Guardian farming june 9, 2015

Page 1


JUNE, 2015

A family buzziness Barry and Geoff Hantz – still passionate about producing clover honey, despite the large premiums being paid for manuka honey.

Pages 3-4 Photo Nadine Porter































CONTACTS We appreciate your feedback. Editor Email your comments to or phone 03 307 7971.

Advertising Email or phone 03 307 7936. Post Ashburton Guardian, PO Box 77, Ashburton.

Of late the news has been grinding my gears. Who actually cares about Bruce/Caitlin Jenner to the extent it makes front pages across the globe? Or for that matter that Kim Kardashian is pregnant? It’s the stuff of gossip magazines, not mainstream news. In the meantime, there are a number of factors critical to the rural sector which get skimmed over. Sound bites reflect briefly on falling milk prices, without any analyses of the impact the payout will have in town – everyone, from farm machinery businesses to hairdressers will feel the pain. While companies trading in farmrelated merchandise will be well aware of the loss of the discretionary spend, other retailers also need to be planning ahead for tight times. Health and safety reforms are also on the radar for farmers. No one is suggesting the rural sector shouldn’t be taking the issue seriously, but farms are incredibly diverse environments, setting them apart from other workplaces. The reforms will add to compliance costs, but putting that fact aside, it’s difficult to see how they can be managed. Farms are not only workplaces.

Michelle Nelson


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Unlike a newsroom or a factory, people live on farms, families live on farms. Will the proposed health and safety reforms put an end to farming lifestyles? And then there’s the people coming on and off farms. It’s not as simple as keeping a visitors’ register. People come on to farms at all hours, sometimes without notice. As well as workers, there’s tanker drivers, tradies, visitors and in some cases trampers, hunters and others out for a taste of the great outdoors. We all agree the 20 farm-related deaths which occurred last year were 20 too many, and the same can be said for the 312 serious harm accidents – but will ticking more boxes really prevent more tragedies?

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Bees – keeping it in the family While plenty of beekeepers are chasing the lucrative manuka honey market, third generation Leeston apiarist Barry Hantz remains staunchly committed to white honey and the local agricultural pollination market. Hantz honey began in 1951 when Barry’s grandfather Les Hantz began Lakeside Apiaries following a seven-year apprenticeship with a local beekeeper. Soon Barry’s dad Geoff and his Uncle Warren would join the fold, but it was not always such a clear career path for the youngest Hantz, who did not join his father in the family business until he was 25. Prior to that he had completed a mechanical apprenticeship. From 200 to 300 hives when the business first began, to the 3500 in operation today, the Hantz family has seen many beekeepers come and go, and along with it many fads. The current demand for manuka honey has been capitalised on by apiarists, but that has also seen many hives moved out of the

Nadine Porter


Tweet me @farmjourno

essential pollination industry in Mid Canterbury where arable farmers require bees to pollinate their specialist seed crops. Hive numbers around New Zealand have increased to around 600,000 with vast increases in the North Island while South Island hive numbers have remained static at around 150,000 to 160,000. “The big driving force in increased hive numbers and the increase in production is because the demand for manuka honey is there.” China remains the world’s largest producer of honey and in 2011 accounted for 39 per cent of all honey purchased by importing countries. Demand

for UMF honey has also increased demand for all honey, especially South Island clover honey, Barry said. continued over page

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Left – Les Hantz and Rod Murray catching a swarm. Right: A bumper crop at Barrhill.

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from P3 “We’ve gone up 20 per cent since last season.” Currently Canterbury premium grade clover has been fetching up to $9.50kg with North Island honey fetching $0.50 to $1kg less because of its darker colour. It might not fetch the $20 to $25kg, and $100kg for medical-grade manuka honey, but Barry remains committed to clover. “We work hard enough as it is now … I don’t want to drive any further than we do already.” Barry knows of beekeepers who have “scored” manuka sites in Kaikoura and have had a “fairly good year” and consequently will look to expand their operation. But reaching remote sites can be a trial with some using helicopters to take hives into the Mid Canterbury high country. “[And that’s] to the detriment of farmers will small seeds – who’s going to pollinate their crops?” Midlands Seed has told him carrot seed crops were up 30 per cent this year, creating more demand for hives. “That’s another 100 hectares that will need around 800 hives.”


Taking of honey in the 1950s.

Barry said farmers will have to pay more and should not be surprised at hives costing more than $200 each this season. While pollination provided more of a constant income, Barry said if he chose not to do it he would run 1200 to 1500 fewer hives which would decrease stress “and probably produce the same amount of honey”. While Barry’s hives average around 35kg per hive, his dad Geoff remembers in his first year in the family business gathering 36 tonnes of honey off 600 hives – averaging 60kg per hive. “It’s never been that high since and it bloody near killed

me because it was all humped by hand.” Geoff attributes that huge yield to climate conditions with good rains that kept clover flowering and hot days for bees to fly and gather nectar. “The number of beehives were far less then too. There wasn’t as much competition.” He remains passionate about the industry and says the only way to learn how to be a beekeeper is to have on-the-job experience. “It’s the only job [where] you can have a picnic lunch in a different spot every day.” Beekeeping has its challenges though, particularly

with the arrival of the varroa mite into New Zealand in 2000, before it was found in Canterbury hives in 2008. However, Barry believes the mite itself was not such a problem, but instead the future challenge resistance to miticides may bring. Because of this Barry and Geoff are staunch advocates of ever-tightening biosecurity restrictions, while remaining optimistic regarding the future potential of the industry. For Barry the decision to quit working with spanners and come home to the family business has been a rewarding one. “There’s a good future in honey.”

Recent changes in beekeeping practices as part of the gold rush to produce manuka honey has broken down the structure of the beekeeping industry, according to a National Bee Association life member. Frank Lindsay said new beekeepers viewed each other as competitors and information was king. “This is unsustainable if we want new entrants to come into the industry to carry on beekeeping and set up a family business.” Mr Lindsay said in “gold rushes” there were winners, but mostly there were losers. “Those supplying goods or marketing make the money. “Those who got in early have had a good run and those producing a pure manuka product will continue to benefit, but others with big mortgages based on manuka/kanuka returns may be put under stress.”

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Lifelong passion for corriedales Nadine Porter


Tweet me @farmjourno

After 28 years on the New Zealand Corriedale Council the first and only elected female member, Diane Rawlinson, is retiring. Her passion for the breed from her early days as a young female stud breeder has given her many colourful experiences and taken her deep into the heart of South American corriedale country. She still remains a staunch advocate for the fine wool breed despite its decline in the sheep industry and remains confident corriedales still have a place in modern sheep systems. But when she was a young girl she could not have known just how much the sheep industry would change and

Surrounded by the sheep she loves – Diane Rawlinson is retiring from the New Zealand Corriedale PHOTOS ANNIE STUDHOLME Council after 28 years of service.

along with it her beloved corriedales’ place in it. Her love affair began when her father was the stud

shepherd at Bushey Park – a renowned corriedale stud in North Otago. As a young girl she followed her father around

his lambing beat on her pony and saw first-hand how suited the breed was to the typically dry east coast country.

“They were always a nice sheep to handle with a good temperament.” By 1967 her father had moved to Coniston on the edge of Ashburton where he managed the corriedale stud stock but it wouldn’t be until a decade later that Diane got her chance. Bushey Park had a final dispersal sale of its corriedale stock in 1976 and Diane decided the time was ripe for her to start her own stud. Before she knew it she had bought 11 in-lamb ewes home to Westerfield where she began Chartwell Park – her soon to be renowned corriedale stud. She began to increase numbers, slowly at first, with the help of Conniston stud rams. From tiny beginnings Diane soon built the stud up to 140 stud ewes by 1982. It wasn’t a common vocation for females back then, although Diane did know of another female stud owner from Queenstown. continued over page

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from P5 It was when she was competing at the Christchurch show in 1982 that she was approached to sell two stud ewe hoggets to South American buyers interested in Bushey Park bloodlines. “I couldn’t believe it.” Bushey Park had previously sold pedigree rams on a regular basis to Uruguay and as one of the last studs to hold the park’s bloodlines, Diane’s stud sheep were sought after by her regular clients. It was a major coup and one that she remains proud of today. In 1986 Diane continued to break new ground by becoming the first female elected to the NZ Corriedale Council. She joked to those that asked her to stand that she was only the shepherd’s daughter, not the farmer’s son but it wasn’t long before she was elected chairperson in 2002. It was then that her lifelong passion for South America (sparked by “some handsome South American boys” who worked at Bushey Park when she was a girl) was realised when a year later she travelled to Uruguay where she led the delegation to the World Corriedale Congress – a great

Diane Rawlinson’s last hurrah with the corriedale council.

honour and one that remains a treasured memory. While there she was able to view Bushey Park bloodlines at San Pedro – a farm that had previously imported stud stock from New Zealand before she travelled to Argentina, Peru

and Chile. Another highlight from her time on the council was hosting the World Corriedale Congress in 2007 at Lincoln. Much has changed in the industry, she says, but the micron range has remained the

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same at an average of 27. Prices today are a far cry from the heyday of the 1950s wool boom where farmers were receiving “a pound for a pound”, although wool has come back strongly recently with many corriedales

receiving between $8-9.60 per kg. “Even in past years when wool has been in a depressed state, corriedale wool has always remained at a premium over strong wool.” Diane believes farmers undervalue the breed. “In today’s world we have a farmer who wants a fast growing ewe that produces 2.5 lambs and because of this the traditional breeds have suffered.” The corriedale council promotes the breed as a good stabiliser for crossbreeds, she said. “I still believe every few years an injection of purebreeds has to go through crossbred sheep to keep them stable.” Of the 380 to 400 stud corriedale breeders from the 1960s to the mid1980s, only 33 remain with Diane bowing out in 1998. But as passionate as ever and despite her recently announced retirement from the council, Diane still has a love of all things corriedale – and one last wish. “I want to judge a class of sheep in South America … they don’t have women judging there.” You get the feeling that she’ll get her wish.

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Global agriculture will need to grow by 70 per cent by 2050 to feed the world’s population, according to a leading global researcher. At a recent ANZ client evening, Craig Armitage from Food Supply and Integrity Services said the world population is projected to rise from 6.9 billion in 2010 to 9.3 billion in 2050 with a 42 per cent increase in Asia alone. China will replace the United States as the world’s largest economy by 2020, but as population growth across the Asian region continues, the demand from India and ASEAN for protein will provide new, more complex opportunities, he said. “It’s all about Asia.” India, the Philippines, Pakistan and Indonesia will account for half of the world’s population by 2050 and will dominate the market. “Supply chains will significantly differ and there will be unprecedented pressures on infrastructure both hard and soft in these regions.” Over the past 20 years meat consumption per capita has doubled, with poultry was projected to increase by 300 per cent and beef twofold. In the past 20 years global consumption of protein has increased at a greater rate than population growth. In Asia alone protein consumption will rise by 128 per cent by 2050 but it was not just a dairy story, he said. Mr Armitage also spoke about the danger of complacency when it came to New Zealand’s reputation for agricultural and food production excellence. “Agribusiness is our biggest export earner and our food is internationally recognised as being, safe, nutritious and of the highest quality, however, New Zealand doesn’t have a mortgage

on excellence in food safety and production.” Our competitive advantage was being eroded with countries like Denmark and the Netherlands “striking similar claims of farming and production excellence”. On a recent trip to China Mr Armitage saw Swiss and Australian milk products using the same pictures of mountains and cows as we do to sell our product. There was no differentiation between us and them, he said. He warned that without reliable water New Zealand won’t be able to reach its agricultural potential. “This Government has been most active over the past 10 years in assessing and now actively facilitating investment in this sector.” Central Plains Water was a good example of Government investment, but was only the first of many schemes necessary to support production growth, he said. “In short we have a growing population eating more food.” The challenge for New Zealand producers will be between following the pack or becoming reactionary to differentiate ourselves with world class technology and systems to advance the market and continue to keep premium prices. Globally it has been estimated that $US200 billion per year will need to be invested annually to meet food needs through investment and technology. “That’s a staggering number ... all of which will come at a cost to the producer.” By 2030 the world will need 50 per cent more energy, 40 per cent more agricultural production and 35 per cent more water and by 2050 that will rise to 80 per cent more energy, 70 per cent more agricultural production and 55 per cent more water.


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Wallaby war rages on in Wai “I need some more ammo.” I unclipped the magazine of the 223 and handed it across the cab of the truck to Stuart who fed it with more rounds. It was about 6.30pm and that was the third or fourth refill. “When we first bought the farm,” Stuart had said earlier in the afternoon as I sat having a coffee with him and his wife in the farmstead, “I thought it was great that I could go shooting wallabies whenever I wanted. But then I realised that I had to go out until after midnight at least once or twice a week in the summer. It’s just part of the job.” After darkness fell, I realised why. If he didn’t go out shooting the farm would be devoured by a creeping flow of marsupial insurgents coming in from the surrounding forest. In daylight we had driven up to the western boundary of the farm and then walked down a bush-clad slope hoping to see some fallow deer. We hadn’t been there long before the first of the wallaby appeared from the gorse and sat looking around. We waited, still hoping

Greg Martin


to see deer before we opened up on the wallaby. But realising that the light was fading I swapped my 25 06 for Stuart’s quieter 223 and my first animal was soon rolling down the hill. I quickly learned another thing about wallabies: They’re very polite targets because they don’t run away. In fact, they are so co-operative you almost end up feeling sorry for them. Once they are in their happy place, they’ll sit there for ages giving you plenty of time to test the over-expensive and under-used Leupold rangefinder before dropping on to your stomach to line them up through the overly-expensive and under-used Weaver Grand Slam rifle scope. All in all, easy shooting and solid practice for


when you get around to chasing more challenging quarry. As the gloom closed in we got back in the truck and went over the top to the northern boundary where more “insurgents” had made their way in under the fence-line from the forestry on the other side. I neutralised three with

my 25 06, one of them at a satisfying longish range. And then the night-time fun began. Shooting from the truck on the way back to the farmstead involved Stuart looking for wallaby with a spotlight, and me picking them off out of the window with his 223. We even

came across one in his winter feed. Stuart especially liked it when I stopped that happy munching. And this is when I discovered another aspect of shooting vermin with a varmint rifle – you hear when you have hit the mark. continued next page


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imate TIPS ■■ 223 or 243 are the ideal calibers. 17HMR too small, 270 unnecessary big. ■■ Take plenty of cheap ammo. It’s quantity not quality that counts. ■■ First light or evening is when they come out. ■■ Take your time to line them up. They’re likely not going anywhere fast. ■■ If you are going to feed them to the pets, make sure there hasn’t been any control by poisoning in the area.

Above – Wallaby insurgents play havoc around Waimate. Right – The author with one of many wallabies taken down in a night’s hunting. PHOTOS SUPPLIED

From P12 It is an odd “swop” that comes back to you surprisingly quickly, the hit confirmed again by the animal rolling over and kicking its last. In any other situation the “swop” might be something a bit grim, but out there on those hills with each “swop” a small battle was won. “Watch out on the way back down the valley,” Stuart had said as I was getting ready to head back to Ashburton. “They’ll be in the grass on either side of the road. Take it slow until you are through the gorge.” I kept it at a steady 50km/h until I had turned past the

Waihao Forks Hotel and was back on SH82. What an afternoon, I was already thinking. It really was something like war and Stuart, his wife and their newborn baby girl were back in the zone. It had been great to see them, but as I drove away I couldn’t help feel for Stuart. Farming was hard enough without having to stay out until 1am trying to keep the vermin at bay. I look forward to going back there in the spring to help him out, and now that I understand what wallaby shooting is all about, next time I will be ready for business.

2 14


Staff fully involved in resource Sheryl Stivens


Thanks to the Fonterra sustainability advisers, Hannah, Nic and I attended a recycling forum in May with interesting presentations worth sharing with readers and the students in the schools I visit on a weekly basis. Fisher and Paykel are leaders in resource efficiency and were presenting at the forum. Fisher and Paykel have an environmental policy and have invested $16,000 on a staff induction video using professional actors that highlights their zero tolerance to waste, including waste to landfill, wasted water and energy. They have continued to develop their waste stations on-site to separate out resources and any staff down

time is spent on sorting tables separating plastic from cardboard and metals so it does not end up in the waste bins. Food waste from their canteens is fed to worm farms and waste wood and pellets are chipped on site for mulching gardens. As a result, they have managed to have zero waste or no waste from their site for four months last year. Labelling their bins with pictures as well as words has

turned around their recycling programme overnight – words as well as pictures are extremely effective as well as “walking the talk” messages on their high vis vests featuring zero waste – as the target. Water use and energy savings are also monitored, managed and graphed and all staff are involved in resource efficiency. Their site in south Auckland has 2000 staff producing

750 tonnes of products per annum 98 per cent of which are exported. Many farms, businesses and schools could save money by adopting a zero tolerance to waste. Full Circle recycle 235,000 tonnes of cardboard per annum – just imagine if you had a wall of neatly stacked cardboard that reached from Cape Reinanga to Bluff – that is one year’s cardboard going through the NZ mill.

Chlorine for swimming pools is a by-product of the paper and pulp mills which generate enough electricity to run Tokoroa. Cardboard and paper are still exported, which is not surprising considering that New Zealand and Chile are the only countries in the world that can grow pine trees in 28 years. Co-mingled collections in wheelie bins where glass is collected along with paper and cardboard are a real problem

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efficiency which inevitably happens from time to time.

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for the mills as the screens cost $75,000 and only last two weeks if there is broken glass mixed in with the cardboard. Businesses in New Zealand have the privilege of recycling

cardboard sustainably due to our onshore mills with packaging plants in Auckland, Christchurch and Levin. A Japanese company have recently purchased Full Circle

and are investing in improving the operations and equipment. Recycling cardboard onshore is important for the recycling industry especially in times of commodity market downturns

SIX YEARS ON AND BRIAN IS STILL SEEING GREEN The Growsmart® Precision VRI system installed on Brian and Jo Bosch’s dairy farm in the South Wairarapa has been saving them precious water and dollars since it was first installed in 2008. The couple use the intelligent system to avoid watering the tracks, ponds and drains underneath their Zimmatic™ centre-pivot. The water saved by avoiding these areas is diverted to other areas of the farm, increasing their irrigated land area by approximately 10%. And after over six years of using the technology he’s pretty happy about the low maintenance requirements of the system hardware, “It’s just worked!” The Bosch’s are not alone in the great results achieved using variable rate irrigation. Trials show savings of up to 27% on dairy and cropping farms are realistically achievable. Why? Because Precision VRI controls every individual sprinkler allowing you to irrigate where it is needed. Find out how you could achieve great results like Brian and Jo by talking to your Zimmatic by Lindsay dealer today or by visiting


Winter is a great time to build a raised-bed garden at your home or school – the microorganisms and worms are busy under the ground building soil so put them to work for you over the cold months ahead. Use railway sleepers or other untreated timber as an edge. If you ask at the Mastagard site there may be recycled timber available there. Fill up garden beds with a thick layer of newspaper then compost from your compost bins – even if not fully broken down, aged horse manure and leaves and seaweed from the beach – it’s worth a trip and a walk with a sack to gather this mineral rich resource. Cover with a thick layer of wet newspaper. Pour over a generous layer of quality compost. You can plant broccoli, cabbage and silver beet or kale straight into this. Mulch with lawn clippings or generous amounts of straw and cover any unplanted sections with a piece of carpet over

RECYCLING For help with recycling on the farm, at work or at school or composting call the helpline 0800 627-824 or email sherylstivens@ Attend the FREE monthly compost workshop for hands on practical help with making a compost garden bed, bokashi bin or worm farm for your foodwaste. Monday June 15,11am-12 noon. Eco Education Centre – alongside the Mastagard Recycle Shed. All welcome. winter. When you have lawn clippings lift the carpet and spread over. If you want to empty your compost bucket or bokashi bucket lift the carpet and bury in your compost garden bed. By spring your garden will be full of rich soil ready for planting your spring garden. What could be easier?

2 16


Trial period must be made clear By Donna Scholfield A recent case in the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) heard in March this year is an important reminder for employers who offer employment which includes a 90-day trial period. Hamish Bohny says he was an employee at the time the employment agreement was signed. Mr Bohny was offered and accepted the position of barista with The Serious Sandwich shop in Christchurch. He did not recall any discussion with the employer, Mischa Belton, about the 90-day trial period. Mr Belton had a different view and said that he had made it clear on two occasions that Mr Bohny would be subject to a 90-day trial period and that there was no firm agreement until the employment agreement was signed. Mr Bohny told the ERA he commenced work on September 23, 2013, worked the full day and was presented with the employment

agreement on the afternoon of September 24, 2013. He said he took the agreement home to read and consider and then signed it on September 25, 2013. The agreement contained a 90-day trial period.

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23, 2013, and signed the employment agreement that day but the agreement was post-dated to September 25, 2013, when it was agreed Mr Bohny would commence work. By early November, in Mr

Belton’s view, Mr Bohny did not measure up as a barista. Mr Belton sent a text to Mr Bohny telling him he did not need to turn up for work the following Monday. In doing so he relied on the 90-day trial period. Mr Bohny claimed he was unjustifiably dismissed because he was an employee at the time he signed the employment agreement. The authority agreed and awarded lost wages and $4000 for hurt and humiliation. Learnings from this case are that if an offer of employment is made verbally, the potential employee must be told at the time of the offer that the employment will be subject to a trial period. We recommend that an employer provide the employee with the proposed employment agreement at the same time the offer of employment is made, this should be well in advance of the employment commencement date. Donna Scholfield is with Chapman Employment Relations

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2 18


Too little, too late and too caut Over the last 9 1/2 years in this column, I’ve often advocated a parliamentary term of four or five years, similar to the UK and other countries. My arguments centre around pre-election promises that often kick in up to a year post election when thoughts are already turning to re-election only two years away. By then the risk of alienating voters becomes pre-eminent over long term solutions. Legislation requires local government to fully consult the public on 10 year financial plans. Why so different at central government level? I acknowledge Finance Minister Bill English had a very difficult scenario in which to produce Budget 2015. Taking into account the set of circumstances involved (dairy prices, Auckland housing, currency value, widening gap between “haves” and “have nots”) I believe a pass mark to have been well achieved. Budget day certainly does not involve the hype and anticipation of a generation or two ago – with immediate

John Leadley


tax increases (petrol, tobacco etc) often coming into play at midnight. These days items are often well signalled prior, if not by ministers, by leaked media assumptions. Much more sensible. Actions taken to address issues of child poverty are an important first step – linked of course to the very worrying home ownership situation. The current annual decline in percentage home ownership levels of over 1 per cent is a disastrous situation. Personally I’d welcome some government publicity, if not incentives, to encourage migration from Auckland to other regional centres where there is certainly employment available. First-home buyers should explore those opportunities. It’s patently obvious that

Auckland Port is far from the best in New Zealand; why not consider Tauranga, Timaru, and Lyttelton amongst others. Export production takes place nationwide, remember. Why, oh why did we allow our

rail corridor to deteriorate? If Super City wants a Tokyo, Singapore, or London-type transport system let them pay for it, not the export producers across the nation. Transport Minister Simon Bridges’

acknowledgment that 40 per cent of the nation’s road/rail budget is spent in Auckland is unjustified. A city plan that encourages, or better still regulates denser residential accommodation is


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Bill English (above) and Simon Bridges (right).

imperative. This was overdue a generation ago. Loss of productive agricultural land to lifestyle living is simply an untenable resource use. I don’t see the loss of the Kiwisaver incentive as a major downside, but remain unconvinced that Kiwisaver incentivises saving to the same level as the tax deductable life insurance premiums of 50

years ago. It was that scheme (subsidised first home loans) that has seen many of our current retirees in debt-free homes today. If nothing else Budget 2015 did introduce an albeit very timid initiation to capital gains tax on non-owner occupied dwellings. Again too little, too late. A wedge that needs to be driven much deeper if

case analyses of the Auckland situation are anything to go by. The measures to assist child poverty will no doubt be welcomed, but again seem to attempt to address the effect rather than the cause of the issue. No doubt there are many genuine cases of poverty caused by health issues, both mental and physical that genuinely need state welfare

assistance. With this I have absolutely no problem. My concern is the thousands of households where the core problem is a lack of selfdiscipline, and an apparent inability to understand the meaning of commitment. Additionally meaningful financial responsibility seems to be a forgotten skill in many situations. Is the continual technology upgrade essential – TV, iPad, new cellphone, etc? If unemployed, how about growing your own vegetables in your free time – much better use of land than the Rottweiler or “dead” vehicle? The landlord should be thrilled! If you are struggling to feed and clothe three or four children it certainly won’t help to have another couple who inevitably will meet the same fate. This is surely the 21st century. When New Zealand instituted the social security system, it was never envisaged as a substitute for responsible family parenting. Food in schools should never be allowed to become the norm. If you

can’t feed them, don’t breed them! The jaws of the poverty trap may well be spring loaded, but ample opportunities allow the safety catch to be used. Priorities, priorities, priorities! Bill English’s recent revelation that 10 per cent of children in Rotorua are being raised by guardians at least one of whom has a criminal conviction is a sad indictment. What chance is there of good role modelling? Certainly time to treat the cause, not the outcome. It is my view that an extended electoral cycle would lead to better longer term outcomes. Why should we wait till the damage is almost irreparable to alleviate an issue, as with capital gains tax? Can we really pull our heads out of the sand far enough to understand that $30 billion a year by 2030 to maintain universal superannuation at age 65 in its present format is just not sensible? It appears not. Maybe, just maybe a longer election cycle would bring a better longer term outcome.


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2 20

A visionary man who saw the value Mary Ralston

Arthur Harris: A visionary man who saved a patch of kanuka for shelter on his farm. This kanuka is now one of the few patches of native vegetation left on the Canterbury Plains.


Arthur Harris, who passed away last year, was like many farmers of his generation – he grew up on a farm in tough times and worked at several different jobs, such as seed cleaning and shearing, before buying his own farm. Arthur’s wife Shirley remembers the day in 1964 when their shearing at Maronan was interrupted by locals Marion and Ross Lane who came to alert them to the value and rarity of a patch of kanuka on the Harris’ farm. Fortunately for our district Arthur was a visionary man and one who was open to new ideas: The kanuka was the beginning of Arthur’s love of native plants and his appreciation for their value, not just as shelter for the lambing

BEFORE: The Harris Reserve planting day in 2010. More than 250 enthusiastic people planted more than 3000 plants.

paddock but for their intrinsic worth. The Canterbury Plains was once dominated by this small shrubby tree called kanuka. It thrived on the dry stony soils – tolerating the frosty winters, hot summers, nor’westers

and winter drizzle. Kanuka originally covered 250,000 hectares, but is now nearly all gone and, with it, all the other native species that were part of this dryland ecosystem – birds, lizards, insects and the other plant species that grew

amongst it or sheltered under its canopy. The rapidity of its demise says a lot about the monetary value of the land it grew on, the ability of introduced species to take its place and the lack of appreciation that

most people had for native vegetation. But on land that was once part of Arthur and Shirley’s farm near Tinwald, 2.5ha of kanuka remains, one of the only patches of kanuka left on the whole of the Canterbury

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in native plants

AFTER: The reserve in 2015: the established plants are well on their way to re-creating a dryland ecosystem on the Canterbury Plains. Some of the original kanuka can be seen in the background.

Plains. It was covenanted by the QEII Trust in 1988 and forms the nucleus of the 11ha Harris Scientific Reserve, established by the Ashburton District Council in 2010. Other original vegetation at the reserve includes two old

cabbage trees, Clematis marata, matagouri (another species that was once very common on the plains), native grasses and bracken. The Harris Scientific Reserve was given a big boost in 2010 when the Living Legends

project was launched to celebrate the Rugby World Cup. Throughout New Zealand, native plants were planted at community planting days: at the Harris Reserve more than 250 people came to plant,

mulch and water over 3000 plants to extend the reserve. Additional planting days since then have boosted plant numbers further. The young plants have been grown from seed sourced only from the Ashburton District, such as kowhai seed taken from old trees growing near the Rakaia River. The reserve is managed by the Ashburton Community Conservation Trust. Arthur was one of the original trustees and was a valuable contributor to the reserve’s ongoing management – always there when weeding, watering and other jobs needed doing. Shirley Harris says Arthur always thought of himself as a caretaker. After his retirement in 1996 he enjoyed projects such as planting native species near the present-day industrial area and developed a lovely native garden at their new home in town. After planting began at the reserve, he “lived for it”, Shirley said, and spent many hours there every week. And it wasn’t just the plants he enjoyed – he loved the company and ideas of the

other members of the group. Arthur’s enthusiasm for native plants and taking care of the environment has rubbed off on the next generation. Shirley and Arthur’s son Paul manages a native reserve near his house in Upper Hutt and nephew Graeme Harris, who farms near Coldstream, is in the process of covenanting a wetland on his farm, one of the few remaining wetlands in an area that was once all flax swamp. It is indeed inspiring that one man’s enthusiasm can make such a difference to the conservation of native biodiversity in our local area. Maybe there are other hidden or forgotten patches of kanuka or other native vegetation on other farms or along roadsides – if you know of some, please get in touch! Members of the Ashburton Community Conservation Trust are happy to meet visitors and talk to groups and schools about the reserve. They are also happy to take enquiries about native vegetation in the district. Please phone Val Clemens 3085620.

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2 22


If succession planning were A will would be your flour. Plain or wholemeal, no matter, so long as you have a cup or two to start with. Without a will you’re at the mercy of the Administration Act 1969: it dictates who gets what and how much. While the provisions of the act are wholly sensible – a widower receives his wife’s property, for instance – they are not necessarily reflective

your wishes are met. Don’t buy a will off the internet – it may fail to rise.

Keep it sweet, sugar Anna O’Callaghan


of the best outcome for your family and its farm or business. Without a will, the legal process to be followed after you lose a loved one also tends to be more expensive, and can be more complicated than it needs to be.

Baking powder, an essential A good will should cover who is in charge of your estate (your executor); who will look after your children (if they are under age); and who is to receive which of your assets. While this sounds straightforward enough, these appointments and the treatment of your legacies need to be worded accurately and appropriately to ensure

As with carbohydrates, I have a love/hate relationship with family trusts (or, more specifically, the endemic way in which Kiwis employ them). Admittedly, not all sugar is bad: if you’re after a treat for the diabetics, you’d best steer clear, but if you want to bake a gateau, you’re going to need some. Settling assets upon a trust can result in complexity, administrative costs, and perceived (and actual) loss of control. However a trust can also provide a wonderful succession planning tool in the right circumstances: trusts offer asset protection against creditors, a vehicle for collaboration between family members and advisors, and sustained ownership in the face of a bereavement. Crucially, a trust can also secure your family capital against

relationship property claims that your children could be vulnerable to in the future, ensuring protection of family capital for succeeding generations.

Binding agent If you do have a family trust, then you’ll definitely be wanting some eggs to make sure everything sticks together just right. A Memorandum of Wishes acts a little


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a cake ... bit like a will for your trust – it gives your surviving trustees directions as to how the trust is to be operated after you pass away. A Memo of Wishes should set out who are to become trustees, and how assets are to be dealt with. For example: is the farm to continue in operation or is it to be sold and the proceeds distributed. If the former is the case, who is to run it – and how should any non-farming children be tended to?

Greasing the pan Discussing your intentions with your children – and where appropriate other family members – is an important part of your succession planning. Are your executor and/or your intended trustees happy to take on that responsibility? Are the intended guardians of your children agreeable – and do they understand your wishes for the care of your children? If your children are adults – or approaching that age – have they a desire to begin or continue farming? And if not do they have other business aspirations you want to assist them with?

A deed of family Arrangement may be just the baking paper you are after – a document which records agreement among family members. These can be used to set out the family’s plan going

forward and are signed by all relevant parties, ensuring everyone is aware of and agrees to the programme. They are also used in the settlement of disagreements following the death of a family member, but the aim is – of course – to avoid that scenario through adequate planning and disclosure.

To mix You’ll need some good utensils – a sieve, a whisk. Your accountant will perform the vital role of sifting through the books and setting out your fiscal position. They’ll also proffer advice as to taxation implications arising from your structuring and anticipated succession plan. Bankers, farm advisors, and succession planning mentors are other crucial members of the team. Meanwhile your lawyer wears the chef ’s hat, and will fold together your wishes and knowledge, the contributions of your advisors, and their own legal expertise. In preparing your

succession plan we need to gain a sound understanding of your family and its vision for its future: your taste in cake will determine the ingredients we use. In other words – if we can forget the carefully sustained analogy for a moment – the pivotal thing is that we understand what you want to achieve for your family. It’s important that we all work in conjunction with each other to ensure that everyone is on the same page (and the oven is the right temperature).

It tastes better with icing Usually when assets are transferred to a trust, there is a debt back. For example: you subdivide your family home from the rest of the farm, and sell it into a family trust to protect it from the business risks associated with your farming operation. The value of your family home would be left outstanding as a debt owed to you by the family trust. Since

gift duty has been abolished it is possible to forgive some or all of that debt without incurring a duty. Everyone’s situation – and structure – is different. Sometimes there are accounting reasons to leave such a debt outstanding. Other times it is better to forgive the debt fully – only once this gift has been made is the family home fully protected within the trust (until then the debt owed to you remains a personal asset of yours, able to be drawn upon by creditors). If this gifting hasn’t been completed during your lifetime the outstanding debt will need to be addressed in your wills – such are the finishing touches on a winning cake.

Let it cool Documenting your succession plan brings with it peace of mind: your house is in order. But don’t forget to review things periodically. As time passes and your family grows and changes, tastes change too.


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Lincoln plans to become world’s best By Nadine Porter The passion in the room is contagious at Lincoln University as the deputy chancellor sits down to discuss the budget and just how plans are going to be the best agricultural university in the world. It’s a vastly different scenario to where the university found itself following the earthquakes when declining rolls forced a re-focus on the quest to make it a modern agricultural cutting-edge learning environment. Cementing Lincoln’s reentry as a leading land-based university, the Government awarded a 20 per cent funding boost in the 2015 budget for tuition rates, up from 8.5 per cent the previous year. For deputy vice-chancellor Jeremy Baker it’s confirmation that they’re on track to becoming the world’s best agricultural university and a “substantial recognition” of the importance of the agricultural sector. Additional funding will

Jeremy Baker

boost scientific development and help to tackle some of the key challenges in agriculture today. “We are fundamentally recognising the great scientific intensity in those programmes and how we tackle some of the challenges like how can you farm sustainably?

How can you manage nutrient budgets or address greenhouse gas emissions from ruminants.” Mr Baker said to meet the Government’s target of doubling agricultural export returns by 2025 the focus needed to be on lifting the value rather than growing production volume and that would require many different products and services. “And how do you add value to that product – that’s where we need to look at the whole farm chain.” With a number of new degrees added to the university, Mr Baker was excited about the scope of what was available to today’s students. He was particularly pleased with the new Bachelor of Agricultural Business and Food Marketing Degree that covered the three core areas of agribusiness, marketing and food science. “If you’re going to make a big difference in terms of adding value you need to have a genuine understanding of science and the market.”

Farmers of the future would need to understand many areas, including science, technology, managing people and land, environment and best business practices, he said. Social sciences were equally important with the growing urban/rural divide. “If we don’t communicate the value proposition of what we are doing they will shut us down.” However, Lincoln’s regained stature did not come without a few years of pain before it emerged refocused as a specialist land-based university. “Even though we’ve had a few difficult years it’s all about coming back.” Coming back has also meant the development of the most exciting research facility in New Zealand. The facility will house the largest significant concentration of 900 environmental and landbased researchers, including some from the private sector. Titled the Lincoln Hub it marks a strategic collaboration between industry, research and education. Hub

partners include DairyNZ, Crown Research Institutes, AgResearch, Landcare Research and Plant and Food Research. Expectations are high to transform the productivity and performance of New Zealand’s primary sector and enhance sustainability outcomes. Already the university has seen huge growth in its rolls with a 46 per cent increase in first-year foreign students this year alone and 9 per cent in domestic students in their first year of enrolment. Certain degrees have also shown a dramatic increase. The Bachelor of Agricultural Science averaged 25 students pre earthquake, but that number has risen to 120 – a rise that bodes well for the university’s future. It’s all part of Lincoln’s rejuvenated mission to feed the world, protect the future and live well and a challenge Mr Baker believes they are up to. “Agriculture is an industry that has some very big targets to reach and needs to grow.”


‘Mega’ El Niño indicators strong Tony Davoren


The last week leading up to first day of winter has been one of warnings of a “mega” El Niño. Not really what is needed given the current status of soil moisture, groundwater levels and stored water. With just three months of winter (June, July and August) ahead much needs to change as we build up to the next irrigation season. Several El Niño press releases were issued around May 26, of a strengthening. According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) the El Niño in the tropical Pacific has continued to strengthen. International climate models indicate sea surface temperatures will remain well above El Niño thresholds well

Left – Weekly SOI trend (from Weatherzone).

into spring. Indicators of El Niño show a clear signal:

■■ Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean have exceeded El Niño thresholds for the last two months and are supported by warmer-than-average waters below the surface. ■■ Trade winds have remained consistently weaker than average since the start of the year. ■■ Cloudiness at the Date Line has increased. ■■ And the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) 90-day average

is now below −10.

The updated weekly SOI graph shows a rapid strengthening since my last article, from -4°C for the week ending May 3 to -17.4°C for the week ending May 24. The weather that generally comes with El Niño is not what we want right now. Groundwater levels are low and water storage (eg Opuha) is still well below historic monthly average water level. Groundwater level in observation bore K37/0388

(45m deep) is below and well below water levels of 2013 and 2014 respectively:

■■ May 2013 water level was 10.79mbgl (metres below ground level); ■■ May 2014 water level was 7.96mbgl; and ■■ May 2015 water level was 11.76mbgl.

That is, there is considerable “catching up” required. We need a return of the events that gave massive recharge: ■■ June 17-20 2013 rainfalls of 125+mm resulted in 100105mm of drainage recharge;

and ■■ Around April 20 2014 195+mm rainfall resulted in 121mm of drainage recharge.

With strong El Niño and a predominance of westerly quarter weather, one wonders where that south-easterly storm and the big rainfall event(s) is going to come from. It was about this time last year I first wrote of a pending El Niño and those same messages apply – only this time round the indicators are so much stronger.

2 26


Testing Europe’s appetite for New Zealand venison exporters have started a trial to test the appetite of European consumers for Cervena venison in the summer grilling season. The trial, which began in April, is part of the Passion2Profit initiative that was formally launched recently at the Deer Industry Conference in Napier. P2P is a joint venture between the deer industry and the Ministry for Primary

Industries (MPI) under the Primary Growth Partnership programme. “We are really excited that this pilot is under way. Launching Cervena in Europe has been talked about in the deer industry for many years, but it needs careful branding and substantial promotional support to make it a sales success,” DINZ venison manager Innes Moffat said. “European consumers are already familiar with venison, but only as a traditional game dish consumed in the winter game season. Companies have tried to sell venison outside the game season before, but with limited success. “Eating venison in summer off the barbecue or grill remains a really novel concept in Europe. “To achieve market cutthrough we need to make a clean break with the game meat tradition with its associations

with slow cooking and rich sauces. “By using the Cervena appellation in Europe for the first time, we are aiming to excite consumer interest in a new food item that is tender, natural, farm-raised and from New Zealand.” Hanos, the Dutch food service company that is hosting the trial, has enthusiastically seized the opportunity to market what in effect is a new food category. “Thirty-six ambassador chefs in Belgium and the Netherlands will be serving Cervena venison on their menus over the summer. In-store and online promotions to chefs will culminate in a prize to the best Cervena chef to come to New Zealand to learn more about deer farming here,” Mr Moffat said. The Cervena is being supplied by First Light Foods, one of five leading venison exporters who have agreed

to collaboratively market venison in new markets and market segments as part of the Passion2Profit strategy. Mr Moffat says the focus of the pilot is on chefs. At this stage there are no plans to market Cervena in European supermarkets. “As a result of the trial we will know how chefs respond to a wide range of cuts and sales messages. “This information, plus sales data and diner responses will be shared by Hanos and First Light with the other

Left – Innes Moffat talks about new opportunities in the venison market. PHOTO SUPPLIED



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Cervena venison exporters and DINZ,” he says. “This will help inform the development and refinement of a wider European out-ofseason marketing strategy, with the objective of increasing year-round farmer returns for venison – a key industry goal.” Mr Moffat says DINZ has done the groundwork for many elements of the P2P initiative, so it is now in a position to

move rapidly on several fronts now that the PGP contract has been signed and co-funding from MPI is assured. “Until now Cervena venison has been marketed only in New Zealand, Australia and North America. In the United States — where, like

Europe, venison is traditionally seen as a fall or winter dish — Cervena is now well established as a year-round menu item in selected restaurants,” he says.


2 28


How serious was the drought? Drought – this word keeps getting used and yet Mid and most of South Canterbury are well past drought mode, but North Canterbury is still right in the middle of it. I guess until November/ December this year we really won’t know how serious it is or going to be. Nothing could be worse for us than a dry warm winter. If we want to have a good next season we really do require a lot of snow and rain over the next few months, but with El Nino sitting around the corner, one never really knows what’s going to happen. The agricultural market is not looking all that flash for the next six months or so, with dairy prices down, grain down, lamb down, wool down and beef strong, but starting to drop, and yet somehow PHOTO ASHBURTON GUARDIAN


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expenses are up. It’s all a bit sad! But just recently I got a rude awakening of just how lucky the large majority of us are. Here I was worrying about dairy payouts and grain prices etc and several of my friends, family acquaintances have ended up with serious health issues. These issues came out of nowhere and as one of them said to me: “This doesn’t happen to me, it happens to someone else!”

These times do really stop you in your tracks and make you look a little bit closer at yourself and what you are doing. So I guess even though 2015/16 doesn’t look all that good financially for a lot of people who are associated with the land in one way or another because of low product prices, droughts and snow storms, these problems are only minor compared to the problems some people have to face over this same period. I know the majority of us will survive and get through this next difficult period in farming. I can only hope and pray the less lucky of us who are unwell get through as well. We all have problems, but some have more to overcome than others.

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Leading international and farming speakers will feature at the World Wide Agriculture Conference in Ashburton where lifting production on farm will be the main focus. Organiser Bruce Hore said top-performing farmers recognise that simply “throwing more in agriculture is not the way forward”. “A considered and sophisticated approach is needed.” To be held from June 22-23 at the Ashburton Trust Centre, the conference has been designed to offer farmers solutions to declining profitability and increasing input costs. Leading US agriculture consultant Bill Brush is among the important speakers at the two-day programme. Mr Brush consults on more than 100 different crops around the world and several thousand acres of land across California and Nevada and has developed a unique soil fertility and irrigation water management system. Also from the US, well known

and respected soil fertility specialist Neal Kinsey will speak about his approach to soil fertility including using soil chemistry and providing nutrients to correct the soil’s physical structure so it promotes a flourishing biological life. Scientist Bob Perry from Missouri will speak about Dr William Albrecht's legacy, compare different soil test methods and provide detailed comparisons of Bray P1, Bray P2, Olsen, Mehlich, Morgan, Reams and Ammonium Acetate extracts. Bob will also discuss effective soil testing, keeping pH in perspective and the importance of balance. South African Dr Nico van Vuuren will talk about his company Soiltech, which helps landowners farm more closely to Mother Nature, through implementing biological farming concepts. Tim Reinbolt from the University of Missouri is known for thinking outside the box and will speak on the topic of trial data. Australian Peter Norwood from Full Circle Nutrition specialises in hair mineral

analysis. Pioneered in humans by the late Dr Paul Eck, the use of hair mineral analysis in animals is relatively recent. Within New Zealand, it is almost exclusively used by dairy farmers, but it is also suitable for use in horses, sheep and deer. Peter will talk about both soil and hair tests, and discuss the diseases they reveal. AgScience scientist Dr Peter Espie specialises in soil-plant relationships. At the conference, he will present results from a New Zealand trial comparing the Kinsey-Albrecht Programme with commonly-used fertiliser recommendations, specifically looking at effects on soil composition, base saturation levels and pasture production. Other important speakers not to be missed include Aaron Woolard from W & K Precision Ag in the US, a number of farmers including Mid Canterbury arable farmer Dean Pye and the Ulrich family from South Canterbury. Be sure to register online at before June 15 to ensure your place! Advertising feature

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2 30


They built us tough in the ‘old days Winter is shaping up to be a cracker. We’ve had some chilly evenings in the past couple of weeks. It’s the first time in years that I’ve been in an old house – one of the original Mt Somers mining cottages. Okay, it’s had some alterations over the years and some insulation added along the way, but there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s an old house, with a few draughty corners. This got me to thinking about where we grew up. Permafrost was a feature of our childhood winters and ice on the inside of the bedroom windows was commonplace. We made do with hotties and bed socks. The Rayburn stove kept the kitchen warm, but elsewhere in the house was freezing. Come spring the cool oven in the bottom of the Rayburn also served as an incubator for countless lambs in various states of hypothermia. During term time we were out the door shortly after 7am to walk a considerable distance

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in the frost to catch the school bus – which could have just as easily been a tin can on wheels, for all the warmth it held. I recall windows that rattled down on corrugated shingle roads, letting in icy gusts. Our bus driver tolerated no nonsense – anyone deviating from the rules got one warning before they were turfed off and left to their own devices on the side of the road. Arriving at school with numb fingers and toes, we huddled around the potbelly stove, fired with coke. It had to be a particularly cold day before we were allowed to have lunch inside – practically a blizzard! Boys wore shorts summer

and winter; girls wore dresses. Once back home there were jobs to do – often shifting feed breaks on winter crops. No lightweight electric fences though – shifting a break meant rolling up wire netting and

pounding in bluegum stakes before stapling the netting back up. Primary school-aged kids routinely drove tractors, shifted stock and fed out hay and silage. I have a clear memory of mud

coming over the top of my gumboots. When it snowed it was all hands on deck – anyone capable was sent out to tend to stock. I don’t recall anybody grizzling about it – we didn’t

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Left – My grandfather, Jock Nelson, was a tough bugger. Above – The house was cold, but the views were fantastic. Above right – Snow on the Tuies. Right – Off to school circa 1963.

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bedrooms. On my way to work I seldom see kids shivering by the mailbox waiting for the school bus. For the most part they are holed up warm and dry in their parents’ vehicle, waiting for an

air-conditioned coach to collect them. It’s easy to conclude they are “soft” by comparison, but is that not the case for every generation? Okay, I travelled to school on an unheated rattletrap of a bus – my father travelled in an open pony trap, my grandparents walked – if they were lucky enough to go to school. I once asked my grandfather when he left school. “When I was big enough to hold a pair of reins,” was the reply. He was referring to the horse-drawn machinery used in farming in pre-World War One New Zealand. They were tough buggers! I’ll light the gas fire, turn on the electric blanket, and be grateful for small comforts.


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2 32

IrrigationNZ’s call for more water s By Andrew Curtis The recent Budget provided overdue acknowledgement of the need to grow water storage infrastructure throughout New Zealand. IrrigationNZ was one of the first to congratulate the Government on its $25 million allocation of new funding for the Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF). However, we have cautioned this support to help modernise existing irrigation schemes and develop new ones is only part of the story. A greater focus on the benefits of irrigation developments for the wider community and how their environmental, recreational and social contributions can be funded - is still needed. The new funding for the IAF will boost the development stages of water storage and irrigation distribution infrastructure, which is desperately needed in our summer dry east coast regions. Reliable water supply will sustain communities and maintain the environmental

health of their rivers. With additional IAF funds contributing to the early stages of this infrastructure development, it will be essential that RMA process reforms that empower collaboration also occur so that the funds do not go to waste. We are encouraged to see that the Government has put money towards assisting councils with the implementation of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and the 2014 National Objectives Framework, and to supporting a new collaborative approach to resolving managing freshwater. IrrigationNZ also believes the $25 million set aside in the budget for the establishment of new privately-led Regional Research Institutes will provide opportunities for better science and research in water and cutting edge irrigation technology. Water storage and distribution infrastructure can bring significant value to regions which are in desperate need of an economic boost, and to the nation as a whole. continued next page

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Swede survey results show multip Industry body DairyNZ is advising farmers to focus on managing a number of factors involved in feeding swedes this season, including the proportion of swede that makes up the diet of their cows. In the wake of preliminary analysis of an in-depth farmer survey, DairyNZ’s Southland/ South Otago regional leader Richard Kyte says farmers have been advised of its key findings including that cow ill-health increased last season as the proportion of swedes fed as part of the total diet increased. Feeding swedes on the milking platform (farm) in spring when cows approached calving and early lactation also increased the incidence of ill-health. “We also found that in spring 2014, there was a higher incidence of ill-health for Herbicide Tolerant (HT) swedes compared with other varieties of swedes. However, the reason for the increased incidence of disease is still unknown. Nevertheless farmers should apply caution regardless of the swede

variety being fed. “The survey has additionally identified a departure from the 10-year climate average in 2014. The warmer air temperatures and fewer frost days may have enhanced both leaf growth and maturity,” he said. DairyNZ carried out the survey between November 2014 and February 2015 to help understand the factors that caused some cows in Southland/South Otago to die or become ill. In total 134 affected and unaffected farmers and 34 graziers were interviewed as part of the survey. “The survey has thrown some light on a shift in farming management practices in Southland and South Otago in the last 10 years as a contributing factor. “Many farmers have moved to feeding cows swedes at two points in the season – when they are wintering cows off farm and again when they bring their cows back to the milking platform/farm to calve and milk.” continued next page

Dairy graziers should keep a close eye on cattle on swede crops this winter.

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ple factors to manage From P34 “We still haven’t got all the answers to the reasons why we saw an increase in illhealth last year. We may know more when the plant analyses are complete,” he said. “We think the increased incidence of ill-health in spring relates to the farming trend whereby cows come home from grazing off-farm to feed onto more mature and higher risk crops planted on the milking platform (farm). All swedes carry a risk of adverse health effects when cows graze crops that are bolting - getting mature, growing longer stems and flowering,” Mr Kyte said. “Both crops are planted at the same time – but are, therefore, fed at different stages of maturity and growth. “As the swedes mature and reach the reproductive state they are known to have a higher concentration of glucosinolates (GSLs). These are the naturally-occurring compounds that have been associated with the issue.” Mr Kyte said the chemistry


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of glucosinolates for swedes and other brassicas is complex. It changes with swede variety, growing conditions and crop maturity. Further complexity is added when the glucosinolates are changed during eating and digestion. “The results of our survey confirm that all varieties of swedes can present a risk to animals depending on how and when they are fed and used as part of the farming system. If farmers plant swedes, and many have this season, then they need to manage how and when they feed it to their cows.” Mr Kyte says the next update for farmers will be when plant analysis results are available. “This update is expected to be available to farmers in late July and that will be an important piece in the puzzle. We can then focus on pulling together our final consolidated report on all the elements of the work we have done on the issue.” DairyNZ has already set in train a number of steps for

helping farmers this season. “While we are continuing the plant analysis, unfortunately there are no quick tests for swede plants that will provide an early warning signal for farmers,” he said. “However, DairyNZ is working with farmers this season to identify early signs of ill-health in animals by monitoring a small selection of cows. “We are compiling blood samples from cows and want to record incidences of illeffects throughout this season. “This kind of work is the first step in assessing how we can develop a baseline system for detecting early signs of ill-health in cows. This work, along with our final report will help us know what’s important and useful to study going forward.” Farmer advice: Go to www. for further information and the full advice that has just been sent to Southland farmers including photos to assist farmers with monitoring their crops.

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We pride ourselves at being a Rural Design &

farm industry. And over the course of the last 55

Build specialist and have gained a considerable

years of involvement, we’ve developed something

reputation in meeting the needs of many a farmer

of a knack for it. Our dedicated team’s expertise

over the years. Let us put our expertise to work for

in constructing custom woolsheds, covered yards,

you; call your nearest Calder Stewart Construction

wintering sheds and state-of-the-art dairy sheds

Representative today and see how we can deliver

ensures practicality, quality and a professional

a farm building that suits.

Over 55 Years Farm Building Experience A Rural Design and Build Specialist Premium Grade Construction Materials Used Durable & Rugged Design is Standard Best Value-for-Money in the Industry

Donald Sutton 211 Alford Forest Road, Ashburton

(03) 307 6130

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