Rural round-up

09/08/2014

New remote control technology for forestry could save lives:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew says the results from a trial using remote control technology in tree felling, which could save lives in forestry harvesting operations, show promising results.

“During the successful trial the operator was able to successfully fell and bunch several trees from a safe distance at the top of a steep slope using a remote control device,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“Much of the forestry work in New Zealand is done on steep land. The use of remote control to operate machinery on steep land will essentially remove forestry workers from hazardous areas and prevent injuries and death—a valuable and critical step forward for the industry.” . . .

Russia wants our cheese but at what cost? – Niko Kloeten and Stacey Kirk:

New Zealand may have escaped Russia’s trade crackdown, but companies need to be careful doing business there, a trade expert says.

New Zealand has been warned that continuing to trade with Russia could damage its international reputation.

Russia today announced a ban on food imports from most Western countries, including the United States, Australia and the 29 member countries of the European Union, in retaliation against trade sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

New Zealand was not included in the ban, and Russia has signalled it will increase cheese imports from New Zealand to make up some of the shortfall. . .

Foreign ownership of farms ‘about right’ – Guy – Tim Cronshaw:

Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy is comfortable with the level of foreign investment in farmland as opposition grows against big tracts of land being bought by overseas owners.

Guy said New Zealanders should not lose sight they had relied heavily on foreign investment for a long time.

He said foreign ownership of land had become an election issue and the Government was confident of its position.

“We have to keep a reasoned and balanced debate through this issue and of course we will have political parties say they will do one thing on the campaign trail and maybe another when in government,” said Guy at a Christchurch luncheon this week. . .

Local people preserve the environment better than governments – Fred Pearce:

“FOR the Wapichan, our forests are our life.” Nicholas Fredericks, a local leader of these indigenous South American people, peers out from his village into the bush. “Outsiders have a financial view of the land,” he says. “They see our forests as money. We see them as life. We have to protect them for the future of our people.”

The Wapichan, who live in southern Guyana, have just completed a high-resolution map of their traditional lands to justify their claim for legal title. They want 14,000 square kilometres to be protected as a community forest. Guyana’s government has so far ignored their proposal. . .

 

 

The importance of ‘nutrient efficiency’ – Bala Tikkisetty:

Winter and early spring are when nutrients – whether introduced as fertiliser or produced by stock – are most at risk of getting lost from farms.

That’s due to seasonal and other factors such as high rainfall, reduced pasture growth, a huge amount of urine being produced, soil compaction and pugging.

To help farmers keep on top of the implications of this for their property’s profitability and impact on the environment, a farm nutrient budget is a valuable indicator of the status of nutrients in a farm system.

It indicates where fertiliser applications are inadequate and leading to a decline in the soil nutrient status. Conversely, it can indicate excessive inputs which result in a nutrient surplus and greater potential for losses of contaminants to waterways and groundwater. . .

 

New standard for measurement of ‘water footprint’:

A new international standard will guide organisations to measure their ‘water footprint’, and New Zealanders were involved in developing the standard.

ISO 14046 Environmental management – Water footprint – Principles, requirements and guidelines will allow all kinds of organisations, from industry, to government and NGOs, the means to measure their ‘water footprint’, or their potential environmental impact of water use and pollution.

Developed by experts from all over the world, the standard is based on a Life Cycle Assessment and can assist in: . . .

CRV Ambreed couple re-locate for South Island farming clients:

CRV Ambreed herd improvement specialists, Mark and Sue Duffy, have packed up their bags and shifted to Oamaru, where they will be helping to improve farmers’ businesses across the South Island region.

The Duffy’s have a long passion for herd management and breeding and are looking forward to sharing their dairy experience with farmers who want to get the best results for their herd.

“We’ll be working across the region to help farmers achieve a productive, healthy, fertile and efficient herd,” said Mr Duffy. . .


Rural round-up

08/07/2014

National Ballance Farm Environment Award Winners Ready to Spread the Word:

 

Mark and Devon Slee celebrating their success with their family

 

Winning the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards gives Canterbury dairy farmers Mark and Devon Slee the opportunity to tell some ‘good news’ stories about their industry and New Zealand agriculture in general.

The Slees were presented with the Gordon Stephenson trophy at the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s National Sustainability Showcase in Christchurch on June 26.

The couple was surprised and delighted to receive the award, accepting it on behalf of the entire dairy industry.

Mark Slee says he and Devon are proud to be dairy farmers. . .

 Soil mapping technology a big step forward  – Tim Cronshaw:

Four South Canterbury cropping farmers were so smitten with the precision of a soil sampling machine that they brought it back with them from the United States.

The Veris MSP3 3150 was imported by Colin Hurst and Hugh Wigley, who farm at Makikihi, in Waimate, and Michael Tayler and Nick Ward, from Winchester.

Commonly used in the big corn belts of the US since 2003, the technology is new to New Zealand, with only one other machine here.

The $70,000 machine is towed behind a tractor, and uses electrical conductivity to map paddocks for soil texture, and infrared measurement to detect organic matter, while constantly sampling soils for their Ph levels. . .

Grower lauds sugar beet ‘wonder fuel’ – Diane Bishop:

Sugar beet is the new wonder fuel, according to Southern Cross Produce owner Matthew Malcolm who has started growing and harvesting sugar beet for the dairy market.

“I can see a real future for it.

“With a lot more wintering sheds going up there will be a bigger demand to take the crop to the cows,” he said.

Malcolm, who has grown 10 hectares of the crop on his Woodlands property in Southland, was keen to try sugar beet which has a higher sugar content than fodder beet. . .

New Hort Graduate School launched:

Massey University and Plant & Food Research have formed a new joint graduate school to increase collaboration between the two institutes.

About a dozen Massey masters and doctoral students are studying topics that would in future be offered at the school.

This number is expected to increase with the availability of new research projects and supervisors from Plant & Food Research. . .

Spinal injury doesn’t stop Dave – Tim Cronshaw:

Dave Clouston knew his life would change the moment his pelvis jackknifed to his chest.

The fit farmer, hardened from years of mustering, was at his working peak and had earlier run through the forest to grab a tractor before his next job of stacking hay in a barn.

Clouston had worked his way up as a sheep and beef farmer on some of the best mustering blocks in Canterbury, and the young married man was managing a family business at Whitecliffs.

“I was stacking some hay we had brought in, and there was some loose hay on the floor of the barn. I jumped off the tractor to clear that away, and while I was bending over to do that the hay unsettled enough to come down on top of me – I never dreamed it would do that – from five high. They were big, square bales, and at least a couple hit me, and I was left pinned under one of them with my pelvis under my chest.” . .

 Shades of grey: ag’s power play – Sam Trethewey :

THE discovery of some snowy strands in my dark brown ‘do this week brought me both pleasure and pain – the ‘pain’ of ageing of course stings, but the pleasure was based on the realisation that the older I grow, the more I’ll be taken seriously in Australian agribusiness.

Most Australian business, including agribusiness, uses age-old management styles. It’s a vertical, top heavy system that that needs ‘workers’ not ‘contributors’. The sector has limited time for innovation and is resistant to change. We live in a fast-paced, globalised world and this structure is failing us.

These old school management styles put a lot of power at the top of the hierarchy and from there it’s a top down management approach (autocratic). . .


Rural round-up

28/06/2014

Sustainable farming title goes to Canterbury  – Tim Cronshaw:

Canterbury farmers have made it two years in a row after Mark and Devon Slee were named the national winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Christchurch last night.

The Gordon Stephenson trophy, farming’s top environmental and sustainable silverware, was handed to the couple by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The Slees topped a field of 10 regional winners in the competition run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFE).

Their business, Melrose Dairy, is based on a property portfolio of 1014 hectares in the Ealing district, south of Ashburton. . .

Farming balancing act – Stephen Bell and Bryan Gibson:

The final decision on Ruataniwha Dam represents the way of the future for farming and the environment, which will be balancing competing needs, Massey University ecology Associate Professor Dr Russell Death says.

Farming and environmental groups have cautiously welcomed the Environmental Protection Authority board of inquiry’s ruling on conditions for the $265 million dam in Central Hawke’s Bay.

However, while irrigators said commonsense had prevailed, one environment group said the decision meant the scheme’s viability was questionable.

“I guess to a certain extent both parties are right,” Death said. . .

Dam may be feasible after all – Marty Sharpe:

The correction of a relatively simple but hugely significant error in the 1000-page draft decision of the board of inquiry into the Ruataniwha dam proposal means the project may now be viable.

The board’s final decision on the dam and associated plan change was published yesterday, and corrected an “unintended consequence” in the draft decision, which inflamed farmers, farming organisations and the applicants – the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and its investment arm.

The draft decision held all farmers in the Tukituki catchment responsible for keeping the level of dissolved nitrogen in the river at 0.8 milligrams per litre of water. . .

 

Wanted: young farm workers for the future –  Gerard Hutching:

Need a sharemilker? How about employing a foreigner? Or perhaps a young New Zealander?

At the same time as the agricultural sector needs a big boost in the workforce, it has become harder to entice young people on to farms.

But it is not just a question of working on farms. The primary sector is facing a significant shortfall in skilled staff across the board, as the Government attempts to meet the ambitious target of doubling exports by 2025.

Within the primary sector, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ report People Powered, support services is the area of most acute need, followed by horticulture, forestry, the arable industry, dairy and seafood. Only the red meat and wool sector envisages a fall in workers by 5100. . .

Farming app replaces notebooks, calculators: – Anne Boswell:

A barrage of questions from his knowledge-hungry sons led dairy farmer Jason Jones to develop a livestock management application that removes the need for notebooks and calculators.

Handy Farmer, a highly-customisable app for iPhone and Android, was launched earlier this year, eight years after the idea was born.

Jones, a variable order sharemilker of 470 cows on 140ha effective near Otorohanga, said his sons started asking him “all sorts of questions” as they were learning the ropes of the dairy industry. . .

 

Online fruit and vege sales boom – Hugh Stringleman:

Online buying of fruit and vegetables is growing quickly and customers are more discerning and are prepared to pay more, the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Connections conference in Auckland has been told.

Four speakers gave perspectives from supermarket chains to fruit-and-vegetable stores.

New Zealander Shane Bourk, vice-president fresh food for Wal-Mart in China, said e-commerce was huge in China, although fresh fruit and vegetables lagged. . .


Rural round-up

23/06/2014

Leave TPP slowcoaches behind, New Zealand farmers urge

With Prime Minister John Key and President Barack Obama showing strong support for a comprehensive Trans Pacific Partnership, New Zealand farmers will support leaving countries behind that are not prepared to eliminate agricultural tariffs.

“The Trans Pacific Partnership was established to eliminate all tariffs and bring a new level of discipline to the use of non-tariff barriers,” says Bruce Wills, the National President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

“If we have a country that is not prepared to accept this reality, then they should not be allowed to slow down progress for all. . .

US milk exports affecting NZ farms – Tim Cronshaw:

Fonterra’s milk suppliers are wary of the ability of United States feedlot farmers to step up or slow down milk production faster than they can.

When grain is cheap and commodity prices are high, as was the case in the soon-to-finish 2013-14 season, this can be to the advantage of operators keeping cows in confined feedlots. As they ramp up milking, this has a bearing on world supplies and the prices Kiwi farmers receive.

Logic would say they will ease off as global commodity prices falter, but narrowing down their next move is complicated. . . .

The noblest of farmersBruce Wills:

The word nobility, to me at least, describes people who give of themselves without thought of personal advancement or enrichment.

As this will be one of my final columns as the President of Federated Farmers, I am in awe of the people who work incredibly hard for this organisation and farmers in general. To be fair, having a good team makes leadership easy and in our provinces and branches we are blessed with great people.  People who meet councillors and officers on plan changes one day, maybe Worksafe NZ the next and then may help to resolve a dispute among neighbours.  Being available 24/7, they work with the Rural Support Trusts when either we don’t have the right kind of weather or too much of it. 

Throughout it all, they still have their farm to run and their family to care for.

Our people do this because they are not just passionate about farming but they care for its future. They believe, as I do, that farmers and farming are a force for good in our country. While farming defines part of our national identity we are not immune from the odd ratbag.  In saying that, farmers are overwhelmingly honest, decent and generous folk who genuinely care. . . .

Techno Expo gets off to a flyer:

AN INAUGURAL Technology Expo run as part of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Central Otago ‘Farming For Profit’ programme has been hailed a success by organisers.

The event, in Alexandra earlier this month, featured parallel presentations from a string of companies and organisations with products, services, and – in the case of Otago Regional Council – regulations, which are set to change the way we farm.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the turnout,” BLNZ central South Island extension manager Aaron Meikle told Rural News. “Both seminars have been busy all day. I’d suggest there’s been well over a 100 people come through during the day.” . . .

Couple getting in the olive groove – Gerard Hutching:

There are several ways to harvest olives: laboriously beating the trees with sticks, using a hand rake, or using a mechanical rake.

But Helen Meehan, owner of olive grove Olivo in Martinborough, in the Wairarapa, prefers the relatively new method of mechanically shaking the tree until the olives drop into nets.

It’s all about saving time, she explains, even though about 20 per cent of the crop stays on the tree. . . .


Rural round-up

28/05/2014

Farmers prepare for payout cut – Sally Rae:

Five Forks dairy farmer Lyndon Strang isn’t expecting any surprises today when the dairy co-operative updates its forecast 2013-14 season payout.

A cut of between about 25c and 30c from the present $8.65kg ms farmgate milk price has been predicted by economists, while a conservative opening forecast for the 2014-15 season, around the $7kg ms mark, has also been suggested.

Mr Strang, who is also dairy chairman of North Otago Federated Farmers, said the 2013-14 payout was still going to be a record, and even a $7 forecast for next season was ”potentially still another good payout”. . .

Stream through dairy farm rich in fish – Tim Cronshaw:

Dairy farmers are getting praise from unlikely quarters after the most salmon in 40 years have been seen spawning in a small stream in the middle of dairying country.

After identifying good salmon catches in the area during the angling season and higher spawning rates in lowland streams than normal, fishery officers did a spot check at the spring-fed Waikuku Stream, expecting to see little salmon activity.

In a small stretch of the stream which feeds into the Ashley River they found about 35 salmon and as many nests – redds – containing thousands of eggs.

Among other theories for the high salmon count, Fish & Game New Zealand think the main reason is the work of dairy farmers to fence, plant and protect the stream. . .

A lamb chop fresh from the lab – Jill Galloway:

A retired Massey University horticulture senior lecturer says meat will come from the laboratory in future, putting New Zealand’s grazing systems at risk.

Dr Mike Nichols went to a conference in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, and said it was disconcerting to learn it was possible to “grow” a perfectly acceptable hamburger patty in the laboratory from plant-derived raw materials.

He said fillet steak and lamb chops of acceptable taste, flavour and texture were not far away. . .

Farmers prepare to pay for $90m irrigation scheme – Tony Benny:

Farmers supplied by the Rangitata South irrigation scheme intend to buy the scheme from the developer, says scheme chairman Ian Morten.

The scheme, which is expected to be in full operation next irrigation season, draws water from the Rangitata River in South Canterbury to fill seven huge storage ponds with a total capacity of 16.5 million cubic metres, three of which are now full or part full. Work completing the other four will resume after winter.

While initial investigation for a scheme on the south side of the Rangitata was started by a farmer group, it wasn’t until earthmoving company owner Gary Rooney joined them that the scheme took off. . . .

Making straight line into the top results:

Otago and Southland competitors did well in the New Zealand Ploughing Association’s (NZPA) national championships recently.

Hosted by the Marlborough Ploughing Association, more than 30 people took part in the national finals at Spring Creek, near Blenheim, from May 10 to 11.

The competitors were all winners from various qualifying events held throughout New Zealand in the past 12 months.

Mark Dillon, of Riversdale, was third in the Case IH silver plough section, and also won the W.G. Miller Trophy for the highest placed competitor aged under 35. . . .

A focus on changing fortunes: Minister to attend Open Day:

An Open Day is being held on Friday 30 May in Kaikohe to celebrate the ongoing collaboration between Lincoln University and Northland College. At the centre of this collaboration lies the recently signed Five Year Strategic Plan, designed to formalise the strategy for optimising the farming and educational opportunities from the neighbouring Northland College Farm.

In attendance will be staff and students, as well as key representatives from business and government; including the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, the Honourable Steven Joyce, who will be speaking at the event. . .

 


Rural round-up

20/04/2014

High-Performing Sheep Operation Wins Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Kaituna sheep and beef farmers Matt and Lynley Wyeth are Supreme winners of the 2014 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Judges said the couple’s 800ha (effective) farming operation, Spring Valley Enterprises, was exceptionally well run.

“This is an extremely high performing business with a defined aim to stay in the top 10 percent of equivalent farming operations.”

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 16, Matt and Lynley also collected the Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, the Massey University Innovation Award and the PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award. . .

Getting ready to kill the evil weevil  – Tim Cronshaw

Scientists are nearing the halfway mark of their target of sucking up one million wasps from Canterbury paddocks and sending them to Southland to combat the clover root weevil.

AgResearch teams armed with modified leaf blowers are sucking up weevils infected with an Irish wasp.

After counting their numbers in a laboratory, they are sent down in groups of about 100 to go to as many as 1000 Southland farmers. The wasp is a natural enemy of the weevil, which has attacked Southland clover in pastures and limited sheep, beef and milk production since arriving in 2010.

A mild winter allowed the weevil to take its small foothold on Southland farms to a widespread infestation. . .

Moths, beetles free farm of stock-threatening weed  – Iain Scott:

Once covered in ragwort, a Manawatu farm is now almost free of the stock-threatening weed thanks to the introduction of moths and beetles.

Kiwitea dairy farmer Wayne Bennett credits the cinnabar moth, flea beetle and plume moth for ridding the farm of the yellow-flowered weed that had spread through the farm two years after he bought it.

Ragwort has the ability to compete with pasture species and contains alkaloids that are toxic to stock. A single plant can produce more than 50,000 seeds. . .

Marijuana growers causing ‘level of fear’:

Many people in rural areas are ”living in fear” of drug growers and dealers taking advantage of isolated conditions, Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) executive officer Noeline Holt says.

RWNZ and Federated Farmers New Zealand asked their members for feedback on the Ministry of Health’s New National Drug Policy, which sets out the Government’s approach for tobacco, alcohol, and illegal and other drugs.

Mrs Holt said the main concerns of the almost 400 people who responded were about legal highs, marijuana plantations and methamphetamine manufacturing.

”Some of the most isolated homes and houses can be easily accessed and [drug manufacturers] can discreetly manufacture to their heart’s content. . .

Grape Harvest beats rain

Nelson wineries are relieved the region’s grape harvest has largely finished ahead of prolonged rain.

Nelson Winegrowers Association chairman Richard Flatman said most people he had talked to had managed to get their grapes in.

He described this year’s harvest as perfect, as it had been early and was big on flavour. “It will be fantastic for Nelson,” he said.

Waimea Estates general manager Ben Bolitho said they had been delighted to have all but finished harvest ahead of 10 days forecast rain. . .

 


Rural round-up

13/04/2014

Drought great time to show some compassion – James Houghton:

Another week and no drought declaration yet it is the second driest year on record in Waikato, and my has it revealed some peoples true colours! Default settings with graziers contracts are being ignored, and cooperatives are pretending there is no drought.

Farmers and graziers need to be working together through times like this. Not allowing for the affects of the drought to be considered and holding graziers to their contracts, can see them loosing money on a daily basis, trying to feed your stock. To expect a grazier to lose money to look after your stock shows no sense of community, which is what gets us through these adverse weather conditions, and could ostracise you in the long run. People do not forget unkindness. It goes both ways – if you are not showing flexibility on your grazing contracts, it could have a detrimental affect for you next time there is a drought, graziers could start charging you 10 to 50 percent more next time round.  It pays to compare that to the money you are saving in the short term, and whether it is really worth it. . .

Changing beef outlook – Allan Barber:

There have been some interesting beef market developments in recent days.

 Of immediate interest is the news of a forecast excess of US exports over production in the second half of the year as against a relatively small increase in production, reported in the USDA livestock supply and demand report which was released yesterday.

 This leads to a prediction of firmer prices for lean beef, although this will coincide with the seasonal downturn in New Zealand production. Australia is expected to be in a good position to take advantage of this situation.

 The other item of interest is the bi-lateral trade agreement between Japan and Australia which will reduce the tariff on frozen beef from 38.5% to 19.5% over 18 years and on fresh beef to 23.5% over 15 years. . .

Dairy Pawn – Milk Maid Marian:

These days, I feel a little like a chess piece; more pawn than queen.

The Australian federal government has rushed into a free trade agreement with Japan that does next-to-nothing to help Aussie dairy break through tariff barriers, even though Japan is hardly known for a growing dairy industry of its own that deserves protection. I don’t know why we were overlooked but a Sydney Morning Herald story quotes Warren Truss as citing “compromises”.

It’s been an interesting few days for dairy. Coincidentally, the ACCC forced supermarket superpower, Coles, to confess that it was lying when it claimed the $1 milk had not hurt dairy farmers. . .

Farmers back major Local Government NZ funding review:

Federated Farmers is fully behind a fundamental review by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) into the way local government and local roads are funded.

“LGNZ deserves praise for tackling a ticking time bomb made up of demographics and an ever narrowing funding base for council services and our local roads,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Local Government spokesperson.

“This affects everyone but it is especially pronounced in our rural districts.

“Federated Farmers is very keen to participate in this review because for years, we have lobbied for alternative funding options over the antiquated narrow property value basis, we use for rating.

“LGNZ’s review is the biggest advance since the 2007 Local Government Rates Inquiry, which emerged from public unease over the rates burden. . .

Meat and fibre’s going green – Jeanette Maxwell :

I have been told by a staff member that a major retirement village operator has specified only nylon carpet for its villages. I don’t want to reveal the name just yet as we will be contacting them, let alone the Campaign for Wool, but it dumbfounds me. 

If it is what I suspect, a spurious concern over linting, then that’s a specification issue.  It seems very strange to deny people the choice of healthy natural fibres especially in a retirement village because natural wool is good for you.

A big benefit of wool is outstanding flame resistance.  Having a high moisture and protein content it tends to extinguish flames and does not melt or drip either like synthetics.  Wool also stabilises relative humidity by absorbing or releasing moisture during periods of high or low atmospheric humidity. That’s a benefit from evolution.

If wool is maintained then it will absorb and neutralise airborne particles and fumes such as formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxides.  Wool is also resistant to static build up and being naturally curly, bounces back into shape after being crushed.   . . .

Awards spur on young dairy trainee  – Gerald Piddock:

Entering the Dairy Industry Awards has helped motivate Nathan Hubbard to focus on how he can improve his performance and progress his dairying career.

The 26-year-old, who was recently named Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year for 2014 said he entered the competition to show future employers his dedication to the industry.

“I want to challenge my knowledge against others at the same level that are motivated and thriving to succeed like I am.”

It was the second time he had entered the awards. After not making the top six on the first occasion, Hubbard said he was determined to do better this year. . .

‘Expensive brand beats expensive land’ – Tim Cronsahw:

Dairy farmers need to demand that dairy giant Fonterra invests heavily in brand development if increasing costs are to be offset by high-priced milk products, says a food marketing expert.

Global food and drink industry international speaker Professor David Hughes said New Zealand’s dairy companies had to spend more on developing patented clever dairy brands as domestic milk growth could not continue at its same rate forever.

“If you want to see Fonterra and smaller companies have higher valued products, they have to spend more on branding and research and development, and to do that has to be through brave farmer leadership saying hold on to more [revenue] and invest it on our behalf for our longer term, and don’t send it back to the farm and there would lots of farmers who don’t agree with that,” said Hughes who spoke at the Zoetis Dairy Summit in Christchurch this week. . .

Millar, Clark lead charge for dog trialling glory – Tim Cronshaw:

Every dog has its day, but only a select few will make the final cut at the Tux New Zealand and South Island Sheep Dog Trial Championship trials at Waihi Station near Geraldine next month.

As many as 300 competitors and their canine partners will line up for each of the four main national events in the main feature of the dog trialling calendar. The heading events are the long head and short head and yard and the huntaway events are the zigzag hunt and the straight hunt.

In good form is Stu Millar from Peak Hill Station who, with dog Rose, is the defending champion of the national short head and yard event in Taupo last year.

Canterbury Sheep Dog Trial Association promotions officer Sally Mallinson said the club trials had yet to be completed, but several Canterbury competitors and their dogs were standing out as possible contenders at the South Island and national events. . .

 


Rural round-up

25/03/2014

Farmer confidence slips, but horticulture remains buoyant:

Results at a Glance
• New Zealand farmer confidence has edged lower this quarter.
• Less than half of farmers now think conditions will improve in the next 12 months.
• Horticulture producers are more optimistic than others, driven by a recovery in the kiwifruit industry and stronger prices.
• Investment intentions are currently stable, but may be impacted by the recent rise in the Official Cash Rate.
• New survey data shows a third of New Zealand farmers struggling to attract/retain labour.

New Zealand farmer sentiment has eased from last year’s highs, though remains at robust levels, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

Sentiment among horticulture producers is stronger than in the broader farming community likely due to a recovery in the kiwifruit industry following the PSA outbreak and stronger prices. . .

Meat plants extend hours to meet demand – Rob Tipa:

Meat processing plants around the country have stepped up production and most plants are working full weeks and extended hours to meet market commitments.

The processing season started well with the national lamb kill hitting 4.6 million by the end of the December quarter, up 4 per cent on the previous year.

However, a cold, wet January in parts of the country meant lambs were slow to finish and the cumulative lamb kill for four months to the end of January was 6.9 million, down 5.8 per cent on the 7.3m lambs processed for the same period in 2012-13. . .

Trial site takes the biscuit – Tim Cronshaw:

A mixed picture has emerged of grain yields for autumn sown crops grown for research at Canterbury trial sites by the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR).

Autumn sown feed wheat yields of 10.5 tonnes a hectare this season are off the pace of the four-year average of 11.1t/ha.

However, some trial sites have performed better with feed and biscuit wheat yields above the long- term average at a dryland Chertsey site and at a dryland St Andrews site.

Research manager Rob Craigie said disease pressure appeared to have influenced yields for autumn- sown grain crops, but this was not widespread among the six Canterbury trial sites.

“We are back, but it’s kind of a mixed picture because some sites the yields have been good,” Craigie said. . .

Raw milk market revives faith in nutritious food – Lyn Webster:

I recently decided to advertise raw milk to gauge if there was any demand for the product locally.

I was pleasantly surprised when word quickly spread and I got a few phone calls from a tiny amount of advertising in the classifieds and on a Facebook local information site.

It was great to meet the people who bought the milk. In fact, they all became return customers, buying about 4 litres a week. I was struck by how happy and enthusiastic they were about its taste compared with the seemingly watered- down version you buy at the supermarket. Some of them even travelled significant distances to source my raw milk.

While some dairy farmers have invested in raw milk dispensing machines that automatically fill glass bottles and allow the customer to pay with eftpos, I kept it personal. . .

Speak Meat 2014: Helping government officials better understand the sheep and beef industry:

A joint industry initiative is doing its part to support a more confident and profitable sheep and beef sector.

There is a small and often unheralded group of officials working hard to make sure New Zealand’s meat products can get into our export markets. It’s an important job, especially when you consider that more than 80 per cent of our beef and more than 90 per cent of our sheepmeat is exported.

It’s not glamorous work. It often involves technical and complex concepts. But it’s work that helps to ensure a smooth trade in meat products to the broadest possible range of markets.

The New Zealand officials doing that work were the focus of the second edition of the Speak Meat initiative, run jointly by B+LNZ and the Meat Industry Association in late February. The more they understand what actually happens on farms and in meat plants, the better they can work for us in keeping export markets open for our products. . . .

Cheers to that – 40 years of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc:

It’s hard to separate New Zealand and Sauvignon Blanc these days, but Matua was the first to put them together, planting the first New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc vines in 1969, producing their first bottle in 1974. This year marks the 40th anniversary of not only Matua Sauvignon Blanc but also Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand.

Matua began with a vision shared by Bill and Ross Spence – to revolutionise the New Zealand wine industry by making wines with the best fruit from the best vineyards. A philosophy that still stands today and has earned them international recognition for their pioneering work.

Today, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has taken the world by storm with over $1.2 billion dollars in export sales* and a leading position in both the UK, Australia and USA Sauvignon Blanc categories. Matua sources grapes and produces wines of exceptional quality from all over New Zealand, with wineries in both Auckland and Marlborough. . .

Deutz sparkles after trophy win at Easter Show Wine Awards:

Deutz Marlborough Cuvée is celebrating a Trophy win after Deutz Marlborough Cuvée Blanc de Blancs 2009 was awarded the Champion Sparkling Wine Trophy at the Easter Show Wine Awards 2014 Dinner, held at ASB Showgrounds in Auckland on Saturday 22nd March.

A fitting way to mark the 21st anniversary for Deutz Marlborough Cuvée Blanc de Blancs, the award-winning 2009 vintage was chosen as the very best in its category by Chair of Judges and renowned Australian wine Judge Mike DeGaris, together with a panel of New Zealand’s leading wine judges.

This recent trophy win for the 2009 vintage follows on nicely from the previous 2008 vintage of Deutz Marlborough Cuvée Blanc de Blancs which was also awarded the Champion Sparkling Wine Trophy at the 2013 show. . .

Giesen Wines win Easter Show champion trophy in first attempt at Syrah:

Giesen Wines has tasted success in its first attempt at the Syrah varietal, winning the SkyCity Trophy Champion Syrah at the coveted Easter Wine Show 2014.

The Brothers Marlborough Syrah 2011 is the first Syrah that Giesen Wines has produced during its 30-year history. The winery also won gold for The Fuder Clayvin Chardonnay 2011.

“Syrah can be a very difficult varietal to master, but it’s a very versatile grape and can do well in warm and cooler climates. Viticulture is the key,” Marcel Giesen said.

“While the Marlborough region is renowned for its Sauvignon Blanc, we’ve always believed it has the potential to produce world class wines from other varietals and this is certainly being borne out.” . . .

Marlborough’s Versatility Shines:

Marlborough wines across eight varieties took out trophies at the weekend’s Easter Show Wine Awards.

On top of that, a Marlborough wine was awarded Champion Wine of the Show and a Marlborough winemaker was judged top in his field.

It was a big night for Villa Maria, with their Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Chardonnay 2012 winning the Chardonnay trophy, plus Champion Wine of the Show. The man behind making that wine, George Geris was named Winemaker of the Year. . .


Rural round-up

17/02/2014

Coach develops forestry safety vest:

A former rugby league coach has adapted a piece of sporting equipment for the forestry sector in an effort to save lives.

Graham Lowe has designed a GPS monitoring vest which can measure workers’ fatigue levels by gathering data on their heart beat and hydration levels, which he said is almost ready to be launched.

Last year set an unwelcome record for forestry incidents, with 10 deaths and more than 150 serious injuries. . .

From riches to dags – Tim Cronshaw:

More than anything, Christine Fernyhough will miss the sky when she closes the farm gate for the last time at Castle Hill Station.

The big, open skyline is the backdrop to craggy ridges descending down steep shingle screes to the station’s broad tussock country, limestone outcrops and productive pastures.

Live long enough at Castle Hill as Fernyhough has and the overhead vista takes centrestage. Its intensity at dusk and dawn is matched by the evening star show and during the day she never tires of its ever changing canvas.

It’s been nearly 10 years since she came to have a look at the South Island and fell in love with the sky. . .

‘Idiots’ back hunting illegally – Lard Harper:

A resident on a far-flung South Taranaki road says police are doing little to protect life and property from illegal hunters.

Tangahoe Valley Rd resident Jill Hardy says “little idiots” were still peppering farmland months after authorities said they would intervene.

But authorities say they are doing everything they can to navigate a difficult issue.

Hardy said her latest complaint, laid against a group shooting from a picnic table on to her land, had gone nowhere. . .

 

NZ milk volumes 4.2% higher for the season – Abby Brown:

New Zealand milk volumes are 4.2% higher for the season to January 31, 2014 the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council says.

The Global Dairy Trade (GDT) prices on February 4 are 40.5% higher than the last event on January 21.

It is up 50% over the same six month period last year.

The council said in its latest Global Dairy Update that milk collection across NZ for the eight months to January 31, 2014 reached 1120 million kg milksolids (MS).

This was 4.2% higher than the same period last year. 

“Rain through December and early January helped maintain milk production above last season’s level with the North Island 3.7% higher and the South Island 5.0% higher for the season to date,” the council said. . .

Wetlands provide many benefits – Julie Ross:

The area of our Kokoamo Farm near Duntroon in North Otago was a boggy, willow-infested corner at the bottom of the farm boundary, fed by a large catchment area and at the head of the spring-fed Kokoamu Stream.

We decided originally to enhance an unattractive part of the farm, while at the same time testing the filtering ability of a created wetland and providing a suitable pond for duck hunting.

Since then, the focus of our work on the wetland has changed and it is now primarily about improving water quality, reducing the environmental impact of intensive farming and providing a habitat for flora and fauna to thrive.

In 2008 we received a $5000 grant from Environment Canterbury but have funded most of the project ourselves. . .

 

Lack of social media training a barrier to farmers – Abby Brown:

Sophie Stanley says the biggest barrier to farmers and agribusinesses from using social media is a lack of training.

One of five New Zealanders awarded a Nuffield scholarship in 2013 Stanley has travelled the world to explore how the agriculture industry harnesses social media.

She said it is an issue the industry should invest in.

“If farmers are interested in networking and sharing industry knowledge Twitter has a wealth of information and a number of farmers domestically and globally that you can interact with,” she said. . .


Rural round-up

24/12/2013

Proactive approach prevents dog fight – Sheryl Brown:

As a battle about water quality rages between farmers and regional councils throughout New Zealand, a group of farmers in the Lake Rerewhakaaitu catchment have drawn nationwide attention through a proactive approach.

Nestled under Mount Tarawera, Lake Rerewhakaaitu is the southernmost of the 12 Rotorua lakes and is surrounded predominantly by dairy farms.

In 2001 a report by Bay of Plenty Regional Council showed nutrient levels in streams flowing into the lake were increasing.

The report suggested tightening dairy disposal consent conditions and setting a ceiling level of nitrogen fertiliser application. . .

Talley’s to lift Open Country stake to as much as 70.5%:

(BusinessDesk) – Talley’s Group, the privately-held maker of foods ranging from frozen fish to ice cream, agreed to buy up to 14.99 percent of Open Country Dairy from Singapore’s Olam International for as much as $46.5 million.

The deal would lift Talley’s holding of the dairy company to as much as 70.5 percent from 55.5 percent, increasing its control of a business that returned to profit in 2012 while tapping shareholders for funds to repay debt. The sale price is close to the current carrying value of the investment in Olam’s accounts, it said.

Olam’s stake would reduce to as low as 10 percent, leaving it as the second-largest shareholder just ahead of Dairy Investment Fund on 9.99 percent. Talley’s is required to make a partial takeover offer under the terms of the Takeovers Code and its transaction with Olam will be a combination of direct sale of shares and acceptance of the offer, Olam said. . .

Santa delivers farmers the perfect weather present:

While holidaymakers may not be relishing widespread rain over Christmas, it will certainly bring a smile to many farmers one-third of the way into summer.

“The guy in the big red suit is delivering farmers the best present; widespread rain,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Adverse Events Spokesperson.

“Farmers won’t have an excuse to get out on-farm but will instead have to get stuck into wrapping last minute presents. Aside from essential jobs on-farm, a few day’s weather enforced relaxation with family is the best way to recharge the batteries. . .

Scholar slams stubble burning as bad for soil – Tim Cronshaw:

A Nuffield scholar visiting Canterbury, who would never burn crop stubble on his farm, has criticised the worldwide practice.

Arable farmer Tom Sewell, who grows crops on a 400-hectare farm in southeast England, was one of two scholarship holders studying the long-term benefits of no-tillage in New Zealand.

He left for Australia a week ago convinced farmers could avoid stubble burning, banned in his home country.

“There are loads of problems with it. In the UK it would be a [non-runner] in public relations and would be a shot in the foot. The public perception is it’s bad for the environment, creating carbon dioxide and it’s burning a valuable carbon source for the soil and losing organic carbon.” . .

30 animals on offer at NZ’s first annual game sale

The efforts of South Canterbury man Neville Cunningham, to have game animals such as red deer and white tahr recognised as being of value rather than simply termed a pest to be eradicated, came to fruition yesterday when he staged New Zealand’s first annual game animal sale.

The sale, held at his Timaru property, offered 30 animals by tender including a black tahr and a white tahr, chamois, trophy elk bulls, trophy red stags, a highland bull, two bison and arapawa rams.

All the animals have been bred by Mr Cunningham at one of his two properties, at Timaru or Aoraki/Mt Cook and some, such as the white tahr, have come from animals originally recovered from the bush, but now part of a managed breeding programme. . .

Two new farmer directors elected to Beef + Lamb New Zealand Board:

Two new farmer directors will join the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Board after the annual meeting in Feilding on 14 March 2014.

They are Waikaka Valley farmer, Andrew Morrison who will represent the Southern South Island electorate and Wairarapa farmer, George Tatham who will represent the Eastern North Island electorate.

They were both elected unopposed.

They replace Beef + Lamb New Zealand directors who had not sought re-election. . .

Bumper crop boosts NZ apple and pear exports:

The largest crop in nearly 10 years has allowed apple and pear growers to crack the $500 million mark for exports.

The pipfruit industry believes the result has placed it on track to reach its export target of $1 billion by 2022.

Pipfruit New Zealand Incorporated (PNZI) chief executive Alan Pollard said the economic impact of apple and pear exports on regions was “extraordinary”.

“North Island centres such as Hawke’s Bay received $350m in export receipts, up $100m on 2012, and South Island centres such as Nelson have received $150m, $50m more than 2012,” he said. . .

The master has not finished just yet – Hugh Stringleman:

The world’s greatest competition shearer believes he has at least one more successful year left in him.

Five-time world champion David Fagan, 52, wants to add to his tallies of 16 titles each at the Golden Shears and New Zealand Shearing Championships.

At the Te Kuiti-based NZ championships David has reached the open final 28 out of 29 times, and the 30th edition in March will provide the best-possible stage for his last hurrah. . .

How do politicians manage to believe such things? – Tim Worstall:

I’m slightly boggled by this statement:

Tim Farron, South Lakes MP and chair of the all-party parliamentary hill farming group, said: “We need to do all we can to support our farming industry, particularly in the uplands where life can be a real struggle. This support and funding could make a massive difference to upland farmers throughout Cumbria and help show the next generation that there is a real future in a career in farming.”

It appears to me to be an example of cognitive dissonance. For we’re also being told this about that same occupation: . .

Vineyards on sustainable, diverse path:

A rapid rise in exports fuelled New Zealand wine industry growth in the 1990s and the industry recognised it needed a proactive approach to sustainable production.

Considerable research led to a holistic programme that eventually became known as Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand.

All but 6% of NZ’s producing vineyard area is certified under the Sustainable Winegrowing NZ approach, with a further 3-5% of operating under certified organic programmes.

Members are committed to protecting the unique places that make the country’s famous wines by reducing the use of chemicals, energy, water, and packaging and wherever possible reusing and recycling material and waste. . .


Rural round-up

15/12/2013

Couple forced off farm so it can be flooded for breeding birds, under EU rules: Miranda Prynne:

A couple have been forced off the land they have farmed for 30 years and planned to pass on to their sons so it can be flooded for breeding birds under EU laws.

Former Army officer Kenneth Hicks said he and his wife Deidre have been told they must leave the 60-acre estate by Eurocrats who put the “rights of birds above humans”.

The couple wanted to pass Harbour Farm (above), in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight, on to their three sons when they took retirement.

But now they claim they are being forced to move “with a gun to their heads” so the RSPB can take over the plot to boost endangered bird populations. . .

Tensions rise as farmers wait on repairs – Tim Cronshaw:

The worst of the irrigators wrecked by the September windstorm have needed $500,000 worth of repairs, and as many as 15 Canterbury farmers are reaching desperation point waiting for expensive parts to arrive from overseas.

Irrigator crews working overtime believe they will have more than 80 per cent of the repairs off their books by Christmas, with one company having finished only 60 per cent.

Some of the worst-hit arable farmers remain without irrigator access to water their crops, and the last of the corner arm repairs may take until March to complete.

Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Andrew Curtis said most companies were confident they would have most of the repairs finished within the next few weeks. . .

Crushed finger leads to vibrating post driver – Penny Wardle:

A Marlborough contractor has invented a safe way of driving vineyard posts into the ground.

John Weatherall said losing his right index finger when it was crushed by a hammer-driver got him thinking about safer ways of doing the job.

“I was holding the post while operating the driver when the top 300mm was crushed with my finger amongst it,” Weatherall said.

Five years and many refinements later he has a vibrating-press driver he is happy with, developed with Hamilton’s Machinery Ltd of Rapaura near Blenheim. . .

Maximum capacity – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra has reached capacity from its mix of processing facilities, resulting in the milk price being pegged and the dividend forecast slashed.

It cannot take any more advantage from soaring world milk powder prices, driven by demand from China.

Farmers’ expectations of a boomer season have been tempered and those of investors dashed.

Despite widespread anticipation of another large increase, fuelled in part by competitors that process solely with powder driers, Fonterra held its forecast milk price last week at a record $8.30 a kilogram. . .

Follow the journey of a Christmas tree – Laura Moss:

What happens to the tree before it reaches your house? Modern Christmas tree farms are often large-scale operations with thousands of employees — and one farm in Oregon even has helicopter pilots.

early 30 million Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. each year, and while they appear in our homes only briefly, growing them is a full-time, year-round task.
 
Large-scale Christmas tree farms like Oregon’s Noble Mountain Tree Farm are massive operations that employ thousands of workers.
 
They’re designed to be efficient, and they rely on both old-fashioned human labor and modern technology.
 
While trees are planted and tended by hand at Noble Mountain, the harvesting process involves helicopters flown by skilled pilots whose speed and precision recently took the Internet by storm in a viral video. . .

Half of Kerry farmers over-claim for payments – Anne Lucey and Stephen Cadogan:

Farmers are required to exclude from their annual payment application all ineligible features, such as buildings, farmyards, scrub, roadways, forests, and lakes.

The Government has this year been able to use the latest crystal-clear satellite technology to take thousands of images of farmers’ land to check how much of the land is eligible for payments.

Now it is going after farmers who have over-claimed.

According to the department, over-claims have no impact for 75% of farmers, because they declare more than enough land to cover payment entitlements.

However, 4,000 farmers in Kerry alone have received letters telling them they were applying for grants for ineligible land. . .


Rural round-up

06/12/2013

Farmers keen to come clean – Bruce Wills:

Federated Farmers surprised some people by welcoming Dr Jan Wright’s report, Water quality in New Zealand: Land use and nutrient pollution.  Before Dr Wright released it, she kindly gave us a briefing and that tells me we are not only trustworthy but also seen by her as a positive influencer.  This didn’t go unnoticed and the words of the Otago Daily Times’ editor deserve repeating:

  “…Farmers are making attempts to address the negative impacts of their operations and know their future livelihoods rely on looking after the land. But many mitigation efforts, such as riparian planting, are not effective at controlling nitrogen run -off, particularly in some catchment areas and soil types, and a rethink is needed – and our scientists and researchers play a vital part in that, alongside policymakers and farming industry heavy weights.  There is an increasing goodwill and acknowledgement that all parties need to work together to address issues. Federated Farmers is welcoming the report, with environment spokesman Ian Mackenzie saying the effects on water are “not a future we’d like to be a part of”, significant research is being put into finding solutions and progress is being made…”

In our ongoing discussion about water, we must not forget that New Zealand has some of the best quality water on earth. . .

Lincoln University announces LincolnSheep for education, training and research in sheep farming:

Lincoln University is converting 20 hectares of its farmland at its Te Waihora campus into a facility for teaching and researching sheep breeding and intensive lamb finishing. The land was previously used as the site for the South Island Field Days.

The new site for LincolnSheep will use 15 hectares for a partially-irrigated ‘technology farm’ as a summer-safe sheep breeding unit. The unit will be used to investigate and demonstrate current and future on-farm technologies in the management of sheep, hogget and lamb selection, health, welfare and production, with the ultimate aim of maximising productivity and profitability for sheep farming. . .

More iwi want agriculture help from Lincoln University:

Lincoln University says more and more iwi are wanting to set up agriculture partnerships with the tertiary provider.

It has agreements with tribes such as Ngai Tahu in the South Island, as well as Northland iwi, Ngapuhi and Ngati Koroki Kahukura and Ngati Haua in Waikato.

In Waikato, the university and the two Tainui tribes have outlined an agreement to create an agricultural training centre, and aim to create a new farm certificate course. . .

Push to eradicate genetic disease within four years:

Since its introduction into New Zealand in the early 1990s, the Texel sheep has grown to become one of this country’s key breeds in the national flock, both as a terminal sire and as part of a maternal flock.

“Its high meat yield muscling and hardiness has meant it is a first choice for many sheep farmers,” says Alistair McLeod, Chairman of the New Zealand Texel Breed Committee. “We are always looking at improving and advancing our breed for the commercial sheep farmer, so when we identified a genetic disorder we quickly looked at ways to test for it and eradicate it.” . . .

 

 

Researchers back Canterbury stubble burning – Tim Cronshaw:

The burn-off of stubble from harvested crops may be little used overseas, but researchers are convinced of its value for Canterbury arable farming.

Stubble burning demonstration plots were a talking point for managing crop rotations at the Foundation for Arable Research’s (Far) Arable Research in Action field day at Chertsey on Wednesday.

Research and extension director Nick Poole said the plots were set up to show why stubble burning was important in Canterbury, especially to growers of small seed crops. . .

UK wheat prices to fall, boding well for dairy:

 UK growers should prepare for a further fall in wheat prices – but not enough to put livestock producers in profit, in contrast with their dairy peers, HSBC said. 

The bank – which a year ago predicted, broadly correctly, a drop to £165 a tonne in wheat prices this year, from £227 a tonne at the time – said that values will fall further next year, to £150 a tonne.

While the UK itself reaped a relatively small harvest this year, of 12.1m tonnes, after persistent rains hampered autumn sowings, the world picture for cereals supplies has improved, HSBC said, quoting estimates from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization that stocks, compared with use, has risen to an 11-year high. . .


Rural round-up

10/11/2013

Grass-fed meat promises to revive health benefits – Gerald Piddock:

Farming and consuming grass-fed red meat might just save the planet.

This form of farming was completely sustainable, nutritional therapist Nora Gedgaudas told farmers and visitors at the World Angus Forum in Rotorua.

It is also the predominant method of farming livestock in New Zealand.

“Grass-fed meat may just be the most healthy and sustainable food source on Earth,” she said.

Much of the earth’s landmass was unsuitable for agriculture, yet it could support grazing livestock while providing nutritionally dense food, she said. . .

1105kg steer continues tradition– Tim Cronshaw:

A friesian and charolais cross steer tipped the scales at 1105 kilograms to take the heaviest steer title in the Prime Cattle Competition at Canterbury Agricultural Park.

Dunsandel farmer John McDrury added a second title to his collection at the pre-Canterbury A & P Show event this week, after winning in 2010 with a 1250kg steer. His grandson, Jack McDrury, won in 2011 with a 1000kg charolais.

The supreme champion animal was a limousin heifer, which also won the best single heifer title for Jeannette and Ralph Adams from Flaxton, near Rangiora. . .

Bloodthirsty ticks on a quest:

BLOODTHIRSTY ADULT TICKS are on a quest right now and farmers in the North Island in tick-prevalent areas should be checking cattle and talking to their veterinarian, say DairyNZ.

They should be assessing their risk in an effort to limit the spread of a new strain of the blood-borne parasite Theileria, says DairyNZ.

Cases of cattle being affected by the new Ikeda strain of Theileria orientalis, which is carried by ticks and causes anaemia, have been on the increase since late 2012, particularly in the upper half of the North Island. . .

Stock shift sees Molesworth road open earlier  – Tony Benny:

The Molesworth Station road has opened early this year, instead of the usual December 28, thanks to a change in farming practice and continuing efforts to show the historic high country property off.

“Our goal is that over their lifetime, everybody in New Zealand comes and has a look and gets a feel of what they own,” said Molesworth manager Jim Ward.

The public has previously been kept off the 59-kilometre road that links Hanmer with Marlborough’s Awatere Valley until close to New Year, because of fears that they could interfere with farming operations.

This year the road opened two months earlier, at Labour Weekend, thanks to young cattle being sent to finishing blocks in Hanmer rather than being kept on the station. . .

Bush v city: why I won’t be joining the exodus from rural Australia – Gabrielle Chan:

From wide open spaces to a genuine sense of community, country Australia, let me count the ways I love thee.

So the bush is bleeding. No one wants to live here. Just a few of us hardy souls left, it appears.

We were told this month rural Australians are falling in love with the beaches – that coastal strip that rings the country, with all its white sands, clear blue seas, temperate climate, its schools and hospitals, its shopping malls and movie theatres.

Well all I can say is: what a bunch of tossers.

Granted, as a city girl, I could not initially see the attractions that lay beyond the tall dark handsome farmer who lured me westward out of my three-metre-wide Surry Hills terrace and into the great open spaces.

Granted, I did spend a fair bit of time walking through the paddocks carrying a large branch, suffering from some agoraphobic belief that all this space without a single human had to hold some hidden monster that would emerge from the morning fog to attack me.

Ah, but like most affairs, the delights of rural life crept up slowly and now I have fallen in love with the bush. . .

#gigatownoamaru has fallen in love with the goal of being the southern hemisphere’s first gigatown.


Rural round-up

03/11/2013

Reputation is everything says Synlait Milk – Tim Cronshaw:

Synlait Milk says it is doing all it can to prevent a food scare ever happening like Fonterra’s close shave.

The listed Canterbury milk products processor and exporter, backed by China’s Bright Dairy & Food, has managed to avoid incidents such as Fonterra’s botulism scare in whey protein concentrate, which proved to be a false alarm, and other traces of foreign material found in the milk processing industry.

Manufacturing general manager Neil Betteridge said a company’s reputation was everything in the food industry and there was no room for error in milk processing. . . .

Massey looks at cow barn potential:

MASSEY UNIVERSITY is testing a barn farm system with potential for improved productivity and better water quality on dairy farms.

Professor Mike Hedley, who leads the research at Massey, discussed the work recently with local farmers at the newly-built free stall barn.

The common practice of standing cows off pasture to reduce winter treading damage to pastures during wet soil conditions can also reduce losses of nutrients in surface runoff and drainage, he says. Loss of nitrogen to water is reduced if paddock urine patch load can be transferred to the standoff facility, such as a freestall barn, at critical times of the year. . . .

Getting people to drink more milk:

FLUID MILK CONSUMPTION is declining throughout the world while cheese and yoghurt consumption is up, the World Dairy Summit in Yokohama heard.

International Dairy Federation Japan chapter president Kenichi Unno says since 1960’s in traditionally milk-drinking countries in Europe, North America and Oceania, and since 1990’s in Japan, fluid milk consumption has been declining. Unno says cheese and yogurt consumption is increasing so milk and dairy products as a whole are still increasingly consumed. . .

Minister to meet formula firms over botulism scare:

Foreign Affairs minister Murray McCully plans to meet with small manufacturers of infant formula who feel they have been given little support to help them recover from Fonterra’s botulism scare.

The threat of botulism in whey protein sparked product recalls around the world but turned out to be a false alarm.

The New Zealand Infant Formula Exporters Association says even though many of its members do not use Fonterra whey protein, their connection to New Zealand meant their products were taken off the shelves in their biggest market, China. . .

MyFarm share trading kicks off – Greg Ninness:

Farm syndication and management company MyFarm launched its new farm share trading facility MyFarm Trading (www.mfx.co.nz) on the Unlisted share trading platform on Friday, which will allow small investors to invest in the dairy sector.

The new facility will allow people to buy and sell shares in what are being called Collective Investment Vehicles (CIVs), companies that invest directly in specified dairy farms.

The new facility will open up farm investment to a much broader range of people by reducing te amount of money they they need to be able to buy into a farm. . .

Enough is enough for Coast farmers – Tim Cronshaw:

As Canterbury is being barraged by strong northwest winds across the Southern Alps farmers are dealing with heavy rain on the West Coast and the worst flooding around paddocks near Lake Brunner is over the fenceposts.

Flooding crept over the road earlier this week at Aratika farmland beside the Arnold River and farmers hope the rain will keep at bay long enough so they can avoid a repeat of the wet 1998 season.

Since the big September windstorm in Canterbury, dairy farmers around Rotomanu and Inchbonnie have received one metre of rain. . .

Dairy women nominations close soon:

WOMEN WORKING in the dairy industry are being urged to get their nominations in for the 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year award, which closes for entry on November 15, 2013.

Sponsored by Fonterra, the prestigious award includes the chance to attend the year-long Women in Leadership programme valued at $25,000 and delivered by Global Women.

Dairy Women’s Network executive chair Michelle Wilson says the Dairy Woman of the Year award celebrates and advances women who are making a real difference in the dairy industry, in their dairying businesses and in their communities. . .


Rural round-up

14/10/2013

Low wool supply puzzles exporters:

Wool industry representatives are trying to unravel the mystery of an unexpected drop in the amount of wool coming forward for auction.

Thursday’s South Island sale had fewer than 8000 bales on offer, which was about 40% below the amount which had been anticipated, while the amount of wool for next week’s North Island sale is 25% lower than what had been rostered.

That’s even more of a surprise, as recent North Island sales have been offering more than the amount forecast. . .

Garden stepping down at SFF – Alan Williams:

Silver Fern Farms will be looking for a new chairman, after Eoin Garden retires from the board at the annual meeting in December.

Garden, a Central Otago farmer, has been chairman of New Zealand’s biggest meat processor and exporter since early 2008.

He was elected to the board in 1998 and is the longest-serving of the current directors. . .

Cricketers to front Indian venutre – Annette Scott:

An exclusive supply contract with meat processor and exporter Alliance Group has set the wheels in motion for fledgling company QualityNZ to build a meat trade with India.

QualityNZ has spent the past three years “under the radar” devising strategy to set up a market for New Zealand sheep meat in India.

Building around NZ and India’s sporting relationships, cricketing stars Brendon McCullum, Stephen Fleming, and Daniel Vettori will play a big part in the marketing and profile of the new meat trade.

All three cricketers have a shareholding in QualityNZ alongside the two major shareholders, former NZ fast bowler Geoff Allott and NZ Cricket Board member and Geoff Thin. . .

Keep it clean:

RURAL CONTRACTORS are being reminded to make sure their machinery is cleaned between jobs to ensure that plant pests and weeds are not spread around on dirty gear.

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) president Steve Levet says dirty machines carry soil, seeds, and organic matter, which could dislodge when it’s next used and spread contamination to new sites.

“Soil-borne pests and diseases can be transferred in wet soil attached to wheels, tracks or parts of the machine that work in the ground. While some pests and disease can also be transferred in dust that can accumulate on many parts of the machine – engine bay, cabins and air intakes,” Levet explains. . .

NZ merino a winner during America’s Cup – Tim Cronshaw:

New Zealand may have lost the America’s Cup, but some consolation can be taken from 5500 meals of merino-branded lamb being served up at a pop-up restaurant on the San Francisco waterfront to diners including film actor Tom Cruise.

The branded lamb meat, Silere alpine origin merino, was a winner among supporters of the race won last month by the United States Oracle team led by Kiwi Sir Russell Coutts and bankrolled by billionaire Larry Ellison.

More than 1.4 tonnes of merino lamb was dished up during the 12 weeks of the America’s Cup at the Waiheke Island Yacht Club pop-up restaurant at the Embarcadero in San Francisco which will remain open until the end of the year. . .

Dairy man jumps on asparagus bandwagon:

THIRTY FIVE years ago Geoff Lewis left his parent’s small dairy farm to seek his fortune in the sheep and cattle industry.

Today Lewis has added a dairy farm to his business, but asparagus growing has propelled him to prominence as a highly regarded grower using technology for maximum profit.

“When Liz and I got married, I went and managed a coastal sheep and beef farm and forestry block north of Foxton. My employer there was keen to diversify. In the late 1970’s the catchcry was ‘diversify’ and there were goats, deer, kiwifruit – all embryonic. 

“MAF had an advisory office supporting diversification by farmers so we investigated and decided perhaps asparagus was a good option for the free-draining sands of the west coast.” . . .


Rural round-up

13/10/2013

Passionate advocate of genetics – Annette Scott:

South Canterbury hill-country farmer Chris Hampton is a sheep farmer at heart. He is passionate about genetics and is focused on making a difference in the New Zealand sheep-meat industry. Annette Scott reports.

Chris Hampton has confidence is the sheep industry and has put his money where his mouth is by investing in genetics.

He and his wife Annabelle farm an 816-hectare hill-country property at Cave, in South Canterbury.

The couple moved south five years ago from their mixed-farming operation at Waterton, in Mid Canterbury. . .

Pair switch on to magnetic mapping power – Tony Benny:

National Ballance Farm Environment Award winners, Canterbury farmers Craige and Roz Mackenzie, say electro-magnetic mapping is central to their precision agriculture operation.

Their farm, just outside Methven, comprises a variety of soil types, some far more productive than others, and knowing accurately what’s beneath the surface means they can tailor irrigation and fertiliser inputs to suit.

“Information is power and this is the background you really need,” said Craige Mackenzie.

“It’s just a base point,” said Roz. “We’re all farming the land – we need to know what we’re farming.” . . .

Hospital site to become agricultural park – Tim Cronshaw:

A former hospital site outside of Christchurch is being transformed into an innovation park for agricultural research and business.

The 65-hectare park is owned by the Mauger family. They gained clearance after long negotiations with the Christchurch City Council to rezone the special purpose hospital zoning into an agricultural business centre.

Six tenants have committed to the site. The Foundation for Arable Research (Far) is the first business to move into former office buildings, and a purpose-built work station is close to being completed for a new client. . .

Live seafood exports to Australia ‘exciting prospect’ – Bill Moore:

The export of live seafood to Australia could develop into a $100 million annual trade, Seafood New Zealand says.

The industry umbrella group says the announcement last week by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy that the ministry is to begin work on getting live trade going, coupled with the development in Nelson of a new harvesting method to bring fish on board alive, opens up exciting prospects.

There are high value live exports to other countries, predominantly rock lobster to Hong Kong and China, worth $237m in 2012-13, but Australia blocks them. . . .

Foreclosure inspires Kalamazoo artist to knit herself a ‘safe house’ –  Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood:

Inside a knitted house made of wool roving, a Kalamazoo artist sat upon a knitted couch made of the same wool roving and clicked her triple zero needles making slow but steady progress on a yellow sweater.

It was day five of ArtPrize and she had already spent many hours knitting inside her cozy entry titled simply: “Woolhouse.”

“If I’m going to sit here all day, I figured I’d rather get a sweater out of it,” said Annie Eckrich, 22, who creates art under her childhood nickname “Annie Belle.”  . . .

Biofuels plants key to UK wheat price outlook – Agrimoney:

Success in efforts to bring two major biofuel plants onstream may have an undue impact on UK wheat values, in determining the level of supplies needed to be priced to compete on export markets.  Wheat futures for November touched £151.00 a tonne in London last week, the lowest for a spot contract in 19 months, in a slump attributed to growing harvest hopes leaving the country with hefty supplies to sell abroad.  Harvest estimates, some of which fell below 11.5m tonnes after a cold spring followed an unusually wet autumn and winter, have risen substantially after early harvest results showed far better yields than had been expected. . .


Rural round-up

12/10/2013

Living up to our global responsibilities – Bruce Wills:

Not to give you the wrong impression, but I am writing this column from Geneva, where I have co-presented the World Farmers Organisation’s trade policy to the World Trade Organisation. I am back in Europe thanks to the WTO but it has helped to advance New Zealand’s agricultural diplomacy.

As a trading nation, we absolutely depend on trade in a world that is utterly dependent upon food. There are some things which keep me awake at night. Adverse weather events and biosecuirty being chief among them but there is a third which increasingly gnaws at me. That is a perfect storm of food production not keeping pace with a world population expected to hit 9.3 billion stomachs in the year 2050; an amazing 2.3 billion more than today.

Henk-Jen Brinkman, of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office, called food insecurity “a threat multiplier”. . .

Angus farmers see grass is greener – Tim Cronshaw:

New Zealand’s grass-based feeding system for cattle was the main talking point of 110 international visitors at Te Mania Angus, during one of the first stops of a South Island tour, before the World Angus Forum in Rotorua next week.

Overseas visitors were treated to a wide selection of angus heifers with calves, mature calving cows, yearling bulls and herd sires, at the breeding operation at Conway Flats, south of Kaikoura.

They were also impressed by food prepared by celebrity chef Al Brown for their Monday visit at one of the largest angus breeding operations in New Zealand, and its setting next to the sea, with a snow-topped mountain backdrop. . . .

Milk powder scare will cause long term disruption – Alan Barber:

It may be a statement of the obvious, but the effects of Fonterra’s botulism scare will last much longer than originally hoped or imagined. Its impact on New Zealand’s international trade reputation gives the impression of being more disastrous than an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, always assumed to be the biggest disaster that could possibly happen.

Economically there is no comparison between the two, because the botulism that wasn’t has initially done no more than cause infant formula manufacturers a loss of business. There has been no apparent impact on dairy payouts or even global auction prices. Fonterra appears to be pretending the whole saga wasn’t even its fault, if its reaction to Danone’s damages claim is any guide.   . .

Sainsbury’s evaluating merits of docking – Alan Williams:

Big United Kingdom supermarket chain Sainsbury’s will be guided by the science on issues it is working on with leading lamb supplier Alliance Group.

These are the docking of lambs’ tails and the use of high-sugar grasses as a livestock feed in New Zealand.

Animal welfare and sustainable production were key parts of Sainsbury’s strategic vision and its work with Alliance was part of the process to have matching values between the main UK lamb supply group and NZ suppliers, the chain’s agriculture manager Philip Hambling said.

The first year of a three-year tail-docking research programme, reported in The New Zealand Farmers Weekly, has been completed.

It produced interesting findings but it was too early to draw conclusions, Hambling said. . .

Gisborne forest boom predicted – Pam Graham:

The harvesting of forests in the Gisborne-Tairawhiti region on the East Coast will create 630 jobs by 2020, potentially reducing drug abuse and crime in the region, according to a report.

A study by Waikato University for the Eastland Wood Council says that by 2020 up to 10 percent of the population of Gisborne will be involved in, or derive a living from forestry.

Salaries and wages to Gisborne residents are likely to increase to $151 million a year in that period.

The number of people receiving welfare benefits will go down, schools will benefit from having parents employed and there may be less drug abuse and crime. . .

Weather helping croppers – Murray Robertson:

THE weather has been helping the district’s croppers in the past week to catch up with their planting programmes after heavy rain last month.

This is a crucial time for every crop and cropper in the district.

Leaderbrand general manager Richard Burke said they had everything they needed at this time.

“Things are pretty good really. . .

Awards offer chance to put spotlight on sustainability – Sue O’Dowd:

There’s no time like the present to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, says national judging co-ordinator Jamie Strang.

Earlier this week the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET) confirmed eight entries had been received for the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The prestigious awards, which are held in 12 regions, are being staged in the province for the first time.

While some farmers said they wanted to delay entering the competition because they thought their farm wasn’t quite ready, often they’d say the same thing in following years, Strang said.

Many farmers did not like being in the spotlight, but entering the awards offered many benefits. . .

Solid start to avocado export sales:

The first of this season’s New Zealand avocados have started hitting the supermarket shelves in Japan this week in a buoyant start to export sales there, and opening prices in Australia are at their best.

Rival Mexican supply is lower, which has allowed Avanza, the international export brand channel for AVOCO, to start early season negotiations in Japan at significantly improved market prices. While this is partly offset by an unfavourable exchange rate it still reflects a significant improvement in grower OGR (orchard gate returns).

At the same time, interest in New Zealand avocados is proving to be strong in developing markets such as Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia and there are encouraging signs that Avanza sales will resume in Hong Kong after a two-year absence. . .


Rural round-up

04/10/2013

Whisky-fed salmon to boost sustainability:

The whisky and salmon industries in Scotland are about to embark on an innovative new partnership which will convert waste from whisky production into feed for salmon and fish farming.

Over 500 million litres of whisky are produced in the UK each year. But for every litre of whisky produced, up to 15 litres of potentially harmful waste can be generated1.

Chemical engineers from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland are looking to solve this problem by converting some of the waste into protein-rich feed, which could have the added benefit of providing a sustainable and economic supply of feedstock for the growing Scottish fish farming industry. . .

Synlait Milk – Champion Global Operator at Champion Canterbury Business Awards:

Synlait Milk has won the Champion Global Operator Award (large to medium enterprise) at the 2013 Champion Canterbury Business Awards. This is the second consecutive year that Synlait Milk has won this award.

“Winning the Champion Global Operator Award for the second year running is testament to our business strategy and the effort from all our staff,” says Synlait Milk Managing Director John Penno.

“The award caps off a great year for the Company in which we successfully began trading on the NZX Main Board, after completing a positive Initial Public Offering, in addition to posting an after tax profit of $11.5 million for FY13,” says Mr Penno. . .

Jobs under threat as meat company makes changes:

Jobs are on the line as the country’s biggest meat processor, Silver Fern Farms, makes adjustments to its North Island operations.

The co-operative is making changes as the new season gets underway with the prospect of lower stock numbers from the summer drought.

Silver Fern is consolidating beef processing in Waikato and negotiating to sell its skin processing plant near Shannon.

The firm is considering an offer from the Lowe Corporation to buy the ageing Shannon fellmongery, which employs more than 80 workers. . .

Nutricia Restates Quality and Safety Assurance with Extra Commitments:

Infant formula manufacturer Nutricia has restated its world-class commitment to quality, safety and transparent communication, with three extra commitments:

1. Extra controls on suppliers
2. Innovation to improve industry standards 3. Extra commitment to communication with parents and carers

These extra commitments enhance Nutricia’s established quality and safety procedures of rigorous testing, state-of-the-art manufacturing, comprehensive sanitation and hygiene, quality & safety accreditations, and traceability. . .

Pure ambitions for Angus brand – Tim Cronshaw:

A new-look angus brand providing premium payments for farmers will be announced at the World Angus Forum.

Details of the Angus Pure brand development have yet to be revealed, but will centre around new criteria being set for selecting meat carcasses. This will be unveiled during a secretariat meeting at the forum to be held in Rotorua from October 13 to 16.

Forum chairman Tim Brittain said the extension to the brand would offer opportunities for the New Zealand food service sector and for sales to the international marketplace. . .

The diary of a teenage bee – Raymond Huber:

A female bee lives for only about six weeks in summer. But it’s a life lived to the full because she’s constantly changing jobs: from cleaner to babysitter, builder, honey-chef, queen-groomer, guard, forager, undertaker and scout. Here is the diary of a teen bee:

Week 1    Dear Diary, So unfair! The work started the moment I hatched. I had to clean out my birth cell (ew!), then spend the whole week tidying the rest of the hive. My older sisters call me a ‘house bee’ and say I’m not allowed outside ‘til I’m 21 days. And I’m like, no way sister!

Week 2   Dear Diary, Yay! I’m a babysitter. The babies are sooo cute but totally exhausting. I have to check them 1300 times a day (okay, call me obsessive) to make sure they’re okay.  Meanwhile the comb cleaning goes on 4EVAH…

NZer secures top Irish horse for Cup:

Irish St Leger winner Voleuse De Coeurs will be aimed at the Melbourne Cup after New Zealand bloodstock agent Paul Moroney secured the mare in a surprise deal.

Voleuse De Coeurs’ Cup price was slashed to $A17 from $A34 after the announcement she would leave Dermot Weld to be trained by Moroney’s brother Mike Moroney, who is based at Flemington.

The mare will be flown to Newmarket for her quarantine and is expected to arrive in Australia on October 19. . .


Rural round-up

16/09/2013

Drought unlikely to trigger recession – James Weir:

The summer drought is likely to have the economy knocked backwards in the June quarter, possibly down 0.2 per cent, though there is no risk of a slide into recession, economists say.

While the official figures will be “unflattering” for the economy, after subdued growth of just 0.3 per cent in the March quarter, there should be a strong bounce in the September quarter forecasters say.

Official figures for economic growth are due on Thursday. They are expected to show the full damage from a slump in milk production and a drop in livestock slaughter numbers, after a spike up earlier in the year because of the drought. . .

Windy weather creates lambing headaches – Tim Cronshaw:

Gale-force winds have made life difficult for newborn lambs, and hill country farmers have their fingers crossed that the good luck for lambing on the Canterbury Plains lasts for them.

The lambing beat officially starts today for the hill and high country, and farmers there have watched lambs in the down country come through with a good run.

Survival rates have been high so far, although some mismothering was expected as a result of last Tuesday’s howling nor’westers, preventing lambs from moving and seeking warmth from ewes. . .

No evidence tail docking detrimental:

Preliminary findings of research into tail docking by Alliance Group have found that leaving a lamb’s tail longer or intact has no long-term beneficial or detrimental effect on its growth rate.

The southern-based company has just completed the first year of a three-year study.

Tail docking is common practice among New Zealand farmers. It is thought to help reduce dag formation and the risk of fly strike, a major cost to the sheep industry. However, to date there has been little objective information or research on the benefits, or otherwise, of the practice. . .

Fonterra has big plans for China – Dene Mackenzie:

Fonterra Co-operative Group has played down the implications of the whey contamination scare as it pushes ahead with a plan to double its milk production in China.

Although the world’s largest milk exporter identified some shortcomings in processes during the review, the co-operative says its staff on most occasions acted conscientiously on new information, and generally sought to do the right thing. . .

Need to enshrine horse heritage – Sally Rae:

Department of Conservation policies need to ensure that high country horse heritage is remembered, fostered and supported, horse-trekking enthusiasts say.

The High Country Pleasure Riders group, which was established in 1999 and is the largest horse-trekking club in the South Island, has made submissions to Doc’s draft conservation management strategies in both Canterbury and Otago.

The club has an annual calendar of weekend horse treks throughout the high country, often traversing public conservation land. . .


Rural round-up

01/09/2013

Weather warning saved Molesworth – Tony Benny:

Even as a forecasters this week predicted a short, sharp, cold front bringing snow down to 300 metres in Canterbury and 400m in Marlborough, Molesworth Station manager Jim Ward was counting his blessings after escaping relatively unscathed from June’s big snow and was enjoying an early spring.

“At this stage, it’s like it is in October – we’ve got beautiful days, we’ve got a bit of green coming away, and the moisture levels are up in the soil,” Ward said.

“We’ve noticed the bird life that turns up in the spring, like oyster catchers – they turned up a bit earlier and there’s a lot more of them so I think that’s a pretty good indication. We could still get a dump now but we’re quite chirpy.” . .

Vision for dairying future is explained – Murray Robertson:

AN $18 million investment proposal has been laid out to get the Ata Milk concept up and running in the Wairoa-Gisborne-East Coast region.

The proposal was presented to a group of about 60 interested people on Thursday afternoon in Gisborne.

The man who has spent the past 10 years developing the principles of Caring Dairying and Ata Milk, Dr Hugh Jellie, outlined his vision for the resurgence of dairying in this region.

“I am very humbled by the level of interest and support shown.”

His dream was to take this region “back to the future”, he said. . .

Dairy potential profiled – Murray robertson:

THE Ata Milk and Caring Dairying proposal for Tairawhiti has the potential to produce more than double the returns achieved by dry-stock farming and cropping, initiator Dr Hugh Jellie said in a presentation in Gisborne this week.

Around 60 interested people heard his vision for the resurgence of dairying in this district.

An investment proposal was laid out for consideration, to raise $18 million to establish the first stage of the project. . .

Gaining a good foothold – Murray Robertson:

GISBORNE now has a new “master” farrier trained by long-time master farrier Dick Parsons.

Ben Akuhata-Brown recently passed his final examination.

“Ben has attained the top qualification for equine practice in New Zealand,” Mr Parsons said.

The 28-year-old started work as an apprentice farrier with Mr Parsons when he left school. . .

Pea-fect conditions for crops – Tim Cronshaw:

Pea crops are springing out of the ground because of unseasonably warm Canterbury weather.

Processor and exporter Wattie’s is already 10 per cent through its sowing schedule ending December and at this rate is expected to bring forward harvesting to the last week of November.

Planting is based in Pendarves in the early pea growing Rakaia area and in Southbridge and Leeston and will then move to Aylesbury and Kirwee before advancing further afield.

Wattie’s South Island agricultural manager Mark Daniels said contracted growers had made a fast start to the planting season, and this was always preferred to get a crop established. . .

Sophie happy to swap fame for farm

She may have travelled the world chasing rowing medals, but for Sophie MacKenzie there’s no place like home. The 21-year-old enjoyed some well-earned time off after picking up a bronze in Austria, checking out the sights of Europe, but she couldn’t wait to return to the top of the valley, her hugely-supportive parents and a menagerie of animals.

As comfortable in gumboots and a farm ute as she is in a double scull, Sophie has found the ideal place to chill out after the high-pressure demands of international sport.

“I’ve never been so excited to come home . . . and see all my animals (I love them), do a bit of farm work, get back to my hills,” she said. . .


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