Rural round-up

March 31, 2019

We cannot take food supply for granted – Neal Wallace:

News the Government will protect elite soils is welcome but by no means signals the resolution of broader challenges facing land use and the productive sector.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1As reported in Farmers Weekly’s Land Squeeze series, the Ministry for the Environment has started the process of preparing a national policy statement for high-value soils, which will be finalised after consultation later this year.

That protection is needed because urban sprawl and lifestyle blocks swallow up to 100,000 hectares a year including Auckland paving 10,500 hectares of high-quality soil in the last 35 years.

Domestic food demand will only increase as New Zealand’s population is expected to hit five million in 2020 and 5.5m in 2025 while demand will also rise from an ever-expanding global population. . . 

Spud family name’s on the packet – Tim Fulton:

James Bowan grows potatoes for a nationwide paddock-to-packet potato chip brand.  Nearly a decade after the business started he’s still happiest in the paddock. Tim Fulton reports.

The Bowan family farms more than 600ha at Orari in South Canterbury. Down the road at industrial Washdyke, in the slipstream of Timaru, the family also runs the Heartland chips processing plant.

Fallgate Farm includes 250-odd hectares of spuds, 320ha of combinable cereals,150ha of grass seed and a few other bits and pieces, especially seeds.

It adds up to a lot of business from farm to shop shelf but James isn’t bothered with the trappings of corporate hierarchy. . . 

Action groups following different paths – Sally Rae:

More than 900 farmers have signed up to the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Network to help make their farming businesses more productive and profitable.

Each of the Action Groups involved chose a different pathway in the search for solutions to the challenges they faced.

Four action groups in the Milton and Lawrence districts had a lot in common, both in their origins and their goals.

They grew out of two large discussion groups of sheep and beef farmers running in these areas for several years before the RMPP programme kicked into action.

The common link between all four was Simon Glennie, a sheep, beef and deer farming consultant with AbacusBio. . . 

Fonterra’s new management team gives hope – Sudesh Kissun:

Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven is happy to see Fonterra back in the black.

He hopes that changes heralded by the new management team signal the start of “some green shoots” for the co-op.

“As a Fonterra farmer I am happy to see that they have posted a net profit and I am happy with some of the rhetoric from board and management about the consolidation of the business,” he told Dairy News. . . 

Support for biosecurity levy:

A big majority of 1794 submissions received by DairyNZ on the biosecurity response levy were supportive.

Sixty-one percent of submissions from farmers backed DairyNZ managing the levy on their behalf and raising the maximum cap to 3.9 cents/kgMS. That totalled 1088 supportive submissions and 706 against.

“We appreciated the candid conversations and the opportunity to discuss not just the proposed levy, but also DairyNZ more widely,” DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says in a letter to farmers. . . 

Win proves area’s wine can age well: manager:

Wild Earth Wines’ success at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards earlier this month proves Central Otago wines can age gracefully, marketing and sales manager Elbert Jolink says.

The boutique winery in Cromwell won the Best Pinot Noir trophy of the show during the formal awards dinner in Auckland on March 9.

Mount Pisa winery Ata Mara won both a gold medal and the Red Badge Security Champion Riesling trophy for its Central Otago 2018 Riesling. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 27, 2019

South Canterbury’s Opuha Dam an example for the country – Joanne Holden:

Opuha Dam is a water storage “success story” National MPs would like to see adopted around the country.

The 20-year-old dam was the first stop on Friday for National’s Primary Industries Caucus Committee – hosted by Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon – as they toured Mid and South Canterbury’s primary industry spots.

On the trip were MPs Nathan Guy, Jacqui Dean, Matt King, Hamish Walker, and List MP Maureen Pugh, who also visited Heartland Potato Chips in Washdyke, the Managed Aquifer Recharge in Hinds, and spoke to South Canterbury community members about the future of primary industries. . .

 

Farm conflicts in tourist hotspot – Neal Wallace:

A billionaire lives on a lifestyle property on one side of Chris and Emma Dagg’s Queenstown farm. On the other is a multi-millionaire.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The exclusive Millbrook Resort is nearby and actor Tom Cruise was a neighbour while filming in New Zealand.

The Daggs’ 424ha farm in the Wakatipu Basin between Queenstown and Arrowtown includes some of NZ’s most sort after land for residential development.

A short drive from Queenstown, the rural setting provides a desirable place for the rich and famous to live, putting pressure on landowners in a region short of land, houses and sections. . . 

Rain in Waikato a good start – more please, farmers say:

Rain in Waikato was good news for farmers but more is needed to keep the threat of drought at bay. 

Until the weekend, the region had only received 0.4 millimetres of rain leaving soil moisture levels dangerously low. 

Federated Farmers Waikato president Andrew McGiven said the 10 millimetres of rain received over the weekend “was a good start”.  . . 

Lanercost open to all farmers – Tim Fulton:

The first Future Farm is contributing to the rehabilitation of a bruised Canterbury farm and community. Tim Fulton reports.

Visitors to Lanercost can see its potential as a sheep and beef demonstration farm, the lessees say.

The North Canterbury hill country property near Cheviot is 1310ha modelled on a farm at Lincoln that has allowed the dairy industry to assess innovation.

Farmer Carl Forrester and Mendip Hills manager Simon Lee have a lease to run the 1310ha Lanercost in partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Lanercost’s owner, the T D Whelan Trust. . .

Loneliness in farming community is ‘heart-breaking’, police officers say

Police officers have highlighted how ‘heart-breaking’ it is to see some farmers suffer from extreme loneliness and isolation. The issue of loneliness in the farming community has been highlighted by Dyfed-Powys Police, who have a small team of specialist rural officers. PC Gerwyn Davies and PCSO Jude Parr are working closely with mental healthy charity the DPJ Foundation. They have referred several farmers to the charity for counselling and mental health support. . . 

Soil ecologist challenges mainstream thinking on climate change – Candace Krebs:

How cropland and pastures are managed is the most effective way to remedy climate change, an approach that isn’t getting the attention it deserves, according to a leading soil ecologist from Australia who speaks around the world on soil health.

“Water that sits on top of the ground will evaporate. Water vapor, caused by water that evaporates because it hasn’t infiltrated, is the greenhouse gas that has increased to the greatest extent since the Industrial Revolution,” said Christine Jones, while speaking at the No Till on the Plains Conference in Wichita in late January. . . 


Rural round-up

February 11, 2019

Farmers in fear – Annette Scott:

Farmers were living in fear of the unpredictable Tasman fire today as they talked of narrow escapes while worrying about their stock.

They were also grappling with the difficulty of dealing with bureaucrats and concern about water for the immediate future.

Farmers caught up in the fires just needed to talk to someone who understood their plight, farming leader and Redwood Valley farmer Graeme Sutton said. . . 

Carbon price makes trees valuable – Tim Fulton:

A rising carbon price under the Emissions Trading Scheme has changed a Canterbury sheep farmer’s attitude to exotic forestry and native regrowth. Tim Fulton reports.

Spray them? 

No way, Romney breeder Hugh Taylor says now when he inspects his redwood and regenerating native trees.

But it wasn’t always that way. 

He did once consider spraying the 600ha plantation. 

Five years ago Taylor and family moved from gentle country at Oxford to harder North Canterbury hill country hoping to show clients how well their stock could shift. . . 

 

Sheep, beef farms main finalists:

Sheep and beef farms dominate the Southland finalists in the 2019 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Farmer Michael Bashford has a 528ha sheep and beef-finishing farm at Tokanui in southern Southland. Mr Bashford’s property encompasses the original site of the Progress Valley sawmill and a 51.7ha native bush block on the property is about to mark 30 years under a QEII covenant.

Duncan and Kerralie Falconer farm in Eastern Southland, on a 591ha property at Waimumu. The farm is a classic family farm which has grown as parcels of land were bought and added to the property. Stock run on the property include 5500 sheep – Wairere and Texel-Suffolk – as well as 125 R1 heifers.

Travis Leslie and Catriona Cunningham manage Kepler Farm near Te Anau, which is part of Landcorp’s genetic programme. The property covers 1640ha, of which 1503ha is farmed. . . 

Nightcaps Young Farmers celebrate 500 meeting milestone :

It may not be the oldest but the Nightcaps Young Farmers group is certainly in the top three in New Zealand.

At the weekend, the Southland group celebrated in style to mark its 500th meeting.

It was a significant milestone from the group, as especially about 10 years ago the club only had five members. . . 

Q’town man launches world first deer milk beauty product:

Milking deer could open up a new high-value dairy industry for New Zealand, reckons Queenstown entrepreneur Graeme Shaw, who is launching a world first, locally made deer milk skincare range.

His Kotia beauty brand will be presented to more than 70 industry buyers and media flown into the resort town this month.

A significant distribution deal for the skincare has already been arranged here and in Australia in partnership with McPhersons Consumer Products. This will see the products in the big Priceline pharmacy chain and locally in selected Green Cross (Life and Unichem) pharmacies and Farmers stores.

But it is the vast Asian market which ultimately offers the most export potential. . .

Sheep entries high at Waiau A&P Show – Shirley Whyte:

Sheep numbers were high at this year’s 80th Waiau A&P Show in Tuatapere on Saturday.

Waiau A&P Show Secretary Isobel Devery said the committee was delighted with the day’s events.

“It has been a great day with perfect weather, not too hot and not too cold. Horse entries were well up on previous years,” Devery said. . . 


Rural round-up

January 11, 2019

World-first water quality project improves test stream – Emma Dangerfield:

Nitrate levels have significantly reduced at a North Canterbury stream less than two months into a pilot project to improve its water quality.

The Institute of Environmental and Scientific Research (ESR)-led denitrification wall trial at Silverstream Reserve, near Kaiapoi, has resulted in nitrate levels in groundwater dropping from 7.1mg/l to 0.5 mg/l.

The 25 metre-long wall, installed in November, is a world first, having never been tested in a fast-flowing gravel aquifer system before. . .

Wide ranging quake projects remodelled – Tim Fulton:

The earthquake recovery project for the upper South Island has been shaken up for better relevance and helpfulness to farmers.

The Government and farming and other landcare groups approved new work areas for the Post Quake Farming Project at a meeting on December 3.

“Thank you to everyone for your patience in waiting for things to get to the point they are now,” new project manager Michael Bennett wrote in a project update.

“We have a great project stacked up in front of us which will hopefully pay dividends to the rural community for many months to come.” . . 

 

New deal for Cross Slot – Hugh Stringleman:

Cross Slot No-Tillage Systems of Feilding has agreed to licence a new seed drill manufacturer in the United States to supply all the Americas.

Company principal and agricultural engineer John Baker said Appleton Marine in Wisconsin was the planned manufacturer and marketer.

It would be the first venture into agricultural machinery for the big heavy-duty manufacturer and fabricator of marine and mining equipment.

Baker said the agreement had not yet been signed but a US no-tillage website had publicised the deal, including a mistaken claim that intellectual property had been sold. . . 

British farmers demand ‘mutual respect’ from NZ trade negotiators:

United Kingdom sheep farming leaders have warned that British producers could lose out badly under a post-Brexit free trade deal struck between the New Zealand and the UK.

In an official response to the NZ Government’s consultation on free trade deal proposals with Britain, the UK National Sheep Association (NSA) has appealed for ‘mutual respect’ for UK sheep farmers from NZ.

“Any new UK/NZ trade deal will cover all products, industries and services and it is crucial to recognise that for sheepmeat it is an entirely one-way trade,” NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said. . . 

 

Honey price tumble hurts producers – Richard Rennie:

Beekeepers are smarting at lower returns on all honey types, including the much touted manuka variety, despite reports it continues to sell strongly in overseas markets.

Downunder Honey owner Jason Prior, of Cheltenham, said honey producers face the prospect of being paid 20-25% less than 2017 by processors as the market reshapes after a shakedown in numbers over the past two years.

“The smaller, second-tier honey buyers have disappeared and then the next tier down, the fly-by-night operators, have gone too. Between these guys they would account for 30% of the market. They were often small individually but combined were quite a portion of that buying market.” . . 

Tasman apple growers expect bumper crop, hope for enough workers to pick them – Cherie Sivignon and Hannah Ellis,:

Some apple growers in Tasman district worry there may be a repeat of the 2018 labour shortage as a bumper crop is tipped for the coming season. 

“I think, we’ve got a very, very good crop,” said long-time grower David Easton.

Fellow grower and New Zealand Apples & Pears board member Matthew Hoddy said crop projections were up 9 per cent on 2018. . .  


Rural round-up

October 14, 2018

Nebraska trip all about irrigation– Yvonne O’Hara:

Ben Donaldson, of Cromwell, was one of a group of people to visit Nebraska to look at new technology and new ideas relating to irrigation.

The recent five-day trip was organised by Irrigation New Zealand and as well as farmers, there were irrigators, consultants and service industry representatives

In addition to visiting the Husker Harvest Days,  the world’s largest irrigated farm show, they  visited the University of Nebraska’s Water for Food Global Institute, research farms and research trials, irrigation schemes, natural resource districts, which manage water resources, and irrigation manufacturers. Mr Donaldson,  general manager (Southern) of Irrigation Services,  said he found the trip useful.

“For me the greatest learnings were around the nitrate levels in the water, education of the children in regards to agriculture and how the use of fertigation ties all of this together,” he said. . . 

Honey collectors will act as biosecurity buzzers – Neal Wallace:

New Zealand could be about to recruit millions of extra biosecurity officers who will pay for their work by supplying nectar and honey.

A $1 million Endeavour Fund grant to Otago University researchers aims to recruit honey bees as biosecurity monitors to detect and find noxious weeds.

Biochemistry research fellow Dr Andrew Cridge said the plan is to strategically site hives in areas where there are suspected to be unwanted plants.

Because the cost of DNA diagnostic testing has fallen so much, it makes it viable to analyse bee-collected pollen to see if unwanted plants are near the hives. . .

Hipsters pay for farm view – Tim Fulton:

South Island couple Genna and Alistair Bird have opened a door to a world of people wanting to soak up a panoramic view from their Tiny House on a hill. Tim Fulton reports.

Hipsters are getting to know The Grange and the open skies and plains of Canterbury. Genna and Alistair Bird run a 560ha sheep and beef farm near Ashley Gorge, just out of Oxford. . .

New Zealand avocado industry on track to bounce back from last year’s low volume season:

New Zealand Avocado growers are expecting volumes to be around 25 per cent higher than last season.

NZ Avocado Chief Executive Jen Scoular says the current season is a medium volume season, following on from a low volume season in 2017-18 and a record high volume season in the year prior.

“The season’s total harvest volume is forecast at 5.2million trays (5.5kg), of which 3.6million trays are forecast for export, accounting for around 60 per cent increase on the previous seasons export volumes,” she said. . . 

$434M sale of Wrightson’s seeds fair to minorities – Paul McBeth:

Danish cooperative DLF Seeds’ $434 million cash and debt bid to buy PGG Wrightson’s seeds unit is fair to minority shareholders, independent advisor KordaMentha says.

Wrightson’s 12,059 shareholders will vote on the deal at a combined annual and special meeting on Oct. 30 in Christchurch. The transaction needs 75 percent support to go ahead, meaning controlling shareholder Agria can’t force it through. . .

Get advice before burnoff:

Farmers are being urged to seek advice from rural fire officers before burning off standing vegetation or slash after a burn-off got out of control in Northland on Wednesday.

The landowner was intending to burn off about two hectares of standing gorse and logging waste on the Tinopai Peninsula, but the fire jumped a firebreak into more gorse and slash and eventually burnt through most of a 50 hectare block before stopping once it got to green pasture.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand Northland Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer Rory Renwick said after jumping the firebreak the fire burnt rapidly along a ridge to where a digger was still in the process of building further fire breaks. . . 

Mastitis prevention and milking efficiency go hand in glove:

Udder health and milk quality are important to farm productivity and profitability. There’s a strong link between milking efficiency and preventing mastitis, while improving milking times will also improve milk quality, says mastitis expert and AgriHealth vet Dr Steve Cranefield.

Mastitis in New Zealand dairy cattle is our sector’s most common (and costly) disease. “Cows with healthy udders have less mastitis, produce more and are easier to milk,” says Steve. “Maintaining good teat skin condition is essential to reduce the chance of bacteria multiplying on the teats and getting into the udder. In addition, adopting good milking routines will help reduce the mastitis risk from teat end damage caused by over-milking.” . .


Rural round-up

September 15, 2018

No I in Murphy – Robin gives back – Tim Fulton:

A career in dairying and the irrigation sector is only a start for Robin Murphy. The South Canterbury farmer gives heart and soul to his community. Tim Fulton reports.

On Sundays Robin and May Murphy used to travel the back tracks of Waimate District looking for seal and shingle in need of repair. 

Murphy was a local councillor so they figured they had to do their bit.

He reckons he got to know 95% of the roads. . .

Research will be first of its kind for NZ – Yvonne O’Hara:

Now results from the first cohort of the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics Beef Progeny Test have been released, researchers will begin collecting data for the next stages of the project, including data from cows and heifers.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics national beef genetics manager Max Tweedie said some of those studies would be ‘‘a first for New Zealand’’.

‘‘Now we are looking for on-going information about cows: their maternal performance; constitution; fertility and stayability [in the herd],’’ Mr Tweedie said.

‘‘That is the long game.’’ . .

What is dairy cow breeding worth and why does it matter? – Esther Taunton:

It’s a hard road finding the perfect cow, especially when changing consumer demand redefines what “perfect” even is.

Increasing demand for high-fat dairy products means Kiwi farmers will earn more from milkfat than protein in the 2018/19 season.

With the upward trend expected to continue, high-fat breeds and animals will become more valuable as farmers aim to get as much fat in the vat as possible. 

But how does a farmer, let alone a townie, pick an animal likely to produce high-fat milk from a paddock full of swinging tails and stomping hooves? . .

Pie in the sky – Mel Poulton:

Farmers such as Mel Poulton struggle day in day out with poor digital connectivity and want service providers to up their game.

New technology, providing innovative solutions to the challenges and demands we all face today, is exciting.

We want to embrace it, adopt and adapt this technology to our needs. . .

Shot sheep mum too committed to die – George Block:

A sheep shot through the head near Dunedin has made a stunning recovery and continues to raise her three lambs.

Roy Nimmo awoke last week to find three of his lambs had been shot dead in a paddock near his home in Cemetery Rd, beside the East Taieri Church.

They were only 1 or 2 weeks old.

A ewe had also been shot, through the head just below its droopy ears, but had somehow survived, he said. . .

Final report on review of Fonterra’s 2017/18 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission has released its final report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2017/18 dairy season.

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was set at $6.69 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2017/18 dairy season. The report does not cover Fonterra’s forecast price of $6.75 for the 2018/19 dairy season.

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said no issues had been raised in submissions to the Commission’s draft reportthat warranted a change in the conclusions.  . .

Winning with help from a mentor – Brenda Schoepp:

The editor at Country Guide asked, “After meeting someone who could be a potential mentor, what makes a farmer pursue a full mentorship? When do they make the decision, and why? What is the impact of the relationship for themselves and their business? How do we relate this to leadership?”

I didn’t have the answers so I went to 25 individuals who have experienced mentorship through their industry, business or education.

The questions I asked were:

  • How and why did you choose to contact a mentor? . .

Rural round-up

June 25, 2018

Mycoplasm bovis can transfer to sheep, goats, deer, pigs and poultry – Keith Woodford:

Currently, there is a fervent ‘behind-the-scenes’ debate as to whether eradication of Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand is feasible.

It is well over a month, possibly close to two months, since the international Technical Advisory Group (TAG) voted six to four in favour of eradication being feasible. This would have been based on information supplied to them by MPI and assessed over a telephone hook-up. New evidence since then provides further complexity and concerns.

First, there is extensive evidence from overseas that Mycoplasma bovis can transfer between species and that it can infect sheep, goats, pigs, deer and even poultry. Strictly speaking, this is not new evidence as it was sitting there all along in the scientific literature and easily found. However, the implications of this within the New Zealand environment have not been considered to date. . .

A killer worse than M bovis – Nigel Malthus:

A cattle disease prevalent on 100% of New Zealand farms is much more serious than Mycoplasma bovis, a veterinarian says.

Lincoln University Dairy Farm veterinarian Chris Norton told farmers at a recent focus day there that though M. bovis dominates the news, another disease — Johne’s — affects more farms and kills more cattle.

Johne’s was discovered first in Taranaki 100 years ago in one cow, Norton said. . . 

DoC explains game export process – Tim Fulton:

Deer and other game animal products are getting a new export process and the Department of Conservation (DOC) is trying to ensure exports aren’t stopped at foreign ports because of it.

Japanese border authorities last month stopped a New Zealand velvet exporter’s shipment at an airport because they did not recognise DOC’s approach to certifying legally hunted and farmed game animals.

DOC has been issuing certificates of export for deer, tahr and chamois products.

A new form letter from DOC director general Lou Sanson will list seven species of introduced deer plus Himalayan tahr, chamois and possums. 

They are introduced species that can be legally hunted and exported as trophies, velvet, fur and meat. . . 

Nats out building rural bridges – Annette Scott:

Life is not going to get easier anytime soon for rural New Zealanders, National Party leader Simon Bridges told a meeting of 300 people in Ashburton.

Bridges, as part of his Connecting with Communities regional roadshow, said increased intervention in people’s everyday lives and policies that will make it harder for regional businesses to operate are becoming reality under the Labour-led Government.

And changes to industrial relations law will directly affect regional economies.

The big increase in the minimum wage and amendments to the 90-day employment trial were prompting employers to think twice about taking on new staff. . . 

Nominations Documents Ready for 2018 Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election:

Nominations for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election open Friday, 6 July with an election to be held for three farmer-elected Directors.

This year John Wilson, Ashley Waugh and Nicola Shadbolt retire by rotation. They may all stand for re-election if they wish – none have announced their intentions at this stage. . .

Record entries for Hawke’s Bay Young Fruitgrower competition:

Eight of Hawke’s Bay’s top young horticulturists will face off in the Hawke’s Bay Young Fruitgrower of the Year competition in Napier on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 June.

This year’s entrants are:
Lisa Arnold, orchard operations assistant at Bostock NZ
Tom Dalziel, foreman at Mr Apple NZ
Ryan Gittings, York Group assistant manager at Sunfruit Orchards Ltd
Wade Miller, leading hand at Bostock NZ
Luke Scragg, senior leading hand at T&G
Philip Siagia, general orchard hand at Mr Apple NZ
Anthony Taueki, foreman at Mr Apple NZ
Lincoln Thomson, assistant manager at Sunfruit Orchards Ltd

Critical elements to maintain member loyalty in co-operatives :

To fully engage the members of co-operative and mutual enterprises, managers and directors of CME’s must understand their members wear four hats when engaging with their co-operative, according to a study conducted by researchers from The University of Western Australia.

The study analysed three Australian producer co-operatives including Co-operative Bulk Handling Ltd (CBH), Murray Goulburn Co-operative (MGC), and Geraldton Fisherman’s Co-operative Ltd (GFC), and examined the nature of member commitment and loyalty in co-operative and mutual enterprises (CMEs).

Professor Tim Mazzarol from UWA’s Business School and Institute of Agriculture says directors and managers of CME’s should recognise that members do wear multiple hats with which they engage with the enterprise. These hats are Investor, Patron, Owner and Community Member. . . 


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