Other competition results

Dogged determination has paid off for Southland sheep farmers Bevan and Wendy Hopcroft. The 2015 winners of the New Zealand Ewe Hogget Competition scooped the award after four consecutive years of participation. They won the Southland-West Otago competition in 2014 and this year, but it was never going to satisfy Bevan who admits to being a competitive type.

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  • Going against the milk stream

    In a landscape dotted with black and white dairy cows, Mangamaire farmers Ken and Steph Norman are proof that a successful drystock operation can compete with its dairy neighbours when it comes to return on investment.

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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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  • Severe dry leaves its mark

    North Canterbury experienced its worst drought in nearly two decades this past summer with many other regions including the rest of Canterbury, Central and North Otago, Marlborough, Wairarapa and central Hawke’s Bay not far behind. Farmers were forced to make hard decisions to either sell capital stock or spend thousands buying extra supplementary feed.

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Soapy sales

Making soap is much like baking a cake except it’s not a good idea to lick the spoon. So says Jude McNab who in five years has built up The Catlins Soap Company in South Otago’s Owaka Valley. The squeaky-clean business started from a craft-making weekend she and a friend used as an excuse to get together each year.

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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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  • Material girl

    Becs Calder would be the first to agree that a creative mess is so much better than tidy idleness. Becs, who lives at Lauder Station in Central Otago with husband Rob and their two teenage children, says she hates idle hands. That partly explains her life-long obsession with practical, arty-crafty endeavours. 

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  • Communicator wins

    Wairarapa-based farm consultant Chris Garland, pictured, is the 2015 Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year. New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators president Graeme Peters said Garland won because of his ability to communicate even the most complex messages to farmers and agribusiness owners.

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  • Industry achievers acclaimed

    Southland deer farming pioneer, leader and mentor David Stevens is this year’s winner of the New Zealand Deer Industry Award, presented last month. Stevens’ leadership roles in the industry started in the early 1980s as the inaugural member of the Southland Deer Farmers committee. 

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Getting one’s goat

I will enter my seventh decade on the planet before May is out.

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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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  • The real world beckons

    For many of us “old” third years the time is fast approaching when we can no longer state “student” as our official occupation. So we have to start thinking, what will fill that little occupation line next year? 

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  • One for the books

    This year, so far, has turned out to be the one I was waiting for. Most who know me will mistakenly think I refer to 2014, the year this cat-accumulating, long-time spinster finally managed to snaffle an unassuming husband. Phew! He sure is one brave man. But no, 2015 is the one. You’re “the one” too Vince, but you know how these things go.

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  • Live to tell the tale

    “It will be your fault if I get pregnant,” the young woman shrilled in an obnoxious tone. Before you jump to conclusions the threat wasn’t directed at me but at Louise, who was the charge nurse at the clinic that day. Apparently the health centre sends a text message to all injectable contraceptive users when their shot is due. This girl hadn’t received her text or her jab and was, in a word, irate.

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One-man band fine-tunes farm

Being essentially the sole labour unit, Simon Davies is a busy man on his and wife Joanna’s Toko Mouth farm near Milton in South Otago. Terry Brosnahan paid this enterprising couple a visit.

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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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  • Farm system pressures

    Animals adapted to polar regions have evolved for energy-dense diets early in life to lay down fat quickly to survive a cold climate. Some seals have more than 50% fat in their milk to drive this.

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  • Sizing things up

    The exception proves the rule, they say. What this apparently contradictory statement really means is animals differing from a general rule are “exceptional” and worthy of attention. It is these animals that are sought in breeding programmes. One example is the “curve-bending” growth some animals show. 

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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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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Set in motion

    A traditional reciprocating internal combustion engine uses valves to control air and fuel flow into and out of the cylinders, enabling combustion. Quintin Boyd and James Hoban explain the mechanics.

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Keeping a clean bill of health

All New Zealand farmers should be well aware by now of the issues surrounding increased nutrient leaching into the country’s waterways and the subsequent degrading effect on water quality. 

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  • Fresh ideas on water quality

    Elizabeth Soal, policy manager for the Waitaki Irrigators Collective, travelled to Canada last year to study that country’s approach to water quality management. Her findings suggest similar financial incentives to protect water resources may be warranted in this country. Lynda Gray reports.

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  • Methane gas scientists upbeat

    The focus on greenhouse gas emissions is not just on reduction but keeping NZ farmers competitive the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Mitigation conference was told recently. Terry Brosnahan attended.

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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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  • Water quality issues wind on

    Many regional councils are yet to attempt the process of setting water quality limits for nutrients and will be watching closely to see how those that have gone before fare.   

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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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  • 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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  • Closing the gate

    Increasingly our email inboxes are full of clutter. You buy something in a shop or online, donate to charity or enter a running race and get signed up to an email list. 

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  • Avoiding a pup

    I contribute to a weekly technology-problem solving clinic. A recent visitor brought along a laptop that was practically unusable. It had what I call “crapware” that had taken over his machine – more on cleaning your computer of crapware plus how to prevent it getting on to your machine at the end of this article.

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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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  • A good yarn

    Polly McGuckin tells of how, in the 1600s, an act was passed in the British Parliament that stated all corpses had to be wrapped in a woollen shroud. This law completely changed the fortunes of what was an ailing wool industry and while McGuckin hasn’t got an act of Parliament to help her she is certainly doing her bit to revitalise the New Zealand wool industry.

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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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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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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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  • Country-Wide Agronomy 2015

    In any business doing the little things well will add up. At time when product prices are depressed attention to detail is the difference between success and failure. That is why this year’s Country-Wide Agronomy’s theme is ‘Making it Count’. Making sure every step within a farming operation, whether it is dairy,  sheep and beef, deer or arable, counts.

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  • Kiwi smashes world barley record

    Timaru farmer Warren Darling set his mind on a new world barley growing record after going close last season without really trying.

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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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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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