Rural round-up

January 24, 2014

Promise of plenty – Nigel Stirling:

This year has the potential to be a vintage one for breaking down barriers to New Zealand’s agricultural trade with the rest of the world.

But don’t break out the champagne just yet.

It is a fine line between success and failure in trade negotiations, which have a habit of falling at the last hurdle. . .

Dam directors keep the faith – Tim Fulton:

The 6.2 magnitude earthquake near Eketahuna had Tim Fulton asking what quakes mean for dams like Ruataniwha in Hawke’s Bay.

The Ruataniwha dam will be strong enough to withstand a large earthquake, project manager Graeme Hansen says.

The planning team had done quake investigations to death, he said.

The Mohaka fault goes through the water-storage scheme’s proposed reservoir area.

“It’s certainly been a bone of contention, or should I say a topic of conversation, around building a water-storage structure on or near a major fault,” Hansen said. . .

Dairying boost tipped for economy – Christopher Adams:

Economists say a combination of rising international dairy prices and favourable farming conditions bode well for New Zealand’s economic growth, which is already expected to outpace most other developed nations this year.

Dairy product prices in Tuesday night’s GlobalDairyTrade auction rose 1.4 per cent from the last sale on January 8, led by surging prices for butter and cheese. Those two products have posed problems for Fonterra as their prices lagged behind whole milk powder.

The average winning price was US$5025 ($6040) a tonne from US$4953 a tonne at the last auction. About 41,024 tonnes of product was sold, down from 46,418 two weeks ago, for about US$206.1 million. . .

Manuka authentication project:

An organisation representing most of the country’s manuka honey producers says it’s got the backing of a major overseas customer for a project authenticating the highly-prized honey.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has begun working on a new guideline for New Zealand’s most valuable honey, after concerns were raised in some overseas markets about false claims and labelling for manuka, which commands top prices for its anti-bacterial and healing qualities.

Meanwhile, the Unique Manuka Factor or Honey Association is collecting samples from around the country to establish a chemical profile of manuka. . .

Looking forward to 2014 – Kirsten Bryant;

There’s been plenty to keep us occupied on the farm over January, so it’s been very much a case of head down. But, out the corner of my eye, I optimistically note that we’ve had great grass growth and improved stock performance.

Year to date, my impression is that, while we don’t have the certainty of price that dairy farmers enjoy, sheep and beef farmers are cautiously optimistic about the year ahead. It’s amazing the effect available feed and forecast rain have on the soul and, consequently, our outlooks. It feels good.

This week, I had the privilege of listening to the inspirational Kevin Biggar – one half of TVNZ’s First Crossings’ duo. Kevin was speaking about his journey from self-admitted couch potato, to Trans-Atlantic rower and South Pole adventurer. . .

Rabbits threatens our gin and tonic: Wild animals are overgrazing on juniper berries:

Wild rabbits are threatening the traditional British gin and tonic by over-grazing on juniper berries – a key ingredient of the drink.

The animals have eaten so many plants that experts fear the juniper could be wiped out in parts of the country.

Now a gin manufacturer has donated £1,000 to Steyning Downland Scheme, a charity working to save the ancient plant which is also under threat from disease.

It will use the money from No.3 London Dry Gin to put up fences around the few remaining junipers near Lancing, West Sussex.

It is hoped the barriers will keep the rabbits out and protect the juniper, which gives gin its distinctive bitter taste. . .


Rural round-up

October 16, 2013

West Coast cops blame for cattle’s TB – Matthew Littlewood:

A case of bovine tuberculosis in South Canterbury appears to have come from cattle brought in from the West Coast.

TBFree New Zealand has sent out letters to more than 85 farms in South Canterbury after the reports of incidents at two farms in May.

TBFree’s Owen Churchman said the Rangitata area had been historically free of the disease, but recent DNA-testing indicated “with almost total certainty” the two farms had been infected with a West Coast strain. . .

Record $114,000 Waikato dirty dairying fine – Aaron Leaman:

A Waiuku-based company has been hit with a record $114,000 fine for dirty dairying after deliberately pumping effluent into a stream.

Fenwick Farms pleaded guilty to seven charges of unlawfully discharging dairy effluent into water and onto land between August and September last year.

The $114,000 fine, imposed by Judge Melanie Harland in the Auckland District Court, is the largest fine dished out in the Waikato region for dairy pollution. . .

Honey trademark bid declined – Laura Walters:

An attempt to trademark six labels relating to the antibacterial properties of honey has been rejected by the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) on the basis some could have potentially misled consumers.

Henry Soo Lee’s application to register six trademarks was also opposed by the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) Honey Association.

Lee was ordered by the office to pay $6890 in costs to UMF after all six label applications were turned down. . .

Benefits of Investing In Kawerau Confirmed:

An analysis undertaken by the Crown Research Institute SCION to compare investment returns from wood processing based in Kawerau with those from other parts of New Zealand show Kawerau offers significant benefits in comparison to other wood processing centres.

These benefits are gained by locational, logistics and resource synergies and are measured by improved financial performance of businesses, better regional/national GDP impacts, employment resourcing opportunities and more effective use of co-located resources such as geothermal energy. . .

Milk processing transferred south:

Fonterra is shipping some North Island milk across Cook Strait for processing in Canterbury, as northern dairy farms hit their peak production.

Fonterra operations and logistics director Robert Spurway says the co-operative sends milk in both directions from time to time.

He says the North Island always hits it peak milk flow earlier than the south, and the surge in production from the excellent spring means processing plants in the north are already running at full capacity. . .

Commerce Commission releases draft report on statutory review of Fonterra’s 2013/14 Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission has today released a draft report on its statutory review of Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual (Manual) for the 2013/14 dairy season. The Manual sets out the methodology for calculating the farm gate (base) milk price, which is the price paid by Fonterra to dairy farmers for raw milk they supply to Fonterra.

This is the first of two statutory reviews that the Commission is required to undertake each dairy season under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA). . .

Deer farmers head to hills but profit up – Tony Benny:

While deer farming has been pushed off most of Canterbury Plain and into the hills by dairy farming, it is now the most profitable form of dry stock farming, says Deer Industry New Zealand chairman Andy Macfarlane.

“There was one farm I worked at, this is the 2012-13 results, last week the deer returned $125 per stock unit, the sheep $100 and the cattle returned $75,” Macfarlane said.

“Generally they are well ahead but I think it would be fair to say, like all dry stock classes at the moment, farmers are looking for a confidence booster because clearly the milk price has responded to the world demand for protein quicker than the meat price.” . .

Worms key to soil health:

The anatomy of an earthworm is hardly exciting stuff.

But, Dr Tim Jenkins, a director at the Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Technologies, has a way of making the bodily functions of an earthworm sound kind of interesting.

He told about 80 farmers at a biological farming seminar in Gore recently that earthworms were a key driver of soil fertility.

A good number was 2000 worms per square metre or about 40 worms per spade, but he often found worm populations around 600 to 1000 per square metre because of poor quality soils. . .


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