rings out in Kauri Coast forests:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says there’s been a more than thousand percent increase in the number of kokako in Kauri Coast forests since 1990 due to the continued use of 1080 and trapping.

“An aerial 1080 drop in 1990 is credited with saving the kokako from local extinction and its continued use along with trapping has seen the population grow from a low of 5 pair in 1990 to 60 pair today, as well as 29 single kokako,” Ms Barry says. . . .

Continued Softening in Rural Real Estate Market:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 76 fewer farm sales (-16.2%) for the three months ended July 2017 than for the three months ended July 2016. Overall, there were 392 farm sales in the three months ended July 2017, compared to 459 farm sales for the three months ended June 2017 (-14.6%), and 468 farm sales for the three months ended July 2016. 1,739 farms were sold in the year to July 2017, 1.5% fewer than were sold in the year to July 2016, with 44% more finishing farms, 28% more dairy farms and 21% fewer grazing and 22% fewer arable farms sold over the same period. . . 

Farmer candidates sought for DairyNZ elections:

Candidate nominations opened this week for farmer-elected roles on the DairyNZ board and Directors Remuneration Committee.

This year two farmer positions on the Board of Directors are available, along with one position on the DairyNZ Directors Remuneration Committee. . .

Kiwis assured all Fresh avocados eaten in New Zealand are grown here:

 “All fresh avocados eaten in New Zealand are grown here,” says New Zealand Avocado CEO Jen Scoular, mitigating concerns that we import the fruit from Mexico. Criticism of Mexican growing practices was raised by an article published this week by the New Zealand Herald in the Lifestyle Section article headlined “Why you should stop eating avocados.”*

Scoular says the article has caused confusion and New Zealand Avocado had fielded some concerned calls from the public for clarification about the origins of the fruit in New Zealand. . .


Rural round-up

April 15, 2015

Don’t use high NZ dollar as excuse – MacPherson – Phil McCarthy:

Southland farmers need to look beyond the short-term constraints of a high New Zealand dollar and put pressure on meat and milk processors to perform better in the global market-place, Federated Farmers Southland president Russell MacPherson says.  

Yesterday the New Zealand dollar was sitting at about 99.4 cents against the Australian and 76 cents against the US Dollar. Along-side the high dollar, European dairy producers are on the verge of an end to quotas meaning they could ramp up milk production.

But MacPherson said that rather than seeing the developments as threats, farmers should recognise the other side of the coin with lower costs for farm inputs and less pressure on labour costs. . .

The hills are alight – Laird Harper:

A world first on east Taranaki’s unforgiving slopes has set the dog trial community alight.

Twenty-one huntaway dogs tackled the community stage of the Tarata Sheep Dog Trial under lights on Saturday.

Club president Bryan Hocken said the innovative approach proved pivotal to the trial’s success.

The large crowd and competitors were “fizzing” and “buzzing” all night and interest from outside the region was growing.

“It was a perfect night, a perfect site, everything was magic,” he said. . .

Maternal longevity traits closer – Terry Brosnahan:

A longevity breeding value for sheep will be released later this year.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics senior geneticist Mark Young said Sheep Improvement (SIL), B+LNZ Genetics and ram breeders recently reviewed the first version of a longevity breeding value for sheep.

Young said SIL would introduce it by the end of June this year. He was responding to an article in the March, 2015 issue of Country-Wide regarding compelling arguments for genetic selection to increase longevity of ewes and beef cows. 

Maternal longevity is a key trait missing from selection indices that characterise profit for a ewe flock or a beef cow herd. . .

New pieces to the puzzle – Ginny Dodunski:

The impacts of ewe body condition, variations in pasture components and the effects of salt topdressing on bearings have produced some surprise results.

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand farmer-initiated technology transfer (FITT) programme-funded trial investigated bearings on a large South Island sheep and beef property.

Lochiel Station, bordered by the Waiau River in north Canterbury, runs 42,000 stock units and has a history of high ewe losses from bearings.

“We have worked hard on improving our feed management and ewe body condition, plus have stabilised what was genetically a very variable flock,” station manager Kim Robinson said. . .

Diversity of opinion welcomed at Federated Farmers – Chris Lewis:

A few weeks ago I went through a bit of a learning curve about how to inadvertently make headlines. 

I’d thrown out a few thoughts at a Federated Farmers’ executive meeting on where our industry might be heading.  Those musings of mine morphed into front page news and down in Wellington what was claimed to be fixed Federated Farmers policy in parliamentary question time.

But I shouldn’t be too thin skinned about this.  Most of Waikato Federated Farmers’ meetings are fully open to whoever might want to turn up and we have always had a diversity of opinion expressed.

Our organisation has flourished the most when members have shown passion for a topic and offered to roll up their sleeves and offer their services to help on an issue.

This is how we initially attract most out our elected people to our organisation. . .

Lighting the way to dairy savings – Matthew Cawood:

ENERGY is a a major cost for dairy farmers, and one that keeps inexorably rising – which is why Dairy Australia has launched an initiative to identify energy waste in dairies.

The organisation secured $1 million in funding from the federal government to deliver the ‘Smarter energy use on Australian dairy farms’ project, which aims to improve energy efficiency on dairies.

Many of the potential energy leakages on farms, and the options for resolving them, are written up in a Dairy Australia booklet, Saving energy on dairy farms.  . .

 


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