Page 1



Take another look at the humble hazelnut Linda and Les McCracken in their Wakanui hazelnut orchard.

Pages 3-5 Tetsuro Mitomo




Takes us fishing at the Rangitata.

Greg Martin




Talks politics and elections.

P20 Michelle Nelson

John Leadley

Sheryl Stivens

Mary Ralston

Cantabrian species which most of us are unaware off (p30-31). Lamb flaps are causing a flap in China, where they are discarding their off-cut status and emerging as a premium meat cut (p 32-33). Jenny Paterson offers tips on feeding a broodmare (p39), and last but not least we visit a llama farm, and find out there’s more to these exotic animals than meets the eye (p35-37).



ith very little snow on the tops, it’s been almost spring like. The waterlogged soils have dried out, the grass is growing and with a stroke of luck livestock farmers will get through lambing and calving without any adverse weather events. In this edition of Guardian Farming, we take a look at the hazelnut industry with Les and Linda McCracken, who have also struggled with the harvest in the wet autumn. Our regular columnist Greg Martin takes us fishing at the Rangitata River mouth (pages 6-8), and with the September elections looming, John Leadley reminds us why it’s important to exercise our right to vote (p20-21). Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairperson Rick Powdrell looks at the rowing looming over Kiwi lamb in the UK (p24-25), and Tony Davoren predicts an El Nino spring, and explains what that will mean for farmers (p26-27). Our water management feature looks at smarter use of our precious resource (p12-17). Mary Ralston introduces the elusive mudfish – a uniquely


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CONTACTS Advertising Emma Jaillet-Godin Email emma.j@theguardian.co.nz or phone 03 307 7936.

Editor Michelle Nelson Email your comments to michelle.n@theguardian.co.nz or phone 03 307 7971. Design Yendis Albert Email yendis.a@theguardian.co.nz

Post: Ashburton Guardian, PO Box 77, Ashburton.

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Helping raise the profile of hazelnuts Michelle Nelson



rable farmers are not the only ones hit by the wet autumn – nut growers also found themselves up against the weather. Ashburton hazelnut growers Les and Linda McCracken were lucky to get half their crop in before the April rain set in, and the remainder of the crop later in the season. “If you get them out of the rain they dry reasonably well, but there’s always a bit of a question mark. “The longer they take to dry the more chance there is of mould further down the track.” However, the McCrackens are aware of other growers further south who will probably not get this season’s

harvest in at all. Despite the adverse conditions, the McCrackens still managed to double their harvest. “Most orchards in Canterbury would have got twice as much as last year – but that is more to do with the maturity of the trees,” Mr McCracken said. “Most of the trees were planted between about 2003 and 2006 – so they are all about the same age, and they should be producing more each year. “We got hit with a couple of hail storms three or four years ago which we reckon put the trees back at least a couple of years in terms of the cropping. “Even though the trees are about 10 years old, they are effectively behaving as a tree would at about seven years.” The internal shelter on the McCracken grove is Italian alder, the north west protection is crow’s nest poplar and the southern is Leyland Cyprus. The best of the McCrackens trees are about three metres

tall and will get to five metres. “That’s another thing we’ve learned – we were advised to plant the shelter and crop trees at the same time. We think that’s just rubbish,

because the trees are quite sensitive to wind, it might appear you’ve gained two or three years, but you actually lose them because the trees don’t do much until the shelter

comes up. “If we did it again we wouldn’t plant the crop trees for three years, maybe even four, after the shelter went in. Continued on page 4

Les McCracken examines a hazelnut catkin which will develop into next season’s crop.


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2 4


Helping raise the profile of hazel From page 3 “The biggest issue with hazelnuts is they like reasonably well drained soil – they don’t do well with wet feet. “They don’t like a combination of poorly drained

get an explosion of predators. “We don’t spray them, the only spray we use on the trees is a foliar spray, made in Brightwater, for fruit trees – it would be fairly close to being organic. “We only started using that after the hail damaged

will sell a bit over two tonne.” Most of the country’s hazelnut harvest is snapped up for the domestic market, used by bakeries, confection makers or sold raw or roasted. Some is pressed for oil. “It (the oil) has got all the good stuff in it. It’s got a high

You can keep hazelnuts in the shell for about 18 months, but as soon as you crack it, it’s got a life of about two months – and even before that it’s starting to deteriorate

soil in low lying areas in the winter. “You are wasting your time trying to grow them there.” Blight is another problem, particularly if it establishes in stressed trees at planting. “It will do one of two things; it will either kill it or it will slow it down; we cut them out and replace them.” The only other pest that impacts hazelnuts is aphids. “They can knock the trees back, but normally what happens is that you get an explosion of aphids and then two or three weeks later you

the trees to get nutrients in quickly. “The other impact is they can be biennial; they will crop better every second year so if you get a heavy crop it will affect the amount of vegetation that the next crop grows on. All the energy goes into the nuts rather than the vegetation. “The next year’s crop grows on that, so you don’t get as many nuts. “For the past three years we’ve had twice the crop each successive year. Last year we got one tonne and this year we

smoke point and is a higher quality of oil than olive oil. “You wonder why people bother making oil out of olives, because they are only about 15 to 20 per cent oil, whereas hazelnuts are 60 to 70 per cent oil.” New Zealand produces about 75-100 tonnes of nuts annually, but imports 200 to 300 tonne, the bulk coming from Turkey. For biosecurity reasons, nuts cannot be imported in the shell. Mr McCracken says the future of the industry will be

Hazelnut tree.

dependent on marketing. “The issue with any nut is as soon as you take it out of its shell, it begins oxidising and becomes rancid. “Anything coming in from Turkey has taken a month to get here – so it’s not a quality product. “Most Kiwis wouldn’t know what a hazelnut looks like, let

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alone tastes like, so we have a marketing problem. “We need to educate people about the health benefits and that they are good to eat. “People might have tried them in chocolate, but not many would have tasted a fresh roasted nut, or even a fresh raw nut. “That’s the challenge for the

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Cast and wind: come on, som Greg Martin



he first you hear is: put put put. It has been a long night of Wilkinson’s irrigator squeaking as it circles and sprays in the paddock behind the Rangitata north side campsite. The whole night you have been waiting for the perfect morning to come, listening to that metallic squeak, and then sleeping again. And now the put put put of someone heading out to the spit in the dark on their quadbike. As they move away, quiet returns and you hear how calm the surf is. Damp air near the sea. The perfect morning. Time to go. Time to join the put put put. Surf casting for salmon is a routine.

Happy camper.

It is all about first light. That means a fun overnight, arriving in the evening for a look at the beach, a chat to Ray and paying your campsite fees, and then a sleep in the tent or back of the truck after a beer whilst working on your gear. In the morning it is dew on the quadbike, and getting down on the beach before its light enough to be able to tie a knot without the use of a headlamp. Some people flick zeddies in the gut. It’s warm. And then you join the line on the shore and get into it. If it is a really good day, a NW drift takes your polished silver ticer glinting out into the swirling water on the edge where the river is in negotiation with the sea. Over and over; cast and wind. The cast is high and long, and rewarding in its own right. The wind back is full of expectation. Come on, something bite. Everyone watching everyone else. Someone hooks up. But it’s just a kahawai. More cast and wind. More watching each other.

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mething bite Waves break in front of you. Salt spray on your face. The sky becomes white, and then blue. The sun slips up from behind the horizon. Time to drop your shades from your cap onto the bridge of your

The cast is high and long, and rewarding in its own right

nose. More cast and wind, until you can do no more. Time for a break. You hook your ticer onto an eye of your rod and turn towards the quadbikes. You trudge, satisfied. No fish, but, yes, satisfied. “Not much going on.” “Pretty quiet that’s for sure.” They know you, and you know them. But you don’t know names. You don’t know professions, background, age. It’s just not needed. You just know them because you see them here every year, and they

Fighting a fish in the surf.

know you because they’ve seen you land a few too. “Seen any in the gut?” “Nothing today. A few yesterday.” Pour coffee from the thermos. Take the weight off your legs and half sit on the quadbike. Down below you on the line, ticers fired out far,

the line following in an arc that then settling on the sea. Cast and wind. Sip on coffee. Sun warming the skin of your cheeks. Hectors dolphins moving across the mouth out beyond the breakers on their way to Akaroa. Tide pushing in. Prime time.

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Finish coffee. Pick up rod. Walk down the beach across the sinking shingle and get back into it. Routine. By 10am you have done nearly five hours. No fish taken. Half the fishermen have left to head back to the huts, breakfast, and a snooze.

Put put put away again. Tide pooling full. Best of the morning gone. Getting hot. Most others sitting on bikes, chatting, arms folded. One more session. You pick up the rod again and walk tired back to the sea. Continued on page 8



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From page 7 On your own now. Only fellows watching. Cast, and wind. Then a bump on the line. Mysterious. You check the ticer when it’s in again. Must have been weed. Cast again. Wind. Half way back, a bump again, but this time it sticks. You yank the rod back and it bends hard. Instant brutal weight yanking on the end of the line. People stop their

conversations and dark glasses look your way. A moment later the fish breaks the surface, thrashing silver, big. Twenty two pounds of head-shaking fury. “It’s a salmon!” someone shouts, and you can hear in their voice they’re smiling. Coffee mugs put hastily down. Rods picked up. Some step towards the beach. Meanwhile you hold on. Your heart pounds. You hope. You might even pray. Just this one. Please. Make it stick.


A few tips for surf casting for salmon 1. Keep your ticers flash. 2. Neoprene waders are more important than anything else. The Canterbury sea is always cold. 3. Use good strong hooks that don’t bend. You may only hook up twice a season. 4. Halfway up the incoming tide is best. 5. Getting distance with your cast isn’t everything. Sometimes the salmon will be at your feet. A freshly caught salmon.

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Nitrate loss thumps water at sale time Chris Murdoch



nce upon a time all real estate gurus said real estate was about three things: location, location, location . . . in some instances this is still correct but in rural

As you can imagine this changes the property’s saleability and its end value considerably

Canterbury the word location has slipped down the list and now we have water, nitrate costs and then location. In fact, I believe nitrate loss

is in front of water. As I say, once upon a time selling rural real estate was all about the irrigation water, source of water, consents and of course DDT levels. Location and soils were also to the fore but now the key words are nitrate and scheme irrigation water. At present we have a property on the market that has scheme irrigation water and a nitrate loss of its own

of 23 N to water – this by itself is not high enough to allow the farm to be dairy farmed in the normal manner as we farm here in Mid Canterbury. However, because it has border dyke scheme water available, this property can apply to the scheme to increase its N levels to a level that will allow it to dairy. As you can imagine this changes the property’s

saleability and its end value considerably but if this farm had its own ground water consent and had not been connected to scheme water and in a red zone then it would be stuck with its nitrate levels it has today. Nitrate loss to water is a serious issue facing all farmers and we have to work our way through it. Having read the issues facing some North Island

farmers about how it is affecting their businesses, I must admit it does worry me just where it’s going to end. In conclusion I guess location, location, location is still in place for lifestyle and residential real estate but now in rural it’s nitrate loss, scheme irrigation water, soils and then location and all four of these things are now firmly set in place and control our values and end uses.


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Hinds boasts new technology, new adventures



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rain has become a vital ingredient in the New Zealand dairy industry. Mid Canterbury business PMR Grain Systems which specialises in grain storage, handling and drying has expanded to provide services to cater to the dairy sector. PMR Grain Systems has just secured the dealership for the Skiold brand of disc mills from Denmark. Unlike roller mills which crush or flake grain, a disc mill grinds it. Skiold therefore provides a great option in preparing cattle feed, so farmers can customise to suit their own needs. The disc mills are also ideal for pig and poultry. The SKIOLD disc mill is the result of several years of product development and testing. The object was to develop an all-round mill for grinding grain and crops; and that with low power consumption, quiet running and minimum dust levels. At the same time the mill should allow automatic adjusting of the grinding degree during operation according to the required fineness and structure of the specific feed mixtures for different animal groups or species. Also it was the object to develop a compact mill that fits in easily, even in existing plants. The grinding takes place between two discs consisting of a number of segments produced in tungsten carbide. This is the same material as is used for producing cutting tools in the engineering industry. Thus, quality- and productwise, the SKIOLD disc mill meets all the demands made by today’s largest and most professional animal producers as well as commercial feed millers. PMR also supplies Wakely roller mills from Ireland as well as bulk storage, meal silos and flexible auger feed delivery systems. PMR knows the importance of customer relationships and start with on-site consultation with each customer to find out the specifics of the farms setup. Whether it is a herringbone or rotary milking shed; if there is existing grain storage or if it needs to be added and if the customer wants to use palm kernel or minerals for example. The PMR team will then install and maintain the chosen equipment. PMR strives to install only the best quality equipment, which will last many years and provide optimum performance. ”We want to do the job once and do it right.” Other areas of PMR business involve customers from Auckland to Invercargill. Owner Paul Whitbread, who setup the company eight years ago, has over 30 years’ experience in the grain storage, handling and drying industry; both here and in Britain. Paul started working from home in

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Employment contracts need to be signed

Christine Summerville



dairy farm worker, Peter Melgers, resigned from his employment giving no notice, and he failed to vacate his farm accommodation for three months after his employment ended. In response, the employer Howard Gower, deducted the value of Mr Mergers’ notice and a contribution to the rent from the final holiday pay he was due. Mr Melgers raised a personal grievance challenging whether the deductions were lawful. The first consideration of the Employment Relations Authority in these circumstances is always the agreed terms of employment. The Employment Agreement, which both

parties had signed, included an annual salary of $50,000, a house at no cost, and a requirement to vacate the house within 14 days of employment ending. The termination clause said one months notice had to be provided stating, “where the required notice is not given, a month’s salary will be paid or forfeited as the case may be”. Although the Wages Protection Act 1983 requires salary or wages to be paid without deduction, the Act provides an exception for lawful deductions with the employee’s written consent. Mr Melgers argued he had not given consent for the deduction, however the Employment Relations authority did not agree. Mr Melgers had signed the Employment Agreement, and this was his agreement to the deduction for failing to give notice. Previous decisions have ruled these provisions are effective in allowing forfeiture of wages when the required notice has not been given. There is however a significant ‘but’ to this.

The provision is only enforceable if it is not used as a penalty but instead reflects a genuine estimate of a loss resulting from the lack of required notice. You can’t recover a sum greater than the loss incurred. Unfortunately Mr Gower did not provide any evidence to demonstrate he suffered a loss, and as a result the Authority concluded the purpose of the deduction was to penalise Mr Melgers, making it unlawful. The authority then needed to consider the deduction for the rent that had not been paid. Ultimately it was decided to be irrelevant in determining the entitlement to holiday pay. For the 14 days after the end of Mr Melgers’ employment there was no obligation to pay rent as the Employment Agreement allowed him to remain in the accommodation. Thereafter the matter was an issue outside of the employment relationship and therefore not under the authority’s jurisdiction. It was a matter for the Tenancy Tribunal. It is a relief to know the


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Tenancy Tribunal did order Mr Melgers to pay the rent for the period he was not in employment. In the end the authority concluded the holiday pay had been unlawfully deducted and ruled the employer to repay $1523.05 plus interest. Important lessons from this case for employers – have signed Employment

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2 12


Water management


Join the SMART irrigation journ SMART Irrigation is a new initiative from IrrigationNZ to ensure future irrigation in this country is sustainably implemented and managed.


t’s a first for New Zealand’s irrigation community and feedback to date - from all quarters - has been universally positive. So what does it mean for farmers in Ashburton District? The SMART framework (which stands for Sustainably Managed, Accountable, Responsible and Trusted) boils down to three simple steps. Following these steps will help irrigators better manage their environmental footprint.

To be a SMART irrigator you need to: Design irrigation systems to industry standards and codes of practice 1. Annually check your irrigation system is performing as it should, and; 2. Justify the reason for applying irrigation. In essence, we’re asking you to maximise water use

efficiency, regularly evaluate your system and be on top of technical and environmental issues before they arise. Sounds good in theory, but how do irrigators get started

programmes. These set industry standards and codes of practice for areas such as irrigation design, farm dairy effluent system design and water measurement.

farming operation is up to speed with farm systems and procedures. This can be a constant battle with other pressures on-farm and when staff are coming

IrrigationNZ has developed the ‘Irrigation Operator and Manager’ training workshop. Aimed at farm staff managing and using irrigation on a daily basis, the one-day course is also open to farm owners wanting a quick refresher on the latest irrigation advice with SMART Irrigation? This is where IrrigationNZ comes in. Our education and training resources now support the SMART Irrigation framework. From here on in, any course, workshop or seminar you attend with IrrigationNZ will have a SMART Irrigation component. The SMART Irrigation framework aligns with IrrigationNZ’s accreditation

Further information on IrrigationNZ’s training or accreditation programmes can be found at www.irrigationnz. co.nz and full details of the SMART Irrigation framework – including profiles of SMART irrigators across New Zealand – are available on www.smartirrigation.co.nz Irrigation Workshops Return

A perennial issue is making sure everyone within a

and going. Throw into the mix changing regulatory requirements affecting the farm environment and an investment in regular training makes sense. If you’re irrigating, it’s even more important that your team knows what they are doing. New consenting and compliance requirements, technology and environmental

policies now require specialist skills and knowledge by those operating irrigation. With this in mind, IrrigationNZ has developed the ‘Irrigation Operator and Manager’ training workshop. Aimed at farm staff managing and using irrigation on a daily basis, the one-day course is also open to farm owners wanting a quick refresher on the latest irrigation advice. Two workshops have been scheduled for Ashburton on October 9 and 10. Combining classroom learning with in-the-field application, the one-day workshops are both practical and interactive. Comprehensive resources are provided at the end of the day for further reference and learning. “The workshops take you through the fundamentals of high performing irrigation. Participants leave knowing the core knowledge and skills to help streamline irrigation procedures so problems

Water management



ney for future proofing can be minimised and farm profitability maximised,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis. The workshop is run as four modules including Irrigation Regulation, Scheduling, Operation and Maintenance, and Calibration.

For more information visit www.irrigationnz.co/nz/ events-and-training or phone IrrigationNZ on (03) 341 2225. The Irrigation Operator and Manager Training workshops have been designed by IrrigationNZ with support

from DairyNZ, Primary ITO, ANZ Bank and Agstaff.

Second year of Great Irrigation Challenge The Great Irrigation Challenge returns to Ashburton in early October – offering 16 workshops

addressing issues and concerns relevant to local irrigators. IrrigationNZ – with the support of principal sponsor Aqualinc – created the inaugural event last year following requests for shorter, more practically-focused

Workshop participants take on board ideas to become smarter irrigators.



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workshops addressing specific irrigation challenges. This year’s event, at the Hotel Ashburton on Thursday 2 and Friday 3 October – will see expert presenters from around New Zealand outline the latest technical, environmental and best practice advice for irrigators. IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says the Great Irrigation Challenge has been put together as a one-stopshop for those looking for new ideas, technological solutions and advice. “We’re really hoping to see more Mid Canterbury farmers this year.” With a new regulatory framework, particularly around nutrient budgeting, local farmers need to be up to speed with the latest requirements affecting irrigation. The Great Irrigation Challenge offers 16 workshops addressing regulatory change, technological developments, system and maintenance issues and future sustainable concerns. Continued on page 14

2 14


From page 13 “There’s something here for everyone,” says Mr Curtis. The event, which is also supported by ANZ Bank, Environment Canterbury, Nelson Irrigation and EECA, is open to anyone with an interest in irrigation, but specifically targets irrigating farmers, farm staff who operate and manage irrigation systems, irrigation scheme members and irrigation service and industry representatives. Participants can attend one or more workshops over the two days as four concurrent workshop streams will run. All workshops are strongly practical and interactive and will be convened by specialist presenters. The Great Irrigation Challenge workshop schedule is available on www. irrigationnz.co.nz/training but here’s a taste. Choosing Sprinkler Technologies – an overview of sprinklers on the market, different applications and design options, alongside value comparisons. Presenter Tony Shepley.

Water management


Farm Environment Plans – Understanding risk from management practice and environmental perspectives. This workshop will review a case study and participants leave with the latest IrrigationNZ Farm Environment Plan template.

All workshops are strongly practical and interactive and will be convened by specialist presenters

Presenter Sue Cumberworth. SMART Irrigation Essentials – an overview of the SMART Irrigation framework and the critical components of irrigation – soil, plants and climate. How to pull it all together to schedule irrigation. Presenter Dan Bloomer.


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Water management



Winter a key time to minimise nutrient loss Article by environment cAnterbury Now that winter has us firmly in its grip, everyone working on farms should take extra care to minimise nutrient loss and wastage. Paddocks are stocked more intensively in winter and as a result, nitrogen (from urine) and phosphorus (from dung) is likely to be elevated in the soil. Having stock grazing in wet and cold conditions also

leads to increased soil erosion and pugging as plant growth is minimal. With winter crops yielding more, greater numbers of stock can be fed which increases the risk of nutrient loss particularly on clay downlands and stony soils on the plains. If you see water flowing off your paddocks, this may be carrying away valuable soil and nutrients. It’s time to think about how to manage these areas to prevent this loss,

The winter grazing of fodder beet provides a high-yielding feed for both on and off-grazed stock, provides a balanced diet and reduces urine deposits

to reduce costs and improve profitability. Phosphate is lost mainly through soil via overland flow while nitrates are lost mainly by leaching through the root zone. To state the obvious, it costs money to buy and spread fertiliser, and your soil generates crucial farm income by growing grass and retaining moisture.

Reducing nutrient losses • Make sure you are using appropriate paddocks for winter feed crops. Select paddocks where runoff can be reduced or managed, the soil has minimal leaching potential, there is no subsurface drainage. No waterways should flow through or adjacent to the paddock. A good supply of reticulated water is essential. • Erosion losses can be reduced by cultivating winter crops along the contour to reduce runoff, grazing from the top of a slope and using the crop as a filter for sediment and dung, as well as having a reasonable vegetated buffer

Feed pads and indoor cow barns are the most effective means of reducing nutrient loss.

or riparian strip between the crop and the waterway. Stock should be kept off paddocks and critical source areas in wet conditions, and use on-off grazing to reduce the density of urine patches. • Feed pads, indoor cow barns and stand-off areas are the most effective means of reducing nutrient loss while improving feeding efficiency. Make sure you keep stock off land that has already been grazed. • However winter grazing

is managed, additional nitrogen and phosphorous will accumulate in soils, which can be taken up by actively growing plants. Some farmers have successfully sown crops such as short rotation ryegrasses or oats which grow in cooler soil temperatures. These are sown as soon as possible after stock have grazed the main winter feed crop. • For more advice talk to a Land Management Advisor – call Environment Canterbury Customer Services on 0800 324-636

Money available for restoration projects

A step in time: A wetland on Fraser McKenzie’s farm has been fenced off and planted, with Environment Canterbury paying for materials and trees.

Article by Ashburton Zone committee Farmers walking their properties this winter should think about wetlands and waterways they would like to protect and plant, with funding help from Environment Canterbury. Ashburton water management zone committee

chair Donna Field said enquiries were coming in from landowners about their eligibility for Immediate Steps – which is still available for projects in the Ashburton area which would benefit water quality. So far, almost $300,000 had been allocated towards fencing off about 23 km of waterways and wetlands plus planting 21,000 trees, shrubs and grasses covering 11 hectares.

Across Canterbury, $3.5 million had been invested in biodiversity from the Immediate Steps fund, with $2.8m still to be spent. Farmer Fraser McKenzie of Limestone Creek in the upper Hinds catchment has picked up one Immediate Steps grant and successfully applied for a second towards the cost of fencing wetlands and buying plants. He will cover the cost of ongoing maintenance.

“Protecting wetlands and streams will be essential under new water quality requirements,” he said. “This softens the blow a little.” Donna Field said works eligible for grants went above and beyond existing requirements, for example a decent buffer would be required if fencing a stream. While farmers might be busy in spring, they should start planning future

programmes or use funding to buy plants or fencing then employ a contractor to do the work. Those farming in the foothills could hold off until spring, otherwise autumn was a good time for planting. • To find out what help is available under the Immediate Steps programme contact senior biodiversity officer Jodi Rees, 027 225 6396 or email Jodi.rees@ecan.govt.nz


2 16

Water management


Reviewing your on-farm water needs


ressure is now on to reduce the amount of water allocated and to improve water quality. Environment Canterbury need to claw back water allocation from existing consent holders in order to address the over-allocation of water resources.

This means that when it’s time to renew irrigation consents, ECan will be looking for opportunities to reduce your seasonal volume. At consent renewal time, you will need to prove how much water is required for your farm. To do this properly you’ll need the following irrigation data:

• Accurate and continuous water meter data. • Continuous soil moisture monitoring records – at least once-a-day measurement. • Good quality rainfall records. • Good records on the area of land actually irrigated. • Secure and reliable data

storage. Good numbers are no use if you can’t find them later! • Expert interpretation of the data and IRRICALC modelling of future water requirements. Using soil moisture probes and real time data to help with irrigation decision-making will also help reduce nutrient

losses, not to mention improve productivity and reduce costs! Telemetry is the cheapest way to reliably collect, check and store water meter data. Telemetered water meter and soil moisture data is the best way of managing irrigation on a day-to-day basis to achieve optimal production, ensure you stay compliant with consent conditions and minimise nutrient losses. These benefits are easy to understand, but what is not so obvious is the importance of the data collected. Data is needed to prove that what’s happening on-farm is appropriate. It is no longer sufficient to be a good farm manager; you also need to demonstrate it. “Show me the numbers!” Without them, how will you justify your water allocation or prove you’re doing your bit to improve water quality? For help with your water data, contact Cindy Lowe (c.lowe@aqualinc.co.nz) or Cargill Henderson (c.henderson@aqualinc.co.nz) at Aqualinc. Advertising feature

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he variable nature of the Precision VRI system. hill country land makes By reducing irrigation to the 276 2 irrigation management south-facing slopes, hill-tops grae more challenging than the and excluding the swampy flat landscapes that many of valley floors 27 per cent less 1375 the irrigation systems were water was applied. initially designed to irrigate. The natural variability Land with a majority area of soil depth, drainage of slopes between 16° and 25° characteristics and effective is classified as hill country, available water holding accounting for 37 per cent capacity (AWC) in hill country of New Zealand’s total land environments means that area, which is increasingly under uniform irrigation some being converted from dry areas will be under-watered land to irrigation. Run-off and other areas will be overis a significant risk, both watered. Areas that are overover the surface of the land watered can result in drainage and subsurface flow, when or run off. irrigating these slopes. The trials show VRI – call us Fertigation Pump specials for the next 6that weeks Best management practices addresses this problem as Fertigation the 6 – Fertigation Pump Pump specials specials for for irrigation the next next can 6 weeks weeks – call call us us to to fi find nd can be followed and new be applied technologies applied to variably to maintain the Lindsay’s Precision VRI (variable rate irrigation) can help improve management of irrigation on efficient Fertigation is an method todeficit improve the efficiency of correct soil moisture steeper slopes, mitigating run-off and saving water. 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Fertigation is an efficient method to wayidentifying to fertilise crops, saving time and irrigated areas way to fertilise crops, saving time and by the team at irrigation Precision Fertigation works with existing uptake by plant roots). are available from the occurring from high-risk Fertigation works works with with existing existing irrigation way to fertilise crops, saving time and Fertigation irrigation fertilise crops, saving time and money which have a medium to high Irrigation and is available The Sustainable Farming Irrigation NZ website. The areas. systems. systems. Fertigation is an effi cientyields. and effective money while improving yields. Fertigation money while improving Fertigation systems. money while improving risk of run-off. while improving yields. through Zimmatic Irrigation Fund – Hill yields. Country Fertigation final document outlining the The trials involved retroThe two critical factors way towith fertilise crops, saving time dealers. For more information Systems works with existing Irrigation Projectirrigation aims to and guidelines will be published fitting a 490m centre-pivot Fertigation works with existing irrigation Systems works existing irrigation Systems works with existing irrigation Benefi ts are: contributing to the risk of about variable rate irrigation produce a set of guidelines later this year. with Lindsay’s Precision VRI Benefi ts are: Benefi ts are: systems. money whiletoplans improving yields. Fertigation and nutrient to pasture and nutrient plans to improve improve pasture The trials in North Otago, are slope angle, visit www.precisionirrigation. and run-off nutrient plans improve pasture No spreading costs for irrigating hill country technology. No spreading spreading costs No costs co.nz or contact your local surface condition and the grazing Systems works with existing irrigation sward and residuals; reduce landscapes. led by Carolyn Hedley Water was also saved Reducing soil compaction, sward and grazing residuals; reduce Reducing soil compaction, sward and reduce Benefi ts are: depth of soil,grazing or the depth residuals; Reducing soil compaction, Zimmatic dealer. The included a (Landcare Research), showed through varying irrigation Precision control over where and when and nutrient toproject improve pasture lunch for those who bring this advert with them soil compaction; increase soils carbon Precision control over where andin when soil compaction; increase carbonthat variable rateFree of soil to a limiting layer plans Advertising feature No spreading costs literature reviewsoils and field irrigation to different land units using Precision control over where and when

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2 18



Hybrid maize contracting attention A newly developed hybrid maize variety, which has been grown in trials on a number of farms, has delivered amazing results this season. CX7-S8’s genetics are new to New Zealand and to date it has been a stand out performer. The hybrid will be continuing its product development phase throughout 2014 with ongoing evaluation of its agronomic characteristics and regional suitability. CX7-S8 is just one of a range of hybrids that Corson Maize Seed is excited about introducing to New Zealand maize growers. It has come about because of the diversity of maize genetics that the company is able to access. Having a wide range of international breeding partners enables Corson Maize Seed to evaluate hybrids from a wide variety of germplasm. “We are adding hybrids, with features and characteristics never before

seen in New Zealand, to our current range of high performing silage and grain hybrids,” Corson Maize Seed sales manager Guy Mason said. “We have received a lot of positive feedback from growers about the new hybrids released over recent seasons, and we are looking forward to continuing to introduce new hybrids.” The company undertakes a multi–year research and development programme. This produces commercial hybrids that are rigorously tested for yield performance, yield consistency and agronomic characteristics such as staygreen, lodging and disease tolerance, to name a few. Following the initial testing and evaluation programmes, hybrids enter a pre–commercial phase where they are planted on farms as test paddocks, proxy packs (test areas) or grain strips to provide a broader range of environmental testing. Products continue to be evaluated in Corson

The CX7-S8 maize crop delivered impressive performance, growing over four metres in height, dwarfing agronomist Pieter van der Westhuizen, who stands at 1.85m (6ft 1 inch) tall.

Maize Seed’s research and development programmes during this product development phase in order to add to the overall database of information collected on a

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2 20



Time to make a choice John Leadley



oes anyone out there realise we are only two months away from a general election? September 24 provides all eligible residents across the nation with their opportunity to influence the governance of New Zealand. I detect a huge level of complacency! My taxi driver in Auckland recently, when I commented on the plethora of hoardings, asked “What’s that all about”? As I hastily emphasised the huge advantages of living under a democratic system, his response was “I’ve only been here 11 years, and none of them have kept a promise in that time.” I suspect this is not an isolated opinion. Like many, I’m disgusted with the media focus on

personalities rather than the affordability and direction of policies. I’m not interested where John Key or David Cunliffe had their holidays or why Kim Dotcom’s wife flew the marital coop. My vote will be focussed on track record, affordability, team strength, vision and balance. I’m still looking for a manifesto that truly acknowledges our rural based economy. However I’m buoyed by National’s delivery on expansion of irrigation and investment in research and development. A promise kept. The extremism of Russell Norman’s Green Party policy on waterways leaves me cold to the extent I believe he is the most dangerous political party leader in New Zealand. Does he not realise that agricultural production and soil and water sustainability can and do go hand in hand. Just look at our local farming leaders, Slee, MacKenzie, Watson, Ward, MacFarlane and many others. Recent cruising experience

on some of the great waterways of Europe leaves me with little doubt as we watched groups of fisher people, swimmers, and other recreational users utilising bays and canals along some of the most intensive agricultural and industrial valleys of the Rhine, Danube, Seine, Main and other great rivers of Europe.

learn. Maybe, just maybe, the recent prestigious award to Environment Canterbury points to a more reasoned approach. As chair Margaret Bazley admitted in her acceptance speech “the change from adversarial management to local community ownership of water management is transforming the approach to

We should not be ignoring rising life expectancy without making provisions to increase the age of entitlement in the next five years

Generations of farmers and factories have lived side by side for hundreds of years and with appropriate enforced legislation fully maintained the health of these great water courses. Remember my 800 year dairy Swiss farm example last month? The way to achieve this is through co-operation and collaboration, not legislation and litigation, something politicians at all levels need to

water sustainability”. Some people are slow learners! I’ve looked in vain for a party genuinely committed to getting more people into ownership housing to address the almost one per cent decline per annum in home ownership in the last six years. Travelling recently with an American couple in their late 20s who were celebrating just having purchased their own

home for US$500,000, was interesting. Photos showed a substantial home on 1500sq metre with five bedrooms and three bathrooms. This couple had financed this purchase with a 15 per cent deposit and 30-year table-mortgage from the government for the balance, locked in at 3.25 per cent per annum for the term. How often have I tried to promote the good old State Advances 3 per cent first home loan of 50 years ago? Oh for an administration that will look longer term at the obvious repercussions for retirees in 40 years’ time with no home of their own and ongoing state dependency! Not what most would wish surely? Maybe if the Labour Party’s thoughts on continued Universal Superannuation at 65 gain some traction, the savings will be better invested in home ownership loan subsidies. We should not be ignoring rising life expectancy without making provisions to increase the age of entitlement in the

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next five years. Unlike 50 years ago, young folk these days seldom become part of the regular taxpaying workforce till age 21–25, albeit that many have worthy tertiary education requirements. That requires taxpayer assistance and negative equity to government. Is it too much to expect an extra two to five years employment at the opposite end of the employment spectrum on a part time basis at least? If the pension is to remain a universal entitlement at age 65 in 10–20 years’ time overseas experience show change is imperative. Any honest administration should be flagging this now, but the triennial electoral timeframe probably stops this occurring. Winston Peters’ idea of taking GST off some food would be an administrative nightmare, and send a totally wrong signal to prospective parents. I’ve long believed that parenting is a huge privilege


to be managed and taken seriously, made very possible with modern contraception. Put simply if you can’t afford to feed and nurture a large family – think again! Herein also is the reason not to expand the food for schools programme. We need more parental responsibility, not less. Why not establish a healthy vegetable garden, involve the family, and enjoy the benefits of fresh healthy food and exercise? Too much like real work for some in this “tech” savvy age, I suspect. And on the issue of migrants, where would Ashburton be on the GPD growth ladder without our diligent migrant workers? Get real NZ First. I fully realise no administration will satisfy every citizen but considering the massive ongoing cost associated with the Christchurch earthquake, I find the current situation of growth opportunity, employment and investment a satisfactory outcome on a

national basis. What is more we have been shown true leadership. Space doesn’t allow comment on all fringe parties – suffice to say the extremism of Harre, Harawira, Craig and Co determines I won’t be wasting my party vote.

As always there is plenty left to work on, particularly in the area of values and benefit entitlements, but so many of our problems emanate from the family unit. As parents we need to be responsible, not only for life today but by being part of the

planning for our children and grandchildren. The way to do this is by an informed vote in September. Don’t miss your opportunity; don’t abdicate the opportunity many of our forbearers gave their lives to preserve.


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2 22



Domestic waste ongoing concern L

ounge chairs, sofas and rotting animal carcasses are some of the items that have been found dumped in the Pareora River in recent months, prompting the Timaru District Council to install hidden cameras to catch

offenders. Environment Canterbury’s Monitoring and Compliance Area Leader, Jo Field, says the latest cases are not isolated and dumping of domestic waste in riverbeds has been an ongoing concern for the

regional council and the district council. “In the Pareora River alone we have found garden waste and general household rubbish, as well as the more unusual things like sofas and chairs.

“Our message to anyone considering dumping rubbish in this way is ‘don’t do it’. It is not acceptable and we will take action against anyone we can identify.” Timaru District Council’s zero waste advisor, Phil

Burridge, says to date five infringement notices have been issued for a variety of offences. “We’ve had sheep carcasses dumped there. We even had a hot water cylinder in the middle of the river, which is totally unacceptable.” He says some offenders have tried to defend their actions, claiming they were dumping on behalf of someone else and the local rubbish dump was closed.“The dump is no more than 10 minutes drive away from where they’ve been dumping their rubbish in the river. In my mind, it’s just sheer laziness.” Phil Burridge says the camera images are very good and vehicle number plates are clearly visible. He says the cameras capture vehicles arriving with loaded trailers and leaving empty. Environment Canterbury’s Jo Field says it would be cheaper for offenders to take their rubbish to the local dump and pay about $15 to empty a trailer load legally instead of paying a $500 fine for illegally disposing in the riverbed.



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2 24


Targeting British lamb consum Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre chairperson, reports.


he National Farmers’ Union (NFU) may be Federated Farmers kindred body in the United Kingdom, but it has been leading protests against New Zealand lamb at the Royal Welsh show. The NFU’s target du jour is Tesco’s promotion of free range New Zealand lamb. This comes despite the first six months of 2014 showing that New Zealand is massively under filling its tariff-free quota for sheep meat into the European Union (EU). The NFU’s thinking seems to be if they can take out Tesco, they take out the competition. I fear the collateral damage may end up being lamb consumption. Put yourself in the shoes of a British consumer. You know New Zealand has a lower carbon footprint than British lamb so foodmiles need not apply. Your brain and taste buds agree that it is not only awesome to eat, but

happens to be more than price competitive. That’s made all the sweeter in the knowledge your taxes aren’t going back to farmers via EU subsidies. That’s four big ticks to Kiwi Lamb, but then your heart screams out, ‘what the British sheep farmer saying it’s not fair.’ As you stand before the meat section processing this complicated information, your hand reaches for pork instead. If British sheep farmers demand consumer power, this emotional/economic conflict may benefit anything but lamb. We all lose. What we know is this; lamb is mostly eaten in England and Wales, is less consumed in Northern Ireland and isn’t eaten very much in Scotland. While I am no marketer, I’d stop protesting at the Royal Welsh Show and start promoting lamb in Inverness. What we also know is British lamb consumption has been falling for years, which brings

us back to the consumer dilemma above. This isn’t a conversion to vegetarianism though it is a competitor. Between 2000 and 2012, beef, pig and poultry grew as did total British meat consumption. The problem for British and Kiwi farmers alike, is that lamb consumption fell from 368,000-tonnes in 2008 to 277,000-tonnes in 2012. That is a fall of just under a quarter in a short space of time. Of course money is a factor

because lamb is a premium meat. Being a high end meat, consumers need to be motivated and inspired to buy. With celebrity chefs there is no shortage on television pushing how healthy, tasty and versatile lamb is. This may motivate the consumer until they face the NFU’s Eeyore strategy. While “Buy Local” may appeal to some, it fundamentally relies upon pity. While pity works for charities it cannot work for a premium meat lamb is.

Consumers do not want to feel guilty over what they consume they want to be uplifted by the experience. In New Zealand, we learned the hard way that yes, you do have to hustle. We have no government support so work hard to maximise the Godgiven attributes which makes New Zealand food and fibre sing. Lamb is the affordable luxury and farmers are its craftsman. In this age of homogenised food that’s differentiation but

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need to tell the story well. Increasingly we are but there’s a ways to go. Given New Zealand freerange grass fed lamb is completely unsubsidised, British taxpayers don’t pay twice through subsidies or at the checkout. While the NFU was wringing its hands in Wales, a Midlands newspaper more positively ran “Lessons from Kiwis on turning grass into cash.” This is about cutting the apron strings and focusing on that farm engine room we know as pasture. Doing this generates carbon efficiency. New Zealand sheep farmers are producing more meat but off a much smaller flock. This productivity improvement is estimated to have reduced the greenhouse gas footprint in New Zealand lamb by more than 22 percent since 1990. This was not easy nor without pain. As late as 1999, there were over 45 million sheep in New Zealand, but by last year, the national flock numbered just over 30 million. We are cutting our cloth. It is also about opportunity and free

trade, which you can’t get at while you remain subsidised. The ANZ’s Con William’s economist recently told The Southland Times that “China accounted for 30 to 50 per cent of export earnings at the farm gate – up from 10 per cent in 2008 – and was the

second-largest market for New Zealand lamb after the UK.” That deal was only signed in 2008. But you need more by targeting and positively motivating consumers in the media, online and in social media. I seriously

recommend farmers check out New Zealand’s fresh, bold and interactive loveourlamb. co.uk and compared that to the United Kindom’s simplybeefandlamb.co.uk. We now have funk on our side. As for the NFU, it must fundamentally decide if

it wants British lamb to be a player or an also ran. The prize fighter or the journeyman. So instead of ankle-tapping the same side we need to work together and positively grow lamb consumption, not just in Britain, but globally.

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2 26


El Nino is still on the cards, so plann Tony Davoren



till on the cards” is an English idiom we all use to describe something that is almost certain to happen. “Grin and bear it” is another English idiom that dates from the days before there was anesthetic and soldiers needing an operation were given a bullet to bite down on while they were carved up. Little wonder it has come to mean “to accept an unpleasant or difficult situation because there is nothing you can do to improve it”. That pretty much sums up the weather really. The climate scientists are confident El Nino weather is still on the cards. If it is we just have to grin and bear it. While we cannot do

Two months of winter down and still little winter weather to “grin and bear”. Other than a little spell of colder weather and the threat of some snow to near sea level in mid-July, there has been threats only. We a month before spring and it is still forecast to be an El Nino spring. anything about it, we can plan for it. El Nino has been predicted since earlier this year to strengthen over winter and persist into spring and early summer.

services. • “The El Nino is definitely on the way for later in the year and we are very confident in the accuracy of our modelling now.”

Climatologists in New Zealand and Australia have been predicting El Nino conditions since February this year:

• “Some models have us going into El Nino by July, some a little later, generally all our models are warming up that Pacific Ocean, making things a bit more El Nino like,” Dr Watkins from Australia’s weather bureau’s manager of climate prediction

South Wales Climatologist Agata Imielska. • According to Niwa“The consensus forecast from IRI/CPC indicates that El Nino is the most

Chances for El Nino increases over the following seasons to reach 72 per cent in November – February 2014/15

• The probability at around 70 per cent chance of an El Nino, which will lead to drier and warmer conditions, is very high. In a normal year the chance of El Nino is only 30 per cent, according to New

likely outcome (59 per cent chance) over the June to August 2014 period. Chances for El Nino increases over the following seasons to reach 72 per cent in November – February 2014/15.

Uncertainty remains about the strength of the event if it does fully develop.”

The weekly SOI pattern (Figure 1) shows: • A reversal from La Nina SOI conditions in May and June to El Niño in the first few weeks of July. • If anything can be deduced from the SOI trends El Nino should result in more westerly and southwesterly like conditions. One could make the bold “leap of faith” and conclude – just what we have had and are experiencing for July. The computer models are confirming El Nino is “still on the cards”.

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ning is essential If El Nino persists and strengthens through the spring and summer then we will have to “grin and bear it”. From an irrigation perspective what we will not have to “grin and bear” is the availability of groundwater for irrigation.

There should be no problems with supply of groundwater for irrigation in the spring and summer

Thanks to rainfall from late February to May when nearly 2/3 of annual rainfall was recorded, groundwater levels are high. There should be no problems with supply of groundwater for irrigation in the spring and summer. Both shallow and deep groundwater levels are exceptionally

Figure 1. SOI trend for 2014 (from weatherzone).

the 2014/15 El Nino when compared to the 1982/83 and 1997/98 El Ninos is very similar; www.stressless.co.nz and • The 1982/83 and 1997/98 El Ninos were www stressless.co.nz We are still of that very strong events. As I have previously mind based on: noted, it’s all about • Our confidence in the planning and awareness. climate models and that El We have been aware and Nino will strengthen; followed the developments • That the pattern of SOI and have planned and the evolution of accordingly. high; eg shallow represented by K37/0398 and deep by K37/0388. Spring is just a month away so will there be an early start to irrigation?



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2 28


Use your home compost to grow Sheryl Stivens



t’s so easy to grow good garlic. The time is right to spread out your compost and make it happen. Start by separating garlic bulbs into individual cloves. Make sure the garlic is not

treated to stop it sprouting. Ideally source some New Zealand organic garlic. Garlic is a hungry crop. The more compost or worm castings and juice from your worm farm that you feed it throughout the growing season, the bigger and healthier your garlic bulbs will grow. To prepare your garlic bed lift your compost bin up so the contents fall out. Replace the empty bin alongside and fork into the now empty bin any fresh composting materials. Then spread out

Do you need help with setting up a worm farm or bokashi bucket? Contact us if you need help. Call 0800 627 824 or email bholley@mastagard.co.nz / sherylstivens@gmail.com. Free monthly compost demonstration. When: Monday 18 August, 1 – 2pm. Where: Eco education centre alongside the Mastagard recycling shed. All welcome. the remaining coarse or fine compost onto your soil. If you use a bokashi compost bucket you can make a fertile bed teaming with worms in a short period of time over several weeks by burying the fermented foodwaste from your bucket in a shallow trench. Plant your garlic on top a week or two later. An upcycled dibble stick makes planting garlic and other seedlings so easy. Find a wooden tool handle or a similar piece of wood and sharpen the end to upcycle your own dibble stick. Use your dibble to poke holes in your soil about 6-8 cm apart and push in garlic cloves.

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Make sure the roots are pointing down and the pointy sprout end is up and still poking out of the soil. Plant more rows 10–15 cm apart. If you have a worm farm sprinkle a handful of worm castings between your garlic rows. Cover all with a good mulch of straw and leaves or a combination of both. If you have unsprayed grass clippings sprinkle a layer over top of the mulched bed so the garlic is well covered with 10–20mm of cover. Give your garlic bed a water with diluted worm juice to settle it in. The little green shoots from the garlic cloves will work their way up through the

mulch over the next month or so and the garlic will be ready to harvest in mid summer around the longest day. Try growing your garlic in a recycled plant pot, a bin or tub. There are always lots of choices at the Ashburton or Rakaia Resource Recovery Park. Use your compost or worm castings mixed with 50 per cent soil to fill the container. Plant your garlic in there before covering with leaves or straw. Place the garlic container outside in a cooler damp place where it won’t dry out. Remember, garlic is a cold season crop and doesn’t mind a good chill.

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2 30


Juvenile mudfish: one of our special, Mary Ralston



ost people would say trout or salmon if they were asked to name a fish that lived in the Ashburton district. Few would say “Canterbury mudfish” – probably few people even know that the Canterbury mudfish is a local native resident. The Canterbury mudfish, also known as the kowaro, is one of five species of mudfish, and is one of 20 species of indigenous freshwater fish in Canterbury. They look a bit like tiny eels – they are brown with thick skin, have no scales and their stocky bodies are up to 15 cm long. Unlike most native fish (and trout and salmon), mudfish do not migrate out to sea but stay in fresh water for their whole life.

Mudfish are found in swampy lowland habitats such as wetlands and slow-flowing streams and drains. They also like ponds and hollows in amongst forests. These habitats have diminished as farming has intensified and consequently the numbers and distribution of mudfish within Canterbury are greatly reduced. Mudfish are usually nocturnal and so most people have never seen them. The young though do forage in the open water until they are about 30-40 mm long – they look a bit like small, dark whitebait. If you do have mudfish in your drain or water race, only clear out weeds in summer or autumn, not in late winter or spring when they lay their eggs. The eggs are clear and very small – about 2 mm diameter. They can sometimes be seen on top of vegetation in a pond or water race. Mudfish are carnivorous, eating worms, small crustaceans and insect larvae such as mosquitoe larvae. An amazing thing about

mudfish is their ability to cope when their habitat dries up. They are able to lower their metabolism and burrow into the mud to wait out a dry spell. Conditions need to be damp with cover such as tree roots and vegetation. Oxygen is absorbed through their skin rather than taken in from the water through their gills.

An amazing thing about mudfish is their ability to cope when their habitat dries up

Although this is a good survival mechanism the strategy is hard on mudfish – by the time water returns mudfish can be in poor condition, with lower breeding success. But this strategy does give them an edge; it means they can live in places few other


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fish could cope with. The mudfish and its remaining habitats are a high priority for conservation. Ways of helping the mudfish survive include protecting its remaining habitat from development, ensuring mudfish habitat has adequate and reliable water, and building barriers in streams where they are known to live so that trout and other predatory fish don’t eat them. A project aimed at identifying, prioritising and remediating fish habitat has been established by Environment Canterbury. This will hopefully help our local mudfish and other native fish species. The work will contribute to the goals of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, and the local zone committee, which aims to improve the ecological health of Canterbury rivers. Suggestions from the public are welcomed and can be made to ECan Senior Biodiversity Officer, Donna Lill (phone 027.839.1539 or email donna. lill@ecan.govt.nz).



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2 32


Meat is New Zealand’s second largest


hina’s taste for hotpot, where meat and vegetables are cooked in a broth at the dining table, has driven a four-fold increase in the price of lamb flaps, turning the offcut into a premium cut and lifting the overall return Kiwi farmers can get from their animals. Lamb flaps, the gristly ends of the ribs trimmed away when the butcher cuts racks and rib chops, used to be considered a cheap cut, retailing for about $US 1.35 per kilogram as little as eight years ago. It has soared 84 per cent to $US 5.84/kg, overtaking shoulder at $US 5.64/kg and narrowing the gap with lamb leg at $US 8.12/kg, based on Agrifax data. In China, the meat is processed into a lamb roll and sliced thinly for hotpot, the dominant cooking style for lamb and a staple of the national diet. Chinese sheepmeat imports nearly doubled to 165,300 tonnes in the 2013 export year as a growing population, higher

incomes and a decline in the world’s largest sheep flock spurred demand for imported protein.

The growth in flap has been significant because of the usage and eating styles, but other product forms are now filtering in

New Zealand is China’s largest supplier of lamb, with a 55 per cent market share, as the nation benefits from reducing tariffs under its Free Trade Agreement, according to ANZ Bank New Zealand, the nation’s largest rural lender. “Prices are at their highest point at the moment,” said Murray Brown, general manager of marketing for

Invercargill-based Alliance Group. “It is a very good raw material for their hotpot-type cooking style, more than some other higher valued cuts.” There is limited scope to increase volumes and the focus now is on ensuring the current price can be sustained to avoid an overcorrection, Mr Brown said. “New Zealand needs to be very disciplined in terms of how we manage things like where the lamb flap prices have got to, we want to be able to get it to a level where it can be sustainable. “Prices must be getting to a stage where they will start to plateau.” The rise in demand for lamb flaps has been good for farmer returns. “That lift in demand from China for some of those cuts is actually a huge benefit to the sheep industry because then you are optimising your returns from every bit of the carcass,” ANZ rural economist Con Williams said. “It’s an amazing change that has occurred over the last five


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or six years.” Increased Westernisation of Chinese diets is also spurring demand for more traditional cuts of meat. The product forms going in there have widened, according to Mr Brown. “The growth in flap has been significant because of the usage and eating styles, but other product forms are now filtering in.” “What it is really doing is putting a bit of a squeeze on other markets that one day will possibly have to pay a little bit more for some of these product forms.” In 2011, a lamb supply shortage caused a spike in prices which saw the meat taken off many restaurant menus in Europe and the US, denting demand. That led to a glut in supply the following year which pushed down prices and attracted Chinese buyers to the more traditional cuts of meat, Agrifax manager Nick Handley says. “They didn’t really get into those cuts until the price had dropped quite a long way

and it suited New Zealand exporters really well because we suddenly had a lot of lamb we couldn’t sell and they jumped in and bought heaps,” Mr Handley said. As European demand starts

As European demand starts to bounce back, analysts are watching whether China will continue to buy the more traditional higher value cuts

to bounce back, analysts are watching whether China will continue to buy the more traditional higher value cuts. “Exporters are working quite hard with their customers in the Chinese


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commodity export behind dairy market to help develop demand for the higher value cuts, because obviously for us to get the most value out of the Chinese market, ideally we would love them to be consuming some of our higher value stuff rather than just buying at

the lower end,” Mr Handley said. Meat is New Zealand’s second largest commodity export behind dairy and was worth $5.5 billion

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2 34


Anne’s love affair with lam Michelle Nelson



f you’re in the market for a pet with a difference, you might consider looking at llamas. They come in an astounding range of colours, are highly social, and you can’t look at a llama without smiling. Anne Thompson has been breeding llamas for 10 years, and there’s not a lot she doesn’t know about these curious camelids. At one stage she had more than 200 llamas; the largest herd in Australasia. Anne’s llama love affair began on a five acre block near Christchurch, which she calls Watfor Grange Llama Farm. Within 18 months she had 20 animals, and decided to spend her inheritance on a 40 acre property at Weedons, which is home to 128 llamas.

“You can run 2.5 llamas to the acre.” In 2007 she spent $250,000 on importing six animals from the US. “I needed new bloodlines, because of the small genetic pool in New Zealand. I brought in two females and four males. “I selected them for colour, conformation and temperament.” Anne’s plan was to open up to the public – and she did.

tourists to come back. I’m open fulltime in the summer, and supplement my income by teaching in the winter.” When she took on 97 extra mouths to help out a terminally ill man, Anne

had more than a moment or two of panic – that’s a lot of llamas to feed. “I came up with the idea of a fostering scheme – I always offer a three month trialbefore-you buy, just to make

sure it’s going to work for people. I’ve only ever had two come back. “Most go as companion animals – they must go in pairs because they are a herd animal.

Anne’s plan was to open up to the public – and she did

She got her building permits, built a barn and the public flocked in. Eighteen months after she opened the gates, the city that she depended on for her trade was rocked by a series of devastating earthquakes. “Now I’m just treading water and waiting for the

Anne Thompson at her Llama Farm.

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“They are very inquisitive – they are like a cross between a dog and a pony, you keep them in the paddock but you can also take them for a walk. “Canterbury is perfect for llamas, because there is no

facial eczema or liver fluke, which they are susceptible too. They are low maintenance – unlike sheep they don’t need dagging, and they are browsers; they will pick at anything.”


Anne is well aware of the bad press llamas get, for spitting and kicking, but points out it’s all about management – as is the case with any animals. “All camelids can spit and

kick, but it is usually only over food or sex, most of the time they are pleased to see you. “Wildlife parks don’t help their reputation.” “If you spend time with them and they get to know

you they will search out your company. All my llamas have names and they all know them.” All Anne’s llamas are well handled and halter broken when they are weaned. She does her own shearing and trims their hooves when necessary. She markets the fibre as bedding, which is suitable for all caged animals including birds, rats, mice, rabbits and chinchillas, and sold pre packaged to pet shops. Some fibre goes to weavers, but Anne admits it’s a niche market – there are between 1200 and 1500 llamas in New Zealand but there is no commercial market for fibre. The same applies to alpaca fibre. To get the length of staple for spinners to work with the llamas are shorn every two years. “There is a healthy cottage industry, here at Watford Grange we run classes every year focusing on craftwork.” Continued on page 36

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2 36


From page 35 Anne has also opened the barn for therapy sessions with the elderly. “I had a 104-year-old man here, who had never met a llama before.” In their native Peru, llamas are the ponies of the camelid family. Anne likens their cousins, the alpaca, to the sheep. “Alpaces are smaller and flightier, and is eaten in South America, and the llama is the pony, it can carry up to 45kg and they are used for trekking. “Llamas are used by a number of trekking facilities in New Zealand. “The American army has used them for more than carrying their sandwiches – they’ve used them in Afghanistan for carrying munitions into remote regions. “In America you can rent a llama for a few days and head off into the national parks. “We have members of the New Zealand Llama


Association keen to negotiate with DOC to access some of our beautiful wilderness areas. “Of course there would be rules.” In Australia and other parts of the world, llamas are used to guard flocks of sheep – to protect lambs from foxes and wild pigs. However every llama has its own personality, they are not all able to be used for guarding or trekking. “I like to spend time with prospective clients, to find the right llama for them. “I have exported two llamas to Taiwan, but the rest are sold in New Zealand. “Every year llama breeders wonder who they will sell to and every year, by the end of the breeding season, we are unable to satisfy the demand. “With the growing number of lifestyle blocks, and as more people become exposed to llamas at A&P shows, and public events, the pet market is likely to remain healthy.”


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Strong growth on back of great season F armer-owned cooperative LIC has returned a strong revenue growth for the past year. Chairman Murray King said the result reflects a great season for dairying, with high demand for LIC’s herd testing and artificial breeding services and an increasing number of farmers investing in technology which drive efficiency gains on-farm. “Today’s farmers manage more animals and land than ever before, and they are also very high users of technology that helps them run their businesses more efficiently,” Mr King said. “As their co-operative, it’s our job to provide our farmers with solutions they need – now and into the future – to address the challenges they face, make their daily working lives easier, and improve their overall productivity and prosperity.” He said LIC does this with its growing range of information management and automation systems and the uptake of its three

Today’s farmers manage more animals and land than ever before

delivery of new products, and this is reflected in the lower year-on-year profit resulting from increased depreciation costs and accelerated new product development. Work to upgrade LIC’s back-end database technology during 2013/2014 improved synchronisation times for farmers updating their records and uploading information to

smartphone apps, which have been downloaded more than 11,000 times, is a great example of farmer-demand for technology. The use of automation also continues to grow, and as part of plans to deliver more innovations which fit the cooperative’s new strategy, LIC purchased Dairy Automation Limited (DAL) in February, a Waikato-based company which manufactures sensor technology for the real-time analysis of milk on-farm. Murray King said the co-op is also investing more than $40 million in its own information systems, to ensure improved service can be provided as well as faster



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2 38



Get ready for change BY IRRIGATION NZ


t would be easy to get despondent about the challenges currently being thrown at rural New Zealand. But Kiwi farmers are not easily beaten. On the world stage we’ve proven time and time again that we are great innovators. From grain to dairy, produce to viticulture, our primary producers are constantly adapting to meet the demands of global markets. Now we need to do the same thing in our backyards. Many farmers have already started on this journey, but others will need to play catch-up – and quickly. The challenge looming is new regulatory and environmental requirements – particularly around nutrient budgeting. These evolving constraints will change the face of farming in New Zealand as we know it. While many, including IrrigationNZ, continue to voice concerns about the policy process and its potential

impact on farming’s viability, the reality is some regional plans are already operative. Others are not far away from coming into effect. Farmers across New Zealand – especially irrigators – can no longer afford to sit back and hope the subject will go away.

proposed or operative plan rules or policy decisions impacting on farming in your area. You may also find out specific timeframes and deadlines for action. But you could struggle to get information on how this

On the world stage we’ve proven time and time again that we are great innovators

Regulatory change has arrived and you need to know how your farming operation will be impacted. Ignorance is no longer an excuse as the horse has bolted! So where can you access information – and critically – how can you ensure any advice is appropriate for your farming operation? You could start with your regional council, but many councils are still finalising how regulatory change will be implemented. Staff should be able to give you the big picture - any

applies to your individual farm and how the regional council will evaluate, monitor and approve any changes you make on-farm. Our suggestion – if you haven’t already – is to talk directly with your industry or primary sector representatives. Find out what they know about impending regulatory change in your area and what support their organisation provides. If their resources are limited, ask what advisory or training options they recommend to help farmers make the transition.

From IrrigationNZ’s perspective, it’s all about tapping into the expertise and knowledge base relevant to your farming operation. ‘Good management practice’ – previously referred to as ‘best practice’ – will largely influence what New Zealand farming looks like in the future. Your industry representative should be able to talk you through any standards and benchmarks that apply now and those that are coming. This is probably the fastest way of getting up to speed and we encourage you to get onto it. IrrigationNZ is the national body representing irrigators and the irrigation industry. We offer education and training opportunities in partnership with the primary sector to support irrigators wanting to move towards good management practice. Earlier this year IrrigationNZ launched the SMART Irrigation framework which has a vision of delivering Sustainable, Managed, Accountable, Responsible and

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Pay 1/3 deposit andKINGQUAD you’ll pay 500 no interest at all on LT-A500XPL3 POWER STEER LT-F400FL3 KING QUAD 400cc 4x4 STEER LT-A500XPL3 500 POWER STEER the balance! LT-A750XPL3 Simply payKINGQUAD aKINGQUAD third in months time, 75012 POWER RRP $13,909 + GST – DEPOSIT $4,636 RRP $10,869 +months GST -- DEPOSIT $3,623 and the final RRP 1/3 12 after. Your old RRPanother $13,909 + GST DEPOSIT $4,636 $14,778 + GST DEPOSIT $4,926 LT-F/A400FL4 KINGQUAD 400 MAN/AUTO bike LT-F/A400FL4 KINGQUAD 400 MAN/AUTO be your and trade in. pay500 LT-A500XPL3 KINGQUAD POWER STEER Paycould 1/3 deposit you’ll no interest at all on LT-A500XPL3 KINGQUAD 500 POWER STEER RRP $12,695 – DEPOSIT $4,365 RRP $12,695 – DEPOSIT RRP $13,909 +KINGQUAD GST – DEPOSIT $4,636 the balance! Simply pay a third in 12 months time, $4,365 LT-A750XPL3 750 POWER STEER RRP $13,909 + GST - DEPOSIT $4,636 final 1/3 another 12 months Pay 1/3 RRP deposit and you’ll pay no interest atYour all KingQuad onold for 1/3 deposit and Power away on a new Suzuki KingQuad for 1/3 depositand and the Power on aafter. new$4,926 Suzuki $14,778 + GST -away DEPOSIT Pay 1/3 deposit and you’ll pay no MONTHS interest atfor allcould on the balance! Simply pay a pay third in 12 bike be your trade in. IN 12 INthe 24 MONTHS balance! Simply pay a third in months KINGQUAD 750 POWER STEER Power away onall a on new Suzuki KingQuad 1/3 deposit andLT-A750XPL3 you’ll pay no interest at all you’ll pay noDEPOSIT interest at the balance! Then simply you’ll no12 interest at alltime, on the balance! Then simply





1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3


INTEREST 1/3INTEREST + 1/3 + 1/3

$395 documentation fee, $13 PPSR and $5 transaction fee. Normal lending and credit criteria apply.

Offer available until 31 July 2013 or while stocks last. Not available in conjunction with any other promotion. Prices exclude GST. Payments include $395 documentation

fee, $13 PPSR and $5 monthly transaction Normal lending and credit criteria apply. www.facebook.com/ashguardian Subscribe atfee. www.guardianonline.co.nz Offer available until 31 July 2013 or while stocks last. Not available in conjunction with any other promotion. Prices exclude GST. Payments include $395 documentation fee, $13 PPSR and $5 monthly transaction fee. Normal lending and credit criteria apply.


Offer available until 31 July 2013 or while stocks last. Not available in conjunction with

any other promotion. Prices exclude GST. Payments include $395 documentation LT-A500XPL3 KINGQUAD POWER STEER $13 PPSR $5 monthly transaction$4,636 fee. Normal lending and credit criteria apply. RRP $13,909 +fee,500 GST –andDEPOSIT


Pay 1/3 deposit and you’ll pay no interest at all on


2 40


Boosting seasonal worker numbers R

ural Contractors New Zealand is welcoming news that plans are afoot to encourage more people into seasonal work and also its decision to increase the annual Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) cap to a total of 9000 workers.

RCNZ President, Steve Levet says this boost to seasonal workers is essential in delivering the horticulture industry’s forecasted future growth, but suggests a similar scheme is also needed in the rural contracting sector. “There is no doubt the

horticulture sector is an important and valuable part of New Zealand’s economy and the Government is right to make provisions for that sector,” he says. “However, we need similar provisions for the rural contracting sector as there is a

Steve Levet.

gap between rural contractors’ needs for trained, agricultural machinery operators and unemployed New Zealanders who can do this work.” Mr Levet believes the rules around employing temporary, skilled people from overseas prepared to work for six to eight months each year need to be simplified as do the regulations restricting people who have previously worked here in past seasons coming back to New Zealand to work. “Contracting is a seasonal business and one that uses sophisticated machinery that requires technical skill to operate productively,” he said. “Part of this shortfall is met by bringing in skilled operators from overseas.” Mr Levet said political parties of all persuasions need to understand that a dire shortage of suitable agricultural machinery operators means rural contractors rely on employing skilled people from overseas on a temporary basis each season and have done so for many years. He adds that many of the

applicants Work and Income NZ (WINZ) tries to fill these vacancies with; either do not have the right skill-set and/or attitude to be successful. “We are talking about operating highly technical and very expensive pieces machinery. It is unrealistic, unsafe and impractical to expect unemployed people to walk off the street and successfully take up these positions.” “The seasonal nature of rural contracting means workers with the right skills are needed for only a few months each year. Understandably, this kind of short-term employment does not often suit locals who are looking for fulltime work.” Mr Levet says RCNZ will continue to work closely with the Government, political parties and officials too both ensure that locals have the best opportunity for employment, as well as continuing to lobby for changes to the rules around engaging overseas seasonal workers for the benefit of the rural contracting sector.

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

Build specialist and have gained a considerable

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

over the years. Let us put our expertise to work for

in constructing custom woolsheds, covered yards,

you; call your nearest Calder Stewart Construction

wintering sheds and state-of-the-art dairy sheds

Representative today and see how we can deliver

ensures practicality, quality and a professional

a farm building that suits.

Over 55 Years Farm Building Experience A Rural Design and Build Specialist Premium Grade Construction Materials Used Durable & Rugged Design is Standard Best Value-for-Money in the Industry

Donald Sutton 211 Alford Forest Road, Ashburton

(03) 307 6130

To learn more visit our website:



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