Golden calf opportunity

New Zealand’s 6.7 million-cow dairy industry produces a hugely underused resource that can provide numerous business opportunities for farmers, ANZ agri manager and red meat specialist Alan Cook says.

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  • Water a clear advantage

    In the world of farming water is liquid gold and New Zealand is fortunate in having a plentiful supply of fresh water available for irrigation. While this abundance is rapidly being allocated for agricultural use, future efficiency gains will see ongoing increases in farm productivity.

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  • CEO rings the changes

    Silver Fern Farms’ (SFF) structural changes are not a preparation for a sell-off but about improving performance and accountability, chief executive Dean Hamilton says.

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  • Golden fleeces

    After 26 years in the wool industry Craig Smith’s enthusiasm for the fibre has not waned.

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  • The inside view

    By the time you read this article I will have taken up a new role in the agricultural industry.

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Easy targets

By the time this issue of Country-Wide hits your mailboxes hopefully more rain has fallen and brought relief from the drought in a number of regions.

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  • Agri service recognised

    Pastoral science had a bright moment at New Year with Richard Lucas (pictured) being appointed as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for his contribution to agriculture.

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  • Social hub in the blood

    It’s too soon for the effects of new drink-driving laws to become clear but rural pubs need to be the social hub of their community to survive.

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  • Diamondback moth alert

    The hot summer weather is providing ideal conditions for the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) to flourish and the pest is causing widespread damage to brassica crops.

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  • Chinese honour NZ scientist again

    Top New Zealand plant scientist Dr Phil Rolston (pictured) has been awarded the Chinese government’s most prestigious science prize for his work in grasslands seed development.

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While the sun shines

For as long as I can remember hay making has been my favourite farming activity.

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  • Lamb finishing costs

    No doubt psychologists have some very complex tests for determining mental dexterity and hand-eye co-ordination but none would compare with an hour or two on the drafting gates, creating a three- or four-way division from a flock of sheep. 

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  • The weight is over

    I woke this morning – always a good start to the day and a bit of a bonus for me if not necessarily for those around me – and contemplated the week ahead, the first full working week of January for many. 

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  • Cultivating Kiwi culture

    According to Chinese astrology 2015 is the year of the sheep. Hopefully this will have a positive effect on one of New Zealand’s agricultural icons. 

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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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Dairy waste now beef cream

* Key points*

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  • More bark, less bite

    Fleas affect dogs to varying degrees.

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  • Feeling the heat

    In very dry conditions farmers need to be focusing on their capital stock and accept that income will be lost.

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  • Lambs en masse

    Feeding 54,000 lambs on dryland Central Otago farmland in mid-summer, managing staff and sorting the almost daily arrival and departure of stock would push some farmers over the edge.

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  • Up the garden path?

    The selling policies of rural outlets can have a huge influence on farmer buying decisions. How rational, appropriate or smart those decisions are can often be driven by price. 

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Potential yet to be reaped

Fodder beet crops offer so much potential but a group of farmers in the Canterbury foothills are finding these crops don’t always meet their expectations.

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  • Addressing persistence issues

    Lack of persistence in ryegrass pastures has long been a bone of contention among dryland sheep farmers but ten southern farmers are seeking to address the issue.

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  • Ruminating on summer forages

    It’s relatively easy to grow lambs at 400g/day while they are on their mothers but the game changes after weaning.

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  • Clover the hero in plantain mixes

    Clover and plantain mixes on large tracts of both flat and steep farmland throughout the lower North Island are giving lifts in production which have farmers buzzing. 

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  • Fodder beet beats the heat

    Very dry conditions coupled with successive 30C-plus days make for testing times for dryland fodder beet crops but they will respond quickly when moisture does come.

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Yield options cropping up

An increasing world population coupled with decreasing land and water resources is putting pressure on wheat growers to lift yields.

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  • Positive spin on rotations

    Rather than thinking about returns from individual crops, growers should be thinking in two-to three-year time frames to increase the profitability of a paddock.

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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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  • 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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Big wheels rolling

"It’s a labour of love really.” 

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  • History gets parked up

    I’ve driven from Mosgiel to Outram on State Highway 87 many times and yet I never really took much notice of the old buildings sitting above the Outram Bridge which spans the Taieri River. Turn off the highway at the George King Memorial Dr signpost and take a step back in time at the Taieri Historical Society and the Otago Vintage Machinery Club’s shared historical park.

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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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Tools for the job

A little bit of maintenance goes a long way to hassle free drenching and vaccinating, and can save wasting drench and vaccine. The following are a few pointers.

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  • Second time lucky

    The two attempts required to produce an accurate nutrient budget highlight the complexities – and confusion – with Overseer.

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  • Going the distance

    Nine Mile Pastoral has gone the whole nine yards in developing spray irrigation on Willowbank in Central Otago. It was a $10,000/ha project but owner Gordon Lucas is “pretty chuffed” with the end result.

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  • Where’s the forestry fan club?

    The New Year is an opportunity to review the past 12 months and express aspirations for the coming year. Following are some of the wishes and-or concerns, hopefully not forlorn, that I have for 2015.

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  • Rural women need greater visibility

    The New Year is upon us already. I must say that as I get older, the years certainly do fly by. Last year was a busy year for me, with a farm under development, nutrient rules kicking in and, along with fellow Irricon director Haidee McCabe, being awarded the supreme winners title in Rural Women New Zealand’s (RWNZ) Enterprising Rural Women awards.

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Learning to share

Even if you never use them, you’ve probably heard of the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But there are many lesser-known sites where you can also create a profile and share and connect with others. 

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  • The Android invasion has begun

    I have recently bought a new Android smartphone with a five-inch screen. Bowing to failing eyesight, I decided to abandon my increasingly difficult-to-read old four-inch model. 

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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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Persian paradise

Road trips are the best. Usually I make do with a trip or two down south each year to see my family and friends.

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  • Standing the test of time

    Changing technologies and practices make farming today a very different scene to that experienced by earlier generations. Selling livestock by auction is one tradition still preferred by many farmers. This preference has helped keep the Ongarue Saleyards running for almost 100 years.

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  • A vital part of the community

    NZX Agri aims to be an active participant in the primary industries and its work this year has reflected that, managing editor Tony Leggett says.

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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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Advancing the velvet cause

Public relations people usually come in shiny suits and the latest sports car – but Manawatu deer farmer Craig Hocken is the kind that wears Canterbury shorts and drives a deer cartage truck. 

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  • Skilled and streamlined

    At Alliance Group’s Makarewa venison plant the processing of deer is a streamlined operation employing about 55 skilled people during the peak November to February season. The time taken from animal delivery to chilled or frozen venison product dispatch is three days. Photo special by Lynda Gray.

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  • Growth rates plotted

    Growth curves have been developed for farmers to help monitor and compare the performance of their deer.

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  • No sitting on the fence

    Glen and Renee Harrex plan to fence their way to improved fawn survival.

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  • Brilliant velvet, weak venison prices

    It has been a tough start to the year for many non-velvet deer farmers, with dry conditions and a disappointing venison schedule combining to put pressure on pastures, budgets and patience.

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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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Wintering on the Motu River

Burnbrae Station, a sizeable breeding unit located five kilometres west of Matawai township – about halfway between Opotiki and Gisborne – is for sale.

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Irricon template gets ECan tick

Environment Canterbury (ECan) has approved another farm environment plan template under the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan. The template was developed by environmental consultants Irricon Resource Solutions.

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  • Benefits found in use

    Product innovation and technology breakthroughs are set to deliver some real results for farming and for New Zealand. However, the full benefits will only be realised when farmers start using them.

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  • Elanco finalises takeover

    Animal health and performance product company Elanco has finalised the acquisition of Novartis Animal Health.

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  • Innovation on target

    Believed to be a world-first, Oamaru firm Te Pari Products’ new electronic sheep and cattle drench gun won the Grassroots Innovation award at the National Fieldays in 2014 and should be on the market shortly. 

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  • Polaris in NZ

    Alongside Polaris’ recent announcement it was to establish a stand-alone New Zealand subsidiary based in Auckland from January 1 this year, the company also recorded a 36% sales growth for 2014.

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