Rural round-up

10/12/2020

Getting offset, not offside, about native forests:

September 2020 saw the publication of Native Forests: Resetting the Balance, a report by the Aotearoa Circle that explores ways in which we can accelerate the regeneration of native biodiversity at scale while optimising the use of New Zealand’s land assets.

There is little to argue with here: “Protecting and enhancing the biodiversity of New Zealand is central to supporting our unique natural environment, which is fundamental to our very existence, our culture, our way of living, international brand and key sectors of our economy.” There is broad consensus on this – from primary industry, from government ministries and agencies, from the science sector, and from iwi.

But what is our collective best shot, given climate change, accelerating biodiversity decline, and business and economic drivers that largely favour land-use intensification? The report offers one audacious but attainable solution: to plant or regenerate native forests as carbon sinks across as much of the country as possible.

Audacious, because economic short-termism must be replaced by longer-term mindsets informed by environmental priorities. Attainable, because the economic payoffs of natives vs exotics are already costed in the report to be greater over the longer term, and because New Zealand has the space and the natural resources to enable the switch to be made. As Manaaki Whenua’s Land Resources Inventory shows, there is plenty of agriculturally marginal land across the country that could support native forests. . .

Cherry picking the RSE evidence – Eric Crampton:

Decades ago, sociologist Joel Best wrote about how to lie with statistics. The best tricks are those where a statement is word-for-word true but has nothing to do with reality, writes Eric Crampton.

Last week, the Productivity Commission released a draft report on companies pushing the boundaries, or “frontier firms.” It’s an important area for study. Low rates of productivity growth mean lower living standards.

But the report’s section on immigration and productivity, and on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) programme in particular, is a case study in misleading evidence.

The Productivity Commission writes: “While the scheme has clearly provided benefits for both employers and workers, two recent studies have also shown negative impacts on some RSE workers and their communities (Bailey, 2019; Bedford et al., 2020).” . . 

Fruit picking’s fresh faces : it’s a good way to motivate myself – Tess Brunton:

Central Otago orchard owners say the push for workers is not over as they prepare for harvest season.

Today Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi and Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni visited an apple orchard near Alexandra to speak with workers and growers.

Luke Condon, 23, relocated from Christchurch to work in orchards in Central Otago and has been thinning apple trees at CAJ Hollandia.

It all started with a Ministry of Social Development programme aimed to encourage people to pick up seasonal work. . . 

 

 

Quality over quantity – Gerard Hutching:

A Canterbury couple who make top quality buffalo cheese faced a tough time during the covid-19 lockdown but now that their market is back, it’s stronger than ever. 

Everyone has their covid-19 story, but that of Lucy Appleton and Christo Keijzer is arguably more dramatic than most.

As the March lockdown hit, Lucy was still dealing with the aftermath of her mother’s recent death. But as well as mourning her mum, she was having to focus on the future of the couple’s buffalo dairy business, which largely hinged on supplying the restaurant trade with specialty cheeses such as mozzarella.

The gravity of the situation only became apparent as she did the rounds of their regular clients in Christchurch in late March. . . 

Pest that targets several vegetables, roses here to stay – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries says it’s unlikely a plant pest recently detected in New Zealand will be able to be eradicated.

Two populations of the tomato red spider mite were found near Auckland Airport in late May.

That prompted a biosecurity response which has since led to the mite being found in other parts of the city.

The tiny mite feeds on plants in the Solanaceae family, including tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants, as well as beans, kumara and some ornamentals – roses and orchids. In large groups, they can mummify plants, wrapping them up in silk webbing and feeding on the plant until it dies. . . 

Tranquil rural homestead as an add-value opportunity:

A luxurious country homestead operating as a popular event venue just north of Invercargill has been placed on the market for sale.

The rustic four-bedroom family home and events venue at 201 Lochiel Branxholme Road in Southland is offered for sale by tender closing 4pm Thursday 28 January 2021.

Locally known as ‘The Hideaway 201’; idyllic garden-set function venues occupy more than 11.5 hectares of landscaped grounds, attracting local and out of town visitors, say Bayleys Southland salespeople, Linda Riordan and Paula Johnstone. . . 


Rural round-up

01/07/2020

Regenerative ag’s mythology questioned – David Anderson:

The “mythology” of regenerative agriculture and lack of scientific evidence has prompted two renowned plant scientists to write to Ag Minister Damien O’Connor.

In the letter, Lincoln University’s Professor Derek Moot and retired plant scientist Professor Warwick Scott, express their concerns about the increased profile of regenerative agriculture in New Zealand media and farming sectors.

They have called on the minister to convene an expert panel of scientists to review all the claims made about practice.

“It is important that sound science drives our agricultural systems,” they say. “We believe such a panel should provide a robust critique of the claims made about ‘regenerative agriculture’ to ensure the public, industry and policy makers have a balanced and scientifically informed view of the ideas promulgated.” . .

Rachel Stewart on the Green Party and farmers:

To say Rachel Stewart isn’t backward in coming forward is somewhat of an understatement.

The self-described “ex-media, ex-farmer, ex-train driver” falconer has often ruffled feathers with her forthright opinions – especially when it comes agriculture.

So Stewart’s’ recent Twitter activity, criticising the Green Party and coming out in support of farmers, caught the attention of The Country’s Jamie Mackay, who invited her to talk on today’s show.

The Greens are moving away from their environmental roots and becoming too urban, Stewart told Mackay. . . 

Seeking new markets in the West – Keith Woodford:

Neither Europe nor the USA are going to do us any trading favours. It is all about self-interest

In recent weeks I have been exploring and writing about some of the challenges in finding new markets that would allow New Zealand to stem its increasing reliance on China. My focus in the last three trade articles has been first on North East Asia, then the ASEAN countries of South East Asia, then South Asia and Iran. This week I look further west to Europe and the Americas before completing the circle.

First to recap a little.

The emergence of China as the most important trading partner of New Zealand has been a function of natural alignment between what New Zealand produces and what China wanted, complemented by New Zealand also wanting what China has been producing at lower cost than anyone else. . .

Tomato red spider mite pest discovered in New Zealand for first time – Maja Burry:

A pest known for damaging tomato plants and other crops has been detected in New Zealand for the first time

Biosecurity New Zealand said two populations of the tomato red spider mite (Tetranychus evansi) were found near Auckland Airport and in Pakuranga as part of routine surveillance several weeks ago.

Tomato red spider mites are the size of a full stop and are very difficult to identify. The mite’s main hosts are plants in the Solanaceae family, including tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants. They also attack beans, kumara and some ornamentals – roses and orchids. . .

Juniper hunt seedlings could grow New Zealand’s first gin berry plantation – Robin Martin:

New Zealand is one step closer to establishing the country’s first plantation of Juniperus communis – whose berries are the key ingredient of gin – following a nationwide search for the elusive conifer.

About 40 trees were discovered as part of the Great New Zealand Juniper Hunt, and seedlings are now being nurtured at Massey University and at two locations in Taranaki.

Egmont Village lifestyle block owner Marlene Busby had aspirations of making gin herself when she snipped a bit of juniper bush at a garden centre some 30 years ago.

“At the time I sort of took a little bit. They were going to pull them out anyway so it didn’t really [matter] any way. . . 

Waitaki’s geological wonderland – Mike Yardley:

Crossing the border dividing Canterbury from Otago, the Waitaki River, is like a pathway into another world. A region built on the remains of prehistoric creatures from a vanished world. The wondrous Waitaki District has always been proud of its rocks, lustily exemplified by the creamy pure texture of Oamaru Stone that underpins the classic good looks of the historic town’s Victorian Precinct. But before hitting town, I ventured west into the heart of the Waitaki Valley, to delightful Duntroon, with its pending designation as a Global Geopark by UNESCO. As Australasia’s first Geopark, it threads together the spell-binding natural landforms, abundant fossil finds and rich cultural history of the Waitaki Valley, which was under sea when Zealandia drifted away from Gondwana. Seismic forces later thrust the ancient seabed upwards, at the same time that the Southern Alps were formed.

Robert Campbell, the wealthy land-owner and runholder established Duntroon in 1864, naming it in honour of his Scottish birthplace. This cute-as-a-button village is home to the Vanished World Fossil Centre, but before heading there, don’t miss Duntroon’s assorted trove of evocative landmarks. . .


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