Rural round-up

November 24, 2017

NZ food shortages in 5 years – report – Pam Tipa:

New Zealand has no food security policy and will be short of some foods within five years, says a Horticulture NZ report on domestic vegetable production.

“We complacently believe we will always be able to sustainably grow enough food to feed ourselves and contribute to the country’s economic wellbeing,” the report says.

“However with prime production land being lost, climate change, competition for water resources, extreme weather events and the constant threat of pests and disease we must turn our minds to food security issues for the future of NZ’s domestic production.” . . 

Young Farmers search for talent – Tim Fulton:

Young Farmers is re-inventing itself as an agency for talent attraction from schools, helping farming to compete for staff in towns and cities.

The organisation was pitching for funding from industry groups and corporates to inject more farming-based curriculum into the education system.

The project would cost $1.5m, chief executive Terry Copeland said.

Once in place Young Farmers staff would manage the relationship with schools and commercial backers of the project like a sales account, he said. . .

Sweet success in manuka honey – Peter Burke:

Manuka honey could long term earn more money for a central North Island Maori trust than its sheep and beef farming operation.

Atihau Whanganui Incorporation, whose large land holdings range from the central North Island to the Whanganui River, is planting manuka on steep country largely unsuitable, or less productive, for sheep and beef.

Chief executive Andrew Beijeman says they are also letting land, which is naturally reverting back to manuka. . .

Possums sorted – look out Omaui rats – Kate Guthrie:

A few years back, John Collins of Omaui got sick of shooting possums every night. He decided more needed to be done.

Omaui is a small village of about 30 houses in Southland, located right at the mouth of the Oreti River estuary, opposite Oreti Beach.

“I’ve always been environment-minded,” says John, who is now Chairman of the Omaui Landcare Group, “But until I came to Omaui I’d never settled in a place where that feeling for the environment came out. . .

IrrigationNZ back to help improve irrigation management:

IrrigationNZ will be back on farms this summer testing irrigation systems and helping farmers improve the efficiency of their irrigation.

Last summer, IrrigationNZ in partnership with Environment Canterbury, developed a new testing programme which saw 131 Ashburton farms have their irrigation systems tested to see how they were performing.

Over the next three months, IrrigationNZ will be testing irrigation systems in Selwyn district. As part of the testing process, farmers and farm staff are also interviewed to find out how they manage their irrigation systems. . . 

Can we sustainably meet the growing demand for meat in developing countries?—Yes, says Louise Fresco – Susan MacMillan:

The following argument for continuing to use livestock to use the planet’s full ecological potential is made by Louise Fresco, a Dutch writer and food and agricultural scientist specializing in sustainable tropical agriculture. President of the executive board of Wageningen University and Research, Fresco is a member of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors and holds many other distinguished appointments and honours.

Fresco says that the short answer to the question of whether livestock production can meet the growing demand for meat in developing countries is ‘yes’.

‘Livestock production cannot only meet the growing demand for animal proteins, but we absolutely need livestock to use the planet in a sustainable and healthy way. . .

 

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Rural round-up

November 18, 2017

Fruit early but shortage of workers – Yvonne O’Harra:

Cromwell and Roxburgh orchardists are intending to start harvesting cherries this week, which is up to 10 days earlier than usual.
However, there is also a shortage of workers.

Orchardists spoken to by Southern Rural Life said at this early stage of the season, the region’s crops of cherries and apricots were shaping up as some of the best there had been for a few years, thanks to the milder spring.

Cromwell orchardist Mark Jackson, of Jacksons’ Orchard, said everyone he had talked to was ”pretty happy” with the season so far and with the way the crops looked. . .

The new post-quake normal for south Marlborough – NZ’s biggest cul de sac – Oliver Lewis:

In a pair of towns straddling a major highway, the sound of engine noise at night has become a curiosity.

People prick up their ears from inside earthquake-damaged homes, wondering about a noise that until a year ago was a near-constant hum in the background.

Any road big enough to matter is called arterial, but for the south Marlborough towns of Seddon and Ward the description is particularly apt for State Highway 1.

Winding its way through the surrounding vineyards and gold-coloured rolling hills, the highway pumped through a steady stream of travellers and trade – lifeblood for businesses in the area. . .

Mustering courage – Alex Cook:

Stretching along both sides of the Clarence River and straddling the Clarence Fault, which runs between the seaward and inward Kaikōura Ranges, is Muzzle Station.

It’s New Zealand’s most isolated high country station, and when the Kaikōura earthquake struck, its most precariously placed.

No time to read? Listen here now

It’s also the home of managers Fiona and Guy Redfern, and when the 7.8 quake hit just past midnight on 14 November, the couple could hear the horrific sound of rock walls around the house tumbling down, and the house cracking with the movement. . . .

Gardner makes it a double – Tim Fulton:

Mid Canterbury Texel breeder Paul Gardner is a second-time winner of the Canterbury A&P Mint Lamb competition.

Gardner, farming at Mayfield, won the supreme prize in 2014 and has previously headlined other categories.

The competition was open to all breeds and celebrated the quality and variety of lamb available in New Zealand. . .

Dr Dirt gets due reward:

Dr Ants Roberts has been awarded the Ray Brougham Trophy for his outstanding contribution to pastoral farming.

Nicknamed Dr Dirt by his colleagues, Roberts is a soil scientist and Ravensdown’s chief scientific officer.

“I’m deeply humbled to be recognised amongst my peers in this way for effectively doing something that I love and am passionate about. . . .


Rural round-up

September 23, 2017

North Otago water scheme expansion finally turned on – Yvonne O’Hara:

The $57 million pipeline expansion of the North Otago Irrigation Company’s project has been turned on this week, a year later than planned.

The first stage of the scheme was completed 11 years ago and the expansion was expected to be up and running this time last year, but was held back by problems with the new pipe.

North Otago Irrigation Company chair Leigh Hamilton said the water scheme has been talked about since the 1980s and the first stage of the scheme was built in 2006. . 

Back in business – Tim Fulton:

It was dry for so long Iain Wright started to forget the feel of mud at his feet.

But a “fantastic” amount of rain since autumn has turned his family’s fortunes after three years of Canterbury drought.

“It’s nice to know you can actually grow stuff.

“For so long you couldn’t grow anything,” the sheep and beef farmer said. . . 

Fonterra fails diversity test says Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner – Gerard Hutching:

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue has given Fonterra a serve for having so few women on its board.

But Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard said he couldn’t care if board members were transgender or of any race or colour, as long as they advanced the interests of Fonterra and farmer/shareholders.

Fairlie dairy farmer and current board member Leonie Guiney has been not selected to stand as a candidate for a second term, reducing the numbers of women on the 11-person board to two – Professor Nicola Shadbolt and Donna Smit. . .

New woolhandling event – Yvonne O’Hara:

One of the most prestigious events on the shearing calendar is only two weeks away and this year it will include a new competition featuring the top woolhandlers in the country.

The 56th annual New Zealand Merino Shearing Championships will be held at Molyneux Stadium, Alexandra, on October 6 and 7 and will be open to the public from about 7.30am.

Organising committee member Graeme Bell said the Merino Shears was one of the highlights of the shearing year. . .

One more chance for viticulturist – Yvonne O’Hara:

Annabel Bulk, of Felton Road Wines, has one more chance to win the national Young Viticulturist of the Year title next year before she is too old to enter. She intends to give it her best shot.

Ms Bulk has worked on the Bannockburn vineyard for about six years, and entered the regional competition for the past five.

This year, the vineyard’s assistant viticulturalist won the Central Otago competition and represented the region at the national final at Villa Maria, Marlborough on August 29, coming a close second to winner Tim Adams, from Obsidian, Waiheke Island. . .

Please no more meat regulation says NSW Farmers – NSW Farmers cattle committee chairman Bill Stacy:

The final report from the red meat senate inquiry was released last week. Its conclusions highlighted there are competition issues within the red meat industry, which generally act to the detriment of producers.

The report contained two key recommendations to improve competition. . .


Rural round-up

August 26, 2017

Farmers’ voices must be heard – Nigel Malthus:

Heading into an election that will be won or lost in the towns and cities, farmers must get a hearing on environmental issues, says Meat Industry Association chair John Loughlin.

He says with environmental issues “quite significant” in this election year, any changes to environmental regimes must be balanced and fair.

“The outcomes in our rivers don’t just reflect farming; they reflect towns and cities and industries as well.”

He was speaking after the recent two-day Red Meat Sector conference in Dunedin, jointly hosted by the MIA with Beef + Lamb NZ. . .

Urban invaders hurting hort – Sudesh Kissun:

Uncertainty over continued access to fertile land and irrigation water are potentially forcing some vegetable growers out of business.

The Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association president Brent Wilcox says land and water are the main issues facing many of its member businesses; ranging from smaller single property units to large operations with diverse land holdings.

“Over time we are seeing consolidation of many small growers into fewer larger growers; there is uncertainty and many growers are faced with a decision trying to figure whether they can justify the cost of taking land and water issues on,” he told Rural News. . .

Dairy industry tackling shortage of quality environmental advisers -Stephen Macaulay:

Quality advice is key to whether farmers sink or swim in an environmental tsunami, writes Stephen Macaulay.

 A wave of unprecedented environmental compliance is crashing over New Zealand’s primary industries and it’s not just farmers who are working hard to stay afloat.

The implementation of farm environmental plans represents one of the most significant changes in how farmers think about and undertake their work. Solutions now and into the future will involve a fundamental rethink in the way we farm and manage our natural resources.

How the industry deals with those regulations and the associated scrutiny of urban New Zealand and international consumers will impact on the production and profitability of farming operations into the future, as well as farm property values. . .

Farmers are adding value to wool – Tim Fulton:

Home spinning entrepreneurs are defying wool’s doldrums.

Tracey Topp started the Cosy Toes children’s Merino sock range on a kitchen table at Rotherham, North Canterbury, more than 10 years ago.

Recently she branched into bigger sizes for adults and a variety of tights, blankets and clothing.

Topp grew up on a sheep farm at Summerhill, in the Canterbury foothills near Oxford. She still soaks in the smell and the memory of lanolin, tossing fleeces and the banter of the boards.

A Kiwi company makes Cosy Toes’ socks but it took years of hard work to build business credibility.

Fabricators wanted consistent wool supply, including minimum wool weight for dyeing. . . 

Don’t judge a conversion by its cover – Tim Fulton:

Ngai Tahu’s forest-to-farm conversion near the North Canterbury town of Culverden is about beef and dairy support, the developer says.

The iwi’s farming group had transformed part of the old Balmoral Forest over the past two years but it wouldn’t be milking, Ngai Tahu Farming chief executive Andrew Priest said.

The iwi had already transformed Eyrewell Forest on the north bank of the Waimakariri River, (Te Whenua Hou) into dairy farms and drystock units.

In 2016, 360 hectares of land at the west of the Balmoral block was put into irrigated pasture and was now being used for beef finishing. . . 

Cancer survivor, author donating proceeds – Alexia Johnston:

Ex Glenavy farmer Allan Andrews is topping up Cancer Society funds thanks to his many book sales.

His book titled Allan Andrews 70 Years On features a range of subjects, including farming, cricket and his battle with cancer.

It was his family’s history of cancer that prompted Mr Andrews to donate a portion of the book’s proceeds to the Cancer Society.

So far that includes $1000 – $400 to the South Canterbury division, $400 to North Otago and $200 to Ashburton.

The book was launched in late September to early October last year, with the aim of donating a portion of the proceeds from every book to the Cancer Society. . .  

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Farm Girl 1. A person who solves problems you can’t. 2. One who does precision guess work based on unreliable data provided by those of questionable knowledge. See also Wizard, Magician.


Rural round-up

August 22, 2017

Honesty breeds motivation in deer farmers’ support group – Tim Fulton:

A North Otago deer farmer tells Tim Fulton about how joining a farmers’ Advance Party has helped him make production gains.

A network of deer farmers is helping “geographic outliers” Dallas and Sarah Newlands to prepare for the biggest investment of their farming career.

The Newlands of North Otago are fourth-generation farmers 20km inland from Maheno, running the family’s 111-year old Viewmont property and a newer acquisition, Maraeweka.

They’re on rolling country, surrounded by dairy farmers but reliant on trough and small-scale water supply schemes to shield them against drought. . .

New tech simplifies DNA sequencing for primary sector – Alexa Cook:

Improvements to new DNA sequencing technology will help researchers use genetics to solve problems faster in animals, plants and other organisms, a Palmerston North scientist says.

Rob Elshire and his wife Robyn run a genetic analysis centre in Palmerston North and say they’ve developed an open-source DNA analysis method that can generate 300 percent more data than other technology, but at the same cost.

Similar science was used to create a gold kiwifruit variety to be resistant to the vine disease PSA. . . 

Westland appoints new Chief Financial Officer:

Westland welcomes a new Chief Financial Officer with some 20 years’ experience of international business finance on 21 August.

Toni Brendish, Chief Executive of Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second largest dairy co-operative, has appointed British-born Dorian Devers to the CFO role at Westland.

“I’m very excited about the potential for Westland with an appointment of someone of Dorian’s calibre,” Brendish said.  . . 

Synlait Cements Relationship with New Hope Nutritionals:

Synlait  has today announced a new supply agreement with New Hope Nutritionals for production of their infant formula brands.

The arrangement provides certainty of supply for both companies over a five year period.

“This supply agreement has clarified our infant formula partnership with New Hope Nutritionals for the near future, allowing both of us to plan with confidence,” said John Penno, Synlait’s Managing Director and CEO. . . 

World’s rarest wading bird released in Mackenzie Basin:

51 black stilt, the world’s rarest wading bird, are being released at Mount Gerald station in the Mackenzie basin today.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the birds will add to the 60 released into the Tasman valley earlier this month, significantly boosting the wild population.

“DOC works really hard on black stilt (kakī) recovery, controlling predators in their braided river habitats and hatching and rearing chicks in aviaries before releasing them into the wild. This programme has helped build numbers in the wild from a low of 23 to more than 106 adult birds today,” Ms Barry says. . . 

Top two North Island young winemakers off to national final:

The annual Tonellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker of the Year regional competition was held at EIT (Eastern Institute of Technology), Hawkes Bay on Friday with Sara Addis from Trinity Hill Winery taking out first place and Tom Hindmarsh from Martinborough’s Dry River coming a close second, in third place was Hadiee Johnson from Te Awa.

Both Sara and Tom will go on to represent the North Island at the Tonellerie de Mercurey National competition in Auckland, competing against the first and second place winners from the South Island on Wednesday 20th September. . . 

Dairy industry body joins GIA biosecurity partnership:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has become the fifteenth and largest industry sector to join the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) biosecurity partnership, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

DCANZ is the national organisation representing the dairy processor and exporters sector, comprised of 11 members responsible for 99% of the milk processed in New Zealand.

“It’s very pleasing to have DCANZ working with the Ministry for Primary Industries and other industry partners on biosecurity,” says Mr Guy.. . .

Dispatch from NZ no. 2 Resource Management Act (RMA) – Jonathan Baker:

In 1991, New Zealand created an overarching and ambitious piece of legislation. The Resource Management Act (RMA), pulled together and replaced a whole host of existing legislation covering town and country planning, pollution consents, land use and environmental legislation.

The RMA was developed over time, out of a recognition that the legislative framework was insuficient to address the emerging recognition of sustainable development as introduced by the Brundtland Commission. A Review Group led the process which occured aco]ross a change of Government. . . 


Rural round-up

April 19, 2016

Genetics addicts – Anne Hardie:

Jesse Huffam and Renee Mason have managed a 110-cow herd through to 1600 cows, operated high-input systems as well as grass-based and their ultimate goal is to find a marginal sheep farm in a remote corner of the country that can be developed into a profitable business.

The Springs Junction couple scooped the West Coast-Top of South Share Farmer of the Year title, two years after being placed runners-up in the Waikato Farm Manager of the Year award.

And it would never have happened if Renee hadn’t got hooked on the Australian McLeod’s Daughters television series as a teenager, or Jesse hadn’t turned his back on dairying and followed a career path toward shepherding. . .

Escape to paradise – Anne Hardie:

The Haupiri Valley on the West Coast gets an impressive 4m of rain a year, yet Matt Birchfield prides himself on the pasture management for the 785 cows he manages in an environment surrounded by bush and mountains.  

The 36-year-old took out the 2016 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year in his first attempt at the coveted title, which he entered for experience.  As production manager for farm owners Murray and Gaye Coats he is in charge of the herd, dairy and staff of what was a high-input farm before the payout drop lowered its inputs to palm kernel.  

Measuring pasture is a key aspect of the farm’s management which is collected by a pasture meter on the front of the Gator utility vehicle. . .

National farm sales drop in tough year – REINZ – Tim Fulton & Gerard Hutching:

Farm sales so far this year are down about 10 per cent on 2015, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures show.

Nationwide 383 farms were sold in the three months to March – down 42 on the same period last year.

Dairy farm sales were “dramatically down” but horticulture sales continue to rise, The Real Estate Institute (REINZ) said.

Only 48 dairy farms were sold compared to the 86 sold in the first quarter last year. . . 

Marlborough wine grower co-operative quietly confident for grape harvest – Mike Watson:

Bringing in the grapes is a nervous time for a co-operative’s growers, but there is nothing but smiles on their faces during a “dream” harvest.

Marlborough’s annual wine harvest is drawing to an end but there will be no let up until the last grape has been picked.

Working 24 hours around the clock have been harvesters, truck drivers, supervisors and growers for the past two to three weeks throughout the region. . . 

Profitable farms underpin rural communities – James Parsons:

When farmers do well, rural communities do well. I know this may be stating the obvious to many; however it is a topic worth exploring a little more deeply.

On 23rd March we held the Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) AGM at Waitangi. A good number of farmers turned out, with one couple travelling from as far afield as Gore. The Northern Farmer Council put together a great showcase of leading Northland farmers who had worked with B+LNZ as project farms over the last 10 years. By having a strong team around them, each had improved their business performance significantly. . . 

NZ beef, lamb and mutton prices fall in first half of exporting season – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand export beef, lamb and mutton prices fell in the first half of the current season, which tapered off after a strong start.

Prices for beef and veal fell 2.5 percent to $7,350 a tonne in the six months ended March 31, while the volume of exports fell 3.7 percent to 204,200 tonnes, said Beef + Lamb NZ. The price of lamb fell 4.2 percent to $8,500 a tonne as volume climbed 5.9 percent to 162,700 tonnes. Mutton prices fell 10 percent to $4,800 as volume rose 0.5 percent to 51,200 tonnes.

Beef + Lamb said the price decline would have been worse if not for a weaker kiwi dollar. . . 

Excellent environmental stewardship earns couple supreme title in 2016 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Redcliff farmers Shane Gibbons and Bridget Speight are Supreme winners of the 2016 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 14 (2016), the couple also collected the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with the QEII National Trust and New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, the Environment Southland Water Quality and Biodiversity Award and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award. . . .

 Farmers urged to remain on lookout for late-emerging velvetleaf:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is urging farmers to remain vigilant in their management of the velvetleaf pest plant.

MPI’s Velvetleaf 2016 Response Manager, Carolyn Bleach, says the window of opportunity to control plants that haven’t yet seeded is narrowing and it’s very important farmers remain on the look- out.

“Farmers and landowners need to maintain a watchful eye until crops have been grazed, particularly as some late emerging plants have been found in crops that have already been inspected. . . 

Upgrade for farm menus:

Farmers are being offered extra environmental protection advice through an upgraded version of the hugely popular “farm menus” produced by Waikato Regional Council in co-operation with eight agriculture sector partners.

Since their launch in 2013, the first farm menus have been picked up by more than 4000 farmers and rural professionals in Waikato and elsewhere. They offer methods for reducing the impact of farming operations on water quality.

The initial menus – covering nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment or micro-organisms getting into waterways – had a focus on reducing nitrogen leaching. Now the outcome of further research means the upgraded menus have more options added for reducing phosphorus and sediment loss. . . 

Fonterra to Divest Share in Dairy Technical Services:

Fonterra Australia has today announced it has signed an agreement to divest its shareholding (36.02 per cent) in Dairy Technical Services (DTS) to a consortium comprising Bureau Veritas Singapore and AsureQuality Limited.

DTS was originally set up as a cooperative testing service company for dairy companies in Victoria, and its other shareholders are The Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Group, Murray Goulburn and AsureQuality. . . 


Rural round-up

October 13, 2015

Location and movement sensors thwart hive thieves – Tim Fulton:

Thieves are stealing manuka honey hives, forcing beekeepers to protect their hives using location and movement sensors.

Manuka-rich regions like Northland and Waikato, down to the wide-open pastures and hill country of the South Island, are being targeted.

Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group chairman John Hartnell said the country had nearly 600,000 hives –double the number at the turn of the century. . .

Love of dairying overcomes cow allergy – Barbara Gillham:

An allergy to cows has not stopped Sheree Walters from fulfilling her dream of dairy farming.

She feels she has time and experience on her side as she works toward her ultimate goal of running her own run-off block.

Currently working as a support technician for  on their 2700ha dairy farm near the small rural community of Hororata in North Canterbury, Walters says she has always loved dairy farming.

Although her parents did not farm, she was fortunate to have an uncle that had a dairy farm and lived nearby.

“When I was younger I always used to go to his farm after school and help out; he milked about 150 cows and I was always down there any chance I had,” she says. . . 

Hopes for better rural health services:

NZLocums, A recruitment division of the NZ Rural General Practice Network, has placed its first nurse practitioner in a permanent role in a New Zealand rural general practice.

Network chairwoman and Temuka nurse practitioner Sharon Hansen hopes for more such appointments, saying these nurse practitioners in rural areas are “absolutely” positive for the community.

Nurse practitioners have master’s degrees and must go through an extensive assessment by the Nursing Council. They can do a wider range of duties than other nurses, including some diagnosis and prescribing of medicines. . . 

Cloudy Bay celebrates its 30th vintage wine:

Stories of entrepreneurs are usually inspiring, but not many tales are as dramatic as that of Cloudy Bay wines, whose makers are celebrating its 30th vintage.

This is the stuff of urban legend. One minute, a gung-ho Australian takes a couple of sips of Marlborough sauvignon blanc (1983), the following year he is travelling to Marlborough and unwittingly planting the seeds of one of the most successful wine brands in the last half century.

The man in question is David Hohnen. He was in Western Australia when he first tasted Marlborough sauvignon blanc, so he wasn’t exactly handy to the region.

But his sixth sense back then of right time-right place enabled him to take the plunge and investigate further. . . 

 

Farm sitters settle in – Shan Goodwin:

FARM sitting has been plugging gaps left by the trend for retired producers to relocate to the coast and the mining boom induced farm labour shortage in the past decade, but now it’s emerging as the newest agriculture profession.

Attracted by the extensive travel opportunities, diversity, flexibility and next-to-nothing living expenses of being a short-term caretaker of somebody else’s operation, experienced farmers are selling up to become full-time farm sitters.

Rural community and farm industry leaders say the growth of the concept of farm sitting has many pluses, not the least being the retention of knowledge and skills in agriculture and the social and economic benefits of additional faces in small bush towns. . . 


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