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DECEMBER 2017

Des Williams shot this stunning image in early morning mist of a mob of 4000 sheep being moved at Otupae, in Hawke’s Bay. It won him the Federated Farmers Rural Photography Award at the NZ Guild of Agricultural Journalists & Communicators Awards last month.

Where to next on GIA? — Page 3

Beefing up our Adverse Events preparation — Page 4

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OPINION

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Running a rural lens over it

By: KATIE MILNE Federated Farmers New Zealand President

A

BIG FOCUS ON FARMING ISSUES during the election campaign has made my first six months as your president something of a baptism of fire. Some of the policies originally proposed by the parties that now form the new coalition government would have hit farmers hard, but many of them ended up being shelved or modified – I would argue in part due to Federated Farmers and other primary sector groups pointing out their unfairness or impracticality. We’re pleased that someone as experienced as Damien O’Connor is the new Minister of Agriculture and we look forward to working with Labour, NZ First and the Greens over the next triennium. The Federation’s role is to make sure legislation affecting the business of farming is properly thought through and developed, and based on solid evidence, sound analysis and ‘running a rural lens’ over it. A couple of our biggest successes in 2017 were around issues that never even made it into the public sphere, because they were being discussed with us long before the politicians or the government agencies took them further to the public. That’s part of what being an effective

lobbying organisation means. Farmers — just like any other business operators – need certainty from government, not surprise announcements and policy made on the hoof. Without that certainty, they’re reluctant to make long-term investments. That’s why the government’s recent announcement there would be no mining on DOC land caused rumbles of concern. It doesn’t particularly matter whether you agree or not with mining in the conservation estate – it was the surprise factor that was resented. There had been no signal during the election campaign such a policy was coming. Such a ban threatens hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue on the West Coast. Federated Farmers has pledged to work with the new coalition in good faith, but we’ll take a dim view of radical policy sprung on the sector without warning and robust discussion. We’ve worked extensively in the last year with central government Ministers, officials and agencies on the development of regulations around animal welfare, gun ownership, water and irrigation management, Resource Management Act reform, stock exclusion and tax calculation. In long-running discussions with WorkSafe we finally were able to achieve a sensible outcome for the carriage of passengers on quad bikes when they’re being used on farm. We helped gain cross-party support for an amendment to telecommunications legislation that enabled installation of fibre optic cable along overhead powerlines crossing farmland, with a connection discount for the affected landowner.

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Another success was the launch of the Federated Farmers Dairy Apprentice programme, working in conjunction with the Primary ITO. By the end of October we’d already had 44 employer registration enquiries, and about the same number of expressions of interest from young trainees. The Feds also played a big part in the response and recovery effort in rural areas following the Kaikoura-Hurunui Earthquakes, ranging from getting food in and cows out, to sourcing workers for land remediation. Our connections with, and lobbying of, government agencies and Ministers secured funding for these initiatives. You’ll read more on page 4 about how we all need to be better prepared for such emergency and disaster events, and how the Federation is putting in the ground work now to be even more effective in its disaster response role. What about what’s coming up? Where do farmers fit in the future vision the Coalition has for New Zealand Inc, or where synthetic food may take us when some in the younger generations don’t care if food is naturally produced as much as they care what animals were involved and what sort of life they led. There are also major debates coming on greenhouse gases/ETS, the Tax Working Group, the biosecurity GIA and the splitting up for the Ministry for Primary Industries. Be assured, we have your interests at heart and we’ll be making sure the farmer voice is heard in the negotiations and discussions to come. Meantime, I want to wish you, your families and your staff a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2018. Go safely and see you in the New Year.

IN BRIEF WOMEN’S DEVELOPMENT GRANTS AVAILABLE Building on the momentum achieved earlier in the year, Women & Leadership New Zealand is administering a national initiative to support the development of female leaders across our farming and agriculture sector. Grants of $3000-$8000 are available to enable their participation in a range of leadership development programmes. But the funding is limited and it has to be allocated prior to the end of 2017. To find out more and register your interest, fill in the Expression of Interest form at the following web address prior to December 15, 2017: http:/ /www.womenandleadership.co.nz/ associations.html

FARMER-LED CATCHMENT GROUP HONOURED A North Canterbury river awarded as the country’s most improved is testament to proactive environmental work undertaken by farmers and their communities. The Hurunui district’s Pahau River, which runs through a densely irrigated catchment, was named supreme winner at the 2017 National River Awards last month for achieving a significant reduction in bacteria E coli levels over the past 10 years. Nitrogen and phosphorous levels were also decreasing. “Catchment groups like the Pahau Enhancement Group led by dairy farmer David Croft are the template for managing our freshwater in the future,” Federated Farmers environment spokesman Chris Allen said. “Irrigation is becoming more sophisticated. Farmers are increasing productivity and at the same time, are able to improve and manage water quality.”

ORGANIC LEADERS VOW TO RETURN Visiting American organic business leaders are excited by the “huge” potential for growth in NZ’s organic market and are planning future visits to help Kiwi natural and organics businesses expand their markets. Entrepreneurs Gary Hirshberg and Walter Robb, and global organic consultant Bob Burke were in the country last month to present the 2-day Hirshberg Entrepreneurship Institute boot camp in Auckland. They believe there is potential for double-digit growth in NZ’s organic sector well into the future, in both production and value-add. Walter Robb said all the growth in the American food market is currently with sustainable or organic brands. “These brands are growing at 10, 11, 20, 30 per cent a year as customers demand them.”

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December 2017 National Farming Review

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BIOSECURITY

WEIGHING GIA OPTIONS

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Feds have role in better biosecurity outcomes

By SIMON EDWARDS

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VER THE YEARS Federated Farmers has been a constructive player when it comes to debating biosecurity threats and responses. For nearly a decade industry groups, including Feds, have been considering the merits of farmers, growers and processors joining the Crown (represented by MPI) in a biosecurity partnership called GIA. GIA, or in full the Government Industry Agreements for Biosecurity Readiness and Response, aims to deliver better biosecurity through partnership between primary industry and government. The federation’s national council debated the topic in Wellington last month. The advice of GM of Policy and Advocacy Gavin Forrest to the provincial presidents was that the GIA has “real potential” to deliver better biosecurity outcomes for farmers but there were costs to be considered alongside gaining increased input into biosecurity decisions. Regardless of whether farmers join GIA, the primary sector will need to make a greater contribution to the cost of biosecurity responses than it has in the past. These will either come through pre-agreed industry/government cost share agreements in GIA partnerships or be cost-recovered, with little influence over the response. An even worse situation could develop where the Crown walks away from eradicating a pest or disease when the industry does not support such a decision. GIA provides an ability for industry to be partners in such decisions, recognising that joint decision-making is likely to require joint funding. It’s not some esoteric

argument. Costly biosecurity incursions are starting to stack up: PSA in kiwifruit, varroa mite in bees, myrtle rust, fruit fly, velvetleaf, pea weevil, Mycoplasma bovis . . . and plenty of other less significant pests and weeds. The cost fish-hooks for Federated Farmers may come because our organisation does not sit well within the current wording of the GIA Deed. To become a GIA partner, called “GIA signatories”, industry representatives and MPI sign the GIA Deed and become part of the Deed Governance Groups. GIA Signatories must specify what sector(s) they represent. This tends to be by product — tomatoes, Costly biosecurity incursions are wool, timber, avocados, starting to stack up in New Zealand, wine, milk and red meat including most recently Mycoplasma producers, milk and red bovis. meat processors, etc. signed up, and Beef + Lamb NZ, Operational Agreements (OAs) Dairy NZ and Deer Industry NZ are then established for specific or groups of pests and diseases. are currently running consultation with members on OAs outline what needs to be becoming signatories. done on preparedness, incursion “As more and more groups responses, who’s responsible for doing what, and how much each join the GIA partnership, those not in it are marginalised to a party will pay. greater degree,” Gavin said. Where before there were “We want to be able to be in political and moral obligations or expectations for the Crown or the club, to contribute and to have a say on biosecurity industry groups to do certain readiness and response issues. things, the OAs switch all We bring our expertise and our signatories into contractual obligations. All signatories, networks to the table that are useful to farmers and to better including MPI, can be called to overall biosecurity outcomes.” account if they haven’t A challenge for Feds becoming performed agreed actions by agreed timelines. GIA partners is that the GIA deed, as currently written, So far 17 primary industry anticipates that that signatories organisations have signed the also sign all relevant OAs — GIA deed, including the Forest Owners Association, NZ Pork including “quick” OAs. Under GIA quick OAs will be and Vegetables NZ. Earlier this established to respond to a new year, the Meat Industry disease such as would have been Association and the Dairy Companies Association of NZ the case with Mycoplasma bovis

GAVIN FORREST: “As more and more groups join the GIA partnership, those not in it are marginalised to a greater degree.” had livestock industry organisations been in GIA when it was first identified. The challenge for Federated Farmers is that the farmers should only pay once for industry cost sharing obligations through the Commodity Levy Act or Biosecurity levies. As a pansector organisation, Feds is happy to help out but our members should not be asked to pay a second time. A pre-agreed cost sharing matrix has been agreed to between the livestock sector (including Feds and MPI). For those incursions representing the most serious risk to humans, the environment or our international trade (eg, foot and mouth, anthrax), the Crown would pick up 100 per cent of costs. Diseases or pests with less severe consequences would see cost shares change to 70 per cent Crown/30 per cent industry sectors involved if only a small number of properties are affected, rising to 90 per cent Crown/10 per cent industry if a large number of properties are affected. If effects are mainly production losses, with livestock industries the main beneficiaries, the cost share could be 50:50 if only a small number of properties are involved, rising to 70 per cent

Crown, 30 per cent industry if a large number of properties are impacted. Down the track a 60 per cent Crown, 40 per cent industry share could have applied to Mycoplasma bovis issues had the relevant industries been signed up to the GIA. Federated Farmers has been closely involved in Mycoplasma bovis issues from day one, but as we move into the GIA era and if we remain non-signatories, all we could do is lobby and comment from the outside. If Beef + Lamb NZ and Dairy NZ become signatories, they will fund activity from existing levy funding and also propose a zerorated Biosecurity levy. Under GIA, total farmer contributions in any 12-month period will be capped. And industry cost-shares will be prearranged, so parties know what they are up for. If Feds was to become a GIA signatory we would want to ensure the organisation was not liable for farmer contributions. But we would need to play our part as outlined in our GIA “minimum commitments” including contributing to GIA annual administration costs. There is also the questions of who pays for wool and goat-related issues if the federation was a member, as there are no GIA signatories covering these sectors. The national council agreed that Federated Farmers should continue to seek to become a GIA Signatory but with guaranteed membership status (an option that exists in Australia, from where our GIA model originates). This is not currently provided for in the GIA Deed. This could absolve the Feds from full costsharing obligations but we could bring our expertise and pansector networks to readiness and response discussions. Members can expect to hear more on this topic over the next few months.

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National Farming Review December 2017

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EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS

READY TO RESPOND

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Tool Kit will sharpen adverse events readiness U

se of GIS (geographic information system) and other technology, as well as improved forward planning, are the hallmarks of the major rural events programme Federated Farmers is working on. Provincial presidents who attended the National Council in Wellington on November 22 and 23 went home with a 40-page Tool Kit with advice, contacts, information and templates to help provinces spur improvements to their emergency and disaster preparedness and response. Acknowledging the work of Hollie Rhodes and Louise Gibson, who have put in the work to bring it together, Federated Farmers adverse events spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said the essence of the programme is making sure farmers learn from past lessons. He told the National Council he wasn’t much involved with the Federation in 2004 when floods poured out over much of the Manawatu, leaving 20 per cent of his family farm under a metre of silt and many others much worse off. “But my father was involved with the provincial executive at the time and I saw how much time he and the provincial president put into recovery from those floods. “If it wasn’t for the Feds stepping up at that time, basically nothing much would have happened. Everyone else was basically ‘possums in the headlights’ stuff.” Andrew said Federated Farmers had a long and proud history of involvement in adverse events response and recovery — including with earthquakes, snow and floods in the last 12 months. The expertise and networks of Federated Farmers were certainly recognised in the wake of the Kaikoura/Hurunui

Federated Farmers is looking to up its game, and be recognised as “go-to guys” with the knowledge of farming and rural districts to get things done when the proverbial hits the fan. earthquakes, from communicating with isolated rural properties overlooked by the authorities in initial sweeps of the affected districts, through to getting food in and people out, and then successfully lobbying for funding for the skilled worker initiative to help farmers with recovery. But there’s plenty of room for improvement. “Floods and snow and so on will happen time and again, with slight differences and a truckload of challenges each time. It’s about learning from the past. “No-one should have to reinvent the wheel. We want to make sure every province has the skills, the tools and the support in

the field to go forward and make a damn good job of responding.” Andrew said the toolkit was a living document that will evolve over time, as will provincial preparedness. Feds GM of Policy and Advocacy Gavin Forrest said procedures needed to be able to swing into action, no matter if a president or other executive members were on holiday, or were flat out because their own properties were disaster ground zero. The programme, helped by support from FMG and Farmlands, was not about the Federation wanting to take over from Civil Defence, Rural Support Trusts or others, Gavin

said. “We want to work with other organisations. There’s not enough of us to be in competition with each other.” But Federated Farmers is looking to up its game, and be recognised as “go-to guys” with the knowledge of farming and rural districts to get things done when the proverbial hits the fan. GIS (geographic information system) has for some time been used by Federated Farmers in its policy and Resource Manage Act work. It is also proving invaluable in emergency situations, enabling a variety of data to be displayed and regularly updated on digital maps. As Louise explained, with

detailed information being fed in and plotted on a map about what access roads are cut off, what are the needs of farmers — what sort of generator is needed, how much livestock needs to be evacuated — it’s much easier to work out the most efficient and timely responses. “We’re one of the few pansector organisations in the primary sector who have GIS, and use it in day to day business. It’s a very powerful tool,” she said. “But our response is only as good as available information, and a lot of useful data should ideally be collected and preparations made before an emergency situation arises — for example, a list made with the contact details for the local civil defence controller and other responders, agreed meeting points and an asset register of generators, diggers etc, in each geographical area. It’s also suggested all provinces use an app, Survey 12,3 in the wake of an emergency or disaster. This is the app used by some Civil Defence Emergency Managers, local authorities and engineers and it interfaces with the Feds’ GIS systems. Users punch in information about the locality of farms, what their needs are, etc. Set data fields add further questions based on what answers are given, and the app can be used off-line. Use options for a rural needs assessment include via the Feds 0800 helpline, Facebook (selfassessment) and face-to-face. Ultimately, Federated Farmers wants its Major Rural Events programme and response to be of such high quality, that it gains outside long-term funding. “The priority for our initial response is our members but our recovery work will be for all farmers and we aim to be paid by central government for it.”


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December 2017 National Farming Review

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INFRASTRUCTURE

LANDOWNER RIGHTS

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Much to learn from pipeline debacle

By NIGEL BILLINGS, Federated Farmers Senior Policy Advisor

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ARMLAND IN NEW ZEALAND plays host to a great deal of network infrastructure. Powerlines, pipelines and cables snake across the rural landscape, and are largely unrecognised until something goes wrong. These networks can prove a daily inconvenience to the farmer, and in most cases are located by statutory right, or easements signed long ago. There’s nothing in it for the farm business, but a sense of public duty and obligation will see farmers suck up the situation. Federated Farmers puts in a lot of work assisting farmers on access issues and compliance around these networks. It can at times be problematic and intense, but as a general rule if there’s respect and transparency on all sides, anything can be managed. It was with this in mind that we followed the story and aftermath of the Auckland fuel pipe fracture just prior to the general election, that disrupted the travel plans of thousands and caused a certain amount of international embarrassment. Installed 35 years ago the fuel pipeline — called the Refinery Auckland Pipe (RAP) — runs for 170km between Marsden Point and Wiri, and is the vital single link for jet fuel to Auckland

airport. The immediate crisis dismayed many, as the nation pondered how so little could be known about such a vital link and how the fracture allowed to happen. Much analysis in the aftermath focused on the story of an errant digger driver. Government and Big Business were also strapped to the whipping post: Government should somehow have foreseen the risk and taken control of the pipe, and big business had once again failed the people for profit through underinvestment. Most of the commentary missed the essential point; that the reliability of a supply network depends on the strength of its component parts — which

It is certainly our experience that a network situated on private land benefits a great deal from engaged, informed and respected landowners. includes the land through which it runs, much of it privately owned. Were landowners factored in to the commercial equation related to the pipe? Were there incentives for landowners to be proactive about risks to its security? If success is measured in unknowns, then the Auckland fuel pipe hasn’t done too badly.

Since its installation the pipeline hadn’t suffered an outage affecting air travel and had quietly done its work, well beneath the public radar. It came as a surprise, for example, to some Auckland residents that the RAP ran under the roadside adjacent to their properties. They’d been alerted to it via a brochure issued just after the

breakage. The security and resilience of the RAP was in fact part of Government’s 2012 review of New Zealand’s oil security, but little attention overall was given to the relationships on the land. Refining NZ in its feedback acknowledged the importance of stakeholders to the RAP’s future protection from encroachment, but mostly focused on protections they had achieved through having the pipeline route designated under the RMA. Indeed, there are limitations on land use activity in the various district plans, but that approach on its own doesn’t appear to have been successful. It is certainly our experience that a network situated on private land benefits a great deal from engaged, informed and respected landowners. Far more can be achieved by way of consideration of the landowner’s interests, working with them and offering incentive to monitor, work around and sacrifice the land affected by the network. The operation of cell towers when compared to the RAP is a useful case in point. Cell towers are generally sited on land leased from the farmer, whereas pipelines are largely protected by statute and council rules — a situation where many farmers see a commercial or service activity from which others benefit, with the landowner as something of an afterthought. At Federated Farmers we deal often with access disputes and other difficulties arising from such situations. We contend that an enduring and mutually rewarding relationship between the infrastructure owner and the landowner provides better resilience over time than regulation or rules. Perhaps that’s the real lesson to be learned from the RAP failure.

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National Farming Review December 2017

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TECHNOLOGY

COPING WITH DISRUPTION

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Study gives pointers on tech challenges by SIMON EDWARDS

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HERE IS MUCH TO ADMIRE about highperforming and innovative programmes that unite food producers, government and the private sector with common missions that innovate and super charge growth opportunities. So says Stephen Macaulay, Chief Executive of the NZ Institute of Primary Industry Management, who is among a growing chorus of voices calling for New Zealand to develop its own national strategy. A Winston Churchill Fellowship enabled him to visit North America and Europe for five weeks in April and early May, where he met more than 40 thought leaders, leading academics and innovators across six countries. He’s now devoting long hours to preparing his research report, which has the working title Positioning New Zealand’s primary industries to take advantage of opportunities presented with new and emerging technologies occurring in the production and marketing of food products. “One of the things I considered is how do we get step change to occur in the agricultural and food innovation space that responds and adapts to rapid changes caused by new and emerging technologies within the primary industry rather than simply waiting for a crisis to occur,” he says. The Fellowship has enabled Macaulay to crystalise his thinking on how we might best prepare and take advantage of emerging technologies that he is certain will jolt our existing business models within the primary sector and in the markets we sell to. Among his conclusions:

We’re falling short with our innovation hubs in being able to provide transformational change as they lack key elements for success that appear common place across many other world-leading innovation hubs he visited. “In my view, the only thing innovative about a large number of our innovation hubs is the word in their name. Here, a lot of it is really about real estate in being able to tenant out office space, or providing access to processing facilities.” Among hubs/clusters he saw overseas were Food Valley Wageningen in The Netherlands and Denmark’s Agro Food Park. Both are industry-led, as opposed to research-led by universities or other institutions, and they provide great platforms for entrepreneurs and new-start-ups to be mentored and to meet investors to access capital. Location is another key. MaRS in Toronto, for example, is in a newly-renovated downtown campus, right next to the highlyrated University of Toronto, the commercial district, numerous cafes and with access to central transport routes and an international airport. “It’s in the heart of Toronto and is a place where the best and brightest want to work, live and play, which they say has been critical to their success.” Such hubs here would be a radical shift from what we have at the moment, Mr Macaulay says. New and emerging technologies are going to disrupt and radically change the way we farm and interact with our markets in the future. It’s time for industry, research institutions and government to step up and develop a national vision and strategy on what a successful high-performing, world-leading and flourishing innovation ecosystem within the food and agriculture sectors looks like.

The MaRS campus in Toronto — a place where the best and brightest want to work. Given New Zealand’s size and access to capital, we probably should have only one innovation hub, “but for political reasons we would probably have two”. Mr Macaulay says his talks overseas brought home to him that New Zealand certainly isn’t alone pondering the impacts — and how to best harness — developments such as plant-based protein products, robotics, sensory technology, big data, satellite technology (with drones potentially regulated out of the market on privacy and safety grounds), machine learning and even artificial intelligence. “Everyone is trying to understand what the future holds for technology-driven environment on-farm and right along the value chain. “The challenge from my perspective is how do we shift the mindsets of individuals to become more adaptive and innovative in a rapidly changing environment enabled by new technology.

The only thing innovative about a large number of our innovation hubs is the word in their name. Stephen Macaulay, Chief Executive of the NZ Institute of Primary Industry Management “We’ve been successfully producing commodity products for 130 years but will that be good

enough for the next 130 years, or even 13 years? “New technologies by itself may not be the disruptor, but rather it is how it used in transforming existing business models. “Just look at the impact of Uber in transforming the taxi industry, and what Xero has done to book-keeping functions in accountancy practices, for example. “My sense is that change and disruption will accelerate, and we need to focus on our ability to be more adaptive and open to exploring and taking advantage of the opportunities presented by new and emerging technologies.” Among other areas, Mr Macaulay has been considering the impact of big data on farm — data sets that are characterised by huge volumes of both structured and unstructured data, received from multiple sources, at ultrahigh velocity and variety on a dayto-day basis. Farmers already have access to large amounts of data on their businesses. They — along with their rural professionals — have the ability to mine data and usefully interpret the patterns and lessons from data sets in assisting them with on-farm decisions. “This stuff is already here, or not far away. We get all this data but how do we increase value from it, and embed it in everyday practices?” There are ramifications for education and training institutions. In short he feels too much of our post-secondary education/training is still driven by “bums on seats”/studentdriven demand, instead of thinking about the fundamental shifts that are coming down the pipeline, and in trying to build the future capability and skill sets of people in areas of future need within a digitally-enabled world.


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December 2017 National Farming Review

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ENVIRONMENT

FOREVER PROTECTED

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Farmers counted among QEII ‘unsung heroes’

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HERE WERE PLENTY OF FARMERS in the grand ballroom of Government House on November 15 for the QEII Trust’s 40th anniversary. It doubled as the launch event for Forever Protected, a new book by Shona McCahon, describing how there are now 4400 covenants up and down the land, protecting in perpetuity 180,000ha of bush, forest, dunes, wetlands and other special landscapes. In total, the combined area of covenanted land is the size of Stewart Island, or 1 per cent of New Zealand’s private land. Both the Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy and QEII Trust chief executive Mike Jebson acknowledged that farmers were among the visionaries who launched the scheme in 1977, and continue that work, with the majority of covenants being on farmland. “That’s walking the talk on sustainability, and we can take considerable pride in that,” Federated Farmers environment spokesperson Chris Allen said. Mr Jebson reminded guests at Government House that the National Trust had its genesis with a small group of visionary farming leaders and conservationists who back in the 1970s wanted a mechanism to support landowners’ efforts to protect unique natural and cultural heritage on their land. It was the Think Big era, and the government of the day was subsidising farm production, bush clearance and wetland drainage and providing special assistance to farmers for the breaking in of so-called marginal land, he said. Major energy projects were also being promoted and valleys flooded. “These farmers and conservationists were ahead of their time and were ‘thinking big’ in their own way, but their focus

Host of the QE II Trust 40th anniversary celebration the Governor General, Dame Patsy Reddy, with past and present Federated Farmers Presidents, from left, William Rolleston, Katie Milne and Bruce Wills. Typical of many farmers, each of the presidents has done their bit for protecting special areas of land — William’s family gifted land to the QEII Trust; Katie has been heavily involved with the Lake Brunner Catchment Project and Community Catchment Care Group, and 29ha of her farm has been left in native bush — one-fifth of the property; some 15% of Bruce Wills’ family’s Hawke’s Bay farm is under QEII covenant and he is a QEII National Trust board member.

was not about industrial expansion or agricultural intensification. “Instead it was about finding ways to help farmers and other land owners to secure their remaining natural treasures on their land in the face of this development pressure.” These visionaries — chief among them former Feds national dairy chair Gordon Stephenson — developed the idea of a heritage trust to help land owners with protecting remaining areas of bush and wetlands and other important areas as a legacy for future generations — ‘‘because this was the right thing to do, not because they were being paid to do it”. The concept was that land owners would retain ownership of their land but work with an independent statutory trust to establish legal protection by covenant agreement. The statutory body would act as the perpetual trustee to work with current and future owners to ensure the conditions of the covenant were respected and the

In the words of the late Gordon Stephenson: there were those in the early days who thought the National Trust would start with a hiss and a roar and then quickly fizzle. How wrong they were. land protected forever. “With farming leaders in Federated Farmers enlisted as champions, this concept was embraced by the Government of

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the day,” Mr Jebson said. Coincidentally legislation to establish the Trust coincided with the Queen’s 25th Silver Jubilee year and the initiative was named after Queen Elizabeth. In the words of the late Gordon Stephenson there were those in those early days who thought the National Trust would start with a hiss and a roar and then quickly fizzle. How wrong they were. “Instead it has become a force for nature and a movement across all regions of New Zealand.” Earlier this year the University of Waikato Institute for Business Research quantified the extent of this private financial commitment by landowners to covenanted land. They found this financial commitment to have been in the order of $1.1 to $1.3 billion to date. This includes what land owners have spent on covenant establishment, what they are spending every year on covenant management and enhancement and the income they have foregone by protecting those areas from development. Many of New Zealand’s at-risk and endangered species are found within these covenants, including ko¯kako, kereru, ka¯ka¯riki, kea, kiwi, Hochstetter’s frog, jewelled gecko, mud fish and native bats and many others. Covenants are also home to many rare and endangered plant species. For a few rare species covenants are their main refuge. Interest by land owners in

protecting special areas in partnership with the Trust shows no signs of slowing down. In the last financial year, the National Trust completed the registration of 120 covenants protecting almost 3000ha and approved a further 125 covenants comprising almost 4000ha for future registration. Dame Patsy said covenanters have helped promote the ethos of kaitiakitanga of precious flora and fauna. She spoke of unsung heroes — farmers among them. New Zealand’s gift to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday in November last year was funding to the Trust to support the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy here — a partnership that aims to create a network of rainforest and native forest conservation programmes throughout the Commonwealth. To mark it, Dame Patsy and husband David went to Sue and Peter Turnbull’s property at Mt Terako in North Canterbury, the first QCC covenant in New Zealand. The Turnbulls, who are Federated Farmers members, purchased their Mount Terako farm in 1994. They said the area now permanently protected with a QCC open space covenant really appealed to their hearts when they viewed the property to buy. “Over the 21 years we lived on the farm, family and friends have enjoyed the area for walking, picnicking, and listening to the beautiful forest birds. It is protected now for many more generations to enjoy,” they said.

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8

National Farming Review December 2017

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STRATEGIC PARTNER

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NZ catching up with offshore markets N

EW ZEALAND HAS TAKEN a leap forward and is catching up with offshore livestock markets through the launch of online livestock marketplaces like the farmer-owned business, StockX. In just two years, more than 3500 farmers across New Zealand have registered to use the StockX online platform. This allows them to buy and sell store stock and, more recently, to offer their livestock direct to meat processors. Shortly after launching the store stock trading platform in September 2015, strong signals from farmers and processors were received to develop a platform that would enable farmers and processors to trade direct. StockX Prime launched in September this year, with 16 processors currently using the platform. Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer John Richmond was the first to offer prime lambs direct to processors via the platform. By creating a simple prime stock listing, John marketed his end-ofseason lambs direct to processors of his choice. In return he received pricing, grading and kill space information and chose the opportunity that best suited his farming operation. “StockX Prime enables me to create a more direct relationship with my processor and it was easy to use. I can run my lambs through the scales, attach the weigh files and send these direct to the processor. “I have bought and sold store stock through StockX for the past couple of years,” Richmond says. “The process is simple and completely transparent — I can set the price I want to sell for and chat with the buyers direct. There is no middle man, so our savings around the cost of transactions have been

John Richmond from Oban Station, Hawke’s Bay, pictured after weighing lambs for his Prime Listing on StockX. He used data from his Gallagher / TruTest weigh gear to complete the listing detail and upload weigh files for the processor to see.

significant and it has really impacted on our bottom line.” The StockX Prime platform has been built in collaboration with meat processors and farmers across the country. “Our first priority was to build a platform that was customercentred and collaboratively designed to ensure the functionality works for both processors and farmers,” StockX Sales and Marketing Manager Emma Oliver said. “Most of our team have worked on farm, in rural service businesses and in the meat industry, so we have an extensive knowledge base to draw from. “Processors can access more stock through our national farmer network to fill both short (spot) and long-term (forward

contract) processing space, to the specifications they require. “Buying and selling livestock online is nothing new. New Zealand is actually a bit slow off the mark as other countries have been doing it for a while now,” Oliver says. “The key is creating a safe and secure transactional platform where both buyers and sellers can be assured of transparency, independence, payment security and know the livestock will come off the truck as expected.” Online livestock trading lowers the transaction costs for farmers by taking out the considerable cost of sale, removing cost of transport to saleyards and yardage fees. It also operates at a lower sales commissions.

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There is no middle man, so our savings around the cost of transactions have been significant. Alan Roberts from Taihape’s Timahanga Station, has sold lambs, ewes and cattle through StockX for the past two years and has saved in excess of $50,000 in

transaction costs in comparison to selling his stock through the Stortford Lodge saleyards. “We are blown away by how much we have saved, especially in 2016 when we had a very tough year with drought — we saved nearly $30,000. Using StockX has a positive impact on our business. “We usually have high rainfall, so when the drought hit, StockX gave us access to farmers across the country so we could quickly offload stock. We sold a line of heifers to a farmer in North Otago and it was great knowing the money was secured before we loaded the cattle on the truck. The payment security and transparency around who the buyer is makes the whole process very simple and satisfying.” Online marketplaces are gaining in popularity and changing the way goods and services are bought and sold around the world. In recognition for their innovative enhancements in livestock trading, StockX has received a number of accolades this year, including winning the BLNZ Sheep Industry Innovation Award, Highly Commended at the NZ Innovation Awards, a Merit Award at the 2017 Fieldays Innovation Awards and being named as Finalist in the NZ HiTech Awards.

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December 2017 National Farming Review

9

ENVIRONMENT

DAIRY REFRESH

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Dairy Tomorrow: Taking the lead on challenges By TIM MACKLE, DairyNZ Chief Executive

COMMITMENTS

■ We will protect and nurture the environment for future generations. ■ We will build the world’s most competitive and resilient dairy farming businesses. ■ We will produce the highest quality and most valued dairy nutrition. ■ We will be world leading in on-farm animal care. ■ We will build great workplaces for New Zealand’s most talented workforce. ■ We will help grow vibrant connected communities.

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VER THE PAST 15 years the dairy sector has taken significant steps towards being more sustainable, and our hard work means we are now in a position to make progress where we know more is needed. We have an opportunity to lead future sustainability efforts on land use, water issues and climate change, and while much work is already underway in these areas, our past achievements are proof that the dairy sector achieves better outcomes when it is proactive. This is why the dairy sector launched its updated sector strategy, Dairy Tomorrow, last month. This collaborative achievement — a combined effort of DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, DCANZ and Dairy Women’s Network — has six commitments and 22 corresponding goals, and addresses the many environmental, economic and social challenges our sector faces. The goals set out the aspirations of our partners for what we want to achieve together as a sector over the next decade and more. They also reflect the key priorities for dairy farming in New Zealand to be sustainable long-term. All the goals are derived from the consistent themes raised by the thousands who make up our farming community. They wanted to take a greater role in leading on specific environmental issues, including climate change. They wanted to see sustainable farming solutions supported through research and development, and they wanted the highest standards of animal welfare. Some of the goals are long-term and aspirational, like playing our part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while others have concrete timeframes such as putting certified farm sustainability plans and a new animal care framework in place. They add up to what dairy needs to do to be productive and competitive, valued and trusted. We have also committed to developing benchmarks and targets for international competitiveness, resilience, sustainability and community expectations for our future farm systems in the next year. We also envisage a co-funded and sector-led National Science Challenge, with the dairy sector delivering the next generation of cutting-edge science and technology solutions. While this Refresh has highlighted what is unique about dairy, it has also reminded us that in many other respects dairy farming is like all businesses — farms need to be profitable or they won’t long be in business. Many of dairy’s future challenges and opportunities are shared with other sectors. We are all in it together. The real work on the Strategy begins now. Read the 22 goals and our six commitments, at www.dairytomorrow.co.nz


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ENVIRONMENT

ENVIRONMENT

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We’re sharp, but overseas producers By SIMON EDWARDS

Richard and Dianne Kidd in Ireland, where the commitment shown to Origin Green impressed them. “It is progressive, very long term and being developed and delivered with passion, energy and commitment, with a realistic understanding of time frames.”

A

visit to Europe earlier this year as ambassadors for the NZ Farm Environment Trust showed Richard and Dianne Kidd that New Zealand farmers and produce are well regarded over there. “But we can’t afford any complacency.” Presenting to an audience of government agency, agriculture and business people in Wellington last month, the 2016 National Ballance Farm Environment Trust Award winners said the scale, efficiency and productivity of Kiwi agriculture, and especially our technology and animal genetics, win kudos in the Northern Hemisphere. But they saw plenty that impressed them, and that we could learn from, during farm and food producer visits in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands, facilitated by Rabobank and Ballance. Richard and Dianne have owned and operated Whenuanui Farm in Helensville, near Auckland, since 1978. Firm

believers in environmental sustainability and how strong credentials in that regard are increasingly important, they established Kaipara lamb with several other farmers to sell into

the Auckland market, and Countdown supermarkets. The Europe tour as Gordon Stephenson Trophy winners was an amazing experience, Dianne said.

“It’s a chance to lift your head above the parapet, get off the farm and get a more pan-sector and then international view.” “The on-farm systems and technology we saw in play, trends to diversify farm incomes, and the success of schemes to incentivise and drive change behind the farm gate and on the environment front – including a sharp focus on animal welfare – are certainly more than food for thought,” the couple said. NZ is export-orientated and our isolation from our customers is probably a blessing and a curse. The Kidds found that consumer interest and pressure in Europe is very real — food producers in tune with that are rewarded, and those who aren’t will lose out. “We noted the significant consumer lobby groups and the way they effect rapid change. The Netherlands has a political party

named the Party for Animals, which now has five [elected] representatives.” Neighbours Germany are a major market, and Netherland producers are made to jump through high hoops to meet the high environmental and animal welfare expectations of 80 million German buyers. There is a lot of support for farmers to improve sustainability. In the UK the focus is on air and biodiversity. Wide no-spray strips are required around hedgerows and arable fields to protect birds and bees. In Ireland, the carbon footprint is being measured on dairy and beef farms, and those on the Burren programme can earn significant euros per hectare if cattle are grazed in certain areas to keep weeds down on tourist walking trails, to allow wildflowers to bloom. Biodiversity is also a focus in the Netherlands. The Kidds saw a number of farms where the owners were paid to protect grazing areas during the breeding season of particular birds. Many pursue solar and wind power to diversify income. Farmers install wind turbines with an EU 5 million investment and 10-year write-off, after which

No-till agriculture will be a focus for Carvers’ fact-finding The 2017 winners of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy, Peter and Nicola Carver, intend heading to Europe for their Ballance and Rabobank-sponsored agriculture fact-finding trip in March. The Carvers run dairy and dry stock on their 515ha family property at Ohangai, east of

Hawera. With support from Taranaki Regional Council schemes, they’ve also planted 25ha in pine and 5ha of retired land in redwoods to stabilise land, minimise erosion and add to the aesthetically pleasing look of their property, 5km of which fronts a public road.

Peter Carver has long been interested in no-tillage agriculture and says he has practised the technique wherever possible to minimise erosion. No tillage farming, as the name implies, involves penetrating crop residues or vegetation on top of the ground

and to sow seed and place fertiliser without the soil disturbance that happens with ploughing. With minimal or low disturbance to the soil, humidity remains trapped, microorganisms in the soil and organic matter are preserved, there is

less erosion and release of carbon into the atmosphere is also minimised. One high-profile proponent of no-till agriculture, which he has likened to keyhole surgery vs ploughing, is Dr John Baker. The former Massey University scientist, whose design of no-

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December 2017 National Farming Review

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ENVIRONMENT

AMBASSADORS

Sticking up for your rights in line access situations

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are chasing hard a secure income stream continues. The Netherlands has a Green Fund that is supported by the government through the banking sector. Farmers can apply for funding at a cheaper rate for eligible capital projects that meet specified environmental criteria. Consumers can deposit money into this fund and receive tax-free income. “A win-win, and a connection for farmers and consumers.” The Kidds noted an average dairy cow in the Netherlands produces about 12,000 litres of milk — almost double that of New Zealand. “How? It appears by optimising animal welfare. No long walks, no rough weather to contend with (barns) and all the feed that they require.” Everywhere they went, people know about New Zealand’s water quality and nitrate challenges, they said. TB and BVD are major problems in the UK and Europe and their use of antibiotics is getting increasingly hostile scrutiny. “This is a point of difference and opportunity for New Zealand to leverage to become antibioticfree.”

We noted the significant consumer lobby groups and the way they effect rapid change. Dianne Kidd said before they made the trip earlier this year they were cautioned to “look under the bonnet of Ireland’s Origin Green strategy, because it’s not that flash on the ground”. The couple told the Wellington event that Ireland’s farms generally didn’t have our scale or efficiency, but they were highly impressed by Origin Green, and its drive for value not volume. They admired Ireland’s focus on sustainability and allencompassing national food strategy, a model they strongly recommended New Zealand should also pursue. Their son David, the 2014 NZ Young Farmer of the Year, is looking at the value of a national food strategy in New Zealand as part of a Nuffield

Scholarship. The Kidds said Origin Green involves industry and government organisations working together across the supply chain. “It is progressive, very longterm and being developed and delivered with passion, energy and commitment, with a realistic understanding of time frames. “It has not achieved much change on farms yet, but on-farm auditing annually for all dairy and beef farms is now happening efficiently. It is digitally monitored by independently appointed assessors, who are rotated every two years to avoid bias. “A price premium is being achieved and driven via the cooperatives for dairy and processors for beef. Voluntary groups have been formed for some sheep producers and premiums are also being realised.” The UK has the LEAF (Linking Environment and Farms) marques, a preferred supplier status. Nestles, Unilevers and Sainsburys actively source food from those with LEAF accreditation. Farmers told the Kidds the scheme was very timeconsuming and at this stage delivered no real added value, but it’s still in its early days.

By NIGEL BILLINGS, Senior Policy Adviser A valuable service available to Federated Farmers members is the 0800 advice line (0800 327 646) — a solid source of guidance on policy, advocacy and the raft of regulations affecting the modern farm. A perennial topic is the challenge faced by farmers with electricity transmission and distribution lines crossing their land. These lines and their poles or towers need to be maintained and upgraded over time, and requests for access can cause friction. The timing of entry by work crews is critical on a busy farm, and can raise animal welfare concerns. There may be additional worries about the condition of the terrain or tracks that work crews want to cross and their capacity to handle the vehicles involved. Federated Farmers has travelled many a mile supporting landowners in such situations. Electricity companies have a statutory right of access to private land where their lines are situated

but this is limited to maintenance activities and minor upgrades. Landowners also have rights and Federated Farmers sees to it that information is available by way of advisers and fact sheets, so that members can exercise those rights to the maximum. To gain access to private land other than in emergencies, power line owners are required to provide notice in writing at least 10 working days in advance. That notice must include the proposed access point, the reasons for the visit and the nature of the work on the line, the date and time of entry, and the expected duration of the work. Feds has assisted a number of farmers enforce this along with their right to set reasonable conditions on the timing of entry and possibly delaying it for up to 15 working days. There is also scope to set conditions on the access route. Landowners are also not responsible for maintaining access tracks so that work crews can get to the lines. Track condition is often a major concern when the ground is wet and is something that needs to be carefully worked through with the company or their contractor — this to minimise risk and damage to paddocks. In one case we got a lines company to commit to carrying their equipment onto the farm by hand, evidence that landowners can be in a strong position when the cards are played right. With the lines maintenance season well under way, if you have any concerns, give us a call.

expedition to Europe next year tillage drill has now been exported to 20 countries, has said soil is alive. In one cup of undisturbed soil there are as many as six billion microbes. With increasing focus on greenhouse gases, the technique may gain more followers and importance.

“With low disturbance no tillage, the soil actually gains about half a tonne of carbon per hectare per year, but conventional ploughing and drilling means you lose two tonnes per hectare per year,” Dr Baker has said. Peter and Nicola originally

had their sights on researching no-till agriculture in the United States but have now decided to head to Europe — Denmark and Germany in particular. “It’s big in the States but Europe seems to be even more forward-thinking on it,” Peter says.

Peter and Nicola Carver practise notillage wherever possible.

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SAFETY

ZAP RISK

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Think before forming that new access track F

ORMING A NEW TRACK beneath or close to a transmission line on your property may introduce an electrical hazard to yourself your workers or visitors if the ground to conductor (wire) clearance is not sufficient for vehicles or plant to safely pass under. Transpower operates the national grid and maintains the high voltage transmission lines that connect areas of generation to the local lines networks that supply your farms and homes with power. Most of these transmission lines are located on or across private land. Constructing new tracks and other work around transmission lines can pose an electrical risk to machine operators and people working around them, especially if the vehicle or machinery encroaches the minimum electrical safe distances. Electrical Safe distances are set out in the New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice for Electrical Safe Distances

slopes, gullies and swamps. As land use has intensified and properties subdivided, new areas of land have been opened up for farming and development. Areas once non-traversable may be traversable, and there may have been other changes in the terrain that make that overhead transmission line much closer to the ground than it was when first built. So if you’re thinking about changing the nature of the land underneath our lines that may turn it from being nontraversable to traversable, then take care. We recommend you contact your local Transpower service provider to give some guidance on existing clearances and required clearances before you start, just so you have some surety that you’re not going to end up with a clearance problem once completed. If you do end up working around lines to bench cut a track, remember that for voltages involved in transporting bulk electricity on the grid, you don’t have to touch the conductor for there to be a problem — the electricity can jump quite a gap. You need to keep your vehicles and mobile plant at least 4m away from the conductors. Transpower, landowners and occupiers together play an important role in ensuring everyone is kept safe when working on their land. Our local service providers can help ensure that any proposed work around the lines is safe for you and the grid.

If you’re thinking about changing the nature of use of land under Transpower lines, take care.

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(NZECP34 :2001) issued under the Electricity Act 1992. Compliance with this code is mandatory. Table 4 of the code (set out below) sets out the minimum safe vertical distances of conductors (wires) from the ground. Transpower lines assets generally range from 50 kV to 220 kV ac and 350 kV dc. Transmission lines have been built across some rugged terrain which was assessed as either traversable or not traversable. NZECP34 recognises that difference in terms of the minimum safe distances that are applicable. Under the table below, they specify distances to ground for roads and driveways which can be greater than for other areas possibly traversable by vehicles which is greater again than for areas not traversable by vehicles at all (like swamps, and steep hillsides or gorges). Of course, those distances relate to when the line was built, and the use of the land underneath can change. Land was defined as not traversable because at the time the line was constructed vehicles including mobile plant, were unable to travel beneath the lines. In these situations, the conductor vertical clearance to ground may be less. This terrain includes ridges, steep side

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RURAL CRIME PREVENTION

The following information sets out tips and advice from the NZ Police on keeping you and your property safe. For useful safety resources, including a rural security checklist, visit: www.police.govt.nz/rural Police is committed to working with rural communities. We want everyone in New Zealand to be safe and feel safe. Police can’t do this on its own – the whole community has a role to play in preventing and solving crime. Crime prevention in rural areas is most effective when it involves a partnership between the local community, authorities and organisations and the Police. Police can and will respond to rural crime • Call 111 when you need immediate help with a life-threatening or time-critical emergency • Some emergencies will need more than one service (Fire, Ambulance and Police) • Ask for the service which is needed most urgently • For non-urgent situations, call your local Police station. Record and store important information Clearly tag animals and keep accurate stock and produce records. You should have a detailed inventory of all personal valuables and household and business equipment, including model and serial numbers, inscriptions and other identifying features.

Report all instances of crime Report all instances of suspicious behaviour or crime, even when a Police response is not necessary. It helps Police to know if there is a pattern of crime developing that needs further investigation. It also helps us to decide if the rest of the community should be alerted. Know your neighbours Rural New Zealand has a reputation for tight-knit, supportive communities. You can help keep safe by knowing your neighbours, exchanging phone numbers and keeping those numbers handy. Discuss what you could do to alert or assist each other in an emergency, and let neighbours know if you’re going on holiday or leaving your home overnight. Reduce your risk by taking precautions If you live on a farm and are leaving the house to investigate something concerning, ensure someone knows where you’re going, what you’re checking and how long you expect to take. You may want to phone your neighbour, wait for them to join you, and/or take a mobile phone or handheld radio with you. Reduce your risk of becoming a victim of crime by taking notice of who is out and about and talking to them (particularly if they are not locals), locking your house, closing access gates (particularly to your driveway/house), and keeping an eye on each other’s property.


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National Farming Review

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GREENHOUSE GASES

LIGHTENING THE FOOTPRINT

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Farm practices, systems can cut nitrous oxide emissions

NITROUS OXIDE: WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? As the former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, noted in her 2016 report Understanding Biological Greenhouse Gases, nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas. Each molecule of nitrous oxide traps 219 times more heat than each molecule of carbon dioxide. Its average lifetime in the atmosphere is 121 years — 10 times longer than the average lifetime of methane. Nitrous oxide eventually breaks down into nitrogen and oxygen — these two gases do not contribute to the warming of the atmosphere. Nitrous oxide currently accounts for 11 per cent of NZ’s greenhouse gases. Most of it originates from the urine, and a little from the dung, of farm animals. About 17 per cent of nitrous oxide originates from synthetic fertiliser. Urea from urine or fertiliser deposited on pasture is broken down my microbes in the soil. It’s an essential element for plant growth, and some of it is absorbed. Some of the nitrogen is converted to nitrate. As nitrate is highly soluble, it can be washed off into waterways or leach down through soil into groundwater. About 1 per cent of the nitrogen is converted into nitrous oxide and emitted into the atmosphere. Dr Wright’s report included figures for the average number of kilograms of nitrous oxide from each farm animal in New Zealand in 2014 (with CO2 equivalent in tonnes in brackets): Sheep — 0.2 (0.07); beef cattle — 1.1 (0.32); dairy — 1.8 (0.54).

by SIMON EDWARDS

W

E CAN’T STOP ANIMALS From urinating, but we can change total urine and what they urinate on. Dr Cecile de Klein is an AgResearch principal scientist, and an internationally recognised expert on nitrous oxide emissions from soils. She told a Dairy NZ greenhouse gas workshop in Palmerston North earlier this year that urine deposited by farm animals is by far the biggest source of nitrous oxide. “Obviously that nitrogen is affected by fixation by clover but ultimately it’s the urine patches causing most of the problem, and that’s the focus of research.” Nitrates in waterways can be denitrified, leading to further nitrous oxide emissions. Another source of indirect emission is ammonia formed at the top of soils, which can be blown away to be dumped on other soils, where it enters the cycle again and ultimately is emitted as nitrous oxide.

WHAT CAN FARMERS DO?

There are major spikes in nitrous oxide emissions when livestock urine hits compact, sodden soils. Keeping animals off paddocks as much as practicable in high soil moisture seasons (autumn, winter) by using standoff pads and barns can reduce emissions by more than half. Urine and dung collected can be applied later in the year. Leached nitrates are also cut. But Dr de Klein warned of

unintended consequences. For example, urine and dung collected in a barn could increase methane emissions and ammonia volatilisation. “And when farmers invest in a barn or stand-off pad, it’s a huge expense and so they tend to increase herd numbers. That could offset any (emission cut) gains.’’ Using urea fertiliser treated with inhibitor can avoid ammonia volatilisation, and indirect emissions, by an average of 45 per cent. “This is not a big source of our nitrous oxide profile,” Dr de Klein said. “But it’s something — and somethings add up.” There have been promising results from feed trials. Nitrous oxide emissions from urine deposited on fodder beet were 39 per cent lower than from kale.

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And four trials showed that from the same urine on plantain monocultures, emissions were on average 28 per cent lower than from ryegrass monocultures. “On top of that, plantain in [livestock] diet reduces the total amount of nitrogen being excreted in urine. Work is continuing in this area.” Other gains can come from managing dry matter intake. Animal production depends on energy intake, so if there is higher energy in the pasture, the animal can take in less dry matter for the same amount of energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well. Less dry matter = less nitrogen going into the animal = less nitrogen excreted.

THE BREEDING FACTOR An increase in genetic merit/

breeding combined with a lower stocking rate, means milk solid production can be maintained with lower overall dry matter intake for the herd, she said. So — fewer animals but each animal produces more. Total methane emissions also reduce. Studies have been running for five years in four areas of NZ under the Pastoral 21 Research Programme looking at reducing nitrate leaching, while maintaining or increasing production. Greenhouse gas researchers and MPI added GHG emission measures into that equation. A trial and modelling on a 121ha Waikato farm producing 373kg milk solids/cow/year with animals with a breeding worth of 129 and a stocking rate of 3.2 was changed up to cows with a breeding worth of 199 (stocking rate 2.6) and each cow producing 447kg of milk solids per year. Milksolids kg/ha/yr changed from 1193 to 1163. Nitrous oxide and methane emissions dropped by useful margins. Reducing the replacement rate is a similar scenario — there is less dry matter intake from the non milk-producing part of the herd. Modelling and farmlet trials suggest if a current replacement rate of 22-23 per cent is reduced to 18 per cent with improved breeding management, greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by 2-11 per cent. Reducing replacement rates is ranked as the number one most effective practice (vs using standoff pads, using N fert with urease inhibitor, alternative feeds and high breeding worth/lower stock rates) for both reducing overall emissions and ‘best bang for buck’.


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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

EXTENDING CONNECTIONS

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RCG to deliver at least 400 new cell sites By CHRIS DYHRBERG, Executive Programme Director

I

T’S BEEN A BIG YEAR for telecommunications and the rural sector, with several significant investment decisions laying the foundation for an exciting digital future. In August, the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG), in a unique partnership with Crown Infrastructure Partners (the Government funding agency for rural broadband and mobility) announced the RCG would be building a minimum of 400 new cell sites across the country. These will deliver fast broadband and mobile coverage and also bring a further 1000+ kilometres of state highways within reach of mobile coverage. In a boost for rural businesses

that rely heavily on tourism, at least 100 tourist blackspots will be targeted as part of the plan. This is a unique programme

where the three mobile network operators (Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees) have come together to work very closely with

government and developed a funding model to deliver these critical services for rural New Zealanders and tourists visiting more remote areas of our country. The RCG will bring access to world class services, and the shared goal is to stretch the investment capital as far as it can go, to deliver as much as we can for rural New Zealand. To do this we really need the support and help of local communities. Mobile and wireless broadband services will be available from all three mobile companies, meaning rural Kiwis can look forward to a fiercely competitive retail environment with multiple companies offering great value deals and different services. It’s no secret that telecommunications infrastructure projects are challenging, particularly in low population areas with rugged

rural terrain. It is not the kind of project any single business or government entity can achieve on its own. We are all motivated to build this connectivity as quickly and efficiently as possible, but our chief task for the next few months is to build a great team, develop partnerships to deliver the technology and get back out into the community and get stuck into planning. We had many energising and constructive meetings with local councils and community leaders while on the road during the tender process, and we look forward to working together to take this investment as far as we can for rural New Zealand. We wish to thank everyone who has played a role in getting to where we are today and we look forward to continuing on this journey with you.

Working with communities to go further By CAITLIN METZ, Engagement Manager, Rural Connectivity Group

I

AM EXCITED to be part of the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) to bring mobile and broadband services to those of you that don’t yet have access to these critical services. Having worked to bring better connectivity to rural communities for many years, I have witnessed first-hand the incredible difference it has made to homes, business and farming practices. It can be life changing with far-reaching positive impacts every day. These range

from simplifying health and safety compliance and managing business accounting and banking needs online, to having the freedom to access real time information on the go — such as the weather forecast and water pump usage. Advances in technology and applications, enabled by better connectivity, mean rural practices are changing quickly with solutions for on-farm weather stations, soil moisture probes, effluent ponds, irrigators, and silos as well as monitoring animal health. The social aspects of better connectivity benefit the whole family, with homework being able to be completed online,

rather than having to visit the town library to access the internet, skyping friends and family, shopping online and providing online business opportunities. Beyond the exciting changes I’ve seen from improved broadband and mobile connectivity, what has been most enduring for me is the promise of what’s possible in the future. Better mobile and digital technology solutions in our rural communities are critical for meeting our environmental and predator-free aspirations, as well as bringing our rural brands to the world. It opens up a world of innovation opportunities to

make farming more efficient, profitable and sustainable. Establishing this important infrastructure makes our roads safer while also making it easier for international tourists to share their Kiwi experiences with family and friends back home — boosting our tourism reputation globally. I am a firm believer that mobile coverage will provide safer and more connected communities, better emergency service support, and allow emerging technology applications to be applied whenever and wherever needed. I look forward to furthering the Rural Broadband extension and Mobile Black Spots

conversation with communities about the next steps, and provide increased coverage to rural New Zealanders and tourists. The more we work together, the further we can make the investment stretch. Feel free to call me directly as I’m keen to hear your ideas of how you can help us build quickly and go further within your community.

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EMERGENCY SERVICE

AIR RESCUE

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Community support essential to keep chopper in air

O

n Christmas Eve, 25-year-old Scott Bamford gasped for air as he came to. Concussed and disoriented, he found himself lodged halfway out of the back window of his truck, his seatbelt ripped apart. He coughed and blood splattered on the glass next to him — his lung was ruptured and ribs fractured, he was gasping for air. He needed help – and quickly. The Canterbury and West Coast Air Rescue service covers the largest single geographical operational area in New Zealand - about 67,500sqm – and watches over the lives of more than 600,000 people in the Canterbury and West Coast communities. The crews of Christchurch’s Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Greymouth’s NZCC Rescue Helicopter have to be prepared for any emergency and must be equipped and ready to respond 24/7, 365 days a year. The North Canterbury earthquakes have only served to underline how vital a dedicated Air Rescue Service is, especially in the remote areas where farmers, their staff and contractors earn a living. It was on a quiet North Canterbury road that the Westpac Rescue Helicopter came to Scott’s aid. He works as a journalist but was on holiday leave when a friend asked him to help out by doing a day’s work transporting silage. Scott, an experienced truck driver, agreed. By lunchtime he picked up a second load and drove over a one-way bridge near Culverden. As he turned the next corner the full trailer tipped to one side, pulling the cab of the truck with it — one minute he was driving along, the next the truck was rolling over onto its roof. In the smashed-cab of the truck there was glass, silage and oil everywhere and the engine was still running. He tried desperately to reach the key with his foot to turn the engine off but his leg felt like a dead weight. A keen rafting enthusiast, he mused it would be OK to drown but not to be burnt alive. Scott started screaming for help but soon realized it was doing him no good. He was choking … and there was no one around to hear. He waited in fear and isolation until a

Getting help to a patient within the first 60 minutes increases their chance of making a full recovery by over 80 per cent. commitment is to be in the air within 10 minutes during the day and 20 minutes at night. In remote, isolated and rural areas Air Rescue is the lifeline.” ■ The Air Rescue Trust has set a target of raising $250,000 before December 18 to be there for patients like Scott during the holiday period. Make a Christmas gift and help your community. Go to www.airrescue.co.nz car finally arrived on the scene. It was an old school friend of Scott’s, Suzanna, who found him. She rushed to a local farm to raise the alarm; the 111 call was made and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter was dispatched. It got him to hospital within 18 minutes of first landing at the crash site. After a month in hospital (including Christmas Day), multiple surgeries, and a long intensive rehabilitation he was eager to meet his rescuers to thank them – and for the crew to share his story if it helped to raise for funds to keep this vital service in the air. This year, more than 900 people like Scott will need rescuing. With the community’s support and donations, the crew are able to be there for those in their hour of need. “At Air Rescue we talk about the ‘golden hour’,” says Christine Prince, chief executive of the Air Rescue Trust. “Getting help to a patient within the first 60 minutes increases their chance of making a full recovery by over 80 per cent. “But really, it is about a moment. The ‘golden moment’ when help arrives. “We are ready to respond 24/7; our

Ambreed

EnviroWalk app helps identify gaps in environmental action Farmers have a new tool to help them identify opportunities to get even better environmental results. DairyNZ has developed the EnviroWalk app to make it easier for farmers to assess their fertiliser use, effluent, waterways, races, cropping, water use and irrigation, and create an action plan on their smartphone. More than 1500 farmers have already downloaded the free app since it was launched in July. DairyNZ Lower North Island Catchment Engagement Leader Adam Duker, who led its development, says farmers are always looking for ways to improve their environment. “The app allows them to have all the information they need at their fingertips.” It has a series of yes/no questions to help farmers identify areas on their farm where there are chances to do things differently and get better environmental outcomes. Depending on the answers, the app suggests

solutions or actions. These form the basis of the action plan, which can be downloaded, printed and updated at any time. Once downloaded the app can be used with no internet connection and accessed anywhere on-farm. Otago dairy farmer John Den Baars piloted the app on his Milton dairy farm. He says it helps take the guess work out of assessing a farm’s environmental impact. “It is user-friendly and a great tool for training the younger generation. I know the young staff I work with would rather do it on their phone than on a bit of paper and it’s certainly faster than working out a plan the hard way.” The app is one of three that DairyNZ developedfor farmers. The others are the Dairy Effluent Storage Calculator and BCS Tracker App. ■ EnviroWalk can be downloaded on any device via the DairyNZ website, Apple App Store or Android Google Play Store.

lownsires.co.nz Phil Beatson CRV Ambreed Head Geneticist


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FERTILISER

SPREADING

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Close-knit team adds strength to fertiliser By DEAN BROOKS, President of the New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers Association (NZGFA)

T

HERE IS MUCH TO BE SAID for being a small organisation representing a niche industry sector (fertiliser spreading), and a niche industry service (Spreadmark). While large enterprises typically have the power, the resources, the reputation and the financial backing to get things done on a grand scale, size can sometimes prohibit the speed with which changes are made. Without being encumbered by

multiple layers of processes and people, small associations like ours, the NZGFA, can make relatively quick, effective decisions. We can canvas our memberships easily since we know who everyone is – and, importantly, we can work as a team. Operating as a team — more like a family really — serves two main purposes. The first is that it motivates our organisation, creating a real sense of involvement for members as well as friendship, pride and mutual respect and concern. We all look out for each other – this means we are committed to providing high level, spreader driver training programmes, as well as updates and advice on health and safety. As part of my president’s

manifesto I want to ‘ensure that all our people get home safely each night’. As an association we encourage our members, our partners and our customers to think ‘safety first’, every single time. Like many other small groups we also enjoy each others’ company. We like the problemsolving, the discussion, the banter and the laughs. We have regular workshops and regional branch meetings up and down the country and host an annual conference to which we invite partners and children. This twoday event (family trip), has being going strong now for 62 years, which speaks for itself. The second purpose is that we work hard to deliver the best service possible to farmers, growers and other fertiliser

users. Having such a deep sense of unity across the association means that we all understand our service promise to our customers. We ground spreaders are highly skilled and highly trained to spread fertiliser accurately and evenly. We are all immensely proud that we uphold New Zealand’s only fertiliser spreading standard, Spreadmark. Spreadmark accreditation is not easy to bag by any means. And there is cost, and time, involved too. But this makes it all the more valuable to have. Ask yourself, as a fertiliser user would you like your expensive fertiliser product distributed on your land with skill by a spreader truck driver (or pilot) who also puts health and safety first, who respects

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environmental rules and who assures accuracy of spreading? Or would you prefer the fertiliser just to go onto the land as cheaply as possible (regardless of the conditions), so you can tick the ‘job done’ box? Spreadmark accreditation certainly gives our spreader companies (both ground and aerial) the competitive edge. And while many farmers, growers and other fertiliser users, including regional councils, understand this, there are still some who aren’t seeking accredited Spreadmark companies. This is often because of a sense of loyalty. You may have been using the same spreading company (that isn’t Spreadmark accredited) for years. You may well be happy with the job and the relationship you have with the


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EXCELLENCE

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spreading service drivers. But let’s pause there for a second. Consider this: you are asked as a supplier to prove that your on-farm good management practice includes fertiliser distribution. In short, you can’t do this unless your spreader is Spreadmark certified. Only a Spreadmark spreader can provide you with proof (including a GPS log) that your fertiliser has been accurately distributed by a trained operator using certified spreading machinery and a management system that dovetails with your economic and environmental outcomes. As agriculture talks more and more about ‘precision ag’ and as consumer demand for traceability, transparency and provenance continues to rise around the world, it is highly likely that more food processing

companies will be asking for evidence of accurate fertiliser placement. Milk processor, Synlait, is doing this already with its Lead with Pride incentive programme. To qualify for this voluntary scheme which rewards suppliers who meet stewardship standards for environment, animal health, milk quality and social responsibility with premium financial returns, suppliers must include an audit for fertiliser application. Another reason why fertiliser users might not be employing Spreadmark accredited spreaders is that they might not be aware of all the advantages of Spreadmark, and so don’t ask if their spreader is Spreadmark certified. Well, it’s time to change that.

It is in your interest to ask your spreader if they are Spreadmark certified. And if they aren’t, it is in your interest to find a local spreader who is. We’ve made this task easy for you. Our recently revamped website (www.nzgfa.co.nz) features a new ‘find a ground spreader near you’ section where you can search across 118 Spreadmark companies. And once you’ve found your certified spreader — perhaps you could spread the word?

DEAN Brooks: The NZGFA is immensely proud to uphold New Zealand’s only fertiliser spreading standard, Spreadmark.

Making sure fertiliser product is fit for purpose in guidelines

No customer wants to receive a product that is in any way altered from what they originally purchased. If goods do turn up damaged, or just different to what was ordered, it is likely we’ll send them right back. So, what happens when a fertiliser product arrives on farm and its physical form has changed, perhaps because it has been over-handled or badly stored over winter — even despite best intentions? This isn’t a scenario that many farmers will recognise — since the process of buying and then distributing fertiliser isn’t one that requires the close inspection of the product itself. Nor, I’m pleased to say, is it a major issue for the industry. However, it is something that gets picked up from time to time, typically by the fertiliser spreading industry. Ground and aerial spreaders sometimes discover that what’s happening out there on the paddocks isn’t tallying with the expected spread patterns for the product that is being applied. This is when they

find that the physical characteristics of the product have altered. Spreaders, especially those who are Spreadmarktrained, can usually recalibrate their machinery to accommodate this. While the product may have met spec out of the factory, handling and storage may cause physical changes that then have adverse effects on spreading characteristics. The Fertiliser Quality Council is working on a set of storage and handling guidelines for fertiliser manufacturers and distributors to follow, many of which are also applicable on farm. These guidelines provide simple reminders that vehicle decks must be leak free and dry, covers also clean and dry so no contamination occurs, and storage warehouses must be weather tight. Importantly, they encourage everyone involved in the supply chain to take ownership of product quality to ensure that the end user has a quality product that is fit for purpose.

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REGULATIONS

DUTY TO PROTECT

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New rules on managing hazardous substances

F

UELS AND CHEMICALS are widely used on farms to help improve productivity, but there can be a cost to the health of you and your workers. So it’s important to know the risks of the substances you are working with and what you must do to protect people from harm. On 1 December 2017, the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 will come into force. The aim is to reduce the harm from workrelated activities involving hazardous substances. Farmers make up a large number of the 150,000 New Zealand businesses that work with hazardous substances. Petrol, diesel, pesticides, fertilisers and cleaning solutions are common examples on the farm. Used safely, they contribute to productivity and efficiency, but they also pose real risk to the people working with and around them, WorkSafe Chief Inspector Darren Handforth says. “Farmers often underestimate the risks from using sprays and fertilisers. The harm from these substances can take 25 to 30 years to show, which is usually too late to prevent the serious, sometimes fatal, consequences. “Exposure to agrichemicals is a major contributor to the deaths from work-related health risks in the agricultural sector. We are using a wide range of them on farms, but not necessarily managing those risks very well.” The regulations will bring greater focus to managing hazardous substances safely at work. It’s not wholesale change. The rules for the work-related use of hazardous substances are moving from the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act to the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA). Many of the existing requirements continue under the

Safety data sheets, available in the Hazardous Substances Toolbox on WorkSafe’s website, provide information you need to know about your hazardous substances. One will be required for each substance on your farm. new regulations, so if you are complying now, there may not be much more you have to do. However, there are key changes that will help ensure you are doing your duty to protect people from harm.

RISK MANAGEMENT

The starting point for all farmers is to identify and assess the risks. Make a list of the hazardous substances on your farm, the quantities and where they are stored. Then read the safety data sheets to understand the risks they pose, how to use and store them safely and what to do if there is a spill or you are exposed to them. “From 1 December it will be mandatory to keep both an inventory of your hazardous substances and their safety data sheets, so if you haven’t already got this in place, you should act

now,” Mr Handforth says. The simplest way to prepare an inventory is to use WorkSafe’s Hazardous Substances Calculator. It will also provide clear guidance about what you need to do to be compliant, that is the controls you need to have in place to protect people from harm. “Keeping an inventory of hazardous substances will help you look at what substances you have, and whether you need them or can substitute them with a safer product.”

STORAGE

A big area for improvement on farms is the storage of hazardous substances, Mr Handforth says. “WorkSafe inspectors still find stocks of hazardous substances dating back decades in farm sheds. This presents an unnecessary risk, given the

options for disposing of old agricultural chemicals. “The best method at present is offered through AgRecovery, a charitable trust set up to dispose of unwanted chemicals and their containers. You can book a chemical collection on-line, and this is free or subsidised depending on the chemical. AgRecovery also provides collection sites around New Zealand for containers.” As well as reducing risk, keeping the amount of substances you hold to a minimum can save you money and time. Quantities above certain limits may trigger additional requirements such as location compliance certificates.

KEEPING OTHERS SAFE

Farmers have a duty to protect workers and others from the dangers of hazardous substances. Workers need to be informed of

the risks and have the training, supervision and equipment to do their work safely. “For example, if you send someone out to spray diazinon, you need to make them aware of the health risks of exposure as well as providing the necessary personal protective equipment,” Mr Handforth says. Some substances may need to be secured, and only handled by people with the appropriate training. Approved handlers become certified handlers under the new regulations. There will be fewer substances that require a certified handler, but a greater emphasis on making sure all workers handling hazardous substances can do so safely. “And don’t forget, even the most safety-conscious farmer can have an accident. Make sure you have an emergency plan in place, including who to contact and who is responsible for what.”

WHAT TO DO NOW

As well as looking at what is changing on 1 December, it’s important to remember there are already rules in place. Now is a great time to review your hazardous substances management and make sure you are complying with your duty to protect people from harm in your workplace. The WorkSafe website (www.hazardoussubstances.govt.nz) has guidance and information to help you understand your obligations. The Regulations are available on the New Zealand Legislation (www.legislation.govt.nz/ regulation) website. ■ For practical help, see the Hazardous Substances Toolbox on the Worksafe website. This will be updated shortly and includes the Hazardous Substances Calculator. To keep updated, subscribe to the Hazardous Substances e-newsletter.

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SCIENCE & COMMUNITY

STREAM ACTION

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Marshalling forces to protect rural waterways By SIMON EDWARDS

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ARMERS KEEN TO IMPROVE waterways on their land say to Robin Holmes, a freshwater ecologist with Cawthron Institute, “just tell me what I need to do”. If only it were as simple as a one-size-fits-all action plan. Asking ‘What’s the optimal width for a riparian strip?’, for example, is like the proverbial ‘how long is a piece of string?’. The answer depends on factors such as how often the waterway floods, what’s the surrounding soil and land use, the shape of the bank, the type of vegetation on the bank. There is a tool developed by Mr Holmes and fellow Cawthron scientists that enables communities to measure the health of local stream habitats themselves. The GIS-based mapping system, known as the Broadscale Stream Habitat Mapping Protocol (BSHSP), is designed to help farmers, communities and fishers more easily assess stream health for high-value species such as trout and eels. It was developed with investment from DairyNZ, DOC and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. While there are other systems similar to this available, this is the only one pitched at the entire catchment. Other mapping systems focus only on sections of a stream. “This system builds on the existing tools out there and can be used in conjunction with these other habitat mapping systems,” Mr Holmes says. The survey protocol works by taking data such as the quality of the stream bank habitat, streambed and fish cover; and stream depths and widths, and translating it into a numerical value for each section of the stream or river. Habitat quality for target species is displayed on a map using a traffic light colour coding system that shows which sections of the stream are good (green), through to not good (red). Streams can be ‘re-mapped' every five or 10 years to track the progress of rehabilitation initiatives. The system was trialled by dairy farmers, the Central South Island region of Fish & Game, and Environment Canterbury staff, as part of the Waika¯kahi Stream restoration project in South Canterbury. More than 20 years ago the Waika¯kahi, near Glenavy, had become badly degraded, to the point there was more than 30cm of mud and silt on the stream bed. On one dairy farm where animals were free to cross when they wished, the stream was more like a ground zero ditch through a bog, with not a plant in sight. But sustained fencing, planting and silt-trap clearing effort by the local community, with leadership from farmers such as Chris Paul and Robin Murphy, has drastically reduced

Cawthron Institute researchers get busy mapping the Waika¯kahi Stream, Canterbury.

phosphate-laden silt deposits and returned it to a clear-flowing waterway, where trout, eels and bullies thrive. E. coli counts are also down and local farmers are sharpening their efficiency with irrigation and fertiliser application, as they strive for nutrient loadings that match only what’s required to grow the feed that is needed. Mr Holmes says the Waika¯kahi project shows the value of a catchment wide approach to waterway rehabilitation, versus property owners trying to do it on their own. “A stream doesn’t recognise individual farm boundaries. It would certainly be easier for someone to just look at their own farm and think, ‘okay, I’ll do what I can’. But it’s definitely more important and effective to get the catchment working together, where it’s small enough and feasible. “The reason it worked in Waika¯kahi is that they were marshalled under a good leader (Robin Murphy). Everyone pitched in. There were only a couple of people right up the top of the catchment who didn’t really buy into it, so the whole thing worked really well and we were able to show it with our study.”

Consider factors in riparian strips There are many variables to take into account when establishing/maintaining effective riparian strips. This can be illustrated by considering just one of many factors — trees. In one of Cawthron’s reports on the Waika¯kahi experience, researchers Robin Holmes, Eric Goodwin and John Hayes comment that established grasses, sedges, and ultimately shrubs and trees, can overhang and drape into a stream, providing cover for fish. Emergent vegetation can narrow a stream, which

More recently the BSHMP protocol was utilised on Waituna and Carran Creeks, in Southland, where a small army of farmers, environmentalists, DOC staff, Fonterra staff, Te Ao Marama staff and even commercial eel fishers turned out to gather the data that would provide pointers to protecting/rehabilitating habitat for longfin tuna/eels. Mr

eventually increases diversity of velocities and depths, further improving habitat for large stream fish. Large plants and trees have deeper root masses, improving the capacity to intercept nutrients (mainly nitrogen and phosphorous) from groundwater. The three researchers said trees can provide in-stream shade, leaf litter, woody debris, terrestrial invertebrates and shade for adults stages of aquatic macroinvertebrates. But this effectiveness drops rapidly any further than a metre

Holmes processed the data and was able to issue a series of detailed findings/ recommendations, such as: ■ Completing the network of stock exclusion fencing along the Waituna is the priority for managing fine sediment pollution, and could reduce the total sediment load in the creek

or two from the stream edge. And there can be too much shade. It is densely matted grasses which are considered to provide the best finesediment filtering strips because they provide the most tortuous pathway for sedimentladen run-off from adjacent pasture. Dense stands of trees or shrubs can prevent establishment of a grass filterstrip understory. So if filtering runoff is a primary goal, make sure the riparian fence is set back far enough to incorporate a grass filter strip that is not shaded by riparian plantings.

in the order of 50 per cent. But increasing the fencing setback beyond that necessary to exclude stock from the stream channel and to protect riparian planting was unlikely to result in further reductions in instream fine sediment.

Continued on P25 ➽


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December 2017 National Farming Review

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Marshalling forces to protect rural waterways Cont from P24 ■ The lower Waituna needs fencing setbacks of 10m or more, to allow to establishment of shrubs and trees in the riparian zone that would lead to improvements in residual pool depth, instream woody debris, undercut banks and overhanging vegetation. Mr Holmes says farmers – sheep farmers in particular – can baulk at the expense of a full suite of environmental protection measures. “Ten metre riparian strips, for example. That’s a lot of land lost. For one farmer, that represented $20,000 of revenue. “What makes the difference is when [the recommendations following data collection] are backed by science, and can be shown to actually work. Suddenly farmers don’t mind the loss of revenue because they have the peace of mind that their investment will result in real environmental benefits.’’ While the RIHSP protocol enables non-scientific people to collect stream habitat data – a late stage school pupil is able to do it – there still needs to be some guidance and result interpretation by experts. “There’s a lot of organisation involved to get all the different groups together, and get everyone out for a training day.

Not every catchment can be mapped and analysed. But lessons learned can be applicable across similar terrains and waterways.

Recruits get up to speed on assessing stream habitat at a training day on Waituna Creek, Southland. It’s a fairly intensive process to achieve and at the moment I’m pushing ahead with a ‘training the trainers’ type idea.” Mr Holmes says he’s been applying for three years to get funding for more projects like Waituna and Waika¯kahi.

“But it’s incredibly competitive funding environment out there.” Not every catchment can be mapped and analysed. But lessons learned can be applicable across similar terrains/waterways. What has proven itself on the Waika¯kahi, a

HEAD

SOUTH

spring-fed, lowland stream, winding through dairy farms established on typical Canterbury stony soils, can provide pointers for waterways in similar environments. “For example, in similar types of streams, our research suggests

that farmers should be aiming for a riparian fence set-back about 5m on each bank to filter out finesediment in overland flow” The lack of funding also means that for now, Mr Holmes’ vision for the next stages of development – drones and image recognition software, and a tablet app to support the mapping protocol – remains blue sky thinking. A bright spot on that front is that the new government has said waterway health at catchment level will be a priority. ■ Read more at: www.cawthron.org.nz/ (search Waikakahi). Check out the video: www.youtube.com/ watch?v=NNzkKw2akm4

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National Farming Review

December 2017 www.fedfarm.org.nz

Ph 0800 327 646

Tax working group should have an agri-sector voice A tax working group to review the tax system is timely and should have primary sector representation, says Federated Farmers. The Government recently announced that former Finance Minister Sir Michael Cullen will chair the working group and the federation recommends that farming and fellow industry stakeholders get a voice. “Ideally it would be good if we have someone on the group who

understands the agri-sector and its tax issues. Given the likely focus on environmental taxation, capital gains and land taxes, it would seem a reasonable thing to do,” Federated Farmers vicepresident Andrew Hoggard said. “It’s been eight years since the last major review and with the change of government, it’s a logical step. As far as we are concerned the current tax system is simple and efficient and we would anticipate these qualities

will be maintained.” Sir Michael was a good choice to lead the working group, Andrew said. “He possesses strong knowledge and experience when it comes to tax matters and, the politics of tax.” While the working group has scope to consider how the tax system can contribute to environmental outcomes, the federation would like to see incentives for farmers. “I’m sure if they dangled a

carrot or two to help farmers, they would certainly invest more on top of the environmental mitigation they’ve undertaken to date,” Andrew said. Government assurances that it would take a measured approach would be welcomed by farmers, with any changes not planned until after the next election in 2021. The Government has ruled out increasing income tax rates or GST and an inheritance tax is

also off the agenda. This should give farmers some certainty going forward in terms of their business plans and security, Andrew said. The federation was strongly opposed to a capital gains tax. “A capital gains tax would impose significant costs on farmers selling their properties and have a negative impact on farm values. This could put undue pressure on indebted farmers who find their equity eroded.”

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WEATHER WATCH

LA NINA CONFIRMED

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La Nina in play, but its effects remain an unknown What type of summer New Zealand is likely to experience is going to depend on whether local climate factors, such as the Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean, reinforce or act against, the typical La Nina effects here. Figure 1: The average sea surface temperature anomaly (deviation from normal), in degrees Celsius, for the period 15 October 2017 to 11 November 2017. Blue colours show cooler than usual sea surface conditions. The La Nina ‘cold tongue’ is evident along the equator. Image directly taken from NOAA Climate Prediction Center material, issued 13 November 2017.

By GEORGINA GRIFFITHS, MetService Meteorologist

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lobal El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) commentators, such as experts from NOAA CPC (Climate Prediction Center) and IRI (the International Research Institute for Climate and Society), recently declared La Nina conditions present in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Weak La Nina conditions had emerged across much of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean in late October, and sea temperatures had cooled sufficiently to meet La Nina thresholds part way through November. Below average sea surface temperatures, in a narrow band along the equator, are the primary hallmark of La Nina (Figure 1). Other indicators, related to the atmospheric component of this weather pattern, are enhanced easterly trade winds in the southern hemisphere, suppressed convection (rainfall) in the tropics near the Dateline (180), and a sustained positive Southern Oscillation Index.

LATE-DEVELOPING EVENT

The 2017 La Nina is a latedeveloper. Usually, La Nina conditions will form during the southern hemisphere autumn,

strengthen during winter and spring, and peak around Christmas time. A typical La Nina event will continue in the first few months of the new calendar year, before dying out again during the autumn period. This La Nina was very slow to form, and is currently relatively weak. Figure 2 shows a time series of previous La Nina events, as measured by the NINO3.4 Index.

PREVIOUS LA NINA EVENTS

■ Moderate La Nina Summer 2011/2012 ■ Very strong La Nina Summer 2010/2011 ■ Weak/short La Nina Summer 2008/2009 ■ Moderate La Nina Summer 2007/2008 ■ Moderate to strong La Nina Winter 1998/Autumn 2001

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR NZ?

New Zealand weather maps don’t always play out to the “standard” La Nina recipe during weak or late-developing events. Sometimes, we see the New Zealand region being influenced by

Figure 2: A time series of the NINO3.4 sea surface temperature anomaly (deviation from normal), for the period 1990 to present. The NINO 3.4 anomaly is calculated between latitudes 5S to 5N, and longitudes 170W to 120W.

several competing influences. Historically, late and/or weak La Nina events have historically had mixed (variable) results on New Zealand summer (December — February) rainfall. To illustrate, Christchurch summer (December — February) rainfall totals, as a percentage of summer normal, are shown below (Table 1). It is evident that, in Canterbury at least, La Nina conditions are no guarantee of a clear-cut recipe for summer rainfall. Similarly, historical summer temperatures at Christchurch during past La Nina events show a wide range of results (Table 2).

LOOKING AHEAD

Now that a La Nina is in play, the majority of climate models continue to develop the event. The most likely outcome is that the event strengthens and continues into early 2018. Half of the models continue La Nina conditions through autumn, while the other half predict near-neutral sea temperatures along the equatorial Pacific. What type of summer New Zealand is likely to experience is going to depend on whether local climate factors, such as the Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean, reinforce or act against, the typical La Nina effects here. 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 ensemble prediction maps at www.metservice.com/emails


National Farming Review - December 2017  
National Farming Review - December 2017  
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