Rural round-up

April 10, 2017

Taste is tops – Neal Wallace:

ONE of the biggest consumer taste tests ever has revealed the eating quality of New Zealand lamb is consistently high with very little variation.

The finding followed more than 3200 consumer taste tests in NZ and the United States last year and showed factors such as breed, gender, pasture, growth rates, fat cover, marbling, confirmation and locality had a minor effect on eating quality.

The research was part of a FarmIQ Primary Growth Partnership programme in conjunction with Silver Fern Farms, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Landcorp.  . .

Sound science needed in policy making  – Mark Ross:

New Zealand’s strong export focus is unusual because our GDP relies heavily on our primary industries and export markets.
Revenue from these exports is estimated at $36.7 billion this year, but is at risk from unsubstantiated, over-hyped nonsensical claims.

The products we use to protect our animals and crops from pests and diseases have never been more thoroughly tested and screened to ensure product safety. But pseudo-science puts NZ farmers and growers’ chances of being world leaders in productivity at risk. Pseudo-science is beliefs or statements not backed by scientific evidence. Its promoters frequently play on people’s fears and cause needless confusion. . .

Farmers urged to use science to improve profitability:

Farmers are getting a push to use the “masses of science” available in New Zealand to improve their profitability.
Confusion exists about the key focus needed to increase farm profitability, says high profile farm veterinarian and consultant Trevor Cook.

The key point is how much product we produce per hectare, he says. And though body condition score and feed allocation are also key performance indicators, they alone are not the drivers of profit. . . 

Planting good for soldiers, farming – Nigel Malthus:

Even Canterbury’s arable farmers would benefit from the increased biodiversity offered by native reforestation, claims the man leading the largest dryland reforestation effort on the plains.
Tai Tapu native plant nurseryman and consultant Stephen Brailsford is managing the replacement of exotic trees at Burnham Military Camp. The project, three years on, has seen up to 45,000 natives planted.

Sparked by wind storm damage in September 2013, the project is to replace most of the camp’s exotic trees with the kind of native bush originally standing on the Canterbury Plains’ dry soils. . .

Dairy wants to play its part – Stephen Bell:

Fonterra recognises dairy is a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and wants to do something about it, environment manager Francesca Eggleton says.

The industry faced a potentially extremely large liability.

Dairy produced gases from cows, effluent, fertiliser, deforestation to produce palm kernel, energy use and transport.

Of the gases produced 85% were created onfarm, 10% from processing site and 5% from distribution.

The Dumfries House declaration:

On September 9th 2016, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales as Patron of the Campaign for Wool in association with M&S, hosted the historic Dumfries House Wool Conference in Scotland.

The conference brought together 250 leading members of the wool industry supply chain, from farm to store, to discuss the current challenges facing wool and how its further use can benefit the planet as a whole.

In his address to the conference, The Prince of Wales officially endorsed the Dumfries House Declaration.This is a ten-point declaration of intent to support an environmentally responsible, sustainable, and commercially viable wool industry. . .


Rural round-up

March 4, 2012

Only a Lotto ticket away from a PhD – Jon Morgan:

One day while travelling, Trevor Cook and a friend were discussing what they would do if they won Lotto.

His friend said: “I’d leave work and travel the world playing golf on the best courses I could find. What would you do?” Mr Cook, a Feilding veterinarian and farming consultant, thought for a bit and replied: “I’d cut down on work and do a PhD.”

He lets out a gruff laugh. “You should have seen the look on his face. `You’re not joking, are you,’ he said. I wasn’t. If I had the financial freedom, that’s exactly what I would do.” . . .

Classrooms to cowsheds:

The students of four Taranaki schools are combining classroom study with on-the-job learning in a Primary Industry Trades Academy (PITA).

The year 11-13 students of Hawera and Opunake high schools and New Plymouth’s Spotswood and Francis Douglas Memorial colleges are undertaking the National Certificate in Agriculture Level 2, in tandem with NCEA study. They form two clusters and undertake study on Thursdays or Fridays.

Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre established the academy in Taranaki this year after operating it in other areas of the lower North Island last year. It wants to expand it to other Taranaki schools. . .

Kylee’s in search of perfection – Sue O’Dowd:

Young ayrshire cattle judge Kylee Perrett brings a pedigree of her own to her role.

The 22-year-old is the daughter of prominent Taranaki ayrshire breeders Ivan and Robyn Fredrickson, of Ngaere, in central Taranaki.

And she’s well on the way to establishing herself as a stock judge on the show circuit.

She’s a New Zealand Ayrshire Association junior judge and wants to become a senior judge as soon as she can. . .

Farmers praised on water quality – Jill Galloway:

Farmers should be congratulated for doing their bit to improve the quality of the Manawatu River, says water quality scientist Shirley Hayward.

She talked to about 20 dairy farmers at a field day last week to help dairy farmers improve their productivity while at the same time reducing their environmental footprint.

Ms Hayward said Niwa figures showed river quality had improved during the past 10 years. She said there were fewer pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphrous. . .

Farmers face new take on water – Ali Tocker:

Waikato Regional Council is currently planning how it will work with farmers required to apply for water take consents under the council’s new water allocation policy.

The policy, variation 6 to the council’s regional plan, was endorsed by the Environment Court late last year. The period for appeals has now passed, clearing the way for the council to begin implementing the policy.

The council’s resource use division manager Brent Sinclair said his team is now doing detailed planning to ensure farmers in different areas are aware of their responsibilities under variation 6. The council will also work with the agricultural sector to develop the most efficient way for farmers to meet those responsibilities. . .

NZ to see more of luxury meat – Tim Cronshaw:

Merino-branded meat will be rolled out to more Kiwi diners and luxury global markets in the next year.

A mix of high-priced racks and legs with unconventional cuts of lamb such as short ribs are under the new luxury brand of Silere Alpine Origin Merino.

The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) is developing the merino brand in a joint venture with the meat company Silver Fern Farms (SFF) and plans to build on merino wool’s clever marketing with more innovative twists. . .


More political tragics needed for strong democracy

December 15, 2010

The good news is that The Nation and Q&A are going to be funded to broadcast next year.

The bad news is they will probably screen at inconvenient times as they did this year.

Do few people watch these programmes because they’re broadcast at unpopular times, or do they get those time slots because few people watch them?

An ABC interview of  Dr Sally Young, senior lecturer in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne,  by Mark Colvin might have the answer:

 Sally Young:  . . . Who is the political news audience?  . . . basically the people who are really political news tragics – people who watch Parliament Question Time or subscribe to Crikey, for example, or watch Sky News press conferences and so on live – that’s about 0.5 per cent of the Australian population. So they’re your real political tragics and it’s a very small percentage.

MARK COLVIN: And so politicians have a real dilemma there. I mean, they’re speaking on two levels and if they engage too much with the Twitterarti etc, then they’re in danger of ignoring the vast majority of the population.

SALLY YOUNG: Mm, that’s right and I mean, even just broadening it out. When I looked at the percentage of people who buy a broadsheet in Australia, it’s about 2 per cent of the adult population. So, you know, it broadens out to things like, if you count people who watch ABC or SBS news and current affairs that’s about 10 per cent, or 12 per cent might listen to ABC Local Radio. So it’s somewhere between 0.5 to 12 per cent. That’s the core audience you think are interested in detailed information about politics, that sort of public affairs.

MARK COLVIN: So you’re left with 80 to 90 per cent who get everything they know about politics from the first couple of minutes of one of the commercial channels’ news bulletins.

SALLY YOUNG: Exactly. That’s right. And one of the findings I was looking at in the book as well is that those people who are reliant, as you say, particularly on commercial television news programs, those news programs will devote possibly two minutes a night to the election…

If it’s only political tragics like you and me who watch, read and listen to serious political analysis, what do politicians do?

MARK COLVIN: Alright so put yourself in a politician’s shoes. Or let’s say, the communications director of one of the major parties. How do you deal with this?

SALLY YOUNG: Well you can see one of the ways they deal with it is that they try to, if they’re brave enough, that the politicians will go on some of the more popular news programs as with Kevin Rudd going on Rove, for example. You know, that they’ll try and engage that audience and reach that audience that isn’t the hardcore political news junkies. They’ll try and get to them through the media they actually use. So that’s one of the ways.

MARK COLVIN: As a professional journalist, we tend to see that as “Oh, they’re trying to avoid the hard questioning”. But you’re saying that it’s just a logical reaction to what’s going on.

SALLY YOUNG: And it would be anti-democratic if they didn’t try to engage those people who don’t access that sort of hard news media, really. I mean, I know that journalists do – especially in those elite media, if you want to call them that – don’t like it when politicians avoid them to go on popular media like FM radio or comedy shows or whatever it is.

This explains a lot about why politics has become much more about personalities and why election campaigns are much more presidential with so much resting on the leader.

But it doesn’t mean there isn’t still a place for hard news journalism and political analysis. The problem is, if not many people are interested in it, advertisers won’t be keen to pay of it which is why New Zealand On Air is helping to fund both The Nation and Q&A.

 Hat Tip: Larvatus Prodeo   who got it from Trevor Cook who concludes:

Twitter, Facebook etc are only going to be important when they break stories. Sure they are entertaining, but they are not journalism . . .

To paraphrase Colvin, I think we will be left with 80 to 90 per cent of the population getting their political news from the first two minutes of the evening bulletin unless Mark Scott, or some other saviour, can turn some of that social media into (research-driven) journalism, rather than turning journalism into social media.

The challenge isn’t just how to fund serious  media, it’s also how to turn more people into political tragics. That will not only ensure a bigger audience for political news and analysis it will engender more participation in the political process and membership of political parties.

Both are important parts of a strong democracy.


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