Guardian Farming - December 2015

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The state of agricultural research in NZ Are we doing enough?

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When staff cuts were announced at AgResearch recently a collective shudder surged through the primary sector. Already arguably underfunded in comparison to our OECD mates, further cuts at a time when many consider we are losing our competitive edge in a global market could only ever be seen as disappointing. Time and time again we hear the Government talking about doubling our exports. While the rhetoric is superb, the action plan does not appear to be. Time and again while researching the wider issue of our agricultural research industry we were told that not only were there not enough young students coming through, but that there was little to no money available for smaller primary projects that would act as a bridge to a promising career for those that take up the mantle. Sure the Government has the Primary Growth Partnership scheme to act as a link between Government and commercial research but the money is for large projects and so excludes important stepping stones in research that help us to make a giant leap. There is a very real shortfall in research funding for our next generation and at present nothing is being done to address this. Should we ignore the issue, and hope that private companies are somehow going to undertake all research on our behalf, we will be in danger of being left behind and at worst, young people will leave or never enter our industry.

Nadine Porter


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When you hear Massey University had a record intake last year, but can’t get students to commit to honours or PHD work in agricultural science, you know you have a problem. It’s far easier for students to take the money on offer and security of being with Dairy NZ, Ravensdown or working for a bank than it is to commit to substantially increasing their student loan with no definite positions available at the end of it. And yet these students – the bright young things – are incredibly vital to our future. So why do we not value them? And why do we talk about the need to encourage young people into our industry but do nothing about it? There are simple solutions that need to happen right now, and the simplest is to commit funding into the post graduate area for smaller projects. And if the Government is really serious about attracting these people then may-be they need to look at putting an incentive in place, much like they did with certain teachers in the past. That in itself would prove the Government’s real commitment to the primary sector.

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Kiwis don’t see career path in research Kiwi students are turning away from post graduate agricultural studies. Nadine Porter talks to a Massey University professor to find out why.

At Massey University 70 per cent of PhD students are from overseas – a statistic that highlights the very real difficulty the agricultural research sector faces. Institute of Agriculture & Environment head Professor Peter Kemp sees a direct correlation in the decrease in funding for post-doctoral opportunities and the number of Kiwi students choosing to advance their agricultural science career. For Kemp, the pool of money available for agricultural research might be “reasonable at the moment” but it’s not in the right places. “Personally I like the way the Government is encouraging research within the industry. The Callaghan Innovation and Primary Growth Partnerships have encouraged good links between universities and researchers, but I think the Government has gone towards mega projects. They sound good but if you go big it makes

Nadine Porter


Tweet us @farmjourno

it harder for people trying to get started.” Giving $20,000 to $50,000 to a post-graduate was a risk worth taking, he says, but with million dollar projects those risks would not be taken. While there were some scholarships available within some of the larger projects awarded funding, there were fewer scholarships overall, he says. “And the reason that is important is that research is a long-term apprenticeship and not an easy thing to learn how to do.” continued over page


Professor Peter Kemp from Massey University wants to see more Kiwi students taking up post-graduate agricultural research projects.

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While developing countries are investing more in their post-graduate students, New Zealand is falling behind.

From P3 Those students that complete a Masters or PHD need to build up experience before they enter into a career, but they were not getting that here and were subsequently not choosing research as a career. “One of the reasons we don’t see Kiwis is that they don’t see the leap from PhD to career research. Let’s face it – there are not a lot of employers in New Zealand and without that degree of certainty they either don’t do it or go overseas.” Kemp believes our “pipeline” or chain from PhD to working in the field needs working on, especially when you take into account what other countries offer their students. Students from developing countries such as Brazil and Chile have vastly better funding than here and have been concentrating on investing in their graduates and it’s paying off with some Brazilian universities moving up the rankings, he said. But that’s not the same here. “We get a lot of inquiries from overseas students saying ‘I’ve got this classy PhD and I’m published. I’m in your area – have you got a post-doctorate opportunity’ and the answer


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is no. It’s the same with New Zealand students. He or she might be really talented and you want to help them for a few more summers, but there isn’t the opportunities. We have lost that. There’s very few post-doctorate scholarships available – it’s an area that’s been trimmed.” We need to target growing our capability in the PhD area, he says, and not worry if some of our researchers head offshore. “It’s a numbers game. If you have plenty it will work out.” Kemp fears that if we rest on our laurels in this competitive world, we will get overtaken. Last year Massey had a record intake, but despite that the increase in the number of undergraduates going on to honours or PhDs has continued to slide downwards. Lack of a career path was not the only contributing factor, he says, with the cost of studying more often than not the nail in the coffin. “I’ve often talked to really bright students and asked why they haven’t gone on and it’s very common for them to say that Ravensdown or Dairy NZ has offered them a job paying good money. Everyone has student debt these days and even though

they are smart cookies and interested in research they want financial security.” Brazil, China and Chile were examples of countries that realised the value of funding future scientists, he said. “They put in huge incentives and money works doesn’t it? Often those scientists and researchers are rewarded if they land in top journals or win research awards and that does tend to drag the whole standard up.” But in New Zealand, as individuals we want to do well but we don’t have a culture in our funding at the moment with driving that excellence through reward, he said. “We must fight above our weight if we want to continue to keep our position, because it’s under challenge.” While Primary Growth Partnerships were good, they were a slow, clumsy model for funding, he said, and not nimble and entrepreneurial, which was what we need to be going forward. “The Government should value agriculture and horticulture to be a big part of the economy. It’s not a good time to be cutting back on funding for them.”


WHAT IS PRIMARY GROWTH PARTNERSHIPS? ■■ The PGP aims to boost the value, productivity and profitability of our primary sector through investment between government and industry. It provides an essential springboard to enable New Zealand to stay at the forefront of primary sector innovation. ■■ There are 18 PGP programmes under way, with two recently completed. A total of approximately $720m is being co-invested by industry and Government over the life of programmes. ■■ A report by NZIER last year estimated PGP will add $6.4 billion per annum to New Zealand’s economy by 2025. ■■ The report further concludes that it has the potential to achieve an additional $4.7 billion per annum by 2025 if all the R&D is successful, the aspirational stretch of PGP programmes is achieved, and the innovations are widely uptaken. This would add up to $11.1 billion per annum to New Zealand’s economy by 2025. ■■ PGP programmes are generally long-run programmes of five to seven years’ duration and are subject to oversight and monitoring by an independent panel (the Investment Advisory Panel) and MPI.


OECD statistics show New Zealand has a lower level of investment in agriculture research compared to most, despite our reliance on the primary sector.

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Smaller research projects just Small to mid-sized private companies are more often than not footing the bill for research and development within the agricultural area or simply having to do without. Nadine Porter talks to a research manager of one such company who says it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find quality agricultural graduates to conduct important research and why we’re missing opportunities . . .

Midlands Seed research development manager Joanne Townshend struggles to find post graduate students to help with projects.

Joanne Townshend is a class act and the antitheses of what appears to be a dying breed – a research scientist on the ground taking smaller steps so that others can take the larger ones. Vastly experienced both here and overseas, she is now the research development manager at Midlands Seed, doing vital work for the thriving small seed industry in Mid Canterbury. A Massey University graduate before working for DowAgroSciences and FAR, she now plans, develops and executes important agronomic trials in a wide range of crop species for new and current customers of Midlands Seed as well as evaluating new

technologies for successful seed crop production. While the projects she currently works on might not be on a huge scale, they are crucial as incremental stepping stones to add value for farmers who grow small seeds. It’s that smaller scale applied research work that has taken the biggest hit over the past decade as fewer post graduate students come through the system. In Joanne’s travels, in which she coresearches internationally in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands, she sees high levels of funding towards research from their universities.

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“And we miss out on that level in New Zealand…not the multi-million dollar projects but the smaller projects the post graduates can do to gain valuable experience, whereas Government-oriented funding is primarily towards bigger projects and highly academic science, but they are not the stepping stones.” Those types of projects give post graduates vital experience in the field, she says. “In all honesty, in the last four years it’s been really difficult to find good quality graduates with an agricultural science degree, some level of practical skills and a interest in applied science. They do banking or they become farm advisors but when it comes down to research and development they are like hen’s teeth to get hold of.” Joanne believes there are a number of contributing factors as to why the industry doesn’t appear to be attracting young scientists, including the sexiness of the role, difficulty in getting a start, lack of career path and to a lesser extent, remuneration. “If the Crown Research Institutes aren’t employing new, young plant physiologists or pathologists, who is going to be?” Ultimately, New Zealand has devalued its primary base, she believes, and the perception has become that agriculture is just farming ... when in fact it is a lot more complicated than that. “The IT use in agriculture would be as high as anywhere in the world with the likes of drones, auto steer and GPS on tractors, and irrigators that talk to cellphones.” Like many who work in research and development Joanne was shocked at the recent AgResearch staff cuts saying it was a major concern that they were targeting frontline employees. “We have a couple of (AgResearch) groups that we work closely with who look like they are going to lose their jobs and yet I would say on the face of it they seem profitable and seem to be very good and have given a company like ours the chance to get

THE FACTS ■■ Need to attract more post graduate students ■■ Must offer more ground based work for post graduate students ■■ Funding needs to be simplified and needs to incorporate smaller projects

into the international market.” Although it can take a long time to come up with results, she believed that was where the Government’s research institutions should be placed, saying a minimum of five years was needed even for small projects to yield valid results. However, she praised the Sustainable Farming Fund – particularly in the funded work it offers applied research providers. “There have been some very good genuine projects that have come through in all sectors of agriculture.” Another issue affecting agricultural research was the challenge smaller companies faced in having enough mass to apply for bigger grants, Joanne says. “And then they want you to go in with someone bigger, so it’s all inclusive but where does the IP sit in that situation? We’ve put forward some cases for Primary Growth Partnerships with other companies but we wouldn’t get it as a standalone company.” More often than not, the smaller companies end up doing their own research at great expense and that can result in another company replicating the same project – leading to a lack of efficiency in the work being done. Funding applications can be complicated, long winded and sometimes only granted for two years, says Joanne. “There’s no guarantee of success and so sometimes they get pushed into the too hard basket.”

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Ravensdown focuses on One of the winners of a Primary Growth Partnership with the Government, the Ravensdown CEO tells Nadine Porter why we shouldn’t think we can do all research ourselves and why he is a fan of Primary Growth Partnerships. Ravensdown is doing more research than it has ever done. It’s what the co-operative’s shareholders expect and as part of that it has become an important employer of many talented young graduates looking for a stable career in agriculture. CEO Greg Campbell believes those younger people thinking of science as a career could be put off by uncertainty of job prospects and that’s one of the advantages in working for a company like Ravensdown. “We bring in scientists to do research and development, whether it be in product application or technology for field use.” They can also commit beyond the 12-month contestable funding model the Government offers – a negative in Campbell’s eyes. “The whole model is based on putting a bid together before an idea is accepted or funded.” Bureaucracy and the time

FACTS AT A GLANCE ■■ NZ has role to play in applying multi-national global research ■■ 12-month contestable funding difficult – could it be longer? ■■ Attracting young people into research a priority

Ravensdown CEO Greg Campbell thinks there will be a growing role for NZ farmers in applying multi-national companies research.

scientists spend on bidding for research funding and the real prospect of putting a career at risk if an application is turned down leads Campbell to wonder if our funding model is working against itself. “We are a strong advocate of the PGP (Primary Growth Partnership) model and recognise that it works well with research that has got commercial potential … but I wonder about blue skies research based on pure science topics. Maybe there are fewer alternatives to direct grant funding from Government.” Currently Ravensdown is completing a PGP that aims to assess new aerial sensing technology and

allow improved accuracy in spreading fertiliser – an important project that will have a significant impact

We should never lose sight that we don’t have to generate everything in New Zealand

on the entire topdressing industry. “It’s a game changer and

is going very well. The risk of doing the research was shared with Government – we couldn’t do it by ourselves so I really strongly believe in PGPs.” Although there will be a period of exclusivity relating to the research, Campbell says the objective is to make it available “across the board”. “The technology can’t be protected forever and neither should it be.” He remains a firm believer in research helping all of New Zealand agriculture and says as a co-operative Ravensdown think in terms of a New Zealand Inc brand perspective. “We want to ensure New Zealand agriculture is

competitive, environmentally sustainable on a global footprint. When we do research we do it for all New Zealand farmers.” As such Campbell is an advocate for better utilising strong relationships companies might have with global supply partners – particularly when it comes to applying their research. “We should never lose sight that we don’t have to generate everything in New Zealand. Our research with international suppliers and partnerships have never been stronger.” We should continue to do research, he said, but we should also look “long

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research for all farmers and hard” at what has been happening globally, particularly around product development, fertiliser and animal health. “We can use the science and apply it to New Zealand. There are great opportunities for research organisations.” Campbell believes this will be where the Lincoln University hub, housing over 900 researchers from all over the world, will come into its own in the future. “The collation of all those entities has size, scale and some international grunt that multi-nationals find attractive.” While many multi-national companies were good in a lab, they didn’t necessarily know how to apply their research and that was where New Zealand bought competence, he said. “New Zealand farmers are open to new processes, systems and technologies. If you are a multi-national in Europe you need people and then there are nuances around seasonality, temperature and water. There’s a growing role for us to play in this area.” From his own travels Campbell has found New Zealand farmers to be held in high esteem. “We are inquisitive and open to new ideas and we are always looking at better ways of doing things. The challenge is for farmers to maintain profitability whilst protecting their licence to operate with an environmental footprint and growing regulations. So we need the science …” But he believes attracting

the younger generation into the sector remains a looming challenge. Ravensdown works actively with Massey and Lincoln universities to attract people to its intern programme. Campbell finds younger students want to know the role they will be playing and they want to know the primary industry will have some really good outcomes and not only in wealth creation. These problems won’t be solved unless we open a discussion. “I believe the industry is on a bit of a cusp here. The Government wants to put more money into research but wants to make sure they are getting bang for their buck. What does the other model look like given election cycles?’

AERIAL AUTOMATED SYSTEM A PGP PROJECT THAT WILL BENEFIT ALL Farmers won’t be the only ones impacted by Ravensdown’s Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme focused on transforming hill country farms through the precision application of fertiliser. Aerial topdressing pilots are already experiencing new automated fertiliser application systems through trials of the new technology associated with the project. The PGP project aims to assess new aerial sensing technology to inform fertiliser recommendations. The new aerial technology allows for improved accuracy when spreading fertiliser via computer-controlled hopper doors on a standard aerial topdressing aircraft. This will allow for better precision, leading to increased

Ravensdown has undertaken a PGP to work on improving the accuracy of aerial spreading of fertiliser.



S / WE 5 DAY

productivity and profitability of hill country farms. Ravensdown Aerowork pilot Grant Lennox is helping put the theory into practice by trialling the new prototype which he believes will become an expected feature on all aerial topdressing aircraft in the future. “The automated application of fertiliser is much more effective even in this early stage. I know that I am doing a better job so I am getting more satisfaction out of my work,” Lennox says. “With the inclusion of prescription mapping which highlights the nutrient needs from a fertiliser plan for the farm, I can go to a client and they can have the boundary and spread areas already mapped out and programmed into the GPS before I arrive. This means I can fly backwards and forwards over the target area and know that the land is getting the right amount of fertiliser per hectare.” Today’s aerial spreading techniques of broadcast application or blanket coverage are not always as accurate as they need to be – leading to higher costs, lower levels of production and potential impacts on the environment. Recent innovations in remote sensing and imaging mean that the potential for sensing parameters from the air has vastly improved. Hyperspectral cameras are a key part of providing the information which will enable a quicker and cheaper way to assess the nutrient status of farms. Ravensdown technical development manager Michael White says the PGP project presents a transformational change in the way fertiliser is applied and responds on hill country farms.

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United States - how do we compare? Formed as part of last year’s farm bill, The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) received $NZ305 million in funding from Congress to solve key problems of national and international significance in food and agriculture, including plant and animal health, food safety, nutrition, renewable energy, natural resources, environment and technology. The foundation has been established as an independent non-profit corporation in the district of Columbia and will foster collaboration with agricultural researchers from the federal and state governments, institutions of higher education and industry and non-profit organisations. FFAR will identify and support projects to catalyse research and development in food and agriculture, resulting in more productive, sustainable American agriculture that helps meet the challenges of feeding a

The American Government’s commitment to its primary producers is continuing to grow with the formation of a new organisation charged with advance agriculture research and collaborating between the public and private sectors. Nadine Porter reports. growing world. The foundation will deploy a range of tools and approaches to advance its goals, including funding incremental research and development through grants and innovation challenges. It will also build innovative public-private partnerships, convene other stakeholders and leaders to foster collaboration and develop human capacity to advance innovation. FFAR recently announced a research award for innovative early career scientists to pursue research in food and agriculture - and an initiative to fund first responders in the

face of potential threats to the food and agriculture system. With the New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award, FFAR will support up to 10 early-career scientists with up to $306,000 per year. It has been created to give recipients three years of financial support to pursue innovative research in one or more of FFAR’s seven focus areas and to act as mentors to the next generation of standout scientists in food and agriculture. The foundation plans to establish a rapid response programme to capitalise on

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■■ Agriculture and agriculture related industries contributed $NZ1.2 trillion to America’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013 - a 4.7 per cent share. The output of America’s farms contributed $256 billion of this sum - about 1 per cent of GDP. ■■ In 2013 the United States spent 2.73 per cent of GDP on agricultural research – the 10th highest in the OECD.

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Australia - how do we compare? By Nadine Porter

The Australian minister for agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, believes investment in research and development and innovation is vital for ongoing growth and improvement in the productivity, profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of Australia’s agriculture. According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource

Economics and Sciences, for every dollar of government investment in agricultural R&D, farmers generate a $A12 return within a decade and Mr Joyce seems keen for that to continue. Ahead of New Zealand in terms of its agricultural research spend, the recent Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper meant their government has doubled its investment in a new programme to drive tangible

research outcomes for producers. Titled the rural R&D for Profit programme, it will pump $A200 million over eight years to encourage innovative partnerships between Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs), universities, researchers, industry bodies and other partners and will run until 2021-22. Mr Joyce said the Australian Government recognised the large number of small producers could

not gain an economic return from individual investment in research and development. He believed the RDCs addressed important national development and sustainability objectives, such as biosecurity and natural resource management and said many of the RDCs provided vital undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships to encourage university students to choose a career in agricultural science.

Australian Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce has made significant contributions to research.

Joyce refutes claims Govt isn’t spending enough By Nadine Porter

The New Zealand Government refutes claims that it is decreasing its investment into agriculture and says it has increased its spend by 11.8 per cent since 2008. Minister of Science and

Innovation Steven Joyce said last year’s funding for primary industries research was $308 million and was forecast to increase to $334.5 million by next year – a $75 million increase since 2010. He said while research performed by businesses for the purpose of the primary

sector had increased by over 30 per cent since 2008, the Government was not shifting focus from Governmentowned research laboratories to corporate-driven research. “The Government’s focus is on funding the best quality research that is relevant and brings benefits to the

agricultural sector regardless of who owns the lab.” There has also been much criticism surrounding staffing cuts at AgResearch, but Mr Joyce said overall funding to the crown-owned institute had not been reduced. Mr Joyce said the primary sector was much more heavily

reliant on taxpayer funding than other major New Zealand commercial sectors like manufacturing or the ICT sector. “The Government will not reduce its total investment in primary sector research and will seek to increase it over time.”

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New Zealand’s dairy cow population hit 5 million for the first time in the 2014/15 year - up 1 million from the 2007/8 season, Dairy NZ said. The total cow population in the 2014/15 season was 5.02 million, an increase of 1.9 per cent over the previous season, although the number since then is likely to have fallen because of higher than normal rate of culling, DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman said. Dairy NZ said total effective hectares in dairy - support blocks excluded were 1.75 million; an increase of about 30,000 ha on the previous season. In 2014/15, dairy companies processed 21.3 billion litres of milk

Antibiotics for livestock are likely to be replaced with various vaccines by about 2030 and the value of New Zealand meat exports will grow because of the switch. That growth was among the findings in a new report by the Veterinary Association, which shows the antibiotic era was coming to an end because of a growing resistance to them. A consultant for the association, Eric Hillerton, said antibiotics would still exist but they would not be a first choice in animal health. “There’s a lot of work in many other areas on making the immune system much better. We know about

containing 1.89 billion kilograms of milksolids. Total milksolids processed increased by 3.6 per cent from the 1.83 billion kilograms processed in the previous season. This was a record level of milk production and 56 per cent higher than 2004/5.

vaccines, we have a lot of vaccines around, there will be new vaccines being developed. – Radio New Zealand

NORTH CANTERBURY IRRIGATION SCHEME TURNED DOWN Independent hearing commissioners appointed by Environment Canterbury have rejected a proposal to take water from a North Canterbury stream for irrigation and power generation. The Kakapo Brook runs through Glynn Wye Station and coapplicants Rooney Group - owner of the station - and Mainpower proposed taking up to 1600

litres per second, to fill two large storage dams on the farm totalling 1 million cubic metres. The water would be used for irrigating 500 hectares of the high country property and providing hydropower generation. Fish and Game adviser Scott Pearson said the proposal was contrary to the regional plan which prohibited taking water from rivers and the decision sent


an important message. “This area is treasured by anglers here and overseas, as it includes internationally recognised trout fishing rivers such as the Hope and Boyle,” he said. “The increased pressures to intensify once extensively grazed properties was seeing irrigation and higher stocking levels creep into the high country, right throughout Canterbury.” - RNZ


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Mid Canterbury farmers are desperate for rain, their drought fears magnified this week as hot days and nor’west winds kick in. Following on from a drought last summer, el nino conditions forecast have made it even more possible dry conditions will return. Mayfield dryland stock farmer Peter Reveley believed it was shaping up to be the driest spring since the last el nino in 1997-98. “Now it’s drying out exceptionally quickly,” Mr Reveley said. There had been a 15 millimetre topup of rain falling last week, however with nor’westers forecast, by the end of this week farms in the area could be just as dry as those further down the plains. He was about to make light

The first industry agreed set of good practice standards around the design and construction of dairy housing structures in New Zealand has been released by DairyNZ and the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ). Practice Note 29 is intended to be a reference source for engineering practitioners, contractors, farmers, product suppliers, regional council and local authority staff and others involved in the dairy industry. The work was undertaken as part of the Transforming the Dairy Value Chain programme, a $171 million programme under the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Primary Growth Partnership and led by DairyNZ and Fonterra. The programme is

silage which he expected could have to be fed out to stock on the farm at Christmas, an unusually early time to be feeding out.

AGRICULTURE OUT OF EMISSIONS TRADING SCHEME REVIEW The Emissions Trading Scheme is up for review, but the Government has controversially left agriculture out of the discussion document. IPCC scientists say greenhouse gas emissions must be virtually eliminated. Opposition parties argued the sector must be included because it was responsible for about half of New

Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions. Passed into law by the former Labour-led government, the Emissions Trading Scheme is the government’s primary tool to try to reduce climate-damaging emissions. The original ETS had agriculture entering the scheme in 2013, but when National took power, it pushed that out to 2015, then legislated to

keep it out of the scheme indefinitely. Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said it was simply not reasonable to include agriculture in the review. “Nobody in the world is putting a price on biological emissions; we’re developing the technologies and no country has put in as much effort as New Zealand. - RNZ

developing new products, increasing on-farm productivity, reducing environmental impacts and improving agricultural education. DairyNZ developer Helen Thoday says the information set out in the practice note meets a recognised need for guidance about the design and construction of off-paddock housing for dairy cows on New Zealand farms.

2 14




British butchers have been selling meat described as ‘goat’ which is actually from sheep, a Trading Standards investigation has revealed. Inspectors went undercover to make test purchases after a consumer complained the goat meat he bought was mutton or lamb. Out of 11 DNA samples of what was described as goat meat purchased from different outlets in West Sussex, eight were found to be sheep meat. Initial enquiries have shown that in the majority of cases (six), the issue was with the wholesaler/abattoir rather than the retailer. In one case the butcher concerned told the Trading Standards officer, “well goat is the same as sheep isn’t it?”

One hundred and fifty live cattle were recently flown from Australia to China for slaughter on a Boeing 747 cargo plane. Crates containing the animals were placed on the plane’s cargo deck in Melbourne and delivered to the inland city of Chongqing, where the Chinese authorities found them all to be healthy. Australia’s export to China comes three months after a free-trade agreement between the two nations. Breeding cattle have been airfreighted from Australia to China before, but this is the first shipment of cattle destined for the abattoir.

IRELAND: CATTLE THIEVES RIFE Well-organised crime gangs with local knowledge and assistance have been taking cattle and sheep from farmyards on both sides of the border on an almost weekly basis. Some farmers in Cavan, Monaghan and Louth are so

afraid of encountering the thieves that they take shotguns with them when checking their farms. The issue was discussed at a public meeting focusing on rural crime in the north-east. “The counties in the north-east have a more serious problem than

most other regions in the country, with gangs coming across the border to steal at will, robbing houses, farms and business premises,” said Ronnie Owens, chairman of the organising committee for the Save Our Communities meeting.

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In the race to feed its ever-growling belly, China is turning to clones in a big way. A new super clone factory — the world’s largest — will open next year with plans to churn out cows in million-plicate. The $31-million facility — backed by Chinese biotechnology firm BoyaLife and South Korea’s Sooam Biotech — will boast cloning laboratories, as well as a gene bank, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The factory, based in the northern port city of Tianjin, aims to feed the country’s meatfrenzied masses, especially an ever-growing middle class. In recent years, China has dramatically upped its reliance on imported meat.


ZAMBIA: INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDED Bad roads and poor infrastructure are hampering the growth of agriculture in Chibombo, acting district commissioner Brave Mazuba has said. Mr Mazuba said in an interview recently that Chibombo could produce enough food to sustain economic growth in the district if roads and infrastructure were improved. “There is need to improve infrastructure development to enable farmers have access to markets, thereby increase crop production,” Mr Mazuba said. He said infrastructure development in Chibombo will enable farmers to forge synergies with the private sector to boost livestock, poultry and crop production. Mr Mazuba said agriculture can play a much bigger role in food and job security.

US: ROBOTIC MILKING INEVITABLE Idaho milk producers say it appears obvious that robots are coming to the state’s dairies sooner rather than later. The widespread use of robotic milking systems now seems inevitable, Nampa dairyman Adrian Boer said after listening to a two-hour presentation on the issue recently. “Like it or not, that’s where our future lies. We’re going to be milking cows (by) robotics,” Boer said. “I totally believe that’s where we’re going. For me, it

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2 16

AROUND THE TRAPS Women in Arable tour Oil Seed Extractions in Ashburton.

Rabobank opens their new office in Ashburton.

Prime Minister John Key at the Christchurch A&P Show.

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Practical advice for Farm Environment Plans A strong commitment to improving environmental outcomes has seen 100 per cent of existing BarrhillChertsey Irrigation Limited (BCIL) and Acton Farmers’ Irrigation Co-Operative (AFIC) shareholders complete Farm Environment Plans (FEPs) this year. BCIL holds resource consent to irrigate up to 40,000 hectares with a nitrogen cap requiring shareholders to operate at good practice. Farm Environment Plans are a key part of this process. Irrigo Centre Environmental manager Eva Harris says practical information sessions and workshops provided shareholders with the tools to complete their own FEPs. “We created a template for shareholders then held one on ones and weekly drop-in sessions where farmers could get advice for completing their plans. “I was really impressed by how proactive and cooperative our shareholders have been. It’s a big ask to get FEPs and nutrient budgets

Practical demonstrations and field days, such as this one at Melrose Dairy near Ealing, are a good way to help farmers understand good management practice and develop farm management plans.

completed during such a busy time of the year and our shareholders have done a great job.” Eva says timing workshops to fit in with farmers’

schedules and giving plenty of useful advice around areas such as risk management are practical ways to help people complete FEPs. “ After attending the one on one

and workshops most farmers found it only took them around three to four hours to complete their FEP online.” Fourteen further FEPs will be completed by new

I was really impressed by how proactive and co-operative our shareholders have been

shareholders this year with audits starting in 2016. Eva says the latest nutrient budget results indicate that many shareholders already have good environmental practices in place. “Nutrient budgets completed in the 2014-15 season showed that our shareholders have used around 42 per cent of our nitrogen cap while irrigating about 45 per cent of the permitted area.” Further training sessions will be offered to shareholders next year to help them continuously improve their environmental performance beyond good practice.

Managing your water through another dry summer The irrigation season is now underway. Predictions point to another hot, dry summer, so managing your water allocation well will be key. There’s more to it than ramping up irrigation when it’s hot or near the end of the season. Irrigators need to start the season well, maintain performance and find out where you can save on operating costs.

Finding out what your irrigator is applying is the first step – systems can be 20%-30% out. Some simple early season calibration checks and maintenance can save a lot of water over the season.

A number of small, simple changes will make a big difference towards making sure your irrigation volume will see you through to March.

Applying the right amount of water at the right time improves production and reduces the amount of irrigation required. “Timing is everything in a marginal season. It’s about being able to plan and make decisions based on the right information,” says IrrigationNZ Project Manager Steve Breneger.

Inefficient irrigation at the start of the season can have a significant impact on seasonal sustainability: • Using more water than you need, shortening your seasonal volume • Reducing productivity – a single saturation can limit grass growth for up to 3 days

IrrigationNZ can provide advice. Support is also available through DairyNZ, which is currently running a Tactics campaign bringing together tools, tips and tactics to help you survive and thrive in a low milk price season.

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Irrigators are encouraged to take these steps: • Make sure your irrigation systems are correctly calibrated – use IrrigationNZ or DairyNZ resources to help with calibration • Find out how much water you are using and how you’re tracking in relation to your seasonal allocation • Make sure all applications are correctly scheduled; that you’re putting on the right amount of water at the right time to get the best value possible from your irrigation water and energy Contacts for help • IrrigationNZ – • DairyNZ - Angela Harvey, 021 246 2185, 03 321 9035, • Your irrigation scheme

2 18


Just Enough fun in Bermuda

Typical Bermudan fishing attire.

I sometimes find myself thinking what we don’t have here in Canterbury is balmy turquoise ocean, marinas with gently clanging masts and boats coming in with seagulls wheeling behind them as the day’s off-shore catch is cleaned. For a moment I think I miss it. But then I remember a little harder and I think again. Maybe I don’t. Maybe I’d had just enough. Just Enough was in fact the name of my friend’s boat. My friend was called David and he was a medic nearing retirement who had moved from the UK to Bermuda I think in the 1960s. Medicine was his profession, but chasing tuna and wahoo off the Bermudan banks was his passion. It also paid for his fun. Somehow in the early days he had been able to buy a commercial fishing licence and so over the next 20 years or so the five-star restaurants across the island were supplied with fresh yellow-fin and wahoo to serve to their insurance industry executives doing their

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secondments from the east coast of the US. This was the deal with David: “If you want to come over for fish, all you have to do is turn up and be ready to go. You can have the guest apartment. Hire a scooter if you want and we’re in business. September is best”. And so for the next four years on the trot I flew out from London for two weeks of crewing on Just Enough. By the end of the fourth year, I had had just enough. Just enough 30°C Gulf Stream air, day and night. Just enough sea sickness and dehydration. Just enough thinking by 9am that I just wasn’t going to be able to survive the day. But I survived, mainly because I had no choice.

When we went off shore, I knew we weren’t coming back unless it was an emergency. And near-death by throwing up and diesel fumes wasn’t enough for David. He even put a gaff through his foot once. But like any good doctor treating himself, he just pulled it out and carried on. That nearly cost him his life thanks to blood poisoning, but having survived a few days in hospital, he was okay again and back out on the sea, generally on his own, fishing hard unless I was there over from London to fish hard with him. No chair in which to sit while you fought a 100lb tuna from the deep. A can of beans for lunch. Water. Ice on your head when things got desperate. By the fourth or fifth day I would be running on empty. Rescue came in the form of bad weather and we wouldn’t go out. That gave me the chance to scooter into Bermuda’s main town, Hamilton, for a reload at KFC; Caribbean spicy KFC. The fou- person bucket of chicken and two huge paper


From left David out back trolling. A good sized wahoo. Just Enough in Bermuda.

Beautiful Bermuda.

cups of ginger beer. It used to take me about an hour to eat it all, but it was heaven and I needed it. Bad weather in Bermuda didn’t last long. The next day we would be out there again, me on the spotting bridge tracking the boat up the oceanic drop-off, David

managing the lines trawling out back. I think the main thing that struck me about deep-sea was what a wild place it is. Sharks would drift lazily by. Every now and then we’d lose sight of land. Flying fish would be busting out from near the bow and

cruising away effortlessly over the tops of the rollers before diving back into the blue. Such an indescribable blue. Almost purple blue. Then flying squid like rain. Yes, flying squid. A bit of flotsam that had floated over from Africa, dolphin fish underneath. A really wild place.

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After a long day out, David would be on his mobile phone once we were in cell range selling the fish we had caught to the restaurants around the island. By 7pm his stationwagon on the dock was loaded, and we would go into delivery mode. Driving through the scented

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tropical night I don’t know where, being let in the back entrance of restaurants where out the front sat millionaires and billionaires. Bermuda was an incredible pocket of wealth. I’d walk through the kitchen with tuna on my shoulders heading for the chiller room feeling like I was part of something real. With everything delivered on the way home we would pick up a pizza which we would then sit eating out on the verandah. No conversation. Then it would be to bed, and then seemingly an instant later David would be knocking on the door again. “It’s looking good. Let’s go.” 5am. Another day. Survival and me thinking to myself: I am meant to be having fun. What was I thinking? Yes, I definitely had just enough. Give me thin mountain air, a fly rod and a rainbow creek flowing into the Rangitata. Never enough. But despite everything, I am so glad to have been out on Just Enough.

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2 20

Biological farming Above - Pasture on the biological farm has a greater mass of clover. Above right - Pasture on the conventional farm.

Methven dairy farmers Kim Solly and Jeremy Casey are using their two dairy farms in a demonstration to compare biological farming with a conventional approach to managing soil fertility. The farms, on either side of Back Track, have the same climate and soil type and had similar management before conversion to dairying, so it was a great opportunity to run a comparison, Jeremy said. The conventional farm is managed according to current best practice, and on the biological farm, Kim and Jeremy use the AlbrechtKinsey method of biological farming, which they consider to be the most scientific approach. The cows were

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randomly allocated to the two different farms and are stocked at the same rate. Interesting differences are apparent after three years. On the farm managed according to “biological farming” practices, improved clover growth is a stand-out feature. “There is the same number of clover plants on both farms, but on the biological side there is a greater mass of clover,”

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Jeremy said. “There is slightly more feed on the biological farm, less empties and profitability is slightly better.” Biological farming aims to balance the cations (calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium) in the soil and build humus. This approach to fertility aims to create ideal conditions for soil microbiology, improve physical properties such as water retention and may reduce nitrogen leaching. On the other hand, conventional fertiliser regimes aim to “feed the plant” rather than balancing nutrients in the soil and feeding the soil’s microbiology. There is minimal nitrogen applied to the biological farm:

clover supplies nitrogen which helps to build up the soil’s microbiology, which in turn releases nitrogen to fuel grass growth. Clover growth on the biological farm is stimulated by dolomite, potassium and elemental sulphur, whereas on the conventional farm Ag-lime, potash and urea is applied. Superphosphate is used on the conventional farm; the less soluble RPR and guano are used on the biological farm to supply phosphorus. Some soluble fertilisers such as DAP, ammonium sulphate and potassium sulphate are used on the biological farm. The two farms have the same fertiliser budget.

“Biological farming is not organic – it’s a middle-of-theroad approach that is probably more acceptable to most farmers than pure organics. It’s a way to farm that uses resources most efficiently and has the benefits of reducing leaching, improving cow health and being slightly more profitable,” Jeremy said. The demonstration, called Soil Nutrient Management in Dairy Farm Systems, is partially funded by Agmardt and DairyNZ. A project steering committee give independent oversight of the farms’ management. A public field day will be held on December 10 from 10am. To register, contact

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Focus on efficient water use By the time you read this, IrrigationNZ will have launched our SMART Watering campaign in conjunction with seven partners. The pilot campaign – being rolled out in four districts in Canterbury – focuses water users on the part they can play in conserving water. This summer will be a critical time for water use. We know how dry it gets in Canterbury. And this year it is set to be worse than usual. Niwa is predicting low seasonal rainfall in Canterbury and Otago and media reports about the severity of El Nino are rife. Concerns are mounting about water restrictions and what this means for farmers, businesses and those at home who want to enjoy green grass, sprinklers and swimming pools over the summer break. Aware of these concerns, Irrigation New Zealand has teamed up with Ashburton, Timaru, Selwyn and Waimakariri District Councils,

Leo Gilpin shows off his SMART Watering skills.

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Environment Canterbury and industry partners RX Plastics and Water Supply Products to use SMART Watering as a way to share information and education about how to make water go further this season. Home gardeners, community groups and businesses will be able to access simple factsheets and guidelines on easy ways for efficient water use. New SMART Watering webpages have been added to the current SMART Irrigation website (www.smartirrigation. to widely communicate good water management practice. These webpages sit alongside a new Facebook site aimed at urban gardeners; wateringsmart https://

WateringSMART/ and one targeted at irrigating farmers irrigatesmart IrrigateSMART/ It is a way to help everyone get through what is likely to be another ‘Big Dry’. Key messages include knowing how much your garden needs, ensuring any moisture is retained, and distributing water in the garden effectively. Also, simple things like what you plant,

how it’s shaded and the mulch you use can all make a big difference to water use and evaporation. IrrigationNZ began educating farmers on water efficiency with its SMART Irrigation programme last April. The roll out of the campaign to all water users means home owners can also implement tried and tested methods, practices and products that are helpful for water conservation.

Together, everyone can do their bit to make the best of every drop. SMART Irrigation and SMART Watering rely on the same principles – checking your system can apply water efficiently, that your use of water is justified and that you monitor and measure as you go. SMART Irrigation stands for sustainably managed, accountable, responsible and trusted irrigation. SMART Watering relies on the same approach. It isn’t difficult and it will save you time and money. The east coast of the South Island is already classed as being in drought and Government is advocating the importance of planning and preparing for very dry El Nino conditions highlighting the seriousness of the situation and making this a very timely campaign. The SMART Watering campaign is about all communities coming together to make an effort to make the best of our precious natural resource.





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2 22



Joint ventures in farming - some Joint commercial ventures involving multiple investors have become a popular option in succession planning for farmers. Often they allow a transitional period whereby several generations can operate the farm together with the intent that the farm is ultimately passed from one generation to the next in a seamless fashion. Joint ventures are also common outside of family succession arrangements. Given the significant capital value of farmland and commercial property in New Zealand, grouping together with others is now for many the only realistic way that persons with limited yet significant capital can invest in quality acquisitions and grow a family’s collective capital base. Whether or not the partnership is between family members, the support of professional advice will help to ensure appropriate ownership


Mark Tavendale

structures are put in place. Time spent at the formation stages of a joint venture is far more cost effective than the commercial cost of litigation that can follow from a well-intentioned but badly structured joint venture (sadly such litigation sometimes occurs not just between armslength investors, but also amongst family – the emotional cost far outweighing the financial loss). Initial considerations: If you are contemplating entering into a joint venture there are some fundamental issues you should consider as a part of your decision making

process. ■■ Common and shared investor motivations are important. ■■ Joint ventures involve multiple parties. They are therefore by their very nature complicated. ■■ Relationships end – a joint venture is akin to a commercial marriage. Many relationships end in separation, sometimes amicably and sometimes not. Even the good joint ventures come to an end and whilst most joint ventures terminate by the acquisition of a core asset by another party or the investor grouping changing inevitably there are circumstances where parties need to exit. Planning for the end begins at the beginning. It is important that investors’ intentions are clear. ■■ Personality clash – having an ability to compromise and understand the

position of others in a joint venture is important. Investors need to ask themselves realistically if a joint venture suits their personality and their mode of doing business. The process: A collaborative approach is required when putting together a joint venture. It is advisable for the investors (when referring to ‘investors’ I mean family members or otherwise) to appoint specialist professionals. The professionals will advise the investors on an independent basis with each individual investor being encouraged to seek separate independent legal and accounting advice prior to final documentation being signed. This is not to say that an existing professional adviser of an investor cannot be appointed by the investor grouping but if they are they need to make it very clear that they are acting for the

group as such and not the individual investor as often the adviser will need to facilitate a “compromise”. With the above in mind it is our practice to encourage and facilitate the convening of a round table meeting with all investors and professional advisers with a set agenda, with the intention of all investors gaining an insight to each other and a good understanding of what they are proposing to enter into. Invariably these meetings and the discussions between investors result in an open exchange of views between investors and shape the ultimate structure to be adopted. Very significantly, matters that may not previously been considered are usually also identified and discussed. Through this process “buy in” on the chosen structure and the principles behind it is achieved. Investors, when receiving independent legal and

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practical thoughts accounting advice, also have a good understanding when discussing with their independent advisers the reasoning behind the proposed structure. This in practice limits the propensity for an escalation in professional fees associated with the very real need for independent advice. The feedback from investors involved in this process is generally positive and the open forum assists greatly in investors understanding the relative complex issues that they are required to form a view and make decisions on. Use of a company structure: There are a number of legal structures that can be utilised for joint ventures. In practice most equity groupings in the agri-sector are structured utilising a company in some format. This is not the only option but other options are generally only used when taxation considerations require an alternative

structure. Most investors are comfortable and familiar with a company format which allows individual investors to come and go from the joint venture without undue business interruption providing there is a clear and transparent entry and exit process. Transferring shares in a company is considerably simpler than changing the underlying ownership of a property. Shareholders’ Agreement: Even in a family setting, with a company structure it is important that a shareholders’ agreement is put in place between the individual investors. A shareholders’ agreement sits alongside and is complementary to the rules of the company. The shareholders’ agreement represents a private contract between the investors who hold shares in the company. There is no standard blueprint for a shareholders’ agreement. In all cases the

contents will vary with the nature of the investment and the relationship and the circumstances of the investors involved. It is very important that all key areas are covered. Typically a shareholders’ agreement will cover: ■■ the nature of the company’s proposed business, ■■ the capital structure of the company including the treatment of any investor capital, ■■ bank security requirements, ■■ director appointment and removal processes, ■■ management responsibilities and operational expectations, ■■ investor return expectations, ■■ restrictions on the sale of shares, ■■ mechanisms for calculating the value of the shares and clear exit provisions both in circumstances of a amicable exit and a fundamental dispute,

■■ fundamental issues that require a key level of shareholder support to proceed commonly known as super majority provision. This gives investors confidence that the basis upon which they made their investment decision will continue notwithstanding whether they hold a majority or minority of shares in the company. Joint ventures will continue to be an increasing trend in New Zealand agriculture, both as a succession planning tool and to utilise the significant advantage of collaborative investments. A well-structured, well considered joint venture

where investors have shared motivations and expectations has every chance of commercial success and delivering on investor expectations. Joint ventures are not to be entered into lightly and it is important irrespective of the strength of the family relationship and/or commercial acumen of the investors involved that investors utilise quality professional advice from suitable professionals who have an independent outlook, practical knowledge of the investment area and experience in facilitating parties putting together a structure that is suitable and robust to allow investors to invest with others in confidence.

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Keep planning in face of El Nino! IrrigationNZ says irrigating farmers need to plan now for how they will use their seasonal irrigation volumes as a severe El Nino could mean many farmers will run short of water halfway through this season. IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis was responding to NIWA’s prediction that the current El Nino pattern is on track to be a ‘the second most intense since 1950’, with soils around the country drying out fast and irrigation in full swing as temperatures rise. Guidelines released by Government urged farmers to use irrigation water efficiently and plan for water restrictions as they prepared for El Nino ( protection-and-response/ responding-to-threats/ adverse-events/classifyingadverse-events-/preparingfor-el-nino/) Mr Curtis says the focus for irrigators needs to be on spreading their water allocations further this season. “Timing is everything in a marginal season. Irrigators need to start the season well

and maintain consistent performance. Inefficient irrigation now will have a huge impact on whether your irrigation volume will see you through to March.” “Irrigation scheduling is central to this, particularly now irrigators are limited in the water they have through seasonal volumes. With water meters in place, irrigating farmers should be keeping a close eye on what they are using, regularly reviewing soil moisture levels and crop requirements and applying water efficiently as possible. Off the back of another dry winter there’s no room for wastage or poor performance as every drop of water will be needed this summer. We recommend sitting down and planning your water budgets so you know exactly where you are at.” Alongside appropriate irrigation scheduling, checking irrigation equipment is well maintained and performing to specification will minimise down-time, leakage or delivery problems, says Mr Curtis. “Ensuring irrigators are

working as they should guarantees you’re getting the best from the water you apply. Simple early season calibration checks can save a lot of water over the season and are a no-brainer to execute. Some systems may be 20-30 per cent out and using more water than you need will shorten your irrigation budget significantly.” As the season goes on, regular maintenance will be essential, says Mr Curtis. “Checking pressure and sprinklers is recommended. Down the track when we get squeezed, water renozzling might help stretch out volumes for longer. Alternatively if you operate a number of irrigation systems plan ahead now to shut off the less efficient ones; long laterals in pivot corners for example, if water restrictions start to bite. That way you can continue to operate more efficient irrigators such as pivots and linear moves for longer.” Mr Curtis says the key to surviving this summer will be all about preparation

and support is available for irrigating farmers to arm themselves before El Nino worsens. “Our website (www. includes checklists and guidelines covering early season maintenance and we offer training workshops and resource books to upskill irrigators who need advice. Next month, we’ll also roll out a SMART Irrigation

awareness campaign across much of Canterbury to remind farmers of the pathways to become SMART Irrigators. With an intense El Nino breathing down our neck and the depressed dairy price, it’s more relevant than ever to be talking about how we can save money, time and energy by moving towards more efficient and effective irrigation practice,” says Mr Curtis.



Check the track to make it back! In your average paddock, there’s plenty of room for both your irrigator and your tractor right? Well not always so, given how often the two seem to meet each other with disastrous consequences. During the past five years FMG has received over 280 impact or accident while in use claims at a total cost of $3 million - and this amount doesn’t include related damage and liability claims for damage to farm bikes, fencing or thirdparty property! The vast majority of these losses could have been prevented or minimised, saving the businesses concerned a whole lot of money, time, hassle and the loss of production. Irrigator damage isn’t cheap to fix and the cost of repairs can seriously affect cashflow. Just a few examples we’ve come across include: - An employee driving a tractor under a centre pivot irrigator didn’t have the required clearance. The roof of the tractor caught the supporting rod, tipping the irrigator and damaging the

two spans costing more than $50,000. - A pile of debris was left in the field on the irrigator tracks. The centre pivot has run over the debris, causing the corner arm to disengage and become damaged from the fall to the tune of $37,000. The extra time taken to walk the irrigator track before flicking the ‘on’ switch could mean saving thousands of dollars. It makes sense to check the paddock for foreign objects and any changes to the ground or surrounding trees, shelter belts and hedges. This is particularly important before making the first run of a new season, as there will undoubtedly have been some growth since the last time the irrigator was run. And don’t forget about any new fences! Where an irrigator crosses a roadway or farm track, there is potential for a trailer, or other extended height unit to strike the irrigator. Irrigators are difficult to see in bright light or dull, overcast weather. Fitting reflective signs that

hang lower than the main pipes can reduce this event from happening. Management of the irrigator wheel tracks should be included in the farm maintenance programme. Wheel ruts significantly


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increase the load and the wear on the drive train and can slow a section of the irrigator down affecting the irrigator alignment and the ability for the irrigator to travel in a straight line Read the operating

instructions thoroughly and walk the track with any employees before they operate the machine for the first time. This will also ensure all users avoid any obstacles including trees, hedges, fences or buildings.

2 26


Nitrate leaching - fact or fiction Nitrate leaching is a problem that all farmers face and the means to measure it in my opinion isn’t the best. In real estate it has become a nightmare – not just to try and understand it but to then be able to explain it to a purchaser who has no interest in it at all – when all they wish to do is buy a farm and start farming. I know I keep quoting people I have talked to but at the end of the day that’s about all I do – talk to vendors and purchasers. Well, the other day I was having a discussion about nitrate leaching with a reasonably fired-up farmer and he began to explain to me what happened on his diary unit recently. Apparently a young ECan representative (who shall remain anonymous) was visiting his farm in central Mid Canterbury and they were talking about a Farm Environment Plan that all dairy farmers now have to supply. The ECan person was explaining that his farm was

Chris Murdoch


on the worst type of soils you could get for leaching nitrates into underground water systems, and how his irrigation and cows were polluting these waters and what he would need to do to stop such pollution. The soils were a Lismore stony silt loam - as we know they are some of Mid Canterbury’s lightest soils but also the most common. After listening to this person for some time about the problem he faced and how he would have to reduce cow numbers to meet the new leaching numbers required in the future, he asks if she could explain something to him. The farm has a deep well for irrigation water and that well

is at about 100 metres deep. When it was put down the static water level was 50 metres so let’s say the ground water is 50 metres. So how are his nutrients travelling the remaining 50 metres through layers of clay, dirt, shingle and getting into the water table! They aren’t! So tell me, how can anyone say his nutrients are polluting the underground water? He also has irrigation probes

on the farm that tell him when the soil has maximum water storage and one probe is 0.5 metres down. During the whole of last summer and winter the probe only registered water twice. Also, having dug many post holes in similar soils I can tell you no moisture travels down over one metre. This dairy farmer said he believes within two years people will realise that all his

farm nutrients are used by the plants. So tell me how do nitrates travel through dry shingle and clay and how come heavy soils that in some cases sit on shallow water and at times are completely wet through to static water levels achieving low leaching levels? So once more I ask you – is nitrate leaching fact or fiction or just not yet understood. Watch this space.


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Located in one of Mid Canterbury's favoured areas this spray irrigated dairy unit has been the back bone of the present vendors farming enterprise. Converted in 2002 this unit boasts a 50 bale rotary dairy shed, centrally located, with meal feeders and rectangular yard. VIEW By Appointment DEADLINE SALE closes Tuesday 8th December, 2015 at 4.00pm, (unless sold prior)

Smaller dairy farms with excellent irrigation in Central Mid Canterbury are hard to find. Serviced for irrigation by the Mayfield Hinds Irrigation Limited plus excellent ground water make this unit almost drought proof. At present milking 430 cows target production 175,000 kgs ms. VIEW By Appointment DEADLINE SALE closes Wednesday 9th December, 2015 at 4.00pm, (unless sold prior)


Dealing with farm waste Sheryl Stivens


Farm waste There was a great turnout from around the country at the Rural Waste Minimisation forum I attended in Wellington recently. In the past few years, investigations carried out in Canterbury, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty indicate the way we deal with our waste on New Zealand farms could be greatly improved. Burning and burying mixed waste on farms may be causing harm to our environment, putting some of New Zealand’s export markets under threat and may inevitably affect human health. The good news is since the banning of burning and burying mixed farm waste, Plasback have collected and recycled an extra 500 tonnes of materials and Agrecovery have had a 58 per cent increase on plastic chemical container recovery. The top nine rural wastes include paints, used oil, vehicle batteries, agricultural sprays, drench and dip, and sharps from vaccinations etc. This is serious stuff. The Rural Waste Minimisation Project will identify the risks and help us find viable waste minimisation options nationally. Ashburton District already has 12 community recycling depots and is looking to expand these services for the rural community’s over time.

Farm waste mixed - it’s only rubbish when it’s all mixed up.

Meantime there are services and options available locally for farm waste and recycling and many of the highlighted waste materials can be recycled or safely disposed of here in Canterbury. If you need help on your farm to audit your waste and see how you can reduce it overall and what options there are for recycling and disposal, phone 0800627824 or email or

Foodstuffs to change meat trays to recyclable plastic Following complaints by customers about their polystyrene meat trays, Foodstuffs are ready to roll out new recyclable butchery trays at New World and Pak ’n

Save stores in 2016. This marks the end of a two-year project to find a viable solution to the issue of the 100 million nonrecyclable polystyrene trays currently finding their way into customers’ homes, and eventually to landfill. “The meat tray ticks all the right boxes in terms of sustainability and performance and furthermore it’s made right here by one of New Zealand’s leading rigid plastic packaging companies.” The new tray is made up of 50 per cent recycled material and is accepted by every kerbside recycling scheme across New Zealand and, as it’s made of clear plastic, it can be easily separated in the recycling centres. The recyclable meat tray, together with the new soft plastic packaging recycling

project launched in Auckland this month, means Foodstuffs is moving closer to its target of moving their packaging to be 100 per cent recyclable for their customers either at kerbside or back at the store. This shows the power we have as consumers to influence businesses. In other words, if you don’t like the packaging that is provided phone the 0800 number or send an email or voice your concerns on social media.

Compost your food scraps and garden waste Wondering what to buy family for Christmas? Why not invest in a worm farm or compost system for your family?

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This will help them to save money on rubbish disposal as well as make their own fertilisers and grow healthy food. Come along to the monthly compost demo at the Eco Education Centre and see what is available and how it works or simply contact us for more information.




A good result for Maximus! We’ve had an excellent outcome with a serious case of Stringhalt. Stringhalt is a condition which involves the nerves and muscles controlling the action of the hind limbs. In mild cases the hind limbs lift higher than normal whilst in more extreme cases the hind fetlock touches the belly. You can see from the photograph that Maximus was a serious case with both his legs almost hitting his belly. He was also very tight in his abdominal muscles. His owner Victoria said if she went to touch his sides his leg would jerk up instantly and he seemed to be in a lot of pain. Aside from the difficulty walking, he certainly couldn’t trot, let alone canter or go backwards! Maximus is 17yrs old and 17hh, with an estimated weight 700-750kgs. Victoria was devastated when her vet told her there was nothing to be done, that it could take over a year if it ever did come right and that there were a lot of cases in the area with most owners choosing euthanasia due to the

Jenny Paterson


poor prognosis! The incidence of Stringhalt usually correlates with the presence of the Cat’s Ear plant which tends to flourish in many horse pastures usually in dry periods of late summer

but it happened to Maximus in mid spring. There was a lot of young, succulent Cat’s Ear in Maximus’s paddock at the time. Victoria immediately started him on our diet recommendations (see Current Diet Review on Calm Healthy Horses Website) which included high doses of AlleviateC SOS. After only a few days there

Provide it TM

was significant improvement and within two weeks Maximus was completely back to normal. This is a remarkably speedy recovery from Stringhalt when the usual prognosis is three months to three years! Hi Jenny Well guess what? He cantered today! And went backwards! All three horses took fright when my partner unloaded a large bale of hay and Maximus actually

cantered! He also trotted and can finally kick out now. Our baby horse was going for Max trying to take his place as 2IC. But now Max can once again defend his title! Happy tears all round! I love him so much and I’m so grateful for your help, Victoria MacDonald, Levin It is important to avoid confinement with Stringhalt cases because the symptoms worsen with inactivity. The jerking of the limb is most pronounced for the first couple of steps and then, to various degrees the horse ‘warms out of it’. Stringhalt has, to date, been challenging to treat because there is a big question mark over the cause. It is currently thought to be due to a fungus on these plants, however on re-examining a forage analysis (conducted by Calm Healthy Horses several years ago of forage that had resulted in a herd of 25 horses ALL developing Stringhalt), in light of this result, the mineral imbalance was there, explaining the success with this particular dietary approach.

MANUFACTURERS OF TIMBER BOXES & PALLETS So for all your pallet or box requirements, no matter how big or small, give Wayne a call today at Adams Sawmilling Also Manufacturers/Suppliers of FARM IMPLEMENT SHEDS IRRIGATION PUMP SHEDS

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We must collaborate, emerging leaders say


Up-and-coming leaders of New Zealand’s primary sector are frustrated by the lack of collaboration between industry players. KPMG’s 2015 Agribusiness Agenda volume 2, sought the views of the primary sector’s emerging leaders, surveying more than 50 young leaders at a oneday Summit at the Chrysalis Innovation Studio in Auckland earlier in the year. There’s a real sense of frustration among young leaders in the sector, according to Justine Fitzmaurice, a senior manager at KPMG who advises agribusiness companies. “They cannot understand why current leaders are not collaborating in a meaningful way – and combining their

Emerging leaders at KPMG forum.

resources for the benefit of everyone across R&D, marketing, processing or distribution. Instead, we have companies continuing to work in silos. The message we got from young leaders is that they are exasperated by the duplication and sheer waste of it all.” KPMG’s Julia Jones, who co-authored the Agenda with Justine Fitzmaurice, says the word ‘trust’ came up many times during the Summit discussions. “Emerging leaders believe

that existing leaders, particularly those in like industries, need to shut the door on the past and learn to trust each other. For example, they’re dismayed by the ‘street fighting’ that currently occurs among companies in New Zealand’s red meat sector,” she says. “They want to see us working together to gain market advantage against our international competitors; not competing against each other to needlessly drive prices down

a consensus on the use of genetic modification. While opinions were divided on whether the best strategy was to embrace GM, or be GMfree – all agreed a decision was needed urgently. Emerging leaders want to see a single cohesive ‘NZ Inc’ brand that can be used by all NZ-produced products that meet its accreditation criteria. New Zealand companies should be gaining insights into the needs of the 2035 consumer – utilising a range of social and scientific disciplines – instead of conducting traditional market research into the consumer of today. The use of flexible or modular processing plants has the potential to create new efficiencies across our processing sector. Download the full report using this link: http:// en/IssuesAndInsights/ ArticlesPublications/ agribusiness-agenda/ Documents/KPMGAgribusiness-Agenda-2015Vol2.pdf


Maurice Myers

for everyone in New Zealand.” As Julia Jones explains, the generation of under-30s view collaboration as a natural way of doing business. “Collaboration is their modus operandi... they’ve gone through an education system that’s based on achieving outcomes in groups. For them, it’s just a normal way of working – and they believe it should be part of everyday business.” One of the guest speakers at the Summit, Professor Kaj Storbacka, reinforced the need for New Zealand’s primary sector to develop a collaborative strategy. He advocates the concept of market-shaping; which is essentially creating your desired market, rather than following an existing one. “Competitive strategy is not the silver bullet,” Professor Storbacka told the group. “Those who want to shape markets need to engage in collaborative strategy.” Other key findings from the latest Agribusiness Agenda: The emerging leaders called for New Zealand to reach




Bigger range feeds growth PMR Grain Systems are a Canterbury based company specialising in the supply and installation of grain storage, grain drying and handling solutions.

PMR have now established themselves as a leading supplier of dairy feed equipment.

From initial consultation and planning, through to the supply of equipment and the correct installation, this professional local company prides itself on providing the ‘complete package.’ As well as grain drying and handling systems, PMR have

Stock augers are on sale.

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roller mills. They back up their expertise in sourcing cutting-edge equipment with a committed installation team, operating not only in Canterbury but throughout

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All new ATMI 6.8 heavy duty cultivator After more than 25 years of importing 6m wide (and sometimes wider) our standard range of CP721 (6m wide) heavy duty cultivators from Morris Industries in Canada have become unavailable from about one year ago. Pluck’s and their farming customers have always found the Morris range of cultivation and drilling equipment very good and very popular here in New Zealand so were keen to still be able to offer their customers a good range of bigger sized heavy duty cultivators, so Pluck’s started talking to a specialist cultivator frame manufacturer elsewhere in Canada and, with the permission from Morris Industries, to continue to use Morris Trip assemblies. As a result, Pluck’s have developed an outstanding and modern heavy duty cultivator using all the Canadian and

New Zealand farmer expertise to get the outcome everyone was looking for. The New ATMI 6.8 – it has 30 of their standard Morris 755 Auto Trip/reset assemblies that take 755lbs of point load to get them to move as usual, they are set at either 7” or 9” centres, which ever the customer prefers, it’s 6.8m wide as a starting width and can be built out to 8.6m, and what is new for this size of Pluck’s cultivator is, it now has three front castor wheels and four internal frame wheels giving it very good contouring following over paddocks, it also has a fully floating tow bar so the tractor is not affected in any way by the cultivator loading on the rear of the tractor and also the cultivator follows far better (and on the road as well), it has a very narrow road transport width of just 3.950m (13ft) with wings

up, it can come with the Morris Finger Harrows as an optional extra and a rear tow bar as well, if required. Common to all the Morris 755lb trip legs they can still take a huge range of points to suit any ground and paddock conditions, the points start at 2” wide and go up in 2” increments all the way to 12” wide, with points being double ended spike, or double ended twisted left or right, or sweep type. Most customers of Pluck’s run on their cultivators a combination of narrow and sweep points to ensure a total coverage and movement of the ground in just one pass, and often this is enough to get a paddock ready for drilling (just one pass). Please call in at Pluck’s Engineering on the Main South Road at Rakaia to check the new cultivator and ask for Neil Pluck.

New Canadian manufactured Heavy Duty Cultivator from Pluck’s

t co ly l uck S r a T r s Ru rd On ATS Hind Ca at the EL


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Starting at 6.8 Metres Wide x 30 Legs, at 9" or 7" Centres x 4.6 Tonnes We have just assembled our latest cultivator from Canada and it’s even bigger and tougher than before. It has been manufactured to our design, from input we got from you, for New Zealand farm conditions and roads and still has the bullet proof Morris 2" x 11/4" Auto Reset Trip Legs. Also with 3 extra front castor wheels (7 wheels in total) and a fully floating tow bar that makes your cultivator follow your paddock contours far more closely. Please give us a call at Pluck’s to find out more about this brand new cultivator to New Zealand. r All sizes come with the option of Harrows and/or rear Tow Bar. r And, of course, they still come with the very solid, later model, 340kg (755lb) Auto Reset trip leg that is 2" wide × 1¼" thick, with a trip clearance of 300mm and will trip, then reset itself, day in and day out, trouble free. r As with all our Cultivators you can still run points from 2" wide up to 12" wide and keep them in the ground without the legs moving out of the ground under load. r Very deep ground penetration, and huge ground clearance when out of the ground for easy point changing.



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