Rural round-up

31/08/2020

Millions of tonnes of food at risk without foreign contractors farmers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Farmers stand to lose $110 million if and 27 million tonnes of food could go to waste if the Government does not allow at least 200 skilled heavy machine operators into the country, a new survey from rural contractors shows.

Contracting firms were desperate to get border exemptions for hundreds of heavy machine operators from overseas to carry out harvesting, hay baling and slurry removal, Rural Contractors chief executive Roger Parton said.

“There are huge implications for the farmers concerned and resulting shortages of feed for animals, especially if climatic events occur,” Parton said.

The survey showed 8200 farmers and 57 contracting firms around the country relied on foreign seasonal labour between October and March. Workers were usually recruited from the Britan and Ireland. . . 

Meat industry continues to do superb job – Allan Barber:

The return of community transmission underlines the excellent performance of the whole meat industry since Covid 19 reached New Zealand nearly six months ago in March. Farmers, transport and logistics operators, sale yards, exporters and domestic processors have all combined to ensure the health and safety of participants, while meeting the demands of customers, with only a minimal number of temporary plant closures. This contrasts markedly with experience overseas in countries such as the United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia and Germany with admittedly a much higher incidence of coronavirus outbreaks in the rest of the world than here.

In April seven major American meat facilities shut down with cold storage inventories of beef, pork and poultry equivalent to two weeks of total production and almost half of Canada’s beef processing capacity was halted after Cargill’s closure and a slowdown by JBS in Alberta. A feature of the interruption to processing in the USA was the great difficulty for farmers to get their stock processed, accompanied by a surge in retail pricing which reflected positively in processor margins, while livestock prices plummeted. . . 

A glimmer of hope for New Zealand strong wool – David Anderson:

A Lincoln-based wool products company believes it offers a glimmer of hope against the increasing negativity currently saturating New Zealand’s strong wool industry.

Keraplast Manufacturing processes strong wool into natural keratin proteins for the booming global nutraceuticals market. Keratin is an essential component of hair, finger and toenails, and skin. The company sells its keratin products as an ingredient for use in health (wound treatment), and skin, hair and nail beauty products world-wide.

Keraplast general manager Paul Sapsford says a recent innovation involves a bioactive keratin product that’s taken in tablet or drink form to “supercharge” the body’s production of collagen, promoting wrinkle reduction and supporting hair follicle and nail strength. . . 

RMPP Action Network extended:

The Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Network programme has been extended until early next year.

The RMPP Action Network is an initiative to support farmers to develop the confidence to turn ideas into action on-farm. It’s made up of farmer action groups of seven to nine farm businesses. 

Action groups are farmer-led and supported by trained facilitators to guide a group and help identify experts who can share new knowledge and ideas needed to achieve their goals . .

Autogrow releases public API to empower growers:

Autogrow has released a public API (Application Programming Interface) allowing connectivity between their Folium sensor network and other farm sensor data.

“Growers currently feel frustrated by not having systems that speak to each other. And the truth is that, until other large industry players also provide public APIs, growers are always going to be constrained in what they can do with their data. But we’re leading the charge,” explains Chief Technology Officer Jonathan Morgan.

“We know that many growers use CSV exports like Microsoft Excel, which can be slow, labour-intensive and requires a lot of manipulation to get benefit. . . 

Biochar and zinc application can improve wheat grown in certain soils:

Researchers from The University of Western Australia’s Institute of Agriculture and Sultan Qaboos University in Oman have found that the combined application of biochar and zinc can mitigate stress in wheat caused by the heavy metal cadmium.

Cadmium reduces the growth, yield, and zinc concentration in wheat grain due to oxidative stress. Its accumulation in soil can cause significant health risks to humans if it is introduced into the food chain via crops. 

The study, published in Chemosphere, is the first to show that the combined application of biochar and zinc to cadmium-contaminated soil improved both yield and grain zinc concentration, and reduced cadmium concentrations in grain. . . 


Rural round-up

12/08/2020

Leading by example – Gerald Piddock:

Being responsible to their land, animals, people and their community has earned a Hawke’s Bay couple the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award. Gerald Piddock reports.

Being a responsible dairy farmer means more than just being industry role models to Nick and Nicky Dawson.

It involves working beyond the farm bubble in the wider community and nurturing the health of people, the environment and their animals.

“It’s all interconnected,” Nicky says. 

“It’s like a three-legged stool. You can’t have one without the other.” . . 

Time running out for ag contractors as spring approaches – Gerald Piddock:

October is looming as a crunch-month for agricultural contractors and dairy farmers as the scramble continues to find staff to drive machinery to plant summer feed crops and cut grass cut for silage.

Waikato Federated Farmers vice-president Ben Moore said there was huge concern that contractors would not have enough staff on the ground to meet demand from dairy farmers as border restrictions continue to prevent overseas farm machinery operators from entering the country to work this spring and summer.

The region was still recovering from last summer’s drought with feed reserves on many farms already low. 

Moore feared there could be a potential disaster if farmers are unable to get their summer supplementary feed supply organised and there was another very dry summer. . . 

Ag contractor training gearing up – Mark Daniel:

Agricultural contractors are warning about a severe shortage of skilled machinery operators for the upcoming harvest season.

The shortage is due to New Zealand’s closed borders, shutting out staff from overseas. In response, a number of training organisations are offering displaced local workers and jobseekers a basic grounding in the sector.

In the South Island, the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) is promoting its ‘An Introduction to Agricultural Contracting’ course – based at its Telford Campus, near Balclutha. This initiative was the result of SIT’s discussions with Rural Contractors NZ Ltd (RCNZ) and some key players in the contracting sector in Otago and Southland – who all wanted to do something positive to address the need for trained contracting staff. . .

Lake Hawea to host world ploughing championships

The world’s best exponents of the art of ploughing are coming to Lake Hawea, but not for quite a while.

An Upper Clutha group of ploughing enthusiasts announced on Saturday they had secured the 2028 world championships.

That means 60 of the best “ploughmen” from farming communities around world will load up their tractors and ploughs, ship them to New Zealand and carve out furrows across the flat paddocks south of the lake.

Organising committee chairman John Osborne said his committee had spent two years preparing Lake Hawea’s case for the event, “basically trying to prove to the New Zealand executive we have facilities up here to have all these world guys here”. . . 

Industry hunters step up for annual event  – Jared Morgan:

Ask hunters where exactly in Central Otago they shot their haul in the annual Manuherikia Boar, Buck and Stag Hunt and they are unlikely to tell you.

They want to protect their turf and believe the results speak for themselves.

Yesterday marked weigh-in day in the annual three-day fundraiser for the Alexandra Scout Group.

It was heartland rural New Zealand at its best if the atmosphere at the weigh-in and prize-giving was anything to go by. . . 

Matching beef yields and consumer expectations :

ENHANCING the red meat value chain through a greater understanding of efficient use of farm resources, better use of grazing mosaics, and the production of cattle that reach and exceed domestic and export ready standards is the aim of a new four-year partnership for the west.

The University of Western Australia and Meat & Livestock through the MLA Donor Company have joined forces to coordinate and drive an integrated research and practice change program for the West Australian beef Industry.

The partnership, BeefLinks, will provide better knowledge and a range of technologies to support the sustainability credentials of products and interconnectivity between producers, processors and consumers. . . 

 


Rural round-up

11/04/2019

Dairy loses gloss – Neal Wallace:

Political and banking uncertainty appears to be taking some of the gloss off the dairy industry with just seven farms in Southland and Canterbury selling in the last six months.

From October to the middle of March just two dairy farms in Canterbury and five in Southland were sold but a broader lack of buyer confidence has eased national dairy land prices by up to 15%.

Real Estate Institute spokesman Brian Peacocke says a perfect storm has taken the wind out of the sector’s sails but he notes activity has started to pick up.

Rules governing the sale of land to foreign buyers have been tightened, banks are viewing lending to dairying less favourably, tax changes are possible, the introduction of environmental taxes and regulations are expected and borrowing costs . . .

Dire worker shortage in orchards – Richard Rennie:

Hawke’s Bay and Bay of Plenty orchardists are grappling again with a seasonal labour shortage, with a shortfall of thousands of workers expected as kiwifruit and apple harvests reach their peak.

The shortage has horticultural heads exasperated at the need for greater understanding from the Government of how dire the situation has become.

The Social Development Ministry declared a seasonal labour shortage for kiwifruit early this month and extended the already declared labour shortage hitting Hawke’s Bay. 

Shortfalls in staff numbers have increased over last year’s with Bay of Plenty’s deficit of 1400 likely to push 3800 at the mid-April harvest peak. Last year the region was short by 1200 staff at this stage of harvest.  . . 

Fruit rotting, workers suffering amid Hawke’s Bay labour shortage

Fruit is rotting on the ground in Hawke’s Bay amid a massive worker shortage and orchardists warn that overworked pickers are suffering more accidents.

The official labour shortage first declared for Hawke’s Bay six weeks ago – with 192 tourists granted approval to work in orchards – expired on Friday.

It was immediately extended, but growers say it’s too little too late.

Phil Paynter from Johnny Appleseed Holdings had to say goodbye to 22 hard-working pickers last week and says that with a little more warning, he could have kept them. . . 

Guy Trafford looks at two current on-farm issues, pointing to some recent relevant history for controlling feral goats, and to the battle of the science over glyphosate – GUy Trafford:

Some farmers are feeling let down by government after the recommendations from the select committee on military-styled weapons have been announced.

The particular piece that they are at odds with is that only .22 calibre rifles (or less) are allowed to be semi-automatic and with a magazine capable of holding 10 shells or less. Any larger calibre rifles are only to be used by licensed contractors.

To be fair to the government, from my recollection, at no point did they indicate that higher calibre semi-automatic rifles would be allowed, and it would have been incredibly naive to think otherwise. The only animals needing these weapons are likely to be goats with possums and rabbits quite able to be culled by .22 or shot guns . . 

Comvita to take full control of China JV – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – Honey company Comvita has entered a conditional agreement to acquire the remaining 49 percent of its China joint venture, Comvita Food and Comvita China, for about $20 million.

Comvita will acquire the JV by issuing 4.05 million new Comvita ordinary shares at $4.35 per share and an additional cash payment of $3.19 million. The acquisition will be earnings accretive immediately on a per share basis, it said.

“This completes the ‘final piece of the jigsaw’ with respect to our China Strategy, which we have been working on for a number of years,” chief executive Scott Coulter said. . . 

Students inspired by agricultural science at UWA Future Farm:

Breaking the city-country divide, Year 12 Geography students from Penrhos College recently had their third annual field day at The University of Western Australia’s Ridgefield Farm in Pingelly.

The UWA Ridgefield Farm is home to the Future Farm 2050 project, which facilitates multidisciplinary research and development of sustainable and economically viable farms at local, national and international levels.

Professor Phil Vercoe from The UWA School of Agriculture and Environment and The UWA Institute of Agriculture introduced the students to the Enrich project, which was part of the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) investigating the benefits of planting native perennial shrubs as livestock feed. . .


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