Irrigation makes a difference

November 5, 2013

Yesterday’s discussion on irrigation brought up the topic of wheat.

This is wheat from a North Otago farm, one crop was irrigated, the other wasn’t:

 Peter Mitchell's wheat crop in North Otago. Proving the potential of irrigation.

North Otago has an average annual rainfall of around 20 inches but it can be as low as 13 inches in a drought.

Without irrigation, farms had big losses in bad years, caught up in good ones then got hit by another bad one.

That didn’t just have an impact on the farms, it affected businesses which relied on them and the wider community.

Now we’ve got enough critical mass of irrigation farmers know they can grow grass and crops even in the worst years.

The positive benefits from that include more jobs and higher incomes.

The Waiareka Creek which used to be a series of stagnant ponds now flows all year.

North Otago Irrigation Company’s requirement for all shareholders to have independently audited environmental farm plans ensures that soil and water quality are safe guarded.

Last year’s drought affected not only the areas which didn’t have enough rain it impacted the national economy.

There is potential for more irrigation in North Otago and other areas.

The benefits of realising that potential are not just economic, they’re environmental and social too.

#gigatownoamaru appreciates that.


Rural round-up

May 14, 2013

Bee decline worries unjustified says honey producer:

A New Zealand honey producer and exporter says there’s too much unjustified doom and gloom about the health of the world’s bees.

Reports of wide-spread bee losses and colony collapses in Europe, Asia and North America have raised the alarm about the survival of honey bees.

The European Union has recently banned a group of systemic neonicotinoid insecticides.

However, Airborne Honey managing director Peter Bray says global honey statistics show bees are actually doing well.

He says world honey figures show beehive numbers and honey production per hive are up, and world trade is increasing. . .

Taranaki recognised for riparian management:

Taranaki’s flagship riparian management programme, which has “gone the extra mile” in developing relationships with dairy farmers, has been recognised for its outstanding contribution to protecting the environment.

 The Taranaki Regional Council programme is a finalist in two categories of the Ministry for the Environment’s 2013 Green Ribbon Awards: the Caring for Our Water and Public Sector Leadership categories.

Environment Minister Amy Adams announced the finalists in 11 award categories last week. . .

Crusoe wheat variety set to make dough for break makers – David Jones:

When Robinson Crusoe was cast away on his tropical island he would have probably found good use for the breadmaking wheat that is his namesake, to aid his survival until rescue.

The promising eponymous milling variety, named after Daniel Defoe’s hero, could now be delighting growers and breadmakers alike and be the future foundation of the British loaf.

From deserted isle to Kent’s sparsely populated Romney Marsh, one bread wheat grower is planning for the variety to take a big slice of his farm this autumn. . .

Fonterra Tankers Get a School Milk Makeover:

Fonterra Tanker Drivers Mike Courtney, Ian McKavanagh and Jess Drewet with one of the new Fonterra Milk for Schools tankers.

From this week, Fonterra drivers will be hitting the roads in 14 brand new Fonterra Milk for Schools themed tankers.

Fonterra Tanker Driver, Jess Drewet, says the team is excited to get behind the new wheels.

“Not only are these completely new vehicles, they are displaying something of which our team is really proud. When you drive as much as we do, you get quite attached to your tanker, and the team can’t wait to get out on the roads and show the new ones off,” says Mr Drewet. . .

Agriculture extravaganza in Fielding:

Feilding’s Manfeild Park has become a sort of one stop shop for beef and sheep farmers this week.

Three farmer events that have been running for years in Manawatu are being rolled into a single four-day extravaganza.

The Aginnovation programme began on Saturday with Future Beef New Zealand, an event designed to encourage young people into the beef industry. . .

Argentine farmers expected to plant more wheat this coming season

Argentina will plant more wheat this season than last year because of farmer-friendly adjustments to the government’s export policy and the bad luck that growers had last season with alternative crops such as barley, a key grain exchange said.

At a time of rising world food demand, the grain-exporting powerhouse can expect 3.9 million hectares to be sown with wheat in the 2013/14 season, up from 3.6 million planted in 2012/13, the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange said in its first wheat area estimate of the year. Planting starts next month.

“Our survey of growers shows a clear improvement in terms of intention to sow wheat,” the exchange said in a statement. “This improvement is due primarily to the poor experience that growers had with alternative crops (mostly barley) last season.” . . .

The Frankenchicken kerfuffle – Moon over Martinborough:

“I want us to raise chickens for meat,” CJ said. “Like proper farmers.”

“Seriously?” I said. “When you wanted to breed pigs for meat you fell in love with the pigs and ended up screaming, ‘I will never eat their babies!’ Remember?”

 “That was different. That was pigs.”

It turns out CJ had already arranged to pick up five meat birds from our friend Claudia. He was trading them for our olive oil. . .


Why use wheat for ethanol when there’s a food shortage?

February 16, 2011

Phil Clarke reports that hundreds of farmers in Britain are signing up to supply wheat to a new bio ethanol plant.

Presumably they are responding to market signals and getting a better price for their crop than they would if they were selling it for milling or stock feed.

However, given the shortage of wheat internationally it’s difficult to understand how that can be.

The drought in Russia last northern summer, China, the United States and drought and floods in Australia will all put pressure on supply which ought to result in better prices.

Something must be out of kilter if farmers get more for selling crops for fuel when there’s a growing shortage of food. 

Could it be a Green plot to reduce world population by starving people to death by eco-extremists who have talked about population control as a planet-saving measure?


World food price rises good for NZ

January 7, 2011

High world food prices are good news for exporters and the New Zealand economy.

The United Nations food price index shows prices for staple food items  – cereals, dairy products,  meat, oils and fats and sugar – in December were higher than the last peak in 2008.

The first auction of the year resulted in a good boost to milk prices,  meat prices are holding up and cropping farmers are getting better returns too.

The floods in Australia are already impacting on grain prices here, although if their milling wheat is downgraded to feed grain that will compete with local produce and counter some of the gains for New Zealand growers.

Flooding of of fruit and sugar cane will also lead to price increases.

In some years the wider economic benefit of  rising prices for one group have been offset by falling prices for another but this time dairy, meat and cropping sectors are all receiving better returns.

Higher export prices will lead to domestic price increases which will put pressure on budgets for those on low incomes. But we’re a food exporting nation and our overall wealth and wellbeing depend on good prices for our produce.


Wheat Rising Bread Will Too

June 20, 2008

The floods which have destroyed corn crops in the United States will bring improved prices  for cropping farmers here.

Federated Farmers Grain & Seed chairman Andrew Gillanders said grain growers were being advised to closely follow world markets before committing to sales, otherwise they could miss out on improved prices.

“The New Zealand grain growers should not be tempted into signing contracts because their input costs are rocketing up and the New Zealand dollar is dipping everything is about to rise again.”

The price of corn reached nearly $8 a bushel in the United States this week because of a wet spring and floods in the Midwest which are forcing farmers to replant their crops or replace them with soya beans.

This will have a flow on effect on the price of beef because so much US stock is grain fed.

New Zealand farmers are facing cost increases of around 50% for chemicals, fuel, fertiliser and transport so the prospect of improved returns is welcome. But of course higher prices for grain will flow on to the domestic market making bread and cereals more expensive. 


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