Rural round-up

29/09/2021

Farmers grapple with ‘significant emotional stress’ and community pressure over forestry conversion sales – Bonnie Flaws:

A Wairarapa farmer Steve Thomson says selling his sheep and beef station to forestry three years ago was a difficult decision but he had struggled for two years to sell to other farmers.

Tensions around the issue of farms converting to forestry has been increasing because of the impact it could have on rural communities. But most see the problem as stemming from Government policy rather than greed, farmers say.

Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said there was no transparency about how much farm land was going to forestry because only the current land use is recorded at the time of the sale. . . 

Passion to serve rural New Zealand – Neal Wallace:

Wilson Mitchell is a young man on a mission. The University of Otago medical student is passionate about rural communities and the health and wellbeing of those who live there. He spoke to Neal Wallace.

Wilson Mitchell attributes the hours spent crutching and drenching sheep over weekends and school holidays for helping fuel his desire to work in rural health.

The satisfaction of an honest day’s physical toil is one reason for his infatuation but more so mixing with rural people and observing the dynamics of their communities.

He may just be 23 years old and five years through his studies, but Wilson’s commitment to rural health has already extended beyond good intentions. . . 

Daylight savings on the dairy farm: ‘The cows wonder why you’re an hour early’ – Bonnie Flaws:

Southland dairy farmer Bart Luton says his cows always notice something isn’t quite right when daylight savings hits.

“My cows will be wondering what I am doing in the paddock because I am an hour early or so. It takes them a couple of days to get used to it. They look around and think ‘you are too early’, and while you’re milking the cow flow will be a bit slower. They definitely need adjusting to it.”

Daylight saving time starts on Sunday when clocks will be turned forward one hour. Sunrise and sunset will be about an hour later than the day before and it will be lighter in the evening.

Canterbury farmer Alan Davie-Martin said cows were behavioural animals and knew when to gather at the gate. It usually took a few days for them to get used to the new timetable. . . 

Confident, not cocky: Uni student vows to run marathon in gumboots – Maia Hart:

A Marlborough teen who plans to run a marathon in her gumboots says the nerves are there, but she plans to “run it off”.

Emma Blom, who has moved to Christchurch to study at Lincoln University, is planning to run the Queenstown Marathon in November in her gumboots and overalls, to raise money for Outward Bound scholarships.

The scholarships would be aimed at people who work in the rural sector.

“I’m hoping to raise $10,000, so that four people can go on an 8-day discovery course,” Blom said.  . .

Deer industry to address emissions pricing – Annette Scott:

Deer farmers be warned, greenhouse gas (GHG) pricing is coming so get prepared, is the message from industry.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) is urging deer farmers to get up to speed with GHG pricing that will impact on the way they farm.

While Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb NZ and DairyNZ are holding consultation meetings over the next two months, the deer industry as a sector will not be officially involved.

Deer Industry NZ chief executive Innes Moffat says despite standing alone it’s important industry’s voice is heard and is not drowned out by views of other industries. . . 

LeaderBrand’s ambitious construction plans forge ahead despite ongoing lockdown interruptions :

LeaderBrand’s construction plans on their ambitious eleven hectare undercover farming project is forging ahead despite the ongoing interruption from lockdowns over the past couple of years.

In October 2019, Kānoa, Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit, confirmed LeaderBrand was successful in securing a $15 million loan to help fund the construction of their undercover growing facility.

The project will accelerate crop growth all year round in a more sustainable manner, help to mitigate weather impacts, and create more consistent product which will secure more jobs across the year. The technology incorporated in the greenhouses is innovative and will revolutionise the way LeaderBrand will farm in the future. This includes significantly reducing fertiliser and water usage as well as protecting soil structure. . .

 


Rural round-up

27/09/2021

Access barrier for farmer mental health

A new initiative has been launched to improve access to counselling for farmers.

However, the founder of the charity behind it says accessibility is one of the main barriers for farmers seeking mental health assistance.

The Will to Live Charitable Trust’s ‘Rural- Change’ initiative will see farmers jump the sometimes eight-week queue to access three free private counselling sessions.

The initiative was launched in early September and Will to Live founder Elle Perriam told Rural News that they’d already had 15 farmers sign up. . . 

SWAG focused on the long game – Annette Scott:

The group tasked with lifting New Zealand’s strong wool sector out of the doldrums is on track to deliver.

With a 12-month contract and a $3.5 million dollar budget, the Strong Wool Action Group (SWAG) is working on leaving a legacy of a more connected and coordinated forward-looking, consumer-focused wool sector, embracing its place within the natural world.

The group is scheduled to sign-off at the end of this year and chair Rob Hewett is confident it is on track to deliver.

“We will make the grade, it’s a long game, but we are positioning sound opportunities to realise and commercialise several projects and who we are going to do this with,” Hewett said. . . 

Double-muscled sheep breed offers meaty gains -Country Life:

Beltex ram lambs are making farmers around the country lick their chops. Known for its heavy hindquarters and excellent kill weights, the breed is the sheep industry’s new kid on the butcher’s block.

A cross of Belgian and Texel sheep, the Beltex is used primarily for mating with ewes to produce lambs for meat.

Blair Gallagher and his son Hamish run New Zealand’s first Beltex stud at the family’s breeding and finishing property near Mount Somers.

Currently lambing’s in full swing on the scenic hill country farm. . . 

New Zealand red meat sector welcomes Chinese Taipei’s CPTPP membership application:

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) welcome Chinese Taipei’s formal application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb NZ said the CPTPP was founded with a vision for regional agreement that provided for the accession of new members. Chinese Taipei’s application demonstrates the value of the agreement and its relevance to economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Chinese Taipei has been a longstanding and valuable market for New Zealand red meat products. Trade with Chinese Taipei was worth over $314 million in 2020, with trade in beef products worth over $170 million alone. This means that trade has almost doubled since the signing of the Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC) in 2013.

“Like all other economies wishing to accede to the CPTPP, Chinese Taipei will need to demonstrate its commitment to the high standards contained in the CPTPP, and with a high-quality deal already in place with New Zealand, Chinese Taipei has demonstrated its commitment to trade liberalisation. . . 

Homegrown talent to tackle pesky pests :

Six of New Zealand’s young minds are setting out to revolutionise pest management, helping efforts to eradicate pests, possums, stoats and rats from New Zealand by 2050.

Supported by Predator Free 2050 Limited (PF2050 Ltd) and $2.4 million in Jobs for Nature funding, the post-graduate and post-doctoral researchers from University of Auckland, University of Canterbury, Lincoln University, and University of Otago will be researching topics as diverse as genetics, biocontrol, audio lures, and social licence.

“Our work is certainly ambitious, but is a critical step to secure New Zealand’s biodiversity. Despite decades of valuable and dedicated conservation efforts, step-changes are needed to achieve our goals. And to achieve those step-changes, New Zealand needs new science talent to drive the cutting edge research needed,” says PF2050 Ltd science director Dan Tompkins.

Tompkins says the programme has garnered international attention with regards to whether its goal can be achieved. . .

The future of Fonterra in Australia – Marian Macdonald:

Australian milk might be some of the best in the world but, Fonterra Australia’s managing director says, it’s not New Zealand milk.

The result is that a chunk of the local business is being put up for sale, with strings attached.

In statements this morning, the giant NZ cooperative announced that it was placing “a greater focus on our New Zealand milk”.

Asked what that meant, Fonterra Australia managing director René Dedoncker said Fonterra had made clear choices around New Zealand milk and would be directing capital towards leveraging its provenance. . . 

 


Rural round-up

06/03/2021

Fonterra milk price forecasts give a fillip to farmers and the regions – the co-op has become an NZX favourite, too – Point of Order:

Fonterra has  confirmed  what  most analysts  had  been predicting and lifted its 2020/21 forecast farmgate milk price range to  $7.30 – $7.90 kg/MS, up from  $6.90 – $7.50. This should  send a  further surge of  confidence  across  NZ’s  rural regions, hopefully in  a  wave  strong enough to encourage  farmers  to plan to  increase production  next  season.

As  a  result  of  the  higher  payout, the co-op  will be  pumping $11.5bn  into the  rural economy, well ahead of the $10bn predicted  last year. Although  farmer-suppliers  to Fonterra  are paid off   the mid-point  $7.60  of the new range, most analysts  believe the final payout will reach $7.90.

That  should  ensure a  handsome  return  for most  suppliers,  whose  cost  of  production averages  around $5.80-$6 kg/MS—and for the  highly  efficient, at below $4, an even   better one. . . 

Lessons from M. Bovis outbreak – Peter Burke:

The chair of a new committee set up to review the handling of Mycoplasma bovis outbreak says it isn’t a witch-hunt.

Massey University academic Nicola Shadbolt says the review is about learning from the past and helping us to be stronger for the future. She says it’s about finding out what happened and seeing what might need to be put in place if there a biosecurity outbreak of this nature in the future.

Shadbolt, a professor of farm and agribusiness, served as a Fonterra director for nine years and is currently chair of Plant and Food Research. . .

Franz Josef and Fox Glacier at risk of losing key community members – locals – Tess Brunton:

Franz Josef and Fox Glacier communities have been told that the government can’t save every business that’s struggling during the pandemic.

A week ago the two communities sent Tourism Minister Stuart Nash a $35 million wishlist of what they need to survive.

Yesterday he visited Franz Josef with Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor but didn’t make any promises.

Across Country Quad Bikes used to run four fully booked tours a day, closing for a few months over winter after a hectic summer. . .

Bees get a fighting chance – Neal Wallace:

University of Otago Researchers have made a discovery that may just give honeybees a fighting chance against the varroa mite. Neal Wallace reports.

Scientists have identified naturally occurring compounds which induces a cleaning response among some worker bees, killing juvenile varroa mites.

The University of Otago researchers are now looking at how to replicate the six relevant compounds they have discovered, and a way to deliver them to hives from which beekeepers can selectively breed bees that have this trait.

Emeritus Professor Alison Mercer of the university’s Department of Zoology says varroa mites reproduce in brood cells, but researchers have identified some worker bees can sense where the mites are using these compounds, then open those cells and pull out the contents, including the mite, killing it. . . 

Why aren’t farmers using more agritech on farm? – Phil Edmonds:

While internet connectivity may be viewed as a barrier to farmers adopting more agritech solutions, Phil Edmonds discovers there are many reasons for New Zealand’s low adoption rate, including technology not being developed with their needs in mind.

A fresh look is under way into understanding why agritech adoption in New Zealand has not escalated to the same extent that our primary sector exports have. A cursory glance at the unflattering data on uptake suggests farmers are content using tried and tested methods despite the increasing availability of ‘go faster’ solutions. However, ‘tried and tested’ will inevitably start to hold the industry back. The initial thinking on where to get the ball rolling faster is for agritech developers to focus on time-saving rather than insight solutions, and stop assuming farmers are inherent technophobes.

An analysis of the impact of agritech on the New Zealand economy published last year suggested that New Zealand is underperforming relative to its global peers. While food and fibre exports have grown substantially, the same can’t be said for agritech, which has netted a consistent (rather than accelerating) $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion over the past five years. . . 

Exclusion fence gives options for diversity at Bollon – Sally Gall:

A decision in the summer of 2017 to fully enclose their 36,420ha of country in the Bollon district has rewarded Scott and Alison Todd many times over.

The couple came to Brigalow Downs 90km south of Bollon in 2014, walking into one of the biggest droughts on record.

At that stage they were an all-cattle operation with rangeland goats running freely on the property, and with a good reserve of mulga and cattle selling very cheaply in the Barcaldine and Blackall districts, they began building cattle numbers.

As the drought went on, their mulga didn’t regenerate as well as expected, and with cattle agistment bills mounting, they decided to diversify. . .


Rural round-up

22/12/2020

Trust advises care as drought threatens – Sally Rae:

Farmers in the Waimate and North Otago districts are being urged to keep an eye on each other as the area becomes “critically dry”.

Affected areas included Waimate, Waihaorunga and through the Hakataramea Valley and coastal North Otago, Otago Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Lindsay Purvis said.

Stock seemed to be in good order, which was often the case when drought started, and some farmers were weaning lambs at 8 weeks old, Mr Purvis said.

There seemed to be a market from Dunedin south for store lambs, although the store beef market had “virtually collapsed”. . . 

Red meat industry’s problems researched – John Gibb:

A change of direction is needed urgently if the future of New Zealand’s red meat industry is to be salvaged, a researcher warns.

“When I dug into this I could see that most of it is not fantastic,’’ University of Otago researcher James Wilkes said.

On Saturday, Mr Wilkes, of Christchurch, became the first New Zealand-based former student to graduate with the new Otago doctor of business administration (DBA) degree.

Four other people were also in the first cohort to gain the degree, including two Chinese students whose graduation was celebrated at a Zoom event. . . 

Migrant worker visas extended to address labour uncertainties :

The government is extending the visas of many migrant workers to ease labour shortfalls.

As part of a package announced tonight, working holiday and employer-assisted work visas will be pushed forward six months.

A 12-month stand-down period for low-paid Essential Skills visa holders working in New Zealand for three years will also be put on hold until January 2022. . . 

How wine and cheese can boost your brain :

Got a soft spot for cheese and a drop of red wine? Your brain might just thank you for it.

New research from Iowa State University shows consumption of cheese and red wine can boost the brain.

The study’s lead author, assistant professor of food science and human nutrition Auriel Willette, said the findings about the beneficial effects of cheese were unexpected.

“To my total surprise… the strongest predictor of people having good food intelligence is cheese. . . 

New system a big boost for dam safety – David Williams:

A two-and-a-half-year upgrade completes a 30-year journey for a big tech company, David Williams writes in this content partnership article

What’s striking about dams, like people, is how different they are, Dam Safety Intelligence’s general manager Dan Forster says. 

“Dams have all got their own unique personalities and characteristic traits. And the big thing is that on the surface a dam can seem to be in good condition and performing well but what really matters is how it’s performing underneath the surface.”

If it were human, a well-monitored dam might look like a patient in hospital, with a pin-cushion of sensors and instruments poking into and out of them. In the case of a big dam, experts are checking for things like the reservoir level, seepage flow, and “piezometric” pressures on various parts of the engineered structure, such as where the dam meets other surfaces, called abutments. . . 

 

Grants for farmers wanting to grow Christmas trees :

Financial support is being offered to Cheshire farmers interested in growing a Christmas tree crop on their land.

Grants covering up to 70% of the planting and establishment costs of a conifer crop has been made available by United Utilities.

Alongside this, expert advice and training on all aspects of Christmas tree growing will be given to farmers.

The water firm’s catchment advisor, Vee Moore said growing Christmas trees can be a profitable use of land. . . 


Threatening freedom

11/12/2020

A university or polytech graduation is one of a very few times most people have their achievements celebrated in a ceremony.

It’s not just the short walk across the stage, the hand shake, and, for a first degree, the placing of the trencher on the head of the new graduate.

It’s the total ceremonial package as well as the time spent with friends for what might be the last time in years as people who have spent three or more years together go to further study or work in different places.

Many thousands of students had their graduations cancelled by Covid-19 and  this week Otago University and Polytech students have had theirs cancelled for safety reasons.

Otago University cancelled Wednesday’s graduation ceremony after a specific threat:

. . . Police did not reveal the nature of the security threat or its precise timing, but said it related specifically to university graduation ceremonies.

University of Otago vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne said yesterday’s decision to postpone was made quickly after a strong recommendation from police to do so. . . .

Polytech students have had to accept similar disappointment:

Otago Polytechnic said it made the “devastating decision” following advice from police..

Without knowing anything more than there was a threat which police, and the institutions, have taken seriously, it is impossible to know if they have overreacted.

The decisions to cancel wouldn’t have been taken lightly and the search for the culprit will be taken very seriously too.

It must be not just to hold the person or people responsible to account but also to deter anyone else who, for whatever perverted reason, might think doing something similar would be a good idea.

The threat to harm people should the ceremonies have gone ahead is bad enough, the threat to the freedom to do what we want to do, where we want to do it makes it worse.


Rural round-up

24/10/2020

Fired up over freshwater – Hamish MacLean:

Stop the degradation, show real improvements in five years, restore New Zealand’s waterways in a generation, and infuriate how many farmers? Environment reporter Hamish MacLean checks in on the fight for healthy rivers after 100 tractors rolled through Gore last week in protest over new freshwater regulations. 

Southern farmers are facing reams of new rules and red tape as New Zealand starts to go hard on keeping sediment, E.coli, phosphorous, and nitrogen out of its rivers.

But Federated Farmers calls some of the new rules “unworkable” and prohibitively costly, and says they will need to be amended by Cabinet.

Federated Farmers environment and water spokesman Chris Allen says a parade of tractors down Gore’s main street and a gathering of hundreds of farmers in Invercargill last week amid public calls for ignoring the new rules en masse are representative of farmers’ anger about the costs and the extent of the changes being forced upon them.

Measures would squeeze businesses ‘doing it tough’ – Jacob McSweeny:

Business and farming leaders in the South are joining a chorus of similar stakeholders throughout the country hoping the Labour Party forms its own government rather than going into a coalition with the Greens.

Labour won 64 seats according to Saturday’s preliminary results and can govern alone if it chooses.

Farra Engineering chief executive and Southern Otago Regional Engineering Collective chairman Gareth Evans said he was not surprised by the result, just that it was more comprehensive than expected.

“It’s good in a sense that Labour have an absolute majority so that they have to be accountable for everything that they do from here on in.” . . 

Research funded to unlock seaweed’s potential as new ‘superfood‘ –

It is far from a staple on most Kiwi dinner tables, but AgResearch scientists are aiming to unlock the potential of seaweed as a go-to food with proven health benefits. And they have enlisted the services a of a world-class chef to help them do it.

The scientists are joining counterparts in Singapore in a project funded by New Zealand government, in the amount of $3.3 million, alongside parallel funding from the Government of Singapore. The New Zealand funding is from the Catalyst Fund:Strategic – New Zealand-Singapore Future Foods Research Programme.

The research, focused on the Undaria pinnatifida species of seaweed abundant in waters around New Zealand and Singapore, also involves partners the University of Otago, University of Auckland, A*STAR, AgriSea NZ, Ideas 2 Plate and AMiLi. . . 

Waikato berry farm expecting influx of visitors due to strawberry picker shortage:

Strawberries may be harder to come by on supermarket shelves this year due to an expected shortage of pickers, so a Waikato berry farm is gearing up for a big influx of Kiwis wanting to pick their own.

Whatawhata Berry Farm, located five minutes from Hamilton on the Raglan Road will open for the summer this Friday (23 October) and is expecting record crowds during the strawberry picking season, which runs from now until late March or Easter if demand exists.

Owner Darien McFadden says commercial growers are deeply concerned there won’t be enough overseas RSE workers or those on Working Holiday Visas to pick this year’s crop, leaving fruit to go to waste and creating supply and demand issues for both export and domestic markets. . . 

Shearers were among those travelling to Melbourne via Sydney :

New Zealand shearers were on the first flights to Australia and among those who travelled on to Melbourne.

Shearers who boarded the first flights to Melbourne should have been praised for their work ethic not “poo-pooed by the Premier”, an industry representative has said.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford confirmed New Zealand shearers were on the first flights out of New Zealand to Sydney, and they later went on to catch a flight to Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne.

“Anecdotally I know they were on those flights and there was nothing illegal or incorrect in what they did – they followed process and were sponsored by their employers and had the correct permit to travel from metropolitan Melbourne to rural Victoria,” he said. . . 

HappyMoo developing tools to monitor cow health :

ICBF is participating in a large-scale European research project called HappyMoo. The project aims to develop tools to identify cow welfare issues before they become a problem and affect performance. There are many different aspects to cow welfare and essential among them are freedom from hunger, stress, and disease. These are the areas that the HappyMoo research project is focusing on.

The project will use machine learning to identify patterns in milk spectral data that are associated with undesirable conditions in the cow. Milk spectral data is recorded when milk samples are analysed in a milk recording lab by mid-infrared machines. Essentially a mid-infrared laser is shined into a milk sample and the absorbance levels are recorded. Every analysed milk sample generates 1060 data points and when we consider the thousands of cows in the thousands of milk recording herds it does not take long to add up to Big Data. Therefore, these absorbance levels provide a deep dataset and in the HappyMoo project the spectral data will be correlated with phenotypes. Already, spectral data can be used to measure milk constituents, but it has also been shown to indicate difficult to measure phenotypes such as energy balance. . . 


Rural round-up

15/12/2019

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

02/10/2019

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

01/05/2019

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

21/01/2019

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

18/01/2019

‘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

22/11/2018

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

13/11/2018

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

07/04/2018

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

04/09/2017

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

22/06/2017

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

09/06/2016

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

29/08/2015

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

19/12/2014

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

16/09/2014

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. . .


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