Rural round-up

November 22, 2018

Will to live response pleasing -Sally Rae:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dunne in style:

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

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

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

Cavalier eyes anti-plastic trend :

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Feds President spearheads delegation to Uruguay and Argentina:

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

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

Two new faces for Farmlands’ board:

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

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

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


Rural round-up

April 28, 2018

Minister refuses to meet MP to discuss future of rescue helicopter base – Guy Williams:

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says Health Minister David Clark has refused to meet him to discuss the fate of Te Anau’s rescue helicopter base.

Te Anau was one of three bases cut from a list of bases in a tender for air rescue services put out by the ACC and Ministry of Health last month.

Taupo and Rotorua’s bases were effectively restored to the list after three North Island mayors met Mr Clark on Monday. . . 

Scientists work on simple way to clean streams – Tony Benny:

Canterbury University scientists have perfected a simple method to reduce sediment load in waterways by up to 70 per cent, part of a project to find solutions to Canterbury’s water woes. Tony Benny reports.

On the Canterbury Plains alone, there are about 17,000km of waterways, many of which carry high levels of nitrogen, phosphate-laden sediment and faecal bacteria and a huge effort is going into ways to reverse this decline in water quality, with local and national government agencies, farm industry bodies, iwi and farmers all joining in.

Adding some science to the mix is the Canterbury Water Rehabilitation Experiment (Carex), a project by the University of Canterbury’s Freshwater Ecology Research Group, funded by the Ashburton-based Mackenzie Charitable Foundation. The Carex team comprises nine scientists including professors, researchers and students. . . .

Gas not grass at farm field day – Richard Rennie:

Ground-breaking research turning a commercial dairy farm into a living lab is starting to reveal some valuable insights for farmers seeking ways to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gases.

Waikato University has, for the first time, thrown back the blanket on its researchers’ cutting-edge equipment and early lessons from that equipment on a Matamata property that has been a core site over the past six years.

In something of a national first, the traditional style Waikato farm discussion day had greenhouse gases rather than growing more grass as the key focus for those attending.

At the heart of the property’s research into better understanding of nitrous oxide release on dairy farms is the university’s $250,000 Quantum Cascade Laser. The high tech kit is helping researchers gain far more accurate analysis what the gas does when released from cow urine patches.  . . 

Hurdles ahead in future irrigation development – Yvonne O’Hara:

Irrigation New Zealand’s (INZ) held its conference in Alexandra earlier this month and the primary focus was on irrigation and its future role.

IrrigationNZ chair Nicky Hyslop said the conference “celebrated the role that irrigation played”.

The future of the Manuherikia Catchment Water Strategy Group’s plan to raise the height of Falls Dam by 6m to irrigate 12,500ha was highlighted following the announcement that the Crown Irrigation Investments (CII) would not be funding any more irrigation projects.

Water strategy group chairman Allan Kane said it had decided, based on pre-feasibility study information, that raising Falls Dam by 6m to irrigate 12,500ha was the best option.

However, the Government’s announcement meant alternative funding options would need to be found to contribute to the group’s final feasibility study. . . 

Bulk milk tests ‘not working’ – Annette Scott:

Frank Peters’ $4 million dairy herd, the result of 55 years of breeding genetics is about to be slaughtered despite being clean in bulk milk testing.

Now he’s worried about 2500 calves he has sold in the four years since Mycoplasma bovis arrived on his 1400-cow farm in stock he bought from Southern Centre Dairies in Southland in autumn 2014.

“That’s four years ago and we have sold 2500 calves in that time that could be anywhere now. . .

Big year for Wallace Family of South Otago – Rob Tipa:

Rob Tipa visits a family that has caught the judges’ eye in a couple of recent competitions.

This year is shaping up as a big one for the Wallace family of Waipahi in South Otago, winning several major southern farming awards in the space of a week.

Logan, Ross and Alexa Wallace won the Beef + Lamb Livestock Award, the Massey University Innovation Award and the supreme award for the Otago region at the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Wanaka earlier this month.

Last weekend Logan, 28, added a win in the Otago-Southland regional final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year awards in Winton to his impressive record in the industry. . .

Put wellbeing in business plan:

If the wool industry wants to attract the next generation of shearers it needs to prioritise the wellbeing of its workforce, industry veteran Dion Morrell says.

Dion and his partner Gabriela run a busy, Alexandra-based contracting business employing up to 50 shearers at peak time. 

He’s worked in the industry for over 40 years, starting as a shearer straight out of school, working his way up to elite level competition representing New Zealand and setting four world records along the way.  . . 

Viral American farming sensation on tour in New Zealand

From a family farm in Kansas in the United States, four siblings known as The Peterson Farm Bros have risen to social media fame with their funny parody videos.

Songs names like “Takin’ Care of Livestock” (Taking Care of Business Parody) are sure to put you on the map, and these siblings have racked up over 50 million views on their videos.

However, the world’s most popular farming family are using their fame for the greater good to advocate for agriculture and to correct farming misconceptions. . .


Rural round-up

October 12, 2013

Living up to our global responsibilities – Bruce Wills:

Not to give you the wrong impression, but I am writing this column from Geneva, where I have co-presented the World Farmers Organisation’s trade policy to the World Trade Organisation. I am back in Europe thanks to the WTO but it has helped to advance New Zealand’s agricultural diplomacy.

As a trading nation, we absolutely depend on trade in a world that is utterly dependent upon food. There are some things which keep me awake at night. Adverse weather events and biosecuirty being chief among them but there is a third which increasingly gnaws at me. That is a perfect storm of food production not keeping pace with a world population expected to hit 9.3 billion stomachs in the year 2050; an amazing 2.3 billion more than today.

Henk-Jen Brinkman, of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office, called food insecurity “a threat multiplier”. . .

Angus farmers see grass is greener – Tim Cronshaw:

New Zealand’s grass-based feeding system for cattle was the main talking point of 110 international visitors at Te Mania Angus, during one of the first stops of a South Island tour, before the World Angus Forum in Rotorua next week.

Overseas visitors were treated to a wide selection of angus heifers with calves, mature calving cows, yearling bulls and herd sires, at the breeding operation at Conway Flats, south of Kaikoura.

They were also impressed by food prepared by celebrity chef Al Brown for their Monday visit at one of the largest angus breeding operations in New Zealand, and its setting next to the sea, with a snow-topped mountain backdrop. . . .

Milk powder scare will cause long term disruption – Alan Barber:

It may be a statement of the obvious, but the effects of Fonterra’s botulism scare will last much longer than originally hoped or imagined. Its impact on New Zealand’s international trade reputation gives the impression of being more disastrous than an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, always assumed to be the biggest disaster that could possibly happen.

Economically there is no comparison between the two, because the botulism that wasn’t has initially done no more than cause infant formula manufacturers a loss of business. There has been no apparent impact on dairy payouts or even global auction prices. Fonterra appears to be pretending the whole saga wasn’t even its fault, if its reaction to Danone’s damages claim is any guide.   . .

Sainsbury’s evaluating merits of docking – Alan Williams:

Big United Kingdom supermarket chain Sainsbury’s will be guided by the science on issues it is working on with leading lamb supplier Alliance Group.

These are the docking of lambs’ tails and the use of high-sugar grasses as a livestock feed in New Zealand.

Animal welfare and sustainable production were key parts of Sainsbury’s strategic vision and its work with Alliance was part of the process to have matching values between the main UK lamb supply group and NZ suppliers, the chain’s agriculture manager Philip Hambling said.

The first year of a three-year tail-docking research programme, reported in The New Zealand Farmers Weekly, has been completed.

It produced interesting findings but it was too early to draw conclusions, Hambling said. . .

Gisborne forest boom predicted – Pam Graham:

The harvesting of forests in the Gisborne-Tairawhiti region on the East Coast will create 630 jobs by 2020, potentially reducing drug abuse and crime in the region, according to a report.

A study by Waikato University for the Eastland Wood Council says that by 2020 up to 10 percent of the population of Gisborne will be involved in, or derive a living from forestry.

Salaries and wages to Gisborne residents are likely to increase to $151 million a year in that period.

The number of people receiving welfare benefits will go down, schools will benefit from having parents employed and there may be less drug abuse and crime. . .

Weather helping croppers – Murray Robertson:

THE weather has been helping the district’s croppers in the past week to catch up with their planting programmes after heavy rain last month.

This is a crucial time for every crop and cropper in the district.

Leaderbrand general manager Richard Burke said they had everything they needed at this time.

“Things are pretty good really. . .

Awards offer chance to put spotlight on sustainability – Sue O’Dowd:

There’s no time like the present to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, says national judging co-ordinator Jamie Strang.

Earlier this week the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET) confirmed eight entries had been received for the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The prestigious awards, which are held in 12 regions, are being staged in the province for the first time.

While some farmers said they wanted to delay entering the competition because they thought their farm wasn’t quite ready, often they’d say the same thing in following years, Strang said.

Many farmers did not like being in the spotlight, but entering the awards offered many benefits. . .

Solid start to avocado export sales:

The first of this season’s New Zealand avocados have started hitting the supermarket shelves in Japan this week in a buoyant start to export sales there, and opening prices in Australia are at their best.

Rival Mexican supply is lower, which has allowed Avanza, the international export brand channel for AVOCO, to start early season negotiations in Japan at significantly improved market prices. While this is partly offset by an unfavourable exchange rate it still reflects a significant improvement in grower OGR (orchard gate returns).

At the same time, interest in New Zealand avocados is proving to be strong in developing markets such as Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia and there are encouraging signs that Avanza sales will resume in Hong Kong after a two-year absence. . .


Rural round-up

July 13, 2012

Threats to NZ’s meat exports – Rob O’Neill:

No-one knows exactly how much New Zealand meat and produce is smuggled into China, but a recent crackdown on the “grey channel”, as it’s called, and the seizure of a US$10 million frozen meat cargo highlight not just a trade mystery, but potential threats to our meat exports. 

 On June 12, Chinese authorities descended on an inbound ship, seizing more than 1800 metric tons of frozen goods. Five crew members were put in detention by Shenzhen Customs. 

  The 60-container cargo was described as including beef, chicken wings and pork from the United States, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. . .

Sustainability possible Kirsty Kirsten Byrant:

Sustainability is a word that we hear bandied about on an ever-increasing basis. But what does it really mean? 

    To some people, it means all things environment. But, to me, sustainability encompasses more than just our physical surroundings. To be truly sustainable, there are four strands to be considered: the environment, economic, social and cultural factors all interact to determine sustainability. 

    Last month, I attended the grand final of the 2012 Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Nine farming operations from throughout New Zealand underwent a gruelling programme of judging, lined up against these four pillars of sustainability. The judging criteria covered the spectrum – from on-farm profitability and ethical staff management, through to community participation and demonstrating a commitment to ecological stewardship. . .

Europe learns the drill:

The crusade to encourage more farmers to adopt no-tillage techniques on their properties has been taken to Europe. 

    No-Tillage New Zealand was set up in 2000 to promote the direct-drill system developed in Manawatu by John Baker and is marketed by Bunnythorpe-based Baker No-Tillage. The factory is in Feilding. 

    Baker said the company held a bus tour, a “moving conference”, each year, visiting people with Cross-Slot, no-tillage equipment, and this year it was in Germany and France. . .

US drought rising food prices – Andrew Stern:

US corn and soybean crops, the world’s largest, are in the worst condition since the last major drought in America’s breadbasket in 1988, the government said on Monday, pushing up grain prices and raising the prospect of global food-price inflation. 

    Corn and soybean prices soared at the Chicago Board of Trade, based on forecasts that thirsty crops will get no relief for at least another week, although a record-shattering heatwave abated over the weekend in the eastern half of the country. 

    On Monday, the US Agriculture Department said its surveys showed only 40 percent of the corn and soybean crops were rated in good to excellent condition, the lowest rating at this stage of the season since the last severe US drought in 1988. . .

Changes in carbon levels of dariy farm soils quantified, evaluated:

There’s something going on in the dairy farming pastures of New Zealand and a team of Waikato University scientists is determined to find out exactly what. 

    They know the amount of carbon in dairy soils has reduced in recent years but they don’t know if it is still declining. They also want to find out what management practices will best restore those carbon levels. The university says the work is important because carbon supports life in the soil, and declining amounts mean declining returns for farmers. 

    On a Waharoa dairy farm near Morrinsville, 20 times a second two special machines are recording the amount of carbon dioxide going in and out of the soil. They will keep measuring it at the same rate for the next year. . .

Water clean-up a challenge – Jon Morgan:

We are about to enter a new phase in this country’s development, one that farmers will have to be involved in, whether they like it or not. 

    It is as momentous as the last big change that swept through the country in the 1980s – the removal of subsidies. 

    Farmers were hard hit by that change and they will be again by this one. It is the setting of a firm programme of how to clean up New Zealand’s soils and waterways.

    Such a programme could be laid out in a matter of months, two years at most. . .


Sweet rewards from honey dressings

August 28, 2008

Waikato University’s honey reserach group is about to strike gold.

Wound dressings made from biologically active manuka honey and a seaweed gel have gone on sale in New Zealand, and are about to hit international markets, Waikato University researchers say.

The university’s honey research group, led by Professor Peter Molan, put together the blend of honey and a seaweed extract as a dressing for leg and foot ulcers, burns, and similar infections, a market estimated to be worth $12 billion by 2012.

The technology has been licensed as a Medihoney antibacterial honey gel sheet, which has won regulatory approval to be sold in Europe, and Food and Drug Administration approval for the United States.

The sheets hold the antibacterial honey in contact with a wound and at the same time absorb the pus and other liquids draining from the wound. Decades of work by Prof Molan went into showing antibacterial agents in some specific types of manuka honey are effective at healing wounds. He created prototypes of the wound dressing about six years ago. The patch contains manuka honey gelled with sodium alginate, a food ingredient extracted from seaweed which helps the dressing absorb moisture.

The patch is dry, and does not stick to the skin: Prof Molan said the dressing would be particularly useful for chronic wounds resulting from diabetes. Type two diabetes often leaves patients with foot ulcers and other wounds on limbs with poor circulation.

“It means diabetic wounds can be actually healed, rather than just offering palliative care,” Prof Molan said. “It could mean fewer amputations which are often necessary when these wounds won’t heal.”

Non-healing wounds were an expensive burden in the health system, and the honey dressings could save money because they would need less frequent changing.

This is good news for the University, health sector – and farmers with enough manuka to make a home for beehives.

Stands need to cover at least 50 hectares and be well clear of other plants bees might find attractive such as gorse because they can fly about 1.8 kilometres.

And it must be manuka not kanuka which produces honey with a similar taste but without the activity level which is were the value of manuka honey lies.

 

We visited a company making manuka products in March and were told the honey is analysed to determine the activity level on bacteria. The unique manuka factor – UMF – is calculated from that and the higher the activity level the better the UMF and the more valuable the honey – up to $24 a kilo.

 

 Farmers could get up to $50 from beekeepers with hives on their properties. Although like any other primary industry returns are subject to weather. Bees like warm, humid conditions and won’t fly at all if it’s under 12 degrees. And it’s not just a matter of putting hives out and collecting the honey, the bees have to be fed when there’s not enough nectar to sustain them.

 

 However, if the manuka dressings are successful, farmers may well find they can make money from what many regard as scrub.


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