Rural roundup

February 17, 2019

Hungry cities eat land :

As well as being urged to produce more from less while satisfying environmental critics farmers are also being squeezed by pressure for more land for housing and forestry. This week Farmers Weekly journalists Richard Rennie and Neal Wallace begin taking an in-depth look at how much land has been lost and how much more could still be lost as a billion trees are planted to create a low-carbon economy while another 100,000 homes are built.

As the Government grapples with building another 100,000 homes just to meet shortages, planners and producers are nervously watching continued population growth, much which will be in the country’s key farm produce regions.

Until 2016 New Zealand was losing just over 100,000 hectares a year of growing land, whether to urban development or the proliferation of lifestyle blocks increasing by 5800 a year. . .

Take 5 with Rob Barry  – Tristan Burn:

After an epic adventure around the world, Rob Barry returned to the Central Hawkes Bay four years ago and settled his new family. He is currently working as a Managers Assistant on a 1220 cow dairy farm.

The farm is part of BEL Group, a Family Corporate farming business Rob’s parents built up over the last 30 years. They have nine Dairy farms milking 9500 cows in total and seven dairy support farms (three owned, four leased). Since calving Rob has been block managing Ellingham and 400 cows.

1. In 5-10 words what is your farming philosophy?

Leave it better than you found it – Scouts motto. . .

Seasonal labour shortage in Hawkes Bay declared :

The Ministry of Social Development has declared a seasonal labour shortage across Hawke’s Bay.

Declaring a seasonal labour shortage allows visitor visa holders to apply for a variation of conditions, which will enable them to work on orchards and vineyards in the Hawke’s Bay.

The shortage is for a six-week period between 25 February and 5 April 2019, in response to discussions with pipfruit leaders, industry experts, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. . .

WorkSafe joins Young Farmer of the Year competition:

WorkSafe New Zealand has today announced a partnership with the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition.

WorkSafe Chief Executive Nicole Rosie says the partnership will connect New Zealand’s future farming leaders with health and safety in an engaging setting, build rapport with rural communities and help create generational change. . .

Pāmu announces increased profit for half year:

Landcorp Farming Limited (known as Pāmu) has declared a net profit after tax of $29 million for the half year ended 31 December 2018. This compares to $21 million for the half year ended 31 December 2017.

Chief Executive Steven Carden said that the increased half year profit was a pleasing result, reflecting good weather conditions and good trade terms for the company’s main products.

“On an EBITDAR (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and revaluations) basis, which we use as a key measure of performance, the half year represented a loss of $3 million compared to a loss of $6 million in the prior period. The loss is largely due to the seasonality of Pāmu’s operations since the bulk of livestock revenue is earned in the second half of the year.” . .

Federated Farmers and Gallagher forge new business relationship :

Long-standing contributor to New Zealand agriculture Gallagher Ltd and Federated Farmers are joining forces to form a new business partnership.

Feds recognises Gallagher as a leader in its field, having more than 80 years’ experience as a leading technology company in the animal management, security and fuel systems industries. . .

Tropical fruit options bring exciting opportunities :

Bananas, so often associated with warm tropical climates on the equator may prove to be another cropping opportunity for enterprising horticulturalists from Northland to Gisborne.

New Zealanders have an appetite for the yellow fruit, chomping through a whopping 18kg per capita a year, about $140 million worth that puts this country at top of the global list for banana consumption. . . .


Rural round-up

January 4, 2019

M. bovis response far from over:

Increased confidence that cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis can be eradicated from New Zealand should be greeted with very cautious optimism.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor announced last week that international experts were impressed by the eradication efforts and were more confident the campaign was working.

The Technical Advisory Group was more optimistic than six months ago, having confirmed that evidence showed the response was dealing with a single and relatively recent incursion from late 2015-early 2016. . . 

Public wanting cleaner water no surprise – we all have the same vision:

The results from the Colmar Brunton survey of the public that showed the public care about waterways is no surprise, and reinforces that all kiwis care deeply about New Zealand.

DairyNZ CE Tim Mackle says “we believe so strongly that kiwis care about waterways that we’re starting a movement, where the vision is clear – we want all new Zealanders to do their bit to look after rivers, lakes and beaches and you can find out more at thevisionisclear.co.nz” . .

Big plans for predator control in the Mackenzie Basin – Matthew Littlewood:

There are big plans to protect some of our smallest insects and birds in the upper Mackenzie Basin and Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Reporter Matthew Littlewood talks to some of those involved in an ambitious project to make the Basin predator-free.

It’s been roughly 18 months in the making and much of it is still in the planning stages, but already there is momentum building around Te Manahuna Aoraki.

Everything from expanding a breeding area for kakī/black stilt to building a massive predator fence is on the cards as part of the major, multi-agency predator control programme involving Department of Conservation, the NEXT Foundation, Ngai Tahu, local run holders, philanthropists and other agencies.

Be safe on the farm this summer :

Summer is a busy time on the farm, but it’s also among the most hazardous periods for accidents, says WorkSafe NZ.

Almost 550 farmers suffered injuries serious enough for them to take at least a week off work over the last summer (December 2017-February 2018) while there were three fatalities on farms.

Overall, trips, slips and falls, being hit or bitten by animals, hit by moving objects and incidents involving vehicles were the major causes of injuries, according to data from ACC. . . 

Owl farm flying high

Owl Farm uses proven research and good practice and, importantly, encourages young people into the dairy industry.

The joint venture demonstration dairy farm run by St Peters School Cambridge and Lincoln University had its Farm Focus Day in mid-November and gave visitors an overview of how the 2018-19 season was shaping up compared to the previous year. . . 

Red meat and dairy good for a healthy diet, study suggests

Researchers have found that people who eat higher levels of red meat and cheese are more likely to live longer.

The study of 220,000 adults found that eating three portions of dairy and one and half portions of unprocessed red meat a day could cut the risk of early death by one quarter.

Chances of a fatal heart attack decreased by 22 percent, according to the study by McMaster University, in Canada. . .


Rural round-up

March 16, 2018

White South African farmers ‘need help from a civilised country‘:

Australia’s Home Affairs Minister is investigating how to bring white South African farmers to Australia on humanitarian grounds.

White farmers facing violence in South Africa “deserve special attention” from Australia, Peter Dutton said.

He said he had watched television footage and read articles that convinced him the farmers needed help, and had ordered his department to investigate how to bring the farmers to Australia. . .

Young farmer making most of opportunities – Sally Rae:

Scottish-born Ann Linton always wanted to visit New Zealand before she was 21.

She got her wish – albeit a week after the milestone birthday – but she did not realise that she would never really leave.

Miss Linton (26), who came with just a suitcase, has ended up with a career in the dairy industry – and a husband-to-be.

She and her partner, Scott Henderson, are now managing a 420ha effective self-contained dairy farm near Milton, with stunning views over South Otago, milking 830 cows. . . 

NZ lamb, mutton returns at record levels as supplies dwindle -Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand meat processors are having to pay more for lambs as supplies dwindle, pushing lamb and mutton returns for Kiwi farmers to record levels for this time of the year, according to AgriHQ’s Monthly Sheep & Beef report for March.

Better rainfall in dry areas of the South Island and lower lamb growth rates in the North Island have led farmers to keep hold of their stock instead of sending them to slaughter, and a higher kill rate earlier in the season also means there is now less stock available than normal, said AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick. . .

Campaign aims to lower farm death toll

Stubbornly high rates of farm fatalities have prompted a three-year Worksafe campaign to get farmers to use their rural vehicles more safely.

The agency will be sending inspectors to farms and launching publicity campaigns to try to reduce the death toll.

WorkSafe statistics show 128 people have died in farm accidents since 2011. . .

Māori team up with Crown to breed unique berries for global markets:

A joint venture company has been created to breed and develop new unique berry varieties to be marketed exclusively by Māori-owned firm Miro Limited Partnership (Miro).

The Government-owned science institute Plant & Food Research and Miro signed a 50:50 joint venture agreement at an event hosted this afternoon by Ngati Haua at the iwi’s Rukumoana Marae in Morrinsville. . . 

Kiwi Agtech Company Biolumic Secures US$5m Funding for World’s First UV Crop Enhancement System – Investors back revolutionary solution to escalating global demand:

 BioLumic, creator of the world’s first crop-yield enhancement system using UV light, today announces the close of US$5 million [NZ$6.5m] in Series A funding.

This significant round of financial backing comes from leading global AgTech investors Finistere Ventures and Radicle Growth acceleration fund, along with Rabobank’s recently-launched Food & Agri Innovation Fund and existing investors from across New Zealand.


Rural round-up

July 30, 2017

Restrictions on group’s farms – Sally Rae:

Sixteen properties belonging to the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group in South Canterbury have had Restricted Place Notices imposed on them by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) after the outbreak of the bacterial cattle disease mycoplasma bovis.

The effect of the notices is to control the movement of stock.

Two dozen cows on one of the group’s farms have tested positive for the disease and are the first in New Zealand to have the disease. A further 150 cows on the property have signs of infection.

MPI veterinarians are working with local vets to assess stock on the affected farm, which has a milking herd of about 1000 cows.

MPI regional controller Dr Chris Rodwell said the situation was well under control, praising Glenavy farmer Aad van Leeuwen for the way he had handled the outbreak. . .

Immigration announcement: Disappointing but there’s hope, says DairyNZ:

DairyNZ is disappointed that today’s announcement by Government has not addressed the concerns raised about migrant staff.

However, DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says there is hope for farmers who need to employ people from overseas.

“Government has committed to tackling the issues as a priority to help provide certainty for farmers who need to employ migrant staff, and those staff members themselves, as well as their families.” . . .

Opening the farm gates  – Sonita Chandra:

Metaphorically speaking, dairy farmers have closed their farm gates in recent times for fear of criticism, but this now needs to change, says Federated Farmers dairy vice-chairman Wayne Langford.

“The farm gates need to be opened again so that we can show what we are doing, but also see what our communities want us to be doing.

“As dairy farmers, we have to be proud of the industry and proud of what we are doing. If we are not proud of it, then we need to make changes.” . .

Top performing farm quick to adopt tech :

Take a scenic drive ten minutes west of Masterton in the Wairarapa and you’ll be greeted with a rustic sign announcing your arrival at “Spring Valley farms”. Nestled deep in the Kaituna valley, it’s the home of Matt and Lynley Wyeth and their two sons.

Spring Valley Enterprises farms roughly ten thousand sheep and another four thousand stock units made up of three hundred Angus breeding cows. It sits on 16 hundred hectares of hard hill country with some decent quality flat lands. It consistently rates in the top 5 per cent of performers in the red meat industry, in part this is due to their early adoption of agri-tech.

The Wyeth’s employ a range of technology each with a specific, measurable outcome that allows them to make small tweaks, accumulatively, saving them money. . .

Plan for calving – include talking to staff about risks:

Farmers preparing for calving should also be thinking about effective ways to keep workers safe and well, said WorkSafes Agriculture Sector Lead Al McCone.28 July 2017

Plan for calving – include talking to workers about risks

Farmers preparing for calving should also be thinking about effective ways to keep workers safe and well, said WorkSafe’s Agriculture Sector Lead Al McCone. . .

Zespri opens new pan-American office in California, growing sales:

It was an all-New Zealand affair in Orange County, California today as Zespri officially opened its regional office to manage growing sales across Northern, Central and Southern America.

Zespri Chief Executive Lain Jager says Zespri is growing strongly across North America with most of this growth coming from the new gold variety Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit, which is proving hugely popular.

“The New Zealand kiwifruit industry is on track to more than double sales to $4.5 billion by 2025 and an important part of this growth will come from developing markets like North America, as well growing sales in our more established markets. Zespri is relaunching the kiwifruit category in the United States and the wider Americas region to attract new consumers and grow sales,” says Mr Jager. . .


Rural round-up

July 26, 2017

Battle wounds and wisdom shared through Dairy Connect:

Seeking guidance from other farmers has helped Chloe and Matt Walker make the switch from city living to dairy farming – a move that came sooner than expected.

Back in 2012, Chloe and Matt were running start-up companies in Wellington and considering a move to Matt’s parents’ dairy farm near Taupo. However, after getting married in February 2013 and a change in the dynamics of their respective start-ups, they decided to take the plunge earlier than planned.

The Walkers left their city jobs and started afresh on the 133ha farm four seasons ago, with Matt taking up a role as farm manager. They had little on-farm experience but were quick to apply what they had learned in city jobs to their new careers. . . 

Deluge misses southern hydro lakes – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – Last weekend may have been Oamaru’s wettest since daily rainfall records began in 1950, but the deluge that hit eastern coastal parts of the South Island over the weekend all but missed the southern hydro lakes, which remain at critically low levels for the time of year.

The managers of the southern catchments, Meridian Energy, Contact Energy and Genesis Energy, all reported either little or no additional rainfall, although national grid operator Transpower said lake levels now sit at 62 percent of the national average level for this time of year, compared with 58 percent before the weekend.

A Meridian Energy spokeswoman said the weekend weather “did not bring inflows  . . 

Otago $9m irrigation scheme given green light:

A new irrigation scheme in Otago will help transform dry, wasted land into productive land full of cherry trees and vineyards, the company behind it says.

But it comes at a time when questions have been raised about the sustainability of irrigation schemes in the region, in the face of expiring permits.

The $9 million Dairy Creek Irrigation Scheme, which will cover 1500 hectares of land in the Clutha catchment, has been given the green light. . . 

Blockchain the transformer – Eye2theLongRun:

Do yourself a favour and read this to “get it” about blockchain and why it matters… or try to make time stand still.

This from Kevin Cooney – ASB’s National Manager Rural:

It’s vital that New Zealand’s agri industry pays close attention to blockchain development and ensures we are well positioned to capture our share of new value this technology could unlock.

Mention blockchain and agriculture in the same breath, and the image of a heavy duty chain towing one farm vehicle behind another pops into my mind.

Turns out, that’s a handy analogy. Like a physical chain, blockchain connects parties directly with one another to enable fast, secure, and borderless transactions. . . 

‘Get on and do it’ culture contributing to farm accidents – Andrew McRae:

The high injury rate among farm workers has prompted a call for them to be more involved in health and safety decisions on the farm.

WorkSafe New Zealand’s farm sector analysis of injuries between April 2012 and March 2015 shows that for every 1000 employees, 20 suffered an injury requiring more than a week off.

For every 1000 employees in dairying 28 were injured, compared with 18 in sheep and beef, and 30 per 1000 in the shearing industry.

The sector leader for WorkSafe, Al McCone, said the figures were a result of the culture that has crept into the agricultural sector. . . 

New Zealand vanilla producer ensures steady supply in volatile market:

Soaring prices worldwide for vanilla beans have prompted New Zealand vanilla grower and manufacturer, Heilala Vanilla, to launch a new product to shield its customers from market volatility.

For the second year in a row, international prices have skyrocketed as demand outstrips supply. Spice traders predict the current market turmoil will continue into 2018. . . 


Rural round-up

August 25, 2016

Is it normal to tie a cow to a tractor?:

When a concerned citizen saw a cow chained to a tractor in Southland, they thought it was odd enough to ring police about.

But instead of being an animal welfare issue, the case turned out to be a common(ish) farming practice.

It was Sunday afternoon when the police station phone rang – the caller having just seen the bovine suspended in its field along Gore’s Waikaka Rd. Officers were told the animal couldn’t get food or water, and the owner was nowhere to be seen.

The matter was referred to animal control.

Though what looked like cruelty was in fact the opposite, the farmer says – insisting it’s a life-saving measure. . . 

Forestry industry must remain vigilant about health and safety:

WorkSafe New Zealand says the latest forestry death in Hawkes Bay is a sad reminder to the industry of the need to remain vigilant about health and safety.

Monday’s death follows three earlier confirmed forestry fatalities so far this year, and is the second death in the Pohakura Forest.

“It is obviously concerning to see two deaths in the one forest within a matter of months. Any deaths are a tragedy for family, friends and co-workers and the wider community,” says WorkSafe’s chief executive Gordon MacDonald. . . 

Picton predator-free group targets less than 5 per cent pests by 2020 – Mike Watson:

A Picton group that pre-empted the Government’s predator-free push by 12 months plans to create a line of defence surrounding the entire town.

Volunteer group Picton Dawn Chorus has already started setting 150 traps, or a trap every 100 metres, on public walkways in the town’s Victoria Domain to kill rats, stoats and possums.

The next step is to set more than 700 traps in private gardens and outlying coastal and bush areas, eventually covering an expected 2000 hectares. . . 

Videos Highlight Sustainable Deer Farming:

NZ Landcare Trust has been working with deer farmers to capture examples of excellent sustainable land and water management from around the country. This information has been distilled into fifteen short videos that are now available to view online. The final five videos from Waikato and Southland join the ten previously released (Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury) to create an informative video based resource.

NZ Landcare Trust’s Regional Coordinator Janet Gregory said, “I’d like to thank the deer farmers who welcomed us onto their properties. They have taken the time to share some of the good management practices that they have put in place on their respective properties, demonstrating a proactive approach to addressing issues around the environment and water quality.” . . 

Interest in dairy sheep builds :

The dairy sheep industry is gaining traction as a viable alternative to traditional land uses, say rural property experts.

As the ability to convert to dairying faces greater challenges on environmental and economic fronts, the option of leaving the land as a milking sheep unit is coming into focus for farmers in regions like Southland and central North Island.

Invercargill-based Bayleys rural consultant Hayden McCallum says his patch of New Zealand’s rural landscape offers some significant opportunities for milking sheep, given its well established sheep sector and strong pastoral property base. . . 

Farm life in Taradise – Brad Markham:

Have you ever slipped your hand inside a cow having difficulty calving, felt two large front feet, and thought ‘I’m going to need a lot of lube to get this one out’? I’ve had to deliver a few monster calves this winter. Several were almost half my body weight. I often joke that semen from a certain bull with a reputation for producing huge calves, should come with a complementary container of lube. . . 

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Rural round-up

June 15, 2016

New regulations for bobby calves:

New regulations to strengthen the law around the management and treatment of bobby calves are planned to be in place before the 2016 spring calving season, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Most farmers care for their animals and do a good job of looking after them. However it’s important we have clear rules and enforcement in place. Animal welfare is important not just to animals, but to consumers and our export markets,” says Mr Guy.

“The new, strengthened regulations will go to Cabinet for final approval shortly. I want to give farmers, transport operators and processors advance warning of these changes before the start of the calving season.” . . 

New Regulations Part of Wider Initiative to Strengthen Bobby Calf Welfare:

Details announced today for new regulations for the management and treatment of young calves are part of a wider programme of work by farmers, industry and government to strengthen bobby calf welfare.

The eight organisations that formed the Bobby Calf Action Group at the end of 2015 have accelerated and added to existing measures aimed at ensuring everyone involved with bobby calves applies best practice in their handling and care. . . 

Updated tool-kit to help farmers improve health and safety:

An updated tool-kit designed to help farmers better manage risks on their farms will be distributed at National Fieldays at Mystery Creek.

The tool-kit, which provides practical advice and resources to help farmers improve health and safety on their farms, has been developed by Safer Farms, ACC and WorkSafe New Zealand’s health and safety programme designed with farmers and the wider agricultural sector.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Federated Farmers were among the groups which provided input to the tool-kit. Beef + Lamb New Zealand, in addition to working with WorkSafe on the new tool-kit, is working with sheep and beef farmers to help them meet their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Sam McIvor, says that by the end of June, the organisation will have run over 70 health and safety workshops for more than 2,100 attendees around the country. . . 

Nominations & entries open for South Island Farmer of the Year:

Nominations and entries are open for the 2016 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year competition, and organisers are expecting wide interest.

Foundation Chair Ben Todhunter says, “Last year we had excellent entries which resulted in a tie, with Omarama Station and Clearwater Mussels sharing the honours. This substantially boosted public interest and we had excellent attendance at all of our events. We anticipate this level of interest will continue in 2016.” . . .

Genetic base cow change brings breeding worth back:

The genetic base cow – the genetic reference point for all dairy cattle in New Zealand – will be updated this month when it will become younger, moving from a 2000 to a 2005-born base cow.

New Zealand Animal Evaluation Limited (NZAEL) manager Jeremy Bryant says the genetic base is updated every five years and will be again on June 19, 2016.

Jeremy says the base cow update reflects genetic progress and prevents the gap between today’s animals and the genetic base becoming too large. This keeps the scale of genetic predictions relevant. . . 

Asia-Pacific’s Growing Appetite For NZ Blueberries Produces Record Industry Sales:

Huge demand for New Zealand blueberries is being welcomed by local growers who have exported a record 1.37 million kilograms of fruit this season.

Blueberries New Zealand (BBNZ) today announced over 10 million punnets of berries (worth an estimated $30 million FOB) were shipped to the end of March – a 40 per cent increase on the season before.

“Demand is continuing to grow, especially in Asia-Pacific where a ‘food-as-a-medicine’ culture prevails,” explains Blueberries NZ Chairman Dan Peach. “Asian markets have demonstrated a clear and voracious appetite for blueberries thanks to the wide range of amazing health benefits they offer.” . . 

DairyNZ announces new associate directors:

Two dairy farmers from Canterbury and south Auckland will join the DairyNZ Board of Directors this year.

New associate directors Jessie Chan-Dorman and Stu Muir have been selected to join the DairyNZ board for successive six month terms. Jessie begins this month and Stu from January 2017.

DairyNZ chair Michael Spaans says Jessie and Stu bring great industry experience to the roles, which are about providing experience to future leaders, showing first-hand how a board works and what goes into making key decisions. . . 


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