Rural round-up

September 3, 2015

The great job-creating machine – Not PC:

. . .  In 1980, almost a quarter of the world’s employment was still in agriculture. Now, only around 15% of the world’s workers are engaged in agricultural labour. Yet we are feeding more people, undernourishment is at an all-time low, and food is becoming less expensive.

Technological advances liberated humanity from toiling in fields by mechanizing many processes and boosting productivity, allowing more food to be produced per hectare of land, and freeing hundreds of millions of people to pursue less gruelling work. 

The elimination of so many unsafe jobs in manufacturing and agriculture means fewer worker deaths. According to data from the International Labour Organization, from 2003 to 2013, the number of work fatalities in the world decreased by 61% (i.e., over 20,500 fewer deaths). This occurred even as the world population grew by over 700 million over the same time period. . . 

Update on recovery in storm-affected regions:

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye says recovery from the severe storm in June is going well, but latest estimates show its economic impact could be around $270 million. Areas hardest hit by the storm included parts of Taranaki, Whanganui and Manawatu. “Much of the cost of the storm will be met by private insurance, but the Government will also contribute significant support. “We do this in several ways. We make support available to individuals through things like contributions to local relief funds.  . . 

Extra $2.6m support for storm-affected regions:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye have announced an extra $2.6 million of Government support for communities worst affected by the severe storm in June.

“Today’s announcement extends the support we can usually draw on to help communities recover from an emergency such as this,” says Ms Kaye.

“This was an unusual event because certain areas were hit a lot harder than others.

“The new support package includes one-off initiatives that take into account the severity of localised damage that occurred in parts of Taranaki, Whanganui and Manawatu.”

Today’s announcement adds to previous Government funding and welfare support, and includes: . . .

What’s happening in China – and what does it mean for New Zealand’s agri-food? – Keith Woodford:

In recent weeks I have been traveling in Western China. It is just over a year since I was last there, and as with every visit the changes are visible: more fast railways, more four lane highways, and lots more apartment buildings.

This visual perspective contrasts with what we are reading in the media about China’s declining economic growth. Which is correct? Well, both perspectives are valid.

There are many ‘Chinas’ but for simplicity I will divide China into two. There is the eastern seaboard comprising Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Zhejiang, Shenzhen and other big seaboard cities. And there is another China west of the seaboard, including Chengdu, Chongqing, Xian, Wuhan, Kunming, and Xining. . . 

New judging coordinator appointed for Canterbury sustainable farming awards:

Farming journalist Sandra Taylor has recently been appointed Judging Coordinator for the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The award application period is open and Sandra is encouraging farmers to show how important environmental management and enhancement is to the industry.

“Farmers take great pride in their farm environments and the Ballance Farm Environment Awards provides a fantastic opportunity to both benchmark and showcase all the great work that is being done on farms throughout the Canterbury region.” . . .

Ballance holds pricing to help farmers through spring:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has today announced it is holding nitrogen prices to help shelter customers from the significant drop in the dollar and support production on farm this spring.

“We know this is a crucial period for pastoral farmers, and with nitrogen a key feed source in farm budgets we are doing our best to help out where we can and support our customers to plan their feed requirements for spring,” said Ballance CEO Mark Wynne.

Ballance Science Manager Aaron Stafford advised farmers to focus on the nutrient inputs that drive production in the current season or year when planning budgets. . . .

Job Done Wins Idea Pitch at Fonterra Activate to Bring Tech Innovation to Dairy Farms:

Fonterra is pushing on with a business relationship with digital innovation start-up company Job Done after they won an idea pitch yesterday at GridAKL, in Auckland’s innovation precinct.

Seven teams representing Icehouse, Spark Ventures and BBDO spent a month developing prototypes at their own cost with a view to securing future services with the Co-operative to help farmers save time and money.

The seven ideas were pitched to a judging panel made up of Fonterra farmers and staff.

Pitch winner Job Done was mentored by Icehouse and founded by Manawatu farmer Nigel Taylor. . . 

Simcro Limited acquires ISL Animal Health and NJ Phillips PTY

Simcro Limited, a leader in the global animal pharmaceutical delivery device industry, has acquired ISL Animal Health (Hamilton, NZ) and NJ Phillips PTY (Gosford, NSW, Australia) from Forlong & Maisey and the Maisey family of Hamilton, New Zealand.

The agreement is effective from 1 September 2015.

Simcro Executive Chairman, Will Rouse, said, “After the Riverside Company became our majority shareholder in 2013, we began looking for opportunities to exponentially grow Simcro’s international market strength. We’ve been in discussions with ISL Animal Health and NJ Phillips for quite some time.

“Internationally, animal health companies are amalgamating at a rapid pace. These industry changes are creating opportunities for companies like ours. These opportunities, however, create the requirement to meet ever-increasing quality and compliance thresholds for our global customers. . . 


Rural round-up

November 22, 2014

The dairy robots are coming – Keith Woodford:

Milking cows is far from exciting. People milk cows for money and not for fun. What if it could all be done by robots?

Well, those days have come. Already there are at least 16 New Zealand commercial dairy farms with robot milkers and the number is increasing rapidly. In Scandinavia and the Netherlands in particular, but also elsewhere in Northern Europe, there are now thousands of these robots. They are also coming to America.

Robots are coming to Europe and the US faster than to New Zealand because of differences between their farm systems and ours. On Northern Hemisphere farms, it is typically just a wander down the barn of 50 metres or so for the cow to meet up with a robot. In contrast, on nearly all of our farms the cows graze pastures and it can be a kilometre or more back to the milking shed. For efficiency, each robot needs a steady supply of cows throughout the day and night, and does not want a whole herd turning up at the same time. . .

Business idea that turns pest pines into high-quality essential oils a winner:

Taking an environmental problem and turning it into a commercial success has seen Queenstown social enterprise team Wilding & Co awarded with the ‘most innovative idea’, the first of three $1,000 milestone awards from Contact Energy, co-principal partner of Ākina Foundation’s six-month accelerator programme, Launchpad.

Over the last century wilding pines, native to North America, have taken over much of the South Island and their eradication has become a focus not only for the government, but also for local communities in the area.

Wilding & Co plays its part by clearing and controlling the spread of wilding pines in the Central Otago region, distilling them into high-quality essential oils and finished products marketed for their scent, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. They have also secured orders for many tonnes of bulk oil from international buyers. . .

Frost-fighting gloves earn prize for innovation:

A project to keep green fingers warm in cold Southern winters earned Otago’s Sarah Fenwick a placing in yesterday’s Young Horticulturist of the Year innovation awards and a $2,500 scholarship.

Ms Fenwick – who qualified for the competition by winning the New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) Young Amenity Horticulturist of the Year award earlier this year – took out second place in the AGMARDT Market Innovation section for ground-breaking glove inners made of titanium lined limestone neoprene. Northland’s Patrick Malley took out first prize for a project to make kiwifruit traceable to the orchard of origin.

Ms Fenwick, a horticulturist working on Dunedin’s green spaces for infrastructure company Delta, says her project is “an innovative approach to guard against the loss of finger sensitivity. . .

 Patrick Malley Takes Out 2014 Young Horticulturist of the Year Title:

Whangarei kiwifruit grower, Patrick Malley, has taken out his third consecutive victory this year by winning the ‘2014 Young Horticulturist of the Year’ title at a ceremony in Auckland last night.

Earlier this year Patrick won the 2014 Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower competition in Mount Maunganui, and went on to win the NZ Young Grower of the Year at the national competition in Christchurch.

In addition to winning the overall title last night, Patrick also took out The AGMARDT Market Innovation Project Award; The Fruitfed Supplies Leadership Award; and The Primary ITO Career Development Award. . .

 ASB Farmshed Economics Report: A case of if, not when, for higher interest rates:

• Interest rates to stay low for longer
• Uncertain times ahead for dairy
• Meat prices continue to shine

Interest rates are staying lower for longer according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report.

“Farmers have been keeping a close eye on the financial markets. With the RBNZ signalling a long pause on OCR rises in the current low inflation environment, it’s looking like interest rates will be staying lower for longer,” says ASB Rural Economist Nathan Penny.

“We expect the OCR to hold at 3.5% until September 2015 and now predict it will peak at 4%.”

It’s been a long hard road for dairy but whole milk powder prices may have finally hit their bottom. . .

New Commitment programme for Wools of New Zealand:

Wools of New Zealand has rolled out an annual wool commitment programme for its growers which it believes is an industry first.

The STAPLE® programme is the latest initiative for the grower owned wool marketing and sales company following implementation of its successful Direct to Scour (D2S) model and more recently, its Stable Price Mechanism, a model aimed at minimising wool price volatility between growers and clients.

Wools of New Zealand Chief Executive Ross Townshend says “the aim of the programme is to provide certainty of supply to customers direct from growers, allowing planning and confidence of meeting contracts. It’s an important tool in reducing price volatility and improving sustained, predictable returns and commercial certainty to our shareholders’ and customers’ businesses.” . . .

Growing dairy heifers – a focus on what good looks like:

A Northland heifer-rearing focus farm is being established along with four others around the country as part of a DairyNZ-led initiative to provide graziers with the tools, knowledge and resources to grow dairy heifers more effectively.

An open day will be held at the Northland focus farm in Okaihau, owned by Alister and Lyn Candy, on November 26 from 10.30am to 2.00pm.

Both graziers and dairy farmers are encouraged to attend with key topics including target weights and feed planning, animal health issues, managing the grazier-dairy farmer relationship and setting calves up for the run-off. . .

Qualified veterinarian and animal health executive joins Simcro as CEO:

Dr Roger Wakelin has been appointed as the new CEO of animal health delivery systems company Simcro. From December 1, Dr Wakelin will assume responsibility for all of the day to day operations. Current CEO Will Rouse will assume the role of Executive Chairman, while continuing to be a director and significant shareholder.

Dr Wakelin’s experience has spanned both production and companion animals. He worked for more than a decade in production and companion animal veterinary practices in New Zealand, Ireland, UK and South Africa. He moved into the animal health pharmaceutical industry and held technical, market development, marketing and senior management positions with companies such as Pitman Moore, Bayer and more recently Merial USA. Rouse says that Simcro’s Board of Directors are pleased and excited about their latest appointment. . .


Rural round-up

June 19, 2014

Researcher reveals dairy soil benefits – John Gibb:

Spreading cowshed effluent on fields and and undertaking irrigation are improving soil quality on dairy farms, a University of Otago PhD student, Bonface Manono, says.

Mr Manono recently completed his PhD research, which involved studying soil quality at 41 farms in the Waitaki district, most of them shareholders in the Morven, Glenavy, Ikawai Irrigation Co (MGI).

MGI funded the study, along with the Agriculture Research Group on Sustainability (Argos), and Otago University. . .

Upper Hutt’s vital role in protecting New Zealand:

Upper Hutt will remain central of New Zealand’s biosecurity thanks to a new $65m high-security bio-containment laboratory, to be built on the existing site at Wallaceville.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries’ animal health laboratories play a pivotal role in responding to animal disease outbreaks, protecting public health and assuring our trading partners about our country’s animal disease status,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Biosecurity spokesperson.

“This vital investment is not only necessary but will be welcomed by all parts of the primary industries, particularly those of us in the pastoral sectors. . .

Device improves safety :

An Invercargill-based forestry management company has taken a device marketed for outdoor recreationalists and adapted it as a safety tool for staff and contractors.

Over the past six months, IFS Growth has successfully trialled 10 spot trackers – electronic devices that allow their wearers to send pre-loaded text or email messages to selected cellphones or computers. It plans to buy another 20 over the next year. . . .

Red meat farmers ‘on their own’ to sort out sector crisis – Sally Rae:

Plans for a red meat industry summit appear aborted with Meat Industry Excellence chairman John McCarthy saying farmers are ”on their own” if they want to sort out the industry.

In March, MIE called for an urgent summit to address what it described as a crisis confronting the sector and the country.

But, having canvassed some stakeholders seeking support for a summit, it became quickly apparent it was ”going nowhere”, Mr McCarthy said this week.

”Whilst we have not spoken to all stakeholders, from our initial approaches it was obvious that we were unlikely to get sufficient buy-in to attract government support, let alone get a positive and enduring outcome.” . . .

Scheme for farmers needing a break:

A group of homestay venues is putting up prizes of accommodation for farmers in need of a break away.

Julia Charity, of the New Zealand Homestay Network, said farmers under pressure anywhere in the country, for whatever reason, could be nominated.

The campaign was launched at at the national agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek last week, and Ms Charity said some of the nominations received so far were heartbreaking.

“It’s the people suffering from major trauma, often around a partner dying, and I have been surprised by the number of woman trying to cope farming on their own and often with children,” she said. . .

Synlait Milk realigns senior team:

Synlait Milk has appointed Mike Lee to the newly created role of General Manager Sales reporting to the Managing Director Dr John Penno.

Dr Penno says the appointment follows a decision to combine the previously separate Ingredient and Nutritional sales teams in order to better serve its customers.

“Over the past year we have made significant business development progress particularly with our tier one multinational customers. We are increasingly selling a range of products to them and we need to provide a single point of contact to better manage these relationships. The change to the senior team structure will also increase accountability and reduce operating complexity for us going forward,” said Dr Penno. . . .

Top animal health executive joins Simcro Board:

Former Merial VP adds international experience to aid market expansion

 Simcro has appointed a top animal health executive, Dr. Jorge E. Solé, to its Board.

Dr Solé has worked for more than 30 years in the animal health and crop protection chemical markets, where he has gained extensive experience in global business operations and mergers and acquisitions.

His most recent position in the animal health industry was vice-president of International Business Operations for leading animal health company, Merial, where he was responsible for the Asia, Latin America, Canada and Oceania markets. . . .


NZ agritech co wins international design award

July 4, 2011

Hamilton agritech company  Simcro, won a  Silver IDEA award in the medical and scientific category of the 2011 Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) awards for its Optiline sheep drencher.

Simcro chief executive Will Rouse said the award vindicated the strong research and development focus that Simcro has developed in the last five years.

“Specialising in customised animal health delivery systems to the pharmaceutical industry has become a very successful business model,” he said.

A Media release from the company explains how the drencher was developed:

In 2006, Novartis Animal Health, Switzerland, challenged Simcro and several of their global competitors to supply a revolutionary new sheep drenching system to launch a new drench, ZOLVIX. Simcro rose to the challenge with the development of the Optilinesheep drench gun.

The company challenged the design of the traditional pistol-grip style drench gun, which had not changed from its basic form in 30 years.

The inherent design flaw of the pistol-grip gun is that the drench nozzle points away from the operator, requiring them to rotate their hand through 180 degrees to administer the drench into the sheep’s mouth. 

The resulting incompatible bio-mechanics create significant operator fatigue and discomfort, and with sustained use, injury to the wrist, forearm and back.

The Optiline drench gun overcomes these problems by having the drench nozzle protruding from the base of the operator’s hand, allowing for a natural presentation of the drench gun with precise control, thus greatly minimising stress to the operator and animal.

New Zealand is generally well regarded for the quality of its agricultural production and methods but agritech inventions, like this, and the inventors, often don’t get the prominence they deserve.

Simcro’s website is here.

Apropos of this, a recent  Listener profiled another inventor, John Hartstone, who invented a meter for measuring milk production which is credited with increasing production all over the world.


%d bloggers like this: