Rural round-up

April 24, 2019

Otago’s long rabbit war wages on – Jono Edwards:

They are fluffy, cute, and devastating to agriculture. Jono Edwards examines Otago’s rabbit problem and asks if there is any solution.

Otago’s problems with the long-eared grey/brown menace – the rabbit – began as early as the 1830s, when colonists brought them to New Zealand shores for food and sport.

They quickly realised their mistake as the pests spread and destroyed crops nationwide.

In the 1860s they became established between Invercargill and Riverton, and were devastating crops all over the south by the early 1880s. . .

Horticulture welcomes call for protection of versatile land:

An environmental report released last week further substantiates Horticulture New Zealand’s concerns about ongoing urban and lifestyle block expansion into prime growing land, and shows that urgent action is required to slow this down.

The Environment Aotearoa 2019 report, released by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, shows that the growth of urban centres threatens the limited versatile land surrounding regional centres such as Auckland, Waikato, and Canterbury. . .

Handling psychological pressure key – Sally Rae:

Lance Burdett describes his job as helping people as much as he can.

A safety, wellness and resilience expert, Mr Burdett has worked with elite international tactical units across police, the military, emergency services, prisons and the FBI.

Now he focuses his time on helping people understand the pressures on their brains and how to handle them.

Rural Support Trusts are bringing Mr Burdett to the South, where he will be speaking in Oamaru on May 13, Balclutha on May 14, Gore on May 15 and 16, and Winton on May 16 . . 

Fonterra mulling Tip Top offers :

Fonterra has moved to the next stage of its plan to sell-off its Tip Top ice cream business.

A spokesperson for the co-operative said it received a number of offers from buyers last month and is now considering them.

Follow-up offers are due on 29 April. . .

N surplus shows performance:

Nitrogen leaching varies significantly depending on soil type and climate, which means it’s not a straightforward performance indicator. An alternative approach is to look at a farm’s nitrogen surplus.

It’s a goal of many farmers to improve sustainability, with a significant focus on N leaching in many regions. However, nitrogen (N) leaching varies significantly depending on soil type and climate, factors that cannot be changed (though irrigation can alleviate dry conditions, but also increase drainage).

Focusing on N surplus instead is an easier method of determining farm performance and gaining environmental benefits. Reducing N surplus can also save farmers money. . .

Applications now open for Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships 2019:

Silver Fern Farms welcomes applications for the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships for 2019. In its third year, the Plate to Pasture Scholarship programme will award six winners from across the country $5000 to assist with developing their careers and capabilities in the red meat sector.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says that supporting emerging talent in the red meat sector is vital to developing relationships that will strengthen the red meat sector.


Rural round-up

April 8, 2018

School farm visits to encourage agricultural careers – Hunter Calder:

Benneydale School children watched eagerly as wool came off sheep on Storth Oaks Farm.

For some of the pupils it was the first time they’d ever been on a farm, not to mention seeing a sheep in the flesh.

“It’s very soft and mushy,” one pupil said as he felt the wool.

“It’s nice, it smells like cotton candy,” another student said. . . 

Both lamb and beef exports expected to break $3 billion for the first time and forecast farm profits rise:

Both beef and lamb exports are expected to break the $3 billion mark for the first time as high lamb, mutton and beef prices bump up this season’s forecast profit for sheep and beef farmers, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Mid-Season Update.

The milestone for lamb exports is predicted to be reached on the back of a forecast 14 per cent increase in average export value. Meanwhile, total beef export receipts, which passed the $3 billion mark in 2014 15, are expected to be $3.2 billion in 2017 18 – down 1.1 per cent. . . 

Iwi leader swaps corporate job to pick apples:

One of Hawke’s Bay’s most influential Iwi leaders has swapped his corporate job to pick apples this week as the industry faces one of the worst labour shortages in recent years.

In an attempt to get more locals picking apples, Chairman of Ngati Kahungunu, Ngahiwi Tomoana and his wife Mere are picking apples for three days for Bostock New Zealand and are calling on other members of their Iwi to join them.

“I just can’t sleep at night knowing that our delicious Hawke’s Bay apples could go to waste. The apple industry drives our economy and creates thousands of jobs for our Iwi. So we need to support our local growers, so the apples don’t rot on the trees. . . 

Govt deals body-blow to farmers and growers:

The Ardern-Peters Government has dealt a body-blow to farmers and growers in pandering to its mates in the Green Party and axing funding to irrigation projects, National Party spokesperson for Agriculture Nathan Guy says.

“Not only that, but it looks to me like it isn’t honouring its commitments to industries relying on these projects,” Mr Guy says.

“When they were first sworn in late last year, the new ministers received a briefing from Crown Irrigation outlining several projects that it had financial commitments to. . . 

Hurunui Water Project continues despite government funding ‘kick in thetTeeth’:

The Board and farmer-shareholders behind an on-plains storage based regional irrigation scheme are determined it will go ahead, despite the Government announcing that it will not provide further funding.

“Water is fundamental for our community – it’s the lifeblood of our region. As recent extended droughts have painfully shown, our livelihoods are tied to climate and the reliability of water supply,” said Hurunui Water Project (HWP) Chief Executive Chris Pile. . .

Govt’s irrigation cutback a blow but schemes to press on – Eric Frykberg:

A government move to cut back on irrigation has been called a kick in the teeth by a South Island water company fighting drought in an arid region.

The Hurunui Water Project is vowing to press on anyway, having already invested $10 million in a scheme to improve the water supply.

The government announced yesterday that it had begun winding down public funding for large-scale irrigation through the state agency, Crown Irrigation Investments Limited.

It said that was in line with its coalition and confidence and supply agreements. . . 

Silver Fern Farms’ result shows benefit of capital injection – Allan Barber:

Silver Fern Farms Limited has posted an improved annual result for its first year with its new Chinese partner, Shanghai Maling, which invested $260 million to acquire a 50% share of the meat processor and exporter. Revenue for the 2017 financial and calendar year, following the change in balance date from the traditional meat industry year to September, was on a par with 2016, but the NPAT of $15.4 million was a huge increase on the previous year’s $30.6 million loss, although not as good as the 2015 result of $24.6 million.

The declared result for Silver Fern Farms Cooperative was not nearly as good as it was for the operating company in which the cooperative now holds a 50% shareholding.  .  .

Meatco had planned note issue to raise $2.5M; liquidator left with 1.3 tons of frozen halal meat – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – Meatco, a New Zealand processor and exporter of halal sheep meat put into liquidation last month, had planned to raise capital through a convertible note issue to build a processing plant in Shannon in the lower North Island, the first of many, a strategy that was touted to boost earnings by 50 percent.

Instead, the three-year-old business was put into liquidation by a disgruntled creditor, Beirut-based Widriss Holding, a diversified food and commodity trader, “following a non-supply or refund of prepaid stock.” Meatco shareholder Michael Stacker and director and former shareholder Robin Bautista couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. . . 

Turning dirt into climate goals via carbon farming – Miriam Swaffer:

Having just returned from VERGE Hawaii: Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit, I confidently can say Hawaii is awesome. Yes, the beaches are gorgeous. But what really got me excited is Hawaii’s climate leadership and the opportunity this creates for business.  

Hawaii’s lawmakers recognize both the grave threat of climate change and the economic opportunity to generate local clean power, as opposed to shipping oil thousands of miles to meet their needs.

Indeed, days after the U.S. government announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, Hawaii was the first state to say “We Are Still In.” Within days, Hawaii Gov. David Ige went event further than the state’s 100 percent renewable portfolio standard by signing bills expanding the policy strategies and mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.   . . 


Rural round-up

April 4, 2018

The future of everything: Why the third industrial revolution is a risk to NZ – John McCrone:

Who is Jeremy Rifkin and why does he have economists worried? After Europe and China, his message of disruptive change is now stirring interest in New Zealand. JOHN MCCRONE reports.

Artificial meat gets you thinking. If it is another exponential technology – a wave breaking over the world in the next five to 15 years – how can the New Zealand economy survive?

Auckland food futurist Dr Rosie Bosworth sounded the alarm bells at the Tipping Points conference, hosted by the Environmental Defence Society (EDS) last August.

Bosworth says lab-grown meat only got going in 2013 when a Dutch university start-up – funded by the wealth of Google’s Sergey Brin – managed to culture strips of beef muscle and produce a first hamburger patty.

Now there are a whole host of high tech start-ups flooding into the field, aiming to make artificial yet realistic everything, from chicken and fish, to milk and even leather, she says. . . 

State of Pass road upsets residents – Sally Rae:

Motorists travelling through the expansive tussock country of  Danseys Pass are drawn to the mountain  route for many reasons.

Often, says local woman Jo Todd, it is emotion that is behind the trip which links the Waitaki district to Central Otago.

“It’s an iconic road …  it’s on their bucket list. It’s a road that polarises people — people hate it or love it. People always have stories about the road.”

They shared those stories when they stopped at her lavender farm and shop and often conversations mentioned the state of the road.

Last  week, Mrs Todd and neighbour Mary Hore expressed disgust at the road’s condition on the Waitaki side of the pass. . .

Royal Easter Show shearing: Rowland Smith wins 40 in a row:

Hawke’s Bay shearer Rowland Smith’s domination of New Zealand’s world-class shearing elite continued when he had his 40th New Zealand finals win in a row at the Royal Easter Show in Auckland.

His successful defence of the Northern Shears Open title was his 44th win in 46 competitions in New Zealand in the last 15 months, during which the only deviations from the picket-fence form-line were a fourth placing at the Rotorua A and P Show on January 29 last year and a semi-final elimination at the Tauranga A and P Show on January 14 this year.

On Saturday he staved-off a bold challenge from Southland shearer Brett Roberts to win by half-a-point in a five-man final of 20 sheep each, decided mainly by the six seconds margin at the end and the quality of the sharing in the race, in front of the unique Auckland crowd mixing the normality for the farming and shearing community with the intrigue of the city dweller and the phone and camera waving tourist throng. . . 

Silver Fern Farms Co-op reports positive result, dividend and patronage reward:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative has reported a net profit after tax (and before losses from discontinued operations) of $7.8 million for the 15 months ended 31 December 2017. After accounting for discontinued operations, the 15-month period was a net loss of $5.6m.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative chairman Rob Hewett says the accounting result for the first period of the partnership has a high level of complexity to account for the changes in company structure over the period.

“We expected some complexity in reporting for this period as we account for the transition, and it does contain some abnormal factors related to the transaction which we will not see in future years. Firstly, the Co-operative has moved to a December year-end, which necessitates a 15-month result for this period. From now on we will have standard 12-month reporting periods. 

How Ireland is turning into a food processing giant – Catherine Cleary:

Move over Kerrygold butter – Ireland’s real food export success story is in unbranded food ingredients such as whey and vanilla

Here’s a small eureka moment in the Irish food world. The head of a large food company has had a long day in a conference room with executives from an Irish food ingredients giant. They finish with a grazing trip around the hottest cafes, restaurants and cocktail bars. In a bar, someone serves a Bloody Mary garnished with a piece of crispy bacon. He takes a sip, puts down the glass and declares: “Now that’s what I want my burger to taste like.”

It’s as far from the picture of Irish food as it gets but ingredients like a Bloody Mary bacon seasoning are an untold part of Ireland’s food story. If you dream it, there is a team of scientists in Irish labs that can probably make it happen. . .

The woman who rode Australia’s longest trekking route – a photo essay :

Alienor Le Gouvello travelled more than 5,000km with three wild horses and a dog. For her forthcoming book Wild at Heart, photographer Cat Vinton joined her for part of the journey to capture the beauty and isolation of a year-long trek through the Australian bush.

From a young age, Alienor Le Gouvello developed a passion for travelling and adventure. Her previous expeditions include a horseback trek in Mongolia at age 22 and a sidecar motorbike expedition from Siberia to Paris. Le Gouvello, originally from France, was working with an Indigenous community in Docker River near Uluru in the Australian central desert when she first discovered the existence of wild brumbies. In 2015, she embarked on her longest solo journey: 5,330km along the Bicentennial National trail, Australia’s longest trekking route, beginning in Healesville in Victoria and ending in Cooktown, Queensland, with just three wild horses and her dog for company. Since it opened in 1988, only 35 people have completed the trail. Le Gouvello is the second woman to complete the trip and the only person to have the same horses from beginning to end . . 


Rural round-up

March 19, 2018

We need a long cool look at water – Andrew Curtis:

As years go, 2017 was dramatic.

In February, one of the biggest fires in New Zealand history ignited on the Port Hills in tinder dry conditions, causing thousands of residents to evacuate.

In March, the upper North Island was soaked, with Auckland experiencing its wettest March day in 60 years, and over 300 homes were flooded.

July brought flooding to Otago and Canterbury, and snow and strong winds to other areas. . . 

Mix of farming, forestry, engineering keeps McKenzies busy – Sally Rae:

When it comes to thinking outside the square, it would be hard to look past the innovative McKenzie family from Clinton.

Colin McKenzie jokes they have a lot of junk around, but they are incredibly clever at turning that “junk” into all sorts of machinery.

As well as running a large sheep and beef operation, they also do their own forest harvesting, utilising some of their own home-made technology. . . 

Effluent technology set to lift dairy water efficiency – Jamie Thompson:

Nutrient efficiency is vital to Ravensdown as a component of smarter farming — good for the bottom line and the environment.

Water efficiency is now a catch-cry and the dairy sector is being urged to lessen its water ‘footprint’.

Crucial to this challenge is how effluent is managed. Recycling and reusing the nutrients in dairy shed effluent is good practice, showing that dairy farmers are doing the right thing. This comes with a price tag: 70% of dairy farmers’ environmental spending goes on effluent management (see graph). . .

Passion for dairy farming shows through for Canterbury environment award winners:

The Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards have been won by a dairy farming company showing a fantastic level of passion, pride and promotion for its industry. David and Brenda Hislop, Mark Daly and Janet Girvan are partners in Medbury Farm Limited – milking 1240 cows on 442ha at Hawarden.

The awards judges said the partners show strong awareness of farming practices and how they influence the environment. “They show excellent attention to detail to business planning, governance and policies and how that influences and drives the business, as well as great staff and people management.” . . 

Fonterra close to reaching Argentina deal :

Fonterra is close to reaching a deal with Argentina-based dairy co-operative SanCor, according a media report from Buenos Aires.

The Argentine newspaper La Nacion reported that Fonterra was anticipated to finalise a deal with SanCor by the end of this month.

La Nacion, in a translated report, said Fonterra and SanCor would form a new company, of which Fonterra would have 80 to 90 percent control. The remaining shares would stay with the dairy farmers in Argentina. . . 

Education doesn’t encourage creativity’ – Jill Galloway:

The education system does not value creativity enough, says a business commentator.

Chanelle O’Sullivan​ was one of five speakers at a creativity breakfast seminar, one of 10 events being held as part of the Manawatū-hosted Agri Food Week.

Described as an entrepreneur who founded the websites Rural Mums and Virtual Insights, O’Sullivan advised people to not rely on anyone else “as no one is coming to rescue you”. However, people should not feel ashamed of failing. . . 

Four candidates for Silver Fern Farms board :

Conor English, the youngest brother of former Prime Minister Bill English, is throwing his hat in the ring for election to the Silver Fern Farms board of directors.

English is the former chief executive of Federated Farmers who started his farming career at the family farm in Dipton. He is also chairman of Agribusiness New Zealand, a company he founded after leaving Federated Farmers in 2014.

Board members Fiona Hancox and Rob Hewett, and chairman, retire by rotation at the company’s annual meeting in Dunedin on April 18.

Four candidates have put themselves forward for the two available positions on the board. Hancox and Hewett have both advised they will stand for re-election, while nominations have been received for Chris Allen and English. . . 


Rural round-up

August 1, 2017

Mycoplasma bovis – Media Update Monday 31 July 2017:

A second dairy farm in South Canterbury that was already under biosecurity controls has today been confirmed as positive for the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

This farm is linked to the initial property under investigation and is part of the 16 farm Van Leeuwen Dairy Group. The detection was not unexpected given close connections between the 2 farms.

MPI is today continuing sampling and testing for the disease on all farms in the enterprise, as well as neighbouring farms. . .

Business beats nostalgia for Elsthorpe sheep breeder Rick Lee – Kate Taylor:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmer has moved away from his dual purpose roots to breed stud sheep focused on meat production. He talks to Kate Taylor.

It’s hard to see the motorbikes from the mud as Rick Lee and his father Charlie pull up to the sheds on their Elsthorpe farm.

It is a wet winter after a dry summer, but there’s a smile on both faces under their woolly hats.

Charlie has been fixing something in the yards and Rick has checked the stock. A team of dogs have also done their duty for the morning and are tied up at the woolshed. It’s morning tea time. . .

Dairy with ‘pasture plus’ – Keith Woodford:

A key and consistent message over many years from DairyNZ to its 12,000 farmer members has been the importance of optimising the use of grass. Aligned to this, has been an ongoing negativity to non-pasture supplementation.

I know of no-one who disputes the ongoing importance of grass to the New Zealand dairy industry. However, there are many who would argue – and I am one of them – that DairyNZ has become blinkered to the opportunities that can arise from ‘pasture-plus’ dairy systems.

Ironically, despite the DairyNZ focus, there has been a steady drift by farmers to increasing use of supplement since the turn of the century, typically by matching stocking rate to peak pasture production and then feeding supplements in the shoulder seasons. . . .

Hamilton leaving SFF in strong position –  Dene Mackenzie:

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Dean Hamilton is leaving the meat processing group at the end of the year.
He made the announcement yesterday just days after saying SFF has never been in a stronger financial position.

He has been chief executive for three years.

Along with chairman Rob Hewett, Mr Hamilton helped drive the merger deal with Shanghai Maling, giving the Chinese company a 50% stake in the Dunedin-based SFF. . .

Milk ’em instead – Peter Burke:

Massey University sheep milking expert Craig Prichard’s fun exhibit at Fieldays — allowing site visitors to milk a sheep — had seriously optimistic intent.

Behind the fun was positive news about the rapidly growing sheep milk industry in NZ.

He noted that people have a sort of anxiety about food, prompting them to query its health properties and ponder whether it will make them feel better. People want to learn more about products made from sheep milk, Prichard says. . .

Dairy farmers warned to watch out for ergot – Nicole Sharp:

Three dairy farms in Southland and South Otago have been affected by ergot poisoning after feeding infected ryegrass to dairy cattle.

To date, only dairy cows had been affected but ergot poisoning can affect other animals.

Ergot is a naturally occurring fungus which can affect grains and grasses, and produces potent alkaloids poisonous to animals.

A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) spokesman said ergot poisoning occurred sporadically when environmental conditions were suitable in New Zealand. . .

Dyes in poultry feed meet demand for bright yellow egg yolks – Amanda Cropp:

Kiwi consumers are crazy about vividly coloured egg yolks, but Asian customers of an egg exporter prefer a paler version.

The New Zealand Egg Producers Federation confirmed synthetic carotenoid food dyes, or more expensive natural ones made from marigold, turmeric or paprika extracts, were fed to both caged and free-range laying hens.

Federation technical advisor Kerry Mulqueen​ said many commercial egg farms used them because New Zealanders preferred brighter yellow yolks.

The diet of some free range hens also included the colour additive because they did not eat a lot of grass, he said. . .


Rural round-up

May 26, 2017

Funding boost to strengthen biosecurity:

A boost of $18.4 million of operating funding over four years from Budget 2017 will help further strengthen the biosecurity system and protect our borders, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

“Biosecurity has always been my number one priority as Minister because the primary sector is the backbone of our economy. Unwanted pests and diseases have the potential to cause major damage to our producers,” Mr Guy says. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand welcomes Budget biosecurity investment:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ), on behalf of sheep and beef farmers, has welcomed the Government’s additional investment in biosecurity, announced in the Budget today.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Sam McIvor said the additional $18.4 million recognised that biosecurity was a risk to primary production and a threat to the wider New Zealand economy.

“We’re pleased the Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon Nathan Guy has made this commitment to biosecurity. . . 

Zespri 2016/17 season results: record sales by volume and value:

A remarkable season of increased yields and the largest-ever New Zealand crop helped lift total Zespri sales volume from New Zealand to a record 137.7 million trays, 18 percent up on the previous year. Sales of kiwifruit from Zespri’s Northern Hemisphere supplying locations also grew by 14 percent to 16.6 million trays, driven mainly by SunGold vines coming into production in Italy.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride says Zespri sold more fruit faster than ever before during the 2016/17 season, with global fruit sales revenue rising by 19 percent to $2.26 billion. . . 

$30.5m boost to fisheries management:

A significant boost of $30.5 million of operating funding over the next four years in Budget 2017 will upgrade and modernise the fisheries management system, including the roll-out of cameras, monitoring, and electronic reporting on all commercial vessels, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

“This funding will help introduce the world-leading Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System (IEMRS), which will give us arguably the most transparent and accountable commercial fishery anywhere in the world,” Mr Guy says. . . .

Sanford lifts first-half profit 25% as higher value product offsets lower prices for frozen fish – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, New Zealand’s largest listed seafood company, lifted first-half profit 25 percent as the benefits from selling more higher value fresh seafood offset the impact of lower prices for frozen commodity products and disruption from adverse weather.

Profit rose to $19 million, or 20.4 cents per share, in the six months ended March 31, from $15.3 million, or 16.3 cents, a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Revenue from continuing operations advanced 5 percent to $230.4 million. . . 

Fairton closure inevitable – Allan Barber:

Wednesday’s announcement by Silver Fern Farms of the proposal to close the company’s Fairton plant was in many ways inevitable. Even the workforce appears to have been resigned to the probability for several years. Sad as it is for workers and the Ashburton community, it is better to front up to the certainty than to have to wait for the axe to fall.

The upgrading of Pareora an hour to the south as a modern multi-species meat works, combined with the loss of sheep in the catchment area had effectively sealed Fairton’s fate. The agonised shrieks from politicians of all the opposition parties railing against last year’s approval of the Shanghai Maling investment in SFF were equally inevitable, but completely missed the mark – I am certain the company’s board would have made exactly the same decision without the new shareholding structure, provided the undercapitalised business could have afforded the costs of closure . . 

Sheep and Beef sector welcomes the recent agreement to move forward with the TPP agreement:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) welcome the recent statement by the Trade Ministers of the eleven Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries in Hanoi to work towards bringing the trade agreement into force expeditiously.

The TPP agreement has significant value for the New Zealand sheep and beef sector, particular improved access into Japan for New Zealand beef exports, say B+LNZ CEO Sam McIvor and MIA CEO Tim Ritchie. . . 

Momentum building for mandatory CoOL:

The New Zealand public is clearly showing their desire to have mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) Horticulture New Zealand told the Primary Production Select Committee at Parliament today.

The Select Committee is hearing submissions on the Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill before Parliament.

“Firstly, our recent survey showed that more than 70 percent of New Zealanders want mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) for fresh fruit and vegetables,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says. . . 

The rice industry is furious at the existence of “cauliflower rice” – Chase Purdy:

The fight over the US government’s definitions for certain foods has flared up again. It’s no longer just a fight for milk farmers, who’ve grown increasingly angry about plant-based food companies (think soy, almond, and cashews) calling their liquid products “milk.”

For the first time, vegetables are being roped into the debate—all because of the arrival and popularization of “cauliflower rice.”

“Only rice is rice, and calling ‘riced vegetables’ ‘rice,’ is misleading and confusing to consumers,” Betsy Ward, president of industry lobby USA Rice, said in a statement earlier this month. . .  Hat Tip: Eric Crampton


Rural round-up

May 22, 2017

Rain severely cuts crop planting – Annette Scott:

Waterlogged South Canterbury farmland will lie idle over winter as farmers wait for spring opportunities to plant crops.

Twice the normal rainfall in March followed by four times the normal rainfall in April left farmers battling with sodden ground and unable to meet autumn planting commitments.

South Canterbury Federated Farmers arable industry chairman Michael Porter said to date only about 50% of farmers had managed to get the crops they planned into the ground. . . 

Report shows plenty to work on – Hugh Stringleman:

Lack of progress on mitigating nitrogen losses from dairy farms was evident in an otherwise mainly positive scorecard for the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord (SD:WA) in year three.

The national average nitrogen leaching loss in 2015-16 was 39kg/ha a year — the same as the year before.

N-loss calculations in Canterbury and Otago (64 and 39 respectively) revealed higher figures than the rolling average of the two previous years of accord measurements (50 and 33).

This was because irrigation effects were included for the first time after a change in the Overseer computer model used to generate the leaching loss numbers. . . 

Dairy farm water report factual, independently audited:

Kiwis can be confident that dairy farmers are ‘walking their environmental talk’, says the chair of the Dairy Environment Leaders’ Group, Alister Body.

Commenting on the latest Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord report, Mr Body says the work being carried out by farmers to help achieve swimmable rural waterways is each year independently audited by Telarc SAI.

The Crown Entity subsidiary is the leading certifier of quality, environmental, food, and occupational health and safety management systems. . . 

Fairton closure unfortunate but inevitable – Allan Barber:

Silver Fern Farms decision to close its Fairton plant did not have much to do with Shanghai Maling’s investment, but was only a matter of time. Even the workforce had apparently come to accept the inevitable after seeing lamb numbers through the plant decline sharply from more than 1 million in 2010 to less than 500,000 last season and 325,000 in the latest six months.

This demonstrated graphically the unsustainability of keeping the facility open when the company’s modernised multi species operation at Pareora is only an hour down the road. In its notice of proposal to close, subject to a two week consultation period, SFF cited declining sheep numbers in the surrounding catchment area as a result of land use change to more profitable forms of agriculture. However not surprisingly the company didn’t mention its substantial loss of market share at the same time, 14% share loss over a six year spell since 2010. . . 

North Canterbury cattle stud makes it through drought and out the other side – Pat Deavoll:

Three years of drought and an earthquake that destroyed three farm buildings and badly damaged another has failed to deter Kaiwara Angus Stud of Culverden, in north Canterbury, from preparing for its annual bull sale in a month’s time.

Stud owner George Johns is in the process of producing the catalogue. “You think you have taken great photos through the year, but where are they when you need them,” he says with a laugh.

The stud was formed in 1971 by George’s father Bruce Johns. At the time the family farmed a property in Waiau but moved to Culverden and Kaiwara Farm 25 years ago. . . 

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement Ministerial Statement:

Ministers and Vice Ministers from Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore and Viet Nam met today to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers Responsible for Trade.

The Ministers reaffirmed the balanced outcome and the strategic and economic significance of the TPP highlighting its principles and high standards as a way to promote regional economic integration, contribute positively to the economic growth prospects of its member countries, and create new opportunities for workers, families, farmers, businesses and consumers. . . 

Get to the heart of decision making:

Heartland Bank and NZX subsidiary AgriHQ have launched a free online livestock finisher tool, AgriHQ Finisher, to assist sheep and beef farmers to calculate the potential trading margin after finishing any livestock they are considering buying.

Heartland Bank’s head of rural, Ben Russell, said the old adage “information is power” is particularly true in this instance.

“With store livestock prices at historically high levels, the arrival of AgriHQ Finisher couldn’t be better timed. . . 

The strange sheep that baffled scientists – Eloise Gibson:

When a farmer in Otago, New Zealand, saw a bizarre-looking lamb in his flock, he first assumed a wild goat had snuck in and impregnated one of his ewes. The newborn had a lamb-shaped body yet was coated with straight, lustrous wool, more like the hair of an angora goat than a typical sheep.

News of the “geep” (or sheep-goat hybrid) soon reached the local papers but, when scientists saw photos, they immediately suspected the baby animal was something else. For decades they had been hoping to study a rare woolly mutant called a “Felting Lustre” mutant: a sheep which has straight, fine wool instead of the usual crimped stuff.

“You can see it when the lambs are born, they have a different sheen,” says Jeff Plowman, a wool researcher at New Zealand’s AgResearch science company. “It doesn’t have a dull look, it’s shiny and bright.”. . 

 


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