Rural round-up

May 9, 2018

Natural Fibre Exchange aimed at providing greater efficiency :

In a significant step forward for the wool sector, industry participants have come together to develop and launch an independent online trading platform.

Modelled on the Global Dairy Trade Events (GDT) platform, the Natural Fibre Exchange (NFX) is scheduled to go live with its first trading event on 22 May 2018.

NFX Ltd shareholders Wools of New Zealand Ltd (WNZ) and Alliance Group have teamed with CRA International (CRA), an acknowledged leader in online trading platforms. CRA, which also designed and manages the GDT platform, has developed and will manage the NFX platform. . . 

Short and long-lived gases need separate regulatory baskets – Keith Woodford:

A key issue for New Zealand is how to meet the Paris commitments for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Fundamental to any analysis is the different attributes of long-lived and short-lived gases.  In particular, how should methane be accounted for, and how should it be brought into any emission trading scheme?

Back in 2016, current Commissioner of the Environment Simon Upton raised the importance of placing short-lived gases in a different regulatory ‘basket’ from long-lived gases. Remarkably, our rural leaders appear to have failed to pick up on the importance of this issue.  

More than any other country in the world, NZ’s gross emissions are influenced by methane-producing ruminant animals. No other developed country has a comparable emission profile, with the arguable exception of Uruguay. . . 

Cheaper lab meat to put pressure on farmers by vying with mince and other red meat cuts – Jill Galloway:

New Zealand farmers are in danger of becoming redundant as synthetic meat took consumers away from red meat, says a strategic science expert.

Dr Anna Campbell, managing director of agribusiness consulting company AbacusBio, said synthetic meats would get cheaper and global consumers would choose them because of their light environmental impact and zero animal treatment.

Campbell was a key speaker talking to about 180 farmers and agribusiness people at the AgInnovation conference in Palmerston North on Wednesday.

“At the moment, synthetic meat-makers take some cells, some blood and other things, spin it around, and get mince.  It’s mince for hamburger patties that is spat out. It is expensive at the moment, but the companies will scale it up and make it cheap.”  . . 

Age not wearing this farmer – Peter Burke:

Moyra Bramley was born in 1933, the year Sir Apirana Ngata and Lord Bledisloe inaugurated the Ahuwhenua Trophy to recognise excellence in Maori farming — now Ms Bramley has at least a 50/50 chance of winning that trophy.

Bramley is in the running for her role as chairwoman of the Onuku Maori Lands Trust, one of two finalists in the competition. 

Onuku’s entry in the competition is its 72ha Boundary Road dairy unit is near Lake Rotomahana, 30km south of Rotorua. It is one of four farms run by the trust.  . . 

Looking into using drones differently – Mark Price:

Wanaka beekeeper Daniel Schweizer is investigating a use for drones that is yet to catch on in New Zealand.

He can see potential for “spray drones” that target weeds in difficult-to-get-to places in the high country.

The weeds would include gorse, broom and wilding pines.

“The only options at the moment are a helicopter and a man with a knapsack, and one is $20 an hour and one is $2000 an hour,” he said. . . 

Drought will bring more crop disease scientists warn:

New Zealand’s land-based primary industries need to get ready for more, and more serious, crop disease as climate change causes more and longer droughts, according to new research.

In the journal Australasian Plant Pathology, the authors say that climate change is expected to bring more droughts in many parts of New Zealand, and more droughts are “likely to increase the severity of a wide range of diseases affecting the plant-based productive sectors”.

Scientists from the Bio-Protection Research Centre, Scion, Lincoln University, AUT University, Landcare Research, and the University of Auckland analysed the potential impact of climate-change-induced drought on several commercial plants and their diseases. . . 

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Rural round-up

January 17, 2018

Sunflower fundraiser set to raise funds for struggling farmers – Deena Coster:

Selling a flower which is synonymous with sunshine is helping give hope to struggling farmers.

In mid-November, Taranaki farmer Will Fleming planted about 500 sunflower seeds around the outside of one of his paddocks, and by next week the distinctive flowers will be on sale.

The money raised from selling off the sunflowers will go directly to the Taranaki Rural Support Trust (TRST). . . 

Pacific leader honoured for work in dairy industry and Manawatū community – Paul Mitchell:

Palatasa Havea​ is still trying to get his head around what it means to be a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

The Palmerston North man received the honour for a life-time of work in dairy industry research and his selfless dedication to the Pacific community in the New Year Honours List.

Havea was surprised and humbled by the appointment. But he wasn’t that familiar with the Royal Honours system, what responsibilities came with it, or that he’d done enough to deserve the recognition.

As a senior research scientist at Fonterra his work has resulted in a new manufacturing process for whey protein products and several patents for the company. . . 

Farmers are off to a good 2018 start in spite of unusual weather this summer – Bill Wright:

The year has got off to a good start and the rain on the roof as I sit and write this is music to my ears – as it will be for all but arable farmers trying to harvest crops and parents trying to keep children entertained.

It has been an unusual season, with what seems to be rapid swings between wet and dry, but the fodder beet, kale and maize crops on our farm are all looking great. The maize is a relatively new inclusion in our system and is proving valuable as cattle feed over the late summer.

All our finishing cattle were gone before Christmas, and we are getting lambs away at good weights. . .

South Canterbury farmer’s cricket pitch reports hit it out of the park – Al Williams:

Glenavy has produced an unlikely social media star who is bowling them over with his infectious sense of humour.

From the tiny South Canterbury town on the banks of the Waitaki River, Ross ‘Rous’ McCulloch Glenavy Cricket Club captain, Glenavy Volunteer Fire Brigade member, Rural Bachelor of the Year finalist, sheep farmer and online larrikin is attracting clicks with his classic Kiwi humour.

McCulloch, with the help of his cricket team-mate, opening batsman, camera operator, dairy farmer and fellow fire brigade member Jackson Henshaw, files weekly “pitch reports” to the club’s Facebook page – all tongue-in-cheek – but their efforts on and offline are paying dividends for their community.   . . 

2018 Dairy Industry Award activity heats up as entrants prepare for judging:

While many people have had a rest from the stresses of work over the Christmas and New Year break, the reality can be different for farmers.

Summer is a busy time in the farming calendar, and General Manager of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Chris Keeping says it is just as important for farmers to take a break as any other person.

“Farming is a 24/7 commitment, and it is vital that farmers find time to rest and relax with family and friends,” she said. . . 

Station rebuild from the ground up – Jamie Brown:

Marango Station, bordering gorge country adjacent to Guy Fawkes River east of Ebor, has undergone a facelift of massive proportions.

When three investors bought the 3800 hectare freehold and lease hold holding two years ago they put a young cattleman Mick Kelsall in position of manager. This 33 year old’s boundless energy has helped drive substantial change.

He credits his family and grandfather Jim, ‘Kahona’ Hernani and other properties, as his first mentor and these days leans on Dorrigo agent Tim Bayliss for constant feedback. . . 

Engender moves to commercialisation of genetic dairy technology, targets US market – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Engender Technologies, the agricultural technology company spun out of Auckland University, is moving to scale up its sex-selection product for the dairy industry to full commercialisation in the next 18 months and is targeting the US$2 billion dairy artificial insemination industry.

Co-founded by the University of Auckland and seed investment company Pacific Channel in 2011, Engender has secured option-to-license agreements for its technology with three of the world’s largest artificial insemination companies, has successfully concluded laboratory trials and is preparing for scaling commercialization, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. In August, the company’s first key patent was allowed in the US and its patent attorneys have confidence that it will be granted in its other key markets, it said. . . 


Sensible to fund disciplines with skill shortages

November 21, 2012

The University of Auckland graduation ceremony we attended  was for optometry and science degrees for people with surnames in the last half of the alphabet.

If appearance and names could be relied on as a guide, a sprinkling of the graduands were Maori or Pacific; more than a third were Pakeha and nearly half were Asian.

That was three years ago and it sounds like there still aren’t many Pacific students opting for science.

A Pacific community leader has warned of a “Pasifika uprising” if the Government goes through with a threat to force Auckland University to take more engineering students, which may cause redundancies in other faculties.

Rev Uesifili UNasa, the university’s chaplain and head of Auckland Council’s Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel, said the move threatened Pacific participation in the university, which was concentrated in faculties such as arts and education. . .

The strategy he is attacking is designed to encourage more students in disciplines with skills shortages.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce told a Herald series on job/skill mismatches, which began yesterday, that he would direct the university to take more engineering and science students if it did not do so voluntarily in response to funding changes.

This year’s Budget lifted funding for engineering by $42 million, or 8.8 per cent, and for science by $17 million (2 per cent), while funding for all other subjects was frozen.

Funding disciplines in need of graduates is sensible policy which makes best use of scarce public funds.

The chaplain would be serving his students better if he dropped the rhetoric and put his energy into dealing with whatever stops all but a few considering science or engineering which are far more likely to lead to job opportunities.


Seeking stats good and bad

August 10, 2011

Stats Chat is running a Stat of the Week competition with the chance to win an iTunes voucher:

  • Anyone may add a comment on this post to nominate their Stat of the Week candidate before midday Friday August 12 2011.
  • Statistics can be bad, exemplary or fascinating.
  • The statistic must be in the NZ media during the period of August 6-12 2011 inclusive.
  • Quote the statistic, when and where it was published and tell us why it should be our Stat of the Week.

Next Monday at midday we’ll announce the winner of this week’s Stat of the Week competition, and start a new one.

Follow the link above for the fine print.

Idealog reports that Stats Chat is run by Auckland University’s Department of Statistics.

“We’re looking for bad, exemplary or fascinating examples of statistics,” says blog coordinator Rachel Cunliffe.

Professor Thomas Lumley, a regular contributor, wants New Zealanders to be more aware of statistics and the role they play in the media.”

“We see numbers in the media every day and we want people to think carefully about them – what they actually mean and whether or not they make sense,” he says.

Those who adhere to the Stratford Theory of Numbers will know they often don’t make sense and will have no difficulty finding examples to prove it.


Graduation a multi-cultural revelation

May 10, 2010

The faculty head speaking at a gathering of Otago graduands and their families four years ago said that graduation would mean more to the parents than graduates.

I thought back to my own capping more than 20 years earlier and better understood my mother’s and father’s excitement, possibly in part because I’d achieved something the Depression had prevented them from doing.

I can’t remember who delivered the address at my graduation or what s/he said. The speaker at our daughter’s capping was Jonathon Lemalu. He told us that he’d been on many stages round the world but on none of them had he felt as proud as when he crossed the Dunedin Town Hall stage to be capped.

Fast forward to last Friday and another graduation, this time in Auckland, and even more parental pride.

The University of Otago is a very important part of Dunedin and because of that there’s usually good will between town and gown. I hadn’t expected the same feeling in Auckland, where the university is bigger but less important to the city. However, the excitement of the graduands and their families seemed to be shared by other onlookers as the graduands’ procession passed by.

The procession had a strong muliti-cultural look. That international flavour was reinforced during the graduation ceremony later in the day as we listened to the graduands’ names being called and watched them cross the stage.

 It was particularly noticeable with Optometry. Only 12 of the 37 graduating were men and all of the dozen looked as if they were of Asian descent. If appearance and names are a reliable guide, about 2/3 of the women in the class were also of Asian descent.

Appearance isn’t necessarily a reliable indicator of nationality, of course. Many of these people will be New Zealanders by birth, or choice. New Zealand is a melting pot, and there are many positive opportunities for us in that.

I do however, have concerns about another observation – only four of the 37 new optometrists are working in the South Island.

Emeritus Professor Bellamy gave the graduation address and offered five points to guide the new graduates:

* Maintain honesty and integrity in what you do.

* Strive to ensure decisions are evidence based.

* Foster the ability to work in a team.

* Continue to read outside your discipline to broaden your understanding of the world.

* Keeping perfecting your ability to express your thoughts clearly in speech and writing.

After the ceremony we had a celebration dinner at Number 5 . First class service and delicious food in delightful surroundings provided a fitting end to a wonderful day.


Farmaceutical ice cream could counter chemo side effects

October 31, 2009

Ice cream developed by the University of Auckland and Fonterra may be successful in reducing the side effects of chemotherapy.

The ice cream, known as ReCharge, has started Phase 2 clinical trials in New Zealand to assess its effectiveness against Chemotherapy Induced Diarrhoea (CID) and anaemia, but the ‘dessert with a difference’ could also reduce weight loss and damage to the immune system during chemotherapy.

Oncology Centres at Whangarei, Auckland, Waikato, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill are taking part in the trial. Around 10 patients are already signed up for a daily regime that includes eating a 100 gram tub of strawberry ice cream containing two active dairy ingredients that combine to address the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy. Cancer Trials New Zealand (CTNZ) is currently seeking 190 additional volunteers for the trial.

If trials are successful it will be great news for cancer patients.

It could also bring benefits for farmers. 

There is huge potential in the development of “farmaceuticals” . These medicines using farm produce could provide opportunities for diversification and added value for producers.


Quality & quantity

October 9, 2009

Eight universities for a population of only four million does suggest we’re over-universitied.

But we can take some comfort from the global ranking of universities which suggests we’ve got quality as well as quantity.

Three of our universities are the top 200 – Auckland at 61, Otago at 125 and Canterbury at 188.

If you judge universities on more than academia, Otago still comes out tops.*

A relatively big university in a small city where most students come from other places creates a unique experience (and I don’t mean the stupidity which captured headlines recently).

More details on results of the comparisons here.

Hat Tip: NBR.

* from the completely unbiased 🙂 perspective of a graduate from both Otago and Canterbury with a daughter who graduated from Otago and is now studying at Auckland.


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