Rural round-up

October 7, 2019

Regenerative agriculture – context is everything – Dr Jacqueline Rowarth:

Jacqueline Rowarth discusses the pros and cons of regenerative agriculture and finds that, in this case, one size does not fit all.

Regenerative agriculture is being promoted as the saviour for New Zealand.

The suggestion that it can produce the food that is needed without creating environmental impacts is perfect.

Add an income, and it is the goal for most farmers, whatever the label of their production system. . .

Who’s the last rural knight standing? – Craig Wiggins:

With the loss of our two elder statesman, Sir Brian Lochore and Sir Colin Meads, who had a direct connection to the land and were seen as legends by rural and urban people have left a big hole as far as rural ambassadors, leaders, mentors and boys’ own heroes.

This leads me to ask who is left as rural sirs and dames.

The only one who springs to mind who has made the world take notice in his sporting and professional life is Sir David Fagan. 

He is recognised for his achievements in shearing and his support of many things rural. A true knight or sir. However, is Sir David to be our last knight standing?

Rural New Zealand is in desperate need of mentors and outstanding people recognised for their abilities and human spirit to be showcased in our schools and inspire our youth, someone to rub shoulders with in life be it in a pub or walking down a street, in media commenting and carrying the mana earned across all facets of NZ culture. . . 

Fonterra factory built to make ‘secret recipe’ mozzarella sitting all but idle – Maria Slade:

As disappointed farmers deal with Fonterra’s poor performance it emerges a new multi-million dollar cheese plant is hardly being used. Business editor Maria Slade reports.

Fonterra once called it “the single largest foodservice investment in New Zealand’s dairy industry”.

Now its $240 million mozzarella cheese plant at Clandeboye near Temuka is sitting close to idle thanks to lack of demand.

The Clandeboye dairy factory’s third line making Fonterra’s “secret recipe” mozzarella was opened to much fanfare a year ago, with the co-operative claiming it was able to produce enough of the cheese to top half a billion pizzas a year. . .

18-year-old Austin Singh Purewal wins 2019 Young Vegetable Grower of the Year:

The youngest finalist of this year’s Young Grower of the Year competition, Austin Singh Purewal, beat the field to win this year’s Young Vegetable Grower of the Year.

At only 18, Austin has managed to achieve a lot in his horticulture career already. After winning the Pukekohe regional competition, Austin was looking forward to taking part in the finals.

“It’s almost like another job, to be honest,” says Austin. “It takes up a lot of your time if you are really dedicated to it.

“If you put a lot of effort in, you get lots out of it. From meeting new people to opening up my mind to opportunities within the industry, that’s what I wanted to get out of the competition. I didn’t necessarily want to win. I wanted to come out of it with more opportunities.” . .

LIC ascending into cloud for technology – Pam Tipa:

Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) is undergoing a digital transformation in the cloud, says chief executive Wayne McNee.

It is developing products and services for customers on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform.

The tailored cloud strategy will markedly shorten the time it takes to analyse the range of data from different sources across a farm. It will provide real time insights via its Minda application to help guide farmers’ decision making.  . .

 

Kenya set to rescind GMO ban -John Njiraini:

Genetically modified organism (GMO) crops and products soon will be allowed in Kenya, where a ban on the technology has been in place since 2012.

In a development that has ignited optimism among companies and organizations that front for the adoption of GM crops, Kenya has revealed intentions to lift the ban to allow the country to accrue the benefits of the technology. 

While Kenya has made significant progress on GMOs in terms of enacting watertight regulations and controlled research on crops such as Bt maize, Bt cotton, cassava, sorghum, and sweet potato, the ban has meant the country cannot progress to the commercialization stage. . . 


Rural round-up

September 18, 2019

If we undermine farming we undermine our entire economic fabric – Barbara Kuriger:

Like my family before me, and following after me, I’ve always taken great pride in being a dairy farmer, and in the reputation of the New Zealand dairy industry internationally.

My husband and I grew up in a generation where we had the opportunity to buy a farm and build our livelihoods on the land as our family had before us. It has been a privilege to forge an incredible career as a dairy farmer. My husband, Louis, and I are both award-winning dairy farmers and we’re proud of the mark we’ve made on the industry. 

Sadly, the outlook for New Zealand’s primary sector is the worst that I’ve seen in my lifetime. I don’t make this strong statement lightly, nor to scaremonger – but rather to reflect the policy settings under a virtue-signalling government which is setting the dairy industry up for failure. As a rural MP, but more importantly as a farmer, I won’t sit back and allow the ladder to be pulled up behind future generations of New Zealanders wanting to pave their way in the farming sector.   . . 

Dannevirke shearing legend Koro Mullins passes away:

Tributes are flowing in from around the world in memory of Dannevirke shearing identity Koropiko Tumatahi (Koro) Mullins, who died suddenly on Monday at the age of 65.

Mr Mullins was known across all aspects for the shearing industry and sports, from shearer and shearing contractor to a frontman commentating role shearing great Sir David Fagan says set the standard on a global scale.

Born and raised in the Rotorua area, and of Te Arawa stock, he met the-then Mavis Paewai when he was a woolpressing teenager working for her brothers and father in Southern Hawke’s Bay.

It sparked what Fagan says was a unique family involvement and commitment to the shearing and wool industry, becoming the basis of Maori Television series Shear Bro which first aired in July last year. . . 

“Don’t lose hope’ – Pam Tipa:

Farming families and communities keen to do the right thing on water should not lose hope and confidence in the consultation process, says a Canterbury dairy farmer and industry leader.

The Government’s proposed nitrogen target for mid Canterbury isn’t attainable, says Colin Glass.

But that is no reason to give up on the consultation process, he says. “It looks as though there is nothing we could do today that would even come close to achieving that target. It simply means that if that target is not amended, farming as we know it today is not possible. Any form of farming.

“The key thing is that farmers are doing the right thing. Everyone is moving in the right direction. Now is not the time for people to lose faith or confidence in the process. . . 

Radiata pine plantations a band aid to nowhere – Di Lucas:

Climate change policies, the Billion Tree initiative and recent news promote the establishment of extensive pine plantations to benefit Aotearoa New Zealand’s climate change response by sinking carbon. Others have questioned the benefit of short-rotation plantation pines compared to natural regeneration of native forests. Whilst afforestation has an important role in New Zealand’s climate change response, we need to be clear about future implications.

There are both native and introduced tree species that grow fast and others that grow more slowly. Consider along with the speed of sequestration, the total carbon stocks that can be accumulated, and how long sequestration rates can be sustained. These rates depend on whether the forest is permanent and allowed to grow to maturity (i.e. not harvested) or harvested.  

Fast-growing trees such as pines or eucalypts in harvested plantations reach their maximum carbon storage capacity in about 20 years. Landowners then lose most of those carbon stocks when the forest is harvested; NZ loses most of the embedded carbon when logs are exported; furthermore, the globe loses most of those stocks back into the atmosphere as the products decay, as well as through associated emissions from forest management, transport and processing. Thus to store more carbon actually requires another forest to be planted on new land that is not already forested, while also continuing to replant and maintain the previous area in forest to recover the lost carbon stocks. That is, plantation areas will need to be doubled in size with every crop. . . 

Here are three farmers who are taking action on climate change – Rebecca Black:

Waikato dairy farmer Christopher Falconer is parked up on his farm looking out over the wetlands as he talks about mitigating the effects of climate change.

“I don’t make climate change-based decisions for what we do on-farm. I don’t. But as it happens, there’s a great deal of overlap between what is good for the climate, and what is good for all sorts of other things.”

Take riparian planting, the practice of growing plants alongside waterways. The goal is to mitigate nutrient loss and subsidence and stream bank erosion, but it’s also an effective carbon capture.

With nearly half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gases coming from agriculture, farming is under scrutiny and some farmers feel the country has turned its back on them. But by making climate change action part of their everyday work, three farmers says the rewards speak for themselves. . . 

Fonterra’s capital structure is no longer fit for purpose – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s delay in announcing its results, driven by Fonterra’s need for discussions with its auditors about appropriate asset values, provides an opportunity to reflect on Fonterra’s capital structure and whether it is still fit for purpose. The simple answer is that it is not.

The value destruction that has occurred and which is now coming to light means that inherent conflicts between the interests of farmer shareholders and investor unitholders have become too great to be papered over. Co-operatives do not survive long-term unless everyone’s interests align.

Two former directors of Fonterra, Colin Armer and Nicola Shadbolt, have both come out recently and said that reworking Fonterra’s capital structure is not the immediate priority. I agree with them. The immediate and urgent priority is to sell assets and create a new slimmed-down and financially-efficient organisational structure, with many fewer high-paid executives. . . 

Physicist Sam Hitchman wins top meat science talent award:

Attracting the best and brightest minds is and remains one of the international meat industry’s top priorities and for Sam Hitchman – a physicist in an industry dominated by biological researchers – the quest to attract new talent has paid off.

The AgResearch scientist recently won the International Meat Secretariat (IMS) Prize for Young Talent in Meat Science and Technology at the International Congress of Meat Science and Technology (ICoMST) near Berlin, Germany.

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Sam Hitchman, who is a postdoctoral research fellow in AgResearch’s Meat Quality team, says he was thrilled with the recognition, while adding he didn’t feel “young” – as his award would suggest – upon his return to New Zealand. . . 

Why going meat-free could damage your health – Luke Mintz:

It was just a few months ago that experts were declaring the end of meat. Earlier this year, consultancy firm AT Kearney predicted that by 2040, animal products will have become so socially and environmentally unacceptable that most “meat” eaten across the globe will come in the form of plant-based or lab-grown substitutes.

But a major study released this week just might put the brakes on the rapidly accelerating plant-based trend. According to Oxford University research, published in the British Medical Journal, vegetarians and vegans have a 20 per cent higher risk of stroke than those who regularly tuck into a plate of bacon and sausages.

The authors of the study, which tracked almost 50,000 Britons for 18 years, said this might be because veggies did not have enough cholesterol in their blood. The finding flies in the face of much conventional wisdom, which says that vegetarianism is a healthy alternative to a carnivorous lifestyle.

But nutritionists say the increased risk of stroke is just one of the many health risks that any would-be vegetarian should be made aware of before they take the plunge. . . 


Rural round-up

August 12, 2019

Big tick for farmers – Neal Wallace:

The red meat industry hopes to ramp up its Taste Pure Nature brand campaign on the back of the latest international climate change report.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is being welcomed by New Zealand farming leaders as an endorsement of our low impact systems and the importance of maintaining food production.

The IPCC says land on which we rely for food, water, energy, health and wellbeing is already under pressure and climate change will exacerbate that through desertification . . .

OAD milking offers labour solution – Peter Burke:

Once-a-day (OAD) milking could open a whole new labour market for dairy farmers, says a DairyNZ Wairarapa Tararua consulting officer Gray Beagley.

He says OAD farmers can choose what time they milk, so a later milking time may attract workers who find early mornings hard, and people getting young children off to school. About 9% of dairy herds nationwide are on full season OAD, but Beagley says this is just an average.

In Northland about 25% of all herds are OAD. This variation is partly, but not exclusively, due to the weather.  . .

The father and son shearing duo who both have world titles :

Sir David Fagan is known as the best shearer in the country, with over 600 wins, a number of world records and many world titles. 

His 27-year-old son Jack has just touched down in the country after winning the World Shearing Championships Speed Shear in France. 

The father and son duo have not only competed head to head in the shearing sheds, but they also own a dairy farm together.  . . .

First time dairy farmers take the plunge – Gerard Hutching:

“To buy or not to buy” – that’s the question on dairy farmers’ minds as they weigh up whether now is the right time to invest in some rural real estate.

Milk prices are up, land values are flat or falling, cow prices trending down, interest rates low and Fonterra shares in decline – all ingredients for dipping a toe into ownership.

“There’s a lot of opportunity out there. We looked at over 20 farms and we became pretty good at doing budgets quickly to figure out if a farm could work with the budget we had. We put offers on a few of farms which weren’t accepted, before finding the Tirau farm where our offer was accepted through the tender process,” Mark and Cathy Nicholas say. . .

Kellys keep balance and belief – Tim Fulton:

Even if locusts land on their post-earthquake property the Kelly family will be ready. Tim Fulton reports.

Rebekah and Dave Kelly have an eye for the upside.

In November 2016 the hill country farmers lost most of the infrastructure on their 2000ha North Canterbury property to the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake.

Half a hillside slipped into the Leader River, creating a dam the family christened Lake Rebekah. . .

Walking the talk for safe farming through spring:

With spring just around the corner, farmers will be spending more time out on the farm preparing for the new season’s jobs.

Lambing and calving, tailing and docking, lice treatments, vaccinations, BVD testing for bulls, drenching young heifers, spreading fertiliser and preparing for shearing make it an incredibly busy time.

“Many of these jobs require close contact with animals, including lifting, chemical use and using heavy machinery,” says Mark Harris, Beef + Lamb New Zealand lead extension manager. . .


Rural Sports Awards

March 10, 2018

A media release from the Hilux Rural Games Trust:

Leading rural sporting stars recognised by their peers

The winners of the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards have been announced at a gala dinner at Awapuni in Palmerston North on the eve of the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games.

Sir Brian Lochore, Chair of the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards Judging Panel, says the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards is about celebrating traditional sports and the people who keep events running year-in and year-out in the towns and settlements across New Zealand.

“We had a fantastic line-up of entrants and finalists for each category. Our 2018 winners have proven themselves on the field of their rural sport or in the committee room organising rural sporting events around New Zealand,” says Sir Brian.

Tim Myers, Chief Executive Officer at C B Norwood Distributors, congratulated both the winners and finalists.

“It has been a truly inspirational evening, hearing about the dedication and commitment of our rural athletes to their sport, and the standing they have on the international arena,” Mr Myers said.
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The winners are:

The Fonterra Young New Zealand Rural Sportsperson of the Year: Tegan O’Callaghan of Doubtless Bay. Last year, at the age of 17, O’Callaghan became the captain of the New Zealand Rodeo High School Team in 2017 and has been a member of the team for three years. This year, O’Callaghan is part of the Australasian Team at the World Rodeo Youth Championships in Shawnee, Oklahoma, USA in July 2018. Alongside this, in 2016, O’Callaghan won the junior New Zealand Wine Barrel Race. The award was presented by Commonwealth Games Medallist Natalie Rooney.

The Norwood Rural Sportsman of the Year: John Kirkpatrick from Napier. John has won 149 open finals in New Zealand including Golden Shears (four times) and the New Zealand Champs (two times). He is the 2017 World Champion – Individual Shearing and the 2017 World Champion – Teams (two shearers). As well as running his own contracting business, Kirkpatrick, competes in more than 60 national competitions each year and world championships every 2-3 years. This is his 25th season of open class shearing. He has won 20 titles in the United Kingdom and represented New Zealand at four World Championships.

The Skellerup New Zealand Rural Sportswoman of the Year: Chrissy Spence of Morrinsville. Spence was the inaugural winner of this award in 2017. That same year, Spence lifted the bar taking out an unprecedented fifth world title at the 2017 International Tree Climbing Championship. Spence has five International Tree Climbing Championship titles (2005, 2007, 2011, 2016, 2017), six New Zealand National Women’s Championship titles (2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010), and four Asia-Pacific titles (2008, 2009, 2010, 2015).
The award was presented by Steve Hansen, coach NZ All Blacks and Skellerup’s Perry Davis and Deborah Allan.

The Federated Farmers Contribution to the New Zealand Rural Sports Industry: Jude McNabb of Owaka. McNabb is secretary of Shearing Sport’s New Zealand South Island committee, and runs her own business. She was secretary for the New Zealand Shearing Foundation, which was established to run the 40th Anniversary World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships for which she was the event manager. More than 30 countries were represented and 12,000 spectators attended. The championships were named New Zealand International Event of the Year at the NZ Events Association awards. In August, McNabb was appointed secretary of Shearing Sports New Zealand. By the end of the year she was also helping organise the Southern Shears and a Southern Field Days Speed Shear, both held in Gore in February. The award was presented by Sir Brian Lochore and Federated Farmers vice president Andrew Hoggard.

The inaugural Toyota Lifetime Legacy Award: Paul van Beers from Porangahau. Van Beers retired from competing in 2016 after a fall from a horse on his sheep and beef farm. His competition career spanned the 1990s to 2016. No one else has ever – or is likely to ever again – repeat the staggering number of wins and podium finishes van Beers had through his 31-year competitive fencing career. He has under his belt 14 Wiremark Golden Pliers New Zealand National Singles Championship Titles, 12 Fieldays Silver Spades New Zealand National Doubles Championship Titles and two Patura World Power Fencing Champion Titles. In 2014 he was half of the first father and son (Jason) combination to win the Fieldays Silver Spades. Paul continues to help drive NZFC. The award was presented by Ray Davies, Simon van Velthooven, Guy Endean and Sean Regan from Emirates Team NZ and Andrew Davis General Manager Marketing Toyota NZ.

The judging panel is chaired by former All Black captain and World Cup winning coach, Sir Brian Lochore, who is also a founding board member of the New Zealand Rural Games Trust. The other judges are rural sports icon and president of Shearing Sports New Zealand Sir David Fagan, Olympic equestrian medallist Judy ‘Tinks’ Pottinger, MP for Taranaki-King Country Barbara Kuriger, founder and trustee of the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games Steve Hollander, and respected agricultural journalists Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins, Tony Leggett and Jamie Mackay.

Nominations for the awards are made by rural sports associations from throughout Aotearoa.

The finalists in the five categories were:

The Norwood New Zealand Rural Sportsman of the Year:
o Corey Church (Rotorua) – Rodeo
o James Kilpatrick (Tauranga) –Tree Climbing
o Shane Bouskill (Waipawa) – Fencing
o John Kirkpatrick (Napier) – Shearing

· The Skellerup New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year:
o Maryanne Baty (Gisborne) – Shearing
o Chrissy Spence (Morrinsville) – Tree Climbing

· The Fonterra Young New Zealand Rural Sportsperson of the Year
o Rebecca Birkett (Taumarunui) – Endurance Horses
o Tegan O’Callaghan (Doubtless Bay) – Rodeo
o Robbie Hollander (Dairy Flat) – Egg Throwing & Catching

· The Federated Farmers Contribution to the New Zealand Rural Sports Industry
o Jason Semenoff (Hikurangi) – Wood Chopping

o Nick Liefting (Auckland) – Fencing

o Jude McNab (Owaka) – Shearing

· The inaugural Toyota Lifetime Legacy Award:
o Paul van Beers (Porangahau) – Fencing
o Hugh McCarroll (Whangamata) – Shearing
o Elizabeth Mortland (Taihape) – Gumboot Throwing


Shear(ing) brilliance

February 11, 2017

Prime Minister Bill English beat world champion shearer Sir David Fagan in a challenge at the World Shearing and Wool Handling championships.

shearing

shearing

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If Sir David noticed that he was handicapped by a sheep that was ever so slightly bigger than the PM’s he was too much of a sportsman to mention it.

shear


Sir David vs PM

February 11, 2017

Prime Minister Bill English has accepted champion shearer Sir David Fagan’s challenge to a sheep shearing contest.

. . . After being publicly challenged late last year by the world’s most-decorated shearer, Sir David Fagan, Bill English has duly accepted and will shear on-stage at the 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships at ILT Stadium Southland.

Sir David said the Prime Minister’s attendance was great news for the event.

We’re rapt. He’s always been supportive of agriculture and our industry and sport. We’re looking forward to having him and we are pretty excited to be able to host him in this venue at ILT Stadium Southland. To have the PM support the event, let alone have him take up the challenge of shearing a sheep is pretty impressive. He will be the first World leader to shear a sheep and having seen him shear before he’s going to do very well,” he said. . . 

The championships are being streamed live here. The PM and Sir David are scheduled to shear at 1:45.


Rural round-up

January 30, 2017

Farmers speak up for industry during a hostile year – Gerald Piddock:

Being named as one of Waikato’s top environmental farmers has given a platform for John Hayward and Susan O’Regan to show that agriculture is not the villain it is made out to be.

Nearly a year after being named supreme winners of the Waikato Farm Environment Awards, the couple’s farm has hosted countless individuals and groups, ranging from the former United States ambassador Mark Gilbert to cabinet ministers, MPs and school children.

O’Regan said they had tried to do their best to improve people’s understanding and perspective of dairying in what had been a pretty hostile year. . . 

Dairy strategy about more than just producing extra milk – Andrew Hoggard:

All manner of self-appointed experts have recently been making claims around the dairy industry’s strategy, and how we associate with others.

About the only thing they got right is that we actually do have a strategy. Its official title is The Strategy for Sustainable Dairy Farming. Its purpose is firstly to inform DairyNZ’s funding priorities, but also to co-ordinate industry action on the various strategy objectives.

The strategy is focused primarily around on-farm, but also covers domestic issues that will take into account the processors. So it’s not about telling the various processors which markets to operate in, and what products to sell. . . 

Shearing champs labour of love falling into place – Sally Rae:

“Imagine the biggest roller coaster in the world and being on it.”

That is how World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships organising committee chairman Tom Wilson describes preparing for the event in Invercargill next week.‘‘Some things have happened easily and the next minute you’ve got to really dig in with something a bit more challenging. ‘‘It is a bit of a labour of love but you work through it. Everything’s falling into place,’’ he said.

Mr Wilson, shearing great Sir David Fagan and Gavin Rowland, from Shearing Sports New Zealand, made the bid at the previous world championships in 2014 to hold the 2017 event in New Zealand. The bid was successful and planning began in earnest for the championships which will be held at the ILT Stadium Southland on February 8-11. The championships have a 40-year history, dating back to when they were first held at Bath and West in England in 1977.Mr Wilson’s involvement stretches nearly as far, contesting his first world championships in Masterton in 1980. . . 

Finalist looks forward to tough competition – Sally Rae:

Alan Harvey is looking forward to next month’s Otago-Southland regional final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

He is one of eight regional finalists who will compete in the event in Roxburgh on February 18. The winner will go on to the grand final in the Manawatu in July.

Organisers have touted it as shaping up to be the toughest competition of the seven regional finals nationwide. Mr Harvey (25) was fourth in the Tasman regional final last year. Brought up on a sheep and beef farm in North Otago, he joined the Five Forks Young Farmers Club when he was 15 and was involved in setting up a club at Waitaki Boys’ High School.

Summer heats up for Hawkes Bay farmers – Alexa Cook:

Farmers in Hawke’s Bay are selling stock because they don’t have enough food or water for them, livestock agent John Kingston says.

Mr Kingston, who works for Carrfields, said although the region had had a good spring, weeks of wind had dried out the land.

“We normally have a dry season here but it’s getting beyond a joke now.

“Stock water is the biggest issue. Some people have had to buy water for houses. The feed is absolutely swept around most of Hawkes Bay.”

Dry weather spells trouble for Northland farmers – Sarah Robson:

Extra blankets and raincoats haven’t been far from reach in many parts of the country this summer, but farmers in Northland are worried they’re in for another prolonged dry spell.

Federated Farmers Northland president John Blackwell said while there was a welcome burst of rain last week, strong winds have whisked most of the moisture away from the soil.

Dairy farmers were trying to source extra feed and looking at culling their herds. A lot of sheep and beef farmers had already de-stocked, while a wet October meant many crops had failed. . .

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