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National Farming Review October 2017

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GOOD CATCHMENT!

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ENVIRONMENT

Tell our good stories, don’t feed the trolls

Farmers and community pitch in

A

PARTNERSHIP between Otago farmers, Blue Mountains Nurseries and school pupils and their parents will pay dividends for the environment and a local swimming pool. In West Otago, the Pomahaka River catchment covers 4000km of waterways. For the last decade there has been a significant increase in stream restoration projects by a range of agencies, community groups and rural landowners. These projects are strongly focused on re-establishing or enhancing riparian vegetation with fenced riparian areas acting like a sieve, helping to filter out sediment and nutrients before they enter waterways. The Pomahaka Water Care Group evolved from these innovators and involvement of DoC, NZ Landcare Trust, Fish & Game, iwi, Otago Regional Council, Fonterra, Dairy NZ and Beef & Lamb. Now registered as an incorporated society, the farmerdriven voluntary group has sought to understand water quality in their catchment and make evidence-based riparian plans. The group conducts water tests for E. coli, nitrogen and phosphate over 22 sites along the Pomahaka River, four times a year, as well as testing their own discharges. Recently, as part of planning for the next phase of riparian planting, the group discovered a significant shortfall in plant availability. Lloyd McCall, who chairs the group, approached Denis Hughes from Blue Mountain Nurseries in Tapanui to see what could be done. They hatched a plan to produce plants over three years, combining the strengths of Blue Mountain Nurseries to grow the plants and community involvement, in this

By: KATIE MILNE, President Federated Farmers of NZ

O

COLLECTIVE GOOD: Plants for the Pomahaka Water Care Group are potted at a farmer and community working bee. case, the West Otago Swimming Pool Fundraising Committee, to tend the plants and finally, farmers to buy the plants. The pool committee was raising funds for a new roof for the local pool and offered their time weeding, spacing and repotting. Blue Mountain Nurseries contributed trays, potting mix, propagation, general care, growing space and watering. Lloyd went back to the farmers to get a deposit and pre-orders. So far, 22,000 plants have been ordered and a deposit of $2 per plant paid. Farmers will pay a further $3 per plant in the next one to two years — $2 for the pool committee to cover the donated labour costs and $1 per plant to

Community groups and local business working together offer some significant benefits.

cover any unexpected costs. Farmers commit to buying a minimum of 500 plants per year. Blue Mountain Nurseries will run workshops to show farmers how to successfully plant and manage riparian buffers. “Community groups and local business working together offer some significant benefits,” Lloyd said. “Each brings in-kind contributions for the collective good. The scheme is farmer-driven so there’s a bigger commitment to make this work. Farmers are taking on the responsibility to make a difference to our waterways and a financial commitment to what will be a longterm project for improved water quality, stable erosion and increased biodiversity. “Additionally, these plants are grown for local conditions and are bigger than normal at no extra price. The larger grade plant offers a greater strike rate in riparian zones and a better return on investment.”

NE FALLOUT from politicians on the election campaign trail kicking agriculture around as a political football is that lots of city folk have been left with the belief that the rural environment is in a sorry state. There are certainly challenges ahead for improving water quality and dealing with emissions to meet our Paris Agreement commitments — but that’s true for urban communities as much as rural. What was largely missing from the campaign rhetoric was mention of the large number of catchment improvement projects under way that are already showing significant progress, not to mention the efforts of thousands of individual farming families to fence waterways, plant riparian strips and covenant many hectares of native bush and forest on their own properties for permanent protection. This lack of understanding about progress made to date is perplexing for many farmers. But what they’ve got to remember is that every week they are delivered a swag of farming publications filled with profiles and features describing how farmers and sector groups are spending time and money reducing their environmental footprint. These kind of farming stories aren’t sexy or controversial enough for mainstream media. TV’s Country Calendar is the

only standout exception. That’s why Federated Farmers regularly reminds its members to put their good news stories, photos and videos on social media so that we can build wider appreciation of what’s really going on beyond the city and town fringes. Yes, there are critics and trolls who mock. Don’t feed them by engaging. Play it straight, and keep it positive. Some of our critics are farmers who have left the sector and mistakenly assume that practices haven’t moved on from when they were in the tractor seat 20 or 30 years ago. They need to update their knowledge. For now, all New Zealanders can only sit on the sidelines while those who gained our votes try and thrash out a workable coalition. Farmers can be assured of one thing — no matter the eventual hue of government, the pressure to lift our environmental game will continue. That’s as it should be. Farmers have — and will continue — to respond to the challenges. What we’d like politicians to keep in mind is that additional burdensome regulations and taxes are unlikely to hasten the progress being made. Worse, they could backfire and rob farmer/ community/council collaborations of impetus and income. If farmers’ bottom lines are hit, they can really only respond by raising productivity by cutting costs (already done during the recent downturn, so no fat left for that) or intensifying to get more production. Letting farmers continue to develop solutions as they have been is probably going to give the best outcomes for the environment, in the quickest timeframes, while retaining farm profitability. As a wise soul once said — it’s hard to be green if you are in the red. We all want great outcomes for our home of Aotearoa — environmental, social and economic. We’re all in this together after all.

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October 2017 National Farming Review

3

POLITICS

WAITING FOR WINSTON

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What does the election mean for farmers?

HE VOTES are in and the dust is settling from a dramatic election campaign that see-sawed back and forth. After storming back in the final fortnight National won on the night and notwithstanding the 384,000 special votes still to be counted, it will be the biggest party by a comfortable margin. But not comfortable enough to allow it to govern on its own or with its previous support parties, two of whom didn’t make it back. As was the case in 1996 and 2005, NZ First finds itself in the position as the king — or queen — maker. What does all this mean for farmers? It’s fair to say that during the campaign there was plenty of rhetoric and policy pronouncements from Labour and the Greens that were not well received by farmers — especially on the environment. Policies included a water tax (Labour); a nitrates tax (Greens); putting agriculture biological emissions into the emissions trading scheme (Labour); and scrapping the ETS and replacing it with set charges on carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (Greens). Labour also floated a capital gains tax and a land tax, both of which would hit farming hard. Enter NZ First and Winston Peters. Since returning to Parliament in 2011 NZ First has been an opposition party and it has campaigned hard against the National Government. In doing so NZ First courted the farming and rural vote, which it perceived was being taken for granted by National and written off by Labour and the Greens. An analysis of the election night results by electorate

REFERENCE? Back in June when Winston Peters addressed the Federated Farmers National Conference, the then president William Rolleston made sure he took away a copy of our Election Manifesto. Hopefully, the election result ‘king-maker’, has kept it for reference. showed the top 10 party vote percentages for NZ First all came in rural and provincial electorates. So, what do the major parties need to do to get over the crucial 61 seats? That Labour needs both NZ First and the Greens onside makes this a potentially tricky combination to manage. That National only needs NZ First (or the Greens) gives them an advantage but only if it weren’t for policy compatibility

Whatever the result, Federated Farmers will work hard . . . to get the best outcomes possible for farmers.

and personalities. Looking at policy, NZ First aligns more closely with Labour. Both parties share a wish for tighter restrictions on immigration and foreign investment, including on houses and farm land; changes to monetary policy; more spending on health and education; a significantly higher minimum wage and wages generally; more generous paid parental leave; keeping the retirement age at 65; opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership; and re-entering the Pike River mine. There are two key exceptions which are crucial for farming. That is opposition to a water tax on irrigation and opposition to the inclusion of agricultural biological

emissions in the ETS. Mr Peters, in a speech to Ashburton farmers just days before the election, made it clear that both are no-go areas for him. If Labour was to concede on these two points a major barrier would be overcome. National has much less policy compatibility with NZ First but agree on ‘no’ to a water tax and ‘no’ to agriculture being in the ETS. In other areas National would have to make substantial shifts in policy or NZ First would have to accept they won’t get all, or even many, of the changes they say they want. NZ First says it wants RMA reform, including removing what it calls National’s ‘race-based’ provisions. Now that the Maori Party is out of the picture, National might now feel more

open to a change in direction whereas Labour, after sweeping the Maori seats, may be less keen. National may have an advantage here. Looking at formal arrangements, both Labour and National will likely offer NZ First Cabinet positions either as part of formal coalition agreement (as per 1996) or perhaps more likely a support agreement (as per 2005). Sharing the prime ministership is likely to be off the table but deputy prime minister or a senior portfolio will be. Personalities are the great intangible but they could be as important, if not more so, than policy or portfolios. National and NZ First have a long history of rivalry and key politicians in both camps have butted heads. If the two parties are prepared to bury the hatchet, building trust and confidence for any deal and forging a constructive working relationship will be high immediate priorities. Labour may have an advantage in there not being much bad blood between it and NZ First but the relationship between Mr Peters and Jacinda Ardern is an unknown. Furthermore, NZ First will not be keen on being in government with the Greens and sharing the cabinet table with them. What about the Greens? As a price for winning over NZ First, Labour may need to keep the Greens out of government and instead offer them a supply and confidence agreement. While some have promoted the idea of a National-Greens government the Greens have so far ruled this out due to policy incompatibility and the very idea being anathema to a lot of their people. If they continue this position they have few options, and Labour and NZ First know this. Whatever the result of the negotiations, Federated Farmers will work hard with the parties in government to get the best outcomes possible for farmers.

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National Farming Review October 2017

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NFR:

ELECTION

SEEKING CERTAINTY

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Why farmers are breathing a sigh of relief

Farmers are first and foremost businesspeople who like certainty — something which was in woefully short supply in this election campaign, writes Canterbury dairy farmer and Federated Farmers member CRAIG HICKMAN

I

IMAGINE there was a collective sigh of relief from farmers up and down the country at about 11pm on Saturday night. I imagine this because that was my reaction, and I milk 1000 cows on the outskirts of Ashburton on an irrigated farm. The relief was tinged with shock at the loss of the Ma¯ori Party, who was the only other party in consideration for my vote, and disappointment that New Zealand First would once again hold the balance of power. In an election campaign of misinformation, half-truths and outright lies it was often hard to separate fact from fiction. There were big audacious $11 billion fibs to sow doubt and confusion and there were lies of omission designed to pit different sectors against one another. So why relief? Call farmers what you will, and I’ve been called many unflattering things during this election campaign, but we are first and foremost businesspeople and we like certainty — something which was in woefully short supply. The Green Party, to their credit, were honest with their policies;

No other sector is asked to pay taxes based on broad guesswork and farmers sure as hell don’t want to be the first.

agriculture would be phased into the emissions trading scheme, commercial use of water would be taxed, a moratorium would be placed on dairy conversions and cow numbers would be reduced over a period of time. Pollution would also be taxed, a policy I’m in favour of, but they chose to target nitrate which is very difficult to measure. No other sector is asked to pay taxes based on broad guesswork and farmers sure as hell don’t want to be the first. There are arguments to be made for and against each of the Green policies, but each of them require a very high level of trust from the parties that will be affected. When a Green MP posts videos on Facebook telling viewers that the dairy industry is the equivalent of 90 million people pumping their untreated sewage directly into waterways, one could feel that the trust required for my support hasn’t quite been earned. Labour’s water tax policy was the one that got all the publicity and that was no accident. It was a calculated populist move with one aim: to halt their slide in the polls and to snatch as many votes back off the Greens as possible. Had the policy simply been “we think commercial users of water should pay a royalty” it would have been a very dry argument indeed. Much has been made of National stoking the urban-rural divide with wild stories of cow slaughter, but the Labour wedge was more insidious. Irrigation was constantly conflated with pollution despite all evidence to the contrary; Canterbury accounts for something like 65 per cent of all the country’s irrigation, watering 11

CONTRAST: Canterbury accounts for about 65 per cent of all the country’s irrigation, yet only 4 per cent of the rivers are deemed poor for swimming. In contrast Auckland irrigates about 1 per cent of its land area but boasts a hefty 62 per cent of rivers rated PHOTO/NZME poor for swimming.

per cent of its land area, yet only 4 per cent of the rivers are deemed poor for swimming. In contrast Auckland irrigates about 1 per cent of its land area but boasts a hefty 62 per cent of rivers rated poor for swimming. The focus was constantly on dairy farms of which about 2000 irrigate, little mention was made of the other 9000 farms that hold consent to water as they didn’t fit the polluting narrative. It worked too, I can’t recall a situation in New Zealand where people have been protesting the opposition. Jacinda Ardern was quick to reassure urban voters they would not be charged the tax as they already paid for their water; a refrain I heard constantly on Twitter and eventually gave up arguing against. Nobody in New Zealand pays for fresh water; not the irrigator, not the water bottler and not the resident who takes a 15-minute shower, but when you receive a monthly “water bill” the lie that you do is very easy to believe. David Parker was asked on election night if he regretted the framing of the water tax; he did not, the huge amount of publicity it drew kept water pollution at the front of voters’ minds he said. It did its job; Ardern’s ascension coupled with support for policies like the water tax drew Green and NZF voters to Labour. We won’t know until the final results are in, but I suspect the publicity also galvanised National supporters to get out and vote. No matter which way you slice it, 46 per cent of the vote and a potential fourth term is an impressive feat. But still the concern lingers. Just under half of the country voted for change and just under half voted for stability, and with Winston holding the balance of power I fear neither will get what they want. ■ This column was first published by Newsroom, and is reprinted with permission


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October 2017 National Farming Review

5

DAIRY INDUSTRY

APPRENTICESHIP LAUNCHES

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Pilot aims for initial training uptake of 200

EDERATED FARMERS and Primary ITO have teamed up on an exciting new apprenticeship to rapidly grow people capability in the dairy industry. The Federated Farmers Apprenticeship Dairy will be launched as a pilot in selected regions. As this issue of National Farming Review went to the printers, final preparations were being put in place for the programme to be showcased throughout the country, starting with Hamilton on October 2, followed by Wellington (October 3) Christchurch (October 4) and Invercargill (October 5). Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Group chairman Chris Lewis says, “We are delighted to be working alongside Primary ITO, the training organisation for the primary industries, to support our Federated Farmers employers to gain motivated and capable staff for their farms.” Both Federated Farmers and Primary ITO have key roles to play in supporting the apprenticeship. “We’re both playing to our strengths and it’s a great fit.” Federated Farmers will identify dairy farm employers and ensure they are equipped to offer a quality work environment, while actively supporting the on-job training and development of their apprentice. “We are supporting our employers with the development of a Farm Charter, which reinforces the goals of the Sustainable Dairying: Workplace Action Plan, and resources that underpin the best on-job training, career development and support for their apprentice. The professional development of the employer is also an important aspect of the Farm Charter — they will learn and grow throughout the apprenticeship too.” Primary ITO will recruit the apprentices and arrange the formal training towards the NZQA-recognised qualifications. They will also support the

Fast riser happy to recommend industry The 2017 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year, Clay Paton, is very focused on his career goals, and is a passionate advocate for the industry. He’s just the kind of young New Zealander we need in agriculture. Clay, who is pictured here and on our front cover with his wife Joy and their two children, has been in the industry less than four years but is already a farm manager in Golden Bay, leading 3.5 fulltime equivalent staff and looking after 500 cows. He was 18 months into a landscape architecture degree at Lincoln University before he realised sitting behind a desk in an office wasn’t the career he wanted. Having married a dairy farmer’s daughter, he now knows he is now in the right job and — as anyone who has seen his award-winning video entry to the NZDIA (just google YouTube Clay Paton) will appreciate — the couple are determined to one day own their own farm, and have a plan mapped out to get there. Clay told NFR that no sooner had he got into dairy than he signed up with the Primary ITO to learn as much as he could. The ITO has partnered with Federated Farmers to launch the new dairy apprenticeship (above) and Clay says he’s happy to recommend that learning path, and the dairy industry, to anyone.

apprenticeship through regular farm visits to ensure everything is on-track, providing extra assistance as needed. Primary ITO chief executive Dr Linda Sissons says, “Through the apprenticeship we want to recruit bright and motivated New Zealanders onto our dairy farms and show everyone what a great career choice dairy farming is. Our apprentices will have the opportunity to work and learn in an exciting and innovative environment, with an increasing

focus on technology, as well as to be a part of their local farming community.” Linda says career development is also a focus of the apprenticeship. “We want our apprentices to grow their careers and to put them on the track to leadership through clearly identified pathways and support. We have ambitious aims for them — we want them to become farm managers and owners one day.” The target for the pilot is for around 200 Federated Farmers

apprentices on-farm across New Zealand over the coming months. The apprenticeship is made up of formal training and qualifications, and upskilling through on-job training that aligns with farmers’ requirements and regional needs, over three years. By providing a new pathway and linking it with employers motivated to demonstrate and develop their people management skills, the partner organisations hope to increase both the capacity and the capability of new entrants

to the industry and to reduce reliance on migrant labour. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has estimated that New Zealand will need an extra 50,000 qualified workers in the primary sector in the next eight years. The initiative is supported through the Sector Workforce Engagement Programme (SWEP). Register your interest in the Federated Farmers Apprenticeship — online now at farmapprentice.co.nz.

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6

National Farming Review October 2017

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NFR:

ENVIRONMENT

GREENHOUSE GASES 101

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Getting to grips with climate change challenge

By: SIMON EDWARDS

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T’S BEEN SAID that the climate-change ship has left the dock, but lots of people are still debating whether boats can float. Fortunately for DairyNZ, organiser of a Greenhouse Gas 101 Roadshow “It’s Not All Hot Air” in Palmerston North on September 12, climate change deniers appeared to be no-shows among the more than 100 farmers, rural professionals and researchers in the room. Rather it was a group of people keen to increase their knowledge about global warming, and what research is being done that could help the agri-sector reduce harmful emissions now, and into the future. The workshop was the sixth of nine that Dairy NZ was hosting up and down the country as a strand of the Dairy Action for Climate Change 2017-18 strategy it is running in partnership with Fonterra, and with support from the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry for the Environment. Kara Lok leads Dairy NZ’s greenhouse gas programme and co-chairs BERG (Biological Emissions Reference Group), a government and cross-industry initiative that includes most agriculture industry organisations, including Federated Farmers. She told the workshop BERG is tasked with developing a “robust and agreed evidence-base on what we can do now and in the future on agriculture emissions, and understand what the costs,

DISCUSSION: Participants at Dairy NZ’s Greenhouse Gas 101 roadshow in Palmerston North break into groups to discuss options. opportunities and barriers are”. Third party experts have been commissioned to investigate and answer a number of questions BERG’s members have agreed are the priority. Kara said the answers would inform two synthesis reports, one due at the end of this year, the other early in 2018. Among the topics being looked at: ■ The carbon sequestration potential of riparian strips and shelter belts ■ Soil carbon, “often brought forward as a mitigation option, but the science isn’t there yet to prove it” ■ Co-benefits between the freshwater framework and

Canterbury and Otago are currently in drought about 10 per cent of the year. By 2040, it’s estimated they’ll be in drought about 20 per cent of the year.

mitigations, and the potential spin-offs for greenhouse gases, and viceversa. The New Zealand dairy sector is one of the lowest emission producers of dairy nutrition in the world. But given the nation’s highly unusual greenhouse gas (GHG) profile (49 per cent of our harmful emissions are from agriculture, and half of those are from dairy) and our international commitments under the Paris Agreement, “there’s a political consensus, regardless of who wins the election, that action must be taken”, Kara said. As a result of global warming, climate patterns are changing. “It will affect our supply chain. We’re going to see more frequent extreme weather events — floods, hurricanes, increased market volatility, increased risk of pests and diseases, so biosecurity is going to become increasingly important. “It will change where we can farm, and farming systems. For

example, Canterbury and Otago are currently in drought about 10 per cent of the year. By 2040, it’s estimated they’ll be in drought about 20 per cent of the year.” The Dairy Action for Climate Change approach is about providing a link between research and farms to test possible mitigations and explore the role of incentives in improving practices and ensuring advice to dairy farmers is consistent and accurate. As well as the GHG 101 Roadshow and hosting six discussion groups on climate change with DairyNZ’s Dairy Environment Leaders, the Dairy NZ/Fonterra partnership is out to identify 12 climate change dairy farmer “Champions” from across NZ to raise awareness and mobilise change. Two GHG courses will be run at Massey University in December and January, similar to the nutrient management certification programme. As well

as covering the GHG challenges in more detail, it will also go into mitigation options and how to model Overseer for greenhouse gas emissions. Kara was asked that given the questions asked about the reliability of Overseer measuring nitrogen loss, “how accurate is it measuring methane?”. “Firstly, it’s not measuring, it’s accounting. [Overseer] is a model [tool] and every model is an estimate. But we’ve now done some work on this and from a scientific perspective, we know the modelling is pretty accurate, technically,” she said. Dairy NZ has pledged that by February next year, with support from MfE and MPI, it will characterise and implement farm changes which have the potential to reduce biological emissions on dairy farms. “We’re going to have 10-15 case studies, across different farm systems, so we can understand what’s possible. We’re keen to set up communities of interest around those farms and to have rural professional like yourselves involved.” By November 2018, Fonterra has committed to running an onfarm GHG recording pilot involving up to 100 of the co-op’s suppliers. “Farmers want to know what their GHG footprint is, and how they compare with neighbours,” Kara said. “All of their suppliers already get their N leaching number and nitrous oxide emissions [data]. The trial is looking at giving about 100 of them their methane number as well, using their Overseer file.” Someone else asked whether a producer’s greenhouse gas footprint would be a factor in market prices. “A very interesting question,” Kara replied. “The honest answer is, we don’t know. Consumers could potentially be willing to pay more, or it could just be ‘business as usual’ and be a market access requisite. It will be interesting to see what happens with that.”


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October 2017 National Farming Review

ENVIRONMENT

Lab trials show promising pathways for reduction

HOT BREATH: Most of the methane (87-92%) from NZ livestock is produced in the rumen and 95-98% of that comes out when the animal breathes and burps. It’s not the farting!

The GHG Challenge at a glance

METHANE MITIGATION

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From the estimated $20 million per year of research on biological greenhouse gases going on in New Zealand, there are four areas of focus. Dr Kirsty Hammond, senior scientist, AgResearch Animal Nutrition and Physiology, who has been researching ruminant methane mitigation for nine years, outlined progress so far to Dairy NZ’s roadshow workshops Low methane feeds

Dr Hammond said scientists have been studying animal diets from a methane reduction perspective for a decade — white clover, chickory, different types of grasses, etc. Brassicas have shown the most promise, especially forage rape, where studies with sheep (and limited cattle trials) have shown a 20-30 per cent cut in emissions. Work on fodder beet is ongoing, and is also showing promise. One recent study in which sheep were fed 90 per cent fodder beet and 10 per cent grass, up to 50 per cent methane emission reductions were recorded. “Unlike high cereal diets, where you need at least 80 per cent [of the animal’s intake] to be high cereal, you don’t need that with fodder beet and forage rape. Understanding that mechanism is where we are currently doing a lot of searching.” Overseas, substituting maize silage for grass silage had yielded 15 per centmethane reductions “but we haven’t been getting that here. Again, it’s a mechanistic understanding of that we’re seeking,” Dr Hammond said. Plants with tannins (eg.

birdsfoot, trefoil, sulla) can reduce methane, “but go beyond 4-6 per cent plant tannin content and you start to get palatability issues, affecting food intake”. Anything that affects animal performance is relegated down the study options.

Breeding

After thousands of measurements on sheep, researchers have been able to achieve a 10 per cent reduction in methane emissions between high and low emitting breed variants. The difference can be repeated under varying diets (Lucerne pellets vs pasture), at different times of the year. The characteristics show high heritability (able to be passed on to progeny, so it’s able to be used as a selection tool). The difference between the high and low emitting sheep is that the low emitters have a smaller rumen. They even have slightly higher wool growth. Preliminary economic analysis shows because they have a smaller rumen, their carcass yield is greater. A researcher specialising in breeding, said details of the lowemitting sheep are now available.

Breeding

Dr Hammond said thousands of

potential inhibitors (substances that have an effect on methanogens, the microbes that take up hydrogen and carbon dioxide in the rumen for their energy, and produce methane as a byproduct) have now been screened in the lab in an artificial rumen. Those with potential have been rolled out in trials. Nine substances showing particular potential have now been narrowed to four, and these can inhibit methane production by up to 30 per cent without affecting animal production values. “So it’s quite a promising line of inquiry.” Implementation trials continue, and there will need to be stringent tests to ensure any residues are not going to enter the human food chain. So if compounds prove successful, they’re still 5-7 years from roll-out.

Methane vaccines

Vaccines (raising antibodies that will affect methanogens) are the Holy Grail for researchers because in all likelihood the right vaccines will be successful for all animals, in all farm systems, won’t leave a residue and can be easily delivered to the rumen via saliva (ie.

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introduced via the animal’s mouth). The world has been screening numerous options, and now they’re also down to the four most promising. The rumen is “a hostile environment”, so work continues to find the antibodies that are effective and long-lasting. Dr Hammond said many more questions remain. What effect does a vaccine have on excreta (and thus nitrous oxide)? Productivity? Product quality? Once again, the best estimate is that it will be 5-7 years before any vaccine is available for use. An audience member asked why so much of the research seemed to be with sheep rather than cattle. The explanation is that animal trials are expensive to run, and while AgResearch has state-ofthe-art respiration chambers for testing emissions, there are 24 for sheep and only four for cattle. Sheep are smaller and easier to handle. However, results so far in sheep are being replicated with cattle, and trials with cattle are being ramped up. ■ Next issue of NFR — What the research on nitrous oxide is telling us.

■ NZ has a unique greenhouse gas profile for a developed country — 48% of our GHG emissions are from agriculture. The average for a developed country is 11%. The country nearest to us in ag emissions is Ireland, at 30%. ■ Unlike many other countries, 80% of our electricity generation is already renewable. We have far less scope to reduce emissions from that sector to meet our Paris Agreement commitments. ■ Carbon dioxide is the critical damaging greenhouse gas. However, there is recognition that if New Zealand can start addressing our biological methane and nitrous oxide emissions, it can buy us some time in terms of the de-carbonisation pathway. ■ It’s been said that as New Zealand is responsible for just 0.16% of global GHG emissions, why bother? But combine the world’s small emitters together, and they’re 30% of the total. ■ Ice core samples show the world’s atmospheric CO2 levels are the highest they’ve been for almost a million years. Pre-Industrial Revolution levels never breached 300ppm. The US’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration measured levels in May, 2017 at 406ppm. While there is still debate, there is general scientific agreement that to stay under 2 degrees of global warming by the turn of the century and avoid potentially catastrophic sea level rise, the tipping point is 450ppm. Once we get over that, it’s very hard to reverse.

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8

National Farming Review October 2017

www.fedfarm.org.nz

Ph 0800 327 646

NFR:

COMMENT

Is our freshwater fishery really in crisis? It is disappointing Fish & Game has made no attempt to correct its misinformation in the media.

By: JAMIE McFADDEN

L

AST YEAR Fish & Game sought and received approval from the Department of Conservation (DoC) to place a winter fishing ban on all North Canterbury rivers below State Highway 1. At the time, Fish & Game claimed the North Canterbury freshwater fishery was

in crisis and it was because of farming. Both DoC and the Rural Advocacy Network have requested the evidence supporting these claims. After 18 months no evidence has been forthcoming. DoC now realise they have been misled and have said they will not renew the fishing ban unless Fish & Game provide evidence. Earlier this year I attended a public meeting in Rangiora organised by Fish and Game where the fishing ban was discussed. I presented our submission

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challenging the lack of evidence behind the fishing ban, particularly for the Hurunui and Waiau rivers. A show of hands was taken and the clear majority of the 70 attendees felt the ban should not apply to these rivers. Of those who fished the Hurunui and Waiau the majority thought these were healthy fisheries. Fish & Game’s argument that having these two rivers open would shift winter fishing pressure was not supported by attendees. What we also learned at the meeting was that there was thought to be an issue with the Rakaia River but more research was needed to understand what was happening with the fishery. It was one angler’s concern with the Rakaia River sea run trout fishery that set off the fishing ban process 18 months ago. The main issue raised for the Waimakariri River was the numbers of people bait fishing in the lower reaches. Clearly there are a range of factors affecting our freshwater fishery and increasing fishing pressure, particularly near Christchurch, is one of them. A local fishing guide has for several years been undertaking the annual trout spawning surveys in the Waimakariri River. This year he reported better numbers than have ever been seen and some superb stream improvements by many farmers — the future is bright. In late autumn I checked the middle reaches of the Hurunui River catchment and photographed numerous shoals of 10-20 trout. In one pool alone I counted 65 good-sized healthy trout. A balanced report on the state of our freshwater fishery would acknowledge there are some healthy fisheries, concerns with some other fisheries and a range of factors affecting both. It is disappointing that Fish & Game has made no attempt to correct their misinformation in the media. Many farming families are Fish & Game licence holders and enjoy the recreational opportunities our rivers provide. Farmers want to know what they need to do to fix any water quality problems they are causing. There are many examples of farmers actively engaging in improving water quality and undertaking stream enhancements. Farmers want to work with organisations like Fish & Game but the continual attacks on farmers undermine the ability to achieve this. We would like to see Fish & Game publicly drop the anti-farming broad brush ‘dirty dairy’ campaign, correct their misinformation in the media and develop a more constructive approach to freshwater issues. ■ Jamie McFadden, who is on the Federated Farmers North Canterbury executive, is also chairman of the newly-formed Rural Advocacy Network based in Canterbury that represents rural people and businesses on a wide range of issues. info@ruraladvocacynetwork.nz.


Ph 0800 327 646 www.fedfarm.org.nz

NFR:

October 2017 National Farming Review

9

ARABLE

SOWING A FUTURE

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SIRC to grow seed earnings, research capability

HE Seed Industry Research Centre (SIRC) is as much about growing human talent and capability as improving production technologies. The new entity is a collaboration between seed companies and the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) and aims to enhance New Zealand’s $200 million export seed sector. “New Zealand has a position of leadership, envied by many in the world I think,” says SIRC spokesman Ivan Lawrie, who is FAR’s director of business and relationships. “There are probably two other important seed technology areas that we work with — Oregon in the USA, and whole Danish seed cluster is very important too.” Mr Lawrie says the challenge for New Zealand is maintaining that position of global excellence in the long term — “that’s the reason we’ve put this centre together” — and also to have a succession plan. “We often rely on researchers who are coming towards the end of their careers. We have to ensure we have younger people coming through. “Internationally, the number of seed research and extension experts is falling, so part of the centre’s focus will be on providing long term funding to support existing research groups and on encouraging and nurturing new talent.” That doesn’t mean a halt to training overseas students, which has been important to NZ institutions when funding for training is tight in many countries. “But we want to invest in people who will stay here and be part of our industry, rather than go back to working on seed species we don’t grow in New Zealand, or go back overseas.” As well as being a big export earner for New Zealand, the seed crop industry can also provide a very profitable addition to arable farming rotations. Mr Lawrie says that while FAR and industry have invested substantially in seed research over the years, it has been hard to meet the needs of the entire industry. “SIRC will be funded through existing farmer levies and from contributions from the member seed companies and research organisations. Together, these funds will be invested in non-proprietary seed research right across the value chain. “New Zealand has a relatively small agricultural economy but with all the seed industry players together under one tent, we’ll get more traction and we’ll build critical mass.” There won’t be a fancy head office. SIRC is a virtual centre which, rather than employing staff, will initially be run using existing administrative structures within

CULTIVATING JOBS ■ A report by economic consultants BERL on the impact of arable production in NZ in 2015 found the overall value of seed sales (92,765 tonnes produced) was $203 million. ■ The industry added $207.4m to GDP ($66.1m in sales, and another $155.4m in indirect impacts — packaging, conditioning, freight, re-export, etc). ■ The seed industry provided 2719 fulltime equivalent jobs.

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We often rely on researchers who are coming towards the end of their careers. We have to ensure we have younger people coming through. FAR and participating organisations. Each organisation has nominated a technical representative to discuss priorities, and research will be contracted out to the most appropriate groups in order to keep overheads to a minimum. FAR’s 2017/18 herbage and vegetable seed research projects will be incorporated. The initial four governance board members to be appointed are: David Birkett (FAR), Nick Pyke (FAR), David Green (NZPBRA) and Barry McCarter (NZGSTA); a fifth independent board member will also be appointed.

Significant gains

The board had its first meeting last August to sort out administration and governance issues and the technical group, comprising representatives of each company and organisation in SIRC, met in midSeptember to run through topics as varied as herbage, grass and vege seed production, pest and diseases, and emerging biosecurity issues. On the back of good access to water and a temperate climate, plus sustained progress on new technologies, New Zealand has enjoyed significant gains in yield — particularly in ryegrass — over the last few years. “Nowadays yields of 2.5-3 tonnes per hectare are achievable but quality is crucial too. We don’t just want to be growing more quantity for the sake of quality alone.” We’ve build up in-depth understanding of the integration of growth regulators, fertiliser and irrigation. “The next step is to transfer that sort of knowledge to other species — bearing in mind New Zealand doesn’t always have control over the genetics of seed production. “Especially with vegetable seeds, we’re

catering for the needs of other markets.” SIRC intends maintaining a close watch on changing demand. “We have to be vigilant as to what future pasture might look like. There is a whole range of new species that are emerging and need to be addressed.” SIRC won’t develop new varieties; that’s the role of the independent seed company and will be their proprietary development. “Our focus is more around production:

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10

National Farming Review

October 2017

www.fedfarm.org.nz Ph 0800 327 646

NFR:

WATER QUALITY

RIVER SENTINEL

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Pledges kick-start next phase for RiverWatch Whatever the make-up of the Government after special votes are counted and a coalition deal is put together, the pressure to clean-up waterways won’t change. Wairarapa farmer Grant Muir believes he has a tool that will make the measurement side of that task easier and more cost-effective

By: SIMON EDWARDS

FOUNDER: Water Action Initiative NZ founder Grant Muir with the Wi-Fi enabled RiverWatch water quality testing unit.

R

IVERWATCH launched a PledgeMe campaign on August 9 to raise funds to get the award-winning water quality tester to the next stage of development. That the $50,000 target was met inside five weeks probably says quite a bit about its potential. The solar-powered, Wi-Fi enabled floating sensor unit can house up to seven interchangeable probes to measure water quality over a sustained period. The founders of Water Action Initiative (WAI) NZ, Wairarapa farmer Grant Muir and his biologist son James, developed the device in conjunction with Victoria University and believe it can be released on the market for $2500. That’s just 10-20 per cent of the cost of current single test methods. It took out the WWF Conservation Innovation Award in 2016 and was a finalist in the Wellington Gold Awards. “If we can build this with a group of third year students at Victoria University, imagine what we can make if they give us a couple of decent electronics and software people and a bit of funding,” Mr Muir told the PledgeMe launch event in Wellington. With the $50,000 of pledges, WAI NZ intends making and distributing 10 RiverWatch units to council, iwi, conservation and farmer users in different parts of the country for beta testing. With Callaghan Innovation recently coming on board to help fine-tune design of the units, including a new sturdy aluminium casing, and with interest from corporates and iwi entities percolating

confident more cost-effective sensors will emerge in the next 12-18 months from China, which also has problems with nitrates and phosphates in waterways.

Testing inadequate

nicely, Mr Muir hopes roll-out of production and sales could happen as early as March next year. Currently the RiverWatch unit can house sensors to measure water turbidity

(murkiness), temperature, dissolved oxygen levels, pH and conductivity. Mr Muir said his team is collaborating with ESR to develop an E.coli probe and is doing more research into nitrate and phosphate testing.

Current quality nitrate probes from Germany rely on optic sensors and cost $15,000. Mr Muir said they don’t work well here because our rivers have 10 times the sedimentation of the global average. The WAI NZ team is

He is scathing of current testing here. Of the 450,000 kilometres of rivers and streams in New Zealand, there is water quality data for only 8 per cent. “A lot of that is only flow rates or temperature. For probably only 1 per cent would we have anything like the full array of measures, like dissolved oxygen and so on. “If the country as a whole wants to get on top of the water management crisis, we need to start measuring and accumulating that data.” Mr Muir said the current practice of regional councils sending out a staff member with a wand and meter to do a test is not only expensive – a cost ultimately borne by farmers and other property owners – it’s also not “robust” scientifically because it will only give a measure at a given point in time. The floating RiverWatch takes measurements every five or 10 minutes, 24/7. The data is downloaded to a memory chip in the device, and it can also be connected by Wi-Fi to a phone or iPad. “We have a phone app that has been developed in Android, but not yet licensed, and will also be

Continued on P11 ➽

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NFR:

October 2017 National Farming Review

11

WATER QUALITY

RiverWatch can be tool to demonstrate cleaner waterways SHMAK update, app are on the way NIWA is working with a range of stakeholders, including farmers, on updating its Stream Health Monitoring and Assessment Kit (SHMAK). Also on the way is an app that will allow farmers, ‘citizen scientist’ groups, councils and others to upload monitoring data from mobile devices to a purpose-built public website providing real-time, userfriendly information about the state of a waterway, including for swimming. NIWA released the first version of SHMAK well over a decade ago in partnership with Federated Farmers of New Zealand. It has been promoted by the NZ Landcare Trust and is widely used in rural communities, including for checking improvements in stream and river health following riparian plantings and the like. As NIWA freshwater

ecologist Dr Richard Storey points out, technology has moved on rapidly since SHMAK’s launch. “Monitoring data is most useful if it’s in the same format, and feeding into the same place. “We’ve formed a national advisory group and a working group. We want [the app and updated monitoring kit] to be as useful and user-friendly as possible for a wide range of people so we’re proceeding cautiously and spending some time developing relationships.” Users will get the chance to offer feedback on whether the new SHMAK and the app that will link the readings collected to the database are “fit for purpose”. “It may end up that we have slightly different versions for different end users.” At this stage roll-out of the new developments is planned for mid-2018.

➽ From P10 developed for IOS and Windows phones. It will interpret the data for you; instead of a line of figures it will show it to you in graphic format so you can see exactly what is happening in the water.” Data can be downloaded to WAI NZ’s website, with GPS tagging so the location is clear to everyone. The intention is that the data be open source, but Mr Muir said if farmers buy the unit themselves, it’s their proprietary data to share or not. They might rent units from the regional council, and share it with them as part of compliance regimes.

Major benefit

A major benefit is that RiverWatch can be deployed in isolated areas with no cellphone coverage and left to do its job for weeks. With low wave radio technology, which relies on line of sight, the data can be bounced from one ridge to another until it reaches a station with internet or cellular coverage. WAI NZ and Grant and James Muir were behind the RiverDogs documentary film on water pollution in the Wairarapa that ruffled some feathers among farmers. But at the PledgeMe launch Grant Muir said that

I used to think it was our farmers but it’s not. Some of the worst pollution is happening right under our nose [in our cities]. while there were certainly plenty of farmers who needed to lift their environmental game, “you know where it’s worst? In our cities. I used to think it was our farmers but it’s not. Some of the worst pollution is happening right under our nose. There are major problems in Manukau Harbour, with heavy metals, E.coli and sewage. Porirua Harbour is a cesspool, an absolute cesspool.” The only reason he could think of why government isn’t currently funding development of RiverWatch is that they’re ashamed of the data that would be gathered. Mr Muir said there are plenty of farmers who would welcome a low-cost, easy to use and scientifically robust device they could use to prove or improve the sustainability work they already do. “There’s a lot of discussion about this in the farming

community and what really gets the goat of a lot of guys is that they spend $50,000 fencing and riparian planting but the guy upstream doesn’t spend a cent.” Deploying a RiverWatch sensor on the upstream boundary, and downstream, will provide evidence of the effectiveness of environmental actions for Farm Management Plans, etc. “It’s testing water but it also leads into other monitors that will be going into farms in the next 10 years. Expect a dramatic shift towards technology — collecting data on soil temperature, soil moisture, fertiliser application, dry matter in grass . . .” Add in real-time water testing data and the farmer has a full picture of inputs and outputs. “Those data sets will enable farmers to build a great model, reduce input costs and improve margins.”


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14

National Farming Review

October 2017

www.fedfarm.org.nz Ph 0800 327 646

NFR:

ENVIRONMENT

DRUMMING UP RECYCLING

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

Agrecovery working hard to close participation gap

By: SIMON EDWARDS

L

AST YEAR the equivalent of 40 per cent of agrichemical drums and containers put out in the New Zealand market annually were collected and recycled via Agrecovery. That might sound pretty good but we’re behind other countries on this, says Agrecovery general manager Simon Andrew. “Others with regulatory systems similar to ours, such as Australia and Canada, are up around 60 per cent.” Agrecovery has a busy programme ahead as it looks to close that gap, including a trial of pop-up collection events for a wide range of farming-related recyclables, and advocacy efforts to get certain companies and provinces that are laggards on the recycling front to lift their game. The Agrecovery Foundation is a not-for-profit charitable trust established in 2006. One of its seven trustee member organisations is Federated Farmers. Its launch was spurred by growing acceptance that historical practices of burning or burying unused agri-chemicals and empty containers were no longer acceptable. Now, over 60 suppliers of agrichemicals, animal health and dairy hygiene products voluntarily fund Agrecovery, with manufacturers and consumers picking up the cost of a levy on all products sold. Last month Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson re-accredited Agrecovery’s nationwide product stewardship scheme for another seven years under the Waste Minimisation Act. Drums and containers are

IN ACTION: Those who attended a ceremony in Auckland in September to present reaccreditation credentials to Agrecovery’s product stewardship scheme go to see one of the foundation’s two mobile plastic shredders in action. collected by Envirowaste Services Ltd and reprocessed into new products by Astron Plastics, such as covers for underground cables. Another potential use as damp proof course (the layer of waterproof material in the wall of a building near the ground, to prevent rising damp) is being investigated, Mr Andrew says. “It’s a closed-loop solution. It’s all handled in New Zealand.” Mr Simpson noted that by providing an alternative to disposing of waste on farm,

It’s a closed-loop solution. It’s all handled in New Zealand.

Agrecovery is preventing harmful environmental impacts associated with farm burning and burial, such as the leaching of chemicals into waterways and the escape of hazardous dioxins into the atmosphere. “Agrecovery also collects and appropriately disposes of unwanted agrichemicals, some of which could cause significant harm to ecosystems were they to enter the food chain. In this way, the scheme also helps New Zealand meet its international environmental obligations on reducing and, where feasible, ultimately eliminating the release of dioxins.” There are notable exceptions among participating agrichemical firms, including Agpro.

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Mr Andrew says “getting all nonparticipating brands across the line is a big one for us”. It’s tricky with Agpro in particular as that firm makes a broad range of agrichemicals and markets direct to farmers. Given that a number of waste plastic and chemical drop-off points are retailers – such as Farmlands, Wrightsons, FarmSource and Rural Co – “quite naturally Agpro don’t particularly want their clients talking to [competing sellers]”. “What I will say is that we remind all of our collection sites at retail that Agrecovery is competitively neutral. If someone turns up who is a customer of a competing retailer, that’s not an invitation to market to them.”

By the same token, Agrecovery doesn’t handle the drums and chemicals of firms that don’t sign up to the stewardship scheme/pay the levy. “That would be unfair to those who do pay.” Another target for greater involvement is Fonterra. “The likes of Miraka and Sinlait audit and give bonuses on social and environmental aspects such as recycling; if we could get Fonterra to do the same, that would be brilliant. And getting others into the programme would enable far greater participation by the dairy sector.” When farmers take product to Agrecovery for recycling, they are

Continued on P15 ➽


Ph 0800 327 646 www.fedfarm.org.nz

15

ENVIRONMENT

Drumming IN BRIEF up recycling

Beef cattle herd grows

Herbage Seedgrowers elections

➽ From P14 given a form detailing what is returned, so they have a history of all the recycling they’ve done. That can be useful in terms of Farm Environment Management Plans and the like, and the trend is towards domestic and international consumers demanding to see evidence of strong environmental stewardship. Mr Andrew says the other factor in boosting participation in the scheme is the efficiency of Agrecovery’s programme. They already have close to 80 drop-off points around the country, and also do on-farm collections. “But there is plenty of room for improvement. For example, if you’re a farmer in Greytown currently you have to drive to Masterton to a drop-off point. It’s only open once a month and it’s an hour’s round trip.” Horizontal integration of waste streams is the end goal. “When it comes to waste, farmers would prefer to deal with one person — whether it’s silage wrap, paint, vet syringes, ag-chemicals, plastic. They don’t want to deal with four or five companies to sort the problem. Eventually, Agrecovery wants to be that solution.” In April, in conjunction with Environment Canterbury and funded by the Ministry for the Environment, Agrecovery will trial two pop-up collection events in Matamata and Geraldine where farmers will be able to bring in a whole range of materials for recycling. Another option being investigated is contracting rural schools to go out and recover farm plastics or hold collection events, in return for the rebate that recyclers pay Agrecovery. “It wouldn’t be huge money, but enough to buy netball uniforms, a bus shelter, some laptops — that sort of thing.”

Triple rinse to keep costs down Agrecovery’s recycling services are free to those who bring in plastic containers and unused agrichemicals, but there is one important obligation — to triple rinse the drums and containers. “I know it’s a bit of a hassle,” Simon Andrew says, “but it’s far easier to deal with any residue in a container on-farm once you are finished with it. Most spraying equipment has rinsing technology on it.” If containers with residues are brought to a collection site, the safety of sorters and transporters is compromised, it adds significant handling costs to the whole process. “An agri-chemical container that has been triple-rinsed is not considered a ‘dangerous good’ in terms of transport. “In one North Island town, for example, we store returned drums and contains in a 40ft container at Farmlands. Recently, a driver had to leave behind 300 containers because they weren’t rinsed. “The driver said the floor of the shipping container was as slippery as walking on ice. We had to get ChemWaste in to deal with it. “Keep in mind that (collection points) like Farmlands do it on a voluntary basis; they’re not making any money from it.”

the North Island, while South Island numbers dropped 1.1 per cent to 9.1 million. The decrease in the North Island reflects residual effects of last year’s facial eczema outbreak.

Seedgrowers Subsection, PO Box 20448, Bishopdale, Christchurch 8543.

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Beef + Lamb New Zealand says during the past year, New Zealand’s beef cattle herd increased by 2.8 per cent — to 3.6 million head — while the decline in the sheep flock slowed sharply as sheep numbers recovered in key regions after drought and other challenges. The annual stock number highlights the continued growth in beef production, as farmers move towards livestock that are less labour-intensive and currently more profitable. The largest contributor to the increase was a 5 per cent lift in weaner cattle numbers, reflecting the high cost of buying older cattle as replacements, and good grass availability. Ewe numbers decreased 2.6 per cent to 8.7 million in

Nominations are called to fill vacancies in the South Canterbury and North Canterbury wards of the Herbage Seedgrowers Subsection of Federated Farmers, resulting from the rotational retirement of sitting members on Tuesday, November 7. If you are interested in filling these positions, nomination forms are available by emailing prawlinson@fedfarm.org.nz. Nomination forms must be in the hands of the Herbage Seedgrowers Subsection by 4pm Monday, November 6 by email (prawlinson@fedfarm.org.nz) or post: Herbage

Work has started on a new centre to showcase the best of the primary sector in the heart of Auckland. Mt Albert Grammar School’s farm, established in 1932, will be transformed into a centre of primary sector excellence showing urban Kiwis the best technology, innovation, practices and research in New Zealand and the world. Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said the AgriFood Experience Centre will highlight the wide range of careers in the primary sector and create new connections in our biggest city.

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October 2017 National Farming Review


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National Farming Review

October 2017

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WCO RESISTED

HAWKE’S BAY

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Farmers, economic progress sold down the river Recreation is something farmers recognise as a legitimate activity and we participate ourselves. It is not under threat from being banned or even limited in the river, so why is there a perceived need for a WCO?

By: RHEA DASENT

F

EDERATED FARMERS is opposing a Water Conservation Order for the Ngaruroro and Clive rivers in the Hastings district of Hawke’s Bay. The WCO has been proposed by a group of five applicants: Fish & Game, Forest & Bird, Ngati Hori Kohupatiki Marae, Jet Boating NZ and Whitewater NZ. While it is disappointing that the applicants are attempting to circumvent a well-supported community collaboration effort (TANK, which uses the first letters of four rivers being focused on), the Special Tribunal can’t take this into account when making their decision. The Special Tribunal has to base its decision on factors outlined in the RMA, and the fact that a plan change for this catchment was in the pipeline is not one of them. However, one of the factors the decision can be based on is whether the values in the catchment are outstanding. The application claims there are outstanding values that need protection, including habitat, ecological and recreational. But Federated Farmers submitted that none of the values identified set this river catchment apart from others in New Zealand, nor justify a WCO. A report shows there are 26 species of fish and koura, including flounder, eels, kahawai and various types of bully, and four introduced species. The total number of species was padded out with four unidentified “species” for good measure. Most

AFFECTED: Rhea Dasent, on land in the catchment that would be affected if a Water Conservation Order is granted. species have a conservation status of ‘not threatened’ or ‘at risk/declining’. One species, the mosquito fish, is noted to be a pest. The conservation status not threatened is the least concerning category in the New Zealand Threat Classification System, and is described by the Department of Conservation

website as being for “populations that are sufficiently large and stable that there is little concern about their future”. The status ‘at risk/declining’ is described as being “population declining but still common”. Federated Farmers submitted that these are not outstanding fish values, if these species present in the catchment are

common and abundant around the country. Habitat values were also claimed to be ‘outstanding’. The applicant notes that braided rivers are common in the South Island, but are ‘becoming rare’ in the North Island. Federated Farmers is not sure what the applicant means by saying braided rivers in the North Island are ‘becoming rare’, as if the rivers are disappearing completely off the map. But braided rivers occur in every district in the South Island (except Dunedin and Clutha) and in five districts (Hastings, Central Hawke’s Bay, Rangitikei, Manawatu and Kapiti Coast) and two city authorities (Napier and Palmerston North) in the North Island, radiating off the main axial ranges. This does not look like braided rivers are rare on a national basis, nor on a North Island basis. Nor has the applicant proved that recreational values are ‘outstanding’. The Mohaka River in Hawke’s Bay has been found to have outstanding trout fishery and amenity for water sports, and a Water Conservation Order was granted for this river in 2004. The recreational values in the Ngaruroro River are not outstanding even on a regional basis, let alone on a national basis. I can hear the jet boats from my farm, mainly on Sundays. I’ve also cast a line in the river and

been swimming myself. Recreation is something farmers recognise as a legitimate activity and we participate ourselves. It is not under threat from being banned or even limited in the river, so why is there a perceived need for a WCO? There are about 850 farms within the Ngaruroro and Clive River catchment, which are overwhelmingly drystock. Many of these have been farmed for generations and their produce is enjoyed in homes and restaurants around the country and internationally. A plan change for this catchment was in the chute and due to come out in December, so it’s not as if this river was being ignored. A plan change allows everyone — from a farmer up by the ranges to an angler casting line at the mouth of the river — to participate and say what they value. Values can then be balanced so sustainable management is reached, including the farming values that put food on the family table. Some of the WCO applicants had even been sitting around the table working on the plan change alongside farmers, growers and other community representatives. However, the fact they were preparing an alternative means they have sold collaboration as a concept down the river. ■ Rhea Dasent is a Senior Policy Adviser for Federated Farmers.


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DAIRY

DAIRY REFRESH

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Six key themes to industry strategy update

By MICHAEL SPAANS, Chairman of DairyNZ and the Strategy Steering Group

A

S I WRITE this, the arm wrestle over potential coalition deals has not been settled. While we don’t yet know the shape of our government for the next term, regardless of the outcome, it will at least provide some clarity for what the future holds for us in the dairy sector. Successful dairy farming relies on an approach that spans much longer than a three-year political term and for the past year we have been working on refreshing the Dairy Sector Strategy that was launched in 2013. While the majority of the content remains the same, the direction of change on some topics has moved at a pace that most of us couldn’t have predicted four years ago. In response, it was decided that a refresh must be completed to ensure that our direction as a sector remains on track and responsive to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Building on the work completed four years ago, we have set out to engage a wide range of stakeholders and farmers in the formation of this refresh. At workshops, in online forums and through sector bodies and meetings it is clear that while there are many challenges ahead the majority are not unique to dairy. And while many of the discussions have been ‘robust’, there is overwhelming support for dairy to remain a successful part of the New Zealand economy and communities. Recently, we have been talking with farmers across the country about what they see as the priorities for the sector and where they want to see focus and leadership. It wouldn’t be a surprise to you that our dairy farmers share the same urgency and commitment to the topics as our stakeholders. The farmer workshop discussions have been wideranging, with discussions on subjects from the future of food through to the future of the workplace and the sustainability of our rural communities. What has been striking is the consistency of topics in the discussions and the consistency in suggested focus points to make progress. Emerging in the strategy refresh are six key themes that, although of no surprise to those in the sector, will provide goals that are an evolution of what we have focused on in the past. The themes of environment, animal welfare, workforce, our communities, global competitiveness, and consumers will all form the backbone of our new strategy. The strategy refresh is due to be

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launched later this year and will seek to balance the demands of being competitive and profitable with the rising expectations of our consumers and communities. As I said earlier, many of the topics — such as our workforce — are not unique to dairy and progress will depend as much on partnerships and collaboration with other sectors than it will on the efforts of dairy alone. As one participant eloquently stated in a workshop “this can’t be a lonely strategy” and they’re right. Dairy farmers want to be proud of their work and contribution to

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National Farming Review

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TECHNOLOGY

PRECISELY SOW

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Precision practice zones in on savings By: SIMON EDWARDS

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HE International Precision Agriculture Triconference in Hamilton this month will involve more than 20 expert speakers from all parts of the globe, but it would be a mistake for local farmers to write it off as being only for scientists and tech-heads. Craige Mackenzie, who chairs the Precision Agriculture Association New Zealand, says plenty of sessions will take in a farmers’ practical perspective. “It’s a great opportunity to come and glean some information, ask questions, and figure out where you could start in PA if you haven’t done anything to date.” The October 16-18 event includes the 7th Asian-Australian Conference on Precision Agriculture, an inaugural conference on Precision Pastures and Livestock Farming and sessions on the ‘Digital Farmer’. All sections will end with panel discussions with a practical focus and Craige says the digital future farming discussions in particular will be “mostly farmers talking to farmers, growers talking to growers”. An early convert to the value of using technology to streamline farming efficiency, his own career and success underlines how transformative — both financially and environmentally — precision agriculture can be. Craige and his wife Roz own and run a 200ha arable cropping property near Methven, are partners in a 1150 cow dairy farm nearby and also run PA solutions specialist company Agri Optics NZ Ltd. Capping a list of earlier awards and industry acknowledgments, the Mackenzies won the Supreme title in the Ballance Farm Environmental Awards in 2013, with judges describing them as a “progressive couple . . . (who) utilise state of the art technology to maximise production in a

That’s the key for farmers today, we’ve got to find as many things that work for us financially while looking after the environment.

NEW PRACTICES: A swag of new data-driven farming practices are coming down the line. sustainable manner”. “We were always trying to do the best we could with what we had but a Nuffield Scholarship (in 2008, leading to publication of a paper ‘Understanding the Farming Footprint in Farming Systems’) opened my eyes to what was going on in the rest of the world,” Craige says. “We brought techniques, knowledge and thought processes back into the business and it certainly accelerated the journey we were already on. “Precision agriculture is a tool for us. It’s not the whole decisionmaking process but it has certainly taken us to a completely different level, both financially

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and environmentally.” Ask Craige how many Kiwi farmers are using PA techniques and he’ll reply that it comes down to how you define it. “If you’re doing things like measuring production per cow, you’re doing it. I would have said probably 40-50 per cent are into it one way or another. “Stepping into that higher level, when you’re doing things like grid soil sampling, variable rate irrigation, soil moisture monitoring . . . it’s certainly an increasing trend. We’ve seen quite a large increase in pick-up in the last 12-18 months.” These days shrinking agriculture’s environmental

footprint is as important as boosting the bottom line. “That’s the thing with PA, if you’re a greenie, you can say ‘this stuff fits’. If you’re focused on profit and production, it also fits. “That’s the key for farmers today, we’ve got to find as many things that work for us financially while looking after the environment,” Craige says. “I think farmers own up to the responsibility we need to be better than we are . . . just as people in the cities have challenges too. Whatever happens with the next government, the pressure is on.” Asked for examples of where PA can help, Craige says across all farming/growing sectors, savings

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on fertiliser gets a tick from the accountants and environmentalists. “Whether it’s organic, biological or conventional farming, if you can save 30 per cent of your fertiliser because you’re only putting it where it needs to be — not in drains, not in trees, but only the zones where it’s required — that’s a helluva good story for every farmer. “There’s a real opportunity for fertility to be managed better: the knowledge and systems are there, and the technology is better than ever.” Craige says big advances are also available in the telemetry space; “Lower-Power Wide-Access is going to be a game-changer, with more and more sensors and connectivity.” While the ROI (return on investment) can be huge when a farmer puts significant money into technology — “variable rate irrigation has given us a massive ROI” — it’s a fallacy that utilising PA techniques is automatically expensive. A sheep and beef farmer on hill country who does some basic zone sampling and redirects fertiliser application can make significant savings. “It’s the same in dairy and cropping. All you need is an attitude of ‘I want to do this’, and then enough systems in place, contractors and some professional advice to get you on the bus, get you started and then you can make the call from there. “Investing in the knowledge is the first thing and that doesn’t cost you anything.”

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October 2017 National Farming Review

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PEST CONTROL

MARSUPIAL MENACE

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Otago pest plan to put wallabies on the hop

HE Otago Regional Council has wallabies firmly in its sights. The marsupial pests have long been a scourge to landowners in the Timaru and Waimate district of South Canterbury but they have hopped the Waitaki River, with a growing number of sightings in North and Central Otago in the last few years. A Ministry of Primary Industries report in 2016 put the annual cost of wallaby eradication at about $23 million (the smaller Dama wallaby is also to be found around Lake Tarawera and Rotorua in the North Island), and stated this could balloon to $67m in a decade without action. Federated Farmers High Country policy adviser Bob Douglas said that, while the RedNecked or Bennett’s wallabies in the South Island weren’t as prolific as rabbits, “you certainly wouldn’t want too many of them together to build

DELIBERATE? There is concern that wallabies have been deliberately released south of the Waitaki River.

up to those populations”. Spurred by farmers’ concerns about potential damage to grassland, the Otago Regional Council said in its 2017 Annual Plan it was working with Environment Canterbury, community groups and pest companies to assist in preventing a wallaby population from establishing in the region. The stated aim is to eradicate rather than just control wallabies in Otago. Federated Farmers’ Dunedinbased senior policy adviser David Cooper said the ORC has set aside funding for a review of the Pest Management Strategy, with a draft due to be notified by March 1 next year. “The current regulatory situation is that landowners are responsible for controlling any wallabies on their own properties” David said. “However, that is proving difficult/inequitable because some wallabies are potentially being purposefully released, and

the benefits of control of a reasonably new pest like wallabies are of a value which extends beyond the immediately impacted landowner,” David said. The regional council has also budgeted $274,000 from general rates in the current financial year for monitoring wallaby movements. Meanwhile, Environment Canterbury targeted Wallabies in the Mackenzie district with a campaign in August and September. For the first two rounds, ‘bliss ball’ nut treats were left in remote hill country sites; for the third round the bliss balls were a potent mix of peanut butter and cyanide. Both councils are concerned people are deliberately capturing and moving wallabies, for pets or hunting purposes. Capturing, holding or removing wallabies from designated containment areas is illegal, and those prosecuted can be liable for hefty fines.

Tap into that enthusiasm — enter the 2018 NZ Dairy Industry Awards By: ANN THOMPSON, Federated Farmers Dairy Policy Adviser It has been a very tough, wet year for most dairy farmers across New Zealand. However, with calving finished and mating under way, now’s the time to think about getting back that passion for producing milk and looking after cows every day. The best way to do this is to enter the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards. Those who enter into the top category, Share Farmer of the

Year, are judged on all aspects of the farm because they run the farm. It includes scrutiny of their staff management and environmental policies as well as their pasture management and animal husbandry skills. Those who enter into the Dairy Manager of the Year category are judged on those aspects of the business they have control over as well as choosing a topic to present to the judges. The Dairy Trainee of the Year entrants will be expected to show off their practical skills as well as being interviewed on their knowledge by the judges. Federated Farmers has always supported these competitions, and given we started it all off with the Sharemilker of the Year competition in Taranaki in the

WINNERS: The NZDIA 2017 Federated Farmers Leadership Award winners, Jon and Vicki Nicholls, with William Rolleston 1970s, it’s not surprising. That it became a national competition in 1990 and with other categories

by 2006 is a bonus. Federated Farmers’ role in the agriculture industry is as a

lobbying organisation to get the best outcome for farmers and NZ Inc. To be successful we need farmers who are skilled in this art. To achieve this Federated Farmers awards the Federated Farmers Leadership Merit Award at both the regional and national level of these Awards. One last thing — these competitions are great for business, whether you are the one doing the competing or you own the farm where all this is going on. Entries are open between October 20 and November 30 and those entering before November 10 will be eligible for a substantial early bird cash prize. See the NZDIA website https:/ /www.dairyindustryawards.co. nz/ for more information and to enter.

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National Farming Review

October 2017

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SAFETY

REMOVING RISK

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Safety decisions on farm vehicle use critical every time WorkSafe New Zealand Chief Executive NICOLE ROSIE looks at managing risks around vehicle use on the farm

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KNOW quad bikes are an integral part of farming in New Zealand as my own family uses them, but it is time to challenge whether that should be so. Farm vehicles, including quad bikes and tractors, account for 80 per cent of all agricultural workplace deaths in any one year. An average of five people die each year in quad bike accidents. Many of these incidents involve older and more experienced riders/drivers, with male farmers and owners often dying. This is absolutely devastating for families and friends, and often catastrophic for family businesses. The continuing high injury and fatality statistics suggest not enough consideration is given to how dangerous working with

farm vehicles is. Human errors are inevitable from time to time and this is when serious injuries and fatalities happen. Recent research has shown that traditional methods of managing health and safety don’t work when dealing with critical risks like quad bikes, or working at heights. The research is saying in these cases you need to plan for the human error. For example, using scaffolds for working at heights or safer vehicles such as side-by-sides which have roll bars. To reduce the injuries and deaths from using quads in agriculture we need to focus more on higher end controls. These are the ways to remove risks to people to start with. This is when we look at the viability of options to eliminate or substitute risks, such as side-bysides, as well as ways to engineer the risks out. For example, by looking at reducing the number of or areas quad bikes are used on a farm, putting on roll bars or changing to a safer vehicle. The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) requires farmers to manage their own risks as they are better placed to know what these are, and how best to deal with them. It also makes it clear businesses must do this to ensure people are not harmed. Over the past couple of years,

CARBON LOCKUP

1 tree

=

1 sheep

Planting forests is a simple and effective way to offset greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, while at the same time creating a financial investment for the future. Trees take surplus carbon out of the atmosphere and turn it in to wood. Just one 20 year old Pinus radiata tree will lock up all the carbon a single sheep will have emitted in its entire lifetime. One tree would also lock up all the carbon emitted by one beef animal in one year and 1.5 trees will capture a dairy cow’s emissions in one year. New Zealand foresters plant more than 50 million trees a year.

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large organisations such as Landcorp, Department of Conservation, Dairy NZ and Fonterra have decided to replace their quad bike fleets with side-byside vehicles or other alternative approaches to managing quad bike use. For those considering quad bike alternatives, the key is whether the options are an effective way of managing risks. I accept that simply swapping quad bikes for alternative vehicles such as side-by-sides may introduce new and different risks. We have had two deaths from sideby-sides in the last year. However, in both cases, the drivers were not wearing seatbelts and we are advised that if they had they would have had a better chance of surviving. Our Australian counterparts, who have been shifting to side-by-sides, advise that from their experience they are safer if used correctly. WorkSafe has been looking at areas where there is potential to reduce farm vehicle fatalities and injuries, including: ■ Australian regulators’ subsidy programmes to reduce high quad bike fatality and injury stats, to see what elements could work in the New Zealand context ■ Considering Australian research on children on quads ■ More recently we have been assessing a range of studies on rollover protection devices as a means to engineer the crushing risk out. However, research conclusions differ. We are in the initial stages of establishing a think tank with industry to understand how we can be most effective in reducing vehicle-related fatalities and injuries on farms. Any progress will only come through working with farmers. Watch this space. Our previous campaigns have

focused on basic health and safety precautions such as: ■ Wearing a quadbike helmet ■ Training staff to competently use the vehicle they will be operating ■ Carrying out preventative maintenance ■ Preparing farm maps and designating no-go areas. Many farmers are taking these messages on board, but we continue to have a high rate of death and severe injury. Experience won’t prevent incidents. More than 50 per cent of people involved in quad bike fatalities are 55 years old and over and are experienced. While helmets reduce the risk of serious injury we know that many quad bike deaths are as a result of vehicle roll over, including being trapped under the bike. Finally, I would like to end by reinforcing WorkSafe’s opinion about kids riding quadbikes in workplaces. Last month another rural family and community lost a child in a quad bike incident. It wasn’t a workplace death, so WorkSafe isn’t investigating. But the death registered with me, as a mother of four, and many of our people who come from farms. Our position is that children should not ride adult quad bikes. They are at much greater risk because their cognitive or physical skills are not fully developed, and they do not have an appreciation of risk to be able to ride safely. The challenge with farm injuries is to manage the risks appropriately and to actively look at alternatives for activities that are inherently dangerous. This task is in your hands and is really important — your family and community are riding on it.

QUAD BIKES: Three farmers grapple with a quad bike to right a rider. Research suggests quad bike riders need to be aware of, and plan for, human error.


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October 2017 National Farming Review

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APICULTURE

POLLINATION ILLUMINATION

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Where would we ‘bee’ without Nature’s pollinators

Bee Aware Month is a month-long campaign in September co-ordinated by Apiculture New Zealand and designed to make Kiwis think about the honey bee and celebrate its vital role to our biodiversity and economy, writes HANNAH AMANTE

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HIS YEAR’s theme was all about shining a spotlight on the benefits bees provide through pollination. About $5 billion of our GDP can be attributed to intensive pollination of horticultural and specialty agricultural crops by bees. “New Zealanders recognise the importance of the pollination story, especially for its contribution to agriculture and horticulture,” says Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos. “During Bee Aware Month we encourage people in both urban and rural spaces to help bees do their job. “ Through the month, Apiculture New Zealand shared profiles of beekeepers who specialise in pollination services for crops. BeeBee clubs throughout the country held beginner beekeeping courses in September, which were open to all.

Sixteen councils and community groups participated in the Council Bee-Friendly Garden Challenge. Apiculture New Zealand sent them packets of wildflower seeds from Wild Forage that covered 50 square metres each. From pharmacies to gardening shops, retail outlets throughout New Zealand featured Bee Aware Month displays. Schools and communities participated with a flurry of their own activities. The first Bee Aware Month hashtag #beeawarenz17 successfully reached over 27,000 social media users.

Bees and seeds

Brian Leadley runs an arable farm in Canterbury growing a range of crops such as wheat, rye grass and spinach and other vegetables, along with red and white clover. He has had

permanent hives sited throughout the farm for 25 years. Leadley says using pollination services largely depends on good communication and a mutually beneficial relationship, with the beekeepers providing the hives. “We try to let them know what crops are in rotation and expect hives to be there,” he says. “And we need healthy bees so we make sure to provide good conditions on our farm. For example, we try and bring in plants that bring pollen and nectar to feed the bees a wee bit earlier than some of our crops.” Leadley says best practice in using chemical inputs on his farm involves being careful around timing so they don’t pose risk to the hives. “Some chemicals can be residual, so when we get to the flowering stage of crops, we don’t use those. As much as [bee loss] would be a huge loss for the

Farmers need to know what’s in their fertiliser Anders Crofoot, chairman of the Fertiliser Quality Council, says new Fertmark rules now require the complete auditing of enhanced fertiliser products. Recently we have seen an increase in the popularity of enhanced fertiliser products. Farmers and growers seem to be readily welcoming the availability of a new wave of sophisticated fertilisers such as controlledrelease, slow-release and stabilised-release nitrogen fertilisers. These advanced products can help reduce the loss of nitrogen to the atmosphere due to volatilisation, or slow the release of nitrogen to better match plant needs — and anything that can improve the availability of nitrogen in the soil is a real draw for fertiliser users. With straight urea products, knowing the nitrogen content alone should be sufficient. However, with these sophisticated fertilisers there is a need for extra testing to show that the nutrients really will be available over a period of time. As a result, the Fertmark Code of Practice has been amended. The new rules now stipulate that the principle nutrients, active ingredients and declared values of enhanced fertiliser products must now be independently

tested to meet Fertmark criteria. The Fertmark tick will not be awarded to enhanced fertiliser products unless the complete product has been verified. It is likely that we will see more and more of these types of augmented products come to market. The Fertmark verification process will, therefore, become increasingly important in preventing fertiliser companies from adapting an existing Fertmark-approved product and retaining the Fertmark tick. Instead, fertiliser companies will be required to resubmit their altered products for full Fertmark testing, so that fertiliser users and spreading companies will know the full list of ingredients and quantities contained. It is, however, worth bearing in mind that some of these products may alter over time — and that storing some products over winter should be avoided since moisture could affect their performance.

beekeeper, it’s a huge loss for us as well.” Research organisation The Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) is linked to several projects on bee health and pollination, such as Trees for Bees New Zealand (www.treesforbeesnz.org). These projects are investigating which bee forage plant species are best for delivering large volumes of protein-rich pollen to keep bee colonies healthy and well fed outside peak crop pollination times and considering the role of a range of plant, insect and microbial species in supporting sustainable farm systems, particularly in relation to soil, water, weed and pest management. “Pollination is very important

for our levy payers, particularly those who grow seed crops like clover, oil seed rape and radish,” says Anna Heslop, FAR communications manager. “Successful pollination has a big impact on the amount of seed produced by a crop, and thus on grower incomes. “Cropping farmers are very aware of the important role that bees play in seed production and there is also a growing understanding of the importance of biodiversity generally,” says Heslop. “The vast majority of farmers do a very good job of ensuring that bees on their farms are well fed and safely managed.” ■ Go to www.treesforbees.org.nz.


22

National Farming Review October 2017

www.fedfarm.org.nz Ph 0800 327 646

NFR:

EMPLOYMENT

PATHS TO PERFORMANCE

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

We’ve ‘herd’ you’re having issues with staff during calving

D

IFFICULTIES with employees always seem to arise at the busiest times and, with spring calving under way, the Federated Farmers’ legal helpline (0800 FARMING) has been busy informing farmers on how to manage or discipline problem employees. With the start of the season in the not too distant past, and if the difficulties you face with your employee are significant, the first question to ask is, ‘is the employee subject to a 90-day trial period?’. A 90-day trial period will be validly in place if: ■ The employment contract contains an appropriate 90-day trial period clause; and ■ The employment contract is signed by the employee before they undertake any work (the employee can never have undertaken work for you in the past). If you are unhappy with an employee’s performance or behaviour, the fact that things are not going well should be discussed with the employee (informally) in the first instance. Ninety-day trial period dismissal should not typically come as a complete surprise. If improvement does not follow, an employee may be dismissed under the 90-day trial period clause, on five days’ notice. The Federated Farmers’ employment contracts provide that an employer can pay out the employee in lieu of notice. Employers do not need to give a written reason for the dismissal but should give an explanation at the time notice of dismissal is given. If the employee lives on farm and is subject to a service tenancy (included in Federated Farmers’ contracts), it is a good idea to, at the same time as giving notice of dismissal, notify (in writing) that they have 14 days to vacate the accommodation. An employee cannot bring a personal grievance in respect of a valid 90-day trial period dismissal, however they can still bring other

BE FAIR: Valid employee disciplinary action requires justification for the action and procedural fairness. types of grievances on grounds such as discrimination, harassment or unjustified disadvantage (so remember your good faith obligations). If the 90-day trial period does not apply, employers can take disciplinary action in respect of employees who are behaving badly. Valid disciplinary action requires justification for the action and procedural fairness. The process set out in the below example should be followed whenever disciplinary action is pursued. Employer (Fred) is becoming increasingly frustrated at employee (Dave) turning up late for work; yesterday he was two hours late for milking — which was extremely disruptive. Fred understands that where a potential disciplinary matter is to be addressed, action must be taken as soon as practicable

after the event. Letter setting out allegations 1 and facts relied on, potential serious and possible consequences, and calling to disciplinary meeting to discuss: Fred writes a letter to Dave setting out that yesterday he was required to be at the shed at 6am, but did not turn up until 8am — two hours late without contact. Fred noted that this unauthorised absence from duty was potentially misconduct, and could result in a written warning. Fred asked Dave to meet in two days’ time (48 hours’ notice is required) to provide an explanation of his behaviour. He noted in the letter that Dave was welcome to bring along a support person with him to the meeting. Meeting seeking explanation: 2 At the meeting, Fred reiterated that Dave’s lateness was disruptive to the business, and asked Dave for an

explanation. Dave explained that he forgot to set his alarm. Fred told Dave that he would consider his response, and come back to him with the disciplinary outcome (if any). Decision letter: 3 Fred considered Dave’s explanation overnight, and the next day wrote a letter to Dave indicating he did not regard Dave’s explanation as sufficient. The business required employees to be responsible and dependable, and to turn up to work on time. He noted that Dave turning up to work two hours late was unauthorised absence from duty, and that this was misconduct — and this letter was a written warning for that. The most important requirement of a disciplinary process is that employers must not make a decision as to outcome before allowing employees an opportunity to explain their

behaviour, and considering that explanation. If the process set out above is not followed, employers may face a risk that any disciplinary outcomes may be unjustified, and may found a basis for a personal grievance. Depending on the circumstances and the severity of the employee’s actions, the penalties for misconduct/serious misconduct may include: ■ A verbal warning ■ A written warning ■ A final written warning ■ Dismissal on notice ■ Dismissal without notice (for serious misconduct only) ■ The legal helpline team at Federated Farmers can talk you through pursuing disciplinary action and correctly invoking 90-day trial period dismissal, as well as broader employment law and legal assistance. Call 0800 FARMING.

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NFR:

October 2017 National Farming Review

23

CIVIL DEFENCE

MOBILE ALERTS

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

E

New emergency warning system is on the way

MERGENCY Mobile Alert is a new way for emergency agencies to broadcast emergency messages to mobile phones in an affected area if there is a serious threat to life, health or property. The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management, NZ Police, Fire and Emergency NZ, Ministry of Health, Ministry for Primary Industries, and Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups are the only agencies authorised to send an Emergency Mobile Alert.

How do they work?

Emergency Mobile Alert messages are broadcast via cell towers to mobile phones enabled to receive them. They can be targeted to specific areas affected by serious hazards. For a list of phones able to receive the alerts, visit www.civildefence.govt.nz. Emergency Mobile Alert uses

Stay safe, stay informed

a dedicated signal, so it’s not affected by network congestion. This can make the alerts more reliable in an emergency when mobile phone traffic or people accessing websites could overload the network. Emergency Mobile Alert uses the mobile networks of Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees.

How do you get the alerts?

If your phone is on, capable and

inside the targeted area, you should get the alerts. You don’t have to download an app or subscribe to a service. Emergency Mobile Alert is due to be available by the end of 2017. However, not all mobile phones will be able to get the Emergency Mobile Alerts at first. Check your phone is able to receive the alerts and ensure your phone is on the most up to date operating system.

The alerts are not intended to replace other alerting systems, or the need to take action after natural warnings. If you feel your life is in danger, don’t wait for an official warning. Take immediate action. If you don’t get cell coverage where you live, you should continue to get information about emergencies in the usual way — radio, online, via emergency services. National Farming Review and other Federated Farmers communications channels will run updates on the roll-out of Emergency Mobile Alerts. A national advertising campaign will also give people more information about the service.

This can make the alerts more reliable in an emergency when mobile phone traffic or people accessing websites could overload the network. In the meantime, visit www.civildefence.govt.nz for more information.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Why blaming farmers doesn’t hold water Water is being discussed across the country, but without solutions. Farmers are blamed, never townies, but look at this photo of polluted water entering the Waikato River just upstream of Fairfield Bridge, in September 2016. If a farmer did the same, they would be fined up to $50,000 and closed down until fixed. I’ve been told by a person that what looked like toilet paper was in some of it. Environment Waikato told me in 1995 that Hamilton needed four sediment ponds. There are still none while thousands have been built on farms at high cost. This is another example showing that rules for farmers are stricter than for townies. Waikato Regional Council has forced some farmers to build sediment ponds, but they are negatives because of high costs, and because fresh effluent is of more value and causes less polluting when spread fresh, not months later during which time much has been lost into the air, polluting it, and reduced its fertilising value. In wet weather the solution is to spread it more thinly, which some are doing, and not building sediment ponds. The Waikato River is now said to have a stagnant water problem, and I agree, but that is because the Waikato River water is not aerated when it leaves its nine hydro schemes. All countries I’ve researched aerate their used water and the surplus. NZ doesn’t. The many comments made over the years about pollution in the Waikato River always blame

the farmers, but very little is caused by them. Some accused dairy farmers for polluting Lake Taupo, so I asked those who complained how many dairy farms there were. Most said “about 50”. There are only five dairy farms, all obeying all the rules. The first pollution in Lake Taupo was from the hundreds of old septic tanks. Environment Waikato told me in 2001 that they had not been checked, and that the large volume of water in the lake dilutes any bad effects! Vaughan Jones, ONZM HAMILTON

Ambreed

CHANGE THE CHANNEL: Pollution in a Hamilton stream empties into the Waikato River. Farmers wouldn’t get away with this.

lownsires.co.nz Phil Beatson CRV Ambreed Head Geneticist


24

National Farming Review

October 2017

www.fedfarm.org.nz Ph 0800 327 646

NFR:

BIOSECURITY

READY TO RESPOND

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Seeking mandate to join biosecurity GIA

By: DAVID BURT, Federated Farmers Senior Industry Adviser

F

EDERATED Farmers considers that joining the Government Industry Agreements for Biosecurity Readiness and Response (GIA) is the right thing for the organisation and its farmer members to do. The GIA framework is made up of a Deed of Agreement which then progress to formal operational agreements for specific biosecurity threats (such as foot and mouth disease and Psa) or groups of pests or diseases that set out in greater detail the role of each party in readiness and response. The GIA framework is designed to deliver better biosecurity outcomes by using a partnership approach between government and industry. It involves shared decision-making around pre-agreed activities to prepare for and manage incursions of unwanted organisms should they occur. Operational agreements come at a cost to industry, with industry paying a share of the costs involved. The exact share would depend on a number of factors, such as the scale of the incursion and whether it has implications beyond the industry sector (or not). In any event the industry share is capped at maximum of 50 per cent and the total industry contribution can be capped by agreement with the Ministry for Primary Industries. Federated Farmers is not alone in viewing GIA as a very important part of New Zealand’s biosecurity system. As well as the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), GIA already has 16

DOGGED: The GIA framework is designed to deliver better biosecurity outcomes by sniffing our threats early, and using a partnership approach between government and industry to work out the optimum response. primary sector members, including the two livestock processing organisations — Meat Industry Association and the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ). After working with MPI for some time on GIA, the federation is joining other livestock sector organisations (Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Deer Industry New Zealand) on a coordinated but separate mandate seeking process from livestock farmers that will take place in November. Separately the Federated Farmers Arable industry group,

in concert with other arable sector bodies, is also embarking on a process to join GIA and will be contacting its members about this in due course. Livestock farmers will be provided, over the next two months, with the information needed to make informed decision(s) on the proposal(s) that will be put in front of them. Biosecurity is an important issue for farmers and will become even more so in future. It is therefore vital that farmers have their say on the proposals and provide feedback to their organisations on them.

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A key point of difference between the Federated Farmers proposal and the other livestock sector proposals is that the federation is seeking to sign the GIA Deed only. Federated Farmers believes that the livestock sector is best formally represented at an operational agreement level by industry good organisations who will be responsible for managing the majority of the industry funding. It is these bodies that would, as appropriate, represent sheep and beef cattle and dairy farmers on OA’s (eg. around foot and mouth disease) as

partnerships at this operational agreement level as significant sums of money may be required to pay for the industry share of the necessary readiness and response activities. These funds will come from levy income currently collected via the Commodity Levies Act or, if necessary, via a specific levy under the Biosecurity Act. While Federated Farmers will not be an OA signatory, it will use its substantial connections to farmers to work with other organisations and will continue to play an important role in readiness and response activities, exactly as we have been in the current M bovis and the recent velvetleaf and pea weevil incursions. The federation will also use its expertise, resources and pan-sector reach to contribute, as a member of the GIA Deed Governance group, to participate in work in the wider biosecurity area that is outside OA, such as strengthening New Zealand’s pre-border and border biosecurity systems. If the livestock sector organisations are successful in gaining mandate, farmers will have the strongest possible team (Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, Deer Industry New Zealand) representing them at the GIA table. Federated Farmers will be providing members with information about our GIA proposal through a range of channels, with the formal consultation process to take place from October 31 until December 6. If we are successful then an application to join GIA will be submitted to MPI as soon as possible. The federation encourages members to demonstrate their support for the proposal and welcomes feedback and questions on this important matter. ■ If you have questions on this topic, email dburt@fedfarm.org.nz or call David on 027 448 9170.


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October 2017 National Farming Review

27

WEATHER WATCH

PERSISTING DOWN

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Totally sodden, and then it rained again

RIGHT: If you take an average of all the weather maps for the period July 1- September 15, 2017, and subtract the usual weather map at this time of year, you end up with the weather map anomaly (difference from normal), shown at right. It clearly shows the abnormally low pressures observed over the Tasman Sea and New Zealand region during the last 2.5 months. Maps were created using the NOAA/ESRL Physical Sciences Division website www.esrl.noaa. gov/psd/.

LEFT: Rainfall accumulation plots for Hamilton. The average annual rainfall accumulation is shown in black, while the total for this year is in red (data from Jan 1 to Sept 20).

By: GEORGINA GRIFFITHS MetService Meteorologist Stormy weather maps

Winter and early spring weather has continued wet for farmers in many regions of New Zealand. An active Tasman Sea has been the main culprit (map, above) with frequent, and deeper than usual, low pressure systems spinning up over the Tasman Sea and shifting on to New Zealand. These have produced frequent northwesterlies over the North Island, but also an unusual number of wet easterly events for eastern regions of both islands.

Year’s worth of rain — already

Many locations in the upper North Island, and along the eastern South Island, have already received more than their usual annual quota of rainfall — at only nine months through the year! The extreme amount of rainfall seen in 2017 has, of course, resulted in significant problems with flooding, slips, pugging, and has exacerbated run-off during high intensity rainfall events. Figure 2a, 2b shows accumulated rainfall from selected farming areas. The table (top right) lists yearto-date rainfall totals at specific locations around New Zealand. The greater Bay of Plenty region, Waikato, Gisborne, and

Canterbury all stand out as the areas having received extreme rainfall amounts this year. At the time of writing (September 20), Tauranga, Te Puke, Hamilton, Gisborne, Rotorua, Taupo, Paraparaumu, Christchurch and Ashburton have all received more rain so far in 2017, than is normally received across a full year.

Temps not playing nice, either

September temperatures ran on the cooler side for much of the inland South Island, but were generally near average elsewhere. However, on closer inspection, temperatures during September swung quite wildly between unusually cold, and extremely mild, for the time of year. While a little temperature volatility is typical during early spring, this tendency has been amplified this year.

Looking ahead

The Tasman Sea Lows have been the key driver of weather patterns in the New Zealand region over winter, especially

affecting the western North Island. This is likely to continue, but to a lesser degree, as we track into October. In the tropics, it is looking like a weak La Nina may be present by Christmas and into early 2018. However, New Zealand weather maps don’t always play out to the “standard” La Nina recipe if it is a weak one. So, as always, keep an eye on the forecast rainfalls and temperatures via the MetService Monthly Outlook at www.metservice.com/rural/ monthly-outlook, or subscribe for free to get commentary and selected prediction maps at www.metservice.com/emails.

RIGHT: Rainfall accumulation plots for key growing regions Masterton (top map) and Christchurch (lower map). The average annual rainfall accumulation is shown in black, while the total for this year is shown in red.

RAINFALL

2017 yearto-date rain (mm)

Annual normal (mm)

2017 YTD as % of annual norm

Kerikeri Whangarei Whitianga Auckland (Airport) Pukekohe

1504 1178 1556 1063 1271

1775 1300 1840 1101 1283

85% 91% 85% 96% 99%

Tauranga (Airport) Te Puke Hamilton (Airport) Gisborne Rotorua Taupo

1411 2020 1271 1048 1717 1091

1189 1642 1202 987 1353 960

119% 123% 106% 106% 127% 114%

New Plymouth Napier Palmerston North

1133 756 855

1409 823 900

80% 92% 95%

Paraparaumu

1025

1009

102%

Masterton Wellington (Kelburn) Nelson Aero Blenheim Westport Hokitika Culverden

732 1187 869 539 1651 2226 451

979 1215 959 711 2046 2901 576

75% 98% 91% 76% 81% 77% 78%

Christchurch (Airport) Ashburton

677 801

594 681

114% 118%

Timaru Queenstown Cromwell Alexandra Dunedin (Musselburgh) Invercargill

455 477 225 215 677

550 757 437 363 734

83% 63% 51% 59% 92%

595

1149

52%

ABOVE: Year-to-date rainfall accumulations for 2017, for the period January 1 to September 20, at selected locations. Note that, at the three-quarter (75%) mark through the year, many locations have received more than 90% of their annual normal rainfall. Those that have exceeded 100% of their annual norm are in bold. The only stations with annual rainfall accumulations less than 75% of normal are in central Otago and Southland, while parts of Wairarapa and Marlborough sit near average.


National Farming Review October 2017  
National Farming Review October 2017  
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