Rural round-up

16/03/2021

Forestry issues still need much debate – Keith Woodford:

Land-use decisions between farm and forest need unbiased information from within New Zealand, without Government screwing the scrum towards foreign investors

In my last article on forestry, a little over two months ago, I ended by saying that “there is a need for an informed and wide-ranging debate as we search for the path that will lead to the right trees in the right place, planted and owned by the right people”. Here I take up that issue again.

In the interim, the Climate Change Commission (CCC) has published its draft report on how New Zealand might meet its Paris obligations through to 2050. A key message in the report is that forestry must not be used as the ‘get out of jail card’ (my term) that avoids facing hard decisions elsewhere in the economy.

The CCC estimate is that under current policy settings and with carbon priced at $35 per tonne, then new forests will increase by 1.1 million hectares by 2050. If the carbon price rises to $50 then the CCC thinks new plantings will increase to 1.3 million hectares. . . .

Small steps boost farm’s biodiversity:

Farmers discovered that there are many ways to protect and enhance mahinga kai and biodiversity values while visiting Waimak Farm in Eyreton recently.

The 612-hectare farm includes the largest remaining kanuka stand in North Canterbury. Due to its important biodiversity values this area is being protected by farm managers Richard and Susan Pearse.

Richard Pearse says the kanuka stand provides an important seed source and seedlings have been taken from the area to try and recreate a similar ecosystem in other dryland areas. He is aiming to plant approximately 1000 native trees per year throughout the entire farm.

“It’s important for us to protect this area as there are hardly any of these dryland areas left. It is easier to protect what you already have on farm than starting from scratch.”

Arts approach to rural mental health in Tairāwhiti – Alice Angeloni:

A mental health service that uses mahi toi (the arts) to create culturally safe spaces will reach into rural Tairāwhiti.

The primary mental health service will support west rural and East Coast communities and is expected to start between April and June.

A report before Hauora Tairāwhiti’s district health board last month said $900,000 left over from another Ministry of Health contract would fund the service over two years.

But as it was a “finite resource” to 2022, with no guarantees of funding being extended, building leadership capability within the community would be key to making the service sustainable, the report said. . . 

Nature school demand grows post lockdown – Emma Hatton:

The demand for one-day nature or forest schools is on the rise, with advocates saying if schools do not provide more outdoor-based learning, the demand will continue to grow.

At Battle Hill farm in Pāuatahanui in Wellington, about a dozen children aged between four and 12, gather every Wednesday for nature school.

They start the morning with a hui to decide what the day will look like, possibly geo-caching, tree climbing or making damper to eat over the fire they will build. They also check the weather and debrief on any safety issues. . .

2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winner is excited to be part of the New Zealand dairy industry, producing dairy products with the lowest carbon footprint in the world and is a major contributor to the New Zealand economy. 

Women achieved a clean sweep, winning all three categories in Auckland/Hauraki. Rachael Foy was named the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Thames Civic Centre on Thursday night and won $10,300 in prizes and four merit awards. The other major winners were the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year Stephanie Walker, and the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Emma Udell.

Rachael was named the Auckland/Hauraki Dairy farm manager of the year in 2017 and placed third at the National Finals.

“The benefits of entering the Awards are numerous, including networking, benchmarking my business, the prizes, raising my profile and the National finals week,” she says. . . 

Carbon bank – Uptown Girl:

Everyone is all paper straws, and bicycles, and reusable grocery bags and water bottles, and then we’re over here like, “Here’s our dirt.”

Actually, we call it soil. And we have to make that clarification or our college soil professor will drive down here and make it for us.

But seriously. Did you know our soil, when managed right, is a massive carbon bank? That’s right – we are storing carbon right here, right below our feet!

What you’re looking at is a crop field where we grow grains to harvest every year. You’re seeing green cover crop, that was planted in the fall before harvest of our corn to make sure our soil was never bare. . .

 


Rural round-up

02/06/2020

Growing new farmers – Gianina Schwanecke:

Four months into the Wairarapa pilot of the Growing Future Farmers programme, GIANINA SCHWANECKE speaks to those involved about how it has been going.

Interim GFF general manager Tamsin Jex-Blake said many students had expressed interest in the Wairarapa pilot late last year and six students were partnered with farmers.

The sheep and beef focused training programme officially kicked off in February this year, and she was happy with how it had progressed so far.

She said the programme helped provide students with opportunities to learn practical farming skills from those experienced in the industry and would go a long way to helping with the skills shortage. . . 

Food can fuel NZ recovery – Ross Verry:

Syndex CEO Ross Verry gives his view on how New Zealand can emerge from the Covid-19 crisis.

As the gates of lockdown open onto a changed landscape it’s time to take stock; to look at what we have, where our strengths lie and where the opportunities are.

There has to be a silver lining and, with the right innovation and systems in place, New Zealand could emerge shining brightly.

Having worked for both the industry and the financial systems that support it, in times of peaks and troughs, I can say that as we stand on the start line of the race ahead, we have to remember New Zealand is a world class producer of food – leaders in quality, productivity and efficiency.

We have a population of less than 5 million yet we produce enough to feed many more. Our supply is important to the world. Our kiwifruit, cherries and hops are revered and exported at premium prices and, although these items may fall into the luxury category, we excel in staple goods too. . . 

 

Urbanites upskill for career in dairy :

With large numbers of people losing their jobs because of Covid-19, Dairy NZ has launched a publicity campaign to encourage people to consider changing careers and getting into dairy farming.

On 8 June, it is running a “farm-ready” entry-level training course which is free for those serious about working on dairy farms.

Enquiries have already come in from people who have lost their jobs. They include a former fly-fishing guide, someone in film and television, another in banking and finance, a couple of commercial pilots, a biologist, a welder and people from construction and forestry. . . 

Awards co-ordinator bids adieu – Yvonne O’Hara:

Outgoing Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards regional co-ordinator Tracie Donelley has always been impressed by how dedicated and passionate the entrants are about their farms.

‘‘I would like to invite urban people to come to the awards so they can see how much effort these farmers put into their land,’’ Ms Donelley, who has been in the position for nearly seven years, said.

‘‘I have been continually amazed by amount of time and money the farmers put in their farms with no immediate payback, and by how much they care for their land and their stock.’’ . . 

Heifer on the lam: Farmer seeks sightings of ‘mildly agitated’ cow :

The owner of a cow that pulled an audacious Houdini act to escape a trip to a Southland abbatoir is asking for the public’s help to get her back.

Stock agent Terry Cairns put an ad in the Southland Times seeking sightings of a “solid black Heifer” described as being “mildly agitated”.

“Her mates that I sold were $800 each, so while it’s not a fortune, it’s significant and it’s a hell lot of steak and hamburgers and stuff gone west if I can’t find her.” . . 

Root canals and GMOs – Uptown Girl:

Last week I went to the dentist and was surprised with an unexpected root canal. Nice, right?

The dentist explained the entire process and said that root canals have come along way with modern technology and were safe, and fairly pain free.

I shocked him and said, “Doc, I appreciate the offer but would you mind doing the procedure the same way it was done in the 50’s?”

😳

OK, I didn’t actually say that. (Everyone knows you can’t actually talk to the dentist because they only talk to you with their tools in your mouth.)

I just nodded and embraced the modern advancements that made the process nearly pain free.

As crazy as that request sounds- for a patient to request a dentist revert back to practices from decades ago – it’s the same request that is thrown at farm families all the time. . . 


Rural round-up

27/10/2019

Dirty birds are fouling waterways – Ron Frew:

New Zealand’s waterways are mostly pretty good in terms of being safe to swim in. 

Certainly, I know of no deaths or even serious illness directly or indirectly attributed to swimming in a NZ river because of contamination from industrial, agricultural or municipal causes. 

The discussion has largely been about contamination from dairy farms and that was driven by Fish and Game, possibly to divert attention from the fact that E coli contamination from water fowl, eg game birds, is very high in some locations.  . .

Passion for workers’ wellbeing – Yvonne O’Hara:

Serena Lyders, of Tokanui, comes from five generations of shearers, grew up among shearers, is married to a sheep and beef farmer, her three sons are shearers and her 2-year-old granddaughter already has her own miniature woolshed broom.

As a result, Mrs Lyders is passionate about the wool­harvesting industry and the health and wellbeing of its workers.

She is a Manukura navigator leader and mentor, working for Te Putahitanga o Te Waipounamu, which is the Whanau Ora commissioning agency for the South Island . . 

Farmers ramp up gun action – Neal Wallace:

Farmers are ramping up their campaign to change new firearm laws to allow some of them to use otherwise  banned firearms for pest control on their properties.

The legislation as proposed will compromise the ability of landowners with significant pest problems to do control so Government officials were invited to hear the concerns from some affected Central Otago farmers, Federated Farmers board member Miles Anderson says.

The federation wants an exemption for a small number of farmers who need semi-automatic firearms with large capacity magazines, of the type the bill will outlaw. . . 

Sheep recognition step closer – Sally Rae:

The world’s first sheep facial recognition software, developed in Dunedin, is set to be prototyped this year.

Sheep NN, a project created by artificial intelligence and machine learning company Iris Data Science, has received a $40,000 grant from Callaghan Innovation towards the $100,000 project that will take the model to prototype by the end of the year.

Iris Data Science was co-founded by Greg Peyroux and Benoit Auvray, who have been working on the project to cheaply re-identify sheep, potentially removing the need for ear-tags while also solving other farm management and broader issues. . .

Zespri tries to whet US appetite :

Research has become a bigger part of Zespri’s marketing mix as it reverts to basics to increase sales in the United States.

The US is a comparatively recent market for Zespri, which has previously looked to China and Japan for growth. The kiwifruit marketer opened a pan-American office in 2017. 

Last year US sales reached almost $100 million, an annual increase of 50% and Zespri chief grower David Courtney says this season will see even more fruit sold.  . . 

Rookie women shearers raise funds :

A group of Hawke’s Bay women have organised a shearing competition among themselves to raise awareness about mental health in rural communities.

The catch is that none of them – an accountant, a dental therapist, an optical technician, a police officer and a rural insurance manager – have ever shorn before.

The Women and Wool Farmstrong Fundraiser is the brainchild of shearing contractor Colin Watson-Paul who worked alongside rural insurance manager Harriet Partridge and other women in the community to organise it.  . . 

Open for Business in a Small-Town: 5 things everyone can do to support small-town business – Uptown Girl:

I grew up with a family in the restaurant business and as a kid, loved everything about hanging out in our local, downtown business. So, when my husband climbed on board with the idea of running a small agritourism business on our farm, I jumped in. During that time, it’s become clear a few things people can do to support small-town businesses.

1. Shout the good out and whisper the bad in. This is the complete opposite of how we normally behave, and I am just as guilty as anyone. Think about the last time you had a bad meal in a restaurant. The server comes by and says, “How is everything?” Most people respond, “Fine.” Then, when they walk out, they literally tell everyone how awful the meal was… everyone except the one person who needs to know in order to change it – the business owner!

On the flip, when someone has a good experience, they will often rave to the business owner and then forget about it shortly after leaving. According to Andrew Thomas on Inc.com, a dissatisfied customer will tell 9 to 15 people. Only one out of every 10 satisfied customers will share about their experience. . . 


Rural round-up

22/10/2015

Dear Consumer: They tell me not to get angry.  But If I am honest, sometimes I do. – Uptown Girl:

Dear Concerned Consumer,

The marketing research tells me that I should focus on the positive when I address you.   I shouldn’t talk about the environment, or the health of my soil – they say you do not care about those things.

They tell me not to discuss the challenge of feeding the world.  I should not detail the challenges of feeding my own family on a farmer’s income, with ever rising input costs, unpredictable weather patterns and buyer preferences that change with the direction of the wind.  They tell me this doesn’t register with you. . . 

Dairy downturn costs NZ economy $4.8 billion – Gerald Piddock:

The full scale of the dairy downturn nationally has been revealed after new statistics showed a $4.9 billion fall in dairy-related income from the 2014-15 season.

The statistics from DairyNZ showed the value of milk production to the national economy dropped from $18.1b in 2013-14 to $13.2b in 2014-15.

Waikato has taken a $1.8b loss in dairy revenue, from $4.2b to $2.4b over the same period. . . 

Good practice – good farm – Andrew Hoggard:

The Sustainable Dairying: Workplace Action Plan launched last week at Lincoln is the roadmap to achieving the dairy industry’s work environment objectives.

It is part of  an original initiative developed in 2013 by Federated Farmers and DairyNZ and aims to encourage good employment practice by dairy farmers

Whether we like it or not the dairy industry suffers from a perception problem when it comes to employment practices.

Some of that perception is based on the fact that it’s a dirty job and you need to get up early. We can’t do much to change that. . . 

Hilgendorf legacy marked:

Charlotte Hilgendorf, left, Prue Frost, Jane von Dadelszen, and Henrietta Scott, a granddaughter and three great-granddaughters of pioneering New Zealand plant scientist, Lincoln University’s Professor Frederick William Hilgendorf, were given the plaque from the campus building named after him which is being demolished, at a lunch last week at the University.

Some of the history and architectural features of the building was presented to the family members, as well as some stories from those who worked in it. . . 

Minerality mysteries remain:

Ongoing wine research by Dr Wendy Parr of Lincoln University indicates that while minerality is not a figment of tasters’ sensorial imagination, the source of the perception remains a mystery, and the description should be used with caution in formal wine tasting and judging situations.

Minerality’ is used by wine professionals to describe the character of certain wines, with vague references made to wet stones, crushed rock and soil. Regarded variously as a taste, a smell, a trigeminal (mouth-feel) sensation, or all three, until now there’s been little agreement on what is actually meant by this common but enigmatic term, or whether it even exists. 

Intrigued by the lack of scientific knowledge and the plethora of anecdotal evidence around minerality, Dr Parr collaborated with scientists in France and at Plant and Food Research in New Zealand to investigate what the concept means in Sauvignon Blanc wines, and whether there are cultural differences in perceptions of minerality. . . 

 

 
Rat detected on Ulva Island:

A rat has invaded predator-free Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara off the coast of Stewart Island, the Department of Conservation says.

Rat prints were first detected on a tracking card near the Post Office Bay houses as part of a routine tracking card and trap check.

Rodent detecting dog Gadget and her handler Sandy King found signs of a rat in two areas after checking the island. . . 

Rural city living in Gore – Tracy Hicks:

In late 2013 Gore district councillors, still feeling pretty chuffed with the results from the local body elections, gathered for the traditional post-election retreat.

With our three-year term stretching ahead of us, little did anyone realise that what we were about to hear would significantly impact on our decision making.

A talk by leading demographer Prof Natalie Jackson was the catalyst we needed to stop talking about what we could do to make a difference to our future, and actually start doing something. . . .


Rural round-up

19/10/2015

Alliance Group makes pitch for ‘co-operatively minded’ farmers following SFF Chinese deal – Hamish McNeilly:

Confirmation of the Silver Fern Farms (SFF) deal with Chinese interests would not start a price war, Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor says.

The Alliance Group was now positioned as the country’s only major redmeat co-operative, after shareholders of rival SFF voted to sell a 50 per cent stake to Chinese food giant Shanghai Maling.

The vote was 82.2 per cent in favour of the deal, and Surveyor saw an opportunity for the Invercargill-based co-operative. . . 

NZ Farmer editor wins international award – Gerald Piddock:

NZ Farmer editor Jon Morgan has won the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Star Prize for writing at the organisation’s congress in Hamilton.

Morgan beat entries from 40 other member nations to win the award for his story on renowned South Wairarapa romney breeder Holmes Warren published in 2014.

He is the first New Zealander to win the award. . .

Launch of livestock trading platform:

A group of Hawke’s Bay entrepreneurs have launched StockX, an online rural trading platform for New Zealand farmers.

StockX say they will reduce wastage and inefficiencies in the current, outdated livestock trading system.

The platform says they allow farmers to buy and sell direct, operators to plan and optimise bookings and meat processors to source and buy direct from farmers. . . 

We don’t farm for free – and you don’t want us to!  – Uptown Girl:

When someone wants to discount my information on modern agriculture, they state that we are just “for profit farmers”.  People even protest farmers making a profit, with signs saying things like “people over profit”. 

Some people seem to be of the a mindset that those who are trying to make a living farming are in some sort of conspiracy with “Big Ag” that results in nearly all the evils of the world from starvation and obesity to autism and cancer. 

Last week, a visitor to my blog asked me to visit a website of a self proclaimed “sustainable farmer”.  He appeared to be taking full advantage of all the hot buzz words – he was verified organic, labor intense, small, local, natural, non-GMO, hormone free, antibiotic free, gluten free, Monsanto free – but he was not sustainable.   . . 

Farm-girl survival tips – Pink Tractor:

We know being a farm girl is the best, but it can also be a challenge. Whether you are new to farming or a lifelong farmer, it can be tough to juggle it all and be successful. There are times when you might feel like the only woman farmer in the world. But, you aren’t alone. Here are our best farm girl survival tips!

Find a seasoned farmer who can help you as a mentor. The farmers who know have tips, common farm sense and advice.

Accept that some years are better than others. Even if you do everything right, things will go wrong. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Farmers have to be optimistic and resilient. . .


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