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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  • 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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  • Witness the fitness

    One word could sum up this year’s Spring Challenge – mud.

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  • Shrek yarns

    Although stuffed and standing in glory within the walls of Te Papa, Shrek’s legacy and fundraising ability lives on in his former home block of Tarras.

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Leading-edge farming

Modern farming is steadily becoming technology driven – the ability to collect and store data means the internet is the way of the future for Kiwi farmers. *Sandra Taylor* reports.

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  • A summit of extremes

    Farming in a Land of Extremes was a fitting theme for the 2014 New Zealand Grassland Association conference held in Alexandra, Central Otago, in early November.

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  • Risk and reward

    Shared ownership can be a great opportunity to take your farming career to the next level.

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  • The prime return

    With prime beef price having been slightly more than $5.80 per kilogram of carcaseweight (CW) recently, there is a temptation to investigate if cattle can be feedlotted profitably.

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  • Most welcome Korean trade deal

    The now completed free trade agreement with South Korea will save Kiwi exporters $65 million in its first year, Prime Minister John Key says.

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Never ever land

Having just returned from a seven-week tour of China, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States to complete my Nuffield studies, and with the recent talk of increased demand for beef and hence higher prices, I feel compelled to point out the real opportunity in the US for Kiwi drystock farmers.

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  • Testing times for the team

    It’s that time of year once again when the blossoms start to fall, the sun comes out and with it the pale legs desperate for a tan. It can mean only one thing for students – Garden Party – closely followed by the dreaded exams that mark the end of the year.

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  • Tail end of the year

    Life is pretty good here in Port Levy.

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  • The starlight dairy express

    The magic Mackenzie Country is changing, and quickly. The milk tankers have arrived. Yesterday it was one, today two, tomorrow it’ll be many more. They cross the Mackenzie Basin like satellites crossing the night sky.

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  • Going places

    This year has proven to be a busy one, mainly because I’ve been on two big overseas trips. The first was to Nepal – the second to France, Spain, Switzerland, and Austria.

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Success built on sound structure

Running a hill-country breeding farm in tune with finishing blocks has a Manawatu family farming company’s store and fattening operation humming.

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  • Science of the rams

    Exciting times lie ahead for New Zealand’s sheep industry if commercial farmers make use of available genetic advancements. 

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  • Long road finding the perfect ram

    Apparently it’s called man-chat, the running commentary on women’s footwear and jogging styles, hunting and fishing spots.

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  • The source of power

    Information is power, an oft quoted mantra. In an agricultural context this usually refers to having information about the farm. Stock weights, pasture growth rates, soil fertility levels, weather forecasts and markets are all relevant as a source of power.

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  • Compact high performance

    Apiti farming couple Jeff and Helen Dickins are literally stamping out persistent grass grub and porina damage with young bulls.

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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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  • 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 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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  • Group turns to fodder beet

    With the Canterbury Beef Profit Partnership participants achieving an impressive 24% in productivity gains over four years, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is now supporting the group’s evolution into the Fodder Beet Profit Partnership.

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  • Summer turnips not just for the cows

    Competitive banter and one-upmanship aside, dairy farmers have some interesting practices.

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Drying and storing grain

Successful storage of grain and seed begins at harvest.

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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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  • Apps in the farm system

    You may not think of Samsung, Apple or Google as big names in agriculture but as mobile technology has evolved they have become more widely used on farms than brands such as John Deere.

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  • Cereal silage a worthwhile challenge

    Fodder beet and maize silage may be the “in thing” at present but cereal silage still has a lot to offer and a few tricks of the trade can help optimise yields.

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  • Consistent yields needed

    Growing oats doesn’t bring the headaches it used to.

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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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  • Playing it cool

    An Irish innovation is opening up opportunities for establishing maize earlier in cooler parts of New Zealand.

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In the firing line

Dryland sheep-and-beef farmers in the Hurunui-Waiau region of Canterbury will be hardest hit by nutrient regulations decided upon by Environment Canterbury (ECan).

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  • Mutually beneficial

    There has long been the perception that good environmental management is detrimental to overall farming business.

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  • Sailing close to the wind

    I have been writing for some years now of the dangers of commercialising and politicising science. We must be on the alert, watching for its symptoms.

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  • Natural selection

    In my last column I tried to answer a common question – what eucalypt should I be planting?

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  • Research reveals value of HSG

    Liveweight and carcaseweight advantages have shown up after two seasons of grass trials in Southland.

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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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  • 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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  • One out of the box

    I have retained an old-style box TV to the bitter end. After looking around I decided to really get with it so I bought a smart TV.

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  • Staying power

    My laptop battery needed replacing. It would not hold charge. My first reaction was that, because this particular laptop had rarely left the desktop let alone been used on battery power, why had it packed up?

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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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  • Back to Bali

    In Bali a common motto is “your satisfaction is our happiness” and they back it up.

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  • Field guide on the go

    Field Guide to NT cvr 300dpi

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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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  • Smartfert trials advance to next stage

    A slow-release nitrogen fertiliser suitable for both crop and grassland application has taken a step closer to scientific sign-off with field trials due to commence in coming weeks.

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  • An attention to detail

    Looking for ways to increase efficiencies and productivity, while reducing inputs?

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  • Integrated data made easy

    An interactive farm management tool is changing the way farmers collect information, and is helping with management decisions.

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  • Irrigation advice distilled

    Long-line sprinklers are commonly used on areas unable to be covered by larger irrigators – they are also a common system on rolling irrigated country.

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Room for more

One of the biggest bull-beef operations in Northland, which still has room for further intensification, is on the market.

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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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  • Breeding, finishing, dairy

    Waihapa, on the edge of the Ruataniwha Plains in Central Hawke’s Bay, is ideally situated to take advantage of the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme, Property Brokers agent Pat Portas says.

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  • Two blocks make one farm

    Two blocks of adjacent land at Ormondville that make an economic farming unit are being sold by their owners. They are the 319ha Hardings block and the 91ha Browns block.

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  • Cropping, finishing and hunting

    Malachy Farms is strategically located between Duddings Lake and Lake Vipan, 14km from Marton and Bulls on State Highway 3 near Turakina.

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Ironman built tough

On the road, off the beaten track or around the farm, New Zealand now has greater choice in 4x4 suspension and accessories.

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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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  • Get ‘best fit’ in ram breeders

    Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics has developed a smartphone app which allows easy access to information on leading ram breeders.

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  • Saving bucks doesn’t work

    Despite extensive control programmes around the country, rabbit numbers remain out of control leaving farmers searching for a long-term solution, Paul Bishop of Paul Industries says.

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  • Specialist science from Ballance

    Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ science extension team members are taking on specialist roles to better support the changing requirements of farmers working with different climates, topography, soil and farm types.

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