Rural round-up

October 2, 2015

Chinese deal vital, SFF says – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms could be facing insolvency if shareholders do not approve a 50:50 joint venture with Chinese company Shanghai Maling.

Voting has opened on the proposal before a meeting of shareholders at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium on October 16.

Shanghai Maling, a subsidiary of state owned food giant Bright Food Group, is proposing to take a 50% stake in Silver Fern Farms, in return for an investment of $261million. . . 

Hold off on Silver Fern vote, farmers urged –  Sally Rae:

Farmers are being urged to hold off voting on the Silver Fern Farms joint venture deal with Shanghai Maling, with hints that ”concrete” alternatives will emerge.

Voting is under way and closes at 10.30am on October 14, before a special meeting in Dunedin on October 16, where two resolutions will be voted on.

As well as the Shanghai Maling proposal, the meeting will also consider the shareholder resolution, promoted by Heriot farmer Allan Richardson and John Cochrane, from Clinton, seeking full analysis of the benefits and risks of a merger with Alliance Group. That resolution was not supported by Silver Fern Farms’ board. . . 

Bright lets sparks fly – Alan Williams:

Bright Dairy group is an excellent strategic investor in Synlait Milk, the latter’s chairman Graeme Milne says.

“It’s more than just money they bring.

“They’ve got the knowledge and capability to help us make good decisions.”

Shanghai Maling, the proposed new investor for Silver Fern Farms, is part of the wider Bright Dairy-Bright Foods group. . . 

Super-drone sprayer comes with risks -Robin Martin:

The first unmanned helicopter certified to spray chemicals in New Zealand could ultimately save back-country farmers thousands of dollars but it comes with a hefty price tag – and a safety warning. 

The Yamaha RMAX is a beast by drone standards, powered by a 260cc engine and weighing in at close to 100 kilograms.

Yamaha business development manager Geoff Lamb and his team put the chopper through its paces for a gathering of curious farmers, spraying contractors and radio-controlled aircraft enthusiasts at a Lepperton farm in Taranaki this week. . . 

Fonterra boss offers $4m salary freeze:

The chief executive of Fonterra has asked for his multi-million dollar salary to be frozen this year as the co-operative goes through major cost cuts and slashes hundreds of jobs.

Theo Spierings requested the freeze on his base salary on the same day Fonterra announced it was slashing hundreds more jobs as part of a business shake-up, taking total layoffs to 750.

That came just days before the company released its annual result.

A spokesman said Mr Spierings went to a meeting of Fonterra’s people, culture and safety committee on 21 September and requested that his base salary of about $4 million for the 2015/16 year be frozen. . . 

Nutrient loss under the spotlight:

New Zealand’s shift from a pasture-based model to high feed-input dairy farms will come under the microscope in a joint research project involving Ballance Agri-Nutrients, AgResearch, DairyNZ and Tatua, in partnership with the Government’s Sustainable Farming Fund initiative.

The two year project, led by AgResearch’s Dr Stewart Ledgard, will use case study farms varying in intensity of feed use to examine effects of their system changes over the last decade on emissions, production and profit as well as testing options for improving their sustainability.

“Locally there is strong interest in understanding implications for water quality of dairy intensification through increased use of supplementary feeds and how effects can be minimised, while internationally there is a desire for food products to be produced with efficient use of resources and reduced wider environmental impacts”, says Dr Stewart Ledgard. . . 

Aussies nab heaviest fleece record:

Well it’s official New Zealand has been fleeced by the Australians ..who now hold the world record for the heaviest fleece shorn off a merino.

The Australians were quick to yell they had found a wild merino near Canberra in early September with a fleece which weighed in at 40 kilograms.

Otago’s ‘Shrek the sheep’ held the record up until last year when another wild merino – dubbed Big Ben – was found in the Mackenzie Country with a fleece weighing 28.9 kgs. . . 

Steady wool market:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the more restricted wool type offering in the North Island sale of 6,165 bales saw a 97 percent clearance and a generally steady market.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies firmed 1.66 percent compared to the last sale on 24th September only impacting on the finer end of the offering.

Mr Dawson advises that the stronger New Zealand dollar and limited interest in the Fine Crossbred longer wools saw prices ease 2 to 4 percent with shorter types better supported with pries 1 to 3.5 percent softer in local terms. . . 


Rural round-up

September 20, 2015

Shifting the Kiwi ‘can-do attitude’ to ‘can-do safely’:

Dairy Women’s Network is shifting its members’ Kiwi can-do attitude to a ‘can-do safely’ attitude with its new Dairy Modules titled ‘Step up to Safety’ being offered from late October.

The Step up to Safety workshops are run by DWN members who are experienced in the field of Health and Safety and are supported by expert organisations Worksafe NZ and Hazardco.

“The most important thing participants will get out of these free workshops is a 90-day Health and Safety action plan. They will leave having made a start with their Health and Safety system or some actions identified to progress to next steps,” said project manager and Farmer Wellness specialist Lynda Clark.

She said the challenge is that some farmers may have fallen into complacency and think they have been let off the hook following the Government’s recent Health and Safety legislation announcements. . . 

Remote-controlled tree-felling reduces hazards – Annabelle Tukia:

New Zealand’s first remote-control forest-harvesting machine is being put to work in Nelson.

It’s hoped the technology will reduce the safety hazards associated with the forestry industry.

Tony Irvine is still getting to grips with his new machine. He’s normally in the cab of a 40-tonne self-leveller cutting down trees on the steep slope, but this week he’s started trialling a remote-control operation.

“It’s a lot better in this machine,” says Mr Irvine. “You feel a lot safer.” . . 

Mya leads city kids to animals

While the girl has been taken out of the country, at least for part of the day, the country remains firmly with Mya Taft because she brings a piece of it to her city classmates.

The schoolgirl from Ngakuru near Rotorua was well into her first school year at St Mary’s Catholic School in Rotorua as a year 6 student when she realised how much she would miss Ag Day, such a big part of the calendar at her previous school, Ngakuru Primary.

Mad keen on animals, a devoted calf-rearer and future vet, Mya decided to take matters into her own hands and arrange an Ag Day for her city classmates. . . 

Fonterra director John Monaghan pans dairy doomsayers, defends cooperative’s debt level – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group director John Monaghan said critics who claim dairy is doomed, and the economy with it, show a lack of understanding of the market and the structure of the dairy company.

Monaghan told the New Zealand Shareholders Association conference at the weekend that the news was full of gloomy predictions with falling global dairy prices that not only was it the end of the golden weather for dairy farmers, but also the end of the industry.

“Farmers are worried, anyone would be when their incomes are halved in the course of a year,” he said. “The US, Europe and Australia will have to consolidate and learn to live without subsidies but we’ve already done the hard yards and the cooperative is in the best position to weather the storm and come out the other side. Dairy is not doomed or dead.” . . 

Early days but PGP trial farm excited by potential:

The opportunity to precisely manage a fertiliser analysis and application programme, on highly variable hill country, has East Otago farmer Rob Lawson excited.

The trial is a part of Ravensdown’s Pioneering to Precision Primary Growth Partnership programme in partnership with the Ministry for Primary Industries and supported by Massey University and AgResearch.

Rob, who farms with his brother Willie, father Jim and their families on their steep-to-rolling hill country, is also looking forward to the reduced workload that the programme is expected to make possible. They run about 10,000 stock units on a ratio of about 70% sheep and the remainder cattle on their 2,330 ha property just south of Waikouaiti.

The programme aims to improve the use, and application, of fertiliser, and Rob has welcomed the opportunity for his farm to be a part of it. . . 

Sprout looks for help to grow:

National agritech business accelerator Sprout is looking for a startup with the potential to be New Zealand’s next global agritech superstar.

Sprout is searching the country for eight budding entrepreneurs with new agritech businesses for a new development programme.

Sprout Programme Manager James Bell-Booth said the chosen eight would receive a cash injection of $20,000 and be mentored by world-class business and technical experts.

“One of the things we are looking to equip is the next generation of agri-entrepreneurs,” he said. . . 

Unmanned Helicopters to Revolutionise Agricultural Industry:

Yamaha Sky Division New Zealand represents the future of the agricultural industry. The introduction of the Yamaha RMAX unmanned helicopters will enable property owners, licenced operators and contractors to maintain the land and crops remotely, from the air, and without the hassles that come with more traditional farming methods.

Weighing in at 99kg and at a total length of 3.63m and a height of 1.08m, each helicopter has a load capacity of 28kgs and runs on a 2 stroke, horizontally opposed 2-cylinder engine. The newest member of the Yamaha Sky Division is the ultimate piece of farm machinery for the 21st century.

The versatility of this new technology means that operators can spray weeds, crops, or spread seed in a more cost effective and accurate manner. . . 

Corrections recognises the support of Wairarapa REAP:

Wairarapa REAP (Rural Education Activities Programme) was this week recognised for its partnership with Corrections in helping community-based offenders increase their literacy levels and employment and education prospects.

Corrections Deputy Chief Executive Christine Stevenson presented Wairarapa REAP Director Peter McNeur with a community work partnership award at Masterton Community Corrections on Tuesday.

Corrections Service Manager Mel Morris said the award recognises the contribution Wairarapa REAP has made to community-based offenders’ lives.

“Corrections values the commitment of our community work partners like Wairarapa REAP that allows offenders to learn new skills and behaviours, and provide role models that make a positive difference to others.

“Wairarapa REAP has done a tremendous job in providing offenders with the tools that could turn their lives around,” she said. . . 

Why Getting Nepal the Right Seeds After the Earthquakes Matters – Kelsey Nowakowski:

When two major earthquakes hit Nepal this past spring, it devastated the country’s agricultural sector. Cultivated terraces were washed away by landslides and covered in rubble. But farmers lost more than just their crops, cattle, and homes (see Nepal Earthquake Strikes One of Earth’s Most Quake-Prone Areas). Gone, too, were the seeds they had uniquely adapted to their land over the course of decades.

Farming communities in central Nepal’s mountainous region were some of the hardest hit areas in the country. Seeds, tools, food stocks, and buildings were destroyed. In the six most-affected districts, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that about 60 percent of food and seed stocks were destroyed in farming households. . . 

 


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