Rural round-up

February 19, 2019

Tasman facing serious drought – Tracey Neal:

First there were floods, then fire and now drought.

The Waimea Plains, cradled between two mountain ranges, are usually immune to such extremes in the weather.

But a Tasman District Council water scientist says the wider area is facing its worst drought since 2001. . .

Explainer: Why NZ can’t afford to mess with China – Aimee Shaw:

China and New Zealand have enjoyed decades of mutual benefits.

The global powerhouse and New Zealand signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2008 and since then have phased in provisions to ease trade between the two countries.

China is now New Zealand’s largest trading partner, followed by Australia. Suffice to say it’s a relationship New Zealand can’t afford to lose.

Fallout from the Government taking the United States stance on the Huawei debate and now reports of people not wanting to come to New Zealand as a result are threatening the country’s long-standing friendly relationship. . . 

Year of the Pig means feast of exports for Fonterra :

Celebrations have been underway around the world to celebrate the festive Chinese New Year season — welcoming the Year of the Pig.

In China itself those celebrations are likely to have included family feasts including dairy produced in Waipa’s Fonterra plants.

Fonterra’s Te Awamutu site exported around $175 million in products to China for consumption in 2017/18. That’s about $12,500 per person in Te Awamutu. . . 

Optimistic report on ‘M bovis’ response – Sally Rae:

Improvements are already being made in many areas highlighted in the Mycoplasma bovis Technical Advisory Group’s report, response head Geoff Gwyn says.

Work is under way to develop a new surveillance approach for the beef industry and the focus is increasing on improving communication to affected farmers, the public and staff.

The report, released this month and following the group’s meeting in late November, provided independent validation the eradication programme was ”on track”, he said.

Mr Gwyn said the findings and recommendations were not surprising. Some of the recommendations were relatively simple to implement or were already in train, while others would need careful consideration before a decision was made. . . 

Open Country challenges validity of Fonterra 2018 milk price – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Open Country Dairy is seeking a judicial review of the way Fonterra Cooperative Group set its milk price in the 2018 season, despite the Commerce Commission giving the price-setting process a pass mark.

The commission noted the judicial review on its website, saying Open Country Dairy brought proceedings against certain conclusions in its 2018 report.

In that report, the regulator was satisfied that Fonterra’s calculation was largely in line with the efficiency and contestability elements required by law governing the dairy sector. . . 

Unusual beefalo meat in demand – Ken Muir:

A chance meeting with an engineer building a cowshed on a neighbouring farm next door to Nadia and Blair Wisely introduced them to bison and from there they’ve taken to producing beefalo – a bison beef cross – on their Isla Bank farm.

”We met Dennis Greenland by chance and he had purchased animals from a Marlborough breeder Bob Blake”, Mr Wisely said.

”He told us about the animals and that piqued our interest.”

The Wiselys purchased a bison bull, crossed it with a range of cows and Netherton Farm Beefalo was born. . . 

Wild horses go under the hammer in Hanmer

Twenty horses, all aged two or three years old, were mustered from the isolated Ada Valley and sold by auction at cattle yards in the St James Conservation Area, where there was once an 80,000-hectare cattle station.

The two-day biennial muster is a family tradition.

Hugh Dampier-Crossley, a sheep and beef farmer near Cheviot, has been mustering the horses since he was ten.

“The Stevensons owned the property. Jim Stevenson was my grandfather, they bought the place in 1927. He taught me how to break in horses and shoe horses so it’s become a bit of a passion,” he said. . . 

Plan to plant genetically engineered trees throughout US to save dying forests – John Gabattis:

Inserting genes to protect against foreign diseases and pests could bring species back from brink of extinction

Plans are under way to plant swathes of genetically engineered trees across the ailing forests of North America in a bid to save them from the ravages of disease and pests. 

Species such as the ash tree and whitebark pine have faced catastrophic declines of up to half their populations after creatures introduced from overseas tore through their defences. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 7, 2019

Drought bites crops in Tasman with little respite forecast for growers – Katy Jones:

Growers are battling to keep crops alive on the Waimea Plains as the drought continues to bite in Tasman district, with no sign of a significant break in the prolonged dry spell.

Irrigators this week saw the amount of water they were allowed to take from catchments on the plains cut by 50 per cent, as the Waimea River dropped to its lowest level for this time of year since the “Big Dry” in 2001.

High winds at the end of last month compounded growers’ woes, further drying out land already parched by a lack of rain and high temperatures. . . 

Court to decide official location of a riverbank – Eric Frykberg:

Where does the bed of a river end and adjacent farmland begin? That is not an easy question to answer, when dealing with braided rivers that often change course.

However, the Court of Appeal will now get the chance to decide the official location of a riverbank.

The problem began in 2017 when a farmer was prosecuted for doing earthworks in the bed of the Selwyn River, in mid Canterbury.

Although he pleaded guilty, the case gave rise to debate about how wide a braided river actually was.

The District Court sided with Environment Canterbury and ruled a river was as big as the area covered by the river’s waters at their fullest flow. . .

Ravensdown CEO agrees farmers have sometimes applied too much fertiliser – Gerard Hutching:

Fertiliser company Ravensdown says it is trying to persuade farmers to use less nitrogen and concedes that in the past too much has been applied “in some cases.”

However it has recently developed new products which result in less nitrogen being lost to the atmosphere or leaching into the soil where it ends up in waterways.

Greenpeace has demanded the Government ban chemical nitrogen because it claims it causes river pollution. It has created billboards accusing Ravensdown and its competitor Ballance Agri-Nutrients of polluting rivers. . . 

Group ignores fertiliser facts – Alan Emerson:

Driving out of Auckland I saw a huge billboard with the message: Ravensdown and Ballance pollute rivers.

How can that be, I thought, but then I noted the billboard was put there by Greenpeace and Greenpeace never lets the facts get in the way of its prejudices.

Starting at the top, the two fertiliser companies don’t pollute rivers, they sell fertilisers, so factually it is wrong.

According to my dictionary pollute means contaminate with poisonous or harmful substances or to make morally corrupt or to desecrate.

How, then, can Ravensdown and Ballance pollute? . . 

Change constant in 50-year career – Ken Muir:

When you have worked for more than 50 years in the rural sector, change is a constant and for Andrew Welsh, an agribusiness manager at Rabobank in Southland, this has included everything from the model of car he was supplied with to the way he communicates with co-workers and his clients.

Mr Welsh said farming was in his DNA.

”My great grandparents farmed in South Otago and Opotiki, and going further back than that our relatives had farmed in County Durham before coming out to Hawkes Bay.”

He started in the industry at the bottom, he said.

”When I started at Wright Stephenson’s in Gore in 1968 as an office junior, I was everybody’s general dogsbody.” . . 

 

Halter targets April launch date

Kiwi agritech start-up Halter expects to commercially launch its unique GPS-enabled cow collars in April.

“We have just finished setting up our production line in China and we have had our first collars off the line come back,” chief executive and founder Craig Piggott told the Young Farmers conference.

“We are targeting April as our commercial launch. It’s all happening very quickly.”

Auckland-based Halter has developed the collar, which allows cows to be guided around a farm using a smartphone app. . . 


Rural round-up

November 3, 2017

The big dry – Waimea Water:

The 2001 drought was the most severe drought our region experienced in 60 years. Different phrases were used to describe it, including a shortage or a crisis. Early on it was ‘water fears.’ In the end, the drought stuck and it became known as the ‘Big Dry’ and it affected everyone in the region from Nelson to Richmond to Motueka to Golden Bay.

Riverbeds dried up. Saltwater threatened the bores in the lower Waimea River. Stories about the scarcity of rain appeared almost daily in newspapers. Councils met to assess the water supply risks and the rationing requirements. Green pastures were brown with no grass in sight. Dairy farm stock had to be dried off months early, with cattle and sheep sold below cost to cover lost revenue. Permitted users, including irrigators across the Waimea Plains, had been reduced to 40 percent of their allowed take.  . .

No Waimea dam: I’m out, says long-time market gardener Mark O’Connor – Cherie Sivignon:

For four generations, Mark O’Connor’s family have been on the Waimea Plains. For the past three, they’ve been growing vegetables.

But the Appleby Fresh managing director says if there’s no Waimea dam, he will consider subdividing some of the land and selling up.

“We actually had a meeting the other day and said what are we going to do if we don’t get the dam and I said: ‘I’m out of it; it’s too hard to farm without having water’,” he said. . . 

Fonterra to invest $100m in Australia after hitting full milk processing capacityFonterra sees Aus opportunities – Gerard Hutching:

Fonterra has unveiled plans to invest $100 million immediately into its Australian business in a major expansion plan.

It is also looking into the possibility of its Australian operation becoming a co-operative.

Chief executive Theo Spierings told the co-operative’s annual general meeting in Hawera on Thursday that Fonterra’s reputation had climbed from 9th to 5th in the RepZ survey and had “changed the minds of 1.5 million New Zealanders.” . . 

We’ve got the bull by the udder – John King:

Here’s a quiz for morning smoko. According to modern grazing practice, where’s best on the curve in the illustration for the following:

  • · Maximum livestock growth?
  • · Maximum pasture longevity?
  • · Maximum soil development and structure?

Many farmers and all agricultural professionals will know where’s best for growing livestock, a few less will know where’s best for pasture longevity, and most wouldn’t even consider where’s best for soil, let alone there might be two places. That’s due to the prevailing culture and training railroading what we believe is normal – focusing on single goals.John King

Farmer Fast Five – Richard Power – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Hawarden Proud Farmer Richard Power, who with his wife Mez, won the Romney section of this years Ewe Hogget Competition.

How long have you been farmer?

I am a third generation farmer.  I was bought up on our stud sheep and beef farm where from a young age was taught how to handle and judge stock.  After a stint at Lincoln I went lamb drafting for 5 years.  Travelling around so many different farms gave me a great insight into different breeds and ways of farming.  I carried on drafting for another 3 years after taking on the home farm with my wife in 1990 and changing to a commercial operation.

What sort of Farming are you involved in?

We are involved in a traditional dryland sheep/beef and crop operation, concentrating on early lamb production. All our lambs are gone by Christmas, and what doesn’t go prime is sold store.  On a normal season the split would be 80% sheep and the beef/crop sharing 10% each.  Beef cattle of any type are traded from Autumn to Spring and Barley is grown for a local farmer. . . 

Major deer shed upgrade underway:

Most deer farmers are upgrading their deer sheds so that velvet is harvested, handled, stored and transported in a clean environment.John Tacon, quality assurance manager for Deer Industry NZ (DINZ), says the regulatory bottom line is that all sheds must have a “clean zone” – a designated area where velvet antler is removed, handled and frozen. In this zone, all contact surfaces must be washable and clean prior to velvet removal and handling. 

“As soon as practicable after harvesting, but within 2 hours, velvet also needs to be placed in a velvet-only freezer capable of freezing to at least minus 15 deg C.” 

At some time in the future he expects standards could well be “ramped up, but it’s a good starting point”. . . 

Autumn – Ben Eagle:

 Today I began the first of what will be many bramble bashing (or should that be obliterating) sessions throughout the autumn/winter as I try to get on top of the scrub encroaching on some of the farm’s stewardship plots. The sky seemed to be missing today, a great grey and white canvas only intermittently marked by the odd passing pheasant or pigeon, the former unable to get much lift to make sufficient impact upon the bleak sky as I looked upward and across. Pheasants annoy me, with their loud cackling call, their pompous plumage and their inability to fly properly, but I know I shouldn’t hold it against them. As I write this post now I hear them outside. Something has spooked them and they are calling out, confused and terrified of the world. Who can blame them I suppose when you primary reason for existing so far as human kind is concerned is to be shot. . . 


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