Rural round-up

May 15, 2019

Tip Top sale half of debt target – Hugh Stringleman:

The sale of Tip Top to a joint-venture northern hemisphere company, Froneri, for $380 million has achieved almost half of Fonterra’s debt reduction target.

When its Beingmate shareholding is divested and a half share of DFE Pharma is sold, Fonterra should reach its $800m reduction target by July 31.

The Beingmate stake has a market value of about $280m and the DFE share about $200m, based on annual sales figures.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell has therefore made a good start on promised financial reforms of substantial debt reduction, cuts in capital and operational expenditure and 7%-plus return on capital invested by farmer-shareholders and unit holders. . . 

Gisborne woman takes out SI Sheep Dog trials event:

Gisborne’s Jo Waugh has won the zig zag hunt at the South Island sheep dog trial championships, the first time a woman has won the event in more than 100 years.

And not only did the 30-year-old and her huntaway dog, Guy, get on the podium, but two other women also joined her in the top seven, clocking up another achievement in the usually male-dominated event.

The South Island Sheep Dog trials were held in Hanmer Springs this week but farmers and shepherds have been competing since the sport first landed in New Zealand in the 1800s. . . 

MIE man changed priorities fast – Neal Wallace:

Richard Young was elected to the Silver Fern Farms board on a platform of industry restructuring and agitating for a merger with Alliance. Six years later the Otago farmer is the co-operative’s boss. He talks to Neal Wallace.

Richard Young vividly remembers the induction for new directors the evening before his first meeting as an elected member of the Silver Fern Farms board.

It was 2013 and the newly elected directors were taken through the co-operative’s accounts ahead of the annual meeting the next day.

It was not pretty. . . 

Tiny farm run on ethical principles– Sally Brooker:

An Alma family is proud to have set up the district’s smallest dairy farm.

Bethan and Bryan Moore have a herd of just 13 Ayrshire cows with calves on 6ha alongside State Highway 1. They will soon be selling milk in glass bottles.

The Moores bought the land about 18 months ago, after four years of sharemilking in Tasmania. Mrs Moore grew up near Cardiff, Wales and met Mr Moore, a farmer from the North Island, on her travels to New Zealand. . . 

Seeka cuts earnings forecast on smaller crop – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Kiwifruit grower and marketer Seeka has cut its full-year earnings guidance by $4 million due to reduced harvests in both New Zealand and Australia.

Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are likely to range from $32.5 million to $33.5 million in the 2019 calendar year, down from the $36.5-$37.5 million range the Te Puke-based company signalled a month ago.

Seeka, the biggest kiwifruit producer in New Zealand and Australia, said unseasonably hot, dry weather in both countries has reduced fruit size and crop volumes. . .

Meeting of Otago Drought Group – Sally Rae:

The work of the Otago Drought Group is a great example of farmers and their organisations collaborating to manage climate challenges locally, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor says.

The group met again this week to update its discussions on the dry conditions in the Clutha district, how farmers were faring and what actions might be needed.

The group, which included Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead, representatives from Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, the Otago Rural Support Trust and the Ministry for Primary Industries, convened early in any adverse weather event. . . 

Flying Pig cafe going to market:

One of the Waitaki district’s most recognisable restaurants is on the market.

The Flying Pig Cafe, with its distinctive porcine pink exterior, has long been a landmark in Duntroon.

It has been closed since illness befell its owners in early 2017, and is now for sale.

An Auckland couple bought the cafe in 2007 after discovering it during a holiday driving around the South Island. Business began to soar after the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail opened in 2014. . . 

Hi-tech boosts growers’ bottom lines:

“Incredibly clever” technology that elevates cool rooms into a state-of-the-art controlled atmosphere chambers is helping Hawke’s Bay’s growers make the very best of their crops.

It is not just about chilling fruit, it is about controlling the air conditions inside the cooler to hold it in the best possible state until market conditions are optimal; which could be any time over the 12 months after the crop has been picked.

Next week, growers have the opportunity to learn more about that technology from the Europeans who make it. . . 


Rural round-up

March 24, 2018

Don’t move carcasses ORC warns – Hamish MacLean:

Desperate farmers could be unintentionally sabotaging the release of the new strain of rabbit calicivirus in Otago.

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said yesterday he did not want to point fingers, but he had heard “second-hand” that some landowners were attempting to remove carcasses of animals where the virus had been released.

And while “absolutely understandable”, it was a report the council was taking “very, very seriously”, as it could jeopardise plans to create a natural epidemic and knock back the pests’ numbers by up to 40%.

Otago Regional Council environmental monitoring and operations director Scott MacLean said the council’s release of 100 doses of the recently approved RHDV1 K5 (K5) virus was now “substantially complete” with only the “the last few” areas in Queenstown and Coastal Otago outstanding. . . 

Decision time for Gita recovery – Annette Scott:

Taranaki farmers battling the ongoing challenges of the weather gods are facing a critical decision time.

While managing their way through the hammering of Cyclone Gita last month the region’s dairy farmers are also still recovering from the drought, Federated Farmers provincial president Donald McIntyre says.

“Our province was hit this summer with the drought first then we were served another big blow, literally, from the Gita storm. . . 

Officials set up Cook Strait checkpoint to stop cattle disease – Gerard Hutching:

Cattle crossing Cook Strait will be checked from Friday in a bid to stop the disease Mycoplasma bovis travelling north.

Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor said farmers were not complying with their legal obligations.

“At the weekend I received the National Animal Identification and Tracing Scheme (Nait) Review report, which shows the system is not working well enough. Only 57 per cent of farmers who record their animal movements do so within the required 48 hours. I’m told overall farm-to-farm recording may be as low as 30 per cent.”

Fines of up to $10,000 can be issued for non-compliance. Nait was set up to rapidly and accurately trace animals from birth to slaughter or live export. . . 

Tough times and tough cattle – Annette Scott:

With just a ute, a saddle, a rifle and some dogs as collateral, Rit Fisher walked into a bank in Timaru in 1978 seeking $1.2 million to buy Shenley Station. He told Annette Scott about his odd but fun 40-year farming journey.

Simplicity has been the key to success for Rit Fisher who grew up on Shenley Station, a 3500 hectare sheep and beef property at Albury, inland from Timaru.

Shenley, bought by his grandparents in 1912, has now been farmed by the Fisher family for 106 years. . .

Strong conservation values evident in Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Manaia dairy farmers showing sustainable and appreciable biodiversity and conservation values have won the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Grant, Dinny and Leedom Gibbs from the Gibbs G Trust were announced supreme winners at the region’s awards dinner at the Devon Hotel in New Plymouth on Thursday night (March 22). They will host a field day on their Sutherland Road property on Thursday April 5 at 10.30am.

The dairy farm, 3km south of Manaia on the south Taranaki coast, is among those supervised by Leedom Gibbs, one of Grant and Dinny’s three daughters. Half of the farm is irrigated with two centre-pivots and contains a wetland that was established as part of the farm’s development. Water for the irrigation system is taken by consent from the Waiokura Stream and stock water comes from the Waimate West Water Scheme, on which Grant is a trustee. . .

Whananaki Coastal Charolais owners win Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Whananaki beef farmers Greta and Craig Harman have won the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The awards were held at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort Bay of Islands at Paihia, on Wednesday night (21 March). The judges said both the Harmans’ coastal hill properties, home to Whananaki Coastal Charolais, were a showplace of biosecurity and biodiversity management that combine cattle farming, bull breeding and community involvement. They said Greta and Craig have a passion for their stock, the land they farm and for the natural environments that exist within it.

“They show how farming and environmental stewardship can work hand in hand to protect and enhance natural biodiversity while maintaining a productive asset. “The Harmans have completed an extraordinary amount of environmental protection work on the property, not because they had to, but because it was the ‘right thing to do’.” . . 

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Rural round-up

July 24, 2017

Help sought for flood-hit farmers – Timothy Brown:

The Otago Regional Council is calling on any farmers in the wider region able to offer support to those affected by the weekend’s deluge to contact Federated Farmers.

Dozens of properties on the Taieri Plains remain evacuated with paddocks and pastures inundated with water from a wild storm that began on Friday afternoon.

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said on Sunday it would be a difficult road ahead for farmers affected by the downpour and they would need assistance from the wider rural community.

“Federated Farmers is seeking assistance with feed and grazing,” he said. . . 

NZ the home of real free-range meat – Rod Slater:

The arrival of alternative proteins creates an opportunity for New Zealand to sell its natural pasture-to-plate story, says Beef + Lamb NZ marketing supremo Rod Slater.

 I want to address a certain issue that’s been driving plenty of chatter, both among those in the industry and those interested in food, our environment and our economy, and that’s the rise of alternative proteins.

There is no denying that this conversation, which is not just isolated to New Zealand, is gaining momentum and given the speed in which our current world operates we have no choice but to take notice of it.

However, I’m a huge believer that in every challenge lies a greater opportunity and I believe that if we adapt at speed we can make the most of the situation facing our industry. . . 

Meat substitutes’ rise a danger to NZ farmers – KPMG – Alexa Cook

New Zealand farmers could be under threat from a rise in plant-based products that mimic animal products such as burger patties, KPMG says.

Its global head of agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot, said he has been to Silicon Valley and seen firsthand what alternative proteins were on the menu.

Mr Proudfoot said New Zealand meat and dairy producers needed to identify what level of risk the products presented for their industry and plan accordingly.

The threat of vegetarian alternatives to meat products was looming as companies were beginning to create products that would genuinely appeal to consumers, Mr Proudfoot said. . . 

Dairy beef profitable for beef and dairy – Allan Barber:

For well over 20 years one of the largest challenges in the meat industry has been dairy farmers’ lack of recognition of the opportunity to make more money from their calves by selling them to calf rearers for beef production. There have always been calf rearers willing to stick their neck out and buy calves, but this was highly dependent on both beef and milk price. But for dairy farmers it was easier to select their replacement heifers and put the rest on the bobby calf truck, rather than find rearers to take the bull calves or keep them on the farm for up to three months.

The importance of dairy beef has been inevitable ever since the dairy industry started to increase in size at the expense of the sheep and beef industry which was forced to retreat further up the hillside to land unsuitable for other farming types. 70% of cattle born in New Zealand are born on the dairy farm and dairy cows now outnumber beef cows by about five to one which makes it essential to encourage the dairy industry to assume a significant role in breeding replacement beef cattle. . . 

New Zealand Landcare Trust regional coordinator Annette Litherland ready for top of the south challenge – Jeffrey Kitt:

They are big shoes to fill after 18 years, but Annette Litherland says she is determined to continue the fight for farmers and the environment.

Annette has taken over as the New Zealand Landcare Trust regional co-ordinator for Nelson and Marlborough, taking the top job from Barbara Stuart following her retirement.

Barbara worked for the trust since 1999, finding her niche in helping farmers reduce their impact on the land and seeing a huge shift in attitudes about sustainability. . . 

LIC full year results announcement:

Farmer-owned co-operative, Livestock Improvement Corporation Limited (NZX: LIC), announces its financial results for the year ending 31 May 2017.

As forecast in the half year result in February, LIC has returned to a modest level of profitability in the 2016-2017 year.

Strong performance in its core services of artificial breeding and herd testing, and a reduction in operating costs across the business all contributed to a positive result and a return in value to all shareholders. . . 

Great progress with PEFC Eco-Certification of NZ forest practices:

Illegal forest management practices are a global problem. Governments and markets around the world are increasingly requiring proof of legality for harvested wood products. This has created a demand for labelling and endorsement of sustainably managed and legally harvested forest and wood products.

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is an eco-certification system that is recognised as providing assurance of legality and sustainability and is increasingly required for access to some of NZ’s major markets. . . 

Agricultural Census a valuable resource to farmers and wider primary sector:

This year’s Agricultural Production Census is an important survey that assists all farmers and the primary sector says Federated Farmers.

Farmers are generally bombarded with questionnaires and surveys and replying can be time consuming, but the Federation recommends that members take time to fill in the census and answer the questions accurately.

The compulsory survey, conducted every five years by Statistics New Zealand, is a valuable outlet for monitoring industry trends and a resource used by local authorities. . . 

Australian MPs visit to discuss biosecurity and water use efficiency:

A delegation from the Australian House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources is visiting New Zealand 23-27 July 2017. The visit is part of an annual exchange of select committees between New Zealand and Australian Parliaments.

New Zealand’s Speaker, Rt Hon David Carter, is pleased to host this visit.

“The Australia-New Zealand agriculture and science relationship is very significant. This visit will enable the parliamentary delegation to cover important inquiry topics for Australia with New Zealand’s Primary Production Committee members as well as New Zealand academic, farming and business sectors. It is an opportunity to share information of mutual benefit.” . . 

Government funding wetland enhancement project:

Hohepa Hawke’s Bay has been awarded nearly $175,000 from the Government’s Community Environment Fund to restore and increase a wetland adjacent to the Taipo Stream in Napier, Associate Minister Scott Simpson announced today.

Hohepa Hawke’s Bay is owned by the Hohepa Homes Trust, which has provided homes, education and vocational services in Hawke’s Bay to people with intellectual disabilities since 1957.

“The wetland is an important natural habitat for many native and endangered species. The two-year Lower Taipo Stream Environmental Enhancement project will increase the wetland by at least 6 hectares, providing additional habitat for the nationally endangered matuku or Australasian bittern,” Mr Simpson says. . . 

It’s not all gold for some kiwifruit growers:

Despite what people might believe, some kiwifruit growers are a long way from recovering from the 2010 Psa-V outbreak which devastated the kiwifruit industry in New Zealand, Te Puke kiwifruit grower Alistair Reese said today.

“It really concerns me that a lot of the commentary about the kiwifruit industry is that Sun Gold (“G3”) has been the ‘saviour’ post PSA, and that the industry is now doing very well because of the new varieties. . . 

Can New Zealand repeat stellar success in 2017 Sydney International Wine Competition? Entries invited from NZ wineries for 38th Competition:

New Zealand wineries are expected to holder even greater sway in this year’s Sydney International Wine Competition, following the huge success of Kiwi producers in the 2017 judging.

Entries for this year’s Competition – the only international wine show that judges all its finalists in combination with appropriate food – can be made up till 15 September, with judging in mid-October and provisional award and trophy winners notified by the end of October. . . 


Rural round-up

September 29, 2015

PM announces Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

Prime Minister John Key has announced the creation of a 620,000 km2 Ocean Sanctuary in the Kermadec region, one of the most pristine and unique environments on Earth.

“The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will be one of the world’s largest and most significant fully-protected areas, preserving important habitats for seabirds, whales and dolphins, endangered marine turtles and thousands of species of fish and other marine life,” Mr Key says.

“It will cover 15 per cent of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, an area twice the size of our landmass, and 50 times the size of our largest national park in Fiordland. . . 

John Key's photo.

“Pretty damned exciting news” say Kermadec campaigners:

Champagne corks popped as the news was released that the Kermadec region has become an ocean sanctuary. Kermadec campaigners Forest & Bird, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and WWF-New Zealand were together when they heard the news.

The Prime Minister John Key made the momentous announcement at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The creation of the Sanctuary once again puts New Zealand at the forefront of marine protection on the international stage.

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary is located in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,000 km northeast of the Bay of Plenty New Zealand. The area is one of the most geologically diverse in the world. It contains the world’s longest chain of submerged volcanoes and the second deepest ocean trench with a depth of 10 kilometres. . . .

Proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

With no forewarning from Government the industry needs time to consider the full implications, Seafood New Zealand Chairman George Clement said.

“The seafood industry is committed to rational and effective marine conservation measures. These include a representative network of BPAs (Benthic Protected Areas) established at the industry’s behest and implemented throughout 30 per cent of the Exclusive Economic Zone, covering an area larger than the Kermadecs. . . 

Tatua Cooperative beats market with $7.10/kgMS payout for 2015 – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Tatua Cooperative Dairy Co, the Tatuanui-based dairy company founded 100 years ago, set the 2015 payout for its farmer suppliers at $7.10 per kilogram of milk solids, the highest of any New Zealand processor, while affirming a drop in payout for 2016.

Revenue rose to $286 million in the 12 months ended July 31, from $266 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Earnings before milk payout, retentions and tax fell to $121.2 million, from $136.4 million a year earlier.

Chairman Stephen Allen said the decline in pretax earnings reflected an increase in overall milk collection from farmers in the latest year and the “dramatic decline” in dairy prices. It equates to a payout $7.73/kgMS before retentions and tax. The company retained 63 cents/kgMS before tax. . . 

Migrant worker scam uncovered:

More than 30 Filipino workers reportedly paid $15,000 to obtain false documents clearing them to work on New Zealand dairy farms.

Immigration New Zealand has confirmed multiple Filipino workers have provided false and misleading information when applying for visas here.

Immigration NZ assistant general manager Peter Elms said the department started scrutinising visas more closely after discovering multiple issues, relating to claimed work experience and qualifications.

The department has not confirmed the number of cases that it is aware of, nor whether it was investigating, but the Philippine government said it was investigating at least 30 cases. The Philippine government’s Overseas Employment Administration is also looking into the claims. . . 

Alliance says merger with Silver Fern would risk creating ‘beached whale’ as rival tackles over-capacity – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart says any merger with Silver Fern Farms risks creating a “big beached whale” of the New Zealand meat industry because its rival needs the capital offered by China’s Bright Food just to rationalise plant capacity and reduce its debt burden.

Bright Foods’ Shanghai Maling Aquarius unit has offered to invest $261 million cash in Silver Fern Farms (SFF) to become a 50-50 partner with the Dunedin-based meat company in a deal that would leave the business debt free and with funds to upgrade plants, spend more marketing higher-value meat products and provide a new route into China.

The injection of funds has stoked speculation a stronger SFF could subsequently dictate terms for a tie-up with Alliance, something the two firms have failed to achieve in a decade of sporadic talks. Alliance says it made an offer to SFF prior to the rival embarking on its capital-raising process and had “worked hard to engage with SFF and discuss opportunities for industry consolidation” over the past 10 years. . . 

Partnering with China – Keith Woodford:

This last week I have been in Beijing at the NZ –China Council Forum. Led by Minister Steven Joyce and co-chaired by Sir Don McKinnon, it has been all about building partnerships.

There were about fifty New Zealanders there, including industry folk and staff from the relevant Government ministries – Trade and Enterprise, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Primary Industries. And there was a similar number of Chinese people from industry and their government.

Now to some people, the idea of building partnerships with China is anathema. Ten days ago I was involved in a passionate debate in Wellington about just that topic. It is all right to trade with the Chinese, so the argument went, but we should not think of partnering. The Chinese are different, and we should not in any way imply support for their way of doing business. . . 

Surge in water data for World Rivers Day:

To mark World Rivers Day this Sunday, regional councils are releasing their latest water quality data on the Land, Air, Water, Aotearoa website, which this year includes lake quality monitoring.

Launched in March 2014, www.lawa.org.nz began reporting water quality results at 1100 river sites. Since then, it has expanded into coastal bathing beaches and water allocation, tripling the number of monitoring sites for which data is available.

From this weekend, users will also be able access water quality data for monitored lakes, providing a more complete picture of the quality of New Zealand’s freshwater.

Stephen Woodhead, chair of the regional sector group of Local Government New Zealand, said that public debate showed that rivers and lakes were  important to New Zealanders and regional councils took their role in water stewardship very seriously. . . 

Drought-hit farmers sow grass seed donations – Annabelle Tukia:

Ten north Canterbury farmers are about to get some relief from the drought that has plagued their region for the past year after a group of business owners got together to try to ease the financial burden of the dry spell.

It’s been a tough 12 months on Damian Harrison’s Cheviot farm.

“This drought has been like driving in a tunnel, and you drive and drive and drive and never see daylight at the end,” says Mr Harrison.

But today at last there was a little ray of hope, in the form of Murray Stackhouse and his tractor and drill. The local contractor, along with a machinery company, have got together and are re-sowing grass onto 10 drought-stricken north Canterbury farms for free. . . 

Indonesia reopens door to NZ beef imports:

Indonesian media are reporting that trade officials there have done a u-turn on efforts to cut down imports of beef from New Zealand.

The Indonesian Trade Ministry has issued permits for the State Logistics Agency to import as much as 10,000 tonnes of beef from New Zealand.

The ministry said it wanted to stabilise meat prices in the country, and New Zealand was chosen because the price of beef from here was lower than the cost of Australian meat. . . 

NZ Honey fights MPI over alleged health claims on Manuka Doctor, Manuka Pharm branding – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand Honey International, the closely-held honey products maker, wants a judicial declaration on whether its trademarks Manuka Doctor and Manuka Pharm amount to health claims after the Ministry of Primary Industries withdrew export approvals, blocking the firm’s sales into certain markets.

MPI has been cracking down on the manuka honey industry amid international criticism there was more manuka honey coming out of the country than New Zealand actually produces. With no industry consensus on what constitutes manuka honey, MPI introduced an interim labelling guideline in July 2014 to give the industry clarity and protect consumers from false claims, as well as to try to improve credibility of the manuka products. . . 

Calf collection paves way for fertility project:

A huge logistical exercise that involved collecting hundreds of calves from farms all over the North Island has set the scene for a ground-breaking research programme aimed at lifting fertility rates in the dairy industry.

In recent weeks, heifer calves from 619 farms across Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay have been collected so that they can be reared and milked together as one herd. The “Animal Model” research herd will comprise equal numbers of Holstein Friesian calves with very high and very low fertility genetics, carefully selected from contract matings in spring last year and purchased from farmers by DairyNZ. . . 


Rural round-up

September 27, 2015

Silver Fern Farms could become global brand – Hamish McNeilly:

The head of a Chinese food giant says Silver Fern Farms’ products could one day have the same global brand recognition as Coca Cola.

China’s largest meat processor, Shanghai Maling, plans to invest $261 million cash to own half of Silver Fern Farms’ business, with the co-operative owning the other half.

The company was a listed subsidiary of Bright Food (Group) Co, China’s largest food company, and involved in the manufacturing and distribution of chilled and fresh meat and value-added beef, candy and bottled honey. . .

New milk price is conservative – Hugh Stringleman:

An unexpected jump in milk payout forecast for this season to a more encouraging $4.60/kg of milksolids was the centrepiece of Fonterra’s annual results presentation for the 2015 financial year.

After only three consecutive price rises in fortnightly GlobalDairyTrade auctions Fonterra was emboldened to increase its forecast by 75c or 20% from the dismal $3.85, the record low it sunk to in early August.

Such a quick reflection of price optimism when the season was still young would be welcomed by farm owners, sharemilkers, staff members and rural suppliers as signalling the worst of the price slump was over. . . 

Leaner Fonterra now a quick responder –  Glenys Christian:

Fonterra has finished cutting jobs with the 750 people culled from its 22,000 workforce allowing it to make quicker decisions in response to market volatility, chairman John Wilson says.  

And its transformation project would also build a less risk-averse culture, which could be a problem in such a big and complex organisation.  

“We’ve got to be far faster because markets are moving so rapidly,” he said after Fonterra’s annual results release.  “Sometimes you can be better at doing that with less people rather than more.” . . .

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings gets big pay rise:

As Fonterra prepares to lay off 750 staff, the firm has disclosed that chief executive Theo Spierings received a pay rise of up to 18 per cent – taking his pay to almost $5 million in the last financial year.

The dairy giant’s latest financial statements show its top-paid employee earned between $4.93 million and $4.94 million in the year to July 31.

That’s up from $4.17 million to $4.18 million in the previous year. . . 

Lake water quality goes online:

Information on the water quality of lakes around the country will now be available online as part of an ongoing initiative between the Government, regional councils and the Tindall Foundation, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.

“Lakes are popular places for swimming and boating, and particularly with the summer months fast approaching, we want the many thousands of New Zealanders who visit them each year to have access to good, reliable information on the health of our lakes around the country. This is why lakes data is the next step for the LAWA website, which already provides data on our rivers and coastal waters,” Dr Smith says.

Dr Smith made today’s announcement with Local Government New Zealand regional sector group chair Stephen Woodhead. The new data on lakes will be live on the website from today. . . 

Agriculture to widen its reach into schools – Tim Cronshaw:

More agriculture exercises will be introduced in secondary school classrooms to encourage urban school leavers to take up careers in the primary industry.

A study programme for teachers to use agriculture examples in their lessons was launched in Christchurch on Tuesday with 15 secondary schools signing up for a pilot.

Accredited resources initially in science, English, mathematics and economics are expected to be delivered to teachers for the start of the new school year and will initially be for year 9 and 10 students. Over the next few years this will be phased in to NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3 students and cover a range of curriculum areas based on school and teacher feedback. . . 

Scientists study the mysteries of cheese:

Makers of Roquefort and Camembert could benefit from a new genetic study of 14 fungal species found in cheeses, French researchers say.

But the study published in the journal Current Biology also raises questions about food safety due to the transfer of genes among Penicillium fungi, which are key to the making of soft cheeses.

“We were able to identify genes that are directly involved in the adaptation to cheese in Penicillium, opening the way for strain improvement, in particular for obtaining fast-growing strains,” said co-author Antoine Branca of L’Universite Paris-Sud. . . 


Rural round-up

September 20, 2013

Beef + Lamb New Zealand appoints Chair-Elect:

Northland farmer and Northern North Island Director for Beef + Lamb New Zealand, James Parsons was appointed Chair-Elect for Beef + Lamb New Zealand at the organisation’s board meeting today.

The position of Chair–Elect has been made to allow an orderly transition of leadership for Beef + Lamb New Zealand, following the announcement from current Chairman, Mike Petersen that he will not seek re-election when his term ends in March 2014.

“This appointment is a very important part of the governance process,” Petersen said.

“Beef + Lamb New Zealand puts strong emphasis on the development of all directors, and there has been a real focus on growing the leadership ability of the board for the benefit of the wider sector. . .

Wattie’s Starts Precision – Planting This Season’s Beetroot:

– Day One of 20 weeks of planting

– Resurgence of consumer interest in beetroot

Wattie’s has started precision-planting this season’s beetroot crop, and will continue over the next 20 weeks until a total of 350 hectares have been planted.

The first seed has been planted in the Paki Paki area of Hawke’s Bay for what will be a 20,000 tonne crop, Wattie’s second biggest annual crop behind tomatoes.

Harvesting of the first baby beets is scheduled for the second week in December. . .

Irrigators urged to check for lightning strike damage:

IrrigationNZ says farmers should exercise caution when starting irrigation systems – even if storm damage isn’t obvious – as lightening strike has emerged as a secondary cause of problems following last week’s storm.

“Just because your centre pivot didn’t blow over in the wind doesn’t mean your system is ok. We are now hearing reports of irrigation control systems fried by lightning strike, especially along the Canterbury foothills. Farmers need to check their infrastructure carefully before the season begins. Don’t start your irrigator before you’ve undertaken the appropriate safety checks,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“Irrigation system pre-season checks will be even more important this year as parts and labour will be in short supply due to the storm. Irrigators can not afford for their irrigator to break down due to negligence as it will result in downtime. Basic checks like ensuring the pivot tracks are free from obstructions, tyre pressures are correct and so forth are a no-brainer,” says Mr Curtis. . .

Invermay Delegation Meeting Minister of Economic Development:

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull is leading a delegation to meet with Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce to discuss alternatives to the proposed downsizing of Invermay in Wellington at 5pm today.

The group includes Environment Southland chair Ali Timms, former Dunedin MPs Katherine Rich and Pete Hodgson, Otago Regional Council chair Stephen Woodhead and its CEO Peter Bodeker.

Dave Cull says any reduction in roles at Invermay will have a serious economic and strategic impact.

“From Dunedin’s perspective, there is potential for smart businesses and jobs to come out of there. From a regional point of view, the expertise at Invermay is crucial to ensure the continuation of leading environmental research related to farming and other industries which contribute significantly to the Otago and Southland economies. We believe the proposal would also have serious economic implications at a national level.” . . .

Double Gold for Rapaura Springs 2013 Sauvignon Blanc:

Rapaura Springs is continuing to strike gold with its Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, with a double win at the New Zealand International Wine Show 2013.

The Rapaura Springs 2013 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Rapaura Springs 2013 Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc both won gold medals at the country’s largest wine competition.

Owner Brendan Neylon said Sauvignon Blanc was Marlborough’s flagship wine, and it was imperative that the region worked hard to continue to produce the world’s best. . .

Rockburn Wines Win At the Biggest and Most Prestigious Wine and Spirits Competition In China:

Rockburn Wines has been awarded a prestigious Double Gold medal in the 2013 China Wine and Spirits Awards for their 2009 Rockburn Chardonnay, while the 2011 Pinot Noir took out its own Gold award.

The Central Otago winery has a history of winning gold medals, particularly for its Pinot Noir, and this month alone has also collected a Gold Medal at the Bragato Wines Awards for their 2012 Pinot Noir and a Gold Medal at the New Zealand International Wine Show for their 2012 Tigermoth Riesling. . .

Marisco Vineyards wins NZ Wine Producer of the Year in China:

Marisco Vineyards has been awarded the Trophy for New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year at the China Wine and Spirits Awards. The company’s wines also won four double-gold, six gold and two silver medals in the prestigious annual competition, continuing their golden run in the rapidly growing Chinese wine market.

Chief Winemaker and Proprietor Brent Marris says the trophy and medal haul will consolidate The King’s Series and The Ned’s position as market leading New Zealand wine brands in China.

“The Chinese market is very complex. One of the challenges is that it is culturally a very status driven market so old world wines have tended to dominate. But awards like this endow enormous status on our brands, new world wines generally, and New Zealand wines specifically, and this win will build our brand profile, and help increase distribution and cement our foothold in the Chinese market,” Marris says. . .

Organics: The Future of New Zealand Wine?

Major three-year project aims to see a fifth of all Kiwi vineyards certified organic by 2020.

The oldest winery in the country, Mission Estate, is also one of the most technologically advanced and sustainable. Now, in a move that could have implications for the New Zealand wine industry as a whole, Mission Estate is into its final year of a major study on organic grape-growing – a trial that may potentially see this influential winery make a significant commitment to increasing its organics production.

The Organic Focus Vineyard Project is New Zealand’s first public trial of organic grapes grown side by side with conventional grapes. The pioneering participants are Gibbston Valley in Central Otago, Wither Hills in Marlborough, and Mission Estate in Hawke’s Bay, where the project was piloted during the 2010-11 season. Mission viticulturist Caine Thompson is monitoring 16 hectares of Gimblett Gravels vines, with half being grown in the conventional manner and half under strict organic controls. . .


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