Rural round-up

March 26, 2018

Expatriate banking on new future for Twizel – Sally Rae:

People don’t realise what is going on in Twizel.

That’s the belief of Chris White, a Dallas-domiciled Kiwi with a passion for the former hydro town. In fact, he describes it as genuinely being a “hidden gem”.

The Mackenzie town has left behind the hydro days, when it was constructed as the temporary base for the Upper Waitaki Power Development, with new housing springing up all over the place and people falling for its charms.

“I’m a little bit sick of it being known as a dam town now. It’s moved on. You want to see the people that are holidaying here. There’s a real underbelly … of really smart intellect and talent moving in here and holidaying here. People want to get out of the rat race,” he said. . .

Horticulture growth predictions and constraints – Mike Chapman:

This week the Ministry for Primary Industries released its growth predictions. Modest growth is predicted for horticulture (including wine), with kiwifruit and apples predicted to be growth leaders. This comes after two years of exceptional growth: 10% in 2015, and 19.5% in 2016. The Ministry’s predictions may be considered by some in the industry as conservative, due to plantings around the country both underway and planned, and not only with kiwifruit and apples.

The Ministry is doubtless looking at what constrains growth. In the last and current seasons, the cold and wet was followed by hot and dry, in turn followed by heavy rain from cyclones, has hindered production across the country, particularly in the North Island and the top of the South Island. Productivity has been significantly down, and this has been seen by consumers in the increased price for some vegetables due to short supply. Although there appears to be more of these extreme climatic episodes affecting production, the last year and a half has been particularly difficult. A return to more normal weather patterns will see a return to more normal production levels, and higher levels of growth. . .

Fresh NZ milk flies to China – Sudesh Kissun:

Fresh milk produced in New Zealand is now available for the first time on supermarket shelves in Shanghai.

The 1L product is available at 18 Alibaba’s Hema Fresh supermarkets, alongside Fonterra’s fresh milk produced from its China farms.

The milk is mostly sourced from Theland’s Tahi Farms – formerly Crafar Farms – and processed by Green Valley Dairy in South Auckland. . . 

A is for Auckland A is for agri :

Auckland isn’t the first word that usually springs to mind when discussing the future of farming in New Zealand. It’s the city of sails, motorways and high rises, after all.

But our biggest city holds the key to the Government’s goal of doubling primary industry exports in real terms from $32 billion in 2012 to $64 billion by 2025.

To achieve this ambitious goal people are the key – not just to expand the workforce of our primary industries, but to replace retiring baby boomers. . .

University of Southern Queensland shows benefits of digital connectivity for remote and rural communities – Sharon O’Keeffe:

DIGITAL connectivity improves your quality of life. Research conducted by the University of Southern Queensland showed a digital connection is increasingly crucial to service delivery, economic development and quality life in remote and rural Australia.

This supports research conducted by the Australian Farm Institute, which indicated a 25-per-cent increase in the gross productivity of farming outputs could be achieved through the adoption of digital technologies.

The USQ research follows a 2015 landmark agreement, where the Barcoo and Diamantina Shires successfully lobbied to have fibre optic cable and mobile coverage connected to the remote communities of Birdsville, Bedourie, Jundah, Stonehenge and Windorah. . . 

Wheat in heat: the ‘crazy idea’ that could combat food insecurity – Mark HIllsdon:

Durum wheat varieties can withstand 40C heat along the Senegal River basin, and could produce 600,000 tonnes of food.

In the northern Senegalese village of Ndiayene Pendao, close to the border with Mauritania, Fatouma Sow is pulling weeds. Her team of female farmers tread carefully among the tall, ripening plants as they prepare to harvest the country’s first ever crop of durum wheat.

They had grown onions and tomatoes on the one-hectare plot (2.47 acres), Sow explains, but the crops took too long to grow and disrupted the essential rice growing season. Now the wheat offers a fast-growing, lucrative alternative.

Following four years of trials, which saw thousands of wheat varieties tested in the unforgiving sub-Saharan heat, scientists have successfully turned what was first thought of as a “crazy idea” into a vital new food crop. With more than 1 million smallholders living along the Senegal River basin, which also runs through Mali and Mauritania, it was an important strategic area to trial the wheat. . . 


366 days of gratitude

September 11, 2016

It started as a reunion of our first flat in Dunedin and grew to include any friends who’d known us when we were students.

Finding a when and where that suited everyone was like herding cats but we eventually agreed on this weekend in Twizel.

Why Twizel? One of our number had suggested Lake Ohau but the lodge couldn’t accommodate us all and Twizel was close.

As the date approached some dropped out and we ended up with the five of us who had flatted together (three hes and two shes) plus three wives, one husband, another friend from Dunedin student days and three children (offspring of one of the former flatmates).

The flatmates and spice have kept in semi-regular contact over the years but most of us hadn’t seen the friend since the weeding of one of our number 32 years ago. That didn’t matter, as we reminisced, laughed, caught up on who’d done what and laughed lots more.

Waking to a cloudless blue sky yesterday we agreed that an expedition to Mount Cook was called for.

Those with little people walked up the Hooker Valley while the rest of us climbed up to the Red Tarns. They’re about 300 metres up via about 1,000 steps which some managed more easily than others, however the view once there was worth it.

red-tarns

mt-cook

We regrouped for lunch after which the parents and little people returned to Twizel to play, four others took a helicopter flight while the rest of us walked up the Hooker Valley (in the hope my theory that if you’ve gone up and down steep hills, a walk over flattish territory keeps you from getting stiff would work, and it did).

This morning we had a long leisurely breakfast before three headed north, five headed south and the other five of us took the long way home via Lake Ohau and the Temple Valley.

temple

Now I’m home again, reflecting on the blessing of friendships which endure, nature’s beauty and the opportunity to explore it with very few other people and oh how I’m grateful for all of that.


Rural round up

August 6, 2013

Westland Milk Products tests clear for clostridium:

Westland Milk Products confirmed today that it has not used any of the whey protein concentrate from Fonterra that has tested positive for clostridium bacteria.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says that Westland’s nutritional formulations use whey protein ingredients purchased from local and international suppliers, but these have not included any affected Fonterra whey protein concentrate.

“We test all the ingredients we buy in and all have returned “not detected” results for clostridium in the last 12 months. Testing of our own products and processes, including whey concentrate, has also returned negative results.” . .

Fork futures – Peter K. Dearden:

It is hard to avoid the news that last night, a beef burger grown in the lab was consumed by a number of people. The idea was that meat, grown in dishes in the lab, could replace meat grown in animals; last night was a demonstration of the principle.

The beef burger in question was grown from muscle stem cells in plastic dishes, the cells collected and squished together to make a meat-like substance. Consumers of the burger made statements such as “lacked flavor” and “needed some fat”, not exactly a glowing endorsement, but perhaps no worse than most folk’s opinion of the ‘mechanically recovered meat’ often lurking in such burgers.

The cost of this burger has been reported as 250,000 Euros ($425,000 NZ dollars), proving conclusively that growing meat in animals is still cheaper and more efficient.  As an aside, most cell culture experiments use animal serum to help grow the cells, meaning this approach is not animal-free. But is this more than just a publicity stunt; are there implications for New Zealand? . . .

Fruit and veg growers recognised for pioneering work:

Mangere fruit and vege growers Fay and Joe Gock have been recognised for their pioneering work, as this year’s winners of the Bledisloe Cup, the industry’s highest honour.

The couple both in their 80s, have come up with numerous innovations in horticulture over six decades of commercial fruit and vegetable growing,

They include being the first first to raise kumara tubers by using under-earth heating in modern hotbeds.

They developed a disease-free kumara strain and with DSIR, a prototype kumara curing shed, reducing crop loss from 50 percent to less than one percent, allowing kumara to be marketed all year round. . .

Former town relocation site placed on the market for sale:

The swathe of bare land once identified as the relocation site for the hydro’ dam township of Twizel has been placed on the market for sale.

The 19.3 hectare site at Lake Pukaki in South Canterbury is the only land within the Mackenzie District Plan with zoning allowing for residential subdivision and commercial business operations.

The land – which overlooks Lake Pukaki and State Highway 8 – is some 14 kilometres north of Twizel, and is being marketed for sale by auction on September 5. . .

Spray season begins for kiwifruit growers:

The spray season for kiwifruit growers is starting, and Bay of Plenty Regional Council is working with the industry to ensure spray drift problems are reduced this year.

Hydrogen Cyanamide, known as Hi-Cane, is sprayed on kiwifruit vines to promote more and larger fruit on the vines, promote bud break, ensure earlier and shorter flowering, and more flowers with fewer double and triple flowers which reduce fruit size.

In recent years the Bay of Plenty Spray Focus Group, which includes representatives of kiwifruit marketers Zespri, NZ Kiwifruit Growers Inc, Kiwifruit Vine Health, the public and Regional Council staff have worked to reduce the effects of sprays on the community, using best practice spraying methods. . .

Southfuels/Northfuels sign three year deal with TeenAg:

New Zealand Young Farmers is pleased to welcome Southfuels/Northfuels as a sponsor of the TeenAg Competition series. Southfuels/Northfuels have signed on for a three year period with the secondary school section within the New Zealand Young Farmers family of brands.

TeenAg aims to introduce and promote a positive picture about agriculture and agricultural careers from an early age. This is achieved via a competition series and a network of High School clubs.

The TeenAg Competition series started in 2011 with resounding success and the programmes popularity continues to rise. The first High School club was established in 2009 and know there are 45 clubs dotted throughout the country. . .

How Farmers Can Reduce Nitrogen Losses and Leaching:

New Zealand’s global image as a clean and green country is continuing to come under fire and with it comes pressure from local governments on the management of our farm lands. Nitrogen fertiliser inputs and how they affect the environment is a very topical story at the moment and with increasing pressures including N based fertiliser restrictions, costs, droughts and production requirements, the farmer has some important decisions to make.

What decision makers on both sides need to agree on is that we need to deliver the highest increase in dry matter and milk production per unit of nitrogen applied the soil. By using a microbial based inoculant like EM we can enhance the nutrient uptake of the pasture thus increasing the growth of dry matter. This enables the farmer to decrease their nitrogen application while maintaining and sometimes exceeding previous pasture levels. . .

And from Grammarly:

This exists. It makes more sense than what the word actually means.


Citizens stepping forward – updated

December 31, 2011

Artist Ralph Hotere has been appointed to the Order of New Zealand, the country’s top honour.

“I am very pleased to accept this honour and I was particularly moved by the letter that I received from the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Mr John Key.   

 “He spoke of our nation . . . relying on citizens from all walks of life stepping forward, helping others, seeking new ways of doing things, and reaching for their dreams. He also spoke of enriching the lives of others. I am deeply moved,”  Hotere said.  

That captures exactly what the honours are for, recognising the people who step forward.

One of those is Malcolm Farry who has been awarded a Companion of the Order of Merit for his work as chair of the Carisbrook Stadium Trust and many years of service in other areas including chair of the fundraising committee for the Orokonui Ecosanctuary and:

. . . his decade as chairman of the Otago Youth Wellness Trust, from 1996 to 2006. The trust is a free, community-based service that supports 11- to 18-year-olds      with social workers, mentoring, educational support and health services liaison and information.   

The “wrap-around” service was one of the first to achieve a “high-trust” contract with the Government, heralding a new way of working with the community sector. 

Max Smith has been awarded a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rowing.

Smith, of Waipara, North Canterbury, was Ministry of Works project manager in Twizel, and pushed to retain the Mackenzie Country town and created Lake Ruataniwha at the completion of the Upper Waitaki power scheme.

It is not just tthe sport, but the town which owes so much to him. Twizel might well have died had it not been for Lake Ruataniwha.

Ian Taylor will be  a Companion of The New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to business and television.

Among others in the list announced today were:

Dr Ralph Allen, who led the work to establish the Orokonui Ecosanctuary has been awarded a Queens Service Medal for services to conservation, and Struan Munro who earned his QSM for service to local body affairs and the community.

Struan was a long-serving Waitaki District Councillor and has given years of service in community activities and farming in the Waitaki Valley.

Graham Henry has been knighted not just for coaching the All blacks to World Cup victory but for his contribution to the sport over many years.

Suzie Moncrieff, who founded World of Wearable Art, and business woman Rosanne Meo will be Dames.

UPDATE:

The full list is here.


The earth moved

March 28, 2009

There was a rumble and some swaying sometime before dawn and I wasn’t quite sure if I was dreaming.

But the ODT informs me that the earth did move this morning:

Large parts of the South Island were shaken by a 4.9 magnitude earthquake early this morning.

The quake, which hit at 5.46am, was centred 10km west of Twizel at a depth of 15km.

When we’ve been travelling in other countries or hosting overseas visitors here, earthquakes often come up in conversation. I suspect this is because reports of earthquakes are over represented in the few news reports which mention New Zealand in international media.

But just as people in Australia accept snakes as a fact of life, and notwithstanding expert advice that one day we’ll experience a biggie, the occassional reminder that we live in the shakey isles like this morning’s tremor, is accepted as an act of nature and leaves most of us unmoved.

UPDATE: Thanks to Pique Oil who pointed to Geonet which shows the seismorgraph recordings of the quake.


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