Rural round-up

05/09/2022

Feds call for halt to Three Waters – Jessica Marshall:

Federated Farmers has called for the controversial Three Waters Reform to be stopped before the legislation bill reaches its second reading.

In a submission to a parliamentary select committee, Federated Farmers expressed concerns about the Water Services Entities (WSE) Bill. If passed, the bill would establish four water services entities in place of more than 70 local authorities that manage the country’s water supplies, storm and waste water management systems.

Federated Farmers argues that the bill should not proceed to a second reading in Parliament.

“Many farmers are either self-suppliers or their water is supplied by private water schemes, meaning they should not be directly affected by the move to WSEs,” it says. . . 

Pastoral farming gets a lift from $26m for regenerative agriculture research but should scientists start by defining it? – Point of Order:

In   a  week  when the Ardern   government  achieved  one of the  biggest  stumbles of  the  modern  era,  with  its backdown over the  KiwiSaver  GST  move,  it  did record  one  positive  outcome   with  a  $26m  research  programme to prove to the world why New Zealand food and fibre should be always the number one choice.

That was the drum Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor   was  beating,  showing  again  he  is  one  of  the  few  Cabinet  Ministers  who  gets  a  pass mark  in his  field.

In  an era  when  climate  change warriors are  casting  doubt  on  New Zealand’s  farming industries, and  calling for the nation’s dairy herd to be culled, O’Connor  says he wants  to  enable farmers to make informed decisions on the financial and environmental benefits of adopting regenerative farming practices.

He said:

“The Government is backing a new $26.1m programme to undertake the most comprehensive study of pastoral farming in New Zealand.” . . . 

Afforestation still a concern :

Afforestation continues to have a negative impact on rural communities, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

The statement comes after the release of the B+LNZ Stock Number Survey which showed farmers adapting to challenging circumstances including drought, processing delays and Covid-19.

The report, published this week, also highlights the extent of farmland being converted to forestry.

B+LNZ Economic Service chief economist Andrew Burtt says that while the increase in farm sales into forestry is yet to lead to a significant reduction in stock numbers, it can be expected to soon. . . 

We’re feeling a bit down on the farm – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Red tape and weird weather are taking their toll on farmers’ spirits but baby boomer farmers have seen tough times before.

I started writing this column back in 1995 so it has spanned 27 years, which is a fair bit of my nearly 40-year farming career – and life, for that matter.

The 1990s were still tough farming years after the change and turmoil, not to mention low returns, of the late 1980s.

It wasn’t until the early 2000s that the pressure started coming off and instead of just fighting for financial survival here we started making progress with the improved returns. . . 

Deer industry on mission to challenge Russia’s edge in velvet exports :

Representatives from New Zealand’s deer industry are travelling to South Korea this month in a bid to boost velvet sales. 

South Korea is New Zealand’s biggest market for the product, consuming over half of what is produced, but exporters have to compete with well-established Russian products.

The markets manager at Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ), Rhys Griffiths, said Russian exporters have an established stronghold in velvet imports into South Korea, where velvet is used in health products like herbal supplements and teas.

“When we look at the traditional medicine market where the Russians have historically dominated, if we kind of segment that out even further, we can look at the older Oriental medicine doctors and the older patients, they’re more attuned to Russian velvet,” he said. . . 

WA’s Wheatbelt Stocky Jarrad Hubbard aims to change negative perceptions of farming though social media – Olivia Di Iorio:

Jarrad Hubbard, a livestock agent in Western Australia, wants to shine a light on the agricultural industry through social media.

The self-proclaimed Wheatbelt Stocky’s Instagram page is full of images and videos of sheep and cattle across regional WA.

He says he shares insights into his life as a livestock agent in the hope of showing that those in the industry “take a lot of care and put a lot of love” into what they do.

In his first post in early 2019, Mr Hubbard wrote, “Whether you are involved or even opposed, I look forward to your input”. . . 

 


Rural round-up

30/05/2022

Fonterra announces record opening milk price payment for its farmers next season as demand remains strong – Point of Order:

New Zealand  has  suffered  several  jolts  in  the  past week, not  least a  higher interest rate regime as the Reserve  Bank counters  surging inflation.  But  at least  one  beacon of  light shines through the gloom:  the country’s leading primary  export  industry’s boom   is  moving  to a  second  season  of high prices.

Dairy  giant Fonterra,  which sets  the  pace  for  other dairy processors,  has announced a record opening milk price payment for farmers next season amid expectations of continued strong demand for dairy products and constrained global supply.

The co-op expects to pay farmers between $8.25 and $9.75kg/MS  for the season starting next month.  The mid-point, on which farmers are paid, is $9 kg/MS.

That breaks the previous record set at this time last year, when Fonterra’s opening price for the current season was $7.25 – $8.75kg/MS, with a mid-point of $8kg/MS. . . 

Rural mental health ignored again this budget :

The Government was made well aware of mental health concerns for rural communities in a meeting in December last year, this Budget has neglected to do anything to address this crisis, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“It is dead clear from the minutes we received under the Official Information Act that everyone around the table could see that things were bad and getting worse” Kuriger says

“The minutes note that clear themes emerged from a discussion of the drivers of poor mental health, including: workforce shortages, public perception of farmers, and the pace of new regulations.

“If they didn’t already know, it is clear that in December the Prime Minister and Minister O’Connor knew what was happening to our rural communities and were asked by rural sector leaders for help, they’ve had all this time to make a plan but have still done nothing in this budget to address it. . . 

Zespri global revenue exceeds $NZ 4 billion for first time despite challenging 2021-22 season:

. . . A record crop, ongoing investment in brand-led demand creation, and the industry’s ability to respond and leverage its scale and structure have helped Zespri deliver a record result for the 2021/22 season, with total global fruit sales revenue exceeding NZ$4 billion for the first time.

In spite of the immense challenges faced by the industry this season, Zespri’s 2021/22 Financial Results show total global revenue generated by fruit sales reached NZ$4.03 billion, up 12 percent on the previous year, with total global operating revenue up by 15 percent to NZ$4.47 billion. Global sales volumes also increased 11 percent on the previous year to 201.5 million trays.

The results saw direct returns to the New Zealand industry increase to a record $2.47 billion including loyalty payments, despite the considerable uncertainty generated by the COVID-19 pandemic and cost increases across the supply chain. Earnings were again spread through regional communities including within the Bay of Plenty, Northland, Nelson, Gisborne, and the Waikato. . . 

Grower returns remained strong in a challenging season, with per hectare returns representing our second best on record across all varieties: . . 

Top ploughers head to Ireland to compete in world championship – Kim Moodie:

New Zealand’s best ploughing talent is set to represent the country in Ireland this year at the World Ploughing Championships. 

Ian Woolley and Bob Mehrtens, who took out the top titles at the New Zealand Ploughing Championships in Seddon earlier this month, are now preparing to compete against the world’s best in September.

Woolley, who won the Silver Plough conventional competition, told RNZ he’s excited to compete, and to soak up the atmosphere, as the event draws a huge crowd.

“It’s basically their National Field Days, there’s 100,000-odd people there each day for three days, although the plowing is on the outskirts of where the main show is taking place. . . 

Silver Fern Farms partnership between consumers and farmers key to nature positive food production :

Silver Fern Farms today celebrated the launch of its USDA-approved Net Carbon Zero By Nature 100% Grass-Fed Angus Beef at a New York City event attended by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Held at the Kimpton Hotel Eventi rooftop in Chelsea, the Prime Minister was joined by the visiting New Zealand trade mission, Silver Fern Farms US customers and in-market partners, and New York and U.S. national media. The event was to celebrate the successful introduction of Net Carbon Zero By Nature Angus Beef to the U.S., which is already being sold in supermarkets in the New York Tri-state area, the Midwest, and California.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says closer partnerships between consumers and farmers through products like Net Carbon Zero beef hold the key to addressing our collective climate and environmental challenges.

“As New Zealand’s largest processor and marketer of red meat, we are in a unique position to build closer partnerships between the needs of discerning customers and our farmers in a way that incentivises nature-positive food production,” says Simon Limmer. . . 

MPI announces finalists in 2022 good employer awards :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT) have announced finalists for the 2022 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards.

Now in their third year, the Awards are run by MPI and AGMARDT to celebrate employers who put their people at the heart of their businesses.

“We received a number of impressive entries,” says MPI’s Director Investment, Skills and Performance, Cheyne Gillooly.

“Central to all of the entries was a real passion shown by businesses towards supporting their employees by putting their health, welfare and wellbeing first.” . . 


Rural round-up

06/05/2022

Farmer feedback reshaping HWEN :

DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) say they are taking farmer feedback on board and working to improve the agricultural emissions pricing options, including driving down administration costs.

Recently, roadshows were held across the country on the two options developed by the Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership, He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN), as alternatives to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says the Government has made it clear that the sector need to deliver a credible alternative otherwise the agriculture sector will go into the ETS.

“But that’s not the only reason we need to act,” he says. . .

Landscape like the moon – Sally Rae:

Leo Edginton reckons he landed on the moon this week.

Mr Edginton (39), one of the country’s top dog triallists, is competing at the South Island sheep dog trial championships which being are held amid the vast, rocky landscape of Earnscleugh Station, near Alexandra.

It was a far cry from his home at Mangaheia Station, a large sheep and beef property at Tolaga Bay, on the North Island’s East Coast.

With six dogs qualified for the championships — Larry, Kim, Bully, Robert, Deano and Bert, a mix of both heading dogs and huntaways — it was the most of any competitor. And he has seven qualified for the New Zealand championships in three weeks’ time. . .

Twenty years of forest restoration undone by poor fencing – Diane McCarthy:

One man’s work to restore native bush on Karaponga Reserve over the past 20 years is being undone by inadequate fencing.

Retired dairy farmers Steve and Lesley McCann have taken enormous pleasure in the recovery of native wildlife on and around their McIvor Road property, next door to the reserve.

Even finding the occasional gigantic centipede in the bathtub is a small price to pay.

The McCanns see it as a sign of the resurgence of native biodiversity, due to pest control and planting. . . 

Farmers keen to embrace diverse uses of drones in rural setting – Sally Murphy:

Growing interest among farmers in using drones has led a Southland catchment group to organise a field day to showcase the technology.

Otago South River Care is holding a field day today and tomorrow on a farm in Balclutha with over 80 people expected to attend.

Group co-ordinator Rebecca Begg said catchment group members often talk about innovation on farms and drones keep coming up as something farmers want to try.

“Many are interested but aren’t ready to take the leap yet, so we want to show them what’s available and get some of the technology down to the South Island as most of it is based in the North Island.” . . 

Ready. Set. Rockit – bold new campaign inspires courage  :

As millions of freshly harvested New Zealand-grown Rockit™ apples begin arriving into ports around the world, a bold new brand campaign kicks off harnessing the spirit of bravery.

From artists to fitness instructors to musicians to aspiring basketball players, relatable individuals feature in the compelling campaign, which encourages Rockit’s global consumers to push their limits and go further than they’ve ever gone before (whatever that might look like to them) and “Ready. Set. Rockit.”

With the creative heft of agency Special driving the interpretations of courage that run through this year’s campaign, Rockit’s CEO Mark O’Donnell says the message is bound to inspire. “We love the idea that any challenge – no matter how daunting – can be overcome by taking it just one small bite at a time,” says Mark. “The innovative campaign imagery showcases occasions where a little bit of bravery takes us into territory we’ve never known before – and we can overcome our fear, seize the moment, and really rock it.” . . 

Wattie’s record tomato harvest in 50 years:

Today Wattie’s marks the end of its tomato harvest season with some of the highest yielding tomato paddocks in the company’s 50-year history.

This season, Wattie’s have hit a new record with a crop of 140 metric tons per hectare. That is the equivalent of 5.6kg per plant or 14kg of tomatoes for every square metre and approximately a 5% increase on the highest yield previously achieved.

More impressive is that this is 40% higher than Wattie’s 5-year average yield. Twenty years ago, the 5-year average tomato harvest was 80 metric tons per hectare.

The tomato harvest season started in mid-February and since then, has been going 24 hours a day. Over this time, Wattie’s has harvested and processed 39,000 metric tons of field tomatoes. . . 


Rural round-up

25/03/2022

RUC reduction brings no relief for farm machinery users – Gerald Piddock:

The Government’s decision to cut road user charges (RUC) by 36% for three months is cold comfort for contractors and farmers using off-road vehicles that will not qualify for the exemption, Federated Farmers says.

The cut, which will take place from late April to late July, is in response to the spike in global fuel prices. Transport Minister Michael Wood said the change was to support the road transport industry.

For the arable industry, the reduction in charges is too late for this season, with much of the harvest already completed apart from harvesting maize grain, Federated Farmers transport spokesperson Karen Williams said.

On Williams’ own farm, fuel costs for the three months during peak harvest had almost doubled from $4000-$7000 a month in 2020 to $8000-$9500 a month this year. . . 

Omicron: ‘major impact’ on staff shortages as apple picking peaks  – Tom Kitchin:

Some orchardists say Covid-19 is running rampant through their harvest fields.

It is peak apple harvest time across the country – and Omicron is not showing any signs of slowing down in the two busiest apple harvest regions – Hawke’s Bay and Nelson-Tasman.

Hawke’s Bay grows over 4700 hectares of apples and Nelson-Tasman is second with about 2400.

Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrower’s Association chair Brydon Nisbett also runs his own 16-hectare two-orchard apple operation. . . 

Bacteria corralled for quality food outcomes – Richard Rennie:

AgResearch principal scientist Dr Eric Altermann admits he has a dream to see a charcuterie of uniquely New Zealand meats and salamis, along with fermented dairy and plant products on the market someday soon. Richard Rennie spoke to him on how his and his team’s work on fermented foods will make that a reality.

Over the past four and a half years AgResearch’s Fermented Foods research team has managed to slice through tens of thousands of evolved bacterial strains to find those with traits most suited to enhancing the flavour and texture of meat, dairy, and plant fermented food types.

The tool that has enabled them to accelerate the natural process of genetic change, which would otherwise have been an almost impossibly time-consuming and frustrating process, has been a high-throughput robotics handling and assaying (screening) platform, developed by AgResearch principal scientist Dr Eric Altermann and his team. 

“The platform’s technology allows us to take bacteria, subject them to rapid genetic evolution using sources such as UV light and then identify those evolved variants which exhibit a positive change towards the desired traits,” Altermann said.  . . 

Awakiki Ridges owners clearing out for retirement – Shawn McAvinue:

A couple of teenage sweethearts are looking forward to retirement on their sheep and beef farm in South Otago.

Howie and Marion Gardner (both 66) will hold a clearing sale on their farm Awakiki Ridges in Puerua Valley tomorrow.

Awakiki Ridges has come a long way since his parents, Clyde (now 93) and his late mother, Beth, bought the land and started developing it in the mid-1960s.

The property was once considered “the worst bit of dirt in South Otago,” Mr Gardner said. . . 

Sharing enthusiasm for red meat sector – Shawn McAvinue:

Maniototo man Dean Sinnamon’s new job allows him to pursue his passion for the red meat sector.

Mr Sinnamon, of Oturehua, started in a new role at Beef + Lamb New Zealand in January this year.

His job title is Central South Island South extension manager.

“It’s a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it?” . . 

China tariffs causes Victorian harvest to tank Annabelle Cleeland:

The 2.1-billion litres of unsold Australian wine sitting in storage is wreaking havoc on Victoria’s grape harvest this season, as a storage shortage forces growers to leave grapes on vines.

Last year the nation’s wine exports plummeted $860 million, or 30 per cent, due to China’s crippling tariffs on bottled Australian wine.

China’s anti-dumping duty introduced the last march of up to 218pc for containers of two litres or less, and is set to remain in place for five years.

It has been a blow for the industry with Australia’s wine exports the lowest in nearly two decades, as the volume of wine sent overseas dropped 17pc to 619-million litres in 2021. . . 


Rural round-up

21/03/2022

Dairy prices expected to remain elevated in the near term, but longer-term outlook less certain — Global Report :

Dwindling world milk production looks set to support buoyant global dairy commodity prices over coming months, but with the Russia-Ukraine conflict creating a wave of uncertainty in markets, the longer-term pricing outlook remains much less clear, Rabobank says in a recently-released report.

In its “Global Dairy Quarterly Q1 2022: How high for how long?”,the agribusiness banking specialist says weather-related issues, high or rising production costs and lingering disruptions from Covid-19 resulted in milk production growth faring worse than previously anticipated in the final quarter of 2021.

“These challenges have impacted dairy farmers from all the key production regions around the world, and among the “Big 7” dairy exporters – New Zealand, Australia, the EU, the US, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina — production is now expected to fall by 0.7 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2022,” Rabobank senior agricultural analyst Emma Higgins said. . . 

Vegetable prices tipped to go higher due to spiraling costs :

Horticulture New Zealand says vegetable prices will continue to increase if the Government does not support growers to find ways to reduce the costs of growing.

‘There is a crisis developing in commercial vegetable production in New Zealand. Input costs have soared over the past 12 months, not the least being the cost of fuel,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘Reducing petrol excise duty by 25 cents a litre and road user charges for three months is a positive step for most New Zealanders. However, this has no impact on the significant increase in the cost of diesel for use on the farm, orchard or market garden.

‘Between December 2021 and March 2022, the cost of diesel has increased from $1.67 a litre to $2.41 a litre. . . 

Young Waikato Dairy Award winners see value in judges views :

The major winners in the 2022 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards are a young couple who believe that progression is possible and your limits are only what you perceive.

Brian Basi and Rachel Bunnik were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at the Waikato Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at Claudelands Event Centre on Monday evening. The other big winners were Andrew Macky, who became the 2022 Waikato Dairy Manager of the Year, and Edward Roskam, the 2022 Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Brian and Rachel are contract milkers for Dick and Liz Johnson on their 72ha, 230-cow Putaruru property for the past two seasons. They won $14,828 in prizes and four merit awards.

Brian placed in the top five in the same category last year and believes judges analysing their overall farming business and performance was a key benefit of the awards programme. . . 

Varroa increasingly responsible for NZ bee colony losses :

New Zealand beekeepers have reported varroa to be the most common reason for over-wintering hive losses for the first time, according to the recently released NZ Colony Loss Survey.

The 2021 Survey found varroa was responsible for nearly 40% of all losses. This marks a change in the primary cause, with queen problems having consistently been attributed as the key reason for colony losses in the past six years of the survey.

The Survey noted that an estimated 5.3% of all living colonies were lost to varroa and related complications over the 2021 winter, significantly higher than the 1.6% recorded just five years ago.

Beekeepers surveyed reported a number of reasons for the losses due to varroa; including reinvasion post treatment and timing issues with treatments. Nineteen percent believed their varroa losses were due to ineffective products. . . 

Australia’s biggest customer pressured to give kangaroo products the boot – Chris McLennan:

Australia’s biggest export market for kangaroos has the jitters.

There is a big push from the Netherlands for the European Union to give Aussie roo products the boot now free trade talks have begun.

The EU is our biggest market for kangaroo meat and leather worth about $130 million annually.

Traditionally the light and strong kangaroo leather has been highly valued by sporting apparel companies. . .

Spring Sheep Milk Co wins Company-X Innovation Award:

and the Company-X Innovation Awards goes to . . . the Spring Sheep Milk Co.

The smart Kiwi business began in 2015 and now sources sheep milk from 12,700 grass-fed Zealandia sheep, its own breed, from dedicated farms across the Central North Island.

The milk is spray-dried into powder at Waikato Innovation Park at Ruakura in Hamilton and is used to create high-value nutrition products. Its early life nutrition range, including Gentle Sheep Toddler Milk Drink and nutrition powders are sold in China, Malaysia and New Zealand. Sheep milk is one of the most nutritious milks available and may be helpful for people with stomach or digestion intolerances.

Grass-fed New Zealand sheep milk is one of the highest quality milks available in the world and is clinically proven to be more easily digested and absorbed than cow’s milk, making it the ideal base for premium nutrition products. . . 


Rural round-up

01/03/2022

Guilt trees destroying farming – Peter Andrew:

The potential loss of local stations such as Huiarua, Matanui and sadly many other properties to the carbon pine forest bandwagon are an absolute disgrace and embarrassment to us as human beings/farmers. The pioneers who developed and farmed this land would be spinning in their graves if they knew we were letting this happen.

This farmland is top-performing country and one of the best places to grow grass in this country. There is no better indicator of the quality of the land and its productive capability than when in 2001 Huiarua was announced winner of the Gisborne Wairoa “Farmer of the Year” competition.

This long-term loss of the productive use of the land is in complete conflict with our core role of being kaitiaki (caretakers) for our district for our children. Aren’t we meant to leave this place more productive than we found it, not destroy the opportunity for future generations to use the land?

If we don’t care about the future of this place anymore, how we leave it for our children, we may as well let the weeds go and throw rubbish out the car window! . . 

Farmers urged to plan for processing disruptions :

The Farm to Processor Animal Welfare Forum is urging farmers to plan ahead for disruption at processors due to COVID-19.

Forum chair Dr Lindsay Burton said it was critical that farmers book space at meat processors well in advance and be prepared to potentially hold stock on farm for longer.

“We have seen overseas the disruption that Omicron can cause to supply chains – particularly meat processing. It is important that farmers talk to their stock agents, processors and transporters if they aren’t already, and have a plan for what they would do if they need to hold onto stock for longer.

“Make sure you consider this in your feed planning and talk to your levy body or a farm adviser if you need support.” . . .

Omicron phase three: Concern for vulnerable rural communities :

There are fears the phase three Omicron response will see already-stretched rural health services in crisis as they try to care for increasing numbers of Covid-19 patients at home.

Questions are being asked about what happens when sole-charge GPs are forced to shut their doors if required to isolate themselves.

It was not uncommon for rural communities to be serviced by a single doctor and nurse.

A fortnight ago, there was no Covid-19 detected in the Southern District Health Board. . .

Honours in the dairy – Karen Trebilcock:

Working on a dairy farm is not what Paige Harris thought she would be doing after university but now it’s exactly where she wants to be.

Milking 550 cows on 310 hectares near Balfour in northern Southland, the 24-year-old says she is still only “scratching the surface” of dairying.

“All my friends and family were saying ‘what are you doing milking cows with a first-class honours degree’ but if I really want to connect with farmers, I need to understand the role and the only way to do that is by milking.

“You need a lot of tools in the toolbox to really achieve at dairying.” . . 

Vertical farming rising to tackle global food crisis :

The world is consuming more food than it is producing. With the global population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, a global food crisis is fast approaching.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021 report estimated that on average, 768 million people faced world hunger globally in 2020. The high cost of fresh, healthy produce, combined with high income inequality, means that many cannot afford a healthy diet.

This is especially prevalent in Aotearoa, with almost 40 percent of New Zealand households saying they face food insecurity in the last New Zealand Adult Nutrition Survey, conducted back in 2008/2009.

A company that is answering the call to this crisis is Intelligent Growth Solutions Limited (IGS). IGS is an Edinburgh-based company that is developing vertical farming systems that may become a common sight in New Zealand in the future. . . 

Plant-based ‘meat’ could be off the table – Maeve Bannister:

Plant-based food manufacturers may have to change the way they label products if recommendations from a new report are taken on by the federal government. 

A Senate inquiry into definitions of meat and other animal products – initiated by the National Party – recommends the government implement mandatory food labelling requirements.

It also recommends a far-reaching review of Australia’s food standards regulator. 

Nationals Senator Susan McDonald says more regulation is needed as consumers are confused by plant products featuring names like ‘chicken’, ‘beef’ or ‘prawns’.  . . 


Rural round-up

09/02/2022

Staffing shortages cause processing delays – Neal Wallace:

Farmers already facing up to six weeks delay getting stock killed are being warned to prepare for a longer than usual season as the meat industry continues to struggle with staffing shortages.

Silver Fern Farms has warned suppliers that for the season to date the ovine kill is 8% behind the same stage last year and bovine by 3%.

“Early indications show that for most stock classes it will not be until July before we will catch up with current backlogs,” chief executive Simon Limmer told suppliers in the newsletter.

Just how late will depend on any impact of Omicron. . . 

Robots offer a tireless staffing option – Richard Rennie:

The prospect of autonomous robotic tractors has long been a lure for growers and farmers, often pushed beyond the bounds of reality by cost and existing technology. But a Blenheim company has been quietly building a fleet of automated machines that are proving their worth with one of the region’s largest winegrowers. Richard Rennie reports.

For any innovative agritech company, New Zealand’s small market size demands founders have an eye out from the start on their tech’s applicability in larger global markets. For the founders of the Oxin automated viticulture tractor, Marlborough has proven an appealing place to start, prior to making that international leap.

“We have been fortunate to have an excellent industry partner right from the start in Pernod, one of the largest grape growers in the region, but also one that has very strong international connections,” Smart Machine director Andrew Kersley said.

Blenheim’s unique concentration of 35,000ha of vineyards, grown primarily by only a few large industry players, makes the company’s ability to showcase the technology, and get it dispersed, a simpler task.  . . 

Stud owners ready for a new chapter – Sally Rae:

For more than a century, the Punchbowl name has been synonymous with stud sheep breeding in North Otago.

But a new chapter is looming for its current owners, Doug and Jeannie Brown, who are holding ewe dispersal sales in Oamaru this month.

It was Mr Brown’s grandfather Henry (HJ) Andrew — a legendary figure in the stud sheep industry — who came to Punchbowl, near Maheno, in 1915 after graduating from Lincoln College.

Originally from the Leeston area, he shifted south with his parents and began breeding Southdowns. Over time, his Southdown stud became very prominent at a time when Southdowns were the main terminal sire breed in New Zealand. He exported sheep to many parts of the world and also imported sires. . . 

Seeds of traceability in digital move – Tim Cronshaw:

Arable growers will enter the digital world for their seed certification this month.

All the paperwork will be replaced by online entries in a $2million industry and government investment, which industry chiefs have called a watershed moment.

About $400million of certified seed crops — including brassicas, herbage grasses and legumes — will be checked throughout their growing cycle for quality control and consistency by about 800 growers, seed merchants and Assure Quality inspectors.

New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association manager Thomas Chin said the app-based system would provide traceability so quality assurances could be given to overseas markets that export seed shipments leaving the country were ‘‘true-to-label’’. . . 

Potato milk hits UK supermarket shelves :

Described as “deliciously creamy” and the “perfect foam” for your cuppa, potato milk is the latest contender to the plant milk market.

Milk developer at Lund University professor Eva Tornberg said she was working with a potato starch company in Sweden when she came up with the idea.

The amino acid composition of potato protein is much like milk and egg, she said.

“I thought perhaps it would be good to use potato protein to make a milk.” . . 

Farmer who flipped car cleared of criminal damage because ‘Englishman’s home is his castle’ – Martin Evans:

A farmer who wrecked a car parked on his land with a tractor has been cleared of criminal damage after he successfully used the 400-year-old legal principle that “an Englishman’s home is his castle”.

Robert Hooper, 57, became an internet sensation in June last year, when a video of him using the spikes on his telehandler to flip a £16,000 Vauxhall Corsa went viral on social media.

The hill farmer from Upper Teesdale said he had been forced to take action after he came under attack from a “strutting and agitated” shirtless youth, who had refused to move the car from his land.

Mr Hooper said he did not call police because he had been burgled eight times and found they were often slow to respond. . . 


Rural round-up

03/02/2022

Farmers desperate for machinery workers before cows go hungry :

A rural contractor says the government has two weeks to follow through with its December promise to allow 200 skilled machinery operators into the country to help with the busy autumn harvest.

Since then, not a single worker has managed to secure an MIQ spot because of the Omicron response.

It comes as the government announces it has got a voucher for pregnant journalist Charlotte Bellis in MIQ – and has urged her to travel from Afghanistan to take it.

Brook Nettleton from BlueGrass Contracting in Waikato says if workers don’t arrive in the country within the next fortnight crops will deteriorate to a point farmers will not be able to milk their cows. . . 

Labour shortage affecting harvest time again in Mid-Canterbury – Jonathan Leask,:

It’s known as the breadbasket of New Zealand, but Mid Canterbury is facing a worker burnout to complete this year’s harvest.

The issue is a worker shortage due to delays in skilled overseas workers getting into the country.

The government announced changes in December to the class exemption scheme and securing more visas for overseas workers, but the amendment was only actioned last Friday.

Ashburton mayor and farmer Neil Brown said there was likely to be a worker burnout to get this year’s harvest completed. . . 

Urgent action needed on the special forestry test to stop carbon farming rort :

Federated Farmers is calling on the government to live up to its pledge and review the Overseas Investment Act ‘special forestry test’ and be fair to sheep and beef farmers.

Multiple government policies are driving farmland being sold for pine tree carbon farming, and a multitude of changes are needed to restore balance to land use policy, Feds Meat and Wool Chair William Beetham says.

“Sorting the special forestry test is straight forward and a good first step.”

The Overseas Investment Act ‘benefit to New Zealand’ requirement is waived under the special forestry test when overseas investors buy farmed land for ‘forestry activities’. . .

Bankers muscling in for a big slice of record dairy payout?– Andrea Fox:

Forget new tractor and car dealers – bankers are heading the queue to relieve dairy farmers of large chunks of their forecast record milk payout, says a sector specialist who’s concerned some bankers have “lost touch” during Covid.

Nigel McWilliam, a dairying specialist accountant and director at Morrinsville’s MBS Advisors, said banks need to be realistic and mindful of farmer wellbeing when setting timeframes for repayment of “big chunks” of principal.

While it’s general sector opinion that dairy farmers will prioritise debt repayment with their forecast $9-plus/kg record milk payout this season, escalating costs and rising interest rates mean that $9 prospect will likely represent $7 for the average dairy farmer, say farming sector leaders.

McWilliam said bankers are pushing for more principal repayment and shortening the terms of loans. . . 

Kiwis encouraged to look for 100 per cent NZ pork labelling as new regulations come into force:

Kiwi consumers are being urged to look out for labels showing pork is 100 per cent New Zealand born and raised with the introduction of new food labelling regulations.

The Commerce Commission has issued guidance to support compliance with the long-awaited Country of Origin for Food regulations, which come into force on 12 February.

Under the new regulations, fresh pork and cured pork for retail sale must be labelled with the country or countries where the animal was raised. Cured pork includes bacon and ham, including prosciutto, and other preserved pork products containing at least 66 per cent of whole pieces of pork, such as pickled pork.

However, imported pork processed into other products in New Zealand, including marinated pork and sausages, are not covered by the regulations because they fall outside the cured pork definition. They will only be required to be labelled with the name of the New Zealand manufacturer or retailer. . . 

Pig sector faces ‘collapse’ as on-farm backlog deteriorates:

The government has been told to convene an emergency summit of the entire pig supply chain amid a ‘deteriorating’ on-farm backlog, with fears the crisis could go on until at least June.

The National Pig Association (NPA) and the NFU have issued a fresh plea to Defra Secretary George Eustice to get the supply chain together to find urgent solutions.

The call comes as the pig backlog is now estimated to be well in excess of 170,000 due to a lack of butchers in pork processing plants, as a result of the pandemic and Brexit.

Tens of thousands of healthy pigs have been culled on farms by increasingly desperate producers who have run out of space. . . 


Rural round-up

29/01/2022

Urgent action needed to stop carbon farming rort – William Beetham:

Federated Farmers is calling on the government to live up to its pledge and review the Overseas Investment Act ‘special forestry test’ and be fair to sheep and beef farmers

We understand that Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor have been lobbying for this fair and sensible step but Cabinet is dithering, and this is profoundly impacting our rural communities.

It’s well past time for action.  This is hurting rural people in Aotearoa New Zealand.

There are multiple factors driving the alarming and accelerating trend of productive sheep and beef farmland being sold for pine tree carbon farming, and a multitude of changes government must make to restore balance to land use policy. Sorting the special forestry test is straight-forward. . . 

Omicron outbreak may leave rural hospitals precarious staffing  levels – Rowan Quinn :

Rural communities could be left without local medical services for a time when Omicron hits.

Staffing is precarious in many small towns – and doctors, nurses or key administration workers will have to stop working if they get the virus.

Hospitals have predicted 30 percent of their staff could be off with Omicron at the height of the outbreak.

Rural doctor Jeremy Webber said it was hard to gauge the impact that would have on very small hospitals, which tended not to have staff to spare. . .

Horticulture, meat processors push for private RAT orders to protect supply chains – Maja Burry:

The horticulture and meat processing industries are among those advocating for the government to allow the private importation of rapid antigen tests, saying they’re worried Covid-19 testing capacity could impact on staffing.

The industry group Horticulture New Zealand said if Covid-19 testing capacity slowed that would impact monitoring – as well as return to work decisions – at a time when the sector needed as many hands on deck as possible.

Chief executive Nadine Tunley said it was imperative there was a focus on maximising the number of people available, to keep the supply chain operating during the Omicron response.

“We have strenuously pointed out to the government that our industry cannot withstand any further labour shortages as growers will be faced with having to leave vegetables in the ground and fruit on trees.” . . 

The taonga on fire: 40 days at Kaimaumau – Matthew Scott:

The fire at overlooked natural treasure Kaimaumau wetland began before Christmas, and it’s still ablaze

It’s been burning for more than 40 days and 40 nights.

Despite summer rains and being largely left behind by the media cycle, the fire in the Kaimaumau wetland in the Far North rages on.

The burning area is 2800ha, with a perimeter of 38km as of Day 41 – larger than Rangitoto Island. “On a national scale, that’s probably one of New Zealand’s biggest fires,” said incident controller Wayne Martin. . .

Robo tractor could revolutionise viticulture :

A driverless tractor able to perform up to three tasks at once is on the cards for New Zealand orchards.

The Government is contributing $622,360 through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund to develop a prototype tractor, which is set to transform the productivity of trellised orchards while reducing carbon emissions. The Smart Machine Company Limited is taking the lead on the three-year project, and is contributing a further $945,520.

“The tractor will be able to perform several tasks, including canopy spraying, mulching, mowing, trimming, and leaf defoliation,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes.

“As well as lowering carbon emissions, we could expect to see reduced spray drift, and improved soil and tree health. . .

Canterbury teen wins beekeeping scholarship :

Canterbury-based Alyssa Wilson (17) is the 2021 recipient of Apiculture New Zealand Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship in beekeeping.

Alyssa topped a strong field of candidates to win the scholarship, which includes $2000 to support training and set-up costs for new beekeepers, a one-year membership with industry body Apiculture New Zealand and attendance at Apiculture New Zealand’s industry conference to be held in June 2022.

The scholarship was set up to help young people into a career in beekeeping and the judges identified Alyssa as showing great potential. “She’s clearly not afraid to get stuck in and learn as much as she can. With a strong work ethic and a real interest in bees, she is going to be an asset to our industry,” says judge Neil Mossop.

Alyssa says she was “pretty chuffed” to win and is planning to use the scholarship to help fund her involvement in the New Zealand Apprenticeship in Apiculture scheme run through Primary ITO in partnership with Apiculture New Zealand. . . 


Rural round-up

27/01/2022

Why Utopia is still  a long way off for New Zealand – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Futurists present Utopia for New Zealand in the next 20 years, yet how to achieve this vision is hazy and the execution steps are almost non-existent, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

It is the time of year when trends for the 12 months ahead are announced, goals are vocalised, and visions are created.

Fitting the pattern is the Utopia being presented to us by futurists, who promote the idea that – “This is what the world/NZ could look like, and this is how it would be achieved. All you have to do is…”

The next word might be “believe”. . . 

Frustration as Goughs Bay still cut off after slips – Jean Edwards:

Canterbury’s Goughs Bay farmers are used to isolation, but imagine walking mile after mile in Sandie Stewart’s shoes.

More than five weeks after torrential rain set off a series of giant mudslides that washed away the Banks Peninsula road, the only way out is a steep hike over a saddle to neighbouring Paua Bay.

That means backpacking groceries for her family of four, weighed down by litres of milk and other essentials. 

“It’s a mission. I’m going to be very strong and mulish after this,” she said. . . 

High commodity prices sees fewer farms put up for sale :

Data just released from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand shows there were 256 fewer farm sales for the three months to December last year than for the three months ended December 2020 – a 46.6 percent drop.

Comparing the same three month period the median price per hectare for all farms has risen by 39 percent to $37,980.

Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacock said sales figures reflected an easing in volumes compared to similar periods over the last three years, with all categories being impacted . . 

Campaign asks people to ‘Pick Nelson Tasman’ again :

A regional collaboration to tackle the ongoing and significant seasonal labour challenges in the Nelson Tasman horticulture and viticulture sector have launched the ‘Pick Nelson Tasman’ campaign to attract workers to the region and entice locals into seasonal work as the 2022 harvest kicks into gear.

The collaboration, which successfully placed dozens of job seekers into seasonal employment in 2021, has come together again as the squeeze of labour shortages continues to impact the Nelson Tasman region.

“Labour is a challenge right across the Country but with a high seasonal peak for our horticulture harvest – the region is eager to ensure everything gets picked and our crucial primary sector is supported with the labour it needs to continue its strong performance in the face of COVID-19” says NRDA Chief Executive, Fiona Wilson. “It’s also more than the jobs we’re promoting. It’s an opportunity for seasonal workers to explore our stunning, diverse region. They can have their overseas experience in our backyard with the huge range of activities and attractions Nelson Tasman offers.” .  .

South Island Cheese Festival down but not out :

The team behind South Island Cheese Festival held onto hope right until the 11am Government press conference on the 23rd January with only 13 days until their event.

The cheese filled Festival was due to be held on Waitangi Weekend – Saturday 5th Feb at the beautiful Clos Henri Vineyard in Marlborough. With the latest announcement the team behind the festival announced the event will not be cancelled but will be postponed until the country is in a more comfortable position living with Omicron. They can confirm the event will be held in 2022.

Hannah Lamb – event owner and coordinator says ‘We are saddened to have to hold off going ahead with the festival that so many people from all over New Zealand were looking forward to. We decided to postpone rather than looking at ways to go ahead in Red. . . 

Oatly ads banned by UK watchdog over ‘misleading’ green claims :

The UK advertising watchdog has banned a high-profile marketing campaign by Swedish alt-milk brand Oatly after ruling its green claims were misleading.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched an investigation into the campaign after receiving 109 complaints from members of the public and the campaign group A Greener World.

In one national newspaper ad the company, which attracted investment from Blackstone, Oprah Winfrey and Jay-Z last year ahead of floating on the US stock market in May, claimed “climate experts say cutting dairy and meat products from our diets is the single biggest lifestyle change we can make to reduce our environmental impact”.

The ASA said consumers would understand the claim to be a “definitive, objective claim that was based on scientific consensus,” when instead it was the opinion of one climate expert. . .

 


Rural round-up

22/01/2022

Audit solutions won’t work against climate change – look to the practical – Eric Roy:

It’s encouraging to have some better acceptance of the need to address climate change. What is frustrating is the lack of meaningful engagement and the absence of applied science to find solutions.

It has largely been slogans and talk fests combined with finger pointing as to who the worst perpetrators are by country and by sector.

I’m no doubt biased. I’m a farmer and I take exception to some hyperbole levelled at the industry which largely creates the bulk of the wealth that pays for so much of the social needs and services of our country.

New Zealand is the most efficient food producer in the world. . . 

Meat industry warns a Covid-19 Omicron outbreak among its 15,000 workers would have a significant impact during peak season – Karen Coltman:

New Zealand meat plants are bracing for a wave of staff illness if the Omicron Covid-19 variant hits as they head into peakprocessing season

Silver Fern Farms said chief executive Simon Limmer ​said the timing was bad because its peak workforce of 7000 was already 550 short, and he wanted the Government to re-examine its border rules for seasonal workers.

Good weather conditions had alleviated pressure on farmers who had more feed than usual, but that could change.

“Any significant dry period from this point on, coupled with labour-related capacity reductions, will create livestock pressure on farm,” Limmer said. . . 

Young farmer outstanding in her field – Sharon Cain:

Katie Watson reckons she has always been a bit of an animal mad person. Sharon Cain reports.

Growing up on a lifestyle property at Otorohanga with pet lambs, calves and goats and spending time on the family farm in the school holidays has given her a great love for farming and the outdoors.

Watson’s first on farm working experience came in 2011 at the age of 15. She was in year 11 at school and while her friends were getting part-time jobs in cafes and supermarkets, being quite shy she was freaked out at the thought of working with people. With the help from her livestock agent dad, Owen, she got a job with a nearby dairy farmer who taught her how to milk cows.

During her last year of school, Watson did not have a clue what she wanted to do for a career. Following a discussion with a career advisor, she chose to study an Agricultural Science degree at Lincoln University. For the next four years, she surrounded herself with like-minded people who had the same interests. . .

Listen to the land – Diana Dobson:

Sir Ian Taylor may be a pioneer in technology and animation, but it is from the past he draws his strength and innovation.

A keynote speaker for February’s East Coast Farming Expo, the lad from Raupunga brings a fresh perspective to the effect of Covid on our planet, and how to put our country on track for a sustainable future.

Sir Ian’s company Animation Research created platforms that give a real-time, 3D, bird’s eye view of the America’s Cup, among other sports. It is lauded as one of the world’s leading sports graphics companies.

During the pandemic, he has constantly pushed the Government on MIQ, their response to Covid and the future of New Zealand. . .

Kelston orchards opens new multi-purpose cool store and packhouse :

Family-owned business, Kelston Orchards Ltd, has more than doubled the size of its Hawke’s Bay packhouse and cool store in response to increased global demand for New Zealand apples.

Located in the heart of New Zealand’s apple growing region, Kelston Orchards packs fresh apples grown on their 15 orchards and also provides post-harvest services to some of the largest growers in the Hawke’s Bay.

The new fully racked 1,200 square metre finished goods cool store has the capacity to hold 1600 pallets, adding to the current 3000 square metre, 12000 bin store , while the state-of-the-art 2,500 square metre packhouse facility features a multi-lane feeding and optical grading system capable of handling 60 bins per hour.

With technology developed in France by MAF Roda agrobitoics, the facility includes a high performance handling system which ensures apples are managed delicately and quality is not compromised at any point during the process. When not packing apples for export, the packhouse will also be used to support local summerfruit growers. . . 

John Deere’s driverless tractor have hit bump in the road – Brian Henderson:

Excitement ran high in the farming media last week when the second biggest tractor company in the world, John Deere, announced that they were soon to release their first autonomous tractor on to the market.

For, while we’ve all grown used to the ‘hands-free’ option available with GPS auto-steer guidance systems on our big pieces of machinery, taking that a step further and having little more to do to cultivate a field than to drive the tractor down there and then just let it get on with it would certainly appeal to many.

Well, I say many but there still remains a hardcore of tractor fanatics who would happily spend each and every day ensconsed in their cosy cab, driving up and down the same field or racing about the roads with beacons ablaze.

And some of these fan-boys devote the sort of level of support to one brand or colour equalled only on the pre-Covid football terraces or in the stands at the six nations matches. . . 


Rural round-up

19/01/2022

Vaccination critical – MPI boss – Peter Burke:

Vaccination against Covid-19 is absolutely critical to the success of the whole primary sector.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director-general Ray Smith told Rural News that he’s encouraging every business in the primary sector to get their people vaccinated and have strong supporting policies around this.

“It underpins our mobility as individuals and for firms to prosper without having sickness,” he says. “My own organisation with 4,000 staff has a 97% vaccination rate and now, unless you have been vaccinated, you can’t come into work here.”

Smith admits one of the big challenges for MPI in 2022 will be bedding in the environmental changes, which he claims are needed to improve NZ’s sustainability and farming practices. He says the country is starting in a good place but it has more to do. . . 

Strong carbon prices blow into new year – Richard Rennie:

A new year surge in the New Zealand carbon values has caught the market by surprise, with traders anticipating values may well impact upon the first carbon auction of the year due to be held in mid-March.

Values for mid-January are now trading at $72.10 a unit, with a bullish sentiment on the market also reflected in future spot prices. The contracted market has April 2023 values trading at $75.20, and April 2026 at $83.40 a unit.

Lizzie Chambers, director of carbon trading company Carbon Match, said trading is now characterised by a myriad of buyers and sellers across the breadth of the market, including investors, farmers and emitters requiring credits to operate.

“Over the new year the market really gapped it from $69.50 to $71.50 a unit very quickly. It appears almost as if there was a decision made by many buyers first off at the start of the year to get in and tick the box on buying,” Chambers said. . . 

Launch of new social enterprise set to boost sustainably sourced wool sales :

The launch of a new tech start-up and social enterprise is set to provide a significant boost for New Zealand’s sustainably sourced wool sales.

Comfi provides a sleep solution for a child in need, including a single bed and base, and a pillow for every five beds sold.

The company is the brainchild of Vicki Eriksen and Susie Harris who developed the concept after struggling to find suitable beds online during the first Covid lockdown.

Other shareholders in the start-up include Neat Meat chief executive Simon Eriksen, Jucy co-founder Tim Alpe, and director/investor Andrew Harris. . . 

Hopes new tech will attract top cherry pickers :

Central Otago cherry producer Tarras Cherry Corp has implemented New Zealand-developed orchard management technology this season to attract and reward productive workers.

Orchard and project manager Ross Kirk said the company was the first New Zealand cherry business to implement radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology developed by Auckland software firm Dataphyll.

“At a time when pickers are in short supply, investing in smart technologies is a way to attract and retain quality workers.

“We want to lead the charge as an innovative and progressive operation throughout the supply chain,” he said. . . 

Food and Fibre Careers Day doubles in size as universities come on board:

The Westpac Agri Futures Careers Expo is returning to Palmerston North in March with an expanded line-up of attendees that will offer more exciting pathways into rural employment for young New Zealanders.

Hosted in association with Property Brokers and the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Expo provides youth and those interested in a food and fibre career with the chance to explore possible careers and job opportunities throughout the food and fibre industry.

The event is for secondary and area school students from Paraparaumu through to Napier and across to New Plymouth. It’s run as part of the Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games in Te Marae o Hine/The Square in Palmerston North, from March 11-13, 2022.

New Zealand Rural Games Trust Chair Margaret Kouvelis MNZM said the event has grown significantly, attracting attention from tertiary providers from across the country as well as more local businesses. . . 

Young Winemaker national final heads to Central Otago for first time :

The 2021 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker of the Year National Final is finally set to go ahead on Thursday 3 February 2022, following postponement last year. For the very first time the National Final will be held in Central Otago with the competition taking place at Amisfield Winery in the Pisa Ranges near Cromwell.

The Awards Dinner will be held the same evening at the stunning venue – The Canyon at Tarras Vineyard in Bendigo. The 2021 national champion will be announced that evening.

This programme supports emerging Young Winemakers helping them upskill, widen their network and giving them a platform to share their ideas for the future.

Having already won their regional competitions, the finalists will be stretched even further and will be tested on all aspects of wine production including laboratory skills, wine market knowledge and wine tasting and judging. . . 


Rural round-up

11/01/2022

A humbling and rewarding career – Annette Scott:

Deer Industry New Zealand producer manager Tony Pearse admits his career was not necessarily planned, but rather one of one of huge discovery. He talked with Annette Scott.

As Tony Pearse looks back on a long and exciting career in the deer industry, he says what evolved is best described as a “huge career of discovery”.

“There’s never been a great amount of planning in my life, but what has come out every step of the way has been thoroughly enjoyable and hugely rewarding,” Pearse said. 

Pearse, who has been around the deer industry for 40-odd years, retired last month – taking with him a reputation he says is “humbling to the core”. . . 

Nutrient claims are crap! – Jacqueline Rowarth:

A debate has emerged in nutrient management and fertiliser advice, brought to a head by the hype about regenerative agriculture.

Proponents of the latter are telling farmers that the soil has thousands of years of nutrients and synthetic fertiliser isn’t required. The theory is that animals, including worms and other organisms, will make the nutrients available in their excreta.

The opposite approach from soil scientists is that to maintain soil quality, what is removed in animal and plant harvest (or lost to the environment) must be replaced. If improvements in soil quality are required (development), more nutrients than removed will be required.

This maintenance or development approach was pioneered in New Zealand by soil scientists in the 1970s and 1980s. They initiated the Computerised Fertiliser Advisory Service with soil tests investigated, chosen for appropriateness for New Zealand soils and then calibrated for New Zealand conditions rather than those of the northern hemisphere. . .

Helping to make science useful – Colin Williscroft:

When Trish Fraser arrived in New Zealand from Scotland to study, she had no idea she would still be here more than 30 years later. During that time, she has made a valuable contribution to the rural community as a soil scientist. Colin Williscroft reports.

Plant & Food Research soil scientist Trish Fraser likes to take a practical approach to communicating science to farmers, believing that’s the most effective way of getting her message across.

Fraser, the 2020 Rural Woman of Influence award winner, has attended plenty of field days over the years and she believes the practical approach is appreciated by farmers.

“Farmers are kinesthetic learners and as such like to be able to see and touch things, so I try to have demonstrations that after you’ve seen it, hopefully you’ll remember it,” Fraser said. . . 

Gaining the Knowledge – Sheryl Haitana :

Open Country’s new farm environmental plan tool has helped increase
Mike van Marrewijk’s knowledge so he can build a more sustainable and profitable business for the next generation. Sheryl Haitana reports.

Dairy farmers don’t want to give their kids a hospital pass in the future, with a farming business that is not set up to survive under environmental regulations.

The number one vision for Mike Van Marrewijk is to have a sustainable farm for the next generation. Whether his children decide to go farming or not, he wants to ensure he’s passing on a viable farm that is operating profitably.

“You don’t want to pass on a shambles.” . . 

Plasback on a growth spurt :

Agricultural recycling business Plasback has come a long way since it collected its first consignment of used silage wrap from South Cantebury farmers John and Noelie Peters in 2007.

In the past 13 years it has collected more than 20,000 tonnes of waste plastic from farms up and down New Zealand.

While 2021 was a rough year for many, Plasback has delivered some good news for the environment. Over the past six months, the rate at which silage wrap and other used plastics directly from farms around the country has nearly doubled.

In the period from 1 July to 31 December, Plasback collected 2,500 tonnes of plastic. This compares to 2,600 tonnes in the entire year prior to that. . .

New handbook shows farmers how to plant for bees :

A handbook offering practical guidance on how to plant strategically to feed bees is now available free to New Zealand farmers.

The document brings together knowledge from 10 years of field and laboratory research by the New Zealand Trees for Bees Research Trust, with significant financial support from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and other funders.

“It’s a useful tool to assist farmers support the bees, and incorporate into their on-farm planting for biodiversity and other environmental benefits that customers are now demanding,” says Dr Angus McPherson, Trees for Bees farm planting adviser and trustee, one of the lead researchers for the handbook.

“The beauty of our approach is that farmers don’t need to set aside land specially for this planting. . . 


Rural round-up

10/01/2022

What farmers are hoping for in 2022 – Mazz Scannell:

If New Zealand beef and lamb farmers were asked what they hoped for in 2022, the answers would be quick: two inches of rain, a slowing of rising land prices, reliable supply chain, consistent kill cycle, good product prices, the ability to manage political change and good staff.

There are more than 44,000 people employed in New Zealand’s meat and wool sector, and the scarcity of seasonal and specialist workers is an ongoing challenge. The one thing farmers can do is to keep the staff they have and grow the next generation of farmers.

Wairarapa farmer Derek Daniell says teamwork is what farming is all about. He knows of farms that have had the same staff for 30 or 40 years, even if the ownership has changed.

“It is about working together as a team and enjoying each other,” he said. “When word gets out someone is leaving, they are usually shoulder-tapped by someone else who wants to take their place.” . .

Reward for improving land – Annette Scott:

Informing policymakers can be challenging, but Professor Richard McDowell has a special interest in presenting understandable science and has been recognised for his outstanding contribution to environmental policy. He talked with Annette Scott.

Richard McDowell has been awarded the Hutton Medal by Royal Society Te Apārangi for his outstanding contributions to the knowledge of contaminant losses from land to water and informing environmental policy.

The Hutton Medal is awarded for significantly advancing understanding in the animal, earth or plant sciences.

A land and water scientist, McDowell works between AgResearch and Lincoln University making a major contribution to the scientific understanding of contaminant losses from land to water. . . 

Planning key to combat higher costs :

Strong financial management, grazing management and people management skills will help dairy farmers buffer rising input costs and produce milk more efficiently.

That’s the message from DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle who says despite a high milk price, high-cost pressures are expected to continue for at least the next couple of years.

Statistics New Zealand released its latest farm expense price index last month which showed large inflation costs for farmers over the past two years.

Four key farming costs have experienced inflation of more than 10 per cent between 2019 and 2021, including fertiliser with a 15.9 per cent increase; cultivation, harvesting and animal feed with an 18.9 per cent increase; electricity with a 21 per cent increase; and stock grazing costs which are 36.9 per cent higher this year than they were in 2019. . .

Dog training from the best – Hugh Stringleman:

Two of the best dog trialists in the country have been sharing their skills with a new generation, giving back to the community that has been the base of their own success. Hugh Stringleman went along to their training day.

The art of sheep dog training, for on-farm working and for competition, was taught in early December at the Maungakaramea farm of Murray and Kathy Child.

It was the Northland training day of the nationwide Purina Pro Plan training series, hosted on this occasion by the Maungakaramea Sheep Dog Trial Club.

Murray does up to 12 of these training days around the North Island every year in his role as a Purina Pro Plan ambassador. . . 

South Island Cheese Festival: a grate day to Brie a cheese lover!:

The South Island Cheese Festival – owned by Cranky Goat Ltd will be returning for its second ever time next month and will be located at the beautiful location of Clos Henri Vineyard kicking off from 10am on Saturday 5th February.

Cheese companies from all over New Zealand will be coming together to celebrate cheese! Giving visitors the perfect opportunity to explore the large variety of flavours, textures and milk types. There will be an abundance of cheeses on offer alongside a large selection of produce that compliments cheeses, giving visitors an instant high quality picnic to enjoy on the stunning lawn at Clos Henri Vineyard.

The South Island Cheese Festival is proud to be hosting incredible companies such as Meyer Cheese, Barrys Bay Cheese, A Lady Butcher, Proper Crisps – Crackerbread, Peckham’s Cider, Easy Cheesy Food Truck and many more! . . 

‘It’ll take away our livelihoods’: Welsh farmers on rewilding and carbon markets

Teleri Fielden is suddenly very despairing. After skirting around the topic for the best part of an hour at her farm in Snowdonia, we’re discussing rewilding and the idea of restoring land to a more natural state and creating more nature-friendly farming practices.

Wales has become one of the focal points of the debate playing out all over the world about how farms and rewilding can work together. Supporters of rewilding say the two can co-exist, but that farming has to change given it is the biggest contributor to nature loss in the country. . .

Around 1 in 6 species in the country are currently at risk of extinction and birds like turtle doves and corn buntings have already gone from Wales’ skies.

With close to 90% of land in Wales used for agriculture, there is currently little space for wildlife to exist free from the influence of farming. Rewilding, which can involve encouraging and supporting wildlife on-farm through replanting hedgerows as well as giving over unproductive land to nature, could help reverse the biodiversity decline. . .


Rural round-up

20/10/2021

NZ primary sector best performer in global emissions survey :

The New Zealand agriculture, land use and forestry sector has been ranked No 1 of 32 nations for the way it is getting to grips with climate change issues.

“With environmental NGOs and commentators regularly pointing the finger of blame at our farmers it’s pleasing to see an independent and in-depth assessment tell a very different story,” Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard said.

For its just-published Net Zero Readiness Index (NZRI), global consultancy KPMG examined 103 indicators of commitment and performance on decarbonizing in 32 countries, which together are responsible for around three-quarters of global emissions.

It ranked our overall national performance at No 9, with Norway, the UK and Sweden taking out the top three places. . . .

 Rising costs eat into dairy payout – Tim Cronshaw:

Rising costs are taking some of the fun out of a high payout forecast for Mid Canterbury farmers.

Farmers still recovering from June floods are facing on-farm inflation that is pushing out the break-even point.

Fonterra’s unchanged forecast for a milk price range is $7.25 to $8.75, with a mid-point of $8.

Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury dairy chairman Nick Giera said most farmers would end up with five years of strong payouts if this held up. . . 

Young Farmers launch new club on West Coast :

Networking, events, working bees, and socialising are back on the calendar for Young Farmers on the West Coast.

The brand-new Westland Young Farmers’ Club has been launched for anyone from rural communities in the district aged 15 to 31-years-old to join.

Tasman Regional Chair Cheyenne Wilson said the decision was made to form a new Club to service the West Coast, based in Greymouth, after a number of people expressed interest about getting involved.

“This is really exciting for all young people on the West Coast because you don’t have to work on a farm to join as a member, you could work in any part of a rural community or just want to sign up to make new friends,” she said. . . 

Independently assessed candidates for Fonterra’s Board of Directors election announced:

Incumbent Directors Peter McBride, John Nicholls and Leonie Guiney have been announced as the Independently Assessed Candidates for the 2021 Fonterra Directors’ election. This year there are three Board positions up for election.

The three incumbent Directors are seeking re-election and chose to participate in the Independent Assessment Process. The Panel’s assessment of Peter, John and Leonie will be included in the voting pack and as re-standing Directors they automatically go through to the ballot. No other candidates put themselves forward for the Independent Assessment Process. . . 

T&G Global lowers full year profit expectations :

Persistent labour shortages and rising shipping costs has forced produce grower and exporter T&G Global to lower its full-year profit expectations.

The company is now forecasting earnings of between $4 million and $10m, compared with $16.6m a year ago.

It said the disappointing outlook reflected updated forecasts in the results of a number of T&G business units.

They include apples, due to shipping challenges and associated impacts on pricing and costs, particularly in the northern hemisphere. . .

Organic Dairy Hub announces New Zealand’s first free organic dairy farming ambassador:

Organic Dairy Hub (ODH), the only farmer-owned organic co-operative in Aotearoa, has announced Te Aroha farmer Gavin Fisher will be joining the team as its official Farmer Ambassador.

Fisher has been a key figure in creating a shift towards organic farming in the dairy industry, paving the way for other organic dairy farmers after becoming one of the first farmers to supply Fonterra with organic milk, explains Clay Fulcher, ODH Chief Executive.

“With over 20 years of organic farming experience, Gavin is an absolute expert in organic and regenerative farming, and his role as ambassador gives us the opportunity to educate and advise our other farmers on best practices in these areas – with no cost to them. We expect that our farmers will see a vast difference through the rest of this farming season,” says Fulcher. . . 


Rural round-up

06/09/2021

New Zealand workers find greener pastures on Canadian farms – Kate MacNamara:

Grant Coombes doesn’t usually have trouble keeping staff. He pays well, provides decent accommodation, and his North Waikato dairy farm is within easy reach of Hamilton. But there wasn’t much he could do when his herd manager left for Canada in June.

Originally from the Philippines, the manager, Syrell, was in New Zealand on an essential skills visa, which was set to expire. Coombes says renewing the visa wasn’t the problem – he’d renewed one for another employee just months before. The difficulty was that Syrell, who earned $70,000 a year working 45 hours per week, didn’t just want a job. He wanted a future.

“It’s about a pathway to residency for these guys and there’s just no clear pathway at the moment,” Coombes says.

Which is a shame because the man’s skills are in huge demand in New Zealand. . .

Wairarapa water scheme project canned – Piers Fuller:

After 20 years in the pipeline and more than $12 million spent, a major Wairarapa dam project has been abandoned.

Wairarapa Water Ltd announced on Friday that development of the Wakamoekau Community Water Storage Scheme would stop immediately.

The scheme northwest of Masterton was designed to harvest high winter flows of the Waingawa River into a 20 million cubic metre dam for use in summer.

Wairarapa Water chairman Tim Lusk said the scheme was no longer viable to continue. . . 

 

Hawke’s Bay dry predicted to deepen as 10 days of sun loom – Doug Laing:

The spectre of another drought on the east coast of the North Island is on the horizon, rather than the rain farmers badly need.

The latest monthly rainfall figures released by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council show why there are concerns.

Almost no rain is forecast for any part of Hawke’s Bay in the next week. That may not be good news for farmers, but will be for the rest of the population wanting a little local exercise under alert level 3 restrictions.

The council’s release of the figures comes also as climate agency Niwa reveals that nationwide it’s been the driest winter on its records – beating a previous record set just last year. . . 

Wetlands could combat nitrates :

The Waimakariri Water Zone Committee in Canterbury is considering a pilot wetlands project which would aim to reduce nitrate, phosphorus, sedimentation and E. coli levels in local waterways, while improving biodiversity in the district.

This follows a recent presentation on the benefits of integrated constructed wetlands by wetland scientist Dr Michelle McKweown of science and engineering consultancy Wallbridge Gilbert Aztec (WGA).

An integrated constructed wetland is an engineered water treatment system that uses vegetation and micrbes in the soil to treat water from farms and other sources, while also integrating the wetland structure into the surrounding landscape fabric.

These wetlands, which have been used in Ireland, the USA, and the UK since around 2007, act as a biofilter to remove suspended solids, pathogens, and nutrients from waterways. . . 

Nurseries struggling to keep up with ‘extreme’ demand for native plants – Will Harvie:

The demand for native plants is “just insanity”, according to a prominent grower. Where are these all these plants and trees coming from? WILL HARVIE reports.

Eco-Action Nursery Trust​ started out a few years ago as a plan to landscape Christchurch’s new Shirley Boys’ High School​ with native vegetation.

Students would learn about biology and horticulture – seeds to seedlings – and then plant them around the school’s new grounds – a nice touch in community building. Meanwhile, the school would get almost-free plants.

​“This is a good idea,” Shirley Boys’ teacher and Eco-Action co-founder Dave Newton thought at the time. There were even some plants left over, which were donated for planting in Ōruapaeroa-Travis Wetland.​ . . 

What crop growers say about vegan food labels – Shan Goodwin:

CROPPING industry representatives have responded in mixed fashion to the debate over vegan food labels using words like beef and meat.

Submissions to the senate inquiry investigating labelling of plant-based protein have now closed and public hearings kick off next week.

GrainGrowers believes the current food labelling provisions are not adequate and do lead to confusion and unfair outcomes for all stakeholders involved.

It’s submission said food labelled with an animal product descriptor must be derived from an animal. . .


Rural round-up

31/08/2021

Groundswell NZ have had a win, but they won’t stop their campaign– Rachael Kelly:

They’ve had a win, but the battle is far from over.

Groundswell NZ is pleased the Government has ‘’seen some sense’’ and decided to consult on some of the winter grazing rules the group campaigned against because they were unworkable for the nation’s farmers, co-founder Bryce McKenzie says.

But there were still rules that had been introduced that needed to be changed, such as those around significant natural areas and the ‘ute tax’ and Groundswell would continue to fight for change, he said.

“It’s taken 12 months of bickering and arguing and protests to get to this point, when they could have just read the 17,000 submissions that people made that told them they were wrong in the first place,’’ McKenzie said. . . 

Setting up for a strong future :

Every summer, carloads of people arrive at Lyndon and Jane Strang’s Five Forks farm in North Otago, trying to access a swimming hole near the bottom of their property.

Brush, gorse and blackberry had taken over the 50m-wide fenced berm between the 290ha farm and the Kakanui River and public access had all but been blocked.

‘‘We wanted to open it up and create a walkway along the entire length,’’ Mrs Strang said.

With the help of funding from the Otago Regional Council’s Eco Fund and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Jobs for Nature Fund, they have done just that. . . 

The future of farming could be up not out – Daniel Smith:

Unlike most people in the agricultural industry, Matt Keltie​ plants his crop upwards, not outwards.

Keltie’s​ business 26 Seasons​ first farmed microgreens in vertical farms in a former Wellington nightclub, but has recently expanded his operation to Auckland.

Vertical farming grows food on vertical surfaces, unlike traditional farming which produces on a single level such as in a field or a greenhouse.

But Keltie​ said it was not just about stacking plants on top of each other, but using technology to farm smarter. . .

Farming the seabed for weed – Jessie Chiang

The global seaweed industry is estimated to be worth more than $20 billion. New Zealand would like a slice of it.

“There are times I have to ban the s-word in the house.”

Lucas Evans lives and breathes seaweed. It took one introduction to it while he was on holiday in New Zealand, for the fascination to grow and blossom into a decade-long journey.

Originally from Australia, Evans went on to learn everything he could about growing and selling algae and crossed the ditch to settle in Coromandel. He’s now the co-founder and chief executive of his own seaweed company, Premium Seas. . . 

GO NZ: Cycling the Alps 2 Ocean trail with Adventure South – Elisabeth Easther:

The 356km of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, from Tekapo to Ōamaru, can be tackled no matter the season… just make sure you wear your waterproofs.

People asked if I was crazy when I told them I was headed to the South Island to ride the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail. It was June and the weather was packing up all over the place. A fortnight prior to departure, Twizel, one of our waypoints, recorded a nippy -8C and just one week out, Ashburton was hit by some of the worst flooding on record. But cyclists are optimists by nature – you have to be to pedal in Auckland – so, when I finally set off, I resolved to accept the weather, whatever it was. Besides, on a fully supported tour with Adventure South NZ, if worst truly came to worst, I’d still be cosy and cared for.

Here’s why you don’t need to wait for good weather to tackle the ride yourself. . . 

Basil farm yet to reach its full potential – Marian Macdonald:

It’s already a very profitable business that produces more than 30,000 bunches of fresh basil a week but Honeysuckle Farm also has a commercial kitchen and a site ready for planting macadamias or berry crops.

The 91.55-hectare property is close to the coast at Avondale, midway between the Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton.

Woolworths is an important customer for Honeysuckle, which also sells basil puree as an ingredient.

Owner Jenny Grant says the business, which has its own commercial kitchen, has the potential to generate significant margins by value-adding the puree with products like pesto. . . 


Rural round-up

18/08/2021

Ongoing battle for river draining experience – Sally Rae:

As the microscope continues to focus on the Manuherikia River in Central Otago and its future minimum flows, rural editor Sally Rae talks to award-winning Omakau farmer Anna Gillespie about the stress the rural community is under.

They are two farmers farming – literally.

Central Otago couple Ben and Anna Gillespie trade under Two Farmers Farming, running a 400ha property at Omakau comprising a dairy grazing and beef finishing operation.

It was a challenging environment to farm in, with an average rainfall of about 450mm, temperatures in winter as low as -10degC and summer hitting more than 30degC, Mrs Gillespie said. . . 

Govt reforms ‘absolutely punishing’ – Neal Wallace:

Local authorities and industry groups warn they are being driven to breaking point by the volume and pace of Government legislation reforms.

One described the pace and scale as “absolutely punishing” and warned “it has the potential, unless managed very carefully, to break the system”.

Karen Williams, a former planner and current Federated Farmers vice president, says that pace shows no letting up, with parties given just one month to comment on the exposure draft of the first of three documents to replace the Resource Management Act (RMA).

“The RMA is 30 years old, so you don’t start looking at its replacement with one month of submissions,” Williams said. . . 

Carbon-farming economics are also attractive on easier country – Keith Woodford:

Given current carbon prices, the march of the pine trees across the landscape has only just begun. The implications are massive

My previous article on carbon farming focused on the North Island hard-hill country. If financial returns are to be the key driver of land-use, and based on a carbon price of $48 per tonne, then the numbers suggested that carbon farming on that class of country is a winner.

By my calculations, sheep and beef farms on this hard-hill country provide an internal rate of return (IRR) of around 2%, whereas my recent estimate for carbon farming was 9.7%.

Here I extend the analysis, still using a price of $48 per tonne, by looking at the easier hill country that Beef+Lamb (B&L) categorise as ‘Class 4 North Island Hill Country’. This fits between their ‘Class 3 North Island hard-hill country’ and the ‘Class 5 North Island intensive finishing farms’. . . 

Efficiency key to simple, profitable A2:A2 farm– Samatha Tennent:

A Waikato farmer has succeeded in creating a top farming business, as well as a career in the corporate world.

The desire to have a dynamic farming business as well as an exciting career off the farm, a Waikato farmer has come out on top in both.

And he got there by focusing on creating a simple, profitable farming operation with an efficient Jersey herd.

Zach Mounsey who is an equity partner and sharemilks 440 Jersey cows on 161ha at Te Kawa near Otorohanga on the family farm, which was the most profitable Waikato 50:50 sharemilker in Dairybase for 2018. He is also the general manager of milk supply for Happy Valley Nutrition (HVN), a new dairy processor aiming to produce high-quality infant formulas. . . 

NZ grower’s squash milk creates new export patch :

One of New Zealand’s largest buttercup squash growers is diving into Asia’s alternative proteins market with a plant-based milk.

Kabochamilk is a collaboration between Hawke’s Bay grower Shane Newman and Sachie Nomura, a Japanese celebrity chef who also developed a world first avocado milk.

Kabocha, a Japanese variety of squash, is a staple part of the Japanese and East Asian diet and New Zealand is one of the largest exporters of kabocha to Japan and Korea.

The Ministry for Primary Industries contributed more than $95,000 through its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund to help boost Kabocha Milk Co’s efforts to formulate, manufacture, and market a shelf-stable kabocha milk recipe that would appeal to consumers in Japan, Korea, China, and beyond. . . 

Commission publishes draft conclusion on base milk price:

Commission publishes draft conclusion on base milk price calculation

The Commerce Commission has today released a draft report concluding that Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price it will pay farmers in the 2020/21 dairy season is consistent with the requirements of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Fonterra set a forecast price for the season of $7.45 – $7.65 per kilogram of milk solids according to rules set out in its Farmgate Milk Price Manual. DIRA requires the Commission to review Fonterra’s methodology for calculating the price and to conclude on whether the calculation is consistent with the purpose of DIRA and the rules set in the Manual.

The regime is designed to provide for the setting of a base milk price that is consistent with efficient and contestable market outcomes. . . 


Rural round-up

08/08/2021

Labour shortage causes apple grower profits to go rotten :

Fresh produce grower and marketer T&G Global has reported a sharply reduced half year profit as labour shortages left fruit unpicked causing a fall in sales and rise in costs.

The company’s net profit for the six months ended June fell 64 percent to $3.4 million, as revenue dipped 3 percent to $652.1m.

Chief executive Gareth Edgecombe said Covid-19 remained a problem for the business causing uncertainty and volatility.

“Despite this, continuing international supply chain challenges, including disrupted shipping schedules, had more of an impact than we experienced proportionately last year. This affected our ability to get fresh produce to market on-time.” . . 

Competition concerns spook bread wheat growers:

Uncertainty over restrictive new buying practices and competition from the feed wheat industry has seen the nation’s arable growers cut back on sowing milling wheat – the wheat used for bread.

“It’s worrying that buying practices we believe may be anti-competitive, coming at a time when growers are able to receive better prices for animal feed wheat, may result in New Zealand becoming more reliant on imported milling wheat for a staple food,” Federated Farmers Arable Industry Chairperson Colin Hurst said.

Feds are keen to discuss the situation with the Commerce Commission and have also approached Commerce Minister David Clark. . . 

Farmers, Greenpeace look to different stats to measure emissions – Jordan Bond:

Greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farming have increased to an all time high, according to Stats NZ.

But emissions from the dairy cows themselves have dropped year-on-year, according to Ministry for the Environment, which the industry says is the best measure to look at. It said statistics which show dairy farming emissions have increased capture too many irrelevant categories.

Stats NZ figures show dairy cattle farming emissions rose 3.18 percent (up 546.2 kt CO2-e to 17,719.4 kt CO2-e) between 2018 and 2019, the most recently reported year. This is the highest figure on record, dating back to at least 2007.

The Stats NZ figures count all emissions produced on dairy farms, regardless of what the emissions stem from. . . 

Mike Chapman wins Bledisloe Cup for horticulture:

Mike Chapman, until recently Chief Executive of Horticulture New Zealand, has won the Bledisloe Cup for significant services to horticulture for more than 20 years. 

HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil, says Mike’s advocacy for the horticultural industry has been untiring, forceful, and balanced.

‘Mike always acts with the aim of achieving the best outcomes for growers and orchardists, and indeed, the New Zealand economy and health of its people through access to nutritious, locally grown food.

‘Mike has firmly stood for growers on key issues such as protecting elite soils, ensuring growers maintain their social license to grow and, hand in hand with that, ensuring growers remain economically viable in a fast-changing environment.’  . .

Several other winners announced at the Horticulture conference:

Several other people important to the New Zealand horticulture industry – in addition to Mike Chapman who was awarded the Bledisloe Cup for horticulture – received awards at the Horticulture Conference gala dinner on 5 August at Mystery Creek.

Environmental Award

Emma and Jay Clarke of Woodhaven Gardens in the Horowhenua won the Environmental Award. 

Woodhaven Gardens are leaders in sustainable growing, investing significantly in reducing environmental impact, adopting a science-led approach that balances conservation with commercial success. . .


Rural round-up

28/07/2021

Dairy exports could hit 22b – Gerald Piddock:

NZX is forecasting New Zealand dairy exports to reach $22 billion by 2030 as companies shift NZ’s milk to higher-value products.

Last year, NZ’s dairy exports were worth $19b.

NZX head of insight Julia Jones emphasised the forecast in NZX’s 2021 Dairy Outlook is contingent on a number of factors lining up.

“It’s a point in time with what we know today, this is what we believe it will look like in the future,” Jones said. . . 

Methane vaccine for cows could be ‘game changer’ for global emissions – Tina Morrison:

A methane vaccine for cows being developed in New Zealand could be a big game changer for animal emissions globally, according to the chairman of the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, Professor Jeremy Hill.

Hill, who is Fonterra’s chief science and technology officer, says the methane vaccine it is working on aims to introduce antibodies into a cow’s saliva which then pass to the animal’s rumen, or stomach, and bind with the methanogens which convert hydrogen into methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

“That would be the big breakthrough because in theory a vaccine could be implemented in any animal production system,” Hill told reporters at Fonterra’s research and development facility in Palmerston North earlier this month.

“This would make a real game changing difference to the world.” . . 

The organics myth – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The ongoing push that “organic is better” is frustrating when the facts, evidence and data don’t support the case, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

With all the research and information available it is extraordinary that the myth of organics – that the food is safer, healthier for them and kinder to the environment which means that people will pay more for it – persists.

It isn’t and they don’t. Not enough to cover the costs.

Of course this is “usually”, and people will always be able to show that they make it work in terms of the economics, at least in some operations in some years. . . 

Tarata Honey wins national gold medal for creamed manuka honey :

A Taranaki honey packing factory has won a national gold medal for its creamed manuka honey.

Tarata Honey owners Raul and his wife Eniko Mateas-Orban attended the Apiculture New Zealand  in Rotorua last month.

Raul says they entered the company’s Manuka Honey MG0 300+ in the creamed honey medium colour category.

“We’re very pleased to have won the gold medal in this category. We think it is a great recognition of our hard work and high quality standards in terms of manuka honey. Nevertheless it just goes to show that people really like our honey.” . . 

Calf rearers dropping their numbers – Hugh Stirngleman:

High beef schedules and store cattle prices are not feeding through into four-day calf values and calf rearing margins, which march to the beat of different drums.

Major calf rearers say their businesses are dependent on calf supply numbers in sale yards, input and labour costs, seasonal weather and demand down the track from beef farmers for 100kg weaners.

The numbers of calves being reared are going down, which is counter-productive for the industry, despite good markets for beef and the availability of better beef genetics over dairy cows.

The biggest operators are hanging in, but not expanding, while low margins and uncertain outcomes have decimated the ranks of smaller businesses. . . 

UK lamb exports plummet by a a quarter in May:

Lamb exports from the UK continue to be under pressure as new figures show exports declined by nearly a quarter last month.

UK sheep meat exports declined 23 percent year-on-year in May to stand at 4,850 tonnes, data by HMRC shows. The vast majority – 95 percent – were to the EU.

Volumes of fresh carcase exports only recorded a modest 2% on the year with most of the reduction being in cuts of sheep meat.

Looking at the figures, AHDB said there had been continuing trade friction between the UK and the EU which had ‘no doubt put volumes under pressure’. . . 


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