Rural round-up

March 14, 2020

Time for Trans-Tasman agritech co-operation? – Pam Tipa:

Should New Zealand and Australia be working more closely together in the agritech space to present a regional offer to the world?

Callaghan Innovation’s agritech group manager, Simon Yarrow certainly thinks so.

It could be similar to the way the Scandinavians have established a regional reputation in other fields. . . 

Bloody Good Boss workshops being run throughout New Zealand:

How to be a bloody good boss workshops are being run throughout New Zealand by the Dairy Women’s Network.

Delivered in conjunction with DairyNZ, PaySauce and Primary ITO, these four hour information workshops will cover the whole recruitment process.

The five employment pillars of skills needed on farm, recruitment, the interview process, contracts and orientation will be discussed in these sessions designed to support the Good Boss campaign that was launched last month in Wellington. . .

Turning rhetoric into reality – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth analyses the points made at this year’s Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre workshop.

The Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre (FLRC) workshop held at Massey University each February starts the year with a hiss, roar, new research and the latest from overseas.

The three-day workshop is one of the places where scientists, researchers, rural professionals, farmers and national and local policy makers can engage in rigorous debate. . .

‘Bringing Brand New Zealand Home’ At AgriFood Week 2020:

New Zealand AgriFood Week is enlisting several international thought-leaders to address the Week’s 2020 theme, ‘bringing brand New Zealand home.’

The week-long series of events, workshops and forums across the Manawatū covers the intersection between agriculture, science, food and technology and runs from March 16 to 22.

Adding international perspective to some of New Zealand’s biggest agri-food challenges is Dr Jessica de Koning, a rural sociologist from Wageningen University speaking on strengthening rural communities in the face of regulatory and environmental challenges. . .

Straight Off The Tussock chapter 2 – Tim Fulton:

HARD LESSONS

The Okuku Range is a cluster of hills 900m-1100m high, rising from the northern limit of  the Canterbury Plains and treading north-westwards to meet the foothills of the Puketekari Range. Jack grew up in the Okuku Pass which runs between it. 

I used to walk down to the White Rock limeworks to talk to the people over there or the men on the station, but I suppose I was a lonely kid in a lot of ways. I’d sit on the tractor with our neighbour Harry Gudex – helping with the farmwork. Used to go there for mercy every now and again. I was a loner but I enjoyed the men – seemed to get on with them and they didn’t seem to worry too much what I did.

For six weeks each summer from 1932 to 1934, we went to a holiday house at Leithfield Beach. But it was an awful place, with no conveniences whatsoever – an outside loo, kerosene lamps and primus cooker. I was absolutely infuriated with this – couldn’t stand the salt water or the sea, and I was a permanent pest there… perennially in trouble. Whenever we were there I couldn’t get back to the shearing quick enough. I loved it in the shed – flat out with the men – cutting dags off wool, whatever I could find. . .

Kiwifruit hold golden glow:

With the new season’s SunGold kiwifruit licensing tender due to open next month, expectations are that orchardist interest in the 750ha area being made available will be at least as strong as last year.

Last year’s SunGold allocation of planting rights averaged $290,000 a hectare, with a number of orchardists missing out on their desired allocation simply due to over demand for the popular planting option.

Snow Williams, Bayleys specialist rural and kiwifruit agent based in Te Puke says he would not be surprised to see the licence values at least match or even exceed last year’s values. . .


Rural round-up

March 13, 2020

The challenge for NZ food production is keeping up with the science while Fonterra restores its financial health – Point of Order:

Technology  is  opening  a  whole  new direction for  food production, reports  The  Guardian.

Robotics   and drones are reducing   the need for humans to be on the  land,  while  vertical  farming,  in which  vegetables  can be grown in sunless  warehouses using  LED  lighting, gene editing and metagenics are delivering new definitions of  food.

According to a  recent  report  by the think tank  RethinkX, within  15  years  the rise of  cell-based meat – made  of animal cells  grown in a bioreactor – will bankrupt  the US’s  huge  beef industry,  at the same time  removing the  need to grow soya  and maize  for   feed. . . 

Can new crops crack down on cow methane? Meet the scientists finding out – Alex Braae:

The debate about methane emissions from farming is both ongoing and polarising, and many are pinning their hopes on scientific advances to avoid both de-stocking and climate breakdown. But how effective can these measures actually be? Alex Braae visited a research lab on the front lines of this fight. 

At a sprawling campus on the outskirts of Palmerston North, research is taking place that could shape the future of New Zealand’s rural economy. 

It is here that the grasslands facility of crown research entity AgResearch is based. And it is here where one of the most important scientific questions in the country is being thrashed out – can science help meaningfully lower the methane emissions of cows and sheep?  . .

Wairarapa ‘heading into a drought’ – Fed Farmers – Marcus Anselm:

Wairarapa farmers are seeking central government backing as the threat of a drought moves closer.

Dry conditions in neighbouring Manawatū and Tararua and other nearby areas have led to Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor confirming a “medium sized adverse event” for the regions.

“Many parts of the country are doing it tough due to a substantial lack of rain,” O’Connor said. . .

Parched conditions in Hawke’s Bay hitting hard amid calls for drought declaration – Anusha Bradley:

Hawke’s Bay farmers and leaders are urging the government to declare a drought as parts of the region experience the driest period on record.

Central Hawke’s Bay and Hastings were the worst hit with farmers saying the lack of water had not only hit summer crops but winter feed was now at risk if it did not rain soon.

For some parts of Hawke’s Bay, the four months between November and February have been the driest in 50 years. . .

Drought for North Island, Chatham Islands, part of South unlocks $2m relief funding :

The entire North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands have been declared as being in drought by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

O’Connor said the large-scale adverse event declaration, announced this morning, would unlock up to $2 million of funding to help farmers and growers from now until June 2021.

Medium-scale drought declarations had already been announced in Northland, Auckland and Waikato, Gisborne, Manawatū, Rangitīkei, and Tararua – but this new classification covers the entire North Island along with Tasman, Marlborough, Kaikōura, North Canterbury and the Chathams. . .

Moves to make horticultural water available to Kaikohe residents – Susan Botting

Far North District Council is aiming to tap into new government-funded Kaikohe water storage to permanently supply the mid-north town.

Far North District Council (FNDC) mayor John Carter said the council had already been working with Government and Northland Regional Council (NRC) on using the water from storage to be built in the North through the region’s $30 million Provincial Growth Fund project.

Carter said FNDC wanted to set up a scheme like had been developed for Kerikeri in the 1980s. This had been developed with the dual purpose to permanently provide water for horticulture and Kerikeri township. . .

Straight Off The Tussock chapter 1 – Tim Fulton:

Broomfield in North Canterbury was a quiet pond, but Jack was the stone that skipped across it.

 I was constantly in trouble. My father Gordon was away most of the time, always busy, so I rarely saw him.

And my mother Winifred, well, she was 45 when I was born and totally incapable of looking after children, so during the day I was usually left to my own devices. One of the first things I did on the farm was paint one of our white calves red with house paint. I’d noticed how the calves got marked at certain times of the season so I painted the whole calf. Terrible job they had getting the paint off…nearly killed it. Another time, father had shorn about 20 wethers ready to go to market. Back in the 1920s you had to brand your sheep for shearing, but he’d left these ones alone because they were going to be sold about three weeks later. I decided they hadn’t been branded properly so I got the dog and away I went; mustered them into the top paddock, down the road into the yards, into the front pen of the shearing shed and proceeded to brand them. As far as I could tell there wasn’t a space left on them untouched. Well, that was the last time I was in the pen with a branding iron. Father was so ashamed of the sheep he kept them stuck out of sight in the paddock until they were ready to shear again. I could have only been three or four…

After the bushfires, what now? – Roger Franklin:

The usual controversy about fuel reduction burning in forested parks and reserves has erupted in the wake of the “Black Summer Bushfires” (as they have become known) in NSW, Qld and Victoria. Predictably, two broad camps formed up on opposite sides of the blackened and shrivelled no-man’s land that, until a few months ago, had been beautiful eucalypt forests and havens for wildlife.

On one side are the land and bushfire managers, land owners and volunteer firefighters, people who deal with fire in the real world. They are all calling for more prescribed burning, knowing that it will  mitigate bushfire intensity, making fires easier and safer to control.  Loud in opposition are the green academics and environmentalists, usually supported by the ABC, claiming that fuel reduction does not work, and even if it did, this would be a pyrrhic victory, because the burning would have destroyed our fragile biodiversity. . . 

Meat and dairy sales surge in December quarter:

Meat and dairy boosted the total volume of manufacturing sales to its strongest quarterly rise in six years, Stats NZ said today.

The volume of total manufacturing sales rose 2.7 percent in the December 2019 quarter, after a flat September 2019 quarter, when adjusted for seasonal effects. It was led by a 7.9 percent lift in meat and dairy products manufacturing sales, following falls in the two previous quarters.

“This quarter’s rise is the largest increase in total manufacturing sales volumes in six years,” business statistics manager Geraldine Duoba said. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 5, 2020

Tears for a life’s work – Tim Fulton:

Farming with Mycoplasma bovis is an alien experience, one full of officials and strangers in full-length protective jumpsuits washing down yards and troughs, for the Wobben family. Tim Fulton reports.

Despite being a hard-nosed man with a bent for confrontation Roel Wobben is crying for his cows.

The family will lose their 2700 cows and have already lost nearly as many young stock and bulls to a Mycoplasma bovis cull.

They milk through two sheds on their irrigated 710ha North Canterbury farm, doing about 500kg MS a cow and calving twice a year. There’s also a second 285ha farm nearby milking 900 cows, run by a contract milker. . . 

Open Farm day draws 5,500 visitors:

Over 5500 people spent the day on farms around the country on Sunday.

45 farmers opened their gates to visitors on Sunday for New Zealand’s inaugural nationwide open farm day.

Farms of all types and sizes participated: from high-country sheep stations in Otago to dairy farms in the Waikato and even an indoor, vertical microgreens producer in Wellington.

A wide range of activities were on offer for visitors, says Open Farms founder Daniel Eb. . .

Shearer is up for a challenge :

Colin Watson-Paul shore sheep for 30 years. 

Now he trains others, including seven women who recently learned to shear to raise funds for Farmstrong.

He says he got a real buzz out of teaching the novice shearers.

“Shearing’s easier said than done but they can all shear a sheep now. There’s been a lot of humour. They’re a great bunch of women, who will have you in stitches. Now when they go out they talk about sheep shearing, believe it or not.” . . 

New Zealand grass-fed butter in Whole Foods first:

Premium butter produced by Lewis Road Creamery has become the first New Zealand dairy product to be stocked US-wide by American supermarket giant Whole Foods.

The New Zealand grass-fed butter is now on Whole Foods shelves in 37 states, including in flagship stores in Union Square, New York, and Austin, Texas.

The butter is made from milk that meets a stringent 10 Star Premium Standard that covers grass-fed, free-range, animal welfare, human welfare, environmental sustainability, and climate change mitigation. . . 

Bega value-add strategy helps combat drought impact – Carelene Dowie:

Bega’s milk intake has fallen 13 per cent on the back of drought and increased competition for milk supply, hitting the company’s earnings.

But the half-year statutory profit of NSW-based dairy and grocery business lifted 3.5pc to $8.5 million, due to growth in its branded consumer and food-service business.

The company also pointed to improved performance at the former Murray Goulburn Koroit, Vic, milk-processing plant, which it acquired last year, the improvement in milk returns following the closure of its Coburg, Vic, factory and new toll-processing arrangements as contributing positively to the result. . . 

Farmers angry after senior government adviser says UK could import all food ‘like Singapore’ – Greg Heffer:

The UK has a “moral imperative” to produce its own food, the chief of the farmers’ union has said after it emerged a senior government adviser argued Britain could import all produce.

Minette Batters, the president of the National Union of Farmers, hit back at suggestions the UK could copy nations such as Singapore and import all its food.

In emails obtained by The Mail On Sunday, Dr Tim Leunig – an economic adviser to Chancellor Rishi Sunak – wrote that the food sector “isn’t critically important” to the UK and farming and fishing “certainly isn’t”. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 12, 2020

New risks for dairy, meat products – Sally Rae:

The sun is setting on the “golden run” for New Zealand’s food exports.

While the global supply of dairy and meat products was expected to remain constrained, new global risks were now impacting demand, ANZ Research’s latest Agri Focus report said.

Lamb prices had dropped sharply in the past couple of months but were still at record levels for this time of the season.

A lift in slaughter numbers, weaker prices in certain markets and a slightly stronger New Zealand dollar were the main drivers in the reduction in farm-gate price, the report said. . . 

Dry conditions and fires making life hard for Rangitikei farmers :

Local farmers are struggling to re-home livestock with fires and dry conditions engulfing several hectares of land, Rangitikei’s mayor says.

A fire spanning around 80 hectares near Lake Alice was reported on Saturday, and contained today, but by Sunday evening fire-fighters wre still trying to put it out.

Two helicopters and nine fire trucks were at the scene today dampening hot spots and monitoring for any flare ups.

Fire and emergency says crews were able to contain the blaze faster thanks to help from the public. . . 

Flood-affected farmers urged to ask for help :

Authorities are concerned that some flood-affected farmers in Southland are not asking for help.

Emergency Management Southland (EMS) controller Bruce Halligan says this is despite a huge effort to talk to Southland farmers affected by last week’s flooding.

“We are concerned that some farmers who may have already been contacted, and said they were coping, will need help as they assess the damage to their properties and begin to realise the amount of work and resource required.”   . . 

Nelson’s prospects rise on new dam’s development – Tim Fulton:

Horticulture is set to grow in Nelson as the clock ticks down on a long-awaited dam in Lee Valley.

The Waimea Community Dam, due to be commissioned in February 2022, will release stored water from the headwaters of Lee River to the Waimea Plains. It’s set to be a boon for pipfruit, which already generates high returns from a scarce supply of flat land in the region.

Waimea Irrigators Ltd (WIL) chairman, Murray King, is one of just two dairy farmers in the planned irrigation zone.  . . 

Proposed Oceania pipeline draws irrigators’ ire – Daniel Birchfield:

A North Otago-based irrigators’ collective has slammed Oceania Dairy Ltd’s proposed pipeline project in a submission to Environment Canterbury against its construction.

Oceania Dairy, owned by Chinese dairy giant Yili group, lodged six consent applications with Environment Canterbury for the construction of a 7.5km pipeline that would allow it to discharge up to 10,000cum of treated wastewater into the sea per day.

Waitaki Irrigators Collective Ltd filed one of 117 submissions opposed to the project. Six submitters supported it, and three were neutral. . . 

Medigrowth NZ plan Central Otago medicinal cannabis business:

A Central Otago-based company is forging ahead with plans to develop a medicinal cannabis cultivation, research and manufacturing business in the heart of wine country.

Medigrowth New Zealand, based in Cromwell, plans to provide pure and safe New Zealand-grown cannabinoid medicines to a market that recent research shows is “crying out” for alternatives to existing pain medications.

Queenstown businessman Aaron Murphy has been joined by Medigrowth Australia directors Todd McClellan and Adam Guskich in the New Zealand venture. . . 


Rural round-up

October 28, 2019

‘We have not suddenly woken up’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

For dairy farmer Peter Dobbie, learning about what affects his farm’s environment and how to remedy or improve it has been a continually evolving journey that has taken almost three decades.

”We have not suddenly woken up and realised we need to do this or that,” he said.

He has been farming since 1991, and was a financial consultant before that.

By 2001 he had moved to dairying in partnership with his brother William. . .

Helping farmers make green dough – Tim Fulton:

A team of agricultural innovators wants to help farmers take clever ideas to market across at least 100,000ha of mixed Kiwi farmland. Tim Fultonreports.

The self-described social enterprise-plus, Leftfield Innovation, is helping farmers explore alternative land uses and contracts.

Funding the enterprise mostly from trust grants, processing companies, farmers and science funds the co-founders Nick Pyke and Susan Goodfellow and four colleagues are exploring commercial opportunities for farmers to convert low-yield farmland to grow high-yield crops. . . .

Gas calculator gets support – Samantha Tennent:

With data scientists and software developers at their disposal Jo Kerslake and Mark Teviotdale from AbacusBio are keen to help farmers understand their on-farm emissions.

When Kerslake heard the call for projects from the Rural Innovation Lab she applied without a clear picture of what an end product could look like.

“We were a little unsure about what farmers wanted to know,” she said. . .

New Zealand’s wallaby problem tough to tackle, fears hunters spreading them – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand’s wallaby problem could become a full-blown plague unless efforts to control them are ramped up and ‘shortsighted’ hunters start playing by the rules.

Forest and Bird says the pests could spread to cover a third of the country unless the Government steps in to fund a beefed-up control programme.

Central North Island regional manager Rebecca Stirnemann said wallabies were like giant rabbits, eating their way through native bush, damaging tussock grasslands and devouring pasture and young pine trees. . .

Record cattle kill at Pukeuri :

The Pukeuri meat works near Oamaru processed a record number of cattle in the past season.

The Alliance Group announced the achievement for its North Otago plant on Wednesday, saying more than 71,000 cattle were handled there in the beef season that finished on September 30.

The record was the result of hard work and commitment from staff and from farmers who supported the co-operative, chief executive David Surveyor said. . . .

Potential shake-up of GE restrictions – Pam Tipa:

Current restrictions on genetic modification regulation in New Zealand could be reviewed if National were to form the next government.

The party says it will be ready to go out and consult on a proposed review of the legislation and our current regulations if elected.

National leader Simon Bridges says if NZ is serious about tackling climate change that will require biotech answers.  . .


Rural round-up

October 25, 2019

Leader has passion for deer industry – Sally Rae:

Deer Industry New Zealand’s new chief executive Innes Moffat is well versed in the industry.

He has been with the organisation for 14 years and replaces Dan Coup, who is now chief executive of the QEII National Trust.

During his first week in the new role, Mr Moffat said he was conscious his knowledge of the industry and its people was a strength and he could provide continuity as he stepped up to lead the organisation. . . .

Cut nitrates make money – TIm Fulton:

Catch crops and oats don’t usually figure highly in a dairy farmer’s plans but that might change as new nutrient management regulations come into force. Tim Fulton reports.

Clinging to the northern bank of the Rakaia River the last of three Canterbury catch crop trials for this season is growing on a Te Pirita dairy winter forage block that forms part of a three-year Sustainable Farming Fund project to show the benefit of catch crops to reduce nitrate leaching. . .

Shearer aims for world record – Alexa Johnston:

Nine hours of “heart and concentration” is ahead of Alexandra-based shearer Stacey Te Huia, as he attempts to break a world record.

Te Huia aims to claim the 9-hour merino wethers record on December 7, in a shearing shed near Ranfurly.

The record is one of the longest-standing in the books, held by Rakaia shearer Grant Smith, who shore 418 sheep within the allocated time in November 1999. . . .

Nuts? Research says ‘significant’ potential for Rotorua nut crops – Samantha Olley:

Could nuts be the next big thing for Rotorua? It is an idea that has been described by researchers as “radical” – and one that could bring millions of dollars to the region. There is 5000ha of land in the district suitable for growing nut crops and three farms are investigating how it could work for them. Journalist Samantha Olley looks into how nut crops could benefit Rotorua economically, what it would take to get the idea off the ground – and how they could improve the district’s environment.

An idea to bring new edible nut crops to Rotorua is capturing wide interest and could bring at least $20 million a year into the district.

Newly published Crown research says there is “significant” potential for industrial edible tree nut crops in the Rotorua area – but it will require “radical” collaboration. . .

Scholarships address need for farming and horticulture apprentices:

Primary ITO is responding to the urgent need for skilled workers in agriculture and horticulture by launching a scholarship programme for apprentice fees.

Applications for the scholarships are open for October and November and will cover fees for the whole duration of the apprenticeship programmes, which generally take 2-3 years.

“Our industries are facing unprecedented challenges right now and we believe scholarships for apprentices will help business gain the skills they need,” says Primary ITO’s incoming chief executive Nigel Philpott. . .

 

National Farmers Federated to mobilise support for expansion of ag – Mervyn F Bendle:

Finally! The National Farmers Federation has announced that it will implement a long-term public relations campaign to mobilise public and political support for a major expansion of the agricultural industry in Australia and combat the zealotry of animal rights activists and green extremists.

Such a response is well overdue. As I discussed over six years ago in a Quadrant Online article, Australia faces an epoch-defining challenge. With the global population projected to exceed nine billion people by 2050 our country is well placed to become a major food supplier to the world, doubling — even quadrupling — agricultural production, and generating an additional $1.7 trillion in aggregate export earnings over the next four decades. Estimates vary, but global food supply will have to increase by between 60 per cent and 100 per cent by 2050 to satisfy requirements. This is not idle musing: hundreds of millions of people will starve if the global food supply is not greatly increased. . .


Rural round-up

September 5, 2019

Time for a grownup conversation about gene-editing – David Hughes:

 In the late 1990s public scepticism cast genetic modification as “The answer to the question no-one was asking”. Today, the new technology of gene editing is emerging as a real option in facing some of our world’s biggest challenges in food production, medicine, conservation and climate change.

The Institute I lead, Plant & Food Research, has committed our science to helping New Zealand’s agri-food sector deliver the best quality foods from the world’s most sustainable production systems. We believe gene editing can help us meet that commitment. 

Today, Plant & Food Research breeds only 100 per cent GM-free fruit, vegetables and grains. We have never developed GM foods for commercial use and industry does not fund us to do so. Yet our discovery-focused teams routinely use gene technologies to further our knowledge. 

They’ve learned that gene editing can help us achieve our traditional breeding targets around sustainability and nutrition much faster. That means consumers get more healthy whole foods sooner.  . . 

Trees debate ratchets up – Colin Williscroft:

Large swathes of agricultural land need not be planted in trees for New Zealand to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets, NZ’s largest carbon farmer says.

In presenting NZ Carbon Farming’s submission to the Environment Select Committee on the Zero Carbon Bill, company founder and managing director Matt Walsh was questioned by MPs who said they had been told by officials that 30% of NZ’s agricultural land will need to be planted in trees to meet the Bill’s carbon dioxide emissions target of zero by 2050.

Walsh said he has heard the 30% figure before and is puzzled where it came from. He does not believe it is correct.

NZ Carbon Farming has asked officials how they got the number but has not had a definitive answer. . . 

Shear happiness for young women – Yvonne O’Hara:

”Shearing is an art.”

So says Ariana Te Whata, of Mossburn, who was taking part with three other young women in a course run by Elite Shearer Training on the Dowling family’s farm near Gimmerburn last week.

Three of the women, Tatjiana Keefe, of Raupunga, Cheyenne Howden, of Feilding, and Ariana work for Dion Morrell Shearing. They all intend to go shearing full time.

Ariana grew up in a shearing shed and her parents, Vanessa and Mana Te Whata, are shearing contractors and run Shear Tech. Mr Te Whata is a champion competitive shearer.

”I love shearing,” Ariana said.

”I love the art of it and it is beautiful to watch. . . 

Promoting eucalypts– David HIll:

Gary Fleming’s efforts to advocate for the value of eucalyptus trees has been recognised.

The North Canterbury farmer was named South Island Farm Forester of the Year at the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association conference held in Rotorua.

‘‘It’s a good award to get, as it takes a fair bit of dedication,’’ Mr Fleming said.

‘‘There’s a lot of people in the South Island who grow trees and anybody in farm forestry can apply for it.’’

The North Canterbury branch chairman was nominated by his branch committee earlier this year, after missing a meeting due to illness. . . 

Food tourism helps farmers survive – Tim Fulton:

A group of Queensland farmers is making the most of food tourism, proving town and country can work in harness for culinary satisfaction.

Maleny calls itself a hinterland town though, by Australian standards, it’s only a skip from the big smoke.

Perched on the Blackall Range, about 40 minutes from Sunshine Coast beaches, the area catches day trippers on Queensland’s hinterland tourist drive. . . 

 

Love lamb week to encourage better use of carcase :

Yorkshire farmer’s daughter and Great British Menu chef Stephanie Moon is calling on chefs to make better use of the lamb carcase as the country prepares for Love Lamb Week.

The annual campaign, commencing from the 1st of September to the 7th, aims to change perceptions of when to eat lamb.

It highlights that the highest volume of UK product is actually available during the last six months of the year, despite many consumers typically choosing to enjoy lamb around Easter time.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) will be involved in the industry-wide campaign, alongside AHDB Beef & Lamb and other UK levy bodies. . . 

 


%d bloggers like this: