Rural round-up

April 22, 2019

Farming to create fresh air – Luke Chivers:

When people think of farming, few think of carbon farming. But Canterbury farmers Warrick and CeCe James are using agriculture to feed people and fight climate change. Luke Chivers spoke to them on-farm.

Imagine carbon emissions and what springs to mind? 

Most people tend to think of power stations belching out clouds of carbon dioxide or queues of vehicles burning up fossil fuels as they crawl, bumper-to-bumper along congested urban roads. 

But in Canterbury’s picturesque Selwyn Gorge the owners of a forest of 18-year-old pine and Douglas fir trees are confident that at harvest age the trees will still be worth more alive than dead and will continue to be indefinitely. . .

Lower carbon food chain challenges – Richard Rennie:

A dive into the little-known field of energy return on investment for his Nuffield Scholarship was the extension of a long-held interest for Solis Norton of Otago. It measures energy flows through New Zealand’s primary food chains to see how we might move to zero emissions by 2050 while remaining a viable economy. He spoke to Richard Rennie.

Nuffield scholar Solis Norton acknowledges the area of energy return on investment (EROI) is not top of mind for many but his year’s study found the field holds important tools for one of this country’s most pressing demands – getting to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Mapping out the transition to carbon zero using economics is a good starting point but mapping our true energy use during the transition is critical too. This is what EROI does. Our path to carbon-zero economic prosperity will collapse if we run short of energy along the way.”  . . 

Mānuka honey regulatory definition throws industry into turmoil :

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) regulatory definition of mānuka honey has thrown the honey industry into turmoil and European authorities are beginning to notice there’s something wrong, a Northland honey expert says.

Dr John Craig, a veteran beekeeper and former professor of environmental studies, said the ministry’s challenged the industry to prove that its definition needs to change.

But he said the ministry’s own research has already done that. . .

High octane’ deer feeds examined at workshop – Yvonne O’Hara:

”High octane” feed was the subject at the Otago Advance Party regional workshop in Poolburn last week.

Deer farmers and industry representatives met at the Poolburn/Moa Creek Hall last Wednesday in a meeting organised by Abacusbio consultant Simon Glennie.

The Advance Party workshop was part of the deer industry’s Passion2Profit programme.

The group visited Poolburn deer farmer Cam Nicolson’s property to look at his deer, then returned to the hall to discuss how he could improve growth rates and profits by using ”high octane” forages. . .

 

Capturing the spirit of New Zealand by turning sheep’s milk into booze – Esther Taunton:

Like many off-the-wall ideas, Sam Brown’s came to him on a night out with friends.

The Kiwi entrepreneur and founder of The White Sheep Co was living in China when he realised New Zealand had no national drink.

“I was out with friends and we decided to have a drink for everybody’s country.

“We had a bit of tequila for a guy from Mexico, some vodka for a guy from Russia and even some brandy for a person from France,” he said. . .

Regional wrap:

Northland still has green grass everywhere, but there’s not much of it .. normally farms would be knee deep in kikuyu and it would be a challenge to manage it, but that’s not the case. It’s not a disaster but lots of dairy herds have been partially dried off.

Outstanding autumn weather has been the main feature this week for Franklin vege growers .. in fact for much of the North Island. . .


Rural round-up

November 14, 2017

Landpro director gets time away – Sally Rae:

Otago’s Solis Norton and Kate Scott were recently named among the latest crop of Nuffield scholars. They talk to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae about their work and the adventure that lies ahead.

Kate Scott quips that Landpro — the Central Otago-based planning and surveying company she jointly founded a decade ago — is “taking over the world, one small regional town at a time”.

From a staff of one to about 30 now, the business expanded  incrementally as its reputation grew, with more people and disciplines added, and there were long-term goals to maintain that growth.

An office was established in Cromwell 10 years ago and there were now also offices in Gore and New Plymouth. . . 

Passionate about energy – Sally Rae:

“It will be an adventure.”

So says Solis Norton, of Port Chalmers, who has been named a 2018 Nuffield scholar, along with Simon Cook (Te Puke), Andy Elliot (Nelson), Turi McFarlane (Banks Peninsula) and Kate Scott (Central Otago).

He expected it would be a  very busy time but  was looking forward to making the most of the opportunity.

Dr Norton grew up in Dunedin’s Northeast Valley and went to Massey University, where he completed a bachelor in agricultural science degree in 1996, a masters degree in applied science and then a PhD in the epidemiology of Johne’s disease in New Zealand dairy herds. . . 

North Island leaders up for Australasian agri-business award:

Three diverse and inspirational young agribusiness leaders have been selected from across Australasia as finalists for the 2018 Zanda McDonald Award.
The award, regarded as a prestigious badge of honour for the industry, recognises agriculture’s most innovative young professionals from both sides of the Tasman.

Lisa Kendall, 25, hails from Auckland, and is owner/operator of Nuture Farming Ltd, a business she established to provide agricultural services to people in and around her home city. She was a Grand Finalist in the 2017 FMG Young Farmer of the Year, and took out the People’s Choice Award, the AgriGrowth Challenge and the Community Footprint Award. Kendall plays an active role in schools, encouraging urban students to consider the career opportunities in agriculture. She is also vice-chair of the Franklin Young Farmers Club. . . 

Joint efforts on water quality – Rebecca Nadge:

The Otago Regional Council is working with Central Otago farmers in a bid to monitor and improve water quality in the area.

At a meeting in Omakau last week, local farmers discussed the strategy with ORC environmental resource scientist Rachel Ozanne and environmental officer Melanie Heather.

The plan involves ongoing testing of water at Thompson’s Creek in a cross-section of three tributaries, as well as regular monitoring in Waipiata and Bannockburn.
Ms Ozanne said the project would continue until May, with testing carried out on a fortnightly basis. . . 

Strong interest shown for Future Farm programme:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s search for a “Future Farm” is in its final stages and farmers are being urged to get in touch if they’re interested in being part of this unique programme.

B+LNZ is seeking to lease a hill country sheep and beef property with around 6,000 stock units for the Future Farm, which will trial new technologies and farm systems. . .

TPP agreement safeguards New Zealand’s export sector:

Federated Farmers congratulates Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the coalition government for recognising the importance of free trade to New Zealand.

Following a frenetic few days of negotiations at the APEC summit in Vietnam, the New Zealand Trade delegation has succeeded in brokering agreement with 11 countries from the Asia-Pacific region- to move the deal forward.

Federated Farmers thanks all the Ministers and officials involved for their dedication and resolve. . . 

CPTPP important to maintain competitiveness:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is welcoming the progress made towards realisation of a TPP agreement (now referred to as CPTPP).

“Timely implementation of the CPTPP market access arrangements is necessary to ensure New Zealand exporters do not end up at a tariff disadvantage into one of our largest dairy markets” says DCANZ Executive Director Kimberly Crewther

The trade dynamic for dairy in the trans-pacific region has evolved in recent months with the European Union and Japan concluding negotiation of an FTA agreement which delivers market access gains to European dairy exporters similar to those agreed for New Zealand under TPP.  . . 

Cultivate With Care After Big Wet – Bala Tikkisetty

Following the wettest winter on record, farmers are currently cultivating their paddocks for pasture or crop rotation.

As they do so, it’s important to be aware of and manage the associated environmental risks.

Sediment and nutrients from farming operations, along with erosion generally, are some of the most important causes of reduced water quality and cultivation increases the potential for problems. . . 

Argentina is saying hello to the world again – Pedro

We’re saying hello to the world again.

That’s the simplest way to understand last month’s elections in Argentina, in which the party of reform-minded President Mauricio Macri made important legislative gains, picking up seats in both chambers of our Congress.

 

As a farmer in Argentina, I’m pleased by this political victory—but I’m even more encouraged by what it means for my country’s general direction.

For too long, we’ve faced inward rather than outward. Although Argentina grows a huge amount of food and depends on global trade for its prosperity, we have behaved as if none of this mattered. The previous government slapped huge export taxes on farm products and didn’t consider the consequences. We stepped away from the world market.

This wasn’t my decision, but rather the decision of former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the head of the Peronist Party. When she took office a decade ago, export taxes were already high—and she worked to raise them even more.

The American President Ronald Reagan once made a wise observation: “If you want less of something, tax it.” . .

Vietnamese farmers flourish in the Northern Territory to become Top End’s top growers – Kirsty O’Brien:

Michael Quatch arrived in Australia as a refugee of the Vietnam War. Now he is one of the most successful growers in the Northern Territory.

During picking season, work starts well before sunrise and does not end, but Mr Quatch is not complaining — he snags a few hours of rest here and there as he works hard to get the fresh produce from his farm at Lake Bennet in the Top End onto supermarket shelves.

The 45-year-old is the biggest hydroponic farmer in the Northern Territory, running 16 hectares of shaded cropping mainly producing tomatoes and cucumbers.

But Mr Quatch had to overcome obstacles difficult to fathom when you first meet this jovial, optimistic farmer. . . 

 


2018 Nuffield Scholars announced

November 6, 2017

The 2018 Nuffield Scholars are Simon Cook, Andy Elliot, Turi McFarlane, Solis Norton, and Kate Scott.

A media release from the New Zealand Rural Leadership Trust says:

 

. . . The five new 2018 scholars join more than 140 New Zealand agricultural leaders, over more than 60 years, to have been awarded a Nuffield Scholarship – a highly respected and prestigious award in the primary sector.

The 12 month scholarship programme with up to 20 weeks spent overseas, allows participants to spend time away from their business and to travel to observe, immerse, reflect and learn about global agricultural practices and the contexts they are operating in. A research topic, which focuses on an issue /challenge for the New Zealand primary sector, will be a focus of individual travel and investigation.

Simon Cook

Simon, is a third generation kiwifruit grower from Te Puke. Simon along with his wife Katey and three daughters grows both green and gold varieties of kiwifruit and has recently planted their first Avocado trees. Simon also owns and manages a kiwifruit contracting business, Ranfurly Orchard Services, which just recently won the supreme award at the Te Puke business awards. Simon has governance roles on a number of Kiwifruit industry organisations

After completing a management degree at Waikato University Simon spent four years in Auckland working in various supply chain roles. After re-evaluating their future, Simon and Katey moved to Te Puke where Simon and his father started a kiwifruit contracting business. They also bought their first small kiwifruit orchard giving them an opening to the industry.

Andy Elliot

With 20 years’ experience in New Zealand’s aquaculture industry, Andy Elliot has a strong background in the commercial development of new aquaculture species and related businesses.

He lives in Nelson, with partner Bec and their three boys. He heads the R&D and business development activities for Wakatū Incorporation (Wakatū), a Māori-owned organisation. Kono NZ LP, their food and drinks business, exports to over 40 countries.

Andy is passionate about their aim at Wakatu to add value to existing food products through exploring high value nutrition and food ingredients.

Prior to working for Wakatū, Andy worked for the Cawthron Institute also spending several years living and working on Stewart Island developing paua hatcheries. Andy studied at Otago University where he gained a Post Graduate Diploma in Marine Science.

Turi McFarlane

A background combining farm systems and natural resource management drives Turi McFarlane’s passion to enhance the sustainability of New Zealand’s primary sector. Of Te Atiawa and Ngai Tahu decent, Turi also has a keen interest in Maori agribusiness.

Turi grew up on a small family sheep and beef farm on Banks Peninsula and now finds himself back in the district with wife Jessie and their three children Ezra, Micah and Sarai, working in a new role with Ravensdown Environmental, as Senior Farm Environmental Consultant. Turi previously worked for Beef+Lamb NZ as South Island environment extension manager.

His interest in agricultural systems and sustainable land management led to tertiary study at Massey University where he completed a Batchelor of Science with a double major in Agricultural Science and Ecology which was followed by a Master of Applied Science at Lincoln University majoring in International Rural Development.

Solis Norton

Solis hails from near Port Chalmers, Dunedin and brings a mix of academic and industry experience having completed a Bachelor in Agricultural Science at Massey in 1996, a Masters Degree in Applied Science then a PhD in the epidemiology of Johne’s disease in New Zealand dairy herds.

He joined the New Zealand Deer Industry as Project Manager for their newly established national programme against Johne’s disease. After ten years, the industry has achieved a substantial success.

He seeks to lead New Zealand agriculture toward genuinely sustainable farming systems from an energy and emissions perspective and received an Agmardt Leadership Award in 2014 which allowed travel to the US and visits to energy experts there.

Solis is married to Emily and enjoys martial arts, is a keen hunter and gardener and tries to pursue a simple, balanced lifestyle.

Kate Scott

Central Otago based, Kate is an Executive Director of Landpro Limited, a planning and surveying company she jointly founded in 2007, before which Kate and her husband Scott Levings were managing a 200ha dairy farm at Roxburgh where both were involved in the day to day operation of the farm.

Kate is passionate about the primary industries and the environment, and works across a broad range of sectors, including dairy, sheep and beef, horticulture and viticulture. Kate also has extensive irrigation experience, including as the project manager for the Manuherikia Catchment. With her scholarship she is interested in looking at ways for New Zealand to reduce its agri-enviro footprint, including benchmarking New Zealand’s environmental performance against other major agricultural nations.

Kate and Scott have three sons, George (7), Ted (3) and Henry (1 1/2), who enjoy the benefits of living so close to Lake Dunstan as well as to the southern ski fields from their home in Bannockburn.

You can read more at the Nuffield New Zealand website.

 


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