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rural&fielddays

ruraloutlook

May 30, 2018 Mahurangimatters 29

FE AT U R E

Competitors will show their muscle in various events.

The kitchen theatre is a tasty new addition.

The tractor pull is a firm favourite.

The biggest agricultural show in the Southern Hemisphere will return to Mystery Creek for its 50th anniversary next month. Last year, Fieldays attracted over 130,000 people. This year, it will be held from June 13 to 16. For those looking to freshen things up at the kitchen table, the new kitchen theatre showcase will be worth a visit to see the connection between farm and table via the fry pan. There will be an opportunity to mingle with celebrity chefs and check out the pantry marquee, where produce from the cooking demonstrations will be sold. Also new this year is ‘Rural Catch’, a mixed gender version of the familiar ‘Rural Bachelor of the Year’ competition. The popular tractor pull is back with three categories that will test the speed, strength and showmanship abilities of the farm vehicles. The event includes a schools’ section, where students

will race to pull a full-size tractor 40 metres. The defending champions, Te Awamutu Primary School, will face off against the leading challenging school in the final for a $2000 prize. All tractor pull finals are held on Saturday. Other shows of strength are the logging events, which will see competitors use tools such as chainsaws and axes. The Champions Trophy wood chopping event will be held on Thursday. The winner will represent New Zealand in France for the world championships. Friday’s event will have competitors hoping to make the 2018 Stihl Timbersports World Championships in England. More logging events will be held on Saturday. In arts and entertainment, the No. 8 Wire exhibits will be on display and there will be multiple dog shows. Meanwhile, the innovations centre will provide

a glimpse of the future of farming. More than 50 entrants will show off their latest agricultural inventions over all four days. Fieldays will provide a nostalgic look at the past with a vintage tractor collection and a historic village, where old buildings and activities, such as blacksmithing, will be among the demonstrations.

New flavour for Fieldays as it celebrates 50th anniversary

Fieldays giveaway Mahurangi Matters has a Fieldays double pass, sponsored by AgGrow Quip, to giveaway to one lucky reader. Send an email to gm@localmatters. co.nz, with AgGrow Quip competition in the subject line, to go into the draw. Don’t forget to include your name and a daytime phone number. Alternatively, write your name and contact details on the back of an envelope and post to: AgGrow Quip Fieldays Competition, Mahurangi Matters, PO Box 701, Warkworth. All entries must be received by noon on Friday, June 8.

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rural&fielddays

30 Mahurangimatters May 30, 2018

Chair of the Matakana Coast Trail Trust Allison Roe welcomes Kaye Parker.

Chief executive of the NZ Walking Access Commission Eric Pyle spoke at the workshop.

Creating great walking and cycling trails not only bolsters the health and wellbeing of local people, but can create jobs and bring millions of dollars into a community by attracting visitors. That was the message from Kaye Parker, the CEO of the Queenstown Trail Trust, who was keynote speaker at a meeting of about 60 fellow trail enthusiasts in Matakana last week. She spoke at a workshop organised by the Matakana Coast Trail Trust and the NZ Walking Access Commission. Ms Parker shared her experiences and lessons from developing the Queenstown Trail, one of the most successful “Great Rides” in

easements from 36 private landowners. Ms Parker said a vital learning was to be respectful to private landowners, as they held the key to the success or failure of the project. “You are asking a very small number of landowners to give a very large gift of their land to a very large number of people. This rarely benefits the landowners themselves,” she said. She said it was a mistake to try to pressure landowners by suggesting they should give up their land for the good of the community. She said they were not obliged to give up anything. Instead, trail advocates should think of ways they could assist landowners

Ant Woodward, who is developing a trail in Kaukapakapa discusses his plans with Rodney Local Board member Brent Bailey.

Matakana gets inside scoop on creating great trails New Zealand. But Ms Parker said achieving success had required overcoming numerous obstacles. She says one of her first mistakes was not asking the government for all of the money needed to build the trail, even though the government at the time was eager to back trail building. This meant the Queenstown Trail Trust was left to find a further $4 million from a relatively small community. Geotechnical problems also forced a change in the planned route for the trail. The original route had taken it across council and government land, but the new route required securing

– perhaps by using earthmoving equipment to flatten ground or remove rocks in return for the landowner granting land access. Another thing trail trusts could do was provide letters of support to landowners who were seeking resource consents to, for example, subdivide their land. Ms Parker said every landowner she dealt with who received a letter of support from the Queenstown Trail Trust had their resource consent granted. She said that these strategies proved so successful that landowners who were continued next page

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rural&fielddays

May 30, 2018 Mahurangimatters 31

Visitors bring in $27.7 million each year ... this had seen business boom.

from previous page

originally sceptical decided to get on board with the trail and voluntarily offered easements, recognising they could also benefit. Ms Parker said the Queenstown Trail Trust was also able to use some of the difficult terrain to its advantage. Major donors were invited to sponsor tunnels and bridges to the tune of $50,000 and have a piece of infrastructure named after them. A strong theme of the workshop was that if a great trail was constructed, then people would be sure to visit in their thousands. Ms Parker said the Queenstown Trail had an original goal of attracting 35,000 visitors within three years of opening, which was thought audacious at the time. However, she says the trail exceeded that goal within three months of opening. It now attracts more than 100,000 visitors annually. Ms Parker said those visitors brought in $27.7 million each year and accommodation providers, cafés, bars, wineries and bicycle shops had seen business boom. She said one café, which had opened just before the trail did, saw turnover

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rural&fielddays

32 Mahurangimatters May 30, 2018

Report blasts New Zealand land use for destroying soils A damning report released by the Ministry of the Environment and Stats NZ last month says that New Zealand’s land use is contributing directly to soil and water degradation, soil erosion and is reducing the health and diversity of our plants, animals and habitats. The report, Our Land 2018, shows more than 48 per cent of tested sites were outside the target range for two key indicators of soil quality. These were phosphorous content (an indicator of soil fertility) and macroporosity (a measure of soil compactness). Excess phosphorous can travel into waterways through erosion and run off. It can trigger growth of unwanted plants and reduce water quality. Soil that is too compacted restricts plant growth and reduces soil diversity. It also impedes soil drainage, resulting in increased greenhouse gas emissions from urine on soils and an increased amount of phosphorous and eroded soils reaching waterways. The report says sites under more intensive land uses, such as dairying, cropping, horticulture and dry stock, were more frequently outside the range for these soil quality indicators. In particular, 51 per cent of tested dairy sites had excess soil phosphorus and 65 per cent were below the range for macroporosity. Some horticultural and cropping sites also had high phosphorous levels (37

Ahuroa farmer Bev Trowbridge says pressure on farmers prevents proper soil management.

per cent) and low macroporosity levels (39 per cent). Dry stock sites had low macroporosity levels (41 per cent). The report says New Zealand already has naturally high rates of erosion due to a combination of steep terrain, rock and soil types and climate. New Zealand contributes about 1.7 per cent to global sediment loss, even though it makes up only 0.2 per cent

of global land area. The report says the problem is exacerbated by the removal of trees. New Zealand loses 192 million tonnes of soil each year from erosion and 44 per cent of this comes from pasture land. The report’s findings come as no surprise to Ahuroa sheep and beef

farmer Bev Trowbridge, who has long advocated for “regenerative farming” practices, which aim to protect the soil. She says farmers are often extremely concerned about soil degradation but says pressure from banks, suppliers, market buyers and industry representatives all conspire to reinforce destructive farming practices. “Farmers do not get to choose to go it alone, to market their own produce, or change to a high-value, low impact model. This is the travesty of our farming system,” she says. Ms Trowbridge says the irony is that the solutions to the problems are not difficult. For example, farmers could make greater use of natural, organic fertilizers, especially compost, which has an abundance of living creatures within it that break up compacted soil. Meanwhile, the report itself declines to make recommendations on how to redress problems with land use, but it says it is vital that New Zealand pays attention to the harm it is doing to the soil, noting that the quality of the soil underpins the New Zealand economy. “This report provides an opportunity for us to recognise that soil and biodiversity are taonga (treasure), that our stewardship depends on earnestly building our knowledge base, and that it is our responsibility to take action to restore the health of the whenua (land), for today and tomorrow’s generations,” it says.

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rural&fielddays

May 30, 2018 Mahurangimatters 33

Fuel tax fears for farmers Horticulture NZ chief executive Mike Chapman is calling the regional fuel tax ‘unfair’ on Auckland farmers and growers and would like toll roads as an alternative. The regional fuel tax bill is currently being put through Parliament, with a second reading in June, but will likely include a rebate system for fuel used off-road. Both Federated Farmers and Mr Chapman say with one rebate system already in place, another would become complex and costly. “It’s unnecessary to tax fuel for vehicles that will barely, if at all, use the roads,” Mr Chapman says. “A large vegetable growing operation, for example, could have 100 tractors, so even with a rebate system it’s not fair, because of the administration costs to manage it.” Ahuroa farmer Nicky Berger says that a rebate system would definitely cost farmers. “Any extra administration just means less time being spent actually out on the farm where the money is made,” Ms Berger says. “Because the buyer sets the cost of beef and lamb and not us, we would also wear any additional administration expenses ourselves.” Mr Chapman has proposed more toll roads as the most accurate way to charge those using the infrastructure. This would avoid any extra costs for off-road fuel users. “Two thirds of travel done by trucks

Administration of a regional fuel tax rebate could be too cumbersome.

that fill up in Auckland is outside of the region, and a lot of trucks travelling through the area fill up in places like Hamilton. An Auckland regional fuel tax just doesn’t make sense.” But Transport Minister Phil Twyford says that Auckland Council approached the Government specifically about a fuel tax as they felt it fairer than tolling certain roads. Mr Chapman is also concerned that trucking companies may increase their charges because of the tax. Because the buyer covers delivery costs, this would make getting produce to Auckland more expensive putting farmers in the regions at a disadvantage. Although, Mr Twyford says in the long-term, the tax will benefit truck companies and, therefore, farmers. “Any marginal increase is likely to be offset by the additional deliveries distributors will be able to do because of reduced congestion,” Mr Twyford says. However, Ms Berger says because farmers don’t pay for delivery they are unlikely to reap any benefits if roads become more efficient.

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rural&fielddays

34 Mahurangimatters May 30, 2018

Farm plastic recycling gets a local boost

Recycled fence posts find a new home at Charlies.

Charlies takes advantage of recycled fencing A revamp of strawberry growing operations at Charlies Gelato Garden has provided a good opportunity for recycling of materials. Troughs for holding the hydroponically grown strawberries were falling apart and desperately needed to be replaced along with the structures that held them at waist-height for easy picking. Charlies was faced with the prospect of buying 1000 new posts to support new troughs. Fortunately, fencing contractor Malcolm Webster, of All Rural Fencing, knew just where those posts could be located. In addition to the Charlie’s job, he was also contracted to clear the vines at Ti

Point vineyard, along with the 2,000 posts and wires that supported them. Although around 15 years old, the posts proved to be in good condition and entirely suitable to meet the requirements of the Charlies’ job. All that was required was that they be cut to the appropriate length and put back into the ground. Malcolm says naturally recycling makes sense, since it avoids unnecessary cutting down of trees to make new posts. But he says although he has been recycling posts for years, the practice is not that common. “Developers often have a digger that goes along, just smashes the posts and

then pushes them into a heap. Then they have a disposal problem. Where are they going to get rid of them?” he says. Traditional methods of removing posts are also unhelpful. Often a chain is wrapped around the post, which is then pulled out with a tractor, leaving ugly chain marks on the post. Malcolm says ideally a machine known as a post hole lifter should be used, which when fitted to a front-end loader requires only a single operator to remove the posts. Posts are grabbed by the machine at ground level and are barely marked. “Everybody having fences removed should be thinking about recycling,” he says.

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A national scheme to recycle farm plastics is growing in popularity north of Auckland, thanks to increased environmental awareness, plus the enthusiasm of its Kaiwaka-based collector. Plasback collects soft plastic including balewrap, silage sheets and feed bags, plus polyethylene drums, vineyard nets and twine and, since the scheme started in 2006, has picked up and processed more than 10,000 tonnes of plastic. Farmers and growers buy special liner collection bags and pay to have them collected when full. Programme manager Chris Hartshorne says the scheme has grown steadily in recent years, as more and more farmers become aware that plastics in the environment can cause significant damage if not disposed of properly. But he adds that Auckland and Northland have an added bonus in the form of local Plasback collector Bruce Ferguson, of Kaiwaka. “We have seen a substantial growth north of Auckland due to greater awareness and the fact that we have a very motivated collector in Bruce Ferguson,” he says. Bruce has been collecting plastic wrap and drums from farms throughout the region for two years. He says it’s a great system, providing people follow the guidelines about keeping different types of plastic separate “You can’t just chuck it all in one bag,” he says. “The system works if people work with the system. But it’s good plastic and it’s getting processed.” The scheme is not just confined to farmers, either - vineyards, horticulturists and even breweries can join in. One such example is Matakana’s Sawmill Brewery, which recently started using Plasback and has subsequently reduced its waste to landfill by a massive 85 per cent in just a few months. All the waste plastic collected is recycled in Auckland, where it is made into a product called Tuffboard, a plywood replacement described as “non abrasive, lick-proof, chew-proof, rot-proof and does not splinter”. “It is very strong, easily cleaned and very hygienic,” Chris Hartshorne adds. “This is a good example of the circular economy we have to strive for.” Info: plasback.co.nz


rural&fielddays

May 30, 2018 Mahurangimatters 35

Expert on bee disease addresses Warkworth club American Foulbrood national compliance manager Clifton King will address Warkworth Beekeepers on June 6, following an upsurge nationally in the prevalence of the destructive bee disease. Mr King says the increasing incidence of American Foulbrood (AFB) follows rapid growth in the honey bee industry that has inevitably also seen a growth in more inexperienced beekeepers, unfamiliar with how to combat the disease. “Many beekeepers are willing to do the right thing but they need additional education and advice. Other beekeepers need encouragement to take that advice,” Mr King says. One promising sign is that in the last 12 months, 19 cases of AFB have been reported in the Mahurangi area, down slightly on the 24 cases reported last year. Mr King says beekeepers need to inspect their hives regularly for AFB and if they find it, must destroy the hive by burning it. In addition, they must limit the exchange of parts between hives, which in turn limits the spread of the disease. American Foulbrood is a bacterium that infects one to four day old larvae in the hive brood nest and prevents the birth of new bees. An average worker bee lives for about 23 days. If there is not regular production of new bees the hive Materials Processing Ltd

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36 Mahurangimatters May 30, 2018

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Any cattle that have come from infected or suspected farms will be tested, but diagnosis can be tricky.

Cattle disease spread causes concern for northern farmers Worried dairy and beef farmers throughout Rodney and Northland are keeping their fingers crossed, but think it’s probably only a matter of time before cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis arrives in the region. Two farms in Northland are at high risk and under strict stock movement restrictions and 25 other properties north of Auckland are known to have received stock from suspect farms. It comes at a time when stock movements are at their peak, as milking finishes and cows move to new pasture, and just before calving starts in July. Mike Farley, sharemilker on two Matakana dairy farms, says it’s a worrying time, and he thinks that more cases will come to light over the coming weeks. “I give it a month and someone will have it up here,” he says. “I think they have lost control of it. I honestly don’t know what should be done.” For his own herd of 300 animals, he plans to batten down the biosecurity hatches. “I’m not going to buy anything in until I know what’s happening. But mating will be the biggest thing, when we have to buy bulls. That’s in October, which is not far away.”

The red and blue dots north of Auckland show farms that have received stock from infected or suspect farms.

Federated Farmers Northland dairy chair Ashley Cullen is urging farmers to be stringent about biosecurity and ensure any stock movements are documented correctly. “What we’re hoping for is all that those dots on the map up here get no positives, but they have had false positives and false negatives. It’s not until we go into the peak season we’ll know.”

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rural&fielddays

May 30, 2018 Mahurangimatters 37

Free business workshops a boost for farming women A free national development programme for women involved in sheep and beef farming will be held in Northland next month. The Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s (AWDT) Understanding Your Farm Business course will start in Dargaville on June 6 and its sister course (adapted for women who are trustees, managers or partners in Maori sheep and beef farms) Wahine Maia Wahine Whenua, starts in Whangarei on June 7. Each programme involves three fullday workshops spread over three months, plus an evening graduation ceremony, and it is fully funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP). Participants learn how to measure farm performance and potential, how to add value as more engaged critical farming partners, business planning to improve farm performance, the drivers and language of farming business, and how to find and assess financial information. AWDT executive director Lindy Nelson says the course not only boosts women’s knowledge, skills

and confidence to contribute more effectively to their farming businesses, it helps their partners and businesses as a whole, too. “We’re hearing from the men that the increased involvement of their partners in farm planning and decision making is reducing stress on them and opening up new conversations and perspectives,” she says. “They are now sharing the workload and more able to bounce ideas off their partners who are playing a greater role.” RMPP chairman Malcolm Bailey agrees that the courses benefit far more than just the participants. “The Understanding Your Farm Business programmes aren’t just about up-skilling women in farming, they’re about building resilient farm partnerships so that the mental load of farming is shared,” he says. “It’s a culture shift, but one we think the industry is ready for.” Full details of the AWDT programmes and bookings can be made at awdt.org. nz/programmes/

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Mahurangi Matters 30 May 2018 - Rural FEATURE  

Mahurangi Matters 30 May 2018 - Rural FEATURE

Mahurangi Matters 30 May 2018 - Rural FEATURE  

Mahurangi Matters 30 May 2018 - Rural FEATURE

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