Rural round-up

August 18, 2020

COVID-19: Time to invest in primary sector R&D – Jacqueline Rowarth:

More investment in agriculture is required to achieve further growth post-COVID, according to Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

Agricultural debt has reached almost $63 billion dollars, up from $12 billion in 2000.

Not generally mentioned in the same news item is that over the same time period, business debt has increased to $122 billion from $41 billion and household debt (mortgage and personal debt) has increased to $297 billion from $70 billion.

New Zealanders have been investing on farm, in business and in their homes to improve the futures, just as the Government has done during the COVID-19 response. . . 

Farmers need a business mindset – Tony Benny:

A Canterbury farming couple made several changes to their farm system to be more environmentally sustainable, earning them the 2020 Canterbury Balance Farm Environment Supreme Award. Tony Bennyreports.

The key to improved environmental outcomes is for farmers to be profitable and efficient so they can afford to make necessary changes, say Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award winners Tony Coltman and Dana Carver.

“It’s not enough to be a good dairy farmer, meaning good with cows and grass, you have to be able to run a profitable business as well. If we, as farmers, don’t learn to be good business managers we’re going to struggle to survive in the world we’re heading into,” Dana says. . . 

Spontaneous fractures – Elbow Deep:

It’s a little daunting starting a new dairy season when you’re coming off the back of the best season the farm has ever had; record production has the effect of setting high expectations of yourself and your staff, and the desire to beat the previous year’s results is foremost in your mind.

Mid Canterbury has had the perfect start to the 2020 season; pasture covers lifted in June thanks  to mild temperatures and good rainfall while all the cows were off farm, and the continuing mild and dry weather since the cows came home has made this one of the easiest calvings I can remember.

While I’ve been making the most of the fine and settled weather I’ve also been waiting for something to go wrong, after all nothing this good can last forever.  I’ve been maximising the benefits of the great conditions while simultaneously bracing myself for an adverse event along the lines of the snowfall of 2006, the one that left this farm without power for twelve days and others in the dark for much longer. . . 

Vets unable to explain broken shoulders in cattle – Gerald Piddock:

Veterinarians and other experts are mystified to explain why more dairy cows are ending up with broken shoulders.

Dairy heifers seem to be most prone to the humerus bone injuries during their first lactation, although they occasionally fall to them in the second lactation. Experts believe the broken shoulders are not an issue with beef cattle.

Broken shoulders appeared mostly during peak lactation in September-October, although they also occurred before calving and through to December, Massey University veterinary professor Dave West told farmers at Limestone Downs Station’s annual field day.

West said a soon-to-be-released study from the university showed this was a serious problem in the dairy industry. . . .

TB strain linked to feral pigs – Colin WIlliscroft:

The same strain of bovine TB infecting Hawke’s Bay cattle has been traced back to feral pigs in the Waipunga area off the Napier Taupo Highway, although pest control on the block of land where the pigs were found has been held up through an objection before the Maori Land Court.

Farmers who attended a recent series of three meetings in Hawke’s Bay, arranged by Ospri to update them on the status of the TB control operation in the region, were told DNA-typing of the TB strain found affecting the region has been traced back to feral pigs on about 12,000ha of Tataraakina C Trust land.

That confirms that the spread of TB in Hawke’s Bay is coming via wildlife and not through movement of livestock. . . 

Ground spreaders celebrate award winners:

The winners and runners up of the 2020 New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers Association (NZGFA) awards were congratulated by Executive Officer, Melanie Dingle, on their contributions to the ground spreading industry at the association’s recent online AGM.

Ted Usmar, head of engineering at Waikato-based Wealleans Ltd, was awarded the Trucks & Trailers sponsored Innovation Award for his long-term commitment to continuous improvement to technical efficiency and driver safety. During his 30 year career, Ted has created engineering solutions that ensure spreader trucks work as efficiently as possible while offering the best safety features for operators. From making small tweaks to full re-designs, Ted’s foresight and innovation is recognised in New Zealand as well as overseas. . . 

Six farmers develop Scotland’s first gluten free oat supply chain :

Six farms have collaborated to develop Scotland’s first gluten free oat supply chain that guarantees provenance, assurance and full traceability.

The market opportunity for gluten free oats drove the six Aberdeenshire farmers to investigate a new supply chain.

The group recognised that, while oats are naturally gluten free, there was no oat assurance scheme that guaranteed that oat storage post-harvest and milling facilities hadn’t been contaminated with gluten from other cereal grains. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 11, 2020

Farmers paying on land lost to erosion – Mike Houlahan:

Farmers whose properties are alongside the Waitaki River are irate they are being charged rates on land which has been washed away.

Waimate farmer Gert van’t Klooster lost 4ha of farmland when Meridian Energy spilled water from its hydro-electric storage on the Waitaki in December.

While Mr van’t Klooster could accept that Meridian was operating within its consent, he said he found it much harder to pay Environment Canterbury rates on land which was no longer part of his property.

“I have a bill now from ECan on land which isn’t there. It doesn’t generate any income, and there are mortgages to pay on that land, too,” he said. . .

Slight dip in 2019-20 milk collection – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra’s milk collection last season was slightly down as North Island farmers faced a crippling drought.

However, the 2.1% dip in North Island milk was offset by the South Island where full season collection was up 2.1%.

The cooperative’s total milk production in 2019-20 reached 1,517 million kgMS, down 0.4% on the previous season.

Full season collection for the North Island was 874.6 million kgMS and for the South Island, 642.5 million kgMS. . .

Couple’s flexible approach paying off  – Yvonne O’Hara:

Waimumu sheep and beef farmers Jason and Debbie Smith have a “take it as it comes” approach to farming and it is paying off — despite their operation being affected by Covid-19.

The couple have a 747ha property and this year are fattening 23,000 store lambs as well as running 200 beef cattle under Smith Farming 2018 Ltd, a move made as part of their succession planning.

That is in addition to the 7000 lambs they bred themselves. . .

Agritech has a plan – Tony Benny:

The New Zealand agritech sector is pushing ahead with ambitious plans to grow its exports with $11.4 million Budget funding and despite covid-19 disruption.

Though the launch of the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan in April had to be delayed work has continued behind the scenes to realise the Government’s desire to take NZ farming technology to the world.

“We’ve been talking to the Government pretty much every week over the past three months about the plan,” Agritech NZ executive director Peter Wren-Hilton says. . .

Grain deal gets over the line – Annette Scott:

The arable sector’s biosecurity partnership has been signed.

Five key members have joined forces to form Seed and Grain Readiness and Response to work with the Government to protect the industry from new weed, pest and disease incursions. 

Federated Farmers, the Foundation for Arable Research, the Flour Millers Association, the Grain and Seed Trade Association and United Wheat Growers spent years discussing signing the Government-Industry Agreement for Biosecurity Readiness and Response. . . 

Lockdown reading lessons from New Zealand – John Elliot:

One positive of lockdown is that it has given us the most valuable currency of all which is time,” Katie Piper.

For me, a member of the ‘vulnerable age group’, Covid-19 hasn’t been all bad.

I’ve dusted off the dumb-bells, watched some fabulous programmes on Sky TV and caught up with my reading. Many of the books have been in my possession for years unread.

Some I have read several times. Two of the more interesting came from New Zealand. Their titles, ‘The Intuitive Farmer’ and ‘The Resilient Farmer’ hint at their contents. . .


Rural round-up

January 5, 2019

Fish and Game do it again – Alan Emmerson:

Here was I listening to the radio to be shocked by the news that 82% of Kiwis saying they were concerned or very concerned about pollution of rivers and lakes.

Then we had Fish and Game chief Martin Taylor telling us that the problem was fair and square farmers fault.

Unsurprisingly I have issues with that.

For a start why don’t you get ten people in a room and ask them their concerns. I’ll lay you dollars to donuts that pollution of our rivers and lakes isn’t the major concern of eight of them.

Let’s take that a bit further. As the vast majority of us live in cities our exposure to rivers and lakes isn’t great. Certainly not eight out of ten. I’d be surprised if it was over two. . .

A-grade farming in a sensitive environment – Tony Benny:

A Canterbury dairy farmer is in tune with his environment. Tony Benny reports.

He says farming in a part of Canterbury regarded by many as too challenging environmentally Tony Dodunski has achieved an A rating for his farm environment plan audit and is achieving his production goals as well.

Tony and wife Clare farm 190ha next to Lake Ellesmere, which is rated the most at-risk in New Zealand with agriculture having a significant impact so farmers in the area are in the environmental spotlight. . .

Telfordstaffremaininlimbo

Uncertainty remains for Telford staff as they approach a critical point in their future with the beleaguered agricultural institute.

Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, which provides courses at Telford, in Balclutha, and other on-farm campuses, was placed in interim liquidation on December 19.

At the time, liquidator Grant Thornton said it understood wages and salaries were up to date and the organisation would continue running “as per normal” over Christmas.

However, the Otago Daily Times has learnt Telford staff expect to receive their final wages on Wednesday, leaving them facing an uncertain future. . .

Climate research leads the world:

A government research programme has positioned New Zealand as a world leader in research into mitigating greenhouse gases from agriculture and adapting to climate change, a recent independent review has found.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change (SLMACC) research programme supports the generation of new climate change knowledge across NZ’s agriculture and forestry sectors. . .

Home buyers warned of sex and smell – Jono Edwards:

A Dunedin pig farmer is warning potential home buyers of the sex and stink that come with rural living.

Recently Pieter Bloem, who lives on the Otago Peninsula, noticed the property across from his on Highcliff Rd was for sale.  

On Boxing Day he decided to place a sign on the road reminding interested parties what they were in for. . .


Rural round-up

June 15, 2018

Government ministers try to build bridges with the rural community, some by ‘friendship’, some by bullying. Also, why are there three national farm databases? -Guy Trafford:

The government certainly seems to be trying to build bridges with the farming sector based upon Damien O’Connor involvement.

Wearing his hat as Minister of Rural Communities he spoke to farmers and others at the Mystery Creek Field Days today. He was announcing the Rural Proofing Policy.

The focus of the policy is to make sure rural communities unique challenges are reflected in government policy. He said, “The bottom line is that rural Kiwis should have equitable access to social and economic opportunities, to reach their full potential,” . .

 NZ biosecurity top-scores in KPMG agribusiness survey :

Biosecurity has remained the highest-ranked priority for the New Zealand primary sector for the eighth year in a row, KPMG said in its latest issue of AgriBusiness Agenda.

KPMG, in releasing its survey results at National Fieldays at Mystery Creek, said biosecurity incursions, environmental challenges, water quality, labour availability, trade wars and rural infrastructure all featured prominently among respondents, who were industry leaders across the primary sector. . .

Waikato farmers need an environmental plan :

Without a vision or a farm environment plan, it won’t happen, reckons Waikato sheep and beef farmer Bill Garland.

And he should know. Bill and his wife Sue have been retiring land — steep land and gullies prone to erosion, severely degraded forest fragments, waterways and other sensitive areas — since the 1980s.

He was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to farming and conservation in 2004. . .

Nesting river birds at risk from ground and air predators – Tony Benny:

A trapping programme in Canterbury’s upper Rakaia River has revealed hedgehogs to be a major threat to the rare and endangered native birds that nest there. Tony Benny reports.

Canterbury’s ever-changing braided rivers are almost unique in the world. Fed by torrential alpine rains, they are constantly bringing down from the mountains gravel and sediment that over millennia have formed the Canterbury Plains.

Before Europeans arrived, the wide, gravelly riverbeds were largely free of plants, thanks to periodic floods. A variety of bird species evolved, specifically adapted to breed in this often-inhospitable environment where they were free of animal predators. . . 

Bia and Kai – the same only different – Brendan O’Connell:

In the next 4 months, as New Zealand enters its winter and Ireland leaves its summer, 2 events will bring together the productive drivers of each country, their farmers. National Field Days, the largest agricultural show in the Southern Hemisphere and National Ploughing Championships, the largest agricultural exhibition in Ireland, will both showcase all that is great about the agricultural capabilities of each country.

Following 6 weeks in my home country of Ireland the likeness of these islands has rarely been more acute to me as I now return to my adopted home of New Zealand, just in time for Fieldays. Like any good relationship, what you find similar kicks off the attraction but what you find different is the real basis for a long-lasting relationship. I’ve often described New Zealand as similar enough to be comfortable and different enough to be exciting.

In these global times of growing populations and shifting wealth profiles there is a lot to gain in exploring the role of these 2 producing nations and the differences that could add up to something. There are rich lessons in differences that encompass include food narratives, market access, farming practices, seasonal supply and technology applications. . .

How Lego and the farm came together to inspire a new generation about agriculture – Laura Chung:

For many young people deciding what career to pursue can be overwhelming.

Aimee Snowden, from the small town of Tocumwal in the New South Wales Riverina district, aims to make it easier for young people to consider a career in agriculture through her project, Little Brick Pastoral.

Little Brick Pastoral is an education tool for students, teachers and adults to learn more about the agricultural industry and careers in Australia through Lego. . .


Rural round-up

June 6, 2018

Mycoplasma bovis: European semen is the likely culprit source – Keith Woodford:

It is now increasingly evident that European-sourced semen, imported legally but containing live Mycoplasma bovis that survived the antibiotic cocktail, is the likely source of the organism in New Zealand dairy.

The evidence suggests it struck first in Southland, but there is a likelihood that the same semen has struck on other farms, and then spread from there via progeny.

It is also likely that Mycoplasma bovis arrived in New Zealand via this semen by late 2014 or even earlier.  This is an important issue because so far MPI has only focused on events since the end of 2015. . .

Dairy sector told to look to success of alternative products – Sally Rae:

The time is right for the dairy sector to reflect on the success of alternative dairy products and consider applying those lessons to dairy, a dairy expert says.

In an industry report, Rabobank dairy senior analyst Tom Bailey said the key was understanding the consumer.

Marketers of dairy alternatives had been far more successful in connecting with consumers on an emotional level than traditional dairy marketers, he said.

In the past 10 years, global retail sales growth for dairy alternatives had soared at a rate of 8% annually. . .

Action plan accelerates waterway protection efforts:

The Good Farming Practice Action Plan for Water Quality is a tangible illustration of commitment by the primary sector, local and central government to work together to enhance our streams and rivers, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Our agriculture and horticulture industries are already a long way down the trail of environmental stewardship but this is an important step towards achieving higher standards,” Chris says. . .

No major impact from ‘M bovis’ cull – Sally Rae:

The long-term influence on the beef schedule from the Mycoplasma bovis cull is not expected to be significant, Rabobank New Zealand’s animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate says.

On Monday, the Government and industry announced phased eradication would go ahead, with a further 126,000 cattle to be culled over the next one to two years.

Given the number of cattle being culled represented only about 5% of New Zealand’s annual beef slaughter, and the cull was occurring over a prolonged period, the negative impact on prices should be limited when compared to external factors, such as export market demand, Mr Holgate said. . .

Young guy with autism believes more people with disabilities should be employed – Jill Galloway:

Palmerston North teenager Jeremy Price just wants to work on a dairy farm.

Diagnosed with autism and  attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) four years ago, he  believes more people with disabilities should be employed.

“Not just on farms, but in other industries as well. People think the worst of any people whose CV shows they have a condition. But most people can do the job and should not be labelled.”

Price,17,  is just a “normal” teenager, other than being open about living with his conditions. . .

Search on for forages that reduce nitrogen leaching – Tony Benny:

The Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching project is delivering better than expected results, says programme leader Ina Pinxterhuis. She talked to Tony Benny.

With public concern over the effect of dairy farming on the environment mounting, DairyNZ has taken the lead in finding ways to reduce farming’s negative effects while maintaining productivity and profitability.

Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching is an MBIE-funded collaborative programme by DairyNZ, AgResearch, Plant and Food Research, Lincoln University, Foundation for Arable Research and Landcare Research with the aim of cutting nitrate leaching losses by 20 per cent.

It combines field and animal experiments with computer modelling and trials on nine Canterbury monitor farms – four dairy, two sheep and beef, two arable and one mixed arable/dairy. . .

Farmer shoots dog attacking cattle:

A Northland farmer has shot two dogs caught mauling his cattle after the owner was unable to call her dogs off the panicking stock.

The attack showed even well-trained dogs could turn quickly without warning, Hikurangi farmer Stuart Clark said. If there was any doubt, the dogs should be kept on a lead, he added.

He said a couple had been walking two dogs at the Lake Waro Reserve recently when they strayed onto his land at the north end of the lake where cattle were grazing. . .

Trees on farms -DairyNZ:

With good planning and design, trees create a pleasant, diverse and interesting place in which to live and work.

Trees have the power to inspire awe and wonder. For generations they have been used to beautify the landscape.

Trees have many attributes. Plantings for timber, livestock shelter, shade, fodder, soil conservation and biodiversity can deliver significant benefits. Each adds capital value to your farm as well as character and visual appeal. . .

 

x


Rural round-up

June 2, 2018

The farm action group that ‘crunches into life’ – Tony Benny:

A group of North Otago farmers are working together to find ways to increase profitability, taking advantage of the support offered by the Red Meat Profit Partnership’s Action Network initiative. Tony Benny reports. 

Ross and Jo Hay and their friends Gareth and Sarah Isbister got a taste for working with experts and getting access to the latest research and information when they joined  the Red Meat Profit Partnership’s pilot farm programme. They were part of RMPP partner Silver Fern Farms’ red meat eating quality project, looking for ways to consistently produce the most succulent, best tasting, and most valuable lamb.

For about a year they talked about how valuable it would be to form a farmers’ group that “really crunched into life”, that drilled down into financials and objectively analysed their respective businesses. When they went to an RMPP workshop in Christchurch, they found what they were looking for.

“We heard Richmond Beetham from Baker Ag talking about the business groups they have running in the Wairarapa and we were like, ‘That’s what we want to do’,” recalls Jo Hay. . . 

Winners inspired by industry solidarity – Pam Tipa:

The winners of the 2018 NZ Dairy Industry Awards, Dan and Gina Duncan, are overwhelmingly positive about the industry.

The former registered valuers won the ultimate award – 2018 NZ Share Farmers of the Year.

They say the way dairy farmers interact with each other is fantastic. 

“Look at the discussion groups and how willing people are to share what they are doing,” Dan told Dairy News. . . 

Synlait, Westland spruik higher milk payments for farmers in upcoming season – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – South Island dairy processors Synlait Milk and Westland Milk Products have raised their forecast milk payment levels to their farmer suppliers for the upcoming season, following a similar move last month by larger rival Fonterra Cooperative Group.

Rakaia-based Synlait raised its forecast milk price for the 2017/18 season which officially ended yesterday to $6.65 per kilogram of milk solids, and said the average premium payment of 13 cents would lift the total payout to $6.78/kgMS. It announced an opening price forecast for 2018/19 of $7/kgMS, based on milk fat prices remaining firm throughout the season.

Dairy Manager of the Year great with people :

The 2018 Dairy Manager of the Year winner Gerard Boerjan aims for excellence in everything he does.

“He has great experience as a manger of people and a great passion for working with people in a large team environment,” dairy manager head judge Mary Craw says.

“He takes a systems approach to the way he manages the farm and has good systems in place to ensure nothing gets through the gaps. . .

Food technology and money speeding up change: Protein Conference

An upcoming conference in Auckland on alternative proteins offering consumers new food choices will include a debate on whether new plant-based proteins will disrupt traditional meat producers’ markets or simply bring more cheaper food choices to the masses.

Last week in Britain, ahead of expectations, Tesco and Dutch-based plant food company Vivera jointly announced the immediate stocking of 100% plant-based steaks on supermarket shelves there. . .

Agriculture opens doors for youth :

Kalu, in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia, is home to 28-year-old Yimam Ali.

However, many young people from this region of Ethiopia move to the Middle East looking for work and a better life. The amount of job opportunities in the country has not matched its growth. 71 percent of Ethiopia’s population is under the age of 30 and many of them lack opportunities to make a decent living.

Yimam decided to go to Saudi Arabia where his sister was living.

His journey, to what was meant to be a better life, was not an easy one: . .

Pioneering New Zealand avocado orchard placed up for sale by its international owner:

One of the first large-scale commercial avocado orchards to be planted in New Zealand – as part of a multi-national growing consortium – has been placed on the market for sale.

The 29 hectare property at Awanui just north of Kaitaia was originally established by Californian-based owners in 1990. It was planted with Hass on Zutano and Duke 7 avocado varieties grown on some 20 hectares of plantation land. . .

a


Rural round-up

April 28, 2018

Minister refuses to meet MP to discuss future of rescue helicopter base – Guy Williams:

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says Health Minister David Clark has refused to meet him to discuss the fate of Te Anau’s rescue helicopter base.

Te Anau was one of three bases cut from a list of bases in a tender for air rescue services put out by the ACC and Ministry of Health last month.

Taupo and Rotorua’s bases were effectively restored to the list after three North Island mayors met Mr Clark on Monday. . . 

Scientists work on simple way to clean streams – Tony Benny:

Canterbury University scientists have perfected a simple method to reduce sediment load in waterways by up to 70 per cent, part of a project to find solutions to Canterbury’s water woes. Tony Benny reports.

On the Canterbury Plains alone, there are about 17,000km of waterways, many of which carry high levels of nitrogen, phosphate-laden sediment and faecal bacteria and a huge effort is going into ways to reverse this decline in water quality, with local and national government agencies, farm industry bodies, iwi and farmers all joining in.

Adding some science to the mix is the Canterbury Water Rehabilitation Experiment (Carex), a project by the University of Canterbury’s Freshwater Ecology Research Group, funded by the Ashburton-based Mackenzie Charitable Foundation. The Carex team comprises nine scientists including professors, researchers and students. . . .

Gas not grass at farm field day – Richard Rennie:

Ground-breaking research turning a commercial dairy farm into a living lab is starting to reveal some valuable insights for farmers seeking ways to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gases.

Waikato University has, for the first time, thrown back the blanket on its researchers’ cutting-edge equipment and early lessons from that equipment on a Matamata property that has been a core site over the past six years.

In something of a national first, the traditional style Waikato farm discussion day had greenhouse gases rather than growing more grass as the key focus for those attending.

At the heart of the property’s research into better understanding of nitrous oxide release on dairy farms is the university’s $250,000 Quantum Cascade Laser. The high tech kit is helping researchers gain far more accurate analysis what the gas does when released from cow urine patches.  . . 

Hurdles ahead in future irrigation development – Yvonne O’Hara:

Irrigation New Zealand’s (INZ) held its conference in Alexandra earlier this month and the primary focus was on irrigation and its future role.

IrrigationNZ chair Nicky Hyslop said the conference “celebrated the role that irrigation played”.

The future of the Manuherikia Catchment Water Strategy Group’s plan to raise the height of Falls Dam by 6m to irrigate 12,500ha was highlighted following the announcement that the Crown Irrigation Investments (CII) would not be funding any more irrigation projects.

Water strategy group chairman Allan Kane said it had decided, based on pre-feasibility study information, that raising Falls Dam by 6m to irrigate 12,500ha was the best option.

However, the Government’s announcement meant alternative funding options would need to be found to contribute to the group’s final feasibility study. . . 

Bulk milk tests ‘not working’ – Annette Scott:

Frank Peters’ $4 million dairy herd, the result of 55 years of breeding genetics is about to be slaughtered despite being clean in bulk milk testing.

Now he’s worried about 2500 calves he has sold in the four years since Mycoplasma bovis arrived on his 1400-cow farm in stock he bought from Southern Centre Dairies in Southland in autumn 2014.

“That’s four years ago and we have sold 2500 calves in that time that could be anywhere now. . .

Big year for Wallace Family of South Otago – Rob Tipa:

Rob Tipa visits a family that has caught the judges’ eye in a couple of recent competitions.

This year is shaping up as a big one for the Wallace family of Waipahi in South Otago, winning several major southern farming awards in the space of a week.

Logan, Ross and Alexa Wallace won the Beef + Lamb Livestock Award, the Massey University Innovation Award and the supreme award for the Otago region at the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Wanaka earlier this month.

Last weekend Logan, 28, added a win in the Otago-Southland regional final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year awards in Winton to his impressive record in the industry. . .

Put wellbeing in business plan:

If the wool industry wants to attract the next generation of shearers it needs to prioritise the wellbeing of its workforce, industry veteran Dion Morrell says.

Dion and his partner Gabriela run a busy, Alexandra-based contracting business employing up to 50 shearers at peak time. 

He’s worked in the industry for over 40 years, starting as a shearer straight out of school, working his way up to elite level competition representing New Zealand and setting four world records along the way.  . . 

Viral American farming sensation on tour in New Zealand

From a family farm in Kansas in the United States, four siblings known as The Peterson Farm Bros have risen to social media fame with their funny parody videos.

Songs names like “Takin’ Care of Livestock” (Taking Care of Business Parody) are sure to put you on the map, and these siblings have racked up over 50 million views on their videos.

However, the world’s most popular farming family are using their fame for the greater good to advocate for agriculture and to correct farming misconceptions. . .


Rural round-up

September 25, 2017

Demonstration dairy farm cuts nitrate leaching 30% and stays profitable – Tony Benny:

Lincoln University Dairy Farm is close to achieving a 30 per cent reduction in nitrate leaching, while maintaining its profitability. The farm’s managers tell Tony Benny how it was done.

​Like other farms in the Selwyn Waihora zone, one of 10 catchment zones under Environment Canterbury’s water management strategy, Lincoln University’s dairy farm faces new environmental limits, including reducing nitrate leaching 30 per cent by 2022.

By adopting the findings of small-scale research on a nearby farmlet, the farm has all but achieved that well before the deadline and is at the same time nearly matching the financial performance of high-profit farms against which it is benchmarked. . .

Alliance buyout targets Asia – Alan Williams:

Buying its southeast Asian marketing agent is part of a 10 to 15-year strategy to increase sales and the range of meat cuts into the region, Alliance chairman Murray Taggart says.

Goldkiwi Asia has represented the southern farmer-co-operative for more than 25 years, helping to build up customer bases in China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and in Singapore where it is based.

The arrangement had worked very well but there was “no substitute for ownership and control” of the business, Taggart said. . .

Price direction depends on weather – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy prices remained steady in the latest Global Dairy Auction, adding to speculation that continued wet weather in New Zealand might give the market a lift.

Already it was possible that NZ seasonal supply might increase 1.5% rather than the 3% predicted earlier.

The direction of international market prices would depend very much on weather conditions over the next month in NZ, the world’s largest dairy products exporter. . .

Australia threatens to cash in on NZ’s mānuka honey marketing heroics – Gerard Hutching:

First they claimed the pavlova and Phar Lap as their own, now Australians are arguing they have the right to use the Māori word mānuka for the expensive honey.

This week they racheted the dispute up a notch by setting up the Australian Manuka Honey Association.

“We’re the only two countries that produce it and the whole world needs it [mānuka honey]. We can’t understand what our Kiwi friends are trying to do,” Australian Honey Bee Industry Council chairman Lindsay Bourke said. . . .

Finalists say now is the right time to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Don’t wait until you think you have the perfect farm to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, say 2017 Southland finalists Derek and Bronnie Chamberlain.

“It’s all about work in progress. Set yourselves some goals and go for it. There’s always something more you can do,” Bronnie says.

“The more eyes you have on your property, the more advice and suggestions the better.”  . . 

Mixed New Season Outlook:

 Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive says the new season, which starts on 1 October, is expected to be mixed across beef, lamb and venison.

“On beef, we are at an interesting point. Store stock markets appear over-heated given where we expect volumes and schedules to end up. Current finished cattle schedules reflect a shortage of supply, which is typical at this time of the year.  . .


Rural round-up

September 14, 2017

Maniototo farmers challenge Ardern to visit them on water tax

A group of Central Otago farmers are challenging Jacinda Ardern to visit their farms to discuss Labour’s water tax plans.

The group of women, known as Water Maniototo, say they cannot afford a royalty on irrigated water, planned at one to two cents per thousand litres of water, and it could drive some off their land.

Francine Hore, who farms sheep at Patearoa, says she supports fixing up the nation’s waterways, but many farmers are doing everything they can already. . . 

Lambs hit $7/kg – Annette Scott:

Low global stocks pushing lamb markets above the odds for this season is positive news for the New Zealand sheep industry but farmers are not yet jumping with excitement, Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Miles Anderson says.

Latest trade statistics revealed average export prices for both chilled and frozen product were tracking well above any prices seen in recent years, including 2011, the last time NZ saw such strong global demand for lamb.

Demand for chilled lamb had held solid in recent months, driven by the tight supply with chilled prices reaching historically high levels. . . 

Broken business makes comeback – Annette Scott:

From a business that was “essentially broken” to one recording a modest profit in less than 12 months, NZ Yarn is now poised to add value for New Zealand woolgrowers.

Over the past year the Canterbury yarn processor has spun its own turnaround project.

Getting back on its feet to lift returns for farmers and shareholders had been the focus of NZ Yarn’s reinvention, chief executive Colin McKenzie said.

“A year ago the business was essentially broken.

“We have reinvented, repositioned and resized operations and moved from making sizeable losses to recording our first modest profit in July,” McKenzie said. . . 

Millions tune in watch start of fresh NZ milk sales to China through Alibaba – Gerald Piddock:

Milk New Zealand’s trade agreement with global online retailer Alibaba has been launched with millions of Chinese consumers tuning in to watch the event.

The Chinese-owned company’s Collins Road Farm is just south of Hamilton and its 29 New Zealand farms will supply Alibaba with fresh milk to be sold on its online platform.

Organisers of the launch rented a satellite facility for the day to enable it to be live streamed directly to China. In attendance were 10 of China’s biggest social media influencers including Yuni and Joyce, who are known as the Chufei Churan twins in China.

The pair are considered the Chinese Kardashians with social media follower numbers larger than New Zealand’s entire population. They and other influencers videoed the event and the farm directly to their followers in China. . . 

Water royalty point of divergence – Nicole Sharp:

Water and the environment are two of the key talking points for Southern Rural Life readers this coming election. As voting day fast approaches, reporter Nicole Sharp talked to the candidates in the rural electorates of Waitaki and Clutha-Southland about these two issues that will affect rural voters.

Water is crucial to the agricultural sector and all candidates and their parties standing in the Waitaki electorate this upcoming election want to do all they can to preserve water quality now and in the future, they say.

Current Waitaki MP and National candidate Jacqui Dean said National’s new policy statement on freshwater, which was announced last month, would pursue a target of 90% of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040. . .

 

Canterbury cropping farmer embraces environmental limits – Tony Benny:

Third-generation Canterbury cropping farmer David Birkett isn’t phased by tougher environmental regulations and says they can even lead to an improved bottom line. He talked to Tony Benny.

David Birkett’s farm is near Leeston, not far from what has been called New Zealand’s most polluted lake, Te Waihora/Ellesmere, and he’s well used to close scrutiny of the environmental effects of farming there by the regional council, members of the public and media.

“There’s a bit of pressure on farmers but they gain out of it, that’s the silly thing. I can’t understand someone who doesn’t bother to try to do the best they can because your bottom line is going to be better,” he says.

“Doing some measuring and making sure you know what’s needed, most of the time you’re actually financially better off than what you’d previously been doing.” . . 

Adding value more than just adding cost – Nigel Malthus:

The term ‘value added’ is too often used as a vague generic, and farmers need to consider specific strategies for adding value, says Rabobank analyst Blake Holgate.

Speaking at the recent Red Meat Sector conference in Dunedin, Holgate noted that most lamb was still exported frozen, returning $6906/tonne instead of chilled at $11,897/t.

“By and large we’re still treating sheep meat as a commodity market, so the lower value frozen export market still makes up about 80% of what we export, while the higher value chilled market, that’s worth nearly twice as much per tonne, is only 20%. . .


Rural round-up

July 19, 2017

Fonterra’s Te Rapa investment strengthens local economy Elton Rikihana Smallman:

Fonterra’s $20 million expansion is helping feed Hamilton’s growth.

Demand for dairy products in Asian markets has seen the co-op add new machinery to its Te Rapa factory on the outskirts of Hamilton.

A new, sweeter-than-usual mascarpone is in demand in Japan and new production lines will give Fonterra the capacity to deliver up to 3500 tonnes of cream cheese and up to 400 million individual butter portions per year. . .

Ewe hogget award winner beats brain injury – Tony Benny:

After he was hit by a car and seriously injured, John Harrison was told by doctors he’d be unlikely to be able go back farming but he defied the odds and now he and his wife Jane have won the New Zealand ewe hogget young achievers award.

Growing up on a small farm in Southland, it was John Harrison’s dream to manage a high country station for overseas owners. He was on track to realise that dream with a job on Glenthorne Station in Canterbury until one day seven years ago he stepped onto the road to better see the dog he was working on the hill above.

“It was just before Christmas, and he was on a corner. It had been raining so there was no dust and a car came round the corner and bowled him at 80kmh,” says his wife Jane. . .

Wool still faces buyer resistance

Very good quality new season’s wool is on the market but encountering buyer resistance.

About 20% of the new fleece wool and oddments entered for the first Christchurch auction of the season last week was withdrawn prior to sale with farmers resisting the current price levels, PGG Wrightson South Island wool manager Dave Burridge said.

New season’s wool was showing outstanding colour, length and style, reflecting the very good growing season in most parts of the South Island. . .

Kiwi version a cut above in Sweden – Annette Scott:

Cutting the meat to meet the market has reaped reward for venison processor and marketer Mountain River.

The Canterbury-based venison exporter has made a breakthrough for New Zealand venison in Sweden with the official launch of its range of novel grilling cuts.

Connecting with one of Sweden’s leading restaurant wholesalers, Menigo, Mountain River cemented the breakthrough deal that has the venison marketer dealing direct with a one-stop shop for Swedish food professionals. . .

Safe meat cutting technology:

Meat processor Alliance is investing $3.4 million in new processing technology as part of a wider programme to improve health and safety.
The co-op says 49 band-saws featuring state-of-the art safe cutting technology have been installed at eight plants across the country.

Designed specifically for the meat industry, the band-saws are uniquely designed to stop the blade within 15 milliseconds when the unit senses a person, glove or both are in close proximity or in contact with the saw. . .

Milk needs promotion  – Peter Burke:

Milk and dairy products need ongoing promotion in New Zealand, says a nutritional physiology professor at Massey University.

Marlena Kruger, who specialises in bone growth, has just completed a study of the effects of milk on children in the Fonterra milk-for-schools programme, and those who do not. The milk drinkers had significantly better bone health than those who did not.

The year-long research involved children aged five to ten. As the children’s diets were not controlled during the study, the data could indicate that the children drinking milk at school are also milk drinkers at home, so getting the full benefit of milk and dairy. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 9, 2017

 Holy cow! Port dairy herd back in action  – Sally Rae:

Lulu, Lilly and Louisa are nearly back in business.
Port Chalmers dairy farmer Merrall MacNeille was distraught when he booked his beloved cows for slaughter a year ago, after a heifer tested positive for tuberculosis and he was ordered to stop selling raw milk.

He later changed his mind and decided to keep his herd, even though there was no financial return from them.

Now Mr MacNeille and his wife Alex are awaiting sign-off from the Ministry of Primary Industries which will allow them to sell pasteurised milk. . . .

Gallagher and AgResearch explore fence-less farming – Gerard Hutching:

Stock will soon be kept in check without a wire in sight – that’s the promise of technology being developed in Australia with New Zealand investment partners.

The eShepherd technology works by placing a GPS-enabled collar on an animal, “virtually” fencing off an area and training the stock to stay within the boundary.

Ian Reilly of Australian company Agersens has teamed up with Gallagher NZ which is a strategic investor and sits on the board. AgResearch and Agersens have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to trial the technology on New Zealand farms. . .

Gumboot takeover 40 years strong  – Sudesh Kissun:

Ravensdown chief executive Greg Campbell doesn’t want the co-op to be labeled “a fertiliser business and a polluter”.
“If we are getting those messages, we have failed,” he told Rural News.

Instead, Campbell wants Ravensdown known as an agri service business “that happens to use products that protect the environment and the social license to operate”.

“We want to turn the conversation around — from ‘polluters’ to ‘we understand and value what you do and we won’t sell products that will have negative outcomes’.” . .

Demand pushes butter prices to record high – Sally Rae;

Butter prices set a record high of $US5631 per metric tonne in this week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction, reinforcing the increasing demand for milk fats.

Overall dairy prices lifted 0.6%, although key product whole milk powder fell 2.9% as expected. Anhydrous milk fat (AMF) prices also retreated from an auction record high, falling 1.2%.

A surge in global demand for milk fats could largely be attributed to an acknowledgement by the scientific community that fats were no longer as bad for health as once feared, ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny said. . . 

Teamwork best Doc says – David Hill:

Collaboration is the way forward for conservation.

Speaking at Federated Farmers’ South Island High Country Conference on Friday, May 26, at Hanmer Springs, Department of Conservation director-general Lou Sanson said collaboration between environmentalists, farmers and government was the best way forward.

”We often hear the criticism that Doc is completely missing in the advocacy area, but I would prefer to sit down and talk about things rather than go to the Environment Court – collaboration is where it happens.

”How do we get a common agreement as a country and make use of the latest science? This is what we would rather see happening than Doc telling you what to do.” . .

Century farmer prefers sheep and beef – Tony Benny:

As many of his neighbours turn to dairy grazing or even convert to dairying, a South Canterbury farmer has stuck with sheep and beef, carrying on a family tradition that goes back 100 years. He talked to Tony Benny.

As many of his neighbours turn to dairy grazing or even convert to dairying, South Canterbury farmer John Crawford has stuck with sheep and beef, carrying on a family tradition that goes back 100 years.

Crawford’s grandfather, also named John, bought the farm he named Kaika Downs in 1916, a few years after the vast Levels Estate where he’d previously worked as a shepherd was broken up.

He farmed the property near Cave, 20km inland of Timaru, South Canterbury, for 35 years, before his sons Norman and Keith, John junior’s father, took over.  . . 

 

 


Ruralround-up

August 19, 2016

Flaws to idea of reducing dairy herd – Jacqueline Rowarth:

A suggestion that New Zealand should remove 80per cent of dairy cows to return to a natural environment overlooks various fundamental problems including: what is natural?

Dairy farms tend to be in flat to rolling countryside where grass grows well and cows can create milk efficiently.

It is in this country that clear mountain streams become winding rivers, picking up sediment and nutrients from the soils through which they are travelling. As they slow down, plants and fish have a chance to grow.

Dairying occupies 1.7 million hectares of New Zealand’s 26.8 million hectares. This area, with the associated processing and value adding, resulted in export revenue for the year to June 2015 of $14 billion.

In some contrast, sheep, beef and deer farms cover 11.5 million hectares of mostly somewhat steeper land, and bring in $9 billion. . .

Lamb price spike to be brief – Alan Williams:

Sheep farmers could get $6/kg or more for a lamb this season – but only briefly.

The shortage of lambs also meant many farmers would not be able to take full advantage of the short-lived spike, AgriHQ analyst Mel Croad said.

Some overseas markets were prepared to pay up for lambs, knowing there was a NZ shortage and she believed that might push South Island procurement prices to $6/kg and the North Island to $6.10/$6.20 in October and November. . .

Buyers caught napping by possible milk production decline – Gerard Hutching:

A milk futures broker says whole milk powder buyers have been “caught napping” by a potential shortfall in the product, explaining why the price has risen 28.8 per cent at the last two global dairy auctions.

Director of OM Financial Nigel Brunel said the price hike had been “staggering” and taken everyone by surprise.

“Buyers haven’t been able to source WMP at the right price and have been concerned that New Zealand supply could be well down this season. They have been caught napping in a sleepy sideways WMP market for almost a year,” Brunel said.

As a result the buyers had climbed over each other to source WMP and lifted the price.

North Canterbury’s bumper lamb crop hanging on for rain – Tony Benny:

Warm, settled weather and plenty of twins on the ground makes for the sort of lambing farmers treasure but after two years of drought, North Canterbury farmers are just worried about how they’ll feed the extra mouths. Tony Benny reports.

The countryside around Hawarden, North Canterbury, looks a picture.  The sky is clear, the air is still and warm, the paddocks are green, dotted with hundreds of healthy lambs and on the horizon are snow-capped mountains.

But talk to locals like Lew Wright and his son Iain and it becomes clear that they’re just hanging on, unsure how they’ll feed their bumper crop of lambs, let alone the 600 ewe hoggets due to come home from grazing in the next couple of weeks.

“The paddocks have got nothing in them, they’re just bare, they’ve just got no grass.  It’s scary,” says Iain. . . 


Rural round-up

June 3, 2016

Dairy price estimates are consistently wrong – Keith Woodford:

As occurs each year, the media have focused on Fonterra’s opening forecast for the coming year, predicted this year to be $4.25, as if it has significant meaning. To put that in perspective, here are Fonterra’s opening forecasts and actual payments for the last five years.
Fonterra price estimates

The overall tendency has been for Fonterra to be over-optimistic by $0.58 c per year. However, the average error in the prediction is $1.27c, ranging from minus $2.60 to plus $1.40. In three of the five years, Fonterra has been out by more than $1.30. . . 

NZ Merino inks 5-year, $45M contract with Italy’s Reda, supplier to Armani, Gucci – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – The New Zealand Merino Company, which markets the nation’s wool to customers on behalf of suppliers, has signed a five-year, $45 million deal to supply fine wool to Italian luxury fabric manufacturer Successori Reda, its longest-ever contract.

The fixed-price contract for 2,500 tonnes of fine wool in the 15.8 to 19.2-micron range effectively locks up supply for all of the qualifying wool that New Zealand will produce over the five-year period, said NZ Merino chief executive John Brakenridge. Previously, NZ Merino’s longest contract period covered three years. . . 

Changes to firearms’ licensing programme will have a major negative impact on rural communities

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is very concerned about the changes to firearms’ licensing, training and testing, being proposed by the Mountain Safety Council (MSC). The MSC executive has been announcing these changes in a series of road shows around the country. Volunteer instructors are being told their services are no longer required.

The current MSC Firearms Safety Programme has about 480 volunteers with significant hunting and shooting experience. They are based in 150 locations in New Zealand. MSC propose to significantly reduce the number of trainers and the number of locations. . . 

China ‘a big country with lots of different moving parts’ – Tony Benny:

A group of Silver Fern Farms shareholder suppliers are back on their farms following a week-long tour of China where they discovered just how complex the market there is. Tony Benny joined them on tour.

As a 30-strong group of New Zealand farmers, Silver Fern Farms staff and guides – and including three reporters – streak into central Shanghai from Pudong airport aboard the Maglev train, the display in the carriage reads 315kmh.

They’re on the world’s fastest train service, even if this morning it’s down on its usual top operating speed 431kmh.  It will deliver them into a city of 36 million people, the sophisticated, vibrant and stylish heart of shipping and finance in China. . . 

Separation of South Island eel stock:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced changes to quota management for eels in the South Island which will see the current single stock split into two – longfin and shortfin eels.

“Longfin eels are more vulnerable to environmental and other factors, compared to shortfin eels. Therefore it’s important to manage the two species as separate stocks with their own catch limits and sustainability settings,” says Mr Guy. 

“It means we can take into account the different characteristics and value of each species when setting limits, and take a more precautionary approach to longfin eels which are more vulnerable. It is also consistent with how eels are managed in the North Island and the Chathams.”   . . 

Agreement will build a stronger future for the golden breed:

Two organisations committed to the Jersey breed are joining forces and expertise to breed even better dairy cows into the future.

The breed society, Jersey New Zealand, and herd improvement company, Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), have signed an agreement to work together to jointly select and prove the genetic merit of additional top young Jersey bulls.

The programme will add eight extra bulls to LIC’s current Jersey breeding programme, and will statistically lift the rate of genetic and productive gain for the breed within the industry. . . 

Farm Environment Trust Head Steps Down After Ten Years:

New Zealand Farm Environment Trust general manager David Natzke is stepping down after a decade at the helm of the organisation that administers the highly successful Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust chairman Simon Saunders said Mr Natzke has made a huge contribution to the Trust since his appointment in March 2006.

“Under David’s management the Trust has developed into a highly professional organisation that has grown the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) into one of our primary sector’s premier events.”

Mr Natzke worked with trustees to manage the Awards programme and expand the list of Trust activities. . . 

RBI cell tower completion boosts rural coverage:

Communications Minister Amy Adams today announced the completion of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) Phase 1 new tower programme with 154 new cell towers now built ahead of schedule.

Ms Adams was on site to celebrate the completion of the programme in Waipu, and said that under the RBI, nearly 300,000 rural families and businesses are now able to access high speed 3G and 4G broadband services.

Under original specifications, the fixed wireless broadband service was to provide at least 5Mbps peak download speeds. Recent testing shows the 4G service is delivering speeds nine times faster than originally promised.. . .

Kiwi Farmers plough through the most 4G data:

Spark has found that farmers and the rural sector are consistently the highest users of 4G data across all of New Zealand.

When analysing data traffic over the last month, Spark’s cell towers in both Waiuku and Te Puke show the highest use in all of New Zealand. Farmers and rural residents in these two locations are consistently using over 1 terrabyte of data every week – which is the equivalent of watching 1000 hours (or nearly 42 days!) of non-stop online TV content like Lightbox each week.

Other rural sites including Pukekura, Te Awamutu, Pukekohe and Te Kawa also rank extremely high in 4G data usage, demonstrating that Kiwi farmers are now using mobile technology to enhance their businesses – whether that’s at the farm-gate, on the road or in the paddock. . . 


Rural round-up

July 16, 2015

Trade agreements add up to big savings – Gerard Hutching:

Free trade agreements with China and Taiwan helped save New Zealand $161 million through lower tariffs on sheep and beef exports in 2014.

Beef+ Lamb New Zealand chief executive Scott Champion said the tariff savings were a market access success story, enabling New Zealand to remain competitive on the global market and giving exporters the flexibility to sell products into more markets.

The sector’s export returns for the period total $7.7 billion, with the amount in tariffs paid falling from $331m in 2013 to $326m in 2014.

Meanwhile beef and veal export returns reached a record high of $2.53bn – up $686m on the corresponding period last season. . .

Charities benefit from farmers’ toil – Kate Taylor:

One of Hawke’s Bay’s oldest sheep stations has been profiled in a new book, Kereru Station: Two Sisters’ Legacy.

Kereru Station managers Danny and Robyn Angland run the business to meet the needs of the owners, a partnership between two charitable trusts set up by the late sisters, Gwen Malden and Ruth Nelson. Between them, the two trusts have gifted almost $9 million to several hundred organisations and causes, mostly in Hawke’s Bay. . .

Farm ownership in under 10 years – Tony Benny:

When David Affleck was growing up on a remote sheep, beef and deer farm at the head of Ahaura River on the West Coast, the last thing he wanted to do was milk cows. But when he was offered a job on a dairy farm in Canterbury, that soon changed.

“It wasn’t really what I wanted to do but I gave it a go and I’ve been milking cows ever since, really. I pretty much liked it straightaway and started to learn things pretty quick,” he says.

But his wife, Anna, whose family owned a dairy farm in Reporoa, Bay of Plenty, has always loved cows. . . 

Work for breed recognised  – Sally Rae:

James Robertson’s lengthy involvement with Holstein Friesian New Zealand has been acknowledged.
The Outram farmer, who is the third generation of his family to belong to the association, was presented with a distinguished service award at HFNZ’s recent annual meeting in Masterton.

Dale Collie, of Carterton, also received the award, which recognises members who have contributed to the Holstein Friesian breed and the association at regional and/or national level. . . 

Bison-beef cattle cross gives beefalo – Allison Beckham:

What do you get when you cross a bison bull with a beef cow? Beefalo.

And a brand new beefalo arrival on Blair and Nadia Wisely’s Southland farm earlier this month is expected to be the start of an all local beefalo blood line.

Despite his unmasculine name, Bobo the bison – the 6 year old shaggy beast weighing 900kg the Wiselys have owned for four years – appears to have proved his parental prowess at last, successfully mating with a 50 50 bison/Charolais cow produced using bison semen imported from the United States. . . 

Truffle time in Christchurch – Ben Irwin:

What do you know about truffles?

Well, like reporter Ben Irwin, most of us probably know next to nothing about the expensive, subterranean fungus.

So Ben, wanting to educate himself and look busy, went searching for what is known as Canterbury’s Black Gold. . .

Survey maps future landscape

Landcare Research is asking farmers, foresters and growers to take part in a survey designed to show what the landscape may look in decades to come.

The survey of Rural Decision Makers was first held in 2013, in conjunction with the Ministry for the Environment. It proved so popular that Landcare Research now conducts it every two years.
The survey’s director, economist Pike Brown, said it focused on what farmers were thinking, rather than figures such as the number of stock they had.
“There’s lots of questions about how farms are managed and how forests are managed, questions about irrigation. . . 

 

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

February 17, 2015

Agricultural cooperatives increasingly thirsty for capital – industry report:

Growing global market opportunities and the need to strengthen supply chains are creating a thirst for capital among agricultural cooperatives as they seek to invest in their future, according to a recently-released research report.

In the report Agricultural cooperatives – quenching the thirst for capital, agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says sourcing capital is on the agenda for almost every large agricultural cooperative, and is rapidly moving up the list of priorities for many.

Report author, Rabobank research director Hayley Moynihan says the traditional source of investment capital for cooperatives – their member base and modest debt facilities – may now no longer be enough to allow coops to fully participate in an increasingly dynamic global and local food and agribusiness market.

 

Health & Safety requires a shift in attitude – Chris Lewis:

This week, Worksafe is launching a new program, funded 50/50 by WorkSafe and ACC.

As you would have read in the media health and safety is a big issue affecting the rural community, and we are taking it seriously.  Last year, Federated Farmers Waikato ran six health and safety seminars with industry organisations, with significant attendance by farmers.

In the last two years, there has been up to 40 deaths and many injuries on-farm. Most farmers would agree this has been too many. While there is no pattern, there are too many accidents occurring and we must do more to reduce these on-farm. This starts with you the farmer, the person in charge of the work place, the owner of the business, the management taking ownership and responsibility. If you don’t think this will affect you, you are wrong – the health and safety culture is here to stay. This is sinking in as throughout the country the demand from farmers for health and safety workshops has been increasing as well as sales of Federated Farmers Health & Safety Policies. . .

Milk price guarantee winner this year:

Dairy farmers who signed up for Fonterra’s guaranteed milk price scheme this season will find themselves on the right side of the ledger.

The scheme, in its second season, allows farmers supplying the co-operative to offer up to 75 percent of their milk for a guaranteed price.

About 180 farms signed up for the first offer at the start of the season in June, accepting a price of $7 a kilo of milk solids, which was the opening forecast. . .

Germans love our grass-fed beef  – Tony Benny:

German diners are warming to the taste of New Zealand grass-fed hereford beef and a high-value niche for it is growing in a market dominated by pork and poultry, says importer Christian Klughardt.

Just back in Hamburg after his annual visit here to meet supplier Silver Fern Farms, Klughardt said demand for hereford was growing thanks to its quality and consistency, which makes it stand out from beef imported from South America.

At blind tastings staged as part of marketing and promotional events, New Zealand hereford always came up tops, he said.

“We blindfold them and let them taste hereford to the other and they would always pick the hereford on a continuous basis,” Klughardt said. . .

Rugby rep revels in rural life – Anne Hughes:

Former Taranaki rugby player Carl Carmichael is loving his return to country life.

After 53 appearances for Taranaki’s ITM Cup rugby team, Carmichael and his family moved back to Matiere, the farming community west of Taumarunui where he grew up.

While the former prop misses his favourite coffee shop since leaving New Plymouth, he says the country is where he and his family want to be.

He has worked as a builder since he and wife Emma moved 12 months ago. He played rugby last season and represented King Country in the New Zealand Heartland tour.

The couple are rearing calves and running cattle on land they lease at Matiere in the hope of building their stock numbers so they can buy their own farm one day. . .

Chairman returned & new director welcomed to Silver Fern Farms’ Board:

Rob Hewett and Fiona Hancox have been elected to the Silver Fern Farms’ Board of Directors.

The results of the election which closed at 3.00pm on Friday, 13 February 2015 were:

· Rob Hewett: 41,437,912

· Fiona Hancox: 25,241,163

· Herstall Ulrich: 20,695,485 . .

 


Rural round-up

June 16, 2014

Grassland dairying in Colombia – Keith Woodford:

This week I am writing from Bogota in Colombia, where I am leading a team of five Kiwis on an MFAT-funded dairy design project.  This is part of New Zealand’s ‘Agricultural Diplomacy’ program, which fits within New Zealand’s broader official development program.  It is also linked to developing links between New Zealand and Colombia, and the proposed development of a free trade agreement. New Zealand already sells electric fencing, seeds and other farm inputs here in Colombia. The project we are designing will run for an initial four to five years. . .

 NZ’s farming paradise disappoints import – Tony Benny:

When arable farmer Bill Davey moved to New Zealand from England 13 years ago he was told “the world’s your oyster, you can have what you want here”, but so much has changed in the intervening years that he’s now reliant on the dairy industry and is even considering milking cows himself.

“It’s turned out that we have been channelled into doing something that we’re not really comfortable with,” Davey says.

Disillusioned with subsidised farming in the United Kingdom, Davey, with wife Lynda and son Nick, arrived in Mid-Canterbury in 2001. . .

Big NZ farmer may milk sheep – Pam Graham:

Heads are turning at the prospect of one of New Zealand’s largest farmers milking sheep.

Landcorp chief executive Steven Carden chucked the idea in a speech in Hamilton on Thursday when the huge annual Fieldays agricultural show was being held down the road at Mystery Creek.

“Farming new products such as sheep milk are also being explored,” he said.

The idea is not new but it is being picked up by a very large farmer.

Landcorp is a state-owned enterprise which owns or leases 137 farms.

“We are one of New Zealand’s largest farming organisations,” Landcorp says.

Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers’ meat and fibre vice-chairman thinks it could be a bold new chapter for New Zealand’s most numerous farmed animal. . .

How “big data” could shape farming  – James McShane:

THE Rabobank Global Young Farmers Master Class has been a phenomenal experience and that certainly came to a head yesterday when we ventured onto the hallowed ground of the Rabobank head office in Utrecht, Holland.

The glass tower extends 26 floors above city with modern curves giving the appearance of binoculars from the sky.

Yesterday we ventured into the conference centre to hear guest speakers talk to us about the future technologies in farming and life in general. . .

Foresters to Meet up in the Hawkes Bay:

Forestry professionals are gathering in ‘sunny Hawkes Bay’ early July to attend the NZ Institute of Forestry’s annual conference. “Tackling Challenges and Delivering Value”.

The conference focuses on a number of Hawkes Bay’s challenges says Committee Chair, Bob Pocknall however it will have a national perspective and examine ways to deliver value despite changing times. . . .

And thanks to West Coast AgFest  and their Facebook page:

Under 3 weeks till AgFest… Remember to wear your gumboots on Saturday July 5th and help smash the AgFest 2012 record!!!

Under 3 weeks till AgFest...  Remember to wear your gumboots on Saturday July 5th and help smash the AgFest 2012 record!!!


Rural round-up

June 15, 2014

Breeder takes on challenge – Tony Benny:

When Gerald Hargreaves took over the family farm from his father in the 1970s, he wasn’t very interested in the Angus stud his father had established in 1954. But a comment reported back to him by a friend fired him up.

“My father gave me some cows and I wasn’t really interested in the stud to be honest and I sold them, but thought I’d better not sell my father’s,” Hargreaves says.

“One of the opposition breeders said, ‘He probably doesn’t know what he’s doing, he should have sold the lot’. I said, ‘stuff you’ – it took someone to challenge me.” . . .

Kiwifruit growers upbeat at Fieldays:

Kiwifruit marketer Zespri has noticed a remarkable turnaround in the mood among growers coming to the national agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek this year.

Zespri grower and government relations manager Simon Limmer said a lot of kiwifruit growers were calling into its site, and the contrast with the past few years as they battled the PSA bacteria scourge could not be more striking.

“The mood is very positive, very optimistic, and on the back of three years of real uncertainty and a certain sense of desperation as to where this industry was heading – it’s a really good place to be,” Mr Limmer said.

“Growers are feeling positive the PSA situation looks to be manageable, we’re seeing volumes of gold kiwifruit recovering heading into the market – market returns are up across all varieties. . .

New graduates strengthen biosecurity frontline:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says 29 new biosecurity graduates will further strengthen New Zealand’s biosecurity system, and help safeguard our primary industries from pests and diseases.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) today welcomed 24 new quarantine inspectors and five new dog handlers at a ceremony in Auckland.

The new quarantine inspectors will be based at Auckland (15), Wellington (3) and Christchurch (6). Five new biosecurity detector dog teams will be split between Auckland (4) and Christchurch (1). . .

Forestry company fined after worker hit by log

Forestry company HarvestPro has been fined $80,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $40,000 after one of its workers was hit by a log weighing more than a tonne.

Tau Henare was working on a logging operation at Whakaangiangi on the East Coast when the incident occurred in September 2012. His job was to attach strops to fallen logs, which were then dragged up a hillside to be prepared for transport away from the forest.

Mr Henare was hit by a log that had come lose from the jaws of a loader on a landing above and slid down a steep hillside. He suffered fractures to his arm and leg that have required multiple surgeries and left him unable to work. . .

How to calculate the maximum number of hours an employee can work during calving and mating –  John Brosnan:

Over the last year or so there has been a lot of discussion in the media around farm practices in relation to keeping wage records, hours worked on farms and in particular employees not earning minimum wage within their pay period.

This was not helped by rumours that MBIE (the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment) were going to treat an accommodation allowance as a part of salary/wages differently from how IRD have traditionally viewed it. . . .

Goodman Fielder plans $27M upgrade of Christchurch milk factory to meet Asian demand – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Goodman Fielder, the Australian food ingredients maker, will spend $27 million to expand its Christchurch ultra heat treated milk plant, giving it additional capacity to meet increased demand for its Meadow Fresh brand in Asia.

Work to extend the existing UHT building and install a new pasteurising, sterilising and palletising line as well as a new 250ml high-speed filler is expected to be completed by October 2015 and will boost production at the site by 50 percent, enabling it to process an extra 32 million litres a year, Sydney-based Goodman Fielder said in a statement. . .

Fun side of farming:

In just a few short weeks rural youth will be out in full force trying to prove they’ve got what it takes to be the 2014 AgriKidsNZ and TeenAg Champions.

Close to seven hundred primary and secondary aged students battled it out in the seven Regional Finals across the country earlier this year. The top three teams from each region progressed through to the Grand Finals, set to be held alongside the ANZ Young Farmer Contest in Christchurch, 3-5 July.

“These students have been preparing for months,” said Josie Hampton AgriKidsNZ & TeenAg Project Leader. “They pour everything they’ve got into this competition and it’s quite an honour for them to represent their schools at Grand Final.” . . .

Wool.i.am the star of new campaign for Cavalier Bremworth:

Long established New Zealand carpet maker Cavalier Bremworth has launched a quirky new ad campaign which focuses on its unique ability to manage the quality of its wool carpet from the farm right to the floor. It’s also a celebration of having Kiwis on the job every step of the way.

View here at: http://goo.gl/FNqV97

The hero of the campaign continues to be its animated sheep (Wool-i.am) who takes a journey with the wool from the farm to its tufting plant in Auckland. Cavalier Bremworth, as part of parent company Cavalier Corporation, is the only carpet maker that owns and controls the whole process for wool carpet production – it owns a wool buying business, a half share in the country’s biggest wool scours in Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay, and then its own dyeing and spinning plants in Napier, Wanganui and Christchurch. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 29, 2014

Speech to the B3 Better Border Biosecurity Conference – Nathan Guy:

Thank you to Better Border Biosecurity (B3) for hosting this important conference. The theme is “10 years on – Adding Value to New Zealand’s Plant Biosecurity System through Research”.

Today I want to talk to you about the importance of biosecurity to New Zealand, and the importance of scientific research to back it up.

I want to start by acknowledging the B3 partnership as a great model for working together on research.

The signed up partners include four Crown Research Institutes (CRI), a university based research entity, three government agencies, and an industry group. It’s important that it involves end-users from both government and industry.

The importance of biosecurity

Everyone here has probably heard me say many times that “biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister.” Today I want to say a few words to remind why that is, and why this agreement today is so important.

The primary sector is the powerhouse of New Zealand’s economy, accounting for over 70 percent of our export earnings.

It helps pay the bills for our schools, hospitals and social services, and supports many jobs in our regions and cities. . .

Farmers cream productivity profit:

ANZ Bank economist Con Williams says many people are overlooking the huge improvements in productivity dairy farmers have achieved recently.

Fonterra on Wednesday set next season’s initial forecast farmgate milk price at $7 per kilo of milk solids, which was higher than some had expected.

However, the dairy giant has cut this season’s forecast payout by 25 cents to $8.40 per kilo of milk solids. That would reduce farmers’ incomes by nearly $400 million but Mr said it represented just a little less cream from what was still a record payout.

The average annual yield per cow was close to 381kg of milk solids – a new record and about 7.5 percent ahead of trend. . .

NIWA gets down to brass tacks with farmers – Tony Benny:

National Fieldays seminar host Niwa is taking its science directly to farmers to optimise water use and lessen the negative impacts of dairy effluent.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research’s chief scientist, environmental information, Jochen Schmidt, said the organisation has moved its focus to the one-on-one farmer level gradually over the past five years. 

“This is definitely an area that we’re strategically pushing at the moment. The minister [Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce] is our shareholder and that’s what he told us because the growth agenda is out there and we want to ensure our primary sector is growing while sustainably managing the environment. . .

 

StockSense workshops take pressure off calving:

DairyNZ is running 19 StockSense events in June and July to help farmers prepare for the calving season.

The events are split into two workshops – one for junior staff and one for senior staff – with each workshop focusing on developing skills to help the calving season go well and reduce stress.

Humane slaughter on-farm and udder health will be the focus of the senior level workshop.

DairyNZ’s animal husbandry and welfare team manager, Chris Leach, says the humane slaughter topic is particularly timely due to the expected change in the animal welfare code and the implications for farmers.

“Farmers need to understand what’s expected of them,” says Chris.

The senior workshop will also focus on actions owners and managers can take to reduce stress for themselves and their teams, to help calving go smoothly.

“The workshop will provide tips and tricks to stay healthy during the busy period. Being prepared and staying healthy eases stress and will make for an easier spring,” says Chris. . .

New report shows PGP delivering major benefits:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the findings of an independent report into the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), which estimates it will add $6.4 billion per annum to New Zealand’s economy by 2025.

“The NZIER report further concludes that the PGP has the potential to achieve an additional $4.7 billion per annum by 2025 if all the R&D is successful, the aspirational stretch of PGP programmes is achieved, and the innovations are widely uptaken. 

“This would add up to $11.1 billion per annum to New Zealand’s economy by 2025.

“The PGP is about supporting innovation in the primary industries, which are the backbone of New Zealand’s economy – accounting for over 70% of our merchandise exports. There are currently 18 announced programmes jointly funded by industry and government.” . .

Steak stakes double success:

Ballyhooley Beef has done it again – winning best retail brand with the Murray Grey meat at the Steak of Origin competition last week in Feilding.

But this year, Winton farmer Barry Macdonald and his beef have done one better, as his steak was chosen as the tastiest by the public, also winning the people’s choice award.

In what was a first for the competition, Mr Macdonald’s steak was put up against the other 19 finalists to see which the public liked best. . .

2013 winner a bachelor no more – Sonita Chandar:

Sorry ladies, it’s official – 2013 Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year Simon Washer is now spoken for.

However, a whole new group of eligible young men are set to strut their stuff at the NZ National Agricultural Fieldays in June.

Washer only entered the competition by default as his fellow members of the local young farmers’ club balked at the idea of entering.

“I was the chairman of the club at the time the entry form came through and when I asked the guys if anyone was interested in entering, they all gave me a dirty look,  pointed the finger at me and then nominated me so I didn’t really have much of a choice. . . .

 

 


Rural round-up

May 28, 2014

Farmers prepare for payout cut – Sally Rae:

Five Forks dairy farmer Lyndon Strang isn’t expecting any surprises today when the dairy co-operative updates its forecast 2013-14 season payout.

A cut of between about 25c and 30c from the present $8.65kg ms farmgate milk price has been predicted by economists, while a conservative opening forecast for the 2014-15 season, around the $7kg ms mark, has also been suggested.

Mr Strang, who is also dairy chairman of North Otago Federated Farmers, said the 2013-14 payout was still going to be a record, and even a $7 forecast for next season was ”potentially still another good payout”. . .

Stream through dairy farm rich in fish – Tim Cronshaw:

Dairy farmers are getting praise from unlikely quarters after the most salmon in 40 years have been seen spawning in a small stream in the middle of dairying country.

After identifying good salmon catches in the area during the angling season and higher spawning rates in lowland streams than normal, fishery officers did a spot check at the spring-fed Waikuku Stream, expecting to see little salmon activity.

In a small stretch of the stream which feeds into the Ashley River they found about 35 salmon and as many nests – redds – containing thousands of eggs.

Among other theories for the high salmon count, Fish & Game New Zealand think the main reason is the work of dairy farmers to fence, plant and protect the stream. . .

A lamb chop fresh from the lab – Jill Galloway:

A retired Massey University horticulture senior lecturer says meat will come from the laboratory in future, putting New Zealand’s grazing systems at risk.

Dr Mike Nichols went to a conference in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, and said it was disconcerting to learn it was possible to “grow” a perfectly acceptable hamburger patty in the laboratory from plant-derived raw materials.

He said fillet steak and lamb chops of acceptable taste, flavour and texture were not far away. . .

Farmers prepare to pay for $90m irrigation scheme – Tony Benny:

Farmers supplied by the Rangitata South irrigation scheme intend to buy the scheme from the developer, says scheme chairman Ian Morten.

The scheme, which is expected to be in full operation next irrigation season, draws water from the Rangitata River in South Canterbury to fill seven huge storage ponds with a total capacity of 16.5 million cubic metres, three of which are now full or part full. Work completing the other four will resume after winter.

While initial investigation for a scheme on the south side of the Rangitata was started by a farmer group, it wasn’t until earthmoving company owner Gary Rooney joined them that the scheme took off. . . .

Making straight line into the top results:

Otago and Southland competitors did well in the New Zealand Ploughing Association’s (NZPA) national championships recently.

Hosted by the Marlborough Ploughing Association, more than 30 people took part in the national finals at Spring Creek, near Blenheim, from May 10 to 11.

The competitors were all winners from various qualifying events held throughout New Zealand in the past 12 months.

Mark Dillon, of Riversdale, was third in the Case IH silver plough section, and also won the W.G. Miller Trophy for the highest placed competitor aged under 35. . . .

A focus on changing fortunes: Minister to attend Open Day:

An Open Day is being held on Friday 30 May in Kaikohe to celebrate the ongoing collaboration between Lincoln University and Northland College. At the centre of this collaboration lies the recently signed Five Year Strategic Plan, designed to formalise the strategy for optimising the farming and educational opportunities from the neighbouring Northland College Farm.

In attendance will be staff and students, as well as key representatives from business and government; including the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, the Honourable Steven Joyce, who will be speaking at the event. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 26, 2014

Golden times return for kiwifruit trade – Jamie Gray:

Just as the last rites were about to be administered to the New Zealand kiwifruit industry, a new disease-resistant variety has restored grower confidence to where it was just before the devastating Psa virus swept through Bay of Plenty orchards late in 2010.

Orchard prices have rebounded, investment has started again and fruit prices are better than for more than 10 years, giving growers reason to be more optimistic, industry representatives say.

Psa has already had a big impact on kiwifruit “gold” volumes, which fell by 55 per cent in 2013/14 compared with the previous season and to the lowest ever, but higher prices overall have helped to boost returns. Zespri estimates that this season will yield 17 million trays of Gold, up from 11 million trays in the previous season — thanks mostly to the fact that the new variety, called Gold3, is Psa-tolerant compared with its highly susceptible predecessor, Hort16A. . .

Open day showcase for award winner – Sally Rae:

”Capturing sunlight in a form you can eat.”

That is how Wayne McIntosh describes the fruit produced on his family’s award-winning orchard at Earnscleugh, near Alexandra.

Mr McIntosh, who has been managing the orchard for 10 years, was the supreme winner of this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards and hosted a field day on the property on Wednesday.

The 64ha property has about 34,000 trees producing cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, apples and a range of trial fruits. . .

Dairy boss picks industry evolution – Jamie Gray:

The acquisition by French food giant Danone of two New Zealand dairy companies last month signals a new phase in the evolution of the local dairy industry – one in which manufacturers will get closer to their brands, says Synlait Milk managing director John Penno.

Danone last month said it had entered an agreement to buy processing firms Sutton Group and Gardians.

The announcement came as the dairy industry negotiated its way through new Chinese infant formula regulations.

Auckland company Sutton is best known for contract manufacturing of infant formula; Gardians has a milk powder spray drying plant in Otago. . . .

Pastoral lifestyles on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau – Keith Woodford:

This week I am writing from the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau in Western China, at 3600 metres above sea level. The Plateau is part of China’s pastoral zone where lifestyles are based on sheep and yak farming systems. I am here with three New Zealand colleagues from Lincoln University and AgResearch. Jim Moir is our soils specialist, Phil Rolston is our agronomy specialist, and Sharon (Xiaomeng) Lucock is our science and general translator who also helps co-ordinate the program. We are working with colleagues from Qinghai University, and also working with a commercial partner who processes yak milk into yoghurt which sells as far afield as Beijing and Shanghai.

The zone that we are working in is part of the Sanjiangyuan (Source of Three Rivers) Ecological Zone with an area 25% larger than all of New Zealand. The winter lasts for more than six months and the growing season is limited to late May through to the end of September. . . .

Theme recognises Fieldays’ future success – Tony Benny:

The theme for the National Fieldays premier feature this year recognises that the future success of New Zealand agriculture rests on effective use of all resources, says Fieldays chief executive Jon Calder.

Called Managing resources for a competitive advantage, the theme recognises that resources can be human, capital, natural, assets or livestock.

“There’s really a two-fold view. One is that we have got strength and capability in the way we manage our resources and the other is looking at what the future holds in terms of new innovations, new technology and new ways of managing resources,” he says.  . .

Volunteers key to Fieldays success – Sonita Chandar:

While visitors to the NZ National Agricultural Fieldays check out the latest products and innovations from the rural sector, a dedicated team of staff and volunteers work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure all is running smoothly. 

“We have a team of around 36 fulltime staff five of who work solely on Fieldays and more than 120 volunteers,” said Mystery Creek membership administrator Sierra Jenkins.

“Every single one of the volunteers is invaluable and without them the event wouldn’t be the success it is.” 

Volunteers are split into four teams covering all aspects of Fieldays. Around 30 people work in the guest services area overseen by Shirley Murphy. . .

Happy Beef month! We keep one of our steers every so often to use as meat for our family to eat..... it lasts us forever! #EATBEEF Some have pointed out some flaws in this picture and we apologize for that! (It's not ours) But the message to take away is that one steer feeds a lot of people!! (Picture via Kansas Department of Agriculture)


%d bloggers like this: