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Mahurangimatters 16 May 2012 | 25 NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL FIELDAYS – JUNE 13 TO 16


Mystery event to be announced at Fieldays The 2012 National Agricultural Fieldays at Hamilton’s Mystery Creek from June 13 to 16 is expected to be a sellout success with 100 percent of exhibition space allocated, but one popular event will be missing. While over 1000 exhibitors will occupy 1400 sites, after nine years, the Rural Bachelor of the Year competition has been ditched, after past winners battled it out in a grand finale last year. Details of a new style of competition which will start in 2013, will be announced at this year’s event. However, traditional favourites including the tractor pull, fencing and festival of logging, and the creativity of the Ag Art Wear show and the Innovations Centre will still be present. Other attractions will include extreme air displays, machinery exhibitions, and stock handling, including cutting horse demonstrations, while seminars will offer a seat and a chance to learn something new. The current exhibition and demonstration space is over 40 hectares and last year the event attracted more than 117,000 visitors, encouraging exhibitors to book up this year’s space early, with more than 98 percent of

Exhibitors go out of their way to make eye-catching displays to get their message across.

Precision use of heavy machinery will again be part of Fieldays action.

sites booked months in advance. Changes this year include a larger International Exhibition area within the Mystery Creek Pavilion and a larger Kiwi’s Best marquee showcasing quality food and beverage products, which will be used by celebrity chefs in demonstrations in the Kiwis Best Kitchen Theatre. This year’s premier feature theme is The Changing Face of Farming focusing on various land ownership models and the changing farming

in the land, building successful governance processes, and the role of women in farming will all be discussed. A key focus will be the industry’s obligation to ensure agribusiness careers are considered by future generations. The Fieldays Buying Guide and Programme can now be viewed online in an e-book format for the first time. Hard copies are still for sale from late May and can be ordered by emailing

approaches of New Zealanders. The theme incorporates the shift away from traditional family owned farms and considers equity partnerships, corporates, Iwi incorporations and international investors and their effects on the rural landscape. Concepts such as land tenure, the corporate farming model, Maori freehold land, education and career pathways, shaping the future agribusiness leader, succession planning, future proofing investment

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Tomarata farmer Stu Paterson puts his innovative COWaPATCHe system through its paces in his own milking shed.

Innovation award winner faces formidable hurdles Realising the potential of a 2010 Fieldays People’s Choice Awardwinning innovation has been a hard slog for Tomarata dairy farmer Stu Paterson and his partner Melisa Jones, who nevertheless remain convinced of the huge potential of their cow patch product. COWaPATCHe is a system of coloured stickers applied direct to cows to alert

dairy farmers, sharemilkers and workers to management issues with individual animals, from hoof or udder issues, to milking performance, mating status or withholding requirements. However, while the system is a simple one, getting the business off the ground while milking 250 cows full time and parenting two boys under two is not. “I’m very time poor,” Stu says. Although he was optimistic about government funding for innovation and the primary sector at the time of his win, he has since discovered accessing the funds is “a bit of mission” and that support seems to be targeted more toward large scale research or genetics projects and the like, rather than to his type of product. Other hurdles have included facing the receivership of his product manufacturer, who he describes as continued next page



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Mahurangimatters 16 May 2012 | 27 NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL FIELDAYS

Innovation hurdles “another victim of China”, although it has prompted him to work on what he expects to be a superior production method, potentially resulting in a more robust product. Meanwhile, he has resisted pressure to manufacture in China himself, preferring to support local ingenuity by keeping it in New Zealand. However, he does hope the finished product will be distributed internationally. Initial exposure to retailers in America, South America and Europe has met with a universally positive response with the proviso that issues around adhesion methods are successfully tackled to overcome complications of freighting aerosol glues. “It’s just part of the logistics challenge that I lack the know-how to handle efficiently,” he says. With nearly 5000 units already sold,

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Stuart has had great feedback from local farmers but is keen to hear from others and expects attending Fieldays this year will facilitate that. He’ll also be introducing a new green sticker he hopes will be a favourite with farmers to identify slow or “three titter” cows. “If you’ve got a cow in a row that’s going to slow it down you’ll know immediately to either put the cups on her first or put a weight on so that she’ll milk out in time with the others and not hold the job up.” Plans for further stickers are also in the pipeline . “I think it’s like any other little business, you’ve just got to keep slogging away at it. You might pick up an innovation award but it’s only the very beginning.” Info: Contact Stu on 0800 COWaPATCHe.

Power consumption analysed A pilot programme auditing dairy farms’ power use has shown that individual farms could cut milking shed electricity consumption by 16 percent. Commissioned by the Ministry of consumption, water pumping 22 Agriculture and Forestry, the Energy percent, refrigeration 17 percent and Efficiency and Conservation Authority vacuum pumps 15 percent. and Fonterra Co-operative Group, the Jim says while 70 percent of savings pilot was run across 150 dairy farms opportunities related to water heating, in the Waikato, Lower North Island, how those savings could be achieved Canterbury and Otago/Southland in varied. 2010/11. “In some cases changing to one hot Jim Miller of Fonterra’s energy wash of the milking plant each day efficiency team says dairy farms was recommended. In others preaccount for 2.3 percent of New heating water with heat recovered Zealand’s total electricity consumption from refrigeration plants, or solar and the average farm spends over water heating was a viable option.” $14,000 on electricity a year. As a result of the report, EECA released Audits of participating farms covered a request for proposals to enhance water heating, milk cooling and vats, electricity efficiency in New Zealand vacuum and milk pumps, lighting, dairy sheds, focusing primarily on irrigation and effluent systems. Water heat recovery technology. The closing heating accounted for 24 percent of date for proposals was March 30.

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28 | Mahurangimatters 16 May 2012 NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL FIELDAYS – JUNE 13 TO 16


Fired up in Puhoi Agricultural vehicle rule changes welcomed The surprise appearance from members Proposed changes to Ministry of Transport agricultural vehicle rules have been well received by contractors and farmers around the country, according to Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) national vice-president, Wellsford’s Steve Levet. Also president of RCNZ’s northern zone, Steve has been closely involved with the association’s lobbying efforts over the past two years and says the Government’s proposal implements all the of the changes that have been sought, simplifying the law and cutting compliance costs dramatically. A key change is that those driving tractors won’t come under the work time rule if they travel at less than 40km/h, says Steve. That’s just one of the proposed changes to driver licence requirements for agricultural vehicle drivers intended to make it easier for workers to safely drive a wider range of specialist vehicles on the road, while recognising the needs of contractors and farmers to work around the weather and for long or irregular hours during harvest. The proposals simplify current speed limits for agricultural vehicles used on the road and align requirements for vehicle registration, licensing, inspection and road user charges

Steve Levet says proposed rule changes will simplify the law and dramatically cut compliance costs for agricultural workers.

around a 40km/h threshold. Agricultural vehicles licensed to operate at up to 40km/h would be exempt from licence fees, periodic inspection and road user charges, but would still be required to be registered and in a roadworthy condition, and would have to display a ‘40’ sign to make enforcement straightforward. Agricultural vehicles operated over

40km/h would be required to have a G (general purpose) licence, pay road user charges and hold a simplified annual warrant of fitness. A series of industry workshops have been held to consider the discussion paper and people have until May 25 to make a submission. For more information see Ministry of Transport website

of Auckland’s Armed Offenders Squad thrilled those who attended the Puhoi Rural Fire Brigade open day on April 22. The team was kitted out from headto-toe in safety gear, including weapons. The open day was held at the Puhoi Domain as a fundraiser for the new fire station. A range of emergency services attended including police, ambulance, Coastguard and Civil Defence, as well as the Birkenhead-based lighting unit for serious crashes. Organiser and Puhoi deputy fire chief Mike Donovan says while the purpose of the event was to raise money for the new fire station, it was also a way to promote basic safety education. “We also wanted to introduce the personalities involved in our local emergency services,” he says. “We raised around $5000 which was awesome.” While children watched in awe as members of the East Coast Bays fire station and Puhoi rural fire brigade extinguished a live car fire, others participated in sprint races clocked by the police motorway patrol unit. In its sixth year, the Puhoi Brigade has responded to more than 400 callouts, and is always keen to take on new recruits. Chief fire officer Russell Green says the resource consent for the new fire station will be submitted this month.


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Mahurangimatters 16 May 2012 | 29

Autumn Planting

Gardening with Wendy Schick

Nature’s best time to plant is now!

Replenishing soil After the final autumn harvest in the vegetable garden many of us don’t feel that inspired to plant up winter vegetables. Personally, I love leeks and cauliflowers, but unfortunately, I haven’t had time to plant them this year. On the other hand, this is an ideal time to give the garden a rest and sow with a green manure crop. The benefits of green manures have been known for many generations. Using the plant life to replace lost nutrients in the soil encourages earthworms and other beneficial micro-organisms into your garden, thus returning life to any exhausted soils. If you plant the same variety year-after-year in the same place, your soil will become deficient in nutrients encouraging pests and diseases to become prevalent. The consequence is that eventually you will be unable to grow anything in that area of your garden. So why does this occur? Certain crops and plant varieties demand different nutrients from the soil. Repeat plantings of the same crop sap the same nutrients from the soil allowing no time for it to recover or replenish. Eventually the nutrients will run out. Here’s an idea of some of the plants that make good green manure crops: yy Blue lupins – Lupins are very important for the maintenance of your soil fertility. The recycle lost nutrients from your subsoil and add vast amounts of ‘free nitrogen’ which is then readily available to your next crop. It is important to dig them in before the flowering stage. yy Mustard – Mustard aids in the control of wireworm, nematodes and so on, which are problems often associated with root crops. Mustard also reduces the chances of any soil borne disease within 40 days of digging in. If club root is a problem, do not plant brassica crops after mustard. yy Garden oats – These add both proteins and fibrous organic mixture to the soil. If you are unsure what to use, there is a mix of all three seeds available, offering an all-round tonic beneficial to the garden. For a successful green manure crop, simply apply the recommended rates during autumn. Then in early spring, before the plants flower, while stems are still soft and watery, dig your green manure back into the soil. After digging it in, it is best to leave the ground for up to three weeks before planting your next crop. This is essential with mustard. Additionally, adding animal manure before digging in will hasten the breakdown process of your green manure.

Farm sales pick up Farm sales for the first three months of this year were at their highest since the start of the global financial crisis in 2008 according to Real Estate Institute of New Zealand. The institute’s April rural report showed there were 397 farm sales in the period, up 207 or 108.9 percent compared to the same time in 2011.

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National Agricultural Fieldays Feature 2012  

National Agricultural Fieldays Feature 2012

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