Rural round-up

27/03/2021

Kill rate sparks breeding flock concern – Neal Wallace:

A high mutton kill has commentators worried the country’s core ewe breeding flock could take a sharp fall.

AgriHQ senior analyst Mel Croad says 3.1 million ewes were forecast to be killed this year, but up to February 13 – 19 weeks into the season – the kill was well on the way, sitting at 2.2m.

The five-year average kill for the remaining 33 weeks of the season is nearly 1.5m, potentially pushing this year’s ewe kill to about 3.7m.

Croad believes some farmers are looking at the capital tied up in breeding flocks and looking for less financial risk. . . 

Meat man’s mission ending – Sudesh Kissun:

It was around 27 years ago when Rod Slater agreed to step in as interim chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

He recalls getting a call from then-chairman Dennis Denton, who was worried about the future of the organisation. The chief executive had “gone AWOL” and things were looking dire.

Slater, then a board member of B+LNZ, had just sold out of Mad Butcher, the iconic NZ chain he had started with Sir Peter Leitch.

Slater told Rural News that was happy to help bail out B+LNZ. . .

Mid-Canterbury sheep milking business looks to expand – Maja Burry:

A Mid Canterbury sheep milking business is looking to establish itself as a major player in local industry with plans to take on more than 20 farmer suppliers over the next three years.

Matt and Tracey Jones from Sheep Milk New Zealand began commercial milking in 2019. As well as selling raw milk to other producers, they have developed their own fresh milk product range Jones Family Farm and a skin care range Sabelle.

Matt Jones said at the moment it had two farmer suppliers, but it would be taking on five more this coming season and 17 more were lined up for the season after.

“We’re building more processing facilities for that … because someone’s got to buy the milk and we’ve got to process it and sell it.” . . 

Millions of South Canterbury sunflowers heading for bottling plant – Eleisha Foon:

It’s hard not to miss the bright sea of yellow which turns heads just south of Timaru on State Highway 1.

Millions of sunflowers on a South Canterbury farm, are just weeks away from harvest.

Row upon row, standing two feet tall, they’re past their best now and are beginning to sag.

By next month the sunflower seeds will be processed into cooking oil, making it one of New Zealand’s only locally grown sunflower oil – soon to be ready for the domestic market. . . 

HortNZ welcomes Govt’s moves to improve housing supply – but not on highly productive land:

HortNZ says the Government’s latest moves to improve housing supply are welcome but the new houses must not be built on highly productive land used for vegetable or fruit growing.

‘Every New Zealander deserves a house just like every New Zealander deserves fresh, healthy locally grown vegetables and fruit,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive Mike Chapman.

‘We can have both but current policy settings favour housing over food security, and keeping New Zealand’s most highly productive soils safe from urban creep.

‘In August 2019, the Government launched its draft National Policy Statement on Highly Productive Land. This was at an event attended by two Government Ministers in Pukekohe, where some of the greatest pressures are. . . 

Actress Antonia Prebble joins Spring Sheep Milk Co to launch toddler milk:

Actress and mum to 20-month-old Freddie, Antonia Prebble is delighted to be helping introduce New Zealand to a brand-new source of toddler nutrition. Antonia is working with Kiwi company Spring Sheep Milk Co. as it launches its new premium Gentle Sheep Toddler Milk Drink, a product made with grass-fed New Zealand sheep milk.

Antonia was drawn to Spring Sheep Milk Co.’s gentle approach to nutrition for Kiwi toddlers and the rich nutritional and digestive benefits of sheep milk.

“I am really mindful when it comes to what I give Freddie to eat and drink, and working with the team at Spring Sheep, I saw early on that they are just as passionate about what goes into their product. . . 


Rural round-up

02/02/2021

We need to science our way out of this:

It’s time for the New Zealand public to get ready for a discussion about how science can lead us out of our climate change crisis, Federated Farmers says.

Yesterday’s report released by the Climate Change Commission was a massive piece of work which dives into every corner of New Zealand’s approach to achieving its climate change goals.

The report challenges Kiwis to rethink just about every part of their lives, Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says.

And farmers are no different to anyone else, except that they’ve been talking about science-based analysis, data gathering and solutions for much longer. . . 

Fewer cows recommendation absolute nonsense :

‘The Climate Commission’s recommendation to reduce livestock numbers by 15% by 2030 is not sensible, practical or justified,’ Robin Grieve, chairman of FARM (Facts About Ruminant Methane) said today.

Reducing livestock numbers will invariably cost New Zealand export income and mean that less food is grown. With an increasing global population that needs feeding this policy is not only anti human and selfish, it will also cause more global emissions as other countries with less efficient farming systems will have to produce the food New Zealand does not. Such a recommendation by the Commission is as silly as New Zealand reducing emissions by cutting Air New Zealand flights and letting Qantas take up the slack.

Reducing livestock might reduce carbon emissions but the bulk of these carbon emissions are sourced from methane and are not causing the warming the system attributes to them. . . 

The case of the catastrophic virus and government’s liability – Nikki Mandow:

This month, kiwifruit growers go to the Supreme Court seeking compensation over officials’ inadvertent release of the virulent vine disease PSA. And the case has far wider implications.

In June 2009, MAF (the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, now part of MPI) granted an import licence for some Chinese kiwifruit pollen, which turned out to be contaminated with the kiwifruit vine killing bacteria pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae, or PSA. 

The impact was devastating. Pollen infected a farm in Te Puke, then more farms, and as the disease took hold across the North Island, entire orchards had to be destroyed and several hundred farmers lost hundreds of millions of dollars.   . .

Summer sunflower crop sows seeds of interest – Ruby Heyward:

Popular sunflowers near Weston are in full bloom, and are attracting more than just birds.

Owners Peter and Sandra Mitchell said the flowers generated a lot of interest and it was not uncommon for people to stop and take pictures.

Although the couple did not mind visitors enjoying the flowers, it became an issue when people entered the field, and took or knocked over flowers.

People would sometimes get a shock when hopping over the electric fence placed around the crop to deter the farm’s cattle, Mr Mitchell said. . . 

Couple’s business inspired by lockdown mushrooming – Ashley Smyth:

Anna Randall and Daniel Eisenhut believe there’s something magical about mushrooms, and something equally magical about Oamaru. They speak to Ashley Smyth about their recent move and watching their fledgling business, Waitaki Mushrooms, take off.

For some, last year’s Level 4 lockdown offered time to reflect on priorities and seize opportunities.

Former Aucklanders Anna Randall and Daniel Eisenhut are two of those people.

The couple had previously considered moving south, but were nervous about leaving the bright lights and busyness of city life. . . 

 

The 20 most influential people in Australian agriculture – Natalie Kotsios , Peter Hemphill, James Wagstaff , Alexandra Laskie and Ed Gannon,

THEY are the people who make ag tick — the movers and shakers of Australian agriculture.

From the absolute peak of world trade power, down to those who keep our farms going day-to-day.

This inaugural list of Australian ag’s top 20 power players reveals an industry that has a strong backbone, yet is at the mercy of global politics and a fragile labour system, laid bare by the Covid crisis.

The power players were chosen by The Weekly Times for their influence on agriculture, for how their actions affect the entire industry, and for their ability to make big decisions. . . 


Rural round-up

16/03/2020

Rural people show their support – Colin Williscroft:

Hawke’s Bay farmer Mark Warren has posted a call for help on social media in an attempt to let other farmers who are finding life tough know that it’s okay to ask for help.

Warren, who owns Waipari Station in Central Hawke’s Bay, says after a sleepless few hours of the 2am churn and trying to be sensible and realise that his Ts and Ps (temperatures and pressures) are in the red zone, he realised he needed help.

“Although I keep hoping to be back to 12 volts, after a weekend wading through waste-deep mud and pulling lambs out of dams I realise my volt meter is struggling to stay in the safe zone. . .

It was all done on a handshake – Neal Wallace:

Stud breeding has enabled the Robertson family from Southland to settle family members onto farms. But Neal Wallace discovers that is only part of the formula for successful farm succession. Being a tight knit, focused and strong family unit also helps.

It might be dismissed as a cliche but the adage that an apple never falls far from the tree is applicable to the Robertson family from Southland.

The Robertsons farm Duncraigen Farm at Mimihau near Wyndham and the cornerstone of their business are stud Hereford cattle, Romney and Dorset Down stud sheep and various crosses of those breeds. . .

 Attracting more ag students – Peter Burke:

The numbers of students taking up agricultural degrees at Massey University is not really increasing, according to Professor Peter Kemp – head of the School of Agriculture and Environment at Massey.

He says there are isolated areas such as animal science that have gone up. However, in horticulture and general agriculture the numbers are lower than they were a few years ago.

Kemp says this is despite the industry, at the same time, having more jobs. He says it’s really hard to unpack the reasons for this. . . 

Blade shear champ looks to 2022 – George Clark:

South Canterbury world champion blade shearer Allan Oldfield is training strategically in an attempt to retain his title at the next shearing and woolhandling world championships in Scotland in 2022.

Mr Oldfield, who is a finalist in the rural sportsman of the year category in this year’s Rural Games, started competing when he was 16 years old in New Zealand’s intermediate blade shearing grade . .

Business is blooming – Toni Williams’s:

Turley Farms Chertsey, in the heart of Mid Canterbury, is among a growing number of farms turning to sunflowers as a rotation crop to use between plantings.

Sunflowers are good for high oleic sunflower oil, which is high in oleic (monounsaturated) acid (at least 80%), and good as a frying oil. It also has a good shelf life and is used in infant formula.

The farm group, which has properties scattered throughout Canterbury, has planted more than 40ha of sunflowers at the Chertsey site. There are 62,000 sunflower plants per hectare. . .

Aussie flock hits 116 year low – Sudesh Kissun:

Prolonged dry conditions in rural Australia are taking a toll on its national sheep flock.

The latest forecast from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) says sheep numbers will fall 3.5% this year.

According to MLA’s 2020 Sheep Industry Projection, stock numbers have been dropping due to drought in key sheep producing regions. . .


Sunflower surprise

22/02/2020

Green shoots appeared in the vegetable garden.

At first I thought they were zucchini.

They grew bigger.

I thought they might be pumpkins.

They grew taller.

They were sunflowers and neither my farmer nor I had planted them.

How did they get there?

Could birds have dropped seeds?

New Zealand’s biggest producers of sunflowers for birdseed operate in North Otago. BIrds eat a lot of seeds before harvest but the nearest paddocks were miles away and the plants weren’t even in flower.

Then I noticed the chocolate lab we were dog sitting sniffing close to the sunflowers and starting to dig.

That reminded me I’d had a lot of salad left over from our staff party in December and when it got past using I dug it into the garden.

One of the salads had been sprinkled with sunflower seeds and a few of them must have germinated.

 


Rural round-up

23/03/2019

Canterbury farmer credits advances in technology with revolutionising farming – Emma Dangerfield:

A North Canterbury farmer says advances in technology will help him pass on a thriving legacy to his daughters.

Mike Smith and his family began their farming partnership in Eyrewell in 2010 and had been able to improve land production by making use of new technology.

It allowed him to make informed decisions and had reduced the farm’s environmental impact, he said. . . 

China will be hungry for NZ meat – Pam tipa:

African swine fever’s huge impact on China’s pork production this year will be a huge opportunity for New Zealand’s meat industry.

Rabobank’s global strategist for animal protein Justin Sherrard believes the market hasn’t yet fully picked up on the impacts the disease will have.

“This has become a major issue in China,” he told Rural News.  . . 

Sunflowers used to regenerate soil – Yvonne O’Hara:

Mark and Madeline Anderson are trialing a pasture mix that includes sunflowers as a method of soil regeneration and as an alternative polyculture forage on their Waiwera Gorge dairy farm.

They are also looking forward to see their first Normande-cross calves on the ground in August.

They have a 580ha (effective) dairy farm and run 750 milking cows, along with another 300 to 400 young stock.

Mr Anderson said he had sown 50ha using a pasture mix of sunflowers, kale, plantain, phacelia, vetch, buckwheat, various clovers including Persian clover, oats, ryecorn, prairie grass and linseed to create a polyculture rather than the monoculture like ryegrass. . . 

Big wetland bush block opens to public after 500,000 crowd-funding effort  – Mike Watson:

An endangered forest wetland in Taranaki, saved from farmland development by a public fundraising drive, is ready to be opened up to the public.

The 134 hectare Mahood-Lowe reserve, near Kaimiro, 20km south east of New Plymouth, included rare kamahi, northern rata, tawa and totara as well as lichens and mosses.

There is also burgeoning populations of kiwi, whio and falcons. . .

Hectic period for pioneer in deer AI – Sally Rae:

Lynne Currie has the distinction of probably artificially inseminating more deer than anyone else in the world.

Mrs Currie, who lives near Wanaka, is in the middle of a short but hectic season as she travels the country helping deer farmers to diversify the genetic base of their herds.

The first farm was programmed for March 15 and the last on April 8 and much work goes into planning the logistics, including coordinating both vets and farmers. . . 

Dollar a litre demise good news for milk’s nutritional appeal – Andrew Marshall:

A significant flow-on benefit from the past month’s 10 cents a litre rise in prices for supermarket labeled two- and three-litre milk lines will be a restoration of milk’s nutritional and value perception in the eyes of consumers.

Dairy Connect chief executive officer, Shaughn Morgan, described the latest announcement by Coles and Aldi as a valuable initiative in what remains a long journey ahead to find structural solutions to the industry.

“We have long argued that part of the great damage done by $1 a litre milk discounting was to undervalue dairy farmers, the dairy industry and the nutritious fresh milk by denigrating its significant nutritional contribution to human health,” he said. . . 

 


Sunflower season

16/03/2010

 One of the many benefits of living in rural North Otago is that from late January we’re treated to spectacular views of sunflowers :

They’re grown by Mitchell and Webster, New Zealand’s largest producers of snuflower seeds and they’re used for bird feed.

This photo was taken a month ago, the sunflowers are now drying off, ready for harvest.


Sunflowers

06/03/2009

In Spanish they’re called girasol  which means turn to the sun –  although the idea that the heads of sunflowers follow the sun is a myth.

True or not, they still look pretty.

sunflowers-002

These are grown by Mitchell and Webster who specialise in bird seed, marketed under the Top Flite brand.

They start sowing in late spring and the plants grow slowlly until temepratures rise and the plants gain four or five centimetres a day until they get to about two metres when they start to bloom.


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