Rural round-up

December 7, 2017

LEGO farmer helps educate about agriculture – Joely Mitchell:

A small Lego farmer has taken the internet by storm, garnering over 13,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

He’s the brainchild of 27 year-old Aimee Snowden, who is passionate about Lego, photography, and agriculture.

Ms Snowden started Little Brick Pastoral in late 2014, as a way to educate a broad range of people about farming by sharing photos of her Lego farmer on-farm. . .

Little Brick Pastoral’s website is here.

Hawke’s Bay winegrowing future uncertain in face of water order – Victoria White:

Although Hawke’s Bay’s wine industry “can live with” some form of water conservation order (WCO) on the upper Ngaruroro River, it may not survive in future if this extends to the lower part.

This is what the special tribunal considering the WCO application was told yesterday, when the hearing reconvened after a week’s break.

The Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Association opened the day, represented by legal counsel James Gardner Hopkins and deputy chairman Xan Harding. . . 

Dairy on-farm debt leaves little headroom – Keith Woodford:

The latest statistic for on-farm dairy debt held by banks was $40.9 billion at October 2017. This equates to $22 per kg milksolids.

Despite the major upturn in dairy prices of more than 50 percent that occurred between July and December 2016, and with those improved prices then holding through much of 2017, there were lags for the increase to flow through into farm incomes. Debt therefore continued to climb through to July 2017 reaching $41.2 billion. It then declined by $285 million in the four months through to October 2017. Looking back ten years, the dairy debt remains more than double the 2007 figure of $18.8 billion.

The recent decline in debt is surely a positive sign, but in the greater scheme of things the recent decline is modest. Key questions remain as to the long term financial stability of the dairy industry. . . 

Andrew MacPherson elected to Westland Milk Products Board:

Westland Milk Products shareholders confirmed farm owner, company director and former dairy veterinarian Andrew MacPherson as their newest director at the co-operative’s annual general meeting today (Wednesday 6 December).

MacPherson (BVSc, MBA (Dist), FNZIM) has worked in a range of senior executive roles including as CEO. He has extensive experience across a range of agri-sector businesses as governor, senior manager, business owner and farm owner.

He currently lives in Te Awamutu but is part of an equity partnership, Sewell Peak Farm Ltd, a 365ha dairy property milking 920 cows northeast of Greymouth on the West Coast. . .

Honey producers abuzz overr promisingg harvest – Adriana Weber:

A bumper honey harvest is on the cards for beekeepers around the country, according to Apiculture New Zealand.

The industry body said it was early days, but this year’s honey production season was shaping up to be one of the best in years.

The season runs from October to February and the recent warm weather has helped boost production.

Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos said it was a complete turnaround from last year’s poor season. . .

Bronze woolly wether park feature – Sean Nugent:

New Zealand’s greatest sheep will be immortalised in his own Shrek-themed park in Tarras village set to open in March next year.

A new bronze Shrek statue will be the fore figure of the 1ha park, on land beside the Tarras Village car park.

A 50m to 60m path will wind its way up to the statue, lined with native plants from the Bendigo landscape the world famous sheep once called home, as well as storyboards detailing his story and others from the Tarras area. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 6, 2015

Farm skills for youth _ Sally Rae:

The prospect of getting out of bed at 5am to gain work experience on a dairy farm does not bother Caleb Unahi.

The 19-year-old is enjoying keeping busy as part of the Farmhand training programme, which aims to expose Dunedin’s disengaged youth to rural opportunities.

Before starting the 13-week course, Caleb was doing ”nothing much really”, he said.

A family friend encouraged him to apply for the course, which was first held last year.

”I enjoy it. It’s a good opportunity for me to get up off my …”

he said, while learning about fencing at Invermay recently. . . 

Merino industry stalwarts honoured –  Lynda van Kempen:

A couple described as vital cogs in the fine wool industry had their efforts recognised at the weekend.

Peter and Elsie Lyon, of Alexandra, received life membership to the New Zealand Merino Shearing Society. The award – a surprise to the couple – was made during the national merino shearing championships in Alexandra on Saturday night.

The couple run Peter Lyon Shearing, which had a turnover of more than $10 million last year. . . 

The story behind merino wool – Camilla Rutherford:

I am very lucky to live on a high country Merino sheep station here in Tarras, New Zealand. This farm belongs to my husbands family and they have farmed here for over 100 years, which is a long time in NZ! Every year in the first week of September a big muster happens and the sheep are brought down off the hill and into the woolshed to get their yearly hair cut in time for the hot Central Otago summer. This wool is very carefully removed by highly skilled shearers, who have the very tricky task of removing the precious fibres without harming the wrinkly sheep.

Walking into the woolshed can be a little intimidating, with drum and bass blasting over the sound of the clippers, and a multitude of men and women working tirelessly, each with their own roll making the operation of shearing a sheep like a well oiled machine. This precious wool is sent to Merino New Zealand which is spun and made into Icebreaker clothing, which we all know and love. Merino wool is an incredible fibre; sustainable, warm when wet, cooling when you are too hot and keeps the stink off you. What better fibre to wear against your skin? My wardrobe is nearly 100% merino, from underwear, thermals, summer singlets, technical ski wear and awesome hoodies! . .  [whether or not you want to read more, it’s worth clicking the link for the photos]

Ballance Farm Environment Awards application period extended for Canterbury farmers:

Canterbury farmers have been given another three weeks to enter this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The entry deadline has been extended to Friday October 30 to allow farmers more time to get their entries in before judging commences in November.

The Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards Judging Coordinator Sandra Taylor acknowledged that drought and a low dairy pay-out have made for a tough start to spring and for many farmers entering the Awards has been low on the priority list.

“Recent rain and warmer temperatures will hopefully take the pressure off and give farmers a chance to think about getting their entries in.”

She points out the judging process gives farmers the opportunity to benchmark their businesses and get feedback from a team of experienced and knowledgeable judges. . . 

Life-changing win for Young Auctioneer:

With entries now open for the 2015 Heartland Bank Young Auctioneer of the Year Competition, the 2014 winner is urging other young auctioneers to enter the “life-changing competition.”

Cam Bray of PGG Wrightson won the 2014 Competition after entering all three years of the competition. The win enabled him to travel to the 2015 Sydney Royal Show to attend the Australian Livestock & Property Agents Association (ALPA) Young Auctioneers National Final.

Mr Bray said that the trip to Australia resulted in some life-changing experiences.

“The trip to Australia was great – not only for the fact that I was representing New Zealand but to be able to rub shoulders with Australia’s best was an invaluable experience.” . . .

A big win for Rural Contractors NZ:

Agricultural contractors around New Zealand will soon be able to bring in overseas workers much easier than in the past – following a deal struck between its national body and Immigration NZ.

Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet says his organisation has been working with Immigration New Zealand for a long time in an effort to resolve the problems around contractors bringing in overseas workers for the harvest season.

“After many meetings and a lot of hard work by RCNZ – together with Immigration NZ – we believe have come up with a solution that will solve many of the problems that rural contractors currently experience every year and make it much easier to bring in overseas workers,” Mr Levet says. . .

Forest grower poll open:

Voting is now open for the person who will represent owners of smaller forests on the Forest Growers Levy Trust board.

The two candidates are Guy Farman, managing director of Farman Turkington Forestry and Steve Wilton, managing director of Forest Enterprises. Both have strong forestry credentials and are based in the Wairarapa.

Anyone who owns a ‘qualifying forest’ of between 4 and 1000 hectares, planted before 1 October 2003, may vote in the election that opened on Monday 5 October and closes on Friday 16 October. . . .

DataCol Group extends their reach into the rural market with acquisition of pioneering water measurement company Watermetrics:

Data collection and data integrator specialist business DataCol Group, today announced it had fully acquired Canterbury-based Watermetrics, a provider of integrated water flow monitoring, recording and analysis services.

“Watermetrics were pioneers in providing water measurement technology and services to the rural sector, have built a strong brand and significant customer base predominantly in the Canterbury region off the back of that,” says DataCol CEO Bruce Franks.

“Using data collection and measurement technology has become a critical tool for farmers in terms of enhancing productivity, reducing cost and complying with national regulations like water consents. . . 

Queenstown’s Ziptrek Ecotours wins environmental tourism award:

A successful business driven by the ethos of ‘inspiration through adventure’ is how judges described Queenstown’s Ziptrek Ecotours in announcing it as the winner of the Environmental Tourism Award at this year’s Tourism Industry Awards.

After almost six years in business – and a consistent winner of many sustainable practice awards over the years – Ziptrek received the award on Friday night, helping set a benchmark of excellence within the New Zealand tourism industry.

Judges were hugely impressed with the business, describing it as a “wonderful example” of a highly successful tourism business embracing and promoting sustainability in everything it does. . . 

Coronet Peak caps off ‘stellar’ season with visitor experience award:

Capping off a stellar season, Queenstown’s Coronet Peak fought off stiff competition to win the Visitor Experience Award at the New Zealand Tourism Industry Awards this weekend.

The ski area celebrated its final ‘hurrah’ on the snow this weekend with a Rugby World Cup-themed day in support of the AB’s on Saturday. On Sunday, all best efforts to host a Beach Party were somewhat thwarted by wet and wild weather, but a few brave souls managed the Pond Skim to cap off an amazing season.

The final weekend of 2015 winter started well, with Coronet Peak ski area manager Ross Copland accepting the honour in Auckland on Friday night. . . 


Rural round-up

September 23, 2014

Comparing apples with oranges using new Sustainable Farming Fund tool:

Māori agribusiness will benefit from a new tool that can be used to compare the potential benefits of different land uses from an economic and social perspective.

The Social Return on Investment evaluation tool was developed as part of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI’s) Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) Maori Agribusiness round held in 2012. It was co-developed by Aohanga Incorporation and AgResearch and aimed to produce a method to compare various development options for Māori Trusts and Incorporations with multiple shareholders.

“With multiple shareholders, it can be difficult to achieve consensus on the best options for Māori owned land,” says MPI’s Deputy Director General Ben Dalton. . .

Potential bio-control agents settling into containment:

Scientists at Landcare Research are investigating two small European insects as potential bio-control agents against the pest plant Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum).

Tutsan is a significant pest in parts of the Central North Island because it forms extensive patches that take over agricultural, production and conservation land. Unpalatable to stock, hard to kill, and shade tolerant, Tutsan is particularly prevalent in areas where the land has been disturbed by the likes of forestry – much like gorse and broom does. . . 

Five things you didn’t know about growing up in a farm family – Corn Corps:

Ahhh, fall is finally in the air! It’s the perfect time to grab the family and find a nice pumpkin farm or somewhere to pick some apples. Don’t forget the pumpkin spice lattes and a nice warm sweater. Forget about harvest you can finish that field tomorrow! – Said no farm family EVER!

For those of you who grew up on a farm you will know exactly what I am talking about. Growing up in a farm family, like anything else, has its pros and cons but it definitely a unique experience to say the least! Hopefully this will give the “non-farmers” a little bit of insight to what it is really like.

“Sure, we can go…. As long as it rains”

Farm kids know this one all too well. Planning family activities, attendance at Saturday tournaments, or RSVPing to a wedding invitation is next to impossible during planting and harvest seasons. . .

PERRIAM, a new lifestyle fashion brand, poised for launch:

Well-known Central Otago fashion designer Christina Perriam will unveil PERRIAM, her new luxury lifestyle fashion brand, in Tarras next month.

PERRIAM produces New Zealand-made merino clothing that embodies the comforting luxury inherent in the spirit of the high country. The heart of PERRIAM is Christina’s family and their farm, Bendigo Station in Central Otago – a place of rich history, pioneering spirit and enduring natural beauty.

Bendigo, also the home of the famous merino wether, the late Shrek the Sheep, will host an exclusive catwalk show for the launch of the first PERRIAM Woman Summer 2015 Collection, on October 18, 2014.

The Merino Shop in Tarras Village – home to Christina’s original labels ‘Christina Perriam’ and ‘Suprino Bambino’ – will undergo renovations to coincide with the launch and the go-live date of the new PERRIAM online shop, perriam.co.nz. . .

Hill Laboratories appoints new Food and Bioanalytical client services manager:

New Zealand’s leading analytical testing laboratory, Hill Laboratories, has appointed Lorrae Taylor as client services manager for the organisation’s Food and Bioanalytical division.

Lorrae Taylor has nearly four decades of nationwide experience working in laboratories, or with laboratories to provide proficiency services testing.

Lorrae Taylor said Hill Laboratories’ client services teams, which are effective in all three of the company’s divisions, are what sets the organisation apart from most other analytical testing laboratories. . . .

 

Esk Valley Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris Leads the Way:

Amongst some of the best Pinot Gris in the country, Hawkes Bay’s Esk Valley Pinot Gris 2014 has been awarded the number one spot in Dish Magazine, with the tasting panel led by Dish Drinks Editor Yvonne Lorkin.

“We have been producing Pinot Gris since 2001 the best of which to date is the 2014,” Gordon Russell, Winemaker at Esk Valley said, “This is our unique take on a Pinot Gris from a great Hawkes Bay harvest.”

Esk Valley has a reputation throughout the world for producing exceptional premium wines. Russell who’s been at the helm for over twenty years as winemaker for Esk Valley has an emphasis on hand crafting his boutique wines using traditional methods and local knowledge. He refers to himself as, “I’m just the conductor, with the music already written in the vineyard.” . . .

Akarua Vintage Brut 2010:

Raise your glass and join us in a toast as we celebrate Central Otago winery Akarua winning a prestigious international trophy for its sparkling wine Akarua Vintage Brut 2010 – awarded the World Champion New Zealand Sparkling Wine Trophy at The Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships (CSWWC), announced on the 4th September 2014.

Having launched their sparkling wine range in early 2012, Akarua is gaining a solid reputation for its quality and style. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 27, 2013

NZ Super Fund sells forestry blocks to Chines, local investors – Paul McBeth:

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund, which today said the value of its portfolio topped $22 billion, has sold the bulk of 11 forestry blocks in the North Island to China National Forest Products Trading Corp for an undisclosed sum, with the remaining going to local investors.

The Chinese company, a subsidiary of state-owned China Forestry Group Corp, bought the majority of the portfolio, subject to Chinese regulatory approval, after getting the thumbs up from New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office, the super fund said in a statement.

The Cullen Fund, so-called for its architect former Finance Minister Michael Cullen, was looking for a buyer for the blocks last year, when it valued the estates at some $91.1 million as at June 30. General manager investments Matt Whineray said the sale would let the fund focus on other domestic and international investment opportunities. . . 

Pivotal time for central farms – Mark Price:

Dozens of centre-pivot irrigation machines installed in the past couple of years are turning the dry plains of Central Otago into lush meadows. But, as Mark Price reports, this is just the beginning.

One farm on the flat near Tarras installed four irrigation pivots over the summer.

Another, on terraces above Tarras, installed eight or nine.

And, when the Tarras water scheme goes ahead there will be room for another 80 to 90 in that area alone.

In the world of irrigation, pivots are the state-of-the-art way of growing crops to feed dairy cows. . .

Maori land bursting with farm potential -Ben Dalton:

Primary industries generate over 70 per cent of New Zealand’s merchandise exports.

You’d be forgiven then for thinking that every last hectare of rural land is producing at its maximum. But you’d be wrong.

It has been known for some time that a significant proportion of Maori land is not delivering its potential.

A 2011 Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry report estimated that close to one million hectares were under-productive.

Now, a report commissioned by the Ministry of Primary Industries has allowed a glimpse of what’s at stake in bringing this land into full production – for Maori, the primary industries, and the country. . .

Quest for semi-rural playground – Alison Rudd:

The organisation which runs most of Southland’s kindergartens wants to buy a back yard for urban children who have no access to a semi-rural playground.

Kindergarten South wants a 1ha block close to Invercargill with trees, native bush and perhaps a stream. It will be a place where the 3 and 4-year-olds can ”get back to good old-fashioned play”, business development manager Sandra King said.

”It’s somewhere where they can climb trees, dig worms, puddle in water, draw pictures on the ground using sticks, learn to take a bit of a risk.”. . .

Delegat’s buys Australia’s Barossa Valley Estate assets out of receivership for A$24.7M – Paul McBeth:

Delegat’s Group has bought the assets of Australia’s Barossa Valley Estate out of receivership for A$24.7 million, just two months after snapping up the distressed vineyard and winery assets of Matariki Wines and Stony Bay Wines.

The Auckland-based winemaker, whose stable includes the Oyster Bay brand, will acquire a 5,000 tonne winery, a 41 hectare vineyard in the Barossa Valley, grape grower contracts and inventory and brands, it said in a statement. The deal is expected to settle in June, and will be funded through existing bank facilities. . .

Gunn Estate Ups the Ante With Reserve Range:

Hawke’s Bay’s popular Gunn Estate has just launched a range of Reserve wines, adding to the long history of the brand.

The 2012 Reserve range includes Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Merlot/Cabernet varieties, made with grapes from specially selected vineyards in Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough.

Gunn Estate spokesman Denis Gunn says the new range represents the brand’s strong tradition.

“The Gunn Family has worked the land in Hawke’s Bay since 1920 and these wines are about keeping the passion and determination of three generations alive and well,” Mr Gunn says.


More of a vegetable

February 13, 2013

Chicken used to be a special occasion meat, roast for Christmas dinner or other very rare celebration.

These days it’s both less expensive and more plentiful, though not universally appreciated:

”I like to cook meat, except for chicken. To me chicken’s like a ladies’ meat, so it’s more of a vegetable.”

That’s the view of Master Chef contestant and Tarras farmer, Jonny Trevathan.

 


Rural round-up

February 3, 2013

Basting a chop won’t make a steak – Chalkie:

Poor old Red Meat. There she is, best frock on, hair done, smiling with her eyes and showing a bit of leg, only to find that tarty dairy cow getting all the attention.

Dairy co-op Fonterra teased investors for years before finally letting them on to third base late last year, with explosive results. Units in its Shareholders Fund quickly shot up to well over $7 after being issued at $5.50 a mere two months ago.

Meat co-op Silver Fern Farms, on the other hand, is still working the street corner.

After a reform of its capital structure in 2009, ordinary shares in Silver Fern became tradeable by any Tom, Dick and Harry on the unlisted market, but they have not been pursued with any passion. . .

NZ meats on Singapore menu

New Zealand beef, lamb and, most likely venison, are on the menu at the Lone Star’s first overseas restaurant in a top waterfront precinct in Singapore.

The meat, branded Pure South, is being supplied by meat processor and exporter Alliance Group to the Fern & Kiwi restaurant, an offshoot of the Lone Star bar and restaurant chain.

A New Zealand-themed menu was worked out by consultant chef Mathew Metcalfe, who has cooked for the late Steve Jobs and leading Hollywood figures.

The meat range will come from farms across the country and processed at Alliance’s Group’s eight plants. . .

Carter laments stubborn attitudes – Jon Morgan:

Outgoing Minister for Primary Industries David Carter reels off a long list of what he calls “a good number” of achievements during his four years in office, but at the end of it he has to admit to a few lows as well.

The intransigent wool and meat industries have both defeated him, as they have ministers before him.

It obviously frustrates him. He puts it down to warring personalities in leading roles and the farmers’ apathy that lets this continue. . .

NZ wool floors show crowds – Tim Cronshaw:

The reaction of customers to Wools of New Zealand’s (WNZ) carpet wool at the world’s largest flooring show has reinforced to its leaders they are on the right track with capital raising a minimum of $5 million.

A share offer to commercialise WNZ into a sales and marketing company was extended to February 25 after the capital raising reached more than $4.1m last year from 500-plus strong wool farmers committing 12 million kilograms of annual wool production.

WNZ chairman Mark Shadbolt said growing interest by spinners and manufacturers in WNZ carpet ranges at the world’s largest flooring trade show, Domotex, this month had been encouraging. The trade show was attended by 40,000-plus visitors. . .

Safety shake-up call – Gerald Piddock:

Farmers are going to have to make health and safety a normal part of running their business if the number of on-farm accidents is to be cut.

Some farmers struggle to give health and safety the same amount of attention as they do to stock health or pasture management, industry-good Farmsafe national manager Grant Hadfield says.

“It’s considered a bit of an ogre. It shouldn’t be because it’s pretty easy to put systems in place.” . . .

Plaudits for irrigation policy – Gerald Piddock:

The Government’s decision to become a minority investor in irrigation schemes will ensure those projects get off the ground, say farmers with close ties to irrigation schemes in South Canterbury.

The Government announced last week that it would establish a company to act as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure development.

The yet-to-be-named company would take minority stakes in water projects with a long-term goal of getting out and leaving the projects to the private sector. . .

Submitters discuss Tarras irrigation scheme – Jessica Maddock:

There was passionate opposition to an Otago Regional Council proposal to invest in a $39 million Tarras irrigation scheme at a hearing yesterday, with submitters saying it would be using ratepayer money to benefit only a few.

The council is considering buying $3.5m of redeemable preference shares. It would also pay up to $500,000 annually for five years, toward the fixed costs.

Tarras Water is planning the scheme to benefit 40 families, by taking up to 73.6 million cubic metres a year from the Clutha River to irrigate about 6000 hectares.

Nearly 70 people lodged a submission on the investment proposal, with the majority in opposition.

Eleven submitters spoke at a hearing in Cromwell yesterday, before four council members. Eight opposed the proposal and three supported it. The first day of the two-day hearing was in Dunedin on Thursday. . .


Their land, our water

January 28, 2010

The paddocks on the side of the road between Tarras and the bridge over the Clutha near Luggate used to be dry and barren for most of the year.

Some of them still are, but others are green and productive, thanks to irrigation.

Which looks better is a matter of opinion but I prefer the green and admire the increased productivity farmers are getting from it.

Some of the irrigated farmland which would have struggled to support a few sheep is now able to feed bulls. These bulls no doubt have the same sort of outputs as dairy cows, but there is a major difference between the Upper Clutha farms and the dairy operations proposed for the Mackenzie Basin and that’s scale.

The bulls grazing paddocks beside the Tarras-Luggate road number in the low 10s. The Mackenzie dairy proposals are for nearly 18,000 cows.

In announcing that he’s calling in the consents for these big operations, Environment Minister Nick Smith said that stock will produce effluent similar to the amount produced by a city of 250,000 people.

That’s an awful lot of waste and helps explains why Environment Canterbury received around 5,000 submissions on the applications for resource consent.

Some were about animal welfare which do not come under the Resource Management Act and I’d be very surprised if any of the concerns were valid. Keeping cattle indoors may not be the way we’re used to farming here but it doesn’t by itself constitute any welfare issues.

Some were about what irrigation and dairying would do to the views. That is entirely subjective, what some regard as beautiful productive paddocks, others will see as blots on the landscape.

Although, it’s not just about how the landscape looks but what’s happening to it. Those travelling through at 100 kilometres an hour don’t appreciate the environmental damage that unrelenting heat and wind can do.

In the January 2-8 Listener, Simon Williamson of Glenbrook Station, was asked about the cost to the landscape of irrigation. He replied:

“I don’t see how it detracts. A green foreground and brown hills. Before it would have been a brown foreground and a dust storm.” *

Many of the other submissions were on the potential threat to water quality and these  submitters are on stronger ground.

Housing the cows as is proposed in the applications allows the farms to have much more control on the dispersal of effluent than if the stock was grazing pasture. But systems are only as good as the people who operate them and can never be fool-proof.

Besides, whether inside or out, these cattle will produce a lot of effluent. The Minster’s appointees will have to be satisfied that there is no danger to water quality from it and that may be very difficult to guarantee.

It is the applicants’ land but their right to do what they will with it doesn’t extend to polluting our water.

* The Williamson quote isn’t online, but the rest of the feature from which it came, Mainland dust-up, is on line and well worth a read.

Update: Federated Farmers media release on the calling in is here.


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