Rural round-up


Snow records tell own story – Tim Fulton:

You often hear claims about the biggest snowfall in decades.

This week’s weather in Canterbury led to a study that puts the term “big snow” in context.

The Canterbury snow of June 12, 2006, tagged the Big Chill at the time, egged electricity lines company Orion into some historical homework.

Snow depths in areas north of the Rakaia River were not unprecedented, NIWA reported in work on Orion’s behalf.

Comparing six Canterbury storms, NIWA said the covering in areas north of the Rakaia was similar to the 1973 storm although the 2006 blast did produce pockets of significantly deeper snow west of Darfield and towards the foothills. That rolling country experienced conditions more similar to the 1945 storm. . .

Chinese demand drives kiwi sales – Richard Rennie:

Positive Asian market prospects are providing a bright start for the kiwifruit export season, after the industry grappled with the Psa disease and Chinese import issues last year.

Zespri’s manager for grower and government relations Simon Limmer has spent several weeks in Asian markets and has returned buoyed by prospects.

The limited volumes of gold fruit available for export this season created some supply tension, with growth strong in the established Chinese eastern seaboard region, he said. . .

Attitude change encouraging – Tim Cronshaw:

New Zealand agriculture seems to have moved beyond talk of great trade opportunities in Asia to executing ways of making the most of them.

ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said the agriculture sector had experienced a change of attitude.

“There has been a big change in the tenor of conversations between now and three years ago.

“Three years ago we were talking about opportunity. Now there are a lot more thought leadership forums around the country that are centred around execution and how we unlock those gains. Those sort of shifts are subtle, but I think they are very important as they signal where New Zealand is moving to.” . .

School rolls drop in Psa-afflicted area – Sonya Bateson:

A number of Te Puke school rolls have dropped as orchard workers struggle to find work in the Psa-afflicted area.

Fairhaven School and Rangiuru School said their rolls had dropped in the past year because of the effect Psa had had on kiwifruit orchards. . .

HortNZ president steps down

Horticulture New Zealand president Andrew Fenton is stepping down as president after the group’s annual meeting next month.

Fenton has held the role since HortNZ’s inception in 2005.

He said he was very proud of what HortNZ had achieved over the past eight years and it was now time for new leadership.

“It has been a real team effort and we could not have achieved what we have without the strong support of our grower members,” he said. . .

12 questions: Simon Washer – Sarah Stuart:

Simon Washer, 25, was last week named Rural Bachelor of the Year at Fieldays. He’s a sharemilker on his family farm in south Taranaki and says he needs to find a partner pronto as his cooking is pretty much limited to roasts.

1. So, how many calls, emails, texts, stalkers have you had since winning Rural Bachelor last week?

I had the cellphone in my back pocket when I won and it didn’t stop vibrating for a couple of hours. I’ve now got 80 texts on the cellphone and 180 emails to browse through.

2. Did your mates hassle you about entering?

That’s an understatement.

3. You’re a dairy farmer: are profits booming?

I’ve got the biggest overdraft I’ve ever had as I just started sharemilking this month. My staff and farm expenses get paid on the 20th of every month but I won’t see any income until September. Our company Fonterra is doing a great job and looking after us this year.

4. Your granddad set up the family farm after returning from the war: how much pressure do you feel to make it succeed?

Little to none. I can honestly tell myself each day this industry is what I love doing. The best advice I’ve had from Jim, my granddad, is “Find what you love doing and you’ll never work a day of your life”. I’ll be telling my kids that too. . . .


Rural round-up


40% productivity rise realistic – Sally Rae:

On-farm productivity gains in the New Zealand sheep industry over the past 25 years have been an ”extraordinary story”, AbacusBio consultant Dr Peter Fennessy says.

Productivity, which drove profitability, had been increasing at about 2.5% a year, which he attributed to a combination of genetics and management.

There had been genetic improvement through consolidation of the ram-breeding sector and larger ram-breeding flocks, and uptake of new technology (rams and pasture) and better pasture management. . .

Working within cap on nitrogen – Sally Rae:

“As a nation, we cannot continue to have conversations about protecting water quality without having a parallel set of conversations that redefine the New Zealand farming business model.”

So says Taupo farmer and entrepreneur Mike Barton, who, when faced with what was effectively a cap on stock numbers, sought to increase the value of the product he produced.

A nitrogen cap was imposed on farmers around Lake Taupo to protect its water quality, with 35,000ha of land now covenanted for 999 years to remove 20% of manageable nitrogen. . .

Fonterra invests further $30m into Whareroa:

Fonterra has announced a further $30 million investment to expand its Dry Distribution Centre at its Whareroa site in Taranaki.

This follows a $23 million upgrade of the Whareroa coolstores last year, bringing the total capital investment in the logistics infrastructure on site to more than $50 million since 2011.

Fonterra Director of Logistics, Mark Leslie, says the project is part of Fonterra’s overall drive to simplify their supply chain and reduce the associated costs.

“These investments are part of a strategy to deliver more products, more directly to ports for export. . . “

Fieldays; washer cleans up– Jackie Harrigan:

Taranaki dairy farmer Simon Washer made a clean sweep of the Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year Competition for 2013.

After a busy week of an Amazing Race through the North Island followed by a series of eight challenges at Mystery Creek, 25-year-old Simon won the People’s Choice Award – having built his Facebook following to more than 700 likes – before being presented with the Golden Gumboot Award for overall Rural Bachelor of the Year.

Simon is sharemilking in coastal Taranaki and a motor-cross and trail riding fan who is also involved in Young Farmers and chairman of his local club. . .

Green’s Taranaki claims poppycock – Harvey Leach:

What we saw on TV3’s Campbell Live about landfarming in Taranaki and then got from a Green Party media release was straight out of the conspiracy theorists’ playbook.

The Green Party called on Fonterra to stop taking milk from land in Taranaki that it said had been spread with oil and fracking waste, which included toxic chemicals.

This divides things into “everyone even remotely involved-qualified versus me”. In our case, those remotely involved-qualified were landowners, Fonterra, Taranaki Regional Council, petroleum companies and the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association. The “me” in this story was the Green Party of Dr Russel Norman. . .


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