Rural round-up

July 29, 2019

A united primary sector at last:

The united and unprecedented stand taken last week at Parliament was historic.

Read: Primary sector’s commitment to reducing emissions.

It brought together farmers, growers and other related sectors seeking to solve the vexing problem of agricultural emissions. 

Eleven different groups, including Maori, took a united position on climate change, even daring to challenge one recommendation by the Independent Climate Change Commission (ICCC) set up to advise the Government.

Faced with a hijacking of the climate change issue by greenies and others, the agri sector got its act together in style.  . .

Dutch methane blocker hits NZ roadblock:

A Dutch company trying to get its methane-slashing innovation into the hands of Kiwi farmers says it’s hit a roadblock with New Zealand’s regulations.

Methane emissions from livestock like sheep and dairy cows account for around a third of New Zealand’s emissions.

The animals themselves did not produce methane, but rather a group of microbes, called methanogens, that lived in the stomach (rumen), and produced methane, mainly from hydrogen and carbon dioxide when digesting feed. . .

Hawke’s Bay farm puts meat on the menu at some of New Zealand’s finest restaurants – Simon Farrell-Green:

You’ll find Pātangata on Google Maps if you look, though it’s barely a town, more of an intersection with a tavern beside the Tukituki River, not far from Havelock North where the vineyards and plains of Hawke’s Bay graduate to rolling hill country.

Here, the Smith family – Duncan Smith, Annabel Tapley-Smith and their children Tabatha and Rupert – farm several hundred hectares of rolling country and irrigated flat land, either side of the river, finishing Angus cattle and Suffolk-Texel lambs on grass rather than grain, and producing meat of uncommon quality. . .

Diversity aspect to next year’s A&P Show – Kerrie Waterworth:

Bee keepers, flower growers and other non-traditional farming types will be highlighted at next year’s Wanaka A&P Show.

Event manager Jane Stalker said this year’s marketing campaign focused on the people of the Upper Clutha and was incredibly successful.

She said she hoped to repeat that success, by focusing on diverse local agricultural businesses instead for next year . . .

Hāwera man’s life of music and farming – Catherine Groenestein:

Pat Powell’s neighbours used to listen to him practising Italian opera songs as he worked on his farm.

Powell, who recently turned 90, sang all the arias made popular by Pavarotti decades later and could have made a career as an international tenor, but instead chose to stay in South Taranaki.

“I was invited by Donald Munro to come to Auckland and join the New Zealand Opera Company, but I went to boarding school in Auckland and I hated every minute of it,” he said. . .

 

Montana ranchers can now get paid to sequester carbon using rotational grazing practices

CO2, or carbon, is a dirty word these days – and for good reason. Due to a number of causes including the burning of fossil fuels and widespread deforestation, there is far too much CO2 being returned to the atmosphere, resulting in climate change. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that in 2017 the United States emitted 5.1 billion metric tons of energy-related carbon dioxide, while the global emissions of energy-related carbon dioxide totaled 32.5 billion metric tons.

Despite the grim outlook, there are ways of reversing the abundance of CO2, including sequestration, which is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. An entire marketplace has developed around CO2 mitigation that enables CO2-emitting industries to purchase carbon credits from businesses engaged in offsetting activities, such as the production of renewable energy through wind farms or biomass energy, as well as energy efficiency projects, the destruction of industrial pollutants or agricultural by-products, reducing landfill methane, and forestry projects. . . 


Rural round-up

March 14, 2019

Lack of Kiwi workers a problem – Chris Tobin:

Young New Zealanders are still slow in coming forward to work in the dairy industry and it’s becoming a mounting problem, not just in dairy, but also in other sectors.

South Canterbury Federated Farmers dairy spokesman Ads Hendriks said he advertised a position in recent months and only one of the nine applicants was a New Zealander.

”Two were Filipinos already on a farm in New Zealand, two were Indians also on farms here and then there were four others from India.

”The one New Zealander had a CV which had three months on a job, followed by another three months and another three months. That’s the sort of choice you have as an employer.” . . 

Could Overseer be leading to troubled waters? –

Time is fast running out to iron out all the issues with Overseer, writes Federated Farmers North Otago Dairy Chair Jared Ross.

Key Otago Regional Council Water Plan nitrogen leaching rules take effect in April 2020 and your attention is needed immediately.

A recent meeting on the Otago water plan drew a sizeable crowd, who picked a number of gaping holes in the regulation as they tried to understand the real impact on their business beyond April 1, 2020.

Many of these shortcomings relate to the hard numbers based on Overseer contained with the Otago water plan. . . 

Three generations all judging – Sally Rae:

There was something a bit special going on in the equestrian judging at the Wanaka A&P Show.

Three generations of one family were officiating in the ring, led by family matriarch, the remarkable Catherine Bell (81), of Southland. Mrs Bell has had a lifetime involvement with horses and ponies and that interest has been passed on to her daughter Dawn Kennedy, who is in her 60s, and grand-daughter Georgina Bell (22).

All three were at Wanaka, kept busy with various judging duties.. . 

Time for Marlborough to discuss water storage

It is time once again, as the wider Marlborough community, to discuss water storage writes Federated Farmers Marlborough provincial president Phillip Neal.

Liquid gold or water as it is known in Marlborough is our lifeblood.

The Marlborough Environment Plan hearings have just finished after fifteen months. Water allocation was the last issue raised but I think the most important.

This included water allocation from all our rivers, especially our biggest river and aquifer, the Wairau. . . 

Motueka fruit exporter opens cutting edge apple packhouse – TIm O’Connell:

A major player in Motueka’s fruit industry says its new apple packhouse is as “good as it gets in the world” .

Golden Bay Fruit Packers’ new 25,000 square metre packing house has been officially opened on a 4.6 hectare site on Queen Victoria St.

More than 800 guests from the Motueka community and the company’s 200 Pasifika RSE workers attended the opening ceremony inside the new building on Tuesday. . .

Seeka purchases Aongatete Coolstores for $25m:

Seeka Limited today announced that is has agreed to purchase kiwifruit orcharding, packing and coolstore business and assets of Aongatete Coolstores Limited in the Bay of Plenty for $25m.

Seeka Chief Executive, Michael Franks said the acquisition was aligned to the company’s growth strategy and builds on Seeka’s kiwifruit foundation. “Aongatete’s kiwifruit packhouse and coolstore facility processes around 4.5m trays of green and gold fruit, providing Seeka additional market presence in a growth industry. The acquisition compliments our existing business with further infrastructure in a great growing location.” . . .

Dutch cows are about to walk on water: here’s how – Richard Martyn-Hemphill:

This spring in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam, cows will walk on water.

Holy Cow?!

Not exactly: they’ll simply be the first offshore bovine residents aboard a maverick urban agtech project known as the Floating Farm.

Two vast steel mooring poles fasten a buoyant three-story structure of concrete, steel, and polycarbonates to the riverbed beneath Rotterdam’s Merwehaven Harbour.

If it is a bit surprising all those materials stay afloat, it will be even more so once it gets packed, over the next few months, with a hale and hearty herd of 40 Meuse-Rhine-Issel cows.  . . 


Rural round-up

March 10, 2019

Canterbury shepherd a history-maker as Young Farmer of the Year finalist – Emma Dangerfield:

A North Canterbury shepherd has made history by qualifying for the prestigious FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final.

Georgie Lindsay, 23, won the fiercely-contested Tasman regional final in Culverden on Saturday, beating seven other contestants. It is the first time a woman has made it to the grand final from the Tasman region.

She is also one of only five women in New Zealand to ever qualify for the grand final in the competition’s 51-year history. . . 

Showchanges over to years ‘unbelievable’ – Sally Rae:

Few know their way around the main ring at the Wanaka A&P Show like Tussock Lucas. Mr Lucas (74), who will be in his usual position leading the grand parade today, has attended the show for 57 years.

He competed for many years in jumping events and also exhibited sheep and wool at the show while farming at Timburn Station, near Tarras.

Now semi-retired and living in Wanaka, he is chief steward for round-the-ring jumping at the show and also helps out with the FEI showjumping classes.

Agritech is growing :

Agritech has been buzzing since a large Australian event was held last month. In Melbourne, AgriFutures Australia hosted EvokeAG, an event designed to bring together the agritech community. Over 1,100 attendees, including a strong contingent from New Zealand, were treated to a great overview of where the industry is at, what are the big innovations, key challenges, opportunities and who the principal players are in the agritech space.

The programme covered panel discussions on everything, from field robotics and agriculture 4.0, to alternative protein farming and tech investments. From a New Zealand perspective, one key takeaway came from AgritechNZ executive director, Peter Wren-Hilton.

“The exciting thing for New Zealand is our alignment with addressing many of the big global challenges for feeding the world while not destroying the planet.” . . 

Allbirds is taking its viral fabric tennis shoes to China – Selina Wang:

Allbirds Inc., the wool shoe startup that’s become a staple of Silicon Valley fashion, is opening its first stores in China, aiming to replicate its viral success in the world’s second-largest economy.

San Francisco-based Allbirds plans to announce this week that it will open a brick-and-mortar store in Shanghai in the coming months. By the end of the year, it plans to have stores in Beijing and Chengdu. It will also be rolling out its goods on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Tmall online shopping website as well as building its presence on Chinese social media services including WeChat and Weibo. . . 

Winter brings a year’s worth of water for 9 million Californians – Peter Chawaga:

California may have a reputation for persistent drought and water scarcity, but already this year the state’s freshwater reserves are worth celebrating.

Storms in the beginning of January brought an influx of snow to the Sierra Nevada and heavy rains elsewhere in the state, boosting its water reservoirs exponentially.

Over the first three weeks of January, “47 key reservoirs that state water officials closely monitor added 580 billion gallons of water — as much as roughly 9 million people use in a year,”  . . 


Rural round-up

January 9, 2019

Chucks empire lays golden egg – Bryan Gibson:

For many in business 1987 was a bad year but for Max Bryant it was the beginning of something special.

Under pressure from the bank over a kiwifruit development that hadn’t panned out Bryant decided to build a chicken shed at home in Halcombe, the small Manawatu settlement where he lived.

Thirty years later he has sold the company, Proten, for $400 million.

Bryant estimates about $60m of that will stay with shareholders in the district, who were ground-floor investors.

He admits Proten has come a long way since that first shed was built out the back. . . 

A new wave of stress relief – Luke Chivers:

The Gisborne farming community is testing the waters this summer and seeing how surfing can be used as a way to let off steam.

Staff at AgFirst have created a programme dubbed Surfing for Farmers to help rural communities reduce stress and it works, AgFirst consultant and programme founder Stephen Thomson said.

“When you get off the farm and into the water it’s like taking a plunge into another world.

“For an hour or two you forget about everything else.” . . 

It’s time to look at soil health – Dr Han Eerens:

Spare a thought for soil — arguably our most underappreciated natural resource.

Globally, 95% of the food we consume comes from the earth. Soil serves as the earth’s largest natural water filter helping supply the world with fresh, clean water. Additionally, one-quarter of the world’s biodiversity — including millions of microbes which are key to the success of today’s antibiotics — are found in soil. Yet despite all this our soil is being destroyed at a rapid rate. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis eradication is far from done and dusted – Keith Woodford:

There is a widespread belief in both the rural and urban communities that Mycoplasma bovis is well on the way to being eradicated from New Zealand. My response here is that there is a still a long way to travel before any declarations of success are appropriate.

In December, Prime Minister Ardern, no doubt choosing her words carefully and based on official advice, talked of ‘substantial progress’.  However, the broader tone of both MPI and DairyNZ messaging has led to parts of the media and then the general public taking a further step and concluding that the battle is almost over. . . .

A career in dairy might be more different than you think

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer of Farm Source and Global Operations, Robert Spurway, says a career in dairy doesn’t necessarily mean milking cows.

According to Primary ITO chief executive Dr. Linda Sissons, one in five applicants for their new dairy apprenticeship programme are from Auckland. The programme, in partnership with Federated Farmers, is responding to the need for an estimated 17, 000 new workers by 2025. It will encourage more smart, innovative and ambitious people – including those from urban centres – to consider a career on a dairy farm.

This is great news because with increasing animal welfare, environment, and compliance requirements, number 8 wire will only go so far. Today, our farmers need to be everything from agronomists, environmental scientists, veterinarians to high-tech experts. . . .

New Wanaka A&P Show campaign explores what it means to be “local”:

The Wanaka A&P Show today launches a timely campaign about the sense of community and what it means to be a local in Wanaka.

The ‘Call Me Local’ campaign is a tongue-in-cheek inquiry into the tricky question of ‘how long does a person have to live in Wanaka before they’re considered a local?’

Correspondingly, Wanaka is experiencing significant growth, development and change – leading residents to prioritise the sense of ‘community’ even more. The Wanaka A&P Show campaign acknowledges this to remind people about the importance of being part of a community. . . .


Rural round-up

March 11, 2018

Farmer’s lucky escape from Cyclone Bola – Kate Taylor:

A lucky glance gave now-retired Whatatutu farmer Rod Mead time to escape when a flooded river topped its stopbank. Kate Taylor talks to a survivor of Cyclone Bola.

Rod Mead looked across the river flats on Waitahoata Station near Whatatutu, Gisborne, with horror but also relief. Minutes earlier, he had been lifting equipment in the station’s old woolshed in case Cyclone Bola flooded the valley.

Glancing towards the river, Mead saw it had breached its stopbanks and immediately went outside and started up the tractor. As he did so, floodwater swirled around his ankles and he steered the tractor toward the safety of his hillside track 400 metres away.

He didn’t look back again until he reached the track and when he did he saw floodwaters raging where moments before he had been standing.

Learn from best dairy farmers – Alan Williams:

New Zealand’s best dairy farmers are achieving results well above average levels and other farmers are being urged to learn from them.

Their pasture and animal health management put them well ahead in milk produced per cow liveweight and in lower rates of cow losses.

Research overseas and in NZ showed leading farmers are ahead of the consultants, institutions and available information in the work they’re doing, veterinary surgeon and farm systems analyst Brian McKay told a Federated Farmers dairy group presentation in Christchurch. . .

MPI stock process creating huge stress – Sally Rae:

From a distance, Kerry and Rosie Dwyer’s Maheno farm looks a picture.

The sun is shining on a glorious autumn day in North Otago and the paddocks are covered in lush, green grass.

But something is missing; shelter sheds – usually home to hundreds of calves – sit empty and the 120ha farm is devoid of stock, apart from a few sheep.

“I’ve got no business. It’s stuffed and I accept that.

“I just don’t know what we’ll do,” Mr Dwyer says. . . 

Barren paddock turned bustling village: Celebrating 25 years of the Central Districts Field Days -Sam Kilmister:

The Central Districts Field Days turn 25 next week. Sam Kilmister looks back at an agricultural showcase that had small beginnings and now a big following.

Noel and Eleanor Mortimer recall the moment their son-in-law Don Eade started the Central Districts Field Days.

He had returned from the Mystery Creek Fieldays, near Hamilton, which ignited a vision to have it replicated in Manawatū. . .

What a whopper! Dart takes pumpkin prize again – Sally Rae:

It was a hell of a pumpkin.

Dart Watson might have been one of the younger entrants in the produce shed at the Wanaka A&P Show, but he sure grew one of the most spectacular entries.

For the third consecutive year, Dart (13) won the largest pumpkin in the junior section with an absolutely whopping vegetable. . .

Heat detection device up for an award :

A low-cost device designed to detect when cows are ovulating and ready to be inseminated has earned two Kiwi entrepreneurs a place among the finalists in the 2018 New Zealander of the Year awards.

Fraser Smith and Matt Yallop, of Farmshed Labs, are finalists in the New Zealand Innovator of the Year category for their product FlashMate.

 


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