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BACKING FARMERS

STRIDING OUT FOR MEAT Taumarunui’s Guy Fraser is moving away from growing wool to focus on meat production p34

$12.00 incl gst

JANUARY 2021

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January 2021

Strong wool

Freshwater

Mating

Signs of a price recovery

Large-scale collective action

Flushing on brassica 1


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January 2021


For nearly 80 years, MSD have been developing sheep vaccines for New Zealand farmers. We have a extensive range of vaccines to help you improve flock performance. Vaccines that help protect against losses from Toxoplasma, Campylobacter, Salmonella, and that are proven to increase lamb numbers1,2,3. And we’ve developed them right here in New Zealand, specifically for our sheep and our conditions.

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AVAILABLE ONLY UNDER VETERINARY AUTHORISATION ACVM No’s: A4769, A9535, A7886, A9927. Schering-Plough Animal Health Ltd. Phone: 0800 800 543. www.msd-animal-health.co.nz NZ-CVX-200900006 © 2020 Intervet International B.V. All Rights Reserved. 1. Wilkins M, O’Connell E. (1992) Vaccination of sheep against Toxoplasma abortion, Surveillance, 19:4,20-23 2. Anderson, P (2001) The implications of Campylobacter Infections in Ewe Flocks. Proc 31st Annual Seminar, Society of Sheep and Beef Cattle Veterinarians., NZVA p31-40 3. Geldard, H, Scaramuzzi, R.J., & Wilkins, J.F. (1984) Immunization against polyandroalbumin leads to increases in lambing and tailing percentages. New Zealand Veterinary Journal, 32:1-2, 2-5

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January 2021

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LOOK AFTER YOUR WORKING DOGS

WIN A ONE-YEAR SUPPLY OF BRAVECTO

SIX TO BE WON Be an active subscriber to Country-Wide at the end of January and you’ll go in the draw to WIN 1 OF 6 ONE-YEAR SUPPLY PACKS OF BRAVECTO FLEA AND TICK PROTECTION for one of your hard working farm dogs.

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0800 224 782 subs@nzfarmlife.co.nz • www.nzfarmlife.co.nz Terms & conditions: Competition is open to all New Zealand based Country-Wide (print and digital) subscribers of a 12month term or longer. Entry into the draw will be automatic based on the subscription being active (including paid up renewals due in January 2021) as at January 31, 2021. The six winners will be notified by phone or email no later than February 12, 2021 and then your contact details will be passed on to MSD Animal Health to supply the one years supply of Bravecto Flea and Tick Protection.

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January 2021


EDITOR’S NOTE

Grabbing the initiative

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any readers will be glad to see this year, which seems like three in one, coming to an end. There was Covid-19, the election and renewed pressure on farmers by a Government intent on imposing unfair and unworkable freshwater rules. Farmer-led water catchment groups around the country have been active. By growing membership and communicating more with urban counterparts, the groups are building strong communities. Some groups have been able to secure taxpayer funds from the Government. Pomahaka in West Otago secured $3.6 million this year. Wai (Water Action Initiative) Wanaka is the merger of two catchment groups that has taken a whole-ofcommunity and science-backed approach. Wai Wanaka gained $385,000 of funding. For some farmers, just being in a group and talking to other people has made them feel less powerless. There is hope of greater support from outside farming as Covid reminded fellow Kiwis how important farmers are for food and export receipts. During a chat with one of our columnists, Damien O’Connor openly admitted he had stuffed up by allowing the legislation to go through. He said without doubt there will be changes to what really are nonsensical arbitrary rules and dates, without science to back any of it up. It’s been a tough year for strong wool growers. Initiatives and products for strong wool are better late than never, but the road to hell is paved with failed attempts.

Wools of New Zealand are trying to capture more of the retail price by having its wool made offshore into carpets to sell here and match synthetic prices and specifications. Price is a big killer of wool carpet sales and having a cheaper, but well-made carpet should sell well. Selling domestically seems unlikely to have a major impact on farmgate prices. International sales would, and the carpets wouldn’t have to be shipped to New Zealand. Shipping wool back and forth can’t be good for our carbon footprint. Even without Covid and the Government’s looney rules, it would still have been a challenging year for many with weather and health, both physically and mentally. This year we lost some more farmers to suicide, some who had featured in Country-Wide. For me it was another brain tumour in July, the third in three years along with several tumours in my body. Only one remains in the body which is being treated by a chemo drug. So while it has been a difficult year I was grateful to live through it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone. Thank you for your support and hope you, like me, are looking forward to ripping into 2021.

Terry Brosnahan Got any feedback? Contact the editor: terry.brosnahan@nzfarmlife.co.nz or call 03 471 5272 @CountryWideEd

NEXT ISSUE: FEBRUARY 2021

Country-Wide

January 2021

• Meat alternatives: Plant-based protein makers will have the biggest impact on the market in China, if they focus on competing with pork, not red meat.

• Strong wool: More on NZ initiatives and products helping to restore market prices.

• Farm governance: Why a board has four key tasks to undertake, they must have the ability to make the big decisions and be held accountable.

• On and off the farm: A King Country couple made changes to their farming operation so they can devote time to their off-farm commitments.

• Good management: How two brothers are running six farms, a mix of hill country and finishing blocks as well as studs.

• The Deer Farmer and Young Country.

• Leasing the farm: What are the positives and negatives for the owner.

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Country-Wide is published by NZ Farm Life Media PO Box 218, Feilding 4740 General enquiries: Toll free 0800 2AG SUB (0800 224 782) www.nzfarmlife.co.nz

EDITOR: Terry Brosnahan | 03 471 5272 | 027 249 0200 terry.brosnahan@nzfarmlife.co.nz PUBLISHER: Tony Leggett | 06 280 3162 | 0274 746 093 tony.leggett@nzfarmlife.co.nz

Moving away from wool and costs.

MORE p34

SUB EDITOR: Andy Maciver | 06 280 3166 andy.maciver@nzfarmlife.co.nz DESIGN AND PRODUCTION: Emily Rees | 06 280 3167 emily.rees@nzfarmlife.co.nz Jo Hannam jo.hannam@nzfarmlife.co.nz SOCIAL MEDIA: Charlie Pearson | 06 280 3169 WRITERS: Andrew Swallow 021 745 183 Anne Hardie 03 540 3635 Lynda Gray 03 448 6222 Robert Pattison 027 889 8444 Sandra Taylor 021 151 8685 James Hoban 027 251 1986 Russell Priest 06 328 9852 Jo Cuttance 03 976 5599 Joanna Grigg 027 275 4031 PARTNERSHIP MANAGERS: Janine Aish | Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty 027 890 0015 | janine.aish@nzfarmlife.co.nz Tony Leggett | Lower North Island 027 474 6093 | tony.leggett@nzfarmlife.co.nz David Paterson | South Island 027 289 2326 | david.paterson@nzfarmlife.co.nz SUBSCRIPTIONS: nzfarmlife.co.nz/shop | 0800 224 782 subs@nzfarmlife.co.nz Printed by Ovato Print NZ Ltd, Riccarton, Christchurch ISSN 1179-9854 (Print) ISSN 2253-2307 (Online)

@CountryWideNZ

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Contents BOUNDARIES 8 9

Farmer surfing nationwide Book review: Off The Beaten Track

HOME BLOCK 10 11 12 13 14 15

It’s the end of an era for Roger Barton Jane Smith surveys the scrum at the top of the Government’s ranks A Kiwi lad working for Robert Hodgkins is a bloody legend Gaye Coates confronts the taniwha in freshwater Blair Drysdale takes in the view from the other side Charlotte Rietveld discovers the Boss has a new love

BUSINESS 16 17 18 21 22 23 24 26 28 29 30

Cheaper wool carpets coming Good signs appearing in markets Rural lifestyle blocks – boon or scourge? Community connecting on water quality issues Letter to the Editor: Long link to Akitio Flexibility needed with dairy The climate neutrality question Unknown unknowns and the sweet spot of success Nutrition: Pride in red meat Hypocrisy of carbon emission targets Diversification: A station for life

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January 2021


STATS

FACTS

MORE p76 Lies, damn lies, and statistics

Grazing partnership a win:win

MORE p41

FACTS STATS LIVESTOCK 34 41 44 47 48 54 56

When opportunity knocks

Moving away from wool and costs Grazing partnership a win:win Rewards for good feeding Stock Check: Good shift in direction When opportunity knocks Dutch sheep breed shows promise Flushing on brassica a good option

MORE p48

CROP & FORAGE 58 Profit from pasture renewal 60 Is pasture renewal needed? 62 Weed control: Beware complacency with glyphosate

ENVIRONMENT 64 66 68 69 70

Hooked on dog trialing

MORE p72

Government funds water care groups Catchment group addresses water quality Query low-slope status Farm emissions: Accounting for GHGs Farms combating climate change

YOUNG COUNTRY 72 Hooked on dog trialing

OUR COVER: Guy Fraser is converting his flock to fleece-shedding Wiltshires to avoid costs and provide a better lifestyle for his family. Photo Emma McCarthy.

COMMUNITY 74 Social media highlights rural life 76 Lies, damn lies, and statistics 79 Technology: Showcase for lockdown video

SOLUTIONS 80 Diploma more than just a qualification 81 New novel fungicide for wheat

FARMING IN FOCUS 82 More photos from Country-Wide.

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January 2021

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BOUNDARIES PLAYING ON PARANOIA

Farmer surfing nationwide

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mental health initiative encouraging farmers to get off their farms and on to surf boards is operating at 15 locations around the country this summer. Surfing for Farmers started in Gisborne two years ago after keen surfer, farmer and Bayleys rural real estate agent Stephen Thomson watched the Netflix documentary “Resurface”. This documentary showed how surfing helped heal American war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) recover. Stephen says the one line in the documentary that particularly resonated with him was when the war vet described how he used to wake up every day wanting to shoot himself – now he wakes up wanting to go surfing. Stephen knew how much better he always felt after being in the salt water and was determined to give local farmers the opportunity to get off-farm once a week and experience that same

JOKE

feeling of well-being. “While there is a lot of conversation about mental health in the rural sector, this is not being matched by action or programmes that actually take farmers away from the farm and put them in a completely different yet supportive environment.” In that first year, up to 50 farmers, their staff and families were gathering every week over summer to try their hand at surfing and get together away from their farm environments. Surfing for Farmers has since grown to other regions and is now at 15 locations stretching from Invercargill to Whangarei. All gear, lessons and bbq is provided and farmers of all ages are encouraged to come along and just get out in the water and have fun. Bayleys, Ballance Agrinutrients, Rabobank and Jarden have all got in behind the initiative as premium sponsors. • More information is available on the Surfing for Farmers Facebook page.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson were going camping. They pitched their tent under the stars and went to sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night Holmes woke Watson up and said: “Watson, look up at the sky, and tell me what you see.” Watson replied: “I see millions and millions of stars.” Holmes said: “And what do you deduce from that?” Watson replied: “Well, if there are millions of stars, and if even a few of those have planets, it’s quite likely there are some planets like Earth out there. And if there are a few planets like Earth out there, there might also be life.” And Holmes said: “Watson, you idiot, it means that somebody stole our tent.”

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If you watched any TV in December (busy month, so unlikely, but you never know!) you possibly saw adverts promoting non-selective herbicide Slasher as “glyphosate free”. The advert signals the growing public paranoia surrounding the world’s most successful herbicide. For the record, the active in Slasher is nonoanoic acid – nono indicating nine carbon atoms in the molecule – also known as pelargonic acid. It works by burning leaves off plants. “Perennial weed species may require repeated applications to obtain longterm control” states the label. Alternative to glyphosate it might be, as manufacturer OCP says on its website, but it’s certainly not going to do the same job.

SILLY RULES Homeblock columnist Roger Barton says most farmers are comfortable around farm environment plans and their use as a planning tool, but common sense is needed from the bureaucrats on freshwater rules. Roger has also heard a rumour that the Ministry for the Environment are looking at putting out a tender for the bulk buying of post holes. He’ll be looking forward to getting his share of these given the stony nature of this country. What a practical bunch. See more p10.

SCIENCE SNIPPET ENDOPHYTE COMBATS WHEAT FUSARIUM United States research shows an endophytic fungus of maize can reduce incidence of yield-robbing and potentially toxin-producing disease, fusarium head blight, in other cereals. US Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at Peoria, Illinois, found that, in wheat, the NRRL 34560 strain of endophyte Sarocladium zeae cut fusarium head blight by 58% and production of vomitoxin by 61%. Fusarium regularly affects some New Zealand cereal crops, control to date relying on fungicides, cultivar choice and crop rotation. The Foundation for Arable Research says severe outbreaks can cause 30-70% yield loss and possible toxicity problems in grain (Cereal Update No.123). The disease was widely reported in January 2019 following wet weather at flowering.

Country-Wide

January 2021


BOOK REVIEW

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

ID bugs and save money

EXPLORING THE HEART OF HUNTING At the start of the Red Stag Hunters Club, Dave Shaw could claim to be an experienced cameraman, film editor and producer – yet he had never seen a stag in the wild and certainly not written a book. The book traces the TV series from concept through six episodes of the popular programme. In a fresh style he is candid, detailing Off the Beaten the evolution, mistakes and successes Track. Hunting of the programme including the Tales from the New challenge of keeping the series fresh Zealand Back Country. By Dave and interesting. The book doesn’t just describe epic Shaw. hunting and fishing adventures and the challenges of creating a viable product for a critical TV audience. Importantly, the author also shares his thoughts on the broader aspect of why people hunt – an examination of the spirit of the hunter. This spirit also comes through in many of the excellent images, not just those of beast and man but of the campfire moments and our superb backcountry environment. – Peter Snowden.

GONE IN 60 SECONDS! At FAR’s Crops 2020 it wasn’t the fast cars as in the movie, but water poured on soil cores taken from FAR’s Chertsey crop establishment trial, or at least, two of them. Infiltration into the no-till core was marginally quicker than into pasture, and way faster than into both tilled-plot cores. “The pores necessary for drainage [in tilled soils] get clogged,” FAR’s Abie Horrocks explained, highlighting the implications of that for run-off and nutrient loss. More on FAR’s work and advice on soil management in February’s Country-Wide.

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January 2021

A visitor to FAR’s Crops 2020 day checks a sticky trap in the plots.

BY: ANDREW SWALLOW Friend, foe or forget? That’s the question when controlling insect pests in crops, FAR’s Jo Drummond told Crops 2020 visitors. While the session focused on aphids in cereals, the integrated pest management (IPM) principle of checking bugs active in a crop to determine if and what to spray can be used in most crops, including forage brassicas and fodder beet. If beneficial species such as ladybirds, hoverflies, lacewings and parasitic wasps – all aphid predators – were present as well as aphids then there may be no need to spray, she said. “You could save yourself quite a bit of time and money.” Alternatively, the decision might be to spray but with a selective product to minimise kill of beneficial species. There generally weren’t set thresholds of numbers of pests and beneficials, what was important was to monitor presence and ratio, and how that was changing one inspection to the next, she added. Drummond encouraged visitors to have a go on their farms and if they were struggling with identification to call FAR and send pictures. It seems that support will be needed, judging by comments Country-Wide overheard when a couple of farmers checked one of the sticky traps FAR had set up for Crops 2020. “You use these things?” asked one to the other. “Yeah, I do, but I can never see shit to be honest,” said the other. Drummond acknowledged identifying “splats on traps” could be challenging. The key was to use a hand lens held “close to your face like a jeweller” and look for key features such as the parallel vein along the leading edge of the wing of an aphid caught in a wheat or barley paddock. “If it’s not got it, then it ain’t going to cause any damage,” she said. As such it would be a “forget” species – one irrelevant to the crop’s productivity, and there would be lots of those on sticky traps. It didn’t matter what it was, just that it wasn’t a “friend” or “foe”.

M BOVIS BILL TOPS HALF A BILLION MPI’s Friday, November 13 Mycoplasma bovis report updated the cost of the response to date. Including $184.9 million paid in compensation, it’s now $534.5m. Seven farms are classed as confirmed infected, all in the South Island, and 250 have been infected, now cleared, since the start of the outbreak in July 2017.

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HOME BLOCK | COLUMN

Roger Barton won’t be recording stud lambs anymore as this is the last season he and Barbie will be selling rams.

The end of an era A change in focus for Roger Barton from ram breeding to lamb finishing, plus a dig at one-size-fits-all regulations.

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ell, we are into our final year of ram sales. I would have to say that it hit me rather to realise, with some finality, that some of our clients wouldn’t be showing up again unless for social reasons. We have had a solid core of clients. A Tinui team started with us and all but finished with us – they sold their farm during the past winter. It was a treat to welcome the new operators for their first and last time. A 33-year-old and his better half carried the banner to the finish line. I’d have to say I was very impressed with their thoroughness and vision for the industry. I also had to eat my words that anyone under the age of 45 doesn’t know anything much about wool or even care about it. Anyone who checks carefully for spots between the ears knows what they are about. So what now? No recorded lambing, far less fiddling around with little mobs, no single mating to confound autumn management, and now the liberty to pick and choose a bit more around things

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we want to do rather than have to do. A move to focusing far more on finishing lambs only and the opportunity to put a lot more lambs into the Atkins Ranch programme in the US that we have been part of since its inception in the late 1980s. Back in 1995, Barbie and I were fortunate to spend four days with the late John Atkins and his wife Sara. It was two days work plus two days of play really, but that brief window gave us a huge appreciation of who our customers/consumers were in what was largely a foreign land for this Kiwi. Since then our breeding programme has been more focused on carcase conformation and growth rate to meet the specs for the market. Aspects of the sheep world continue to interest us. Oddly we had a ewe lamb born in May 2020. The noise of a lamb when shifting the main mob startled me and I found a ewe with a happy single. Convinced she was a wet dry from the previous year that had missed the bus to a foreign land I looked up her number to find that she had in fact reared twins the previous year to a

combined weight of 73kg, so no slug in the mothering domain. The birth date suggested a mating date of December 10, but the weaning date was the 17th. Was the son the father? A few weeks ago I was shearing a ewe mob including her ladyship and was not expecting what I found. A heavily pregnant ewe who has now given birth to twins with a mating date of July 2 courtesy of my breeding tables. By that stage she was casually in among some ram hoggets on quite nice feed covers. Efficiency plus! Her May-born lamb met its maker a while ago, weighing 67kg pre-truck. An impressive early lamb kill sheet, pity about the tally. Along with many others, Barbie and I have been working through the ramifications of the barrage of central government legislation coming at us. Some of it beggars belief that pointy heads in Wellington can have such rigid views on the timing of various farm activities. I missed a perfect opportunity to take a photograph of a mass of germinating Scarlet Oak seedlings. These trees line our drive and annually drop their acorns in time for duck shooting fodder. They sit idle until the ground temperature tells them to germinate. Obviously moisture is not the catalyst nor limitation having sat idle over winter. What is it that Wellington doesn’t understand about these variances within regions around NZ? Another classic regional variation GREYTOWN arises as I travel to the other property. At the bottom of Admiral Rd the adjacent farmer has a ram date of February 15. Our farm is 14km further up this road (admittedly a steep climb) and we have our main ewes meeting the ram on April 15. This farm runs to 585 metres. We commonly are still grazing our winter kale well into October to try to reduce feed pressure on lambing country. This patently will not comply with the MFE requirement of an October 1 resowing date, and the Minister David Parker glibly tells those in this position that they will need a resource consent if they don’t comply. I’m inclined to hang the resource consent on a floodgate to see if it mitigates erosion. How someone thinks this is effective use of regional council officers’ time beats me.

Country-Wide

January 2021


HOME BLOCK | COLUMN

Even our favourite board games have been monopolised.

Apologies for the rain gauge From the drafting yards of North Otago Jane Smith surveys the scrum at the top of the Government’s ranks.

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ike David Cunliffe apologising for being a man, I wholeheartedly apologise for buying a new rain gauge 10 months ago. In hindsight, I should have stuck with the old version that had 3 slug gun holes in it, via son number two. Just like a millennial’s CV or a career politician, this new version has consistently over promised and under delivered to the tune of a paltry 307mm for the calendar year thus far. A dry autumn was followed by a mild winter (with only one snow storm during lambing) and a spring and early summer with relentless norwesterly winds. That said, we have had good lambing (with the Perendales scanning bang on our triplet minimising target of 180% and weaning at 166% with no flushing, drenching or shepherding). The ewes are in great nick, delivering on lamb size and quality, despite having to wean a month early - which shows decades of robust genetics pay dividends in hard years. With A.I of the stud Angus cows done and dusted and the bulls out there doing their job in their tussock blocks

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January 2021

and calves growing out well. We have had a number of RMPP Action Network groups come through the gate since lockdown, it’s always good to be challenged by fresh eyes on doing what we do. Spending time with young guns is what we love, including some great work being done in our local Waitaki highschools promoting dynamic careers in agribusiness.

A fierce opponent of ‘everyone is a winner’ concept Jane entered ... ric ‘completion’ medal at the recent Queenstown half marathon.

The recent announcement of ministerial positions was akin to a hungry hoard feverishly dining from a smorgasbord of incompetence – yes I’ll acknowledge that Cindy has a pretty robust front row, but the rest of the scrum, wingers and backs are nothing more than a diversity delight. We live in an age where apologists and activists are celebrated and no party are brave or stupid enough to put forward people on merit, ability or work ethic. I have put forward my own suggestion to Jacinda for a new ministerial portfolio – the Department of Unintended Consequences. In Margaret Thatcher’s words, “the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money”. I have skipped ahead a few pages in the Socialist Handbook to see what joy the next three years may bring. I can assure you it’s all pretty standard communistic fun – social engineering, ethical but empty economies, and innovation suppression - I was sorry to read however that our beloved game of Monopoly FIVE will be soon banned for fear FORKS of breeding a generation of driven, fiscally astute tax paying citizens – and replaced with more inclusive games like Downfall or Snakes and Stalins. Even to work out which government department you are on hold on the phone to these days is a tricky task, I wonder how many canoe registrations Waka Kotahi process a year. With our small rural school struggling against the Ministry to get a cent of funding towards our sewerage system consent (a piece of paper via Otago Regional Council costing $10,000), I was delighted to see that the government are still benevolent to much more important projects – as long as they do not show a single ounce of tangible benefit. With $16M for the Creative Arts to play with, taxpayers have just contributed to innovation such as $18,000 for ‘Developing a children’s drag theatre show, The Glitter Garden’. I have taken the liberty of signing Blair up for the $13,000 taxpayer-funded study ‘Research and write the first draft of a novel about male affection in hypermasculine spaces’.

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HOME BLOCK | COLUMN

eye off the ewe lambs slightly and their weights are not quite where they need to be. We usually like to be at 40kg at tupping but closer to 38kg. They have been wormed, bolused and are on stubble turnips for the next four months so I am confident they will catch up quickly. We are tupping 640 ewe lambs this year and really need every lamb possible to keep the bank manager happy so we will see how we get on. We got our second year of SIL results back thanks to the awesome help of Barb Beckett, Zoetis and especially Jo Scott. Last year our top ram on the NZMW (NZ maternal worth) was 2300 and we had 6 above 2000 this year our top ram was 2800 and we had 50 over 2000. Modest A NZ import tup in with the recorded, slightly light ewe lambs. figures for sure but it shows we are moving in the right direction and at a fair rate of speed. Jo is harassing me with the fact that the average ewe’s NZMW is now 1800 points. So we will have to have a big cull of recorded ewes next year. We will try and have this as our minimum level to enter the recorded flock. We are It has been a wet autumn in England, but recording 500 ewes so it's not a massive operation, but I do get a lot of enjoyment a Kiwi help has made a huge difference to out of it and it’s nice to see the progress Robert Hodgkins’ operation. of the flock. Myomax is now firmly taking root in the flock’s DNA. This year we used the ike everyone I am sure we with us three months ago has been a top 50 ram lambs across the commercial are constantly finding new bloody legend, tirelessly working flock and used the top five in our and exciting ways Covid has to try and make sure we have recorded flock alongside the five NZ rams managed to bugger up our something to run a combine we imported from Andrew Tripp three business. through. On the whole it looks years ago. The kids have been in and out of good, some of it has been mauled The Government has proudly school during the lockdowns and we in and the headlands on a couple announced that farm subsidies have been trying our best to homeschool. of fields look a state but we are will be ramped down over the next In case any English health and safety hoping to redrill on the frosts. four years to zero. Money will be officers are reading this they definitely Monty and myself were HERTFORDSHIRE, available for “public goods” have not been helping me on the autumn running the drill 20 hours/ more footpaths, wildflower ENGLAND tractor work. day between us when I had a minor meadows etc. In the UK, it has been wet, as in mistake. We drill using RTK so don’t Seems ag production is falling off the very wet. We have had to abandon our bother using markers. Unfortunately radar. I get the feeling farmers will be cut Vaderstad rapid and made an emergency I hopped in at 4am to take over and into two groups, those who farm food drill buy of a wee little four-metre KV tine must have pushed the tramline advance and those who farm government money. drill just to try and get some wheat in button. We have 40ha with tramlines Rents traditionally have been made up the ground somehow. The 235hp seemed every 4m, s**t. with the understanding that BPS (Basic a little excessive to put on the front but Lucky it's all by the road so at least Payment Scheme) is factored in. Will a wise kiwi”once told me “no kill like it will cheer up my neighbours and landlords be happy to take a 50% cut an overkill!” We may have run out of get them out of the covid depression in rental prices? True farm income can’t traction in a few places but we never ran everyone seems to be in! suck up the loss by itself? out of power! The constant rain has been awesome We shall have to see how the We have managed to slot in 300ha for grass growth and cover crop growth. economics stack up. I would like to think with the drill in between rain storms. We have never had so many lambs I will be one of the first group, but pride Monty White, the Kiwi lad who started finished and away early. We did take our doesn’t pay the overdraft.

Kiwi lad a bloody legend

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HOME BLOCK | COLUMN

The deluge of a West Coast spring.

Confronting the taniwha As the freshwater monster circles, Gaye Coates learns how to tame it.

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s the concluding pages of 2020 unfold, if I had to assign some form of imagery to the months that have passed, I would ascribe this year as being of taniwha proportions, both in size and characteristics. And definitely for us, this taniwha has been a freshwater dweller whose confronting character has been difficult to hide from. One of the great things about being a farmer is that we have no shortage of learning opportunities and there exists a range of very accessible forums that focus and prepare us for whatever farming challenge is about to leap next over our fences. The downside of this constant narrative is that there is never the leniency of naivety and there are very conspicuous reminders of what is looming ahead. I once read that taniwha are greatly misunderstood, largely because it is difficult to see past their oversized and threatening physical persona. I understand why.

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January 2021

This last year, the freshwater prompts have been particularly persistent and pernicious in our farming thought HAUPIRI processes. Over the last year we have written submissions, attended workshops, watched webinars, talked to other farmers and read a countless number of columns and articles in both farming publications and mainstream media platforms. Combined, they have intimidated my mind. Recently we made a tentative but nevertheless formal start to putting together our farm environment plan (FEP). Like most farmers, we are hoping that reasonable sense will be seen and some changes will be made to “those” Freshwater instructions that at least consider regional specifics. But, starting a FEP before we have to did seem a manageable way of thinking accurately and rationalising just how to tame the monster. It was a relevant time to make a start. A well-behaved winter had given way to

a tantrum that too often typifies a West Coast spring. Our environmental weaknesses poured in with 1100mm of rain over 12 weeks and put our green conscience firmly on our right shoulder. Our two feet alone left an impression on the ground that would incur the wrath of David, and paddocks succumbed despite some wellthought-out strategies to mitigate the realities of grazing a grass-based farm in adverse weather. Repairing those paddocks sacrificed was only able to be done after the deluge paused at the end of November. Similarly, putting winter crop paddocks into grass fell well short of the future consigned October 1 goalpost but was done at the first pragmatic opportunity. A nagging self-doubt lingered that pragmatism no matter how well-executed or science-based would never be seen as good enough. We sat down with someone more knowledgeable than us about the process of identifying and responding properly to onfarm environmental risks. It was a rudimentary start to what will be an ongoing approach, but it felt surprisingly okay. It actually felt good to converse with someone objective to the workings of our farm and the environmental directives. It felt all right to be upfront and honest, and to expose our weaknesses both onfarm and personally. We annotated the things we could do rather than what we couldn’t do. We were given a place to start with some low-input first steps: some staff training, a simple contingency plan to write should the effluent pump fail, using a different gateway to move stock through, measuring what our effluent system does actually put out - all reasonably manageable things that would give us some fairly quick ticks of success. There are of course some larger plans afoot that will require some significant capital investment and may well morph into a ferocious creature of their own. But, in the meantime making a start has given a little sense of control and quelled some of the fear that comes with confronting a monster. • More on Freshwater rules p64.

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HOME BLOCK | COLUMN

Yellow flowers of oilseed rape planted in early March.

View from the other side Southland farmer Blair Drysdale takes a break on the West Coast for Agfest.

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ell, it’s finally behind us and will never be repeated folks, yes we have kicked 2020 into touch and the final whistle has been blown, thankfully! It was a tumultuous year for every single one of us as no one escaped the impacts of Covid-19 regardless of where you lived or what you did for a living. But it’s time now for a positive year ahead with two new vaccines giving hope of global air travel allowing us to see distant family and friends once again, restaurants hopefully opening up again with dinners ordering our wonderful beef and lamb, and David Parker is going to get rid of those bloody ridiculous wintering rules that he hastily put in place… the glass really is half full here. Jody and I managed to get off the farm and over to Greymouth for Agfest in mid-November which is an agricultural field day event owned and run by friends of ours and held over two days at the Greymouth aerodrome. It is normally held in late March or early April, but as they had to delay it in March due to Covid-19 lockdown they took advantage of the Canterbury A&P show being cancelled and took that slot

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which made it a roaring success. Greymouth really turned on the good weather with four days of warmth and sun, uninterrupted by as much as a drop of rain. BALFOUR Coasters are great people, welcoming, friendly and much like us Southlanders they love a good yarn with a few ales to keep the whistle wet. But after four solid days of it I almost ran out words and my liver really needed a break. One of those Coasters I did catch up with again for a good robust and constructive discussion was our Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor. And therefore, the glass is half full on this topic. During our chat he openly admitted he had stuffed up by allowing the legislation to go through in its current form, stopping just short of using a very descriptive word, saying that without doubt there will be change to what really are nonsensical arbitrary rules and dates, without science to back any of it up. Now we can either choose to take this with a grain of salt, brush it off as spin or take a positive outlook on it with change ahead, but remember 2021 is going to be a good, positive year okay!

Of the six paddocks we had brassicas in here for wintering on, none were planted back out before October 1 and two were not sown back out in grass until November 11, showing just how senseless Parker’s attempts of trying to regulate the weather via legislation and arbitrary dates really is. There is actually an element of excitement among some farmers about heading to local police stations on October 1 this year in bus loads to hand ourselves in for breaking the law, can you just imagine the confusion of police with such scenes. They’d be just as baffled as us I suspect. Here in Balfour the season just kept on giving through until mid-December (as I’m writing this at the eleventh hour once again) with plenty of rain, far too much wind and just enough sun giving us an abundance of grass which will set us up well for the summer and autumn ahead. The autumn-sown barley looks good and has pretty much finished grain fill, the oil seed rape has nice full pods now and the autumn-sown wheat is just looking absolutely stunning requiring one more good rain event to set up some really good yields. This is actually the first year for a while that I haven’t had a cereal paddock that isn’t an absolute disaster at this point, sigh of relief I tell you! We are looking forward to and excited about the year ahead here with a new drill purchased, a new shed going up in February with two fertiliser, drying and workshop bays and hoping to take our Hopefield Hemp business to another level. Covid-19 did food producers a favour in highlighting and reminding everyone just how crucial we are to our nation as an export industry, rebuilding some of that connection between producer and consumer and hopefully rebuilt some confidence in what we all do. I hope you all get a well deserved summer break and that 2021 is a better year for us all, for every single one of us. And stand up and be bloody proud of what you do as a food producer, you should be because largely we are very good at it.

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January 2021


HOME BLOCK | COLUMN

A couple of relics; The Boss, Bruce Nell, with a restoration project.

A new love for The Boss A new workshop means it’s time for retirement for some, Charlotte Rietveld writes.

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low me down with a bloomin’ feather. You’d think 2020 had prepped us for unforeseen events, but once again I have been dumbfounded. The Boss has uttered two most terrifying words. Until this day I would have sworn the most petrifying duo would be “You’re fired”. While I suspect I have been shortlisted for that one several times over the years, fortunately that particular instruction had already been issued to another orange-headed human. Instead my father had conjured a far more blood-curdling combo. “I’m retiring,” he said. In the most nonchalant of tones. Completely ignoring my wideeyed, slack-jawed expression of sheer panic. Now you may think me naïve, what with The Boss recently turning 70, that such a statement is so alarming. But let

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me remind you of this ol’ Gold-Carder’s mindset. He is quite possibly the founding father of the ‘if you want a job done properly, do it yourself’ mantra (which I politely decline to take personally), easily works a 70-hour week and hasn’t let up for the past five decades. Equally you may think me decidedly odd, what with most farming lads and lasses offering up their first born for a crack at the rural reins. While there are indeed times I could offer the first born, the reins have never been my aspiration. I’m like the scrum coach, the back-bencher, the middlemanager; happy to call the occasional shot, only too happy to take the salary, but the ultimate buck-stopping responsibility is to be avoided for as long as possible. Why be the teacher when you can be the class clown?

And now, blow me down, the end is nigh. Admittedly not for another 18 months, but after a fleeting 13-year apprenticeship, it feels all too soon. Don’t let the near-middle-aged figure of 38 years confuse you, I’m barely finished mopping up the mashed banana of the maternity sabbatical. Heaven forbid, I’m still so befuddled I regularly put Anlamb in my coffee and fortify the pet lambs with Karicare Gold. But my not-fit-for-duty protestations didn’t wash. “How ‘bout another year or two?” was met with a deadpan “Nope”. In desperation I reached for the nuclear weapons. “Well, I’ll… I’ll… I’ll ditch the Corries for composites!” but even this inflammatory treason failed. “Very well” was all I got, as The Boss relaxedly strode towards the refurbished workshop. It was then that the penny (or the lack of future pennies) dropped. The Boss finally had his own workshop. Thinking it would clear out the woolshed, I had foolishly endorsed this endeavour, not knowing it would signal the end of the golden weather. What Iron Disease sufferer would want to dag and draft sheep when there were Projects of National inSignificance to delight in. Who’d want to hazard a guess at fickle weather, volatile markets and ever-increasing regulation when restoration is on offer. In hindsight, unbeknownst to me The Chief Inspector had already sensed this shifting of affection. Not two days prior to The Announcement, her RAKAIA GORGE husband The Boss had been pruning some driveway trees near his beloved workshop. Despite a tour group due, he’d foolishly left the pruned branches in full view, inciting the fury of the aptly named Chief Inspector. But drag them to the green waste depot she did not. No indeed, she knows how to make a statement. Said branches were instead indelicately manoeuvred to the centre of the cherished workshop hoist. Some would call this spiteful. Other, wise, weather-beaten souls would know to simply call it marriage. Either way, she had sensed what I had not. Despite no intention to change house, farm or wife, The Boss has found a new love.

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BUSINESS | STRONG WOOL

Wools of New Zealand is providing a 100% NZ wool carpet option priced just above dyed nylon carpet alternatives.

Cheaper wool carpets coming Tony Leggett outlines a fresh marketing approach to generate demand for strong wools.

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bold strategy to sell more 100% wool carpet to New Zealanders by making it cheaper will be launched within three months by grower-owned company Wools of New Zealand (WNZ). The company laid out its plans to offer a range of more affordable carpets to consumers during last month’s annual general meeting. WNZ chief executive John McWhirter says eliminating price rejection by creating a 100% wool carpet option that is priced just above dyed nylon carpet alternatives is the quickest way to deal with the oversupply of strong wool that is depressing farm gate prices. WNZ still intends to educate consumers on the superior qualities of carpets and rugs made from wool, but McWhirter says overcoming price rejection is the right strategy to create immediate action for strong wool growers.

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The more affordable range of wool carpet will be manufactured by a longtime partner of WNZ, Turkish carpet manufacturer Zenova. NZ grown and scoured strong wool will be shipped to the Zenova plant and return as carpet ready for installation in NZ homes, either direct to home construction firms or through the existing retail channels. After applying a standard retail margin on trade prices for carpets sold in NZ, WNZ can provide the carpet for an average-sized home in NZ for about $8500, just $300 more than an equivalent specification, solution-dyed nylon carpet, and up to $2500 less than other wool carpet options. Knowledge and systems developed here in NZ will help the company gear up to attack the mega-sized North American market in 2022. McWhirter says a key to the success of the strategy lies in having a company with the scale of Zenova to manufacture the carpets cheaply and in owning the supply

chain to the homeowner to maximise profit margins. “Zenova is effectively a toll processor for Wools of New Zealand, taking our shareholders’ scoured wool and turning it into low-cost quality wool carpets,” he says. McWhirter says growers are price takers in the historic wool carpet production model where margins leak away at every step. “We don’t have to be the manufacturer. We just need to capture that value at the consumer end of the market because that’s where it is highest.” WNZ has employed two experienced carpet retail marketers to grow demand in the NZ market. The company has successfully completed a pilot project, producing enough carpet to cover the floors of 70 new homes under construction by Fletcher Living. This consignment is about to arrive in NZ and will be installed during January.

‘We believe the only way to increase demand for wool carpets is to remove the price objection that many consumers feel when given the choice at point of sale.’ McWhirter says he is comfortable with a strategy that pitches wool carpet just above the price of equivalent dyed nylon carpet, regardless of wool’s superior attributes. “The reality is that wool carpet sales currently make up less than 20% of the total sold here in NZ, so the consumers clearly don’t see value in paying extra for wool carpet over man-made fibre alternatives.” “We believe the only way to increase demand for wool carpets is to remove the price objection that many consumers feel when given the choice at point of sale.” “We’ve spoken to some retailers over the past few months and they are delighted to talk about the WNZ (Fernmark) brand, so we have a winning opportunity,” he says. McWhirter is confident of success and says WNZ has sufficient cash to cover its

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BUSINESS | STRONG WOOL

Good signs appearing in markets BY: TERRY BROSNAHAN

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New Zealand crossbred wool exporter is confident the market bottom has been reached and it is only a matter of time before prices lift substantially. Bloch & Behrens general manager Palle Pedersen said for the past few months there had been positive signs among his European customers. Boch & Behren are the export arm of PGG Wrightson. Activity had lifted in the domestic carpet and textile market. One reason was people cannot travel overseas to holiday so with the saved money they have chosen to renovate their houses. Pedersen said India had bought a lot more coarse wool mainly because it was so cheap. It had bought more than China. The drop in prices was due to a lack of promotion and Covid-19. Demand had been slipping for years because there had been no promotion. Covid-19 stopped manufacturing for a couple of months and created a huge backlog of wool. The demand for commercial carpet from airlines, hotels and cruise ships had collapsed. A lot of the industry expectation for a strong recovery was based on Covid-19 vaccines becoming readily available around the world. If this happens and vaccination becomes compulsory then demand from the other strong wool customers should rise. There is a fear that with the low prices farmers would cut harvesting costs by hiring fewer shed hands and shearing

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NZ market plans. However, it will need to raise further capital before tackling the North American market, scheduled for 2022. Sources of capital include existing and new shareholders encouraged by the success in the NZ market to invest further money, institutional investment, and debt funding. Other opportunities identified by WNZ included the carpet market in

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patterns. Shearing costs rose about 25% several years ago. Shearing will be annually, creating longer, lower-quality fleeces. Pedersen said there had not been a huge drop in quality. Certainly there had not been the attention to detail when it comes to shed preparation. A merchant, who didn’t want to be named, said his firm had been hit hard by the collapse in prices but they will survive. Unlike other firms they work off a 4% margin of the price, not a price per kilogram. Segard Masurel’s Feilding rep Andy Price said farmers were cutting costs to counter the low prices. They are dropping the extra shed hand instead of paying $40/hour to gain an extra 10-20c a kilogram. They can also put two-tooth and ewes’ wool together to save on test charges unless there is a big difference in wool length. Farmers shearing 12 months instead of eight will encounter more animal health problems. Price said by the time a farmer had ewes in full wool die from lying on their backs and paid for a full belly crutch at $2/ewe, paying about $5/ewe for shearing looked more reasonable. “Farmers are trying different things and there is a lot of talk about going to woolless sheep.” During the winter the price started to move off the bottom of $1/kg greasy and rose to $1.60-$1.70/kg. Price said this was because of a rise in demand for carpets and textiles in the domestic market. Just like the United Kingdom, Kiwis couldn’t fly anywhere so spent the money on their homes.

the United Kingdom, supplying wool acoustic panels for soundproofing, and rug manufacturing. “We have another idea that if we can activate it, there won’t be enough wool in the world to meet the demand. I can’t say any more about what it is, but we’re looking beyond traditional uses like carpets or rugs,” he says. McWhirter says WNZ’s Fernmark brand

There are signs of a recovery starting in wool markets.

Buyer and exporter Yaldhurst Wools Owner John Brett said the UK was still taking their strong wool and his costs were under control. Yaldhurst is also doing its bit to boost wool sales by importing wool coffins. Brett said they sell about a 100 coffins a year to undertakers. Southland wool merchant Grant Baker of Baker Wools Winton has started buying dags again because of the demand for the manure and paying 5-10c/kg to farmers. A Canterbury merchant says he is still buying dead wool and dags as a favour to farmer clients. Price said they were paying 20c/kg for dags and 60c/kg oddments, but at $10/fadge it was hardly worth a farmers' time.

is owned by its 700 farmer shareholders, but only 400 sell their wool through the company. “We’d love the other 300 to get behind this story and this initiative. We want to use the names of their farms to name the range and colours of our carpets, so we want to connect their farm names back to the carpets that are selling in the retail stores in NZ,” he says.

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BUSINESS | LIFESTYLE BLOCKS

Rural lifestyle blocks – boon or scourge? The popularity of rural lifestyle blocks has surged since lockdown ended, but are they really good for the country? Phil Edmonds looks at the pros and cons.

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arly in spring the Real Estate Institute of NZ reported the number of lifestyle block properties sold across the country was the highest ever in the three months ended August 2020. According to the agents on the ground, the demand is only likely to escalate along with the prices. Naturally, farmers in the right place at the right time will be thinking seriously about how they might capitalise on this. But as with the recent experience of productive land being sold for forestry plantations, there’s an abundance of tension around balancing the rights of those taking land out of production for immediate economic gain, and the collective need to protect New Zealand’s most versatile, productive land for the purposes of growing food for export and

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being our economic saviour from Covid-19 calamity. Concern about the unchecked expansion of this market has, however, set in particularly as interest has widened from the negative environmental consequences of development (the long-standing campaign to protect wetlands, for example) to the wider economic loss (calls to protect our productive natural assets). It is alarming, but not unsurprising, to find that in the last 25 years NZ farmland has lost 17% (2.2 million hectares) of its total area. In 2018, the total area dedicated to farms was 13.7m ha, and has almost certainly diminished more since then. A small part of that loss has gone into arable fodder crops and horticulture, but much more has been dedicated to housing NZ’s growing population – which between 1996 and 2013 increased 19% and has, of

course, escalated further since. A comprehensive Ministry for the Environment report on NZ land use based on census data up to 2017 starkly identified urban expansion as eating into NZ’s most versatile or “high class” land, ideal for many potential agricultural uses. The report noted the creation of lifestyle blocks on the fringes of urban areas pose a greater risk to the availability of high quality soil resources for the primary sector than does urban expansion. The Government finally took note of the call to stop the country’s most productive land from slipping into urban development last year when Environment Minister David Parker announced that a nationwide National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land would be introduced. While the consultation was held at the end of 2019, further development of the policy has been delayed due to MPI resources being redirected to the Covid-19 recovery. That represents a welcome signal of change ahead. Meanwhile, the lifestyle block market is enduring what REINZ rural spokesperson Brian Peacocke refers to as “an adrenaline rush”. The number of lifestyle block properties sold across the country reached 2512 for the third quarter this year, 556 more than in the same three months in 2019, representing a 28% uplift. Part of this was put down to buyers catching up

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after the lockdown lull, but there is also an emerging sense that it represents a refreshed desire to live life in the country, particularly as technology is making working from home viable. While different regions have different lifestyle block profiles, the upward trend in sales has been more or less uniform across the country. Auckland (+190 sales) and Canterbury (+151 sales) have seen the biggest boom. Waikato rural property agent, Bayleys’ Mike Fraser-Jones, says he’s seeing plenty of people from Auckland now considering lifestyle as an option, but there is interest from all areas, including the influx of New Zealanders returning from overseas looking at alternative options to city living. As a result, Fraser-Jones is confident the market will peak a lot higher than where it is now. “Demand is so far ahead of supply. The only thing holding up a really big burst is a shortage of properties.” Peacocke agrees demand is robust but there may be more nuanced factors making an impression, along with changes to bank lending criteria. REINZ data shows that, until recently, lifestyle block property sales have been relatively stable (at least in the middle of the year) since they last peaked in 2016. “Possible reasons why sales have not got back to where they were is tighter bank policies on lending where the rural lifestyle category differed from urban residential property. There are also wider cyclical reasons, based on the length of time people stay on lifestyle blocks. Families often face pressures to move closer to cities and towns once children grow up and require more frequent access to different amenities.” For those nearing the end of their active farming lives and thinking about family succession, parcelling off some of the farm can be an attractive option to release capital to the next generation while not having a material effect on the farm’s economic proposition. There are also those who are similarly long established and now facing the prospect of extensive capital investment to improve their farm environmental performance. Other farmers may be in positions where an opportunity to reduce debt through a lifestyle block sale could make their existing farm operation more financially sustainable. Contrary to popular thinking, not

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everyone looking at lifestyle block options wants to be close to town boundaries. “I’m seeing people who are happy to be stuck in the back of beyond. There is still huge demand at the bottom end of the market, where properties are not as close to amenities. Prices reflect that, and the lower prices obviously have an appeal.” Strongest demand is for those properties with a better balance between living at a slower pace, having peace and quiet in a country environment, but at the same time being within reach of schools and amenities including decent internet access, which those moving out of town consider more essential. While the Government’s intention to act on restricting the development of highclass land has shaded the potential for farmers with elite soils cashing in, councils are looking far more closely at long-term environmental hazards and, in some instances, disruptions to rural character that could easily hinder the development of much more than just very productive land. Flood risk, coastal erosion and storm surges might not be on the radar of developers, but they certainly are on the minds of councils now, particularly those that have had to cope with paying off the effects of 1-in-100-year weather events. Repurposing land can have implications on a council’s financial ability to deal with the aftermath of an event and they’re increasingly taking a conservative view on such risks. Fraser-Jones believes councils are becoming over cautious. He fully supports

tighter controls on chopping up good productive farms but loosening the reins on poorer quality land that may be marginally productive would help alleviate the acceleration in demand. Councils have also belatedly become far more mindful of planning ahead rather than facing the cost of retrofitting infrastructure needs like flood protection and maintenance of water quality. Developments in North Canterbury have provided a good example of this where the Waimakariri District Council has set out to manage the demand for lifestyle block properties and the quality of supply through its Rural Residential Development Strategy. As part of its long-term planning, the council has anticipated steady growth in the number of additional households it expects to accommodate and is expecting an increase of nearly 400 new rural residential homes over the next 10 years. It wants to manage the demand for semi-rural living efficiently by identifying “clustered” locations for development, which helps manage the balance of rural land for primary production and rural character purposes. Fraser-Jones agrees on this score, even though it forms an impediment to some farmers realising the potential value of their land. “You don’t want pock-marked farms everywhere, which can damage the residual value of farms in a given area. Lifestyle blocks collected in a corner are going to be preferable to their being Continues p21

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BUSINESS | FRESHWATER

Connecting on water quality issues

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Central Otago water group is proving how large-scale collective action can turbocharge water quality and management. WAI (Water Action Initiative) Wanaka formed in 2018 from the amalgamation of the Lake Wanaka Trust and the Upper Clutha Water Group and renamed in January 2020. It is taking a whole-ofcommunity and science-backed approach to water quality and management. Founding committee member and inaugural chair Dr Mandy Bell said that before the launch in 2018 there was a lot happening around water management regionally, but very little was connected. “So there were a lot of gaps and doubleups.” Over the first eight months following its formation, the group worked to a lean and strategic framework, creating a vision and roadmap. “That was really important because we all understood what it is, we’re trying to achieve and have a united and single voice.” The upshot is a five-year plan (2018 to 2023) funded by a $385,000 grant from the Ministry for the Environment freshwater improvement fund. There was also money from a local bequest, the Million Metres Streams project, the Queenstown Lakes District Council and Otago Regional Council. The plan has three workstreams:

›› Continues from p19 dotted all along a road.” In implementing this strategy the Waimakariri District Council has enabled lifestyle block growth, but constrained it by excluding locations from development deemed to be “within high flood hazard areas, not connected to existing residential nodes or small settlements, or not able to connect to the network scheme for wastewater.” North Canterbury Federated Farmers president Cameron Henderson has seen the Waimakariri lifestyle block expansion

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the development of a community-led collaborative water management plan that integrates community, collaborative leadership, consistent communication, and robust science into a framework for water management; riparian plantings; and urban stormwater research. As part of the plan Bell worked with the RMPP action network to establish five action groups for the Upper Clutha Basin, comprising about 55-60 farms. The $4000 from RMPP for each farm business was pooled to fund facilitation and expertise. The network was keen to support them on the basis that they were pulling together several catchment groups with a singular purpose. Each group took a “ground up” approach in coming up with a strategic plan. Interestingly all came back with similar goals of creating a whole-ofcatchment environmental plan, individual environmental plans for each farm business, and a platform to communicate

with the urban community. They are also working on their own projects which include topics such as water testing, GHG mitigation strategies, and biodiversity monitoring. Bell’s advice to others wanting to replicate WAI Wanaka’s waterway protection and management approach is to kick start it with some passionate people. “We found that there are some very talented people with diverse backgrounds and skills who are prepared to volunteer.” But more importantly take a whole of community approach. She said the issue of water quality had been rural focused, but all businesses – rural and urban should have an environmental plan. “Success comes from connecting, communicating, putting in the time and coming up with a plan.”

emerge around him. He says the developments in the region to date have come from the break-up of productive land, but there is less concern among farmers if the land continues to be cared for. “What we don’t want is farming’s reputation damaged, especially by the sight of skinny, underfed-looking animals in a paddock, for example, or untidy looking blocks. If these blocks are managed well, farmers are not concerned. But if the new owners are not from the land and are not used to seeking advice from consultants on farm management practices, for example,

it can be a recipe for unfavourable outcomes.” Unlike the impact of forestry plantations, however, there is certainly an upside for rural communities with the added commercial facilities and amenities they attract. Cameron says the Mandeville shopping area in the Waimakariri District wouldn’t have been built without the lifestyle block development there. Schools are also revived with a greater concentration of people in rural areas.

• More on Freshwater catchments p64.

• First published in NZ Dairy Exporter October 2020 issue.

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Long link to Akitio Dear Editor, The article on Akitio Station in the September issue this year, centres on the manager Nigel Bicknell and stock management which was good. However at the end of the article there is a brief historical footnote on the station bought in 1876 by James Armstrong and now owned by descendant Ed Kite. Last year Ed bought Huiarua Station which was part of the original Akitio, also owned and run by descendants of the Armstrong family. The article claims Huiarua station was given as a wedding present to my grandfather upon his marriage to an Armstrong. Sadly this is incorrect. My grandfather Cyril Hunter and his brother Percy Hunter bought Huiarua from Frank Armstrong in 1913 at eight pounds an acre. He subsequently married Madge Armstrong, Frank's daughter in 1918. I am a second cousin of Ed Kite, our grandmothers were sisters who grew up at Akitio. I still live on Huiarua on a couple of acres and was involved in the sale of it. – Guy Hunter. The writer said the information was supplied to him during the visit, but thank you for the correction. – Editor.

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BUSINESS | DAIRY

Flexibility needed BY: JEREMY BEKHUIS

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he landscape for growing in the dairy industry is changing. Banks are more restrictive on lending to contract milkers and sharemilkers than they were two years ago. To save disappointment, borrowers need to be more prepared and farm owners need to be open to different types of contracts that minimise the requirement for bank support. Gone are the days where you can turn up to a bank with a signed contract milking or lower order sharemilking agreement and expect an unsecured overdraft facility. The Banks (for all the right reasons) expect to see some financial acumen, minimum outside debt (hire purchases or credit card debt) and some skin in the game by the borrower. As a firm we usually have about 30 startup contract milkers a year. Three seasons ago, only one out of the 30 new contract milkers were declined finance. However in the 2020 season, we only had six that were approved finance. We are now the gatekeepers for the bank and are often negotiating contract variations with the farm owner on our client’s behalf. Traditionally contract milkers don’t receive any income over the winter months until they start producing milk, however they incur costs over the winter months mainly in capital purchases, wages, drawings and other farm running costs such as vehicles, shed expenses and power. Often this means they will require an overdraft facility from June until

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December or January. If they started with nothing, this could be between $50,000 and $100,000. More frequently we are now seeing contracts that offer variations of payments over the winter months. This avoids or reduces the requirement of an overdraft facility from the Bank. These are set up as an advances or loans, hybrid contracts or smooth payment options.

ADVANCES/LOAN The farm owner advances funds to the contract milker over the winter, these funds are then repaid as cashflow allows. Payments are treated as loans rather than part of the contract and don’t affect tax or have any GST implications.

HYBRID CONTRACTS The hybrid contract is a combination of a contract milking and lower order sharemilking agreement. The contract milker receives a set amount per month to cover expenses, usually a set agreed figure from the farm owner (say $0.75/kg MS of targeted production) and also receives a small percentage of the milk payment, say 7.5-8.5%, this percentage is generally paid directly from the dairy company.

SMOOTH PAYMENT The smooth payment option pays between 80-90% of the targeted production evenly over the 12 months at the contract rate. The final 10-20% of production also known as the wash-up payment is paid in June of the following season. By only paying 80% of the contract this avoids

the contract milker being overpaid in the event that there was a major event and ending up owing the farm owner. We are often finding the farm owner pushing back and questioning why they would do one of the above options, not seeing it as their obligation, which is fair enough. However they need to be flexible in the current environment to ensure they manage to secure the best candidate for their farm. After all, these are the people running their multi-million dollar investment. Another consideration we are seeing in the more traditional lower order sharemilking agreements is the introduction of a floor in the contract. This is usually set about the $5 mark – let’s say at 20% of the milk cheque the floor would be $1.00/kg MS. This takes any payout reduction risk away from the sharemilker, and enables the sharemilker to at least have some money in a low payout for their living costs. In the 2016 season when the payout was $3.90, at 20% of the milk payment the sharemilker received 78c/ kg MS. Our average cost structure in that season was 76c/kg MS, which resulted in a break even season, however they had no surplus to be able to live off or grow over that period. Some of our lower order sharemilkers in the lower payouts were losing over $100,000. We are still seeing the flow on effect of the lower payout years on the farmers that were lower order sharemilking. Through no fault of their own, excellent farmers were left with debt, which they are just getting on top of now and in some circumstances left the industry. Contract milkers and sharemilkers are the future of the farming industry. Good farm owners realise that for the right people, they are willing to give more away. This pays them back with loyalty, reputation and ultimately in the back pocket. Our most profitable farm owners have consistency of staff and/or contract milkers/sharemilkers. Not every farm owner has the balance sheet to give more away, which is fine, however by offering flexible contracts, this is one way to support the future of the industry. • Jeremy Bekhuis is a partner at Agrifocus who are accountants and farm financial advisors, based in Southland and Otago.

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BUSINESS | EMISSIONS

Making a contribution: The 2 million hectares of woody vegetation on livestock farms are estimated to offset 90% of their total emissions.

The climate neutrality question BY: STEVEN CRANSTON

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fter another tough year of negative headlines it was reassuring to see the first green shoots of commonsense tentatively appearing on the vexed subject of agricultural emissions. They came by way of a Beef + Lamb NZ report demonstrating their sector is well on the way to carbon neutrality. It was found that the 2 million hectares of woody vegetation on sheep and beef farms are estimated to offset 90% of their total emissions. This report is significant as it represents a shift in thinking. Now instead of only counting the emissions produced by farming in isolation, we see how these

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emissions are also simultaneously balanced by carbon uptake. What this report shows is how farms work in the real world and will hopefully bring in a new era of farmers getting full recognition for the carbon they sequester on their properties. Even more remarkable is that the sheep and beef sector has got to 90% carbon neutral with both hands tied behind their back. For a start, applying the term ‘carbon neutral’ to agricultural emissions is meaningless. We are simply comparing apples with oranges via an accounting system not designed for that purpose. Methane is a short-lived gas and behaves completely differently in the atmosphere. NZ agriculture has effectively stabilised its methane emissions and according to the best science to hand, 80% of farmers’ total

emissions have no warming effect on the climate. This represents a major missed opportunity by Beef + Lamb to correct the record before farmers are needlessly lumped with a tax on methane. A bolder, more progressive Beef & Lamb would have seen their sector has in fact been dealt a very strong hand. In total, NZ farmers emitted 37,697 tonnes of CO2 -e (CO2-e = CO2 equivalent) in 2018, of which 29,426t was methane. The last five years of data indicate an average reduction in methane emissions of 0.25% a year, ensuring a negligible impact on climate. Therefore, the industry only emitted 8271t CO2 -e that can be considered climate warming, predominantly nitrous oxide.

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Now here’s where it gets interesting. Beef + Lamb’s research found that carbon sequestration from woody vegetation on their farms alone was 10,394t CO2-e at the lower end and is possibly as high as 19,600t. Our humble sheep and beef farmers can easily offset all the annual warming produced by the entire agricultural industry. Unbeknown to most hill country farmers, and apparently their sector representatives, incoming climate regulations could and should see them profit handsomely. They should be selling carbon credits to a dairy industry in need of offsets, officially making the entire industry climate neutral. This would be a boon for dairy as well, the ability to rebrand products as climate-friendly would more than outweigh the costs involved. Keeping in mind, dairy is not the climate destroyer it is made out to be either. With warming mostly driven by nitrous oxide which only makes up 20% of the sector’s total emissions, and with a sizable amount of woody vegetation on dairy farms as well, the shortfall may not be that great. Sadly, without a resolution to the methane issue the focus is destined to remain on total emissions rather than the warming they produce. It must irk farmers to see businesses celebrated in the media for merely setting a lofty carbon-neutral goal while their own stabilised methane status receives only scorn. Both achievements represent zero impact on climate yet are treated very differently by the media and politicians. The argument repeatedly made against methane is that the existing level of methane in the atmosphere will continue to warm the planet. That is true to a point, we need greenhouse gases to avoid the earth returning to its resting temperature of -18C. The goal of the Paris Agreement was only ever to limit further warming so it remains unclear why farmers are not given credit for achieving that objective. No one assumes our industry leaders have the power to force this

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Government to modernise the way they account for methane overnight, that will take time and a lot of convincing. What they could be doing now however is educating the public and their consumers about how climate friendly farming really is. This is where we have failed miserably to date. A campaign to demonstrate we are climate neutral would be the most effective way to get that message out there. Eventually, the concept of putting a blanket emissions tax on a climate neutral industry will start to receive the raised eyebrows it deserves.

The goal of the Paris Agreement was only ever to limit further warming so it remains unclear why farmers are not given credit for achieving that objective.

This represents a major missed opportunity by Beef + Lamb to correct the record before farmers are needlessly lumped with a tax on methane. To think the likes of Fonterra, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb are not acutely aware that farmers are getting a raw deal on emissions is naive. The issue is a lack of willingness to do anything substantial about it which might see them earn a negative press release from Greenpeace or other like-minded columnists. Ironically the best hope for New Zealand farmers may come from The United States. A recent report from the University of California titled ‘Methane, Cows and Climate Change: California Dairy’s Path to Climate Neutrality’ demonstrates a model all agricultural industries should take note of. If climate neutrality can be achieved in that great bastion of political correctness and industrialised dairy farming, it really makes you wonder what an immense opportunity we are squandering down here. We may not be global leaders on this subject but I hope for the industry’s sake we get to work and start following. • Steve Cranston is a Waikatobased agricultural and environmental consultant.

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BUSINESS | OPINION

Unknown unknowns and the sweet spot of success BY: PETER FLANNERY

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was talking to a mate of mine from Auckland a wee while ago. We were discussing the state of the nation, and in particular the financial response to, and impact of Covid-19. In spite of dire predictions of unemployment and falling commodity prices, the sharemarket and house values are rollicking on. Cheap interest rates and the Reserve Bank’s money printing machine seem to be plastering over the cracks. I told him that after 40 years of acquiring knowledge as a rural professional, everything I thought I knew is now no longer relevant, and there are a lot of unknowns still to play out. Yes, he said, and there are three types of unknowns. There are the unknowns,

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the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns. Good point, I said, and it is the unknown unknowns that you need to look out for, which of course you can’t because they are unknown. So, let’s look a bit closer at each. The first type, “the unknowns” are your common garden variety of unknowns. We are faced with these every day. What is the weather going to be like over the coming months, what is the lamb schedule going to do and what to buy your beloved for Christmas? All simple unknowns that we manage as part of our everyday life. Then there are the more complex known unknowns. We know about them, but we don’t know how they will play out. They create uncertainty, and businesses and markets hate uncertainty. Your known unknowns were previously unknown unknowns. We didn’t know

about them, but now we do. In recent times two of the biggest were Mycoplasma bovis and Covid-19. We seem to have sorted out M bovis, but Covid still has a long way to play out. We now know about it, but I don’t think we fully understand the final outcome. Finally the big one. The unknown unknowns. These are the shocks that broadside us. The ones we just didn’t see coming. Sometimes with hindsight we should have seen them coming, but I have yet to meet someone who has better foresight than hindsight. Over my 40 years I can think of several shocks we just didn’t see coming. The removal of farming subsidies in 1984, the GFC in 2008, M bovis and now Covid. You can add to that list global warming and the environmental impacts that will hit all of our businesses.

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This one is slightly different, in that it didn’t hit with a sudden shock, but has more evolved into an ever-increasing risk to business. If you don’t believe in global warming or the impact your business is having on the environment, that’s fine, but it won’t reduce the impact, because central policy makers do, and that creates risk. While I’m at it, add in changing eating habits and disruptive technologies. How do you successfully run a business with all this coming at you? One thing I have learnt that is still relevant is those who are good at what they do will have a much better probability of success than those who aren’t. What sets apart those who are good from those who are less so? First, those who are good have a strong drive to be even better, that is continuous improvement. It is ironic that elite sports people who are already at the top of their game, spend more time and money on coaches than the “also rans”. It is the same in farming. Those who are already good at what they do, spend more time acquiring knowledge, going to field days, seminars and reading than those who really need it. But there is more to it. Apart from the drive, there are three key factors a successful business owner needs to have a deep understanding of: • What, within your business, are you really good at? • What, within your business, do you really enjoy doing? • What, within your business, is the key driver of profitability? Think of those three factors as each being contained within a circle. The closer aligned those three circles are, the greater the sweet spot of success. If they don’t even touch, then you are in trouble. As I said, you need to have a deep understanding of each of those three circles. So, for example, you may think the key driver of profitability within your business is your lambing percentage. But you need to dig deeper. What key driver can you influence that will have the greatest impact? You might decide it is ewe body condition in the autumn. What is the key driver you can influence that will improve body condition? That might be available feed a

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What am I really good at within my business?

What is the key driver of profitability within my business?

What do I really enjoy doing within my business?

The sweet spot of success month out from tupping. So how do you influence that? Keep digging until you find the answer. It probably won’t just be one thing, but quite possibly just one thing will stand out above the others. Identify it, measure it and learn to be very good at it and you will probably find you will enjoy it, because I bet it won’t involve working harder, but it will involve working smarter. This all takes some honest self-analysis. No one can tell you what you should enjoy doing. You have to figure that out for yourself, and that can take honesty. You might not enjoy the answer. If your honest answer is you just don’t enjoy it anymore, then try to work out why. What do you need to change to allow you to recapture your enjoyment? Furthermore, does that change bring the circles closer together or further apart? However, if you have strong alignment and a correspondingly large sweet spot of success, then come what may, I predict your name will be on the mailbox for a few more years yet.

If you have strong alignment and a correspondingly large sweet spot of success, then come what may, I predict your name will be on the mailbox for a few more years yet.

• Peter Flannery is the owner of Farm Plan Ltd.

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BUSINESS | NUTRITION

expensive than one containing meat. Dr Andrea Braakhuis, a registered dietician who is married to a farmer, said plant-based diets were a “really confusing trend”. “Fad diets need a lot of nutritional knowledge,” she said. Moderation was a hard sell as it was not sexy. “It’s a very dull message.” And there were still question marks about what moderation meant with conflicting results from different studies. One United States trial showed a correlation between higher levels of red meat consumption and an increased risk of heart disease, but similar trials conducted in Japan and Europe but at Lean red meat is a way to obtain many essential nutrients so it could play a valuable role lower consumption rates didn’t. in improving health and addressing malnutrition. Emily King, a thought leader in food systems and sustainability, said a food system strategy was required where impacts on the environment and human health were taken into account. People were constantly making a trade-off when made with two million hectares of land it came to the environmental cost of the BY: GLENYS CHRISTIAN retired to native bush or exotic forestry. food they ate. ew Zealanders should stop The report, published by Beef + Lamb “They are prepared to take a nutritional being embarrassed about New Zealand, updates one printed five hit for the environmental benefit,” she the fact their country is years ago, with information from scientific said. the only one in the OECD publications since that time added and Food waste was low hanging fruit where which has an economy peer reviewed. work could be started immediately to based on agriculture, says Lincoln “To support a growing global population build a more resilient food system. University’s Professor Derrick Moot. sustainable and nutritious diets are of “It’s a myth that there’s not enough He believes there needs to be a paramount importance,” it food for people,” she said. reintroduction to food as an integral part says. There were distribution of the country’s welfare, with anyone Lean red meat was nutrient problems, access issues “and being able to visit any farm to see how dense, calorie light and a the giant basket of poverty it’s run. way to obtain many essential which is the reality for a lot of “We do what we’re good at,” the head nutrients so could play a people”. of Lincoln’s dryland pasture research valuable role in improving This broken food system had team told a panel discussion at the launch health and addressing an adverse effect on both the of The Role of Red Meat in Healthy malnutrition. environment and nutrition New Zealand Diets in Auckland in late Professor Warren McNabb, with malnutrition, obesity and Lincoln University’s November at chef Peter Gordon’s new deputy director of Massey affordability issues. Professor Derrick Moot. restaurant, Homeland. University’s Riddet Institute, “We already had a pandemic “As with Covid-19, New Zealand has its said recently a lot more and food is at the heart of it,” own unique place and way of dealing with plant-based foods had appeared in the she said. it. We’re utilising our resources well and marketplace which had generated a lot “But there are some great initiatives essentially trying to farm for free.” of interest. going on in New Zealand and we are With an already low environmental “But it’s about how you get adequate starting to heal the broken pieces. footprint continued efficiency gains by nutrients,” he said. We have a lot of integrity behind our sheep and beef farmers had brought their Necessary amino acids were 100% food but we need to make sure that’s industry close to carbon neutrality. The absorbable from red meat but only 40 to communicated.” biggest issue was not losing more topsoil 80% so from plants, meaning two times Farmers doing a great job needed to be as the top 15 centimetres contained most the quantity needed to be consumed. supported and valued with the rest of the of the nutrients put on over the last three Micronutrients might also be missing and country getting in behind that through generations. But improvements were being a vegan diet could be three times more better research.

Pride in red meat

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BUSINESS | OPINION

The reduction in tourists flying to NZ would have created a major drop in greenhouse gas production but it is not counted in our footprint.

Hypocrisy of carbon emission targets BY: ANNA CAMPBELL

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he European Union aims to be carbon neutral by 2050 and should they achieve this, they would be the first continent to achieve carbon neutrality. The EU wants to show “the rest of the world how to be sustainable and competitive” - Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission has said. Their belief is that a “Green Deal” policy will transform European agriculture over the next decade. “A ‘farm to fork’ initiative aims to reduce fertiliser use in Europe by 20% and pesticides by 50%, with onequarter of land to be farmed organically by 2030. The EU plans to plant 3 billion trees, restore 25,000 kilometres of rivers and reverse the decline of pollinators.” “Problems lurk behind the rhetoric,” according to Richard Fuchs, Calum Brown & Mark Rounsevell (Nature, 2020). The EU imports much of its food (one-fifth of crops and three-fifths of meat and dairy consumed within its borders) - only China imports more. There are no parallel targets to the Green Deal set for these imports. And so to the crunch of the article: “EU member states are outsourcing environmental damage to other countries, while taking the credit for green policies at

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home” (Fuchs, Brown and Rounsevell). In coming up with solutions to the challenges, the authors of the Nature article suggest technologies such as gene editing and indoor farming might form part of “sustainable intensification” and that the EU needs to be open to such scientific opportunities. However, there are greater geopolitical and environmental accounting challenges at play here and in my view, while useful, these technologies are unlikely to be the silver bullets many believe they will be. In New Zealand we have our own double standards. Farmers will carry the burden of our own carbon neutrality directives. This is despite the fact that we export 95% of our agricultural products and are net importers of cheap plastic goods, including toys and synthetic clothing. Companies, such as Kmart and the Warehouse and NZ consumers who buy these goods, seem to be able to skate free, with few environmental restrictions. An ambitious global approach to food production is needed, where countries who are able to produce food efficiently are supported to do so (whether they export that food or consume it at home), sustainable intensification technologies and appropriate pricing can then be incorporated.

For years, I have watched United Kingdom food companies travel to NZ and set standards for our meat production while in their own backyards, they produce red meat with a greater carbon footprint (full life cycle analysis). There is a difference between constructively working together to mitigate environmental damage to being “holier than thou” and ultimately hypocritical. It is looking more likely that the United States will re-join the Paris Accord which hopefully will be a good thing for global action around climate change. But it is also time that we understood the full picture – as developed countries our need to consume should not come at a cost of environments in developing countries. As an example, the EU has renewable energy targets which include a 10% biofuel target by the end of this year (on track to be met). These targets have been the main drivers of an upsurge in soya-bean imports from Brazil (by 2% in 2019 alone, see go.nature.com/34k6gbt). Large areas of bioenergy production uses land that could be used for producing food or conserving biodiversity. NZ’s recently elected Government has a mandate from voters to create action around climate change, but it must not do so through simplistic carbon accounting and hypocritical policies. Similarly, we as consumers who demand action must start to review our consumption patterns and question rhetoric blaming farmers for most of our carbon footprint when they are feeding consumers all over the world. I suspect the reduction in tourists flying to NZ due to Covid-19 has had an enormous effect on greenhouse gas production – but wait, that reduction is not counted in our footprint due to some weird accounting rule - tourism getting a free ride – more hypocrisy, sigh. We have to think beyond our boundaries to make a meaningful impact on climate change or we risk falsely pointing the finger at efficient farmers producing nutritious, high quality food. • Anna Campbell is managing director of AbacusBio, a Dunedin based agri-technology company. More on carbon p70

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BUSINESS | DIVERSIFICATION

A station for life The owners of Mt Somers Station have long family links to the property and plan for those links to remain in perpetuity. Anne Lee reports. Photos by Johnny Houston.

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“Profit not production is the aim”: the dryland dairy farm unit adds value to the station and produces beef dairy cross calves for the sheep and beef unit.

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t might have been less than a tenth of Mt Somers Station’s total area but converting to dairying in 2013 was the key factor in enabling succession on the historic Canterbury property. The 3800 hectare station, in the foothills of the Southern Alps, is now a highly diverse operation with its owners and custodians, David and Kate Acland, farming it with a deeply rooted sense of responsibility to those who have gone before and those who will come after. If they feel weighed down by that responsibility, they don’t show it. The couple instead share an air of excitement, eager to take on new challenges, learn and grow. They’re prepared to take risks, but calculated ones and ones that don’t put the core asset - their land - at risk. The station was settled by David’s great, great grandfather more than 160 years ago but then sold. In 1983 David’s parents Mark and Jo bought it back. They too saw the benefits of diversifying their income and were prepared to adventurously try new ventures - championing live deer recovery and farm tourism. David has two younger brothers and while there was a succession plan in place, the deaths of first his Mum and then his Dad seven years later in 2014, and the fact

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his brothers had other careers meant the succession plan had to be fast tracked. “The dairy farm has already been part of the plan because it gave us a parcel of land that could create dividends for all members of the family,” David says. He and Kate have now bought out his brothers and wholly own the station. “We didn’t really see it as an option not to have a go at purchasing the whole station even though it was financially quite a stretch,” Kate says. She holds a masters degree in farm management consultancy from Lincoln University as well as a degree in viticulture and oenology. At just 26 and before she’d met David, she bought a 7ha vineyard and packhouse in Marlborough and developed a small winery in time for the 2008 harvest. But it was there that Kate learned the art of survival and “pivoting “– a phrase that’s become all too common for many this year amid Covid-19. She’d just started her Sugar Loaf label when the global financial crisis hit and grape land prices plummeted. “I was young, I was really naïve and I had to change direction really quickly if I was going to survive in business. “I threw the business plan out the window and identified a market where

there was a shortage of winemaking space for small producers. “So I changed direction a bit and did contract winemaking where people contracted us to take their grapes and make wine for them under their labels. “That became a major strength of the business in addition to making our own wines. “We focused on providing an excellent service so they felt like they were a big fish in our small winery rather than what had been the more typical situation for them with larger wineries. “It worked and it allowed us to retain the business and then grow,” Kate says. In 2008 she was processing 200 tonnes of grapes and by 2012 that had grown to 1000t producing one million bottles. The winery and the Sugar Loaf label along with its sister label Orchard Lane remain part of the wider business and is one of many strings to the Mt Somers bow. It’s continued to grow and its wines are now exported to 17 different markets internationally. Kate and David have put their minds to pivoting too on the station and constantly have an open mind to new opportunities. The dairy farm for instance, itself a diversification from the station’s core Continues

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Top: David and Kate Acland from Mt Somers station. Above left: Can’t talk, busy eating. Above right: The dairy farm was established to add value to the land and provide another diversified income stream.

sheep, beef and deer is now offering further income streams. “As with any diversification the numbers have to stack up first and with the dairy farm, even though it required capital the numbers worked and the bank would lend on it. It added value,” Kate says. “Its core business is to produce milk for Synlait and we’re not going to risk that with anything else we do but there is more we can do with it without risking that core. “It gives us a ready resource in the calves. “They’re not just a by-product. We’ve got the opportunity here to add value again – to both the dairy farm and the rest of the business,” David says. The 350ha dairy platform, on the river terrace land, peak milks 850 cows to produce about 425kg milksolids (MS) per cow. Profit not production is the aim with supplement use on the non-irrigated farm kept to about 400kg barley grown on the station and silage from the milking platform.

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Through the first six weeks of mating, Hereford semen is used over any lower BW cows or cows cycling that they don’t want to keep replacements from. Once the artificial insemination (AI) period is over, station-bred Hereford bulls are used to follow up. The station has a 220-cow Hereford herd and the best 150 dairy cross bull calves are kept for finishing while the best dairy cross heifers are run with the beef heifers. A total of 200 heifers are finished and all of the other beef cross calves are sold as yearlings. All calves move off the dairy platform once out of the rearing sheds to be grazed on the station. The couple employ a dairy farm manager, Brent Tutty along with three dairy staff. Twenty people are employed across the wider business, including the winery. David says being exposed to the vagaries of the weather on the dairy farm means feed supply can be a lot less certain than it is for those further down on the

plains with irrigation. “Pasture walks are a constant here – monitor, monitor, monitor. We’re always looking ahead, asking questions and forecasting so we can plan for periods when it gets dry.” He uses crops rather than relying on feeding out and says he’s always looking at new ways of improving feed supply. They graze lucerne successfully and have also found success with Raphno rape. It’s a hybrid between kale and radish developed by PGG Wrightson Seeds under the Forage and Innovations joint venture with Plant and Food Research. Sown in October, it can be grazed by Christmas, giving a boost in drymatter when pasture can often come under pressure from the dry. It saves on running the tractor feeding out and the time pressure that puts on staff at a time when people are trying to take time off. It provides multiple grazings with the last grazing in May and is undersown

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Above: The Aclands bought the Mt Somers General Store to provide a community hub and an outlet for their products - wine, honey, blankets and meat from their station.

100-YEAR VISION Diversification is embedded in Mt Somers Station’s business vision - to be a highly diversified, values-led, multi-generational, agri-food business that our families and staff are proud to be part of. It’s centred around three pillars of success – place, people and profit. Place: Our land is fundamental and central to our vision. We value the health and integrity of our land and native habitats and take a 100-year view on all decisions. People: We aim to have a safe and secure environment for our people, foster their development and recognise our farm is their home. We value our community and remember the achievements of those who came before us as we plan for the future. Profit: We recognise that in order to farm sustainably we must farm profitably. We set high expectations and remain agile, flexible and open to change.

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with grass in the autumn. A total of 60ha has been sown with heifers also grazing it on the station. David says they had used turnips for a summer crop and fodder beet in autumn but they’d moved away from both this season with the success of the Raphno. “We’re in a high wind zone here and we can struggle to get good yields with fodder beet.” David says there’s a precision and science he enjoys in dairying. “It’s very numeric, more science than art and there’s a lot of work that goes into controlling the variables.” The couple looked at further processing a portion of the milk from the dairy farm but couldn’t readily make the costs and time involved in the red tape and meeting food regulations stack up. That’s even though they have ready outlets in the two local stores they’ve bought and rejuvenated. The Mt Somers and Staveley Café and general stores are destinations in themselves, retaining the yesteryear look and feel. Kate says they feel strongly that having a local store is key to helping retain thriving rural communities. The Staveley Store was established in 1876 and both stores stock the farm’s produce including venison, lamb and beef as well as their popular honey, heritage lambswool blankets and Sugar Loaf wines. The station has 800ha of retired scrub and beech forest at the base of Mt Somers and three years ago David and Kate saw the opportunity to switch from simply allowing

access for beekeepers supplying a local honey company, and earning royalties from that, to employing a full-time beekeeper themselves and branding their own honey. They now have 450 hives and sell 6-7 tonnes of mono-floral manuka honey with a unique manuka factor (UMF) of 7-9 in bulk by contract. They sell another 4-6t of multi-floral, clover and beechwood honey dew under their own label. “Again, it was diversification without risking the core. It makes the most of an existing resource without any negative impacts on the environment,” Kate says. The lambswool blankets too, make the most out of the existing resource – something the wool industry has been struggling to do. “They’re totally made here in New Zealand, processed, spun and woven and we’re very proud of them,” she says. One of the key aspects of successful diversification is to make sure they’re things you enjoy. “The café, the winery, the honey, the blankets – they all stand up financially but fundamentally they interest us and we enjoy them,” she says. “Since we took over the farm in 2012 diversification has been a deliberate strategy. “We’ve spread our income stream so we’re not at the mercy of any single industry. Now 83% of our income comes from four sources.” • First published in NZ Dairy Exporter December 2020 issue.

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Moving away from wool A King Country couple believes that by converting their flock to fleece-shedding Wiltshires they will avoid costs, and have a better lifestyle. Russell Priest elaborates. Photos by Emma McCarthy.

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LIVESTOCK | ONFARM

Guy and Cushla Fraser on Waeranga with their young baby Jock.

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or young farming couple Guy and Cushla Fraser of Taumarunui, deciding to move away from wool has not been an easy decision, especially for Cushla. Both have grown up with wool, Guy (30) as a shearer with a senior Golden Shears title to his name and lots of local and overseas shearing experience, and Cushla (28) as a wool handler and shepherd. “Our decision not to grow wool is not because we don’t like it, which we do, but is based on several things including the health benefits for sheep in not growing it,” Guy said. Guy rattled off a number of these including less viral pneumonia resulting

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from not having to yard particularly lambs as often and not having to dock tails. Their mentor the late Grant McMillan believed not dealing with wool would result in a 60% labour saving. “Even if coarse crossbred wool makes a comeback, the financial benefits of not having to grow and harvest it mean we can still enjoy a good standard of living and achieve the lifestyle we want without a wool cheque.” The presence of bidibidi in their pastures, the seeds of which significantly reduce the price of wool, was a further consideration in their decision. Guy said Grant’s enthusiasm for the breed was so infectious it ignited their interest in Wiltshires, which they are mating to their Growbulk-Cheviot-

Romney cross flock. “The cool thing is we’re both excited about our new venture, and what’s even more exciting is we’re not following in the footsteps of heaps of farmers because Wiltshires are a relatively new breed.” Guy is adamant that while they are keen to establish a full-shedding Wiltshire flock as soon as possible, the quest for full-shedding status will not be at the expense of animal performance, soundness and type. “We’re fortunate from this perspective in that we’ve got time on our side.” Deciding to breed Wiltshires has also enabled them to address several ethical concerns they have with farming sheep, like docking and using chemicals for treating fly, lice and internal parasites.

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Normally over the summer/autumn, lambs are drenched every 4-5 weeks. However, last year the drenching interval for the Wiltshire crosses was eight weeks over the summer followed by six weeks.

FARM FACTS • Waeranga, 477ha (420ha effective) steep, medium and rolling hill country. • 25km north-east of Taumarunui. • Running 1500 A flock Growbulk-cross ewes mated to Wiltshire rams. About 1000 five-year-old Romney ewes make up the B flock. • Sheep and cattle breeding and lamb finishing. • Grading up to Wiltshires for lifestyle and sustainability reasons.

Guy is a perfectionist. It would be unhealthy for him and Cushla to dwell on mistakes so they’ve made the decision not to take their new venture too seriously. Guy and Cushla spend a lot of time working together on the farm but also at times work separately, capitalising on their individual strengths. Cushla is particularly good with stock and Guy is more machinery orientated. She also works off farm assisting in rearing calves for a neighbouring dairy farmer running 600 cows. This activity was put on hold this year as Cushla was pregnant with their first child. She has since given birth to Jock.

FROM LEASING TO OWNERSHIP Life in the last two or three years has certainly been a roller coaster for the Frasers. Arriving at Waeranga (means a place to put down your roots),in October 2017 after five years of shearing and shepherding, the Frasers initially managed

36 

the farm for Guy’s parents Ewen and Jane, who had owned it for seven years. Managing turned to leasing in July 2018 then ownership in March 2020. “While leasing Waeranga we learnt a lot about the place and learnt some hard lessons about salmonella in sheep.” Their big break came in early 2020 when they managed to secure a bank loan to buy half of Waeranga with a second mortgage to Ewen and Jane. They are grateful to both sets of parents for the opportunity to buy Waeranga. Without their financial help and support they would not have been able to buy it. The Frasers bought the farm as a going concern, which included an aging flock of Romney ewes, a younger flock of Growbulk-cross ewes and an Angus herd. Guy’s father had crossed the resident Romney ewes with Growbulk-Cheviot rams to improve mobility on the steep hills. While the Frasers find the crossbreds handle the hills well, are great mothers

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January 2021


Above: Two mobs of mixed-aged cows immediately follow the two mobs of ewes in the rotation. Top right: Seeds of bidibidi in their pastures significantly reduce the price of wool. Above right: The quest for full-shedding status will not be at the expense of animal performance, soundness and type.

with the lambs showing excellent survivability, unfortunately they are stressful to work with. “They seem to use a lot of unnecessary energy tearing around in spite of our trying to manage them in a calm manner.” It’s early days yet in the breeding programme but the Frasers have already detected an improvement in the demeanour of the half-bred Wiltshires and are hopeful they will deliver the lifestyle they aspire to. While being active the Wiltshires are not overactive like the Growbulk cross. Guy believes they make more efficient use of their energy. The lambs also seem to have a higher level of tolerance to internal parasites. Normally over the summer/ autumn lambs are drenched every 4-5 weeks. However, last year the drenching interval was eight weeks over the summer followed by six weeks for the Wiltshire crosses. “We drenched the ewe hoggets on

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January 2021

May 20 with Zolvix and three months later their average faecal egg count was 100epg.”

VARIED SOIL NUTRIENT NEEDS In February they were advised by their fertiliser consultant to apply lime at 1t/ha plus 150kg/ha of a potash/mineral mix to the pumice flats and a blend of 80% RPR and 20% triple super at 300kg/ha to the rest of the farm Both Guy and Cushla enjoy the breeding aspect of sheep and beef farming with Cushla more keen on sheep and Guy on cattle. The Frasers intend to gradually phase out the Romneys and the Growbulk cross ewes as the natural increase of Wiltshire crosses occurs. A strict culling regime will be implemented to ensure a high standard of A flock ewes is maintained. Rejects will get a red tag and go into the B flock. “We’ll continue to chip away at the A flock even after mating, taking out any

RETURN ON CAPITAL 17% During the financial period July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 when the Frasers were leasing Waeranga they made a profit of $80,474 from a gross income of $390,832. Major costs included rent at $84,700, shearing $40,487, animal health $26,772, fertiliser $47,029 and rates $10,798. Net assets were $476,706 giving a return on capital of close to 17%.

tail-enders and any undesirable types.” Lambs out of these ewes will not get an age mark so they won’t be eligible to enter the breeding flock. This year, 1500 A flock Growbulk-cross ewes were mated to Wiltshire rams on April 5. The five-year-old Romney ewes that form the majority of the B flock (1000 ewes)and with a few culled Growbulks, were mated to Growbulk-Cheviot rams on

37


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Mixed together: The 1500 A flock of Growbulk-cross ewes mated to Wiltshire rams and the five-year-old Romney ewes that form the majority of the 1000-ewe B flock.

Boost your lamb numbers and overall flock performance2. Androvax® plus instantly increases lambing percentages by an average of 20%. Ask your vet about how Androvax plus can help you lift your lambing percentages. AVAILABLE ONLY UNDER VETERINARY AUTHORISATION ACVM No: A9927. Schering-Plough Animal Health Ltd. Phone: 0800 800 543. www.msd-animal-health.co.nz NZ-AND-200900001 ©2020 Intervet International B.V. All Rights Reserved. 1. Geldard, H, Scaramuzzi, R.J., & Wilkins, J.F. (1984) Immunization against polyandroalbumin leads to increases in lambing and tailing percentages. New Zealand Veterinary Journal, 32:1-2, 2-5 2. Beef and Lamb NZ, Making every mating count June 2013 p15

38 

March 25. Both flocks were mated for 55 days. Scanning results were 145% and 160% for the A and B flocks respectively. Any dry ewes are culled. The Growbulk-cross not the most fecund sheep and they struggle with facial eczema. “So we had them running at over 500m above sea level during the summer to avoid FE.” Last year the ewe flock delivered a 135% lambing (matingto-sale %) from a 158% scanning. Wiltshire rams are sourced from a friend who owns a purebred flock based on Arvidson, McMillan and Puriri bloodlines. The flock is not drenched. The best 30 ram lambs are retained and sold to the Frasers who put them under a bit of pressure before selecting the best 20 for use over their Growbulk-cross. “We’re hoping to maybe test their GGT levels and muscle scan them in future to give us more information to help us in the selection process.” By using ram lambs they believe they are not over-

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January 2021


IMPROVEMENTS MADE Since taking over ownership of Waeranga the Frasers have made two significant additions to the farm’s infrastructure; a set of satellite yards and a water system. The former means sheep, particularly lambs, don’t have to be driven all the way home to be weaned, drenched and dipped thereby reducing the incidence of viral pneumonia. Lambs can be weaned back on to the paddocks in which they were born, which Guy believes ensures they settle down more quickly. A reliable spring in the top corner of the farm has been tapped and is the source of Waeranga’s new water supply. Water is fed into a dam from where it is pumped using a relatively inexpensive petrol-powered pump with a 45m head into a tank holding 50,000l with a further 25,000l of storage capacity halfway down the supply line. This gravity-fed supply services some of the farms better lamb-finishing and summer country, which traditionally can run out of water even in a moderate drought. Last year it proved its worth in one of the driest summers on record in the area. Compared with a solar pump, which would have cost about $10,000, the petrol pump cost $1300 and requires only three litres of petrol to pump 15,000 litres of water.

capitalising their ram flock, which makes it easier to cull rams if they are not up to scratch and/or turn them over more frequently. The first rams the Frasers bought were from Grant McMillan at $850 while they paid $250 for the ram lambs.

‘The cool thing is we’re both excited about our new venture, and what’s even more exciting is we’re not following in the footsteps of heaps of farmers because Wiltshires are a relatively new breed...’

ROTATIONAL GRAZING ADVOCATES

they grow them out as well as possible to minimise the effect of any competition. Hoggets are the third mob in the rotation. Two mobs of mixed-aged cows immediately follow the two mobs of ewes in the rotation, cleaning up roughage left behind. At this early stage of farm ownership they have yet to formalise the finer details of their winter rotations. However, as they approach lambing they do try to even up pasture covers in the lambing paddocks. Single-bearing ewes are set stocked for lambing on the steeper country at 6.5-7/

The Frasers are enthusiastic advocates of rotational grazing, particularly over the winter, but have struggled to achieve as long a rotation as they would like because of their preference for a three-mob wintering system. “Ideally we should be wintering the A and B flocks together but we are concerned about possible smothering and pasture damage, bearing in mind the tendency of Growbulk-cross to be hyperactive.” Another concern is the two-tooths having to compete with the older ewes. So

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January 2021

ha and multiples on the easier country at about 7/ha. These figures will depend on individual paddock covers at the time. Once lambing is over stocking rates in paddocks are manipulated to equalise covers mainly by using calved cows. Guy is conscious of low magnesium levels in fast-growing pasture at this time of the year so moves the mobs of cows and calves as quickly as possible through these paddocks to avoid grass staggers. Cow/heifer mating occurs in three mobs; the 15-month heifers, the first and secondcalving cows and the MA cows. The bull

39


goes out to heifers, December 5 and to the cows December 10 with the mating period 55 days. Any dry cows/heifers are killed. This year 29 of the 33 heifers mated got in calf and 95 out of 98 cows. Heifer mating has proved to be relatively successful for the Frasers with few if any assisted births and calf losses. Their strategy is to mate them to low birthweight EBV bulls and feed them well. At the time of writing they had seven heifers still to calve out of 29, and no assists. Cows and heifers come out of their winter rotations onto pasture shut up in mid-August and are fed on separate calving areas with balage being fed in the morning and a break of grass in the afternoon. ‘I believe this order of feeding has the effect of better spreading their daily intake as opposed to the other way, which results in a feast and famine scenario,� Guy said. Calved cows and heifers are shedded onto other areas of saved pasture as soon as calves become mobile. After weaning on March 15, the Frasers sold 42 steer calves at the Te Kuiti weaner fair at an average weight of 232kg. Twenty-eight heifer calves were kept for breeding, with 17 sold as culls.

Waeranga is dissected by the Taringamotu stream.

MERINO breeder directory

If you would like a copy of the justpublished Merino Review 2020, visit our shop at nzfarmlife.co.nz where you have the choice of ordering a printed copy, or downloading a digital copy. If you're in the market to buy Merino genetics, here's the updated contact list for all registered studs in the New Zealand Stud Merino Breeders Society.

40 

STUD NAME

NAME

LOCATION

PHONE

Armidale Awapiri Balmoral Benmore Blairich Cleardale Earnscleugh Eskhead Glenlee Glenmore Glentanner Grays Hills Hawksburn Isolation Kaiwara Knowsley Park Little Valley Malvern Downs Maryburn Matangi Matarae Middlehurst Moutere Muller Nine Mile Otematata Rhino Park Sawdon Somerton Park Stonehenge Strathclyde The Gums Two Thumb Upcot Wairua

Simon Paterson Eric and Sally Smith Sam Simpson Bill, Kate, Andrew and Debbie Sutherland Tom and Ron Small Ben Todhunter Duncan Campbell Helen Heddell Rob Hamilton Will and Emily Murray Mark Ivey Mark and Sherie Urquhart Phillip McElroy Rob and Sally Peter Geoff Millar James Mitchell Lindon Sanders Robbie Gibson Martin Murray John Sanders William and Emily Jones Willie Macdonald Jopp Family Mike and Mary Satterthwaite Gordon Lucas Hugh Cameron Colin Clark Robert Allan Isobel Somerton-Smythe Andrew Hore John McArthur Ian and Mark Stevenson John Simpson Bill Stevenson Russell Smilie

Ranfurly Awatere Valley Tekapo Omarama Awatere Valley Rakaia Gorge Alexandra Darfield Awatere Valley Lake Tekapo Mt Cook Lake Tekapo Cromwell Ward Swannanoa Ferndale Alexandra Tarras Fairlie Alexandra Outram Wairau Valley Alexandra Awatere Valley Tarras Otematata Hawea Flat Tekapo Swannanoa Ranfurly Clyde Rangiora Fairlie Awatere Valley Hakataramea Valley

03 444 9322 03 575 7990 021 336 806 03 438 9464 03 575 7257 03 302 8233 03 449 2031 03 312 0404 03 575 7765 03 680 6752 03 426 9638 03 680 6640 03 445 0874 03 575 6866 03 312 6635 027 4430 6892 03 448 6575 03 445 2839 03 680 6612 03 448 7806 03 464 3855 03 575 7042 03 447 3726 03 575 7044 03 445 2885 03 438 7863 03 443 5801 03 680 6574 03 448 8335 03 444 7703 03 448 8335 03 319 8443 03 680 6897 03 575 7463 03 436 0287

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January 2021


LIVESTOCK | DAIRY GRAZING

Megan and Phil Weir have designed a system to increase dairy grazing income by adding value.

Grazing partnership a win:win BY: SANDRA TAYLOR PHOTOS: EMMA MCCARTHY

B

y adding value to the dairy support package they offer, Waikato farmers Phil and Megan Weir are generating returns on a par with a bull beef system. For the past three years, the couple have farmed 250 hectares (the cattle platform is 180ha) in Te Pahu on the slopes of Mt Pirongia, in the heart of Waikato dairy country. They run breeding ewes, trading cattle and dairy heifers and have developed a grazing package that generates a premium and delivers a product that benefits the client’s dairy operation by

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January 2021

ensuring they have well grown heifers entering the herd. Phil, who is a Nuffield scholar and Beef + Lamb NZ farmer council member, says they have been grazing heifers for dairy farmers Craig and Kylee Mora for three years. Their relationship has grown to one based on trust rather than formal contracts and an understanding that the couple will guarantee the heifers hit their pre-mating and calving target weights, irrespective of seasonal fluctuations in growth rates. The couple farm on a mix of owned and leased land and because they stretched themselves financially to buy land, they appreciate the surety of cash flow offered by dairy support. But after one year, they knew they needed to generate more

income from the heifers and to do this they had to add value to their existing grazing arrangement. “Dairy heifer grazing is great for everyone in a good season and terrible for everyone in a bad season. In a bad season, the sheep and beef farmer can’t afford to feed the heifers so they don’t reach their growth potential.” What Phil and Megan have tried to do is remove seasonal variability and generate enough income to ensure the heifers leave their farm at 90% of their mature liveweight (450-460kg) and are ready to enter the herd as well-grown, high producing cows. Phil says under the traditional model, Continues

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41


Above: Grass silage is made out of spring surpluses for use in autumn. Top right: The couple guarantee the heifers hit their pre-mating and calving target weights. Above right: Heifers are usually grown out on ryegrass and clover pastures, but last autumn kale and bought-in palm kernel were used due to drought.

the grazier is making money when feed is cheap but is in danger of losing money when feed is expensive, as was the case last season. By charging a premium – $10.50/ head/week for calves from December to May and $14.50/head/week from May to May – the Weirs can have a stock policy that allows the heifers to meet their growth targets. “We’re just focusing on what’s important.” With the help of a consultant, they carried out Farmax modelling to compare dairy grazing with other enterprises such as bull beef. “That’s how we set the price so that it is equivalent to a beef system from a profit perspective.” The bulk of the calves arrive on the Weirs’ farm on December 1 weighing about 140kg and leave 18 months later in May. Another small number of calves arrives in May.

42 

The Weirs agree on an animal health plan developed by the Mora’s vet and they are responsible for executing it. “The only treatment we don’t do is zinc boluses because it can be upwards of 550 animals that need treating. When the need arises, they employ a vet technician to do the job, although facial eczema hasn’t been an issue for the past two years.” The layout of the farm, with a road through the middle, means the Weirs can run dairy grazers on one side and trading stock on the other, so biosecurity risks are minimised. The heifers are grown out on ryegrass and clover pastures, but to get through the drought last autumn, the Weirs grew kale and bought in palm kernel. Phil says they had raised the grazing price prior to the drought and this enabled them to spend the money on the palm kernel to help maintain growth rates. Autumn is always a pinch time for the

Weirs and next year they will be using home-grown maize silage to fill any feed deficits. While they would use palm kernel the price can get too high, and with maize they can control costs. If they have a fantastic season and don’t need the crop, they will sell it as standing feed. They also make grass silage out of spring surpluses for use in autumn. All stock are wintered on pasture, and the heifers are run on a rotational grazing regime with Phil applying techno or celltype grazing principles. “One of the challenges is that we don’t carry enough stock over winter to fully utilise feed in spring, so we buy in trading stock in the autumn and early winter with the plan to have these trades off-farm by Christmas.” Initially they were weighing routinely, but as trust has been built between Phil and Megan and Craig and Kylee, this has

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January 2021


Top: The 250ha farm is in Te Pahu on the slopes of Mt Pirongia, in the heart of Waikato dairy country. Above: Freya 4, Margot 2 and Henry 6, enjoy time on the farm.

stopped. Instead they have identified critical dates and these include six weeks after arrival, a month before mating so they can ensure all the heifers will be at the 300kg mark at mating, and their leaving weights. They have learnt that it is difficult to put weight on the heifers over late summer and autumn, hence the use of high energy feeds such as maize and palm kernel, but also the focus on maximizing growth rates over the spring and early summer period. While most of the heifers leave in May, the Weirs hold on to a few for an extra month which is an arrangement that suits both parties. Phil says there are hidden costs with dairy grazing such as the labour costs associated with feeding out, but similarly

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January 2021

bulls have hidden costs, especially in damage to infrastructure and equipment. From a health and safety point of view, the dairy heifers are a better fit for the couple who run a family farm of which their three young children are a big part.

WELL-GROWN HEIFERS BENEFIT THE DAIRY BUSINESS Dairy farmer Craig Mora says they simply cannot afford to have under-grown heifers entering their herd because they cost them so much through poor lactation and high empty rates. For this reason, they are willing to pay a premium for grazing and invest in the future performance of their herd. “Under-grown heifers just fall out of the system.”

Such is the value that Craig and his wife Kylee place on heifer grazing, that they suggested Phil and Megan work out the true cost of heifer grazing, including opportunity costs, and base their rate on that. This allows the Weirs to do the best job they can. “Too many graziers don’t base their price on anything.” Craig acknowledges that it is very hard to find good grazing and they value the Weirs’ ability to produce well-grown heifers. “We just couldn’t afford for them to switch to bull beef.” Their relationship is one based on regular communication and mutual trust, and as both parties are at similar ages and life stages this has helped build a more personal relationship. Craig says they are always more than willing to help Phil with the heifers if required and at artificial breeding time Phil will yard the heifers while they carry out the insemination work. The Moras play their part in the relationship by delivering well-grown (average 140kg) calves to Phil and Megan and they will hold back lighter calves and grow them out for an extra five months before sending them off to join their herdmates. At a value of about $1000/heifer, Craig and Kylee like to keep an eye on their future milking herd and they cannot understand dairy farmers who send their heifers off to grazing and don’t see them again until they return. Craig admits that when they first entered into a grazing arrangement with Phil and Megan they were weighing the heifers a lot more than they are now, but as the relationship has developed, so too has trust and they know the heifers are being fed well every day and will meet their target weights. Craig feels they are now in an arrangement that works well for everyone. He admits that there will be fluctuations in profitability due to seasonal variability driving the price of feed up or down, but on average it needs to be fair so that both parties benefit from the arrangement. B+LNZ works alongside DairyNZ running dairy heifer raising workshops and offers a range of feeding, nutrition and management resources on its website. • First published in the NZ Dairy Exporter December 2020 issue.

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LIVESTOCK | FEED

Farm animals, just like us, will not survive and thrive if there are feed deficiencies.

Rewards for good feeding Ken Geenty offers advice for experienced and inexperienced farmers wanting to feed stock correctly to ensure enough energy for reproduction and growth.

M

ost farmers intuitively know how much feed their animals need but often it’s wise to refresh with published guidelines. For students and young farmers, use of the guidelines is a must, particularly when starting out. Farm animals, just like us, will not survive and thrive if there are feed deficiencies. Good reproduction and growth of progeny are the rewards for correct feeding of sheep and beef cattle. This means enough tucker for consistently good body condition in adult breeders and targeted growth in progeny. Because the key feed ingredient is energy, the metabolisable energy (ME) system has been adopted for farm animals worldwide. The pathway between

44 

gross energy in feeds and metabolisable energy available for production in animals is shown in Figure 1. Put simply, the net energy in feeds is available as ME to the animal for production after losses in faeces, urine and fermentation in the rumen. This ME system is simple and easily applied. The quantities of ME in pastures, forage crops and supplementary feeds are readily available online and in publications. Other important dietary components such as protein, fibre, minerals and vitamins are conveniently balanced in high quality pastures and forages. The exception is where there are known mineral deficiencies in the soil, e.g. selenium, cobalt and copper in some areas of New Zealand. These can be corrected with fertilisers or administered

directly to animals. Many supplementary feeds such as cereal grains are deficient in protein and some minerals and vitamins, which also need to be corrected. This information is normally available with the published feeding tables. A good place to start finding sheep and cattle feeding information is the Beef + Lamb NZ website beeflambnz. com where “Making every mating count” and “Guide to NZ cattle farming” have comprehensive tables of feed requirements. Handy feeding guidelines, including pasture production in various areas, is available on the Farmax site www.farmax. co.nz The trick is to provide animals with enough feed to meet their ME requirements for the desired production level.

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January 2021


Figure 1: Feed energy pathway The pathway between gross energy in feeds and metabolisable energy for production.

ENERGY REQUIREMENTS

Gross energy (GE) Faecal energy (Apparent) digestible energy (DE) Methane energy

Kg and km respectively mean efficiency of energy use for growth and maintenance.

Urinary energy Metabolisable energy (ME) Heat of fermentation

Source: Guide to New Zealand cattle farming. Beef + Lamb NZ.

ME for production

kg

ME for maintenance

Heat production

Net energy for liveweight gain

km

Net energy for maintenance

Table 1: Ready reckoner to convert metabolisable energy (MJ ME/day) to drymatter (kg DM/day). kg DM per day for different ME concentrations in feed (MJ ME/kg DM) 8

9

11

12

8

9

11

12

1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

21

2.6

2.3

2.1

1.9

1.7

2

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

22

2.7

2.4

2.2

2.0

1.8

3

0.4

0.3

0.3

0.3

0.2

23

2.9

2.5

2.3

2.1

1.9

4

0.5

0.4

0.4

0.4

0.3

24

3.0

2.7

2.4

2.2

2.0

5

0.6

0.5

0.5

0.4

0.4

25

3.1

2.8

2.5

2.3

2.1

6

0.7

0.7

0.6

0.5

0.5

26

3.2

2.8

2.6

2.4

2.2

7

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.6

0.6

27

3.4

3.0

2.7

2.4

2.2

8

1.0

0.9

0.8

0.7

0.7

28

3.5

3.1

2.8

2.5

2.3

9

1.1

1.0

0.9

0.8

0.7

29

3.6

3.2

2.9

2.6

2.4

10

1.2

1.1

1.0

0.9

0.8

30

3.7

3.3

3.0

2.7

2.5

11

1.4

1.2

1.1

1.0

0.9

31

3.9

3.4

3.1

2.8

2.6

MJME/d

10

kg DM per day for different ME concentrations in feed (MJ ME/kg DM)

kg DM/d

MJME/d

10 kg DM/d

12

1.5

1.3

1.2

1.1

1.0

32

4.0

3.5

3.2

2.9

2.7

13

1.6

1.4

1.3

1.2

1.1

33

4.1

3.7

3.3

3.0

2.7

14

1.7

1.5

1.4

1.3

1.2

34

4.2

3.8

3.4

3.1

2.8

15

1.9

1.7

1.5

1.4

1.2

35

4.4

3.9

3.5

3.2

2.9

16

2.0

1.8

1.6

1.4

1.3

36

4.5

4.0

3.6

3.3

3.0

17

2.1

1.9

1.7

1.5

1.4

37

4.6

4.1

3.7

3.4

3.1

18

2.2

2.0

1.8

1.6

1.5

38

4.7

4.2

3.8

3.4

3.2

19

2.4

2.1

1.9

1.7

1.6

39

4.9

4.3

3.9

3.5

3.2

20

2.5

2.2

2.0

1.8

1.7

40

5.0

4.4

4.0

3.6

3.3

Source: Making every mating count. Beef + Lamb NZ.

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January 2021

It’s important to remember that feeding isn’t a precise activity but, using available guidelines and some simple rules of thumb, you should be able to get close to animal needs. A few worked examples of planned feeding of sheep or cattle given here can be the basis of plans for your particular situation. The ready reckoner table provided (left) relating feed drymatter to ME is a useful tool for your feeding plans. For example, a mob of ewes with 150% of lambs will need about 30 MJ ME/day during early-mid lactation. On good quality pasture with 12 MJ ME/ kg DM, ewes will need to eat about 2.5kg of pasture DM/day. This means liberal feeding by either set-stocking of ewes on pastures with at least 1200kg DM/ha or rotational grazing from over 1200kg DM/ha to no lower than 1000kg DM/ha. From the pasture length graph in last month’s issue of Country-Wide, or using the pasture sward stick, the above spring pasture quantities mean set-stocking at about 3cm or grazing pasture down from 4-5cm to 2cm. A rule of thumb such as the “gumboot test” can be a practical guide with pasture length at or above the big toe being at the upper level for sheep and the ankle for cattle. A handy pasture “sward stick” relating length to DM yield, developed jointly by Farmax and B+LNZ, is available from either organisation. The amount of ME for beef cattle and their calves during early-mid lactation and grazing medium quality pasture on easy hill country would be up to 150MJ ME each day. Extrapolating from the ready reckoner this amounts to 15kg pasture DM. Such a large quantity of feed consumed would require pastures about 12-15cm in length or 3000kg DM/ha. Because spring pastures generally have a drymatter content of about 20%, the quantities of fresh herbage eaten are five times the weight of drymatter. Therefore lactating ewes will eat up to 12.5kg of green pasture each day, and cows 75kg – equivalent to a sugarbag full for sheep and a large sack for cattle. These big quantities of wet material eaten each day, equivalent to 15-20% of adult liveweight, show the incredible feed intake capacity of ruminants and the reasons why they graze for a large proportion of the day and night. Continues

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45


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The time that feed volume causes most problems is during pregnancy when the ME requirements of sheep and cattle are rarely met from pasture. This is due mainly to competition for space with the growing foetus and placenta. Therefore during pregnancy, when both ewes and cows lose body condition, supplementation will minimise losses. The supplement should have a higher DM content and equal or higher ME than the pasture being grazed. The amount of supplement offered will be pretty much a judgement call but can be guided by monitoring body condition score or liveweight. Maintenance of body condition score during pregnancy in both sheep and cattle has huge advantages in both survival and viability of lambs and calves owing to good early supply of milk. For ewes at maintenance during winter or over a dry summer when limited pasture supplies only 75% of required ME to hold body condition, supplementation can be with cereal grain fed in the paddock. To make up the 25% of the diet for maintenance using grain with an energy content of 12MJ ME/kg DM would require 0.25kg of grain per ewe per day. Care needs to be taken to introduce the grain gradually over 7-10 days starting at 100g/ewe each day to avoid digestive upsets. No mineral or protein supplementation will be required until over 75% of the daily ration is cereal grain. Similar principles apply to growing lambs to boost growth rates. Use of the tables of ME requirements is recommended to ensure daily needs are met for the desired liveweight gains. For adult beef cattle during periods of pasture shortage, several types of supplements can be effectively used. Silage is commonly fed to pregnant cows during winter. Requirements for 500kg cows during early-mid pregnancy are around 100MJ ME per day. Good quality pasture silage will have a DM content of about 25% and contain 9MJ ME per kg DM. To meet daily pregnant cows’ ME needs, a total of 11kg of DM or 44kg of wet silage is required, amounting to 2.2 tonnes per 50 cows. If a green pick is available in the paddock the quantity of silage fed can be reduced by 10-15%.

FORAGE CROPS Pregnant cows are often break fed forage crops such as rape during winter. An example calculation of the break size needed for 50 cows each day follows: Maintaining body condition in 500kg pregnant cows as above requires 100MJ ME per day or just over 8kg DM – rape has about 12MJ ME/kg DM. With an average yield of 7t of DM per ha, or 0.7kg DM per square metre, this means each cow will need about 11.5 sq m per day. To allow 15% trampling wastage, allocation will be 13.5 sq m per cow or 675 sq m for 50 cows. If the feeding face is 75m wide then the electric fence will need to be advanced 9m each day. These above example calculations give some basic pointers for working through your own feeding plans. For more help, including a FeedSmart App, go to B+LNZ at beeflambnz.com and search using “feeding calculator”. • Ken Geenty is a primary industries consultant.

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LIVESTOCK | STOCK CHECK

The interest in sheep that do not need to be shorn, like this flock of Wiltshires, is high.

Good shift in direction BY: TREVOR COOK

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he challenges ahead for farming are being experienced everywhere as are the concerns. My travels last month had me in the far south and the following week way up north. Sowing date deadlines in the south and fencing off streams in the hills in the north both were being met with scepticism due to the lack of common sense behind aspects of both requirements. Compliance for no clear benefit is not the way to get good co-operation. The two weather events that cost both sets of farmers a lot of income were being reacted to quite differently. The southern farmers were so philosophical about the snow that hit lambing so hard, not that they could do much about it. While their northern counterparts were already looking out for early signs of a drought so that they could react. The drought last season was severe and has made many farmers very cautious. A very kind winter and spring has created opportunities that have not been fully exploited. For those I have been working with who have taken advantage of the drought recovery fund it has been a very interesting

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process of looking at the changes that make the business less-exposed to droughts. In most cases the changes have made the business more profitable. That is suggesting that reviews should be standard in a business plan to make sure that opportunities are captured. For both sets of farmers and for the rest in between the interest in sheep that do not need to be shorn is high. Spending a day in November in North Canterbury on a farm with several thousand such sheep was a great experience and for the first time made me think that they could have a place commercially. Not needing to be shorn was not exactly correct but significantly less intervention due to wool. I wrote in autumn last year about seeing sheep with no wool in England. They were very productive sheep that have been selected totally outdoors and with very low inputs. It will take an aggressive effort to develop high performing robust sheep that do not need to be shorn and maybe widening the genetic base of that capability will be necessary. There is a lot of interest though in increasing the wool value/cost of wool equation. I have yet to find information that shows if there are any productive

consequences of not shearing ewes. Winter-shorn ewes deliver heavier lambs at birth. Winter-shorn ewes have fewer bearings and metabolic losses. On the other hand selecting sheep just for wool growth selects them to be less fecund and to be more susceptible to worms. Probably selecting for less wool is quite different from selecting for no wool. It does make you wonder at the productive cost 40 years ago of selecting ewe hogget replacements on no other measure than their spring wool weight. Sheep breeding selection is on the verge of another leap forward, mainly in direction rather than speed. Selecting for lower methane emissions, not needing to be drenched, no wool, more valuable wool, not needing to be dipped, longevity and for 100% lamb survival are all breeding outcomes needed and driven by a number of different factors. The massive increase in farms with multiple drench resistance puts genetics in the box seat as the tool to manage that. The wider world expects us to reduce the methane coming from our livestock. Insecticide dips are failing which opens the door for genetic solutions. The loss of lambs at lambing simmers in the wider community as a welfare issue. The fact that it is not does not change that perception. Genetics must play a bigger role. For some of these that selection process is already well underway. Worm resistance/ tolerance selection has been going on for a long time. It is yet to get to another level before it will really make a difference, but it will get there. Lamb survival is so influenced by management but we do have genetic lines that have higher lamb survival stats wherever they are. Validating that selection process needs to be done to lift the selection power. Having sheep that live and produce for longer makes sheep systems more efficient in all respects. Longevity has a good heritability so progress can be made. All of those selection traits have a significant management component as well. We already see the power of genetic capability alongside good management. This will always apply even though the standard production traits we have so successfully selected for for 50 years are no longer the way of the future.

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Scott Hassall along with his mother Geraldine run their French ConneXtion Charolais stud on Iffley, in North Canterbury. Scott manages alongside his wife Jo.

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LIVESTOCK | ONFARM

When opportunity knocks Technology, equipment and genetics all play a part in fine-tuning and adding value to a North Canterbury sheep, beef and deer operation. Sandra Taylor reports. Photos by Lucy Hunter-Weston.

A mix of forages underpins livestock performance including oats for silage, lucerne and specialist finishing crops.

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cott Hassall is an opportunist. If there is any chance to grow, fine-tune or add value to his North Canterbury farming business, Scott will grab it and this includes making use of technology, forages, genetics and equipment. Scott and his wife Jo have managed Iffley, a mixed terrain sheep, beef and deer farm in North Canterbury’s Scargill Valley for the past 22 years. Owners John and Pauline McGrath own the sheep and deer and Scott and Jo own the cattle in what is a share-farming arrangement. Now covering 940 hectares, Iffley has grown over the years as neighbouring farms have come up for sale and in line with this growth, they have expanded their deer operation from 180 to 800 hybrid breeding hinds. All the hinds go to

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Wapiti stags (they buy in replacements) and all progeny are normally finished between September and November at a target average carcase weight of 60kg. A combination of genetics, forages and management helps Scott and Jo achieve their goal of maximising carcase weights as early in the season as possible and Scott is looking to refine this even further. They source their Wapiti genetics from John Faulkner’s Clachanburn stud and have, over the years, been using four distinct family lines. Scott has noticed a big difference in weaner growth rates, with some averaging 1kg/day while others were doing nothing like that. To identify what sire lines are performing best in the Iffley environment, this year Scott mated hinds in groups to different sire lines and will EID all the fawns at weaning. He will use a wand scanner to record

and calculate growth rates and correlate this data with stag families, which is what he has been doing with his cattle. “It will give me an idea of what families are producing animals that are growing well. “It’s very interesting information,” he says. The weaner finishing operation is based on two dates that Scott recites like a mantra, May 21 and August 10. Lack of daylight hours between these dates means the weaners shut down and go into maintenance mode, so they won’t gain much weight over June/July. They therefore feed the weaners as well as they can before May and have lucerne and new grass pastures primed and ready to go in early August to maximise spring growth rates. This year the venison market has

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Top: The Hassalls run the only pure French Charolais stud in the country. Above left: Geraldine and Scott make full use of recording and data collection technology in both their studs and commercial cattle and deer. Above right: Scott uses a drone to monitor stock, particularly at lambing and calving.

collapsed due to the Covid-19 global pandemic and Scott says while the deer are typically the best-performing enterprise in the business, this year the schedule is close to half what it was last year. Because it has been such a good spring in North Canterbury, Scott has decided to hold on to the finished weaners for longer than normal to try and add value to them. The deer are processed at Mountain River.

CATTLE: THE FRENCH CONNEXION In 2015 Scott’s father Bill passed away, and in 2016 Scott and Jo, with the support and encouragement of John and Pauline, moved his family’s Charolais stud to Iffley.

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Scott and Jo had been running ex Colenso Stud Angus cows for several years before 2016 and while they are not registered, Scott has been artificially inseminating (AI) the cows to continually improve their genetics. Charolais were used as a back-up to the AI programme and at 18 months, the resulting crossbred bulls were growing at 2.36kg/day. “It was awesome, so when the opportunity came to take over the stud it was a no-brainer.” Because they were already recording the Angus cows, the stud was not going to add extra work on top of what they were

already doing and as they never castrated any of the male Angus calves, they were used to growing bulls for either sale or processing. Scott’s mother Geraldine, who is still very much involved with the stud, says she and Bill bought their first Charolais bull in 1974 and have stuck faithfully to pure French genetics ever since. Sourcing the sires they want has always been a challenge because there are a limited number of pure French Charolais in New Zealand. Fortunately, they have been able to get the genetics they want from Ireland and more recently, Canada. The move to Iffley was also a chance

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All 1500 ewes on Iffley are pure Inverdale so are guaranteed to scan well irrespective of the climate.

The Inverdale difference “We make that decision early because the ewe lambs are our focus, we need to ensure they are big enough to get in lamb as a hogget.”

for Scott and Geraldine to rebrand the stud to French ConneXion, a nod to the Charolais’ value in crossbreeding programmes and to the fact they are the only fully French Charolais stud in NZ. Scott says they have stuck to the full French lines because they believe that the purest form of Charolais will generate the greatest hybrid vigour response in a crossbreeding programme. Last year they sourced a poll French Charolais bull from Canada because of the increasing demand for poll cattle in light of recent government regulations about the transport and processing of horned animals. However, both Geraldine and Scott feel there is still a place for horned animals because they tend to be bigger-framed and hardier than their poll equivalents. “But we are certainly in the early stages of poll breeding.” Continues over page

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The ability to perform irrespective of the climate was one of the reasons Scott and Jo and John and Pauline have chosen to run an Inverdale ewe flock. They winter 1500 ewes and 300 replacements (Scott and Jo won the composite section of the national ewe hogget competition in 2012). Sheep numbers have dropped back over the years from a peak of over 3000, due to drought and an increase in deer numbers. The ewes scan 190-208% without any flushing and wean between 150-168% and Scott runs a flexible policy when it comes to finishing. He says the focus is very much on growing the ewe lambs and they won’t compromise ewe lamb growth rates for the sake of finishing all of their lambs. They will typically take two to three pre-weaning drafts and then will make the decision whether to sell the lambs store or retain them based on the season. “We make that decision early because the ewe lambs are our focus, we need to ensure they are big enough to get in lamb as a hogget.” Scott explains that because they are doing a straight Inverdale cross (they get their rams from Chris Adams at Te Anau) 50% of the ewe lambs will be infertile. Because the infertile ewe lambs have undeveloped teats, they are easily identified. Scott says they tip the lambs

up and teat-score them at weaning. If in doubt, they are left in the replacement mob and identified at pregnancy scanning. They are then sold as prime winter lambs. “We take out 600-700 ewe lambs and expect to get 300-350 replacements, all of which will be in-lamb.” Scott says there is some wariness among farmers around Inverdale genetics because of this infertility, but he points out that every ewe in his flock is 100% fertile and the small amount of extra work at weaning is more than made up for by ewe productivity. Underpinning the deer, sheep and beef genetics is a mix of lucerne, specialist forage crops and predominantly prairie grass-based pastures. Lucerne and specialist finishing crops such as a Hunter, chicory and clover mix are used for growing out ewe lambs in summer. Lucerne is critical for driving pre-weaning growth rates in lambs. While Scott doesn’t lamb the ewes on the lucerne, they are run on to the forage soon after lambing. They have about 60ha in lucerne and Scott describes this forage as a key component of their business. It’s used for ewes and lambs and hinds and fawns in January as well as being used to make supplementary feed. The fawns are weaned onto lucerne and brassicas and wintered on oats and grass and kale crops.

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Iffley runs 800 hinds and all weaners are finished between September and November.

AN EYE IN THE SKY Last year, Scott invested in a drone and now wouldn’t be without one. He uses if for monitoring stock, particularly at lambing and calving and has found it to be very useful for moving deer as they respond really well to the humming noise. Scott describes a recent incident where he was on one side of the valley and his staff member on the other working in the deer unit. A mob of weaner deer escaped and were heading down the laneway at speed, but Scott was able to send the drone from the opposite side of the farm, turn the deer around and put them back in their paddock.

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“It’s solely dependent on the dairy farmer. It comes down to perception and management.” Because North Canterbury summers are notoriously dry, their breeding objectives within the stud is to breed easy calving cows that will perform irrespective of the climate. “The ultimate is having a cow that is able to perform on bugger all,” Scott says. Scott and Jo run 80 breeding cows, a combination of Charolais and Angus and again, Scott uses technology in the form of Gallagher’s phone app to help with recording at calving. At birth, he scans the calf, recording the tag number and birthweight on the app and sends this information through to Geraldine who does all the recording and bookwork for the stud.

While land use change, particularly trees into hill country, is challenging the traditional commercial breeding cow herd, the dairy industry is increasingly eager to use beef genetics to add value to their calf crop and reduce the number of bobby calves. On his phone, Scott has photos of Charolais cross calves sent to him by happy dairy farmer clients who have not reported any calving issues with the Charolais genetics. “It’s solely dependent on the dairy farmer. It comes down to perception and management,” Scott says. Any bulls not sold as breeding animals are finished on Iffley.

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A stroppy cow led to Scott buying a Combi Clamp crush.

SOLD ON COMBI CLAMP The most recent opportunity Scott has grabbed is the South Island Combi Clamp agency and he has a recalcitrant cow to thank for that. He initially saw the clamp at Mystery Creek four years ago and while he was impressed with it, a new cattle crush wasn’t in the budget at the time. It was at calving last year, when Scott walked a cow (a reluctant mother) and calf about an hour to the yards only for her to break through the old home-made crush and head down the road in the dark. It was then he decided they were buying a Combi Clamp. From a stock handling point of view, Scott says it has been life-changing. “It features an auto-catch head bale which puts the crush into a league of its own.” Cattle work has become a one-man

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operation. Scott says he can be pushing animals in from the back of the yards while the first animal up has already caught itself. “It is fool-proof and very safe.” Scott was so impressed with it that, encouraged by John, he rang the company and offered to be their agent. While Scott admits it was a bit of a random call, Combi Clamp surprisingly jumped at his offer as the existing agent was looking to retire. After meeting each other, the deal was sealed. He now also owns their sheep handling system and is also sold on it. Because of the way it is set-up, Scott says it makes sheep work a whole lot easier. Recently he was able to dag all of the ewes and lambs in the wet while waiting to cut silage. In the past, he would have been tired and sore from bending over sheep all day, but now feels physically fine.

Scott says most farmer enquiries usually come through either at lunch-time or at night, which fits in with the farm operation. He will be attending South Island field days and A&P shows, when they are back up and running. Ask Scott what the most profitable enterprise is within their business and he says it is a difficult one to answer. While deer have outperformed sheep and beef in recent years, that has changed this year and they are enjoying good returns for lamb. However, Scott points out that if labour was taken into account when comparing enterprises, it could be a different story. Instead all the Iffley stakeholders value the diversity of their business and their ability to identify the strengths of their farm which include early, healthy country and having a good management team.

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LIVESTOCK | OVERSEAS

Spotted sheep on the farm of Edward Adamson.

Dutch sheep breed shows promise BY: CHRIS MCCULLOUGH

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eing prolific mothers and producing excellent meat carcases are just two of the attributes a Northern Ireland sheep breeder is discovering about his Dutch Spotted Sheep. Edward Adamson farms on the east coast of Northern Ireland at Kilroot, Carrickfergus, right beside Belfast Lough and the Irish Salt Mines. Having historically been a dairy and sheep farm, in 2005 Edward decided to quit milking cows and focus on the sheep. He now runs a large sheep flock of over 800 ewes, as well as 60 suckler cows, and is the Northern Ireland development officer

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for the National Sheep Association. Edward’s flock consists predominantly of Lleyn ewes but he also has 50 Clun Forest ewes, 50 Ile de France ewes and 25 Dutch Spotted Sheep ewes in the mix. He farms 150 acres of his own and rents a further 250 acres on which to graze the livestock and make silage on. Edward’s interest in the Dutch Spotted Sheep breed first started when he saw them at a show and really liked the look of the sheep. That interest spawned into a purchase of three ewes from the Netherlands and now Edward is starting to export the breed around the world. The Dutch Spotted Sheep breed dates back to around 1880 and they were originally kept in the western part of

Holland between the cities of Leiden, Utrecht and Rotterdam. During the 1950s, farmers started making use of the specific qualities of the original Dutch Spotted Sheep crossing them with other breeds, such as the Texel or Zwartbles, to breed a sheep with greater profitability, now the modern day Dutch Spotted Sheep. Dutch Spotted Sheep are very popular within Holland, Europe, the UK, Ireland and further afield. Farmers are finding the breed attributes include a quality carcase, high milk yield, easy lambing, hard feet, mobility and easy temperament. Edward said: “I first saw Dutch Spotted Sheep at the Royal Welsh Show and was very impressed by them, so much so that I

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Farmers are finding the breed attributes include a quality carcase, high milk yield, easy lambing, hard feet, mobility and easy temperament. decided to get some of my own. “My initial thoughts were that they would appeal to the hobby farmer just keeping a few sheep mainly as pets. They were pretty looking and very quiet. Now the breed is becoming very popular with small and larger sheep farmers alike. “In 2018 I invested in three Dutch Spotted Sheep importing them from the Netherlands and then started to breed my own animals. I think the Dutch Spotted Sheep can be sold as the friendliest sheep in the world. “Not only am I breeding full pedigree Dutch Spotted Sheep, I also cross the breed with some commercial ewes and have produced excellent quality lambs with conformation way above what I expected,” said Edward. Edward’s purebred Lleyn ewes are used to breed from and produce commercial lambs for sale. He is a member of the CoOp Lamb Producer Group which provides a small bonus to lamb prices when killed at the meat plant. “The largest part of my sheep enterprise is the Lleyn sheep,” said Edward. “I sell them as breeding sheep and commercially too. They normally kill out around 50 percent and I aim for a carcase weight of 20kgs. At the moment prices are good around £4.45 ($NZ8.47) per kilogramme deadweight plus bonuses,” he said. Edward is currently flushing a batch of eight Dutch Spotted Sheep to hopefully harvest 50 eggs to transplant into some Lleyn recipient ewes to gain a bumper crop of lambs next spring in February. He said: “I have a batch of Lleyn recipient females ready for the eggs from the eight Dutch Spotted Sheep. I’m hoping each ewe will produce an average of six eggs allowing two eggs to be transplanted into every recipient. “I’d be hopeful of 50 to 60 lambs in February as there is strong demand for live

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Edward Adamson with one of his Dutch spotted sheep.

Dutch Spotted Sheep as well as for semen and embryos both locally and overseas. Our flock has a high health status and is Scrapie monitored. “I find the Dutch Spotted Sheep breed to be very quiet, have excellent growth rates from grass, kill out at over 50 percent producing superb meat quality, with some achieving E3s. They make very good mothers and normally lamb at 200 percent,” said Edward. The market for Dutch Spotted Sheep in Northern Ireland is quite buoyant and now breeders overseas are also showing an interest in Edward’s breeding. “The spotty markings on the sheep fleeces are proving very attractive to other breeders,” Edward said. “I have sent other breeds’ semen to breeders in Canada and USA and now have enquiries for the Dutch

Spotted Sheep from America, Europe and further afield. There are currently no shows happening anywhere thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic so all my marketing is carried out on social media through my Kilroot Dutch Spotted Sheep page.” As wool is currently not worth a lot of money, Edward is trying to find niche markets for the unique fleece from Dutch Spotted Sheep. “Not everyone wants a dark coloured fleece as it cannot be dyed,” said Edward. “However, the wool from the Dutch Spotted Sheep is excellent quality and naturally coloured. I have sent a few fleeces off to be spun by local weavers who anticipate that it will produce a sought after, unique product. It is my goal to find a niche market for this wool to help add value to the breed,” he added.

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LIVESTOCK | MATING

The total $4.90/ewe cost with a break fence shift every three or four days, compares favourably to $5.40/ewe with the grain trailer being used every day.

Flushing on brassica a good option BY: BEN ALLOTT

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he 2020 mating season in North Canterbury was a real challenge. A dry summer extended into a very dry autumn, leaving pasture covers very low, and feed quality very poor through the mating season. Grain trailers were widely utilised to flush ewes on pasture but despite this practice most North Canterbury farmers reported mixed age ewes scanning 10-15% down on their 2019 results. With about 12kg of grain/ewe being fed out through this flushing and early mating period, at a feed cost of $5.40/ewe, a few farmers I regularly touch base with are looking around for other options that may provide more effective, more reliable results, at a lower cost.

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Craig Tomlinson, who mates 1500 hoggets, 1400 two-tooths, and 3800 MA ewes between two North Canterbury farms had a different experience to most last season. In 2019, MA ewes on his Omihi farm scanned at 172% and he saw a lift in the 2020 season with a scanning result of 178% in the same mob. These ewes were flushed and fed through the first cycle of the mating period on a kale crop sown specifically for this purpose. In preparation, all ewes receive a long-acting iodine injection (Flexidine) one month prior to tupping. Then 17 days prior to the planned start of mating, Craig introduces entire ‘teaser rams’ to the mob for 48-72 hours. Ten days before mating, ewes are introduced to the crop for several hours a day before being left on it seven days out from the ram. The

crop is offered as three-four-day breaks with the ewes staying in this system until the end of one full cycle of mating (17-20 days). Hay is made available, but Craig’s comment is that very little supplement is used in this system. It costs 10c/kg drymatter (DM) for the kale crop and 90c/ ewe for flexidine injection. The total $4.90/ ewe cost with a break fence shift every three or four days, compares favourably to $5.40/ewe with the grain trailer being used every day. In the brassica flushing system, as long as the kale crop has established well and grown through the summer you will have a high quality feed type, with no internal parasite challenge, and low fungal pressure in the autumn. While the example above utilised kale, other brassica crops could be utilised in

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a similar fashion. Rape or leafy turnip could be grazed early in the season and then be locked up for mating feed. I would urge a little more caution with root crops e.g. turnips. The potential for acidosis is higher with a root crop and a well-managed transition will be that much more important to avoid potential issues close to mating. With these ewes off pasture for four weeks it also creates a huge opportunity for summer stressed pasture to recover following the first autumn rains and to build some quality cover going into the winter.

Ewes flushed and mated on brassicas may out-perform those on pasture with supplementary grain.

HIGH QUALITY IS KEY There are a number of reasons why ewes flushed and mated on brassicas may out-perform those on pasture with supplementary grain. While grain is a consistently high-quality feed, it can only make up a relatively small proportion of the overall diet (about 25%). The rest of the diet is then being made up by the pasture you have on hand and this potentially brings with it: • Low feed quality – making it difficult to get ewes on a rising plane of nutrition despite the grain. • Fungal toxins – sporidesmin from facial eczema spores (North Island/Tasman), zearalenone and oestrogenic compounds from fusarium fungus. These can suppress ovulation rates and impact on dry rates dramatically. • Internal parasite larvae – we often get our first good rainfall through the early autumn and this can cause a spike in parasite challenge from pasture. While ewes are more resistant to disease than lambs, this challenge will still have a production cost.

Some cautionary points: • The three-day introduction period Craig practices is on the brief side of my comfort zone. In my discussions with clients I encourage a more gradual transition of seven days. Introducing stock too quickly can result in nitrate toxicity, rumen acidosis, liver damage, and photosensitivity (scald) – none of which you want to occur one week before the ram. • Don’t forget to adapt the rams to the new diet. You can do a great job of transitioning the ewes but if the ram gets over-cooked this could have a big impact on mating performance. • Iodine is important – Craig has this covered well with flexidine. He could use a pre-tup oral iodine drench but he wants the longer cover due to wintering some ewes on brassica crops as well. • Flystrike – fly pressure will be far higher if you get warm autumn rain while ewes are on the crop. Even small areas of strike have a huge impact on scanning performance. • Flocks with existing foot-rot problems could see larger autumn outbreaks than usual following this type of mating management.

BODY CONDITION SCORE IS KING No matter what approach you take to flushing ewes and feeding them through mating, it is important to recognise that body condition score at mating is the most important driver of reproductive performance. It is difficult to lift body condition through the summer in ewes and you do not have a large window between weaning and mating. The biggest ‘bang for buck’ action you should take immediately is to BCS every ewe and draft into summer management mobs based on body condition. Do not wait for a month after weaning. Get the ewes in several days later and get them sorted pre-Christmas. • Ben Allott is a North Canterbury veterinarian.

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CROP & FORAGE | PASTURE

Profit from pasture renewal Kerry Dwyer says each farmer should renew the area suited to their farm.

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big part of improving lamb growth rates is having good pastures in front of your stock. A scan on the internet of research and marketing shows no more that 5% of pastures are renewed annually in NZ, meaning the average pasture life is about 20 years.

New pastures have better utilisation by grazing stock.

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We know: • Pasture production declines with age, as measured drymatter production at year nine is about 35% less than at year two after establishment. • The difference in DM production between the best and worst-producing paddocks on most farms is 35% or more. • About 10% of sown ryegrass remains in most pastures by year 10 after establishment. Research states pasture decline is due to the interactions of sward age, grazing management (or lack of it), sub-optimal fertiliser applications, and weed invasions. We know: • New pastures have higher DM production. • New pastures have higher energy value, by 0.5 – 0.9MJME/kg DM. • New pastures have better utilisation by grazing stock. And we know new pastures produce more on the shoulders of the growing season. Why do farmer’s renew pastures? One source states five main reasons: 1. It is a result of fodder crop rotations 2. A habit to have it in the budget and management system 3. A response to a major event such as drought or flood 4. A part of major farm development plan

5. A result of targeted cost/benefit analysis to achieve gains. How does your pasture renewal programme fit into the above list? It may be fitting one or several of these reasons with equal validity. Considerable research has been done over the years concerning pasture renewal, production and persistence. NZ prides itself on leading the world in pastoral production. Check out the many Grasslands Association publications for some great bedtime reading. There are various ways to renew pastures, with varying costs and results. Our farm’s pasture renewal system is to spray in December, give a summer fallow and direct drill late February. When I look at our last year’s accounts I get the following cost figures in Table 1. Looking at other farmers’ figures I see similar costs for the various methods of new pasture establishment, whether it be full cultivation via fodder crops or direct drilling. You may get a cheaper result with one spray and direct drill, but to get a good result it unfortunately costs. Some years I have had to apply slug bait and maybe an insecticide spray, increasing the cost. We sow 20kg/ha total seed so the average cost shown is over $13/kg. You can get cheaper seed, but are you sowing more of it? And is it treated? Growing a fodder crop in the rotation helps spread the cost to some extent, but all the figures I see still come towards $1000/ha. That’s for the pasture renewal if the job is done without many shortcuts. Note that if you are growing fodder crop, as part of the pasture renewal plan it may be difficult to get a higher rate of new pasture because you are doubling the area

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The biggest non-cash cost is lost pasture growth. In our situation we lose three months’ summer pasture growth, on average that is worth about 3000kg DM/ha, to replace that with balage might cost over $1000/ha. Old, run-out pasture set for renewal.

Table 1: Pasture renewal activity

Pasture Renewal Activity

Per hectare cost

Glyphosate & Granstar – double application

$80

Herbicide application – double application

$58

Fertiliser – capital dose superphosphate @ 500kg/ha

$165

Lime – capital dose @ $2.5t/ha

$65

Fert & lime cartage & spreading – separate applications

$120

Seed – sowing 20kg/ha seed

$266

Direct drilling – no fert with drill

$125

Post emergence weed spray – Baton

$25

Herbicide application

$29

Total

$933/ha

Table 2: Pasture renewal benefit

Average 300ha farm

5% pasture renewal/ year

10% pasture renewal/ year

Area renewed

15ha

30ha

Cost per hectare

$1000

$1000

Total cost pasture renewal per farm

$15,000

$30,000

Benefit of actual area renewed

$15,000

$30,000

Total profit added by pasture renewal

$15,000

$60,000

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out of permanent pasture. Is the plan to grow a fodder crop or to get new pasture? Where does the compromise comfortably sit? An interesting aside concerning sowing rate is research has consistently found higher sowing rates of pasture seed do not have much effect on the emergence and survival of weeds. Sowing at 30kg/ha of grass seed does not limit weed growth any better than 20kg/ha, or 15kg/ha. Timing of sowing, along with grazing management and herbicide application post emergence are the main factors in weed control in new pastures, both short and longer term.

THE DOLLAR REWARDS Next question, what is the dollar benefit of renewing your pastures? Scanning the literature, I read the net annual benefit of doing the job is more than $1000/ha in the first year, these figures are from independent research as well as seedselling firms. That is profit over and above costs. The payback is within two years for every hectare pasture renewed. When you spread that over the whole farm area it can be a substantial figure. The norm on NZ farms is about 5% new pasture per year. If you double that to 10% the research shows a benefit over the whole farm of over $200/ha additional profit for sheep and beef farms and slightly more for dairy farms. The research says having extra, new pasture has a compounding effect. If you renew 5% (15ha on a 300ha sheep and beef farm) a year you will benefit by about $15,000 a year. If you renew 10% (30ha) you will benefit by $60,000 a year. Benefit equals additional profit, after

cost. The compounding effect is because you have pastures lasting 20 years if renewing 5% a year, meaning they have 10 years in the low production category. If you renew 10% a year they last 10 years maximum before renewal, so the whole farm production level increases. The maths on the whole operation looks very good to me, so we aim to get about 10% of the cultivable area into new pasture each autumn. We aim for a pasture with some persistence, and put some capital fert and lime on as part of the renovation process. There can be other costs to pasture renewal. Does your area need drainage? Levelling? Substantial lime and fertiliser inputs? Don’t forget about improving stock water and subdivision if needed because to get the best out of new pastures you need to have good grazing management. These may all add to the cost but are part of a development plan rather than attributable to renewing pastures per se. The biggest non-cash cost is lost pasture growth. In our situation we lose three months’ summer pasture growth, on average that is worth about 3000kg DM/ha, to replace that with balage might cost over $1000/ha. Growing a fodder crop can offset this cost to some extent by shifting a feed surplus to a likely feed deficit period. We are not set up to use 10% of our farm area as fodder crop. Growing successive fodder crops (ie: two years then back to pasture) would mean only 5% new pasture area; and in summer dry area we need the fallow time as well as being more conservatively stocked over that time. Our practice suits our system to get a good area of new pasture each year, what suits yours?

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CROP & FORAGE | RENEWAL

Pasture sprayed for renewal.

Is pasture renewal needed? BY: TOM WARD

T

he first requirement for pasture renewal is to identify whether it is needed, preferably 12 months before the project starts. Paddocks to be considered for renewal should be identified by a combination of drymatter production, and where possible, liveweight and wool production. These are not necessarily the worst-performing paddocks – they should be the paddocks which give the best return from renewal. Re-grassing, in addition to improving annual DM production, may also substantially improve seasonal production, particularly in the winterspring period, the most valuable time for summer-dry farms. The costs of renewal then need to be calculated, and deducted from the expected benefits. Where there is significant climatic variation (both

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annual and seasonal) the benefits of pasture renewal may be difficult to quantify. Especially if the longevity of the improved pasture is difficult to quantify. For example, lucerne may be subject to water-logging, or sub clover suffer in an environment which experiences very low temperatures from time to time. In addition, to attain and preserve an acceptable economic benefit, there may need to be a change in grazing management, which is likely to affect other aspects of the farm business. Sub clover, for example, needs to be de-stocked at flowering (Oct-Nov) and at germination (in autumn). Pastures deteriorate as they age, fundamentally impacted by soil moisture (flooding, drought, poor drainage) temperature, soil fertility, disease and pest attack, and grazing management (pugging, overgrazing, general poor grazing). If one or more of these five impacts has become a “stress” the pasture will deteriorate.

So the causes of a pasture deteriorating need to be identified, and these causes corrected or at least managed (if economically and legally possible), before a renewed pasture can be expected to succeed. For example, a pasture runout because of dairy cow pugging during winter needs to be treated with greater care if the renewal project is to have longterm benefits. Of course, the inability to correct a ‘stress’ may also drive the pasture renewal project. For example, lucerne may give way to a ryegrass-red clover pasture if lucerne maintenance costs are too high. Ryegrass may give way to tall fescue if summer air temperatures are too hot and more clover is wanted in the sward. Rapid re-invasion of the original pasture weeds is a common cause of farmer dissatisfaction with new pasture performance. Three glyphosate herbicide sprays, (two coming out of the old pasture, one before going back to permanent pasture) will give control of perennial weeds. The second and third sprays will kill weed seedlings before they can flower. Planting a forage crop, either brassica, cereals, maize or ryegrass will, as a result of removing clovers, combat nematodes and clover root weevil. These pests reduce clover establishment, production, persistence, and nitrogen fixation. Leaving a higher than usual post grazing residual at the last grazing before the first spray could allow a good burn, which would aid nematode and disease control. If direct drilling, slugs need to be watched for. There may be a nitrogen deficit as clovers will take 12-18 months to establish, especially if direct drilling. However, if a winter crop has been grown in the programme, and heavily stocked, there could well be a significant build-up of nitrogen, to aid establishment, in the soil.

EXAMPLE OF REGRASSING Non-irrigated class 6, easy rolling hill country near Temuka. It went from browntop, dogstail and sweet vernal; initially into kale/swedes for winter grazing of ewes, then through short rotation/Italian ryegrass, then to permanent pasture. Already satisfactory fertility and pH but a history of poor grazing control. Very variable climate which tends to summer dry.

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Where there is significant climatic variation (both annual and seasonal) the benefits of pasture renewal may be difficult to quantify.

Economics of re-grassing programme (per hectare, GST excl) Year 1

Year 2

Year 4

Kale

Italian

Rye/WC

Ploughing – contract

120

Rolled, disc, harrow, sow – own gear Herbicide sprays (applied)

60 80

60

Cost of seed-own drill

123

175

281

Fertiliser

144

110

110

Slug bait - spun on

75

Insecticide spray - applied

55

TOTAL COSTS

537

75

405

526

The above example is not necessarily perfect and there probably should have been at least one more herbicide spray for weeds. In fact if the cultivation, and seed and fertiliser sowing costs, were included at contract rates, the total would be in excess of $750/ha/year. It is how one farm managed their re-grassing, integrated with their winter cropping programme, to the benefit of the re-grassing. Note the Year 1 and 2 costs are applied to winter cropping, not the re-grassing . It is roughly estimated that an additional 2,500 kg/ha of pasture was grown from the Italian ryegrass and permanent pasture could be expected to maintain this improvement. In this example, the payback period would be: Gross margin/kg DM

$0.10

$0.20

$0.30

Payback (years) $526/yr*

2

1

<1 year

Payback (years) $750/yr*

3

1-2

1

*is cost of re-grassing. If the re-grassed area produced only 1250kgdm/ha extra, the payback would be: Gross margin/kg DM

The costs of renewal then need to be calculated, and deducted from the expected benefits.

Year 1 (2018-2019) To kale Spray to kill pasture – two sprays by contractor. First November 5, 2018; 3L/ha Roundup and 40gm/ha Granstar, 140 ml/ ha Slicker. Second spray January 9, 2019; 2L Roundup, 250ml/ha Versatil, 80 ml/ha Hammer. Direct drilled January 12, 2019 4kg/ha Maris kestrel (kale), 1kg/ha Apparina Gold (swedes). Drilled using own gear. Fertiliser – 170kg/ha DAP +Bo, with seed, $850/t delivered. Insecticide – 4kg/ha Meterex for slugs. Insecticide spray – March 20, 2019 Minectostar @ 150g/ha by contractor.

$0.10

$0.20

$0.30

Payback (years) $526/yr *

4

2

1-2 year

Payback (years) $750/yr*

6

3

2

*is cost of re-grassing.

Year 2-3 (2019-2021) To Italian ryegrass Ploughed September 25, 2019 by contract. Rolled/disced, harrowed with own gear. Seeded October 28 with 14kg/ha “Asset” short rotation ryegrass, 6kg/ha “Relish” red clover. Fertiliser (with seed) 160kg/ha Crop 15, $700/T delivered. Weed spray – not applied - paddock was mulched instead.

Year 4 (2021-2022) To permanent pasture Very good improvement in production from short rotation ryegrass. In 2019-2020 has grown about 7000kg DM/ha, in a very droughty year, when the remainder of the farm grew 4500kg DM/ha. Expect, between spring and autumn 2022, this paddock to be returned to permanent pasture, will be sprayed out with herbicide, direct drilled and fertilised (160kg/ha Crop 15). Seeds will be 20kg/ha AR37 ryegrass, 4kg/ha white clover.

• Tom Ward is a South Canterbury farm consultant.

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61


CROP & FORAGE | WEED CONTROL

With increasing public and regulatory scrutiny, and resistance concerns, farmers are urged to be extra careful when applying glyphosate.

Beware complacency with glyphosate BY: ANDREW SWALLOW

W

ith glyphosate use under increasing public and regulatory scrutiny, not to mention resistance concerns, be extra careful when applying it, growers at FAR’s main agronomy event of the year, Crops 2020, were told. “Glyphosate is under quite a lot of pressure worldwide. If we want to keep using it we need to make sure we get it right and get the best result every time we use it,” FAR’s Matilda Gunnarsson said. However, in an effort to do that some growers have been using additives which in FAR’s trials have failed to improve

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efficacy, and in some cases have even reduced it. Last year’s results showed there was no benefit from adding fulvic acid alone or with citric acid, or using fish oil, ammonium sulphate, or the organosilicone surfactant Pulse to glyphosate at a range of application rates, and in the case of fulvic acid, it actually increased survival of ryegrass tillers (see Table 1). Speaking alongside Gunnarsson, Nu Farm’s Cynthia Christie said often the reason people gave for using such additives was that they dropped the pH of the spray solution, as glyphosate was known to work better in a slightly acidic solution, but unless a farm’s water was particularly hard (ie high pH) there was no need for

the additive because glyphosate itself was a weak acid, and most formulations included buffers to make sure tank mixes were close to the optimum pH of about 4.5, she explained. “There’s the odd situation where you have high pH water, for example when it’s drawn out of limestone, when there may be a case for adding a buffer but in New Zealand that’s a very rare situation,” she stressed. Christie also said when there were problems with glyphosate efficacy it was often because of over familiarity. “One of the key things we see go wrong is that people have come to expect it to work every time but you still need to pay attention to the label.”

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‘One of the key things we see go wrong is that people have come to expect it to work every time but you still need to pay attention to the label.’

Methven grower Mark Croker quizzes FAR’s Matilda Gunnarsson over glyphosate rates. Table 1: Ryegrass tiller survival 75 days after treatment g/ha of glyphosate

Green tillers in 0.25 sq m 71 days after application Fulvic acid rate: 0, 50, 100, or 150g/ha

Average tillers all fulvic rates

735

81

256

240

201

195

980

36

149

64

182

108

1470*

13

36

46

17

28

Average

44

147

116

133

*Full rate. LSD between glyphosate rates: 42 tillers. LSD between fulvic rates: 48 tillers.

For example, because glyphosate’s activity was systemic plants needed to be growing well and not stressed by drought or cold. There also needed to be an adequate amount of fresh growth for the plant to take up the chemical. If it had just been cut or grazed, results would be poor. “The critical point with ryegrass is all tillers need 5cm to 10cm of new fresh leaf,” she commented, emphasizing “all”. “Ryegrass tillers don’t connect very well; they’re almost like individual plants, so chemical taken up by one tiller goes down into the roots but it won’t go back up into the tiller next to it.” With perennial weeds such as docks, couch or Californian thistle the time of year made a difference too. In spring such species were pushing reserves from roots to shoots, so getting glyphosate to go against that flow and kill roots was a challenge. Better control would be achieved in summer or early autumn when the plant was building, rather than drawing on,

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root reserves, provided the plant was still growing well, said Christie. While FAR’s 2019 results hadn’t shown a benefit from using an organo-silicone adjuvant with glyphosate, it seems that was probably because of the timing of the trial. Christie stressed such adjuvants do help because they make applications rainfast sooner and improve efficacy on waxy leaved plants, such as ryegrass in spring.

GLYPHOSATE REMINDERS • Targets need fresh leaf and active growth. • No need to acidify in most situations. • Organo-silicone adjuvant enhances uptake, especially on waxy targets. • Don’t use multiple adjuvants. • Lower water volume usually better than high.

The wax made it “almost impossible” to get glyphosate into the leaves’ epidermal cells from the leaf surface, but the organosilicone adjuvant reduced the surface tension of the spray so it spread over the leaf, flooding through stomata into the interior of the leaf where there’s no waxy cuticle to prevent uptake, she explained. But she warned against adding more than one adjuvant because often they were antagonistic. “A mixture can unwind all the benefits of using the organo-silicone.” Asked about what water rate to use, Christie said in general glyphosate works better with lower water volumes, rather than higher – 100litres/ha rather than 300L/ha – but don’t go ridiculously low as that would require the spray to be super-fine and then drift becomes a problem. Also, the target needed to be taken into account – if there was a lot of foliage on the target, for example when using glyphosate before a silage cut, then increasing volume to 200L/ha “may make a positive difference.” In FAR’s trials the rate of glyphosate itself used did make a significant difference to control, on average 28 tillers of ryegrass in a 0.25sq m quadrat surviving to eventually regrow following a full rate application, compared to 195 from a halfrate (see Table 1). “If you were ploughing you probably wouldn’t notice but if you were notilling then you’d definitely see that ryegrass coming up in your crop later on,” Gunnarsson said. FAR is repeating the glyphosate additive trial this year, focusing on fulvic acid but using a liquid product instead of powdered. Plots had been treated either five weeks or nine days prior to the field day hence no results were available, though visual differences could be seen.

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ENVIRONMENT | FRESHWATER

Sediment traps prepared by the Pomahaka Water Care Group.

Government funds water care groups Government funding connected to Covid-19 relief programmes have helped Otago water care groups progress their work. Joanna Cuttance reports.

O

tago water care groups took advantage of opportune 2020 Government funding, but 2021 will focus on workshops supporting farmers efforts in becoming environmentally and economically sustainable. Pomahaka Water Care Group (PWCG), North Otago Sustainable Land Management (NOSLaM) and the newly formed South Otago River Care Inc. (SORC) are farmer-led initiatives. Farmers collaborate with industry stakeholders and community groups, for the common good of sustainable land practices and water quality. All three groups applied for grants through various Government funding

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schemes which became available to them in 2020. Both the PWCG and NOSLaM, were successful and SORC are still waiting to hear, but are hopeful. NOSLaM chairman Peter Mitchell said the North Otago group received a grant of $360,000 from the Jobs for Nature funding. The money would be used for extending the Clifton Falls planting project, a new project at Enfield and riparian planting, fencing, river clearing and creation of sediment traps. Mitchell said 2020 had been a good year for enhancing relationships with schools, North Otago Irrigation Company, other stakeholders and particularly with the Otago Regional Council. ORC policy staff visited farms to help them identify what farming was all about,

and the challenges faced. Mitchell said this would help them write really good policy to achieve the desired outcome and negate the need to adjust things later. “It’s really quite fantastic developing that relationship with the council,” he said. Compliance and consent were other areas where it was difficult to draw a line in the sand, he said. It was important to have trust, clarity and the same interpretation of the rules, and a good relationship with the ORC would help achieve this. Although there was frustration that there were still some unknowns out there, and it was hard to aim for something when you did not know what it was you needed to achieve, Mitchell said. Part of NOSLaM’s role was to help farmers identify where to start their

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Pomahaka secured $3.6 million in mid-2020, made up from the Provincial Growth Fund ($2.3m) and the remaining from the One Billion Trees Fund. environmental journey to enable them to reach the end goal. The North Otago area was diverse and made up of three catchments groups, within each catchment are pod groups, whose members got together for on-farm workshops. During 2021 workshop topics run by experts would include, winter grazing, identification of critical source areas, soils types and structure, effluent management, farm environmental plans, and good irrigation management. Mitchell said farmers needed support. Recognition of the things that make a difference to a problem and improve the environment was key, he said. Support was also needed for managing expectations of the wider community who expected things to be fixed tomorrow. It took time for change to be seen, and farmers needed to be able to sustainably farm both environmentally, and economically. North Otago farmers were engaged at varying levels, and Mitchell said the pods worked on a peer-pressure system, if nine out of 10 farmers in an area were voluntarily involved, hopefully the tenth would get on board. PWCG secured $3.6 million in mid2020, made up from the Provincial Growth Fund ($2.3m) and the remaining from the One Billion Trees Fund. Planting and fencing projects were well underway with 20,000 native species already planted and 5km of fencing completed. Project manager Lloyd McCall said

funding was awarded under the Jobs for Nature initiative which encouraged the use of local labour. Fencing materials and plants were sourced locally and six and a half full time positions had been created to complete the project which would involve 70,000 native species being planted in both 2021 and 2022 and 50,000 in 2023. The areas being planted were Pomahaka tributaries and sub-tributaries. Farmers who wanted to be involved had to complete a site worksheet and then these were ranked according to water quality benefits, before a decision was made. Some areas would only be fenced, some planted only and other areas with both fencing and planting. Planting consisted of three strips of riparian planting. Farmers whose land was selected had to financially contribute to the project, with grant money subsidising costs. McCall said the group was delighted to secure funding for projects which would continue for the next few years, but for 2021 PWCG wanted to return to the original objectives from when it was set up in 2015. McCall said there would be more farmer workshops, and engagement with schools and the wider community. About 50% (170) of farmers in the area were financial members and they wanted to keep them engaged. McCall was instrumental in bringing like-minded people together in early 2020 to help form the South Otago River Care Incorporation. This groupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s primary

A two pond system and an ungrazed area full of rushes is a simple sediment trap on a dairy farm near Waipahi.

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NOSLaM chairman Peter Mitchell.

objective was to encourage and support the development of farmer-led catchment groups, along with the help of the Clutha Community Trust, to set up groups in Waiwera-Kaihiku, Owaka, TuapekaWaitahuna, Lower Clutha, Lake Tuakitoto and Tokomairiro. South Otago dairy farmer and SORC chairperson Suzie Bearman said it was a big step forward getting the group up, running and incorporated. Being incorporated meant they could apply for funding to get projects underway. A huge amount of volunteer hours had been put in applying for the Governmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s shovel-ready grants and they were waiting to hear if they had been successful. If successful the funding would be used for creating sediment traps, riparian planting, creating wetlands, double ditching and battering banks. A smaller grant had been applied for to reinstate a wetland in the Tokomairiro catchment area. The group wanted to support farmers. Bearman said it was essential for any farmer doing water quality projects to record what they were doing, in images and written notes. Not only did this provide evidence for the wider community but enabled farmers to measure and celebrate their own success. In 2021 the group wanted more farmers to come on board because strong catchment groups built strong communities, she said. Benefits included access to expert advice and sharing of best practices through workshops. The group also aimed to have more community involvement by working with schools and being involved in events locally.

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ENVIRONMENT | FRESH WATER

Catchment Group field day assessing stream health of Thomson’s Creek.

Catchment group addresses water quality BY: SANDRA TAYLOR

W

hen gold diggers dug a sludge channel near the Central Otago town of Omakau back in the 19th century they didn’t give much thought to the possible long-term environmental impact of their actions. Over the years, the growth of irrigation and the intensification of farming around this channel and its tributaries has meant the sludge channel is now a source of contamination. Sediment, nutrients and e.coli into Thomson’s Creek, a muchvalued and otherwise clean waterway that runs from the surrounding hills down into the Manuherikia river. To address the issue, a group of local farmers have banded together to form the

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Thomson’s Creek catchment group and are working alongside experts to look at ways they can mitigate contamination from the sludge channel both on and off-farm. Dunedin-based environmental consultant Nicola McGrouther is facilitating the group, which has also enlisted the services of freshwater ecologists Matt Hickey and Dean Olsen. They will help monitor, measure and design ways to reduce sediment and nutrient contamination into Thomson’s Creek. The creek itself is typical of many Central Otago waterways in that it has a gravel bottom. In contrast, the sludge channel has a muddy bottom, however much of this is thick deposits of sediment on top of gravel. Dean found sediment ranged in depth from 5cm to 72cm. Tests have shown Thomson’s Creek itself

is relatively healthy. Water quality is very good at the top of the catchment, but poor at the bottom (Otago Regional Council tests at the SH85 bridge) - after the water from the channel has fed into it. Hickey and Olsen told farmers at a recent field day that water quality is a snapshot of nutrients in the water at a moment in time, whereas stream health is a more holistic assessment (of any waterway) over a long period of time. Stream health looks at factors such as the presence of invertebrates – the goodies and the baddies, fish, vegetation (in and out of stream) and bank integrity. Invertebrates live for between three months and one year and reflect water quality and habitat conditions over a period of time. Tests taken in August showed invertebrate communities were similar

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Tests have shown Thomson’s Creek itself is relatively healthy. Water quality is very good at the top of the catchment, but poor at the bottom. A proposed development of a wetland will slow the flow of water from the sludge channel and allow sediment, nutrients and E.coli to settle out.

both upstream and downstream of the channel outlet. The difference downstream was the higher number of bad invertebrates (those that can survive in poorer water quality). Mayflies (the goodies) were found to be the dominant invertebrate both upstream and downstream of the channel outlet. These are a good food source for fish. Historically, E. coli levels in Thomson’s Creek are highest between November and February. This is not typical as sunshine usually kills E. coli. This anomaly reflects the flood irrigation in the area as excess water from flood-irrigated areas flow back to waterways. This will likely improve as farmers move to more efficient, spray irrigation systems. Thomson’s Creek is home to a rare galaxiid - the Central Otago roundhead. These are an ancient, scaleless fish and Otago is home to 13 of NZ’s most endangered non-migratory galaxiids. Electro-fishing over a small area on the field day, yielded a decent-sized 40-plus year-old eel, a couple of bullies – and as with any fishing story there is always one that got away, in this case a trout. Sediment is a significant driver of ecological health – certainly the most influential in the Thomson’s creek catchment. Hickey says there is no upside to sediment (unlike nutrients where there is an initial flourish in ecological health before degradation begins) and it doesn’t

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take much sediment to impact negatively on stream health. Sediment reduction is a focus for farmers who are working towards fencing off the channel and the tributaries feeding into it.

ACTIVE WETLAND The development of an active wetland at the sludge channel outlet would allow sediment to settle out and improve the quality of the water entering Thomson’s Creek. This will complement the work farmers are doing on farms to reduce sediment and nutrient runoff. The channel would be modified to divert water into the wetland - the beginnings of which are already there. Water will flow over grasses which will slow the flow of water and capture sediment and nutrients.

Local dairy farmer Hamish Stratford was instrumental in getting the Thomson’s Creek catchment group started to address local water quality issues.

This proposal is being scoped with the help of Ministry for the Environment funding under the Manuherikia Exemplar catchment project.

GETTING STARTED Local dairy farmer Hamish Stratford was instrumental in getting the catchment group started. He says it was at a DairyNZ environment leaders forum in Wellington that he met other farmers who were already part of catchment groups and it was an evolutionary process from there. He says the Otago Regional Council had held Thomson’s Creek as an example of a degraded waterway. Hamish had talked to a lot of people who lived and farmed in the catchment about improving the water quality of their stream. “We thought that maybe we should get together and do something about it. “It would be good to turn things around and it isn’t going to take a lot, just a bit of effort from everybody within the catchment.” He says, with the help of experts, they have three years-worth of water quality data so have a lot of information about what they need to do and how they need to do it. While the catchment group mainly consists of farmers, they ultimately want to extend the group to include other stakeholders, including residents of Omakau, to ensure the local-term protection of their natural resources.

67


ENVIRONMENT | REGULATIONS

Query low-slope status BY: JOANNA GRIGG

T

o the end of November only 270 farmers had taken up the option to query the classification of their land in the Low Slope Land Viewer Map. This is the ‘line-in-the-sand’ map that will underpin the Stock Exclusion Freshwater regulations (2020). While there is no deadline to respond, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and Federated Farmers are calling for farmers to visit the Ministry for the Environment website and respond. Sam McIvor, B+LNZ chief executive, reported in his CEO Update that the organisation strongly encourages farmers to provide feedback if your land is incorrectly identified as low-slope, as this will support advocacy efforts. The online submission form is found on the ministry’s freshwater webpage, and gives landowners the chance to pin-point holdings that may be incorrectly marked as low-slope, and set-down for stock exclusion. These shaded areas show what the ministry considers to be low slope land, meaning beef cattle and deer must be excluded from lakes and rivers over one metre wide in these areas, from 1 July 2025. It can be challenged on three main grounds; that the land parcel is either high slope, it’s low slope but extensively grazed with no potential for intensification, or low slope but at high altitude. The altitude considered as ‘high’ is not specified. The maps shade land with an average slope less than or equal to 10 degrees across the land parcel, or area of land parcel used for grazing. Some steeper land is captured in the areas mapped if the average slope of the whole land parcel is less than 10 degrees. A spokesperson for the ministry says the information will be reviewed by officials, as they look at options to ensure the low slope maps are fit for purpose. Farmers concerned that marking these land parcels will alert their local council to issues can be assured that the information will be used “only as stated”.

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The spokesperson says officials will engage with councils about this work and will not pass on any farm-scale information. It encouraged land managers to respond as soon as they can, as the more information and examples it has, the better the options the ministry can develop. In July 2020, the ministry released a summary of the method used to identify the low-slope land. It’s tough reading for a layperson, with references to exploding polygons as part of geoprocessing. The gist of it is that everything inside the Land Cover Database 5 was included, then roads, built up areas and waterways taken out. Parcels of land were identified (typically bigger than paddocks or land management units) and the average slope for each primary parcel or part parcel was calculated. All land parcels with a mean slope of less than or equal to 10 degrees were selected. The important word is ‘mean slope’ – meaning there could be steep and low land, averaging out in a way that makes it eligible. Land parcels were chosen as the unit of measurement because they provide a readily available boundary with clear ownership or management responsibility, the ministry states. The high slope parcels were then revisited. Low slope areas within high slope parcels were separated out and added in. Polygons with an area greater or equal to two hectares were selected. A combination of topographic maps and satellite imagery were used. What resulted is a map that includes the majority of farm land as low slope. The ministry is asking for feedback from farmers to better understand the scale of the issues and to help identify solutions. B+LNZ believes that, as a solution, the map should be replaced with a general rule. Regional councils would then be empowered to give effect to the rule. This could be through either a 10 degree slope-trigger at the paddock scale or by

Is this really all low slope land with waterways destined for stock exclusion? Landowners have a chance to challenge the ‘green’ areas they consider as steep, extensive stocking rate or high altitude.

This parcel of high-country on the hill behind is included as low slope in the Low Slope Map (see green along the waterway). Farmers have the chance to query inclusion of ‘land parcels’ with the Ministry for the Environment.

undertaking their own regional mapping, B+LNZ says. Visit mfe.govt.nz/fresh-water/ freshwater-acts-and-regulations/stockexclusion-regulations#identifying%20 low%20slope

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ENVIRONMENT | FARM EMISSIONS

Accounting for GHGs BY: LYNDA GRAY

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lanting pine trees is a stop gap but not the solution to the problem of rising greenhouse gas emissions. That was one of the messages from GHG measurement, reporting and verification specialist Dr Carly Green at a deer industry seminar at Wanaka on Estimating GHG Emissions from Agriculture and Forestry. “Offsets, such as tree planting are part of the short-term management solution, but we need to change our behaviour to bring about real progress,” she said. Green overviewed the global and NZ GHG situation and projections; the proposed model for farm assessment and costing of emissions as well as some of the mitigations farmers could take. New Zealand’s total GHG emissions from 1990 to 2018 increased 24% to 78.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Almost half (48%) was from agriculture, and 41% from energy. NZ agriculture is reducing emissions by 1% year-on-year in absolute terms, which is positive because that is how change is measured under the climate change framework. But complacency is not an option and efforts to drive that downward trend have to continue. Methane is by far the major contributor to farm emissions, caused by ruminant animals and fertiliser use, so methanebusting strategies is where farmers should be focusing efforts, she said. “Understand where emissions are

coming from on your own farm and what drives them so that you can make the most meaningful changes.” These changes were dependent on the development of strategies for loweremission land uses, and farm systems that could maintain production with reduced stocking rates and inputs. She explained that the government’s Interim Climate Change Committee is looking towards a package of mitigations to lower emissions including methane inhibitors and vaccines; the breeding of lower-emission animals; reduced fertiliser use, low-emission seeds and crops; and genetically modified ryegrasses. A farmer levy/rebate for GHG will be phased in by 2025, aligned with the price of carbon. The formula for calculation is: Net obligations = (emissions – allocation) x levy rate. The allocation – the ‘free’ amount excluded from net obligations - is set at 95%, and any reduction should be “well signaled and predictable”. Farmers at the seminar calculated their likely obligations using their Overseer GHG number and the November 2020 carbon price of $35/tonne. The calculated amounts ranged from $700 to $3700 per/hectare.

NZ AND GLOBAL GHG EMISSIONS New Zealand’s response and policy to GHG Emissions is aligned with the Paris 2016 Agreement. NZ is one of 197 signatory countries, all of which have committed to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to address climate change. NZ’s first stage NDC is the 2030 target

INTERNATIONAL CONSULTANT Dr Carly Green is a globally recognised greenhouse gas measurement, reporting and verification scientist with a PhD in International Climate Change Policy related to agriculture, forestry and other land use sectors. From her home base at Hawea, near Wanaka, she consults for the United Nations and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and works with overseas governments and related organisations on how to reduce greenhouse emissions through land use planning and sustainable practices.

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of reducing GHG emissions by 30% below 2005 levels. The end goal is to be at a Net Zero emissions by 2050. We’re on target to meet the 2030 target, but the problem is our NDC and those of other signatory countries won’t achieve the Paris Accord’s goal of holding the global temperature increase within 1.5-2C. A more realistic figure, based on current NDC’s is around 3-4C, which is why Paris Accord signatory countries have been asked to review and reconsider their NDCs. NZ’s national response and policies to meet Paris Accord Obligations are the Emissions Trading Scheme, Zero Carbon Act and the Agriculture Sector Response. The goals of the Zero Carbon Act are to be net zero in nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide by 2050, and reduce emissions of methane to 24-47 percent below 2017 levels by 2050, with an interim target of 10% below 2017 levels by 2030.

GHG 101 The greenhouse gases are Carbon dioxide (CO2), Nitrous Oxide (N2O) and Methane (CH4). As well as helping keep global temperatures within a biological reproduction and production range they act like an atmospheric blanket by trapping and retaining energy from the sun. Not all GHG are equal in terms of trapping heat and retaining it in the atmosphere before it breaks down. Carbon dioxide is the least effective at trapping heat and breaks down over thousands of years. Methane is 25-times more effective at trapping heat and breaks down over about 12 years. Nitrous Oxide is almost 300-times more efficient than C02 at trapping heat. It has an atmospheric life of about 121 years. Useful references: Google: ‘Farm Carbon Footprint Calculator (Lincoln University) for a basic and free GHG estimation tool for on farm carbon calculation. Go to: mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/4762/ direct for reference tables showing carbon stock/ha for Pinus radiata, Douglas fir, exotic softwoods and hardwoods, and native forest.

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ENVIRONMENT | EMISSIONS

Horowhenua farmers Pat and Marlene Anderson say their carbon trading venture is “easy to run and flexible”.

Farms combating climate change BY: DR KEN GEENTY

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he often-held view that greenhouse gases (GHGs) from sheep and beef cattle contribute to climate change is being questioned. A recent study, supported by Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and led by Dr Bradley Case at the Auckland University of Technology, found up to 90% of GHG emissions from livestock are absorbed by woody trees on farms. This implies carbon neutrality meaning GHGs emitted are cancelled out by a similar amount of absorption. The CO2 is gobbled up by growing woody trees and incorporated as plant storage via photosynthesis. The insatiable appetite of trees for carbon is highlighted in a recent Nature Journal article on climate change. It

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pointed out that our famous native forests, often adjacent to farming areas, are an enormous carbon sink. Nationally they hold some 7 billion tonnes of CO2 that would normally be in the atmosphere. This GHG storage is equivalent to about 86 years of NZ’s total emissions. Although generally slow growing, most native trees are not eligible for our Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) but they collectively make a very significant contribution to GHG mitigation. Some natives planted after 1989, on what is classed as ‘forest land’ under the ETS, are eligible. Not surprisingly tree planting on farms is gaining momentum. Of 8.5 million hectares of sheep and beef farms it is estimated the 1.7m ha in trees will grow to 2m ha by 2028. Some argue a large proportion of these plantings are pine monocultures, destined for the

timber industry, often with detrimental environmental and farming consequences. With about 40m sheep, cattle and deer NZ is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with farm animals. It’s estimated that some 44% of our national greenhouse gases are emitted as methane from burping ruminants. However, the recent research showing trees on sheep and beef farms absorb a big proportion of these emissions means farms are closer to being carbon neutral with no net increase in GHGs than previously thought. Methane emitted by animals is a potent greenhouse gas with one ton having the equivalent of 25t of carbon dioxide. The less significant but highly potent nitrous oxide comes from dung fermentation. These gases, along with carbon dioxide, damage the protective ozone barrier near our stratosphere contributing to global warming. Sea level rises and adverse weather events are the well known consequences of climate change. Under the 2015 Paris Agreement our government pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Subsequently an Independent Climate Change Commission (ICCC) began working towards NZ wide carbon neutrality by 2050. Legislation soon to be passed is labelled by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as ‘ground-breaking’. B+LNZ has voiced support and agreement to help ICCC ensure the framework operates effectively at farm level. Farming contributions are gaining momentum with a primary sector action partnership on climate change, embracing B+LNZ, DairyNZ, Deer Industry NZ and Federated Farmers, looking at various options such as incorporating vegetation not eligible under the ETS. The NZ ETS administered by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to reduce impacts of GHGs on climate change is available to farmers. More information can be found on https://www.mpi.govt.nz under the heading ‘About the Emissions Trading Scheme’. For carbon credits under the ETS, farm forestry needs to be specifically for greenhouse gas mitigation and not for eventual timber production. If eligible trees are subsequently felled for clearing or for

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timber carbon credits need to be repaid. Longevity for ETS ranges from 50 to 100 years for pines, cypresses, and eucalypts and more than 100 years for many natives. Costs to prepare for ETS participation include initial preparation and planting, a start-up fee, maintenance including pruning, thinning and fencing and annual returns to MPI. Tree planting can include marginal areas on farms and at least 30 metre wide riparian strips protecting waterways. With 42ha of growing trees mitigating equivalent emissions from some 700 ewes or 100 cows, large areas of trees are needed for carbon neutrality. This is changing the face of much of our hill country farming areas. However, to date only a tiny proportion of our national forests are in the ETS with about 323,032ha from 2047 land-owner participants, about 1700 of which are farmers. There are 702,590ha of eligible forest land. Horowhenua farmers Marlene and Patrick Anderson are early adopters on their steep 800ha property in the Tararuas near Shannon. Their conservationmotivated emissions plan sees 70ha in planted pines and 90 in regenerated natives. These trees annually mitigate between four and 25t of carbon dioxide per hectare earning just over half of the Andersons’ previous farm income. About 200ha is devoted to grazing 400 sheep while the balance is retired land with mature pines and native bush. Even though their farm is atypical with a high proportion of the land in trees, the Andersons’ farm is great example of what can be done by combining conservation with the ETS. Marlene and Patrick say the MPIadministered emissions scheme is flexible and easy to run. Trading credits through a broker is a same-day service. The farm has scope to develop further areas with eucalypts as ‘nursery trees’ earning carbon credits with native bush regenerating underneath. They want to avoid monocultures on their idyllic bush-clad holding. This concept of mixed plantings not only beautifies the landscape but encourages healthy biodiversity. Even though the ETS and tree planting on farms aims at mitigation of existing animal emissions there are

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Top: Natural reversion in the foreground and planted trees behind contribute to biodiversity on the Andersons’ farm. Above: More trees are being planted on hill country, often as pine monocultures, to offset greenhouse gas emissions or for income from timber.

also opportunities to reduce emissions. The Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium says options for reduction include: • Breeding low-emitting sheep and cattle • Providing low methane-emitting feeds and additives • Use of methane-reducing vaccines. One or more of the above options could reduce GHG emissions by up to 20% and the technology will be increasingly available within the next five years. An early start has seen a “methane research breeding value” available from B+LNZ Genetics to breed animals emitting less methane. More information about strategies to reduce GHG emissions on

farms can be found on the B+LNZ website at beeflambnz.com/ search?term=greenhouse+gases Some management alternatives for reducing animal emissions coming from the Biological Emissions Reference Group (BERG) include reduced stocking rates with increased per head production and lower fertiliser applications. BERG say that sheep and beef farms have made a good start with 30% less emissions over the past 25 years. Sheep and beef farmers are very much doing their bit to lessen animal emissions impacts on climate change. • Ken Geenty is a primary industries consultant.

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HOOKED

ON DOG TRIALING A North Canterbury dog trialist is the latest in three generations in the sport. Annabelle Latz reports.

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Nicky Thompson now calls North Canterbury home, where she farms and dog trials.

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icky Thompson uses her grandad Lou’s dog trialing stick, it’s a curly tea tree stick which once had a vine growing up it. Lou’s friend put a handle on it. Born and raised on Northland’s East Coast at Mangawhai Heads, Nicky moved to the South Island 15 years ago, and now calls North Canterbury home. As an eight year-old Nicky was gifted her first Huntaway by her dad. Her name was Dice and everywhere Nicky went, she went. Dice was bred to Lou’s Huntaway which is where Nicky’s dad Roddy’s dog “Wag” came from. “The first time I ever ran a dog was at Hobson just out of Dargaville, when I was about 16 years old with my heading bitch ‘Betty.’ After yarding my sheep it’s fair to say I was hooked on dog trials,” Nicky says. Later that season she had her first open win at Papakura in the long head, followed by a third the following week, qualifying her for the South Island and New Zealand champs in Lowburn, Central Otago. Roddy was judging a Hunt event at Hobson and also ran his heading dog Kip in both Heading events. “I remember grandad being there watching, he loved it. He’d ring up every week to see how we went, or read the results in the paper.” Lou is 97 and lives with his wife Wylma near Bayleys Beach in Northland (appeared in Country-Wide May 2020). Nicky has always acknowledged the beauty of

having three generations of dog trialists in the family, and loves the fact that grandad Lou is still out training his own pups. In fact, Lou has put his Heading bitch to one of Roddy’s dogs, the litter is due at Christmas, and Lou will keep one pup to train. “Lou had a hip replacement a couple of years ago which helps keep him out and about on his 41-hectare coastal farm.” In 2019 both Nicky and Roddy were competing at the New Zealand Champs in Kaikohe, so Lou and Wylma drove there for the day to see the action. “Everyone always told me how awesome it was to have grandad around, and that he won’t be around forever. But I think he’s growing younger,” smiles Nicky, “he’s pretty special.” Nicky has been judging for five years, seeing it as an opportunity to learn and “put a bit back into our sport.” She runs six dogs, and has Tommy Rocket, her Fox Terrier. “The last couple of years have been really busy with work, securing a lease block and doing casual work in the North Canterbury area. The quality of my team has deteriorated which I find really frustrating but I’m really determined to get a nice capable team of dogs back…. Sentimental value got in the way, I kept some old dogs longer than I should have!” Nicky’s standout dog to date was her Huntaway Base, who she broke in herself. Country-Wide

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Top: Nicky Thompson has had a dog or three at her heel most of her life, and thanks her grandad and dad for her love of the sport and working with dogs. Above left: Lou Thompson may be 97, but he still loves training sheep dogs. Above right: Roddy Thompson enjoys the life as a contract musterer in Northland, he has dedicated hundreds of hours over the years to dog trialing.

“At one stage I had three Open dogs, which was a good challenge. They were all so different to work so it was no walk in the park.” Nicky has fond memories of her childhood amongst dogs and great people. “I was a really homesick kid so was the old man’s shadow in school holidays and weekends, with my dog and pony.” The South Island struck a chord with Nicky and in 2005, she landed herself a job at Nokomai Station in northern Southland. She says dog trialing is one of the few sports where it doesn’t matter whether you’re male, female, young or old. Although it’s not a team sport, you’re all friends at the end of the day. “Dog trialing, it’s a great leveller. You can win one week and lose next week.” Nicky’s message to fellow dog trialists is similar to that she’s learned from Lou. “Get into it and give it all you’ve got. It’s like anything - the more time you put into your dogs the more you get out of them.” Lou says it’s great to see Nicky enjoying the sport so much, a seed that was sowed long ago. “I’m very proud of her.” Both Roddy and Nicky took a shine to Country-Wide

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the Huntaways early in their careers; Lou remembers Roddy always taking a Huntaway when he had to shift some sheep. “Huntaways get very good, they’re quite brainy,” says Lou, remembering his standout dog Lad. Roddy, a contract musterer, has recently moved back to Northland with his wife Janice. Lou enjoys watching him train his dogs, and has had many quality dogs in his career and been in many runoffs. Lou admits he would have liked to have done more dog trialing over the years, but work got in the way a fair bit, although he still spent plenty of time training dogs and competing in local Northland competitions. “We couldn’t travel all over the country like they do now!” he laughs. Lou is happy to pass his knowledge, which hasn’t changed much over the years. “Get good pups, and make sure your dogs cast well and fall nice – aim for 12 o’clock. And don’t use erratic dogs, make sure they go up around the top, and not too close.” Roddy never really got into dog trialing until his late twenties, but started training dogs in his

teens on the farm Lou was working at on the Pouto Peninsula. The Zig Zag and Straight Hunt are his judging areas for dog trialing, and he agrees with Lou he’s always been about Huntaways. Dog trailing is all the better for having Nicky there alongside him. “Right from when she was a kid, all she wanted was a dog and a horse.” His 32 years of judging under his belt has created wonderful memories. “In some places you get way out into the boon docks in the back of Taranaki, and you get there and there is a fantastic community.” Roddy has a team of six dogs, three of which he competes with; two Huntaways Tone and Doug, and a heading dog Bruce. He’s lining up his first competition at the end of January, and hopefully then down to Greenvale in Southland for Nationals. He’s in awe of his dad who’s still training dogs. “That’s the beauty of it, there’s no danger in it. I hope I’ll still be training them when I’m 97. I just say develop the strong points of your dog, and the weak points will look after themselves.” 73


COMMUNITY | SOCIAL MEDIA

Images of Lake Hawea Station are shared on Instagram, where friends and customers can follow day-to-day life and create connections.

Social media highlights rural life BY: ANNABELLE LATZ

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ocial media are loved and loathed, often simultaneously. While Instagram is chock-ablock full of everything from stunning landscapes, gym selfies and downward dog yoga poses, fabulous animal photos and warm fuzzy images that remind us that life is pretty cool, there is an increasing presence of rural people doing rural things and celebrating rural life. Scroll through Instagram and you’ll be seeing more and more Swannies and Red Bands, teams of dogs, grubby four-wheeldrives, stag country and remote huts. Filters and air brushing will be at a minimum. It’s true-blue Kiwi life in the form of high country getaways, studs, day-to-day farm life, and hunters out in the back blocks exploring promising scrub. Mainland Gatherers is an Instagram page featuring two hearty blokes we’ll call Puka and Terry.

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Based in Canterbury, they’ve got a good few years hunting under their belts and figured social media were a great way to keep current what they do and share how much they love it, particularly for the sake of their daughters. “Our wives actually set it up. It was primarily to show our kids what we got up to before they were old enough to tag along.” They have two young daughters each. They describe Instagram as an “awesome tool” that has allowed more inclusion of their children in their adventures. “Both our four year-olds have caught blue cod and been scouting for deer.” Puka and Terry have been hunting most of their lives – Terry since he tagged along with this father shooting bunnies, while Puka started a bit later in life. “Puka got seriously into pig hunting and finally came from the dark side over to deer stalking.” They have also embraced YouTube. “We decided to do YouTube videos so the kids had a video to watch rather than other

rubbish online. They love it.” Initially Terry and Puka spent a lot of time on their social media page, as much as an hour a day, which was part and parcel of attending to their growing audience. But then they remembered the reason they set it up in the first place and that was for their kids, not their audience. “It allows us to capture interesting adventures for the kids to watch and refer back to, even in years to come.” They’re lucky now to spend an hour a week tending to the page, admitting that more time is needed to keep it sustainable and growing. But such is the way with fulltime jobs and busy family life. Reaping sponsorship is not a goal of theirs through their Instagram exposure. “We are real and tell it how we are.” Political incorrectness may feature from time to time, and they like the fact they aren’t restricted and can tell the truth. “We are not the best hunters by any means, we just enjoy being out in the bush and gathering a feed for our families. That’s our happy spot.”

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Left: Tom Small at Blairich Station uses social media as a tool to show many aspects of station life up the Awatere Valley in Marlborough, including its beauty. Below: Terry and Puka, (Puka on the left) of Mainland Gatherers, use Instagram as a way to record their hunting and fishing adventures with their young daughters, like this photo on a misty morning in Fiordland.

STUD STAYS IN TOUCH Tom Small co-manages Blairich Station, a Merino sheep stud up the Awatere Valley in Marlborough, belonging to his parents, Ron and Sue Small. He’s been involved in the operation for 11 years, and about five years ago decided to join the social media trend as a way to keep in touch with clients, friends, and other interested parties or businesses with whom they have things in common. He’s gained his knowledge about best utilising his Instagram and Facebook page from following other pages and posting comments or questions on other posts. “It’s a good way to share knowledge and ideas.” Tom admits he doesn’t spend enough time using these tools, which can be a bit of a juggle when things are busy on the land. He has certainly seen the direct positive effect that social media have had on the stud business through linking up with international clients. “We have gained ram sales as well as having export enquiries, which have led to rams going to Argentina. It also helps us to connect with our markets, especially our wool, which is sold to Devold of Norway.” On a local level Tom says social media platforms are a good way to advertise for staff and allow applicants to learn their way around Blairich Merino Stud passively. “It’s a big tool for advertising for staff,

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it's all I use now. And it’s also good for screening applicants.” He said keeping things “interesting and frequent” to keep up the engagement with his audience can be hard at times. “It's a bit of a guessing game as to what people actually want to see.” Sharing the daily life of seasonal activities is a focus for Tom. “To let people know what we are up to, anything that may be informative or if we've trialled something and want to let people know how its going, for example, the area of genetics and genetic gains.” Tom has seen a shift in the use of social media in the farming sector and said it didn’t used to be the promotional tool it is now, and it creates connections that those not using it may be missing out on. “I would say it’s mainly the younger generation using Instagram and Facebook for their farming business. But some of the most active accounts I follow are from people older than me who use it professionally as a marketing tool.”

SHARE WAY OF LIFE In Central Otago, Geoff and Justine Ross and their team use Instagram to share the unique way of life at Lake Hawea Station, (LHS). Although well accustomed to the ways of marketing, (being the founders of 42BELOW vodka) Geoff and Justine and

their two children still go about life much like social media’s not there, and ensure this tool doesn’t distract them from the moments of life in front of them. “We are also not naturally too concerned about what others are up to – we are more interested in walking to the beat of our own drum.” They bought LHS in 2018. However, this social media platform quickly became a wonderful way to connect intermittently with the rural (often very remote) communities both in New Zealand and overseas, and those in sectors related to their production of fibre and meat. Instagram offers them a way to “take the temperature of the sector” on any given day, and to see what stories are resonating. “The information economy is powerful, as our sector macro trend is about clients wanting to connect to the source of their fibre and wool.” They said Instagram is an answer to this, providing three key components. It enables people to see quickly what they’re up to and engage in “day to day chat”. Through posts and stories on Instagram, LHS’s brand values can be scanned as well as well as the interests and engagement patterns with partners. This means viewers can do primary research into what LHS is about before looking deeper and going onto their website.

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COMMUNITY | NUMBERS

STATS

S T C A F STATS STATS

FACTS

FACTS STATS Lies, damn lies, and statistics Going by the numbers doesn’t tell the full story as Nicola Dennis explains.

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once attended a fiction writers group by accident. Having stumbled across an advertisement for local writers on Facebook, I thought “hey I’m a writer” and next thing I knew I was in a circle of people who were reading out draft chapters from their dystopian zombie novels. Eventually, I was called on to talk about my “work’ and I awkwardly mumbled through something about wool. I learned a lot of things that night and one of them went something along the lines of “novelists tell the truth with lies and journalists tell lies with the truth”. I’m not actually a journalist (I find myself explaining this a lot), but touché. They are not exactly wrong. In today’s hyper-politicised world, there are plenty of thinly veiled opinion pieces weaponised with cherrypicked facts. There are also plenty of numbers being abused by well-meaning writers who perhaps aren’t

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quite woke enough to understand that statistics have rights too. Here is a small, eclectic list of examples.

DOUBLE TROUBLE WITH LITTLE NUMBERS Just hours into the Labour day weekend, I heard the radio announcer say this Labour weekend’s road deaths were already double the total for the whole of last Labour weekend. Wowsers I thought, until I heard that last year’s road toll was one person. Okay, so two is technically double one, but not in the same way that, say, 14 would be double seven. Or, 2000 is double 1000. We have encountered trouble with unspecified magnitude gains before. Who remembers the EAT Lancet report? The supporting evidence for that monstrosity was that eating a lot of meat each day increases your likelihood of dying of heart disease or cancer later in life by 40%. In other words, if you really

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So, next time the newsreader announces that “scientists” have found some innocuous food group doubles or triples your risk of something nasty you can join me in screaming “tell us the actual numbers” into the television set.

hit the meat for long periods of time then a hazy longitudinal study suggests you may increase your annual risk of popping your clogs from 1% to 1.4%. That’s still a 40% increase, but suddenly nobody is too fussed. So, next time the newsreader announces that “scientists” have found some innocuous food group doubles or triples your risk of something nasty you can join me in screaming “tell us the actual numbers” into the television set.

IS THIS MORE THAN NORMAL? If we turn our attention back to the road toll, there is something else going on here that needs to be considered. It’s sad to lose anyone to the road, but it happens all the time. There are generally 300-400 deaths and 12,000 to 14,000 injuries on New Zealand roads each year. Or, roughly, one death and 36 injuries per day. But, not all days are equal. On a long weekend, there are more cars on the road and more journalists listening in on the emergency services’ radio channels. In the end, there were seven deaths across this Labour day holiday which is actually a pretty typical number for Labour weekend if we look over the records.

is fascinating. In that case, let me make up my own meaningless death statistic. Did you know that a motorcyclist has been killed each Labour weekend since detailed recording began six years ago? Maybe take your motorcycle out on a different weekend.

PROPORTION CONTROL It’s a quirk of mathematics that you can’t explain a concept without giving an example that makes you seem unhinged. At university, one of my statistics lecturers used to bow over his overhead projector and describe scenarios in which teenagers would drive at the edge of cliffs to see if they could stop in time. He thought he was teaching us about probability, but what we were really learning was that this dude probably had people imprisoned in his basement. Anyway, let’s assume I eat 1kg of cake. If I eat nothing else, then the cake is 100% of my diet for the day which reflects poorly on me. If I follow that cake with 4kg of vegetables then the cake is now 20% of my daily intake which sounds more reasonable.

” ! s r e b m u n l a u t c a e h t s u “tell Last year which was an oddity with only one death. One death is still bad, but it seems unfair to expect the three days of Labour weekend to outperform the average day on the road. What question are we actually trying to answer when we tune in to hear about the road toll? I don’t know for sure, but I think we probably want a sense of how dangerous the roads are beyond our driveways. In that case, it might make more sense to report on the total number of crashes. The tally of injuries suggests that there are plenty of these taking place. After all the difference between a crash that causes an injury and a crash that causes death is mostly luck and engineering. Although, there is a chance that we are simply tuning in for death, because death

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However, I have still eaten 1kg of cake. The fact that I followed it up with an obscene amount of vegetables is not irrelevant, but it doesn’t change the fact that I have a problem with my cake consumption. Likewise, when people say agriculture contributes 47.8% of NZ’s carbon emissions it hides the fact that NZ, like everywhere else, has a growing problem with burning fossil fuels for transport. NZ has a small population and happens to export enough meat and milk to feed 20-40 million people. This means our agricultural emissions dilute our transport emissions to 21.1%. It also means countries that import our meat and dairy products get a kind of free ride on some of their agricultural emissions within the global accounting system that preoccupies world leaders. We won’t get bent out of shape about that though because NZ has a similar advantage when it comes to

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Is it really appropriate to talk about emissions in percentage terms? I would argue it is not. Especially when you are trying to shrink the whole pie not reshuffle the pieces. the offshore emissions produced by our imported consumer goods. Is it really appropriate to talk about emissions in percentage terms? I would argue it is not. Especially when you are trying to shrink the whole pie not reshuffle the pieces. If a physician decides my hypothetical cake snuffling self needs to lose some weight, they are not going to entertain the thought of chopping off my legs… even if they technically make up 30% of my weight.

WHEN BAMBOOZLING NUMBERS HIDE BAD DEALS

BOOKS

While we were, briefly, on the topic of greenhouse gas emissions. Have you heard the one about the scientists that want to get rid of all the beef breeding cows to reduce NZ agricultural emissions by 5%? To be fair to the journalists covering this one, there is nothing more soul destroying than poring over a scientific paper on greenhouse gas modelling. I know some of these greenhouse gas coefficients by heart, but would still rather retrieve a NAIT tag from the offal hole than sit down to read about them.

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But sit down I did and, guess what, there is nothing of value in this story. The research paper discovers, as any lay person at the pub could, that if you decide that almost all of the greenhouse gas emissions of a dairy cow should be attributed to her milk production and not her calf, then you can say that the dairy cow’s calf is “greener” than a calf from a beef cow that does not have the luxury of “hiding” her emissions in a vat of milk. Even though the dairy cow and her calf both consume more pasture (and therefore emit more methane) than a specialist beef-producing animal. It all comes down to whether you believe emissions should be measured on their own or if they should be measured per kilogram of food produced. The latter is fine as long as you also believe that the climate change rapture will also be delivered on a per kilogram basis. I can’t fathom why researchers from the Netherlands are drawing battle lines between dairy and beef producers in NZ. But I can say that, even if the numbers stacked up, a 5% improvement in emissions would not be an adequate

reward for the hell that would ensue if beef farmers were asked to part with their beloved Angus.

CORRELATION DOES NOT PROVE CAUSATION I hasten to point this out because it seems to be so well known that my word processor automatically finished that subtitle for me. But, just because two things happen at the same time, does not mean that one caused the other. Over the past 20 years the NZ sheep flock has decreased by 13.5 million breeding ewes to 16.85m woolly mamas. Meanwhile, the number of vehicles on NZ roads increased by 1.6m to 4.36m dinosaur burners. So the number of breeding ewes halved while the number of cars doubled, could this be a coincidence? I bet I could come up with a semi-plausible theory about scores of ewes dying in roadside crashes. But, no, it’s just a coincidence. But I might put that one in the bank in case I break out into fiction writing with my new buddies.

We have a range of books for sale on our website Go to: www.nzfarmlife.co.nz/shop

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COMMUNITY | TECHNOLOGY

Showcase for lockdown video BY: KIRSTIN MILLS

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f you have children/ grandchildren of a certain age, chances are you’ll have heard of TikTok. Chances also are that you may think it’s merely a platform where mainly young people share videos of themselves doing choreographed dances or lip syncing. While there certainly are an enormous number of such videos, there is increasingly more to the platform. TikTok allows people to post shortform videos – we are talking less than a minute and often less than 15 seconds. During the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns in 2020, the use of TikTok surged as people around the world sought ways to keep entertained while stuck at home. Some users made videos based around being in lockdown. Perhaps the most mainstream of these was the Washington Post’s account (@washingtonpost) run by Dave Jorgenson who spent lockdown making videos in his apartment. You may have also heard of comedian Sarah Cooper (@ whatchugotforme) who spectacularly lip-synced Donald Trump. But there were also less wellknown people capturing the moment, including some posing as God, the devil or aliens trying to understand the chaos that was 2020. Political activists also use TikTok to organise and share content. The platform has been used extensively in the Black Lives Matter movement. To find such content you do not necessarily need to follow the people posting – you can use hashtags, eg #BlackLivesMatter or #BLM. You can use hashtags to find

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all sorts of content. For example, posts with tags like #autistictiktok and #actuallyaustistic has some great content that can help people learn more about people on the autism spectrum and how they communicate. Or you can check out things like #nzfarming “#farmingnewzealand to see rural content from all around New Zealand. TikTok is also used to share interests or hobbies – pick the thing you are interested in and do a search. Take photography - enter “#photography” and you’ll get people showing photography tips and photos. Foodies can also enjoy TikTok by checking out the likes of #foodtiktok, #tiktokfood or #recipesoftiktok. You can discover new music, often from the tracks people choose to background their dance videos. A Kiwi high school student Joshua Nanai (known as Jawsh_685), has had huge success after one of his tracks, the catchy Laxed (Siren Beat), blew up on TikTok as the background to one of the many dance challenges on the platform. The song was then sampled by singer Jason Derulo for his song Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat) and the track hit number one around the world. But it is not just songs in the background you can discover. Original musicians also use TikTok to promote themselves, with #originalmusic being one way to find some good musicians, who often post their tracks to Spotify so you can explore from there. Lastly, as if the internet were not already full of cute animal videos, there are endless videos of dogs and cats just being adorable.

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Comedian Sarah Cooper found world-wide fame through lip-syncing Donald Trump.

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A video explaining how to help a nonverbal person.

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Some of the videos that appear when you search on New Zealand farming.

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You can learn photography tips on TikTok.

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One of the many recipe videos on TikTok.

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One of the videos in the account of Joshua Nanai, aka Jawsh_685

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SOLUTIONS | TRAINING

Diploma more than just a qualification

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cott Adams’ large Marlborough property with its mix of native trees, forestry plantation, grape growing, honey production and sheep and beef farming that has been in the family since 1851. Scott runs Coatbridge Farm in the Wairau Valley with his brother Whitley and parents Geoff and Liz, and recently completed his diploma in Agribusiness Management after plugging away on it for several years. Both the vastness of the 1600-hectare property and the varied use pose plenty of challenges for the management team. It is made up of 800ha of native bush and trees, 400ha of exotic forestry, a 375ha sheep and beef operation and 24ha of sauvignon blanc grapes. The grapevines require close management from October to April; while lambing and shearing take over during winter and spring. “There’s not much down time,” Scott says. Scott says he gained new skills from undertaking the diploma and recommends others take the opportunity to upskill with the qualification. “It is a course that is worthwhile doing. It is a way of getting a higher level qualification while you are still working. “It is a good thing for young people to do themselves or with the encouragement of their employer to help them gain new skills and move up the ladder.” The programme covers four modules:

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Human Resource Management, Resource Management and Sustainability, Financial Management and Planning and Business Planning and Management. Scott says the financial workings of the business are his strength and he enjoyed the modules on finance and business planning in particular. “It has helped me to be more up to date with cash-flow and budgeting and with decisions on what to do and where to spend money in the business.” “It helps you understand the implications of your spending and your responsibilities with tax, GST and managing expenditure.” He found developing ideas, goals and plans most valuable and used a new water storage reservoir as his case study for a business development plan. Using a case study or business plan helped identify whether a piece of work or project was justified. “It also helps you know where you are going, so you do your research and then work within your budget rather than just doing a project and paying for it later.” Scott says the family has a range of sustainable management practices, evidenced by the property still flourishing after being in the family for over 160 years. The grape growing operation is following the practices of Sustainable Wine Growing New Zealand. With resource management and sustainability a hot topic he found this

Scott Adams.

module useful with regard to the pastoral operation. “It is thinking about what you are doing and how you are doing it, and how you can be conscious for example with the products you are using in your environment, like fertilisers and chemicals.” Scott says he’s pleased to complete his diploma after starting it some time ago and encourages others to consider doing it. “It is a challenge you can set yourself and achieve it. It is not all about the business, there is a bit of personal development as well challenging yourself to get a qualification.” The Diploma in Agribusiness is fees-free under the Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund. For more information on this and to register your interest for 2021 go to www. primaryitodiploma.co.nz or call 0800 20 80 20. • Supplied by Primary ITO.

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SOLUTIONS | FUNGICIDE

New novel fungicide for wheat

Left: There is a new novel cereal fungicide for wheat. Right: Bernard Harris.

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n the sponsors’ area of FAR’s Crops 2020 event companies were promoting their latest products which, in Corteva’s case, was novel cereal fungicide Questar. “It’s a completely new mode of action,” R&D manager Bernard Harris told visitors. Harris said it had market-leading activity against septoria and was best used as a protectant, partnered with a stacked DMI (triazole) such as Kestrel. A mix was best

used in sequence with an SDHI mix at a later or earlier timing. The active ingredient, fenpicoxamid, was a natural product made by fermentation of soil-borne Streptomyces bacteria and was the first of a new class of fungicides called picolinamides. As such it had a key role to play in resistance management, providing an alternative to SDHI fungicides. “Resistance to SDHI’s has developed

quickly overseas,” he said. Corteva says there’s a moderate to high risk of cereal diseases becoming resistant to picolinamides hence why Questar should be tank-mixed with another fungicide with an alternative mode of action. The Questar label stresses tank mixes must be used immediately with constant agitation. Harris said Questar is compatible with most plant growth regulators and broad-leaved herbicides.

HB4 – It’s not a pencil

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ave you heard of HB4? It’s not a grade of pencil, but a genetic brand-name for a stack of traits which, among other things, renders crops droughttolerant with transferred sunflower genes. Over the past couple of years HB4 Soya has been approved in nations that collectively grow 80% of that crop, though uptake to date has been limited largely because China has yet to approve imports of resulting grain.

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Now HB4 wheat, which owner Bioceres says has, on average, out-yielded conventional strains by 20% in droughtstress trials over the past decade, has been approved in Argentina. “Regulatory processes” for the wheat are also “advancing” in the United States, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia, it says, with plans to seek approval in Australia, Russia and certain Asian and African nations. Unsurprisingly, New Zealand’s not on the list.

Some sunflower in your wheat?

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FARMING IN FOCUS

Top left: Range of honey sold in the Mt Somers Store owned by Mt Somers Station. Top right: Wheat planted on April 1 at Blair Drysdaleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s farm. Centre left: Nicky Thompson has been judging dog trials for five years. Centre right: Cushla and Guy Fraser are converting their flock to shortfleeced Wiltshires. Above: Deer farming is another income stream for Mt Somers Station.

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Top left: Heifer mating has proved to be relatively successful for the Frasers. Top right: Sharing daily life at Lake Hawea Station on social media is a real team effort. Centre left: Young calves on Mt Somers Station. Centre right: Guy Fraserâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s strengths are more machinery-orientated. Above: Guy Fraser drives through the Taringamotu River, which bisects the farm.

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SPRAY-ON SHEEP BLOWFLY TREATMENT ACTIVE CONSTITUENT: 50 g/L DICYCLANIL

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* Up to 2 months before shearing.

New Zealand’s new flystrike solution. www.jurox.co.nz Products that work. People who care. ACVM registration Number A11349

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Jurox New Zealand Limited 8 Kordel Place, East Tamaki, Auckland, 2013 Customer service 0800 587 696 customerservice@jurox.co.nz

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Profile for NZ Farmlife Media

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