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Farming GUARDIAN

JANUARY, 2015

Farming is cyclical – Leadley Page 18

Monthly columnist John Leadly shares his knowledge of how farming is a cyclical industry

GRAPHIC EDEN KIRK-WILLIAMS


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INDEX

COMMENT FROM EDITOR

CAN CABBAGE AND HEMP BOOST THE ECONOMY?

3

BRASS AND FEATHERS – GREG MARTIN

4

FOREST AND BIRD – MARY RALSTON

7

MY BACKYARD – MICHELLE NELSON

10

MASTERGUARD – SHERYL STIVENS 

14

EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS – CHRISTINE SUMMERVILLE

16

RURAL COMMENT – JOHN LEADLEY

18

HELPING HAND FOR SKINKS 

22

IRRIGATIONNZ IS HERE TO HELP

24

SILVER FERN RESULTS

26

A LOOK ACROSS THE DITCH AT QUAD BIKE SAFETY

29

DAIRYNZ REVIEWS TOXIC SWEDE CRISIS

30

BOOST SUMMER PASTURES

34

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

Advertising Email jenni.s@theguardian.co.nz or phone 03 307 7927. Post Ashburton Guardian, PO Box 77, Ashburton.

Michelle Nelson

RURAL EDITOR

Christmas has been and gone for another year, but for many farmers it was business as usual over the festive season. With harvest on the horizon and the extremely dry conditions set to continue, the situation – particularly in South Canterbury – is looking grim. Facing what could be the worst drought in a decade, talk of the importance of alpine water storage is once more high on the agenda. While considerable investment has been made in upgrading and improving irrigation systems, there has been little done to fast track alpine-fed water storage infrastructure. This refers to dams and storage lakes which are replenished by rainfall and snowmelt, in contrast to streams and rivers that are fed by foothills rainfall. As alpine rainfall is more dependable, it offers a more reliable supply of water during the summer months. It just makes sense to harvest water. Despite the vocal protests of some, the science behind the proposal is sound. On an environmental level, naysayers kicked up a fuss when the Waitaki River was dammed for

The Waitaki Dam.

electricity generation almost 50 years ago – but their fears did not come to pass. Today the Waitaki valley is an oasis, enjoyed by thousands of holidaymakers every year. Native birds, including that ubiquitous fantail mentioned in the lyrics of John Hanlon’s early 70s hit Ban the Dam, are doing well, as are skinks and geckos. Endangered species, such as the kaka (black stilt) are not threatened by the dams, but by introduced carnivores and increasing habitat destruction. There’s no reason to assume the situation will be any different in storage systems set up for irrigation. Some species, notably herons, have returned to the Canterbury Plains in large numbers, attracted by water. Many of the region’s smaller rivers naturally run dry during the summer months; others flow underground for considerable distances. There are sufficient checks in place to ensure irrigation is managed efficiently and in a manner which protects the environment.

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Prospects bright for small seed industry While the outlook for dairying is dimming, prospects for the small seed industry are glowing with the potential to triple brassica seed production and the possibility of growing hemp seed back in the arena. A delegation of Asian seed breeders visited Canterbury last month on a study tour organised by the NZ Grain and Seed Trade Association (NZGSTA) and the Asia Pacific Seed Association. NZGSTA general manager Thomas Chin said there has been considerable interest expressed in new crop multiplication production contracts as a result.

Michelle Nelson

RURAL EDITOR

The group of 17 seed company managers from China, Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, visited seed companies, met with key officials from MPI and AsureQuality, and looked at Canterbury’s unique GPS crop isolation systems, developed to prevent crosspollination. Vegetable seed exports to Asia are currently worth

$15 million a year, but Mr Chin is confident the potential is there to double that figure in the next two years, and triple it within five. Plans are under way to host a delegation of officials from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and the country’s quarantine authority in Canterbury next month. Mr Chin hopes the ban on exporting brassica seed to China will be lifted as a result. The market has been closed for two years, as a result of black leg fungus being found in a consignment of seed. The disease has already been identified in China. “The purpose of this visit will be to demonstrate our systems are all above board, and it is safe

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for the (Chinese) government to lift the ban,” he said. “We have spent the better part of the past two years trying to persuade China that we have the systems in place to control the fungus.” If the ban is lifted seed companies could be free to sign spring planting contracts in time for crops such as Chinese cabbage, choy sum and bok choy. Hemp is also back on the agenda. Last month Food Safety Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) recommended permitting the production and sale of hemp seed for human consumption. While it has been legal

to grow hemp seed for oil production, food safety standards prohibit use of the seed as an ingredient. Mr Chin said the Australia New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation will meet and consider the FSANZ recommendation on January 31. “If the ministerial decision is positive Canterbury will be well placed to capitalise on the new cropping opportunity,” he said. “We expect to see the creation of new jobs and the potential for new exports from the strong international demand for pet seed.”

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Right – Dusk is a great time for a walk along hare country. PHOTOS GREG MARTIN

Greg Martin

BRASS AND FEATHERS

A little respect from the hun I generally get on well with cats. In fact, I love them. So it was a bit of a blow to the male ego when I was hissed at by my girlfriend’s black ball of fluff and teeth early on in the relationship (with my girlfriend). And I was only trying to be friendly as every man would try and be in these kinds of situations.

It seemed that either “friendly” wasn’t what was required, or we had a breakdown in human-cat communication. Either way, the unhappy incident set things back a little and I was more careful about showing affection after that (to the cat). Over the months that followed, the relationship

(with the cat) grew a little stronger, helped by said feline’s relocation from aftershock city to the tranquility and space of suburban Ashburton. This made her feel a bit more relaxed I think. However, although I was not the subject of further hissings, I continued to be regarded with distant suspicion.

And then I took up hare shooting. There were two reasons for doing this. Friends had told me how much fun it was. Also, deer stalking on the east side of the divide means that you don’t often get the chance to pull the trigger. The numbers are just not there. The idea of being able to

get out in the evening for a few hours during which you would be guaranteed to be able to stalk the target species, and actually shoot a few, was therefore appealing. So was the opportunity to research and buy more quality gear. And most fishermen and hunters will agree; you can

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nter never have enough quality gear. Research time is also generally more fun than mowing the lawn, unloading the dishwasher, and many other domestic exercises that come to mind. In this case, the research started by taking on board the advice of a farming friend from Alford Forest who suggested that something with good

range would be essential. He also mentioned the HMR17. As I subsequently discovered, the HMR17 is a calibre not familiar to people who may have done their hare and rabbit shooting before the turn of the most recent century as it was only developed in 2002. The objective was to produce a rimfire calibre with lashing

speed and a corresponding out to well over 100 yards flat trajectory – a so-called and relatively safe on-farm, “wildcat” round that would disintegrating on impact and offer pin-point accuracy at therefore not prone to ricochet. distance. One of the companies Summit The HMR17 round therefore • Softinvolved in the development feel. Thick box top of ultra-soft 100% natural Latex Gold rubber that weighs about 1g, but travels at • conforms of the HMR17 was Ruger, and to your exact body shape providing exceptional comfort. between 2300 and 2500 feet per therefore it made sense to get Queen Set their WAS $5,999 second. myself version of this With the polymer ballistic rifle. Now $3,599 tip, it is deadly accurate Ruger’s version is also a real

rifle, with a 22-inch barrel, and walnut stock. It is also a good idea to have them suppressed to reduce the crack that high velocity rounds make when exiting the barrel. It’s good not to alarm the neighbour’s dogs too much.

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TIPS ■■ Use a rifle that will give you accurate kill shots out to 150 yards (a regular .22 will not do the job). ■■ Get down the range before you go out on the paddocks. ■■ Hunting in the evening cool can be very productive. ■■ There is a lot more meat on a hare than you would expect. Even just the back straps are worth taking. ■■ Beware of parallax error at short distances. That’s probably why you will be missing what you think are the easy ones.

Above – Housemate and fellow hunter, awaiting another feed of hare. Left – Great sport and high-quality meat. Right – The HMR17 round, with the polymer ballistic tip, is deadly accurate out to well over 100 yards.

time to line up a humane and satisfyingly certain shot. What I did not anticipate was the reception from my feline house-mate when I got home. Hare meat is, apparently, the ultimate. There was much loud demanding (from the cat), and repeated helpings dished out, and when she was done, I felt that we had connected on a whole new level.

She still regards me with something like distant suspicion, but thanks to the HMR17 and the hare meat, I feel she now has, deep down, some kind of respect for me, a fellow hunter. My girlfriend tells me it is just my imagination (or wishful thinking). She’s probably right, and there will likely be a hiss or two for me yet (from the cat and possibly the girlfriend

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re’s wheel Mary Ralston

FOREST AND BIRD

spread and in some places a line can be seen along the hills that indicates the level to which fertiliser was used. It also grows well on the edges of scree and fans because a tiny amount of phosphorus is released from the rocks when they tumble and move. Another useful characteristic that enables it to thrive in low nutrient environments, such as rocky hillsides and old riverbeds, is matagouri’s ability to fix nitrogen from the air (as legumes do). Matagouri offers useful protection to stock from the snow, wind and sun; native lizards and invertebrates appreciate the nectar from its tiny flowers in summer and cover from the elements all

A lovely old matagouri on Snowdon Station which may be over 100 years old.

year round. Native grasses and herbs such as blue wheat grass can sometimes be found under matagouri because of the extra available nitrogen, and possibly because stock and hares haven’t been able to

reach through the thorns to the grass underneath. Like many of New Zealand’s native shrubs, matagouri has a divaricating habit, that is, the branches are interlaced, tangled together and often inward growing.

It is thought that this may be an adaptation to browsing by moa: if some of the leaves, flowers and fruit are on branches growing into the middle of the bush, they may be more likely to survive than if they were exposed

along a branch extending to the outside. In most places matagouri is usually deciduous (losing its leaves in winter), however an unusual specimen growing along Paddle Creek in the Hakatere Conservation Park is thornless, and when I saw it in spring last year it had plenty of leaves whereas those around them with thorns had no new leaves. Why bother about common old matagouri? As well as shade and shelter for stock, they provide “natural character” to our landscape; they give shade, shelter, and “free” nitrogen to other native species. Woody shrubs such as matagouri, native broom, coprosmas and porcupine shrub are valuable for erosion control on slopes. They store valuable amounts of carbon and act as a nursery for other species that would not otherwise regenerate without their protection. In other words, they are valuable as a cog in the wheel of the natural world that would not turn as smoothly without them.

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All’s well that ends well Michelle Nelson

MY BACKYARD

An old well, which harks back to my home’s days as one of Mt Somers’ original miners’ cottages, has centre place in middle of my expansive lawn. I like to think of it as a personal wishing well. Not so long ago I was sitting on the well, wishing for a ride-on lawnmower. The old adage – be careful what you wish for, soon became evident. The next day my neighbour, rode down the drive on a vintage mower, which he duly parked in the implement shed, delivering a complex set of instructions about starting the beast – should I wish to use it. Several days past and he returned to collect it, intending to mow his lawns.

Be careful what you wish for.

PHOTOS MICHELLE NELSON 261114-MN-034

drive. This got me to thinking about safety features – while an automatic shut-off switch makes sense if you somehow manage to fall off your rideon mower, it seems far more likely you would sustain a back injury by attempting to start it as described. My pet-proof fence has done an outstanding job of keeping unwanted animals out of my vege patch – sadly it hasn’t worked as well with

Apparently the beast doesn’t start by pushing a button – rather it must be stirred into life by way of a pullstart device. The catch is the intending lawnmower must be seated to pull the necessary cord – which is situated behind the driver’s seat. This is no mean feat. Finally, with an amused onlooker co-opted as a temporary seatsitter, the beast chugged into life and puttered off down the

Mariah Tukana

weeds or birds. So I also wished upon the well for the pests – both flora and fauna to disappear – and had more luck in this respect. Over the Christmas break I was privileged to have the company of a delightful Fijian friend, Maria, who made short work of the weeds. Prior to New Year I was harvesting about 500 grams of raspberries a day – and whipping up jam like the

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Barkers factory. However, a bunch of dastardly finches swooped in and put paid to that! We covered the canes with some recycled net curtains, which is keeping them at bay to some extent. The numerous plum trees, recently covered in ripening fruit, presented a much bigger problem. All those young thrushes and blackbirds hatched during the spring are having a fruity field day. Maria was determined to harvest whatever she could gather. And proving that age is no barrier, Maria – well into her 60s, climbed those plum trees and shook down bucketsful of fruit. She scrambled so far out on to the limbs I was tempted to head off to the wishing well to ask for an appropriate emergency plan – even a rescue helicopter! However, all’s well that ends well – Maria safely negotiated it back to terra firma, and departed with kilos of plums the following day.


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Farming

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Ensure contractors work safely Jane Fowles

HEALTH AND SAFETY FIRST

Using contractors in our businesses has become an increasingly popular tool to get the job done. As a leader in your business, you hold the position to lift the health and safety performance of your contractors - ensuring they are making safety just as much of a priority as you. This year, under the new legislation, this responsibility becomes a requirement, or as it’s deemed ‘horizontal consultation obligation’ – the need to consult with those also working at your workplace regarding health and safety. Remember, the goal is that everyone goes home safe at the end of the day from your business – no matter who they’re employed by or how

long they’re working there. What are some practical examples a leader can do to begin to improve contractor health and safety? • Choose wisely when you’re selecting someone to work at your workplace, choose based on health and safety reputation as well; • Build long-term relationships with your contractors that support your health and safety commitment; • Include contractors in your health and safety reporting data and monitor their performance using this as well as their ability to meet deadlines and budgets; • Frequently communicate to your contractors your health and safety expectations; • Intervene if you have concerns about health and safety; • Ensure your timelines and budget constraints don’t jeopardise the health and safety of

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contracting staff to build your staff and vice versa; • Recognise good performance across everyone and provide reward. Simply put, it makes good business sense to take onthe

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2 14

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Reduce your wastage in 2015 2015 is shaping up as a hot and dry one; a bit of a challenge to keep the garden and orchard watered. Mulch around your fruit trees and vegetable seedlings with straw, haylage or lawn clippings after watering to conserve moisture. Make sure the mulch is not piled up closely around tree trunks or stems of vegetable seedlings as it can then cause stem rot Set up a rainwater tank or barrel ready to harvest rainwater from the next shower. I have one set up under the downpipe near the tunnel house so I can bucket rainwater on to tomatoes and cucumbers. Even a small shower of rain replenishes the supply in the water barrel quite significantly.

Does your New Year resolution include saving money and doing your bit by reducing your waste? Set up a compost bin or make one from old wooden pallets so

Sheryl Stivens

MASTAGARD ASHBURTON

you can layer lawn clippings, weeds, prunings, food scraps and chicken or horse manure. Make sure you wet the heap well before covering it with cardboard, carpet or even black plastic – whatever you have to keep the moisture in. If you have a compost heap that is not working it is probably too dry. Wet it well and add a generous layer of unsprayed lawn clippings. Start bokashi composting your meat, fish and food scraps and add the juicy contents of your bokashi bucket teeming with micro-organisms to your compost heap. If you need some help getting your compost up and running come along to the

International artist Chris Jordan created Australia’s largest e-waste artwork from nearly 6000 recycled mobile phones in Sydney recently.

monthly Free Compost Demo at the Eco Education Centre – alongside the Mastagard Recycling Shed. Monday January 19, 1-2pm. All welcome. Call 0800 627-834 or email sherylstivens@gmail.com

Farm plastic recycling with Plasback The national Plasback Farm Plastic recycling scheme has reported a significant growth in farm plastics collections with over 1000 tonnes of waste

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15

The Mount Somers District Citizens Association have invited me along to a composting seminar to learn more about how they can turn their green waste and food scraps into nutrient-rich plant food. I’m really looking forward to working with the group to demonstrate different methods that can be used in composting including bokashi buckets, hungry worm bins and compost systems. The chairman of the Mount Somers District Citizens Association, Andy Annand, will host the seminar which is open to the public and supported by Ashburton District Council. art of recycling, children at Allenton Kindergarten pay close

Mobile phone recycling

PHOTOS SUPPLIED

farm plastic waste can now recycle by bringing it into the Ashburton Resource Recovery Park when coming to town. Well done to all the farmers who have embraced recycling and stopped burning or burying recyclables.

Turning waste into plant food at Mt Somers Green waste is a valuable resource and can be transformed into compost for your garden.

What does one do with 6000 unwanted mobile phones? Find an artistic outlet, of course. Chris Jordan, an internationally acclaimed artist, has turned trash into a treasure that Sydney residents and visitors can enjoy, creating

DETAILS Details of the Mount Somers District Citizens Association’s composting demonstration: 10.30-12 Saturday February 21, 2015 31 Comyns Road, Mt Somers – all welcome.

Australia’s largest e-waste artwork on the Customs House forecourt. Created from nearly 6000 recycled Australian mobile phones, and sitting at an impressive four by eight metres, the artwork is part of Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week. The work was commissioned by the non-profit, governmentaccredited mobile phone recycler, MobileMuster. The Seattle-based artist is renowned for his large-

scale art, critiquing mass consumption and global wastage. The artwork aims to inspire Australians to recycle the 23 million mobile phones, batteries and accessories that fill their homes. “Jordan’s piece is the best piece of work we have done that engages people in a very positive and constructive way. It makes people realise the immensity of our consumption of mobile phones,” Rose Read, the recycling manager for MobileMuster, said. The popularity of the smartphone has been a major factor in the increasing production of e-wastage, with only 10 per cent of consumers recycling their mobile phones.  If you have mobile phones to recycle check out https:// www.starship.org.nz/ foundation/mobile-phoneappeal By recycling your old mobile phone you can raise funds for Starship’s National Air Ambulance, an invaluable service that flies medical experts to emergencies.

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2 16

Farming

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Case law suggests it can be very costly to incorrectly use redundancy clauses to get rid of employees.

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Redundancy deemed not genuine Mr Hogeboom and Ms Raumaewa were employed as farm managers for Kershevin Farms Limited in January 2013, but the employment relationship started to deteriorate when negotiating their employment agreement. They preferred an alternative agreement to that offered by Kershevin. Eventually, with the assistance of a farm adviser for Kershevin, an agreement was signed on April 11 with Judith Jones (director/shareholder) countersigning on April 26. Ms Jones’ daughter also advised the couple they were to report to her while Ms Jones contradicted that statement. Frequent visits to the farm by Kershevin’s creditors seeking payment also raised concerns about the stability of their employment. On April 26, 2013, after receiving her signed employment agreement, Raumaewa got a text from Jones requesting a meeting for the following morning. At the meeting Jones handed Raumaewa a handwritten letter dated April 26, headed Notice

“ Christine Summerville

EMPLOYMENT MATTERS

of Potential Redundancy. The letter proposed putting the farm on the market and/or having family members assist on a low wage. The applicants were given till midday April 29 to provide feedback. Hogeboom claims Jones’ representative tried to pressure him into providing feedback on April 29 and he responded by saying he would not do so until he had legal advice. On Friday, May 3, Jones delivered another handwritten note dated May 1: “As outlined in our letter of 26 April 2013 we were contemplating terminating your employment on the grounds of redundancy due to our financial circumstances. As we have not heard from you with your feedback we have

As both applicants commenced new employment on June, 1, 2013, the claim for lost wages was limited to $137.36 although $5000 compensation for hurt and humiliation was awarded to both

decided to proceed with our plan to engage family to reduce our overheads. “We regret to advise your employment will be terminated 30 May 2013. We will also provide you with references. Thank you for your work on the farm we hope you both can find a suitable alternate job.” The applicants ceased working and vacated the house on May 20, 2013. The couple claimed unjustifiable dismissal. The ERA determined the redundancy was not genuine because:

■■ There was no evidence supporting the financial position of Kershevin such as bank statements. ■■ A new couple replaced the applicants shortly after their

departure. ■■ In the new manager’s statement she told him she wanted rid of them. ■■ Kershevin Farm adviser’s evidence that Kershevin’s bank had provided loan facilities which could sustain the business.

The process followed was flawed because:

■■ There was no evidence of any discussion about the proposal outlined in the letter of April 26. Kershevin proceeded with the dismissals citing the applicant’s refusal to participate in the consultation process. Mr Hogeboom refused to meet on May 1 but didn’t reject the possibility of another meeting. He wanted a delay while he obtained legal assistance.

■■ The termination letter was dated May 1. The decision had already been made despite knowing the applicants had obtained a legal assistant who, on April 30, expressed a willingness to discuss the issues.

The dismissal was found to be unjustified. As both applicants commenced new employment on June 1, 2013, the claim for lost wages was limited to $137.36 although $5000 compensation for hurt and humiliation was awarded to both. Chapman Employment Relations provides employment law and HR advice exclusively to employers

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2 18

Farming

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A timely reminder that farming is a The Guardian Farming editor’s article (Ashburton Guardian, December 30) describing 2014 as dairy’s rollercoaster year was indeed timely. As one who has followed or been involved in the farming industry for 70-plus years 2014 was not a new scenario. Many times over the past 150 years of district settlement price fluctuations of plus or minus 40 per cent in a year have been part of the farming industry. Whether as a result of drought, hail, flood, war, global recession or any other of the myriad factors that dictate farm gate product prices, many farming families have learnt to survive significant variations. The advent of and advances in irrigation have certainly reduced the variability caused by crop and pasture yield, but there remains a multitude of factors making working within the farming industry a challenging occupation. Farming remains one of the few productive industries that rely on price taking rather than price making to set market returns.

John Leadley

RURAL COMMENT

Five years ago in this publication I expressed some personal concerns at the effect of the frenetic growth of dairying in the district. I explained why I thought the rapid swing from sheep and crop to dairying was possibly not the best longterm sustainability scenario for Ashburton agriculture. At the same time I had to admit that the economic reasons for change at that time were easily justified and it was easy to forget that across the world for generations, farming has been a cyclical industry. 2015 could well be a wakeup year for the local farming industry. Maybe it’s time to rethink the past three years and refocus a generation forward in product planning. As regular readers will know

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19

cyclical industry

PHOTO ASHBURTON GUARDIAN

deferred maintenance and environmental enhancement, was irresponsible. Hopefully also some of this largesse found its way into the paypacket of farm employees, a number of whom are still

treated with scant respect for the work and hours they toil. One effect of the current price has been a dramatic decrease in usage of imported palm kernel and from a global point of view this is not a bad situation. I believe there are still improvements to be had in production efficiency and this may well be brought about by emphasis on per head production rather than gross per hectare returns. This scenario was brought firmly home to me on recent excursions to Europe where per head production from what were basically dual purpose breeds was above our already high levels of milk solids per cow. An additional bonus on these (mostly) owner-operated family units was the income derived from 18-24 month steers on an admittedly subsidised beef market. With the increasing world demand for red meat, particularly in Asian nations, I remain convinced that sire (and in future possible gender selection) can play a

worthwhile role in contributing to a profitable dairy beef industry. This scenario of smaller units of land farmed profitably and intensively for generations on the same area and under environmental protections much more severe than those in New Zealand, is one of true sustainability. If dairy prices continue at low levels for more than a couple of seasons, I fear that the industry may lose some of the young heavily indebted industry leaders who are absolute key to the industry into the future. These are the people whose heart is in the industry, in animal welfare, environmental awareness and technological advances. This may call for acknowledgement by the Government and the banking industry. The people who have built this great nation are not the corporate “fly-by-night” investors or overseas raiders looking for a quick return. They are those men and women with true affinity to the land often built up over generations

and who know and understand nature and animals. I doubt there will be a major impact on local spending by dairy workers, as it still takes the same number of workers to run an efficient unit. Those businesses likely to be most affected are the firms who derive the bulk of their income from new farm machinery sales. Those who service will be less affected. The dazzling volume and array of expensive machinery at the Ashburton Agricultural and Pastoral show left me gobsmacked, as does any trip down, for example, Alford Forest Road. I acknowledge being cautious and conservative, but pessimism is obviously not part of the farm machinery business and I hope they are correct. 2015 may be a very appropriate year to assess the district’s reliance on dairying as our farmers are very skilled in a wide range of land uses, many already proven. Proven expertise in small seed, horticulture and pulse production has wide scope for expansion.

How about culling the poorest yielding 10 per cent of the herd, slip in a crop of (say) potatoes for a year and concentrate on per head production from the smaller herd. Recent good sales of meat breed rams nationally indicate a slow return to a larger sheep flock. A co-ordinated sheep meat industry based on customer demand genetics through sire selection, and emphasis on high lambing percentages from hogget age onward needs to be where the industry is heading. Portion packing lean meat to meet the increasing demand from importing nations is logical. This might even include grain finishing as takes place in the Continent and US. Worth investigating? I see the farming outlook still very positive for 2015 and beyond. We have the climate, soil, irrigation, and farming nous to succeed. As in the past a hiccup for a couple of years will bring many positives. One may even be less overseas ownership of our land.

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21

Genius Homes – smart building solutions An innovative building method has Timaru’s Genius Homes providing an efficient and hassle-free building experience, resulting in high quality, functional homes complete with cost and time savings. Genius Homes manufactures a wide range of houses in two factory production lines in Timaru, then delivers completed homes to prepared building sites around the South Island. The family-owned company was established in 2011, and started out with one production line and the agricultural sector as its target market, providing new homes for farm staff and families. The benefits of production line home building are particularly suited to this market, which often demands high quality, functional homes, with time and money often mitigating factors. Genius Homes marketing manager Aimee McGregor says pre-built homes are faster and more efficient to construct because the building process happens under controlled conditions. “Our qualified and experienced tradesmen are available every day on site at the Genius Homes factories,” she says. “There is no travel time involved for them, everything is built undercover which saves any time lost waiting for the weather to clear up, and we organise all necessary council consents. All of our construction is supervised by a production manager who checks all work is carried out on schedule, professionally, and to a high standard. Once the house is complete our quality assurance manager, double checks the house firstly on the production line and again when the house is installed on site.” With about 10 houses under construction at any one time, Genius Homes also has the benefit of bulk buying cost savings to pass on to its customers. Each Genius home begins its life at the start of the Genius Homes production line as a steel chassis, and then progresses through the stage of flooring and framing, full fit-out internally including plasterboard and insulation, while the outside of the home is clad and roofed. The kitchens, bathrooms, wardrobes, are fitted out, with floor coverings, cabinets, and even painting. Once complete, the home is taken to the client’s property

Genius Homes build houses in their Timaru factory. Once complete the houses are transported by truck to their site where it is connected to services and the finishing touches are added like decks, baseboards and steps.

where it is bolted onto its pile foundations and the finishing touches like base boards, steps, and decks are added. Genius Homes offers flexible designs, complete project management, regular client communication, weekly production updates, and new homes delivered complete to your site. Genius Homes come prefabricated and fully finished to each client’s specifications.

The company manages the whole design, build, and consent process as well as transport and site works. McGregor says most Genius Homes are designed and built, usually using the company’s wide range of existing plans as a starting point and making modifications to suit each client’s individual wishes and requirements. In 2014 Genius Homes doubled its production capacity

with the establishment of its second production line, and has also expanded its range of plans, branching further into the residential, commercial and lifestyle markets as more people cotton on to the benefits of prefabricated homes. Genius Homes can organise foundations for their houses in Christchurch and have experience in TC1, 2, and 3 foundations. Genius Homes welcomes

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Farming

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Creating a native habitat for skink The Honda TreeFund is funding an Oxford preschool’s native planting project, aimed at creating a habitat for skinks. Bright Horizons Preschool owners Justin and Mel Fletcher said $1000 from the Honda TreeFund would pay for 360 native plants and grasses. These will be planted in a neighbouring 2-hectare paddock, realising plans hatched in 2010 when they opened the preschool to extend its garden so students could enjoy and learn about nature. “We noticed there were quite a few common skinks in the paddock and thought it would be fun for the children to encourage them into this area,” Mr Fletcher said. The first step was building a fence from recycled materials to exclude skink-predators including cats. Once this was finished, the Fletchers learned that as an Enviroschool, Bright Horizons was eligible to apply for Honda TreeFund funding for native plants. The application was successful and preschool students and their families marked Arbor Day in June this year by planting the

first native trees, shrubs and grasses. A second planting day was held recently, on a mound among old tree trunks which should provide skink habitat. The next step will be stacking large rocks into a “skink hotel” with nooks and crannies where the creatures can hide, Mr

Fletcher said. No skinks have been sighted since the project started, but the Fletchers are confident that once the project is completed, they should settle into this specially created habitat. Environment Canterbury Youth Engagement Team

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Environment Canterbury Biodiversity Team Leader Jo Abbott said that in 201314 Honda New Zealand and dealerships in Christchurch and Timaru funded $40,000 worth of native plantings in Canterbury. Environment Canterbury

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ks also administers Canterbury Water Management Strategy Immediate Steps and Canterbury Biodiversity Strategy grants. Anyone with planting or waterway restoration projects in mind is eligible to apply, including schools. To find out more about the Honda TreeFund, go to ecan. govt.nz/biodiversity/funding or contact the Environment Canterbury biodiversity team or education for sustainability teams via 0800 324-636.

Common skinks not so common

Above – Three-year-old preschool children seek out a good spot to plant grasses. Left – Grasses are planted among piled-up logs to create a habitat for skinks. Far left – Project Skink could provide a habitat for common skinks and Canterbury geckos. PHOTOS SUPPLIED

shared this Honda TreeFund money around 20 community and school planting projects. This helped pay for the planting of 12,300 native trees from the Kaikoura district to Timaru. For every new Honda sold, Honda New Zealand allocates regional councils around the

country funding for 10 native trees. Local agents add funds for another three and Honda buyers are invited to contribute. Since April 2004, the Honda TreeFund has funded more than 590,000 trees around New Zealand. Plantings are good for birds,

connecting the Canterbury foothills with the plains and providing nectar, fruit and seeds. “The Honda TreeFund is win-win, offsetting vehicles’ carbon emissions vehicles while returning native vegetation to Canterbury,” Dr Abbott said. Environment Canterbury

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A Rangiora preschool’s efforts to create a habitat for skinks was “awesome”, said Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Anita Spencer. “The rocks will provide a refuge from predators and retain heat from the sun, which skinks and geckos need to keep a stable temperature,” she said. Despite their name, the common skink species seen at Bright Horizons is on a downward slide. If nothing is done, the “at risk” genetic group found in Canterbury will

become endangered, largely due to lack of habitat. The refuge may also attract Canterbury geckos, once forest dwellers, Ms Spencer said. Today they are found mostly under rocks, hidden from predators, including wild and domestic cats, stoats, weasels, hedgehogs and mice. The tangled branches of divaricating shrubs selected for the Bright Horizons planting offer a hiding place for skinks and geckos. They also grow fruit and attract invertebrates including moths, which lizards love to eat. New Zealand is home to more than 80 types of lizard. Skinks are sleek and smooth-skinned – like small snakes with legs – while geckos have broad heads, large bulging eyes and velvety skin. Lizards may thrive in urban gardens if fruit-bearing native shrubs and vines are planted, such as scrambling pohuehue Muehlenbeckia complexa, coprosmas propinqua and crassifolia, porcupine shrub Melicytus alpinus, shrubby tororaro Muehlenbeckia astonii and tussocks which attract insects.

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Farming

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IrrigationNZ is here to help – use us By Andrew Curtis IrrigationNZ CEO

We’re now midway through the irrigation season and for most farmers that means there’s not enough hours in the day to move irrigators, assess soil moisture levels and keep an eye on future weather patterns. But if someone in your farming operation has a minute to spare, now is a good time to look at the resources IrrigationNZ makes available online. These can help you streamline or extend your irrigation operation in 2015 or at a minimum will give you timely reassurance that your irrigation systems are in good order, working efficiently and

making you money. Many of these resources are free or low cost so there’s no excuse not to have a browse. On our News and Resources page (www.irrigationnz. co.nz/news-resources/ irrigation-resources) you’ll find operational checklists and system performance assessments for most types of irrigators. You can either download a copy or call the IrrigationNZ office to order a laminated version for only $10 per copy. There’s also the Irrigation in Box resource that contains everything you need to know about successful irrigation for $125 each, again from the IrrigationNZ office. If you are thinking of

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25

Left – The IrrigationNZ study tour group at the La Grange Diversion Dam, Don Pedro Reservoir, California. 

and contractors more confidence around the terms of purchase and supply for irrigation installations. You’ll also find IrrigationNZ’s Farm Environment Plan (FEP) template.

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how well you’re doing. So if nothing else, make looking at IrrigationNZ’s website one of your 2015 projects. You can’t accuse us of not looking after you, when all these resources are available

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for irrigating farmers at either no or low cost and can be downloaded any time. In last month’s column, I committed to reporting back on last month’s irrigation tour to the United States. Around a dozen industry representatives travelled through California with IrrigationNZ to view a range of water storage and irrigation developments. Alongside these we also looked at California’s water quality issues and one coming their way in the not too distant future is groundwater nitrate concentrations. As in New Zealand, the problems are localised driven by the nature of the groundwater resource, the physical characteristics of the land, how vulnerable it is to leaching and the land use activity. In California a taskforce was set up to make recommendations on the best solution. In summary they found that you can spend a lot of money on modelling natural systems ... but it always

PHOTO SUPPLIED

creates more questions than it answers and ultimately doesn’t solve the issues. To resolve the issues resources should instead be focused on understanding what management practices can achieve what improvements and then how these are successfully implemented on farm. Site specific nitrogen and irrigation plans are now required at a farm-scale to identify the nitrate risks and subsequent management practices that will address these – sound familiar? The taskforce has recommended that California’s initial response should be a targeted education programme for poorer performers, with regulatory initiatives coming later. California’s experience, replicated here, is that farmers need to drive change and sustainable solutions will only be found if farmers themselves are part of the response, not just the recipients of any decisions concerning their future.


2 26

Farming

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Silver Fern confirms audited results Silver Fern Farms has bounced back into the red and reduced debt for the 2014 year. The co-operative is reporting a net profit before tax for the year of $1.8 million, a $38.3 million improvement on the 2013 season. Over the same period the company paid down $99 million in debt as part of a plan to reduce the cost of debt servicing to the company. Chairman Rob Hewett said shareholders will be heartened to see audited confirmation of the turnaround in profitability. “This is a positive result, and confirms that the changes we’ve made to the business are setting us on the right track after two challenging years,” he said. “While the absolute level of profit at $1.8 million is unacceptable, it is a sign post on the path to where we need to get to.” The results include a provision taken of $3.3m, following the Employment Relations Authority decision announced on December 8, regarding the technical

Rob Hewett. 

PHOTO SUPPLIED

redundancy of staff at the Silverstream plant in October 2013. Debt levels at year end are down $99m from $387.6m to $288.6m, a 25.5 per cent reduction on the previous financial year. The equity ratio has improved to 45.2 per cent. “We are committed to creating a sustainable cooperative. To achieve that we

need to materially lift our level of profitability and we need to further reduce our debt,” Mr Hewett said. The company is currently working with Goldman Sachs to advise on options to create a more sustainable business and capital structure. Chief executive Dean Hamilton says “the return to profit and debt reduction has

come from a stable market for key commodity products, a strong focus on plant performance and inventory management, a new regional procurement structure and good progress for high value products locally and in new markets.” “Looking forward, the new season has started positively. Cattle numbers are up

significantly in both the North and the South islands, while lamb numbers experienced a slower start before flowing strongly in December. “We are currently processing in excess of 200,000 lamb and mutton and 20,000 cattle each week, meaning we have the most capacity of any company. Despite this there remains demand for space.” “While end-market prices across lamb, beef and venison have all been weakening off their highs seen earlier in the season, they remain at good historical levels. “The next key pricing period will bear this out soon, as New Zealand processing levels seasonally pick up, customers reflect on their sell-through during the holiday period, and we gain greater visibility on the Australian cattle kill which continues at record levels driven by drought conditions.” The annual report will be available later this month ahead of the company’s annual meeting, which will be held in Dunedin on February 18.


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Pig farmers’ journey has lessons for all others in the development of their own businesses.” Competition runners-up Robin and Lois Greer have pioneered the development of a unique range of organic dairy products for the retail market, and will be at the field day with their Retro Organics range of products. The couple, who operate both organic and conventional dairy platforms in Southland, were recognised by the judges for adding value to their product and their willingness to innovate and adopt new technology.

AT A GLANCE ■■ What: Patoa Farms, South Island Farmer of the Year 2014 winner’s field day ■■ When: Friday, February 13, 2015, 9.45am to 3.30pm ■■ Where: Hawarden Memorial Hall, 8 Horsley Down Road, Hawarden ■■ Featuring: Farm tours and topical presentations on today’s farming issues ■■ Cost: Free (including lunch and refreshments) ■■ RSVP: You can just turn up on the day. However, preregistration is appreciated to help us plan catering. Email steve@conv.co.nz or phone/ text 027 419-1080

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Farming

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Early animal testing completed as Dairy Liver damage has been revealed as causing the death of a large number of dairy cattle which had been wintered over on swede crops in Southland, however questions remain as to the nature of the toxin responsible. Industry body DairyNZ has completed an analysis of the blood and autopsy samples it collected from cows in varying states of ill-health after grazing on swedes. DairyNZ Southland/ South Otago regional team leader Richard Kyte says the findings indicated that the cows experienced liver damage. “The findings appear to be consistent with known liver damage associated with cows grazing brassica forage crops, except the visible signs of illness seemed to be more severe,” he says. “While the study did not allow comparison between swede varieties, the findings indicate that cows experienced liver damage after grazing swede varieties other than the HT (herbicide tolerant) variety, regardless of whether there were visible signs of illness,”

Above – DairyNZ Southland/South Otago regional team leader Richard Kyte. Right – Dairy cows munching on swedes.

Mr Kyte said. “The nature of the liver damage is similar to that seen in outbreaks of facial eczema with visible signs such as photosensitivity occurring after

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yNZ moves forward on swedes study

SMCO in plants can be affected by plant growth conditions, and are generally highest in mature plants and flower heads. “However, we have to be careful about drawing any

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REF: T-3824

$49,000

NEW HOLLAND TSA100-4

2005, 100Hp, 4544 hrs, MXu75 loader & bucket

REF: A-3661

$52,000

$99,900

REF: T-3843

IN 12 MONTHS

All pricing plus GST

REF: T-3853

$69,500

IN 24 MONTHS

*Normal lending criteria apply

Check out the range at www.johnsongluyas.co.nz DUETZ 115-4 MKIII

CASE PUMA 140

2008, 100hp, 6932hrs, Stoll F31 loader and bucket

1996, 160hp, 9000hrs, Loader, RangeCommand trans

REF: A-3655

REF: T-3547

NEW HOLLAND T7.200

AS

REF: T-3808

$159,900

REF: T-3923

REF: A-3501

$90,000

CASE MXU135

REF: T-3640

REF: T-3683

REF: T-3485

REF: A-3749

Greg Risk (Ashburton)

NEW HOLLAND TSA100-4

2005, 100Hp, 5610 hrs, MX100 loader, 3rd service, 1.5m bucket

CASE MX135-4

$59,500

$47,000

2009, 170hp, 4351hrs, MX T15 loader and bucket

2008, 135hp, 8002hrs

Timaru: 252 Hilton Highway, PH 03 688 1133 Ashburton: 225 Alford Forest Road, PH 03 307 8330 Oamaru: Karora Road, PH 03 437 2007

W

REF: A-3898

1999, 135hp, 5991hrs, APUH Hitch, Front Linkage PTO

Michael Gallagher (Ashburton)

NEW HOLLAND TSA100-4 PLUS

NE

2004, 100hp, 5121hrs, comes with MC U8 loader, 3rd service

2008, 140hp, 4395hrs, Pearson loader & bucket. Full Powershift

$89,000

$31,000

2011, 200hp,351 hrs, MX T15 loader and bucket. FLT/PTO. On behalf.

2003, 117hp, 6676hrs, Stoll F40 loader, 40k trans

$32,000

$53,000

NEW HOLLAND TVT 170

INTEREST*

JOHNSON GLUYAS TRACTORS A = ASHBURTON T = TIMARU

$115,000

% 3

DEPOSIT + ALL THE GST

NEW HOLLAND TSA115-4

REF: T-3734

2009, 141hp, 4858hrs, 16x16 Electro shift trans, Quickie Q55 self levelling loader, 3rd service, soft drive

1/3 1/3 1/3

$37,900

2007, 117hp, 7362hrs, 16x16 transmission, Quicke loader and bucket

2011, 165hp, 19x6 PowerCommand, 50kph, sidewinder series, x4 electric remote, front suspension, 2342hrs

Dallys O’Neill (Timaru)

$48,500

KUBOTA M9504-4

2010, 95hp, 2153hrs, ROPS, LA1352 loader

$49,000

Graham Pooke (Timaru)

REF: A-3796

Nathan Bagrie (Timaru)

$44,000

Graeme Denize (Oamaru)

0274 430 453 0274 410 025 027 688 3312 0274 847 217 0274 986 524 0274 326 111


2 32

Farming

www.guardianonline.co.nz

Heat stress and your horses Jenny Paterson

BSC ZOOLOGY AND BIOLOGY

It is all about your horse being able maintain his core body temperature close to 37.5C. This he can efficiently do on his own under most environmental conditions encountered here in Canterbury provided he has choices, for example access to shade and a clean trough that dispenses nice, cool water. Heat stress is the result of a build-up of heat in the horse’s body, usually due to some impediment to the normal sweating process. In the horse, sweating is the most important means of reducing core body temperature. It works because the water oozing out the sweat glands evaporates, thereby cooling the skin. The transfer of blood to blood vessels and capillaries

These horses are taking the shade option in the Canterbury heat

close to the skin (making them prominent and obvious ) is another way the body cools the blood. Circumstances which can lead to a horse becoming heat stressed include: 1. Leaving an inappropriate cover (eg synthetic ) on your

horse on a hot day. The poor thing has NO WAY of cooling down. The cover prevents evaporation so hot sweat accumulates on the skin and prevents the heat from dissipating. You have effectively left him in a sauna...How long

This poor horse is inappropriately covered for over 30 degree weather

would you be able to stand it? Sorry but there is no excuse, they are way better off without a cover in hot weather. Well nourished horses don’t fade. 2. Cushing’s horses that haven’t shed their winter coat are in a

similar predicament 3. Exercise during hot weather that is too strenuous for the horse’s level of fitness. 4. Points 1-3 are compounded by poor nutritional status. Failure to feed sufficient salt on a daily basis

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leaves the horse vulnerable to electrolyte disturbances due to loss of precious salt in a heavy sweating episode. Feeding too much protein in the diet generates more heat. What are the signs of Heat Stress? • Various levels of distress, from loss of willingness to serious fatigue • Elevated heart rate (i.e. above 60-80 beats per minute at rest). Normally the heart rate should drop to 44-52 beats per minute within 15 minutes of ceasing exercise • Elevated rectal temperature (above 41 degrees Celsius) • Altered respiratory rate. Usually rapid (120-140 breaths per minute, normal respiration for an adult horse is 8-12 breaths per minute). • Agitation, staggering and potentially, seizure. What to do Cease any exercise immediately and take urgent steps to cool the horse down. Find or create some shade and help cool the skin surface with water. Call your veterinarian as the longer his temperature stays elevated the more likely for complications to set in, including internal inflammation, muscle damage and even organ failure. Take these steps in hot weather 1. Provide shade- do what it takes to make sure your horses have the option to get out of the sun.

33

2. Make sure your water troughs are full, clean and cool at all times by bucketing them out regularly. 3. Add salt to daily feeds, this will encourage more water consumption and set your horse up for exercise when he will lose salt in his sweat. 4. Hose them down. This will help lower body temperature and besides you can tell, it feels great! Some horses will race over to the sprinkler for a dowsing! 5. Be mindful of the conditions when you choose to ride. It is not fair to exercise some horses in heat and humidity. Think morning or evening when it is cooler. Anhidrosis is a serious condition whereby the horse does not sweat properly or at all and therefore cannot reduce his core body temperature. Signs include sweating in small patches in odd places and a very dry hair coat with loss of hair around their neck and shoulders. The exact cause has yet to be established. Possibilities include hypothyroidism, hypochloremia and exhaustion of sweat glands. Many of the symptoms point to the chronic lack of sodium and chloride (salt) and we have seen several cases respond very well to the addition of salt to the diet with these horses soon returning to normal sweating patterns.

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COWS CROSSING

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Do your cows cross the road?

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2 34

Farming

www.guardianonline.co.nz

Insect pests avoid boosted grasses A recent study from the Bio-Protection Research Centre has shown for the first time that pasture grasses containing beneficial microorganisms are less attractive to soil-dwelling insect pests. Most New Zealand ryegrass and fescue pastures contain beneficial microorganisms that live within the grass shoots. These fungal endophytes are key to the country’s healthy grasslands. In return for food and shelter the endophyte can help its host grass resist insect attack, survive droughts, and even protect against overgrazing. Insect pests are attracted to plants by odour as they can smell minute amounts of chemical compounds that tell them if a plant is damaged or healthy. Now researchers in New Zealand from Lincoln University, AgResearch and the University of Otago have shown that, when colonised by endophytes, the chemicals released by the grass are different, and this can deter insect pests in the soil from feeding on plant roots.

New Zealand native grass grub (Costelytra zealandica).

The study showed that grass grubs, a major grassland pest throughout New Zealand, preferred to feed on the roots of grasses without endophytes, and that the insects appeared to be responding to the smell of

PHOTO SUPPLIED

specific types of compounds (known as volatiles) that are released by the plants. “The endophyte is only present in the shoots, not the roots; however, we found the roots produce less volatiles and so fewer grubs came

to feed on them,” says Dr Michael Rostás, a senior lecturer at Lincoln University and lead researcher on the recent paper. While previously shown to affect the above ground feeding of insect pests, this

novel finding reveals that endophytes that inhabit only the shoots and leaves can also affect feeding below ground. “Our data suggests that protection is a two-step process where grass grubs are less attracted to plants with endophytes in the first place. Those that do feed on the roots will eventually be deterred by the fungal toxins,” says Dr Rostás. This research used the latest mass spectrometry technology at the University of Otago, which can detect very low amounts of airborne chemicals. The fact that such sophisticated equipment is needed highlights just how sensitive insects’ antennae are. More research is necessary to see whether other combinations of grass and endophyte have the same effect, and if this can be used to combat grass grub damage on farms. This research is available online in the Oecologia journal and will appear in print early next year.

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Business Profile

www.guardianonline.co.nz

35

Farmlinks Limited Two Canterbury farmers got talking two years ago at a wedding which has led to the website Farmlinks Ltd. Robert Begg “saw the need for a trading platform like this. So it was probably the need to help myself and others find the best deals”. Covering all of New Zealand Farmlinks offers a unique service to farmers enabling them to buy and sell online with a simple and effective system. Farmlinks is an online marketplace where farmers from all over New Zealand can visit for rural transactions. There is no subscription and no commission just a place where you can sell or buy as you wish. The website started one year ago, “it has been great, we knew it would be a slow process, but the feedback we have had from the agricultural community has been great,” said Robert Begg. Raised on a Wakanui arable farm as the third generation on the farm and fourth in the area Robert understood what the website needed because he is the customer/user.

Farmlinks was “built to meet the needs of farmers, and I am one of those farmers,” he said. The business has put a focus on providing personalised service through mapping and searching options on the website. “A user can find a contractor or product within 10kms of their farm or anywhere in NZ. This gives plenty of options with ease of use”. Sections on the website include grain, feed, contracting, machinery, livestock and a general section. Robert encourages people to give it a go, use relevant information on your listing with photographs if you have them so it looks and sounds like something people would be interested in. Using the automatic relist option when setting up the auction makes things easy you just set it and forget it. “The most enjoyable aspect of starting this website is hearing when people have made successful trades,” said Robert. At the end of the day

Robert Begg, Owner operator of Farmlinks.

Robert understands how farming works. “My job is being a farmer, and so if harvest all goes to

WHERE FARMERS TRADE DIRECT. Created by farmers, for farmers

Farmlinks is the site where the agri-community can come together to buy, sell and trade, source contractors, locate services and get better value for money.

Where farmers trade direct.

plan, that is pretty rewarding and satisfying”. The future brings more of the same, he hopes to still be

on the farm with his family while watching Farmlinks helping farmers all over New Zealand.

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Guardian farming, tuesday, january 13, 2015  

Ashburton Guardian, Farming, Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Guardian farming, tuesday, january 13, 2015  

Ashburton Guardian, Farming, Tuesday, January 13, 2015