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An Ashburton Guardian Advertising Feature

interesting • informative • essential

Budding beekeepers in the making . . .

page 3

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GUARDIAN FARMING

What’s happening Event

I

n the short time I have worked at the Ashburton Guardian as the rural reporter it has been a privilege to interact with some of the most dynamic, interesting and knowledgeable people working in the rural community. Within that time I have seen sheep and beef farmers struggle for profitability, to now reaping top prices for meat and wool, which has become a more valuable commodity as opposed to a byproduct. Although in its infancy, the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative launched last year could help drive the industry forward by giving growers better transparency in available grain stocks so they may be able to make more informed decisions in the future. It’s my hope that the dairy and arable industries have more open lines of communication in order to promote more steady supply and demand in supplementary dairy feed at fair prices for farmers across the board. It has certainly been an interesting time of change and challenge in agriculture, especially

in Mid Canterbury which has felt like the centre stage of primary production in New Zealand. The importance of this district’s rural sector has been reflected in its hosting of international events such Lance Isbister as the World Ploughing Ashburton Guardian Championships last year rural reporter and International Farm Management Congress in March. My hat goes off to the three main industry bodies Beef and Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and the Foundation for Arable Research have worked tirelessly to inform, educate and consolidate farmers towards driving the efficiency and profitability in their respective farming practices. Reporting rural news in Mid Canterbury has been a humbling experience with so many locals at the forefront of farming who strive to push the efficiencies of their systems to provide more sustainable food and fibre.

Guardian interesting • informative • essential

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

Advertising: Phone 307-7900 Email: emma.j@theguardian.co.nz Publication date: September 6, 2011

Please direct any correspondence to: Amanda Niblett, on 307-7927 email: amanda.n@theguardian.co.nz or to: Linda Clarke, on 307-7971 email: linda.c@theguardian.co.nz or write to PO Box 77, Ashburton.

Next issue: October 4, 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.

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Budding beekeepers in the making Lance Isbister, Ashburton Guardian rural reporter

L

ike bees to honey, Fijians swarmed around John and Daphne Syme when they travelled to the island nation to teach beekeeping in June.

corrugated iron structure. He transformed the shipping container into a honey plant where the honey extractors could be stored securely.

The couple spent two weeks in Fiji after Marion Male, a Christian missionary from Australia, insisted John teach beekeeping at the Northern Christian Training Centre in Lambasa where students undertook bible and vocational studies.

John said that news travelled quickly on the island as an experienced beekeeper was keen to talk with him and see the training centre’s honey plant for himself. Upon his inspection, the beekeeper said it was one of the best honey plants in Fiji.

With much persuasion John accepted the challenge and sourced as much old beekeeping equipment as he could fit in a shipping container, thanks to the generosity of fellow beekeepers who supplied him with boxes, frames and other assorted beekeeping tools. The Symes spent their own time and money cleaning up the old honey extractors and equipment so it was up to New Zealand food safety standards before the container was shipped with the assistance of Midlands which did the paperwork and handled the freight. “It cost a lot of money, but I don’t regret any of it.” Initially John was asked to train individuals how to beekeep, but he insisted that he teach the entire class of 16 in case one of the individually-trained beekeepers left. Although the container was shipped after Christmas, John was required to set up the

Each day John showed the students how to work the bees and extract honey step by step and found the four girls to be some of the sharpest students.

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Adept beekeepers: Staveley veteran beekeeper said women at the Northern Christian Training Centre in Lambasa turned out to be some of the best students he trained in beekeeping when he visited Fiji with wife Daphne in June. apiary operation, which, as he found out was not simple. Most tools John reached for needed to be to be fixed even though the Fijian students were content in using them. He had never experienced such humidity and said it didn’t take long for rust to set into tools, which were not well maintained. John said the primary mode of cartage at the centre were wheelbarrows and, he was astounded one of the wheelbarrows they used had an askew wheel and the

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bearings needed replacing. Something he saw as so simple to fix, was hugely appreciated by the Fijians who came to idolise John. It was the same for Daphne who fixed the women’s sewing machines. When he first arrived at the Northern Christian Training Centre, John found the honey plant was not up to scratch and although it had a padlock on the door several wall panels were missing from the

Despite 55 years experience in beekeeping, John said it was vital that the Fijians learned to do the basics well. Daphne complemented John by ensuring he taught them one step at a time and reminded him to stick to the basics as they were still learning. The Symes found it difficult to comprehend the lack of infrastructure in Fiji and said even though the people didn’t have much in the way of possessions they still seemed content. Since their return, the Symes have been working on a manual which lays out beekeeping step-by-step in order to reinforce what they taught and hope that it will become something of a beekeepers’ bible for those at the centre.

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GUARDIAN FARMING

Water - the current political football Neal Shaw, ATS Chief Executive

A

s we enter the countdown to this year’s general election so to begins the heightened campaigning of all political parties as they publicise their policies and election priorities.

processing can also contribute to the problem. In some instances, problems and contaminants can occur as a result of a more natural source – such as the gull colony in the Ashburton River.

It is part of the election process, we expect and want to know the stands being taken by each of the political parties so we can make informed choices at the polling booth.

Farming has gained a profile – often negative – but this shouldn’t be the reason all are unduly penalised. Unfortunately it only takes a few with poor practices to tar all farmers with the same brush, but that doesn’t mean all should pay for the mistakes of a minority.

The challenge lies in ascertaining what is realistic and achievable and what is emotive electioneering. Water, especially in rural areas like ours, is always going to be a highly charged topic, the Green Party’s proposal to charge farmers for their irrigation water is certainly likely to generate discussion and debate. The Green Party’s policy to clean up New Zealand waterways proposes farmers will be charged 10 cents for every 1000 litres of water used for irrigation. The revenue generated would provide funding to support river clean-up projects by farmers and councils. This could include creating jobs to fence and plant streams, and financial assistance for councils to upgrade sewerage treatments plants. In launching the policy last month, Green

Those who break the rules should certainly be penalised, and punitive measures need to remain in place for those who choose not to engage in best practice procedures.

Water - its significance as a political football is growing. two-thirds of our native freshwater fish Party Co-leader, Russel Norman said “We are at risk or threatened with extinction,” will cut over-use of water by introducing he said. a charge on irrigation water that would raise $370 million to $570 million per It is certainly a good policy for creating year.” debate. But aren’t a lot of these issues already being tackled? Certainly The policy also aims to lift water quality Environment Canterbury has been standards. “More than half of our monitored rivers are unsafe for swimming, working hard to improve water quality one-third of our lakes are unhealthy, and and new water metering standards (The Water Measuring and Reporting National Regulations) introduced late last year go a long way to better managing our water resources.

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Combine that with the increasing presence of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (a collaborative effort with input from across the region, charged with addressing the sustainability of our water for all users and interest groups) and I would have thought we were well on the way to addressing many of the water concerns we face. It appears farmers are being asked to foot the bill for more water strategies through this proposed policy, but there are plenty of other users out there who appear to have been let off the hook. Water quality and pollution are also urban problems. Heavy metals from roads and buildings make their way into our waterways, as do some sewerage treatment by-products. Factories and

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The reality is that the majority of farmers do not fall into this category and in fact most feel an obligation to leave the land in better condition than they found it. Many see themselves as caretakers of the land for future generations and have adopted robust conservation and sustainability practices to support this. The question should also be asked why only irrigators are being targeted for revenue collection, when as Federated Farmers spokesman, Ian Mackenzie rightly says irrigation is not the cause of water quality problems – it’s what happens on the land. Should Canterbury farmers foot the bill for North Island issues? Isn’t that a bit like the rest of the country paying for Auckland’s motorway system? That certainly wasn’t popular with many south of the Bombay Hills. There’s no doubt effective management of this important resource is always needed. We need to be responsible and manage water for the long term and for future generations but this needs to be mixed with a common-sense approach. Water issues always carry a huge amount of emotion and this has the ability to cloud the facts. Elections are an opportune time to debate such topics, but it is important electioneering doesn’t over-shadow the reality that water conservation and management is a community issue.

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Page 6

GUARDIAN FARMING

Getting on top of mastitis An Ashburton Guardian advertising feature

Effective teat spraying leads the crusade against mastitis

M

astitis has plagued many New Zealand dairy herds over the years. Despite an abundance of information and guidelines available on mastitis prevention, infliction is on the increase. Independent mastitis expert and National Mastitis Council member Dave Malcolm’s current focus is on the development of risk management programmes for dairy processors. He is also working on milk quality problem solving, particularly around mastitis issues. Dave sees many farms in his role as a mastitis researcher and consultant and passionately believes in the importance of teat spraying as the first line of defence against mastitis. “It is evident that most farms where mastitis is under control have a seasonal average BMSCC of less than 150,000 cells/ ml. Their cows generally have healthy, soft and supple teats. However, many farms with major mastitis problems have teats in poor condition with cracks, chaps and severe roughness around the teat

end”, Malcolm says. “There appears to be a strong relationship between poor teat condition and mastitis problems”, he concludes. The teat is the primary defence against bacteria entering the udder and causing a mastitis infection, so teat spraying is the obvious cornerstone of mastitis control. After TEAT-EX – Chaps = Moderate

Spraying has two main functions: to destroy pathogenic bacteria; and to provide an emollient to keep teat skin in good condition.

more persistent activity than iodine.

The two primary active ingredients in teat sanitisers are iodine or Chlorhexidine, and there is much debate about which is better.

Before TEAT-EX – Chaps = Extensive Conversely, dry or cracked teat skin allows more bacteria to survive on the teat.

“In common with many other advisors, I prefer Chlorhexidine used in products such as TEAT-Ex from Deosan”, says Dave.

• Chlorhexidine is not acidic like iodine so it’s milder on the teat skin.

He cites a number of reasons: • Healthy teat skin is coated with protective fatty acids which slow the growth of bacterial pathogens.

• Chlorhexidine has been demonstrated to bind to the teat skin and provide

• There are renewed concerns about iodine levels in milk as a result of teat spraying with iodine containing products. Chlorhexidine has been assessed by the EU Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products as being of low toxicity. “One of my primary areas of focus since healthy teats are so important is controlling mastitis. In these cases I advise a change to Deosan TEAT-EX. The teat condition typically improves rapidly and dramatically when TEAT-EX is used”, says Malcolm.

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GUARDIAN FARMING

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GUARDIAN FARMING

Monthly musings John Leadley

A

t present the country seems to be right in the middle of the silly season.

Liquor licences have been altered to maximise the opportunity for intoxicated behaviour and all associated problems, and school terms altered at unknown cost to pupil examinations. Silly me, thinking we were hosting a sports tournament.

The imminent beginning of the much over-hyped Rugby World Cup is at last upon us. I’m not averse to rugby or any other sport and like many will be watching as many of the games as time permits, but am suffering from RWC overkill.

I acknowledge the upgraded venues in many Murray McCully of our major hosting cities will have ongoing benefit to recreation I’m frankly fed up with watching stupid in those areas, but am struggling to cameramen ads, the Adidas debate envisage the benefits at grass roots club over jersey pricing, not to mention the level across the nation, where it is most predictably disastrous Abstain for the needed. Game campaign (now aborted) featuring once respected former All Black captain Rugby World Cup Minister Murray Sean Fitzpatrick. McCully’s assertion that the event will The reported half million cost defies make a loss of only $39 million as long as promotional logic. the remaining quarter million tickets can be sold, does not engender confidence. Fairfax Australia is threatening a media The stricken equity scrapped citizens of boycott, the Tongan Rugby Union taken Christchurch must be looking ruefully at to the IRB with an accusation of political what $39 million plus dollars could do for interference in team selection. them. The government ban on entry to members of the Fijian armed forces has been lifted (on a one-off basis) to allow a Fijian soldier to take part in the cup, while a fellow officer reportedly is unable to visit a sick relative in New Zealand. Great!

I’m still very sore from a statement made during a visit to the upgraded Eden Park in July last year with a senior Auckland City Council official. I quote “One of the major benefits of

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re-election manoeuvring always elicits strange ideas from party leaders seeking publicity in the silly season, leading up to an election. The Green Party announcement that it would charge all irrigation farmers prorata for their water use surely takes the cake! Were it imposed this would equate to a virtual Canterbury rural tax. An early estimate of the cost per “average farm” at the levels outlined is $40,000 per farm per year – not insignificant. With approximately 75 per cent of the irrigation in New Zealand within the Canterbury region it is obvious where the brunt of this imposition would fall, creating a totally inequitable situation within the farming industry.

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link between production costs and food prices. A major deterrent to overuse of water by farmers (particularly with the majority now using overhead application techniques) has been the price of electricity. This situation will inevitably remain. All irrigation consents from the Regional Authority now require constant monitoring and review and come at significant cost to the consent holder. Section 36 of the Resource Management Act assures this is the case. Rightly so as water use efficiency is a national issue of concern. Huge advances have been made in irrigation technology in the last five years with expanded use of low application centre pivots, and probes to monitor optimum allocation rates to meet individual crop requirement. Soil testing and accurate fertiliser placements of only those products needed to maximise yields have added further efficiencies to soil and water use. Most farmers by their very nature are committed environmentalists – how else would the vast number of intergenerational family properties still be viable after three or five generations?

The explanation given seemed to be trying to find a link between water use and river and stream water quality.

There is no place in the industry for those whose sole focus seems to be mining the soil of its productive potential with no respect for those that will follow. They are the leeches that bring the sector into disrepute.

While75 per cent of irrigated land may well be in Canterbury at least 80 per cent of the problems associated with water quality are outside the region.

Large scale corporate absentee ownership of farmland is not a scenario I am comfortable with, much preferring hands on ownership efficiency.

Water quality in our major alluvial braided rivers (Rakaia, Waimakariri, Rangitata, Waitaki etc) is little different to that of 50 years ago, according to those living adjacent at the time, not difficult to understand with the nature of our snow fed resource, and shingle beds.

Admittedly succession planning is difficult but certainly achievable.

I would sincerely hope that those promoting this notion to urban voters are not the same group of people currently loudly protesting the price of milk, bread, meat and other basic food products.

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hosting the semi-finals and final of the Cup (in the $250 million upgraded Eden Park) is that Auckland’s outdated transport infrastructure (roads, rail services, tunnels etc) has been significantly upgraded at the cost of all New Zealander taxpayers rather than regional ratepayers.”

Maybe it is too much for them to see the

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My definition of a “good” farmer is one who during his tenancy of the land gets maximum production from the soil at the same time enhancing future productivity potential of the resource. This surely is sustainability. Come on Green Party – don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg with a stupid punitive tax. And finally – Go the All Blacks.

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GUARDIAN FARMING

Winchmore update - August John Carson

W

hile the recent dumping of snow may have affected some farmers, I venture to say, we have indeed been most fortunate, especially thinking back to the snowfall of 2006. I was the lucky one and away visiting my daughter and grand kids over on the Gold Coast for five days, so all I really knew was that snow was falling all over New Zealand and that flights were being delayed, not so bad I thought, as we took a drive detouring up into Mt Tambourine for the day until it was time to head for Brisbane airport to catch the plane home. It was a bit different getting off the plane at 1.30am and driving through quite heavy and squally snow showers to get home at 3am.

The sheep have been shorn so the fleeces can be weighed as part of a trial.

To date (August 25) all the Met Service data regarding rainfall, soil temperature etc points to this having been a normal August. Interestingly I have found a page of weather data giving the number of days where more than 1mm of rain has fallen. This is from 1950 to 1997 and shows the average days a year to be only 89 days, the maximum days 105 and minimum days 70. Incidentally the maximum 105 days in 1957 was followed by the minimum days of 70 in 1958. On the pasture growth rates they are just above the 23 year average of 7 kgdm/ ha/day and sitting on 8 kgdm. So with the moisture in the ground, a rising soil temperature of 4.9°C we should hopefully see our normal spring growth pattern emerge even more would be better of course. On the stock side, we have just shorn the Wiltshire sheep for science so they can weigh the fleeces for their trial. If we leave it too late then they start shedding their wool making the information gathering rather difficult. The last of the dairy cows went home early in the month and now the crop paddocks are fallow for a while. The 180 R1 dairy heifers have also gone to other grazing, I decided that it would be too close for comfort to be able to keep them on considering my available feed and the fact that looking after science sheep with the high scanning result is my prime concern.

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I am off to the North Island to spend a day with Steve, the AgResearch manager of our Aorangi farm, hoping to be able to swap some information, analyse some results and share some thoughts of future planning. I then get to spend the rest of the weekend with my Mum and help my brother and sisters celebrate her 84th birthday. I seem to have been given the job, now Dad is no longer alive, to sharpen all the kitchen knives, axes and garden tools for Mum and my younger sister. I have been informed there is quite a collection in Dad’s workshop waiting.

Tazer is a broad spectrum protectant fungicide to control key yield destroying diseases in wheat, barley, ryegrass seed crops and potatoes. Tazer is a systemic fungicide that provides protection to the expanding leaf.

Next week will be spent working with science, drafting sheep into the correct lambing mobs based on their mating mobs and paddocking them out ready for the first lamb to be born.

It also provides control against black scurf in potatoes when applied in furrow. This cost effective formulation contains 250g/L azoxystrobin and is in a handy, wide spout, 5L container.

It’s always an exciting time, when the efforts of the year start to appear and the future becomes more real.

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Page 9


Page 10

GUARDIAN FARMING

Supplements feature An Ashburton Guardian advertising feature

Response rates to supplements From SowtheSeed

R

esponses to supplements fed to dairy cows are quite variable. For instance, DairyNZ quotes a range from minus 30 grams MS/kg DM of feed to positive 90 grams MS/kg DM of feed for autumn fed supplements. We’ll go through some of the reasons for this variability, supplying some practical guidelines around substitution, milk and condition score (CS) responses. The answers to variability in responses are in the feeds themselves, the rumen flora, the cows, the way the feeds are handled, and the pasture supply versus demand. Feeds and rumen flora Feeding cows really means feeding the rumen micro-organisms. These “bugs” will break down the feeds, extracting energy from the feed while doing that and using this energy for their own growth. There is only one way bacteria can grow, and that is by splitting themselves into two new individuals, each of which splits again etc. To do this, they need both energy and protein first and foremost, and then a whole raft of other (micro) nutrients as well. Cows benefit from this in two ways: 1. The exhaust gasses from the active bacteria (volatile fatty acids) are absorbed through the rumen wall and used as fuel for the cow. 2. The bugs themselves are funneled down into the abomasum and gut, to be digested and absorbed by the cow. So it follows that different feeds may grow different amounts of bacteria, even different kinds of bacteria, resulting in different amounts of fuel for the cow. Easily digested feeds with high amounts of energy and low fibre content like grain or potato, allow bacteria to extract a lot of energy in a short period of time, resulting in a high amount of exhaust gasses and large numbers of bacteria. These feeds promote the growth of sugar/starch digesting populations. Sugar/starch digesters need true (long-chain) protein to live and multiply. Compare this to high fibre feeds like lowquality pasture. These feeds break down slowly because of the time it takes to break

down the cellulose component of the cell walls, and they contain less energy. The result is less gasses released and lower numbers of bacteria grown. Different bacteria, specialising in fibre break-down rather than starch break-down grow under these conditions. These bacteria need short-chain protein (Non protein nitrogen (NPN), ammonia and the likes) rather than true protein to thrive. The cow herself needs protein as well, which she mainly gets by digesting the bacteria grown in the rumen, although some dietary protein escapes the rumen and is digested in the small intestine. Supplying high energy feeds without sufficient protein (and of the right type) may result in low bacterial growth rates which make the feed less efficient in releasing energy to the animal than it could be. At peak lactation, the diet needs to contain 1820 per cent crude protein (CP); late lactation 14-15 per cent and dry cows need around 12 per cent CP. Whatever feeds are supplied to the cow, most of these feeds need to be broken down to a small particle size (both by cudchewing and by bacterial action), small enough to escape from the rumen and down to the lower tract. The critical particle size is around 0.7mm; any larger and the particle will be held back in the rumen for further size reduction; any smaller and it will pass through. This is the one of the essential factors governing substitution rates and feed intakes. The longer it takes a feed to be broken down to 0.7mm sized particles, the longer it stays in the rumen, the less the cow will feel the need to re-fill her rumen, so the lower her feed intake and the higher the substitution rates for that feed. Feed intake is driven largely by Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF) content - the more NDF, the longer the break-down process takes and the lower the intake. As a rule of thumb, cows will eat no more than 1.28 per cent of body weight as (rumen-effective) NDF at peak lactation. A well known “exception” is Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE); at 74 per cent NDF, one would expect low intakes of this feed on the

basis of the high NDF content. However there are records of cows eating 12kg PKE plus 12kg DM Pasture. This is possible because of the small particle size of the PKE; most of the PKE escapes rumen digestion altogether, it is “ineffective”, and shoots straight through to the lower tract for digestion there. As far as the rumen is concerned, it was never there, so the cow will happily keep filling up the rumen with other feeds. Concentrate type feeds are generally characterised by low NDF levels, small particle size and high energy content, all aimed at low substitution rates and increasing intakes over and above those that can be achieved with pasture and forages, without much impact on pasture intakes. Forage supplements on the other hand are mostly higher NDF, and their purpose is usually a high substitution rate, causing a reduction in pasture intake (pasture saving effect) in times of pasture deficit. To recap this section: Feeds need to be broken down to 0.7mm particles before they can leave the rumen. The more fibre in a feed, the longer this will take, the lower the response rate that can be expected. The higher the energy content of the feed, the more energy that can be released to the cow and usually the faster the feed breaks down in the rumen, to produce a higher response rate. However without the right amount, and the right type of protein, the break-down process will slow down, regardless of fibre content, and the response rates will reduce.

to body fat away from milk increases with increasing lactation length, so it’ll be harder to get a milk response in late lactation than in a fresh cow. • Genetic merit is the fine-tune switch: the higher the genetic merit of the animal, the higher the levels of circulating growth hormone, and the more she’ll be inclined to partition available energy to milk production at the cost of body weight, even in late lactation. Feed handling Response rates to feeds can look low if wastage is high. It is not always easy to spot, however it would be quite common to lose 20 per cent, even up to 40 per cent of fine chopped silages (grass, maize and especially whole crop) by trampling into the ground if fed on wet pastures in the spring. Secondary fermentation in the stack by poor compaction, poor covering or poor face management, leads to large amounts of energy vented off as heat before the cow can even get near it. Secondary fermentation also reduces feed palatability, which in turn leads to wastage and lower feed intakes and again lower response rates. Grains are going to be poorly utilised by the animal if they are milled either too fine (feed refusal because of dust) or too coarse (incomplete digestion). Grain stored in damp conditions can go mouldy, which reduces palatability and can result in mycotoxin contamination. Sudden dietary changes are not well tolerated by the rumen population.

The cows Bodyweight, condition score (CS), stage of lactation and genetic merit (BW) are the main cow factors determining intake and response rates to feeds.

Rumen bacteria are specialists; one strain is only able to digest a certain type of feed. Changing abruptly from say a high fibre forage diet to a diet containing a high amount of grain isn’t going to work.

• The larger the cow, the more she can generally eat, because intake is determined by both bodyweight and feed NDF per cent.

The bacteria required to break down grain simply aren’t present in large enough numbers; they have to breed up and this takes time, at least a few days. The same even goes for a switch from one forage to another. Rapid changes will result in a large percentage of the feed passing through the cow undigested. Only a gradual transition from one diet is going to allow proper adjustment of bacterial populations.

• The skinnier the cow, the more she’ll be driven to partition feed to body fat rather than milk production and vice versa (a fatter cow is more likely to divert energy to milk). This drive to partition

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GUARDIAN FARMING

Page 11

Supplements feature An Ashburton Guardian advertising feature

Spitfire wins Supreme Award

N

orth Canterbury farmers Craig and Sarah McAllister headed off stiff competition from 200 competitors to win the Northern A&P Winter Feed competition with the rape variety Spitfire. The crop was judged to be the best across all feed categories winning the North Canterbury Supreme award. The bumper crop was judged to be in excess of 9 t DM/ha and this was only three months after sowing. Judging was held in May and Craig said judges commented on the overall consistency of the 12 hectares of Spitfire rape sown in mid-February. The McAllisters run a mixed cropping, beef, lamb fattening, and dairy grazing operation. With the winning Spitfire crop grown on a leased dryland block, they also had another 70 hectares of Spitfire sown under irrigation. Spitfire proved palatable for all classes of stock including young dairy calves that thrived on it and its all-round versatility was yet another feature of the crop that impressed Craig.

Sowing Spitfire rape was a first for Craig. He has grown other rape varieties in the past but was impressed with Spitfire because it was easy to manage, and unlike previous rape crops required no spraying for aphids.

Craig McAllister with his daughter Milly in the award winning Spitfire paddock with their heifers. “It just went well from the time it was sown” said Craig. He attributed the success to doing things the traditional way, simply, taking his time. The ground was ploughed in November and left to fallow then given two top workings prior to drilling.

O T D E T S U TR

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Craig said enhanced moisture retention due to early cultivation and fertiliser application meant, “the rape was off to a good start”. Would he use Spitfire again? “Yes it has certainly proved itself under irrigation and dryland, I consider it a great performer.”

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Page 12

GUARDIAN FARMING

Irrigation matters Tony Davoren, Hydroservices

I

t is now two snow falls since I last wrote, though most of you missed the first one. Two main benefits from the snow – great recharge and puts off the inevitable start of the irrigation season. And as we frantically write to meet the next editorial deadline of August 31 we have another “snow to low levels” forecast. The theme of articles since the 201011 irrigation season finished has really been the lack of winter. With such a forecast furthering the discussion regarding groundwater recharge and the “pending” 2011-12 irrigation season might just be a little premature.

of any recharge still to come the groundwater in this aquifer (aquifer 2) is in excellent shape for the 201112 irrigation season. Is there any need to be thinking irrigation just yet? Answer – not yet. As usual at this time of the year is just a little on the cool side to be considering irrigation. As the soil temperature plot shows it was way too cold for irrigation to be of any benefit prior to the snow – maximum temperatures of 7°C is 3°C below the “threshold” temperature of 10°C for growth to take place.

And remember that is the 9am Firstly recharge. In the shallow bore temperature, and with a rise of K37/1792 the last reading was August 8, so we have yet to see the effect of the snow over August 15-16.

about 2°C from 9am to the peak temperature you can see we were a long way from optimum growing conditions. Even 10 days after the snow, maximum temperatures had reached just 9°C, with 9am temperatures of just 7°C. Still not warm enough to warrant irrigation, particularly now there are very small soil moisture deficits (5-6mm) With more cold and potentially snowy weather forecast for the end of this week (September 3) we can expect soil temperatures to fall dramatically again and what little deficit to be refilled again. So put aside any thoughts of irrigation and think of something else to do.

I would expect the water level to be considerably higher than this, perhaps as high as the period following the snow in 2008. Nonetheless there has been some recharge and water levels are looking pretty good for the coming season. In the deeper bore K37/0093 the last measurement was 23 August – too early to see any effect of snow recharge. Being 59.4m deep we would not expect to see any effect of recharge for another month or two yet. Regardless

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GUARDIAN FARMING

Page 13

Building better rumen function

The key to production gains L

earning more about rumen function and how to improve it is key to boosting production in dairy herds and generating wealth for New Zealand farmers. Altum Animal Nutrition manager Jackie Aveling said the benefits of rumen research were two-fold because it focused on both animal performance and reducing methane production, with both subjects often linked as energy is lost through methane production. Mrs Aveling was one of 220 delegates from 23 countries around the world who attended a conference focused on rumen function in German hosted by Caltech Crystalyx and German agricultural co-operative Agravis. She said a lot of rumen research has been conducted through universities contracted by UK-based Caltech Crystalyx, who produce a range of dehydrated molasses blocks to provide a targeted high-energy supplement to the main forage diet. Mrs Aveling said international interest in the research demonstrated at the conference was focused on maximising

rumen performance.

forages,” Professor Kowalski said.

“The theme of the conference was ‘feeding the rumen in a changing world’ and the focus was about getting the right balance with animal nutrition to not just boost production, but to also reduce farm input costs,” Mrs Aveling said.

Researchers speaking at the conference highlighted practical steps which farmers could take now to improve rumen performance. These included ensuring adequate protein in the diet, especially where lower quality forages were fed.

“Much of the ground covered at the conference was linked back to the need to understand more about the rumen and how that knowledge can be turned into practical on-farm advice in the future.”

“In trials with Crystalyx and hay diets, the addition of nitrogen in the blocks led to a significant increase in the rate of fibre digestion and up to a 25 per cent increase in feed intakes. This is of particular interest as poorer quality forages are often fed to growing heifers and dry cows,” Professor Jim Drouillard from Kansas State University said.

According to Professor Maciej Kowalski from the University of Krakow in Poland, who was a keynote speaker at the conference, forage was still the major component of dairy diets despite the demand for “fast” nutrients to meet yield demands and so the importance of forage quality in reducing diet costs and maximising productivity could not be over-emphasised. “Ultimately the effectiveness of forages depends on how well they are fermented in the rumen. Only a healthy rumen can exploit the potential in

Mrs Aveling said when we thought of livestock farming we automatically think of cows and sheep and how they convert pasture into protein in the form of milk, meat and wool. “However, the rumen is the engine of farm animal performance and the more we learn about it the better we can improve production. As Professor Drouillard stated during the conference, although the rumen contains billions of

micro-organisms we currently only know about 5 per cent of them, which means there’s a lot more we can learn.” Crystalyx has conducted many field trials in Europe and other parts of the world, but Altum has recognised the need to run similar trials to demonstrate the effectiveness under New Zealand farming conditions. One such trial looked at the benefits of Crystalyx Forage Plus dehydrated molasses blocks. The AgResearch study showed replacement heifer conception rates improved to 100 per cent while the control herd achieved just 95 per cent. Mrs Aveling said other trials on Crystalyx were currently under way here in New Zealand, and work continues elsewhere, investigating how improved rumen function could reduce methane emissions from stock. “Projects like this demonstrate the rural sector and the entire global agricultural economy are serious about the environmental impact of farming, not just production. If we can extract more from the diet and reduce non-productive animals it’s a win-win situation.”

Sustainable Solutions for Today’s Agricultural Challenges ANIMAL AND PLANT NUTRITION PROBLEMS? YOU NEED A PLAN AND A PROGRAMME! 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. Healthy Soils

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

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Page 14

GUARDIAN FARMING

A small price to pay Sheryl Stivenss

H

ow long is it since you and your workers took a close look at what you are wasting on your farm? Or your family looked closely at what you are wasting around the house? How much rubbish and resource does your farm and home send to landfill or dispose of into farm pits or burn? How much time does this take and what are the long-term consequences of your actions? If you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t measure it you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t reduce it. Waste has a cost economically, environmentally, socially and culturally for all of us as kiwis. None of us want our children or their children to unearth piles of buried or semi burnt farm rubbish in the future â&#x20AC;&#x201C; what an embarrassment that would be. Often waste is generated because there is a rubbish bin handy and no bins alongside for sorting out resources such as plastics, paper, metals, colour sorted glass, ink cartridges, paint, chemical containers and batteries. Burying these items in farm pits or offal pits or allowing other family members and friends to dispose of rubbish on your land is not responsible. If you burn it the ash may well also be toxic and poison

your soils. This is no longer acceptable. Heavy metals such as mercury, lead and cadmium can easily leach into soils and aquifers and impact on neighbours and people downstream from us sooner or later. We have solutions that safeguard our clean green export markets and the health of our waterways and soils as well as the food we produce. We are fortunate in Ashburton District to have the Resource Recovery Parks in Ashburton and Rakaia that accept a wide range of materials for safe disposal as well as residual waste. For rubbish disposal farmers can purchase pre-paid council rubbish bags and drop them off for safe disposal or fill up a wool pack or drums and pay to dispose safely of non recyclable rubbish. If you pay for a drum disposal service donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be afraid to ask where they dispose of the waste and how? There are practical ways to reduce your rubbish on farms. If carcasses and food and garden waste are composted above ground by layering with woodchips or sawdust and soil and covered with silage wrap they will break down into compost or beneficial soil full of worms. A spray with EM beneficial bacterial will

reduce odour and speed up the decomposition. If meat comes from the butcher with no polystyrene meat trays and recyclables are sorted out into convenient and well labelled bins your rubbish should be reduced substantially and can be dropped off at the Resource Recovery Park when you go to town along with any reusable items, metals or electronic items etc. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a small price to pay for doing the right thing. The rural recycling drop off sites at Methven, Mayfield, Mt Somers, Willowby, Hinds, Rangitata, Pendarves and Hakatere provide a convenient way to drop off glass bottles and jars, paper and cardboard, steel and aluminium cans for recycling. Doing the right thing can be financially rewarding. Earlier this year Mastagard carried out a simple waste audit on an Ashburton farm supply business. The results were astounding. The company made some changes, a market was found for some of the products identified and the result was the company saved $100,000 per year on waste disposal. The person who initiated the waste audit and the resulting recycling solutions won a national award at the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s annual conference. Looking at what you buy and how you buy it can reduce waste. Many items have 0800 numbers on them. If you are buying veterinary products or farm chemicals call the 0800 number to check if they have a take-back scheme for any leftover products or empty containers. Check out the website for Plasback which has a user pays scheme for collecting bale wrap and silage wrap, polypropylene bag recycling and triple rinsed chemical containers.

This is a great example of a range of businesses and suppliers getting together to make it easier for farmers to safely dispose of a range of farm waste via a product stewardship scheme. Product stewardship is becoming more and more important in New Zealand. The Minister for the Environment Nick Smith recently stated that if companies do not take responsibility for the products they generate then the Government will legislate to protect our overseas markets and save our environment from harm. Shopping is a political statement. Every time we buy something we vote for it. We need to use our power as consumers to ensure that the companies whose products we buy are doing the right thing by us and our environment. As global economics tighten up we, as a farming nation, need to ensure we are â&#x20AC;&#x153;walking the talkâ&#x20AC;? and acting responsibly. We have so much to lose. For further assistance call your Community Recycling Helpline 0800 627 824

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GUARDIAN FARMING

Page 15

Creepy crawlers Dr Glenn Beeman n

D

uring the winter months, one of the most common problems for horses is lice.

Just like head lice in children that seem to be an never-ending problem for schools and parents, lice infestations in horses are equally frustrating for horse farms and owners. Lice are wingless, flattened insects that are ectoparasites of mammals worldwide. Two species of lice affect horses: Bovicola equi a biting or chewing louse that feeds on skin, hair, tissues and cells sloughed from the surface of the skin, and Haematopinus asini a sucking louse that pierces skin and sucks blood and tissue fluids. The entire life cycle is completed on the horse. Transmission is mainly by direct contact so social interaction and mutual grooming habits of horses making spread of lice between horses simple and easy. Entire herds and farms can be infected. Equipment that is shared between horses such as rugs, blankets, brushes, saddler or harnesses can transport lice between horses. Lice can only live off the horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s body for a few days. Horses in poor condition are more susceptible to the effects of lice. Infections are more severe in the late winter and early spring. The life cycle of lice prefers the ideal conditions of cooler temperatures, thick hair coats, lack of grooming and rugging of horses during the winter months.

Adult lice larvae on a horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coat.

Female lice are capable of laying a large number of eggs or nits (20 to 300), which attach to the hair of the horse and can hatch within five to 20 days. After these eggs hatch the nymph stages start feeding immediately and become mature sexually active adults within two to four weeks. This short life cycle and prolific egg laying means lice infestations can become explosive. Horse owners can see infestations recurring annually once lice become established in a stable or paddock. Lice cause intense itching (pruritus) around the base of the tail, head and mane. Horses will rub themselves raw. The coat may be roughened with loss of hair and there may be secondary bacterial infection. In heavy infestations individuals become anaemic and lose weight and condition. Does your horse have lice? If you are seeing rubbing, thinning of the hair on the face or neck, or even self mutilation from biting and scratching, chances are your horse has lice. Check around the head, neck or backline for eggs or lice. A quick lift up of the forelock or mane may see adult lice rapidly moving away from the exposed area. Otherwise look for grayish lice eggs attached to the hairs.

Bovicola equi the chewing louse.

Haematopinus asini the sucking louse.

horse for a few days.

reaction and hair loss may result.

Wash rugs and hang inside out over a fence in sunlight for 10 to 14 days. Alternatively, sterilisation of equipment by boiling will also kill the lice, nymphs and eggs as will placing blankets and coolers in the drier at the highest heat setting.

Oral drenches containing the ivermectin families have only limited control on sucking lice due to the intermittent sucking habits of these lice.

Treatment of horses can involve using insecticides such as powders, shampoos, or pour-on products licensed for horses. Choice of treatment will vary depending on time of year, ambient temperature and the number of horses being treated.

Shampoos must be used with caution since they are highly toxic and contain organophosphates that can be dangerous to humans or debilitated horses.

Your veterinarian will provide you with the best treatment option. Do not use pour-on lousicides formulated for cattle or sheep on horses, as severe skin

New pour-on products are safer, easy to use and break the life cycle of the lice. Frequent and thorough grooming can help control lice.

24 Hours a day 7 days a week

Treatment and control of lice requires treating the horse(s) as well as the grooming gear, harnesses, and rugs. If horses are in shared paddocks or if you are using equipment between horses treat all horses on the property. Where paddocked horses are infested, shift them out of the infected paddock for 14 days to starve active lice on trees and rails. Avoid using contaminated equipment or rugs for 14 days, as lice can only survive off a

Powders while effective are difficult to administer (especially on windy days) and require repeat treatments.

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Page 16

GUARDIAN FARMING

Look for silver lining in water metering Contributed by IrrigationNZ â&#x20AC;&#x201C; www.irrigationnz.co.nz

Y

ou all know the regulations are here and having to comply is just around the corner. You can begrudgingly be dragged kicking and screaming into it, citing â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;big brotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and unnecessary expense or you can look for the silver lining and opportunities that exists. To recap â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the legislation came into effect on November 10, 2010 and if you have a consent to take water above 20 L/sec you have got to have meters installed by November 10, 2012, above 10 L/ sec â&#x20AC;&#x201C; meters installed by November 10, 2014, above 5 L/sec â&#x20AC;&#x201C; meters installed by November 10, 2016. No excuses get them in. The meters must be installed, before November 2012 and there are still over half to be done, reports Colin Bird, of the Environment Canterbury water metering team. With the dollar at historically high levels against the greenback and commodity prices riding high, many irrigators have taken the opportunity to upgrade or install new hardware. The service industry has been busy keeping up with this demand and the installation of water meters has fallen behind the number needed to achieve compliance by this time next year. So there is a big bottleneck coming. There are countless pamphlets out there and many times ECan, IrrigationNZ and

others have pushed the message to get the meters in.

a matter of months before needing replacement.

So for the uninitiated what is a water meter, what are the options and how do you go about getting one installed.

Ultrasonic water meters These meters work by sending sound waves from one transducer, through the fluid to the other side of the pipe and bounced back to a second transducer further along the pipe. This is repeated in reverse and the different transit time, one going with the flow and one going against, of the signals translate that velocity into measurement of the flow rate.

For the majority of consents in Canterbury, irrigation is delivered through a pipe so the options are relatively straight forward. For full pipe measurement (pressurised systems) there are three basic types of meters; mechanical, ultrasonic and electromagnetic. Mechanical meters There are many different designs and applications but the most commonly used for water measurement are a paddle wheel or impeller design imbedded in a chamber. The wheel or impeller is driven by the force of the water going past and the revolutions are counted and converted into volume. Mechanical meters all have moving parts and therein lies the difficulty. The life expectancy of mechanical meters is severely compromised by the wear and tear that is caused by any foreign matter in the water, including glacial flour and grit found in groundwater. Unless the water is consistently very clean a mechanical meter is not recommended. There are examples where mechanical meters have only lasted

These meters can be simply strapped onto a length of pipe to detect flow inside pipes from outside the pipework. This enables ultrasound meters to be able to measure very large diameter pipes. The strap-on design is not as robust and is sensitive to movement or knocks. However the meters are also able to be purchased as a rigid unit to be inserted into the pipework. They have a life expectancy of up to 15 years. Electromagnetic meters Commonly referred to as â&#x20AC;&#x153;mag metersâ&#x20AC;? these are a velocity-type water meter. They use flow passing through a magnetic field to determine the speed of the water. The speed through a known chamber size is converted into volume. They are purchased as a rigid unit that is installed into the pipe work and can come in a range of sizes up to 1 metre in diameter. They are very robust, tamper proof, accurate and have a life expectancy of up to 20 years. The electromagnetic is not the cheapest option but is considered the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Rolls-Royceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; of metering technology and when considering the primary reason for installing â&#x20AC;&#x201C; compliance â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it is the logical choice.

install the meters with the positioning in the pipework critical for compliance and accuracy. Blue Tick IrrigationNZ has a list of â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Blue Tickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; accredited installers and they encourage everyone to use these. If the installs are done through the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Blue Tickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; accredited firms ECan are notified and they have deemed that it is not necessary to visit each site. However installations by firms or individuals outside that list will be subject to more intense scrutiny and that comes at a cost. The reason for this is consistency and accuracy and IrrigationNZ and ECan have led the way nationally developing this process. Not all pumps are fixed but the meters are able to be battery or solar powered so they can move with a portable pump, if pumping out of multiple galleries for example. The legislation also states that the meter must be as close as possible to the point of take although there is leeway to apply for an exemption if there is a compelling argument for it. Open channel takes are not covered in this article. There are â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Blue Tick â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;accredited firms for open channel with more going through the accreditation process. The measurement is more difficult with many chances for error but the key message is to engage someone who knows what they are doing and has a track record. While many peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first reaction to last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s legislation is that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an extra burden, in practice many are finding meters a useful addition to their systems. Yes they are a cost, but the information that a meter provides can be used to improve on farm management and as a tool to maintain and monitor your irrigation system.

Data This topic and telemetry will be covered in more depth in a future article, but the data must be kept in an electronic recording device in a common format. The meters all come with a recording device as part of the package.

A big advantage is that problems are being picked up before they become a big issue. With the added bonus of improving and accessible telemetry technology, this add-on can improve even more the use of the data generated.

Installation Buying the hardware is only half the battle with the installation equally as important. There is a correct way to

So with plenty of notice, the options and capabilities from the service industry covered, there is no excuse not to get water meters in before the due date.

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GUARDIAN FARMING

Page 17

Invest in their future Jenny Paterson B.Sc, QBE (Qualified by Experience & Doing what actually works - despite theory)

D

o you have some pregnant mares in the paddock? If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to check their nutrition. When the ground temperatures warm up and we get some more rain, the grass will surge away. Ironically spring is the time when two things happen simultaneously causing a double whammy for pregnant mares: -the grass is at its most unbalanced and mares are in their last trimester when their nutritional requirements increase significantly (the unborn foal will nearly double in size between now and birth). It is not rocket science that the mare needs to be extremely well fed during this period to avoid the health of the foal, the mare or sometimes both being compromised. We have all seen cases like ‘Cilla’ where the mare ‘will put everything into her foal’ at her own expense. This happens when the mare is malnourished compared to her requirements. In addition, if her diet doesn’t contain sufficient minerals for bone and joint cartilage formation (calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, boron, Vitamin D, not to mention copper, zinc, manganese, iodine and selenium) then the foal may be born with limb deformities and a propensity to develop joint disease.

Daily feeding should include plenty of fibre (don’t stop feeding hay, spring is the time they need the fibre more than ever) some protein from a source such as soyabean or Zeaola meal and a top quality mineral mix with additional salt.

potassium relative to calcium, magnesium and sodium and the high nitrate levels often found in spring grass.

It has since been established that it is actually the high potassium that leads to the ‘magnesium and calcium deficiencies’ commonly associated with spring grass.

Your advice has eliminated my problems, and I now have joy in sheep farming again. “

Horses will simply not consume enough from salt licks at these Dr Thomas W. Swerczek, (DVM, PhD crucial times. The results have been Department of Veterinary Science, astounding. Horse farms following University of Kentucky) was in attendance his advice have seen the incidence of during Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome abortions, still births and foals born in Kentucky in the spring of 2001 when with limb deformities drop to virtually the thoroughbred industry suffered zero. catastrophic losses due to abortions, still births, and an unusually high incidence of As an aside here is an excerpt from limb deformities. a letter sent to Dr Swerczek from a prominent New Zealand farmer: ”I am This particular spring was characterised a sheep and beef farmer. I suffered by late frosts and during the same period prolonged vaginal and rectal bearings ‘numerous cattle were found dead in in my ewe flock, and it cost me many neighbouring pastures a few hours after hundreds of thousands of dollars. frosts on rapidly growing grasses. Horses After years of listening to advice, and and cattle examined post-mortem had trying different prevention methods very elevated levels of potassium in the - including completely changing my eye fluid and affected pasture analyses genetics - I was at a loss. Until I found showed very elevated potassium levels.” you and your work “on-line”.

Since 2001 Dr Swerczek has conducted trials on large bands of TB broodmares in Kentucky, by force-feeding salt with some sodium bicarbonate to help counteract the electrolyte imbalance of too much

Horse farms on the high salt that is force fed are having remarkable results. They report that their horses are healthier with less reproductive problems and less disease in suckling foals.

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Here is Cilla straight after weaning (above) and how she should have looked, after two months of excellent nutrition, above right.

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GUARDIAN FARMING

Fertiliser Developments

Higher food prices here to stay H

igh food prices are here to stay according to a joint report* by the OECD and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). The report forecasts that over the coming decade, real prices for cereals will average as much as 20 per cent higher compared to 2001-10, and as much as 30 per cent higher for meats. This is being driven by a burgeoning demand for food and biofuels, increased costs of inputs like fertilisers, and a slowing in growth of agricultural yields – global agricultural output is forecast to grow at 1.7 per cent annually on average over this decade, down from 2.6 per cent in the previous decade. The growing use of food crops to make biofuels is contributing to higher food prices, and the report predicts by 2020 the production of biofuels will consume 13 per cent of the global production of grains, 15 per cent of vegetable oils and 30 per cent of sugar. Measures the FAO and OECD suggest for

restraining food prices include boosting agricultural productivity in developing countries, ending subsidies for biofuels, reducing trade distorting policies among countries, coordinating food policy and risk management among countries, and improving the availability of market information on agricultural production, stocks, trade and consumption. A recent global survey involving developed and developing countries by the international aid agency Oxfam, as part of its new campaign GROW, also suggests that higher food prices are starting to have an impact on what people eat. It reported that globally 54 per cent of respondents said they were not eating the same food they did two years ago and 39 per cent of those attributed it to the rising price of food. The survey found that for Australians the most important factors influencing what they eat are the cost, and how healthy and nutritious the food is.

Research underpins the development of nitrification inhibitor technology R

esearch by a Lincoln University-led team of scientists is helping us to understand the role soil microorganisms play in reducing the production of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide and in reducing nitrate leaching from agricultural soils. Nitrification inhibitors are effective at reducing nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide emissions, and they achieve this by slowing the conversion of the ammonia derived from livestock urine, effluent and fertilisers into the more environmentally damaging nitrate and nitrous oxide compounds. The important work being undertaken by the Lincolnled team is underpinning future efforts to develop better ways to use nitrification inhibitors. This has the potential to improve the environmental sustainability of dairy farming. The researchers have found that two distinct kinds of

microorganisms are abundant in pasture soils in New Zealand– the well-known bacteria and a more recently discovered group of single-celled organisms called archaea. Archaea look superficially like bacteria but are biologically quite different. They were once considered to be found only in very stressful environments, like thermal pools, but are now known to be widespread in other environments, including soils. Like bacteria, archaea have the ability to breakdown ammonia into nitrate and nitrous oxide. The researchers wanted to better understand the role of soil bacteria and archaea in breaking down ammonia into nitrate and nitrous oxide in high fertility New Zealand soils such as those found on dairy farms. They used soil samples collected from dairy farms at six

locations from all around New Zealand for their work. What they found was that although archaea were present in large numbers in the soil samples these microorganisms were not involved in the breakdown of ammonia from animal urine added to the soils. However the bacterial populations flourished under these conditions and were actively involved in breaking down the ammonia. It was also confirmed that the nitrification inhibitor DCD (dicyandiamide) was highly effective at reducing the bacteria’s ability to breakdown ammonia. This research has clearly shown that it is the bacteria and not the archaea that drive the production of nitrate and nitrous oxide in our high fertility pastures. Thus further work on the development of nitrification inhibition technologies should target the bacterial component of the microorganisms in our nutrient rich agricultural soils.

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Page 19

Cultivation feature An Ashburton Guardian advertising feature

Can growers reduce their input costs whilst maintaining yields? F ollowing four years of research, Diana Mathers of the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) is confident they can. If growers simply adopt a single pass planting system for maize they will reduce their input costs whilst also maintaining yields she says.

“Over time it will also improve soil quality. Trials at the FAR Waikato Arable Research Site, and on farm trials across a number of regions have shown that using a single pass planting system has not compromised yields, and although a slow process, the soil attributes have also improved.” So why are maize growers not adopting this technique? “Getting farmers to give it a go is difficult – they are often concerned that it is too risky for their farm.” Funded by MAF SFF and co-funded by FAR, FAR will be delivering a number of discussion groups in Taranaki, Waikato and Manawatu to discuss reduced tillage options for maize with farmers and contractors. A number of on-farm demonstrations will occur which aim to compare the usual planting practice with a single pass planting system to encourage discussion and learning. “We’ve drawn together a group of experts and a list of the things that must be considered to get a good result to support those that are giving it a go. These include; what needs to be done to the planter, what are the best soil conditions and what should growers be looking out for when the crop is young.” The aim is to determine how reduced tillage practices for maize will work in these regions with the hope that more farmers might give it a go. Based on the success at the demonstration sites FAR hopes the adoption rate will increase, thus reducing establishment costs for those farmers in the long term. What the Foundation for Arable Research does for maize growers:

• What do cows eat? Can we add value to maize silage and is there a role for other crops such as faba beans. Environmental Responsibility • Taking the maize green-house gas footprinting project onto the farm. What can we learn from this study? • Nutrient management plans for the arable industry. • Biological farming – a stocktake of what’s known and what might be important. Case studies of farmers that are using biological systems. Innovation

Reducing cost • Single pass planting systems for maize growers. • Build confidence in our ability to successfully reduce cultivation in a range of soil types? • Sustainable weed management programmes. • Nutrient management the 4Rs – using the right fertiliser, at the right rate, in the right place at the right time. • AmaizeN case studies and soil sampling strategies. • Crop sensors do they have a place for managing N inputs? • Free nitrogen – using legumes with maize. • Cost of production and industry bench marking– understanding what the costs are. • Biosecurity risks – identifying incursion risks from weeds, pests and diseases that might cause crop losses and ongoing expense if there is an incursion. Improving Yield • Inter-cropping and crop rotations – improving the annual return from the crop rotation. • Understanding and ameliorating losses from variability. • Soil quality – managing soils to reduce yield losses from deteriorating soil structure. • Resilience – preventing yield losses by understanding what contributes to

resilient farm systems with respect to adverse weather events. Adding Value • Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) project – improve industry knowledge of market opportunities. • Meeting customer’s needs – improving grain quality for the animal feed industry and human food industries.

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GUARDIAN FARMING

Gap year scholarships PGG Wrightson D reports loss but remains optimistic airyNZ has announced the launch of its new Gap Year Scholarship programme in partnership with Communicating for Agriculture Education Programme (CAEP) New Zealand.

funding to help out with expenses, and expert assistance by CAEP with placement in one of their overseas agricultural programmes and the associated visa application procedures and travel arrangement.

The scholarships will provide support for school leavers looking for experience overseas prior to beginning their tertiary studies. They consist of funding ($5750 including GST) as well as expert assistance with overseas placement and travel arrangements.

They will live and work on a host farm, with an approved host, and will have the opportunity to learn about farming in another part of the world. CAEP NZ manager Robyn Baron said the CAEP programme was a great way for a young person to experience life in another country.

Up to three gap year scholarships will be available to New Zealand school leavers from 2012 and applications for the first round close on November 15 this year.

“At the same time they’re learning about a different way of farming, and maybe also passing on some of their own knowledge to their hosts,” she said.

DairyNZ Industry Education Facilitator Bill Barwood said gap year travel and adventure appeals to many young people and by making it easier for them to get that experience, they’re more likely to come back and use what they’ve learned to benefit the dairy industry in the future.

Placements in CAEP’s dairy programme are primarily available in Canada, the United States and Australia. Placements in Europe and the United Kingdom may also be possible.

“Our scholarship allows selected students the opportunity to have the best of both worlds by experiencing an overseas adventure and having an incentive to return home to continue their tertiary studies and get involved in the dairy industry.”

The scholar receives $2875 once they’re in their overseas placement and the balance is paid when they’ve completed their gap year and enrolled at either Massey or Lincoln Universities. Further support is potentially available to the student through the DairyNZ undergraduate scholarships.

Scholarship recipients will receive

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Wellington – PGG Wrightson Ltd reported a bottom line annual loss of $30.7 million after a provision for supply of livestock to Silver Fern Farms and other items but is signalling growth in its core seed business. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were $49.4 million in the year to June 30, 2011, down from $57.2 million in the same period a year ago. Operating revenue of $1.2 billion was up from $1.09 billion. The company is not paying a dividend. When provisions and fair value adjustments totalling $47m were included the company reported a loss of $30.7m compared to a profit of $23.3m the previous year. The auditor gives an unqualified opinion of the accounts but draws investors’ attention to a note in the accounts which describes the assumptions used to determine the value of goodwill. Goodwill is an intangible asset. In 2009 the company entered into a 10year livestock supply contract with Silver Fern Farms under which it has to make payments if it is unable to supply. “Due to the level of supply and current livestock market trends a provision of approximately $9.6m has been made, representing the best estimate of PGG Wrightson’s expected liability for shortfall payments over the remaining contract term,” the company said. Chairman Sir John Anderson said while both the livestock and rural supplies businesses performed well and benefited from improved returns at the farmgate, the group results reflected the impact of extreme wet spring and summer conditions in Australia, the Canterbury earthquakes and a number of restructuring costs.

George Gould “We can take a number of positives out of the performance. The balance sheet is strengthened from the divestment of certain non core assets while the successful conclusion of the partial takeover by Agria provides certainty to the business moving forward,” Sir John said. Managing director George Gould said the company was awake to the potential opportunities afforded by expanding our seeds business in core southern hemisphere markets such as Australia and Brazil, and in growth agricultural economies such as China. The board and management would continue to work towards the goal of long term profitability, he said. “While the company is conscious of volatility in the wake of the emerging global fiscal crisis, we are nevertheless planning for improved earnings for the coming financial year,” he said. China’s Agria and New Hope Group own 50.1 per cent of PGG Wrightson. - NZPA


GUARDIAN FARMING

Page 21

Ashburton

Industrial Estate

Excellence in Service Story: Amanda Niblett

Above: The well equipped Hydraulink fleet is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to get your vital machinery running as soon as possible. Left: The award winning Hydraulink team, from left: Paddy Bradford, Paul Fergus, Pauline Fergus and Dan Bruce. 2010 – 2011 winners of the Supreme Award for top South Island distributor within the Hydraulink network.

The team at Hydraulink Mid Canterbury Ltd have been rewarded for their excellent service, taking out the Supreme Award for the top South Island distributor within the Hydraulink network. Business owners Paul and Pauline Fergus have owned Hydraulink Mid Canterbury for more than 14 years, and they are thrilled that their hard work and dedication to excellent service has gained the local business the top spot. Paul attributes the win to providing solutions and efficient service to their strong base of local clients. “First and foremost our focus is providing the best service possible to our customers. When a breakdown occurs during a critical time, we understand how important it is for us to be on-location quickly, with the gear and knowledge to fix the problem.” Being able to come up with quick and effective solutions comes from years of experience and dedication. “We are here to provide a solution to

whatever is troubling you, so we will do what it takes to get your vehicle and machinery going again,” Paul said. Displaying overall high standards across all levels of their business, combined with a strong performance through the tough times of the recession were key factors in winning the award. One of the local businesses thrilled with the exceptional service given to them by Hydraulink is Rooney Earthmoving. “We are more than happy to use the products, the service and the experienced team at Hydraulink. They have always provided an excellent and efficient service to us,” said AJ from Rooney’s. Hydraulink’s impeccable service starts

with their on call service vehicles, which can offer on the spot repair and replacement of worn or damaged hose assemblies. They reduce downtime and get your vital machinery up and running, anytime, 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year! A new face in the Hydraulink team is Paddy Bradford. Paddy joins the business bringing more than 20 years of experience in the coach building industry, so he brings some good problem solving skills to the business. Originally from the UK, Paddy has been in New Zealand for more than ten years, and his friendly personality and fantastic people skills have made him a valued member of the team, and popular with clients. Dan Bruce, who has been with

Hydraulink for three years, is now running the service side of the business, so if you have a breakdown then Dan is the person to talk to. Hydraulink also stock and supply an impressive range of quality hoses, fittings, components, hydraulic oil and filters for purchase. They can design, install and maintain your hydraulic system for you. Just call in and see the friendly team and they can advise which product will best fit your requirements. If you are involved in agriculture, transport, earthmoving, or any industry that needs fast, effective and reliable hose and hydraulic services - Hydraulink can help you get the job done no matter how much pressure you’re under.

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Page 22

GUARDIAN FARMING

City planners should wait ooner or later they are going to stop, but that’s going to be years away. It would be unrealistic for that to just stop.” (-GNS, on 16 July 2011

“S

http://www.rebuildchristchurch.co.nz/blog/2011/7/ stuff-co-nz-focus-on-network-of-hidden-faults “The chance of a major earthquake in Canterbury in the next year has dropped.” (-GNS, on 19 August 2011) http://www.rebuildchristchurch.co.nz/blog/2011/8/ stuff-co-nz-odds-of-another-major-earthquakelessening So which is true? Not stopping for years or not lasting till next year? With obvious uncertainty from the country’s top geologists from one month to the next, why plunge head-long into rebuilding? If we have learned anything it is the danger of complacency, because another large event could again shatter nerves and confidence and induce evacuations which will further bankrupt the city’s economy. Confidence and certainty are not expressed in bricks and mortar. Cantabrians are still denied vital information to plan ahead in terms of earthquake expectancy. Billions of dollars for the rebuild will not raise the regional spirit or feed souls when there is still need for information, counselling and restoration of vital infrastructures like toilets and services. It is like buying a sick person new clothes instead of medication, and expecting that to bring about cure.

Rejuvenation of streets and structures is all too premature when there are still cold, scared families, some homeless and without foreseeable options. There are still children too poor to wear shoes in winter and families too proud to admit they cannot afford for their kids to have a breakfast. Before flash new public buildings, intended to look as though something is being done, we need decent basic housing and restoration of wellbeing and confidence. Compensation packages need bolstering before concrete columns. We need a sense that the people are being looked after. Children care not for the words and reassurances of smiling politicians when there is no food on tables or roofs overhead. Do we want highly visible shining new shopping centres that thousands of newly-poor will be unable to shop in? Politicians need to forget that it is election year and remember that people are the resource, and there is the greater need to rebuild their new hopes and dreams. The dreams and hopes of the city’s investors should be made to wait. Imagine if another event is to strike in September, with new constructions needing to be done again. What a waste of billions, not to mention the further strain on the insurance industry ultimately paid for by the community. But if people are next time around more emotionally prepared when the next big one arrives this will be the money best spent. Only then should concrete start to be re-poured. The media were sensation-mad in the February

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aftermath, repeating the worst of scenes every night on TV, endlessly canvassing victims for horror stories, all in order to boost ratings and sell newspapers. It was a disgusting spectacle without moral compass and devoid of personal integrity of high-profile media figures. They were not reined-in but encouraged by publicityhungry politicians with stunts like the silly Skeptics Lunch on March 20, at which they declared no earthquakes would come that day. At the same time (1pm) Twizel was experiencing three above-4 mags in quick succession. Did the Lunchers see the egg on each other’s faces? Since February 22 the media have been desperate to continue hunting for suffering and deprivation. The bereaved who have suffered immeasurably are being dragged again through the spotlight. The milking of misery is still fuelling justification for quick reconstruction. It is not real and it slows the moving on of hearts and minds. Rebuilding of spirit must precede reconstruction of space. They are putting the cart before the horse. When you are sad a brave face does not make you happy just as saying ouch does not bring on pain. Earthquakes have recently been occurring more in the North island. Of above 4-mags for Christchurch, there were 9 in January, 77 in February, 23 in March, 10 in April, 10 in May, 42 in June, 7 in July and so far 5 in August. Over the past 8 months, for Christchurch, if they were evenly distributed there would have been 23 earthquake events per month.

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GUARDIAN FARMING

Page 23

Ken Ring

February saw three times this and February and March, the two months of the equinoctial period, accounted for 54 per cent of the total. This also adds weight to the chance of a potent September for Christchurch, being the next equinox period (remember what happened last September?).

13th and 26th to 27th.

Due to what I think is the southward drift of lunar perigees, earthquake events have moved from Christchurch since 30 April and 5 to 10 per cent of all recorded seismic events in NZ have gone elsewhere.

On September 14th to 17th we have kingtide+apogee, but the most potent interval should be 23rd to 28th September which begins with equinox, is followed on 25th with a Sun-Earth-Uranus alignment, then on 27th the New moon crosses the equator, and the next day it is the third closest to earth for 2011.

Comparing the two four-month periods from January to April with April to August shows a reduction by half of all earthquake events for New Zealand, meaning that seismicity has been quietening down for the whole country. For this year, since January 1, 73 per cent of all Christchurch earthquakes occurred prior to April 30, and 27 per cent since then. If we take out Christchurch earthquakes from national figures, then from January to April, 63 per cent occurred in non-Christchurch districts. For the May to August period this figure rises to 68 per cent. Therefore at least 5 to 10 per cent more earthquakes have moved further north since April. The 5 to 10 per cent less earthquakes in Christchurch has brought relaxation for Christchurch up til August. But it would be folly to ignore the coming equinox. Upcoming dates for possible increases in seismic action are August 28th to September 2nd, 14th to 17th and 23rd to 28th September and in October 12th to

If anyone needs more detail, on August 28th, there is a Neptune-Earth-Sun alignment, on August 29th, the new moon crosses the equator, and three days later it is the seventh closest moon for the year.

It is also a day from a Mercury-Sun-Earth alignment. A lot is therefore happening in this interval. On October 12th to 13th the Full moon is at apogee, bringing a kingtide, concurrent with a Earth-Sun-Saturn alignment, and on October 26th to 27th the New moon is the second shortest earth-moon distance for the year, bringing high tides, and finally 30th to 1st sees a Sun-Earth-Jupiter alignment. It all adds up to a resurgence of earthquake risk, however not on the same regularity of scale pre-April. Basically we need mostly to be cautious around the last week of September, associated with equinox and new moon in powerful perigee rising due east, adding to gravitational pull. It is the same three-way lunar setup as for last Septemberâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s quake. The last week in September is the period immediately following equinox (22nd) and stress will have built up that needs release. Around the end of September the very close new moon (as also happened September 4) is potent, together with planetary combinations that

include the next Mercury-Sun-Earth alignment that also occurred on February 22 and June 13. The likelihood is great for seismic events around the globe. Indeed, it may not happen, and we all hope not, but the main players will be in position. For example we might observe that Dan Carter and Ritchie McCaw are on the field, but that does not guarantee a win. However when they are on the field, the other team would be wise to plan appropriate strategies. To do otherwise would be foolhardy. It is not alarmist to prepare people with information, otherwise all Civil Defence services would be banned. To not make it known to your team that main players stack the field that could be hazardous to your health puts friends and relatives in jeopardy. I think Cantabrians need an available analysis of past patterns plus astronomical information, so they can make informed choices. City and country leaders need to respect the populace enough to allow this information to be made available. Debate should fill the airwaves. It is not astrology, which some have an aversion to, it is pure science. After all, the planets, Sun and Moon, and the earth and earthquakes, were here a long time before humans arrived to compare birth signs. Sources referred to http://magma.geonet.org.nz/resources/quakesearch/ http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_ id=1&objectid=10746747


Page 24

GUARDIAN FARMING

Weather by The Moon: September Forecast General Approx 6-8

Number of rain days: Precipitation potential times:

September 6th-8th, 14th-16th, 23rd, 29th

Mostly dry

September 1st-5th, 9th-12th, 18th-21st, 25th-26th

Wettest periods:

September 14th-16th

Warmest maximum temperatures:

September 5th, 14th, 25th-26th

Coolest maximum temperatures:

September 7th

Warmest minimums: Coldest minimums: Sunniest days:

September 14th September 8th-9th September 9th-13th, 23rd-27th

Best days for outdoor recreation:

September 24th-28th

Cloudiest:

September 14th-19th

Estimated precipation for Ashburton:

45mm

Rakaia:

64mm

Methven:

55mm

Estimated sunshine amount for Ashburton:

164 hrs (September average 147hrs)

There are three main rain periods, 6th-7th, 12th15th and 22nd-23rd. Still an overall dry winter, and this month may be sunnier than normal. Frost-free mornings may be around 5th-6th, 14th-17th and 21st-26th, other mornings may be subzero. From 1st-3rd and 28th-30th is good for planting and weeding. From 13th -18th is best for pruning and spraying. Higher kingtides are expected around 1st, 12th14th and 29th- Potentials for seismic disturbance may be around 2nd, 14th17th, 23rd and 27th-30th. Averages for maxima may be 13-14°C and for minima 1°C to 2°C.

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Guardian Farming September 2011