Ashburton Guardian Farming August 28, 2021

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TRACTORS Pages 3–5

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Wool’s resurgence

Guardian Farming is proudly published by the Ashburton Guardian Limited




28, 2021



Heather Chalmers









Page 21




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any rural people have shared a similar experience when it comes to buying carpet. Despite specifically asking for wool carpet, they are steered towards and often actively encouraged to buy oil-based synthetic carpet instead. Whether it was because of a lack of knowledge, or more likely the prospect of a sales commission, but salespeople had no inclination to tell wool’s story. That is now changing. Many carpet retailers (but, be warned, not all) are now giving wool carpets more prominence in their showrooms. This includes the first grower-owned New Zealand carpet brand from Wools of NZ. Kiwi carpet-maker Cavalier has also committed to supplying only carpets and rugs made from wool after transitioning away from synthetics. Furniture retailer Big Save has identified a market for sustainably manufactured products and is now using strong wool as a filler, lining and covering

in its beds and sofas. It has even purchased four sheep and beef farms to ensure a steady supply of the natural fibre, as well as paying other farmers a premium for their wool. These manufacturers and retailers are aware of a growing trend from consumers wanting high quality, natural and sustainable products in their home. After decades of strong wool being in the market doldrums despite its many wonderful natural qualities, consumers are now beginning to see past the hollow claims of synthetics and its huge advertising budget. This is not only good for strong woolgrowers who have almost given up on making a return from shearing their sheep, but it is good for the environment. Since 2000, New Zealand’s sheep flock has fallen by nearly 40 per cent from 42.3 million to 25.8 million. Other factors have contributed including land use change to dairying, forestry and urban sprawl, but a reliance on meat to make a return from sheep while wool prices floundered hasn’t helped. Can we dare to dream that crossbred sheep may become a dual-income animal once again and what that would do for sheep farming profitability. A recovery in market share and prices for strong wool might see that decline in flock numbers finally turn around.

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Taking the diesel out of food Heather Chalmers



anterbury inventor Sam Mackwell loves working with engines. However, he is no diesel head. Instead, his goal is to help the world move away from reliance on fossil fuels to cultivate paddocks and move freight. For nine years he has been working to develop an engine that can be used on the farm or railway line that doesn’t require diesel, while providing the same performance as existing dieselpowered tractors and trains. While his initial work considered alternatives being developed elsewhere in the world – electric, hydrogen and liquid biofuel powered vehicles – he rejected these all for various reasons. Instead, he has found the solution in a modern version of an older technology that the world has otherwise abandoned; steam locomotives. Last year, Mackwell joined forces with Christchurch

AgLoco co-founders, Christchurch businessman and entrepreneur Philip Royds (left) and inventor Sam Mackwell. PHOTO: HEATHER CHALMERS

businessman and entrepreneur Philip Royds to set up AgLoco Ltd to develop a zero-carbon tractor which uses steam power. Rather than diesel, an AgLoco tractor will be powered directly

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by crop residues and wood – fuel that a farmer can grow on their own farm. No ancient carbon dioxide (CO2) is added to the atmosphere. AgLoco tractors use the

steam power of traditional steam locomotives and traction engines, but without the earlier downsides and dangers. Fueling an AgLoco will be as easy as throwing two pieces

of firewood on to the fire after every row or two of cultivation. In more high-spec AgLocos this process can be done mechanically. “We’ve revolutionised a forgotten technology and combined that with modern diesel tractor technology to create this solution – a solid biofueled zero carbon tractor,” Mackwell said. “At the moment we depend on imported diesel to grow our food. By taking diesel out of food production, farms can be completely energy independent which will add a high level of resilience into our food supply.” A prototype AgLoco boiler in a workshop near West Melton, on the outskirts of Christchurch, may look big and bulky and more like the steam locomotives and traction engines of the past, but this is because it is 400 horsepower. “The AgLoco boiler looks the same on the outside, but we have completely redesigned and reimagined the boiler on the inside. “The technology is very advanced, but it is also very simple at the same time,” Mackwell said. One patent is pending and multiple patents are awaiting filing. Continued on P4


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From P3 Unlike earlier steam engines, AgLoco’s combustion system eliminates 100 per cent of the smoke and spark emissions normally associated with solid biofuel combustion. The dangers of earlier steam tractors that relied on a heavy boiler containing a large amount of superheated water have also been eliminated. The consequences were usually fatal if the boiler failed. AgLoco eliminates both the excessive weight and the possibility of a dangerous explosion by containing only a small volume of superheated water. This means steam pressure can be raised in about 20 minutes, compared with three to four hours for traditional steam engines, and ground compaction is no higher than modern diesel tractors. “So, it is the same weight and performance as a diesel tractor, without a drop of diesel,” Mackwell said. Globally, tractors generate one per cent of CO2 emissions. Not yet in commercial production, the pair plan to build and test 50HP and 150HP AgLoco prototype tractors in the next year. “Our mission is to get AgLocos on farms within a year to prove and test the technology and get farmer feedback,” Royds said. “We have developed a new

AgLoco at the South Island Agricultural Field Days at Kirwee earlier this year. Fueling an AgLoco will be as easy as throwing wood on to the fire. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

engine, but we have to put a tractor around it.” The parts and accessories to do this can be supplied and manufactured within New Zealand, such as GPS and self-steering, cabs and lights.

Plans are to begin low volume production within two years. Globally, two million tractors, worth $US60 billion, are sold each year and the co-founders said production could be rapidly

scaled up in New Zealand, including export sales. While an AgLoco could cost $2000 per horsepower initially, this was expected to halve to $1000/HP to match

diesel tractors within five years of production with economies of scale. In comparison, a biodiesel tractor cost $1000/HP but had 90 per cent higher fuelling costs.

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Mon-Fri 10am-6pm Sat 10.30am-12.30pm Sonia & Justin Waddell The Stable Door Equine Electric tractors started at $1750/HP and up to $2600 if the cost of a replacement battery after 10 years was included. Recharging infrastructure costs were also high. Mackwell has been working on a fossil fuel-free engine funded by grants, and family and friends since leaving St Thomas of Canterbury College in Christchurch nine years ago. Initially introduced as a business mentor, Royds’ farming background meant he quickly realised the potential of the technology in the agricultural sector. Royds, who co-owns Link Engine Management, a Christchurch company which builds and exports computers for racing cars, is now the venture’s chief executive. Royds said that diesel fuel would become more regulated and expensive as New Zealand sought to meet its net zero carbon emissions by 2050 target. “The reality is we are going to have to move beyond diesel, so how are we going to do it?” The pair believe the AgLoco approach was the best way of transitioning as it would have the smallest impact on workflow. AgLocos are external combustion engines powered directly by solid biofuel which can be firewood, wood chips, or densified biomass like pellets and briquettes.


The AgLoco 400 horsepower prototype boiler under testing.

To fuel a 50HP AgLoco at full power would require the driver to add 5kg of solid biofuel, equivalent to two pieces of firewood, to the firebox every seven minutes. As tractors are self-steering this could be done without any disruption to work. At full power, a 10-minute stop would be required every two to three hours to top up the tractor’s woodpile or pellets. It was calculated that less than two per cent of a farm’s land area will meet that farm’s AgLoco fuel requirements. In contrast, the challenge with electric tractors was the

energy and time requirement to recharge the battery. “Solid biofuel, like firewood, is nature’s battery,” Mackwell said. “Solid biofuel is a high density, naturally occurring fuel. While it can’t compete with fossil fuel, compared with all other alternatives it is a precious transportable resource that we can use to power the things that we can’t plug into the national grid.” However, the pair said that they weren’t opposed to electric tractors as there needed to be a range of solutions to transition


beyond diesel. Within the firebox of an AgLoco, solid biofuel reacts with the oxygen in the air at temperatures exceeding 900degC. The heat generated by this reaction is captured by water in a unique heatexchanger that safely generates high pressure superheated steam. An advanced engine design expands this steam to atmospheric pressure, developing tractive power with characteristics superior to modern hydrostatic or electrical drives. The new steam generating

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system at the heart of an AgLoco has been engineered, validated and independently peer reviewed over the last six years. It was calculated that replacing a 50HP diesel tractor with an AgLoco would prevent the emission of 151 tonnes of CO2 during its first 10,000 working hours, equivalent to carbon sequestered in one year by 66 hectares of regenerating native forest. AgLoco technology could also be used for diesel-free rail, coastal shipping and road transport, the pair said.



Wool to reclaim carpet market Heather Chalmers



trong wool growers are seeking to reclaim a sizeable chunk of the domestic carpet market back from synthetics in a bid to lift farmer returns out of the doldrums. The woolgrower co-operative behind the move says that farmgate returns of $5 a kilogram are achievable in the medium term if it can recapture a 50 per cent market share for wool carpet. In contrast to the past, woolgrowers are also bypassing the middlemen to retain ownership of the product during manufacturing, right to the retail door, making it the first grower-owned New Zealand carpet brand. The move comes as two strong wool co-operatives, Wools of New Zealand and Primary Wool Co-operative, seek a farmer vote to merge, consolidating about 30 per cent of strong wool supply. WNZ chief executive John

McWhirter told a roadshow meeting in Darfield to discuss the vote and carpet strategy, that both strong wool volumes and demand was declining. “There is no linkage between supply and demand because production of sheep is for meat, not wool. So even though there is no demand for wool it is still coming.” There were 10,000 sheep farmers but only 10 buyerexporters of wool, leading to the auction process being tilted in favour of the buyer. Of the total strong wool clip of 736,530 bales, the market was oversupplied by 44,713 bales, or six per cent, each year. “As buyers know there are 45,000 surplus bales it means they don’t have to forward contract, they can sit back and relax and buy when they want to,” McWhirter said. At present 16,000 bales were used in the domestic carpet market, with another 25,000 bales exported for carpet production. In 1996, synthetics held less than 10 per cent of market share for soft floor coverings in New Zealand, which was dominated by wool. In contrast, by 2020, 85 per cent of soft floor coverings were synthetic, with only 15 per cent made from wool.

Wools of NZ chairman James Parsons. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

“In 24 years, plastic has taken the market from wool. We have let it happen. We have lost the battle in the marketplace with consumers.” If wool recaptured a 50 per cent market share domestically, this would use 55,000 bales, sufficient to create more supply and demand tension in the market. WNZ’s new branded carpet range was produced by Turkish large-scale spinner and carpet manufacturer Zenova and priced so it was in the volume market and competitive with synthetic alternatives. The 48 ounce, branded 100

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per cent wool carpet only cost five per cent more for an average house lot, which made it a compelling proposition for Kiwis to choose wool over synthetic carpet, McWhirter said. Nine ranges of wool carpet have been launched, named after New Zealand farms such as Mt Peel and Wairere, with five colours in each. Sales have been going well since the carpet was launched in July at Flooring Xtra’s 61 stores, as well as 40 independent flooring retailers. WNZ had also started working with Fletcher Building

to supply wool carpets for its housing developments at a price competitive with synthetics. Despite a lot of funding and work by research organisations, no one had come up with a new volume use for strong wool that had made a significant difference, McWhirter said. “Coming up with new products and uses is not easy.” Instead, the co-operative had decided to stick with known products, such as a woollen version of a commercial tile. As all commercial tiles globally were synthetic, WNZ had developed a woollen version which would soon go to market. In the United Kingdom alone, the commercial flooring market was worth £240 million. The New Zealand carpet market represented only 5 per cent of global sales, compared with the UK at 35 per cent and North America at 60 per cent. “If we went to the world, we would run out of wool very quickly.” This comes amid growing consumer awareness of the natural and sustainable qualities of wool. Wool is naturally stain resistant, elastic, warmer, safer, biodegradable, ocean friendly and renewable. “So we have a good story and a good product.”

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Grower-owned Wools of New Zealand have launched a branded 100 per cent wool carpet range that competes on price with synthetics.

McWhirter said that growers shouldn’t treat $5/kg as a ceiling price for their wool. “Initially we are starting in the New Zealand market as this is a smaller market and what we know. “As the price rises, we will become a victim of our own success as this will lift the price of wool carpet. By then we will be able to reinvest greater volumes in niche, higher-end

wool carpet in the huge UK and American markets. “Every cent we make as profit will be reinvested in driving demand for wool,” McWhirter said. WNZ was also in commercial discussions regarding midmicron and merino wool. Crossbred fleece is currently worth about $3/kg. While this has recovered from a low of

less than $2/kg in 2020-21, it is still insufficient to cover the cost of shearing on many farms, with farmers relying on meat production to make a profit. WNZ chairman James Parsons said that while growers sold an ingredient, the consumer bought a finished product, whether carpet or bedding. “Consumers’ loyalty is to the finished product and not



so much the ingredient. “At WNZ, we have been branding our product as an ingredient and forming relationships with spinners and carpet manufacturers to try and carry that brand through. “We have spent a lot of shareholder funds to brand our ingredient as Wools of NZ and we have failed. We have not created shareholder wealth.

In fact, we have had our butts kicked by synthetics.” In contrast, the fine wool sector has had product champions like Icebreaker and Allbirds that have pulled the product through, Parsons said. “So we need to shorten the supply chain, get right to the retail door, one step from the consumer, tell our story and capture a lot more value.”

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Primary Wool Co-operative chairman Richard Young. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

About 30 per cent of New Zealand strong wool is transacted through the two co-operatives.

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he planned merger of two strong wool co-operatives, representing about 30 per cent of the clip, is about getting improved returns behind the farmgate, says chairman Richard Young. “I believe it is a case of 1+1=3 as far as bringing the two co-operatives together.” Primary Wool Co-operative and Wools of New Zealand will merge if a shareholder vote in November is successful. Young, Primary Wool’s chairman, told a roadshow

meeting in Darfield that discussions had been taking place over the last year. “The two co-operatives were aware that the industry was failing and we weren’t prepared to sit there any longer and keep getting the same result. “As woolgrowers, we have been in the doldrums for a long time and we need to reimagine what the future can look like.” Primary Wool has 1400 grower shareholders and WNZ, 730. Primary Wool Co-op is

purchasing 100 per cent of CP Wool that will then combine with WNZ to become one trading entity under the brand Wools of New Zealand. WNZ was a brand probably more recognised overseas than it was in New Zealand. “So, we would be foolish not to adopt this.” No capital raise was required for the merged business to work, though extra funds may be sought at a later date, Young said. “I always thought of Wools of NZ as a Toyota Corolla, a really

recognised brand, reliable and affordable, but only with a 1.5 litre engine and so struggled to have the horsepower to drive the strategy it has had in the past. “What Primary Wool brings is the engine to drive that Corolla, with its established networks and large volume business.” About 30 per cent of New Zealand wool was transacted through the two businesses and there was an ambition to grow this. “Every extra bale we get will

help fund the marketing and carpet strategy and that will ultimately lift the farmgate price of wool,” Young said. Primary Wool director Hamish de Latour said that since the demise of the Wool Board it had been a mission to get a sizeable chunk of woolgrowers under one umbrella. “We’ve had a few false starts. It is not as if we haven’t tried.” The co-operatives plan to get back to shareholders in October with more detail about the vote.

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Back into lockdown David Clark


President of MC Federated Farmers

his latest Covid-19 community outbreak has the potential to be a drawn-out process as we battle the spread of the Delta variant of the virus. Federated Farmers’ provincial presidents and the national executive are meeting three times a week to discuss Covid-19 issues facing our rural communities. It is in this forum that we can escalate issues encountered at a farm level to the heads of the relevant Ministries and feed information back down the tree to grass roots level on farm. So far, the key messages are, firstly we have been here before and we got through this with minor interruption to farm systems and minimal health impacts in farm families and teams and there is no reason why we can’t achieve that again. The second key message and of vital importance is that this is potentially a very serious health risk to yourself,

Farms and livestock are important, but not as important as your health.

your family and your team members and their families. We must not jeopardise that. Yes, our farms and our livestock are important, but not as important as your health. If, and I say if, hoping that it does not become the case, Covid-19 reached into our farming communities, the impact on the operation of the farm could be severe with people being required to isolate, or be taken into MIQ as a result of a contact

trace or a positive test. All of that could happen very quickly. Now is the time to give some thought to how you can structure your farm system to keep people separate, or how you could deploy staff, (if you have staff) or family members to different parts of the farm to achieve separation. Now is also the time to talk with neighbours to have a group plan if a farm needed intervention from the community. We also need to remember


that the agricultural sector has been granted wide ranging exemptions to allow us to operate our farms in a near-tonormal manner, and rightfully so, however, we must see this as a privilege, not a right. We must demonstrate that we are taking this seriously and treat the exemptions with respect, we don’t want to risk the health of those we are responsible for or have the line moved back. Lastly, spring is a very

pressured time on farms, we all work very hard, long hours and this has been a sod of a winter for most of us. People are tired, mentally and physically and a lockdown will not help. Please watch out for your staff, friends and neighbours. Phone them, socially distance the yarn over the boundary fence, reach out to them in any way you can. Together we will see the other side of this. Take care.





Cropping in the blood of Arable Farmer of the Year Methven farmer David Grant’s property predominantly grows feed wheat and grass seed.

Heather Chalmers



very hectare of David Grant’s farm is cropped each year. “The harvester goes over everything,” says this year’s winner of Federated Farmers’ Arable Farmer of the Year award.

While the home farm is on the outskirts of Methven, the 700-hectare property, of which 160ha is leased, also contains other blocks, including at Lyndhurst, requiring the need to take to the road with agricultural machinery to get the job done. His father Graeme Grant, a returned World War II serviceman, initially farmed a ballot farm by the Ashburton River before purchasing 197ha of the Methven farm in 1977. The landholding has since expanded, with David Grant and his wife Roz now farming

alongside their son Sam and his wife Hannah, with Sam taking the business to where it is today. The farm predominantly grows feed wheat and grass seed, which make up about twothirds of the crop grown, with the remainder in break crops. While good cropping options are available, “prices are pretty static,” he said. Late summer and early autumn is the busy time, as most crops are sown immediately after harvest. “The time between harvest and drilling is quite tight, particularly in March and April.


“It is quieter in winter, shifting breaks for cows and stock work.” During winter, 900 cows are grazed on various blocks for dairy farmers, with the Grants also buying and finishing 2000 to 3000 lambs. The Grants specialise in growing perennial ryegrass for seed. About five or six cultivars are grown, generally New Zealand-bred novel endophyte types such as AR1 and AR37. Browntop is also grown for seed. “We don’t grow cocksfoot or annuals to avoid cross-

contamination between grass seed crops.” Lambs are bought in from April to May and grazed on newly-sown ryegrass paddocks before these are shut up for seed in September. Research has shown that grazing ryegrass paddocks before shutting them for seed improves seed yields. “Grazing keeps the tillers down, to control bulk.” All dairy cows are wintered on grass paddocks, with no forage crops planted, preventing issues with pugging. The residue from grass seed crops is also baled after harvest, to

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Methven - Christchurch - Daily Freight Supplies  Methven - Ashburton - Daily Freight Supplies ISO ACCREDITED PO Box 28 Line Road, Methven  Ph 302 8616 - Fax 302 9657  feed to cows in winter. The Grants ensure that the bales of different grass cultivars are kept separate to avoid cross contamination of future ryegrass seed paddocks. Spring-sown break crops are sown in former grass seed paddocks grazed by dairy cows or lambs. Break crops have included radish, clover, quinoa, hemp and pak choi. Virtually all the farm is irrigated through a mix of Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation, Barrhill Chertsey Irrigation and well water. The Methven home block was not irrigated until 2009 when shares were bought in ALIS and BCI. The farm was traditionally at the top end of irrigation on the Mid Canterbury plains, with the Rangitata Diversion Race (RDR) main canal on the farm’s top boundary. While the Methven block doesn’t require as much water as some of the Grants’ lighter blocks, particularly at Lyndhurst, it is still a “lifesaver” in terms of guaranteeing yields. Grant said that in terms of arable farming, he found arguments that irrigation has a negative impact on the environment “bewildering”. “In my mind, irrigation makes farming systems more sustainable as with water you know you are going to get a certain yield, so you can apply nitrogen and other inputs


accordingly. Under dryland, you set a crop up, but in a dry year you might only get half the yield, so the crop is not able to take up all the applied nutrients.” In 2009, Grant was one of five neighbouring farmers that invested in a turbine using water diverted from an RDR race on his farm boundary. This used gravity from the natural fall of the plains to drive twin turbines, one low pressure and the other high pressure. Using a six metre drop, the turbines drive a pump, pressurising water for irrigation and eliminating the need for electricity pumping costs. A Foundation for Arable Research director from 2003 to 2017, Grant said that when he started, agronomy, improving crop yields, and the efficient use of fertiliser and agrichemicals was the focus, but environmental issues and the right to farm are now part of the mix. His farm continues to run trials, including a cultivar performance trial comparing wheat varieties for more than 10 years. The farm has also run numerous trials testing different rates and timings of fungicides and other agrichemicals as well as fertilisers. FAR is able to carry out agrichemical and fertiliser trials independent of any company. “It gives you an insight into

new varieties and chemicals and things do perform differently on different properties.” Yields have steadily lifted with the breeding of new cultivars and improved agronomic practices. Grant said that in terms of research and development, New Zealand had some of the best herbage seed agronomists in the world, citing Murray Kelly of PGG Wrightson Seeds, and Richard Chynoweth and Phil Rolston of FAR. Grant said that the easy gains had been made in water and nutrient inputs and future restrictions for environmental reasons may make further advances less easy to obtain. The growing global problem of chemical and weed resistance also needed to be managed carefully, though New Zealand had the benefit of more comprehensive cropping rotations which also included livestock. “Farmers don’t want to be anything but environmentally sustainable and are working a long way towards this. As long as targets are workable and achievable.” The Arable Farmer of the Year Award is designed to recognise a member who excels at arable farming and to acknowledge the standard of excellence they set for the industry.


Arable Farmer of the Year David Grant has run trials on his farm for many years, including a cultivar performance trial comparing wheat varieties. PHOTO: HEATHER CHALMERS

The award acknowledges a farmer who balances production and profit requirements against

environmental, sustainability and other compliance requirements.



Tuesday 19th October 10am - 1pm Seminar | Demonstrations | BBQ Lunch


Hoof Knife Sharpening

Using Claw Blocks

Grinder Use

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Wheat growers ‘vote with feet’ Heather Chalmers



fforts to make New Zealand more self-reliant in growing milling wheat used to make bread have taken a step backwards with just-released figures showing that sowing rates are predicted to be down almost 30 per cent for next year’s harvest. Uncertainty around a new milling wheat procurement process combined with firming prices for alternative feed wheat crops have growers “voting with their feet,” Federated Farmers’ arable industry chairman Colin Hurst said. “It’s worrying that buying practices we believe may be anti-competitive, are coming at a time when growers are able to receive better prices for animal feed wheat. This may result in New Zealand becoming more reliant on imported milling wheat for a staple food.” The federation was keen to discuss the situation with the

Commerce Commission and has also approached Commerce Minister David Clark. The latest Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) grower survey shows sowing (and intended sowing) of milling wheat crops are down 27 per cent on last season. Instead, growers are opting to sow wheat for animal feed, with feed wheat expected to be up 14 per cent, with most of this already sown. Milling wheat has traditionally attracted a higher price as it is lower yielding and has to meet higher quality specifications for protein, screenings and falling number (weather and sprout damage), however, this premium has been eroded this season. Last year there were three buyers purchasing New Zealand-grown milling wheat for domestic flour mills. This year, just one agent is handling the purchase of milling wheat for two of the buying mills. Federated Farmers understands this represents up to 60 per cent of the homegrown product. Of further concern is that the agent owns one of the mills, Hurst said. “We’ve just had a draft report from the Commerce Commission that says our supermarket

Procurement uncertainty and an erosion in traditional premiums has growers switching from sowing milling wheat to feed wheat this season. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

duopoly makes it more expensive for New Zealanders to put food on the table. “For a staple like bread, surely we want to encourage competition throughout the supply chain and give the right signals to our wheat growers that the pains they go to in growing quality wheat for New Zealanders is valued and suitably rewarded.” Demand from dairy farmers has lifted both feed wheat and

feed barley prices by about $20 a tonne since March, with Canterbury feed wheat quoted at $420/t. New Zealand already imports around 230,000 tonnes of milling wheat, mostly from Australia. Growers had lifted local production to around 110,000 tonnes, making the country more resilient to disruption and shipping restrictions from the likes of Covid-19, Hurst said.

“But growers are clearly not being incentivised to grow milling wheat and are voting with their feet by switching to other crops. “We think the government should be interested in this situation, given New Zealand’s crop and seed sector has raised gross revenue from $655 million in 2017 to $940m last year, not to mention the growing interest we’re seeing from New Zealanders in wanting to support locally grown produce.” The July AIMI report also found that unsold stocks of feed wheat were much lower compared to the same time last year (down 36,500 tonnes) while unsold feed barley was down by 41,200 tonnes. Sowings and intentions for malting barley were down 13 per cent, feed barley up 5 per cent, milling oats up 10 per cent and feed oats down 13 per cent, although less than half of these four crops had been sown by July 1. Some autumn and wintersown crops were affected by flooding and some of these crops will be resown. More growers than usual indicated that they will sow in spring, most likely alternative crops.






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Livestock feed support available F

lood-affected farmers are being encouraged to make use of livestock feed support services funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). Widespread flooding across Canterbury, West Coast, Tasman and Marlborough this winter has damaged pasture and caused losses to supplementary feed. Since June, MPI has boosted feed support services and allocated more than $4.7 million for recovery grants, technical advice and wellbeing support. MPI’s director of rural communities and farming support Nick Story said several of these regions had been battling long-term drought prior to the floods which had put further pressure on feed supplies heading into calving and lambing. “We have ramped up support for farmers, including funding recovery coordinators and establishing a dedicated fund to help clear flood debris from paddocks in Canterbury.” MPI funds Beef + Lamb NZ, Federated Farmers and other specialist providers to offer free, one-on-one feed planning support to livestock owners. DairyNZ’s South Island manager Tony Finch said that having a clear feed plan will be vital for many farmers to get through the next few months, identifying feed requirements to minimise animal welfare issues through a critical part of the seasonal calendar. “The service supports farmers to calculate their feed demand and supply, investigate options to fill feed gaps and proactively make decisions. In some cases, dairy farmers may have to lease out cows in order to reduce feed demand and get through the season. “The important thing is that decisions are made early. Getting your plan down on paper can help give you peace of mind and provide clear direction.” The Feed Planning Service can help farmers do a snapshot feed plan for the rest of winter and spring in as little as 20 minutes. Beef + Lamb NZ’s South Island general manager John Ladley said that paddocks covered in silt won’t be growing any feed. “Careful planning is needed to get that land back into production and growing pasture, or a crop to fill feed gaps. “A recovery plan for regrassing

should use a mix of short-term and permanent pastures. Using all annual pastures could result in another feed pinch next year when pastures have to be renewed again.” Farmers are encouraged to get flooddeposited silt covering paddocks tested, so the correct fertiliser can be applied. MPI’s director of animal health and welfare and veterinarian Chris Rodwell said grazing pasture coated with silt can cause animal health issues and careful management was needed. “We know that animals can develop a range of poor health conditions from silt. Farmers are facing challenging conditions and we really encourage everyone who has concerns about the health of their animals to seek advice from their veterinarian.” To get help from the feed planning service, or to list or source feed or grazing through the feed coordination service, farmers are encouraged to call 0800 FARMING (0800 327 646). Farmers who need wellbeing support should contact their Rural Support Trust on 0800 RURAL HELP (0800 787 254). Post-flood tips: • Do a regrassing plan for flooddamaged paddocks. • Use the free feed planning service 0800 FARMING (0800 327 646) to complete a feed plan. A feed plan will help you calculate your feed demand and supply and investigate options to fill feed gaps. • Buy in feed if you need to. Source feed or grazing through the feed coordination service 0800 FARMING (0800 327 646). Introduce feed slowly and reduce the risk of acidosis. • Be realistic – how many stock units can you feed? Consider leasing out livestock or culling poorperforming animals. • Get silt deposited over paddocks tested and get advice on the correct fertiliser according to the soil test. • Grazing pasture coated in silt can cause animal health issues. If in doubt, seek advice from your veterinarian. • It is highly likely more cows will calve early. Keep up regular observation of cows and spot abnormal behaviour that can be a sign of metabolic disorders. • Most importantly, seek advice from your farm advisory service.



Cultivation Equipment Stay on top of the season Simon Jackson

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Terms and conditions apply. While stocks last. Contact Power Farming Ashburton for more information.

MPI’s director of rural communities and farming support Nick Story.





MT HUTT MEMORIAL HALL 160 Main Street Methven • 9:30 - 10:00am - Tea & Coffee • 10:00am to 12:00pm - Session 1 Planning for Planting • 12:00pm to 1:00pm Lunch RICHARD & GEORGE LILLEY FARM 2727 Methven Highway Road • 1:30pm to 3:00pm - Session 2 planting Onsite & Planting Lessons Learnt

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Phone: 027 876 8447 (027TROUGHS) Email:


Ryegrass seed is a key export category.

Seed exports continue to grow T

he value of seed exports, predominantly grown in Canterbury, increased by 4.6 per cent in 2020 compared to a year earlier to record $250 million in receipts, according to the NZ Grain and Seed Trade Association. Data issued by StatsNZ, shows seed export values have grown 44 per cent from $173m five years ago. While New Zealand exports more than 30 different seed types internationally, pasture seed and vegetable seed were the key export categories. Ryegrass and clover seed provided $131m in sales. Vegetable seed namely carrot seed, radish and beet seed and other brassica seed contributed $114m. Cereal seed earned a further $5m. More than 80 per cent of New Zealand’s seed production is in the Canterbury region centred in and around the Ashburton district encompassing almost 40,000 hectares of certified crop. Key markets include Europe, Australia, the United States, China

and Japan. Together they account for around 75 per cent of total exports. Association general manager Thomas Chin said that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, New Zealand seed exports returned a fantastic result for the New Zealand economy which indicates the underlying importance of the sector to the country. “During the Covid-19 lockdown period, the seed trade was deemed an essential business and remained in operation to supply seed to both domestic and overseas markets. “Importantly the seed industry will remain a driving force in the government’s post-Covid economic recovery strategy.” Chin said that the key to fostering a healthy export pipeline was having access to the best seed for multiplication, plant breeding and research purposes. “The government’s reform of the Plant Variety Rights Act will be critical to the sector’s future success and that of our farmers, growers and users of seed products and crops.”




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The U-drill gives a one pass uniform seedbed over the entire working width, providing perfect preparation, levelling and seedbed reconsolidation.


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Herbicide resistance growing threat H

erbicide resistance is emerging as a serious and growing threat to New Zealand’s food production, with recent surveys by scientists finding half or more of arable farms and vineyards in some regions have weeds resistant to commonly used herbicides. AgResearch scientists, who are carrying out the first systematic approach to surveying for herbicideresistant weeds in arable crops with funding from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, say the results they are seeing are often many times the levels of resistance that had been expected. In addition, new resistant weed species are also being brought forward, or discovered by the AgResearch scientists working alongside the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) and the Bragato Research Institute, as part of the Managing Herbicide Resistance

programme which began in 2018. Herbicide-resistant weeds were first detected in New Zealand in 1979, but until recently reporting of herbicide resistance has largely been ad hoc and left to growers and rural professionals to recognise and alert researchers. AgResearch senior scientist Dr Trevor James, who spoke at the NZ Plant Protection Society’s annual conference, said the survey findings are a wake-up call and should be focusing efforts to manage the threat of herbicide resistance. “The issue is that as this resistance grows, so too does the costs and impacts on farmers and crop production in New Zealand. We firstly need to understand the full scope of the problem across New Zealand, the mechanisms involved in the resistance, how the resistance is passed through the generations of these plants, and then we need to look at strategies

AgResearch senior scientist Dr Trevor James says survey findings are a wake-up call. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

to address it and slow the development of the resistance,” James said. “At present, there are limited

alternatives to many of these herbicides that the weeds are evolving resistance to, and that is an area that also deserves

attention and investment in the research.” In 2019, a survey took seeds from 48 randomly selected arable farms in central Canterbury and weeds resistant to Group A and B herbicides were identified from a quarter of those farms. Further surveying across arable farms in Southland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty, and across vineyards in Marlborough and Canterbury, found at least 50 per cent had weeds resistant to Group A and/or B herbicides, with glyphosate being a problem in vineyards. The highest risk weeds were pasture-related grasses. Common resistant weed species being identified by the researchers include ryegrass, wild oats and chickweed, as well as first time finds of resistant sow thistle (puha), summer grass, prairie grass and lesser canary grass.


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Westland chief executive Richard Wyeth says overcoming the different milk and production methods of New Zealand and China was the first hurdle.


Westland whipping up new cream A

cross-cultural research and development project has succeeded in harnessing the natural grass-fed goodness of milk from the West Coast into a product suitable for discerning Chinese bakers. The product, Yili Pro UHT Whipping Cream, will be available to Chinese consumers this October. Resident director for Yili in New Zealand Shiqing Jian said the two-year collaboration between Westland Dairy Company and parent company Yili had managed to overcome the inherent variability of grass-fed milk to produce cream with a consistency suitable for

Chinese bakers. Jian said Yili’s growth as an international brand relied strongly on innovation and longstanding research and development investment. New product sales accounted for 16 per cent of Yili’s total revenue in 2020 with Yili now ranked the fifth largest dairy producer globally. The dairy giant was also recently awarded most valuable dairy brand in the world for the fourth year running as well as the second most valuable food brand in Brand Finance’s annual global brand rankings. “Yili’s international growth has been based on a philosophy

of ‘global mindset-local operations’,” Jian said. “It’s extremely rewarding to see an international vision translated into new business capabilities in New Zealand and Asia through this kind of global collaboration.” Westland chief executive Richard Wyeth said overcoming the different milk and production methods of New Zealand and China was the first hurdle teams from China and Westland had to overcome in proving the dairy operation could produce a whipping cream suitable for the Chinese market. “Chinese whipping cream is produced from milk from

dairy cows commonly housed in feedlots. The consistency of this feed creates milk with more consistent properties compared to our nutrient-dense, grass-fed product. “The different ways of using cream by the chefs in China compared to New Zealand chefs led to very different requirements of our cream. Our production methods in New Zealand also needed to be rethought to produce whipping cream suitable for a number of applications such as milk foam, cake decorating and mousse,’’ Wyeth said. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, teams from New

Zealand and China visited each other’s production facilities and farms to understand the different milk and production methods. Post-pandemic, communications continued virtually, with the translation facility of Chinese App WeChat helping collaboration as well as ifilmed baking demonstrations. “Despite all the hurdles, the teams worked really well together. The proof, ultimately, will be in the cooking and eating, but given Yili’s long-standing focus on and understanding of the consumer, we are very confident Chinese bakers are going to love Yili Pro,” Wyeth said.

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Dairy Focus

ElbowDeep 22


with Craig Hickman

‘Thank a Farmer’ is cringeworthy


ike many silly ideas, the Thank a Farmer hashtag that has been popping up all over social media and which even made an appearance at the recent farmer protest can trace its origins back to the United States. It was a silly sentiment when it originated there in the 1800s and it hasn’t improved in the intervening 300-odd years. I recently objected to the concept in reply to a social media post where a local young dairy farmer was berating his audience for not being more appreciative for the milk in their Sunday morning coffee while he was at work on the farm. I was confused. My milk goes to the Clandeboye factory where it is processed into either milk powder or mozzarella. Do I deserve thanks from the Sunday morning coffee sippers or is that reserved for the farmers who produce the five per cent of dairy product that isn’t exported?

Sunday morning coffee sippers don’t have to thank a dairy farmer just for doing their job. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Are the latte lovers supposed to call me personally, take an advertisement out in the local paper or just message me directly on Twitter? I will thank a barista, I will thank a bus driver and I will thank any person in hospitality but the idea a dairy farmer should be publicly praised for choosing to do a challenging job in the hope of making profit

is so ludicrous and cringeinducing it makes me wince. It wasn’t long before somebody leapt to the young fellow’s defense and suggested that farmers weren’t meant to be thanked specifically for their produce, but thanked for keeping the economy afloat, especially for the last two years. Now I’m the first person to talk up the primary sector’s impact

on the New Zealand economy, and especially that of dairy. The primary industry’s contribution to GDP climbed to 10 per cent in 2020 off the back of a decimated tourism industry. There is no argument, the $48 billion brought in by the primary sector in 2020 provided a vital cushion against the economic havoc being wreaked by a global pandemic. There is no question that farming is crucial to this country’s economy, but during lockdown last year I got up every morning and I went to work. A Fonterra tanker arrived every day and collected the milk. I got paid, the staff got paid and the farm made a profit. Restauranteurs and others in the hospitality and tourism industries weren’t so lucky. While it was business as usual for most farmers, other industries were laying off staff, closing the

doors to their shops and cafes and facing a very uncertain future. The expectation that people who have lost so much and are still trying to recover from the impacts of the pandemic would pause to appreciate the fact farmers are doing okay is galling. If it had been an incursion of Foot and Mouth instead of Covid-19 and I had lost everything, I’m certain I wouldn’t be thanking my lucky stars the tourist operators were okay while I was queuing for the Job Seeker Benefit. We already have a method in New Zealand for thanking people for doing their jobs, it’s called the Honours system. Failing a knighthood, as a farmer there’s only one way I want the public to thank me; by happily paying a fair price for what I produce and not begrudging how I make a living.

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Dairy delivers around $20 billion in export value, while employing about 50,000 people on and off farm.

Growth in dairy economics he DairyNZ 2019-20 economic survey shows farmer resilience to the challenges of Covid-19, price volatility and unpredictable weather, with a positive year for milk production and farm businesses. DairyNZ chief economist Dr Graeme Doole said operating profit, milksolids per cow and per hectare were all up on previous years. “For the 2019-20 season, we were fortunate to receive an above-average milk price of $7.05 per kilogram milksolids, which continued into the next season. This enabled some farmers to catch-up on farm maintenance and debt repayment, while continuing to invest in environmental improvement on-farm,” Doole said. “Farm costs also increased, with higher fertiliser and supplementary feed costs. Although we saw a decrease in interest costs, this was not enough to offset increases in other areas of expenditure.” The annual survey shows that average operating profit was up 28 per cent on the previous season, at $2750 per hectare for 2019-20, while milksolids per cow and hectare were at their highest level to date. “This on-farm success results in a strong contribution to the New Zealand economy, delivering around $20 billion in export value, while employing around 50,000 people on and off farm,” Doole said. “It is positive to see such a high operating profit for farms for 2019-20, compared to the 10-year average of $1645 per hectare. Despite many farms nationwide being affected by a dry summer, production remained strong.” Operating expenses increased to $5.31 per

kilogram milksolids (compared to 2018-19), which is above the previous high of $5.17 reported in 2013-14. “Feed continues to be the largest cost on New Zealand dairy farms, which is important for farmers looking to control farm costs. To build their resilience for periods when milk prices are lower, farmers should look at their overall cost structures on-farm and identify where they can trim costs,” Doole said. Sharemilkers experienced a good year, recording a 35 per cent increase in operating profit on the previous season to $1050 per hectare, while faced with similar cost changes, price volatility and weather conditions. Farmers are encouraged to analyse their individual performance and compare their results with similar farms through DairyNZ’s DairyBase and budget case studies. Budget case studies look at several top-performing farms nationwide for the current season, to help identify opportunities to reduce the cost of production. This is a useful benchmarking tool for farmers to get insights and ideas from. The annual economic survey analyses a representative sample of farmers, surveying 326 owner-operators and 124 herd-owning sharemilking farms (50:50 sharemilkers) across New Zealand for the 2019-20 season. Dairy sector economic contribution: • Dairy delivers around $20 billion in export value. • Dairy directly adds $10.2 billion to New Zealand’s economy. • Around 50,000 people are employed in the dairy sector.






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Dairy Focus

Insecticide strikes the right efficacy-safety balance W

Mavrik delivers control of the serious pests nysius and cutworm in vulnerable fodder beet seedlings without the adverse impacts to key beneficial insects. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

ith growers increasingly sensitive to the environmental impacts of pesticides, yet needing to continue to produce profitable crops, real breakthroughs in chemistry are always welcome. ADAMA New Zealand commercial manager Doug Speers said Mavrik Aquaflow insecticide (Mavrik) has been getting it right in beets and other crops, effectively combatting key pests while avoiding harm to beneficial insects and to users. Speers said there is a real danger that crops and beneficial insects could be put at risk by the erroneous but common assumption that all synthetic pyrethroids (SPs) are the same. “Tau-fluvalinate, the unique, low toxicity active in Mavrik from ADAMA New Zealand is proven to be much safer for beneficial insects, including parasitoids, predators, and pollinators, than other SPs available in this country. Additionally, it is entirely crop safe when applied with approved ADAMA products at the sensitive cotyledon stage.” Once the beet canopy is established, beet will hold their own. But, as Speers said, “it’s always a race to get to that canopy closure.” Trials have shown that Mavrik, the latest addition to ADAMA’s beet protection toolkit, delivers control of the serious pests nysius and cutworm in vulnerable fodder beet seedlings. Importantly, it does so without the adverse impacts to key beneficials, which also provide ongoing control of pests in the field. Mavrik also appears destined to spread its influence further. ADAMA is confident that the product will have registration for forage brassicas in time for the new season. This will give farmers and contractors a welcome, effective and user-friendly alternative to potentially harmful organophosphates (OPs). Speers said it is at the early postemergence stage when beet seedlings are particularly at risk from nysius and cutworm. “This is where Mavrik comes into its own. There can be huge damage to plants if nysius is not well controlled.” Unchecked, nysius feeding damage to the base of the plants can destroy a high percentage of the crop, massively impacting growers relying on their high-value beet crop. Nysius are found where vegetation is sparse and sunlight falls directly onto the ground, making seedlings especially susceptible. They thrive under the hot, dry conditions many regions have experienced over the last two growing seasons. Adult nysius hide under clods or debris on the ground when the temperature begins to fall in the evening and become active in the morning when the temperature rises. Application of Mavrik is recommended when nysius are active as temperatures rise during the day; applying at seedling stage only, as a first post-emergence spray. “Apply at first sign of pest presence and

ensure good coverage of plants and surrounding soil. A repeat application can be made after 14 days if required.” Recent ADAMA beet trials showed Mavrik provided a high degree of nysius control and reduction of plant damage in trials following one or two applications. Similarly, cutworm trials showed Mavrik prevented significant plant damage. After hatching, young cutworm caterpillars forage on leaves until they are about one third grown. Larger cutworm caterpillars lie curled up 2550 mm below the soil surface during the day and emerge at night to feed. Larger cutworm caterpillars are also the most damaging, cutting seedlings off at their base. Applications of Mavrik can control small cutworm caterpillars, preventing them growing to a much more damaging size. For larger cutworm, its recommended that spray applications should be made in the evening or night when the caterpillars emerge to feed. Mavrik works by affecting the nervous systems of target insects after direct contact or ingestion. While these pests are overcome, the impact on key beneficial insects is minimal, allowing them to continue their good work as the crops develop. Beneficials, such as hoverflies and lacewings have a vital role in protecting beet and other nearby crops. Hoverfly larvae feed on aphids of all kinds while the adult is an important pollinator. Lacewings are broad spectrum predators, effective against pests including aphids and other soft bodied insects, such as small caterpillars. “Effectively, they’re the farmers’ and growers’ free workers,” Speers said. Mavrik is also the leading bee-safe SP. When applied during non-foraging periods, applications will not interfere with the activity of honeybees once spray has dried. ADAMA New Zealand has an extensive beet protection arsenal with Mavrik being the latest of three products launched recently. The two others are Custodia® and Goltix® Gold. Custodia is a beet foliar fungicide, which not only supports greener, healthier and more vigorous leaves, but offers greater grazing flexibility. Custodia has a withholding period of just 28 days compared with the previous industry standard of 42 days providing a management and stock lifeline for farmers particularly when feed is getting tight. Goltix Gold is a powerful herbicide with a unique formulation with proven efficacy in controlling hard-to-kill weeds, especially fathen and wireweed. Mavrik is proven crop safe when applied to beet seedlings at cotyledon stage in a tank-mixture with ADAMA beet herbicides such as Goltix Gold, ToreroTM, Ethosat® herbicide, Rifle® and other commonly used pesticides. For more information on ADAMA products contact ADAMA or visit

Taking care of the bad guys. And the good guys.



There are goodies and baddies lurking everywhere in your fodder beet crop. Fortunately, MAVRIK® can tell the difference. MAVRIK offers powerful control of Nysius and cutworm in your fodder beet crop. This unique SP insecticide is IPM friendly and crop-safe, yet highly effective against pests. MAVRIK is far more user-friendly than existing OPs, but no less effective. Combined with our other fodder beet specific products, like GOLTIX® GOLD, TOREROTM, ETHOSAT® and RIFLE®, it will help maximise the return from your crop.

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Mavrik Aquaflo Insecticide (Mavrik) registered pursuant to the ACVM Act 1997 No. P7278. See for registration conditions. Approved pursuant to the HSNO Act 1996. Approval No. HSR000316. See for approval controls. Ethosat, Goltix, Mavrik, Rifle and Torero are trademarks of an ADAMA Group Company.



Dairy Focus

No confidence in Overseer oversight

POWERING Residential Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers’ president David Clark says farmers have spent enough money on a broken system. PHOTO: ASHBURTON GUARDIAN

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armers are being advised not to spend another dollar on Overseer until it has been fixed. The advice comes from Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers’ president David Clark after an independent review showed the software tool used to model and manage nutrient losses on farms was not fit for purpose. The science advisory panel identified shortcomings with Overseer and concluded that it did not have confidence in its ability to estimate nitrogen lost from farms. This is despite it being a key tool

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used by regional councils including Environment Canterbury for setting on-farm nitrogen-loss limits, particularly in environmentally at-risk catchments such as Hinds and SelwynWaihora. Canterbury irrigation scheme consents are also reliant on Overseer nutrient loss modelling. “Farmers should not be forced to spend another dollar on this broken system. Overseer is being used for what it was never designed to do,” Clark said. “Farmers have been telling the Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry for the Environment and regional councils this for 10 years and they didn’t want to listen. The Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan consenting and auditing process is built around Overseer, so this is a massive problem that needs to be sorted. “My advice for farmers is do not use Overseer for land use consent auditing. We have already collectively tipped more than enough money down the drain through this process.” Clark said his own Valetta family mixed cropping farm had spent tens of thousands of dollars meeting its Overseer obligations which had been “an utter waste of money”. “It is appalling that central and regional government have been prepared to hold their nose and look the other way on this issue for years. “We all knew the programme wasn’t up to the task, but we were forced to go along with the process. This is not the farmers’ fault. “A modelling tool for measuring and marking environmental improvements is reasonable if it works, but this clearly doesn’t so this needs to be rebuilt urgently. In the meantime, farmers need to work with the regional council to ensure there is a pathway for farmers to remain compliant with their land use consents without using Overseer,” Clark said. Federated Farmers’ environment spokesman Chris Allen said it had been fighting against the use of Overseer by councils to define regulations for nutrient management on farm for more than a decade, because of its lack of accuracy. “This report is scathing. It basically says Overseer should never have been used for anything other than general onfarm nutrient use management.”

Despite this it is estimated more than 6000 farmers are strictly regulated by Overseer and another 5000 must do farm environment plans with Overseer nutrient budgets. This includes drystock, dairy, horticulture, arable and other farmers. “We and the rest of the industry have been in hundreds of council and court hearings, spent millions of dollars, (of farmer and taxpayer money) and used thousands and thousands of hours pushing back against officials trying to squeeze Overseer into a space that this report says it could not go,” Allen said. ECan chief executive Stefanie Rixecker said Overseer was used extensively in Canterbury to model nutrient losses from land uses and in the regulatory framework. “It is important for our consenting, compliance monitoring and enforcement, and farm environment plan auditing processes. Our Resource Management Act plans and consents use Overseer together with farm environment plans and independent audit - to maintain or improve water quality by minimising nitratenitrogen losses. “We now need to take the time to consider the review so we can be clear about how these processes may be impacted. “We welcome the Government’s commitment to


Overseer chief executive Dr Caroline Read says it was never designed to estimate nutrient loss in real-time. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

continue to support Overseer while it looks into providing upgraded and/or nextgeneration tools over the next 12 months,” Rixecker said. Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said that as it was essential that farmers and councils using Overseer had some certainty on how to proceed, the Government would support the development of a next generation Overseer and other nutrient management tools. “Options to be considered include developing a risk-based index, developing a nextgeneration Overseer to address the panel’s concerns, greater use of controls on practices to manage nitrogen leaching, and potentially longer-term

developing a new approach altogether,” the ministers said. Overseer chief executive Dr Caroline Read said that extensive feedback from farm system experts and researchers using OverseerFM for more than 15 years, including the 12,000 farm businesses currently in OverseerFM, shows that while it’s not perfect, the tool produces results consistent with current scientific understanding and farm practice. “OverseerFM’s strength is that it provides farmers and growers with a common platform for engaging on farm nutrient management including with their regional council, irrigation scheme, processor, farm consultant and each other through catchment groups. “OverseerFM is doing what it has been designed to do. It provides farmers and growers with a comparable estimate of the risk of nutrient losses based on their farm management approach, allowing them to assess how efficiently their farm systems use the available nutrients and how changes in farm practices could affect N-loss risks. “OverseerFM does not estimate nutrient loss in real-time and Overseer Limited has always been clear it was never designed for this purpose. The technical review panel saw this as a weakness, but to date expert user feedback has been that Overseer’s approach of estimating cumulative annual nutrient losses

is suitable to support the sort of scenario testing, which is of greatest value to users. ‘’Where OverseerFM has been used consistently over a period of time, such as in Canterbury, we are seeing improved environmental outcomes. Even if freshwater quality will take some time to recover, we are seeing farming practice change and the corresponding N-loss change in a way which aligns with the latest understanding of the science,” Read said. DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Dr David Burger said its research showed that nitrate leaching measurements from farm system experiments were generally well-aligned with Overseer predictions where actual climate data has been used on dairy land. “Along with this onfarm science, DairyNZ has contributed to improvements to the Overseer model, such as including plantain and updating the wetland and riparian modules. Our research and experience with farmers tells us Overseer is an important tool for helping dairy farmers manage nitrogen and reduce losses from farms. “Farm systems are complex and there are a range of ways farmers can reduce their footprint. Overseer allows farmers to model different options in the context of their farm system – enabling innovation and flexibility.”

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Dairy Focus


Effluent water recycling a winner A

Cleartech technology, developed by Lincoln University soil science professors Keith Cameron (left) and Hong Di, in conjunction with commercial partner Ravensdown has won several research and innovation awards. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

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revolutionary dairy effluent treatment system is delivering enormous environmental benefits for Lincoln dairy farmer Tom Mason. Ravensdown’s ClearTech system, developed in conjunction with Lincoln University, uses a coagulant to bind effluent particles together to settle them out from the water. This clarifying process reduces freshwater use, helps existing effluent storage go further and reduces the environmental and safety risks linked with farm dairy effluent (FDE). Mason, who runs 550 cows on his 150ha operation at Greenpark Dairy, said ClearTech was an environmental game-changer. Given dairy effluent is 99 per cent water, it makes commercial and environmental sense to recycle the water using the ClearTech system. “We’re in a sensitive environmental area here that is also quite densely populated. So, we were really looking for the next level on environmental mitigation and that’s what got us interested in ClearTech,” Mason said. “It has significantly increased our effluent storage capacity. We’ve got capacity at the moment that meets the councils’ requirements, but we want more than that and ClearTech gives us three times the capacity and that means there are fewer days we have to spread effluent.” But it’s in freshwater conservation that ClearTech really comes into its own. “We’re using recycled water to wash the cow yard each day and that’s at least 30,000 litres of water per milking that we’re no longer using. When we’re milking twice a day, we’re saving up to 60,000 litres of freshwater a day.” With many lifestyle blocks in the area, and heightened concerns about effluent runoff and odour, Mason sees ClearTech as being an investment in his ongoing environmental and social licence to farm. “We’re maintaining our right to keep dairy farming here. There are real pressures on this area, with subdivision into lifestyle blocks, so we need to be doing the right thing. ClearTech is an important tool helping us to do that.” ClearTech product manager Carl Ahlfeld said the innovative, award-

winning system not only made environmental sense, but commercial sense as well. “Reducing compliance risks, saving on pumping, effluent storage costs are the bottom-line benefits to those farmers who also want to do the right thing in terms of reducing water use and reducing environmental impact. “ClearTech is ideal for dairy farmers who want to save on effluent pond storage and take back control of their capacity and compliance. “Stripping out the E. coli and other bacteria in farm dairy effluent means cleaner water to wash down the dairy yard or irrigate on to paddocks and less volume of effluent that has to be stored and used safely. The nutrients in the effluent can be reused back on to paddocks with minimal odour.” Greenpark Dairy milks 540 cows through a 40 bale herringbone shed with a backing gate circular yard wash, with the dairy producing an average volume of 14,500 litres FDE/day. With an Envirosaucer of 22,000L usable volume and an above ground Kliptank of 558,000L usable volume, existing storage equates to 40 milking day’s storage. Mason was concerned about the risk of becoming non-compliant with their discharge consent for effluent applied to land if they were forced to irrigate effluent during wet spring conditions to avoid overflowing the holding pond. The ClearTech effluent treatment system was installed September 2019 to reduce the volume of effluent to be managed and therefore reduce the risk associated with irrigating at high-risk times. ClearTech recycles 66 per cent of the volume of FDE produced as yard wash down water which: • Reduced volume of FDE by 66 per cent. • Increased storage volume from 40 to 116 milking days. • Allowed greater flexibility in when to irrigate with increased storage capacity. • Delayed FDE irrigation start date into spring to allow for less demands around calving. • Reduced freshwater consumption by 2,885,700 litres per year.




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Good effluent management G

ood effluent management is a combination of having a well-designed effluent system and processes for people that make sure the effluent the system collects is applied to pasture in the right amount at the right time. On-farm benefits of good effluent management include: • fertiliser savings • improved soil condition • prevention of animal-health issues • compliance with council rules or resource consent. Good decision making The key to good decision making is understanding the soil water deficit. It is essential to prevent ponding and run-off and to avoid applying effluent to saturated soils. Soil water deficit is the amount of water (ie effluent) which can be applied to the soil before it reaches field capacity (which refers to the amount of water held in the soil after excess water has drained away). If effluent is added at field capacity it will likely result in ponding, runoff or leaching. Effluent spreading New Zealand’s dairy farm systems produce large quantities of nutrient-rich

New Zealand’s dairy farm systems produce large quantities of nutrient-rich effluent.

effluent which are captured from milking sheds, holding yards, feed pads, standoff pads, and animal shelters. The average dairy cow produces about $25 worth of nutrients annually as farm dairy effluent (FDE). For a 400-cow

dairy herd this represents about $10,000 of nutrients annually. Using effluent to supplement fertiliser presents an opportunity to capitalise on a cost-effective nutrient resource while improving whole farm nutrient use efficiency.


Effluent is commonly grouped into three broad categories based on dry matter (DM) content: liquids (0–5 per cent), slurries (5–15 per cent) and solids (>15 per cent). Application of effluents is typically via land.

Effluent spreading calculator The DairyNZ farm dairy effluent spreading calculator (app or Excel spreadsheet) allows farmers to easily calculate nutrient loadings and application rates for dairy effluent based on a number of customisable inputs. This means that farmers can manage the application of their effluent nutrients with greater precision. There are two calculators in this app, the Quick Calculator which is for spray irrigation systems such as travelling irrigators and sprinklers, and an Advanced Calculator which is for slurry tankers and muck spreaders. It is also available as an Excel spreadsheet if you prefer to use your computer. Spreading sludges and separated solids Spreading effluent solids requires specialist machinery which is suited to the type of effluent being spread. Irrigation application systems Keeping on top of maintenance tasks for irrigation application equipment is essential for good performance and many farmers like to keep a regular check on their application depths and rates. Source: DairyNZ

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Dairy Focus


Vibrant spring property market ahead Buyer demand for dairy farms is likely to exceed supply.

Calvin Leen

PGG Wrightson Real Estate


eading towards spring, the level of interest in dairy property remains strong. We are set for a vibrant season with plenty of transactions at prices above recent levels. Substantial recent rises in the values of residential and lifestyle property in months are well documented. Those trends

also seem to be influencing the market for rural property. In recent weeks we have taken numerous calls from sharemilkers seeking to take the step into farm ownership, standing alongside financiers willing to support them. These are capable operators who have been sitting back making good returns from their herds for several years and have now decided the time is right to put their hands up and take their dairy careers to the next level. A good range of dairy listings will come to the spring market through North Otago, South and Mid Canterbury over the next few weeks.


These will be well received by enthusiastic, qualified purchasers, ranging from sharemilkers to family interests seeking to consolidate holdings, to larger investors. Demand looks likely to exceed supply, suggesting some potential buyers will remain unsatisfied, and that anyone who has only thought about taking a farm to market will achieve a positive result by acting decisively. Another mini trend in the dairy sector is families electing to sell off-market. Motivated to avoid attention, they are using real estate professionals to bring qualified buyers on board without

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publicly advertising a sale. Because the market is currently so strong, with plenty of unmet demand for those of us who know how and where to identify it, these sales, predominantly of Mid Canterbury farms, have achieved highly satisfactory results for their vendors, who have been able to pass on their properties mid-season and are therefore free to enjoy the summer. Elsewhere in the rural property market, several sheep and beef farms with capacity for 8000 stock units plus will also list for spring sale, while anyone offering a high country fine wool property running 8000 to 10,000

stock units can expect keen buyer response this spring. Meanwhile, in the residential and lifestyle sectors around Oamaru, Timaru and Ashburton, out-of-town buyers, mainly from the North Island, are making their presence felt, including lodging offers sight unseen, with our region representing good value compared to the elevated prices in the districts they are coming from. Momentum in the commercial market is similarly active at present. Calvin Leen is Mid-South Canterbury and North Otago Sales Manager for PGG Wrightson Real Estate Limited.

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Airborne pollen signals spring

Pine pollen airborne on the Port Hills.

Tony Davoren



y bees and the pine pollen that is constantly blown about in the southerlies is telling me spring is close, if not already here. Groundwater recharge has slowed somewhat in deeper bores but is still in good shape


for the irrigation season. When the southerly blew the pine pollen deposit on my Forester it was like I’d been in a Sahara dust storm. While doing some grandson-sitting, my daughter also commented on the yellow deck at the house and had a video a friend had posted of pollen pouring off the pines on the Port Hills when the southerly blew in that morning. Little wonder I have a regular dusting on my Forester that requires washing off. While Pinus radiata flowers early, it is competing with the daffodils this season.

The pollen production and spring flowers pretty much align with the NIWA seasonal outlook for August to October, which suggests temperatures are most likely to be above average with a bit more northwesterly air flow. And as we know, the northwesterly will come with warm temperatures on the east coast.

Land Development and Civil Siteworks Done Right

Last month, I wrote about the recharge in deeper down-plains bores typified by L37/0022 near Pendarves compared to the recharge of upper plains bores. It appeared that the water level had started to rise a little more steeply – alas it has sort of flattened off with just 0.8m of rise since July 14. My “I’m sure by August there

will a significant dent in the 7.1m gap to the maximum water level” hasn’t eventuated. With maybe four to six weeks before irrigation might commence, it would have been comforting to have higher water levels in an area where irrigation is paramount. A slow continuation of recharge will see us safely through the next irrigation season.


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Brand awareness up B

eef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) brand tracking in the United States’ market shows there’s a significant increase in awareness of Taste Pure Nature, New Zealand’s red meat origin brand and story. Awareness of New Zealand grass-fed beef and lamb and what makes it unique and special has increased by 17 per cent, B+LNZ global manager – New Zealand Red Meat Story, Michael Wan said. “More and more US conscious foodies are coming to understand that New Zealand has a unique natural environment and approach to farming that’s perfect for producing high-quality and nutritious

grass-fed beef and lamb,” Wan said. “US consumers now also rate both New Zealand beef and lamb as excellent on delivering overall value, that is, being worth what they are asked to pay. Climate change and Covid-19 have caused a shift in how global consumers, including those in the US, consider sustainable food practices. Consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious, and their choices reflect these changing values. “Diets are expected to shift to include more environmentally friendly, sustainable food practice as people focus on foods that have the lowest climate impact,” Wan said.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer says the increase in premiums reflects its confidence in ongoing growth in its market-led beef programmes. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Market-led beef premiums to lift


ilver Fern Farms will increase baseline premiums from next season for its market-led beef programmes, which since their inception over 10 years ago have delivered almost $30 million in additional value to farmer suppliers. Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer said this was underpinned by the company’s commitment to delivering additional value to those that create it, and to tangibly connecting its farmers to international markets. “Our approach with these programmes from the outset has been to make the market signals as clear as possible by rewarding farmers – via premiums – who meet the supply attributes and standards that global consumers demand.” The almost $30m in premiums paid to farmers to date, which are paid above the standard beef operating price, have been shared among around 3000 farmers who have supplied into the Silver Fern Farms’ 100 per cent standard prime beef programme and 100 per cent angus beef programme, as well as premier selection angus and reserve beef programmes. Silver Fern Farms is on track to process 24 per cent more beef animals across its current four market-led programmes over the course of the 2020-21 season than the prior two years. “The increase in premiums from next season reflects our confidence in ongoing growth in participation in our market-led beef programmes, as well as our confidence in continued demand based on the relationships we have fostered in-market,” Limmer said. Silver Fern Farms’ general manager of supply chain Dan Boulton said it took time to build market-led programmes

that can deliver sustainable premiums, which endure over time. “Our in-market teams have worked hard to give confidence to customers and consumers that the quality of our products, supply attributes, and consistency of supply, deserve to attract premiums on an ongoing basis. “The quality of the animals delivered by farmers, combined with our investment in in-market relationships and our brand, has created an industry-leading foundation from which we can continue to drive value in these programmes. In turn, we can continue to reward farmers who are investing more to meet consumer expectations,” Boulton said. To support the growth in its beef programmes, Silver Fern Farms has invested $17m at its Pacific processing facility in Hawke’s Bay to give it greater capacity. The company also continues to work on increasing its capacity to process more programme cattle in the South Island, most recently investing $3.5m in the boning room of its Otago processing facility. Silver Fern Farms will be adding its net carbon zero angus beef programme by the end of 2021, creating opportunities for farmers who meet the criteria for _ Toitu carbon zero certification to be rewarded for that as an attribute that global consumers increasingly demand. Silver Fern Farms’ new baseline beef programme premiums for the 2021-22 season will range from $0.30 to $0.55 cents per kilogram depending on the programme, with further premiums available for the 2022 winter supply period and for farmers who meet their contract and specification requirements.

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Making plantain even better


aptain CSP (cool season plantain) reduces nitrate leaching and raised the bar for winter growth when it was released two years ago. But the team behind it is already well on its way to creating something even better. Farming doesn’t stand still, and neither does plant breeding. Several advanced new plantain crosses are currently under careful scrutiny at Barenbrug, bred for the ideal mix of plant characteristics to reduce nitrate leaching. They’ve also been bred for more winter growth than Captain, as well as higher overall yield, and increased persistence. Barenbrug pasture systems agronomist Mark Shand said winter growth was one key objective, because winter is when the risk of nitrate leaching is highest. The more drymatter a plantain grows in winter, the more soil nitrogen it utilises, reducing N loss to waterways and improving environmental outcomes. Captain has more winter growth than other plantains available, so it also provides extra feed when it is most needed on farm. “But we know there is plenty of room for improved performance with plantain, not least because it is such a variable species,” Shand said. “Variability is good when you’re a plant breeder! It gives you more opportunities to single out key characteristics of plant performance that are measurably better than what has already been achieved.” Plantain’s seasonal growth patterns are a good example of this variability. Warm season growth is reasonably consistent between different plantain varieties. “But cool season growth is highly variable, ranging from complete winter dormancy to higher drymatter growth than Captain, so we’ve been able to select aggressively for this trait.” Persistence is another key trait for many pasture species,

4front: Lead from the front

Captain CSP (centre), showing its cool season growth advantage over other cultivars on July 30 in Canterbury.

and plantain is no exception – typically it is recognised as a short-lived crop, although well-managed Captain CSP will thrive for up to three years. “But we are going to improve that, combined with targeting higher overall drymatter yield, because this will really help with fitting plantain into farm systems,” Shand said. Barenbrug is also increasing its focus on certain properties specific to plantain that industry scientists have identified as driving changes in N leaching compared with ryegrass/white clover pasture. Chief among these are plantain’s lower drymatter percentage than ryegrass; higher ratio of water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) to crude protein (CP), and less soluble and degradeable N fractions. For now, Captain remains ideal for both red meat and dairy producers who want a plantain with good cool season


Captain CSP is ideal for both red meat and dairy farmers.

yield as well as other benefits. “In terms of animal performance, it’s palatable, easily digested and rich in essential minerals and trace elements. Grazing utilisation is good, because Captain remains obviously upright in the pasture

year-round.” Dairy farmers can sow it as a specialist three-year pasture, mixed with hybrid ryegrass and white clover; or include it with new spring-sown perennial ryegrass pastures. In red meat systems,

mixed with red and white clovers, Captain offers a high liveweight gain finishing crop. Alternatively, it can be part of a perennial pasture mix. For more detail talk to your seed merchant or visit www.

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Rural water suppliers come under law F

ederated Farmers says its worst fears have been realised on drinking water reforms, with tens of thousands of rural and farm supply water arrangements coming under the new regulations. President Andrew Hoggard said it was profoundly disappointed to see the Water Services Bill reported back to the Parliament with the definition of a “water supplier” unchanged. “The government has now signed itself up for the enormous task of tracking down every single source of drinking water in the land and making them belong to a register if they supply any other household.” Despite extensive arguments from Federated Farmers and many others at the select committee hearings, tens of thousands of rural and farm supply arrangements will fall within the scope of the new

People are likely to choose to opt-out of being a drinking water supplier, rather than face new compliance. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

• • • • •

Locally owned and operated Locally owned

and operated T








to take responsibility for the quality and provision of drinking water in New Zealand. “We wanted the government

water regulator Taumata Arowai. The new agency takes over from the Ministry of Health

to recognise the folly of trying to track down every single little supplier,” Hoggard said. Federated Farmers estimates

up to 75,000 drinking water suppliers could be affected. “We asked for anyone supplying less than 50 people to be exempted, but in the end were not heard. “The government has jumped in at the deep end of this pool and they are likely to drown their officials in the paperwork this decision is going to create.” Some slight alterations were made around helping small water schemes with treatment systems and extending the time allowed for registration to three years, a change specifically sought by Federated Farmers. “We know people are going to choose to opt-out of being a drinking water supplier, rather than face the compliance dramas. “And that just means someone else is going to have to figure out how to supply those homes, marae and rural community centres with drinking water,” Hoggard said.

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Lifestyle sales unprecedented Chris Murdoch



he lifestyle property market continues to set new benchmarks, hitting $10.5 billion in annual sales to June, up from $5.7b the same time last year. We’re often asked if the residential market is having an impact on the rural property market, and for the most part, there is no evidence to show any effect. Up until this year, the rural market had been in decline since 2017. However, the lifestyle market has definitely benefited from residential sales as property owners trade up and take advantage of windfall gains. The knock-on effect for rural has been lifestyle gains now being converted into more land, typically small rural holdings that can support improved farming scale. In some locations, farms that are being amalgamated are generating value gains too, through subdividing the homestead or

creating smaller parcels of grazing land to be sold off. Ashburton District Council subdivision rules mean this is not possible in Mid Canterbury, but many other districts can. For some, this will be a steppingstone property towards the goal of owning an economic farm. For many others, particularly rural professionals, these smaller farms represent the perfect size to now legitimately buy a pen of cattle at the local sale. It is quite amazing that in many provincial locations around the country, within 20km of the town boundary, just how many lifestyle properties have valuations of $1m+. Historically, you got a lot more house for your dollars when buying a developed lifestyle block. These days with the significant value appreciation of the land, it’s a very different story. The gains in the lifestyle market over the last 12 months are without precedent and the demand for a better quality of life for the family and to be a little more self-sufficient, does not appear to be backing off anytime soon. For those lifestylers out there thinking of selling, don’t be too quick to take the first

We don’t just say team. We promise it.

Demand for a better quality of life for the family and to be a little more self-sufficient, does not appear to be backing off. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

offer in the current market. Our sales processes regularly deliver unforeseen premiums on behalf of our vendors. Hence requesting a professional market appraisal heading into spring may be a good process to determine the next steps. No one location is the same and our local knowledge in the regions

is always a great assistance and potentially the catalyst to set you up for the future. Current valuations and sales activity is without precedent in the lifestyle market. This is a good news story and it’s having a positive economic impact across provincial New Zealand and a knock-on effect in support

of the rural market too. We are now entering what I would call a new selling season with a lot of positive values being offered for our rural produce. Let’s just keep a close eye on interest rates, cost structures and our environmental issues still coming down the tube.

When you list your farm with our South Island team, there are Property Brokers’ members across the country working alongside them to get you the best result. That’s because every one of them has signed a binding agreement to work together to sell your property. It’s a New Zealand first for the rural real estate industry that means we put your best interests first. Which is exactly where they should be. Find out more at

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Steer clear of bird nesting sites Mary Ralston



ff-road vehicles and motorbikes are extremely useful around the farm. They’re great for towing the boat, fishing, driving up to the ski field or to the lakes. But at the wrong time or in vulnerable places, they’re a menace. It’s coming up to spring and that’s bird nesting time on the riverbeds and at the river mouths. These are not the places for off-road vehicles or motorbikes when there are vulnerable ground-nesting birds feeding, sitting on eggs or trying to rear their young. Every year there are reports of quad bikes, motorbikes and 4WDs disturbing birds and some drivers have deliberately driven through nesting colonies. This idiotic behaviour is hard to fathom. Many of these beautiful birds are endemic to New Zealand – they are found nowhere else – so it is up to

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New Zealanders to do their utmost to care for them. They face enough of a challenge without having to deal with humans on bikes or in 4WDs. It is no big sacrifice to avoid driving or riding near bird colonies in spring. People on foot, especially those who have dogs with them, can also disturb the birds and should keep their distance. Away from the rivers 4WDs and motorbikes also cause serious damage. Vehicles going off-track on public conservation land create new and often permanent paths that remain ugly scars. These new tracks encourage others to follow and bigger, deeper tracks are made. In wet or winter frosty conditions the consequences are worse. We all need to use these vehicles responsibly: only driving on legal, formed tracks and only when the weather conditions are suitable. Most vehicle owners are responsible but there needs to be greater respect for our public lands from the minority who think it is theirs to use whenever they want. If a gate is locked it will be for a good reason. If there are signs warning that nesting birds are in the area, it should be heeded.

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Sheep flock continues to fall S

heep numbers continue to fall in Canterbury, in line with the national trend, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ)’s annual stock number survey. New Zealand’s sheep flock fell slightly by 0.8 per cent (199,000 head) to an estimated 25.83 million while beef cattle numbers rose 2.5 per cent to 3.98 million. The decline in sheep numbers was across both breeding ewes, down 0.5 per cent to 16.48 million, and hoggets, which decreased 0.6 per cent to 8.61 million. An increase in the number of beef cattle was driven largely by more rising two-year-old cattle, particularly in the North Island. The most recent analysis means that since 2000 the total number of sheep in New Zealand has declined by nearly 40 per cent – from 42.3 million to 25.8 million – and the number of beef cattle has decreased by 5 per cent – from 4.2 million to 4.0 million, B+LNZ Economic Service chief economist Andrew Burtt said. Winter and spring 2020 conditions were difficult in some regions, particularly the South Island, leading to destocking of sheep prior to

New Zealand’s sheep flock fell slightly while beef cattle numbers have risen.

Christmas due to lack of feed. Drought and dry conditions along eastern parts of the country earlier this year led to tight feed conditions for many farmers. Flooding in Canterbury at the end of May significantly impacted a number of farms with losses of feed on hand and a shortage of grazing options. The clean-up from this flood event will last for many months

for some farmers, Burtt said. In Canterbury and Marlborough, total sheep numbers were down 1.7 per cent to 5.73 million head, largely driven by a reduction in the number of ewes. While livestock farms reduced sheep numbers, mixed cropping farms helped to limit the regional decline. Cropping farms reversed the 2020 trend towards wintering dairy stock



and instead increased hogget numbers in line with plentiful store lamb supply, rising lamb schedule prices and strong confidence in finishing margins. In Canterbury, calf rearing was notably reduced and farmers indicated they were unlikely to return to previous rearing numbers, due to poor returns and mycoplasma bovis concerns. This is likely to make fourday-old dairy calves harder to

MA complex reduces susceptibility to common bacteria found on dairy farms

sell in spring and reduce the future supply of dairy-beef finishing cattle. While beef breeders saw this as positive for beef weaner prices, it remains a challenge for the dairy sector aiming to reduce bobby calves, Burtt said. Nationally, the lamb crop is expected to be 1.6 per cent higher. The modest increase in lamb crop is based on ewe body condition and pregnancy scanning results at the time of surveying farmers and depends on favourable weather conditions in spring. “Strong mutton prices have encouraged farmers to sell ewes and hoggets this season and in some areas climatic conditions have forced farmers’ hands. The outlook for beef prices is less certain and although overall beef cattle numbers were up at June 30, B+LNZ is forecasting a slight decrease in calves from sheep and beef farms this spring.” Burtt said B+LNZ was closely monitoring the effect of sheep and beef farmland being converted to forestry. “We expect there will be a turn-off of capital livestock as land set aside for afforestation is planted – a process that takes some time – and this will be reflected in future livestock decreases.”

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Kiwis’ food shopping changing R

Blake Holgate of Rabobank says the survey found a marked increase in the use of almost all food delivery services since 2019. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

esearch by Rabobank and KiwiHarvest has uncovered significant changes in New Zealanders’ food purchasing and consumption behaviours. The research – completed earlier this year – found New Zealanders are spending significantly more on food than in 2019 while they’re also much more likely to be using food delivery services such as Uber Eats, HelloFresh and My Food Bag. It also revealed an increased proportion of Kiwis are open to adding meat alternatives to their diet and are purchasing imperfect fruit and vegetables. Rabobank head of sustainable business development Blake Holgate said the research – part of a wider study undertaken by agricultural banking specialist Rabobank and food rescue charity KiwiHarvest – found 35 per cent of New Zealanders live in households which are spending more than $200 per week on food (up from 26 per cent in 2019) with 12 per cent saying their household is spending over

$300 per week (seven per cent previously). “We’ve also seen changes at the lower end of the scale, with only 14 per cent of New Zealanders reporting their household spends less than $100 a week on food, well back on the 23 per cent citing this two years ago” he said. “Increases in food prices are a key factor in this lift, while the significant rise in the use of food delivery services is a further potential contributor to this higher spend.” The survey found a marked increase in the use of almost all food delivery services since 2019, with HelloFresh recording particularly strong growth. “The variety and convenience offered by these services has seen their usage surge over the last five years – both here in New Zealand and in many other countries around the globe – and we anticipate this trend will continue in the years ahead,” Holgate said. “Covid-19 is only likely to have further fuelled this growth, given the associated restrictions which have, at times, limited access to

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All prices exclude GST supermarkets and other food outlets over the last 15 months.” The research found the percentage of Kiwis who identified themselves as vegetarian had remained unchanged from 2019 at seven per cent, while two per cent identified as vegan (three per cent previously). When it came to meat consumption, 30 per cent of New Zealanders said they were trying to consume less (compared with 33 per cent previously), while five per cent were planning to increase their intake (unchanged from 2019).


Health reasons were cited by nearly three quarters of respondents wanting to reduce meat intake, while impact on the environment, the cost, and animal welfare concerns were the next most frequently-cited reasons. “With these numbers all relatively unchanged from two years ago, it’s clear that meat remains a fundamental component of most Kiwis’ diets,” Holgate said. “However, the survey also highlighted many Kiwis are willing to give meat substitutes a try. “Since 2019, there’s been a jump in New Zealanders’

awareness of a range of meat alternative categories including burgers and sausages made from vegetables, food produced from insect-based ingredients, meat produced from algae and meat-like products grown in a laboratory. And we’ve also seen Kiwis’ openness to try these alternatives jump by a significant margin across the majority of these categories.” The research found preferences remained split between cheaper imperfect fruit and vegetables and more expensive regular produce. A total of 39 per cent of survey respondents indicated

they’d opt for regular-shaped fruit or vegetables at $4 per kg, while 43 per cent would choose misshapen fruit or vegetables at the lower cost of $1.30 per kg. The survey also found 83 per cent of New Zealanders had previously purchased imperfect looking fruit or vegetables (up from 80 per cent previously) and that 45 per cent said imperfect fruit or vegetables were regularly stocked at their local supermarket or farmers market (40 per cent last survey). KiwiHarvest chief executive Gavin Findlay said it was pleasing to see these

percentages had increased over the last two years given negative attitudes towards imperfect fruit and vegetables were one of the key factors contributing to the estimated $2.4 billion of food that goes to waste in New Zealand every year. “However, the data we get from food retailers continues to show sales of imperfect fruit and vegetables make up only a small percentage of total sales volumes – somewhere between two and five per cent depending on the retailer – and it’s clear that more needs to be done to tackle this issue.”

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Let’s grow together KPMG Farm Enterprise – your agri-business partner Operating a farm business comes with its own unique set of challenges and opportunities. So when you need business advice, you need agri-business experts. KPMG’s Farm Enterprise team partners with farmers across New Zealand to help grow their businesses, and navigate through what is an ever changing and challenging environment. Our local specialists are backed by global expertise and combine their practical knowledge of Farm accounting and agribusiness advisory, with a passion for helping businesses thrive.

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© 2021 KPMG, a New Zealand Partnership and a member firm of the KPMG global organisation of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved.




Cutting sprains, strains


new DairyNZ and ACC project is looking at improving the health and safety of farmers, by reducing the occurrence of sprains and strains on-farm. The project is designed to develop solutions which support a sector-wide reduction in sprains and strains by 2030. DairyNZ general manager farm performance Sharon Morrell said looking after their people is a priority for many farmers throughout the country, but issues often arise particularly during busy periods. “Sprains and strains represent around 40 per cent of dairy farm injuries, with the highest risk period occurring between August and October. This coincides with peak calving on most farms, where we often

see increased working hours and fatigue.” This project has been made possible through $900,000 of co-funding by the ACC’s Workplace Injury Prevention programme, supported by a $150,000 investment by dairy farmers through the DairyNZ levy. “We are grateful for the ACC funding, as it will allow us to identify potential solutions to reduce sprains and strains, helping improve the wellbeing of our farmers, both employers and employees,” Morrell said. “This project is exciting, as it works towards improving our workplaces which will have positive outcomes for all farmers, supporting the sector to attract and retain staff. A crush protection device provides space under an upturned quad bike in the event of a rollover. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

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Manage farm risks during busy months


Manage your safety & security anywhere, anytime. CALL 0800 788 393 57 Dobson Street, Ashburton

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orkSafe is giving farmers a heads up to be mindful of risks on farm this spring. In spring 2020, fatalities spiked to five during the months of August and September. Vehicles continue to be the primary source of harm in on farm fatalities. In early August, a person was tragically killed in an incident involving a tractor on a farm outside of Oamaru. It is understood the victim was trimming hedges at the time. WorkSafe manager for regulatory practice Brent Austin strongly urged farmers to consider four key things to avoid a repeat of 2020 during the busier months on farm. Look at how you are managing fatigue on farm – tired people make mistakes. If your vehicle has a seatbelt, you should be wearing it – almost half of vehicle-related deaths on farm could be avoided if seatbelts were used. Install crush protection on your quad. In many incidents, someone is crushed or unable to escape due to the

weight of the bike, contributing to fatal or life-changing injuries. Don’t make assumptions that new staff or those new to the sector know what they are doing around large animals, provide necessary training until you are satisfied that they are competent. “Workplace incidents don’t discriminate between those with experience and those without. Mistakes can be made by even the most experienced operators. We know the pressure is on farmers, particularly considering labour shortages and the need to employ inexperienced, younger or older people to fill the gap, but now is not the time to cut corners where safety may be compromised,” Austin said. “Lastly, but vitally important, safety responsibility sits with everyone. Make sure everyone gets involved in sharing their concerns and ideas for making the farm a safer place.” Five people have died on New Zealand farms in workplace incidents so far this year.

Ask us about any of your servicing and parts requirements


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027 359 7195

Contact Power Farming Ashburton for more information.

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027 257 5642

Ashburton 233 Alford Forest Road 03 307 7153

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Sheryl Stivens planting garlic - it’s not too late.

Hens are unwelcome guests in freshly mulched garden areas.


Spring feasting and foraging Sheryl Stivens



ow nice it is to hear the spring bird song each morning, feel the days lengthening and the light increasing and see the first spring bulbs opening and the daffodils appearing. Spring is a good time of the year to feed soils with clean wood ash, minerals, worm juice and compost, ideally underneath a layer of newspaper or cardboard and a layer of mulch. The layers will protect the soils from drying out and provide a dark place for the worms to transform the layers into plant food or humus as they do so well. The mulch will also hold the moisture in and stop the soil from drying out and the newspaper or cardboard layer will shut out light, so the weed growth is restricted and there’s no need to use weed killers such as glyphosate or Roundup which are increasingly linked to cancer. We have only just planted our garlic in the last month and the little green shoots are yet to poke their heads up through the mulch layers. It’s so easy to grow some garlic in your vegetable patch or alongside your roses in your flower beds to deter aphids. All you need to do is buy a couple of garlic heads and break them up into separate cloves. Poke the cloves into the soil about 6-8cm apart and cover them with mulch. They will soon poke their heads up and will be ready to feast on in the New Year. You can plant them in a row or a circle. Our hens are busily cleaning up our tunnelhouse, ready for new season planting. They do a great job of

clearing weeds and finding any insects and bugs that have over wintered in there as well as manuring the soil. They love having dust baths in there after a wet winter outside. We have the first seedlings coming up in our plastic bins inside near the fire so we can get planting cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, spring onion and lettuce ready for Christmas feasting. Those plastic bins with a lid are excellent for propagation. There is an urgency now to prune and shape fruit trees, grape vines and berries that need attention and plant any trees, ideally adding to your food forest. In between times, it’s a great time of year for a road trip with our spectacular snow-capped alps as a backdrop. Recently our journey included a stopover beside Lake Tekapo. There we got chatting to Bill the Bard who happened to be cycling by. Bill is a local busker and besides singing and reciting poetry Bill has built a chestnut roaster to roast the chestnuts he collects from near Lake Benmore. I have fond memories of buying little paper bags of roasted chestnuts cooked over a little fire on the street outside railway stations in Morocco and London and how delicious they tasted. It was great to meet Bill the Bard and see his 44-gallon drum roaster as well as hear his stories about the giant chestnut trees planted by people with a vision for the future providing foraging food near our magnificent lakes. If you are in the area check him out down near the lake in front of the observatory and buy a bag of his locally sourced roasted chestnuts. If you have a space on your farm or near your pond plant a chestnut tree this spring. At Free Range Farm we have a couple of chestnut trees in our food forest grown from seed. They are such magnificent trees with their spreading branches. Happy spring days to all.

Billy the Bard roasting locally foraged chestnuts for sale at Lake Tekapo.

Naturally warm & healthy homes

Showhome 1200 Main North Road, Christchurch




BACKFLOW PREVENTERS Backflow preventers are vital for any piped water intended for human consumption. The reason these testable valves are important is to prevent unwanted reversal of liquids which have the potential to pollute the potable water supply. Meaning any piped water intended for human consumption (food preparation, utensil washing or oral hygiene) is protected. They need testing every 12 months and George Stewart is just the man for the job. He has been in the industry for 30 years, as a registered IQP Tec for 16 and another 14 years in the water industry. There are three different types of backflow preventers: •

DCV= Double Check Valve. Protects potable water against back pressure and back siphonage. Has two testable valves and doesn’t have relief line. These are found at low to medium hazard areas such as caravan parks, swimming pools and motels.

RPZ = Reduced Pressure Zone Device. Protects potable water systems against either back pressure or back siphonage or a combination of both. These are found at medium to high hazard eg: Hair salon, milking she, commercial laundries, car wash facilities, hospitals and vets.

Chemigation Valves – Testable check valve with non testable relief valve. Only found on Irrigation systems that have effluent and chemicals put through them.

Testing of DCV and RPZ are done by attaching a gauge to the test cocks and recording the different pressure between both sides of the check valve. Chemigation valves are tested by pumping air in up to working pressure then data logged for 30 minutes. All these valves need to be tested and recorded by a registered IQP person (Independent Qualified Person) and need to be documented as required by New Zealand building act 1991 G.12 Document. All types of backflow preventers need to be tested every twelve months.


Wind damage is consistently the top cause of irrigator claims.


Protecting irrigators from wind damage A

lthough irrigators are probably parked up, those winds will eventually come so now is the time to plan how you will protect your irrigators from damage. The windstorm in Culverden last September was a reminder of this and resulted in rural insurer FMG settling $1.5 million in claims. Wind damage is consistently the top cause of irrigator claims, FMG manager of advice services Stephen Cantwell said. “In spring, the frequency and severity of foehn winds rise, which increases the risk of irrigators blowing over. Around 34 per cent of irrigator claims are related to wind damage.” FMG wants to support farmers and growers to limit the disruption irrigator damage can have on their business. “We’ve worked with the team at Irrigation NZ and based on our claims’ insights, together we’ve developed an irrigator advice guide. We know how important irrigation is for farmers and growers and New Zealand’s economy. The guide provides practical advice on how you can limit the risk of irrigator damage,” Cantwell said. A key piece of advice in the guide is to take time to plan before spring. “Although the impact of wind on irrigators may not be the first thing on

your mind right now, taking the time to put together a wind plan can really ease the pressure come spring. This is particularly important if you have new employees on board.” Some suggestions on what to consider are: Prediction. New Zealand weather patterns are known for being variable and unpredictable. Farmers and growers are increasingly more connected online. Some of FMG’s clients have had great success in using platforms such as MetService and Yr as well as applications such as PredictWind and Windy, which allow you to set parameters for wind speed alerts. Authority. There needs to be a clear understanding of who is responsible for monitoring winds and making the final decision to proceed with the action plan. Action. It is important that all employees understand what the agreed farm plan is if strong winds are on the way. This could include the method of “Point, Park and Anchor”. Practice. Winter is a good time to practice your plan, especially for new employees who may not be familiar with it. Just like fires, wind events are spasmodic, so “on the job” practice is limited. Practicing the plan will help to keep you across what to do when high winds come.

Irrigation Pump Sheds/Storage

We can test all electrical cables and fittings while on site. George Stewart

Registered Backflow Technician IQP 581 Phone 03 688 2599 Mobile 022 096 7490 Email

These sheds are made to be easy to install with the middle piece of roof iron having been left off for easy Hiab onto your concrete pad. A 50mm overhang has been allowed to fit over your concrete pad so that you have no leaks. There is hex bird netting over the ventilation gap across the front. Made from quality H3 90x45 framing timber and finished with either zincalume or your choice of colorsteel. Sheds can be made standard or to your individual requirements. All sheds are made to order and individually priced - large & small we make them all!

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The Pivot Parts team (from left) Grant Stuart, Gary Wilson, David Clark and William Kelly.



Trusted supplier of irrigation parts


rom humble beginnings five years ago, the team at Pivot Parts have worked hard to become a trusted supplier of irrigation components across New Zealand. As our name suggests, Pivot Parts specialize in supplying a wide range of original and quality parts for centre pivots and lateral irrigators.

These include UMC Driveline Equipment for pivot and lateral irrigators which is complemented by a full range of tractor and turf tread wheels and tyres, booster pumps, end guns and electrical equipment sourced from leading suppliers. We also supply Senninger’s impact sprinkler range as used in Pod and Grid solid set

installations as well as wobblers, fertilizer pumps, suction screens and water meters. We have many years’ experience in sprinkler package design to ensure the maximum water and energy efficiency using Senninger’s design programs. As we know how important it is to keep irrigation going when the pressure is on, we do not

supply inferior replica parts that are seen in some places around the market place. Our team consists Grant Stuart and Will Kelly who have been operating a similar business in Australia for over 20 years, and Gary Wilson and David Clark, who as Mid Canterbury farmers bring hands on local experience and practical

knowledge to the company. We have just opened our new warehouse in Ashburton at 9B McGregor Lane, which is a great pick-up location, and allows for rapid packing and dispatch for customers who need courier service. Get in touch with us first when the need arises, we are here to help!



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Groundswell plans more protests F

armer group Groundswell NZ plans more protest action, including a second nationwide event in November, following what it says is a lack of response from the Government to its calls to review unworkable environmental regulations. Groundswell’s July Howl of a Protest drew thousands of farmers and supporters driving tractors, utes and trucks to more than 50 towns and cities. While a date in November is yet to be set, Groundswell NZ’s expectation is the next major protest action will be of a scale and impact that will be significant in New Zealand’s history, spokesman Bryce McKenzie said. “There is widespread concern among both rural and urban people, councils, and the business sector about the direction the Government is taking our country and the tsunami of unworkable regulations being rammed through,” McKenzie said. Groundswell NZ’s campaign is primarily concerned about the unworkable regulations including freshwater, indigenous biodiversity and climate change. “We are not against

the need for regulation or the need to care for the environment. Nor are we calling for a halt to addressing environmental issues,” McKenzie said. “We are saying there are much better, proven solutions to addressing environmental issues than the one size fits all approach being legislated by the government. There are thousands of community and private environmental initiatives happening across the country and we believe everyone has a role to play to continue the momentum.” Groundswell NZ has added the Three Waters reform and the Water Services Bill to its growing list of unworkable regulations. Such is the magnitude of change being taken with the Three Waters reform Groundswell NZ believe the people of New Zealand should have a say through referendums in each district and city. Groundswell NZ was writing to all councils calling for a halt to all Resource Management Act planning processes. This was mainly because of the significant negative impact zonings like Significant Natural Areas, wetlands and

Groundswell’s Howl of a Protest in July drew thousands of farmers and supporters driving tractors, utes and trucks to more than 50 towns and cities, including Ashburton. PHOTO: ASHBURTON GUARDIAN

landscapes were having on people and their property values. Groundswell NZ is also calling for all landowners to

decline access for councils or their agents wanting to undertake mapping or information gathering on private land. McKenzie said

the lobby group had identified serious implications with this information gathering that landowners are largely unaware of.



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Research leads to better cow performance F

arming in New Zealand is everchanging, with farmers working hard to continually adapt. Pressure from the government and the public has seen some dairy farmers shift away from high stocking rates, reducing the environmental impact and subsequently getting true milk production potential out of each cow by fully-feeding her. This has helped to increase EBIT on many farms, allowing farmers to cull out poor performing animals and focus more resources on the animals which are giving better milk and reproductive performance. Well-fed cows hold better condition through lactation. However, an increase in milk production puts pressure on the cow and can negatively influence her health and reproductive performance. As milk production and feed conversion efficiency increases, as does nutrient requirements; if the nutrients of the

feed do not keep up, gaps in nutrition begin to show. The most common gaps we see are Calcium and Phosphorus. We are also seeing shifts in milk urea levels, dry matter levels in the feed, and fluctuations in rumen function. Feed and soil tests can build a picture of the nutrition status of the cow, while research on nutrient requirement levels at different levels of production can help determine supplementation. Digging deeper into cow nutrition and adapting research leads to increased

cow performance, along with better

health and reproductive performance - the end goal for any efficient and economically viable farm. Contact for any queries regarding this article. Shaun Balemi, MSc, Dairy Nutritionist, Agvance