Rural round-up

December 15, 2019

Otago institutions work to create virtual centre for rural health education :

Three Otago institutions are teaming up to improve the future of rural health care.

The University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic and Central Otago Health Services have signed a memorandum of understanding on rural health care practice, service, education and research.

The organisations want to create a virtual centre for rural health education. . .

Telford campus future secured at graduation – John Cosgrove:

During the 2019 graduation ceremony, Southern Institute of Technology chief executive Penny Simmonds spoke of the multimillon-dollar plans for the future of the Balclutha farming industry training institute.

“We are projecting to spend $6 million over the next couple of years on Telford, making sure that it is ramped up with plenty of students there getting graduates out into the primary sector.”

“I am really pleased that SIT have locked in a good level of funding to be able to do the upgrades they need to do at Telford. . .

Emissions profile sparks debate – Laura Smith:

It is a moot point; discussion about whether Southland has too many cows has been generated after Great South released the 2018 Southland greenhouse gas emission profile earlier this week.

Agricultural-related emissions were found to be the largest emission source for Southland, accounting for 69% of overall gross emissions.

Greenpeace sustainable agriculture campaigner Gen Toop said there were too many cows.

“We urgently need fewer cows if we are going to address the climate and water crises.” . .

Fortuna buys Zeestraten farms from Southern Centre – Neal Wallace:

Four farms at the centre of the Southland Mycoplasma bovis outbreak have been sold.

Southern Centre Dairies, owned by Alfons and Gea Zeestraten, has been bought by Southland dairy farming firm, Fortuna Group.

Zeestraten said he is uncertain what he will do next, before politely declining to comment further. . .

 

Commission grants clearance for Cardrona to acquire Treble Cone

The Commerce Commission has granted clearance for Cardrona Alpine Resort Limited to acquir either the shares of Treble Cone Investments Limited or the assets it uses to operate the Treble Cone ski field.

In considering Cardrona’s application for clearance, the Commission focussed on whether the price of single day, multi day and season ski passes would increase with the acquisition, including to skiers in the Wanaka region, and whether the acquisition would increase the likelihood of coordination on ski pass prices. The Commission also considered the extent to which an alternative purchaser would invest in, and develop, the Treble Cone ski field. . .

International Human Resources specialist to join Ballance Agri-Nutrients lead team:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is proud to announce that Jackie Rich, an internationally experienced human resources professional, has accepted the role of General Manager People and Capability.

“We’re excited to add Jackie to our team. She is a proven HR leader who has successfully led teams at both strategic and operational levels, with over 20 years’ experience spanning the full spectrum of HR functions”, says Mark Wynne, Chief Executive Officer. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 2, 2019

Are the water proposals a done-deal? – Mark Daniel:

Big questions have been raised by farmers at an environmental roadshow on the Government’s freshwater proposals.

What’s the difference between a dairy heifer and a beef heifer? It depends. Not a lot if you’re changing from a dairy to a beef operation, as it’s not a problem.

But a change from beef to dairy heifer rearing is demanding and will likely require resource consent as it’s likely to be considered intensification. . . 

Tatua pays $8.50/kgMS for last season’s milk:

Waikato milk processor Tatua has announced a final payout of $8.50/kgMS for last season, beating all other processors including Fonterra.

The co-op, supplied by 107 shareholder farms, achieved record group income of $364 million and earnings of $140 million in 2018-19. Milksolids processed from Tatua suppliers was 14.5 million kgMS, which is our divisor for earnings.

This was lower than the prior season, due to extended dry summer conditions across our milk supply area. . .

Work to control ryegrass flowering :

A quintessential Kiwi landscape usually includes green pastures dotted with livestock munching on healthy, vibrant grass.

Those green fields are generally full of ryegrass and in late spring the ryegrass flowers. When it does, it is no longer as nutritious for the livestock feeding on it.

A research project from the University of Otago’s department of biochemistry is aiming to develop a ryegrass that does not flower on-farm.

That project, headed by Associate Prof Richard Macknight and Dr Lynette Brownfield, was this month awarded $999,999 by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Endeavour Fund “Smart Ideas”
programme. . .

Agcarm affirms safety of glysophate:

Glyphosate is used in New Zealand by farmers, councils and home gardeners. It has recorded more than 40 years of safe use and has been the subject of over 800 studies, all of which have confirmed its safety.

The herbicide offers effective and safe weed control, is low-volatility and degrades quickly in soil. It continues to be rigorously tested by regulators in New Zealand and throughout the world, with over 160 countries approving its safe use.

At the heart of the hype that questions the safety of the herbicide, is a misleading classification by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) made in 2015. IARC classifies substances using terms such as ‘possibly’ or ‘probably’ carcinogenic to define the potential hazard of a substance. This has led to several everyday products, including coffee, bacon and talcum powder, being categorised as ‘possibly carcinogenic’.  But the IARC report is not a risk assessment – it is the type and extent of human exposure that determines the actual risk. . .

Financial workshops aiming to empower dairy farmers planned by Dairy Women’s Network:

Helping dairy farmers gain a better understanding of their farming business and strengthening the relationship with their accountant is the focus of 10 workshops throughout New Zealand being run by the Dairy Women’s Network with support from NZ CA and CRS Software.

“As a not for profit organisation we have a focus of supporting woman in dairying in New Zealand to be the best they can be both on and off farm,” Dairy Women’s Network CEO Jules Benton said. . .

Producing food and capturing carbon – Arty Mangan:

An interview with Ariel Greenwood, a “feral agrarian” and grazer who manages a herd of cattle while restoring ecosystems.

Describe where you work.

I live and work on a 3,000-acre research preserve in the inter-coastal Mayacamas mountain range region of Sonoma County. Pepperwood has around 1,000 acres of open grassland, another several hundred of mixed oak woodland mosaic, deciduous and evergreen, and some serpentine outcropping, and then some dense dark woodlands. We actually have, I think, the eastern most stand of redwoods in the County. There’s a lot of bay trees and scrubby chaparral too in its own natural state. It’s a really breathtaking and in many ways really challenging landscape.

Pepperwood is a private operating research and ecological preserve. Really, every aspect from the vegetation to the soil to the broader watershed, and then even more largely the climate that we’re situated in is monitored and researched here with staff and other visiting researchers, so it’s very much a progressive conservation-oriented place. This is considered quite a robust eco-tone, the meeting of several different environments. . .


Rural round-up

May 1, 2019

Gas tax won’t cut farming emissions – Neal Wallace:

A capital gains tax is off the agenda but farming leaders are warning the imposition a suite of new taxes and regulations is pending.

In addition to farmers paying a greenhouse gas emissions tax of $50 million a year the Government is expected to impose tougher regulations on freshwater quality, aerial cropping, winter grazing and feedlots.

“When you look at everything else coming down the pipeline, if I was asked to pick one we were prepared to lose it would be this one, the one we have won,” Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard said of the capital gains tax.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also ruled out water and fertiliser taxes as suggested by the Tax Working Group. . .

Top dairy title revealed tonight – Yvonne O’Hara:

Dairy farmer Emma Hammond, of East Limehills, felt honoured when she was nominated for this year’s prestigious Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

The only South Island-based finalist, she and the other three women will hear if they are winners during a dinner this evening at the Allflex Dairy Women’s Network’s conference in Christchurch.

”For us to be recognised for what we do and get that acknowledgement is humbling,” Mrs Hammond said. . .

Farm management whizz ‘well on track‘ – Sally Rae:

At 19, James Matheson set a goal of having $1 million equity by the time he was 30.

Now 26, the Gore farm manager is ”well on track” to achieve that, sitting at between $700,000 and $800,000.

It has been a meteoric rise for a young man who had never previously considered a career in the dairy industry.

Now he and farm owner Chris Lawlor were endeavouring to help other young people follow a similar path through an innovative initiative. . . 

Highlife on top of the world – Andrew Stewart:

Setting up a tourism venture on a farm not only provides a second income but also acts as a public relations exercise to help bridge the rural-urban divide. And when it includes luxury glamping and breathtaking views the visitors cannot fail to be impressed. Andrew Stewart took a look.

In terms of spectacular views, Angus and Sarah Gilbertson’s farm is up there with the best. 

Rising to 600 metres above sea level at the highest point, the panorama on a clear day encompasses all the mountain peaks of the central plateau, Mount Taranaki to the west and the clear blue waters of the Tasman Sea far to the south. 

Between these stunning landmarks are great swathes of some of the most productive farming country in New Zealand that connect the landscape in various shades of green. It’s the sort of view you can’t help but stop and enjoy and this is part of the reason the Gilbertsons created their glamping business five years ago. . . 

The 10 biggest stories in farming over the past 25 years – Jamie Mackay:

My final chat on Newstalk ZB with the laconic Larry Williams was a great excuse to take a trip down memory lane.

Larry was stepping down after 27 years at the drive helm on ZB, while I was blowing out the candles on an accidental radio career spanning a quarter century in rural broadcasting.

For our penultimate ZB cross the week earlier I’d turned the tables on Larry and, without warning, asked him some unscripted questions. Much like his metronomic golf swing, he’s sometimes hard to get off script, but on this occasion he took up the challenge with good humour. . . 

Hunt on for ‘M.bovis’ study project manager – Sally Rae:

The search for an assistant research fellow to project manage a study on the impacts of Mycoplasma bovis on farmers and their communities has attracted a high level of interest.

In January, it was announced the University of Otago would undertake a study on the emotional, social and psychological impacts of the bacterial cattle disease on southern farmers and farming communities.

The two-year study, due to start this month, will look at the impact of the eradication programme on farmers specifically and the wider community more generally. . . 

Medicinal cannabis firm Pure Cann New Zealand gets $6 million investment– Rebecca Howard:

Pure Cann New Zealand, which counts former Air New Zealand boss Rob Fyfe as its executive chair, has secured $6 million from Australia’s Cann Group for a 20 per cent stake in the local medicinal cannabis company.

The investment will be made over stages with the initial 10 per cent to be completed on or before August 30 and a further 10 per cent when New Zealand regulations come into force and Pure Cann’s board approves the construction of its commercial cultivation facility.

The New Zealand government anticipates introducing new regulations, licensing requirements and quality standards governing medicinal cannabis usage by the end of this calendar year. . . 

 


Proceed with caution

January 21, 2019

University of Otago researchers recommend a cautious approach to decriminalising cannabis:

Associate Professor Joseph Boden from the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Otago, Christchurch, has a research interest in the use of cannabis and has specifically investigated the use of cannabis among participants in the Christchurch Health and Development Study, a study following the lives of 1265 children born in Christchurch in 1977. By age 35, almost 80 per cent of the participants had reported using cannabis at some point in their lives.

In an editorial in the latest issue of the New Zealand Medical Journal today, Associate Professor Boden says to date most of the debate on changes to cannabis law imply it is a relatively harmless drug and that cannabis law change will only have beneficial consequences. However, both he and co-author of the editorial, the late Emeritus Professor David Fergusson, former director of the Christchurch Health and Development Study disagree.

“We would argue that, on the basis of evidence generated by longitudinal studies based in New Zealand, both assumptions are incorrect,” their editorial states.

What they propose is development of laws and policies that both discourage the use of cannabis and avoid criminalising recreational users of the drug. The key elements of their policy are:

  • Simple possession of cannabis by those over 18 would be decriminalised, as would supply of small amounts to adults, as recommended by the recent Mental Health Inquiry.
  • Penalties for the supply of cannabis to those under 18 would be increased.
  • Investments in mental health services for those with cannabis use disorder and cannabis-related conditions would be increased, again in line with the recent Mental Health Inquiry.

Professor Fergusson died in October last year, but he and Associate Professor Boden wrote the editorial prior to his death. Associate Professor Boden explains their reasoning is based on their research which shows resoundingly that cannabis use by participants in the Christchurch study is associated with educational delay, welfare dependence, increased risks of psychotic symptoms, major depression, increased risks of motor vehicle accidents, tobacco use and other illicit drug use and respiratory impairment.

At the same time, evidence from the study suggests the prohibition of cannabis is also a cause of some harm with males and Māori participants having higher rates of arrest and conviction for cannabis-related offences. Furthermore, the analysis showed that cannabis use did not decrease following this, suggesting prohibition generally failed to reduce cannabis use among participants.

“Given this context, the most prudent course of action for New Zealand to follow is to develop policies which eliminate the adverse effects of prohibition while at the same time avoiding the possible adverse consequences of full legislation,” their editorial states.

They highlight recent research reviewing changes in both medical and recreational cannabis laws in the United States that has shown cannabis legislation has increased the use of cannabis and cannabis-related harm. While cannabis use among adolescents has not increased, both cannabis use and cannabis-use disorders increased among adults. There was also evidence of increases in cannabis-related emergency department visits, driving under the influence of cannabis and accidental exposure to cannabis in children.

The war on drugs hasn’t worked, or at least that’s what those wanting to liberalise drug laws say.

But what does hasn’t worked mean?

It has provided opportunities for crime and income for criminals.

It hasn’t stopped all people from using the drugs that are illegal.

It hasn’t stopped the health problems that result from use.

But has it stopped some people from using them and reduced the harm done by use?

Would there still be opportunities for crime and income for criminals if personal use of cannabis was legal, or at least decriminalised?

Would more people use cannabis if it wasn’t illegal or at least decriminalised?

Would there be more health and social problems resulting from that use and greater costs dealing with them?

If law changes in the USA has increased the use of cannabis and cannabis-related harm that is likely to happen here.

Can we afford the human and financial costs of that here?


Rural round-up

January 18, 2019

‘M. Bovis’ effects study welcomed to help with impact on farmers – John Gibb:

Federated Farmers Otago president Simon Davies has welcomed a planned University of Otago study on the human impact of Mycoplasma bovis on farmers and their communities in Otago and Southland.

At the human level, some Otago farmers and their families at infected farms had taken a ”massive strike”, and there could be serious long-term effects, including on business viability, in some parts of the country, he said.

Some people who had received ”notices of direction” from MPI, but were later ultimately cleared of infection, had in some cases also experienced stressful disruption to normal farming activities over several months. . . 

Dairy cattle numbers dip again:

The number of dairy cattle has dipped for the second year, while beef cattle numbers increased strongly in 2018, Stats NZ said today.

Provisional figures from the 2018 agricultural production census showed dairy cattle numbers fell 1 percent, to 6.4 million in June 2018.

“This followed a similar small dip in 2017, though overall dairy cattle numbers have been relatively steady since 2012,” agricultural production statistics manager Stuart Pitts said. . . 

Nursery owner finds use for problem baleage – Elena McPhee:

In a win-win situation for both the council and a local nursery owner, baleage swept along by November’s flood and strewn over a rural road for months is being turned into compost.

Trees of the World nursery owner Rodney Hogg said the baleage had been on Riverside Rd, near Allanton on the outskirts of Dunedin, for about two months.

It was ”extremely dangerous” driving along the road, particularly at night, Mr Hogg said . . 

Brexit: Theresa May survives no-confidence vote but what does that mean for NZ trade?:

Market access under a hard Brexit is the major implication New Zealand must watch for after the failure of Theresa May’s deal and the vote against her, former NZ trade negotiation Charles Finny says.

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government has won a no-confidence vote against it today, called by UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, with 325 votes to 306.

It may come as some solace to Mrs May after MPs crushed her proposed exit deal with the EU by a 230-vote majority yesterday, the biggest defeat the UK government has faced in the House of Commons since the 1920s. 

Former New Zealand trade deal negotiator Charles Finny however says the no-confidence vote has ultimately been a bit of a distraction: it’s the next steps regarding Brexit that are important. . . 

$36 million investment approved to tackle regional erosion:

Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) has announced funding of almost $36 million through the Hill Country Erosion Fund (HCEF) to enable much-needed erosion control in the regions.

The HCEF supports proposals to protect our most vulnerable hill country landscapes, where the main treatment is tree planting.

“We’re pleased by the level of interest from councils, with 12 applications received in this latest round – four of which were from regions that had not previously applied,” says Julie Collins, Deputy Director-General Forestry and Head of Te Uru Rākau.

“It shows the importance they are placing on sustainable land management and treating erosion in their regions.” . . 

A win for Win and the Buller show:

When veteran West Coast shearer Sam Win won his latest competition, at the age of 63, it helped solve a little mystery of the whereabouts of the trophy.

“I think I’ve got it at home,” he said.

Thus Saturday’s win at the Buller A and P Show at Patterson Park in Westport was followed by Sunday polishing the trophy, his name engraved as the last winner – in 1997. . . 

Could Wagyu beef protect against heart disease?:

As barbeque season gets into full swing, New Zealand researchers are investigating whether certain kinds of red meat could actually protect against heart disease.

Researchers have recruited men aged 35-55 willing to eat free meat three times a week for eight weeks in the name of science. Participants are supplied with either grass-fed Wagyu beef, grain-finished beef or soy-based meat alternative (they can’t choose which).

The study is looking at how the complex lipids (fats) in high quality, unprocessed red meat affect heart health, using the vegetarian protein group as a control. It follows earlier evidence that eating Wagyu beef in moderation may help protect against heart disease. The beef, from specially bred and fed cows, is rich in a fat called conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, and several other so-called ‘good fats’. . . 


Rural round-up

November 22, 2018

Will to live response pleasing -Sally Rae:

“Overwhelming” is how Elle Perriam describes the public response to the rural mental health awareness campaign Will to Live.

Targeting young rural men and women, it was launched following the death of Miss Perriam’s boyfriend, Will Gregory, in December last year.

Her target for a PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign to cover the expenses of a regional Speak Up tour in country pubs next year was $15,000.

But with a bit more than $18,000 raised through that, and more sponsors coming on board, she reckoned the amount  raised was now around $20,000. That meant  the number of events  throughout the country could be extended from 10 to 14. Financial contributions had also been matched by “kind affirmations” about the initiative. . . 

Virtual rural health school plan unaffected by Govt move – Mike Houlahan:

A week-old proposal by the University of Otago and other providers to create a virtual school for rural health remains very much alive despite the Government killing off an alternative school of rural medicine this week.

The lead article in last week’s edition of the New Zealand Medical Journal featured a proposal, driven by the University of Otago, University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology (AUT), for a virtual rural health campus.

On Wednesday, Health Minister David Clark announced the Government would not support a Waikato University initiative — which dated from the term of the previous National-led government — to establish a $300 million school of rural medicine. . . 

Shortage of vets cause of concern for rural and urban areas – Matthew Tso:

A national shortage of vets has New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar rural sector on high alert. 

Rural veterinary practices are finding it tough to fill vacant roles – and MPI says this could have an impact on biosecurity surveillance issues.

Miles Anderson, Federated Farmers meat and wool industry group chair, says the dairy, meat, and wool industries are dependent on healthy herds. . . 

Dunne in style:

It was once jokingly said that the next most-important job after the All Blacks coach is the head of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Joking aside, there is some truth in this because MPI plays a largely unsung, yet critical, role in the lives of every New Zealander.

With the prospect of a world war unlikely, the next most-serious threat to NZ is in biosecurity, food safety, trade and people’s perception of how the precious land we live on is farmed. . . 

Cavalier eyes anti-plastic trend :

Cavalier Corp says it is well-placed to take advantage of a growing consumer shift away from plastics.

That trend fits well with the carpet maker’s renewed focus on its high-quality wool products, particularly higher-margin, niche opportunities and the potential of major markets like the United States and United Kingdom, chief executive Paul Alston said.

“Investment in research and development and creating ranges that command a premium is a priority and critical for our success,” he said in notes for the company’s annual meeting. . . 

 

Quality over quantity: climate change affects volume, but not quality of aquaculture – Matt Brown:

Dairy farming would appear to have very little in common with farming mussels.

But now, a Netherlands-born Southland dairy farmer is taking the mussel capital by storm with his enthusiasm for the green-shelled bivalve molluscs.

Much like dairy farming, the Havelock-based business focused on their commodity product “with value add”.

Mills Bay Mussels owner Art Blom said their point of difference was the ‘raw-shuck’.. . 

Feds President spearheads delegation to Uruguay and Argentina:

Farmers, dairy product manufacturers and trade representatives in Uruguay and Argentina are hearing a New Zealand take on current agricultural issues this week.

Federated Farmers of NZ President Katie Milne is engaged in a busy schedule of speaking and meeting engagements in Montevideo and Buenos Aires in a programme put together by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and New Zealand’s Ambassador to Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, Raylene Liufalani. . . 

Two new faces for Farmlands’ board:

Farmlands’ shareholders have voted two new Shareholder Directors on to the Farmlands Board.

Dawn Sangster and Gray Baldwin join re-elected Director Rob Hewett on the rural supplies and services co-operative’s Board of Directors.

Farmlands Chairman, Lachie Johnstone congratulated the new arrivals to the Board of Directors, as well as thanking the other candidates who put themselves forward for election. . .


Rural round-up

November 13, 2018

Rural health service gains outlined in plan – John Gibb:

Moves to create a “virtual campus” for rural health training would also  improve health services in New Zealand’s rural towns, including those in Otago, Dr Garry Nixon says.

Dr Nixon, who is University of Otago associate dean rural and works at Dunstan Hospital in Clyde, makes the point in an article on the national “virtual campus proposal”, recently published in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

The article’s co-authors include colleagues at Auckland University and AUT. . . 

Dairy farm open day attracts hundreds – John Gibb:

Many more people flocked to an Outram dairy farm open day at the weekend than had visited last year, farmer Duncan Wells said yesterday.

Farmers Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells own Huntly Rd Dairies, which attracted about 140 visitors during a Fonterra Open Gates event last year.

But yesterday, attendance rose more than threefold and about 430 people visited during the latest dairy farm awareness-raising event, Mr Wells said. . . 

Six months as a taxi company owner, six months as an apple picker

Philmy Chite splits his years into two.

One half of the year he’s focuses on his taxi business in the Solomon Islands. The other half of the year he’s in Hawke’s Bay, picking apples.

Chite landed back in Hastings this week with a group of 16 others from the Solomon Islands as part of the RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme.

It’s the sixth year in a row he’s done it, and he loves it. . . 

World-first NZ tech changing global agriculture landscape:

New Zealand agritech companies are creating world-first technology to help feed the world and lead the way in their industry, AgritechNZ chief executive Peter Wren-Hilton says.

Technology is making life easier, from eco-friendly cars to faster software and tech improvements are benefitting Kiwis in everyday life, he says.

“The same goes for agritech innovation such as crop protection and plant biotechnology which is improving the lives of farmers and consumers around New Zealand. . . 

From plastic to posts:

Anchor™ Light Proof™ milk bottles will soon be appearing on farms across New Zealand, but you won’t find them in the fridge.

Fonterra has teamed up with Kiwi-owned start up, Future Post™, to turn milk bottles and other soft plastics into fence posts for kiwi farms.

Fonterra Brands New Zealand’s (FBNZ) Sustainability and Environment Manager, Larisa Thathiah, says the posts are an innovative new way for farmers to improve their on-farm sustainability.

“This partnership provides farmers with an environmentally-friendly fencing option, made from the packaging of our farmers’ milk, which is pretty special,” says Larisa. . . 

Hemp seed food products now legal in New Zealand:

A small yet significant victory occurred on Tuesday as Government announced formal regulatory changes, which will mean that hemp seed products will be legal for sale and consumption as from 12 November 2018.

This change in legislation means that in addition to hemp seed oil (which has been legal since 2003) items such as de-hulled hemp seed, hemp seed protein powder, hemp seed beverages and hemp seed snack bars will now all be able to be legally sold for human consumption in New Zealand. . . 

Champion sharemilkers’ dairy farm placed on the market:

A dairy farm owned by two former regional Sharemilker of the Year winners has been placed on the market for sale as part of a plan to diversify their rural business interests.

The 140.6-hectare farm located some 19 kilometres south-west of Opotiki in the Eastern Bay of Plenty is owned by 2001 Bay of Plenty Sharemilker of the Year title winners Dean and Sharyn Petersen. It is one of three dairy and diary-support farms the Petersen’s own in the region.

The property sustains milking of 320 cows on a De Laval system – averaging 119,620 kilogrammes of milk solids per season over the past four years, as well as producing a substantial maize silage tonnage annually for stock feed. . .


Rural round-up

April 7, 2018

Consumers drive winner’s farming – Richard Rennie:

His work has earned him an award that will allow him to mix with Australasia’s agribusiness elite on an equal footing but Thomas Macdonald, now involved in the developing sheep milk sector, never forgets the consumers who make it all possible. He spoke to Richard Rennie.

This year’s Zanda McDonald award winner is no stranger to collecting scholarships and awards for his efforts to look longer and harder at the challenges and opportunities in the pastoral sector.

Thomas Macdonald, business manager for Spring Sheep Milk Company, has been awarded the prestigious Platinum Primary Producer (PPP) Zanda McDonald award valued at $50,000 in recognition of his work in the sector and his continuing contribution to the innovative sheep milk company. . . 

Scenic outlook part of Coop family farm on Mahia Peninsula – Kate Taylor:

A Mahia farming couple won three awards in the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Kate Taylor reports.

Okepuha Station has a bird’s eye view of the Rocket Lab launching pad on Mahia Peninsula and Richard and Hannah Coop love farming the windswept Hawke’s Bay coastline.

Richard and Hannah are the fourth generation Coops to farm at Mahia in more than a century. The family’s long association with the peninsula began back in 1905 when land was bought by Richard’s great grandfather.

The 940ha Okepuha Station was farmed by Richard’s parents, Will and Cathy, from the 1970s until recently when Richard and Hannah took over the farm business. . .

Otago University research revives dry-aging of meat – Rob Tipa:

Dry aging meat concentrates the flavour. Rob Tipa reports on a scientist who is working on an electrifying new aspect.

Meat researchers at the University of Otago are reviving an ancient technique to age and tenderise meat by exploring new technologies to make the process more efficient for commercial meat processors.

Tanyaradzwa Mungure, a PhD student in the Department of Food Science at Otago, won an award for his presentation of research into dry aging of meat at an international meat science conference recently in Ireland. . .

Farmers donate hay bales to other farmers in need –  Maja Burry:

Midhirst dairy farmers in Taranaki are donating any hay bales they can spare to farmers in coastal parts of the region who are facing a feed shortage.

The dry summer has had a significant impact on pasture and crops across the drought-hit region, with growth rates estimated to be down by at least 40 percent.

Taranaki Rural Support Trust chair Mike Green said coastal Taranaki had been particularly hard hit, with many farmers having to dry off their herds early and reduce stock numbers as they did not have enough feed. . . 

Book details history of Alexandra basin wine – Yvonne O’Hara:

It will be 30 years this year since the first modern-day wine made in the Alexandra basin was sold.

In his new book Latitude 45.15S – among the world’s southernmost vineyards journalist, Otago Daily Times columnist, bed and breakfast co-owner and author Ric Oram said 2400 bottles of Black Ridge gewurztraminer and riesling and 2000 bottles of assorted William Hill varieties were sold in 1988.

Bill Grant, of William Hill vineyard, and Verdun Burgess, of Black Ridge, sent their grapes to Rippon vineyard in Wanaka to be made into wine by Tony Bish. . . 

NZ carpet maker Cavalier on growth path after emerging from ‘tough’ restructuring – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand carpet maker Cavalier Corp is emerging from a “tough” period after an influx of cheaper synthetics forced it to restructure its business to compete. It has now streamlined its operations and with most of the pain now behind it, is stepping up investment in innovation and marketing as it eyes rising consumer demand for natural woollen products.

The carpet market has undergone rapid change over the past 20 years, with woollen carpets in New Zealand shrinking to about 15 percent of sales from 80 percent as cheaper synthetics made inroads. In response, Cavalier sold uncompetitive assets like its carpet tile business in Australia, began manufacturing its own synthetic range, and consolidated its woollen felting and yarn spinning operations. . . 


Rural round-up

September 4, 2017

Eradication is still doable MPI says – Annette Scott:

Officials expect to decide by the end of the year whether the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis can be eradicated.

The disease, identified on a Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farm in South Canterbury in July, had now been traced to six farms including four van Leeuwen farms, one North Otago farm believed to be a calf rearing operation and a lifestyle block at Sefton in North Canterbury.

A fourth community meeting in North Otago on Thursday attracted a crowd of 160 people full of questions. . . 

Urgent need to train rural GPs – Eileen Goodwin:

A decade before Waikato University sparked a public debate on a third medical school, a far-sighted Queenstown GP set up a Rural Medical Immersion Programme to try to fill rural health shortages. Health reporter Eileen Goodwin talks to those involved.

The trust founded to further his brother’s legacy fostering rural health may be redundant when a new rural school of medicine is established, John Farry says. Mr Farry, of Dunedin, chairman of the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust, hopes the new school will be awarded to the University of Otago under its joint bid with Auckland. He did not want to see it set up as a new medical school, such as that sought by the University of Waikato. . .

Water Conservation Orders should be abolished says Feds:

Federated Farmers is calling for Water Conservation Orders (WCO) to be abolished because they are no longer relevant and a relic of the past.

Under the Resource Management Act (RMA), the Orders are limited and do not acknowledge farming, horticulture, beverages, manufacturing, and access for human and livestock drinking.

The Federation says the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management has superseded the Orders and made the legislation no longer fitting for future challenges around water conservation. . . 

Farm sector welcomes TPP resuscitation talks:

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) of Australia and Federated Farmers of New Zealand say moves to bring into force the bulk of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is good news for both Australian and New Zealand farm exports.

In Sydney this week, officials from Australia and New Zealand concluded three days of talks with chief negotiators from the other nine TPP countries.

The aim of the talks was to push forward on the development of a ‘regional trade pact’ following the United States’ withdrawal from negotiations earlier this year. . . 

Landcorp back in the black as valuations swing in its favour:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming reported a full-year profit as the state-owned farmer recog-nised a jump in the value of livestock and benefited from strong market prices.

Profit was $51.9 million in the year ended June 30, more than four times the $11.5 million it earned a year earlier. Revenue rose 11 percent to $233.5 million while expenses rose 3.3 percent, which included costs related to the end of its sharemilking contract with Shanghai Pengxin, the company said.

The results include a $20 million increase in the value of livestock, “reflecting strong market prices” while the year-earlier result carried an unrealised loss of $24.8 million on land and improvements. The operating profit in the latest year was about $5.7 million, within its guidance range of between $2 million and $7 million, from a year-earlier loss of $9.4 million. . . 

Terms of trade just shy of all-time high:

Record butter prices and high prices for meat helped lift the merchandise terms of trade by 1.5 percent in the June 2017 quarter, Stats NZ said today. This was just shy of the all-time high set 44 years ago in the June 1973 quarter.

Terms of trade is a measure of the purchasing power of New Zealand’s exports abroad and an indicator of the state of the overall economy. The 1.5 percent rise in the June quarter means New Zealand can buy 1.5 percent more imports for the same amount of exports.

“The 1.5 percent rise in terms of trade in the June quarter follows a 3.9 percent increase in the March 2017 quarter,” prices senior manager Jason Attewell said today. “Because the March provisional quarter was revised down from 5.1 percent, the terms of trade didn’t quite reach the record high as expected, but it is very close.” . . 

NZ’s Top Butcher Announced:

The nation’s top butcher and butcher apprentice have been announced this evening at one of the most anticipated events on the meat industry calendar.

Reuben Sharples from Aussie Butcher New Lynn has been named Alto Butcher of the Year and Samantha Weller from New World Rangiora took out the title of Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year.

Following three highly competitive regional competitions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, 10 finalists from each category went head to head in the Grand Final held at Shed 10 in Auckland earlier today. . . 

T&G Global secures exclusive commercialisation rights for blueberry varieties in Australia:

T&G Global has become the license holder of a suite of 16 proprietary blueberry varieties in Australia, allowing it to better deliver to growing demand for berry fruit worldwide.

The exclusive agreement represents one of the biggest collections of proprietary commercial and pre-commercial blueberry varieties in the world and is the result of an agreement between T&G and Plant & Food Research in New Zealand. The arrangement includes varieties developed by Plant & Food Research and a collection of premium varieties from Fall Creek Farm and Nursery in Oregon, USA, for which Plant & Food Research holds the Australian licensing rights. . . 

Farmers feed cities. Support your local farmer before the Labour Party sens him/her out of business.


Rural round-up

June 22, 2017

Consumers must be the focus: report – Sally Rae:

The need to create New Zealand provenance brands has been ranked by primary industry leaders as one of the top priorities for 2017.

KPMG’s latest Agribusiness Agenda, released last week, again ranked biosecurity as the highest priority.

It had ranked first in every survey completed, although the priority score was at its lowest level since 2012. . . 

Agri hub now open for business – Nigel Malthus:

Never mind the bricks and mortar, the Lincoln Hub is now open for business, says its recently appointed chief executive Toni Laming.

The Hub, or He Puna Karikari, brings several agricultural research and commercial entities together, to collaborate on basic and applied agricultural science.

It has five founding shareholders – Lincoln University, AgResearch, Landcare Research, Plant & Food Research and DairyNZ – and expects to attract others as it grows and develops. . .

First bull sale for Murray family since quake – Alexa Cook:

The Murray family in Clarence Valley have had their first big bull sale since the earthquake in November.

Because the road is closed to the south, the 65 buyers were flown in from Kaikōura on four different helicopters.

Over 100 bulls were up for sale from the Murray’s Matariki Hereford stud and the neighbouring Woodbank Angus stud. . . 

‘Trojan Female Technique’ could sterilise pest populations – Alexa Cook:

A new technique that could be used to eradicate pests like mice and wasps has just been proven in the laboratory on fruit flies.

The “Trojan Female Technique” is where females pass on genes that make male offspring infertile.

The head of the University of Otago’s Department of Anatomy, Neil Gemmell, said it was not a new idea to release sterile males, but creating and releasing females that produce sterile offspring was a first for pest control. . . 

Fieldays reflects positive outlook for Primary Sector:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has congratulated the National Fieldays Society for another successful event at Mystery Creek in Waikato.

“This year’s Fieldays was another success thanks to hard work from Peter Nation and his team, but also in part due to the positive outlook for the primary sector,” says Mr Guy.

“Many farmers and growers have dealt with some challenging past seasons, so it was great to feel a really positive mood across the many thousands who entered the gates. There’s a strong sense that many will be looking to use their extra forecast revenue to reinvest in their businesses. . . 

Rural confidence lifts with early frosts – Dene Mackenzie:

As early frosts and snowfalls signalled the approach of winter, confidence within the rural sector continued to build, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said yesterday.

Farmers were anticipating improving incomes during the forthcoming season.

Demand for quality properties and the shortage of supply remained constant, he said.

Figures released by the institute showed there were 25 more farm sales for the three months ended May than for the three months ended May 2016. . . 

Kūmara costs double in disastrous season:

Kūmara prices are nearly double what they were a year ago due to disastrous weather this season, growers say.

Kaipara Kūmara manager Anthony Blundell said the crop was down about 35 percent on normal years due to the wet weather that hit in March.

Mr Blundell said the season didn’t start off well with a wet spring but the biggest damage was done by the cyclones that swamped kumara fields in March. . . 


Rural round-up

June 9, 2016

Five-year deal ‘huge’ for fine wool sector – Sally Rae:

“A breath of fresh air for fine wool” is how Central Otago farmer Bevan McKnight describes a $45 million deal between Italian textile company Reda and the New Zealand Merino Company.

Under a five-year contract to source fine wool from NZM, 2500 tonnes will be shipped to Italy to fuel the growth of Reda’s high-end suiting fabrics and active product ranges.

Mr McKnight and his wife, Tiffany, of Merino Ridges, in the Ida Valley, were ‘‘absolutely” passionate about merino sheep. . . 

Farmer buoyed by support – Sally Rae:

Port Chalmers dairy farmer Merrall MacNeille has suggested a pilot programme involving the University of Otago, Ministry for Primary Industries and himself, in an attempt to keep selling his milk.

Mr MacNeille and his wife Alex have been inundated with support from customers and the public since being ordered to stop selling raw milk after a tuberculosis-positive heifer was discovered on their property above Careys Bay.

For at least three years, he has been working with the university, supplying milk to use in an electronic milk purifier. Unlike regular pasteurisation, which heated milk to “crazy” temperatures and then cooled it, the machine did not heat the milk. . . 

South Canterbury deer farms join forces for feed for profit project – Pat Deavoll:

Martin Rupert of Mt Peel and Dave Morgan of Raincliff Station have teamed up in a DEEResearch funded project aimed at giving South Canterbury deer farmers the chance to pool skills, knowledge and experience.

The focus farms have informal field days allowing participants the opportunity to discuss shared issues. 

“It’s pretty basic. The theme is “feed to profit.” We all have to feed stock well to make a profit,” said Morgan. . . 

 Driving force behind wildlife sanctuary – Patrick O’Sullivan:

Andrew Lowe’s passion for conservation has seen him named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

He was the driving force in the establishment of the 2500ha Cape Sanctuary wildlife restoration project at Cape Kidnappers.

It enabled the re-introduction of endangered wildlife species that once flourished at the Cape and Ocean Beach, and contains the greatest diversity of native birds on mainland coastal New Zealand. . . 

Fonterra Eltham – Filling Billions of Burgers World-Wide:

Fonterra today celebrated the official opening of its new slice on slice cheese expansion at Eltham, with the plant now able to produce enough cheese to fill more than three billion burgers each year.

The expansion opening, which was attended by Fonterra farmers, staff, iwi and central and local government representatives, was officiated by Whanganui MP, Hon. Chester Borrows and South Taranaki District Council Mayor Ross Dunlop, along with Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings, Director David MacLeod and Managing Director Global Operations Robert Spurway.

The first cheese marks the successful completion of the 10 month build to install two new lines that will double the site’s sliced cheese production. The new individually wrapped sliced cheese line was completed last year. . . 

Brushing up on first aid down on the farm – Joyce Wyllie:

“Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah…Staying Alive” is the rhythm to play in the mind while remembering guidelines for CPR compressions and breaths.

Who would have thought the Stayin’ Alive disco song by the Bee Gees would have a place on the farm?

The action plan acronym “DRS. ABCD” jogs the memory for action in an emergency situation.  First ensure there is no Danger to patient, self or bystander, check for Response, Send for help, then deal with Airways, Breathing, Circulation and finally D for Doctor.

All this and more will be familiar to those who have done a first aid course.  Jock and I had a day off the farm to brush up on these important skills and increase our confidence  dealing with a crisis. The others on the  training were mostly  farmers but also truck drivers, retired folk and young mums. . . 

Yili’s Oceania Dairy narrows full-year loss as production ramps up, sales surge – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Oceania Dairy, the South Canterbury-based dairy company owned by China’s Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, narrowed its annual loss as sales quadrupled from its processing facility at Glenavy.

The loss was $16.3 million in calendar 2015, from a loss of $17.6 million in 2014, the first full year for the company created in 2013. Revenue soared to about $141 million from $34 million a year earlier, according to Oceania’s financial statements. . . 

Leading New Zealand botanists honoured:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has presented New Zealand’s foremost botany award, the Loder Cup, to Neill and Barbara Simpson of Queenstown.

One of New Zealand’s oldest conservation awards, the Loder Cup recognises outstanding work to investigate, promote, retain and cherish the country’s incomparable native plant life.

“Neill and Barbara Simpson truly deserve to be honoured with the presentation of the cup at the Green Ribbon Awards tonight,” Ms Barry says.

“Their tireless work to protect native flora and get others involved in looking after it has been an almost life-long journey.

“They are an outstanding couple who have worked with extraordinary dedication, and represent the very best of the New Zealand conservation movement.” . . 

Canada’s dairy farmers say diafiltered milk from U.S. costs them millions – Lucas Powers:

Our wily neighbours to the south have figured out a clever way of not paying tariffs on a certain — let’s say “controversial” — commodity, and Canadian dairy farmers say it’s costing them hundreds of millions every year.

The product in question is called diafiltered milk.

Essentially, it’s milk that’s filtered, flushed with water, and then filtered a second time, with a few other steps along the way. The end product has a high concentration of protein, about 85 per cent, and very little of the fat and lactose that make up natural milk.

‘It’s a classic case of the right hand of the government doing one thing, and the left hand doing another.’
– Maurice Doyon, Laval University professor

The Canadian government allows it to cross the border without a tariff, because if it were dried into a powder, it would have the same amount of protein as the kinds of protein powders allowed to pass through tariff-free under trade agreements. . . 

Moving beyond pro/con debates over genetically engineered crops – Pamela Ronald:

Since the 1980s biologists have used genetic engineering to express novel traits in crop plants. Over the last 20 years, these crops have been grown on more than one billion acres in the United States and globally. Despite their rapid adoption by farmers, genetically engineered (GE) crops remain controversial among many consumers, who have sometimes found it hard to obtain accurate information.

Last month the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a review of 20 years of data regarding GE crops. The report largely confirms findings from previous National Academies reports and reviews produced by other major scientific organizations around the world, including the World Health Organization and the European Commission.

I direct a laboratory that studies rice, a staple food crop for half the world’s people. Researchers in my lab are identifying genes that control tolerance to environmental stress and resistance to disease. We use genetic engineering and other genetic methods to understand gene function. . . 

 


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.

 


Rural round-up

April 15, 2013

Partnership To Offer Significant Benefits For New Zealand And China Agriculture Industries:

Beijing, China: New Zealand Government-owned AsureQuality and PwC New Zealand have today signed a collaboration framework agreement with China Mengniu Dairy Company Limited and COFCO Corporation to investigate the development of a China New Zealand agribusiness service and Food Safety Centre of Excellence in China.

Initially AsureQuality and PwC will work with Mengniu and COFCO on a dairy-related food safety and farm assurance project. As the partnership evolves it is expected that additional New Zealand commercial and research entities with expertise in other areas of the agricultural sector will be brought in.

AsureQuality’s CEO Mr Michael Thomas and PwC New Zealand’s CEO Mr Bruce Hassall, who signed the agreement in Beijing today, say, “This agreement acknowledges the expertise held by AsureQuality, and the benefits that formal collaboration offers for us, and potentially the wider New Zealand agribusiness sector, in the Chinese market. . .

Sheep production vet’s main interest – Sally Rae:

When people ask vet Dave Robertson what he does in his job, his usual reply is that he ”scans cows and talks about sheep”.

Mr Robertson, a partner at the Veterinary Centre, based in Oamaru, graduated with a degree in veterinary science from Massey University 10 years ago.

He grew up in West Otago, in a family which has a long association with sheep breeding. . .

Returning business manager sees transformation in Southland – Sally Rae:

David Backhurst has seen a lot of changes in Southland since first moving there in the early 1990s and then spending a decade away from the province.

Mr Backhurst has returned to Invercargill to take up the position of general manager of agribusiness and business banking at SBS Bank, after spending the past seven years in Australia.

He was state leader for New South Wales, ACT and Queensland for NAB Health, a specialised banking business launched by the National Australia Bank to service the financial needs of medical practitioners, healthcare and aged-care facilities and investors in the healthcare sector. . .

Deer milk cheese may be world first – Rob Tipa:

Scientists at the University of Otago and Lincoln University and a cheesemaker from Oamaru have produced what they believe may be the world’s first cheese made from the milk of farmed red deer.

What’s more, laboratory tests have identified unique bioactive compounds in red deer milk that they say could improve the immune system of humans.

If that is the case, red deer milk could be worth as much as $100 a litre on niche health food markets and a single red deer hind could potentially produce up to $20,000 worth of milk in a single lactation, according to Dr Alaa El-Din A Bekhit, a senior lecturer in the University of Otago’s Food Science Department. . .

Mill’s expansion plan taking shape – Helena de Reus:

Milton’s historic woollen mill is a hive of activity as its owners shift and replace machinery and plan for its expansion.

Some of the plant’s machinery has been sold, and Bruce Woollen Mill Ltd has spent more than $500,000 on several other machines from Australia to help produce a greater range of products.

Bruce Woollen Mill managing director John Stevens, of Christchurch, said much work had taken place over the past eight months. . .

Smith crowns stellar shears year with NZ Champs win :

Hastings shearer Rowland Smith crowned a stellar couple of months on the competition circuit with a comfortable New Zealand Open Championship win set to a background of drama in Te Kuiti’s packed Waitomo Cultural and Arts Centre on Saturday night.

The win in a six-man final of what should have been 20 sheep each was the 26-year-old Northland-raised gun’s 14th in 11 weeks, including his first Golden Shears Open win in Masterton on March 2.

But there was drama all-around the winner on Stand 3, most-amazingly next-door on Stand 2 where fellow Hawke’s Bay shearer Dion King was wondering how he’d beaten the all-conquering event favourite Smith by more than a sheep and set a record time, until his worst fears were realised. There’d been only 19 sheep in his pen. . .

Farmers praised for role in helping stilt:

High-country farmers have been praised for contributing to a record-breaking season for the endangered kaki (black stilt).

Each year, Department of Conservation staff collect kaki eggs from the wild for incubation at the captive breeding centre at Twizel.

Nearly half of all eggs taken this summer were collected from farmland in the Mackenzie and Waitaki basins with the co-operation of farmers. . .

Farmer of the year –  rivettingKateTaylor:

You are just getting the press release this afternoon…. courtesy of the HB A&P Society – I have been out photographing all day and now I am off to assembly. More later :)

 Night of Winners

Hawke’s Bay’s agribusiness community was out in force last night to celebrate a string of awards that recognise excellence in the primary industries.

350 guests packed the events centre at Showgrounds Hawke’s Bay to enjoy an evening of fine food, entertainment and celebrate with the worthy winners.

The big winners on the night were Danny & Robyn Angland, who took out the prestigious Silver Fern Farms Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year title for their management of the iconic Hawke’s Bay farming enterprise Kereru Station.  Danny has been Manager of the 2847ha Station since 2007. . .


Wise words

December 6, 2012

Writer Owen Marshall gave the address at the university of Otago’s graduation ceremony last weekend.

Among his wise words were these:

. . . if the university as a whole “ever loses that essential love of knowledge for its own sake, that scholastic enthusiasm and tolerance, then the spark will be gone”.

The university was then likely to be “a place of formal, empty pedantry, meal-ticket mentality, or a debased, bums-on-seats democracy”, . . .

And:

. . . “Everyone seems to be an expert on education, and a good deal of vehement and often ignorant criticism is advanced, for always there are people who are eager to find fault in the performance of others, yet unwilling or incapable of taking responsibility themselves.

“Of course we need accountability, efficiency and a response to modern youth and modern society.

“We also need to preserve and commend those values that are at the heart of the best universities – scrupulous scholarship, academic enthusiasm, intellectual curiosity, a fellowship of the heart and mind, and a desire to pass on knowledge.”

And:

He emphasised the need for gratitude, which was “not much in fashion these days”.

“We hear much of rights, accountability, consumers, performance and delivery, all in a mechanistic way, but not much about gratitude, and not much about dedication.”

Graduates owed gratitude not only to family and friends but also to Otago University itself.

And he thanked Otago staff who had “persevered through the squalls of restructuring and the doldrums of educational policy, to maintain a vision of senior study that upholds opportunity based on talent, an openness to intellectual possibility, the value of reason and knowledge of life generally.” . . .


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