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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Hawke's Bay Today

3

From serendipity to design RESEARCH

Hunt is on for New Zealand’s next endophyte breakthrough

I

t’S A long way between a world-class bioscience lab in Melbourne, and deliberately overgrown summer ryegrass paddocks at Lincoln University, but both are key elements of the hunt for New Zealand’s next novel endophyte breakthrough. Using advanced molecular technology, scientists at the lab have discovered and genotyped over 400 potential endophytes, and developed many more. The best of these then find their way into the field at Lincoln to make sure they are safe for livestock. This is the latest development in a 30-year-old private research programme which started with ryegrass seed collected by hand in Spain, and has now progressed to cutting edge biotechnology. The lab in question is AgriBio, a joint agricultural bioscience research and development venture between La Trobe University in Melbourne, and the Victorian government, by way of the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources. Since 2006, scientists there have been working with NZ plant breeder Agriseeds to discover and develop the next

TESTING TELLS THE STORY: Under severe Argentine stem weevil attack in Hawke’s Bay, a plot of ryegrass with an NEA endophyte (L) stands out against cultivars beside and behind it with no endophyte.

TRIALS: Animal trials at Lincoln University ensure NEA endophytes don’t affect stock performance or health.

generation of endophytes for NZ pastures. Endophytes are essential for pasture persistence on NZ farms. They are fungi that have evolved to live in harmony with ryegrass, producing natural compounds which protect their host plants from pests like Argentine stem weevil and black beetle. Such insect control is natural, in-built and lasting, as opposed to synthetic chemicals, but care is needed with endophytes because they also affect livestock health. (That’s where those overgrown ryegrass paddocks at Lincoln University come in, along with insect and persistence trials.) Back in the lab, Agriseeds science manager Colin Eady says recent developments at AgriBio in Melbourne are exciting for both the company, and farmers. These include detailed alkaloid analysis of herbage samples; low cost robust endophyte typing that can detect different strains to ensure seed purity on-farm, and precise site directed mutagenesis which can be used to develop designer endophytes. “AgriBio is a valuable research partner for us because it offers a complete compliment of technologies and capabilities at one site. These

RESEARCH: Agriseeds science manager Colin Eady undertaking alkaloid analysis of samples in Melbourne. NEW STORE: Agriseeds recently opened a third controlled humidity cool store at their Rolleston distribution hub.

range from the latest gene editing technologies, which are being used to reduce endophyte toxicity to animals, through to complete genome sequencing; biochemical profiling; detailed plant/endophyte interactions, and toxicity testing against insects,” Colin says. “This whole system capability provides fast and flexible analysis and manipulation of grass/endophyte combinations so that Agriseeds can better understand how they are likely to perform in the field. It is a costly exercise to take an endophyte to market and Agriseeds does not want to get that wrong. “Proving animal safety and efficacy against insects (and other stressors) is very im-

TESTING FOR BLACK BEETLE: In each plot are 6-8 plants, each with a different endophyte. Black beetle are placed in each pot to see which endophyte they do or don’t like to feed on.

portant if trusted products are to be released. This requires a partnership between AgriBio for biological assessment and Agriseeds for real world testing by agronomists and production teams.” The AgriBio lab work is only one part of a large ongoing technology effort that dates back to 1987. That’s when Agriseeds became the first company in the southern hemisphere to begin researching and developing novel ryegrass endophytes. Today it markets more endophytes than any other company in NZ. These include both its own NEA family (NEA2, NEA and the new NEA4) and AgResearchlicensed AR endophytes (AR1 and AR37). NEA is a unique group of endophytes which collectively now accounts for much of the total NZ ryegrass endophyte market, and can be found on thousands of NZ farms. Because they pose very little risk of ryegrass staggers in sheep, beef cattle and dairy cows, NEA endophytes have an outstanding animal safety record. This comes with good control of key pests like Argentine stem weevil and black beetle, which help to support pasture persistence. ■

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4

Hawke's Bay Today

Thursday, April 19, 2018

What has four legs and flies? FLY STRIKE with RICHARD HILSON

Damn those flies . . . how to tackle a persistent seasonal problem

B

EING in the middle of another on-again off-again moist, warm summer, it is timely to consider the options for treating struck sheep. Any strike is bad news for sheep and devastatingly bad for production. With tupping approaching, bear in mind that if a ewe gets struck in summer or autumn she has only about a 20 per cent chance of getting in lamb. Most farmers will treat the issue aggressively by mustering mobs containing affected sheep, dipping the mob and shearing the struck areas on any affected animals and applying something to kill the maggots still there. But have a think about why there are struck sheep: Are they uncrutched and offering smelly dirty bums to interested flies? Lambs missed a drench? Could things have been done sooner and more efficiently? When were they last dipped and how long has the protection period been since? If it is shorter than expected, we suggest you check the effectiveness of the chemical you are using.

Fly resistance to commonly used dip products means we cannot assume that what worked yesterday will work as well tomorrow. Make sure the dip that you use on the mob can also kill any freshly hatched maggots. Not all products do this and the IGR group only kills the maggots at their next moult, meaning the freshly struck sheep has to put up with them until then. Adding

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STRIKE: Fly strike is bad news for sheep but is your drench effective?

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something effective to kill maggots to a cyromazine dip is what is done with both Cyrazin KO and Cyrex, for instance. Obviously, if you are ahead of the flies and there is no chance of any struck sheep in the flock, you might choose a product that does not have maggot knockdown like that. Then, what to do with the struck sheep? Make sure you look hard to identify and draft as many as you can see. Not everyone is good at spotting the early signs, which are subtle. Struck sheep are not just those with massive areas of stained wool over their rump or down their flanks so make sure everyone is on the same sheet in terms of early identification. Opinion sometimes differs on what to do with the individual struck animals. One line of thought has been the skin would heal better if the strike was treated but the wool not removed immediately. We actually suggest a decent clip be done as it makes treated sheep instantly identifiable and tends to leave less scabs with matted wool that may either become infected or even restruck in a few weeks’ time. If possible, put those sheep in another paddock, with shade, and feed them as well as you can. What to treat them with? We suggest a different class of product be used to kill those maggots than the one they may have already

been exposed to in the existing sheep dip. If they managed to get established in the presence of waning quantities of dip in the wool already, why would you try to kill them with the same thing? The commonly used product that actually fits that bill is Maggo, which is an OP. OP resistance is common but the dips themselves have little use any more, so this is often a good option. Maggo will have very little residual action so dip those animals within a week or so with an effective longer-acting product to avoid a second round of strike. Another excellent option is Cyrex liquid, which contains spinosad as well as cyromazine, or Extinosad, which is spinosad on its own. These are safer products for humans to handle than OPs and offer a good “change” from what you might normally use. And Cyrazin KO offers an ivermectin component to kill the maggots. A blanket ban of OPs is on the wish-list of some policy-makers but we had the chance recently to ask that some remain available to help in treatment of fly strike. OPs are not used widely in sheep farming now and it is the best interest of our sheep that we retain this important option to treat in a targeted manner. ■ Richard Hilson is a veterinarian with Vet Services (Hawke’s Bay) Ltd

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Hawke's Bay Today

5

Slower is better — rushing can cost PASTURE

It’s worth taking the extra time says New Zealand Agriseeds

I

F YOU want better, more profitable results from your new grass this autumn, it might be a good idea to try and slow down the pasture renewal process, according to New Zealand Agriseeds. Following these guidelines at right could add years to the life of new pasture, says pasture systems manager Will Henson. “The question we ask farmers is this: if we offered you three more years of pasture persistence in exchange for you spending an extra two weeks getting pasture establishment perfect, would you take it?” Many farmers are time poor in autumn, meaning pasture establishment can often be rushed, but Will says this is one job that will reward you for taking the time to get it right. “When it is done right, sowing new grass and clover gives a return on investment few other areas of farm spending can match, as much as 50 per cent per annum. That’s because it provides tonnes of extra high quality feed for as little as 10c/kg DM.” ■

GUIDELINES ■ Choose the right paddock(s), which will give the highest gains for the lowest cost. ■ Correct underlying problems that caused the original pasture to run out in the first place. ■ Use the right renewal method for your farm system. ■ Pick the correct pasture cultivars and endophyte for your farm system. ■ Sow seed carefully, including creating a good seedbed and sowing at the right depth. ■ Manage new pasture well through the first 12 months until it is fully established. SLOW: Take time to get pasture renewal right..

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Hawke's Bay Today

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Angoras in high demand GOATS

With mohair production climbing so is the demand for angoras

S

TRONG demand for angora is but one sign that the prospects for mohair production in New Zealand are climbing, says Lynne Milne. Milne, the chairwoman of Mohair New Zealand, says there have been no doe culls of late; “pretty much every female is being retained”. “People are seeking even aged does to add to their flocks.” Demand is strongest in the South Island but has spread north. “One North Island farmer who recently sold some angoras down south said he could easily have sold twice the number of animals he had available.” TVNZ’s Country Calendar 2017 series featured Glen Gamble of West Eyreton, who farms 400 angoras, runs a contracting business and is developing dryland pastures suitable for his property. Extra interest was fired up after last year’s Federated Farmers / Mohair NZ conference featuring David Williams, an independent mohair classer and broker, building on the impetus for mohair created by world renowned mohair producer / marketer GT Ferriera at the 2016 AGM . “It’s slowly compounding, one thing on top of the other,” Milne says. Prices are a big attraction, particularly for crossbred wool breeders looking to diversity and better utilise harder land. Mohair fleece returns ranged from $18 / kg to a high of $31.50 for the finest micron in the most recent pool sale by Ohuka Farms Ltd. Milne has more good news on the price front to share at this year’s Mohair NZ AGM and conference, running 6-8 April in New Plymouth. Most of the mohair New Zealand produces ends up in South Africa, where the sale at the end of February showed a 5 per cent price increase right across the quality spectrum. With the rand on the rise with

a change of president in South Africa, that’s also a gain for our producers with the new parity to the New Zealand dollar. The last pooled mohair sale on our shores featured price improvements. “So basically we’re likely to get a rise on top of a rise in the next pool sale,” Milne says. Dr Mark Ferguson, a Christchurch-based scientist who specialises in genetics and livestock production, is also upbeat about the potential of angoras. The founder of neXtgenAgri Ltd, he spoke at last year’s mohair conference. The goat farmers obviously appreciated his messages because he has been invited back to April’s event to deliver a more comprehensive on-farm workshop. On his family’s farm in Australia, Ferguson was aged 12 when he and his brother launched an angora stud. “My brother still runs those goats but the mainstay of my career has been in nutrition

INTEREST: Interest has risen in Angora goats. LEFT: Dr Mark Ferguson, a Christchurchbased scientist who specialises in genetics and livestock production.

and genetics of merino sheep, mainly. A lot of what I’ll talk about [in April] is about applying the principles we know work with merino to angora goats. “There’s a fair bit of similarity. It’s about managing condition score profile to maximise follicle development in utero, which leads to improvements in mohair quality and quantity. “The better the condition score is, the better the birth weights and the survival rates. Same with sheep. It’s about making sure the condition

score is right throughout the key periods of the production cycle.” Angora farmers can apply principles of quantitative genetics and make genetic gain in production and disease resistance “To me, it’s about breeding for balance. If you focus only on fibre production, you end up making an animal that is high maintenance to farm. “A lot of what we’ve been doing in the merino game is scanning for muscle and fat, and putting positive selection pressure on that, which is very closely correlated with condition score. So I want to talk to the angora breeders about breeding for condition score as well as the fibre traits.” He says the toughest aspect is interpreting which buck and does to keep. “It’s the same for sheep and that’s where it gets complicated. I have a whole business now helping sheep producers do that stuff.” The economics of a sound nutrition and genetics approach are proven for merino but the data is still being worked up for angoras. “But a $10-$15 improvement per stock unit is there if you get things right,” Ferguson says. “You can get the fibre slightly finer, and get more kids surviving, which is where the big payback is.” Ferguson says angoras can be a tough animal to farm in a wetter climate and need good management to keep them productive. “But they’re an amazing fibre-producing animal. I think there’s a heap of potential left in the animal to build its disease-resistance and make it even more suitable for New Zealand’s farming scene. “As the pressure comes on synthetics for polluting our oceans, there’s certainly going to be a place for luxury fibres like mohair and merino.” ■ ■ Federated Farmers/Mohair NZ conference and AGM, New Plymouth, April 6-8, 2018. Anyone interested should contact David Burt, 027 448 9170 Email dburt@fedfarm.org.nz

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Hawke's Bay Today

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Right environment for change GLOBAL REPORTS with PAUL DYKES

Environment now outranks terrorism as a global threat

T

HERE’S NO WAY of getting away from it — the environment is finally making enough noise to be heard after years of falling on deaf ears. Some of the brightest minds on the planet now agree that the world is most at risk this year from environmental issues such as extreme weather, natural disaster and inaction on climate change. Each year since 2006 the World Economic Forum (WEF) has compiled its Global Risks report in conjunction with the Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC) Risk Centre, polling almost a 1000 senior business leaders from its global network – including from New Zealand. And each year the WEF experts identify a network of inter-linking threats, which feed off and influence each other — any one of which could reach tipping point and trigger others to follow. There are several high-profile environmental concerns identified in this year’s report that clearly involve New Zealand farmers. In

LIMITS: By 2050, food production will require twice as much water but nearly one-third of it today takes place in water-stressed regions. PHOTO/FILE

terms of likelihood, environmental concern levels have risen above the levels for large-scale terrorist attacks, involuntary mass migration and military conflicts. The switch in emphasis is starkly demonstrated by the fact that three of the Top 5 concerns —both in terms of “likelihood” and “impact” — this year are in the environment category, and one other on the list (water crises) could well be linked to environmental changes. Apart from the ever-present risk

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from weapons of mass destruction, that just leaves cyberattacks and data fraud/theft as major concerns. That’s a big change since the report was first published — no environmental concerns made it on to the “likelihood” list until 2011, when climate change was first mentioned. Since then, greenhouse gas emissions, extreme weather events and water supply crises have joined global concerns. Wolfram Hedrich, MMC executive director at the Asia Pacific Risk

Centre, told Liam Dann in the NZ Herald the new list reflects a global shift towards environmental issues and away from economic concerns over the past few years. When the report started there was a focus on economic risk, especially around the Global Financial Crisis, he said, but it then became a lot more varied to include geo-political risk, technological risks and societal risks. “But in the past few years environmental risks have started to dominate,” he said. “It means that regardless of where you stood on the science of climate change, the governments, consumers and investors were shifting their behaviour.” WEF fears the current trend towards nation-state unilateralism could make it more difficult to sustain the long-term, multilateral responses that are required to counter global warming and the degradation of the global environment. The WEF report acknowledges that environmental risks have grown in prominence in recent years. This year’s ranking follows a year characterised by high-impact hurricanes, extreme temperatures and the first rise in CO2 emissions for four years. “We have been pushing our planet to the brink and the damage is becoming increasingly clear,”

■ Continued p11

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Hawke's Bay Today

11

Food systems are currently responsible for 20-30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, 70 per cent of freshwater withdrawals and 70 per cent of biodiversity loss.

■ Continued from p10 WEF said in its report. “Biodiversity is being lost at massextinction rates, agricultural systems are under strain and pollution of the air and sea has become an increasingly pressing threat to human health.” The report identifies the most pressing environmental challenges to be extreme weather events and temperatures; accelerating biodiversity loss; pollution of air, soil and water; failures of climate-

change mitigation and adaptation; and transition risks as the world moves to a low-carbon future. It said extreme rainfall can be particularly damaging — of the 10 natural disasters that caused the most deaths in the first half of 2017, eight involved floods or landslides. Storms and other weather-related hazards are also a leading cause of displacement, with the latest data showing that 76 per cent of the 31.1 million people displaced during 2016 were forced from their homes as a result of weather-related events.

GOING WITH THE FLOW: Many Kiwi farmers are doing their bit to protect our waterways.

PHOTO/DAIRY NZ

Of special concern to New Zealand farmers, rising temperatures and more frequent heatwaves will disrupt agricultural systems that are already strained. The prevalence of monoculture production heightens vulnerability to catastrophic breakdowns in the food system — more than 75 per cent of the world’s food comes from just 12 plants and five animal species, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, and it is estimated that there is now a 1:20 chance per decade that heat, drought, and flood events will cause a simultaneous failure of maize production in the world’s two main growers, China and the United States. This would cause widespread famine and hardship, the report notes. Pollution moved further to the fore as a problem in 2017: indoor and outdoor air pollution were together responsible for more than one-tenth of all deaths globally each year, according to the World Health Organization. Urban air pollution is likely to worsen, as migration and demographic trends drive the creation of more megacities. Soil and water pollution cause about half again as many deaths, according to findings published in October 2017 by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health.

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The commission estimates the overall annual cost of pollution to the global economy at $6.4 trillion, equivalent to about 6.2 per cent of output. Other factors adding to the strain on the planet relate to food production. Food systems are currently responsible for 20-30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, 70 per cent of freshwater withdrawals and 70 per cent of biodiversity loss. The report estimates that twice as much water will be required for food production in 2050, yet nearly one-third of agricultural production today takes place in water-stressed regions. New Zealand must grapple with the challenge of protecting water quality while allowing its use for economic and social purposes. In a similar vein, it notes one institutional risk that is likely to intensify in 2018 relates to the World Trade Organization and its ability to resolve trade disputes at a time when protectionist sentiment and policies are on the rise. “A weakening of the global trading system’s institutional architecture creates risks beyond a renewed slowdown in trade and growth: the possibility of trade tensions spilling over into increased geopolitical strains should not be dismissed.” ■

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12

Hawke's Bay Today

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fast-track changes for Fieldays FIELD DAYS with PAUL DYKES

Anniversary a launch pad for the future

O

NE OF THE CERTAINTIES of life used to be that you needed your gumboots if you were going to Fieldays at Mystery Creek. Frequent attendees could attest to unsealed walkways that soon churned up into mud after any rain. And good luck then getting your Mark IV Zephyr out of the parking paddock. But that was the good old days — the whole site is much more townie friendly now. New Zealand National Fieldays Society CEO Peter Nation sees the 50th anniversary this June as a milestone from which the event will take a “gigantic leap forward”. “We are going to get our next 50 years of achievements in just five years this time,” he predicts, “especially with the technology and the changing way people can deliver events.” He is talking about tailor-

made apps that present the event to users in a way that was unimaginable just 10 years ago. He’s talking about virtual booths, international exhibitors potentially interacting from their home countries — who knows where it’s going to end. While some things haven’t changed — Fieldays has had the same bank, ANZ, throughout its history — many farm objects and processes taken for granted these days made their breakthrough at Fieldays.

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In their day, trail bikes and quad bikes were the drones and IT farm systems of today. Each decade, new things and techniques have come along to advance farming practices, and this is going to continue. Technology is the game changer, reaching into virtually all areas of farming and event experience. This year Fieldays will launch its revamped app that will enable attendees to plan their route through the 1500 or so sites, meeting friends, contacts and

FIELD DAYS: In 1980.

companies in an organised manner. Need a toilet stop? The app will show you the nearest one as soon as you ask. The whole site has been GPS mapped, and underfoot there’s a network of water, power and fibre optic cabling. Apart from its first two years, Fieldays has been held at Mystery Creek, a move necessitated by the overwhelming response to the inaugural events at Te Rapa Racecourse. The 1971 event even got the royal seal of approval by way of a visit by the Queen and royal family. The site, which is owned by the New Zealand National Fieldays Society, now covers 114ha, 70ha of which is devoted to parking. The former dairy farm is too small to run as a viable unit these days, but the 47ha events platform is maintained and groomed year round. You can come along in your slippers nowadays — there are 16km of sealed roading and pathways. The main pavilion covers 8000sq m and virtually every one of the 1500 exhibitors has a marquee or similar to provide shelter.

■ Continued p13

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Hawke's Bay Today

13

■ Continued from p12

FIELD DAYS: During the early 1980s, above; and the late 1980s, right.

The complex doesn’t lie idle for long. Last year it hosted 109 other events outside of Fieldays. Peter Nation isn’t allowing the society to rest on its laurels. He knows there are other attractions and buying sites, especially online, competing for his audience. “Exhibitors come to Fieldays for five reasons: ■ To sell ■ To show off technology or innovations ■ To invest in their brand ■ To reward loyal customers ■ To get new customers. “It’s hard to replicate that either online or in a virtual world. We have 200 companies on our waiting list, hoping to get space at this year’s Fieldays.” He also knows that many people, especially dispersed rural families, use the Fieldays as an annual get-together, and take the opportunity to network with other farmers and companies. Then there are the companies keen to meet other companies with a view to a joint venture and/or sharing of technology of software. Even politicians use the event to get a gauge on the state of the rural economy, just by chatting to attendees and hearing their concerns. “My personal view is that as long as we are human, tactile and have a connection with the people, we will prosper. People come to buy and to be informed about new technology and

We are going to get our next 50 years of achievements in just five years this time, especially with the technology and the changing way people can deliver events. innovations. It’s a great opportunity for exhibitors to get instant feedback.” Last year Waikato University estimated the Fieldays event brought in half a billion dollars in revenue, including sales of food and beverages, accommodation and product. He says the site is well placed in that it is central to a large population base yet not inside a crowded urban area. He expects the international interest in Fieldays will continue to grow. Last year there were trade delegates from across the globe, countries such as Ireland, Germany, Mexico, Australia, India, Korea, Vietnam and China. “We also reach out and are members of other agricultural shows around the world. It pays dividends for us, and for New Zealand. “We want to stay true to our original objective — to bring town and country together. This year there will be more careers and education opportunities, a rural health and wellbeing hub, seminars on where food comes from and the health benefits of eating the right foods.” But even as the wheels spin

to get this year’s event organised, the society is taking the time to look back on its past and its contribution to the rural sector. Special commemorative events have already been held at Te Rapa Racecourse and in Wellington and the society held its first off-site board meeting at ANZ in Wellington. Fieldays will also hit the road later in the year for a parliamentary opening and a Fieldays roadshow. “We are working hard — nothing is happening by chance. We don’t get too many handouts.” He says there are a significant number of companies and organisations that have supported Fieldays from day one and a very special celebration is planned for them. “When we look back it’s astounding how far we’ve come and a number of really special organisations and exhibitors have been with us every step of the way. “This will mark a huge milestone for our society and everyone involved. Not many people can say they’ve committed to something for the past 50 years.” ■

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14

Hawke's Bay Today

Thursday, April 19, 2018

it’s a clear

VISION

ENVIRONMENT

Many farmers have their sleeves rolled up doing inspirational environmental work. They include third generation dairy farmer Andy Palmer

I

T WAS a chance remark he made back in the late 90s that got Andy started on what has become a labour of love spanning two decades. And it’s a passion that’s resulted in an extraordinary legacy of lush riparian planting of native species on his farm near Temuka, which he owns with wife Sharon Collett. Along the way there’ve been plenty of blisters, blunted spades and water-logged gumboots — and plenty of visitors to admire the work and learn from it. For Andy and Sharon personally, the net result today is water that’s gin-clear in the arm of the Ohapi Creek meandering past their house and through their land. With that water quality come trout and salmon, visually pleasing

plantings and prolific birdlife. It all started when the couple took out the traditionally styled garden around their home, replanting it with native species Andy had enjoyed seeing on his frequent tramping trips in the bush. One day, when Andy mentioned he’d like to extend the native garden along the creek, their landscape designer immediately saw he needed help – and knew where he’d get it. She told him to call Environment Canterbury (ECan), which was at that stage keen to get some riparian pilot projects under way in the South Canterbury region. ECan wanted work that could be showcased to inform and inspire other farmers in the years to come. “In those days, a lot of farmers saw ECan as the bully boys,” says Andy. “However, from the start they’ve been constant in their support. In fact, one weekend some of the staff came out with the local Fish & Game people to help plant.” Along with hands-on support, ECan connected Andy to sources of funding to help with transforming the creek which, like a number of waterways around the country, had taken a toll during the farming of the land — sheep, cows and pigs, as well as cropping including grass seed, wheat, barley, potatoes, carrots and onions. Fast-forward to today and

Only do an area you can look after — there’s no point putting in thousands of plants if you can’t look after them.

Andy enjoys the flourishing riparian planting that now stretches along about three kilometres of the creek, and which he adds to every year — either to extend it or grow plants in areas where vegetation is a bit sparse.

PROTECTOR: Andy Palmer is helping to protect the environment for future generations.

PHOTO / INSIDE DAIRY

the years — he just rolled up his sleeves and got on with it. And so he welcomes the recently launched initiative to create, for the first time, a national database of all established riparian buffer zones around the country. Set up by Niwa with DairyNZ’s support, the database project aims to capture the riparian work carried out by farmers, with the focus on sites more than five years old. That’s perfect for Andy and he’s now ensuring his work is recorded, and urges other farmers to do likewise at riparian.niwa.co.nz The information logged will also assist water quality scientists at DairyNZ and Niwa to improve understanding of how riparian buffers benefit waterways, and why some work better than others.

Taking a leaf from Andy’s book

Logging the good work

A

As with most farmers, Andy didn’t pay much attention to documenting his work over

past

Ballance

Farm

■ Continued p15

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

SHARED PASSION: At 22, Jethro Palmer was born around the same time his father started riparian planting. Naturally, he share’s his dad’s passion.

PHOTO / INSIDE DAIRY

Hawke's Bay Today

■ Continued from p14 Environment Award Best Dairy Farm winner, Andy’s advice to farmers who are either getting started with riparian buffer zones, or have stalled with their work, is: “Only do an area you can look after — there’s no point putting in thousands of plants if you can’t look after them.” He recommends identifying areas to plant out and developing a plan to progressively plant, beginning with clearing the likes of willow clogging waterways — he took the digger to his — and then spraying invasive species such as blackberry, gorse and broom. Using a residual spray that will

last 12 months, Andy then sprays a circle where he will place each plant. “This ensures each one gets a good start, and then I use glyphosate around the growing plants to keep the weeds at bay. If you let the weeds get away it can be very depressing trying to rescue plants.” Andy’s farm uses irrigation, and he runs the lines right up near the creek so young plants can be watered if necessary. In his early riparian days, Andy lost some plants to frosts, and now he selects more hardy species like carex, toetoe, flax and cabbage trees for the first stage, avoiding the broadleaves that don’t survive a freeze. Other native species he favours include pittosporum, ribbonwood, coprosmas such as mingimingi, and gossamer grass. Another of his imperatives is fencing, of course, and fencing that’s kept live at all times to deter stock. “Even one or two cows can destroy two years of work.”

Flow-on effects An unforeseen fringe benefit of Andy’s riparian commitment has been the appreciation of his sharemilkers over the years. “We’ve been fortunate that our sharemilkers have tended to stay around for a while, and have understood the role riparian planting plays, as well as enjoying the nice environment it creates.” Currently, Eugene and Sarah Cronin are 50:50 sharemilkers on the property, overseeing 146ha (effective) and 540 cows. “Two of our previous sharemilkers have gone on to own their own farms, and both are doing riparian zones,” says Andy. They are Aaron and Frances Coles, and Karen and Kevin O’Kane, who both farm a short distance away. The Coles’ farm is at the source of the Ohapi and, while fencing was already in place, Aaron and Frances were keen to get planting to further improve the water quality and biodiversity. “It’s about improving the land for

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future generations — we want to leave it in a better state than we received it,” says Frances. The Coles received support from ECan for the plants — nearly 4000 have been planted in the first phase of the project, and they’re flourishing. As a number of farmers and garden owners in the region have done, they sought the local knowledge and expertise of contractor Chris Goad, who also just happens to be married to one of their staff members. Likewise, after their experience of riparian planting with Andy, the O’Kanes were quick to line up planting spades when they bought their farm in 2014. They worked with two neighbouring farmers, also roping in family and friends, to plant native swamp-loving species around Horseshoe Lagoon, a coastal wetland bordering their land. The lagoon has Canterbury’s only known population of the native giant ko-kopu fish, and the Department of Conservation had already fenced it and dealt with the willows. ECan provided the plants. Now the couple is progressively planting other areas of their farm “as we have the time and the funds“, says Karen. ■ If you’ve been inspired and would like help creating a riparian management plan for your farm, go to dairynz.co.nz/ riparian-planner today. This article first appeared in the February 2018 edition of Inside Dairy magazine. Visit dairynz.co.nz/ insidedairy. Visit dairynz.co.nz/insidedairy for more details

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HBT Farming Outlook_ April 2018  
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