Rural round-up

19/03/2022

‘Russian soldiers took over my farm’: the battle for food supplies in Ukraine – Tom Levitt, Chris McCullough:

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has upended the farming industry, raising fears of disruption to domestic and international food supplies. The Guardian has spoken to three farmers about what life is like on the ground, with the Russian army hiding tanks in barns and stocks of potatoes expected to deplete within weeks.

Andrii Pastushenko, 39, is a dairy farmer who lives 12 miles from Kherson in the south of Ukraine, a city that has been under control of the Russian military.

On Monday, 10 Russian soldiers came to set up a base on the farm, leaving their tanks in barns, and more soldiers arrived later. But after overnight shelling by Ukraine’s military at Kherson airport, the Russian troops left on Wednesday morning.

“They quickly packed up this morning, taking two cars and food from the farm and saying they were ‘nationalising’ them,” he said, adding that they did not pay for either but said: “See you soon.” . . 

Smart tags help farmers to track cows’ health remotely :

A pair of Massey University students have developed game-changing technology that helps dairy farmers monitor their cow health remotely.

Engineering and PhD students Tyrel Glass and Baden Parr’s have set up an agri-tech start-up company called Protag, which has now raised $1m from investors.

This funding will be used to fast-track the development of their company’s smart ear tag sensors, which transmit crucial health and location data to dairy farmers within seconds. Protag’s small, internet-enabled device clips onto a cow’s ear. This allows farmers to continuously monitor the animal’s health, grazing and breeding habits.

Machine learning is used to process data from the device’s temperature, movement and location sensors. This helps farmers map animal behavioural patterns and detect the early onset of illnesses in real time. . . 

Tough times forge fighting spirit for Northland Dairy Industry Award winners :

The 2022 Northland Share Farmers of the Year identify their cows as their biggest asset and say looking after them in the best possible way is their greatest motivation.

Antje and Soenke Paarmann were named winners of the 2022 Northland Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at Copthorne Hotel and Resort Bay of Islands in Waitangi on Wednesday night.  The other major winners were the 2022 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year Phillip Payton, and the 2022 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year Macee Latimer.  

The third-time entrants believe the benefits from the Awards programme include making smart goals, forward-planning and using the judges’ feedback to improve weaknesses.  

“It is beneficial to sit down and work on your business instead of in your business.” . . 

David MacLeod appointed chair of Predator Free :

Predator Free 2050 Limited (PF2050) has welcomed the Minister of Conservation’s appointment of David MacLeod as its Board chair until 30 November 2025.

Mr MacLeod was appointed to the PF2050 Board in November 2016 and has been acting chair since the departure of inaugural chair Jane Taylor from the role in March 2021.

In addition to his role with PF2050, Mr MacLeod is chair of Taranaki Regional Council. He has iwi connections to Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāi Tahu, and Ngāti Porou.

“We have made some major strides since PF2050 was created from scratch five years ago and I’m honoured and excited to help lead the next phase of our mission,” Mr MacLeod said. . . 

Fruitful partnership nets bumper crop of Axis Awards for Rockit and Special:

Sometimes it pays for the apple to fall a really long way from the tree.

Doing things differently and continuing to disrupt the commodity apple category has seen the team at snack sized apple company Rockit nab nine gongs at the Commercial Communication Council’s 2022 Axis Awards, including one gold.

The awards, which celebrate the enormous breadth of talent within the New Zealand advertising industry, were held virtually yesterday afternoon, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Rockit™ Apple took gold in the coveted Design 360 category – which recognises a brand’s success across all its touchpoints – along with five silvers and three bronze awards in both the Craft and the Magazine and Newspaper categories. The accolades come 12 months after the innovative apple company partnered with agency Special to tell the story of its delicious, nutritious miniature apples. . . .

Diversified grazing and cropping bock with value high horticulture placed on the market for sale :

A block of productive rural land transitioning from traditional livestock grazing and feed production activities into more lucrative avocado orcharding has been placed on the market for sale.

The property at Maungatapere just west of Whangarei comprises some 47-hectares of long-standing grazing and cropping paddocks, alongside a burgeoning eight-hectare avocado orchard planted last year. The property predominately consists of volcanic soils with some clay loam, and flat to gentle sloping contour.

Farm records show the property has sustained between 100-130 cattle over winter, and between 50-70 cattle during summer. Concurrently, the farm has produced approximately 300 bales of baleage annually, along with 20-hectares of maize which has been grown on lease for approximately $1,000 per hectare. Annual ryegrass is sown in Autumn following the maize harvest for winter and spring grazing. . .

 


Rural round-up

10/01/2022

What farmers are hoping for in 2022 – Mazz Scannell:

If New Zealand beef and lamb farmers were asked what they hoped for in 2022, the answers would be quick: two inches of rain, a slowing of rising land prices, reliable supply chain, consistent kill cycle, good product prices, the ability to manage political change and good staff.

There are more than 44,000 people employed in New Zealand’s meat and wool sector, and the scarcity of seasonal and specialist workers is an ongoing challenge. The one thing farmers can do is to keep the staff they have and grow the next generation of farmers.

Wairarapa farmer Derek Daniell says teamwork is what farming is all about. He knows of farms that have had the same staff for 30 or 40 years, even if the ownership has changed.

“It is about working together as a team and enjoying each other,” he said. “When word gets out someone is leaving, they are usually shoulder-tapped by someone else who wants to take their place.” . .

Reward for improving land – Annette Scott:

Informing policymakers can be challenging, but Professor Richard McDowell has a special interest in presenting understandable science and has been recognised for his outstanding contribution to environmental policy. He talked with Annette Scott.

Richard McDowell has been awarded the Hutton Medal by Royal Society Te Apārangi for his outstanding contributions to the knowledge of contaminant losses from land to water and informing environmental policy.

The Hutton Medal is awarded for significantly advancing understanding in the animal, earth or plant sciences.

A land and water scientist, McDowell works between AgResearch and Lincoln University making a major contribution to the scientific understanding of contaminant losses from land to water. . . 

Planning key to combat higher costs :

Strong financial management, grazing management and people management skills will help dairy farmers buffer rising input costs and produce milk more efficiently.

That’s the message from DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle who says despite a high milk price, high-cost pressures are expected to continue for at least the next couple of years.

Statistics New Zealand released its latest farm expense price index last month which showed large inflation costs for farmers over the past two years.

Four key farming costs have experienced inflation of more than 10 per cent between 2019 and 2021, including fertiliser with a 15.9 per cent increase; cultivation, harvesting and animal feed with an 18.9 per cent increase; electricity with a 21 per cent increase; and stock grazing costs which are 36.9 per cent higher this year than they were in 2019. . .

Dog training from the best – Hugh Stringleman:

Two of the best dog trialists in the country have been sharing their skills with a new generation, giving back to the community that has been the base of their own success. Hugh Stringleman went along to their training day.

The art of sheep dog training, for on-farm working and for competition, was taught in early December at the Maungakaramea farm of Murray and Kathy Child.

It was the Northland training day of the nationwide Purina Pro Plan training series, hosted on this occasion by the Maungakaramea Sheep Dog Trial Club.

Murray does up to 12 of these training days around the North Island every year in his role as a Purina Pro Plan ambassador. . . 

South Island Cheese Festival: a grate day to Brie a cheese lover!:

The South Island Cheese Festival – owned by Cranky Goat Ltd will be returning for its second ever time next month and will be located at the beautiful location of Clos Henri Vineyard kicking off from 10am on Saturday 5th February.

Cheese companies from all over New Zealand will be coming together to celebrate cheese! Giving visitors the perfect opportunity to explore the large variety of flavours, textures and milk types. There will be an abundance of cheeses on offer alongside a large selection of produce that compliments cheeses, giving visitors an instant high quality picnic to enjoy on the stunning lawn at Clos Henri Vineyard.

The South Island Cheese Festival is proud to be hosting incredible companies such as Meyer Cheese, Barrys Bay Cheese, A Lady Butcher, Proper Crisps – Crackerbread, Peckham’s Cider, Easy Cheesy Food Truck and many more! . . 

‘It’ll take away our livelihoods’: Welsh farmers on rewilding and carbon markets

Teleri Fielden is suddenly very despairing. After skirting around the topic for the best part of an hour at her farm in Snowdonia, we’re discussing rewilding and the idea of restoring land to a more natural state and creating more nature-friendly farming practices.

Wales has become one of the focal points of the debate playing out all over the world about how farms and rewilding can work together. Supporters of rewilding say the two can co-exist, but that farming has to change given it is the biggest contributor to nature loss in the country. . .

Around 1 in 6 species in the country are currently at risk of extinction and birds like turtle doves and corn buntings have already gone from Wales’ skies.

With close to 90% of land in Wales used for agriculture, there is currently little space for wildlife to exist free from the influence of farming. Rewilding, which can involve encouraging and supporting wildlife on-farm through replanting hedgerows as well as giving over unproductive land to nature, could help reverse the biodiversity decline. . .


Rural round-up

24/10/2019

Former Manawatū rugby player directs Kiwi movie about farmers’ mental health – Sam Kilmister:

A former Manawatū rugby player has taken the plight of farmers’ mental health to the big screen. 

Hamish Bennett played a handful of games for the province in the late 1990s and he returns to Palmerston North on Sunday for a special screening of his first feature film, Bellbird.

Bennett lived in Manawatū while studying a bachelor of arts and a post-graduate diploma in teaching. During that time, he played rugby for Feilding Old Boys and donned the green and white four times across two seasons at halfback.  . . .

Stricter winter grazing rules hinted at in government’s first report – Rachael Kelly:

Farmers could expect stricter enforcement of winter grazing practices next winter, and they should be planning ahead for it now.

But the Winter Grazing Taskforce says there is no there is no united view and guidance on best practice for winter grazing in the industry and farmers are not all receiving the same information.

The taskforce was set up by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in response to environmentalists campaign against winter grazing practicesin Southland this winter. . .

National kudos for Kurow venture – Sally Brooker:

A family orchard near Kurow has earned a major national food award.

Waitaki Orchards, which featured in Central Rural Life in March, won the Inspire+ Artisan Awards’ ”frozen” category with its apricot, peach, golden plum and red plum sorbets.

Ellen Watt, one of owners Justin and Julie Watt’s eight children, is responsible for the sorbets. She spends Friday mornings in a commercial kitchen at the orchard, having attended a Timaru baking school for a year and spending nearly a year completing her food compliance qualification. . .

Cheese is the word bank report says – Brent Melville:

The time is ripe for the global cheese industry, agribusiness specialist Rabobank says.

And as with many New Zealand exports, all roads lead to Asia.

In its report, Global Cheese Trade Dynamics, the bank says strong demand prospects for cheese in emerging markets will drive much of the export market expansion.

The report says market opportunities will be underpinned by increasing cheese demand in emerging markets and deficits in those markets, as their domestic production remains limited . . .

 

Don’t blame meat for climate crisis say European farmers -t TOm Levitt:

Meat and farmed animals are wrongly blamed for the climate crisis without considering their benefits for society, argues a new campaign launched by the livestock industry in Europe.

Billboards appeared this week in Brussels metro stations together with a social media campaign #meatthefacts. The adverts are being funded by European Livestock Voice, which is backed by organisations representing EU farmers, foie gras producers and the fur and leather industry.

We believe this campaign is necessary in order to address misinformation,” said a spokesperson for Livestock Voice. The group said they want people “to think about the whole picture and all the consequences that simplistic speeches calling … for a ‘drastic reduction of livestock’ could have on Europe’s rural areas and on society in general.” . .

Vanilla Boom Is Making People Crazy Rich — And Jittery — In Madagascar – Wendell Steavenson :

About 80% of the world’s vanilla is grown by small holding farmers in the hilly forests of Madagascar. For a generation the price languished below $50 a kilo (about 2.2 pounds). But in 2015 it began to rise at an extraordinary rate and for the past four years has hovered at 10 times that amount, between $400 and $600 a kilo.

The rise is partly because of increased global demand and partly because of decreased supply, as storms have destroyed many vines, and a lot to do with speculation. Local middlemen have rushed into the market, leveraging deals between village growers and the international flavor companies that distill the cured beans into extract and sell it to the big multinationals like Mars, Archer Daniels Midland and Unilever. . . .


Rural round-up

28/08/2017

Proposed water tax would hit hard, says farming family – Nicki Harper:

The Gray family has farmed on the Ruataniwha plains for more than 100 years and invested heavily in environmental mitigation in recent times.

They say Labour’s proposed water levy policy on commercial water users would hit them hard financially.

Leicester and Margaret Gray and their sons Phillip and Callum and respective families farm 1009 hectares, of which 360 hectares is cropped under irrigation, the remainder is sheep and beef.

Trading as Gray Brothers, they grow and irrigate sweetcorn, peas and green beans for McCains as well as maize and carrot seed, and take pride in their farming practices. . . 

Rift for town and country – Kerre McIvor:

When I was a kid, going to stay on farms with our country relatives was a real treat.

I can still remember, at the age of 7 or 8, the thrill of seeing a lamb being born, on a cold crisp Canterbury morning. In my memory, the amniotic sac was a beautiful, rainbow colour and I can remember feeling both awestruck and completely grossed out.

At another rellie’s farm, I became a dab hand at dodging shitty cows’ tails and putting on suction cups and hosing down the milking sheds after the cows had made their way back to the paddocks. . . 

Sara Addis: Winemaking is art and science

Trinity Hill winemaker and winner of the North Island NZ Young Winemaker of the Year, Sara Addis, hopes her recent win will open a few industry doors. She chats to Mark Story.

What does your win mean for your career?
For me personally, it means so much as it proves to me I have got what it takes to be a winemaker. Career-wise, hopefully my win will help open some exciting new doors in the future and I look forward to seeing what they are. I’m still a student so hopefully, once I graduate, my win will be another string to my bow. My long-term goal is to work down in Central Otago, where my partner Lachy is from, but I’d also love to do some more harvests in France. . . 

Bride horse brings the X-factor – Jill Herron:

Muddy boots, an oil skin vest and a vintage lace wedding dress would seem an odd sort of a work outfit for most people…not for Zara-Lee Macdonald.

The mismatched get-up is necessary as part of preparations for launching her new business, Inspiring Weddings.

Macdonald, originally from Winton, is training Maggie, a seven-year-old Percheron mare, to be a “bride horse” and having the horse well used to fluttering dresses is essential.

Maggie, and a shire horse called Max, will be available as part of the wedding planning service, for the role of carrying the bride – and the groom if he so desires – to the aisle, posing for photographs and adding “x-factor” to background scenes. . . 

World-first technique to ease world avocado shortage :

A world-first innovative plant growing technique that is set to double Queensland’s avocado production and smash the global shortage of avocado trees has received a $636,000 grant through the second round of the QLD Government’s Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships program.

QLD Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch today predicted the initial ‘matched’ investment of less than $1.5 million could return $335 million a year for the state’s economy across the production and supply chain. . .

‘Wow, no cow’: the Swedish farmer using oats to make milk – Tom Levitt:

Adam Arnesson, 27, is not your usual milk producer. For starters, he doesn’t have any dairy cattle. Our first photo opportunity is in the middle of one of his fields of oats.

Until last year all these oats went into animal feed, either sold or fed to the sheep, pigs and cows he rears on his organic farm in Örebro county, central Sweden.

With the support of Swedish drinks company Oatly, they are now being used to produce an oat milk drink – tapping into the growing market for dairy alternatives across the country. . . 

Almond milk: quite good for you – very bad for the planet – Emine Saner:

Sales of the non-dairy milk alternative are on the rise. But the super-healthy nuts – mostly grown in drought-hit California – need millions of litres of water to be produced. Think twice before you pour it on your cereal.

Snoop around the contents of an “eat clean” aficionado’s grocery basket and chances are, among the organic cauliflower and mountain of avocados, you will come across a carton of almond milk. A few years ago, those avoiding cow’s milk because of lactose intolerance or for ethical reasons were drinking soya, but health scares have seen a rising demand for alternative plant “milks”, including rice, hemp and – most popular – almond. This week, Waitrose said almond milk had overtaken soya as its customers’ preferred dairy alternative.

Almonds are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. The nuts (or seeds, if you are a botanical pedant) are packed full of vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant chemicals, as well as protein, healthy fats and fibre, and eating almonds is associated with a lowered risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s, among other conditions. . . 


Rural round-up

31/10/2012

Customers attack Sainsbury’s for ditching Red Tractor – Alistair Driver:

SAINSBURY’S has come under fire on its own website over its decision to drop the Red Tractor logo from the food it sells.

Customers have branded the decision a ‘disgrace’ and some are threatening to stop shopping at Sainsbury’s stores until the logo is reinstated. The move has also been attacked by TV presenter Jimmy Doherty, who described it as ‘an odd thing to do’.

The UK’s third biggest retailer announced it was ditching the Red Tractor logo last week, blaming concerns that consumers were becoming confused about the number of labels on food packaging. It is planning to phase the logo out across its products lines, beginning with fresh meat. . .

CAP reform must not overshadow collaboration on family-owned farms –  Tom Levitt:

SMALLER family farms need better access to rural development funds to enable them to break free of subsidy dependence, a meeting of the Family Farmers Association (FFA) in Westminster heard last week.

NFU vice-president Adam Quinney, whose wife now runs the family farm near Redditch, West Midlands, told the audience that CAP funding was still inaccessible and unfavourable to smaller farm enterprises.

He was especially scathing of rural development funding, split between environmental schemes, modernising the farming sector and helping the rural economy. He said it had been largely ‘wasted’. . .

Times change for big show – Jill Galloway:

A & P shows used to be the the highlight of the social calendar for many people. They were the event of the year and there were public holidays, so people had time off to go to the show.

Now there are just two which have statutory holidays – Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury celebrate their anniversary days the weekend of their shows.

“Twenty years ago, it was about the promotion and sale of livestock,” says Manawatu and West Coast A & P president Lawrence Satherley. Now, Manawatu Showtime, being held at Manfeild Park this weekend, is competing against the Tour de Manawatu bicycle race, the Feilding horse races at Awapuni and the stock cars in Palmerston North. . .

Farm Environment Trust Leader Bows Out After Constructive Tenure:

North Waikato farmer Jim Cotman has stood down from his role as chairperson of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust after a very successful six years at the helm.

Since the Trust was established, its flagship event, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, has gone from strength to strength and is now regarded as one of New Zealand’s premier farming awards. The Trust has also developed a range of other initiatives designed to promote environmental sustainability in New Zealand agriculture.

Mr Cotman says the Trust has played a key role in showcasing sustainable farming practices. . .

What NZ agriculture can learn from the i-Phone –  Milking on the Moove:

. . . New Zealand’s agricultural sector could do well to study Apples business model and supply chain design. I’m really struggling to think of a major NZ agribusiness that even attempts a vertical supply chain.

Fonterra is New Zealand’s economic saviour, but Fonterra is a commodity supplier. It is equivalent to a Korean company that supplies a component to Apples iPad or iPhone and receives less than 7% of the final retail price.
The red meat sector is in the same, farmers are relegated down the value chain and as a result receive only a small fraction of the retail price.
Australian dairy farmers are at the mercy of the supermarkets because they don’t control their supply chain. The same is true for our UK dairy farming friends too. . .

Standards met through pond course:

Over 100 contractors and designers of farm dairy effluent (FDE) ponds are the first to complete a training course aligned with new industry standards.

The Farm Dairy Effluent Pond Training Course was established by DairyNZ in conjunction with InfraTrain New Zealand and Opus International Consultants (Opus).

The course is based on Practice Note 21: Design and Construction of FDE Ponds, released by the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) at the end of last year. . .

Australia on top in new Trans-Tasman series opener:

New Zealand has suffered a double defeat in the machine shearing and woolhandling tests against Australia in Warnambool, near Melbourne.

The Shearing Sports New Zealand team did however derive some success, with a victory to its two blades shearers denying Australia a clean sweep of the three matches at Saturday’s Romney Shears, which also incorporated the Australian national championships. . .

Public Consultation Begins On Proposed Agricultural Vehicle Rule Changes

The NZ Transport Agency is seeking public feedback proposed changes to agricultural transport law.

The proposed changes would establish a two-tier system for agricultural vehicles, based on a 40km/h operating speed. Vehicles operating below this speed will be exempt from warrant of fitness and work time requirements. The proposed changes aim to reduce compliance costs and provide greater operational flexibility for vehicle owners, without comprising safety. . .


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