Rural round-up

August 29, 2015

Leave Fonterra to sort itself (or not) – Stephen Franks:

The amalgamation/monolith structure of Fonterra was a mistake. But it is what we have and pulling it to bits now could compound the mistake.

The Fonterra monopoly came from a conjunction of  dairy politics with the instincts of a leftist Clarke Cabinet, at a time when they needed to rebuild trust with business. The Fonterra ‘capture the value chain’ slogans appealed to a Cabinet nurtured on coop=good/big battalions/commanding heights socialism. So they legislatively outflanked the Commerce Commission, relegated official reservations, and created the monolith.

The Herald has an excellent review of the reasoning and the outcomes by Tony Baldwin, an official at key times. But his recommendations could be used to support those who’d like now to pull levers the other way, and impose new structures, equally well meant, equally sloganistic,  and equally without knowing the future any more reliably. . . 

Why hasn’t Fonterra worked? – Tony Baldwin:

Created in 2001, Fonterra was heralded as a ‘breakthrough idea’ meant to help New Zealand ‘catch the knowledge wave’. 14 years on, there’s been no economic transformation, writes Tony Baldwin.

“Potentially better than an oil well,” boasted Fonterra’s founding chairman, John Roadley, in 2002.

“White gold” is another favourite label.

Over many decades, New Zealand has invested massively in raw milk as a pathway to economic prosperity. It’s why Fonterra was formed. . . .

Landcorp strategy of dairy investment over dividends at odds with government’s surplus goal – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, which is taking on debt to convert former forestry land into dairy farms, won’t pay a dividend this year, highlighting the friction between the state-owned farmer’s long-term strategy and the government’s demand for regular payments in preference to investment.

New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer posted an 84 percent decline in annual profit to $4.9 million, in line with its forecast of $1 million to $6 million, as revenue fell 12 percent to $213.5 million on weak milk and lamb prices.

Debt rose 25 percent to $222 million, mostly to fund dairy conversions on the 26,000 hectare Wairakei Estate north of Taupo, slated to become the biggest milk producer in the southern hemisphere. Landcorp is 12 years into a 40-year lease to operate and develop the estate. . .

Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards Recognise ‘Labour Of Love’:

Entering the 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) proved a thoroughly enjoyable experience for Northland farmers Ian and Sandy Page.

The Pages own Tahere Farm near Whangarei in the Pataua North district. Previously a run-down unit, the couple has spent many years developing the 162ha farm into a model of sustainability. With the whole title area under QEII National Trust covenant, BFEA judges said Tahere was like a privately owned regional park, farmed in the public interest.

“By entering an open space covenant, Ian and Sandy have invited the world to share their dreams.”

Tahere has about 62ha of indigenous forest. Another 59ha runs sheep and beef and the balance is in production forestry. . . 

Diabetes nutraceutical wins 2015 Proof of Concept grant:

A team developing a nutraceutical that could help regulate blood glucose levels thereby support the treatment of type II diabetes has won the University’s 2015 Proof of Concept grant.

The $50,000 grant, offered by the University’s commercialisation arm, Otago Innovation, is aimed at transforming novel research at Otago into a marketable idea, product or service.

Dr Phil Heyward and Dr Alex Tups of the Department of Physiology are working on the nutraceutical, which involves a plant product. They are collaborating with Associate Professor Nigel Perry of Plant and Food Research and Pat Silcock, the Manager of Food Science’s Product Development Research Centre, who each bring essential expertise to the project. . .

Wine awards recognise top drops from the Bay:

Some of the country’s best viticulturists and vineyards have been recognised for their grape growing skills.

The Bragato wine awards were announced in Hawke’s Bay last night as part of the New Zealand Winegrowers Romeo Bragato conference.

A Villa Maria chardonnay, with grapes grown by Brett Donaldson, won the Bragato Trophy.

And a Villa Maria cabernet sauvignon merlot, made from grapes grown by Phil Holden in Hawke’s Bay, won the champion domaine wine.

Chair of the judges, Ben Glover, said the competition recognises the grape growing behind a top drop. . . 

Inaugural New Zealand Young Winemaker crowned:

A night of nerves, skill and finesse surrounded the all-female finalists of the inaugural Tonnellerie de Mercurey 2015 New Zealand Young Winemaker competition last night.

Hawke’s Bay Winemaker, Lauren Swift took the inaugural title after she battled it out following three days of winemaking challenges at the Romeo Bragato conference.

Lauren says, “It was an extremely tough competition, I’m really thrilled with the result. It’s been such a great opportunity for me, and has already opened a number of doors and given me so much confidence. . . .


Selwyn Ballet Christmas

December 19, 2014

The Selwyn Ballet has been a popular feature of  Otago University’s annual capping show for 86 years.

It’s also part of the university’s Christmas message:

Universities are all about serious study and preparing students for high-flying careers, but Otago University has acknowledged the fun side of student life in its Christmas video message.

The clip features a day in the life of the all-male Selwyn Ballet, set to music from popular Christmas ballet The Nutcracker.

The famous classical ballet troupe is the second-oldest in the world, having started as part of Otago University’s capping show in 1928.

It has now become a firm tradition among first-year male students at Dunedin’s Selwyn College hostel.

Most of the guys have no prior dance experience, but work with a professional choreographer during the year to learn their routines. . .


Rural round-up

September 16, 2014

Vigilance required with Winter Brassica Feeding:

Southland farmers are being advised to keep a close watch on cows that have been grazing or are grazing on swede crops after reports of illness, and in some cases death, on dairy farms.

“The mild winter and lush growth of leaf material on brassica crops, especially swedes, has caused problems where dairy cows have been introduced onto the late winter swedes after wintering on other types of crops,” David Green, PGG Wrightson Seeds (PGW Seeds) General Manager Seeds says.

PGW Seeds is the major supplier of forage brassica products in New Zealand.

“With extra swede leaf material available due to the unusually mild winter it appears some cows have consumed more leaf and less bulb than normal. Consuming more leaf, less bulb and less supplementary feeds during wet August conditions has combined to amplify risk factors that can cause liver disease. . .

 Police say poachers putting lives at risk:

Police in Alexandra say poachers caught on private property give a range of reasons for their offending, but many fail to realise they are putting lives at risk.

Senior Sergeant Ian Kerrisk said poaching was widespread in the lower half of the South Island, where there were large areas of farms and forests, and plenty of people who were interested in hunting.

Mr Kerrisk estimates they receive a call from a forestry worker or farmer once a week with concerns about poachers and have recently prosecuted four people for poaching.

He said it was not easy to say why people poach animals.

“Some of them have said that they hunt because they enjoy hunting, it’s a recreational thing for them, some people have said they believe they have the right to go hunting in the bush, some people have said they need food.”

Mr Kerrisk said the concern is that they are hunting on private property without permission. . .

Protein found on sheep’s back – Nevil Gibson:

University of Otago researchers have won $1 million in government funding for a two-year project that will extract food-safe digestible protein from natural wool. 

Sheep wool is 95% protein with no fat or carbohydrates. This makes it an extremely rich protein source but until now it has been difficult to access, says Associate Professor George Dias.

“Wool-derived protein (WDP) offers an exciting opportunity to add value to New Zealand’s low-valued medium to coarse wool clip,” he says. “WDP can be produced at less than $10 a kilogram, making it extremely cost competitive relative to the gold standard whey protein isolate at $25/kg.”  . . .

$90,000 for kea conservation:

The Government is providing $90,000 from the Community Conservation Partnership Fund to support the Kea Conservation Trust, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.

“The kea is the only alpine parrot in the world and a species endemic to our Southern Alps. The population of these inquisitive and nomadic birds is declining and it is estimated that fewer than 5000 remain. The tragedy of the kea is that over 150,000 birds were killed deliberately when there was a bounty on them for the perceived damage they caused to sheep. More recently, the biggest threat to kea survival is from pests – principally rats, stoats and possums,” Dr Smith says. . .

35-year affair with eucalypts – Alison Beckham:

Thirty-five years ago, Dipton sheep farmer Graham Milligan decided to plant a few eucalypt trees on stony ground next to the Oreti River, where his paddocks seemed to be always either flooded or burnt off.

Now he farms more trees than sheep – raising seedlings and exporting cool climate eucalypt seed all over the world. Reporter AllisonBeckham visited the man who says he loves trees so much he feels like every day on the job is a holiday.35-year affair with eucalypts

At first glance, the eucalpyt trees on Graham and Heather Milligan’s farm look similar. But as we bounce along the farm track Mr Milligan points out different varieties.

There are towering regnans grown for their timber, and nitens, now the world’s most favoured wood for biomass heating fuel. There’s baby blue, whose foliage is sought after by florists, and crenulata, with its delicate star-shaped buds, also popular at the flower markets. . . .

Farm Environment Awards Help Hort Newbies Climb Steep Learning Curve:

Horticultural newcomers Patrick and Rebecca Malley say entering the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a great way to build knowledge.

In 2011 the couple left jobs in Auckland to run Ararimu Orchard with Patrick’s parents Dermott and Linzi. Situated at Maungatapere near Whangarei, Ararimu grows 14ha of kiwifruit and 3.5ha of avocados.

While Patrick grew up on an apple orchard in the Hawke’s Bay, he and Rebecca knew very little about growing kiwifruit when they first arrived. So the learning curve was steep.

Rebecca says they decided to enter the 2014 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) after talking to other people who had been involved in the competition. . . .

Water NZ Annual Conference 17 – 19 September:

Implementing Reform

Water New Zealand’s annual conference is being held this week against a backdrop of the General Election.

“Our members are pleased that political parties have released policies on improving the management of freshwater as declining water quality is consistently rated by New Zealanders as being their number one environmental concern,” Murray Gibb, chief executive of Water New Zealand said.

“It is also pleasing to see the early results of the work that Water New Zealand has been closely involved with over the past five years through the Land and Water Forum and other initiatives.”

Therefore the theme of “Implementing Reform” is appropriate at the conference being held at Hamilton’s Claudelands convention this week over 17 – 19 September. . .


Rural round-up

July 17, 2014

Shock treatment makes waves – Sally Rae:

It has been an electrifying experiment.

A research team at the University of Otago has been using short bursts of high-voltage electricity in a bid to improve the tenderness of red meat.

The research, in conjunction with Alliance Group and led by Dr Alaa El-din Bekhit, of the university’s food science department, has been cited as having the potential to open up new opportunities for lifting returns on lower-value carcass cuts. . . .

Landowners want history kept alive:

A Taranaki Maori landowner of an award-winning farm wants tribal descendants to know about the land’s history, not just its success.

Te Rua o te Moko farm near Hawera won this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy recognising Maori excellence in farming.

The farm is made of four land blocks, one of which was confiscated by the Crown in 1863 and is being held in a land bank. It is due to be given back as part of the Ngaruahinerangi iwi Treaty of Waitangi settlement. . .

Landcorp’s huge dairy plans start to take shape

Three new dairy farms that have been converted from forestry will begin milking for the first time in the new season as part of Landcorp’s large-scale dairy development near Taupo.

The state-owned enterprise has converted nine farms from forestry in partnership with landowner Wairakei Pastoral. In total, the nine dairy units encompassed 5300ha and milked 13,000 cows, chief executive Steven Carden said. Based on its current timetable, Landcorp hoped to have everything completed by 2020. To date, the project has cost $87 million.

“We have four this year, four the next year and four the year after. When the whole thing is finished we are looking at 24 farms and around about 30,000 cows across 25,700ha of land.”  . . .

Knock-on effects of less beer drinking – Sonita Chandar:

Fewer people are drinking beer and farmers are getting a hangover.

As beer consumption falls, breweries require less malt and malting companies need less barley from farmers.

The change in Kiwis’ drinking habits is being felt at the Marton malting factory of MaltEurop NZ.

Operations manager Tiago Cabral says some barley growers are likely to feel the effect more than others.

“We will need less barley and will have to contract less tonnage from our growers,” he says. . . .

2014 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards Finalists Announced:

The finalists have been announced for the third Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Sheep Industry Awards.

About 300 people are expected to attend the awards dinner – which recognise top-performing New Zealand sheep breeders – on 6 August in Napier.

Five industry-related awards will be presented. In addition to the Sheep Industry Trainer of the Year, Individual or Business Making a Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry and the Sheep Industry Innovation Award, two new awards have been added: the Sheep Industry Science Award, recognising a project, business or person undertaking science that is having a positive impact on farming now, and the Sheep Industry Supplier Award, which recognises a farmer supplier nominated by processors for consistently meeting company specifications and other key performance indicators. . .

CRV Ambreed appoints artificial insemination expert to Tasman, Marlborough area role:

Dairy farmer, breeder and artificial insemination expert Nigel Patterson has been appointed field consultant for the CRV Ambreed team, in which he will be managing the Nelson, Marlborough, Murchison area.

CRV Ambreed’s South Island sales and services manager Mark Duffy said the company was delighted to have someone with such a strong background in dairy join the team.

“Nigel has over 26 years’ experience in the dairy industry, including running his own pedigree Jersey herd, share milking, providing testing services and supporting farmers through artificial insemination (AI),” said Mr Duffy. . . .

New Zealand’s leading analytical testing laboratory celebrates 30 years:

In July 1984 a young Waikato scientist by the name of Roger Hill left a small soil testing laboratory in Cambridge to launch his own in Hamilton.

Roger and his wife Anne’s initial business intention, he says, was simply to “have a go” on their own.

Yet three decades later the company, well-known nationally and internationally as Hill Laboratories, is the largest privately owned testing laboratory in the whole of New Zealand. . .

Ballance signs up record shareholders:

A record number of farmers from around the country have secured shareholdings in Ballance Agri-Nutrients in time to receive a rebate on their fertiliser purchased from the farm nutrient co-operative in September this year.

Ballance’s rebate and dividend in the 2013 financial year averaged a record $65 per tonne.

Nearly 1000 farmers signed up to become shareholders for the 2014 financial year which ended on 31 May. . .

Reduce winter nitrogen loss – Bala Tikkisetty:

Winter is a time when farmers should take special care to protect both profits and the environment from the effects of increased nitrogen leaching at this time of year.

Applications of nitrogen fertilisers in winter are generally least effective for promoting grass growth.

That’s because slow growth of pasture and drainage from increased seasonal rainfall can result in nitrate leaching directly from fertiliser before plants can take it up. The nitrogen can then make its way to waterways where it can stimulate nuisance algal growth. . .


Here are the jobs

November 28, 2013

Tuesday’s ODT  led with two good news stories.

The first is Children’s  TV for NHNZ:

Dunedin’s NHNZ is preparing to take on the likes of Disney with the launch of its own international children’s television channel.

NHNZ managing director Kyle Murdoch said, in preparation for the launch of the channel next February, 54 staff were hard at work in Dunedin producing content for it.

About 40 were new staff who had joined the office since the middle of this year. . .

About 40 new staff – these will be skilled jobs and this venture will earn export income.

And that’s not all NHNZ is doing:

Other exciting projects were under way at NHNZ, including the co-development with a Korean company of technology to transfer two-dimensional film into three dimensions.

”If you go and convert this stuff in Hollywood, it’s going to cost you about $10,000 a minute to convert, but with this technology we aim to convert it for between $10,000 and $20,000 an hour.”

The second story is more uni students expected:

Student numbers are expected to increase at the University of Otago next year, turning around three years of declining enrolments at the institution.

The prediction student numbers would rise by 1.7% to 18,918 full-time equivalent students (Efts) next year was made in the university’s budget for next year, which was tabled at yesterday’s council meeting – its last for the year.

The budget, along with the university’s forecast performance for this year, also tabled at the meeting, added to a picture of the university being in a strong financial position in the face of a challenging funding environment. . .

The university is one of the city’s biggest employers. The servicing and supplying of students and staff is also a large part of the Dunedin’s economy.

The city has been in the doldrums, partly because of the perception it hasn’t been getting its fair share of public spending. That isn’t the case and the university is one area where the government puts a lot of money.

But sustainable growth shouldn’t rely on public funding which can come and go. It must be built on a foundation of local individuals and businesses with the will and skills to prosper.

Both these stories show Dunedin can turn pick itself up by building on its strengths which include sound existing businesses with the potential to expand.

Another is the university which is one of the city’s biggest assets in financial and social terms.

It gets public funding and has the ability to earn extra export income from foreign students. It creates jobs directly and indirectly and provides opportunities for businesses which service and supply those who work and study there.

Today’ there’s another exciting headline – project worth ‘millions’ to city.

A major international investor is eyeing Dunedin with plans that could pump ”tens of millions of dollars” into the city’s economy, the Otago Chamber of Commerce says.

The unnamed organisation is in talks with members of a new Dunedin investment panel, created by the chamber, the Dunedin City Council and other city organisations, and hopes to progress plans next year.

Chamber chief executive John Christie said the development, if confirmed, would be in a ”key area” of strength for the city, and involve land, construction and a ”significant” number of new jobs for the city.

”We’re talking about tens of millions of dollars of new opportunity from the city.

”This is good. This is one of the city’s key strengths that we would be building on,” he said.

He stressed the opportunity was yet to be secured, and other New Zealand centres were also in the running, but believed Dunedin was well placed. . .

This bird is still in the bush and it’s too early to start counting its chickens but it is good to see the city being proactive.

The opportunity involved one of ”about eight” organisations now in talks with the new Dunedin investment panel, he said. . .

It comprised representatives from the chamber, council, the Otago Southland Employers’ Association and the tertiary sector, and there were plans to invite other members, as needed, Mr Christie said.

The panel aimed to improve city-wide communication and co-ordinate efforts to help attract potential investors to the city, as well as protect established Dunedin businesses and help them grow, he said.

”What we’re trying to do with that group is get the people that can make a difference around the table to understand what the issues are, and be able to make contact with those companies to see what, if anything, we can do.

”For whatever reason, some things can fall through the gaps … there’s a range of different options that can be put to people if only we know about them.”

One of the first topics of conversation for panel members had been to identify lessons from the handling of Betterways’ bid to build its $100 million, 27-storey hotel.

”I think there’s a lot of lessons learned from a lot of players, both internal and external to council, that can see that there’s a whole lot of things that perhaps we could do to be supportive as a city,” Mr Christie said. . .

Those are important lessons which the city must learn to ensure the city is supportive to existing businesses and new ones.


Rural round-up

November 27, 2013

Moment of truth for MIE and its board candidates – Allan Barber:

In the seven months since MIE’s first farmer meeting in Gore, there have been more meetings, discussions with meat companies and, most recently, nominations for the boards of Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group. Meat companies have tried and failed to find an acceptable solution to the problems raised by MIE.

Previous MIE executive members Richard Young and Dan Jex-Blake are standing for election to Silver Fern Farms’ board. Don Morrison has been nominated for the Alliance board as a farmer director, while a shareholder, Mark Paterson, has proposed a resolution to nominate Fonterra director John Monaghan for the independent directorship vacated by Owen Poole. This will be voted on by those members present at the AGM, but the result of that vote is not binding on the board.

Alliance Group’s AGM takes place on the 13th December and SFF’s on 18th. Therefore we will know before Christmas how many of these candidates have actually made it onto one or other of the cooperative’s boards. . .

Northland trust goes dairy with Te Tumu Paeroa:

A Northland Maori trust has entered into a partnership with land administrator Te Tumu Paeroa to turn a sheep and beef farm into a money-making dairy operation.

The Omapere Rangihamama Trust runs a farm near Kaikohe, which is currently used for forestry and maize, as well as sheep and beef.

But chair Sonny Tau says the Rangihamama Farm will soon be converted into a dairy farming operation, with 500 cows over 278 hectares. He says it will mean a better financial return on the land. . .

New x-rays and staff to strengthen border biosecurity:

New x-ray technology and more frontline staff will help to beef up New Zealand’s biosecurity defences at the border, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

Mr Guy today unveiled a new x-ray machine at Auckland Airport, one of 12 machines that have been installed around the country.

“The new machines will be more reliable than the Ministry for Primary Industries’ older x-ray units and will provide better image quality,” says Mr Guy.

“MPI will be able to screen baggage with greater accuracy and image quality. This means border staff will be better equipped to spot biosecurity risk items before they enter New Zealand. . .

Labour Inspectorate extending dairy farm visits to regions:

The Labour Inspectorate is extending its dairy farm visits to regions across New Zealand to check compliance with minimum employment rights.

Labour Inspectors began visiting dairy farms in Southland in August, with the work now being replicated in the Waikato, Hawkes Bay and Taranaki.

The visits are part of a long-term operation to identify breaches of employment law, with particular focus on a practice called seasonal averaging and the failure to keep accurate time and wage records. . .

AgResearch, Invermay and Genetics – Peter K. Dearden:

The opinions below are my own, and not necessarily those of the University of Otago, my employer.

You may be aware that AgResearch has decided to move its genetics/genomics team from Invermay near Dunedin, to Lincoln. This move has excited a great deal of attention in the Otago press, and some consternation around here. Genetics Otago  has been drawn into this as a centre of research excellence and hub for genetics and genomics that AgResearch is linked into, that they will lose the benefit of if they move. This has led to some unfortunate exchanges in the media, so I thought I would write something from my point of view.

AgResearch has had a long-term and excellent genetic/ genomics group at Invermay. Many of that group are members of Genetics Otago. Genetics Otago has over 200 members across the University of Otago, AgResearch, AbacusBio, and others (both companies and individuals) across Otago. AgResearch is a small, but important, part of that collaboration. . .

Herd TB status changes encourage testing:

Farmers and lifestylers are being encouraged to get their cattle and deer tested for bovine tuberculosis (TB) as soon as they have been registered with the TBfree New Zealand programme.

To ensure the programme’s testing requirements are as accurate as possible for all animals, some changes have been made to the TB status of herds.

The changes directly affect newly-registered breeding herds and non-breeding (dry stock) herds. All new herds now start off on a Suspended (S) herd TB status until they have passed their first whole herd test. . .

New Zealand’s Favourite Honey: Manuka Trumps Clover in 2013 National Honey Week Survey:

The popularity of Manuka honey has been confirmed in a recent national survey, which places it above Clover and other floral varieties. In the New Zealand-wide survey launched by Airborne Honey this month to celebrate the country’s first National Honey Week, 40% of Kiwis named Manuka as their favourite and 29% choose Clover. A number of other floral honeys featured further down the scale, including Vipers Bugloss (3%) and Rewarewa (2.26%).

The survey also revealed that the favoured way to eat honey in New Zealand is on toast (57%), followed by a sweetener in hot drinks (9%) and straight off the spoon for medicinal purposes (9%). Most New Zealanders eat honey once or twice a week with only 2% never eating honey at all. . . .

Brancott Estate Heritage Centre wins International Wine Tourism Award:

A New Zealand cellar door has won a 2014 International Best of Wine Tourism award with the Brancott Estate Heritage Centre in Marlborough being the only New Zealand cellar door to win this prestigious award.

The Brancott Estate Heritage Centre, home of Brancott Estate wines, is located at Brancott Vineyard, the site of the original Sauvignon Blanc plantings in Marlborough.

The Great Wine Capitals Global Network recently announced the winners of the 2014 International Best of Wine Tourism awards at a ceremony held at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in St. Helena, California. The nine international winners were chosen from 53 local ‘Best Of‘ winners from nine Great Wine Capitals. In all, 350 applications were received this year. . .


NZ’s best university city

November 21, 2013

Dunedin is New Zealand’s best university city for several reasons.

It is the site of the country’s first and best university – Otago. *

The city itself has only about 120,000 residents so the 20,000 or so students plus staff make a significant, and largely positive, impact on it.

The majority of students come from outside Dunedin and most live on or near the campus creating a student-friendly environment not found anywhere else in the country.

It didn’t however, feature in London-based Quacquarelli Symonds’  annual Best Student Cities ranking because the qualifying criteria include being a city of at least 250,000, and having at least two world ranked universities in the city. So Dunedin – like some other small university cities, including Oxford and Cambridge in the UK, Princeton in the US, and St Andrews in Scotland, wasn’t considered.

The Herald has picked up the story and is running a poll to determine the country’s best university city.

The only one to pick is of course Dunedin.

* in my totally biased and subjective opinion.

 


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