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AUGUST, 2015

Drought-stricken farmers

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t is heartening to see how a rural community responds in a time of uncertainty. While many North Canterbury farmers continue to suffer at the hands of a fickle climate, here in Mid Canterbury we continue to search for ways in which we can help. That is, I like to think, what sets us apart from our urban cousins. We have an empathy for our fellow farmer in their time of need and right now we need to continue to do so. For those in North Canterbury who have held on to their sheep most feed resources will disappear by the end of this month. This leaves many in the heartbreaking position of having to weigh up exiting more capital stock along with new season’s lambs. Locally we are being asked if we can help with those hoggets already here grazing. Can we help lamb them? Is there a way in which we can share farm? At a local Federated Farmers meeting cropping farmers were discussing how grazing ryegrass paddocks might fit into their rotation. On top of this of course has been the demoralising run on milk powder prices. In the face of declining returns the dairy community has rallied. They have been talking, meeting, encouraging each other to meet up and chew the fat.

Nadine Porter


Tweet us @farmjourno

It all helps. I was reminded last week of just how important checking on the health of our neighbours is in these uncertain times when the news of a suicide filtered through. I am hoping it will be the last and I urge all of you to make use of the Rural Support Trust should you notice a farmer acting oddly. All calls are anonymous and sometimes all it takes is for someone to call in and say hello to help. I have a personal connection to the thorny topic of suicide – as my father took his own life when I was five years old. I don’t subscribe to the commentators who would relegate any discussion to hidden rooms in hushed whispers. We must be realistic. In times of trouble and in isolation farmers make critical life choices that can affect them and their family forever. It is up to all of us to keep a watchful eye over the fence this year.

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WANT TO HELP? ■■ Call North Canterbury Drought Response Committee co-ordinator Angela Hogg on 027 432-0174 ■■ List your feed for sale – via Trade Me or livestock brokers ■■ Call livestock agents for share farming options

Donations of feed have been greatly appreciated but help is PHOTO AMANDA KONYN 270715-AK-136 needed with lambing.

N. Canty farmers need your help Nadine Porter


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The most serious issue facing North Canterbury farmers suffering drought right now is having areas to put ewes on during and after lambing. Donations from Canterbury farmers of over 650 bales of feed have been greatly appreciated, but more help is urgently needed to help those farmers suffering from drought.

Recently North Canterbury Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Dan Hodgen put out a call for Mid Canterbury farmers to help with this year’s lambing through commercial share farming operations. With around 80,000 ewes grazing on farms in the district, Mr Hodgen asked famers to contact livestock


agents if they had any capacity to help with lambing as North Canterbury farmers don’t have enough feed for the stock to go back to. On top of that, many farmers in the stricken region have been exiting capital stock to try and make it through – a situation that one drought assistance co-ordinator said was “very sad”.

Christchurch car dealer Grant Silvester established the Canterbury Drought Assist feed initiative earlier this year when it became apparent how serious the situation was. He remembered the kindness of farmers during the earthquakes and wanted to help in any way he could. continued over page

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Farming From P3 Mr Silvester said while there had been “incredible feed donations” worth over $100,000 any additional donations were “always welcome.” Currently there are two feed bank locations – one in Cheviot and one in Waikari – with many trucking firms donating their cartage costs for free. However, Mr Silvester said there was still “a lot more of the hard time to go yet”. “As we have always said, what we are doing will not fix the problem but will help along the way and just letting the farmers know that everyone’s thinking of them and trying to assist wherever they can is important.” Some joint share farming operations had come to light since Mr Hodgen’s call for help, he said. In several cases he had heard of a couple of Mid Canterbury properties grazing 600 to 800 ewes expecting twin lambs. In exchange for lambing services the farmer grazing the ewes was going to receive half the lambs born. “That means the capital stock will be looked after plus the farmer will have 600 lambs coming home. It’s a win-win situation.” PGG Wrightson Ashburton livestock manager Greg Cook said he hasn’t had any

Trucking owner Brett McGinity prepares to send a truckload of PHOTO ASHBURTON GUARDIAN donated feed to North Canterbury. 

enquiries from farmers looking to share farm with their North Canterbury counterparts because the timing was “not great” for local farmers. “A lot of our guys have already got their own fattening

lambs on property but I guess for those with no lambs yet it’s possibly an option.” However, the downward trend in dairy prices meant it could offer opportunities to those farmers who previously sold

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knew of North Canterbury farmers wanting to set an arrangement up. “Lambing ewes doesn’t always fit in on that many places because of a lack of shelter and big paddocks.”

He said there would be opportunities, but most cropping farmers were reasonably well stocked up with store lambs. “The ones I’ve seen don’t really have any spare room.”

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grass and baleage into the dairy industry. This could provide them with another opportunity. “It’s been a struggle to sell it.” Farm consultant Ross Polson hasn’t heard of any share farming arrangements yet but

The Ministry for Primary Industries has recently launched a booklet to help those farmers coping with a tough year. Managing through tough times has been distributed by the Rural Support Trust and will feature on many bank counters and farming retail service businesses. The leaflet urges farmers to think forward and reminds them that the short-term may-be challenging but the future looks strong. While uncertainty may-be a constant our farming sector remains resilient. Contacts for those needing to talk are included as are tips for managing through tough times. A smaller leaflet concentrating on coping with stress has been put out by the Government including what to look out for in those you suspect may be struggling mentally. Mid Canterbury Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Sue Baird said they were monitoring a “couple” of farmers at present but had not received many calls requesting assistance yet. She was pleased at how farmers were meeting within their own communities to keep lines of communication open.

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Rab McDowell: Don’t fight declining New Zealand farmers can produce the highest yields in the world, but the key to increased production lies in their farming systems, one of FAR’s founding members says. Speaking at the FAR annual conference in Ashburton recently, Rab McDowell said improved farming systems had made New Zealand dairy farmers competitive despite milk yields per cow being “way below” the best in the world. The need for improved systems in agriculture was constant: prices had been declining in real terms for over 200 years, he said, because farmers were getting better at producing food. Mr McDowell said that in real terms food prices in 2012 were two-thirds of what they were in 1980 and that Western consumers were spending less on food. “In 1960 the US population

Nadine Porter

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t t g t t h

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was spending 17 per cent of disposable income on food – now it’s less than 10 per cent and that’s despite the world population increasing.” However, now it takes 32 per cent of the land it took in 1961 to produce the same fixed quantity of crop product, he said. The trend of increasing productivity and declining product prices was likely to continue so farmers have to farm “within that rather than trying to fight it”. One of the ways to succeed in future was to keep ahead

FOOD FACTS ■■ In 2012 food prices were twothirds less than what they were in 1980 ■■ In 1960 the US population spent 17 per cent of their disposable income on food

of the pack in terms of productivity by further research for cropping systems, he said. “And that’s where FAR comes in. If we can keep our productivity rising we’ve got

■■ Today the US population spends less than 10 per cent of their disposable income on food ■■ It takes 32 per cent of the land it took in 1961 to produce the same quantity of crops

a future.” He spoke of real production increases, including Australian farmers talking of reaching the goal of two tonnes of wheat with 10 per cent protein in the 1990s, and said the FAR

20 tonnes of wheat by 2020 showed just how far New Zealand had come with its farming systems. Mr McDowell spoke of the importance of feed crops within arable rotations and

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Potato conference snippets By Nadine Porter

Left – Farmers listen intently during the FAR annual conference where Rab McDowell spoke of the need to keep productivity rising.

said switching to fodderbeet had given him an increase of 50 per cent per hectare. “Many times we’ve been told the farmer’s day is about to come because the world is getting bigger and it’s going to be running out of food, but that increase in productivity has allowed efficiency gains.” New Zealand has natural advantages when looking at the future of agriculture – particularly in terms of its latitude – but it needed to take advantage of them. “When you look around the globe there is very little other dirt in the Southern Hemisphere in this latitude. It’s a potentially good latitude for growing many crops.” Sunshine intensity and a stable western style of government within that

latitude were some of the reasons why New Zealand farmers grow so many record crops, he said. “It’s a tremendous advantage and it’s coming through in things like carrots and other small seeds.” New Zealand soils were the envy of the world and per head of population we had “just about more water than any other country in the world apart from the likes of Norway. “While we consider that water is scarce I think we have a tremendous resource there.” He finished with a warning to all farmers. “More and more people who know less and less about farming will tell you more and more about what you should do on your farm.”


UK potato yields plateaued Extensive agronomic knowledge on tuber quality is required to improve marketable yield of potatoes in the United Kingdom, according to a leading British scientist. Dr David Firman told farmers attending the NZ Potato Conference that following more than 30 years of steadily increasing potato yields in the UK, the average national yield has now reached a plateau of around 45 tonnes per hectare for the past decade. Highly regarded for his research into potatoes Dr Firman was recently awarded a $350 000 Potato Council research fellowship to help develop the next generation of potato scientists and researchers. Dr Firman said in the UK there had now been a comprehensive understanding of factors affecting yield

Dorie irrigation trial potatoes were planted in 2014. The following are the key findings of the FAR and Plant and Food Research potato trial: ■■ Increasing irrigation amounts increased the production of largesized tubers and reduced the production of small sized tubers, although no significant differences in yield of large and smallsized tubers when replacing 66 per cent or 100 per cent of soil water deficit. ■■ The timing of water stress can have an impact on yield – continuous stress occurring after canopy closure can reduce marketable yield by up to 10 tonnes per hectare ■■ Tuber dry matter content was around 27 per cent for the rain-fed treatment and around 21 to 24 per cent as irrigation amounts increased ■■ Most of the water extraction by the crop occurred in the ridge.

formation and tuber size distribution through research and that had provided a framework for monitoring crop development in research crops which was readily transferable to commercial crops. Dr Firman told the audience that work with individual

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Resistance huge problem in UK By Nadine Porter UK cereal farmers are ruining the land with some considering pulling out of wheat production because of the “horrendous problem” they have with herbicide/fungicide resistance, according to a leading British agricultural scientist. Speaking at the FAR annual conference in Ashburton yesterday Dr Mike Carver said he had recently met farmers who were spending $422/ha just on blackgrass control alone. Many crops have been sprayed with herbicides four or more times in one season, while some farmers have implemented a five-spray fungicide programme. “They’ve managed to sneak in a fifth spray at T1.5. If you can’t find room for it just split the decimal point! I think a lot of pathologists would tell you four lots of herbicide and five lots of fungicide might be creating resistance.”

Dr Carver said without chlorothalonils – an active chemical used to control fungal diseases in cereal crops – there would be “boatloads” of farmers coming to New Zealand. “But we’ve got resistance to so many herbicides and fungicides and the question is where are the new actives?” New chemical weapons were not coming forward with the

“But we’ve got to be more progressive and get more break crops. In many respects we (UK farmers) are ruining the land.” Dr Carver painted a gloomy picture overall and said UK farmers had been “absolutely hammering” their soils. “And it can’t go on … we have to do something about it.” Soil compaction as tractors became heavier was increasing

of data on farm, Dr Carver was concerned farmers did not understand the “big data” and the benefits that could be gained from its application. Grain prices were also another area of concern in the UK with “enormous hikes” experienced by farmers in input costs from around $234 per hectare for wheat alone in 2005 to $1241 per hectare today. By

We fought wars over oil and I think we will fight wars over water one day

same frequency they did in the past, he said. “We urgently need more active ingredients and more modes of action.” He said UK crop rotations were tighter than their New Zealand counterparts with many operating a repetitive wheat/rape cycle because of gross margins.

soil stress 14-fold, he said. “What are we doing to our soils?” He also questioned whether farmers really understood physiology and said UK crops needed to have longer canopy growth to intercept more light and good germ plasms. While precision agriculture produced a phenomenal amount

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2016 input costs were projected to rise to $1255 per hectare. “We have got ourselves on a treadmill of just increasing costs and all the penalties that brings.” He warned that climate change would be an issue in the future with every degree celsius increase in temperatures costing the world 6 per cent of its

wheat crop. There would be a frightening need for water in the UK with the average production of wheat requiring 1,830,000 litres per hectare of wheat, he said. “The water footprint is critical ... You might have enough in New Zealand, but we certainly don’t in the UK ... We fought wars over oil and I think we will fight wars over water one day.” By 2050 world food production must increase by 60 per cent, energy by 50 per cent and water by 40 per cent. The UK industry will need a better understanding of crop rotations, plant physiology and will need to reduce damage to soils and improve varieties to move forward, he said. Right – Resistance to herbicides and fungicides is a horrendous problem, according to Dr Mike Carver.



Nick Pyke celebrates 20 years with FAR By Nadine Porter It might have been FAR’s 20th anniversary, but on the first morning of the annual conference it was the CEO’s time to shine. Nick Pyke has been with the foundation since its inception and did not escape the spotlight when Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy commended him for his work. Formed in 1995 and operating under the Commodity Levy Act, the Foundation for Arable Research has been recognised world-wide as a leader in research on cereal and maize crops. Mr Pyke said the conference was timely as it enabled FAR to look back on how much progress had been made, but also, to look forward and assess where the

Nick Pyke celebrated 20 years with FAR at the recent conference.

next two decades will take the industry. “In 1995 our research focused pretty much within the farm gate on things like crop inputs and cultivar selection.” However, since then FAR has developed to actively undertake research and extension on a

broad range of grain and seeds crops here and in Australia. “In more recent years we have developed a focus on whole farm systems and managing the environmental impacts of cropping farms.” Publications had come a long way since FAR first began and the CROPs event held every year in Cherstey had become one of New Zealand’s largest one-day rural extension events, attracting over 600 farmers. Mr Pyke said maintaining or increasing productivity in the face of reduced inputs, be they water, nutrients or agrichemicals was a recurring theme when looking forward to the next 20 years. “One thing is certain, our future farms will be more and more reliant on technology and data.”

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South Canty’s Don McFarlane As a farmer you are either looking forward or going back, according to Don McFarlane. There is no status quo and that attitude is, in part, why the South Canterbury leader was recently recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours list. Awarded the MNZM (member of the order) for services to agriculture, Mr McFarlane has long been ahead of his time and at the forefront of farmer leadership in New Zealand. Travel at a critical time in his life, a Nuffield scholarship and an understanding of how vital water was to the dry South Canterbury climate saw him among the first to install irrigation on his dryland farm in 1975. “I came to the conclusion that water was going to be as important as oil as far as progressing in the world. If you are thinking food you are thinking water because they are inexplicably linked.” Considered a risky venture, but with the backing of wellknown farm consultant Bob Engelbrecht, Mr McFarlane was fortuitous to drill and

Nadine Porter


Tweet us @farmjourno

find shallow water which enabled him to install side roll irrigation. Back then it cost $50,000 to $60,000 for a well, mainline and “a couple of side rolls” – a significant investment when considering the real prospect of failure. Water, its environmental impact and delivery to rural areas have been one of Mr McFarlane’s many passions, particularly following on from the devastating and challenging farming era of the late 80s and 90s. “It was an era of very high interest rates, excess unserviceable debt and quite difficult drought years on top of that.” The combination of all those

Above – Don McFarlane says as a farmer you are either looking forward or going back – there is no status quo. Right – The Opuha Dam project was immensely satisfying for Don McFarlane.

factors made it tricky for most and Mr McFarlane worked closely within Federated Farmers’ leadership to develop policies to enable farmers to

cope. Having irrigation on his own farm during the downturn and ensuing drought, Mr McFarlane understood just how fortunate he had been in

removing the climatic variables from his production. That knowledge led to active leadership in bringing water to South Canterbury farmers.


– A visionary farmer ACHIEVEMENTS ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■

“When you saw the other areas during the downturn coping with drought you realised how vulnerable they were. South Canterbury

has always been a watershort region that hasn’t had significant access to water resources.” His conviction increased as

Nuffield and Kellogg Scholar Director Farmlands, Clough Holdings/DuncanAg, Moeraki Ltd, NZ Honey Co-operative, Presbyterian Support South Canterbury, Hunter Downs Irrigation Committee Past director of Rangitata South Irrigation Ltd, Opihi River Development Ltd. Chaired Aoraki Business Development Board, Hunter Downs Irrigation Committee Former president of South Canterbury Federated Farmers Queen’s Birthday Honour 2015 – MNZM – for services to agriculture

water schemes grew, including the Opuha Dam project – where he was a director of the parent company Opihi River Development Ltd that was set up to get it under way. Involved with the Hunter Downs Irrigation Committee since its inception and a former chairman of the committee before becoming a director, he has been at the forefront of the community irrigation proposal set up to investigate irrigating up to 40,000 hectares of a total area of 60,000 hectares from the Waitaki River - stretching as far north as Otipua. Irrigation schemes have also been able to help environmentally, he said.

“We have the ability to improve the Wainono Lagoon – over the years it had been affected by run off on surrounding land. Irrigation and more water has got the ability to dilute and improve that. “In many ways irrigation has been able to mitigate some of the environmental consequences of agriculture. For example the Opuha Dam extra storage has kept the Opuha and Opihi river system with a flow beyond what was historically normal.” Back at the 575-hectare fully irrigated Temuka farm Mr McFarlane farms in partnership with his wife and son, the

positive affect of water can be seen everywhere with the farm system constantly diversifying. Where once the land first farmed by his parents in the late 1940s ran sheep and grew a small amount of crop, it now produces carrots, potatoes, cereals, grass seed and blackcurrants. Dairy cattle are grazed together with lambs for finishing and 1400 dairy cows are wintered on kale. The diversification into blackcurrants came in the 1980s downturn following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster causing a shortage within the Polish crop due to radiation spread. continued over page


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Farming From P11 “We have quite a diverse farm but it is only able to be so because of having water as a mechanism.” Although involved in local body politics early on in his career, Mr McFarlane found the ability to achieve commercial outcomes for farmers more “certain and satisfying”. “I’ve always been a great believer in co-operatives and the farmers’ ability to control and influence supply chains.” An integral part of CRT South Canterbury’s merger with neighbours, then with Farmlands, Mr McFarlane has enjoyed being part of a business capable of buying across a diverse range of products while providing strong competitive influences across a market place that farmers own. “I absolutely believe a large co-operative can work. Having a national group (such as Farmlands) was the next logical step as it didn’t make sense for one in each island replicating the same office expenses and structures and not getting the benefit to buy

better from our suppliers.” Mr McFarlane’s view that the best form of charity was to help your fellow person has led to a wide variety of agricultural leadership positions. Asked why he felt compelled to take on so many roles, he attributed it to having elements of altruism and naieveness. No matter the reason Mr McFarlane continues to help where he can and has been conscious that the social license to farm has been something everyone must keep earning. “We are facing a challenging couple of years not unlike those in previous times but farmers are better equipped to deal with it and more used to volatility.” In the medium term the challenge for farming would be producing food intensively while recognising the environmental impact. “And we do still have to be thinking what the landscape is going to look like in 10 years’ time – and what is our framework like to deal with those changes. “We have to be getting ready before we get there.”

Left – Irrigation has diversified the McFarlane family farm in Temuka. From left: Bridget and Hamish McFarlane (son), Di and Don McFarlane.



FAR conference 2015


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Above – Concentrating on how to gain more productivity on farm. Left – Gregor Robertson (left) and Jeff Cridge. PHOTO AMANDA KONYN 220715-AK-185

Below left – Listening intently on the field trip to Eric Watson’s farm in Wakanui. Below – The ladies who keep the conference running smoothly. From left: Amy Robson, Anna Heslop and Melanie Bond.





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Farmers are leading a quiet revolution

By Donna Field, chair of the Ashburton Zone Committee Canterbury Water Management Strategy

There is a quiet revolution going on out there. Who would have believed two or three years ago that farmers would be gathering around kitchen tables to prepare farm environment plans. Not only that but they are also finding the experience to be a positive one. Farm Environment Plans

– or FEPs – are a way for farmers to identify how nutrients and water is lost from their property and put in place actions to reduce such losses. It is just good business. Nutrients and water cost money and the more you can keep on the property and recycle them through the farming system the cheaper your fertiliser and/or your electricity bill. FEPs can be a good marketing tool: for example farmers on Banks Peninsula are preparing FEPs, not

because they have to, but because they see FEPs as giving a point of positive difference for their products. FEPs are an important tool to identify other values such as biodiversity and cultural values. Gathering food from the wild has always been a big part of Māori culture and some farmers are beginning to identify a variety of small things, such as cleaning a drain in a certain way, may be all that is needed to improve food gathering opportunities.

FEPs are an important tool to help develop trust between the rural and urban communities. Let us face it - for years it has been said to the urban community: “trust us we are doing the right thing”. But unfortunately all that the urban community see are low river levels, algae blooms and health warnings at their favourite swimming spot. Urban dwellers are not seeing positive environmental results from that trust. FEPs will record actions

farmers are taking and provide concrete evidence we are operating at industry based good management practice and above. There will be facts and figures to record our efforts. This will help build credibility both at home and overseas. Let’s not hide our efforts under a Matagouri bush – let’s tell our story. To find out more about FEPs visit lwrp click on “About the Plan” and then “Information for Farmers”.

Steps to keep up with farming By Environment Canterbury

Things are difficult on the farm with the decrease in dairy pay outs likely to affect not only dairy farmers but also the wider community as well as supporting land uses and service industries. On top of this most farmers are now subject to managing nutrient limits.

Our best advice for farmers is to:

• Keep up with what’s happening in your area – attend meetings, talk to others, • Collect your nitrogen loss data so you can prepare a nutrient budget using OVERSEER® • Prepare a Farm Environment Plan (FEP) • Take a look at the industry agreed Good Management Practices - think about where your farm sits in relation to these. A Farm Environment Plan is a great way to record and demonstrate all the good things already happening on your farm. Your FEP is a way of identifying the potential environmental risks on your farm and demonstrating how you are managing them.

Your FEP is unique to your property. It should align with your farm system and your goals and aspirations.

Workshops are a good way to find out more Recently Beef + Lamb NZ, with assistance from Environment Canterbury Land Management Advisors, conducted a FEP workshop for the high country farmers affected by the sensitive lake zone provisions under the Land and Water Regional Plan. The Beef + Lamb facilitator, James Hoban, did a great job and guided the farmers through the process of identifying potential environmental risk areas on their farms and coming up with an action plan that fits in with their farm business. Many of the actions in the FEP are low cost actions that not only benefit the environment but can also provide on farm financial benefits. Farmers who attended the day were surprised how simple and straightforward it was to write their own FEPs with guidance from James and the Land Management Advisors.

High country farmers at the recent Beef + Lamb FEP workshop in Methven learnt how easy it is to prepare a Farm Environment Plan.

Philip Todhunter from Lake Heron Station commented: “A worthwhile day run by Beef + Lamb NZ with support from Environment Canterbury’s Land Management Advisors to help us prepare our own Farm Environment Plans”. For further assistance and advice contact your industry representative (many industry bodies now have Environment Canterbury approved templates) or the Environment Canterbury Land Management Advisor for your zone (call us on 0800 324-636).

On-farm fieldays – such as this one held last year on the awardwinning Slee farm – are a very useful way for farmers to find out about new ideas.

2 16


Why worry about your grass? While many people’s experience of owning and riding their horse is relatively trouble-free, a considerable number of horses and ponies succumb to a wide array of serious health and behaviour problems every year despite their owners spending vast amounts of money on professional advice. Many are put down, turned out, sold for the wrong reasons, don’t reach their full performance potential or are retired far too early. Others become metabolic, get laminitis, are diagnosed with ‘sacroiliac’ problems, become head-flickers/shakers, get mysterious bouts of colic, allergies and skin conditions or mud-fever, buck or spook people off, are forever needing therapies and treatments for ‘muscle-soreness’ or have endless trouble with saddlefitting. Some horses become over-reactive and therefore dangerous. The combination of an over-reactive horse with a person who does not ‘read’ these signs is a recipe for a serious accident.

Jenny Paterson


These are the ones we deal with on a daily basis and believe me the emotional toll on their owners is significant. Let’s face it if your horse isn’t right it ruins your whole day. Add to that the economic toll which can strain relationships because the non-horsey half doesn’t understand. Desperate owners spend significant amounts of money on every treatment known to mankind. They spend on everything except the ‘one thing’ that will make the most difference: their grass and its proper management and stock-piling suitable hay. A horse in his natural habitat trickle feeds on high fibre grasses, bushes, shrubs and trees. Plants that have grown on unfertile ground,

deriving a little bit of nutrition from a lot of low nutrient density mouthfuls. He would not get to eat socalled ‘improved’ grasses like rye-grass or legumes like clover and Lucerne or grains like oats, corn or barley. He has ample energy without ever consuming any processed feeds (‘equine junk food’). Fast forward to current horse-keeping practices where horses are confined behind fences and forced to eat unbalanced re-growth, even fertilised and supposedly ‘improved’ grasses. Their pasture often consists of a single species sown with clover. Gone is the variety and fibre content of their natural diet. Unfertile land is very low in potassium and nitrogen. This is why farmers apply such nutrients in considerable quantities to boost growth and ensure sufficient grass to fatten livestock. It is this strategy of feeding horses like other livestock that contributes to many health and behaviour problems. However, by being mindful

A picture of blooming health: Wild horses from the very unfertile sage-brush country in the background.

of your Pasture Management it is possible to successfully keep horses on your grass. Here are some considerations: • Avoid over-grazing by not over-stocking. Very short grass is stressed and takes a lot longer to recover from being heavily grazed. • Implement a longer rotation so grass can achieve a more mature stage of growth, ensuring a higher fibre content with far more suitable mineral balances. 24/7 access may not be possible all year long. • Use an effective broadleaf spray annually to eliminate clover and other undesirable plants like Cape-Weed. Early spring is a good time. • Become aware. Observe, remember, compare. Plan

well ahead. Identify your grasses. Fill out the ‘Heath Check’ on and supplement your horse accordingly • Learn which feeds to avoid because they make it harder for your horse to stay calm and healthy If you are renting your grazing, your ability to manage pasture may be limited but not impossible. You may be able to, with the help of temporary fencing, implement some of the points above. You may have to rely more on suitable supplements. Either way understanding how your grass is affecting your horse will empower you to make the best decisions.

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Observations on risk John Leadley

on a treadmill of hire purchase debt for non-essential items. Peer pressure and cheap finance combined with lack of financial discipline is a dangerous mix. Don’t let yourselves be the next casualty. Plan long term – not day to day. If I have any advice for those in farming, after surviving 50 years in the industry (including purchasing land in the early 80s and seeing the GV drop 40-plus per cent in four months) it would include:


At last there seems to be more appreciation of the fact that the New Zealand economy may be on the cusp of a significant longer-term downturn. Finance Minister Bill English’s statement endorsing the US Ministry of Agriculture view that the dairy price in China and resulting milk powder “mountain” is a “perfect storm of events” is timely. Previous assertions that the dairy industry downturn is a short to medium term problem are now being reviewed at all levels – about time. Those of us with less than fond memories of the British and ECC Butter Mountains of 30 to 40 years ago know full well what can happen. While dropping interest and currency rates are helping,

China’s milk powder mountain is part of a perfect storm.

I believe we are again in a scenario where cash is king, as it always should be. Borrowing for anything other than business survival, efficiency, or proven diversity of production may well be very risky. I note with interest the

re-emergence of the term equity – a forgotten term in recent years; but if interest rates rise significantly and unexpectedly as they did in the 1980s the outcome in many situations could be catastrophic. This applies not only to industry but equally to

family budgeting. The promotion and availability of low interest long term finance from multinational big box overseas retail outlets has bought about a generation where many exist on a day to day financial basis. Too many households live

■■ Make long-term plans and borrow accordingly ■■ Get as much professional advice as you can (including from geriatric farmers who have “been there done that”) ■■ Treat staff as you would like to be treated yourself ■■ Be prepared to innovate and take opportunities ■■ Build relationships with advisers and bankers ■■ Reward loyalty in business and personal life ■■ Swallow pride and get help early if you need rural support ■■ And above all focus on efficiency and equity

2 18


NZ-owned coffee business provid By Nadine Porter In among the lush tropical bush, tucked around an ancient burial ground there is a story emerging from Fiji that may secure the future for many villages as well as New Zealand’s growing demand for coffee and chocolate. Wild coffee plants have been flourishing for decades in the tropical hinterlands of Fiji, but until recently their beautiful ripe red cherries have been a hidden treasure – their true value simply unknown by the villages who grew them. That all changed when New Zealander Luke Freyett discovered the wild plantations and set up Bula Coffee – an initiative to introduce an alternative income for villages. With a small factory on the outskirts of Sigatoka where the coffee beans will be roasted, to the duty free shops and New World supermarkets across Fiji, the villages taking part have seen their beans on shelves everywhere. For some the money involved has been a welcome bonus. In bare feet and with a

huge smile, Nadromai Village resident Nancye Naivalule toured the abundant plantation, dotted with small red and green coffee cherries, and told of the happy three months from January to March this year she spent working at the Shangri-la Resort during the day and picking at the coffee plantation from the middle of the afternoon to early evening. It has been a combined

Fiji’s potential as a coffee bean producer has been cemented ...

village effort to harvest the seeds from those cherries, before spreading them on to rooftops and across playgrounds in order for them to dry in the sun. It’s an age-old method of processing coffee, where cherries will be raked and

turned throughout the day to prevent them from spoiling. Depending on the weather, this process might continue for several weeks until the moisture content of the cherries drop to 11 per cent. They will then be pulped with a machine. From there Bula Coffee takes the dried cherries to its warehouse where they will be roasted and packed as fresh coffee for the local market. For Nancye and her extended village family it meant a paycheck this year of $NZ5577 from 1.45 tonnes of dried coffee beans – a significant amount for a village where many of the young men and women work in resorts for between $1.93 to $3.24 per hour. Fiji’s potential as a coffee bean producer has been cemented with Bula Coffee now working with 25 villages. The resulting tourism interest has led to Bula Coffee considering its premises to encompass a café and coffee tour. continued next page


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ding Fijian villages with income From P19 While coffee may well be a substantial earner for Fiji in the future, the government has also been concentrating heavily on reviving cacao plantations, particularly in the north to help fuel prospective international supply shortages from South America as demand for chocolate continues to increase. Senior Agriculture Officer for Macuata, Kanito Matagasau, said that government money has been set aside to upgrade facilities at a combined collection site in order for it to cater for smaller cocoa growers in the northern division. “The dryers are being repaired which will assist in the proper fermentation process and maintaining good quality dried cocoa beans for the markets.” The collection site will be part of the Matasawalevu Cocoa project – one of the largest cocoa farms in Fiji, with all necessary facilities required for processing of cocoa. Owned by the Matasawalevu Cocoa Co-operative group, production has dropped drastically.

Above – Nancye Naivalule and the chief of one of the villages with fresh cacao plantations. Left – A New Zealand coffee entrepreneur is making a real difference to Fijian villages like the one Nancye Naivalule comes from. Right – The raw green coffee bean before processing. PHOTOS NADINE PORTER

During its peak production time the farm had the potential to produce 110 tonnes of dried cocoa beans annually, but the current production is close to only 1 tonne per year. Now the farm has been leased by Arif Khan of Cacao Fiji who intends to develop this farm to its full potential. Mr Khan said he decided to lease the farm as there were huge markets available for dried cocoa beans. “This cocoa farm is one of the biggest farms in Fiji comprising of a total land area of over 400 acres with all necessary facilities. “The farm was left idle for the past 14 years with no production, but looking at the potential I decided to lease the whole property.” Mr Khan said some fermented cocoa beans were sent to France recently. “And we have received positive feedback which seems to be another strong market where we can supply.” Cacao beans have been fetching over $4388 per tonne internationally, with global shortages predicted by 2020.





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2 20

Lupins a double-edged sword Mary Ralston

local Landcare group. Pockets of lupins in the Forbes and Havelock catchments are sprayed twice every year by DOC, but the seed has a very long life and continuously germinates in riverbeds. Merino New Zealand and Environment Canterbury are in discussion about how to manage lupins to avoid unwanted spread. Hopefully they are taking the issue very seriously and a plan of action will not be too far away.


Nearly everyone knows the Russell lupin – the purple flowered plant that grows along the roadsides, tussock grasslands and lakes in the Mackenzie Country, especially around Tekapo. The lupin obviously has no trouble colonising these low-nutrient areas. One of the reasons for this is its nitrogenfixing ability – it doesn’t have to rely on the soil to supply this essential nutrient. Broom and gorse are also nitrogen fixers that thrive in riverbeds and similar areas. Lupins have recently been the topic of research because they are recognised as having potential as a fodder crop for sheep in the hill and high country. Not only can lupins fix nitrogen, but they are also

Lupins may have potential as a fodder crop for sheep in the hill and high country, but unwanted spread can affect native habitats.

able to tolerate soils that are high in aluminium and have a low pH. However, here-in lies the potential for trouble. Many of our areas of high conservation and landscape value have conditions that are ideal for lupin spread. Lupins and other weeds, such as broom, limit the area for nesting birds and provide cover for introduced predators. Our native

birds that are braided river specialists are already under considerable pressure from weeds and pests and many species are in serious decline. In many areas of the South Island high country, there have been a huge and expensive effort to control lupins over many years. Locally, lupin and broom control has been undertaken in the Upper Rangitata by the

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Helicopter into the hills Greg Martin


For my companion on the trip, it wasn’t a new experience. As an ex-military doctor, Matt had flown medivac missions in Afghanistan with the US Army – for me however, it was my first time up in a helicopter. “Get them to drop you on the saddle on the true left of the valley, not the right,” I had been advised by someone in the know, and so we had arrived at base at 5.30am and I had passed on the directions to the pilot. As soon as it was light the engine of the R44 was warming up. Another machine with three hunters on board lifted off for the headwaters of the Rangitata with the occupants looking happy as they contemplated their own adventure, and then it was

Above – An easy trip up from the dairy flats. Left – Greg Martin pokes his way through some thick, misty bush.

Camped out on the tops after the heli-drop.

our turn. I enjoy flying, but my fixed-wing experiences to date had left me concerned

about G-forces and motion sickness. I was therefore a little apprehensive as we lifted off

as I expected a chopper to be worse. To my surprise, it wasn’t …

It felt safer and ‘floatier’ than I ever would have expected. Soon we were over the dairy paddocks and into the hills, and turning up the valley to the right. Before I had time to take it all in, we were on the saddle with our gear in the grass watching the chopper drop away to the north, leaving us to contemplate the hunting ahead. Three days later I was lying near the same saddle staring up at the clear blue sky … listening. Pick-up was scheduled for 3pm. We were packed up and ready, waiting, lying flat like we had been told to do. Would he come? If he didn’t, then it would be an eight-hour walk out. It was sunny, still and quiet and then faintly in the distance I heard a fluttering machine from down in the valley. I smiled at the exhilaration of it all - this was for us. He was coming. Our pick-up was here! By 3.20pm we were down in the dairy paddocks again loading the car with gear and venison. How easy! What an experience … what a machine!


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We have something for everyone A new Ashburton U-Hire with the same friendly experienced staff ! With a new showroom, ample parking and a fantastic range of new equipment Ashburton U-Hire has been brought into the 21st century since its inception in 1987. Back then, during the rural downturn Ashburton U-Hire was an important point of call for farmers struggling in the national recession. The business offered then – as it still does now – an affordable short term rental option and a chance to try equipment before a bigger purchase decision was made. From the beginning Ashburton U-Hire has had a reputation for having an affordable, friendly flexible service. That has only grown over time with a super friendly experienced team ready and waiting to meet your needs. Sales/Customer Service & Marketing Manager Gordon Clark said a strong emphasis on maintenance means equipment will be routinely maintained to ensure

the safety and operation of equipment when out on hire. On top of that Ashburton U-Hire has invested in top of the line brands including John Deere, Genie, Helmack and Mikasa, Jamie Oliver and Honda. Inside the superb catering

showroom you will find deluxe crockery, trestle tables and all manner of culinary equipment available for all your party needs, whether large or intimate. With a well-known local team that always greet you with a smile, and years of

engineering and maintenance experience between them, Ashburton U-Hire can offer a level of expertise and understanding. The current makeover is only phase one, says Gordon. The one description customers might attribute

to the new look Ashburton U-Hire is pristine. With fresh new surroundings and ease to drive through the yard, the inventory has been updated to meet customer demands with some items being retired and new items added to the list. Customer service always at the fore, some larger equipment can be delivered or picked up around town. Gordon says anything a customer needs will be sought and flexibility is one of their strengths and that hiring can mitigate financial risk while allowing a customer to try something before they buy. “Business hiring is fully tax deductible.” The friendly nature of the staff is yet another strength and it is very rare not to be greeted with a wide smile. And remember to check out the new showroom. From party lighting to disco balls, portaloos, to rotary hoes…there’s something for everyone at Ashburton U-Hire!



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Live export worth $2b to Aust RURAL EDITOR

Tweet us @farmjourno

A potential $2 billion boost to the Australian agricultural economy on the back of a live export cattle deal to China will not nudge the New Zealand Government into opening discussions on resuming the same trade. On a recent visit to Ashburton the Minister of Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, refused to consider resuming a live export for slaughter trade even if animal welfare and slaughter standards could be guaranteed. “At the moment the Government is concentrating on breeding stock for exports.” The Chinese deal will mean Australian cattle farmers will be able to export up to one

National Farmers Federation president Brent Finlay, from Queensland, says farmers in both New Zealand and Australia want every market opportunity they can get.

million head of cattle and possibly more in the future. First exports will take place in 2016 with around 50,000 head. It has been the culmination of a long and involved process between Australian and Chinese veterinarians in order to ensure vital animal welfare

and slaughter standards. National Farmers Federation president Brent Finlay, a Queensland farmer, said this was another market option that could be potentially “very large” and meant the outlook for the Aussie beef sector was strong. “It’s a great opportunity for

Australian producers. It’s my understanding it will be open to cattle all over Australia including those in the south.” While not wanting to discuss New Zealand domestic policy surrounding live export for slaughter, Mr Finlay said in the eight years he had been representing farmers the key

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issue reiterated again and again was market access. “To have as many markets as they possibly can is important to them and that’s the same in both countries. We are both big trading nations and it’s so important we can access markets around the world.” Mr Finlay said the Chinese deal, along with some “incredible trade agreements” set up by Australian trade minister Andrew Robb, had led to a high level of optimism among farmers. “We can feel within Australian agriculture that we are on the cusp of a golden age. We have the potential to double the size of agricultural exports in the next 20 years.” Mr Finlay believed there was always room for both New Zealand and Australia to work together to improve agricultural prospects for both. “We look to New Zealand and to what you have done around branding. “Our rivalry is good and it is strong and I think it is putting us ahead of other nations in the world.”


2 24

Get up to speed for season ahead Andrew Curtis


With the arrival of August, IrrigationNZ’s training schedule has resumed. Irrigating farmers are starting to think about preseason maintenance and their expectations for the season ahead. If you operate irrigation, work for a business that supports irrigation activity or are the owner of irrigation infrastructure, it could be time to consider how you can improve your irrigation knowledge base. Launched by IrrigationNZ earlier this year, Irrigation Fundamentals is a threeday course targeting new entrants to the industry and frontline staff of businesses and organisations that provide services to the irrigation


Training opportunities start again this month for irrigators and related industry personnel to get up to speed with new requirements.

industry. The aim is to give people a comprehensive overview of the complexity of the systems that take water from source to paddock. The next course will be held between August 18 and 20 at

Lincoln. Over the past few years IrrigationNZ has been working with industry to develop robust qualifications to encourage skill development and top performance on-farm. Two

new irrigation qualifications will be launched before Christmas providing irrigating farmers with greater confidence that their irrigation is being operated to a high standard. Registrations are now

open for the New Zealand Certificate in Irrigation Performance Assessment which will be held between September 16 and 18 and the New Zealand Certificate in Irrigation Management scheduled for November 5 and 6. Registration details for Irrigation Fundamentals or either qualification can be found at events-training/irrigationtraining/ or by phoning Kate Mills 03 974-1425. The qualifications come at a time when there is more and more call for accountability and their development will prove to regulators and public alike that the irrigation industry is serious about lifting the game and evidence is able to be demonstrated. At a recent scheme forum held in Lincoln, Central Plains Water Ltd announced that moving forward, the scheme will now require accredited designers and also certified performance evaluators. Andrew Curtis is chief executive officer of IrrigationNZ




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• Honda Motorbike from Honda Country • Product from Stocker Dairy Services • Direct drilling from Quigley Contracting • Calf Meal from Dairy Business Centre • Concrete products form Hanham Concrete • Al semen from Samen • Spot prizes from NZ Farm Source & Ecolab


CLEARING SALE ON BEHALF OF S. J. AND E. K. ELLIS Kicking the tyres and checking out the bargains at the clearing sale on behalf of S. J. and E. K. Ellis.

ALL Heartland Rugby Championship Games played at the Ashburton Showgrounds. ENTRANTS • Two tickets to the MCRU Bobby Calf Prize Giving Dinner at the Ashburton Hotel in RECEIVE November • Two Ground passes to Mid Canterbury rburyrug te n a c id w.m form ww rton or .nz an entry 8, Ashbu 9 d a X lo O n B w O Do st to P nterbury o a p c r id e h m it E in@ T mail adm 7 AUGUS 0103 or e 8 0 3 3 0 S FRIDAY E S Fax O L C Y



We are the experts in:

Underpasses Laneways Effluent Ponds

Phone Dave Rowlands 027 484 1114 Diesel Workshop direct line: 308 7400 ‘And much more from the company that understands meal feeding.’ • • • • • • • • • •

Rotary & Herringbone & Robotic Sheds Feed Systems Molasses Systems PKE & Pellet Systems Silos Augers Mills – New Generation Mineral Dispensers Dust Kits Air Fluidizer Kits

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Ashburton Contracting Limited

P 03 308 4039 A 48 South Street, Ashburton W

2 26


Sustainability at work your sustainability progress. Entries are now open for the 2015 awards and close on August 10. Sustainability at home Sheryl Stivens


New Zealand is the first country to power vehicles with commercial biofuel made from the by-product of beer – an initiative by DB Export that kicked off in July. As a result 30,000 litres of ethanol mixed with premium petrol to make 300,000 litres of biofuel will be sold at 60 Gull petrol stations across the North Island. DB head of domestic beer marketing Sean O’Donnell says Brewtroleum was an innovation that began over a few beers. “We saw the opportunity to take the natural by-product of the brewing process and turn it into something that can genuinely help the environment,” he says. Brewtroleum emits 8 per

Brewtroleum emits 8 per cent less carbon than normal petroleum.

cent less carbon than normal petroleum and delivers the same performance in comparison. Mr O’Donnell says he would like to see the product become long-term, after an assessment of consumer demand and feasibility. He expects the first batch to

last around six weeks. Why not enter your business in the NZ sustainability awards? The NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards have been running for 13 years to celebrate the contribution

businesses, government agencies, social enterprises and individuals are making in transforming New Zealand into a model sustainable nation. The awards, which are free to enter and open to anyone in New Zealand, are a great way to celebrate

Meantime, at home during winter is a good time to get your sustainability systems in place and working well in your home and garden. Make sure there is always a recycling bin alongside your rubbish bin to separate resources from waste. In the food prep areas have a small compost container for foodwaste or a bokashi bucket so you can compost right inside your home. There is a free monthly compost workshop – Monday, August 17, 11-12 noon. All welcome. To see options for composting foodwaste with bokashi, worms or in a compost bin or get help improving what you are already doing come along to the Eco Education Centre. Call the recycling helpline 0800 627-824 or email

Masta-Gardener COMPOST

Quality compost slow brewed locally in Ashburton by Mastagard from a diversity of green plant materials. Batch tested to ensure quality and ready to apply a generous helping to your gardens or farmland. Pick up from the Ashburton Resource Recovery Park. Range Road, Ashburton.

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Working with you for a greener tomorrow Specialists in all types of waste removal Frontload bins for General Waste Gantry Skips for Building sites or a home clean up

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AIMI CEREAL REPORT The latest AIMI Cereal Report for NZ Arable farmers (Key points at July 1, 2015. Figures have been rounded to nearest 100): ■■ Final average yields were virtually identical to last season, being just 3 per cent lower for the two biggest crops, feed wheat and feed barley. ■■ Milling wheat: Estimated final total tonnage (89,000 t) was down 10 per cent compared to last year’s harvest. Of this total 77 per cent has been sold (69,000 t), although most of the sold grain is still stored on farm (75 per cent). The amount of unsold grain is 20,000 tonnes (23 per cent), which is less than at the same time last year, July 1, 2014 (23,600 t). The amount of unsold grain increased between April 1 and July 1, 2015 (up by 3900 t), as compared to a 6700 t decrease in unsold grain between the same dates last year. ■■ Feed wheat: Estimated final total tonnage (308,800 t) was down 2 per cent compared to last year’s harvest. Of this total 88 per cent has been sold (271,100 t), with 60 per cent of the

The latest AIMI Cereal Report paints a steady picture for cropping farmers. sold grain still stored on farm. The amount of unsold grain is 37,700 tonnes (12 per cent), which is less than at the same time last year, July 1, 2014 (43,600 t). The amount of unsold grain decreased between April 1 and July 1, 2015 (down by 11,400 t), as compared to a

16,600 t decrease in unsold grain between the same dates last year. ■■ Feed barley: Estimated final total tonnage (366,400 t) was up 7 per cent compared to last year. Of this total tonnage 82 per cent has been sold (301,900 t), with 52 per cent of the sold

grain still stored on farm. The amount of unsold grain is 64,500 tonnes (18 per cent), which is more than at the same time last year, July 1, 2014 (43,700 t). The amount of unsold grain increased slightly between April 1 and July 1, 2015 (up by 2500 t), as compared to

a 16,100 t decrease in unsold grain between the same dates last year. ■■ For other cereals: Compared to last year, estimated final total tonnage for malting barley (62,000 t) was unchanged, milling oats (24,200 t) was down by 15 per cent, and feed oats made a huge 128 per cent increase to 14,200 tonnes coupled with a similar jump in hectares. Malting barley had 11 per cent of the total harvest unsold, while both milling oats and feed oats had only 1 per cent unsold as at July 1, 2015. Of the sold grain, 49 per cent of malting barley was still on farm, as compared to 85 per cent of milling oats but only 23 per cent of feed oats. Between April 1 and July 1, 2015, the amount of unsold grain increased by 1 per cent for malting barley, decreased by 59 per cent for milling oats and decreased by 87 per cent for feed oats (as compared to decreases of 87 per cent for malting barley, 41 per cent for milling oats and 14 per cent for feed oats between the same dates last year).

Liquid waste disposal

Fast and efficient service to Mid Canterbury • Septic tank Cleaning all systems • Portaloos • Dairy saucers and sumps • Grease traps

• Swimming pools • Drain cleaning truck • 24 hours a day 7 days a week - on call • Locally owned

Family owned and operated since 2004

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Ashburton Guardian 307mm x 102mm


irrigation wells potable water supplies water quality testing ground source heating geotechnical assessment building foundations & retaining walls Ph 03 324 2571

120 High St, Southbridge


2 28



Training opens a door to a career Simone Smail, 21, grew up in Invercargill and went to school at James Hargest College. Although she had no experience of farming, the dairy industry fascinated her from an early age. She realised she had to overcome obstacles in order to get where she wanted to go “I had been looking for a job in the dairy industry, however all the jobs wanted an application with previous experience. I knew I had a slim chance of finding an employer who was willing to train someone from scratch, so I decided to study with Taratahi to gain knowledge and practical experience,” she said. Simone initially completed the National Certificate in Agriculture (General Skills) (Level 2). She continued on to the Certificate in General Farm Skills (Work Ready) (Level 3) to give her more job options. Both programmes are delivered by Taratahi in

partnership with Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) at the Southland Demonstration Farm, Wallacetown, and the Certificate in General Farm Skills (Work Ready) (Level 3) is also delivered from the residential campus in the Wairarapa. “Completing these programmes has convinced me that my choice of career is the right one. I love that everything I have done at Taratahi is so practical. Every day you are out doing something, you’re not stuck just learning it in a class. The tutors have kept me on my toes and keep pushing me whilst setting realisti,c yet challenging goals,” she said. The study has paid off: Simone now works with Legendaires Ltd, managed by award winning dairy farmer, Steve Henderson. To enquire about enrolment at Taratahi or our residential campus in the Wairarapa, call 0800 TARATAHI or visit www.

Simone Smail.


TAKE THE SMART PATH TO A CAREER IN AGRICULTURE Whether it’s in dairy, sheep or beef, Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre can give you the knowledge and skills you need. Demand for qualified people in the agricultural sector is high and increasing. Gain an NZQA-approved qualification plus on farm practical

ENROL NOW CALL 0800 TARATAHI or visit 86170-07-15

training to increase your career opportunities in agriculture. Call us today to discuss your study options for a July 2015 start.



• Polaris olaris ProStar 570 EFI Engine – 45 HP with Polaris Variable Transmission • Engine Braking System with 4-Wheel Descent Control (4WDC) • Electronic Power Steering • 680kg Tow Rating CHRISTCHURCH – 799 JONES RD, ROLLESTON. 03 349 4883. STEVE JOHNSON 027 486 7726 0800 432 633

ASHBURTON – 832 EAST ST. 03 307 9911. DANNY KING 027 535 3538 |



Employer wins right to suspend worker Christine Summerville


Randwick Meat Company have won the right to suspend an employee who claimed his suspension on November 21, 2014, was unjustified. The company proposed that the employee known as Mr Burns be suspended based on an on-going investigation into his conduct in the workplace. The seriousness of the allegations related to concern about how Mr Burns might be using his time at the workplace to gather intelligence about customers and pricing which was not related to the carrying out of his duties. It also related to whether he was using his time in a manner inconsistent with his fundamental duty of fidelity to his employer.

Randwick Meat Company won the right to suspend an employee while an on-going investigation into the employee’s behaviour was continued.

Randwick were concerned the employment relationship could not function effectively while the allegations were being investigated - hence the proposed suspension. While considering the suspension proposal Mr Burns reported in sick and the question of suspension was put on hold. When Mr Burns was cleared to return to work,

Randwick needed a decision on how to treat him. It offered special paid leave, which Mr Burns rejected. Randwick saw its only remaining option was to suspend him. In a letter to Mr Burns, Randwick said “until the allegations are resolved, we consider that there is a significant risk that confidential and sensitive information may be uplifted from the business”.

The suspension would be on full pay and not considered punitive. Mr Burn’s lawyer’s position was that the suspension would be unlawful because Mr Burns did not have a written employment agreement and therefore no term on suspension had been mutually agreed. Employment Relations Authority member, Mr Stapp,

said that Mr Burns’ decision not to take special paid leave was his decision and it was not the reason for the suspension. Mr Stapp said Randwick was entitled to make a proposal to suspend Mr Burns given the allegations made against him. Mr Burns was given an opportunity to respond to the proposal. Mr Burns and his representative disputed through-out that any suspension would be unlawful, however they never sought to test it, but relied instead on their own understanding of the law. Mr Stapp found the one serious allegation was enough to meet the threshold to consider the suspension was justified for the on-going investigation. Mr Stapp upheld the suspension as a justified action that a fair and reasonable employer could make and Mr Burns’ claim of unjustified disadvantage action was dismissed. This shows when considering suspension of an employee, it pays to tread carefully.

2 30



Safer quadbikes Safety plan

New Zealand, over the years, has developed many world-firsts and the latest is Farm Angel. Farm Angel is a farm safety, communications and management technology, finally launched after over two years of development and trials with Landcorp. Farm Angel is now available at Honda Country in Ashburton. A Farm Angel-enabled vehicle, perhaps your quad bike or truck, knows when it has been in an accident and will send out a panic alert on behalf of the operator, even if he or she is out cold. It knows if it is stolen, and you can track and disable it. You can even send messages on your cellphone when out of cellular coverage, using your Farm Angel vehicle as a satellite hub. Farm management has truly come

a long way. Guardian Farming was pleasantly surprised to learn that with Farm Angel, a farm manager knows which staff member has used which vehicle, whereabouts, for how long, if anyone is speeding or riding dangerously, and so on. Throw away the logbooks and timesheets, for such is the power of connectivity. “We are very excited to be the first and only dealer here to offer Farm Angel”, says Honda Country manager Murray Sexton. “Honda Country has always been progressive in offering our customers leading edge products and Farm Angel addresses safety, communications and management all in one. Ultimately if more farmers get home safely at the end of each day, then it’s a great day for us too.”

Recent events in Canterbury have highlighted to us all how important it is to have a working safety plan. Safety practices should be analysed and reviewed including emergency procedures. Meeting your obligations for workplace health and safety does not have to be a difficult or complicated task. If we make the process simple, useable and specific to your individual situation our experience shows that it will work. What does it really mean when we say that a safety system is working well? It means that the hazards in your workplace have been identified and are under control and that your accident rate is nil. It also means your staff are well trained, competent and involved in the safety process and any contractors you engage understand safety rules and expectations. In order to meet these expectations you need to have a safety plan or manual set out on how you will meet legal requirements imposed by the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. The approach taken by the Department of Labour is geared towards helping employers meet their legal requirements.

We make the process simple, useable and specific to your needs

They want to see a “live document” - this means a safety plan that is compliant and is being used. If you meet this expectation in general you have little to fear from your dealings with Department of Labour Health and Safety Inspectors. In addition you may qualify for one of ACC’s levy discount schemes. Many employers find that developing a safety system is too time consuming but that’s where we come in. We offer professional assistance in all workplace health and safety matters and design simple cost effective safety plans that are specific to your requirements. We understand that cost is a factor so we don’t charge an ongoing annual fee or commit you to a contract. We are Health and Safety Systems Ltd and can be found at unit 3, number 6 Cone Street, Rangiora. Phone 0800 313 912 or 0274 365 972. Our website is


For all your Health and Safety requirements Leigh Tobeck

Health and Safety Consultant Ph 0800

313 912

or 0274 365 972


email: Unit 1, Number 1 Kingsford Smith Drive, Rangiora


How much help should we give China? Reading a farming paper this week I was surprised to firstly read about a modern Chinese indoor dairy unit with 40,000 cows and then to follow there was a Russian/Chinese joint venture project to house 100,000 dairy cows. When I read this a few questions sprang to mind. The first one being, how come the Chinese are buying milk powder on the open

Chris Murdoch


market to supply China and yet here they are supplying Russia with milk?

Obviously the open market milk is the cheapest available in the world and I guess because of the sanctions against the Russians they shall be selling them milk at a lot better price than the open market. You would think they would want to supply themselves first? Then the thought came to mind, where are they getting the cows that are going to be

ERIC AND MAXINE EXPECT TO SEE MORE GREEN FOR LESS Eric and Maxine Watson’s belief in the potential of variable rate irrigation and trust in the NZ team developing the technology has paid off in more ways than one. The Ashburton cropping farmers were the South Island’s original Precision VRI pioneers, installing their first four systems in 2008. And the results exceeded their expectations. Promoting the purchase of a further three Precision VRI systems which allowed them to stretch their limited water allowance by maximising irrigation efficiencies. They combine Precision VRI technology, the use of electromagnetic (EM) maps and data from soil moisture sensors to schedule irrigation only where it is needed. This results in the crops getting exactly the water they require, maximising potential growth while minimising water and pumping costs. “It’s a great system with a big future… Now that I have VRI, I wouldn’t want to run the machines without it.” Find out how you could stretch your limited water quota further like Eric and Maxine by talking to your Zimmatic™ by Lindsay dealer today or by visiting


milking in this massive indoor dairy? And who is supplying the technology to be able to run such a massive business? I couldn’t help thinking new farming has been supplying cows and knowledge to China for years. Is it our knowledge that now works against us? We keep hearing we need to be market leaders and help these developing countries

to get ahead but sometimes I think we forget that if you sell the crown jewels (in this case our knowledge) eventually these countries won’t require us as they are so vast and wealthy they’ll do it all themselves. So I ask the question… should we be selling our dairy genetics and knowledge or has the horse already bolted from the stable?

2 32




It’s all about the beginning of harvest this week. Winter barley harvest kicked off last week in South Lincolnshire. One farmer reported cutting 36ha of the cultivar named Flagon with yields around 7 tonne/ha.

Meat Promotion Wales chairman Dai Davies launched a scathing attack on Welsh supermarkets for sourcing cheap foreign lamb especially from New Zealand. He says it’s putting their sheep meat industry at risk.



New Zealand is not the only dairy country hurting this week with NFU dairy board chairman Rob Harrison warning UK farmers their crisis could get worse before it gets better. Dairy farmers, like here, are in survival mode.

Around 25 000 French farmers that are close to bankruptcy caused gridlock around the city of Caen in Normandy as they barred roads to protest low prices for meat and milk, extending weeks of unrest that have included blockades of slaughterhouses, dairies and supermarkets.

Due to the present downturn, we’ve LOWERED our PRICES to give you a helping hand








We have a range of coil tines to suit Clough, Campbell and International. Maxi Till tines






Duncan Vibroflex and Hubbard springs & stems


Points to suit Sunflower, Clough, Knverland grubbers & maxitills All prices exclude G.S.T

126 Dobson Street, Ashburton - Phone: 03 308 2059 | Mobile: 0274 326 847 -




Net farm income is projected to be $73.6 billion this year, a drop of 32 per cent from 2014 and the lowest since 2009 but farmers are expected to cope well due to good profits in the past four years.

FBI agents have expanded their investigation in Ohio after smashing an alleged sophisticated slave labour ring. Smuggled Guatemalan teenagers, some as young as 14, who were forced to work 12-hour days, seven days a week on a series of large central Ohio egg farms were rescued. Workers were living in horrific conditions.



Warning for Southern Grain Growers. Southern region grain growers have been warned of a heightened risk of frost, due to the developing El Nino event. According to the weather bureau, regions of southern New South Wales and northern Victoria, could experience 15 to 30 per cent more frost days during El Niño, than the historical average.

A $2 billion deal with China to export over a million head of cattle has been signed. Initially starting at 50,000 head a year it is hoped numbers will rise to a million within a decade. Chinese and Aussie vets are working together to secure slaughter house and animal health conditions.



in gk itset s



ild u B all Farm

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Visit us at 364 West Street Ashburton or contact Brent today for your free quote - 03 308 3569

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2 34


Crop monitoring from the sky Technology that is advancing rapidly in major arable areas throughout the world has arrived in Mid Canterbury. Terrain Flight NZ Ltd owner Tony Allan has spent the winter tinkering with his recently acquired agricultural drone and is ready to set it loose over Canterbury crops and projects. The fully autonomous senseFly eBee Ag drone weighs a mere 700gm, has a wingspan of 96cm and a battery-powered flight time of up to 40 minutes enabling coverage of 120ha. It can fly in winds up to 45km/h. An on-board 12MP Near Infrared (NIR) crop imaging camera picks up the infrared reflectance in plants, this gives an indication of chlorophyll amounts present. A high NIR reflectance/ low visible reflectance equates to healthy crops, while a low NIR reflectance/high visible reflectance denotes unhealthy crops Using Swiss developed software, the captured information is downloaded onto a computer generating

Michelle Nelson


Tweet me @ladyinredbands

an NDVI image of the crop, which can be downloaded into most precision agriculture programs as a shape map following a quick scout in field to determine prescription of fertiliser or chemical application. This should be done by the farmer or his consultant. This allows farmers to target specific areas for weed control or applying fertiliser. It allows for simple onsite information pointing to obvious problem areas in a crop that may not yet be visible. RGB or natural colour using an 18MP camera can produce sub 3cm resolution imaging. “I can offer quality orthomosaic photography that

Terrain Flight NZ owner Tony Allan’s senseFly eBee Ag drone is at the cutting edge of data collection. PHOTO AMANDA KONYN 280715-AK-010

I can transform into georeferenced 2D orthomosaic images, 3D point clouds, triangle models and digital elevation models (DEMs),” Mr Allan said. “The turnaround is 24 to 48 hours.” Typical crop flight and analysis depending on area is reasonably quick whereas

NEW IMAGERY TECHNOLOGY TO HELP FARMERS! Terrain Flight NZ Ltd provides accurate geo-referenced imagery information for: • Crop NDVI health/stress analysis • Plant counting • Visual inspection/elevation modelling • Survey and environmental imaging

full RGB survey and 3D visualisation can be somewhat longer. The device can also be used to conduct stockpile calculations and carry out corridor and project mapping. Mr Allan says the technology is easy to use (and a bit of fun) and cheaper than

traditional aerial photography and not so much dependent on weather being perfect. The technology can be applied to environmental protection work such as measuring coastal erosion and river control/protection programme. Flight boundaries can be supplied by way of a .KML file captured from Google Earth, which enables Mr Allan to create a flight path beforehand. “The files are easily created, and I just upload it to the drone,” he said. Alternatively I can turn up onsite and as long as there is cell data available, customise a flight plan on site. Making a flight plan beforehand is a good idea if terrain is challenging, enabling a simulation to be conducted. Applications of use is endless where the acquisition of localised aerial data is required. The drone, thought to be one of only two of its type in the country, cannot fly above 120m or be used within 4km of any airport.

Need irrigation? Want efficiency?

Services available: • Infrared crop and vegetation imaging analysis using drone technology • 3D project visualisation and fully georeferenced photo maps • Crop damage documentation • Precision AG chemical and fertiliser application maps

Phone Tony Allan today for all

your imagery requirements.

Phone 021 182 5160 | A/H 03 302 6787


Laser Blended Vision Reading vision treatment for Presbyopic patients is now available with the South Island’s latest precision ZEISS equipment.

Call the only irrigation company that is design accredited. Cnr Robinson & McNally Streets Phone 03 307 9049 Email


A city coming alive again I swapped my backyard for a few days in the city recently. I’ve not spent a lot of time in post-quake Christchurch – I wasn’t in the country when disaster struck, but watched it unfold from Western Australia. On my return I paid a visit to the red zone cordoned off by mesh gates, and found many of the landmarks had been obliterated. It was a gut-wrenching experience. When confronted with the enormity of the damage I was thankful for the thousandth time that my daughter and friends escaped with their lives. For a long time buildings have been coming down with demolition crews working night and day, leaving gaping holes in the cityscape. While I tend to skirt around the edge of the city, last week I ventured back into the thick of it and was impressed by the progress. New buildings are springing up, projects to repair damaged heritage buildings well under way. Granted there are still a lot of eyesores, but the vibe is far

Michelle Nelson


Tweet me @ladyinredbands

more positive. Food vendors are plying their goods from caravans on empty building lots, churning out an astonishing range of international cuisine for an army of hungry construction workers. Buskers have come back to the hub, adding life and colour. Great restaurants and services have re-emerged in quaint premises in the suburbs, serving good and affordable food. A whole bunch of children have no recollection of a city littered with road cones; in fact the majority of residents are well accustomed to dodging roadworks – and have numerous rat-race tracks to circumvent delays.

Above – From waste to functional and purposeful items. Left – Little Doggie by Nelson artist Deborah Walsh.

A visit to the Whole House Reuse exhibition at Canterbury Museum also reflected the post-quake mood and the importance of retaining some of the city’s pre-quake flavour. All the materials from 19 Admirals Way, a 1920s weatherboard house in New Brighton, have been deconstructed and transformed into functional items or works of art – many encompassing


both elements. The entire house has been reused instead of wasted. From an abandoned pair of socks now reborn as ceramic ornaments, to a bed constructed from reused timber and doors, to finelycrafted taonga puoro by master carver Brian Flintoff, the exhibition has something new around every corner and in every nook and cranny. The 400-odd works were

completed by more than 250 people from around New Zealand and overseas, including some highly recognisable designers, school children, students, retirees and community organisations. Whole House Reuse is the brainchild of Rekindle, an organisation which aims to change the way materials once deemed as waste are managed. It’s an inspiring project and well worth a visit.


helping our clients achieve EXCELLENT results

Super Circle feeder Heavy duty Bolts together 2135mm (7’0’’) diameter 1450mm h x 670mm d 20 feed spaces

C O R E S E RCONTRACTING V I C E S MADE EASY PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY “Grant Hood Contracting Ltd’s philosophy is to provide our clients with superior value and a solution to their contracting needs. Environmental Award winners

our clients achieve EXCELLENT results The core services we offer toPhelping our clients are: H I L O S O P HP Y H I L O S O P H Y


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provide our clients philosophy is to provide our clients  DairyNZ accredited Efflphilosophy uentis toPond Design

with superior value and a solutionwith to superior value and a solution to

their contracting needs. their contracting needs. and Construction helping our clients achieve EXCELLENT results  Pond Construction and Irrigation Development  Hedge & Stump Removal Hot-dip galvanized  Farm Conversions CORE SERVICES 4 tonne capacity Thecore services Tracks we offer to our clients are: Dairy - Lime or Gravel Heavy duty wheels  Pump HireEffluent Pond Design and Construction Pump Hire DairyNZ accredited and pickup hitch  Wells & Galleries Wells & Galleries Pond Construction and Irrigation Development Retractable drawbar  Bulk REarthworks ERemoval SERVICES Bulk Earthworks HedgeC&O Stump Capable of holding; P.K.E, R 2 012 R 2 013 The core services we offer to our clients are:  Subdivisions NE NE Sub Divisions Farm Conversions balage, fine chop or maize l ental  Site Works m meDn-ta n n o o r r i i Site Works Dairy Tracks Lime or Gravel v 2 2 v D R R 0 0 n E R1 and Construction Pump Hire DairyNZ accredited Effluent 1Pond E Design En - AWAR 2 NE - NAWA 3  Tree Shear W W IN NER 2 IN NER 2 Transportation RD RD Wells & Galleries Pond Construction and Irrigation Development - AWA - AWA  Transportation W W IN IN R2 R2

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the 2nd year in a row Toforachieve this we will always provide “We consider the excellence service, environmentin for all works we undertake workmanship in and are proud our NE NE Environmental Award a professional peers have recognisedwinners Hedge & Stump Removal 192 Racecourse Rd, Ashburton for thefact2nd for year the in a row this manner from our second year in a row.” 03 308 0287 or 0274 832 712 Farm Conversions highly experienced Dairy Tracks - Lime or Gravel R 2 012 R 2 013 “We consider dedicated team the NE NE environment for all of operators and 832 works we undertake 192 Racecourse Rd, Ashburton 03 308- 0287 RD - or 0274WA RD - 712 AWA -A W W management” IN NER 2 IN NER 2 and are proud our

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Mobile - 021 1433 469 Office - 03 318 6934 Email - Transportation Site Works

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All prices are GST exclusive

• For Casual & Permanent Bin Hires • Cardboard Recycling • Drum Hires We offer a regular Rubbish Removal Service, with many local Companies hiring our Front Loader Bins and using our Cardboard Recycling Cages, We also have Open Top Bins on a casual basis, for property clean ups, building works and Garden tidy ups. And a Household and/or Garden waste Drum empty service. All provided by a Company based in Tinwald.

Gary McCormick Transport Ltd PO Box 5044, Tinwald, Ashburton 7741 | Phone: 3072100 | Fax: 3072101

We build for industries. Starting with the primary ones. At Calder Stewart we’ve never forgotten where we

build - matched to your exact farming needs.

started, building quality farm buildings for the Kiwi

We pride ourselves at being a Rural Design &

farm industry. And over the course of the last 55

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years of involvement, we’ve developed something

reputation in meeting the needs of many a farmer

of a knack for it. Our dedicated team’s expertise

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Donald Sutton 211 Alford Forest Road, Ashburton

(03) 307 6130

To learn more visit our website:


Ashburton guardian farming, tuesday, august 4, 2015  

Ashburton Guardian, Farming, Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ashburton guardian farming, tuesday, august 4, 2015  

Ashburton Guardian, Farming, Tuesday, August 4, 2015