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Guardian Ashburton

AUGUST, 2013

Flying the Kiwi flag p 2-3

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Linda Clarke, Ashburton Guardian rural reporter

Murray flying the flag for New Zealand M

ethven farmer Murray Redmond is back enjoying the routine of farm life after a month in Canada flying the flag for New Zealand at the World Ploughing Championships. Murray, 26, finished 15th in the conventional contest while team-mate Malcolm Taylor, of Putaruru, was 10th in the reversible. His competition plough is in a shipping container heading back to New Zealand, and he is planning a break from competitive ploughing after back-to-back world championships. Murray said he would regroup for a shot at the national title in 2014, qualifying him to compete at the world event in Denmark in 2015. He has grown up in a competitive ploughing environment with father Bruce a former New Zealand and world champion. Murray said his advice was invaluable in Canada, where competitors found the sticky soil challenging. The conventional title was won by Austrian ploughwoman Barbara Klaus, while John Whelan, from Ireland, won the reversible. Murray said all the competitors found the soil hard going. The event was held at Olds College, in Alberta, and extremes of heat and rain in the leadup contributed to the challenges of ploughing on foreign soil.

Any feedback is welcome, any comments about our magazine, letters or story suggestions. Please direct any correspondence to: Linda Clarke, on 307-7971 email: linda.c@theguardian.co.nz or write to PO Box 77, Ashburton.

Guardian Ashburton


Advertising: Phone 307-7974 Email: desme.d@theguardian.co.nz Publication date: August 6, 2013 Next issue: September 10, 2013 An advertising feature for the Ashburton Guardian. Any opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of Guardian Farming or the Ashburton Guardian.

Photo Kirsty Clay 310713-kg-008 Murray Redmond is home from the World Ploughing Championships.

Bruce Redmond, who coached the side, said the results were a bit disappointing, but the field conditions changed considerably throughout the plots. Both Kiwi ploughmen had

‘I’d never seen so many frustrated teams’ - coach Bruce Redmond

difficult plots. “I thought they handled the ground conditions well, and made the most they could with the conditions they had.” Both the grassland and stubble practice plots had also proved difficult, and featured added challenges of gopher holes. “I’d never seen so many frustrated teams,” he said. Murray said it was good to be back on the family’s farm at Methven, where he and his father cultivate soil for their own crops and run sheep. Lambing is just a month away. The Canadian event was the 60th world champs and the milestone was marked appropriately by organisers with an anniversary dinner. One of the guest speakers was Canadian Bob Timbers who was placed third in the first event in 1953. The programme also included a trip to the Calgary Stampede, where some spectacular entertainment included bull and horse riding, cattle roping and calf tossing. The ploughmen also visited beautiful Banff National Park and visited a working Angus cattle ranch. The world championships will be held in France next year.

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Pond borders can benefit bees Landcare Research scientists have used remote sensing – computer analysis of satellite images – to demonstrate that in just one 5 km diameter circle near Ashburton there are 10 irrigation ponds whose otherwise bare banks could provide almost 3.5 hectares of available land to support more diverse plant and animal life. Pollination expert

Dr Linda Newstrom-Lloyd of Trees for Bees NZ says if that land – and areas like it throughout New Zealand – was planted in bee-friendly tree and shrub species then nutrition sources would be available to answer the increasing demand for pollination services in the region and help avert a pollinator crisis. “We know that more intensive farming practices are impacting on biodiversity,” she says. “We could use this unproductive land around irrigation ponds to improve biodiversity – and there are subsidies available to help fund biodiversity plantations on farms.




















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“This is an excellent opportunity to highlight the great work being done by innovative farmers such as John, and Dean Pye who have planted 798 bee-friendly trees and shrubs in a shelterbelt in the Ashburton region. Gisborne farmers, Peter Hair and Nick Pollock, have joined

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The Trees for Bees NZ team, chaired by Ross Little, is delighted that the research programme has recently been awarded a new grant from the Ministry for Primary Industries Sustainable Farming Fund. The focus will be on planting bee forage on all types of farms. Most important are those farms that are already planting for other reasons such as riparian strips and erosion control programmes.




Planting around irrigation ponds is a good way to suppress weeds at the same time as providing more biodiversity for bee nutrition. Ashburton arable crop farmer John Evans has planted 1557 trees and shrubs that will supply high-protein pollen during the spring and autumn periods.

Trees for Bees NZ notes that August is Bee Awareness Month, an initiative developed by beekeepers in the National Beekeepers Association and supported by Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group.

Apiculture Officer Marco Gonzalez of Trees for Bees NZ says innovative farmers are planting species that provide nutrition in the most critical seasons - early spring and autumn - when there is not much else in flower. This will produce larger, stronger bee colonies ready for pollination services required for crops in the summer. “We now have


the programme by planting bee forage on livestock farms to improve pollination,” Marco Gonzalaz says.

The extra boost from this nutrition will build up the bee colonies in his apiary to optimal strength and contribute to his pollination services needed in summer. The plantation also adds value by the beautification of the pond margin and increased farm biodiversity.

“If the five-metre-wide borders of all 10 irrigation ponds in our highlighted area were planted in suitable bee friendly trees and shrubs, then bees foraging from hives located in the middle of that area would have access to more than 20,000 nutritious plants.”

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four demonstration farms around the country that illustrate what can be done to improve bee nutrition”.

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rrigation pond borders offer a great opportunity to increase biodiversity on farms without impacting on productive land, according to researchers.


In the next three years we will develop model planting designs for different farm types and determine guidelines and best practices for customising these designs for different farm operations. To keep updated on the project, see the new Trees for Bees NZ website www.treesforbees.org. nz and ‘like us’ on Facebook.








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Contributed by Nick Clark, Federated Farmers general policy manager

Local authority elections I

n four months’ time New Zealanders will be voting in crucial local authority elections which will shape the leadership of their councils for the next three years.

come into place in time for this year’s elections, the people elected will have to grapple with how their communities will be affected.

Crucial is a much overused word when describing particular elections but this year there is plenty to suggest that it is a good descriptor. Firstly, although draft annual plans show many councils tightening their spending and lowering their previously signaled rates increases, the financial sustainability of local government will continue to come under the spotlight. For farmers this doesn’t just mean growth in overall council spending, rates, and debt but how council rating policies distribute the rates burden across the community. The problems in Kaipara show the need for strong leadership and good decision-making at all levels within councils.

Thirdly, there are the Government’s major reforms of water policy and the RMA which will be administered by our regional and district councils. Although the Government is trying to provide more ‘guidance’ to councils on high level policy and how it should be applied, councils and councillors will still have a lot of discretion and flexibility on how it is implemented. Councillors will need a good understanding of how the viability of farming will be affected by water policy and of the RMA in general.

Fourthly, the Government is pushing ahead with a review of the local roads funding assistance rate which could result in some councils getting more central funding for their local roads and other councils getting less. This Secondly, there is a lot of talk about will require strong leadership in local government reorganisation and advocating the council’s case to the the pros and cons of mergers. Some Government but it will also require proposals have already been put to tough decisions within the council on the Local Government Commission to road spend and how it will be funded if consider, such as in the Hawke’s Bay the Government’s share is reduced. 20X2 COL and in the Far North with more in the (74X200MM) pipeline. These factors make it vitally important that high quality people Although none of the proposals will M)

Article provided by Environment Canterbury

CWMS targets More hard questions on water quality and Ensure water quality remains high where it is currently. Prevent further decline where it must currently be treated.

management costs





Maintain contribution water makes to Canterbury’s economy. Water maintenance to be considered to have regional economic value.

Question 5: What is the proportional contribution drains, river and coastal water. that farming makes to the quality of water in the Hinds Question 7: What is the probability (likelihood) that catchment relative to: water quality in the catchment will improve as a result a) Background or natural sources rangitata diversion raceof changing farm management practices and possibly recreation b) Point sources native wildlife Last month Environment Canterbury provided answers infrastructure on my farm? native agriculture c) Urban sources water races to the first three of nine questions forest asked by Federated It is highly probable, but it will take time. It will depend water storage Farmers at a recent Ashburton seminar. Here is a summary Farming is the dominant land use covering 133,776 drains on the water quality, farm location, and whether your of answers to the final six questions: the full answers to all ha, and accounts for more than 99% of the catchment’s neighbours also change practices. It may take years for the nine questions are available on www.ecan.govt/hinds. nitrogen load. Therefore, farming leaches more nitratereduction at source to show up as a reduction in nitrate-N. nitrogen than other land uses, and is a major contributor There may even be a lag effect, with things getting worse spring-fed Question 4: Which of these four factors (nitratenutrient to phosphorus, sediment streamsand pathogens in water through before they begin to improve. groundwater/ nitrogen; phosphorus; pathogens/faecal contamination; wetlands runoff tilling, livestock grazing, fertiliser and animal effluent. aquifers sediment content) is the most important in the Hinds groundwater Question 8: Has the regional council done any cost/ catchment in terms of limiting water quality? bores All farming sources contribute an estimated 4480 tonnes benefit analysis on this issue and where can I find it? N/year, while all non-farming sources contribute 18 tonnes It is not possible to say which factor is more important Environment Canterbury has compared changes in cost/ than any other, however, the increasing trend in nitrate-N N/year. Point source loads such as dairy effluent ponds benefit and net gains/ or losses of different scenarios contribute an estimated 14 tonnes of N/year, while septic concentrations is causing most concern. with the current situation. Technical reports, including tanks contribute an estimated 13 tonnes N/year. scenarios, are on www.ecan.govt.nz/hinds . Question 6: What is the connectivity between water Question 9: The regional council is using Overseer leaving a given farm (either by leaching or runoff) and the IRRIGATED Version 6 to determine the rates of leaching of nitrate N water-bodies in the catchment? LAND AREA and P runoff. How accurate is Overseer in respect to these farms contribute to the nitrate-nitrogen in the WATER-USE Provide for 30,000haAll of new irrigated outputs? Should Overseer be used as a regulatory tool or ECOSYSTEM HEALTH groundwater and in drains. The sediment, phosphorus EFFICIENCY and just to do what-if analyses? land which has high standards of & BIODIVERSITY other contaminants in farm runoff affects only the drains KAITIAKITANGA nutrient and water use management. Overseer 6 has ± 30% uncertainty. Overseer is certainly and streams to which runoff is directly connected. Achieve high levels of best-practice Prevent further loss, protect, and useful for carrying out “what-if” analyses, and provided the of water use for all irrigation, stockwater Increase community understanding Water that leaves a farm by leaching takes nitrates and restore native habitats and species limitations of the model are recognised and respected it and commercial use. customary values and uses. Protect other contaminants into the groundwater system. Nearly can also be used for regulation. The in natural aquatic environments— of a single wahi national taonga anduse mahinga kai waterways all the groundwater under the Hinds plain passes through freely-available system, with appropriate ki uta ki tai. practitioner farm soils. Much of the groundwater flows into drains on training and accreditation, has many advantages. National the lower ENVIRONMENTAL plains and causes the shallower groundwater to guidelines for Overseer use are being developed as is work LIMITSnitrate concentrations. The remaining have the highest to calibrate model results with measured results. Take a groundwater flows to the ocean. How this nitrate look at the A3 summary on http://www.overseer.org.nz for Set and achieve flow, catchment and discharge affects the coastal ocean waters we don’t know, more comprehensive answers. nutrient limits. but it potentially increases the occurrence of algal blooms. armers are understandably keen to learn how changes to farming operations will improve water quality, and how costs are going to be taken into account.

stand for their councils and that voters make informed choices and exercise their vote. For years the number of candidates per elected position and the turnout of voters have both been falling. 2010 saw an upward blip in voter turnout, mainly because of some high profile mayoral contests in our biggest cities, but overall it was still a derisory 49 per cent. Federated Farmers will be encouraging good quality people to stand for election. They don’t need to be farmers but they do need to be business minded and understanding of the importance of agriculture for their local economies and how council decisions impact on agriculture. They also need to commit to keeping costs down and sharing the rates burden according to access to and benefit derived from specific council activities.

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Closer to the elections Federated Farmers will be producing a manifesto for aspiring council candidates, as we did in 2010. We will also be encouraging people to vote at the elections. As the old adage goes, “if you don’t vote, don’t complain”.




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Provide for 30,000ha of new irrigated land which has high standards of nutrient and water use management.

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Hinds River



By APNZ business reporter Jamie Gray

Record Ballance rebate F

ertiliser co-operative Ballance Agri-Nutrients says cost-cutting helped drive its trading profit up by 19.8 per cent to $92.6 million, despite last summer’s drought reducing demand.

assist farmer cash flows, post-drought, it said.

Ballance said its shareholders were in line for a record rebate and dividend of $65/tonne, along with a recommended 60-cent increase in the value of the cooperative’s shares to $8.10. A rebate averaging $60.83 per tonne and a fully imputed dividend of 10 cents per share would be paid out nearly six weeks earlier than normal to

“The drought may be over but the financial impacts are not, so we are fast-tracking the payment for shareholders in recognition of that so they can gain the full benefits of a good year for their co-operative as quickly as possible,” chairman David Graham said in a statement. In total, Ballance’s 18,300 shareholders will receive a $65 million distribution. Graham said the drought had affected fertiliser demand and sales volumes over the financial year, which ended



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Contributed by Irrigation NZ

Contributed by Mary Ralston, Forest and Bird

Aust’s irrigation dilemma

Bird count on the Ashburton Lakes


ecently IrrigationNZ hosted a tour through the Murray Darling regions across the bottom south eastern corner of Australia. Sponsored by the Bank of New Zealand and GHD Consultants, a diverse group of 29 irrigation scheme directors, personnel and consultants, IrrigationNZ staff and sponsor representatives spent eight days visiting various irrigation areas.

We meet at Mt Somers and divide into groups to go to the various lakes. Some go to Clearwater and Camp, others check Emma and Roundabout, another counts at the Maori Lakes and Lake Emily, and some go to the smaller lakes (Lake Denny, the Spider Lakes, Trinity). Two groups are allocated to Lake Heron: one to survey the edge along the wetland of the Cameron fan and another to look along the road edge and walk into Harrison’s Bight, a loop of the lake nearest the hills and a place that often harbours a multitude of birds. The idea is that if all the lakes are counted at the same time, we’ll get an accurate picture.

The weather was perfect: clear and calm and warm. The reflections on the lakes were amazing and the water on Lake Heron so clear you could see the feet of the ducks as they paddled about. A wide range of waterbirds is found at the lakes: as well as the common species such as black swans, Canada geese, paradise ducks and mallards, are the shoveller, scaup, grey duck and coots. The Australasian crested grebe is a rare species now, it was once common to see throughout Canterbury on lakes and waterways but now the Ashburton Lakes is one the few places it still breeds. On Saturday only five were spotted which was not as many as usual. Another notable absence was the coots – usually there are hundreds but this year hardly any. A total of 3057 birds was counted. This is well down on what is usually there – only in 1986 and 1988 has there been a lower tally since counts began in 1984, although no year is “normal” because of the changeable weather and environmental

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Irrigation water is absolutely crucial to Australian agriculture. Cotton Australia, the industry body for cotton growers, states that during the drought years, when water was limited, production fell to 600,000 bales down from a normal year of 3.2 million bales – a drop of over 80 per cent. So the stakes are high for the agriculture industry, the environment, irrigators and communities in Australia. The slogan boldly displayed in a local garage in the town of Jerilderie saying “You take the water. You stuff my business” underlines the tension that exists in the rural heartland. The Australian Government has recognised the value of water to the economy and is prepared to spend significant amounts to secure both viable irrigated agriculture and environmental outcomes. Although it does help that they are able to dig up parts of their country and sell it to other parts of the world.


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Peter Smith of Ashburton counts birds on Lake Clearwater.

conditions. In some years a lot of ice covers the lakes and the birds will move away to other, more favourable feeding grounds such as Lake Ellesmere. It is hard to say why the numbers were so low this year; possibly the snow and ice we had a month or so ago made the birds move on and they haven’t come back yet. Hopefully the birds are just elsewhere and will return. It’s important for many

species that there is somewhere else to go – when conditions are unfavourable at one place, there is another that provides shelter and food. We need to “cover our bases” when it comes to our native species and conservation: a single refuge may not be enough. Luckily in Canterbury there is a range of lakes in the high country – they are all important, especially for rare species such as the crested grebe.

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in the many irrigation schemes and on farms. In return for Government funding, water savings are to put back into the environment. A key attribute of irrigation in Australia is the ability to trade water from anywhere up and down the Murray Darling system.




Extreme temperatures on some days mean that irrigation water is purely to keep the plants cool enough to avoid heat stress or fruit from damage. Without water trees die – there is no middle ground. The upside of irrigating in Australia is that the climate allows a large variety of crops to be grown, from pasture for livestock through to horticultural tree and vine crops of citrus and grapes alongside rice and cotton.

The Murray Darling system is massive. At Berri the average evaporation is 1.5 To get a sense of scale the catchment – 1.8 metres per year (rainfall equivalent) Australians talk in megalitres (1000 m3) and basin covers one seventh and gigalitres (1 million m3). Of the of the land area of Australia. approximately 13,000 gigalitres of The Darling system stretches flow in the basin, 11,500 gigalitres from above Brisbane in is taken for irrigation, industrial use Queensland to join with the and domestic supply. Agricultural Murray River coming from irrigation accounts for about 95 per Victoria (Melbourne) ending in cent of the water removed. South Australia at Adelaide. It The enormous pressure that is a large, slow system where abstraction places on the river they talk in weeks and months system led to the ‘Murray Darling for flows to reach from one end Basin Plan’ in 2007. A federal The sign on a business in the Murray Darling region to another. The bottom end of government initiative, aiming to across the bottom south eastern corner of Australia the Murray is a highly modified return 2750 gigalitres of water to the says it all. system with a series of 12 locks environment to secure the basin’s that effectively make the river long term ecological health, the a series of controlled lakes. plan has a turbulent history and was - double that of a typical Canterbury It is a contrast of extremes with all of only signed off in March this year. From year. Combined with an average rainfall the tributaries, especially in the Darling 2008 to 2024 a massive $A15 billion of only 262mm the irrigation season system, experiencing huge variation of government money will be spent stretches from late August to mid May. in flows. Periods of zero flow in most upgrading and improving efficiencies

A perfect day at Lake Heron for the annual winter bird count. ast Saturday was the annual winter bird count at the Ashburton Lakes. This event has been a feature on the calendar of Forest and Bird members, friends and locals for over 25 years. Originally it was organised as a winter outing, but now it has become much more than that – all those years of data provide a valuable picture of what’s happening up at the lakes.

tributary rivers can last for months, and in the drier parts, for years. The entire basin is predominantly flat. At Berri, 400km inland, the elevation above sea level is only 40 metres, an average gradient of only one metre per 10 kilometres. This means the Murray River snakes its way across the land and for every 3km of river, only 1km of progress is made towards the sea.

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12 13

Contributed by John Leadley

Real test of resilience In an article for this publication in July 2006, I closed with the following paragraph: “As an Emergency Relief Committee, we too have learnt some valuable lessons from the snow event – doubtlessly we will have the opportunity some time in the future to test these out again. I hope we will not be found wanting.”


hese comments of course related to the district-wide snowfall of June 2006 when snow covered the total Canterbury region from Alps to sea level to a depth of at least 25 centimetres. This caused significant structural damage to some buildings and particularly rural electricity infrastructure. As a district-wide event this was the most significant snow event since 1945. The recent polar blast that hit Mid Canterbury from June 20-23 was to most, minor in comparison. Unlike 2006, the event was predicted accurately by meteorologists at least three days prior, giving farmers (and indeed all residents) time to stock up on supplies and make arrangements. In urban Ashburton, apart from some school closures and surface flooding of roads, life continued more or less as normal, with only minor disruption. As a district councillor I believe the infrastructure of the town held up very well considering seven inches of precipitation was recorded over a six-day period. In particular the flooding around Mill Creek which regularly occurred with every major rainfall event 10 years ago was almost nonexistent – total justification for the bank stabilisation work of the last decade (now nearly complete). What is more, the huge volume of water reaching the water course from new subdivisions in the northwest was dispersed to the river east of the town with minimal impact on farming properties. In Tinwald the picture was less rosy. Surface water from above the township further compromised the ability of

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Carters Creek to cope and some flooding occurred. Council I believe is unaware of water encroaching into any residence however. Much more importantly surcharge from wastewater impacted severely on a small number of properties – something that must be addressed with urgency by Council. Indeed this is the worst form of infrastructure inadequacy. Generally speaking the town suffered little infrastructural damage from what was a major weather event. Unfortunately this event further compromised the condition of rural roads. Understandably with nine inches of rainfall in a week recorded nearer the coast, surface flooding unseen for a generation did occur, but was relatively short-lived. There was however significant wastage of feed stocks as a consequence. The situation in the foothills and High Country however was significantly more concerning. Mount Hutt skifield recorded 2.8 metres of snow, the heaviest in at least 20 years – with stations in the Lake Heron/ Ashburton Gorge area having more than a metre of snow over two days. Fortunately most high country farmers had bought stock down to “snow safe” country, but the scale of the event overwhelmed this and prevented access to feed the stock. Somewhat surprisingly some sheep were still grazing at 7000 feet altitude which made for difficult and dangerous recovery. The first phone call for assistance to the Rural Support Trust came at 11am on Thursday, June 20 advising of continuing heavy snow already 50cm deep and the closure of the Gorge Road to all traffic. Immediate contact was made with trust members using the established strategic phone contacts to assess the likely extent of the event. Contracting firms were contacted and bulldozers and transporters “booked’ in case required. A visit was made to council’s roading manager emphasising the urgency of

the situation in respect of potential stock loss and inability to transport heavy equipment if roads froze. Fortunately common sense prevailed and a private contractor engaged with bulldozer to supplement council’s contractor whose on-site equipment was inadequate for the depth of snow. Bulldozers worked over the next two days keeping feeding sites clear and assisting access. By Saturday evening trust co-ordinator Alan Baird, with huge assistance from Mt Hutt helicopters, had assessed the initial response requirements. Over the succeeding nine days teams of up to 20 volunteers a day arduously tramped tracks and herded hundreds of cattle and thousands of sheep through up to a metre of snow to safety. Miraculously across the area involved, total estimated stock losses were in single figures for cattle and deer and under 100 sheep, despite the last recoveries occurring 11 days later. Thanks to adequate warning, many properties were able to arrange their own labour and additionally the trust provided 600 plus man hours of recovery work from its database of 50 volunteers.

The purchase, post 2006, of 20 personal radios and allied base equipment proved worthwhile in enhancing operational efficiency and safety and allowed direct contact with the helicopters. A significant advance. As trust chairman I need to thank the following: Co-ordinator Alan Baird and wife Sue for the many hours spent assessing and responding to needs, organising snow raking teams, attending to over 200 phone calls and dealing with media etc so efficiently. Mt Hutt Helicopters for their knowledge, professionalism and ready availability to assist in any way. A great working relationship. Council and private contractors for cooperation in gaining access and on site work. Other trust members for support and offers of assistance. Employers who generously allowed staff time off to assist. Ministry of Primary Industries staff. But most of all the 30+ volunteers (aged from teenage to octogenarian) from all walks of life who risked life and limb

to save animals. Your generosity and community spirit was overwhelming. The best workforce of all is volunteers. They work with their hearts. In 2006, six days into the snow event, Prime Minister Helen Clark and Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton visited Ashburton and saw and understood the workings of our then Emergency Relief Trust and sought permission to use us as a role model, and introduce the concept across the whole country. Today we are one of 14 such entities covering every region in New Zealand. Under the banner of the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) we annually receive a four-figure sum of money which basically covers administration, auditing and reporting requirements. Even in its expanded role of a Rural Support Charitable Trust, (together with added responsibilities), the strength of the group, like so many others, will remain with its volunteer status. Long may this remain. Yes, as I predicted, we had an opportunity to test our resources. I don’t believe we were found wanting. Thank you Ashburtonians.



Contributed by Sheryl Stivens, Eco efficiency Co-ordinator Mastagard Ashburton

Regenerative agriculture

Setting up a worm farm S

etting up your own worm farm to generate worm juice is simple. You can use an old bathtub or chub and modify something you can reuse or can find at your recycling depot.

Reduce fertiliser costs now with worm juice


hat’s new about worms? Charles Darwin said they were the most important creatures on earth and passionate gardeners have been feeding their food scraps to worm farms outside the kitchen door for years in return for worm juice for their roses or vegetables, plus vermicast for moisture retention and resistance to pests and diseases. But what about reducing your farm and garden fertiliser costs and regenerating your soils with worm juice? And it’s all so easy and cost effective as we heard in Ashburton recently when Australian beef farmer Bruce Davidson presented his knowledge and experience to farmers from around the region. Bruce and his wife Heidi purchased a 380 acre farm in New South Wales in 1997 and soon found out that after 60 years of applying superphosphate and herbicides the soils had a ph of 4.6. A farm advisor calculated they needed to apply a mixture of 60 per cent dolomite and 40 per cent lime at a cost of $33,000 to get the soils productive again.

Australian beef farmer Bruce Davidson was in Ashburton recently to share the benefits of using worm juice to boost grass growth on farms.

That was when the Davidsons drew on their 18 years of experience in growing flowers for the Sydney markets. Bruce had begun to experiment years earlier with worm products and saw results overnight. His cut flowers were brighter, more upright and had a shelf life of 30 per cent longer.




Within weeks competition between florists drove up the Davidsons’ flower prices by 20 per cent and reduced their fertiliser bill by 50 per cent.


The question now was how could they do something similar with growing grass on their farm? Their problems stemmed from a damaged mineral cycle. Getting the biology working became a priority.

Soil tests show the amount of calcium improved by 456lbs per acre and magnesium by 81lbs per acre over 12 months.

The worm juice was applied at 2.25 gallons per acre in spring and autumn. In 12 months soil ph under the lime mixture hadn’t changed and a faint layer remained on the surface. But ph under worm juice was 6.5 and legumes were starting to grow. That observation was all it took to scale up the idea. Bruce then set up three more worm farms using an old car trailer, a bathtub and a 3 x 10 foot box he made from steel framing and corrugated iron lined with plastic sheeting. These vessels generated enough fertiliser to lift the farm’s fertility. Feeding worms cow dung and food scraps continues to keep input costs at nil. Fermenting worm juice produces fungi and this is the secret to



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Coffee grounds, tea bags etc are all great. If you have family close by or farm workers give them a bin and instructions so they can also supply you with worm food.


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Worm farms have been an extremely cost effective tool to strengthen the mineral cycle by establishing and feeding soil biology. If you would like to find out more, read the Davidsons’ story in Acres USA April 2011 or for more information contact John King www.succession.co.nz who hosted Bruce’s New Zealand farming seminars.


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Using local fine lime and dolomite prices as the market value for plant available calcium and magnesium; worm juice generated an estimated $130 per acre of minerals or the equivalent of US $49,820 across the whole property. That’s a great return considering the only capital investment was a 110 gallon sprayer with boomless nozzles to form large droplets so as not to destroy the microbiology. The Davidsons also use a refractometer to measure the Brix or energy levels in the grass and these have increased substantially as has the property’s resilience to drought conditions.

Bruce set up an experiment comparing the farm advisor’s lime mix and worm juice on 2.5 acre blocks.


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16 17

Contributed by Federated Farmers

Time to check your paddocks

Proline delivers you healthy profit

While disease is always present in winter, this year it was encouraged with a mild wet autumn and early planted crops.

The starting-out wage modifies the previous training wage regime and affects three groups:

The snowfall we’ve had won’t have done much to reduce disease pressure either. All the key diseases concerning wheat and barley crops are very capable of withstanding the worst weather winter can conjure up.

16 and 17-year-olds in their first six months of work with a new employer;

What changes should farmers look out for this season?

16 to 19-year-old workers in a recognised industry training course involving at least 40 credits a year.

Of the diseases noted, Septoria tritici on wheat is perhaps the most unusual. “But we shouldn’t be surprised it is being found,” says Roy Stieller, Regional Development Manager for Bayer CropScience. “Over the past two seasons Septoria tritici has become more prevalent and during the 2012 season it could be found throughout Canterbury. Septoria tritici infects by wind borne spores which are released from the previous season’s stubble and so the move to earlier plantings, combined with an increased area of susceptible wheat varieties, has really helped this disease get established. “At the moment the disease will be evident as paler green to yellow lesions on the leaves. Look closely and you may be able to see the pycnidia, the spore bodies produced by the disease”.

When delivering profit is important to you, Proline produces an extra 1-1.5 tonnes/ha compared with an untreated barley crop*. That’s $300-500/ha extra after taking out the cost of using Proline. It’s really that good! Insist on Proline from Bayer.



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Therefore total remuneration paid to an employee must not be less than the minimum wage (or the starting-out wage, if applicable), plus the value of

If you have any specific questions about the starting-out wage, feel free to call 0800 FARMING to get free, independent legal and employment advice.

Grow healthier profits not Septoria

The starting-out wage has come under fire from some youth groups and unions arguing that it will “rip off” and create genuine hardship for young workers, but has been backed by business and many employers.

However, the starting-out wage is not compulsory, it is an option for employers to use if they want to take on a young person. The employee also has to agree to being paid a starting-out wage as part of their employment agreement.

“While this will not prevent the disease from re-infecting, it will ensure disease pressure is reduced until the spring when crop health can be re-assessed and the spring fungicide programme decided. With the disease levels we have at the moment we should expect that we are going so see plenty of disease this spring!”

the compulsory KiwiSaver employer contribution (currently 2 per cent).

Protect your crop and your profits now from the effects of Septoria tritici with Proline. Proline produces an extra 2.3 tonnes/ha compared with an untreated wheat crop*. That’s $650/ha extra after taking out the cost of using Proline. It’s really that good! Insist on Proline from Bayer.

Training courses The most popular AgITO course for entry level farmers is National Certificate in Agriculture – General Skills. If an employee is 16-19 years old and undertaking this course as part of their employment agreement, their employer has the option to pay them the starting-out wage.

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If you are party to a service tenancy, where an employer provides an employee with a property to live in during their period of employment, you may be wondering how this arrangement affects minimum wage rates. Employers must ensure that the total remuneration paid to an employee is not below minimum wage (currently either the standard rate of $13.75, or the startingout rate of $11 if applicable) before any deductions for rent are made.

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sc ien

The starting-out wage gives employers the ability to set starting-out rates of no less than 80 per cent of the minimum wage rate for a blanket six months after starting work with the new employer. This effectively doubles the duration of the previous regime, while also extending the age bracket to include 18 and 19-year-olds.

“Last year some farmers were taken by surprise by Septoria tritici and by the time they realised their crops were infected it was too late for effective control to occur. And so this year everyone is looking for the disease.”

“However, with Septoria being so easy to find this year, many New Zealand farmers have taken a precautionary approach and have already applied a fungicide spray.” acknowledges Mr Weith.

The reason rent can be deducted from total remuneration where there is a service tenancy is because in such circumstances rent is considered a lawful deduction. KiwiSaver however, is not.

Employer KiwiSaver contributions must be paid in addition to the minimum wage.



.c ro p

An employee cannot be paid the startingout wage if they are training or supervising other workers.

David Weith, Regional Business Manager for Bayer CropScience in Mid and South Canterbury, agrees.

Weith gives this advice: “Taking a guide from the United Kingdom, where Septoria tritici has been the main wheat disease for many years, the important fungicide treatments normally start at GS31-32. This coincides with the emergence of final leaf three and it is important to keep this leaf free from disease as it is a significant source of yield.


18 and 19-year-olds entering the workforce after more than six months on a benefit; and

Supporters of the starting-out wage believe it will make youth workers more attractive to employers and provide an incentive to employers to take a chance on a young person, enabling them to earn money, gain skills, and get the work experience they need.

So is now the right time to treat the disease?

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he pockets of young people may feel bit lighter since a new law change (effective from May 1 2013) which saw the Government’s ‘starting-out wage’ come into effect.

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By observing your crop early you’ll be well prepared to make the right choices for fungicide programmes in early spring, before any significant crop damage is done.

The starting-out wage


Now is the time to start paddock walking, especially crops that were planted early, and to start noting any signs of disease.



ven though it’s still winter, disease is evident in many cereal paddocks. Both barley and wheat are affected and the diseases being reported are Septoria tritici and stripe rust on wheat and scald, net blotch and leaf rust on barley – and these can all have a harsh affect on yield.

18 19

Eliminating wool’s dirty secret W

ith New Zealand’s main-shear approaching, Federated Farmers and the NZ Shearing Contractors’ Association are backing moves to cut the woolshed contamination of wool. If successful, it could boost farmgate returns by a couple of million dollars each year. “When you are dealing with a $700 million export, cutting wool contamination translates into a big opportunity for fibre farmers,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson. “As a farmer, the easiest way for us to increase our returns is to focus on what we can control. Woolshed contamination is a perfect example of this. “Federated Farmers believes cutting woolshed contamination could increase farmgate returns. Actually, the value uplift will be greater because attention to detail is how we will increase grower returns and New Zealand’s overall reputation for quality wool. “What we know is that inattention is seeing everything from press bars, clothing, fertiliser bags, cellphones and even a tennis ball ending up in bales of wool. These are all contaminants.

“While the ultimate cost is being born by farmers, Federated Farmers believes it is a joint responsibility between farmers, shearers and the scourers. We all need to work together because the interests of our customers are our interests.”

5 tips to cut wool contamination

The NZ Shearing Contractors’ Association is happy to join with Federated Farmers and scourers to get the contamination message out. Some simple changes could see big savings.

A clean shed sets the scene – Is the shed clear and clean for the shear? Is equipment in good order?  Is there an area for shearers to stow their gear off the main work floor?  Is there a place for smoko?  Is there sufficient newsprint for bin bales? 

“We have spoken to Federated Farmers and we are working on Keep Calm and Shear On - a quick fix to wool contamination,” says Barry Pullin, President of the NZ Shearing Contractors’ Association.

One press, four bars – If you need a fifth, or the spare, you need to ask the boss for it. The big hint here is to check the last bale pressed or, ‘Lost a press bar? Try the last bale pressed’. 

“Can I reinforce what Jeanette said about this being a joint responsibility; it is about ownership and pride in the product that is New Zealand wool. There are things we need to do better but I know Jeanette agrees with me that a clean shed really does set the scene. “That is why we are working on a quick fix guide with Federated Farmers, which will reduce the number of foreign objects going into wool. We are working to get this made into a graphic so that farmers and our members can download it and display it,” he said. 

Open and empty – Because wool packs are sometimes used as giant rubbish bins, they need to be checked before use. “Open and empty” may take a few seconds but it is the simplest way to prevent contaminants like old clothing ending up with the wool. Only wool in bales – Only newsprint with bin bales – ‘The only thing going into a bale is wool and in bin bales, newsprint for separation’. It really is as simple as that.  Hang it, store it or lose it – The idea is to eliminate all loose clothing and items being mixed up with wool. Hooks, storage areas and extreme care needs to be taken so that any of these items do not end up being mixed up with the wool. This applies to anyone in the wool shed environment; farmers, farm workers, the shearing team and any visitors.

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20 21

Contributed by Lifestyler

Dogs and chooks unlikely friends B

oy, August has come round very fast and it won’t be long and summer will be here again. Mind you, winter has been very warm; not much rain and the frosts haven’t been as bad as last year. I haven’t lost water from frozen pipes, that’s how I know the frosts haven’t been too bad.

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and it is bigger than the last one, so there should be heaps of room for more chooks. I will let you know how I get on with that one.


Mind you three weeks ago, I thought I would be one chook less as the dog thought one was his friend. I was in the office working and thought I’d better check that dog. I look out the window and here he is rolling round on the grass playing with something. I thought it was the rugby ball at




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I had been to the chook house and fed my girls but hadn’t done a head count this day. That night I put dog away and he wasn’t that keen to get in his kennel.  I went out about 10.30pm to let him out for the toilet and to feed him. He was sitting with his blankets outside in the run part. Silly dog, I thought.  So I climbed in the cage and put his blankets back in the box part - not easy as I am not the smallest of people.

I told the children chook might still die from shock but the next morning we found her up and running around. She seemed fine apart from missing feathers; she is a tough chook with a good heart. The chooks still get in the dog kennel when he is not in it and sit in his box. When away in the school holidays we left my feathered friends out so that they could forage for food for a couple nights. It’s ok, we took the dog with us. On return we put the dog away that night. Tom said that the dog didn’t want to go in his cage and was really funny about it. The next day he was out

While I am still standing there, he pulls his blankets out again. Fine, I thought, sleep outside. The next morning I realised why he would not sleep in the box part. He had a friend in there, which overnight he had placed outside the box on the run part. It must have got cold and he wanted back in his kennel. You got it right, it was a chook. She must have got in his cage when we were away and died. The interesting thing was apart from moving her out of his box he never touched her. Normally dogs find a dead thing and have a chew, but she was all intact as I checked her to make sure he hadn’t. Not one feather off her.  So my dog is a good dog! Makes me feel happy to know he has learned something, and knows right from wrong.  For now anyway!



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I go running out and he gets up wagging his tail at me, as to say ‘it’s ok, I am just playing’.

Then I realised she had no bite marks or any blood on her. Yes, she was missing some feathers from around her neck, but that was it. So he was just playing . . .

I do have a little problem at this point, my chooks are not laying any eggs. And haven’t since the snow we had. I have a feeling that normal people say that when this happens you cut your losses and knock them on the head and get new ones.

I think I will just get new ones and hope they all get on. We now have a lovely new run for them

of the cage all day because we were home and didn’t go anywhere.

I don’t think the chook thought of it like that. The dog was placed in his kennel and told off for playing with my chook. I went over to chook thinking she was dead, but no, she wasn’t.  I put her in the hen house and gave her a pat, saying ‘you’ll be ok’ but knowing that was not true.

The animals are all fine - we are feeding out to the cows each day and they seem very happy to see us when we go down. Mind you, half the time they don’t eat it all. Depends on who feeds them, when Sophie and I do it they tend to get too much.

Well, you do have to remember that the chooks at my house are pets. As much as Tom hates them, and they poo everywhere when out, they are my friends (how sad). So, should I just get new ones and hope they all get on. Or do I wait until these ones die and then get new ones - big decision for me.

the start and then realised that it wasn’t. Yes you guessed it, it was a chook. 

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Shaping the next generation of rural leaders Lincoln University has been involved with the leaders’ programme since 1976, when it was launched with a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, USA. The yearlong programme will next year celebrate its 30th intake of students in New Zealand. Kellogg Rural Leaders’ Programme Academic Director Dr Patrick Aldwell says by the end of this year, a total of 650 Kelloggers will have completed the course – many of whom have gone on to become very successful within the rural sector. “There have been participants that have gone on to do extraordinary things for rural New Zealand,” says Dr Aldwell.

Will Grayling

- Dr Patrick Aldwell

“But the main aim of the course is to help to establish the next generation of leaders. There’s a real shortage in the rural community as current leaders are beginning to withdraw.” Age is no barrier when it comes to completing the programme. This year, Lincoln University has selected their youngest attendee — 22-year-old Mary Johnson. “It’s important for young people to do the course, as they are the future of rural New Zealand,” says Dr Aldwell.

“But it is just as significant for those already established in the industry. For course attendees aged between 40 and 60 years, it can be really beneficial – opening their eyes to new opportunities and new ways of thinking. It can also expand their horizons and facilitate entry into new roles, such as mentoring. “The programme offers participants the confidence to take ‘the next big step’ and encourages people to step outside their comfort zone. It also places an emphasis on networking – utilising the knowledge, skills and experience of those who have

completed the course in the past.” Past course attendees form a successful and well-informed network of rural people, says Dr Aldwell. To leverage this connection, each intake of new course members are given the contact details for past participants, who are able to be called upon for advice, mentorship and information. “Networking is key, not only within each course, but also within the wider Kellogg network,” says Dr Aldwell. “If someone wants to take the next step, or do something different, they can contact someone in that field for guidance and support.” While the leadership programme is highly regarded throughout the rural and agriculture sectors, one of the misconceptions about the course is that it is just for farmers. Dr Aldwell says the course is focused on the wider rural community. “The Kellogg Rural Leaders’ Programme is not just for those who work specifically in rural or agriculture businesses, but is open to anyone who lives and works within a rural area or community,” says Dr Aldwell.

“Over the years, we’ve had a wide range of applicants – from nurses to school principals, and bankers to politicians. This year, one of our successful applicants is a veterinarian – a first for the course.” Lincoln University awarded Mid Canterbury-raised veterinarian Michael Lilley a Kellogg scholarship to attend the course as part of his first prize win at the 2012 Young Farmer Contest. The 2011 Young Farmer Contest winner, Mid Canterbury dairy farmer William Grayling, is also attending this year’s Kellogg course through a Lincoln University scholarship. Dr Aldwell says another important network is the long-standing partnerships formed with the programme’s sponsors, including DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Deer Industry New Zealand, Pipfruit New Zealand, and Zespri International. “These ongoing relationships are not just about funding,” says Dr Aldwell. “They are also about different industries contributing to the programme for the benefit of the participants and rural economy. It is important for our up-and-coming leaders to learn how different parts of the rural community

can be impacted by the same issues, and also how to work together with other industries to overcome challenges, as well as develop new opportunities.” The Kellogg Rural Leaders’ Programme incorporates residential workshops, seminars and personal study over an 11-month period. The first stage is a 10-day residential induction course at Lincoln University at the beginning of the year, where participants focus on the dimensions that make a leader. In the second, non-residential phase, participants select a topic of interest and complete a research project, which is presented to their fellow Kellogg participants in phase three at Lincoln University. The course then moves to Wellington for two-and-a-half days for attendees to study the mechanism of government and the political process. They are also able to interview chief executive officers, politicians and other industry leaders about the practical nature of their leadership styles. For more information, please visit www. lincoln.ac.nz/krlp

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Accepting 20 applicants each year, the Kellogg Rural Leaders’ Programme has strict selection criteria, and is designed for people who have demonstrated their commitment to rural New Zealand and shown willingness to take on leadership roles.

‘The programme offers participants the confidence to take the next step outside their comfort zone. It also places an emphasis on networking - utilising the knowledge, skills and experience of those who have completed the course in the past’

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incoln University’s Kellogg Rural Leaders’ Programme is helping to shape the future of agribusiness and rural affairs in New Zealand, with applications now open for aspiring leaders to complete the course in 2014.

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n expected increase in the amount of milk being collected from its Canterbury suppliers has seen Westland Milk Products install a new 250,000 litre milk silo at its plant in the Izone industrial park at Rolleston. The 20m high silo and associated equipment has a value of some $500,000 and was erected a fortnight ago. General manager of operations Bernard May says the silo is to ensure Westland has enough capacity to handle peak milk flows coming from the co-operative’s Canterbury suppliers this coming season. Westland has more than doubled its Canterbury suppliers from last season (from 15 to 34) and is expecting

around 137 million litres of milk from those suppliers, compared with some 65 million litres in the 2012-13 season. The new silo will be used to store either raw milk, or milk that has been through Westland’s reverse osmosis plant at Rolleston before being railed to Hokitika for final processing. Westland sources milk from around 330 mostly West Coast farmer shareholders, and its milk products are almost all exported. Earlier this year, it started commercial production of infant nutrition products at its Hokitika plant. The company employes around 360 staff between its two sites, with turnover of $534 million in 2012 from 587 million litres of milk collected at the farm gate.

Westland Milk Products has installed a new silo at Rolleston to cope with an increase in Canterbury milk.

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