Opportunity flavours decisions

They’ve gone from co-operative to family ownership, from leaser to land owner. Marlborough Garlic, John Murphy’s family business, has been through tremendous changes.

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  • Pulling the wool?

    It seems New Zealand sheep farmers have a strong distrust of organisations that exist on revenue streams from compulsory levies.

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  • Gains are being made

    Herstall Ulrich is standing for his third and final term on Silver Fern Farms’ (SFF) board, offering experience in what he calls a complex industry.

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  • Capturing value the goal

    Fiona Hancox is unequivocal about the need for change in the meat industry.

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  • Leading by example

    The best way to get farmers to adopt new technology is to show them another farmer using it. The challenge is how to present those successful stories and examples to farmers.

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Keeping it real

A former magazine editor once told me that I would be up late at night writing my stories as deadlines loomed, because an editor’s work always comes last. He was right.

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  • Ag cert a winner

    “Worthwhile” is how Josh Harrex rates the Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Agriculture (livestock husbandry, deer).

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  • A gem worth finding

    Tucked away on a side street in the North Canterbury township of Amberley is a gem of a cafe well worth hunting out.

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  • Woolly thinking

    This marketing gem from the New Zealand Wool Board harks back to a bygone era when a good man was staunch and honourable, and a good woman (wife) had the same traits as a wool carpet as stated on the first page of this micro manual: “Softness, good colouring and configuration.”

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  • New drink driving limits

    From December 1 the alcohol limit lowers for drivers aged 20 years and over.

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The rural divide

The festive season is always an intriguing time that shows the ever widening gap in priorities and work ethic between our farming communities and our metropolitan cousins.

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  • Return of the land barons

    This year seems set to be another rollercoaster ride for farmers, and the optimists among us look forward to better times. Those who want to exit the industry may find willing international buyers if the class of their land and its location is right.

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  • Good rural servants

    I was 17 when I started work at Cuddon & Stewart sweeping floors, mixing seed, and carrying out general duties.

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  • This is the go

    Summer is here and we are hoping that it will see a return of the summers of old when the King Country acquired the reputation for being summer safe – that is, lots of regular rainfall.

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  • All in a day ’s work

    Whatever your position in the job market – whether providing or applying, exiting or entering – it can be an anxious and often stressful time, especially so in the farming industry where employment scenarios are much more involved than the standard nine-to-five set-up.

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Reap what they sow

Pig farmer Steve Sterne is proud to admit he runs a profitable business in what is a very tough industry. With an annual turnover of $25 million and a return on capital of up to 20% in a good year, Patoa Farms is very much a success story in a sector that has, in recent years, been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

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  • It’s in the genes

    Holmes Warren pours a good cup of tea. It’s an essential skill for someone who meets and greets so many farmers over the course of the ram buying season.

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  • Woofing it down

    Farmers buying dog food at their rural supply or veterinary store can be excused for feeling puzzled.

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  • A focus on feeding

    Worked paddocks alongside State Highway 1 in North Canterbury give an indication of just what the priorities are in the Hewett family’s sheep and beef operation.

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  • No looking back for beef?

    It must be a good feeling for those farmers who have decided to stick with breeding cows, push performance where they can, calve as two-year-olds and also finish their cattle.

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Ida Valley growth strategy

The Patersons are banking on more spray irrigation and lucerne to grow their business. Although production and financial performance of the 12,319ha Central Otago station is above average, brothers Callum and Dougal are targeting year-on-year business growth of at least 5%.

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  • Sweetening the deal

    High sugar grasses (HSG) are showing promise as a forage crop for finishing lambs faster and to higher carcase specifications than those grazing standard ryegrass (SRG) pastures.

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  • Work in progress

    Tordon, deer, cattle and the Greer family are slowly but surely dealing to Sunnyside Station’s prickly problem.

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  • A state of flux

    Is exceptional growth often seen above recent drains the result of increased drainage, aeration, or the movement of nutrients?

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  • A beef industry game-changer?

    A fodder beet finishing trial is now in its second year and participants believe the system has the potential to transform New Zealand’s beef industry.

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The grain of choice

A significant increase in the area planted in feed barley this season is one of the stand-outs of October's survey of cereal areas and volumes.

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  • Contributions recognised

    Between them former Lincoln University academics Dr Warwick Scott and Dr Rowan Emberson have taught and conducted research at the institution for 72 years.

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  • Aussie merchants of gloom

    Australian grain producers are suffering huge financial losses because of trader insolvencies and inadequate contract agreements.

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  • Being clever with plants

    Creating a veritable garden on the banks of an irrigation pond is helping John Evans and Kai Tegels build biodiversity on their 271ha mixed arable farm near Dorie in Canterbury.

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  • Cereal killer on the rampage

    Disease management in wheat is undergoing a significant change because the fungicides that have been relied on for decades are becoming less effective.

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Double the deal

One optional extra which requires careful thought in any tractor purchase is the addition of dual wheels.

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  • A rare old time

    The Spark family collection is something of a landmark at Rangiora in Canterbury. It includes a large vintage tractor and machinery museum as well as every other imaginable example of rural New Zealand history.

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  • The full service

    Regular, comprehensive servicing will prolong a tractor’s working life and help prevent expensive, avoidable breakdowns.

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  • The big reveal

    Leading agricultural innovator Paul Linklater has been recognised with a business award from the Bio Commerce Centre (BCC) in Manawatu.

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  • A reasonably simple job

    If any machine is not running as it should, the fuel lines and carburettor are often good places to consider.

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Preserving your liquid asset

With increasing regulatory focus on water quality, some farmers are investing in their own water testing.

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  • Making the cut

    At the end of October the Independent Forestry Safety Review final report was made public with quite a media splash but not a great deal of explanation of how it might affect smaller forest owners.

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  • Turning water into profit

    Getting the biggest bang for bucks from a centre-pivot in the extreme Central Otago climate needs careful thinking, Central Otago farm consultant Pete Young says.

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  • On a wing and a prayer

    Did you know that New Zealand has the highest proportion of native moths in the world?

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  • A valuable resource

    Keri Johnston and Haidee McCabe’s work around land and water management certainly captures the zeitgeist of rural New Zealand.

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The online talking point

Last year blogs got into the news for all the wrong reasons when Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics book led to questions about the sources certain bloggers used and their political bias.

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  • Taking care of business

    The Control Panel is the engine room of Windows operating systems.

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  • Listen up

    Once, when you wanted to listen to a show where a host talked about something you were interested in, you had to turn on the radio at a set time and catch a specialist programme.

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  • Computer spring cleaning

    Spring has sprung so it’s a good time to consider “cleaning” your computer to improve functionality.

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  • Help thyself

    I have a clever cartoon from the *xkcd.com* website pinned to my office wall.

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Mountain men

They call their team The Last of the Summer Wine, after the TV show.

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  • Change the constant

    Computerising saleyards is one of the massive changes Jim Duke has worked through as a livestock administrator for 48 years.

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  • Kawhia saddle slicker

    There are no farm bikes on Beven Clayton-Greene’s Kawhia farm. Beven’s a horse man through and through.

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  • Bottoms up

    *Terry Brosnahan* concludes his family holiday in Bali. Read *Back to Bali* for the first instalment.

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  • A door opens

    Margaret Dempster has strong farming roots in the Otago region. Her family have farmed in the area for 90 years and her husband’s farming family is now in its fifth generation.

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Velvet to the core

The Laird family of Wanganui have been farming velvet since the 1980s but it has taken some new blood to start to rebuild numbers and reinvigorate their Red deer herd.

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  • Korean demand spiking early

    Before the launch of the velvet cutting season talk among velvet traders was that prices may be up.

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  • Smooth operators

    How to further push profit on an already humming Southland deer velvet farm was the big question at a recent Southland Deer Farmers Association field day.

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  • The brighter side of life

    Better than expected production, and timely talk within the deer industry’s Southland Advance Party has convinced Richard Greer to change tack with his weaners.

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  • Maral country

    Velvet antler products are becoming a hit in Russian and Kazakhstan health retreats, earning up to US$1200/kg for some producers managing the whole value chain.

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Head to Head: A comparison of dairy bull beef and traditional beef R2 finishing policies

Rising two-year dairy bull beef production is more efficient than rising two-year traditional beef steer production.

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  • AgInnovation bulks up

    Whether you are a stud breeder, commercial beef farmer, an established or aspiring farmer, there is something for everyone at this year’s AgInnovation.

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  • Black cattle blueprint

    Mendip Hills Station’s Simon Lee is in his eighth season as manager of the 6130ha property. He’s a fan of Hereford cattle but also a fan of hybrid vigour – thus the station’s slightly unusual cattle policy.

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  • Quiet achievers

    Twenty years of cross breeding commercial cattle has thrown up a genetic mix that suits Heughan and Carol Gordon’s Hawke’s Bay farming business.

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  • Balancing traits

    Genetic improvement relies heavily on achieving balanced change in all the traits that influence productivity and profitability. Unfortunately, genetic improvement is much more difficult to achieve than is genetic change.

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Hunger grows for sheep meat

Without a doubt it is the ramp-up in China’s hunger for New Zealand sheep meat that dominates the dynamics of the industry today. 

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  • Time to share the NZ story

    As one of five 2014 Nuffield New Zealand scholars I’m on an international study tour to broaden my understanding of global agriculture and trade. The knowledge I’m gathering will ultimately be shared with my fellow Kiwi farmers.

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  • Unbeetable potential

    Last season’s dry forced a Manawatu farmer to rethink the planned use of his fodder beet crop. The result was an unexpected lamb finishing strategy.

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  • Puberty under the microscope

    The effect of puberty on reproductive performance and improving embryo survival are just two of the sheep-related projects being undertaken by the AgResearch Animal Reproduction team at Invermay.

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  • Scope for beet in sheep systems

    The uptake of fodder beet in the South Island has been fierce.

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Top two inches the key

It is often said that New Zealand’s fortune lies in its top two inches of soil.

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Farm in style

A Tasmanian sheep and beef farm close to Launceston offers scale in everything – grand scale.

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  • The full gamut

    The Auckland district offers a favourable climate plus the chance to be close to a big city.

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  • Holiday or invest

    Increased demand for new homes across the lower South Island has resulted in a spike in section sales at multi-milliondollar subdivision The Delta on the shores of Lake Te Anau.

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  • Farm offers options

    Paratu, a family farm since settlement, is on the market for the first time.

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  • Beef to dairy ongoing

    Three spring sales in the Rangitikei and Marton areas saw dairy farmers outbid sheep and beef interests for good grazing blocks. Better beef prices and a dramatic dairy milk price drop may have evened up the wallet clout somewhat, but dairy farmers are still prepared to pay more.

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Getting with the programme

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics plans to simplify how the sector’s genetic information is presented and increase the focus on traits that drive profitability.

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  • Linking the rural marketplace

    A casual conversation at a wedding two years ago has led to the recent launch of a new online trading system for Kiwi farmers.

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  • The best performance

    Livestock management and weather watching will ensure farmers get the best drymatter response and achieve the best animal performance results from their fertiliser application, Ballance Agri-Nutrients science strategy manager Warwick Catto says.

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  • Weathering the weather

    Ballance Agri-Nutrients has joined forces with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) to bring advanced high-resolution weather, climate and environmental forecasts to farmers via the co-operative’s Ag Hub online farm management system.

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  • Soft and safe

    Summit HydroSoft water treatment salt is recommended for water softeners and swimming pools. It is high purity sea salt with large crystals to improve brine circulation and has no additives.

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