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Farming GUARDIAN

NOVEMBER, 2014

Meat matters A fine specimen of a Mid Canterbury high country bull.

Pages 3-6


Farming

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Greg Martin

Sheryl Stivens

Christine Summerville

John Leadley

Mary Ralston

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Takes us on a journey to mysterious Lake Brunner to do a spot of trout fishing

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Reports on the annual WasteMinz Conference in Auckland

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Looks at the implication of the laws around meal breaks

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Discusses the benefits of efficient transport systems and home ownership

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Reminds river users to be mindful of endangered nesting birds

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COMMENT FROM EDITOR

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t’s been a great spring in Mid Canterbury, resulting in a healthy crop of lambs and calves. In this edition we look at the outlook for red meat, and the proposals a red meat lobby group has to shake up the industry. According to Meat Industry Excellence deputy chairman Mark Patterson, this could be the last chance to keep ownership of the industry onshore. It would seem prospects may finally be looking up for meat farmers, with exports up $480 million in the 2013-4 season, hitting a record $5.3 million, despite the high New Zealand dollar. Despite a 3 per cent drop in the amount of lamb exported, the price lifted 13 per cent, pushing the earn to $2.52 million. Over the past 10 years various lobby groups have formed and come up with a raft of measures to restructure and revive the beleaguered sheep industry. Until this point none have succeeded, but to be fair the problem has been building for decades, and there

BRASS AND FEATHERS

MASTAGARD ASHBURTON

EMPLOYMENT MATTERS

RURAL COMMENT

Michelle Nelson

is no simple fix. MIE is pushing for openminded and transparent representation on the boards of the country’s two major players – Silver Fern Farms and the Alliance Group. However, there are 60 exporters peddling New Zealand-grown red meat in the international marketplace and the reality is your strongest competition will undoubtedly be another Kiwi exporter. Encouraging these companies to get around the table and engage in some fair and frank dialogue certainly can’t hurt the industry. Mark Patterson could be right. If they don’t sort it out, even more disillusioned sheep farmers will be ditching their flocks for more viable land use options.

CONTACTS We appreciate your feedback. Editor Email your comments to michelle.n@theguardian.co.nz or phone 03 307 7971.

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RURAL EDITOR

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Ideal conditions buoy confidence Michelle Nelson

historic high in US dollar terms, driven by drought-like weather patterns. “I was in California in their summer time and it’s pretty dry there, which is influencing prices,” Mr Salvensen said. “The US beef price is very, very strong – it’s at record levels and although we’ve got a strong dollar it’s come back a bit recently and that’s translated through to quite strong prices here.”

RURAL EDITOR

M

eat farmers might finally be getting a “kick at the ball” according to Mid Canterbury high country farmer Michael Salvensen. On the back of a mild winter, ideal spring conditions combined with a more positive outlook for red meat was buoying confidence for farmers, Mr Salvensen – Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury meat and fibre spokesperson said. High country farmers will be getting close to finishing lambing, those on the flat and in the foothills are mostly tailed and are reporting good numbers. “September and October have been good months, with no cold snaps or snow, the

“ Michael Salvensen

September and October have been good months, with no cold snaps or snow, the lambs are looking good and there seems to be plenty of them

However he said the record values achieved were in absolute terms, but not in inflation adjusted terms. “That’s the final sale price, but the store prices are at record levels as well,” he said. “People who are buying stores will get squeezed or murdered. They might not be making the money they think

lambs are looking good and there seems to be plenty of them – most farmers seem pretty happy.” He said prices look fairly steady, and marginally up on last year for lamb. But beef prices are at a

He said calf rearing was not the core business of beef farmers, but the hot US market was looking for friesian bull meat. “There should have probably been more friesian bull calves reared this year, for the US market. “They mainly raise Hereford and Angus cattle on feedlots

– they tend to be quite fatty by the time they are finished, and need some friesian meat to reduce the fat content.” High grain prices over the past two years are squeezing margins on US and Australian feedlots. “It’s a marginal business, so they’ve not been buying so many animals. “If they do get rain in the US they will be keeping female replacement stock and it’s the same in Australia – that will reduce output for the next couple of years, which is dry too. “They’ve been killing record numbers in recently months, partly to take advantage of the high price, and partly because of the drought.” Venison prices are slightly stronger than last year, helped by a drop in the dollar against the Euro, but that currency is back slightly. “The plan is to extend the kill season for venison into other markets over the next two or three years, so the venison price should become more stable,” Mr Salvensen said.

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Change is in the wind Michelle Nelson

in, which gives us confidence,” Mr Patterson said. Whether perception or reality, Mr Patterson said in the past sometimes reform appeared to have been blocked by personalities. “That might be a little unfair to some extent but obviously there’s been some reasonably entrenched views – now there’s a chance to break that cycle and have a fresh set of

RURAL EDITOR

C

hange is in the wind, with Silver Fern Farms (SFF) announcing the resignation of its chief executive Keith Cooper, and Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff stepping down in December. SFF has also signalled a review of its capital structure, which could involve bringing in foreign capital. Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) deputy chairman Mark Patterson says these conditions could be the catalyst for change in a direction the red meat lobby group has been pushing for. “It shows that we are at a genuine infraction point – both with what they are signalling and with the fact there’s new brooms coming

to influence commercially through our shareholding and our voting. “That’s why we are putting so much emphasis on the co-op elections and getting reform candidates on the boards.” The group sees the first step as getting the two coops together to open their books in a transparent and honest way. The last time this

because we then know that we’ve got people there who are prepared to have those conversations.” An MIE farmer survey, funded by Beef+Lamb New Zealand, showed widespread support for industry reform. However farmers also want to see business plans. “They are not much interested in the rhetoric, they want to see what’s in

Whether perception or reality, Mr Patterson said in the past sometimes reform appeared to have been blocked by personalities.

eyes looking at the issues facing the industry. There is still a chance of consolidation – on the face of it it doesn’t make much sense that they would compete against each other. “We are looking at industry consolidation, and probably even wider than the co-ops but the first step is the co-ops, and it is the only step that we, as farmers, have any ability

occurred was in 2007. “Despite all the rhetoric and endless speculation, no one has actually looked at it properly since then,” Mr Patterson said. “They all go through various stages of enthusiasm, but they never seem to be able to get their timing right.” “That’s why we’ve been so specific about pushing reform candidates on to the boards,

it for them, and that hasn’t happened since 2007.” Mr Patterson said with the increasing pressure of changing land use, time was running out for the reform of the red meat industry. “I genuinely think it’s the last chance, in terms of doing things in a managed way,” he said. “The way Silver Fern is restructuring the business is • • • • • •

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essentially signalling that they may be preparing part of it for sale; they are not saying they are going to do that but they are creating an option in the way they are positioning themselves. “From an Alliance perspective, and for those of us that are convinced that the co-operative model is absolutely the right way, those opportunities are not going to be there – right now they’ve got the friendly local co-op down the road, but if its suddenly got a fair chunk of foreign ownership and becomes a much stronger competitor the whole cooperative model becomes inefficient. Using the AFFCO model, Alliance had the opportunity years ago to buy AFFCO for a song, now it’s become a very strong competitor. “Alliance now needs to make a choice whether it wants to work with the friendly local co-op down the road (SFF), or risk it looking elsewhere for investors.”

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5

Venison: Breaking with tradition

D

eer farmers enjoyed better prices for their venison last month, the time of the year when chilled venison demand peaks in Europe. But the industry’s real focus is on getting chilled season prices all year-round. Since early October the national average venison schedule for benchmark 60kg stags has been sitting at around $7.73 a kilo, up from $7.43 last year. Some farmers have been receiving more than $8 a kilo. “This is good news,” Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup said. “But once the last chilled season shipment to Europe departs our shores in early November, the reality is that venison prices will most likely ease again.” Mr Coup the industry is too reliant on producing venison for the short European game season in the northern hemisphere autumn. It is also frustrating for New Zealand producers to send animals for processing before they have reached their growth potential.

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In a slow growth spring like this year, many animals fail to make the cut. Changes in farm production systems and market development are needed to

enable farmers to maximise the income potential of their deer. “Farmers need the tools to grow their animals heavier, earlier and faster, so they

can make the most of the traditional chilled season. “The Advance Parties concept developed by DINZ is an important part of this work. 

“The second is to boost sales at chilled prices yearround, mainly by developing new markets and market segments.” continued over page

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Farming

from page 5 Exporter Andy Duncan, speaking at the NZDFA branch chairmen’s meeting earlier this month, said the industry’s goal of diversifying sales away from the traditional game meat market is making steady progress year by year. This, combined with vastly improved pet food returns, has seen a reduction in the industry’s exposure to the struggling Euro, with 65 per cent of sales last season in Euro and 35 per cent in US dollars – up from 80 per cent and 20 per cent only two years ago. As the US dollar strengthens against the Euro and Kiwi, this will be reflected in better returns to farmers, “once companies work through their hedging positions”. His own business, Duncan & Co, has focused its market development efforts on the sale of Cervena in the United States, with considerable success.  “Chilled season demand in Europe is for loins and legs during their autumn and winter. The rest of the carcase – the shoulders and trim – doesn’t attract a chilled premium because meat from these cuts is slow cooked in a

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goulash where tenderness and mild flavour are not attributes that chefs pay a premium for. “In the last year, we have been selling increasing amounts of trim into other

markets, which means there is less available for goulash, which is a good thing. It puts pressure on prices.” Silver Fern Farms is also looking to move reliance

away from Europe. General manager marketing Sharon Angus told the branch chairmen that the co-operative is developing further the USA market and targeted segments

in Asia. A longer-term prospect is China. She says the company’s surveys show that consumer knowledge and awareness of venison is near nil in in Beijing and Shanghai. But with the right market positioning it has potential. After all, red wine was virtually unknown in China 10 years ago. Today, China is the world’s biggest red wine market. Coup says the potential of China is too large to be ignored. At the same time the market development challenge is too big for any individual company, hence all exporters are working with DINZ on a common strategy. The traditional European game season will always be important, he says, as it will always offer premium prices for premium cuts in the chilled season. Extending the shoulders of the season has long been an industry objective, with modest success to date. “The big prize in Europe is to help develop a new market segment – grilling cuts of farm-raised venison for sale year-round. The concept is supported by food service in the market as well as all five venison exporters.”

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Farming

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Changing times, better times Greg Martin

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BRASS AND FEATHERS

hen you are young, you have poor judgment about things. You lack the perspective that comes from experience and confidence and understanding what is important in life. When I was eight years old what was important to me was catching fish. I wanted to be a success. That meant being quiet and effective and doing things as best you could. So when my brother, three years younger, begged me to let him come fishing with me, I was gruff and serious: “No, you’ll just get your line in a tangle and you’ll scare away the fish.” I was preparing to walk down into the valley through the African grass with my rod and some curry-flavoured bait to catch carp. I am sure my little

brother had burst into tears. I don’t think that was the first or the last time that happened. Fast forward 35 years, and I had driven over the divide to meet Simon at a bach near Lake Brunner for a few days of eagerly-awaited fly fishing on

the West Coast. He had driven down from Nelson and I had towed the boat over from Ashburton. Not only did we have enthusiasm, we also had some hot tips on fishing Brunner from Mike Singleton who used

to work as a planner at the Ashburton District Council. “Forget trawling around the place,” he’d said to me after we’d finished a meeting about some subdivision or other. “Just drift down the shore and cast a small nymph into the

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9

Above – Lake Brunner, the mystery lake.

Fishing the edge of Lake Brunner.

Left – Brother Simon gets a lovely fish.

days everything worked. We caught a fish almost every 15 minutes drifting the bank that first day. And the great thing about Brunner is not the size of the fish (which is generally good), but that the brown trout there

love to jump. I had only seen this with rainbows before. It’s just another thing that makes Brunner a special place. Those three days we tried the rivers as well and there were fish there too. We stayed in a little cottage

near an old gold mine with a wood-fire stove and windows which sealed just well enough to keep the sandflies out. We even found time to stalk a stream for deer and do some impromptu excavation of a washed-out bank hoping for

nuggets of gold. We found no gold, or deer, and went back to drifting around another still water nestled in the prehistoric forest catching yellowy browns which leapt from the peaty water. It was really good fun.

But don’t think that during those three days the older brother didn’t get annoyed with the younger at least once or twice. continued over page

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from page 9 But unlike those many years ago when I had been selfish and trying to be what I thought was adult and manly, this time it wasn’t because my brother was scaring away the fish or getting his line in a tangle. Once or twice that weekend Simon had had a fish grab his fly, but he had either struck too hard, or not tied his knots well enough. The result was a fish bust off. I was annoyed, because my brother was annoyed, and I felt bad for him. Unlike 35 years before, I desperately wanted my best fly-fishing buddy to catch that fish. And when he did it was great and I was ready with the camera to capture the moment. Yes, maturity gives you confidence and wisdom and that means times change, and invariably they change for the better. And those three days on the coast were up there with the best. It was great to take my brother fishing. It is making up for opportunities missed before.

: W O SH BER Y CH EM UR : R U OV RB E) 14 H C 4 N TE AT 20 T IS & 1 AN AIM ER R C B CH 2,13 TH (W EM 1 U W V SOSHO NO ND 2 2

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TIPS FOR FISHING WEST COAST LAKES ■■ Have plenty of weighted hair-and-copper nymphs. They are the “go to” pattern. ■■ Fish a floating line and long light leaders. ■■ A Mrs Simpson on a sinking line works for bigger fish in the afternoon. ■■ Head west when the east coast is getting hammered by a southerly. ■■ Late November to mid-December are the best months. The fish are fat and you’ll have the place to yourself.

Above – Still water on the West Coast. Left – A long-handled net is always useful. Right – Unhooking a good West Coast fish.

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11

Check for fodder beet bolters

F

armers need to change their summer management to keep fodder beet sustainable as an increasingly popular supplementary feed in New Zealand, the seed industry has warned. According to the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association, crops should always be checked for bolters and there are benefits to farmers rogueing bolters. “A single bolter can produce approximately 1500 wild seeds, which then drop to the soil and germinate in subsequent seasons as the soil is disturbed,” NZGSTA general manager Thomas Chin said. “These areas could potentially be thick with weed beet in future years, if not managed. “These are lessons learned in Europe many years ago. Farmers there reduced the potential to continue fodder or sugar beet production in paddocks they had previously used to grow the crop because of the seed burden created by bolters.”

A fodder beet bolter can produce approximately 1500 wild seeds.

Fortunately for New Zealand, we have a significant pastoral base and use many crops in rotations, which do provide the opportunity to manage a weed beet burden, in subsequent seasons. However, it is better if the control occurs at the bolter

stage. There is also the risk of cross pollination affecting specialist vegetable seed crops of beet and chard growing on the Canterbury plains. Any outcrossing would ultimately lead to affected vegetable crops being

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of crops for seed and forage production. Beets are wind pollinated and fodder beets can outcross with redbeets and swiss chards up to 10 kilometres away. The mechanisms which are not yet fully understood by the scientific community and the presence of bolters are accepted as an inevitable part of growing beet crops. What is known is that that the incidence can be accentuated by cold weather during early growth, or by stress factors such as poor fertility, drought, or herbicide stress during the growing season. One of the first things growers can do is to make sure crops are not sown too early. In all beet crops, removal of bolting beet plants is an accepted practice farmers undertake as a normal part of the farming operation. This would need to be done before the plants flower. This should involve breaking the stem at ground and leave on crop canopy. If a crop has started to set seed, remove the bolter plants from the paddock.


Farming

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Resourceful thinking helps reduce wa Resourceful thinking can turn waste into art.

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MASTAGARD ASHBURTON

L

et’s be honest, rubbish isn’t a sexy subject. Maybe that’s because few people understand the complexity and diversity of the resource recovery industry or the resourcefulness required to rethink rubbish. Last week I enjoyed attending the 26th annual NZ WasteMinz Conference in Wellington along with 600 people from around the country and hearing about the changes that are happening nationally and globally. Farm plastic waste, agricultural chemicals, the amount of waste disposed of into farm pits along with the many solutions to reducing household food waste were featured in the presentations. The Plasback stand displaying collection systems for silage

wrap, baling twine, feed sacks and containers and the national Product Stewardship collection programmes were popular stop-off spots for information gathering. If your farm needs help with farm recycling and waste service collections, you

can give Mastagard a call at 0800 627-824 or email glen. sole@envirowaste.co.nz or sherylstivens@gmail.com To arrange a collection bin for bale wrap or twine you can contact www.plasback.co.nz Here in Ashburton we can recycle most clean household

plastics, plus a wide range of commercial plastics from businesses, except for the very difficult polystyrene packaging or black meat trays. Foodstuffs who were presenting at the WasteMinz Conference have been selling 100 million polystyrene trays

per annum nationally and their customers are now saying they are not happy about nonrecyclable polystyrene meat trays and the waste they create. Due to this feedback New World is about to trial a more sustainable meat tray made from PET plastic or even

Working with you for a greener tomorrow Specialists in all types of waste removal Frontload bins for General Waste Gantry Skips for Building sites or a home clean up

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13

waste

RPET, which is recycled plastic from drink bottles that can now be manufactured right here in New Zealand and recycled again and again. Envirowaste Services Limited, which now owns Mastagard, is working on a project to turn waste plastic

that is difficult to recycle into diesel or fuel. Watch this space, it would be a good use for all the soiled and dirty plastics from the local meat industry. Envirowaste is committed to recycling quality plastics to ensure the best use of this resource, however there will always be a stream of plastics that is too contaminated for the recycling market, so turning it back into fuel seems a logical solution if it can be done economically. It was inspiring to see the Envirowaste team with its display of recycled artworks that had been created with a simple in-house competition aimed at resourceful thinking. I really liked the front of a truck turned into a seat and the bottle and wooden pallet shelf. The Glass Packaging Forum has done a great job of getting all the glass-sellers and packagers on board to recycle more glass over the past 10 years and has now launched the Packaging Forum. The forum aims to get businesses to look at ways to better design for packaging, especially plastic, so that it does not end up as waste.

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? THE PLASTIC BANK Pound for pound plastic is more expensive than steel – yet it is still one of the least recycled materials we produce. Given that almost all plastic ever made is still present in the environment it makes sense to re-use it. Two entrepreneurs from Vancouver Canada have taken the recycling principle one

step further by accepting what they term social plastics to be gleaned from the world’s oceans, landfills and other sources, as a form of currency to be redeemed at plastic banks. People living in poverty are being encouraged to collect and sort plastics and take them to the banks where

they will be paid for their efforts. The plastic banks aim to lift people out of poverty into a self-sustaining life of entrepreneurship. Interestingly the social plastic is being reused in 3D printing which can produce anything from medical prosthetics to household goods.

COMPOSTING DEMO FREE home composting demo – Make your own garden fertilisers. See how easy it is to feed your food scraps to a worm

There is no doubt that businesses will drive the sea change needed to reduce waste and find ways to turn materials into successful green business products over time.

farm, bokashi bucket or compost bin. At the Eco Education Centre – alongside Mastagard Recycling Shed

We can all do our bit with resourceful thinking at work, school or at home to make small changes to the way we shop and live each and every day. Help with reducing your

Monday, November 17, 1–2pm All welcome, phone 0800 627-824 or email sherylstivens@gmail.com

waste, recycling more plastic or dealing with foodwaste at work or at home is only a call away. Phone Mastagard 0800 627-824 or email sherylstivens@gmail. com

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Changes to rest and meal breaks Christine Summerville

EMPLOYMENT MATTERS

T

he final reading of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill is happening as this article is being written. The Government has the numbers to pass the bill. There are some good changes for employers, however there’s also one area of particular concern. Rights relating to breaks will likely have the greatest impact on the largest number of employers. The changes provide greater flexibility for providing breaks, moving away from the current prescriptive nature of the legislation. There will no longer be an absolute requirement to Guardian provide Ashburton rest and meal breaks 307mm x 102mm

under certain circumstances. This may include an emergency situation where the welfare of stock takes precedent or in sole-charge circumstances where the employee is still required to be aware of their responsibilities during their break, and may perform duties if required to. The changes will enable the employer and the employee to negotiate when rest and meal breaks are to be taken and for

The legislation also makes it necessary to compensate an employee that doesn’t have a break. Compensation may include starting late or accumulating the break times and taking them together. This will be particularly helpful for workplaces that may work through breaks on most days, but everyone knocks off early on Friday. There are additional twists and turns to the changes

workplaces is the flexible working arrangements. Currently, after six months employment, employees with responsibilities for the care of others have the right to request flexible working arrangements. For example, a request for reduced hours or working from home. Currently the employee can only make one request every 12 months. The bill extends this right to all employees irrespective

The legislation also makes it necessary to compensate an employee that doesn’t have a break

how long. If agreement isn’t reached, the employer will be able to set down the times, with the legislation specifying they must be reasonable. However, an employer’s health and safety obligations remain and therefore it is imperative this is taken into account when considering breaks.

including providing an opportunity for employees to negotiate breaks. Good faith obligations remain and our advice is to ensure any agreements reached are clearly recorded in writing and signed by both parties. The second area of change that will have the most impact on non-unionised

of the reason, from their first day of employment, and the number of requests is unlimited. There are limited specified grounds that an employer can refuse a request. In view of the recent Human Rights Tribunal decision which saw an employer having to pay an employee $40,000 for

requiring the employee to continue to work Saturdays, this legislative change is concerning. Most of the remaining changes are about negotiations with unions. According to the Companies Office annual union membership report, union membership accounted for only 15.7 per cent of the total labour force as at March 1 this year. As such these are not the issues that concern the majority of employers. As with all legislation changes, case law will be instrumental in interpreting what the legislation actually means. Hopefully the very narrow interpretation being placed on 90-day trial periods will not be extended to these updates. Chapman Employment Relations provides employment law and HR advice exclusively to employers. Any questions regarding this column can be e-mailed to christine@chapmaner.co.nz.

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Help your Hawke’s Bay cousins get Hawke’s Bay farmers – like those who met recently at INZ board member Hugh Ritchie’s property – need support from their Mid Canterbury cousins to understand the benefits of irrigation.

T

here’s no denying the payback that longestablished irrigation infrastructure has provided Mid Canterbury. Farmers in this district have been able to tap into water for irrigation purposes through a number of avenues; through the Rangitata Diversion Race and its shareholder schemes, through early pioneering efforts to drill water and establish

groundwater availability and latterly through modern developments like the Barrhill Chertsey Irrigation project. We all know that Mid Canterbury’s wealth, its diversity of land uses and productive enterprises, owe much to the availability of water and more recently to efforts to store it, improve the reliability of supply and ensure sustainable use so it’s available

for future generations. In other parts of the country, farmers seeking irrigation water have not been so fortunate. In Hawke’s Bay currently, a campaign is under way to convince local growers to support the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme. While the merits of the project are without question, Hawke’s Bay farmers need to be convinced to open their wallets

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and back farming communities that need help to get irrigation projects over the line. There’s a strong argument that areas that benefited from early irrigation development have a responsibility to promote the irrigation story to the rest of the community. That means not just telling your local council, business suppliers and electorate MP what irrigation means for your farming

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Ruataniwha over the line

this is by contacting farming friends, rural sector contacts and industry organisations in the Hawke’s Bay and telling them what irrigation has done for you. Irrigation provides surety of income, enables growers to lock in contracts and diversify land use. In many cases, access to water has been the impetus for succession planning, allowing farmers to break away from the

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operation and district, but what on a national scale investment in irrigation development means for our nation, through more reliable, efficient and sustainable production. IrrigationNZ is calling on farmers in this area, and other districts lucky enough to have established irrigation infrastructure, to stand up and be counted. The main way you can do

store stock trade, beat droughts and make a consistent return on capital for their generation and the next. Hawke’s Bay growers and farmers will need to commit to the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme soon because the opportunity for reliable water won’t arise again and the project’s backers need assurances of uptake before Christmas.

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Of course, there’s debate about the cost-sharing model, the implications of land use change and what nutrient management schemes will be required, but the bigger picture is the opportunity is here now and we don’t want to lose it. Hawke’s Bay has a lot going for it. We all think of tourism, the wine industry and its enviable climate, but the reality for the region is also high unemployment in many towns, struggling businesses and everpresent drought. There have been a lot of rumours and incorrect perceptions hampering the project’s progress and we hope tonight’s meeting will clarify much of this. Irrigating farmers in Mid Canterbury can help by

providing their perspective on how they make the numbers work when irrigating and why irrigation stacks up for them financially. If you don’t have any contacts in the Hawke’s Bay that you can directly approach, IrrigationNZ would be happy to put you on to irrigators who have approached us with questions, wanting real-life examples and case studies that tackle the issues they need addressed. There’s no stronger message than one farmer talking to another, so please let us know if you can help in any way. It really is now or never for Ruataniwha and both IrrigationNZ and Federated Farmers believe the economics can be made to work.

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MIE backs Drummond for board

T

John McCarthy

36 Hickory Place, Hornby CHCH P 03 344 5645 Sales Maurice Jordan 0272 607 821 Terry Gordon 0272 60 7820 Service Dave Paris 0272 607 822 Parts Grant Legge 0277 056 837

he Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group is backing Southland farmer Russell Drummond’s bid for a seat on the Alliance Group board. MIE chairman John McCarthy says Mr Drummond hasn’t been a member of, or held any role with, MIE, but has the vision and expertise needed to help the co-op take the strategic steps it needs to take to lift returns for shareholders. “MIE has always said it will endorse candidates who are best for the job – it doesn’t matter whether or not they’ve got any history with MIE,” Mr McCarthy said. Mr Drummond, with his wife Janeen, runs RG & JM Drummond Farms, comprising three farms, Home Farm, Topfarm – Affleck Road, and Dilston Valley – 5 Rivers, comprising around 22,000 stock units. Mr McCarthy said that MIE

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had held discussions with Mr Drummond to understand what he would be campaigning on and what he stood for if elected to the board, and would be endorsing his candidacy to MIE supporters, and to shareholders in favour of co-op and industry reform. “He has an ambitious vision for Alliance and our industry and understands the issues and challenges facing sheep and beef farmers,” Mr McCarthy said. “Mr Drummond supports structural reform of the industry to ensure its future viability, and that the co-ops must lead this.” Two weeks ago, MIE endorsed Wanaka farmer Dr Mandy Bell’s nomination for the Alliance board. “Mr Drummond and Dr Bell offer Alliance shareholders a clear choice for those wanting to vote for change and reform of their co-op and improved performance,” Mr McCarthy said.


www.guardianonline.co.nz

19

D&E excited by new model Polaris By Drummond & Etheridge

P

olaris is upping the ante in the New Zealand side-x-side market with the impending release of a model with the features, durability and capabilities that New Zealand farmers have been screaming out for. “The new 570HD Ranger is taking Polaris to the next level in side-x-sides” says Danny King, Drummond & Etheridge’s Polaris Sales Consultant. “Last year’s Ranger model provided the benchmark for side-x-sides and now this new feature packed 570HD is simply streaks ahead of anything else on the market” Leading the way in terms of features is the inclusion of an engine braking system with 4-Wheel Descent Control (4WDC) to provide optimum control and traction when descending slopes. The 4WDC system is already tried and true in New Zealand having been included on the Polaris UTE launched last year. The 2015 Ranger 570HD also comes with other heavy

duty features such as a HD sway bar, upgraded rear driveshaft and grease fittings as standard to not only provide increased durability

standard Electronic Power Steering (EPS), 10 percent more engine power, enhance styling, increased Lock & Ride accessory compatibility,

conscious by offering seat belt interlock and Speed Key compatibility for the Ranger 570 HD. The seat belt interlock operates by limiting

The new 570HD at the Polaris product launch in Minneapolis, which was attended by D&E’s PHOTO SUPPLIED Polaris expert, Danny King.

in harsh conditions, but also to provide easier ongoing maintenance. Further upgrades for 2015 over the previous Ranger 570 model include

increased suspension travel and greater cab comfort, including standard tilt steering. Polaris is also providing further options for the safety

the top speed to 24 km/ph when the seat belt is not engaged, whilst the Speed Key is a separate key to the vehicle (available as an accessory) which limits the top speed to

40 km/ph. At the heart of the Ranger 570 is a 567cc, fuel-injected ProStar engine pushing out 44hp, with this model also featuring Polaris’ legendary On-Demand True All-Wheel Drive. Living by Polaris’ mantra of “Hardest Working, Smoothing Riding”, the Ranger 570 boasts class leading capabilities including a 680kg towing capacity, 227kg rear dump box capacity and 34.1L fuel capacity. Danny was lucky enough to attend a Polaris product launch in Minneapolis in the US, earlier this year. “Polaris have released a massive 23 new models in the 2015 product range – 10 of which we should see here in New Zealand,” says Danny. “And the new features are just outstanding - the Polaris side-x-sides are a cut above anything else on the market” The release of 2015 Ranger 570 HD will continue the momentum of Polaris which has grown its year-to-date sales by a staggering 37.3 per cent over the same period in 2013. Advertising feature

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Self-inflicted poverty? There is a

O

ne of the few advantages of being a national superannuitant are the opportunities provided by Gold Card membership. These are not huge in rural New Zealand townships such as Ashburton, but certainly give worthwhile savings in cities with public transport systems. Free transport in cities like Auckland and Wellington provides an opportunity to observe living standards, population densities and community pride in suburbs of all ethnic populations, habitation and decile ratings. At the same time a hands-on guide to the true situation of transport issues can be ascertained. Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent upgrading both road and rail corridors over the past 10 years, Auckland travel times remain frustrating. However, the percentage of singleoccupant vehicles crossing the Harbour Bridge remains very high and public transport numbers disappointingly low. Until the Auckland City Council recognises that efficient

John Leadley

RURAL COMMENT

overseas city transport systems (Singapore, London, Paris, Tokyo etc) are only affordable when city plans enforce high density housing, the situation has little room for change. From a national perspective urban sprawl over productive agricultural land is a major issue. It would be great if some of the Government largesse spent on public transport in Auckland could be diverted to rural road maintenance. Even better, upgrade the rail corridor as an efficient alternative to reduce the increasing number of extra heavy (H) freight vehicles wrecking our rural roads. Sooner or later a bridge failure on a major highway will prove the fallacy of the policy of ever greater loads. With the rail corridor

servicing all major ports, there must be a means of encouraging its use from manufacture to export destination.

Ownership I’ve always believed that ownership encourages pride and this is very evident from

bus travel around suburban Auckland. State housing settlements in particular clearly emphasise this scenario (with a few notable exceptions), with

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better way Left – Guardian Farming columnist John Leadley asks: Why can’t we grow our own fresh vegetables and enjoy the cost savings and health benefits?

grassed areas often occupied only by unkempt grass, brokendown vehicles and large dogs. A productive vegetable garden is a very rare sight.

Even in the streets of Ashburton, the differing levels of pride between rented and owner-occupied properties is often clear to see. One statistic from the latest census that clearly needs addressing by the Government is the almost 1 per cent per annum decline in home ownership in New Zealand over the past eight years. While the reasons for this are many and varied, surely at a time of low and stable interest rates, this trend must be reversed. Debt-free home ownership at retirement should be the aim of every family unit. Throughout the election campaign we were continually told that 250,000 of our nation’s children are undernourished and that many are sent to school without a proper breakfast. Maybe partially true? Any expectation that the state should universally provide food for schools of any decile

rating is quite obnoxious to this writer. Yes, there are pockets of relative poverty across the country and many schools can and do provide food, but surely feeding and clothing your own family is a basic requirement of parenting. I was interested that three Northland low-decile school principals interviewed on Morning Report last week all opposed the introduction of free breakfasts promoted by some Opposition proponents. Many schools, even locally, have voluntary systems in place that address extreme situations. I’m quietly optimistic that the new Social Welfare Minister, Anne Tolley, will pursue the pitfalls of what is historically an over-generous welfare system with the same vigour of her predecessor, Paula Bennett. There were 10,000 fewer people on benefits in September 2014 than a year previously. Ten million dollars has been

saved by stopping benefits to 21,000 on overseas travel. Ongoing recovery of student debt is a similar scenario and an annual drop of 8.9 per cent of those receiving sole parental benefits. These are all worthwhile savings pointing to greater self-responsibility. The longer the expectation that the state will provide for health and education needs until the age of 20 is allowed to continue, the greater the problem will become. The “Cradle to Grave” social welfare that is practised in some countries – notably Scandinavia – is proving unsustainable and counterproductive. Do we really want to pay taxes up to 90 per cent? What we do need is a welfare system that promotes selfdiscipline, energy, pride and spending prioritisation. Do we really need 50 months’ interest free to replace a bed? Isn’t that five-year-old TV still giving good service?

Why can’t we grow our own fresh vegetables and enjoy the cost savings and health benefits? Can’t we spend just a little bit less at Christmas if we are short of cash, and save the annual spike in family violence when the account arrives in the New Year for the credit card? Is the 7 per cent of income the average New Zealand family spends on alcohol and tobacco really necessary? (Statistics NZ figures). Surely healthy food and warm clothing come first. I admire immensely the young workers who still have been able to make the sacrifices to enable entry on the property ladder at whatever level, despite high property values. These folk prove that energy, commitment and self-discipline can still bring satisfying rewards. They are the role models for the future. Self-inflicted poverty? There is a better way.

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Working together to understand and protect our freshwater resource

This map shows the proportion of allocated water use in the Ashburton Zone during the 2013/14 water year. The analysis is based on records from the 2076 consented surface water and groundwater takes in the Ashburton Zone that abstracted water at a rate of 5 l/s or more. By Environment Canterbury

Measured takes with data in the Ashburton Zone.

Many more farmers have installed water measuring devices in the latest water year – which ended on June 30 – compared with the previous water year. The increased number of measured water takes shows consented water users are making good progress in capturing and providing the data required to better understand water use. This water use information is needed to: • Find out how much water is used in the whole catchment; • Measure the effect of water use on a stream or aquifer; • See if sufficient water is available to meet demand; and • Evaluate the outcome of our region’s plans and policies. The innovative map shown above is an example of ArcMap, a geographic information system (GIS) application, which has been used to map the measured data from these takes to show the percentage of allocation used.

The result of this analysis shows marked differences in actual water use throughout the zone. The demand for water will vary from take to take due to a number of reasons such as land use, soil type, plant type, irrigation method, water availability and climate. While this map is indicative only, future versions will become more accurate as farmers collect and provide Environment Canterbury with more high quality data. Environment Canterbury will continue to work with farmers and the agribusiness sector to develop and promote best management practices for water use, which include accurate and reliable measurement. An integrated picture of water allocation and use comes from farmers measuring water takes combined with scientific investigation and monitoring by Environment Canterbury. We believe that by working together we can enable better understanding and protection of the region’s water resources. Advertising feature


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Bird disturbance can create massive d I

t’s that time of year again – spring. There’s a great surge of green in the paddocks and in the trees, weather can be wild and windy, or beautiful and calm – ideal for fishing or going for a drive. Just about everyone loves the longer days and the chance to get outdoors a bit more than in winter. Spring is also nesting time for our birds. Every year concerned members of the public make a plea to fishers and fourwheel-drivers to steer clear of the riverbeds so that our rare native birds get a chance to nest and raise their chicks without disturbance. Some of the riverbed birds are numerous, like the loud and raucous black-backed gull. There’s no worries about this species – these gulls have thrived alongside humans and have benefited from our nutrient-rich farmland. They nest in their thousands and there is no mistaking a black-backed gull colony. On the other hand, some of the other birds are small, well-

Mary Ralston

FOREST AND BIRD

camouflaged and do not nest in huge colonies. The wrybill nests exclusively on our braided rivers; the whole global population of this species is totally dependent in the breeding season on Canterbury rivers. It is small and well camouflaged. Its future is threatened by floods, predation by introduced mammals and the black-backed gull and disturbance. We can’t do much about the floods, but the variable we can all help with is disturbance – fishers and drivers are asked to keep well away from any birds making obvious signs they are nesting, such as giving a broken wing display. Dogs can be a nuisance too; they are best left at home. Banded dotterels are not as

rare as wrybill but are also at risk from predation and disturbance. They are also small and wellcamouflaged against the grey riverbed stones, so may not be seen until you are right on top

of a nesting bird. The distinctive black and white South Island pied oystercatchers are noisy and not camouflaged – but as they are also ground nesting they are vulnerable to disturbance.

They are dutiful parents and often leave the nest to drive off what they perceive is a threat – such as a person walking past or a dog coming too close. They trouble is, if this occurs many times, the chances

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25

damage to ground-nesting numbers

Left – A banded dotterel with a nest. Above – South Island pied oystercatchers in flight. PHOTO PETER LANGLANDS

are greater of the eggs getting cold or the chicks being taken by a predator. In sites that have significant disturbance, many oystercatchers fail to raise chicks because of the numerous

times they leave the nest. Another species totally reliant on shingle riverbeds for nesting is the black-fronted tern. Numbers of these birds have dropped dramatically in the past 40 years, due to increased

disturbance and predation. Terns nest in small colonies of about two to 30 pairs on stoney or sandy areas amongst sparse vegetation. The female lays one or two eggs which the pair vigorously

IT’S HERE!

defend by screeching and divebombing. Many community groups do a great job of trapping the predators that eat our vulnerable ground-nesting birds. But predators are only

a small part of the story – disturbance in spring is a critical factor in whether or not adults will successfully raise their young. Please be mindful of these precious Kiwis this spring.

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Subdivision process is not as quick

I

t’s just a boundary adjustment. Yeah right. The subdivision process, whilst often thought to be a simple exercise that is quick and easy, is a “process” involving many parties. We will explain the process to you, so you can be well informed and organised to undertake a subdivision or boundary adjustment. The first stages of the process are conducted under the Resource Management Act 1991 and begin with an application to the District Council to request its consent to subdivide a parcel of land – whether that is twenty hectares off your farm, dividing your section in town or a larger residential development. The reference to a “subdivision” is often used interchangeably with a “boundary adjustment”. However, a subdivision is dividing a parcel of land into one or more parcels of land and a boundary adjustment is changing an existing boundary location. The application for a resource consent to subdivide is best undertaken by a

V

Alana Crampton

TAVENDALE AND PARTNERS

professional who is aware of the relevant District Plan rules, which cover things like how small the parcel of land can be (which depends upon zoning rules), what entranceway is required, and whether the subdivision will have effects on the environment like increased noise or traffic. A surveyor also needs to be engaged to complete an initial plan of the land and determine what (if any) easements are required. This survey plan will be part of the application. The application is then submitted to the Council who are governed by timeframes. If consent is granted, it is ordinarily granted subject to conditions being satisfied: for example, the widening and/

or sealing of an entranceway; the retention of an area of land for a Council Reserve; or the vesting of a road. If a condition cannot be satisfied, a consent notice may need to be registered on the new titles. A consent notice might specify, for example, that an owner must install a drinkable water supply for a new dwelling or

that a bond is to be paid to the Council and will be repaid once the condition is satisfied. The surveyor will simultaneously be completing the field work, including the pegging of the boundaries. Some phrases you may have heard of are, a “section 223 certificate” and a “section 224(c) certificate”. These

certificates are granted by the Council under the Resource Management Act, and are the Council’s sign-off that the survey plan from the surveyor is in accordance with the subdivision consent (s223) and that all conditions that were imposed on the granting of the consent have been complied with (s224(c)). The section 223

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k and easy as you may think

situations. These are generally in favour of neighbouring lots or councils. The right to convey water is very important in rural locations. CPW have spent a lot of time and effort giving the necessary easements. Covenants are registered to provide for particular requirements at particular

This article is necessarily brief and general in nature. You should seek guidance from your legal advisor before taking any action related to the matters raised in this article. Alana Crampton is a senior associate of Tavendale and Partners, a leading agribusiness and commercial law firm.

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depending on where the land is situated, perhaps water. These further parts of the process are then managed under the Cadastral Survey Act 2002, the Unit Titles Act 2010 and the Land Transfer Act 1952. Easements are registered to deal with rights of entry, and the provision of utilities such as water and power in certain

that have a registered mortgage, as its consent to the subdivision and easements is required (because it is giving away part of its security). The new computer freehold registers are then issued by Land Information New Zealand and the mortgages are registered on the new titles together with the necessary easements, covenants and consent notices. The land is then in a form that it can be sold, purchased or swapped, as required. So, the hand-shake deal over the fence to shift the boundary can take at least six months, but with the right professionals and the knowledge you now have, you can complete the “simple” boundary adjustment.

WI N

certificate from the Council is then submitted to Land Information New Zealand (also previously known as the Land Titles Office) to approve the survey plan. You are responsible for ensuring there are services for the subdivided property – such as electricity, phone and telecommunication media and

locations – such as the requirement to have building plans agreed by a developer, or fence height or location restrictions. Drive through any subdivision: the design and patterns of construction are no coincidence, they are controlled by covenants – some even restrict the type of pets that can be kept. No pigeons or hens is a good example .There may be financial contributions, also known as “development contributions”, payable to the Council for the creation of a new property which requires the Council’s infrastructure. These will need to be paid prior to the Council issuing the section 224(c) certificate. The certificate is then provided to the surveyor confirming that the consent for the subdivision has been complied with. Then the lawyer enters the process (my favourite part!) and prepares the documents to request new computer freehold or leasehold registers (previously known as “certificates of title”) from Land Information New Zealand. The lawyer will need to liaise with all mortgagees

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Warning for agrichemical operators R ural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) has endorsed the warnings made recently by Waikato Regional Council (WRC) that agrichemical contractors operating without certification are breaching regulations. Chief executive Roger Parton says RCNZ shares the concerns WRC – and other regional councils – have about unqualified and/ or unregistered chemical

applicators not been properly trained or qualified to spray agrichemicals. “RCNZ has a chemical applicator accreditation programme to meet the needs of both our members and the industry.” Mr Parton says the application of agrichemicals has to be carried out in a competent and professional manner to ensure the

enhancement of the crop and the safety of the operator, the environment and the public. He says there are two levels of agrichemical applicator accreditation available through Rural Contractors New Zealand: ■■ Basic Chemical Applicator ■■ Registered Chemical Applicator

These are personal accreditation held by the individual. “Rural Contractors New Zealand has a strict policy in regards to any person applying agrichemicals in a public

place or on private property for hire and reward,” Mr Parton explains. “He or she has either got to be the holder of a Registered Chemical Applicator accreditation or have a Basic Chemical Applicator (or equivalent) accreditation and be operating under the immediate and direct supervision of the holder of a Registered Chemical Applicator accreditation.” Mr Parton adds that all agrichemical contractors accredited through RCNZ carry wallet cards to prove their accreditation. RCNZ also supports the

council’s reminder about rules requiring neighbours to be notified before any spraying takes place. “However, spraying can only take place when weather conditions are suitable and sometimes this does not permit the notification timeframes required in the rules,” he explains. Meanwhile, Mr Parton says contractors wanting information about correct agrichemical application procedures, training, certification and safety will find all the necessary information under the chemical applicator section of the RCNZ website: www. ruralcontractors.org. nz

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Avoiding gastric ulcers in horses Jenny Paterson

T

BSC ZOOLOGY AND BIOLOGY

he symptoms of stomach ulcers are confusingly similar to those of being “grass-affected” so therefore it is best not to leap to the conclusion that your horse has stomach ulcers without first eliminating other possible causes and obtaining a definitive diagnosis from your veterinarian using the “scoping” procedure. Be aware that ulcers can also form further down the intestinal tract in the small intestine, the caecum and the hind-gut where they are obviously harder to diagnose. Horses are designed to graze almost continuously, therefore their stomachs produce hydrochloric acid continuously (as much as 1.5 litres/hour), as opposed to

humans when it is produced only when we actually eat. When horses are fed “meals” without access to roughage in between, the stomach is subjected to prolonged periods without feed to neutralise the acid. Ulcers can start if the stomach is empty for as little as four hours. Horses out at pasture 24/7 or otherwise housed with ad lib access to hay, are very unlikely to develop stomach ulcers. In fact part of the “cure” for horses with ulcers, apart from a course of medication, is adlib forage availability. Ulcers are like “internal open skin wounds” (painful!) and are also susceptible to bacterial infection. They cause the following: going off their feed, weight loss, episodes of “Periprandial” colic (associated with feed time or riding), tooth grinding, uncharacteristic behaviour (aggression, nervousness), poor performance, agitation, depression, lying down more than normal, general signs of discomfort, and stereotypes

such as wind-sucking. Ulcers are most common in horses that perform athletic activities, 80-90 per cent of racehorses have been found to suffer from ulcers and it is no wonder. We met a wonderful lady in Australia who works at a prominent racing stable where the horses are fed twice a day with no roughage whatsoever. The afternoon feeds are dished out between 2-3pm and they are well finished by 5pm leaving them with nothing to eat (or do) until between 6am and 7am the next morning! This is astounding in light of the fact these horses are expected to perform at their peak and one day win races! Exercise increases gastric acid production and also causes the acidic fluid to splash around the upper, more vulnerable portion of the stomach. Exercise on an empty stomach is far from ideal for this reason. When transporting horses for long distances it is wise to

stop and unload them every couple of hours so they can have a graze or some hay. Long-term administration of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Bute, are detrimental to the stomach's delicate mucus layer, making it more susceptible to ulcers. Short-term use, when necessary, is absolutely fine to avoid the horse enduring unnecessary pain.

Prevention and treatment of ulcers As always, prevention is preferable to treatment. Feeding horses on a freechoice basis helps to keep the acid in the stomach buffered by stimulating production of saliva which is nature's best antacid.

There are several approaches in the treatment of ulcers in horses: 1. Administration of substances which neutralise the acid much like antacids in humans. However, for horses, the

dose of antacids required to buffer the extremely low pH of their stomach acid is very high and would need to be used several times a day to be effective. 2. Or administration of substances which inhibit the production of acid. However acid in the stomach is there for a very good reason so suppressing acid production can disrupt normal digestion. 3. “Mastiha gum resin” (which does not involve neutralising or suppressing stomach acid production) has been used successfully for horses with ulcers where conventional drug treatments have not been effective. Obviously any treatment needs to be accompanied by appropriate lifestyle changes to prevent recurrences most importantly rectifying the diet to ensure your horse(s) never run out of forage especially when they are confined in stables or yards.

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Health and safety worth effort

A

re health and safety worth your investment as a business owner? Health and safety is an area that over recent years, coupled with other compliance costs, is all too often associated with high cost and little return. I have been discussing with clients lately that although not always easily measured or tangible, there is a direct link between health and safety in your business to your people, their productivity and their commitment. By embedding a solid culture of health and safety you take your employment relationship a step further – you commit to ensuring your team are as important to you as the people they go home to at the end of the day. There are a number of benefits that flow through from health and safety to make a direct impact on your business: ■■ Fewer injuries means everyone is working. When a member of the team is away it leads

Jane Fowles

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HEALTH AND SAFETY FIRST

to increased stress and fatigue for the employer and other members of the team, subsequently resulting in more injuries or mistakes; Safer workplaces leads to better retention of your team, improved recruitment and enhanced reputation; Steps to becoming an employer of choice and thus avoiding replacement and retraining costs; Fewer injuries means reduced down time – especially with machinery and processing; A positive workplace with open communication about health and safety leads to trust and

confidence being built between employer and employees which in turns increases morale and job satisfaction; ■■ Increased overall health and wellbeing – fewer sick days; ■■ You can save money – fewer injuries help to reduce your ACC levies. The World Health Organisation describes the link as a circle – “improved conditions of work will lead to a healthier workforce, which will lead to improved productivity, and hence the opportunity to create a still healthier, more productive workplace”. So, although not easily measured, surely it can be agreed that the cost of not doing health and safety definitely outweighs the cost of doing it? Have a question for me on health and safety compliance or HR? Phone me now on 0800BIZSAFE for advice, or book in now your free workplace no obligation H&S health check!

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Farming

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Cash bo

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Wilding conifer trees in Canterbury. PHOTO SUPPLIED

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ontrol of wilding conifer trees in Canterbury will be boosted by a cash injection. The Government has allocated $309,000 funding to support wilding conifer control work by the Waimakariri Ecological and Landscape Restoration Alliance (WELRA) for the next three years. Conifer trees were planted in the Waimakariri Basin during the 1950s and 1960s as part of an erosion research control programme. However, New Zealand’s climate promotes quick growth and conifers can seed up to 10km from the original trees. This has led to rapid spread across the upland landscape, which affects recreational and other opportunities. It also has a significant impact economically through the loss of grazing land and culturally and ecologically, when pines shade out rare plants and habitats. Environment Canterbury resource management director Kim Drummond says the funding, from the Department of Conservation’s Community Conservation Partnership

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33

oost to combat wilding pines in this case the department, and one contract gang,” Mr Drummond said. “The efficiencies from working together means more funding for control work.” Environment Canterbury has been involved in this work for several years at a number of levels. “Funding from our Biodiversity Fund and the Immediate Steps programme through the Canterbury Water Management Strategy SelwynWaihora Zone Committee has been provided,” Mr Drummond said.  “We offer WELRA staff time, work plan support, financial administration and reporting, co-ordination of volunteer days, support for grant applications and advice on control priorities and methodology.” Environment Canterbury funded a consultant to prepare a wilding conifer management plan and later a review. It has been part of a working group assisting the Ministry for Primary Industries in developing a national strategy for the management of the pest. The document is currently

RU RO R AD AL S

Fund, would add impetus to the excellent collaborative work that has been done over the past few years to control the pest. “Wilding conifers represent a very serious threat to the biodiversity of the Waimakariri Basin and the large, open montane landscapes that define the South Island high country,” Mr Drummond said. A successful partnership between WELRA, a communitydriven incorporated society, the Department of Conservation and Environment Canterbury has been instrumental in containing and reducing wilding conifer around Flock Hill in upper Waimakariri. The Canterbury Wilding Conifer Strategy 2010–2015 identifies the partnership approach as a key component to achieving its objectives. The strategy includes an agreement between the Department of Conservation, Land Information New Zealand, Federated Farmers and Environment Canterbury to take a united approach to managing the wilding problem in Canterbury. “Collaboration means we have one contract manager,

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at final draft stage. “WELRA, with the support of funders and partners, is making excellent progress on the initial control operations across the basin,” Mr Drummond said. “This new government funding means the eradication of wilding conifer from the Waimakariri Basin remains a realistic and achievable goal.”

Background WELRA has a Wilding Tree Management Plan for the Waimakariri area, raises funds and co-ordinates control work to implement the management plan. Over the past six years WELRA has raised over $900,000 for wilding control which has been spent on ground and aerial contractors. The contractors’ control work has been complemented by the efforts of volunteers who have removed wildings from large, sparsely covered areas near State Highway 73 and elsewhere. Volunteer groups are made up of tramping clubs, 4WD enthusiasts, environmental and school groups, businesses, and concerned community

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members. Unlike gorse and broom, conifer seeds remain viable for only three to five years. If an area is cleared of wilding and seed source trees have been removed, two or three maintenance passes at three-year intervals is all that is required to eliminate the wildings from that area forever. The six wilding species targeted for control in WELRA’s management plan score 9 out of 10 in the Department of Conservation’s Effect on Ecosystems database (a score of 10 having the worst effect on native ecosystems). Wildings are long-lived and capable of out-competing all native plant species in nearly all communities except dense forest. They can therefore change the ecology, habitat and natural dynamics of large areas very rapidly. As well as the impact on biodiversity, wilding trees threaten to smother the renowned mountain views and open vistas of the tussock lands along Highway 73 and the Trans Alpine rail link – one of New Zealand’s most scenic and popular tourist routes, to

increase the cost of keeping infrastructure corridors open, and to impact the productive value of pastoral lands. Cultural and historical outcomes of the project include protection of areas of considerable cultural interest to Waitaha and Ngai Tahu, and sites of historic interest in the Avoca.

Funding Environment Canterbury has an annual budget of approximately $400,000 for wilding conifer control and a further sum is provided from other funders such as land occupiers and the Lotteries Environment and Heritage Fund. Funding is available to landowners from the Canterbury Biodiversity Strategy and the Immediate Steps programme for projects which protect or enhance biodiversity and/ or improve water quality. To apply for funding for more information, contact the Environment Canterbury Biodiversity Team – (03) 3653828 or www.ecan.govt.nz/ biodiversity

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Farming

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Joyce checks out Mid Canty innovators By Michelle Nelson

O

n a flying visit to Mid Canterbury recently Economic Development and Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce visited two innovative agricultural businesses. His first stop was South Pacific Seeds, where production manager David Harrison gave him a run down on the multi-million dollar small seed business, which now employs 50 fulltime staff, with an additional 50 coming on board over the summer months. The operation now covers about 2000ha in Mid Canterbury, where the mild winters, cool summers and fertile soils offer ideal growing conditions. Next up was Roz and Craige Mackenzie’s arable farm near Methven, where data

management was on the agenda. Since taking over the farm in 1993, the couple have been determined to make their farming activities a success by employing state-of-the-art technology to maximise production in a sustainable manner, culminating in them taking home the 2013 Ballance Farm Enviroment Award. Mr Mackenzie was recently appointed chairman of the Precision Agriculture Association, succeeding inaugural chair Peter Barrowclough. He spoke about the role of data management in reducing their environmental footprint, using data mapping and soil probes. Mr Mackenzie said it was possible to increase productivity, reduce costs and eliminate leaching using technology to keep nitrogen within crop root zones.

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Farming

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www.guardianonline.co.nz

Is it one of those seasons? Tony Davoren

T

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he last time we had sufficient rainfall to refill soil profiles was back around the middle of July. Not only that, it is now nearly two months since I “put it out there” anyone on a rotational system to begin irrigating pasture. Nothing much has changed and the current weather pattern (is it El Niño?) looks here to stay. I seem to have penned this and other articles I write while I have been crossing the Cook Strait back to or from the South Island. Why the ferry you might ask – delivering another probe to our North Island base and taking another vehicle to our North Island base and fitting that around visiting farmers intending to irrigate from the

Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme. The latter is quite a task and makes me realise how mature the irrigation market is here in Canterbury – we know about system capacity (mm/day), annual volumes, supply reliability and other eccentricities of irrigation. The one thing in common is Ruataniwha is a mini Canterbury tucked into a basin in the central Hawke’s Bay – dominated by shallow Takapau (now aptly or otherwise names Tararu) silt loam underlain by gravels and not dissimilar to our better Lismore silt loam soils.

El Niño type weather conditions have prevailed and continued to develop Weekly SOI trend for 2014 (from Weatherzone).

I digress, so back to our irrigation season that is now nearly two months old. El Niño-type weather conditions have prevailed and continued

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to develop. Is the NE-NW-SW weather and winds typically El Niño? Certainly the little or no rain “to boot” – a writer’s

idiom and prerogative, but which has nothing to do with footwear and everything to do with “moreover or in addition

to”. The weather system is similar to El Niño although not particularly strong at the moment. The Southern


www.guardianonline.co.nz

Oscillation Index (SOI) has been consistently negative (El Niño) since July 6 but other indicators like ocean temperatures and atmospheric conditions have fallen short of the El Niño thresholds. This has not deterred the climate experts here and in Australia still predicting true El Niño conditions in the run-up to Christmas – dare I mention just seven to eight weeks away. While the SOI has been particularly strong for about nine weeks of the period since July 6, the one saving grace (another idiom though officially is a noun) has been the absence of prolonged or persistent NW winds that typically accompany El Niño conditions. What has not been absent but persistent has been high pressure systems over what is now a dry east coast of the South Island and according to climate gurus will be the feature of our weather. Regardless of the reason, rainfall is significant by its absence, El Niño by the absence of the NW and irrigation significant by its necessity. The lack of the persistent

37

drying NW winds typical of strong El Niño weather is reflected in the amount of irrigation that has been required. No question it has been required and is now in full swing we can be judicious with its use. As the soil moisture plot shows, irrigation was needed in early-mid September but has been irregular since. The measurements confirm there has not been a rainfall sufficient to return soil moisture to field capacity (full point) since the beginning of September. A couple of issues some of you might question when looking at the soil moisture record: Why did soil moisture drop to the refill (stress) point at the end of September-early October? We were in a period of quite frequent cool SW, the odd very warm NW and occasional frost. The soil moisture measurements and analysis showed the pasture wasn’t under stress (water use did not decline) and at this time of the season the pasture species can abstract water to meet transpiration requirements

when soil moisture content falls to or slightly below the refill point. Why only four irrigations so far? That’s all that has been needed. Why apply any more irrigation than need be.

What’s the return period at the moment? A bit over 7 days; ie one irrigation (circuit of the centre pivot) of about 1215mm each week. So while we are in a relatively dry cycle, water demand is not

excessively high and irrigation is quite manageable for the moment. Let’s hope those El Niño nor-westers stay away before Christmas, but maybe arrive mid-January to provide for a decent harvest.

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Farming

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www.guardianonline.co.nz

Runanga sets example in water

T

he project manager for a Banks Peninsula runanga is encouraging people in central Canterbury to apply for funding dedicated to restoring waterways and native ecosystems. Te Runanga o Koukourarata and neighbouring farmer Tim Coop are fencing and planting land alongside Koukourarata Stream at Port Levy with help from a $22,400 Immediate Steps grant. The funds were awarded by the Banks Peninsula Zone Committee, which includes members from Christchurch City Council, runanga, Environment Canterbury and the local community. Three thousand native seedlings have been planted, many grown from cuttings and seedlings collected in the area. The money comes from the $6.24 million Immediate Steps fund, which is being allocated over five years on projects protecting and restoring freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem health. Koukourarata project manager Peter Ramsden said school and CPIT students

Healing the land: Hillmorton High School, Cashmere High School and CPIT students join Environment Canterbury staff and whanau at a spring planting day at KoukourarataPort Levy.

who attended a youth hui at Koukourarata in March joined runanga whanau at the planting. There will be followup weed and pest control in coming months. “We are combining conservation tools of old and funding tools of today,” said Mr Ramsden. “Healthy land leads to healthy water and healthy people.” The runanga is also

protecting the 87-hectare Kakanui Reserve in partnership with Environment Canterbury, the Department of Conservation, Christchurch City Council, Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust and the community. “We’re planning to apply for further funding to finish fencing this reserve,” Mr Ramsden said. “A big cost for our runanga last winter was

replacing over 900 metres of flood-damaged fencing.” Banks Peninsula Zone Committee chairman Richard Simpson said it was satisfying to work with the runanga and a neighbouring farmer towards shared conservation goals. Immediate Steps is covering about two-thirds of the cost of this project. “There are still protection opportunities on Banks

Peninsula and people may not be aware of help available through Environment Canterbury,” Mr Simpson said. Environment Canterbury biodiversity team leader Jo Abbott said more than $200,000 remains available in both the Banks Peninsula and Christchurch-West Melton zones through Immediate Steps. In the much larger Waimakariri and Selwyn-

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39

rway restoration

Waihora zones, close to $150,000 is unallocated. The Canterbury Biodiversity Fund is another source of funding, prioritising projects where values are already high such as native bush and braided rivers. The Honda TreeFund supports community plantings of native plants. Together, these three funds have so far awarded close to

$5 million to over 400 projects protecting Canterbury’s biodiversity and ecosystems. This includes 57 projects protecting lowland streams, 70 protecting hill country catchments and 15 protecting inter-montane streams. “All are contributing towards the Ki uta ki tai - From the mountains to the sea vision of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy,” Dr

Abbott said. For more information go to ecan.govt.nz/biodiversity or contact the Environment Canterbury biodiversity team via 0800 324 636. Immediate Steps: Is a $10-million Canterbury Water Management Strategy programme in its fifth and final year, with a second phase being considered Is 70 per cent subscribed

across Canterbury with over $3.6 million committed to over 200 projects Is up to two-thirds funded by ratepayers across Canterbury and at least one-third by recipients, mostly landowners, agencies and community conservation groups Provides $500,000 in each of 10 Environment Canterbury water management zones plus $1.2 million towards

regionally important water issues including flagship projects around braided rivers, Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere and the Wainono Lagoon, near Timaru Supports Canterbury Water Management Strategy targets including promoting ecosystem health and biodiversity, recreational opportunities and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of water.

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