The whey of the future?

Damian Buckley has just completed his Kellogg Rural leadership programme project and Nuffield scholar Mel Poulton recently filed her report. Both focus on opportunities for New Zealand agriculture. Joanna Cuttance reports.

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  • Past and future recognised

    A passionate plea for co-operatives to allow sheep farmers to come together was made by one of the winners at the recent Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards in Invercargill.

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  • Achieving NZ’s primary goal

    New Zealand has an opportunity to capitalise on the world’s need for food security but needs to get moving on a well-considered, structured plan to capture this chance, Nuffield scholar Mel Poulton says. Motivated by concern about the export of expertise and how that links with trade negotiations and market access, Poulton set out on her overseas study tour to understand how this country captured value.

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  • Go with the flow

    If you’ve come home with the wrong fitting to repair a water line you’re not alone. Laying new farm water lines is reasonably straightforward but most farmers have experienced the frustration of matching fittings to existing water lines and wondered how the mish-mash of sizes and specs came about. 

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  • Farmer consultant for farmers

    The New Zealand sheep industry has lost one of its luminaries with the recent passing of Otago farmer and consultant Errol Holgate. While he had no formal tertiary education Errol had an innate understanding of sheep performance, genetics and strategies to maximise farm production and profitability. 

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Pastry perfection

Mossburn in Northern Southland is an unsuspecting place to find New Zealand’s most delicious pie.

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  • Duntroon’s smithy forges ahead

    On the way from Oamaru to Omarama on State Highway 83 you will pass through Duntroon and its latest attraction – Nicol’s Blacksmith Shop. 

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  • Lofty logic

    With water quality pressure mounting, a “fly on the wall” story from one of NZ’s less popular regional councils is timely. The defiance of logic in some of the regulations to emerge from these ivory towers has been known to exasperate those who live in the affected communities.

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  • In the cross hairs

    Chicory is proving popular with hares. Central Hawke’s Bay’s Maddy Clark was shocked when she went out spotlighting with her partner on new chicory pastures grazing lambs.

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  • Cherry-picked Perendales

    The first pick of Raupuha Perendale Stud rams has already been bought and paid for. Russell and Mavis Proffit offered the first pick of their 2015 sale rams in a charity auction on their Mahoenui farm during the Perendale New Zealand annual conference.

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Community, farm, future and family

The people in our community are the outstanding success stories we have at the moment. One example is James Hoban who, with the support of his wife Maria, represented the Tasman area at the Young Farmer of the Year grand final in Taupo. Although he didn’t win, coming fourth was a sterling effort given in the past few months he has been focused on ensuring low-emitting farmers have the legal ability to farm at all, given the “unintended consequences” that Environment Canterbury’s Hurunui-Waiau plan has created.

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  • The long view

    One of the unappreciated joys of childhood is the apparent slow passage of time – or so it seems now that I have a few years under my belt. With the responsibilities of adulthood comes a much faster clock, the hands of which have just whittled away a solid quarter century. It was July 1, 1990, when we took ownership of this farm. I remember arranging a meeting with the local MP to support our case for reclaiming the stamp duty paid on first farms. He asked what sort of farm it was and when told a sheep farm remarked we were as game as Ned Kelly. 

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  • Moving on

    After many years of planning and discussions with family, Mary and I recently made the decision to lease our farm and move to Wanaka. We had looked at putting on a manager, or even selling but leasing was the best option for us. We did, however, lease the farm in two agreements with different lengths of lease for our home block and our run-off block. This gives us options for the future.

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  • Viva la revolution

    Mud has ruled the first half of our winter and the stress is driving us all half-mad. Feed budgets have been flung aside temporarily as we all do our best to keep animals above ground. 

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  • Busy as a Beehive

    Denialism is defined as opposing reality, one fact at a time. Finally, at 41 years of age, when it comes to duck shooting I cannot deny that my time could be used in a much more productive manner. After an embarrassingly low tally during my annual pilgrimage to Southland I will now need a more valid excuse for a boy’s trip away in the future. However, the value of getting off the farm for a short period is a powerful one and should in theory see you return to the farm refreshed, focused and motivated. 

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Cheating misfortune

A hard-working Gisborne farming couple have had a reality check which made them change tack. Russell Priest checks out their new course. Photos by Jo Ware.

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  • Expressions of interest

    Many farmers don’t fully appreciate just how long it takes for a ram’s genetic merit to be expressed in important income-earning traits in his commercial offspring. The panel follows a dual-purpose breed ram lamb born on a breeder’s property and used in a commercial ewe flock. 

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  • TB plan’s less is more proposal

    July 31 marks the end of the consultation period on what promises to be the largest revamp of TB control in decades. And judging by the information meeting Country-Wide attended and comments from Federated Farmers’ national board member Anders Crofoot many farmers would rather maintain or increase funding to be rid of the disease sooner rather than later.

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  • Mob mentality

    The paradox of wanting freedom of choice while seeking equality for all is well-known in modern human communities. I doubt that wild animal populations struggle with that dilemma but some do take the more socialist approach of working as a community. 

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Hitting pay dirt

The owners of a Northland farm recently teamed up with Ballance Agri-Nutrients to show that by lifting soil fertility more feed can be grown, stock performance can be lifted and most importantly, farm profitability improved. Russell Priest reports.

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  • Getting feed priorities right

    With drought having affected many parts of New Zealand farmers need to be considering what they can do now to make up for lost opportunities in animal production over summer.

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  • Hot potato pest covered

    Research on using non-chemical methods to control potato pests is delivering groundbreaking results. A newly published paper from the Biology Husbandry Unit Future Farming Centre and Lincoln University, detailing the results of field trials shows the use of a mesh cover over the plants was effective in controlling tomato potato psyllid (TPP) as well as reducing potato blight.

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  • Precision aerial spreading has landed

    New technology in topdressing planes is one of the outcomes of Ballance Agri-Nutrient’s Clearview Innovations Primary Growth Partnership programme with the Ministry for Primary Industries, which aims to improve onfarm nitrogen and phosphorus use efficiency and reduce losses to the environment.

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  • Swede feed factors must be managed

    Industry body DairyNZ is advising farmers to focus on managing a number of factors involved in feeding swedes this season, including the proportion of swede that makes up the diet of their cows.

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Profiting from nature

Simon Osborne aspires to be a sheep farmer but while that hasn’t eventuated he has plan B well-implemented. Photos and story by Annette Scott.

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Top gear, top service

Spraying crops is a sophisticated business and requires a major investment. James Hoban looks at one contracting business and gets some useful tips. Photos by Johnny Houston.

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  • Engine modifications risky

    Tractor owners are being warned against the potential risks of having engine control unit (ECU) remapping performed on tractors, trucks or other self-propelled machinery.

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  • An uplifting experience

    A recently-perfected handpiece lifter that leaves more wool on a sheep is making post-shearing check and any significant increase in feed demand a thing of the past. *Sandra Taylor* shares the good news.

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  • Tick it to ride

    Thinking of buying a new tractor? Deals abound at this time of year so keeping a few pointers in mind can help with the decision-making process. Field day season means farmers are offered machinery deals that can at times seem too good to be true. Pencils are sharpened and sales reps busy trying to lock in sales.

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  • An unbeatable track record

    Gary Frazer is a name many people in farming and machinery circles know well. He was the first-ever New Zealand Young Farmer of the Year in 1969 and has gone on to be a successful businessman and integral member of the NZ Vintage Machinery Club. He lives in Marshlands, Christchurch with wife Janet.

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Getting the rub of the green

After recent weather events management options for soil erosion are topical. Scientists Grant Douglas and Ian McIvor examine planting options, the costs and return over time.

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  • Chop and change taking root

    Anyone interested in forestry will no doubt have noticed the enthusiastic announcement in mid-June of a National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry (NES). This excitement was shared by both the major forest owners and the Government. 

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  • Ag-based research grows

    In the first of a series of science features, Gerard Hall looks at ground-breaking agriculture and food research taking place in Dunedin. Well-known for its expertise in human health, the Otago School of Medical Science is playing an increasing role in New Zealand’s agriculture and food industries.

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  • Time to show your true nature

    Farmers are being urged to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, which now include the Auckland region.

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  • Budget highs and lows

    Foresters, including farm foresters, never expect much from Government budgets. Experience has taught us to expect little and just be grateful if we aren’t losing, as happened last year. This year there was really just one item of interest and details had already been released a couple of weeks earlier.

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Photo finish

A common “moan and groan” I get is “my computer has packed up and I have lost all my travel and family photos”. I will not go into details of how they might be recovered. That is a completely different subject. What I will do is point you to some free online storage sites specifically for images. If you use these, you will not be in the “moan and groan” group.

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  • Following the crowd

    A Texas farm producing goat milk, yoghurt and cheese had a problem last year when its dairy partner shut down. Swede Farm needed urgent funding in August to see them through until their own goats would be providing milk in December. 

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  • Surviving the worst-case scenario

    Backing-up is an important task for all computer users yet many neglect to do it. Country-Wide technology writers Alan Royal and Kirstin Mills delve into the issue and give some useful tips.

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  • Computer surgery

    I recently had a late-model laptop given to me. The expensive commercial diagnostic company said it was destined for the grave. True to their word, it would not give a glimmer of activity when the power button was pressed.

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  • Online help a click away

    The stresses of farming life can place farmers under immense strain. In the city there are many resources to tap into to help with things like depression. However, while there can be help available in rural areas, if there isn’t anything nearby or you don’t know where to start online resources might be able to help you or a loved one.

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New beginnings

The beds are made, clothes put away and boxes unpacked – well, most of them. Pictures of friends, family, pets and memories adorn the walls of your new abode and you breathe in the cool, fresh air of the new rural paradise you’ve committed to for the next year or two. A Facebook status update with a pretty sunset lets your loved ones know you are here, safe and well. And happy – you think. You hope.

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  • Farming in Focus - July 2015

    More photos from this month’s Country-Wide.

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  • A power of good

    To help provide some relief from the grip of drought in Hurunui a trip to Mid Canterbury in May was organised for locals. A forty-strong group of men, mostly on the far side of halfway, riding a bus to Mid Canterbury to look at two vintage tractor collections is not every wife’s idea of an exciting day out. That didn’t matter though because wives were not invited. It has since been shrewdly noted by several attendees that a reciprocal bus excursion for local ladies could have proved a far more expensive outing.

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  • Going great Gunns

    When Allan Gunn and his brother Trevor bought Burwood Downs farm in South Otago five decades ago survival was their only goal. Times may have changed but Allan endures and he’s glad still to be on the land he loves. Joanna Davies tells the tale. Photos by John Cosgrove.

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Growing deer on trees

Peter and Dianne Allan are advocates for using both deer and trees in a mutually beneficial relationship on their Southland farm. 

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  • Crash course pays off

    When Mangamaire farmers Ken and Steph Norman purchased a block of land from their neighbour in 2008 they knew absolutely nothing about deer, but that was about to change. Embarking on a crash course in deer farming, the 2015 Tararua Sheep and Beef Farmer of the Year winners discovered a zeal for deer – and a profitable addition to their existing farming operation.

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  • Deer processor comes of age

    People, timing and the ability to adapt have all been instrumental in the success of Canterbury’s Mountain River Processors. Celebrating 21 years of operation, the processing plant near Rakaia has ridden out the many fluctuations in the industry’s fortunes and today employs 63 full-time staff and processes close to 40,000 animals annually.

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  • Stand-down trial period a no-go

    Hopes of a reduced withholding period for the industry-recommended deer drench internal parasite treatment have been dashed.

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  • Male order

    Deer Improvement has successfully proved that mass males to order are possible using gender selection technology. LIC, Deer Improvement’s parent company, uses the technology to select for female-sexed semen. But Deer Improvement general manager Bruce McGregor wanted to see if the technology could be used to produce male sexed semen from high EBV (estimated breeding value) stags.

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Nervous wait on backlogs

The United States’ emergence from its economic slumber looks certain to rev up beef prices again this year. First though, large inventories built up during last year’s ports strike will need to be worked through. 

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  • Vet LSD shows promise for cattle

    Farmers who have enjoyed improved flock performance using Vet LSD (Livestock Survival Drench) mineral supplement will welcome early trial results on its use in cattle.

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  • Walk the BullWalk

    Selecting the right bull for your beef breeding operation is essential for achieving greater genetic gain whether it is to improve your female herd or to target premium beef programmes. There are many new technologies in farming and researching information on the internet is now commonplace. 

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  • Party at my place

    Picture this. Party time: 500kg-plus cattle flicking up their tails, running through foot-high kikuyu grass, kicking up their heels like calves having an evening canter around the paddock. 

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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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  • Accuracy paying off

    Being able to efficiently and effectively irrigate is becoming increasingly important, Central Hawke’s Bay farmer Hugh Ritchie says. Ritchie and wife Sharon farm just over 2000ha which are in two blocks – Drumpeel at Otane and Wainui at Horonui.

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  • Keeping green and in the black

    A top-performing Amuri dairy businessman has environmentally future-proofed his two dairy farms by restructuring the irrigation systems. In 2010, John Faulkner became part of the newly formed Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee. This increased his awareness of the importance that future environmental issues would have on his farm businesses.

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  • Smart cuts in tough times

    Fertiliser may be an item of expenditure that farmers can cut back if the budget is in deficit but it should be done in a way that least affects pasture production.

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  • Treat with kid gloves

    Treat fodder beet like a baby until canopy closure, Tapanui dairy farmer James Hartshorne says.

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Become part of Hawke’s Bay’s farming history

Hilton Station, a beautifully situated and appointed property located on the doorstep of Havelock North in sunny Hawke’s Bay is for sale. The farm at 589 Middle Rd provides a rare opportunity to secure a large block of land minutes from Havelock North. The property comes to market for the first time in 145 years.

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  • Natural beauty

    Hari Hari Station incorporating Taumata Moana Station – an admirable farm both in size and natural beauty – is up for sale. Situated in the popular King Country farming district, the 3285 hectare farm is located at the end of Taumatatotara West Rd in the predominantly drystock farming area of Te Anga, 75km west of the service town of Te Kuiti.

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  • Consistent demand in King Country

    Nestled between the strong dairy regions of Taranaki and Waikato, farm land in mighty King Country can be in high demand from all sectors of the industry. PGG Wrightson Real Estate rural sales consultant Doug Wakelin says a lot of quality land is selling to existing drystock farmers for breeding and-or finishing. King Country is also popular with dairy farmers looking for good contour land to convert or serve as dairy support.

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  • Woodville wintering

    Otawhao Station is one of the larger properties to come to market in the lower North Island recently, property agent John Arends of Property Brokers said. The 876ha sheep and beef farm in the Kumeroa district, east of Woodville, has been farmed by the present owners for close to 45 years. With half the farm able to take a tractor it has an enviable contour. The balance is mainly medium hill and includes a 102ha reserve protected by QEII National Trust covenants.

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  • Brave buying

    Some strike it right. Selling out on a high then upping-sticks and buying similar or better land elsewhere for a cheaper price is a winner. An example from the early 2000s was small-holding sheep and beef farmers in Marlborough selling up to vineyard developers and buying what is now considered cheap irrigated land for finishing stock in Canterbury.

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Brushing up on paint work

It’s easy to put building maintenance off, especially for more urgent and even everyday farm work. Pat O’Neill is ensuring his farm buildings are well-maintained in the long term, and without any hassle.

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  • The toughest Triton yet

    Over the years Mitsubishi Triton has made a name for itself as a hard-working, solid and very dependable ute. 

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  • New TB test drawing interest

    A new test for bovine TB developed by AgResearch is attracting international attention. Principal scientist Professor Bryce Buddle says it is early days yet but the Crown research institute has produced encouraging preliminary results from a trial showing the potential for a more accurate and cost-effective diagnostic test in the battle against bovine TB.

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  • Precise irrigation

    Ashburton cropping farmers Eric and Maxine Watson were the South Island’s original Growsmart Precision variable rate irrigation (VRI) pioneers. Ordering four VRI systems in 2008, they took a lot of trust and belief that the system would achieve what Precision Irrigation claimed. 

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  • Celebrating the first 35 years

    This year’s recent Beef Expo in Feilding was just the beginning of Te Pari Products’ 35th anniversary celebrations, the company’s sales and marketing director Jeremy Blampied says.

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