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An Ashburton Guardian Advertising Feature

Guardian interesting • informative • essential

Take extra care with burn-offs . . .

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Take care with stubble burn-offs Linda Clarke, Ashburton Guardian rural reporter


on’t start a fire you can’t stop. That’s the message to Mid Canterbury farmers planning stubble burns this summer.

Principal rural fire chief Don Geddes says farmers who stick to the rules to burn crop residue won’t see his bad side. Those who start fires illegally or even thoughtlessly, risk a date with a district court judge and a big bill for suppression costs. Don has been spreading information about stubble burning early this summer, hoping his rural fire crews will be called to fewer out-ofcontrol burn-offs in the next few months. He was a guest speaker at FAR’s Arable Ys group last month. He said there were plenty of reasons why farmers should think carefully about stubble burning. Those found in breach could be prosecuted and made to pay for the costs of putting out an escaped fire. The cost of an escaped fire in a riverbed at Mt Somers in 2004 was $530,000. Don said they should also think about the

consequences for volunteer fire-fighters called into action. “I am also trying to appeal to people’s consciences. Every time someone dials 111 to report a stubble fire that has escaped into a row of pine trees, there are 15 to 20 volunteer firefighters who give up something to go there. “They might be at work, or with family. They are being inconvenienced, and so are their employers, their businesses and their families. “The simple fact is that with a little bit more thought, a farmer might not have lit that match and held off for a day or so.� Most farmers lighting stubble fires do not need a permit, if they follow strict conditions set out by the Ashburton District Council. Conditions include ploughing fire breaks around the paddock to be burned, properly consulting weather forecasts, supervising the burn and having a water source on hand to stop the flames escaping. Don said making sure the fire was completely out before leaving was also important. Embers

Out-of-control fires could cause major damage. Neighbours’ homes and machinery could be lost, rare conservation land could be wiped out. People could be hurt.

“We assess it on a case-by-case basis, depending on the attitude of the person. If they were burning within the rules and the fire still got out, maybe a rabbit or a hare runs across the paddock, then I don’t have a problem.�

interesting • informative • essential

Advertising: Phone 307-7900 Email: Publication date: December 6, 2011

Please direct any correspondence to: Amanda Niblett, on 307-7927 email: or to: Linda Clarke, on 307-7971 email: or write to PO Box 77, Ashburton.

were sometimes swept into the outside furrow of a fire break, creating potential pockets of trouble.

Don said he preferred to educate farmers about safe burning rather than prosecute.

Guardian Any feedback is welcome, any comments about our magazine, letters or story suggestions.

Stubble fires can easily get out of control with nasty consequences.

Next issue: January 10, 2011 An advertising feature for the Ashburton Guardian. Any opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of Guardian Farming or the Ashburton Guardian.

Mid Canterbury currently has an open fire status; if the countryside dries out in the next few weeks, that could be elevated to restricted. Farmers must then seek permission to burn.

Don said farmers not sure of their obligations should get in touch with council before lighting any fires. He said crop burn-offs were fewer than a decade ago because of the increasing number of farms converting to dairying and a change in farming practices. “There are arguments for and against. It gets rid of pests and disease but putting the straw back into the soil over time increases its organic matter. “Burning is cheap and easy.� Don said it was difficult to predict the fire risk ahead, but weather stations around the district monitored moisture levels daily. “There is a lot of growth around at the moment and if it does get hot and dry, we have potential for some real issues.�

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Valetta irrigation overhaul under way Linda Clarke, Ashburton Guardian rural reporter


ork has begun on a $30 million overhaul of the Valetta Irrigation Scheme.

The scheme draws water from the Rangitata Diversion Race to deliver to around 45 shareholders, who irrigate some 13,245 hectares. In a major construction project, open channels which deliver the water to farms will be piped. The system will also incorporate a hydrogeneration plant, with two turbines and settling ponds. Bosch Irrigation Limited is the main contractor and has imported a machine to manufacture pipe on site. A shed to house the pipe-making equipment is currently under construction and the machine itself is expected to arrive soon. The first pipes could be manufactured by Christmas. The piping of the top section will minimise water loss from leakages and evaporation and enable Valetta to eventually generate electricity itself. The scheme will buy and lease long-term land for the settling ponds. The project is being funded by the scheme’s farmer-shareholders, many who have already converted from

Open races of the Valetta Irrigation Scheme will be piped. borderdyke to spray irrigation. In its capital raising prospectus issued earlier this year, the irrigation scheme says farmers had spare water to sell to other farmers with properties within the area served by the scheme. Scheme chairman Alistair Morrison said the pipes which would deliver pressurised water to farmers would be laid in the next 12 months, and the renovated scheme operating by next summer.

He said improving the efficient use of water was the main driver of the project. “We are spreading water as far as we can.” The Valetta scheme turned 50 in 2008 and is one of four irrigation schemes taking water from the Rangitata Diversion Race, a massive irrigation canal built in the 1930s Depression. An open day for shareholders is planned later this month.

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Winchmore update - November John Carson


urely someone must remember how many years ago it has been that the main start of irrigation has been delayed right up until almost December. Rainfall has reached 65.6mm, about average, to date and looking at the weather map on TV tonight (November 28) it could be possible that we get a bit more before the end of the month. Even with the rain falling at the right times and some great sunny days, the soil temperatures are still only 13.8°C, possibly due to the 10 frosts we have had over the month down to -5.9°C on November 5, which incidentally equals the highest number ever recorded for November. At the moment the soil moisture is 21.2 per cent at 20cm and the max temperature so far has been 29.7°C, more than hot enough to break out the sunscreen if one was not lucky enough to find a fence to fix in a shady spot under the trees. Pasture growth rate I estimate is above the 23-year average of 54 kgdm/ha/day but now I have science doing the pasture growth I won’t know for sure until the end of the month exactly how much above normal it has been. All farms are trying to standardise a

lot of our monitoring to give some consistency figures for our operation and business managers. Last week I went to Hamilton for the National Farm Managers’ Conference. It was interesting to see how dry the Waikato is and how they were starting to really look forward to getting some rain. The heavy rain falling on Thursday morning was quite exciting for them, the rain was okay, it was the low cloud and humidity that had me hankering to head south again. Overall, most of our farms throughout the country have had a reasonably good season, with good pasture growth rates and good lamb and calf survival, all boding well for a successful productive and financial year. Here on the farm both the maize and kale have been planted and both crops are showing through and appear to have a good strike rate, the maize is relatively easy care, but the kale will need watching for slugs and insects. About 30ha had to be slug baited two weeks before drilling due to the huge numbers present, so now it is a case of monitoring closely to ensure they don’t reappear there or in any of the other

kale paddocks. This season also I am trying to line all paddocks up to receive their necessary sprays at the same time. Last year due to spread out sowing dates, it was difficult to get the timing correct to coincide with as few trips for the spray contractor as possible. It should be much easier this season, with all the kale being drilled over four days, thanks to some smart work from the Cross-Slot team. Without the task of setting up irrigation clocks etc we have been able to spend time spraying some of the gorse and broom that has slowly been appearing over this past year as well as sort out the cattle scales and load bars. Another day has been spent at Lincoln attending a Health and Safety AGM. The statistics presented show an improvement in accidents and incidents reported which is a sign that safety messages are getting through both on the farms and in the science labs. Christmas and school holidays will soon be here and while farm kids may be aware of the hazards on farm, maybe their city cousins are not, so it is important to explain the “rules” of what is okay and what is not.

November rainfall, at 65.5mm, was about average. As parents and adults we need to be observant and take care in the examples we set for the younger people in our lives. Be safe!

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Dreaming of a green Christmas Sheryl Stivens, Eco Efficiency Co-ordinator, Mastagard, Ashburton n


hristmas does not have to be a burden on our environment or our pockets. Every year it becomes more important for us all to do our bit to make this an “earth friendly” time.

with toys they have that they do not play with.

Wrapping presents? Wrap gifts in reused paper, newspaper or wrap gifts in a scarf – make the wrapping part of the gift. Use reusable shopping bags Here are a few ideas for celebrating the to put family gifts in so they can be season while caring for the earth. reused for shopping. There are so many choices now or you may even wish to Reduce - Buy less, especially things make your own. that will end up very quickly in the rubbish. Australians now spend $10b Half of the paper America consumes per year buying things they will never each year is used to wrap and decorate use; $5b of that is food. The remainder consumer products. In the US, the includes clothes and shoes they will annual trash from gift wrap and never wear and music they will never shopping bags totals over 4 million listen to. Have you ever bought a tons. present for someone that you think they may never use? Have a shopping In Canada, the annual waste from gift list for food so you don’t buy more wrap and shopping bags equals about than you need. Up to 45 per cent of the 545,000 tons. If everyone wrapped just food people buy is wasted. That money three gifts in reused paper or fabric gift could be spent more wisely on paying bags, it would save enough paper to off debt or having a family outing or cover 45,000 hockey rinks. holiday. Setting up a Christmas tree? Use Buying presents? Buy long-lasting a real Christmas tree that you can durable gifts. Think about something eventually plant with great ceremony different, such as a movie pass or a when it gets too big. Reuse your pledge to do something special for Christmas tree and decorations year someone or make something special after year. Make decorations from old and personal. Christmas cards or pine cones. Reuse - Consider a regift, giving something you were given but do not use or need onto someone else. Encourage children to do the same

Recycle - Have recycling containers handy for any surplus wrapping paper, cards and envelopes, all plastics apart from polystyrene, all metal cans

especially at barbecues and picnics and last but not least all empty glass bottles and jars. Compost – A compost bin, bokashi compost bucket or worm farm makes a great long lasting gift.

I. Imagine the Earth as an apple.

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2. Cut it into four quarters. One part is covered by land - the rest is covered by water.

3. Cut the land section in half. One of these halves is covered with mountains, desert or ice.

Spend time together. Take the time to spend with friends and family. Connect with nature, pack up a picnic and head for the hills or the beach. Promote and proudly use washable plates and cutlery or purchase compostable plates. Reduce your packaging by using practical reusable food and drink containers.

4. Cut this remaining part into fourths. Three of these are rocky, wet, hot, infertile, or covered with roads or cities.

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Doing your bit for the community Neal Shaw, ATS Chief Executive

id you know December 5 is International Volunteer Day? It was instigated by the United Nations in 1985 and is now celebrated by 125 countries including New Zealand.


cent of the non-profit workforce (equal to 133,799 fulltime positions). This is proportionally higher than any of the other 40 countries participating in this research project.

It is estimated there are more than 1.2 million New Zealanders involved in volunteer work, both informally within their communities and through more than 97,000 organisations according to data collated by Volunteering NZ and the Office for Community and Voluntary Sector.

It is also estimated non-profit institutions contributed 2.6 per cent to New Zealandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2004.

This equates to about 34 per cent of the population aged 10 and over and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a figure which is increasing slightly (2008 figures were a little ahead of those in the previous year). International Volunteer Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the efforts made by many in our communities. Volunteers contribute in many ways, from cultural, sports and recreational groups and activities, to social services, education, health, environment, business, law, advocacy and religious groups. The tasks are many and varied â&#x20AC;&#x201C; some are quite small while others can be onerous and time consuming. All in all, millions of unpaid hours are given by volunteers on an annual basis. Some would argue that helping others and contributing to our communities is part of our national psyche and culture, although in this day and age with many complaining of being â&#x20AC;&#x153;time-poorâ&#x20AC;? Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a little surprised we are performing so well. According to one study, New Zealand is a leading nation in the contribution made by volunteers. That study, carried out in 2008 estimated volunteers made up 67 per

Volunteer rates sit at about 34 per cent in metropolitan areas (in 2008) and while rural areas are on a par at 34.3 per cent, that figure has dropped by almost six per cent. There are a few possibilities as to why this may be the case. One could be supply and demand â&#x20AC;&#x201C; in some areas the number of those volunteering may have declined while the demand for volunteers increased. Presumably there are only so many people able and willing to give of their time in such a way. We all know the saying that if you want a job done, you get a busy person to do it. But there must be a limit to what these people can contribute. So who should step up? Should we be looking to increase our volunteer rates to greater levels than the 34 per cent already being achieved? Recently I had reason to think that this may be necessary. While my particular example didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t relate to a non-profit organisation, the level of input required for these sorts of roles often far outweigh the monetary returns. These roles also have a degree of â&#x20AC;&#x153;community spiritâ&#x20AC;? which is comparable to volunteering in its truest sense. My example follows my standing down from the

Ashburton College Board of Trustees after four and a half years. No new parent trustees put themselves forward for election on the board. It has been surprising to me that despite board meetings being public meetings, I have never seen members of the public in attendance during my time on the board. This is despite an element of society which expects schools to â&#x20AC;&#x153;do the parentingâ&#x20AC;? with minimal involvement at home in their childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s education. Often this sector will also be quite vocal if their children are not succeeding, but they are unlikely to put themselves forward to serve on the board. Is this borne from a reluctance to volunteer themselves in general or because they find it easier to criticise anonymously rather than have a profile and take responsibility for effecting change? Sports and recreation groups appear to not suffer in the same way from a shortage of volunteers â&#x20AC;&#x201C; maybe because those involved in these organisations are also active participants and the duties they undertake are perceived to be more fun based than work orientated. It could be possible that the 34 per cent of the population offering its services on a voluntary basis is about as high as we can hope to achieve. We all know that a small group or the same people will generally put their hands up to help out when needed. I believe there is much to be gained from â&#x20AC;&#x153;doing your bitâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it can be a great way to develop your own interests and skills while also helping others. There are plenty of opportunities within our community to put this theory to the test and find out for yourself.

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Horse thieves Dr Glenn Beeman n


hile we don’t hear of it often, horse theft does occur. What can you as an owner do to prevent it? If your horse is precious to you, or very valuable, first make sure you have some form of permanent identification on the horse, and secondly insure it. Most people insure their cars, homes, boats and personal belongings, why not your horse. Insurance is a way of protecting your investment. Identifying your horse is an important aspect of preventing horse theft. Can you legally identify your horse? Saying that he is a chestnut gelding with four white socks is not going to cut it. Photos can help but may not show all angles, and lighting, season, and aging can alter coat colours. For many breed societies, or for life-time height certificates by the Royal Agricultural Society, the options for permanent identification are numerous. Hot Iron Branding – This old traditional method, while being phased out by many breed societies, involves placing a symbol or a series of numbers using red hot irons. The brand causes permanent damage to the skin and hair in the area leaving scar tissue in the form of the symbol or number. Often the breeder or veterinarian’s brand is on one side, the age (year of birth) is on the other. In some countries the use of hoof branding is used to identify horses but of course have to be reapplied as the hoof grows out. Freeze Branding – Freeze branding is the process of using cold liquid nitrogen to cool the iron brands. When the cold brand is applied, the effect is to alter the colour pigment-producing cells, leaving white hair growing in the brand site. Not a great method for grey horses or paint/pinto horses, but for other coloured horses the brands are clear and distinct. Harness Racing New Zealand utilises this freeze branding method




to brand standardbred horses on the side of the neck. The unique series of symbols used by HRNZ for branding standardbreds can be decoded to a unique identification number for each horse. Tattoos – Although more common to horses in North America, tattoos in horses are usually found on the upper lip. Tattoos often fade with time, numbers can “run into each other”, and again not great for horses with pigmented (dark) lips and gums. Microchipping – Microchipping is becoming the “gold standard” for identifying animals whether it is dogs, cats or horses. There is an argument that “all brands or tattoos can be easily changed”. It is virtually impossible to remove or change a microchip once implanted. Microchipping is an “invisible” means of identification. Some would argue that since thieves can’t see it, it may not act as a deterrent. Equally I think some breeders prefer brands because it allows horses to parade around with their brands as a form of walking “sandwich board” advertising. Microchipping is a quick and inexpensive way of identifying your horse. Most breed societies in New Zealand accept this form of permanent identification. Microchipping involves the insertion of a small chip the size of a rice grain into the nuchal ligament of the horse’s neck, which runs along the crest from the ears to the withers. Once inserted, the chip can’t be seen but contains a unique individual bar code number that can be read by a special scanner. Records of these numbers are registered with breed societies, by veterinarians, or by national data banks. Technology now exists that “reading” these microchips can give the temperature of the horse. New technology has also ensured the microchips do not migrate.

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Microchipping horses is easy, inexpensive, and can usually be implanted in a matter of seconds. Freeze and fire branding usually requires a horse to be sedated. In recent years the cost of liquid nitrogen has increased the cost of freeze branding. Other things to help prevent horse theft. Most horse thieves target properties, paddocks or agistment lots that aren’t well supervised. Don’t make it easy for horse thieves. • Network with neighbours, friends and other owners to keep an eye on each other’s property and horses. • Erect solid fences around horse properties – wires can be cut, electrical tapes can be turned off or laid down. • Lock the gate. • Don’t leave halters on horses. Head collars can be a safety issue for your horse since the halter may get caught up in something, trapping your horse, but at the same time, halters make catching horses easier for thieves. • Don’t leave your horse float in the paddock with your horse, or make certain it is locked and can’t be moved. You wouldn’t want to provide a horse thief with a method of transport as well. • Before selling or leasing a horse, make sure you don’t allow the horse to leave the property before running a thorough check on the buyer or lessee, and make sure the cheque has cleared. Your local equine veterinarian can offer heaps of advice in regard to helping you permanently identifying your horse. Your vet can offer advice in regard to insurance policies. I would also advise consulting your equine veterinarian in regard to safety of paddocks and types of fencing.

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Page 8


Irrigation matters Tony Davoren, Hydroservices


uite an irrigation season (not) thus far. Little pressure, great growing conditions and a little like the Northern Hemisphere spring and summer. Water will be left in the “bank” this season, if you do not end in credit you have been a frivolous spender – aka irrigator. Can anyone remember a start to the irrigation season like we have had this year? While I missed an article in the last edition (being overseas is probably not a great excuse but I will use it) I am sure I wrote last of clients claiming they might not irrigate before the Ashburton Show. I am sure that was “tongue-in-cheek” but was a wish come true. Not in all our years (since 1983) of monitoring for farmers have we been able to recommend “no irrigation required” through to and past November 1. In many places rainfall is up to 150 per cent of the November average, every hot day has been followed by a couple of cooler days, many of the cooler days accompanied by rainfall.

some of our rainfall – can you believe England crying out for rain. Both countries have had their warmest and driest October and (up to about November 18) their warmest and driest November. Sufficiently dry in England that wheat planted in late September had yet to strike in parts of some paddocks and many crops were very patchy. They too have their water problems. In Shropshire vegetable growers I visited have had to stop “winter” filling of storage ponds due to minimum flow restrictions in streams. However, one of those same vegetable growers was having a ball harvesting salad vegetables like spinach. No back breaking manual harvest of the spinach – this £250,000 (it seemed every piece of specialist equipment was £250,000!) harvester (top right) from Denmark was making short work of the spinach for packaging into sealed bags for the supermarket.

The days since the equinox in September have been cooler rather than cold, and growth has not been stressed in any way. Hence, as soon as we get a few warmer or hot days, water demand is high.

The quality of the harvested spinach was outstanding – no soil, the shaker chains ensuring an even leaf size and three beds at a time. Note the air vents on the front – question “what do you think they do?” (answer, later in my article, so multi-task while you finish reading.)

Having visited arable farms in Holland and in Bedfordshire and Shropshire in England during November, they would dearly like

Very impressive from a paddock that was a “punt” given the normal English autumn weather.

s Ploughing

This impressive machine strips the spinach plants of their leaves. How about this for an opportunity? mm in diameter to make first grade. Had an interesting visit to David Austin Roses, and I think anyone who knows How critical is irrigation? – I was in the about roses will have heard of David grading shed of a contract growers crop Austin. Propagators of superb award that had water restricted for irrigation winning roses and unable to export to (minimum flows in a stream) and less than New Zealand and Australia. Quarantine 30 per cent was making 1st or 2nd grade, limits the economics of exporting to New and 70 per cent going for essentially Zealand, but would love to have someone kindling wood. growing their roses for the New Zealand market. Interestingly, the last week of November has continued the trend of spring and Again a fascinating visit, each bush taking now the early summer. A hot day followed two years to produce bagged or potted by a cool SW change, a bit of rain and a ready for sale. They begin by planting out couple of cool days. rows of “wild” roses – the root stock for the final rose variety. The air vents are not (if you thought as I did) a vacuum lifting the leaves for cutting, The root stock is cut off just above ground but blowers to “blow” the insects off the level and the selected variety (ies) grafted leaf to meet supermarket requirements. to the root stock in the field; ie. the root stock is not lifted for indoor grafting. Such a start to the irrigation season will continue it seems for a few more weeks Irrigation is critical to producing first a yet and should result in everyone using strong root stock and secondly a grafted much less than their annual volumes this rose with three to four stems six to eight season.

s Drilling

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Page 9

Neumanns Tyres An Ashburton Guardian advertising feature

Check your tyres before the silly season starts Ultimately, the only thing connecting you with the road is four hand sized bits of rubber close to each end of the car. Taking care of your tyres is an important part of vehicle maintenance and ensuring that you have the safest ride possible.

right rim at the right pressure at the right price. In general, New Zealanders are not good at looking after tyres. A 2002 survey by Transport Engineering New Zealand Ltd found that 50% of drivers had no idea what the minimum legal tread depth was (1.5mm); 21% had at least one illegal tyre; and 14% had at least one tyre that was under-inflated by 25% of the 30p.s.i average for most car tyres. Rear tyres tended to be most prone to neglect.

For most New Zealanders, tyres are a grudge purchase. Their vehicle fails a warrant of fitness because a tyre’s tread is below par and suddenly they are up for a couple of hundred dollars in unexpected expense. Given that a well-maintained set of tyres can last for three or even four years (at the average mileage of 14,000km per But, looking after your tyres will save you money year), consumers should be buying the right tyres and - on tyres and also on fuel. If you want proof, try this experiment with a bicycle: deflate the tyres and ride looking after them properly. a kilometre, then inflate them fully and ride another kilometre. The difference in pedalling effort is obvious; Making g sure your y tyres y are in tip-top p p condition can not onlyy reduced tyre pressure costs energy. increase the fuel economyy of It doesn’t do your tyres any good to drive around with yyour vehicle, but help p yyou avoid breakdowns and serious accidents. them under-inflated, either. The additional friction halves tyre life. Everyy owner of a motor vehicle should spend p a little time each Other things that cost in wear and tear of tyres are hills – month inspecting p g the tires on their especially windy roads on hills - and driving style. Faster car, truck or motorcycle. driving leaves more rubber on the road; driving fast on windy roads wears out tyres twice as fast as they might Neumanns Tyres can start the process off right by otherwise wear. applying their company motto: The right tyre on the

Try to make a habit of checking your tyre inflation at least once a month. Should an emergency occur, Neumanns Tyres are available, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for your tyre emergency. With eight fleet trucks on call, they are there to help with your family car, commercial truck or arm vehicle this holiday season.

Story by: Amanda Niblett

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Page 10


Farming to succeed A

pplications for AgITO’s South Island Farming to Succeed programme are now open.

Farm manager, Tangaroa Walker, attended this year’s Farming to Succeed course and says without a doubt that it is the best thing he’s done for his career. “If I hadn’t attended Farming to Succeed I wouldn’t be as driven and have the vision that I have now,” Tangaroa says. Originally from Tauranga, Tangaroa started his career in agriculture while still in school. “I started off working in a piggery on the weekends at school,” he says. “The owner of the piggery also owned a dairy farm I worked on and I fell in love with it.” Now 21, Tangaroa is in his fourth dairy season and currently working in Woodlands, Southland, as a farm manager milking 570 cows. “I was the 2IC on the farm in Bay of Plenty and I wanted a new challenge and new opportunities,” he said about his move to Southland.

This season Tangaroa has moved to a new farm and is working towards the opportunity to go contract milking on the farm after a year as a manager.

and asset management, goal setting and motivation, successful business partnerships, financial development, time management and managing stress.

With that in mind, it wasn’t a hard decision for Tangaroa to apply to attend Farming to Succeed, especially once he’d read feedback from previous years’ attendees.

There are no course fees for Farming to Succeed thanks to FIL which has sponsored Farming to Succeed and its predecessor Bound to Succeed for the past eight years.

“The fact that I aim to go 50:50 sharemilking by the time I’m 26 made me apply – meeting people and getting your name out there really helps your career,” he said.

Tangaroa is still buzzing about his experience and can’t say enough about how the programme helped him.

“Farming to Succeed is a really good networking event and chance to see how successful farming systems are run.” Farming to Succeed runs once yearly over five days, during which participants go through a structured series of workshops, farm visits and discussion groups. Participants work with course facilitator Grant Taylor and other leading agribusiness practitioners to explore the key ingredients required for the achievement of personal and business success. Only 25 people are accepted to each course.

“About two seasons ago I looked on Fencepost and found an ad looking for someone who was willing to progress in the industry. I did a phone interview, Topics covered include career stuck my stuff on a truck and drove down.” development, staged capital growth

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“It’s the best thing I’ve done to be honest. Grant Taylor has opened my eyes to the options there are – how to make money, how to be an opportunist and have self-belief. It is pretty inspiring. “The resources he’s put together are something I keep going back to – I read them every morning and the book sits on my table. It keeps me on track even after a hard day’s work. I now know I have to save as much money as I can and build my assets. I’ve got 30 beef cows and I’ve just reared another 25 this year. I’m building up equity for a loan to go lower order sharemilking next year. I’m really keen to spend the least amount of time in lower paying positions – I want to dip myself in the deep end.” Tangaroa says his employers are also benefitting from his attendance at


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Farming to Succeed. “When I came back I knew I had to enter competitions, win awards and get a good CV reference so I stepped up my game. I’m not just working hard to learn and but also to be more efficient at work.” Tangaroa was recognised as Southland’s Trainee of the Year at AgITO’s AgriAwards in July this year, showing that his dedication has paid off. He has recently completed his Modern Apprenticeship and National Certificate in Agriculture (Dairy Farming) (Level 4) through AgITO and says the skills and knowledge he has learned are helping him out day to day on the farm. He is so positive about his experience at Farming to Succeed that he is urging others to apply. “I’ve told a few people to get their applications in already,” he says. “If you want to be successful you should go and do this course. Farming to Succeed is everything the name says it is.” Farming to Succeed applications are open to eligible Level 3 or above AgITO trainees from any farming sector until January 20, 2012. The South Island course will run from April 30-May 4. Further details at www. or by contacting AgITO on 0800 691 111.


Page 11

Protecting our migratory birds Contributed by Mary Ralston, Forest and Bird


here has been plenty of wintery days this spring but this has not deterred the migratory birds which return to our braided rivers to nest. Every year in spring, birds return to the Ashburton, Rangitata, Rakaia and the smaller foothills streams to breed. These rivers are home to many species of native New Zealand birds that are found nowhere else in the world. Surveys are undertaken to count the numbers of birds in the riverbeds – longterm this provides valuable data on the health of our bird populations. The wrybill is a distinctive New Zealand bird which is found in the braided rivers in spring and summer. Its particular claim to fame is its beak which is curved to the right (the only bird in the world that has this characteristic).

It is thought that this helps it to find insects underneath the rounded stones of the riverbeds. The wrybill is a very specialised bird. It needs gravel banks free of weeds to nest, and a flood-free period of time to lay eggs and raise the chicks, although it can lay another clutch of eggs if the first is washed away in a flood. Eggs are laid in a nest surrounded by stones; the adult, eggs and chicks are all well camouflaged to fit in with the grey riverbed. In winter the wrybills migrate to the North Island. The breeding pairs that are spread around the South Island braided rivers in summer congregate on the mudflats around the Auckland Harbour, and it is estimated that the total population is about 5000. For a bird species, this is a very low number and they have been given a category of Nationally Vulnerable.

The wrybill is vulnerable to a number of predators.

Numbers of wrybill are dropping on the Rangitata River, according to research carried out over the past three years. For a population to remain stable, a female must produce 0.75 juveniles per year – but in the Rangitata only a third of that number are surviving. A number of factors may be responsible.

DDC is offering services of trenchless excavation by way of directional drilling or thrusting for all those places you don’t want to open trench, therefore saving on mess and reinstatement costs.

Four-wheel-drives and motorcycles are major threats to the wrybill. Ground nesting birds are particularly vulnerable to predators such as stoats, cats and weasels. Weeds such as lupin reduce the amount of habitat available and provide cover to the predators. On the Ashburton River especially, easy access to the riverbed means motorbikes and four-wheel-drives are a common sight – many nesting birds and their eggs have been crushed, and birds disturbed from their nests or when feeding. Dogs pose a threat too, as they can sniff out a nest.

It’s not just the wrybill that need our protection. The black-billed gull (a completely different species from the more common, larger black-backed gulls) is another species that also nests on braided riverbeds, as do the banded dotterels and black-fronted terns. It’s a wonderful sight to see a wrybill with its fluffy chicks. But without help from the public, it is a sight our grandchildren may not see. In spring especially, please keep four-wheel-drives, motorbikes and dogs out of the riverbeds to give them a chance.

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Page 12


Ashburton Contracting Limited An Ashburton Guardian advertising feature

Ashburton Contracting Limited â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Your contracting company ACL has established itself as a leading company in the local civil contracting field with a workforce in excess of 100 staff and has proven itself in a dynamic and challenging market through performance and quality.

We close again for the Statutory holidays only, returning on the 4th of January.

We have an on-call mechanic available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including public holidays, if the We operate a modern fleet of excavators, trucks, graders, unexpected occurs and you need an emergency repair loaders and specialised plant as well as light vehicles to your truck, trailer or excavator. and construction equipment. Repairs can be conducted at our fully equipped workshop, or we can visit you on the road or farm We also operate a modern truck and heavy vehicle should you break workshop, aggregate production yard, bulk landscape down. supplies and we are Mid Canterburyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest certified We also have a range of concrete producer. Caltex oils and Baldwin filters available if your stocks run low during the holiday season. ACL are here if you need us over the holiday break to repair your heavy vehicle if the unexpected occurs. For our emergency after hours mechanic, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, please phone us on 308 7400 and Our workshop closes at mid-day on the 23rd of December, you will be given the number of our on-call mechanic. and re-opens again on the 28th of December. We are the experts in road sealing, asphalt supply and placing, subdivision site-works, kerb and channel construction, utilities installation and maintenance as well as transport and excavation jobs and dairy underpass supply and installation.

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Page 13

Stories from the high country S

tories from Mid Canterburyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s high country are among those in two new books by Cambridge author Katherine Tozer.

shovel took them away, together with the topsoil. Zac looked so peaceful in his last resting place. His front paws were crossed, the sign of an intelligent working dog, his tail tucked between his back legs. His eyes seemed almost alert - open and piercing.

Katherine has spent three years compiling a series of books detailing the intimate nature of working dogs and their owners in back country New Zealand â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and is giving the profits to charity.

We gave him a Tux or two to help him on his way. We covered him gently, tucking the soil around the sides so no ice could chill his soul. His collar we tied to the fence above.â&#x20AC;?

Her series of three books, Tales from the Back Country¸ is being offered to charities throughout New Zealand to use as a fundraising mechanism. The first book in the series raised $25,000 for Hospice, SPCA, the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal, apieceofnz and numerous schools and community groups. Katherine is looking to partner with additional charities that need an innovative fundraising tool. She says she and her husband Peter make no money from the books and are reimbursed only the printing cost with all profits - $15 from each $25 copy donated to a range of charities. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It has been great fun exploring and meeting such interesting people and writing their stories. It is so rewarding to do something you love and know it is going to benefit others - not everyone has that opportunity.â&#x20AC;? Tales from the Back Country is a compilation of working dog and other stories as told to Katherine by the men and women who have carved out a living in New Zealandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s remote, but beautiful and rugged landscape. Katherine is a Waikato scientist and author with a passion for the wide open spaces and mountain ranges. â&#x20AC;&#x153;New Zealand has breath-taking beauty and a wealth of back country stories just waiting to be told.â&#x20AC;? She spends her spare time with her GP husband Peter, exploring the varied and beautiful back country in the North and South Islands, photographing, interviewing, researching and compiling material for Tales from the Back Country. After completing the first book in 2010, Katherine was eager to embark on a second and third book. The second and third books in the Tales from the Back

Laurie Prouting from Mesopotamia, with his dry humour, describes climbing Mt Cook and flying a helicopter in Antartica when his fuel reserves ran low. The authorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s grandaughter and dog. Country series, completed last month, have 100 pages, are packed with photos of stunning scenery and have a range of stories from 24 different people throughout New Zealand. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The books have happy and sad stories, from people like John Perriam, owner of the deceased Shrek the sheep, who speaks of the challenges of being a high country author, or Chrissie Fernyhough who has written about the death of one of her favourite working dogs.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Another great story is of Laurie Prouting from Mesopotamia in Canterbury who humourously describes climbing Mt Cook and flying a helicopter in Antarctica when his fuel reserves ran low. The white ice-breaker on which he was to land had moved to an unknown location in the sea of white pack-ice â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it was akin to having to find a polar bear in a snow storm.â&#x20AC;?

was blue and uncluttered - no clouds, nor vapour trails. Castle Hill was named for the large limestone boulders that look like the turrets of castles as they crown the hill tops. In the lee of these rocks is a large, thousand acre paddock we call the Rocks Block. This was where Zacâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mother Midge had been buried. We chose a spot to the right and east of Midge. There were a myriad of stones and the soil was harsh and frozen. John had to use the long crowbar to ease the stones; a

Excerpts from Tales from the Back Country Chrissie Fernyhough, of Canterbury, writes about the death of one of her favourite working dogs: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Working dogs worth their salt should always get a burial. Well, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s our policy on Castle Hill, anyway. We take them back to the site of their last muster. So on Saturday last we waited until four in the afternoon. The sun still shone over the Craigieburn Mountains casting shadows over the rocks and beyond. It was ever so still, truly, not a breath of wind. The sky

â&#x20AC;&#x153;On one occasion we were about 800 miles from land. The boat was painted white and we were in thousands of miles of white pack-ice. Before going on a sortie Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d always line the helicopter up with the boat to see what the magnetic compass read; this was so I could use the compass if the GPS failed. I also had radio contact with the boat. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This particular time Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d come back to my position, where I had left the boat, with not much gas left in the tank but the boat was not there. It was akin to a sparrow coming back to its nest, ready to land on its branch to find that someone had cut the tree down.â&#x20AC;?

Reliable support for the rural community Partner Gerard Thwaites is a specialist in private client and rural matters with 20 yearsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; experience and personal involvement in the farming community. â&#x20AC;˘ Refinancing, Sales & Purchases â&#x20AC;˘ Subdivisions â&#x20AC;˘ Trusts & Estates Contact Gerard on 029 233 3447 or 03 352 3923 Email: NOVO738AG




Page 14


Improved yields with better N uptake armers using urea treated with a urease inhibitor can expect a better nitrogen boost to pasture and crops providing farmers more flexibility, according to independent research conducted by AgResearch.


manager Graeme Smith says while the price of SustaiN Green is slightly more than the company’s standard urea price, there are still savings to be made from reduced nitrogen loss and returns via better production.

The recent research demonstrated that Ballance Agri-Nutrient’s SustaiN Green product, which is urea treated with the urease inhibitor Agrotain, offers farmers more flexibility to apply nitrogen when it’s needed most or when it suits them better, even if the weather or soil conditions are not optimal.

“It has very real benefits for farmers, producing more pasture leading to more milk for dairy farmers and increased live weight for sheep and beef producers. “Our team can model different farming circumstances with land and weather variables to demonstrate the actual cost benefits of using SustaiN Green which can be many thousands of dollars,” Mr Smith says.

Urea is most common form of nitrogen fertiliser in New Zealand and promotes rapid pasture and plant growth. However, nitrogen uptake can be weather-dependent with farmers trying to time applications to coincide with rain so the nitrogen gets quickly into the soil. Ballance Head of Research and Environment Warwick Catto says without rain, urea tends to convert rapidly to ammonium (ammonia volatilisation) which reduces its effectiveness and also raises the soil pH. “SustaiN Green has shown increased yields compared with standard urea. And because Agrotain-treated urea is less volatile, it gives farmers more flexibility,” Mr Catto says.

Because Agrotain-treated urea is less volatile, it gives farmers more flexibility. “Typically farmers need to watch the weather carefully before they apply urea and hope they get good rainfall within a couple of days to ensure the nitrogen is diffused into the soil away from the surface.” Mr Catto says years of research show many factors that influence nitrogen loss.

Sustainable Solutions for Today’s Agricultural Challenges ANIMAL AND PLANT NUTRITION PROBLEMS? Plant diseases, plant nutrition problems, (effecting nodulation, proteins and photosynthesis), weeds and pests. Animal health problems (sleepy sickness, milk fever, high somatic cell counts). These are indications of soil nutrient problems, such as excesses or deficiencies. It doesn’t have to be that way – we are able to provide a proposed solution. There is a direct relationship between the minerals in the soil and the health of plants and animals. Just applying some nutrients to the soil doesn’t guarantee the plant can access them.

You need to measure and supply the correct chemistry for each particular soil.


Let us take a comprehensive p soil test – including g trace minerals. We will analyse y it, p provide interpretation p and g give a recommendation. We can organise, supply pp y and mix fertilisers and nutrients that are required. HEALTHY SOILS Soil Fertilityy Farming g PROGRAMME, is focused on progressively p g building and maintaining soil fertility for optimum quality and yyield. Balancing g soil minerals aids in g getting g the essential nutrients into the plant to maximise p production from the soil, or to solve nutritional problems. We also have a PLAN for improving the biology.

Feed the soil and let the soil feed the plant. This is what the Albrecht system of soil fertility emphasizes, which uses soil chemistry st to affect soil physics. This det ettermines er the environment for the biology gy of the soil.

Healthy Soils Healthy Soils Biological Farming Consultant Donald Hart 0274320187 and Sally Truelove 0274362458

This is because typical ammonia volatilisation losses under normal pastoral use of nitrogen application – 30-50 kg/ha – are between 10 to15 per cent of the total applied.

“The rate of application, level of rainfall and low soil moisture all contribute to ammonia volatilisation.

However, losses through ammonia volatilisation can be as high as 50 per cent.

“So if there’s little rainfall after application, nitrogen loss will increase. This is where SustaiN Green can produce major benefits for farmers.”

Agrotain is used in 70 countries in increasing volumes in a range of farming situations, including on pasture and maize. Most agriculture states in America now recommend Agrotain as a preferred nitrogen strategy.

Ballance sales and marketing general


Page 15

Telemetry - the way forward Contributed by IrrigationNZ –


need line of sight although some bend is tolerated.

henever water meters are mentioned the next breath invariably contains another new concept in telemetry. So what is it and why is it being promoted as the best way forward to transfer and manage the data generated from water meters and other measurement devices.

A short range radio installation has a range of five to 15 kms with long range 10 to 60 kms. The data is sent to a central station which then sends on via cellular or internet connection. Different sites can be connected together in a mesh type network utilising a central base station.

Telemetry, literally “measurement at a distance”, is an automated communications process by which data is collected from instruments located at remote or inaccessible points and transmitted to receiving equipment for measurement, monitoring, display, and recording. The data can be transmitted at varying intervals or live streamed for real time display and monitoring. Any time you need to measure something located in an inconvenient, inhospitable, or moving location, on a continuous or periodic basis, telemetry is the answer. The applications are endless from areas as diverse as biomedical research with information telemetered from inside patients to oceanography with unmanned instrumented buoys remotely interrogated. Examples of environmental monitoring include weather, river flow rates and water levels, seismic activity, pollution levels, and traffic/road condition monitoring. On farm the technology is being used for a myriad of applications beyond water meters – foaling alarms that alert owners when a mare lies down signalling going into labour, remote monitoring of freshwater and effluent pond levels, monitoring of effluent spreaders and irrigators that have alarms or signals with specific information sent to managers so that issues can be dealt with. Automated irrigated systems can be monitored for various criteria that can automatically shut down pumps and systems if readings are outside set tolerances. This can avoid costly physical damage or regulatory breaches. Telemetered soil moisture measurement could be the basis of an automated system for the management and scheduling of water application. It is easy to get carried away with potential applications but the most prevalent use that is being promoted is the telemetry of water metering information. To collect the data from meters there are two options, either use a data logger or

Repeater sites can be used so that significant distances can be covered if necessary. A base station receiver can be connected to your home PC and from there the information can be displayed and managed for your benefit. A base station can have a number of signals being transmitted to it so it can receive more than just meter information.

irrigation within the bounds of consents.

Cellular connections have an ongoing cost of the calls usually a standard monthly charge for a set number of calls. The more regular the information is needed the more calls are required.

The onus is on the irrigator to manage and avoid breaches and the best way to do this is with accurate and up-to-the minute information.

Telemetry is becoming more and more prevalent and is now just one more tool to be utilised to make your operation more efficient and profitable.

There are two main methods of data transmission, cellular and radio. Canterbury is in a fortunate position of being a large flat area which makes the transmission of radio signals relatively easy as you

Once a system is installed there are opportunities beyond the mere compliance requirements with some real gains to be made around scheduling and management of irrigation systems.

With telemetry you can keep track of what’s happening on the farm from the comfort of your office telemeter. A data logger is a recording device that comes as part of the meter that electronically stores the information. This is the basic requirement of the legislation and at the end of an irrigation season the information is downloaded and sent to the regulatory authority for analysis. This requires a physical site visit and manual transfer of the information. With the download of data at the end of the season there is no knowledge of what is going on during the season and no opportunity to actively manage your irrigation with that information. Telemetry enables the information to be available at all times so the basic numbers of flow rate of pumps, how much water has been used per day, how much water has been used during the season can be used to calibrate your system, calculate the amount of water applied per hectare or irrigation event and how much water is left out of a annual allocation. The benefit of having actual data as opposed to assumed data is quite startling and enables gains to be made in water use efficiency, energy efficiency and understanding of your irrigation system not to mention the requirement to stay within your consent conditions. If for whatever reason your take does not comply you need that information before the regional council to be able to remedy problems and actively manage your


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Page 16


Johnstons Hire Centre feature An Ashburton Guardian advertising feature

The right equipment at the right price Story by: Amanda Niblett

Whether you’re a home handy-man, farmer or tradesman, Johnston’s Hire Centre has a comprehensive range of hire equipment, all tailored to assist you to get your task done quickly, safely, efficiently and at the right price. Offering a wide range of plant, equipment and trailer hire,

Johnston’s Hire Centre have shifted to a roomier premises on West Street, to allow for the business to stock more of what you yo u wa want nt. Locaallyy ow Lo o ned an a d op perated, Derrick and Deborah Du Toit have ha ve gro rown wn the the bus busin ines ess, s, shi shift ftin ing g tw twic icee to ens nsur u e a la larg rger e selection off hire equipment is on offer. The Du u To oiiit’ tsp pu urrcch haased sed th se the bu busi sine si ness ne ss in in 20 2005 05,, where Derrick at

first was the sole employee. After shifting from South Africa, Derrick and Deborah soon became well known amongst the community, with Deborah working as a midwife at Ashburton Hospital, and Derrick working for Neumann’s Tyres and Wrights Dry Cleaners. The move from South Africa came as they decided to search for a lifestyle with safety and opportunity. Many people don’t realise the danger that is present in everyday South Africa, which includes regular car-jackings and robberies if you don’t keep yourself locked up. There is a large firearm presence there, and Derrick and Deborah wanted a safer environment to raise a familyy. They began searching for another land of opportunity, which waas Engl glish-sp peakiing ng,, haad a ni n ce cliima mate te aand nd a ssim imililar ar lif ifes esty tyle le.. With Wi th Ash Ashbu burt rton hos ospi pita tall requ q ir irin ing g a mi midw dwife, Deb ebor orah ah was able to secure full-time work to help with the immigration process into New Zealand.

She now works full-time alongside Derrick at Johnston’s, looking after the administration and customer service requirements. As the business gained a reputation for excellent equipment and friendly service, the customer base grew, so Derrick hired another full-time employee, Glenn, who remains with the business today. Due to the increased demand for weekend hire, Johnston’s wanted to be able to provide the same excellent service, so the team has grown to four with an extra set of hands to look after the weekend clientele. After six ye y ars of working g non-stop p to estab ablish s thee suc uccess ssfu ful business that Johnston’s is today, Derrick and Deborah are lo ook okin ng fo forw rward to a Chr h isstm tmas as h hol olid iday ay w witth fa fami mily ly in th thee uppeer So Sout uth h Is Isla land nd,, no now w that at theey ha have the add dditiona n l te team members to help. The story continue on page 17

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Page 17

Johnstons Hire Centre feature An Ashburton Guardian advertising feature Derrick and Deborah attribute the success of the business to a loyal customer base who returns regularly. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We like to provide a nice atmosphere for our clients, many of them will call in for a chat and a cup of coffee as we have gotten to know them. Many of them feel like family,â&#x20AC;? Deborah said. Providing what the customer wants, when they want it is an important component of the business.

They donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have any hidden charges, provide competitive hirage rates and will give you an accurate quote, so you can budget your project to perfection. They are happy to provide demonstrations and advice on equipment usage For your next project, call Johnstonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hire Centre to have a full solution catered to the demands of your job.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have a comprehensive range of hire equipment, and we constantly monitor what the market wants. The hire industry is very competitive. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a fine line between supplying the demand and purchasing items that may not potentially be required often. One aspect that makes our service above average is that Derrick is very mechanically minded, and can fix almost anything, so we have the ability to service and maintain the equipment that we hire, to ensure the item is ready for the job that it needs to do. We are constantly adding to our range of items for hire, so we ask for the public to check with us to see if we have it, and if we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t, we will do what we can to get it,â&#x20AC;? Deborah said. From small tool hire to large equipment, for beginner handy-men or DIY experts, Johnstonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s supply an impressive range. Its digger range has grown from two to six, and their custommade log splitters have received praise for being powerful and easy to use. Derrick and Deborah are passionate about helping the community achieve their goals, so they strive to provide quality equipment, backed up with knowledgeable advice, every time.

Call into Johnstonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hire Centre on West Street, they have the means to move your next project along faster!

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Page 18


Monthly musings - business and debt John Leadley


shburton District Council has recently been the target of some criticism from watchdog group the Ashburton Ratepayers Association, for excessive borrowings. Is this justified? Maybe. Maybe not. In this article I’ll attempt to explain my views on borrowing in respect to business, progress and equity. These views are entirely my own and are in no way to be construed as those of any current or former District or Council Councillor. I’ve always subscribed to the view that life is all about opportunity and making the best of what is available. If you don’t subscribe to that view I suggest watching TV One on Sundays at 8.30am and the Attitude programme. When it comes to business the overriding principles should be progress, opportunity, efficiency and equity. These are the cornerstones that result in the best outcomes. The views I endeavour to bring to decision making. I believe they apply equally to private business and Council governance. Ashburton District’s population recently topped the 30,000 mark, a growth rate well above Statistics Department expectations. More importantly this district’s Gross Domestic Product (GPD) grew 8.3 per cent in the three years 2007-10 when the New Zealand GPD for that period actually contracted by 1.4 per cent. This result simply would not have happened if farmers and urban businesspersons had not had the courage to progress, invest, borrow and capitalise on opportunities available. Yes there have been a small number of business failures over that period, virtually all I suggest because of not paying enough detail to the key ingredient, equity. We are fortunate indeed to live in a district abundant in natural resources, good soils, abundant water reserves and a congenial climate. Easy access, good educational, recreational and health facilities add considerably to our growth opportunities. For a district with the number one Key Community Outcome of “A thriving and

diverse local economy that provides the foundation for a quality lifestyle” I believe the District Council is absolutely on the right path.

a restricted irrigation supply.

Since joining the County Council in 1986 I’m proud of the manner which it and subsequent governance units of the district sought to achieve that goal.

I did get some satisfaction when then Mayor Murray Anderson invited me to the official “turn on” of the first deep well pump in 2005 just six hours ahead of the promised deadline!

Understandably there’s always more that could be done. Ten years ago Ashburton township had a sewerage system more relevant to post war conditions than the second millennium. As councillors of the time we “bit the bullet”, engaged with the community, and embarked on a $17 million upgrade. The result, a modern high-tech wastewater treatment system the envy of most authorities in New Zealand. Built to last 80 years, sized to cope with double the current population, able to be modularly extended and bringing in significant income from irrigated pasture sales. But oh, the money was borrowed! Absolutely justified. Why should one generation of ratepayers be expected to pay for a facility with at least an expected three generation life span? Key phrase – intergenerational equity! As the only farmer/irrigator on the district council in late 1995 I raised the possibility of upgrading the town water supply. From monthly usage figures available at meetings, I was aware that daily demand for the town supply was equal to only 2¼ times the daily irrigated usage on my then 500 acre farm. Cost of electricity for pumping was then very reasonable.

Design was done, consents obtained and work commenced.

Today the town supply comes solely from aquifers over 70 metres deep. Seven bores each with backup generators in case of power failure, reliably supply water that fully meets the highest National Standards. An eighth bore at Tinwald will soon be commissioned to give added scheme security. Yes it was necessary to borrow some of the $7 to 8 million cost. Again, intergenerational equity a key. My own first deep well irrigation bore commissioned 42 years ago on December 4, 1969 continues to operate daily with original casing delivery pipe and screen. The first pump required replacement after 29 years. Scheme longevity looks assured. Ratepayers should gather comfort from the wisdom of long term planning for key infrastructure assets. These are but two core examples. Further, key legislation introduced about eight years ago requires council to fund depreciation on new assets from inception. This has resulted in the current generation of ratepayers funding not only replacement of existing core assets but depreciation on replacement infrastructure.

Population figures would have stagnated and facilities would not have been upgraded. Imagine no Event Centre, no Lake Hood, hockey turf or modern tennis centre. Likely loss of health services, even hospital. Not a scenario most wish to contemplate. The 2004 Local Government Act required councils to not only provide for physical infrastructural needs of our citizens but to take account of economic, environmental, social and cultural requirements. Unfortunately the proposed timeframe to construct the new Arts/Heritage/ Archive facility has been compromised by legitimate consenting issues and new building codes. A purpose built stadium is long overdue. Council’s proposed Sports Stadium/ Pool Complex has the strongest public mandate to proceed of any non-essential project since council amalgamation in 1989. To build a community where people want to live, work, recreate and be educated requires community facilities. Council must be proactive in this area to achieve the publically desired outcomes. Figures supplied by the Department of Internal Affairs note council’s intention to spend $3.8 million in interest on borrowings, from a projected annual income of $70 million in 2015. This equates to 5.5 per cent on peak borrowing of $75 million. I suggest most private businesses would quickly grasp a similar opportunity.

My notion was roundly defeated.

Many view this as a double imposition, but is outside councillors’ ability to control.

The expected life span of 50 plus years of the major items responsible for the debt, should further nullify concerns.

Senior councillors of the day adamant that nothing will ever be as cheap as gravity supply. Absolutely correct.

On the positive side, rate requirements as a result should significantly decrease the need to borrow in future years.

Given council’s debt to asset ratio, equity is not a significant issue.

A few years later, ongoing problems with the river gallery intake and in particular the continuing failure of the main pipeline delivering the water from Olliver’s Road to town led to a rethink. Additionally new New Zealand standards for drinking water were being signalled.

As councillors I believe we are mandated not only to serve the ratepayers of today, but enhance the district as a place of choice to live for those that follow.

Again a very well attended public meeting indicated to council a desire for better standards, and water availability to meet the community expectations of

Just like the rural and urban business people of Ashburton, borrowing is an essential tool for development. Without borrowing for development in recent years, agricultural production would be less than half that currently achieved. Farm service business would struggle.

Yes the decision requires foresight, courage, efficiency, planning and a positive attitude. Most would like to claim these attributes as their own. One hundred and forty-seven years of prudent financial governance by generations of business men and women has made Ashburton District the top rural unit of local government in the South Island today. I certainly don’t want to be the one who compromises that status.

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Page 19

Merry Christmas An Ashburton Guardian advertising feature

ients all the Wishing our cl ive season best for the fest ve and hope you ha t. es rv ha a successful Craig and the


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Independent and Efficient Manager: Craig Carter Racecourse Ave, Methven P 302 8209 A/H 303 3009

Lyell, Jenny and Damon wish you a very Merry Christmas and the best for the New Year. N

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Page 20


Weather by The Moon: December Forecast Ken Ring

Blame it on the Moon I

n the past few weeks we have had increased wind across the country. The Bert Munro Challenge in Invercargill was deferred and the Elton John Concert in Dunedin faced 100km/h winds as the stage was set up. The reason has undoubtedly been the closeness of the moon, a once-in-27-day event which astronomers call perigee. Every 27-day month the moon comes closer to earth, and extra lunar gravitational pull increases turbulence in land, sea and air. This manifests as increased earthquakes, the monthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s king-tides, and increased likelihood of coastal gales. The fact that it was also a new moon last week exaggerated the gravitation. New moon is part of a 29.5-day phase cycle which is out of sync with the perigee cycle, but once per year either new or full moon + perigee happen within the same 24-hours. The moon is continually coming closer and further away, and the mean earth-moon distance is 384,401 km. The closest (perigee) in the years 1750 through 2125 was 356,375 km on January 4, 1912 (also day of full moon). The moon zooms in and out at an average speed of 150kms per hour. During perigee, the moon orbits the earth at about 14.8deg per day, whilst at apogee it slows to about 11.6deg/day. It means weather is more changeable during perigee and slower to change in apogee. Due to the earthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tilt perigee changes hemispheres over a nine-year cycle, two to three years over the southern hemisphere, a couple of years about the equator, another two to three years over northern hemisphere latitudes and another couple over the equator. The perigee-moon has been over the equator since September 2010, bringing more powerful perigees because the equator sticks out more into space. Moving south since April, perigees have been lessening their effect, bringing a decrease in earthquake strengths and numbers around the globe.


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The depression that crossed the North Island on February 2-3, 1936 brought widespread heavy rain, causing every major river in the North Island to flood. The Mangakahia River in Northland rose by 19 metres. It was because from July 1935 to April 1936 the perigees were at or near the equator. Perigees were over the equator between 1966 and 1968. On Xmas Eve 1974, Cyclone Tracy blew away Darwin. The moon was sitting on 12degN that day, and Darwin is 12deg S. Perigees were about the equator until the following year.

About 8-10

Number of rain days:

December 1st-2nd, 5th9th, 12th-19th, 27th-30th

Precipitation potential times: Mostly dry

December 19th-24th December 1st-2nd, 9th, 16th, 29th

Wettest periods:

December 16th, 25th-29th

Warmest maximum temperatures:

December 2nd

Coolest maximum temperatures:

December 16th, 25th-29th

Warmest minimums: Coldest minimums:

December 3rd-4th, 11th-15th, 31st

Sunniest days:

December 8th-15th

Between February 1988 and November 1989 the moon was averagely closer to the equator than to either northern or southern points, and Cyclone Bola struck New Zealand on March 7, 1988.

Best days for outdoor recreation:

In April 10, 1968, Cyclone Giselle brought flooding and destructive winds and the inter-island ferry Wahine sank in Wellington Harbour, with the loss of 51 lives.

Estimated precipation for Ashburton:






As the perigeal moon creeps northward from the equator, cyclonic weather systems strike targets in the northern hemisphere. The moon was equatorial in 2005-6. Hurricane Katrina struck and destroyed New Orleans on August 29, 2005. The moon was at 28degN that day. New Orleans is 29degN. Famous earthquake new or full moon perigeal moons have been the Napier earthquake on day of perigee (+full moon), the September 4 Christchurch earthquake (two days from the second closest new moon for 2010), and the June 11, 2011 earthquake (within 24 hours of June perigee). It has been because by mid-2010 the moon was once again around the equator, so New Zealand has been at risk - last year we received remnants of cyclones from Samoa and Tonga. Not all earthquakes occur on perigee, and not all perigees bring earthquakes. But it is like saying a dangerous corner can only be labelled dangerous if every single car driving past came to grief.

There may be mild shakes but the coming holiday period should be fairly stable because there are no significantly close perigees until next April. When the perigee moon is equatorial, we get

tropical cyclones. The Cyclone of February 1936 (they only started naming them in the 1970s) was the most destructive storm to hit New Zealand in the 20th century.

Science is about risk-predictions based on observation over many data samples and significant correlations, which skeptics might call coincidences.

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December 1st-3rd, 17th19th, 28th-30th


Estimated sunshine amount for Ashburton:

149 hrs (December average 195hrs)

General This month is a wet one for the South Island and particularly for this region. The driest period may be December 19-24 for the South Island. It is the beginning, middle and end of the month that the South Island east coast may get most rain, with possible hail and thunderstorms in the last week brought about by polar winds mixing with warmer air from the tropics. Temperatures should be lower than average. Higher king-tides are expected around Boxing Day. Christmas Day may be wet overnight, but mostly north of Ashburton, and should clear fairly early.

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Guardian Farming December 2011  

Ashburton Guardian - Guardian Farming December 2011

Guardian Farming December 2011  

Ashburton Guardian - Guardian Farming December 2011