Gf August 2012
Plan threatens farm development p 4-5
An Ashburton Guardian Feature
time for action
Accountability equals sustainability and innovation
Gf GUARDIAN FARMING
Contributed by Neal Shaw, ATS Chief Executive
What is sustainability and how does is relate to our business world today? It is a catch-phrase which we hear a lot about but what does it really mean?
services. Many of our exported goods can already be traced back to the farm gate, and we are already aware of and meeting consumer demands for sustainably-produced goods and We all know that to be sustainable services, but I think we still have some means to be able to maintain something for a long period of time, but way to go staking our claim in these potentially lucrative markets. increasingly the word sustainable also means to use methods which do not We need to get better at value harm the environment. and supply chains. We are good at pioneering practices and products, but Both definitions are important to business, with many of our international we are not always good at following through and taking these ideas and markets demanding sustainablytheir full potential to the market. We produced goods and services. As a can’t afford to be slow off the mark. result, we are facing more regulatory requirements to meet these demands It is important to ask the questions – as many in the agricultural sector are about where we fit, what is our stand already well aware of. on the environment, on genetics or any other relevant issues, and then we need This level of accountability and to create a value chain and lock it down traceability may not always be welcomed, but it is necessary in today’s and have an intense focus on what we achieve. world. It is not unique to New Zealand and our products, although we can take Sometimes we chase too many things, heart that we are well placed to meet so it is important to establish what these international demands thanks to we are good at and how we can best our size and our existing practices. capitalise on that. The organisations, and nations, which We are good at finding niche markets will be successful in the future, are those but it’s fair to say we are sometimes that embed sustainable practices and limited by investment requirements, principles into their operations. On leadership and management skills. a practical level that means looking These funding and talent issues have closely at the economic, social and been detrimental at times. That’s one of environmental aspects of your business. the down-sides of coming from a small country. This can be seen as a positive rather than a negative, and an opportunity to Despite these issues, we can still make become more innovative, productive improvements and we do have the and cost effective while also creating ability to address our attitude. Too often value through the market advantage we ask “should we grow?”, while other gained by meeting the consumers’ countries talk about ‘‘how they will desire for sustainable goods and grow’’. We are not aggressive enough.
We need positive action statements instead of politically correct statements. There’s plenty of talking and many reports are produced, but most are destined to sit on the shelf gathering dust. We need to follow this hard work up with some actions and not let it be a wasted opportunity. New Zealand is well regarded internationally but we are not aggressive enough at staking a claim on global business. This is partly due to the great New Zealand knocking machine, which doesn’t allow us to blow our own trumpet or celebrate our successes. We need to get over our fear of failure and back ourselves more. There will be some who find this aggressive approach to business growth and markets an unlikely fit with sustainability but the reality is that the two go hand-in-hand in today’s world. In fact, many big businesses are now leading the way on ethically and sustainably produced goods. Big business does not have to be bad for the environment – it can be a winwin scenario for both. If there is high consumer demand for accountability, traceability and sustainability it’s obvious businesses have to respond and meet these demands if they want to remain successful and profitable. Meeting these demands might mean a change of attitude for some of us, especially those resisting the regulations being imposed on their business, but the reality is there is no option but to change. It is the way of the world we live in.
Any feedback is welcome, any comments about our magazine, letters or story suggestions. Please direct any correspondence to: Linda Clarke, on 307-7971 email: email@example.com or write to PO Box 77, Ashburton. Advertising: Phone 307-7900 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Publication date: August 7, 2012 Next issue: September 4, 2012 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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Arable Ys’ Trip to Australia 2012 A couple of young Mid Canterbury farmers were among a party of 12 Arable Ys (next generation cropping farmers) to fly across the Ditch last month for the Australian Grain Growers Innovation Generation Conference. The youth agricultural conference attracted around 200 delegates, keen to talk about obstacles and opportunities around food security.
a wide rage of arable enterprises in and around the Clare area (two hours north of Adelaide). “Diversification of the operation and limitations (commonly ryegrass resistance) were common themes at all farms. Succession planning at each farm was evident, something arable growers in New Zealand find tough.”
Jen said the opportunity to meet young arable growers from throughout New Zealand and Australia and cultivate their ideas was a fantastic opportunity for The Arable Ys group is co-ordinated by the Foundation the Arable Ys’ members who attended. “Networking and for Arable Research (FAR) at Lincoln and meets once a making those connections is key for our industry. The month in Ashburton. trip was a great learning experience with many ideas gathered for development in New Zealand.” Group spokesperson Jen Linton said the conference and field trips were great value. Grain Growers The conference was a big deal in Australia, where is Australia’s largest grain industry organisation Professor Peter Langridge from the Australian Centre promoting the sustainability of the Australian grain for Plant Functional Genomics was among the speakers industry. on the opening day. He said food availability had All the arable farmers and industry reps that attended been impacted by drought and floods, as well as price volatility and, in Australia, a growing reliance on were between 18 and 35 years, and represented the imports. next generation of cropping farmers. “Combine this with the last six out of 10 years where She said arable industry representatives along with wheat consumption outdid wheat production, grain farmers made up a panel of speakers providing both reserves are at a record low and we have seen the positives for the future and statistics of where the arable industry stands not only in Australia but globally. diversion of grains in Europe and North America into biofuels. To overcome such impediments, we need Day two of the conference allowed for a panel session new technologies which offer improved management in which delegates from the conference went head of resources and the speed and sophistication of to head on the topical issues the younger generation breeding. This technology still remains a significant but farmer is facing today. “The session was great. The important challenge along with the need for increased underlying issues which the young Australian farmers communication, human resources and physical are concerned about , like lack of young people coming resources,” he said. into the industry, are issues we face in New Zealand The deputy prime minister Tim Fischer said growers also.” needed tools and knowledge to make the most of Following the two-day conference, the Arable Ys opportunities and the Government had to ensure group had the opportunity to get out on farm and visit farmers had access to technology.
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Plan under fire
Chris Allen, Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers president
New nutrient limits being set by nutrient wise in the plan. This will make Environment Canterbury’s Land and Water it very difficult to get a consent for any Plan will halt farm development in much of farming land use change. Mid Canterbury, farmers say. Federated Farmers and industry groups The limits are aimed at improving including Dairy NZ and the Foundation for water quality by measuring the amount Arable Research (FAR) have joined forces to of nitrogen leaching through soils into make submissions on the plan, which will aquifers and waterways. be notified on August 11.
conversion, or developing irrigation, while the default limits are in place, will be radically reduced. That will have a flow-on effect in Ashburton town, with farmers having less money to spend.
not designed as a regulatory tool. We have concerns around updates to a regulatory tool while the plan is operative.
“With Overseer, you put in annual rainfall figures to gauge how much nitrate you Federated Farmers says all those in the leach. It works on the theory that the agricultural scene should learn more about more water you put on, the more leaching the Land and Water Regional Plan, and happens. It does not take account good Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers The plan sets default nutrient limits for all make submissions on it before it is too late. irrigation practice where water is applied The organisation is holding a meeting for little and often to minimise drainage.” president Chris Allen said farmers were of Canterbury, but local zone committees its members and agricultural industries/ not opposed to limits, but they had grave like the Ashburton Zone Committee can suppliers at the Hotel Ashburton on August He said Overseer copes easier with dairy concerns about some aspects of the impose more or less restrictive rules in farming, which had a fixed number of cows, 27 at 6pm. measuring tool Overseer that all farmers their sub-regional plans. The Ashburton but sheep and beef farmers who traded will have to use to measure nitrogen committee is working on rules for land Mr Allen said it is important people know stock would have almost daily entries leaching. south of the Hinds River by 2013, but has how the plan’s rules will affect agriculture. and would find it more difficult to be able delayed rules for the rest of the district until Farmers will use Overseer to estimate how to take advantage of price fluctuations “We don’t have a problem with working 2017. much nitrogen their farming operation is and trading opportunities as they arose. within limits, our biggest problem is with leaching to ground water. If the amount Mr Allen said Mid Canterbury farmers Cropping farmers would gain little useful the assessment tool Overseer. breaches limits required by the plan, they were faced with five years of uncertainty data from the Overseer nutrient model as it will have to apply for resource consent. Not and agricultural innovation and production “ECan are tipping Overseer as the best is designed for all pasture farming systems. way to assess nutrient leaching. It was a huge problem normally, but most of Mid opportunities would be lost from our Story continues over page Canterbury is deemed to be over allocated region. New investment on dairying never designed to do that job. It was also
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determined by industry groups, with an Expensive lysimeters are generally considered the most reliable soil emphasis on holistic change. monitoring tools, but they can cost at least He said people in the agricultural $20,000. industry and those who made a living off Mr Allen said farmers currently work it should be interested in the plan, and within nutrient limits. Arable nutrient make submissions. budgets show farmers the nutrients that Federated Farmers national dairy chair need to be applied to grow crops to a Willy Leferink said the current limit setting known yield. Pastoral farming returns was over-ambitious and few farmers nutrients back to the soil from animal excreta. The skill of nutrient budgeting is would be able to meet the demands. to accurately measure the nutrient status “It may stifle economic growth and make of every farming system. some irrigation proposals uneconomical as red tape and time delays cost too much “The Overseer Nutrient Management money. system does not provide sufficient accuracy to give all Mid Canterbury “An example is the light soils of the farmers confidence in its use as a Canterbury plains which are extremely regulatory tool. Farmers will not accept suitable for dairying but where not much an assessment tool that it is not accurate else is profitable, other than intensive for all farming systems. There is still a sheep farming. Farmers here will find lot of work to be done, for the farming it difficult to stay within the nitrogen community to be convinced of the (N) leaching levels found in the Look best nutrient assessment approach The Up Tables attached to the Land and assessment tool needs to be robust and Water plan from Ecan, which have been accurate for all sectors in the farming calculated by the nutrient management community”. tool, Overseer. The meeting on August 27 will include “Existing dairy farmers have dispensation presentations by ECan’s Peter Constantine, until 2017 but any new conversions are consultation manager for the plan, and subject to nutrient discharge conditions. commissioner David Caygill. They will If we could set the limits with more liberty focus their presentation on how the rules and a good education process next to it, as written will affect farming. we would probably get a lot more buy in Mr Allen said best practice should be and a lot more runs on the board.”
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School rises to the AgExcel standard
Students celebrate their school’s AgExcel endorsement.
Darfield High School confirmed the place of its rural training programme as one of the best in the country earlier this year by gaining endorsement by agriculture training quality mark AgExcel. Rex Smith, the teacher in charge of the school’s rural training programme, says they decided to apply for AgExcel endorsement because they recognised the credibility the endorsement would give their programme. “The benefits of endorsement include credibility and motivation to strive for a higher standard. Becoming endorsed by AgExcel means our programme is recognised as meeting the needs of local industry employers.” AgExcel is a quality mark that recognises training providers who deliver superior quality agricultural training. It bridges the gap between basic quality assurance standards and the delivery of training and education that meets industry requirements. The quality mark is administered by AgITO and endorsed by industry partners DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb
For Darfield High School, AgExcel endorsement is another means through AgExcel evaluator, Andrew Donohue, says: which to encourage excellence in their “Darfield High School’s rural programme students. is a high quality training pathway. Rex has “We actively encourage students to developed a prestigious rural programme aim for excellence rather than just meet that sets their students up for a career in the standard – this is reflected in our agriculture. enviable record in wins in Canterbury “The AgExcel application process requires skills competitions. We wanted to use the schools to look into their programmes AgExcel endorsement to further motivate and prove quality of delivery. Rex not only students to push themselves further.” showed us the current high standard of the Rex says about 50 per cent of the programme but also reassured us that this students leaving the programme go into would continue into the future.” employment in the agriculture industry The school’s rural programme is made up after leaving school. of four classes from Year 10-13. Students “Students complete 10 days of work must apply for entry into the Year 11 experience per year on local farms. We programme. arrange these placements with local farmers and use feedback to tweak the “We always have more applicants than programme. Some of these placements places in our programme,” Rex says. “All students are interviewed with their parents eventuate in permanent employment. Students also go on numerous whole-day before they enter the Year 11 programme. The Year 10 course is also used to evaluate practical teaching days on local farms.” their suitability and motivation for the “Darfield High School are exactly what programme.” we want to promote as an AgExcel school,”
Andrew Donohue adds. “The school has a long tradition of delivering agriculture training and has the support of the wider community. They have turned their programme into a sought after subject choice. The programme produces young people who are ready to work on farm and often undertake further training with AgITO.” Rex believes other secondary schools would benefit greatly from achieving the quality standards required by AgExcel. “It is vital that there is uniformity to agricultural teaching and training in New Zealand so that employers know exactly what skills graduates have. It is important that schools rise to the AgExcel standard rather than lowering their standard to simply pass students and gain NCEA credits. Agricultural teaching needs to have a higher profile in schools to avoid it being a last-chance subject.” More information about AgExcel and the list of endorsed providers and tutors can be found at www.agexcel.co.nz.
Contributed by Paul Reese, Irrigation NZ
A recent governance course held in Ashburton attended by directors and representatives from irrigation schemes from throughout Canterbury and Otago highlighted some of the issues that the irrigation industry is facing.
court of law, and it does, this is an area that is closely scrutinised. Any conflict of interest must be clearly defined, declared and managed appropriately.
The difference between governance and management – the The course was facilitated by the helicopter view over the motorway very capable, experienced and as opposed to the view from engaging Juliet McKee, an accredited behind the wheel driving along the fellow of the Institute of Directors, motorway - is a distinction directors and included presentations from should remember. The temptation to Goodman Tavendale Reid lawyers manage the organisation is always and KPMG financial advisors. there, especially for those that This level of expertise ensured a traditionally sit on irrigation scheme thorough overview of what is a very boards. complex and important area. In many cases the people involved The participants were asked to fulfil both roles. But when sitting list the three most important skills around the board table, as opposed they considered a director should to the operational desk, the strategic possess. Almost without exception thinking, longer term, helicopter the list was made up of what are perspective must be taken. termed ‘soft skills’. These skills From there you can see the storm characterise personal qualities and clouds brewing, which route to take interpersonal relationships. The to avoid road blocks, or even if you stewardship, strategising, team need to switch to 4WD and go cross player, integrity, communication, country. negotiation, honesty, respect skills were mentioned the most. Of the schemes represented, only one scheme had an independent director. Ideally the make-up of boards would see a diversity of skills and experience and a mix of independent, executive and nonexecutive directors; but having said that a board must be able to work In corporate situations, the two together effectively so the group most important groups that boards dynamic is also important. As with have to consider are the company any organisation the leadership and investors, but with irrigation schemes the public has to be added role is critical and can be the make or break of an effective board. The in. skills they must bring range from Using water for irrigation is drawing simply being able to run an effective on a resource that is a public good meeting to being able to manage so the public becomes an important different personalities among the stakeholder. Parallels were drawn board and between the board and with district health boards - similar the organisation. organisations that the public has a Governance is a large and complex very strong tie to but no direct link. topic and it was difficult to do it Often irrigation scheme directors justice in one day but it is an area are shareholders and in some that all irrigation schemes must get instances employees of the irrigation right because the consequences for entity as well. This scenario is not the individuals can be significant uncommon among smaller and rural and an effective board is vital for a companies and can be a strength successful organisation. with personnel bringing a high The calibre of the attendees at the degree of passion for the company workshop was a testament to the and industry and a good level of high level of governance expertise understanding to the table. that already exists among irrigation However, the conflict of interest it schemes. However directors need to creates means that the individual, be continually up skilled and trained when in the role of board member so that the challenges and issues has to act with their ‘board member’s facing schemes and irrigation in hat’ on. This means disregarding general can be effectively dealt with. personal bias and interests and The credibility of the irrigation being very careful about taking industry rests on being able to advantage of opportunities. The distinction is important to continually grow at all levels, maintain, as when it comes to a including governance. When breakdown at board level occurs it is invariably because some of these traits are not followed. Individuals have to uphold these skills but the need for them also applies to boards as a whole.
Governing our irrigation schemes
Contributed by Mary Ralston, Forest and Bird
Changes to the water conservation order on the Rakaia river Lake Coleridge could be used for a combined irrigation and generation scheme, rather than being used solely for generation. The TrustPower proposal will not change the current TrustPower is now asking for changes minimum flows or flows into the lake. to the Water Conservation Order Lake levels will be higher at some times so it can proceed with a scheme to of the year, and lower in others, but use water stored in Lake Coleridge will remain in the same range as it is at to be used for irrigation and further present. The Rakaia River is recognised as one hydroelectric power generation. The of the most important braided rivers TrustPower commissioned experts scheme would entail the construction in New Zealand in terms of the quality of a canal to carry water from Lake to assess the effect of the proposed and quantity of native bird habitat and Coleridge along the northern bank of scheme on the birdlife that uses the the number and diversity of birds that the Rakaia River to a point opposite river, wetlands, native fish, hydrology use the river. This includes important the existing Highbank Power Station and other features of the area. The breeding populations of a number from where water would be discharged general consensus was that the effects of threatened and at-risk endemic of the proposal on the biodiversity back to the river. Electricity would be species, such as the wrybill plover. It generated in new power stations along and natural features of the river are was partly due to its excellent natural the canal. insignificant. features and unmodified character that This is very good news. The a Water Conservation Order (WCO) was The proposal would require an amendment to the Water Conservation ecologists who assessed the effects placed on the river in 1985. A WCO is of the proposal on the birds and fish a designation given to an outstanding Order so that the water stored in Lake Coleridge has been used for many years as a storage lake for the hydroelectric power station at Lake Coleridge village which is operated by TrustPower. Water flows from the Harper and Wilberforce Rivers into Lake Coleridge. From there water is piped to the power station and then discharged into the Rakaia River.
river that is similar in status to a National Park designation that may be given to protect an area of land that has outstanding natural features.
which depend on the river concluded that the effects of natural flood events (which would not change under the proposal) are much greater than the small effects of the proposal. TrustPower is also aiming to help with projects to improve the conservation values of the river. They are establishing an Environmental Enhancement Fund which may be used on biodiversity projects such as controlling bird predators and managing weeds along the river. It is good to see this business helping the area where it is working.
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An independent report on the future of New Zealand’s and action that has a good chance of success. This is not agri-food sector is calling for a joint approach from just another strategy, but a blueprint for action.” industry and government to drive the activities needed to The report will be on the agenda at the forthcoming treble the value of exports by the sector by 2025. Primary Industry Chief Executives’ Boot Camp this month The report contains options on how sector leaders can at Stanford University in California. work together, and why industry should lead the strategy Primary Industries minister David Carter said agri-food implementation work. accounted for $24 billion worth of exports and part of the Commissioned by the Riddet Institute and developed strategy was trade access. by an independent team led by Dr Kevin Marshall, the Traditional EU markets had been bolstered by exports report was prepared in response to a call by industry to Asia and China, and there were trade talks with the US, senior executives, who challenged the Institute in 2010 Canada, Mexico, Russia, India and South Korea. at its annual summit to develop a strategy for science and education-led economic advancement of the New “There’s a lot of promise in these markets, but an everZealand food industry. changing world demands ever-changing, adaptive and innovative industries. We urgently need more innovation “Our strategies are neither new nor unique, but, in in the primary sector.” the past, implementation by industry has failed,” Dr Marshall said. “Crucially we have provided a pathway Green Party Leader Russel Norman said the report and a proposed mechanism for action that will work. acknowledged that agri-food exports relied on New There is urgency now, because New Zealand faces a Zealand’s clean and green reputation. mediocre economic future if we don’t drive the major “This gives us a huge advantage in international markets, recommendations in this report to fruition. an advantage that will be lost if we don’t improve our “Agri-food leaders need to know what to do, how to do environmental performance,” said Dr Norman. it and how to develop the resources they need to do it “Smart, green economics starts with the understanding effectively.” that our economy relies on our environment and further Riddet Institute co-director Professor Paul Moughan environmental degradation will undermine our economic said New Zealand has unrealised potential in agri-food. prospects. The report identifies that the full cost of “But until all key parts of the sector work together in a environmental services need to be incorporated in our planned way, New Zealand’s economic growth will not be economic strategies if we are to be successful in the longmaximised. It’s time for action by the agri-food industry term.”
Primary sector needs innovation Background
The Riddet Institute is a national Centre of Research Excellence and a partnership between five organisations: The University of Auckland, AgResearch, Plant and Food Research, Massey University, and the University of Otago. The independent team that compiled the report was: Dr Kevin Marshall, former director of research and development for the New Zealand Dairy Board and chief executive of the Dairy Research Institute; Dr Russell Ballard, Chancellor of Massey University and a former chief executive of five Government departments including the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Department of Education; Dr Graeme Avery, owner of Sileni Estates, and former owner of Adis International; and Dr David Johns, an investment policy advisor for DairyNZ.
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national bee week
What do we know abou
Bees are crucial to our primary sector, with a role far beyond honey production. New Zealand’s dependence on horticulture and agriculture means we may be more dependent on pollination from the honey bee than any other nation on earth.
viable without bee pollination – with an important role also played by bumble bees. Orchardists pay for hives to be located on their properties – a cost which varies depending on the crop but could range from $75 to $150 per hive.
Tens of thousands of beehives are needed for pollination nationwide - some are also used on more than one crop, and growers are concerned about their ongoing cost and availability. Nearly all The value of honey products beekeepers in the North Island, and over half in the New Zealand honey bee products are sought after South Island, provide hives for intensive pollination. worldwide. Around approximately 9000 to 12,000 The number of beekeepers has declined tonnes of honey are produced annually, with almost dramatically over the last 10 years, not helped by one-third to half exported. Exports of honey alone the Varroa incursion – a mite which feeds off live bee are valued at around $81 million, including $4 larvae and adults. Just over 3000 New Zealanders million of premium organic honey. keep bees, with the 287 biggest beekeepers managing 96 per cent of registered hives – an Honey is increasingly differentiated according increase from an industry average of 20 hives per to the flower source, with better blends and more beekeeper in 1950. Those remaining in the industry appealing packaging adding value and ensuring are business focussed, hard working and good more income per kilogram. Manuka honey, with renowned antiseptic properties, is keenly sought for managers. use in products such as wound dressings. Its value Urban beekeeping has soared in recent years. Anecdotal evidence shows beekeeping in Some $5.1 billion of New Zealand’s economy is many urban areas in New Zealand is increasing attributable to pollination by honey bees, domestic in popularity. Many of the National Beekeepers’ honey sales and exports, beeswax and exported Association of New Zealand’s branches have honey bees. reported increased interest in beekeeping from city-dwellers. The NBA says keeping a hive in your The value of pollination backyard is a great way to pollinate your own fruit Roughly one third of everything we eat is and vegetables and also provides informative and pollinated by bees. Many of our crops would not be entertaining education for kids. There are around 3000 registered beekeepers, some 23,000 apiaries and almost 400,000 beehives in New Zealand.
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ut bees in New Zealand? Even the White House is getting into urban beekeeping. Michelle Obama keeps multiple beehives at the White House and uses the honey product and pollinated vegetables as gifts for visiting dignitaries and organisations.
Overseas evidence also suggests hives in cities are thriving and sometimes produce up to three times the amount of honey as bees in rural areas.
Honey bees and agrichemicals Growers and farmers well know the bee’s importance to high performing crops and pasture. Even crops that are intended to be self-pollinating perform better if pollinated by bees. Good agricultural and horticultural practice therefore relies on the correct use of agrichemicals, especially insecticides. It is imperative that growers keep the two apart.
that Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) has estimated will cost the New Zealand economy between $400 and $900 million over 35 years.
The Varroa incursion highlights New Zealand’s vulnerability to biosecurity threats. The whole industry was shocked and government immediately restricted beehive movements. With eradication proving too difficult – particularly in wild bee colonies – containment became the goal. Despite tight bans on movement, Varroa spread to the South Island in June 2006. During 2008 all containment activities lapsed and nothing prevented Varroa spreading throughout New Zealand. In May 2010 Varroa was confirmed in the Central Otago district. It is now assumed there are only small areas left in New Zealand that are Varroa free.
Most beekeepers now treat their hives with chemicals at a cost of around $20 each, plus labour The use of agrichemicals toxic to bees is controlled and transportation. However, as of late 2009 some beekeepers in the Auckland area began reporting by the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms signs of Varroa becoming resistant to synthetic Act 1996 and the Agricultural Chemicals and pyrethroid treatments. Varroa resistance to synthetic Veterinary Medicines Act 1997. These laws make it an offence to use agrichemicals contrary to any bee pyrethroid treatment has not been confirmed as yet but has the potential to cause more problems toxicity warning on the label. for beekeepers than when Varroa first arrived in the country. Biosecurity Varroa (binomial name “Varroa destructor”) is a mite which feeds off live bee larvae and adults. Since its discovery in New Zealand in 2000, Varroa has posed a major challenge, spreading to most parts of the country. Left untreated, infected hives will eventually die. The introduction of the Varroa mite is an example of an incidental pest organism
Varroa has forced permanent changes to New Zealand beekeeping. Beekeepers now subscribe to the Honey Bee Exotic Disease Survellience programme, under which they are constantly on the lookout for major biosecurity risks including European Foulbrood disease, Nosema ceranae, new viruses, mites and Africanised Honey Bee. Story continues over page
national bee week
and Nosema ceranae in New Zealand.
affects not only the beekeeping industry but the entire agriculture New Zealand’s agriculture and The risk of diseases, such as European and horticulture industries through horticulture industries may face a Foulbrood and Israeli Acute Paralysis the loss of pollination. That’s why it’s devastating biosecurity risk if a decision Virus, arriving in New Zealand is why is made to allow the import of Australian hugely important New Zealand remains the beekeeping industry is strongly honey products. There is significant risk vigilant and diligent about preventing opposed to the move to allow honey biosecurity pests and diseases from imports into the country from Australia. to the industry of diseases and pests, gaining a foothold in this country. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry like Small Hive Beetle, ‘hitchhiking’ into the country via Australian imports. Honey laundering (MAF) is currently undertaking further work on the honey Import Health Honey bees are fundamental to the Honey imports from Australia may Standard (IHS) to gain information future of New Zealand’s agricultural also put New Zealand’s growing about the presence or absence in New and horticultural sectors and any international honey trade in jeopardy. Zealand of three organisms – P.alvei, threat or risk to the country’s bee As a result of ‘honey laundering’ Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) and population via honey imports could be Australia is now on a US watch list of 13 Nosema ceranae. As of the end of 2010, disastrous for our economy. An attack countries whose honey products must on New Zealand’s honey bee colonies MAF confirmed the presence of P.alvei be checked carefully on entry.
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Contributed by Rob Mildon
Transport changes gain traction A Transport Ministry review has recommended a number of changes to transport rules regarding agricultural vehicles.
agricultural vehicle operators as well as other road users remains a paramount concern”.
Probably the most significant change in terms of safety is the suggested increase The proposed changes have been met in lower speed limit for tractors up to 18 with approval by farmers, as they are anticipated to make vehicle operation more tonnes (or 25 tonnes combined) from 30 km/h to 40 km/h. convenient and improve safety. Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee prefaced the team’s findings by saying “it is vital that land transport legislation applying to the primary production sector is fit for purpose and does not apply restrictions and costs that are unnecessary”, while reiterating that “ensuring the safety of
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A large difference in speed has been suggested as a significant cause of crashes involving agricultural vehicles - 85 per cent of which occur in 100km/h zones. The team suggested that the previous three-tiered system of speed limits be replaced with a simpler two-tier scheme.
“Setting a speed threshold of 40 km/h and grouping most other legislative requirements either side of this limit in two options is practical, simple, and will improve sector compliance and make the law easier to enforce,” it wrote. The 40km/h speed limit dovetails with simplifications of licensing requirements, the creation of a special agricultural endorsement that can be applied to a Class 1 licence, and a relaxing of Work Time restrictions. The latter had been accused by industry groups of “adversely impacting agricultural productivity and economic growth”.
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The team also recommended that amber beacons be mandatory on all road-travelling agricultural vehicles, since another factor identified in crashes was poor visibility - winding country roads combined with a lack of hazard panelling or lighting on vehicles. The review team’s full position paper, as well as questions and answers, comparisons with overseas, and a ministerial statement, can all be found online at www.transport.govt.nz/ourwork/land/ agriculturaltransportreview/ - APNZ
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Contributed by John Leadley
Observations In 1992 final work was completed that opened the way to allow the passage of ships across Europe linking the Black Sea with the North Sea.
This was achieved by the construction of manmade canals 12 metres wide to link the Rhine=Main and Danube Rivers, utilising a series of locks which in total raise the water level 400 metres. Twenty years later this is one of the busiest waterways in the world, close to maximum capacity. It was my privilege to journey along part of this network over the past four weeks and gain some insight into the lives of those who live on the other side of the world. As a war time baby I have few real memories of World War 2 and now wish I had paid more attention when “Woodsie”, history teacher at Ashburton High School, tried to fill the blanks in my knowledge in 1952. The following are a few cursory observations with limited background knowledge from what I observed. Firstly the real meaning of heritage. Visiting many listed world heritage sites was unforgettable. Castles, cathedrals, churches, war graves, and parliament buildings over 600 years old re-enforced my view that it is much better to maintain a few examples of heritage well, than try and cover too many sites inadequately. The poignancy of mass war burial sites unforgettably emotional. When it comes to utilisation of resources there is much that New Zealand can learn. I’ve long advocated the use of gravity and wind, readily
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available, as the cheapest sources of sustainable energy. Of the 60-odd locks our 110 metre vessel passed through most of the larger locks combined turbine generation of electricity with their operation. What a resource the Rakaia River could be! The action of raising a 180 passenger ship 25 metres (in each of the three largest locks) in just 10–12 minutes while generating electricity by simple water displacement is highly efficient. Throughout the nine countries visited, evidence of wind turbine energy generation was everywhere. Many turbines operated from intensively farmed land either cropping or vineyard with the pedestals only metres from crops. Wind Turbine energy originated in the Netherlands in 1970 which was where I witnessed wheat being harvested less than ten metres from a five story apartment block. With productive land being at such a premium there was a total lack of peri-urban development. The bogey of reverse sensitivity to farming activities, was not apparent anywhere in the four days spent in the Netherlands. Apparent everywhere was the fitness, friendliness, commitment and excellent work ethics of the Dutch. This was not in the least surprising remembering back to the early group of Dutch immigrants who settled in New Zealand in the 10 years post World War 2. Many of these folk, who came here with virtually nothing, established intergenerational businesses that still thrive strongly today. In more recent years the influence of migrant
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Dutch dairy farmers is there for all to see in this country. It’s surely more than co-incidental that several industry leaders and environmental award winners have Dutch heritage. Perhaps the obvious fitness and lack of obesity in the populace can be attributed to the nation’s love and government encouragement of cycling. The 750,000 million inhabitants of Amsterdam own over a million bicycles. Cycle parks of 2500 bikes were not uncommon – the last time the city’s main canal was dredged 35,000 bikes were recovered! I was most impressed with the quality of crops (wheat, barley, corn etc) throughout the Netherlands and occasionally glimpsed herds of magnificent large framed Friesian dairy stock, both red and white and black and white, reminiscent of the wonderful stud cattle imported to this area over a century ago to pioneer farmer, John Grigg. Other properties were home to significant numbers of impressive dairy goats. By the size of farm ancillary buildings and quantity of wrapped silage stored, I guess the wet soil meant many stock were in covered barns even though it was summer. Hard to believe one-third of the nation is below sea level and Amsterdam airport six metres below. Not many nations can truthfully say they’ve successfully conquered nature! Three days spent in Paris enabled personal experience of the notorious Paris traffic, but certainly not by taking the wheel. If I ever wanted to start a new business, panel beating in Paris must be a successful venture!
Our 15-minute taxi ride included two near misses and a nose to tail hit while negotiating the Arc de Triomphe roundabout. The latter involving much horn blowing, several “sacrebleu”, a vigorous gesticulating confrontation as two very nervous passengers sat for what seemed an eternity, with meter running and another ten lanes of traffic negotiating our stationary freshly dented vehicle. The outcome, blame shared 50/50 (much easier for insurance, we always do it!), minimal damage to taxi, but the electric two-seater Smart car involved reduced in length from its original 7 feet to about 6 feet 8 inches. Being part of a stream of traffic up to 11 vehicles wide with no lane markings or give way rules governing entry, and with overtaking allowed either left or right is to say the least, interesting. Added to that the fact that 25 per cent of traffic are motor cyclists who can and do maximise the smallest opening to overtake, making driving interesting. The small numbers of cyclists (helmets not required) who participate in the melee surely are suicidal! Deadline is looming so next month Belgium, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Budapest and maybe comment on the EEC from this very inexperienced traveller. And where else but Singapore could the airport shuttle display this sign: Company policy requires that this vehicle is disinfected and the drivers temperature taken daily!
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Contributed by Sheryl Stivens, Mastagard Eco Efficiency Coordinator
Sustainability - the driving force behind the London Olympics Olympic fever is upon has been with all eyes on London to watch our athletes do us proud. Behind the scenes all facets of the planning, design and build and preparation for the London Olympics has been about sustainability.
Mid Canterburyâ€™s Hunter Stivens has been involved in the Olympic build.
There are lessons to learn from this for all of us in Canterbury at this time as we reconstruct our towns and cities after the earthquake damage in addition to the decisions many of us are making on the home front in developing infrastructure such as building new dairy sheds and farm houses.
site was previously derelict industrial land which has now been developed into a new green urban park. The challenge was to turn an area the size of Hyde Park, much of it contaminated and neglected for decades, into an Olympic Park and a sustainable new quarter of London for the community to live, works and play in. We have a number of such sites throughout rural New Zealand where timber treatment processes were carried out some years ago that could be remediated in this way.
To put things in perspective, more than 200 buildings were demolished before construction could begin. Ninety-seven per cent of the demolition materials were reclaimed with the bulk of the materials being reused in the In the case of the London Olympics the chosen creation of the new Olympic Park.
Have we factored in sustainability and longterm thinking into our design and build? Have we made the best of the current site and what we have in terms of design, energy, waste etc?
Story continues over page
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Reuse and recycling of the materials was maximised on site, reducing waste and therefore the amount sent to landfill. Imagine if we could achieve such as outcome with the buildings now being demolished in our town.
to use environmentally and socially responsible materials. A panel of timber suppliers was set up for contractors across the Olympic Park to supply legal and sustainable timber with appropriate supporting evidence. To reduce the embodied carbon of venues on the Olympic Park, a concrete batching The re-design of The Greenway, a key walking and cycling route, plant was set up to supply low-carbon concrete to all has used materials including bricks, paving stones, cobbles, mancontractors. hole covers, timber sleepers and tiles that were salvaged from the demolition and site clearance stages. Hundreds of thousands of Low-carbon concrete is achieved by substituting tonnes of soil which would otherwise have been transported off raw materials needed to make the concrete mix with site was cleaned and reused. Contaminants included oil, petrol, secondary or recycled materials, such as by-products tar, cyanide, arsenic and lead as well as some very low level from coal power stations and steel manufacture, and radioactive material. recycled glass. A ‘soil hospital’ was set up on the Olympic Park with machines that washed, sieved and shook the soil free from contaminants, producing clean material which could then be re-used on the park. Over 20 million gallons of contaminated groundwater was treated using innovative techniques, including injecting compounds into the ground, generating oxygen to break down harmful chemicals. Treatment and clearance of the invasive Japanese Knotweed was carried out over an area equivalent to 10 football pitches.
Sustainable design Olympic Park venues have been designed and built to be energy-efficient and as sustainable as possible. The Velodrome is almost 100 per cent naturally ventilated, maximises the use of natural light to reduce energy consumption and rain water is collected from the roof for flushing toilets and irrigation. The Olympic Stadium’s roof truss is made out of unwanted gas pipelines, and recycled granite from King George V docks was used for the stadium’s river banks. Water used to clean the swimming pool filters in the Aquatics Centre is recycled for toilet flushing. The foundations for venues and roads have used recycled materials. Many of the venues and bridges have living habitat spaces incorporated into walls and roofs.
Sustainable materials In order to get the work the contractors on site were required
Green energy A new Energy Centre and network provides efficient and low-carbon power and heat to the Olympic Park using new technology including biomass boilers. A Combined Cooling Heat and Power (CCHP) plant captures the heat generated as a by-product of electricity production and is up to 30 per cent more energy-efficient than traditional generation. So what lessons can we all learn from this? In terms of what we are planning for ourselves and our families we need to look beyond the initial building costs and rethink how we build and how we develop infrastructure into the future. In terms of public buildings surely we can look at the stadium build in Ashburton and ensure the basic principles of sustainable design and build are embedded in this process so we don’t leave behind a legacy of waste and escalating energy and operational costs for future generations including our children and grandchildren. This makes good sense why not get it right from the start.
To our newest readers north of Rakaia, welcome to Guardian Farming, your free local rural monthly publication, produced by the Ashburton Guardian. This magazine and its sister publication, Dairy Focus, are especially for the Canterbury farmer, packed to the brim with the latest news, profiles and comments from local farming personalities and including everything that is relative to the industry. We aim to entertain and inform, providing the reader with a fresh, easily read magazine you will open and enjoy many times over. Our circulation area now covers mid Canterbury and southern north Canterbury which is bordered by the Rangitata River to the south, Southern Alps to the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east and Christchurch to the north. Guardian Farming is a supplement to the daily Ashburton Guardian and delivered to rural and urban subscribers and every RD box holder in the circulation area, that’s a total of about 11,000 households.
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Ploughing robs carbon stores A leading New Zealand agricultural scientist predicts that if conventional ploughing isn’t replaced by lowdisturbance no-tillage within 50 years, there’ll be famine in areas of the world.
“Ploughing takes away the food sources of microbes that hold the soil together. Organic matter also stores water and the loss of both decreases the crop yields.”
Dr John Baker, who has a MAgrSc in soil science and a PhD in agricultural engineering, says it’s imperative that carbon remains in the soil and is not lost into the atmosphere through ploughing. He says studies show that 15 to 20 per cent of CO2 in the atmosphere comes from annual ploughing throughout the world.
From 30 years of research at Massey University, Dr Baker decided there had to be a better way of sowing seeds. He researched and developed Cross Slot no-tillage drills which penetrate through crop residue or vegetation on top of the ground and sow seed and fertiliser in different bands at the same time.
Carbon is a vital ingredient of soil. Plants that we eat all contain carbon. When they die they decompose and earthworms and other microbes take the products of decomposition, which are rich in carbon, into the soil and keep them there. “When the soil is ploughed it releases much of the carbon back into the atmosphere. The long-term result is a reduction in soil organic matter, which in turn leads to soil erosion, dust storms and ultimately famine,” Dr Baker says.
The Cross Slot process causes minimal or low disturbance to the soil, traps the humidity, preserves the micro-organisms and soil life and largely prevents carbon from escaping into the atmosphere. Further, by leaving the stubble and straw from the previous crop to decompose on the surface of the ground, it helps sequester new carbon into the soil. No-tillage is the equivalent of keyhole surgery as opposed to ploughing which is invasive surgery and contributes to global warming. The result of notillage is increased yields and the near
elimination of crop failure and soil crop. By comparison no-tillage uses 10 erosion. The end result is sustainable to 20 litres per hectare. food production which can feed millions Dr Baker says that New Zealand of families. farmers sow about one million hectares This year Dr Baker was nominated of new seeds each year. Recent Massey for the World Food Prize, which was University research suggests that if announced last month at the State low-disturbance no-tillage was used Department in Washington, and his universally to sow these seeds it would nomination carries over to 2013. result in about 1.5 million tonnes less CO2 discharged into the atmosphere He points out it’s incredibly important annually.” for the soil to gain and trap carbon “if we’re to feed the 50 per cent extra “With agriculture held up as being population in the world by the year New Zealand’s single biggest cause of 2050.” emissions into the atmosphere, such a saving would go a long way to meeting “Only four per cent of the world’s our conservation requirements under surface has arable soil and we have to the Kyoto protocols,” he said. learn to farm it sustainably, which we simply haven’t been doing. That means “No-tillage as an agricultural practice no-tillage must replace ploughing as the has the capacity to be one of the single mainstream food production technique.” biggest mitigators of carbon emissions. Any sensible person who has a concern Dr Baker also points out that no-tillage for retaining carbon in the soil would saves up to 80 per cent of a farmer’s fuel support the widest possible use of low costs in establishing crops and pastures. disturbance no-tillage on New Zealand He says farmers typically use 50 to 90 farms.” litres of diesel per hectare during the multiple times required to establish a “It’s a classic no brainer.”
Contributed by Ken Ring
Will there be any more snow this winter?
The moon orbits the Earth around the Earth’s midline. The Earth is tilted on a 23 degree lean, but of course the moon has no brain and cannot know that. The moon orbits the Earth anyway over the course of a 27.3-day month and at the rate of about 13 degree through space per day. Because of Earth’s tilt, effectively the moon’s position changes from one hemisphere to the other every 13-14 days. To cross hemispheres the moon crosses the equator twice a month (lunar equinox).
moon’s declinations are at around 21oN and S at the moment we cannot expect an overall cold winter season, but there will still be the odd freezing southerly system and polar blast bringing snow dumps. The milder overall winter season this year means that when the moon is not over the Southern Hemisphere, any of those winter rains will be warm enough to wash away snow previously fallen.
search for cycles. Anyone can see that the water and air are joined at the sea surface, covering 75 per cent of the globe. But it is sad how climate scientists miss how the moon might possibly have influence on weather patterns, possibly because they spend their days searching for evidence of climate change to qualify for government funding.
Last year was disappointing for Mt Hutt, nicknamed Mt Shut, and the sooner the cycle is recognised the better it will be for tourism, because of better spending of our promotional dollar. For instance the next fantastic seasons should be 2016 and 2017.
Southern declinations bring southerly airflows and colder weather to the South The furtherest south the moon gets is called Island and most winter snow falls just southern declination and the furtherest after southern declination, as the moon is north, the northern declination. At the beginning to trek northward. The southern moment the southern declinations reaches to 21o latitude, before returning northwards declinations this winter have been on May 8, to reach 21o N latitude. This latitude changes June 5, July 2, July 30, August 26, September over 18.6 years, such that there is a maximum 22, October 29 and November 16. A look at what wintry conditions arrived this year declination reached every month of 28o N and S, and about nine years later a minimum around these dates should prove the logic of declination point reached each month of 18o this reasoning. both N and S. From May 9, exactly on cue for the first The last maximum declination year was winter southern declination, over the 2006 and the last minimum declination following week snow arrived off and on for year was 1997. Last year, was the midpoint Ruapehu, Queenstown and Wanaka. On May declination year of 23oN and S, and we are 10, Tasmania received snow as low as 600 coming up to the next minimum declination metres. of 18 degrees both N and S in 2015. On June 4-6, the next southern declination, The midpoint years typically bring the Canterbury was hammered with heavy colder winters and the better snow seasons, snow from a wintry blast as the full brunt of and the maximum and minimum declination a southerly kicked into gear. Power outages years some of the warmest winters and the were reported and some schools closed in poorer ski seasons. areas south and west of the city. For example, on or near maximum declination years were 1967, 1988, 2005 (until July 1 was within 24 hours of the most September), 2007 and 2008 and were milder recent southern declination, and very low temperatures greeted southerners with hard winters. On or near minimum declination frosts recorded in many areas in sub-zero years were 1959, 1978, 1994 and 1995 conditions. Dunedin airport and Queenstown (August), and brought less severe winter got as low as -7oC. Australia suffered too. On seasons. But some of the approximately midpoint years such as 1939, 1945, 1972, July 3 the outback had a freezing night with 1982, 1992, 1996, 2001 and 2008 have some places having their coldest night in accompanied colder winters. The reason several years. One of the coldest spots was is to do with combinations of midpoint Alice Springs. On July 4 Queensland shivered declination years and new moons in perigee through its coldest night of the year with over winter months. Mid-point years correlate many places dipping below 0oC. with El Nino years, with more frequent winds The big snowfalls this year are due in from the south. August and October. Between southern It is easy to find out which years these are, declinations we may continue to see rain and therefore to predict what the seasons are washing much of the precious snow away, going to be like well in advance. All it requires to the disappointment of ski operators and is openmindedness to the idea that the moon influences weather just as it influences inconvenience to families who may have tides and tidal patterns, and a willingness to bought season tickets.
By plotting the monthly movements of the moon we can forward calculate when colder parts of a season may arrive. Because the
I suggest booking for them now. Ken Ring of www.predictweather.com is the longrange forecaster for Australia’s Channel Seven.
Camping out... in the garage It’s short and sweet this month as there is lots happening on the farm. We are moving out of the house for EQC to come in and fix it, so we have been busy packing again! We now have a container placed in the drive to hold all our house contents while the fix-it guys are here. So you’ll think we are moving in to town to a motel for the three weeks, right? No, I decided in my wisdom at the time to say no to the insurance company for that. That we would stay on the property because of the animals (insurance company loves me, not costing them any money).
friend’s caravan, as, at 13 years he did not want to share his room with his two younger sisters. It will be a tight fit but I look at it as an adventure camping kind of thing for three weeks. I think you can guess why we are staying. I could not leave my animals.
The dog would end up with depression being locked up all day and night. Plus he likes the fire too much and pushes the cats to one side to get to it. The chooks, well they wouldn’t lay as they wouldn’t have me out there giving them a cuddle and having a chat. The kittens that are more cats So we are moving to the garage, yes, the garage. now will love it as we do have a mouse or maybe I know what you are thinking - three children and mice out there, so they can get them for us. My cats sleep inside at night because I worry they moving into that, she must be mad. Yes, I am. might get hurt outside by wild cats. You can read Ours is not just a garage though. It has two into that... the animals may come a little ahead of rooms at the end of it and a toilet. My son lives our own comfort at this point in our lives (maybe in the larger room, it is his sleepout. The other more my life). room was the store room for camping gear. We So to keep me and my animals happy, we will have now just painted and carpeted them both and at this point they look better than the house. stay and rough it out. All I am praying for is warmer weather so we don’t freeze. Number one son is moving out off his room to a
No lifestyle block would be complete without animals. Our townie-turnedcountry girl Barbara can relate.
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