Rural round-up

November 20, 2018

Has the time come for genetic modification?– Charlie Dreaver:

Trees with red trunks and apples that are red right the way through and flower all year round. Should we back or block the genetically changed plants New Zealand scientists are growing? Charlie Dreaver reports for Insight. 

Gene edited plants are just as safe as normal plants, according to one scientist. At a Plant and Food Research greenhouse in Auckland, one of the sections is filled with $300 apple trees, and Andy Allan, a professor of plant biology, is pointing out one of his favourite experiment, a tree with bright, fuchsia-coloured flowers.

“The particular red gene we’re testing is under a strong expression, so the roots are red, the trunk is red, the leaves are copper and the fruit goes on to look more like a plum, it’s so dark.” . . 

Hope for kiwi comeback from 1080 project targeting stoats – Jono Edwards:

The first western Fiordland 1080 project will start mid-next year in the hope of bringing the stoat-ridden area’s kiwi back from the brink.

As part of the Department of Conservation’s “Save Our Iconic Kiwi” initiative, the operation will target 50,000ha of rugged, inaccessible terrain at Shy Lake, between Wet Jacket Arm and Breaksea Sound.

Non-toxic baits to accustom rats to the bait are planned for late winter next year, followed by toxic baits in September and October. The stoats will then eat the poisoned rats. . .

Native vegetation on sheep and beef farms summary report:

A report from the University of Canterbury has revealed that 24 per cent of New Zealand’s native vegetation (approximately 2.8 million hectares) is estimated to be on sheep and beef farms. This is the largest amount of native vegetation present outside of public conservation land. 

The report has also uncovered that 17 per cent of all New Zealand’s native forest is estimated to be on sheep and beef farms and is likely playing a vital, but often unheralded role in supporting biodiversity.

B+LNZ CEO Sam McIvor reflects that “This is a great acknowledgement for our farmers and the work they’re doing as stewards of the land. I hear sheep and beef farmers talking every day about what they’re doing on farm to support biodiversity and it’s great we have been able to develop evidence to back their passionate voices”. . .

Less effective killers cost more – Jacqueline Rowarth:

 Glyphosphate, commonly sold as Roundup, has been in the news again, this time because of a link to antibiotic resistance.

Canterbury University’s Professor Jack Heinemann has done some interesting work in the laboratory. He has also acknowledged agar plates in controlled conditions are a very long way from field use.

More research is required. Of course.

And scientists love having a reason to do more research.

It’s different in Russia – Keith Woodford:

This last week I have been working in Russia on issues of A1 and A2 beta-casein.  I am still there, but today is Sunday and together with my wife Annette, I am on a fast train from Moscow to St Petersburg.

It’s late autumn over here, but to a Kiwi lad it seems like the middle of winter. Until today, the weather has been fine and clear but with temperatures below freezing. Today the snow has arrived, and it will now be on the ground for at least the next four months.  There is not much sign of global warming over here!

Travelling by fast train at 250 km per hour, I am fascinated by the lungs of Russia. By that I mean the hundreds of kilometres of trees, largely pines, with just the occasional village.  Somewhere there must be some farm lands, but they sure aren’t in sight from the train. . . 

Signs mount that Fonterra will have to cut its payout forecast –  Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – The risks are mounting against Fonterra holding its current forecast milk payout and this week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction could be yet another nail in its coffin.

The auction results will be released early Wednesday, New Zealand time.

Fonterra’s current forecast is a rate of $6.25-to-$6.50 a kilogram of milk solids but Mark Lister, the head of wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, says the trends in both dairy pricing and the renewed strength in the kiwi dollar could see the actual payout settle closer to $6.00 or $6.25. . . 

Fonterra too helpful to councils – Hugh Stringleman:

The ever-increasing compliance load on dairy farmers was forcibly questioned at the Fonterra annual meeting by Cambridge dairy farmer Judy Bryan.

She alleged Fonterra accepts and facilitates regional councils’ demands for environmental actions that load costs on farmers.

“We may be getting $6 something in milk price but look where a lot of that is going, on compliance. . .

Careful! You might miss New Zealand’s latest luxury lodge:

New Zealand’s newest luxury lodge epitomises discretion, from blending seamlessly into its secluded rural location to the luxe surroundings and discerning service of a high-calibre luxury destination.

Set to become New Zealand’s newest luxury destination, The Lindis which opened this month in a dramatic South Island high country valley, blends so perfectly with the surroundings that you’d be forgiven for missing it.

Try spotting The Lindis from the air and you’re liable to miss it thanks to outstanding architecture designed to blend with the stunning landscape surrounding the building’s resting place in the Ahuriri Valley. The valley lies in a stretch of South Island high country between Mount Cook and Wanaka and the lodge name associates with The Lindis Pass, a picturesque alpine roadway linking the Mackenzie Basin with Central Otago. . .


Rural round-up

November 10, 2015

Chefs see food as much more than a commodity – Rebecca Ryan:

There’s a new movement gaining momentum in the New Zealand food industry. ConversatioNZ, aiming to ”inspire and empower” by creating a strong sense of pride and respect for the country’s natural, edible resources, is a not-for-profit movement created to share the story of New Zealand food and push culinary boundaries. North Otago reporter Rebecca Ryan talks to North Otago chefs and ConversatioNZ advisory board members Bevan Smith and Fleur Sullivan about it

Thirteen years ago, Fleur Sullivan saw waste and an opportunity for people to enjoy ”beautiful, fresh fish” straight off the boats in Moeraki.

Her restaurant Fleur’s Place, she says, was formed after she saw the byproduct – the fish brains, the heads, the livers – being thrown overboard from fishing boats and she knew she could use what was being thrown away. . . 

Te Brake hits the accelerator – Ali Tocker:

Changing the guard at Young Farmers has propelled meat industry accountant Jason Te Brake into the hot seat as chairman. He talked to Ali Tocker about his career so far and his aspirations for the Young Farmers movement while he heads the board.

Jason Te Brake is clever, confident and committed – three qualities that have earned him the role of chairman of New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF).

The 27-year-old has his sights set on a strong and secure future for the group.

Woman’s passion for health and safety leads to award:

A passion for improving health and safety on New Zealand farms, and in particular the health of those working in the industry, has contributed to a West Coast farmer being named the winner of the rural category of the Women of Influence Award.

Katie Milne, a dairy farmer from Rotomanu, is also a member of the Federated Farmers Board, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Board, TB-Free West Coast and numerous other groups, including being a volunteer firefighter.

Ms Milne works closely with the Rural Health Alliance and travels the country talking to farmers about health and safety.

She said some farmers were not coping due to low or dropping returns, but help was available. . . 

Water scheme expanding down valley – Hamish Maclean:

The North Otago Irrigation Company’s $57 million expansion down the Kakanui Valley is well under way.

Last month, McConnell Dowell Constructors crews began laying the main line – 1.2m-diameter reinforced fibreglass pipes – that will stretch towards Herbert.

The company almost tripled the size of the head pond on Ngapara-Georgetown Rd and upgraded pump stations over the winter.

The project was still on target for the September 2016 hook-up, company chairman Leigh Hamilton said. . . .

Significantly Improved Result Confirmed for Silver Fern Farms:

Silver Fern Farms has confirmed a positive 2015 financial result and further inroads made on debt reduction.

For the financial year ended September 2015, the company achieved Earnings before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) of $86.9m. This represented a 28 percent improvement on the $68.1m achieved in 2014. Net profit before tax for the year was $27.2m, up from $1.8m in 2014.

Chairman Rob Hewett said Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will be pleased by the audited result. . . .

Potatoes ditch cadmium:

University of Canterbury researchers have developed potatoes that are resistant to cadmium, a toxic metal found in soil.

They say the finding could give growers here a new marketing edge.

Biotechnology lecturer Dr David Leung said their potatoes had a trait that could solve this problem and enhance New Zealand’s best potato varieties. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 27, 2015

Olive harvest underway:

The olive industry is welcoming a new processing plant opened in Wairarapa over the weekend.

The Olive Press in Greytown was opened by Primary Industries minister Nathan Guy yesterday, and was expected to be busy over the coming months as growers in Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay prepared to begin the olive harvest.

When we spoke to Olive New Zealand’s president Andrew Taylor he was overlooking snow in Napier this morning, which he said was unlikely to affect the trees. . .

Border clearance levy welcomed:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association are welcoming a border clearance levy, signalled in the Budget 2015 announcement by the Government.

From the start of next year, passengers coming in and out of New Zealand will pay around $16 (inwards) and $6 (outwards) for those departing New Zealand.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Dr Scott Champion said this was an action the organisation had been asking government to consider for some time and so it was good to see some form of user pays applied to those who pose a potential biosecurity risk to New Zealand’s agriculture sector. . . .

MPI risks loss of focus on food safety and biosecurity – Allan Barber:

Most people would almost certainly see the primary role of Ministry for Primary Industries as the protection of New Zealand’s biosecurity, food safety and primary production. The creation of MPI was designed to meet a number of objectives, one of which, probably the most important, must surely have been to ensure a world class agency to deliver this priority.

Since 2012 there has been an increased focus on a series of policy initiatives which appear to the outside observer to be in danger of taking precedence over the core function on which our agricultural sector’s prosperity and survival depend. A reading of the 2013 and 2014 Annual Reports confirms the importance the department attributes to the protection role, but it is only one of a number of business areas which receive equal precedence. . .

Passion2Profit officially joins Primary Growth Partnership:

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have announced today that a new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme, Passion2Profit, will officially begin.

The contract has just been signed for the $16 million, seven-year programme, which is intended to be a game-changer in the production and marketing of venison, delivering $56 million in extra revenues a year from the end of the programme.

Speaking from the Deer Industry annual conference today, DINZ Chief Executive Dan Coup says it’s exciting to be able to begin work on this venture. . .

Minister welcomes new venison PGP programme:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the formal start of a new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme involving the deer industry.

“’Passion2Profit’ is a seven year programme which aims to deliver economic benefits of $56 million per year in additional industry revenue by the end of the programme,” says Mr Guy.

“The partnership between Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) and the Ministry for Primary Industries will set the groundwork for major improvements in the production and marketing of New Zealand venison. . .

UC Forestry part of new multi-million forestry industry research:

The University of Canterbury is part of a new $14 million, seven year collaborative research effort aimed at maximising the value and export earnings of the forestry industry.

The Government recently announced it will invest the research funding in the effort, to be matched dollar for dollar by the forestry industry. The programme will be led by industry-operated entity Future Forests Research, in collaboration with Scion, UC, and the New Zealand Dryland Forests Initiative. The Government funding is provided through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Research Partnerships Programme. Industry fiunding is being provided by Forest Growers Levy Trust and a number of leading forestry companies and Farm Forestry Association. . .

Trust provides funding for two initiatives to benefit New Zealand wine industry

The Cresswell Jackson New Zealand Wine Trust has awarded funding for two University of Otago projects, both designed to benefit the country’s wine industry.
 
The first was awarded to Associate Professor David J Burritt of the Department of Botany to undertake research concerning the process of extracting phenolics during the winemaking process. Professor Burritt said, “The wine industry is incredibly important to the New Zealand economy. We are very grateful to receive this grant, which will be used to support our research investigating the potential for pulsed electric fields (PEF) technology to be used in the New Zealand wine industry.” . . .

SSanford Reports Satisfactory Result and Marks Shift in Customer Focus in Six Month Result:

. . . Sanford Limited, New Zealand’s largest commercial fishing and aquaculture company, has recorded an 18.1% rise in its EBITDA in its interim report for the six months ending 31 March 2015. EBITDA increased to $33.9m from $28.7m for the same period last year. Profitability was affected by one-off impairment charges with respect to Sanford’s fleet and plant and equipment at the Christchurch mussel processing plant. Net profit after tax for the six months was down 18.3% from $11.7m in 2014 to $9.6m for the current half year.

Sanford CEO Volker Kuntzsch says the result is satisfactory, given the challenging conditions faced in international markets. “In particular, in the last three months of the period, we have seen improving results. The team has worked really hard to lift our revenue. Initially, the period was marked by lacklustre sales for a few months, primarily due to weak currencies and political upheaval in some of our important export markets.” . .

2013 vintage wines “amongst the greatest red wines produced in New Zealand”:

GIMBLETT GRAVELS® 2013 Annual Vintage Selection revealed

The sixth year of this initiative from the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association (GGWA), the Annual Vintage Selection serves as a unique snapshot of a particular vintage and helps to chart the evolution of GIMBLETT GRAVELS® wines on a vintage by vintage basis.

The highly acclaimed palate of Sydney based Master of Wine Andrew Caillard MW has been the independent selector for all six vintages, 2008-2013, inclusive. The 2013 selection was the most comprehensive yet, with a record 46 GGWA members’ wines submitted for selection. . .

Taranaki-based AgriPeople are your rural recruitment and People Management experts:

Working with agricultural employers and employees, AgriPeople focus on creating lasting relationships by using practical tools and applying a practical approach.

AgriPeople is made up of a stellar group of highly professional consultants and administrators. “Our consultants all continue to grow through professional development,” says Racquel Cleaver, Consultant and Director of AgriPeople. . .


Rural round-up

May 21, 2015

Extra support for drought affected North Canterbury:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has met with drought-affected farmers in Cheviot, North Canterbury today and says they’re still feeling the impacts of drought.

“North Canterbury – and the Cheviot area in particular – has missed most of the recent rainfall, and continues to face severe drought conditions,” says Mr Guy.

“Because of this, an additional $20,000 is being allocated to the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust. This will help them with more intensive activities, including individual visits and community events. . .

Livestock moved out of Canterbury drought – Hamish Clark:

Farmers have shipped tens of thousands of sheep and cattle out of north Canterbury and hundreds of tonnes of feed in as the drought there deepens.

The worst-hit area is around Cheviot, which is north of Christchurch, and the locals are desperate for rain.

The ewes are sniffing and searching the parched earth for a single blade of green grass, but there is none.

Cheviot farmer and local Chris Jefferies says farmers in the area are really struggling. . .

Supreme winners open their gates:

Environmental farm award winners for the Horizons Region opened their gates and shared their secrets with other farmers last week.

William Akers, Laura Oughton, Hugh and Judy Akers from Broadlands Station in Ashhurst were announced as the 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards supreme winners in March. As part of winning the award, recipients are asked to host other farmers on farm in order to share ideas and inspire others.

Horizons Regional Council environmental manager for land Grant Cooper was on the judging panel for the final round and says Broadlands is a straightforward, efficiently run station. . .

Ministers request report on dairy competition:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith announced today they will request a report on the state of competition in New Zealand’s dairy industry from the Commerce Commission.

The report is required under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, which allowed for the merger of our largest dairy co-operatives to form Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited.

The DIRA contains provisions to ensure contestability in New Zealand’s farm gate and factory gate markets. These provisions are intended to expire when there is workable competition in the domestic dairy market. . .

$5m new funding for forestry research partnership:

The Government will invest $5 million over seven years in a research partnership to increase the competitiveness of the forestry sector, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced today.

“Forestry is New Zealand’s third largest export earner – behind dairy and meat, contributing around $5 billion to our exports. This investment aims to strengthen the ties between research organisations and the industry to produce excellent research driven by industry needs,” says Mr Joyce.

The new partnership is led by Future Forests Research, an industry-operated entity, in collaboration with Scion, the University of Canterbury, and the NZ Dryland Forests Initiative. . .

NZ export log prices hit 3-year low; may start picking up as demand improves – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand export log prices, which fell to a three-year low this month, may start to pick up as demand improves in China, the country’s largest market.

The average wharf gate price for New Zealand A-grade logs fell to $83 a tonne in May, from $94 a tonne in April, marking the lowest price since May 2012, according to AgriHQ’s monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and sawmillers. The AgriHQ Log Price Indicator, which measures average log prices weighted by grade, dropped to 88.40 from 93.29 in April.

The price for New Zealand A-grade logs delivered to China fell to US$99/JAS from US$111/JAS last month, the lowest level since AgriHQ started collecting the data in 2012. . .

Southern Dairy Hub Case to Be Presented:

Trustees of the Southern Dairy Development Trust are very pleased with the support received for the Southern Dairy Hub, with 516 farmers and businesses pledging $1.306 million in support.

“It’s an absolutely fantastic result and a huge endorsement for the Hub project,” Chair Matthew Richards says. “We are grateful and thankful for the support from our community and are confident we will get a good hearing in front of our industry partners, DairyNZ and AgResearch.”

Mr Richards says the official numbers includes postal pledges that arrived following the April 30 pledge deadline and takes the result to 55% of farmers between Dunedin and Bluff as having pledged their financial support. . .

Rural Business Network Launches Free Mentoring Initiative:

Rural Business Network (RBN) in partnership with Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ) has launched a new initiative offering mentoring support to rural businesses throughout New Zealand. The project is called ‘Rural Mentor’ and will provide a tool to enhance on-farm profitability and enable access to skills and knowledge that isn’t commonly known to be available.

The new Rural Mentor initiative sees the BMNZ registration fee waived for a limited number of NZYF and Rural Business Network members

Daile Jones, National Rural Business Network Coordinator says `Farmers in the sheep, beef or dairy sector operating their own business or farm managers that want a fresh perspective, will be matched with a business professional who can offer confidential advice, assistance and support that will help overcome business challenges, set new goals and achieve success. There’s no lack of knowledge out there, just a shortage of knowing what information is available.” . . .

Call OSPRI if you’re moving this Gypsy Day:

Don’t put your livelihood at risk when moving or selling stock over the Gypsy Day period; make sure you call OSPRI to update your NAIT and TBfree details and record all animal movements.

“This will help protect New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of high quality, safe food and maintain access to valuable international markets,” said Dr Stu Hutchings, OSPRI Group Manager.

Up to date NAIT data allows farmers to get back to business sooner in the event of a biosecurity incursion or food safety concern and is already being used to contain existing animal diseases like bovine tuberculosis (TB). . .


Farmers want to be responsible for conservation on own land

April 24, 2013

A University of Canterbury conservation biology expert says New Zealand farmers should be responsible for looking after native bush on their land.

UC forestry professor David Norton says farmers are best placed to look after conservation on private land because of the significant amount of land area involved (two-thirds of New Zealand) and the fact that the land tenure is largely freehold.

“We need to find a new approach and this matches with what the Department of Conservation Director General has been saying,’’ Professor Norton says.

“If native biodiversity is to be sustained on agricultural land, a new approach is required because the present one is not working in many instances.

“Without a new approach, the biodiversity train wreck that lies ahead could exceed even our worst fears. We need trust and respect between farmers, conservation interests, scientists and officials as the basis for a strong partnership.

“We need a new kind of rural advisor trained in ecological and agricultural science whose role would be to provide biodiversity information, management and planning advice to farmers, and to help them apply for funding.

“We need to encourage conservation advocates, government agencies, ecologists and farmers to work together in developing novel answers and solutions to farmland biodiversity problems.

“Farmers are in the best position to manage significant native biodiversity assets on their land. Farmers are not afraid to be innovative. Society will applaud new initiatives that achieve their intended objectives, including novel solutions that might raise eyebrows in traditional farming and conservation circles.

“Critics on both sides of the fence will need to permit new approaches to be trialled and evaluated for a reasonable period of time, years rather than months,’’ Professor Norton says.

Conservation interests needed to recognise that most farmers want to do the right thing and protect native biodiversity, subject to time, money, feasibility and the likelihood of success.

“Rural ecologists would help farmers sustain the most significant natural assets on their farms, but would also work with farmers in better understanding their matrix management and its implications for biodiversity.

“These ecologists would be best located in existing local management structures such as district councils and thus be close to the farmers they are working with.’’

Professor Norton has just released a book on the issue, Nature and farming: Sustaining native biodiversity in agricultural landscapes, co-authored with Professor Nick Reid of the University of New England, New South Wales.

Most farmers want to be responsible for conservation on their own land.

The reason there is native bush and other flora and fauna worth conserving is because many have been doing so for generations.


Sideshows dominate media

November 24, 2011

If you think the media had spent more time on sideshows than policy in the last couple of weeks a University of Canterbury study of election coverage proves you right.

The results to 22 November of an ongoing University of Canterbury study into media coverage of the election show that coverage of policy is being sidelined by continuing media interest in the tea tape scandal involving Prime Minister John Key and the ACT Party’s candidate in the Epsom electorate, John Banks.

“Media references to policy issues (41% of coverage of issues) were outnumbered by references to non-policy issues (59% of coverage of issues),” said University of Canterbury researcher Katherine Roff. “This is in contrast to the first week of the election when the majority of the media coverage focused on policy issues.

For the first four weeks of the campaign the economy got 16.6% of the coverage of issues;  social and public services  got 15% and state-owned assets got 12.2%. In the last couple of weeks the side show has had more prominence than policy.

Of the coverage devoted to parties at the four-week point of the campaign, National led Labour by attracting 37.6 % of coverage compared to Labour’s 28.4% of coverage. However, National had 25.4% more negative coverage than positive while Labour had 10.4% more negative coverage than positive coverage.

The Green Party received the largest net amount of positive coverage at 21.2%.

Prime Minister John Key attracted the majority of media coverage amongst party leaders at 52.6%, followed by Labour leader Phil Goff on 24.1%. However the Prime Minister received 28.9% more negative coverage than positive coverage whereas Mr Goff attracted 8.9% more negative coverage than positive coverage.

A now former Green Party member was behind the vandalism of National’s billboards. Russel Norman denied any knowledge of the campaign but no-one’s bothered to ask other MPs and office holders whether they knew anything.

This reinforces Liberty Scott’s post Why do the Greens get an easy ride. Part two: 50 questions that should have been asked of the Greens.

 

 


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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