Page 1

QUAD SAFETY Innovative GPS technology tracks rider behavioural patterns. PAGE 13

MANAGEMENT A group of South Canterbury farmers take soil sampling to a new level. PAGE 30-31


MARCH 18, 2014: ISSUE 557 


SOIL SCIENTIST Doug Edmeades says he is “appalled” at the poverty of technical advice given to farmers on soil fertility and levels criticism at the training given to sales reps by the two big fertiliser companies. The correct application of nutrients could bring out “tremendous potential” in our sheep and beef sector, he says. “It is so important – the big ticket on your farm and we are not getting it right.”

The need for greater innovation in food technology comes from growing competiton in global markets.

Ballance and Ravensdown both refute his criticisms, saying there is a high level of training for their representatives and good oversight of the industry. But Edmeades, managing director of a nutrient management company, believes fertiliser companies are more focused on a battle for market share than providing advice to their farmer shareholders. He made the comments at a recent Beef + Lamb NZ ‘Farming for Profit’ day held at Helensville, near Auckland. Edmeades worked at Ruakura Research Station for 20 years –

AHUWHENUA LINKS All three finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy to determine the top Maori dairy farm have two things in common. Firstly, all the farms are in the hands of multiple owners, Maori trusts that have cooperated to bring together enough land to instigate a viable farming operation. Tiaki Hunia, who heads the Putauaki Trust – Himiona Farm near Te Teko, says the model his and other trusts are now adopting is the way of the future to unlock blocks of Maori land. Secondly, all three farms have links to Hunia himself. He is the chairman of the Putauaki Trust, which owns Himinoa Farm, named after his late father. Meanwhile, his trust is also a shareholder in nearby Ngati Awa Farms Ltd – Ngakauroa Farm and as deputy Maori trustee he has links to the third finalist Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd, near Hawera. Hosting a field day, last week, at Himinoa Farm, Tiaki Hunia is seen here at the Kokohinau marae, opposite the farm. More pages 10 and 11.

including 10 years as national science leader for soils and fertiliser research. Believing that science reforms had commercialised science he left in 1997 to set up his own company, Agknowledge. “I have learnt in the last 10-12 years wandering up and down this country looking at farms that there is considerable confusion out there about fertiliser,” says Edmeades. There’s no legal definition of fertiliser, no ‘fertiliser act’ and anyone can sell it. There’s no standard certification for

those selling fertiliser and any Joe Bloggs can call themselves a specialist in soil fertility, he says. Edmeades says many farmers could half their fertiliser costs by more focused application of nutrients, using soils tests to establish which are deficient. And New Zealanders have lost sight of the value of clover pasture as the cheapest nutritional feed available. They have forgotten how to grow it, but the hard seeds are still in pastures and could be brought back to life TO PAGE 6

Our view...

Lock the gate! RURAL NEWS believes it is time for farmers around the country to take a stand against the constant carping and attacks by Fish & Game New Zealand on the dairy farming sector. We are calling on all New Zealand farmers to refuse any further access to or across their land by fishers and hunters. It is clear that their governing body, Fish & Game, has no respect or regard for the dairy farming sector, and therefore do not want to be associated with the farming sector – including hunting and fishing on their land. Rural News acknowledges it is a serious call to ask farmers to block access and one not to be taken lightly. However, we believe as an advocate for the New Zealand farming sector and farmers it is time Fish and Game’s incessant and anti-farming attitude was challenged. The monopolistic lobby has been beating the same antidairying drum for more than a decade. Its myopic, negative view of the sector and clear non-appreciation of any of the work done by farmers and the wider agricultural sector to improve water quality over the years has become tiresome. Its latest offering – the dodgy online survey again attacking the dairy sector – is the latest example of the length to which the lobby group will go to tarnish the New Zealand economy’s star performer. Rural News says enough is enough. We believe that most fishers and hunters understand the importance of dairying to our economy. Most will also acknowledge the work and resources put in by stakeholders – farmers, workers and processors – to promote sustainability and improve water quality. However, it is clear the executive of Fish and Game does not. Therefore we are calling on farmers to lock their gates to all fishers and hunters until they can convince their governing body to drop its adversarial approach to the farming sector and play a more constructive role in working hand-in-hand with the sector. Until then we say to farmers, keep the gates locked! Let us know what you think: editor@ruralnews.co.nz See more on Fish and Game’s stance in this issue

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Farmers coping well – Guy SU DES H KISSU N sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

NEWS������������������������������ 1-18 WORLD������������������������������ 19 MARKETS�������������������� 20-21 AGRIBUSINESS����������� 22-23 HOUND, EDNA������������������� 26 CONTACTS������������������������� 26 OPINION����������������������� 26-29 MANAGEMENT����������� 30-35 ANIMAL HEALTH�������� 36-40 MACHINERY AND PRODUCTS������������������ 41-45 RURAL TRADER���������� 46-47

HEAD OFFICE Top Floor, 29 Northcroft Street, Takapuna, Auckland 0622 Phone: 09-307 0399 Fax: 09-307 0122 POSTAL ADDRESS PO Box 3855, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140 Published by: Rural News Group Printed by: PMP Print CONTACTS Editorial: editor@ruralnews.co.nz Advertising material: davef@ruralnews.co.nz Rural News online: www.ruralnews.co.nz Subscriptions: subsrndn@ruralnews.co.nz ABC audited circulation 81,232 as at 31.12.2013

WAIKATO FARMERS are coping well despite the prolonged spell of dry weather, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy. On a farm visit last week with Rural Support Trust and Federated Farmers at Te Kauwhata, Guy heard that the trust had received only five calls last month; this time last year Waikato was gripped by drought and the trust phones were ringing hot. “That says to me farmers are coping very well,” Guy says. He thanked the Waikato/Hauraki/Coromandel Rural Support Trust, saying the support network is working well. Trust chairman Neil Bateup says most farmers had enough feed – silage harvested during the great 2013 spring and PKE. “The price of PKE is slightly up but given the good payout it’s affordable,” he says.

Bateup says after facing droughts in 2008 and last year, many farmers have adapted to managing their farms during prolonged periods of dry. Federated Farmers Hauraki/Coromandel president Kevin Robinson says the dry weather has affected pockets of farmers in the region. “There’s a big range; some are doing good, others are nearing the end of their supply of feed and are drying off. There are others who have bought additional feed to bridge the gap and continue milking.” The Government has not been asked to declare an ‘adverse event’ in any region. Guy says MPI have been providing him with regular updates. “I’ll be watching these dry conditions around the North Island closely. Farmers are not interested in handouts, but they want to know the Government understands the challenges they are facing. That’s why I’m here today to see firsthand how they are coping with

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Waikato farmer Peter Buckley discussing the region’s dry conditions at Te Kauwhata last week.

the conditions. “In general, farmers are doing a good job managing their feed and making early decisions to dry off milking cows or sell stock.” He encouraged farmers to seek professional advice and utilise Rural Sup-

port Trusts, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ who can provide information about managing dry conditions. Farmers can also approach IRD for tax flexibility on a case by case basis. @rural_news facebook.com/ruralnews

Fishy survey roundly rejected SU DES H KISSU N sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

A DUBIOUS survey in which respondents said dairying was damaging New Zealand’s waterways and international reputation has been roundly rejected by stakeholders and the Government. Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says he took the Fish and Game New Zealand survey “with a pinch of salt”. “You get a survey response if you ask the right questions,” he told Rural News. Guy says he sees farmers as environmentalists: they have done a lot in a short time and know they need to do more. DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle isn’t surprised the survey results paint a negative picture of public attitudes to dairy farming. He doesn’t see the survey work as particularly rigorous or impor-

tant. “They are playing politics in an election year and dairy farmers are the convenient football to kick around,” he says. “I think New Zealanders understand dairying is important to the success of the New Zealand economy and that dairy farmers are an important part of our community. They just want to see the industry acting responsibly and managing its impact. “We don’t need another survey to tell us what we already know – that New Zealanders care what the dairy industry is doing to live up to their expectations on environmental stewardship.” Federated Farmers environment spokesman Ian Mackenzie says the survey failed to take into account that many of the policies the respondents considered important had already been addressed. “In the Fish and Game survey, people

are concerned that the Government needs to put policies in place,” Mackenzie said. “Given the Government has put in place everything the respondents said they wanted, but were not aware of before they commented, I consider this poll to be a bit of a lame duck.” Through DairyNZ farmers are spending $11 million on environmentrelated issues. Also, farmers are spending a lot of money on farms to improve their environmental credentials. Fonterra farmers have fenced 22,000km of waterways, all GPS mapped. DairyNZ estimates Fonterra farmers have spent $100-200 million on this. Farmers have also planted trees along waterways and developed nutrient budgets, Guy says. Under the Government primary growth partnership (PGP) programmes the industry is looking at nutrient run-off and new technol-

ogy on farms. “In my view farmers are environmentalists; they realise they need to return the land – for future generations to be able to enjoy – to a better state than when they took it over.” Asked if such lame-duck surveys were adding to farmer stress, Guy said farmers deal with stress all the time – snow storms, droughts or criticism in the local paper. “Farmers deal with all sorts of stress. The challenge for agriculture in New Zealand is to keep selling the story and promoting what we do: producing sustainable food under world-leading food safety systems and strong animal welfare practices.” Guy acknowledged there was “a bit of a tail”, but insisted farmers dragging the industry down by bad practices were being dealt with. • See page 26

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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Fonterra to cop a guilty plea PA M TI PA pamelat@ruralnews.co.nz

FONTERRA SAYS IT “accepts” four charges laid by the Ministry for Primary Industries over its false-alarm whey protein scare. A spokesman told Rural News it will plead guilty when the four charges laid by MPI relating to breaches of the Animal Products Act come before the courts. MPI filed the charges in the Wellington District Court last week. They are: • Processing dairy product not in accordance

with its risk management programme • Exporting dairy product that failed to meet relevant animal product standards • Failing to notify its verifier of significant concerns that dairy product had not been processed in accordance with its risk management programme • Failing to notify the director-general as soon as possible that exported dairy product was not fit for intended purpose. MPI said it would not comment further as the matter is before the courts.

The charges are laid against Fonterra Ltd (Fonterra), a wholly owned subsidiary of Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd. Fonterra’s managing director people, culture and strategy Maury Leyland says Fonterra accepts responsibility for the allegations made in the charges arising from MPI’s investigation into events leading up to the precautionary whey protein concentrate (WPC80) recall last year. “We have accepted all four charges, which are consistent with the findings of our operational


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review, and the independent board inquiry,” she says. “We have previously detailed issues relating to the decision to reprocess the original WPC80, and being slow about escalating information – which are reflected in the charges laid by MPI.” She says the WPC80 event caused Fonterra to examine in detail what happened, why it

happened, and what the co-op must do to minimise the risk of it happening again. “We are making good progress on implementing the necessary improvements the operational review and independent board inquiry identified. We are also working with the Government to progress all the recommendations of its review of New Zea-

land’s dairy food safety regulatory framework, undertaken last year.” Meanwhile, Primary Industry Minister Nathan Guy told Rural News MPI had done its compliance investigation and concluded with those four charges laid against Fonterra. He says, since the matter was before the court, it would be inappropriate to comment further.

Water plans ramp up ANDREW SWAL LOW andrews@ruralnews.co.nz

REGIONAL COUNCIL restrictions on farming in the South Island are mounting as councils strive to give effect to central government’s National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management. Earlier this month, Environment Southland adopted Plan Change 13 meaning a consent must be obtained to convert land to dairying, while Canterbury’s Land and Water Regional Plan became effective in January, also effectively making dairying a consent requiring activity. Canterbury’s LWRP is subject to nine appeals but in Otago all appeals on its equivalent, Plan Change 6A, have been cleared through mediation. Stephen Korteweg, Federated Farmers Otago provincial president, says the plan change offers “a roadmap” for maintaining or improving water quality. “Now the hard work of implementing the plan begins. For other regions looking at how to approach a water plan, Plan Change 6A may provide them with a pragmatic template. In our view, it’s nothing like the prescriptive or confusing plans we see going on elsewhere and that is of credit to Otago Regional Council and everyone involved.” The plan change sets water quality

limits for streams and drains leaving farms from 2020, and prohibits discharge of effluent, silage or compost to waterways immediately, as it does sediment and objectionable matter such as carcases where there’s been no attempt at mitigation. Feds’ North Otago president Richard Strowger says the plan change “shows how farming is prepared to play its part.” “Federated Farmers has worked hard to get realistic timelines so farmers need to understand what these [water quality thresholds and standards] mean to their own operation.” That said, he told Rural News “no amount of rules and regulations are going to find the answers [to water quality]; it’s science that’s going to find the answers.” Meanwhile, in Canterbury, the reality of its Land and Water Regional Plan and underlying catchment specific Zone Implementation Plans is starting to hit home. “Farmers have not been fully advised by the regional council during the process and as a consequence, are now only learning of the implications the Plan entails,” says Feds’ South Canterbury Grain and Seed chairman Colin Hurst. About 60 farmers attended the latest meeting of his local Zone Implementation Committee to register their concern the process is being railroaded through.

I’m still waiting... THE GOVERNMENT is still awaiting a meat industry reform proposal that enjoys the backing of most stakeholders. Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says his door is open for any proposal but he’s still waiting for a pan-industry proposal. He was commenting on a call by Meat Industry Excellence (MIE), a lobby group pushing for farmer-led reforms, for a national meat summit. Guy says he has read public comments by MIE on the need for a meat industry summit. But he believes the industry is not united. “MIE has achieved a lot in a short time,” Guy told Rural News. “They have some momentum; they have managed to get some people on the two meat cooperative boards. But these issues are not new and they are difficult issues. “I have always said my doors are open for any proposal. I haven’t seen a clear coherent proposal on any industry reform that has the backing of the majority, so there are more discussions to be had.” MIE chairman John McCarthy wants an urgent industry summit to address a crisis confronting the sheep and beef sector now squeezed by dairying. It is not in the national interest to turn New Zealand into a giant dairy farm, he says. “It’s time the industry got together to take immediate steps to secure the sector’s future.” MIE wants major industry stakeholders, including leaders from meat companies and co-operatives, to participate in summit talks, McCarthy says. MIE calls for summit, see page 17 • [Footnote: Beef + Lamb NZ’s annual meeting, where the MIE remit asking for levy funding and where Minister Guy was due to speak, was held after this issue of Rural News went to press]. – Sudesh Kissun



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Beef industry must do better andrews@ruralnews.co.nz

BEEF PRODUCERS got a ‘must do better’ rev-up from the general manager of a leading processor at a Beef + Lamb New Zealand field day last week. Anzco’s Jamie Gordon told the crowd of over 100 gathered at Lone Star Farms’ Godley Peaks Station, on the western shore of Lake Tekapo, that the national average post weaning liveweight gain of 0.57kg/day isn’t good enough to sustain the industry. “The fact is growth is very, very important,” he stressed. And that’s not just the finishers’ and processors’ problem: calf producers need to take note because while to date finishers generally haven’t tracked growth rate by supplier, that’s changing. For example, one midCanterbury finisher found average growth rates of cattle from his 35 suppliers ranged from about 0.78kg/ day from his worst supplier to 1.12kg/day from his best, yet all the cattle were finished on a similar feed regime. “It’s not a scientific study but you’ve got to say a lot of this variation [in finishing performance] is genetic.” Grouping the performance of the suppliers’ cattle into quartiles,

the bottom 25% averaged 0.83kg/head/day while the top 25% did 1.04kg/ head/day. Just on growth rate alone the top quartile returned the finisher “well over $100/ha more” and the faster finishing animals earned a better price because they came in earlier, pushing the difference in return up to about $150/ha. “We need to get better at recording these sorts of things on farm…. We can compete with dairy grazing if we have the right cattle.” And the right cattle will come from stud breeders using estimated breeding values, he says. “If a stud breeder tells you EBVs are not important, go to another stud breeder.” Returns from the cattle in the top quartile of the example farms’ suppliers exceeded dairy support and the average of the top half was on par with dairy grazing, he added. During a question and answer session at the field day Gordon stressed he’s not suggesting producers go for growth at the expense of cow fertility or efficiency, but that faster growing animals, with the right conformation, are available with maternal traits maintained. Fellow speaker Jason Archer, AgResearch, added that “it’s the role of the stud breeder to take a few risks” to find the excep-

tional animals for growth but which won’t blow out mature cow weights or compromise other important maternal traits such as calving ease. “The other thing about growth is it has two sides. There’s genetics but also nutrition. Personally I don’t think we feed well enough to express the genetics we’ve got there anyway…. It’s got to be a decent quality plus the

Anzco general manager Jamie Gordon.

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Fertiliser companies defend training DOUG EDMEADE’S comments cannot go unchallenged, says Andrew Reid, general manager sales, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd While it is true there is no ‘fertiliser act’, there is a great deal of regulatory oversight including the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997, and the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2001. The Code of Nutrient Management covers the range of products used as or considered to be fertiliser. “The majority of our sales personnel are tertiary qualified, with many holding agricultural science degrees and several more with international degrees,” says Reid. “All sales employees complete the Massey University sustainable nutrient management course within 18 months of joining Ballance, followed by the advanced course within three years. Ballance is currently certify-

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ing its staff through the nutrient Growth Partnership money invested management adviser certification in its seven-year $32 million R&D programme, which defines the stan- programme. Farmer-owned dards for advisors and co-op Ravensdown says brings the qualification it consistently provides and continued profesadvice based on sound sional development science. into a uniform frame“Our surveys and work, says Reid. regular feedback show Fertiliser recomthese customers are mendations are based happy with the quality on interpretation of soil of advice received,” a test results and use of spokesman said. the Overseer nutrient Doug Edmeades Ravensdown collaborated last management model. The process used for making fertiliser recom- year with Dairy NZ, the Fertiliser mendations is audited indepen- Association, Federated Farmers, dently by Quality Consultants of MPI and Lincoln and Massey univerNew Zealand. Ballance’s consultants sities to set up the nutrient managecan also call on the co-op’s agro-sci- ment certification scheme. “Of the 21 certified advisors in the ence team, a group of experts with specialist expertise and experience. country who have made it through Ballance says its track record of the rigorous criteria and profescredible research has been endorsed sional development milestones so by the Ministry for Primary Indus- far, 17 are from Ravensdown with tries, with $9.75 million of Primary our whole team of advisors on their

way through the process.” Ravensdown says it invested in this scheme because it believes there should be minimum standards that farmers should expect on nutrient advice. The co-op attracts ambitious recruits via its graduate trainee scheme, who go through a comprehensive internal training programme and external nutrient management modules at Massey. The team is also proficient with IT tools such as the Overseer nutrient management software for farmers (which Ravensdown helped to develop) and web-based mapping tools. “We have also set up a new farm environmental consultancy business where in-house consultants go beyond nutrient advice and offer strategies to mitigate effects on the environment and comply with fastchanging regulatory regimes.” @rural_news facebook.com/ruralnews

Critic ‘appalled’ by advice FROM PAGE 1

with the correct use of nutrients. Clover flourishes where nutrients are in balance but is the first affected when they aren’t. “Big companies have gone head to head over market share; I think they have completely lost the plot about how we grow clover based pasture. “They don’t train the kids anymore: they are given a car, a computer, a phone and a sales target. Most of them wouldn’t have a clue what they are looking at when they walk across a pasture.” Edmeades says in his experience about 70% of the farms he sees are potassium-deficient, about 45% are phosphorus-deficient and some are even molybdenum-deficient. He has been talking to the big fertiliser companies for 10 years. “Every year I go and talk to ‘blue’ and ‘green’ and say ‘look we’ve got a problem here guys’. You are misdiagnosing this, that and the other thing. I have been very upfront. I am completely ignored and so in the last year I have decided ‘dammit, I have walked the extra mile with them, explained what I am finding out and they don’t want to budge, so I am just going to be honest and straightforward to farmers about it’.”

RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Stop moaning about dairy’s success – Peterson SUD ES H K I SSU N sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

BEEF + Lamb NZ’s outgoing chairman Mike Petersen wants farmers to keep faith in the sector and stop moaning about dairy’s rising fortunes. He urged them not to get sidetracked by comparisons. “They are like chalk and cheese when you look at where we have come from and what we need to do to make our sector more profitable,” he says. Petersen wants farmers to focus on the areas where they have influence and control. “Invest in your farming business, innovate and adapt, and importantly encourage, reward and up-skill good people to grow the sector. The rewards will follow.” Petersen stepped down as BLNZ chairman on Friday. He served on the board for 10 years, six as chairman.

He acknowledged the sheep and beef sectors have lost land to dairying, but he believes the return on capital on sheep and beef farms can be as good as dairying. Petersen points out that when converting to dairying, farmers must spend heavily to build roads and milking sheds. They also spend large on fertiliser, fencing and water facilities. “If we make the same investment on sheep and beef farms, the return on capital can be as good as dairying,” he told Rural News. On average, dairying gets a 5-10% return on total capital, compared to 5-8% for sheep and beef farms, he adds. The scope is there for profitable sheep and beef farming, but poor returns are sapping farmer confidence, inhibiting capital spending in the sector. Petersen singles this out as

the major issue BLNZ has grappled with for years. “It’s a hard one to crack, one of the ongoing battles we have tried to address with little success.” Farmers are frustrated with fluctuating returns, he says. “Over the last 10 years, we’ve had some good years and some bad years. We haven’t had enough good

years to give farmers confidence.” Petersen is satisfied with BLNZ’s evolution over the years into the most connected and focussed industry-good body in the country, he says. “It has research-rich, regionally based extension complemented by an information and analysis engine in the form of the

economic service that is second to none.”   Work is already underway for the next evolution of BLNZ as it moves more behind the farmgate to address such issues as the environment and water, Petersen says. “This iteration of BLNZ combined with the Red Meat Profit Partnership will again take your investment in BLNZ to a new level, responding to everyday needs.” Petersen earlier this year took over from Alistair Polson as New Zealand’s special agriculture trade envoy, to advocate for agriculture trade interests from a farmer’s perspective. Apart from his trade role, Petersen hopes to spend more time on his Waipukurau farm in Hawkes Bay.

Game changer MIKE PETERSEN says the Red Meat Profit Partnership will be a game changer. He says sheep and beef farmers should look at this project as an injection of capital, commitment and ideas to dramatically lift the profitability of farmers and the performance in the sector. “Importantly this project will continue the evolution of BLNZ as the primary organisation looking after your collective interests.” The Primary Growth Partnership contains six meat companies, two banks, MPI and BLNZ. It results from the Red Meat Sector Strategy.

@rural_news facebook.com/ruralnews


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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Safety warning following quad death fine PA M TI PA pamelat@ruralnews.co.nz

FARM EMPLOYERS are being warned to bone up on safety obligations after a sharemilking company was fined $28,125 with $75,000 reparation for its part in the death of a farmhand in a quad accident. Holden Farms pleaded

guilty in the Tokoroa District Court to one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of Gary Tantrum. He died a year ago while mustering cattle on a farm at Mangakino. His quad rolled while he was riding up a steep slope. It

fell on top of him, crushing him causing fatal injuries. WorkSafe chief investigator Keith Stewart says Holden Farms could have done more to protect the worker. Although the area he was riding in had been identified as hazardous the company had taken no action to tell workers not to ride there.

A 20L sprayer on the quad would have affected stability, says Stewart, and should have been identified as a hazard. “Quads are inherently dangerous. Every year an average of 850 people are injured while riding them on farms. Everyone needs to do their bit to ensure they are used as safely as

possible,” says Stewart. Meanwhile, Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) is telling agricultural contractors to get on top of all their employment and health and safety obligations including written employment agreements. RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton says the

industry is working hard to attract good people to the sector. Rogue operators treating staff poorly or putting staff at risk through unsafe work would earn the entire industry a bad name. “That’s why RCNZ spends a good deal of its time and resources on ensuring we are involved with and working alongside others to improve and enhance the safety of our members and their staff,” Parton adds. “Our organisation’s governing body recently established a health and safety sub-committee, because we recognise the growing focus on health and safety matters and want to ensure rural contractors’ views are included in any new legislation or guidelines.” RCNZ is working with WorkSafe NZ to ensure the opinions of rural con-

tractors are part of any new codes of practice now being developed for the new Health and Safety Reform Bill for work done on and around farms. Under the HSE Act, employers and employees must take all practicable steps to provide and maintain a safe work environment. “ One way of ensuring this is to have an operating health and safety plan in place – not sitting on a shelf gathering dust,” Parton explains. “Such a plan doesn’t have to be complex. It just needs to identify existing and potential hazards and put ‘controls’ in place to manage any hazards.” He adds that employers also need to train and/ or supervise employees so they can do their job safely. @rural_news facebook.com/ruralnews

Prick of a problem CONVERSION OF gorse thickets in the Lake Rotorua catchment to forestry is to be fully funded by Bay of Plenty Regional Council in an attempt to remove the 30t/year of nitrogen that’s estimated to be lost to water from the leguminous weed. About 870ha in the catchment is infested with gorse which Scion research shows “is capable of leaching significant amounts of nitrogen which then ends up in the lake,” BOPRC says. “By working one-on-one with landowners to control gorse and then replant the area, the new vegetation will provide a long-term solution for gorse control and water quality improvements,” says BOPRC general manager natural resources Warwick Murray.


Get upto date news at www.ruralnews.co.nz


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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Wills’ last Tango in Argentina A N D REW SWA LLOW andrews@ruralnews.co.nz

FEDERATED FARMERS’ president Bruce Wills and vice president William Rolleston will be in Buenos Aires, Argentina, later this month for the World Farmers Organisation (WFO) general assembly. For Wills, who helped set up the organisation, it will likely be his last WFO engagement; for Rolleston, it’s his first. “I will be passing on my board position representing Oceania to Brent Finlay of the National Farmers Federation, Australia,” Wills told Rural News. It’s the WFO’s fourth general assembly and WFO executive director Marco Marzano says it will be an important opportunity for the global agricultural community to discuss the major challenges of the near future: the direction global agriculture takes

in coping with climate change and economic crisis. “These are some of the topics farmers’ organisations will be called upon to discuss”. Wills says the WFO “fills a void” in global forums on such matters, ensuring farmers have a voice at the top tables and an input into international policy. For example, in August last year he represented WFO at World Water Week in Stockholm, which attracted 2700 delegates including many from the big global agencies such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. “We were told 70% of global freshwater gets used for food production but as far as I could ascertain I was the only farmer in the world who attended that conference. “The people there said it was important to have farmers represented; in the past they haven’t known who

to turn to.” While a lot of the organisation’s work is on the global issues of climate change and food security, Wills says one of Federated Farmers’ main reasons for getting involved was trade. “The WFO develops policies on all the key issues, including trade. Those of us who support free trade were in the absolute minority and we had a real battle at the [general assembly] in Rome two years ago to get the idea of developing a trade policy on the agenda… but it was signed off last year in Japan.” While the policy allows for countries to foster domestic agriculture in the interests of food security, it also recognises removing tariffs and barriers to trade is important and argues against trade distorting policies in any country. “I saw getting that policy over the line as a critical win for New Zealand and


Australia.” The Buenos Aires assembly is March 25-29 and WFO expects about 100 agricultural confederations from 80 countries to attend. Besides climate change and food security, key themes will be innovation, the value chain, and women and youth in agriculture. The assembly will also see a new WFO president elected as Robert Carlson steps down after three years. Wills says he’s “95% certain” he won’t be pursuing that opportunity. “I’ve got four months to go with Feds’ and there’s stacks going on. I won’t be resting up until the third of July and the conclusion of the [Feds’] national AGM.” Wills says at present it looks like current vice-president William Rolleston will step up unopposed to fill his shoes. “But we’re an open, democratic organisation and members have up to 20 working days prior to the national


Bruce Wills

AGM to get a nomination and seconder submitted, so who knows?” His plans post AGM are to spend a bit more time on the farm, plant some more trees and continue his involvement with East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards and the New Zealand Willow and Poplar Trust. “I’ll probably have some more commercial involvement beyond the farmgate too, rather than the political stuff; probably some board directorships. As you know I have a commercial background and at my age (53) I don’t think I could go back to seven days-a-week farming on hard hill country.”

Family best “FAMILY FARMING is the most efficient system of providing food the world ever had,” WFO president Robert Carlson told a global forum and expo on family farming last week in Budapest. During a session on sustainability, socio-economic and environmental aspects of farming, Carlson told the conference governments need to support family farms if they are going to provide food security and social justice to communities. “Sustainability to a family farmer means don’t degrade the land, don’t withdraw resources that are not replaceable – land, water, fertility – and produce enough income to maintain the farm family and the community in face of worldwide consolidation and free trade.” Carlson says governments need to provide education for farmers on financial planning, agronomy, soil fertility and pest control, and invest in primary and applied research to help farmers adapt to climate change. They also need risk management tools such as crop insurance or weather insurance to alleviate the impact of natural disasters. He warns of the loss of youth from rural areas and stresses the need to empower women farmers.


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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Cream of the crop of Maori farming The race is on to find the winner of this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Maori dairy farm. The three finalists’ farms are hosting field days, and reporter Peter Burke was at the first, last week, at Himiona Farm, near Te Teko, Bay of Plenty. beautiful sunrise and stillness of the morning give way to a stream of vehicles down the long driveway to historic Kokohinau marae. About 200 people have come to see why Himiona Farm has made it to the finals. There are presentations at the marae then a bus tour of the farm. Keeping a close eye on proceedings at Himiona Farm is Putauaki Trust chairman Tiaki Hunia. He’s a local boy made good with a law degree from Auckland University, and with a strong association to Putauaki Trust, his father being one of the founding trustees. The farm is unusual in that the trust owns only 57ha of the 177ha effective milking platform; the

rest is owned by 12 small whanau trusts who lease the land to Putauaki. Even more unusual is that the land is not contiguous, ie Himiona Farm relies on other landowners allowing it access to some of its paddocks, some 3.5km from the dairy shed, making it a long walk for the cows and staff. Tiaki Hunia led the project to get as many landowners as possible working together. “What we asked was for people to place a lot of trust and belief in what we are doing. The model we have used is unique,” he explains. “It’s the first of its kind here on the Rangitaiki Plains, in relying on leasehold land to sustain the dairy farm operation.

Early morning milking on Himiona Farm.

“It required the trust to have a clear vision of what we are doing. Namely, providing clear, tangible benefits for the owners, which we have been able to provide.” Hunia says some Maori landowners have been reluctant to join up with Himiona Farm and the

farm hasn’t got all the land it would like. But that is the prerogative of the people. Meanwhile it may take more time to prove to them that the collaborative system the Putauaki Trust has devised will work for them. Some Maori families have longstanding relation-

ships with Pakeha families here and Hunia respects that. The farm has been running for only six years, in that time steadily increasing cow numbers and improving the pasture and infrastructure. For those whanau who have signed up the dollars are good,

Hunia says. “We’ve been able to give them top rates for rentals. The performance of the farm is again reflected back in the dividends we give back to the owners at the end of the year.” Each share of Putauaki is now worth $268; 10 years ago it was about $100. That growth has come largely from the dairy operation plus other activities of the trust, Hunia explains. Before Himiona Farm was developed, much of the land now part of the dairy farm was used by local farmers to grow maize. Most of these leases were for about three years. The current 10-year leases for the dairy land give more certainty, without ‘locking’ people in excessively.

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BEFORE THE hustle and bustle of the field day begins, it’s business as usual for sharemilker Jason Wakefield and his team as they start the daily routine of early milking. It is dark and the 557 Friesian-Jersey cows are oblivious to the attention paid to them at Himinoa Farm and Kokoinau Marae – especially the previous day during preparations at the marae for the arrival of field day visitors. As the dawns breaks and the early milked cows head back to their paddocks, the milking shed and farm is revealed on the vast Rangitaiki Plains. In the distance is the striking Maunga or Mt Putauaki, near Kawerau. But before long the

RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


on show “It’s important for us that owners have options and we have been able to build that in through relatively short term leases. There is provision to terminate if they are not happy with the way we are performing and that puts the onus on us to do well. At the end of the day, if people want to acquire the land all they have to do is beat what we are offering.” In the last three years, the milking platform at Himiona has grown from 131ha to 177ha. Cow numbers have gone from 449 to 557 and milksolids last season – even with the drought – were 189,781kgMS. This year, the farm is on target to produce 225,000kgMS. Plans are laid to enlarge the milking platform and lift cow numbers and production to

280,000kgMS by 2017/18. The years of maize growing have affected soil quality and a cropping programme is helping pasture renewal. Hunia is happy with the position Himiona Farm is in now, hence the trustees deciding to enter the Ahuwhenua Trophy. “We have never entered the Ahuwhenua awards before and first and foremost it was about providing an example for our own people to see that what we are doing works,” he explains. “You open yourselves up to scrutiny at a number of levels, from industry professionals through to public scrutiny at the field days – if you are lucky enough to get to the finals. I was proud that the trustees made that decision.”

Gentle stockman has his workers’ respect JASON WAKEFIELD has been at Himiona for just over four years and has a lifetime of experience in the dairy industry. His father was a dairy farmer and Wakefield has carried on that tradition of hard work for over 24 years. He loves the sector because of the challenges it offers. “This is totally a different environment from what I am used to – just the distance the cows have to walk because of all the different blocks,” he says. “This makes it much more of a challenge given that sometime the cows have to walk 3.5km to the back of the farm; it’s a long way.” Wakefield is highly respected by his young

staff: they see him as a person to look up to and respect. He is regarded as a good stockman, gentle with the cows and demanding the same of others. Working for the trust is like working for any other employer, he says, but on Himiona the challenges of not having contiguous land require special planning on his part. “Another farmer crosses through our farm and he’s got the right of way. Only when he’s got his cows across can I bring my animals across. It’s all about careful timing. But all my guys are good; they know the system and exactly how it works and they are well aware of the problems.” It’s been a ‘ripper’ of a

Jason Wakefield has worked in the dairy industry for 24 years.

season according to Wakefield and it appears the rain has come at the right times. Nonetheless he has bought in 200 tonnes of maize silage and has some left

over from last season, just in case. No PKE is used on the farm. He is planning to dry off the cows about midMay and has a goal of

Good governance the key ALL THE finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy have a farm consultant. Two of them, Putauaki and Ngati Awa have the same one: Peter Livingston who works for Agfirst, based in Rotorua. Livingstone has spent at least 20 years working as a farm consultant for Maori, as well as non-Maori farms, and seen huge changes in the growth of Maori farms. Maori farms started their development about when he started work as a consultant in Rotorua. They

began acquiring and farming their own land, persuading banks to fund this development. Fast forward to 2014 and Livingston can see the huge changes that have occurred in a very short time. “I’ve watched them grow from absolutely nothing – almost on the bones of their bottoms. Now they have got to the stage of not only investing back in their own land, but buying more land and forming joint ventures with Maori trusts and growing that way.”

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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


She’ll be right no longer alright! P E TE R BU R K E peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

WORKSAFE NEW Zealand is challenging the rural community to help find ways of reducing the number of quad deaths. In the last month two more quad deaths – and several serious tractor accidents – have occurred

on farms. Francois Barton from WorkSafe NZ, the government agency dealing with workplace safety issues, told Rural News safety needs to be a priority on farms and the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude has to disappear. Barton says quads have been the number-one pri-

ority of the agency for three years. It’s been talking to lots of people at rural events and made lots of compliance visits to farms. “We are seeing shifts in behavior since we started the project and we’ve now got about a 9% reduction in serious injuries related to quads on farms,

but there is only a modest drop in fatalities. “What we are starting to see, though, is an increase in people adopting good safety practices and behaviours. There is still an issue with helmets but we are seeing a significant increase in helmet sales and helmet use is up.”

Farms are dynamic environments; there is no other workplace like it in the country, Barton says. And farms are more than just a workplace; there are usually children around all the time and this poses a new set of challenges. WorkSafe will keep putting out messages about the need for safety




on quads, tractors, farm vehicles and farm machinery. There is a need to ‘reposition’ safety in the rural environment, Barton says. “We challenge the rural community to take some ownership of this issue… not because the law says so but to make sure people come home safely from work. “We plan to do a lot more work on how we can tackle the important symptoms and work on how we can increase the awareness of the

agricultural community on why safety is so important.” Barton says if a person is injured or killed on a farm – especially a small family one – it can have massive impact, so people need to [factor this into] their overall farm management. “Farms are becoming more complex… significant businesses with systems and processes. We are looking at how we can put safety in a different context for the rural community.”

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WORKSAFE NZ is talking to Beef + Lamb New Zealand and other organisers of events on farms to resolve safety issues. Recently Barton criticized BLNZ for running a field day where many of the attendees were not wearing helmets while riding quads. BLNZ says it was complying with the law on the day. The issue is complex, but the word from WorkSafe is that the person on whose farm the event is held is responsible for advising visitors about the known hazards on that farm. But when an organiser brings on ‘additional hazards’ including quads, they are responsible for the safety of those riding them. Safety issues at field days mirror what happens right across the agricultural community, Barton says. The bigger picture is getting landowners to set and enforce safety standards in the same way they might stop someone who was drunk from driving on their property. “We’d like to see someone who sees another person doing something patently unsafe – like riding a quad up hilly country with two or three passengers and not wearing a helmet – to have the courage to step up and say ‘not on my farm’.” WorkSafe will lead a two-day quad forum in late March to try to get traction on safety issues. Up for discussion will be the vexed issue of rollover protection structures, with an update from Australia on this issue, Barton says. “The regulator can makes as many rules as it wants, but ultimately it’s going to be the people that use these [quads], the people who provide them to staff, those who sell them and fix these things, to get around the table and set some common sense standards we can work to.”

RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


GPS-linked auto-dialler safety net for quad riders QUAD RIDERS’ ‘behaviour’ on their machines can now be tracked by GPS gear that will, if a crash occurs, automatically call home for help. Landcorp Farming is to trial the world-first technology on 60 quad and side-by-side vehicles. Called Farm Angel, the technology is the work of Blackhawk Tracking Systems, engaged by Blue Wing Honda to find a way to improve quad safety by monitoring – and reporting on – how a rider uses his machine. “This… will enable rider behaviour to be monitored, modified and improved,” says Blue Wing Honda general manager Alan Petrie. “The aim is to save lives…, but should an accident unfortunately occur, Farm Angel will also assist in the recovery of seriously injured or trapped riders. Initial feedback is that it fulfils several needs, so we are proceeding to an on-farm trial with Landcorp, says Petrie. “This is a world-leading initiative

with safety features that will [improve] driver behaviour, enhance on-farm communication and, ultimately, help reduce accidents,” says Blackhawk chief executive Andrew Radcliffe. Providing 100% on-farm coverage, Farm Angel includes a GPS-satellite tracking device, route tracking and monitoring to benchmark rider-driver behaviour, including acceleration, speed and tilting. Alerts are automatically activated if pre-set limits are breached and hours of use can also be tracked and signals given when servicing is required. The device also limits the use of a quad: a would-be rider must have a keyfob or medical wristband to activate the ignition, so preventing use by underage or non-trained riders. If the quad rolls or tips right over, emergency services or a predetermined number will be automatically contacted, enabling a fast response to any remote location. A driver can also manually send a request for help via the

fob or smartphone application. “All the information gathered can be displayed to the farm manager through an online or mobile interface, helping with rider behaviour and safety plus the security, servicing and overall management of the quad,” says Radcliffe. ACC claims in 2013 for accidents involving farm ride-ons, ie bikes, quads, side-by-sides and three-wheelers, totalled at least $3.2 million. These vehicles are involved in about 850 onfarm injuries and five deaths a year. Coroners call repeatedly for easyto-activate alarms or communications systems. “We’ve taken that message on board and with Blackhawk believe we have created an ideal solution,” says Petrie. “Eventually we would like to see Farm Angel standard on every new quad and available to install on any farm vehicle, similar to when seatbelts became compulsory for all passengers in the 1980s.”

Landcorp chief executive Steven Carden says the company has worked for two years to reduce the number and impact of accidents involving quads. “We see Farm Angel as a great extension of our stability study which we used to inform riders of the capabilities of their vehicles, especially when towing or carrying loads.

“We also acknowledge rider behaviour is a major cause of accidents involving quads, and see Farm Angel as a potentially powerful tool in identifying areas for further rider education.” Once the trial is complete, Blue Wing Honda and Blackhawk plan to market Farm Angel in New Zealand and overseas.

Patrick Harridge, ANZ Waikato Agri Manager. He’s been here so long he’s almost part of the landscape.

Patrick knows the Waikato farming community well. In fact, he’s been a part of it for the last 12 years as an ANZ Agri Manager. With almost 30 years experience in the finance industry and time spent helping out on the family’s dairy farm, Patrick has a great understanding of agriculture and an even better

understanding of agri business in the Waikato. Patrick is part of ANZ’s dedicated Agri Business Team of 34 industry specialists providing expert local service to the region. To find your local ANZ Agri Specialist, visit anz.co.nz/rural or call Patrick himself on 07 837 8623.

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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Farming clouds now not all about rain PA M TI PA pamelat@ruralnews.co.nz

CLOUD ACCOUNTING software firm Xero developed its new system for the agricultural sector, Farming in the Cloud, because of demand from the sector, says Ben Richmond, sales and product lead Xero NZ.

“A lot of farms are already on Xero for the accounting software and that’s without farming specific features,” Richmond told Rural News. “They said it would be great to have farm specific features and some accounting partners were using Xero for other nonfarming clients and saying

‘this is what we need for farming’.” Xero worked with accountants, farmers and other primary industry partners, such as farm software firm Figured, to develop Farming in the Cloud. “I think team collaboration is powerful. Any product developed by people who under-

stand farming or farming accounting, and which involves a team process, will always bring a better result for the user.” Richmond, who leads Xero’s rural strategy, came from a Hawkes Bay sheep and beef farming family: his great grandfather started Richmond Meats. An accountant,

he worked as a livestock accountant, then for Telecom, before moving to Xero. “I understand the pressures: the accountant is disconnected from the farmer. So the goal was a system where the accountant, the banker and the farmer sit around the same table on the page.”

Ben Richmond is leading Xero’s rural strategy.

New Zealand. More and more of them will use the software themselves, even the mum and dad farmers. “Farming is a business trading international product. Some have big debt balances – we want to help them run their farms more as a business.” The system enables sheep and beef farmers to look at the performance on farm and tie that up against the financial performance. They can reconcile their bank account on their smartphone. “You’ve got direct bank feeds coming in, you can set up rules so you don’t have to go in and load all those transactions. You can do the same thing with rural suppliers.” In partnership with PGG Wrightson they plan innovations similar to what they have done with ASB in banking. “So the farmer is not having to worry about coding all those transactions which enables them to get more real time results and see how they are tracking to their farm plan.”

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Xero has delivered a single ledger with one set of data that everyone works off. “So the farmer does not have to think ‘the bank wants this, how do I get my information to the bank’, or ‘the accountant wants this’. We have streamlined that process. “Farming is the backbone of the economy and when farming does well everyone does well, so Xero aims to lift the sector together, working with rural suppliers, key industry players, farmers and farmer accountants to get the right information.” Early-adopter accounting firms are trialling Farming in the Cloud with 1500 farmers. Xero has taken the feature spot, with PGG Wrightson, at the National Fieldays and plans to start pushing the product out from there. It is also taking a national roadshow to rural accountants and farmers in May. “Most farms are still managed in-house by the accountant, who is the number one trusted adviser. But we see – as broadband accelerates and technology adoption on farm increases – that our farmers are savvy: they were the fastest group adopting smartphones in

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FARMING IN the Cloud is attracting interest from Australia, UK and the US, says Richmond. Xero is particularly a “hot topic” in Australia, where the company now has 100,000 customers. “They are looking across the ditch and seeing what we are doing. I’ve had a lot of contact with accountants who say they have the same problem: they want to work closer with the farmers. The demand from Australia has been quite big. UK partners and even the US guys are also seeing it, but our core focus is getting this right and embedded in New Zealand. “The cool thing with cloud software is that you can continually innovate.” In New Zealand Xero has at least 90,000 customers and partnerships with 2300 accounting firms. Richmond says when chief executive Rod Drury started the company he said if they could get all the small-to-medium enterprises to lift their game by just 1-2% it would help lift New Zealand’s GDP. Xero now wants to bring that opportunity to the agricultural sector.

RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Farmers, cheesemakers – winners!

Super flow just super from above P ET ER BUR K E peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

PA M TI PA pamelat@ruralnews.co.nz

‘GRASS TO plate’ is how Bob Rosevear describes his Mahoe Farmhouse Cheese operation, winner of the Cuisine Champion Artisan Cheese Award for its Very Old Edam three years in a row. The Rosevears produce all their own milk for their cheese and other dairy products on their farm at Oromahoe, Bay of Islands, with one son milking the 65 cross-bred FriesianJersey herd and the other two sons doing most of the cheese making. Head cheesemaker Jake was named the Champion Cheesemaker of New Zealand for two years in a row in 2012 and 2013. They are now switching their herd from Friesian-Jersey to Montbeliard and Normande because of a switch towards Swiss and French style cheeses

and also because it makes economic sense. “Montbeliard and Normande are dairy beef stock both of them,” Rosevear told Rural News. “We hate the idea of sending any bobby calves away and we never have. But we have to either rear our own Jersey bull calves or sell them for rearing and that’s hard to do, and it costs more money to feed them. “But by going to Bob Rosevear and son Jake, of Mahoe Farmhouse Cheese, winner of the ArtiNormande especially, san Cheese Award. they are small calves like Jerseys, very easy The Rosevears have been calving, and they’re dairy beef. So people will want to buy them running the grass-to-plate operation since 1986, which for rearing for sure. “Also they are Swiss or Bob says is a lovely lifestyle, French cows and we have but “very hard work just like started to make new cheese with farming”. They make a variety of cheeses and yoghurt, quark, a Swiss French influence.”

mozzarella and feta. Another Dutch-style cheese made in Akaroa, Aged Gouda, by Barry’s Bay Traditional Cheese, won the Countdown Champion of Champions Award for large cheese producers. Completing the Dutch trio was Jeanne Van Kuyk, of Aroha Organic Goat Cheese, who won the Milk Test NZ Champion Cheesemaker Award. Fonterra Brands’ Kapiti cheeses scooped up more champion awards than any other brand, taking home four major trophies. From the 431 cheeses entered in this year’s competition, judges awarded 16 medals to Kapiti including four golds, five silvers and seven bronze medals for a wide range of their cheese in almost all categories. @rural_news

THE MARKET for aerial topdressing over summer has been strong, says Super Air manager Neil Miller. This has come on the back of the drought last summer, followed by a good spring, with farmers making the most of the opportunity to boost fertility levels on farm while conditions were favourable. “However, Waikato and Northland are getting dry now, so applications in these regions are starting to slow down,” Miller told Rural News. “Super Air is expecting a busy autumn season, with most aerial topdressers in the industry typically experiencing more than half their annual production during this period.” Miller said the message for farmers looking to use aerial topdressing services over autumn was to get it on early,



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before the rain arrives. “Don’t wait for the rain to come. If you wait for the rain it is too late. There will be high demands on aircraft during this time and the best results are achieved by having the application on ready for the rain.” Miller says farmers who wait until later in the season could end up waiting several weeks for their application and therefore miss a growing opportunity during this critical period.  On the safety front, Miller says pilot fatigue was managed carefully during autumn in adherence with industry best practice regarding the amount of flying time each individual can do to keep safe. He says farmers can do their part to keep pilots safe by supplying them with a hazard register including electric fences across gullies and power lines that could be safety concerns.

0800 731 266



RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Increasing global competition boosts innovation PETER BURKE peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

CULINARY RICH and nutritionally deficient: that’s how a leading food researcher from the UK, Professor David Boxer, describes many people

UK researcher Professor David Boxer describes people in the developing world as ‘culinary rich, but nutritionally deficient’.

living in the developed world. Professor Boxer was in New Zealand recently as a guest of the Riddet Institute, which promotes innovation in food technology. Boxer is the director of the Institute of

Food Research, Norwich. He says the need for greater innovation in food technology comes from growing competitiveness in global markets. “A big driver, from a government point of view, is to address some of the

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health issues associated with food; campaigns such as reducing salt and sugar have been relatively successful. The general quest is to put premium food products, which are little bit healthier, on supermarket shelves.” Food is fun, one of the great pleasures of life, and there is no need to be too puritanical about it, he says. “But you have to have things that are tasty and the food manufacturers rightly say that if it doesn’t taste good and people don’t like it you may as well not have it. It may be good for you, but people won’t buy it so it’s got to be tasty and safe, nutritious and sustainably produced.” Sustainability is now a big issue in food innovation, but there is a challenge for people who want more food produced for less cost, Boxer says. In that scenario there is a potential risk to the environment, with corners being cut in the way food is produced. Where it is possible to authenticate the way high-quality food has been produced, consumers must expect to pay more. But politicians and leaders in society also have a duty to ensure all food produced is healthy and safe.

The move towards convenience foods continues to grow with people spending less time preparing meals and instead relying on preprepared meals they buy from supermarkets. Boxer says this trend has bought with it a greater demand from consumers to know exactly what these prepackaged foods contain. Consumers want greater transparency about what’s in the food and how it’s produced, but the cost of providing this data will ultimately be sheeted back to the consumer. Boxer is impressed with New Zealand food production systems and the technology going into producing more innovative foods. “New Zealand has an excellent research base and a government sensitive to the agri-food industry. The Riddet Institute’s document ‘A Call to Arms’ is an excellent starting point to drive this. The UK is different, with the research base in particular much more fragmented than in New Zealand.” New Zealand has stronger linkages between producers, researchers, sellers and consumers than does the UK. @rural_news facebook.com/ruralnews


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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


MIE calls for meat summit P E TE R BU R K E peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

THE MEAT Industry Excellence Group (MIE) wants an urgent industry summit to address the crisis confronting the red meat sector and the country. Ohakune farmer and MIE chairman John McCarthy wants the Minister for Primary Industry, Nathan Guy, to convene the summit so that profitable and realistic reforms can be mapped out. “A consensual approach is needed and the Government has a key role to play in facilitation. We will be seeking cross-party support on the basis that a reinvigorated red meat sector is without a shadow of a doubt in the national interest.” McCarthy says everyone is aware that beyond the farmgate the existing model leaks value, basically because of the large number of competitors at both ends of the value chain. MIE believes its aspirations for the sector are consistent with the recommendations arising from the findings of the Red Meat Sector Strategy, which included efficient and aligned

Helping hand for communities

MIE chair John McCarthy wants Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy to convene a meat industry summit.

procurement, transparency of information and shifting the focus of competition from farmgate to offshore competitors. McCarthy doesn’t think it is in the national interest to turn New Zealand “into a giant dairy farm”. This is flawed economically and the environmental footprint is at odds with our national brand, he says. “Dairy is eating our lunch, but in the interests of New Zealand’s envi-

ronment, and long term economic diversity, we need to ensure the red meat industry including deer turns around and reaches its potential. “New Zealand stood to capture a potential $6 billion in export value if the red meat sector could achieve what the dairy industry had achieved.” McCarthy says Kiwi dairy farmers earned half what their overseas competitors earned before Fonterra was established and now are the best paid




PGG WRIGHTSON is again running its Cash for Communities scheme. Until 31 May the scheme donates to nominated community groups $1 for each tonne of Ballance Agri-Nutrients fertiliser bought by farmers. Customers can choose to have the cash go to their local school, St John NZ or Rescue Helicopter. And this year various clubs and groups will also benefit. The company’s general manager retail, Stephen Guerin, says the scheme last year gave $50,000 to 175 rural schools, St John services and Rescue Helicopters nationwide. “Working with Ballance on the Cash for Communities programme is another example of our organisations’ collaboration.” The two companies also jointly support the Ballance Farm Environment awards. To register and nominate your favourite cause, visit www.pggwrightson.co.nz

dairy farmers in the world. “Stud breeders were reporting demand for rams was down by up to 50% this year alone. Conversions to dairy farming, especially in the South Island, were eroding traditional sheep and beef land at an estimated annual rate of 6-7%.” McCarthy says to pretend the red meat sector and sheep and deer in particular is other than a crisis is to fool ourselves.


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0800 731 266


RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Twitter campaign aims to link up farming sector with the general public GA RE T H G I LLAT T

NEW ZEALAND this month became the latest country to join a social media campaign aimed at better connecting farmers with each other, the public and international markets. The launch on March 12 of the AgChatNZ foundation and website are a spin-off from a key recommendation in a report, ‘Harnessing Social Media in Agriculture’, by 2013 Nuffield scholar Sophie Stanley. The AgChatNZ foundation will promote mediated discussions tracked by the popular #agchatNZ hashtag. On Twitter, hashtags are used

to define topics of interest, making them easily identifiable for other users possibly interested in that topic. However Agchat uses the hashtag a little differently – scheduled tweets to hold weekly national and international online ‘town hall’ meetings on agricultural issues Started in the US in 2009 by Michigan farmerauthor and social media specialist Michele PaynKnoper, the Agchat foundation is said to be connecting farmers to consumers in a ‘meaningful’ way. Once a week at a certain time moderators of a chat ask four-five ques-

tions using the #agchat, #agrichatUK or #AgChatOZ hashtags, much like hosts on a talkback show. Interested Twitter users then discuss those questions using that hashtag. Separate foundations run #agrichatUK and #AgchatOZ related discussions. Though the #AgChatNZ hashtag has been part of primary industry focused Twitter users’ lexicons since June 14, 2012, when it was first suggested by Plant and Food Research, it hasn’t been used before by an organised movement. Sophie Stanley says she expects the scheduled discussions to get the voice

of real farmers connected with people in urban centres. “The public often sees the worst of industry issues so this gives them an opportunity to be involved in discussions. The best way to do that is to connect to real people in the industry straight away.” Farmers may find the networking tool easier to use than email or other networks because messages, restricted to 140 characters, must be clear and to the point. “They’ll be able to share ideas with a wider range of people not in their current networks and build networks of farmers and rural professionals willing to share

ideas.” Other founders of the movement are Rotorua sharemilker Colin Grainger-Allen, North Island TBFree relations manager Sara Russell-Muti and Taranaki business consultant Shona Glentworth. The foundation will hold moderated #agchatNZ discussions each Wednesday at 8pm. A website to be launched simultaneously with the first scheduled discussion. Though Twitter is not as well known or as frequently used by New Zealand farmers as the social platform Facebook, Stanley says New Zealand has about 465 primary indus-

try tweeters. The AgChat hashtag had been used 337 times in February, gaining it a popularity score of 28.5 on the Twitter analytics site Hashtagify.me. The hashtag #JohnKey got a popularity score of 19.2 and #Weta (studios) scored 21.8. Stanley hopes to get media communicators and early adopters involved in Twitter and then use their expertise to draw more people in. She says farmers who get involved often find

solutions to on-farm problems they didn’t think were possible. “I was talking to an arable farmer in the UK who had a problem with his crop so he tweeted it to his followers. Farmers from Canada, Australia and NZ all tweeted back that they had the same problem and one of them found the solution. “It’s not only a domestic community, it’s an international one and many cases that network connects instantly.”

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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Australian dairy farmers struggling SUD ES H K I SSU N sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

MOST AUSTRALIAN dairy farmers are in survival mode because they have lost bargaining power, says the head of the country’s largest processor. Murray Goulburn managing director Gary Helou last week told the Australian Dairy Conference in Geelong that bargaining power is crucial for farmers. If you lose it you will struggle, he told 350 farmers. MG is the only big Australian dairy processor still owned by farmers. Recently it lost the takeover battle for another co-op, Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, to Canadian processor Saputo. Speaking from Dubai via a video link, Helou said a co-op is constituted by members to maximise the farmgate price, unlike commercial processors who aim for “minimising the milk price and maximising profits”. It’s a unique point of difference that separates us from others, he said. Dairy processing is an intensive business requiring local point of production, stainless steel and capital investment which provide long term returns. Helou points out that four of the world’s top eight dairy processors are co-ops: Fonterra, Dairy Farmers of America, FrieslandCampina and Arla Foods. Co-ops are successful

because farmers have the bargaining power. In Australia, the history of deregulation in the dairy sector over the last two years hasn’t been great, he adds. “We have seen a fragmentation of the industry. Farmers without any stainless steel and without any bargaining power have been relegated to survivalonly mode. This is what we have outside Victoria: farmers have no capacity to bargain or process their own milk.” MG is reviewing its capital structure and one of the options includes Fonterrra’s TAF model. Helou says MG is determined to become a world beating dairy exporter and marketer like the other global co-ops. It will spend $A500 million to boost its powders, cheese and UHT milk production lines. MG needs to kickstart its stainless steel capabilities, he says. “Today we are as competitive as our rivals ex-farmgate, but exfactory gate we are hopeless. To be honest, we don’t have the footprint other global companies have.” Helou pointed out in the last five years Fonterra has invested $1b in China building farms, infrastructure and on marketing. French company Danone and Arla spent $A700m each to buy a cornerstone stake in leading Chinese dairy processor Mengniu. “Other Australian players including us have not made similar strate-

gic investments. Until we approach that mentality and level of investment, not in quantum but in terms of direction and impact, we will not progress. “We need to upgrade

Murray Goulburn’s Gary Helou says most Australian dairy farmers are in survival mode.

processing; [farmers’] farmgate products we receive are world class and they must also leave our factory and ports as world class products.” @rural_news facebook.com/ruralnews

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CHINA WILL continue to be the major market for dairy products for years, says Murray Goulburn managing director Gary Helou. With declining milk production and soaring consumer demand, it will remain “the defining battlefield” for major processors. China’s milk production this year is down 6%, due to poor weather, TB issues and high cost of feed, he says. “China will be the place to be for many years to come, make no mistake about that,” he told the Australian Dairy Conference. Hellou sees Australia as the food bowl of Asia. “Our future lies in Asia, not in our domestic market. The good thing is that Asia is right at our doorstep but… that doesn’t mean it will come to us.” MG must lift its game and become internationally competitive, he says. And he singled out Russia as “the next China”.

RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014






 

 


 

 






















Last Week

2 Wks Ago

Last Year






M2 Bull - 300kg




 










PX - 19.0kg







PH - 22.0kg





Local Trade - 230kg






MX1 - 21kg





P2 Steer - 300kg





SI Lamb

YM - 13.5kg





M2 Bull - 300kg





PM - 16.0kg





P2 Cow - 230kg





PX - 19.0kg





M Cow - 200kg









Local Trade - 230kg















PM - 16.0kg

Last Year





YM - 13.5kg

2 Wks Ago


        


NI Lamb

Last Week

M Cow - 200kg

Slaughter   



P2 Cow - 230kg



 


P2 Steer - 300kg







PH - 22.0kg Mutton

MX1 - 21kg

Slaughter 


  

 





  




 







 

  

 


 

 


































Procurement Indicator Change







 




  

 




2Wks Ago

3 Wks Ago



Last Year 5yr Ave

% Returned NI






% Returned SI







2Wks Ago

3 Wks Ago

Last Year

5yr Ave

% Returned NI






% Returned SI








Procurement Indicator


 



 









Last Year 5yr Ave




2 Wks Ago 2.10




Last Week



5yr Ave


 



Last Year




UK Leg £/lb

2 Wks Ago




Export Market Demand

Last Week

95CL US$/lb




Export Market Demand




 

  







 



      

 









 






 







  



  







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Venison Prices

 





 





 Beef  & venison prices are reported as gross (before normal levies & charges are deducted). Lamb & mutton prices are reported nett (after levies & charges are deducted).

Last Week

2 Wks Ago

Last Year 5yr Ave

NI Stag - 60kg






SI Stag - 60kg






Stock as security who would have thought

RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014








Coarse Xbred Indic.





Fine Xbred Indicator





Lamb Indicator





Mid Micron Indic.





Flow of cows determines rate of schedule fall

Indicators in NZ$

Dry conditions across the country have really got the cattle flowing in recent weeks. This combined with a strong currency have seen schedule prices come back. In the NI, Waikato and western Northland have a steady stream of cows on the move, however how long the stream will last for is weighing on processors, particuarly with farmgate prices a good 50cpk above last year. In the SI, with less pressure from the dry and a rising dairy payout, the cows have been a bit slower to run, and schedule prices have been slower to fall than in the North. A 300kg cwt export bull was earning $4.30/kg in the NI last week and $4.10/kg in the SI. Export steers were earning $4.35/kg in the NI and $4.22/kg in the South. 

Currency cancels out US price improvements The US market is steadily improving, finally overtaking prices for the same time last year. Imported 90CL prices lifted 3c/lb at the beginning of March to $2.09/lb. This price is increasingly relevant as reports suggest the cow kill now accounts for close to 50% of cattle slaughter. Imported 95CL is rising at a greater speed up 6c/lb to $2.22/lb. However at just under 20% of the kill, and declining, is not as influencial on processors margins. Unfortunately we are not seeing these market improvements flow into farmgate prices; rather they remain on the decline. This is driven primarily by the strengthening currency cancelling out all of the market gain. It remains to be seen whether farmgate prices would have reflected the market gains without the effect of the currency, as processors attempt to recoup earlier losses.


        


Sticky store lamb market





DAIRY Dairy prices steady All product prices have been stable in the last two weeks, with a small decline from the upper range. Supplies of both whole and skim milk powder are tight with product committed though to the end of the second quarter of the season. Global demand remains strong, but some buyers are looking to the US and EU for the more readily available product at more competitive prices. Prices experienced their biggest decline in 9 months at the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, with whole milk powder, skim milk powder and butter falling between 4-6%. The falling prices were driven by an increase in product offered by Fonterra at the auction.

Whole Milk Powder Cheddar

Prev. 2 Wks

Last Year


















 

 







 





  

 



 






Overseas Price Indicators Indicators in US$/kg

Last Year


















Coarse Xbred Indicator

 







Butter Skim Milk Powder Whole Milk Powder Cheddar


Last 2 Wks

Prev. 2 Wks

Last Year

+13 -25















 

 


 




 








 

 

   






 

vs. NZ Dollar

Last Week 2 Wks Ago 4 Wks Ago Last Year











UK pound






Aus dollar





Japan yen





 

 



 Dec









 



US Dollar


US dollar


 

                




Indicators in US$/T



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Overseas Price Indicators


Selling store lambs in the NI has been a hard task for some in recent weeks as the dry conditions have many farmers reluctant to buy, and the remainder tightening the purse strings. Resultingly prices are around 10cpk back on the end of Feb in the paddock. 32-35kg males are trading around the $2.40/kg mark with 28-30kg achieving $2.45/kg. 28kg ewe lambs are at $2.40/kg. Most believe that there will be downwards pressure on these prices unless significant rain falls. The store lamb market in the SI continues to lack buyer interest with deficient feed supplies the over-riding cause. Prices have softened as a result with on-farm quotes of $2/kg being bandied about for 30kg lines in Canterbury last week. In reality, returns are nearer the $2.20-2.35/kg mark with some of the better quality types still earning $2.40/kg.

Skim Milk Powder


Lamb Indicator

Export lamb prices have come back into March with the removal of all easter trade premiums. Kill rates are solid, but reports indicate that there is not much depth to numbers, and that the kill could be thinning out by the end of March. With prices in the market still high, processors will be trying to recoup earlier losses with a declining schedule for as long as they can, however the tighter supplies come late autumn may see pressure go on procurement and more competitive farmgate prices. Export lamb was $5.48/kg net last week in the NI and $5.53/kg net in the SI. Mutton prices have held steady, but kill numbers are back as the lamb kill takes precedence.




Last 2 Wks



Mid Micron Indicator

Lamb schedules falling


Indicators in NZ$/T


Fine Xbred Indicator




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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Chinese consumers have same demands P E TE R BU R K E peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

CHINESE CONSUMERS are no different from us: they want safe, reliably produced food as much as we do. That’s the message from Fonterra’s general manager New Zealand policy affairs, Carolyn Mortland. She’s one of six senior executives on the co-op’s roadshow briefing dairy farmers nationwide on the latest market trends and what farmers need to do to meet consumers’ needs. A huge global trend is emerging in the markets for food where wealth is growing and urban densities are rising,

Mortland says. The trigger point in many markets is when people go from earning $2 a day to $10 a day and start wanting animal protein and better fruit and vegetables. “There is a growing demand for dairy and a demand to know where and how their food is produced. Hence a big emphasis on traceability: being able to trace products back to their origin which includes food safety, in other words knowing food is reliable.” Linked to traceability is the advent of social media and the connectivity of the consumer to the production of food. The internet and mobile devices allow consumers

to hear a story within minutes of it happening. “For example when we found out there were traces of DCD in the milk last year, we apparently had 400,000 hits on the Chinese social media in the first hour.”

cows in New Zealand. There is now a much stronger connection from consumer to farmgate, demanding food safety, traceability and responsible production.” Mortland says the

“There is a growing demand for dairy and a demand to know where and how their food is produced. Hence a big emphasis on traceability.” “That’s the kind of response we get. Recently in Chile, with the hitting of bobby calves over the head, that story went viral and came back to us with consumers asking how we are treating our


Chinese now keep close watch on environmental issues and this is in their ‘five year plan’. Air pollution and water quality are on notice. If the Chinese impose new regulations on their own

people, they will do the same to supplier nations including New Zealand. And the Chinese are not alone in focusing on sustainability and best-practice farm management. Nestle – Fonterra’s largest customer – has a spotlight on the New Zealand dairy industry. In the next few weeks, as part of a pilot scheme called ‘Nestle responsible sourcing assessment’, contractors for the company will visit 50 randomly selected dairy farms in Southland. Nestle has run a similar watch on other commodities, such as sugar, and is now moving on dairying. “They go on farm

Fonterra’s Carolyn Mortland says traceability and sustainability issues are as big in China as NZ.

and check the farm’s credentials, asking such questions as how do you manage your environmental footprint? what are you doing about water quality? how’s your animal welfare? And what about sustainable sourcing? “Not that these farms will get a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’, but rather that Nestle wants to assure itself its procurement of dairy is from people on the journey towards

responsible, sustainable management.” Fonterra is pleased at the response from farmers, Mortland says. “They are looking forward to it, enthusiastic to be involved. Nestlé will collate the outcome and it will take a year or so for the results to come out.” Fonterra sees this as an opportunity to showcase what they are doing and to get an external perspective on what’s good and what’s not.




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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Clouds are rolling in... XERO LAST month released its plans for the farming sector at its annual conference. Xero, the software darling of the NZX, has a share price that has grown faster than the price of irrigated land in Mid Canterbury. Xero has not yet offered much to farmers, instead focusing on small-tomedium businesses, of which 250,000 use their software globally. Xero also has many add-in partners offering useful services for business. Some popular ones include Workflow Max – time and job management software; Receipt Bank – just email or scan your receipt, it reads it and enters it into Xero; and iPayroll – simple-to-use online timesheet and payroll. There are at least 100 apps that integrate with Xero, and like Xero they all come at just a monthly cost with no commitment. This is ideal for seasonal business, allowing you to scale up and down throughout the year. You can watch the full Xero announcement online here, http:// www.xero.com/nz/tv/video/?id=5355farming-in-the-cloud Not sure how the flash Xero Minis will go on the farm.

So why should farmers consider Xero? Xero is positioning itself as a full solution that will link with banks, farm suppliers and others so all can work together. If they can do this in the rural sector by linking with rural merchants and smoothing the management of livestock then they may be onto a winner. Here at Ripped Orange we use Xero and love it, not for its flash features, but because at the end of the month accounts can be sorted quickly, giving me more time with the family. Xero for Farming will be launching later this year, talk to your farm advisor and accountant about it. Windows XP – End of life In other IT news, Microsoft

Windows XP – released in 2001 with fairground rides in Times Square and Madonna signing Ray of Light – will be coming to an end on April 8. If you bought your computer before 2010 it’s likely you are running Windows XP, (look for the big green start button on the bottom left of the page). From April 8 Microsoft will no longer support Windows XP: they won’t release updates and fixes, in particular security updates. They recommend users upgrade to Windows 8.1 which may mean buying a new computer. How will this impact you? If your computer is online regularly you risk getting a virus for which there will be no updates or fixes. Hackers know Microsoft XP won’t be supported so there is fear they will target these computers – all 500 million of them globally. So will the sky fall in on April 8? Probably not, but if you run your farm business on a Windows XP computer, now is a good time to think about alternatives. Next time we will focus on some of these alternatives – Office 365, Google Apps and other cloud-based options.


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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014



Little merit FISH & GAME New Zealand’s attacks on the dairy sector sound like an old record, dusted off and played every election year in the hope politicians and voters will succumb to fearmongering. Its latest offering – a dodgy online survey – again shows the lengths this lobby group will go to to tarnish the economy’s star performer. The survey leaves much to be desired. Asking people if they agree or disagree with statements such as “the dairy industry in NZ is fully sustainable” and “the dairy industry in NZ is not environmentally sustainable” is blatantly leading respondents. Clearly it was designed to gain the result Fish & Game desired and paid for. However, its attempt to promote fallacy backfired. In its media release ‘Kiwis say dairying has gone too far — survey’, Fish & Game highlights that 37% of New Zealanders believe the economy is either too heavily dependent on dairy farming and 31% believe the growth of intensive dairying has gone too far. Gullible journalists who have fallen hook, line and sinker for Fish & Game’s erroneous campaign should be asking about the 63% who don’t see the economy as too dependent on dairy farming, and the 69% who dismissed the question about whether the growth of intensive dairying has gone too far. DairyNZ is right to describe the survey as not being “particularly rigorous or important”. It’s anther frivolous attempt by Fish & Game to drag hardworking dairy farmers onto the political football field. Most New Zealanders understand the importance of dairying to our economy. Most also understand the work and resources put in by farmers, workers and processors to promote sustainability. Sure, more can be done to improve our waterways and rivers. But the dairy industry is not the only polluter and shouldn’t be singled out. The question is whether Fish & Game is playing its role. Instead of dreaming up dubious surveys to bag dairy farmers and mislead people, it should work hand-in-hand with the sector. Otherwise such surveys, of little merit, will end up in the gut bucket where they belong.

ONLINE POLL Is Fish & Game playing a constructive role in helping to improve New Zealand’s freshwater quality by continually bagging dairy farmers to score cheap political points?

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RURAL NEWS HEAD OFFICE POSTAL ADDRESS: PO Box 3855, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140 PUBLISHER: Brian Hight .............................................. Ph 09 307 0399 GENERAL MANAGER: Adam Fricker ........................................... Ph 09 913 9632 CONSULTING EDITOR: David Anderson .......................................Ph 09 307 0399 davida@ruralnews.co.nz

“Godwits – migrating to Russia – don’t they read newspapers?!”

THE HOUND Not a bad hourly rate THINK YOU are paying the IRD a bit too much of your hard-earned incomes? The Hound was intrigued by figures recently quoted by former Fed’s national president Don Nicolson and thought readers may be as well. The wannabe ACT MP reckons total Crown spending (that’s everything the government funds) runs at $2750 per second, $165,000 per minute, $10 million per hour, $240 million per day or $91 billion per year. Your old mate finds it hard to disagree with Nicolson’s sentiments when he says, “The sense of entitlement is alive and well in the bureaucracy.”

Want to share your opinion or gossip with the Hound? Send your emails to: hound@ruralnews.co.nz

Food miles THE HOUND understands there’s a shortage of organic eggs in the US. Apparently demand for organic eggs is rising at the same time as supply dwindles. Organic egg producers are forced to import organic corn and soybeans from places like China, India and Argentina. So, the US exports soybeans to China, and the Chinese send organic soybeans back to the US so its well-off consumers in cities can boast of sustainability and saving the planet by eating expensive, organic eggs. You just can’t make this stuff up.

TECHNICAL EDITOR: Andrew Swallow ................... Ph 03 688 2080 PRODUCTION: Dave Ferguson ........................Ph 09 913 9633 Becky Williams ........................Ph 09 913 9634 REPORTERS: Sudesh Kissun ....................... Ph 09 913 9627 Pamela Tipa ............................ Ph 09 913 9630 Peter Burke .............................Ph 06 362 6319 SUB-EDITOR: Neil Keating ............................Ph 09 913 9628 WEBSITE PRODUCER: James Anderson .................... Ph 09 913 9621

Feds earn fees on water

Time for a rethink

An acquired taste?

THE HOUND reckons the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management was a master stroke of buck-passing by the Government. These are the biggest policy changes to hit New Zealand farming since the 1980s. Thankfully a few farmers, usually Federated Farmers’ representatives, have mastered the minutiae and fought the more draconian proposals. If they hadn’t, who knows where we’d be? Feds might lack leadership in some areas, but this one alone justifies the membership fee.

YOUR CANINE crusader understands that most farmers probably dismiss health and safety laws as unnecessary red tape and a waste of time. However, he suggests it’s time for a serious attitude change in this area. Farmers need to get their heads around their obligations, because with the advent of new workplace safety department WorkSafe NZ the Hound believes someone is going to go for a skate sooner or later. The new regulations make it crystal clear that the ultimate responsibility for anybody on your land – be that a worker, contractor or even a visitor – is the landowner/farmer’s.

THIS OLD mutt – as described – is not a pup anymore, so he finds much of this modern technology a bit tough to get his mind around. The advent of social media – such as texts, Facebook and Twitter – can be somewhat overwhelming for your old mate. However, his interest was piqued by an illuminating tweet sent recently with a photograph by the Ministry of Primary Industries. It read, ‘MPI staff seized this donkey penis (290mm with the end cut off) from China flight to Wellie. Meant to be eaten sliced’. The mind boggles!

NATIONAL SALES MANAGER: Ted Darley .......... Ph 07 854 6292/021 832 505 ted@ruralnews.co.nz

WELLINGTON SALES REPRESENTATIVE: Mark Macfarlane .Ph 04 234 6239/021 453 914 markm@ruralnews.co.nz

AUCKLAND SALES REPRESENTATIVE: Stephen Pollard ....Ph 09 913 9637/021 963 166 stephenp@ruralnews.co.nz

SOUTH ISLAND SALES REPRESENTATIVE: Kaye Sutherland Ph 03 337 3828/021 221 1994 kayes@ruralnews.co.nz

ABC audited circulation 81,232 as at 31.12.2013 Rural News is published by Rural News Group Ltd. All editorial copy and photographs are subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without prior written permission of the publisher. Opinions or comments expressed within this publication are not necessarily those of staff, management or directors of Rural News Group Ltd.

RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Lower prices will impact mainly on farmers SECTOR INITIATIVES are important. They bring people together from different geographical areas, discipline backgrounds and experience to focus on a problem. In agriculture, the importance of farmer involvement (now termed end-user participation) has been recognised. The farmers are the practitioners – the people most likely to be able to see how a new initiative could work, and how it might be adapted to work better. They are also likely to come up with the new thinking that could result in a sector change. Of further importance is that when farmers are involved, other farmers are more likely to consider any recommendations that might appear. Trust is paramount. The challenge for the future, however, is the costliness of almost all recommendations for initiatives to improve different sectors; and returns to producers are not keeping pace with inflation. Statistics New Zealand released ‘New Zealand in profile 2014’ last month and the news was full of: ‘beer is more expensive, but milk is cheaper’.

Although social media is filled with comments along the lines of ‘nonsense, it is more expensive than ever’… StatisticsNZ has the data.

Lamb did increase in price from $10.73 for 1kg of chops in 2008 to $12.29. The difference of $1.56 includes 27c of increased GST. Apples have increased similarly – very slightly – and overall the increases are similar to inflation (to which the food price index generally contributes less than 20%). Statistics NZ has also reported that milk, cheese and eggs are 3.1% below their peak in July 2011,

The costs of lower prices are not being born by the supermarkets: they have been improving their profits. The costs are born by the producers who have been squeezed to the extent of an enquiry on supermarket behaviour being instigated.

In 2008, 2L of standard milk cost $3.23, in 2013 it cost $3.19. In addition, GST increased from 12.5% to 15% on October 1, 2010, an increase of about 8c going to the Government not the farmer or processor (or even the supermarket).

meat and poultry prices are 0.6% below their March 2013 peak, lamb prices are 11% below their August 2011 peak, and beef prices are 0.4% below February 2012. The costs of lower prices are not being born by the supermarkets:

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they have been improving their profits. The costs are born by the producers who have been squeezed to the extent of an enquiry on supermarket behaviour being instigated. Although the outcome of the enquiry might assist consumers to realise that producers are not acting extortionately, it will do little to help them understand that food is cheap. Year on year, salaries increase more than the price of food, and year on year more of the food dollar goes to prepared food: triple-washed bagged salad leaves, ready-to-grill marinated meat, boned and skinless chicken, ready-to-eat pizzas, and frozen stir-fry vegetables, for instance. Consumers have traded the cost of their time in food preparation for increased dollars to food processors to do it for them – and they have forgotten the trade. Without a major shift in understanding about the pre-farmgate cost of producing food, and a willingness in consumers to pay more, sector initiatives will fail. It is the farmgate price of milk solids and the meat schedule prices that must change to allow farmers to

invest in new initiatives. Scientists and economists can explain the value and return on investment in loafing barns, but if the capital outlay requires huge borrowing, it won’t happen. Animal scientists

can explain that feeding animals better will result in greater weight gain and faster conception, but if the cost of extra feed is greater than the return at the freezing works, it won’t happen.

Farmers on the sector initiative working parties could have a hard road in all directions to explain the realities of life. • Jacqueline Rowarth is professor of agribusiness, The University of Waikato.

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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Good people as important as good gear ASK ANY employer – and rural contractors are no different – and they will tell you the most important thing in a successful, long-term business is having good people on board. Despite what many people may think, the best rural contracting businesses do not necessarily have the biggest tractors and/or the flashiest gear, but are the outfits that look after and treat their staff well. It’s all very well having a top-of-the-line tractor but it’s not much use if there is nobody around to drive it. It concerns me when I hear stories about rural contractors not treating their staff well or put-

ting them at risk through unsafe work practices. This is not only shortsighted, for those engaging in these types of tactics, for the longevity of their own businesses, but it also does nothing for the reputation and standing of the rural contracting sector in general. One way of ensuring employers and employees have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and obligations is to have written employment agreements in place. It is a requirement of employment law to have EAs and these should be signed before any work begins. Our industry is working hard to encourage and attract good people into

the sector. The last thing we need is to have rogue operators treating staff poorly and earning the entire rural contracting industry a bad name. Rural Contractors NZ does not want our organisation – or indeed our industry – associated with bad employers and/or unsafe work practices. That is why RCNZ spends a good deal of its time and resources on ensuring we are involved with and working alongside others to improve and enhance the safety of members and their staff. Our organisation’s governing body recently established a health and safety sub-committee, because we recognise the grow-

ing focus on health and safety matters and want to ensure rural contractors’ views are included in any new legislation or guidelines. An example of this is the work we are currently doing – alongside others – with WorkSafe NZ to ensure the opinions of rural contractors are part of any new regulations now being developed for the new Health and Safety

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Employment Act (HSE) for work done on and around farms. Under the HSE Act, employers must take all practicable steps to provide and keep a safe work environment. One way of ensuring this is to have an operating health and safety plan in place – not sitting on a shelf gathering dust. Such a plan doesn’t have to be complex. It just needs to identify existing and potential hazards and put ‘controls’ in place to manage hazards. The law also places a duty on businesses to keep vehicles, machinery, equipment and buildings in safe working condition. Planned maintenance should happen regularly, instead of only addressing issues when they arise. Employers also need to train and/or supervise employees so they can do their job safely. It is not a bad idea to get an experienced worker to supervise

new or untrained employees. Training helps people share knowledge and develop skills. It can also help influence behaviour and improve health and safety. The law says employers must also take all practicable steps to make sure employees are safe at work. This extends to providing reasonable working hours and shift patterns to reduce risks of fatigue and decreased mental and physical work tolerance. While the rural contracting environment can be challenging – needing long and irregular hours at certain times – employees still have a right to regular breaks and rests. Employers also need to manage fatigue. Fatigue and dehydration can cause headaches, loss of sleep, and lack of concentration and co-ordination. Physically or mentally demanding work is especially tiring and employees need frequent rest breaks.

Well-rested employees, contractors and others help make the work environment safe. It can also help you significantly reduce the personal, social and financial costs of accidents. Employers need to limit shifts to a safe number of hours, ensure staff take regular rest breaks during shifts and, where appropriate, make food available. RCNZ is able to provide support and help to members looking for advice on employment law and/or health and safety matters. Correct employment procedures and safe workplace practices are an essential part of doing business nowadays. This is as important to the success of rural contracting today as having the right gear to do the actual work. • Wellsford agricultural contractor Steve Levet is president of the Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ.

RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014

OPINION 29 Rural News’ irreverent and hypothetical look at what’s happening in the farming world Top Bleats view all johnmcarthymie: Let me just reiterate that MIE’s request for $200,000 of Beef + Lamb NZ funding is not for a gravy train. I want to reassure farmers the gravy train will not be leaving the station until we get at least $500,000 – hopefully next year! #showusthemoney mikepetersen: My new job trying to secure free trade deals for NZ agriculture from highlyprotected markets like Japan, Europe and the US will be a doddle compared to getting red meat producers to agree on anything. #fryingpanintofire damienoconnormp: I read a magazine article on a plane recently on how all the meat leaving NZ is contaminated and killing all our international customers. So naturally enough I’m personally blaming Nathan Guy for murdering innocent overseas babies! #conspiracytheorynumber113 thatguynathan: Hey @damienoconnormp you really need better reading material. Can I suggest joining the local library? They have a wonderful selection of fairy tales you can borrow. #whatnext davidjesuscunliffe: This year’s election is going to be all about trust. Namely my family trust – the trust I used to hide my leadership campaign donations; and the savings investment trust I failed to disclose to the parliamentary pecuniary interest register. #trustme mmmmmattmcartten@davidjesuscunliffe: Dddddavid when yyyyyou said this jjjjjob would be a ccccchallenge you weren’t kkkkkidding. Ppppplease leave your ffffffoot in your mmmmouth as this wwwwill save yyyyyou from repeatedly ssssshooting it! #bbbbbbugger johnkeypm: When I’ve got political enemies like @davidjesuscunliffe against me – then I don’t really need too many friends. #thegiftthatkeepsongiving cenglishfedfarmers: Amazingly, since I announced I’d be leaving my position at Fed Farmers in July, my phone has not been ringing off the hook with countless job offers! Perhaps it is broken? #workinghelloworking jwilsonfonterra: I think I’m getting a handle on this chairman lark. Have a crisis, increase the payout; undergo another crisis, increase the payout again; experience yet another crisis; whack the payout up a few more cents. #easypeasy

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NORM ATKINS (Rural News, March 4) derides Massey scientist Dr Mike Joy for his concerns over river water quality and haggles about whether town or country is to blame. This divisive approach does nothing to help the problem; it is an issue for town and country and central and local government. Freshwater is our planet’s most valuable resource by virtue that it confers life, yet we worry more about peak oil than peak freshwater. It beggars belief that we can pollute our freshwater to such an extent given such a small population. The River Thames in London (population twice that of the whole of NZ) is cleaner than many of our rivers, such as the Manawatu, as evidenced by its Atlantic salmon runs and trout population upstream from Henley. It’s no good Norm Atkins denying dairying’s guilt. Dairy pasture grown in adverse areas, such as the dry Canterbury Plains, only persists by virtue of massive irrigation and whether this irrigation water comes from the aquifer or direct from rivers matters little. Both will deplete rivers and so a pernicious cycle prevails – more irrigation, more dairy intensification, more pollution, less river water, increased pollutant concentrations. Urban NZ is just as guilty, with town councils discharging sewage, part-treated at best, into rivers. Central government response to date has been a limp-wristed set of voluntary standards on freshwater management with an implementation date of 2030. Still, as long as the voting populace of New Zealand is happy to continue to subsidise polluters through income tax used to clean up the mess they leave then we get what we deserve. David Haynes President New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers

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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


From precision air strikes to

A group of South Canterbury cropping farmers are taking soil sampling to a new level of precision with New Zealand’s first real-time soil sampler. Andrew Swallow reports. SEAUN LOVELL spent 22 years in the British Army calling in precision air strikes around the world. Now he’s deploying precision soil sampling techniques on New Zealand farms. He’s been in the country a couple of years and was recently employed by four South Canterbury farmers to run start-up company Smart Ag Solutions and its state-of-the-art soil sampler, a Veris MSP3. “The Veris will help farmers better understand their soils and where they need to apply more, or less, nutrients and irrigation. It’s another tool in the farmer’s armoury,” quips the former Royal Corps of Signals sergeant-major. His army role was tactical forward air controller. “That’s calling in fast jets, ground attack helicopters, artillery, etc,” he explains. Now he’s operations manager for Smart Ag Solutions and while he didn’t

anticipate working in agriculture on leaving the army, his experience operating and maintaining high-tech military communications systems in rugged environments with little or no on-thespot support is ideal, say Smart Ag’s directors. He’s also picked up a feel for farm work on his wife’s family’s farm at Eiffelton, Mid Canterbury. “Finding Seaun’s been just brilliant,” Smart Ag director Colin Hurst, Waimate, told Rural News. Hurst and fellow directors Michael Tayler, Nick Ward and Hugh Wigley are all cropping farmers but they believe the MSP3’s ability to measure soil texture, pH and organic matter in one pass, and in real time (ie on the go and GPS recorded), will be equally useful in pasture systems and horticulture, allowing variable rate irrigation, lime and other inputs to be applied. “Grass is a crop just like any other,” says Hurst. “It needs the right soil pH

to maintain nutrient availability to plant and animal, and soil texture and organic matter content are major factors in determining soil water holding capacity, a key consideration in scheduling irrigation.” Texture and organic matter are recorded constantly by the MSP3, while a pH sample is taken and analysed every seven seconds, making it a considerable step up on hectare grid sampling. Texture by electrical conductivity of the soil is also an advance on electromagnetic (EM) mapping, they believe. “Our sensor is in the ground,” notes Hurst. Tayler spotted the Veris at a precision agriculture conference in the US while on a Nuffield Scholarship. On his return he got talking about it to the other directors and they decided to import one for use on their farms and to offer a contract service to other growers.

Above: Smart Ag Solutions’ operations manager Seaun Lovell points out the MSP3’s pH sampler. Right: Electrically charged discs measure soil conductivity, which correlates with texture.



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precision ag While soil texture won’t change year to year, or even decade to decade, organic matter and pH in particular can change, depending on management practice and weather, hence they anticipate re-scanning paddocks every third, fourth or maybe fifth year. “You’d want to do it before your more pH sensitive crops in the rotation, like barley,” says Wigley. Ward, a former supreme winner of the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Award, says he might do 20-25% of his farm a year. As Veris point out, there’s an interaction between soil texture and the amount of lime required to lift pH a certain amount, so having that data integrated means lime rates can be more accurately targeted. For example, a modest lift in pH on a clay patch of a paddock may require more lime than a sandy area with even lower pH. Smart Ag’s basic service will provide the raw data but the real value is in using that to make more informed decisions on irrigation scheduling, fertiliser applications, or other variable rate applications. Lovell’s computer and communica-

tions systems knowledge means he’ll be able to make the Veris data compatible with other machines that can be programmed to variably apply inputs as they cross the paddock. GPS ensures the Veris, and the farm machines, know exactly where they are in the paddock at any point in time, and hence can apply the pre-designated amount of an input, be it fertiliser, lime or water, to that point. All the directors believe the data will help make their operations more sustainable, environmentally and economically. “We can see soil characteristics and how they vary in greater detail than ever before, and in a format that will allow us to programme machines to make variable rate applications across paddocks,” says Tayler. While there’ll be an initial cost for the contract service, reduced amounts of inputs from more precise applications and/or increased yields in years to come mean there will be a financial benefit for those on all but the most uniform soils, he adds. • More on the Veris MSP3 in Machinery & Products, p41, 45

MANAGEMENT 31 In action: the MSP3 working in ryegrass stubble. The spray at the back is the pH sampler self-cleaning.

North Island machine PLUS GROUP Horticulture, Tauranga, has also just imported a Veris MSP3, part funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and AgMardt. Plus Group research manager Allister Holmes says their primary interest was to better understand kiwifruit orchard performance but they will also offer a contract service to growers of other crops and pasture. “The key thing for us is we want to use the data we get from the MSP3 to build layers of information, rather than act on it in isolation,” he told Rural News. Identifying whether “the soil resource” makes the




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difference between high performing orchards and low performing ones is one aim. Holmes says he suspects it isn’t, but the MSP3 data will help confirm or confound that belief, allowing other areas of orchard management to be focussed on with greater confidence. The machine may also identify zones of orchards which can be managed differently, and while he says pH is rarely a problem for kiwifruit on the Bay of Plenty’s volcanic soils, variable rate lime applications are another possibility. “I think pH could be the low-hanging fruit with this as it will allow variable rate lime applications to sort out any problems.”



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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Driverless tractors and classical music More than 200 people from all over the South Island travelled to Yealands Estate in Marlborough last month, to celebrate Peter Yealands taking out the South Island Farmer of the Year. Tessa Nicholson reports. SUSTAINABILITY IS at the heart of everything Yealands Estate, Marlborough does and innovation is not far behind. Yealands Estate pipped six other top farmers to win this year’s Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year title. Typical of that innovation is work on an auton-

omous tractor to tend the vines, supported by a leading GPS company. The tractor can be programmed to drive up and down rows, turn in headlands and pick up items if necessary – all without a driver. “I believe this is ground breaking across the board,” Peter Yealands told the winner’s field day

last month. “It will be able to run 24 – 7, stopping only to refuel. It will even be able to park itself when it finishes the programmed area. Basically, it is 400% more efficient than a normal person. And there are no smoko breaks, no holidays or bereavement leave.” Protective bars surround the machine and

automatically apply the brakes if contact with any object is made. Travelling at 7kmh, the tractor can stop within half a metre and less than a second. Yealands admits there is still some fine-tuning to do before it becomes an integral part of the vineyard, safety being the number one issue to be signed off. Other innovations include using vine prunings as a renewable energy source. “Temperature control and heat energy in the winery are vital. We were using LPG [heating]

Lincoln Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year, Peter Yealands.

but that was costing us $200,000. I thought there had to be a better way.” Now the company bales about 10% of its grapevine prunings. Each bale weighs around 200kg and when burnt in the purpose-built boilers releases energy equivalent to about 60Kg of LPG, heating water and glycol. Yealands is also work-

ing on making biochar from chipped vine prunings and grape marc. The biochar will be mixed with compost made on site, before being spread among the vines. Another innovation, now into its fifth year, is using Baby Doll sheep to help keep the grass down and save on mowing between vines.

To graze the whole vineryard 10,000 will be needed and numbers have already been grown from a mere 30 to 1500. Given Baby Doll sheep are on the endangered species list, Yealands’ efforts may help save the breed. By his own admission, one his more “out there” innovations is solar-powered loud speakers playing

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MASSEY UNIVERSITY’S professor of precision agriculture, Ian Yule, says many New Zealand farmers are “effectively working blind due to lack of soil information” so he’s generally supportive of the Veris imports. He told Rural News Massey’s been working with “similar techniques” to EC textural assessments for about 15 years and has had good results. “It is a well established technique. The value of the information is mainly in calculating the water holding capacity of the soil for irrigation planning.” The Veris’ soil organic matter measurement, using near infrared light as well as the visible spectrum, is also a reasonably well accepted technique. “Again it will need to be calibrated against NZ soils.”

With pH, Yule says most studies show significant savings in lime are possible by more intense soil sampling. “It is also important on some crops such as potatoes that excessive lime is not added as it will spoil the quality of the product. Different Ian Yule soil zones identified by the EC and OM mapping are also useful. “Potentially these are all valuable and I would say most farmers undervalue this type of information, but… they have to gain some benefit from it.” Besides potential savings on lime from pH and texture data, better

understanding of texture and organic matter and associated water holding capacity can bring irrigation savings and possible yield improvements from avoiding over- or underwatering. “The quality of the information will be determined by the contractor’s knowledge and their ability to calibrate the machine to NZ conditions…. I will wait with interest as to how they go but I am pretty hopeful that it will prove to be a valuable service to a range of growers.” @rural_news facebook.com/ruralnews

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MANAGEMENT 33 BALE FEEDERS Prunings are dried, baled and used in a winery boiler.

classical music throughout the vineyard. So far there has been little sign of any increase in vine production but a positive side-effect has seen chickens living in pens near the speakers laying 19% larger eggs than those out of earshot of the music. The chickens are there to help control unwanted grubs among the vines, and provide eggs for staff and the local St John’s Kitchen. Yealands is no stranger to innovation, having been at the forefront of the Marlborough mussel industry. But he’s quick to credit his large staff at Yealands Estate for the South Island Farmer win, and indeed, other commendations the business has collected over the years. “I put my success down to the team I have around me.” Besides the overall South Island Farmer title, which carries a $20,000grant towards

About awards RUN BY the Lincoln University Foundation, the South Island Farmer of the Year competition’s primary objective is to encourage and facilitate a flow of people who can contribute to the development of New Zealand’s land-based businesses. Innovation in farming is the over-riding theme and the competition includes a runner-up and number of category prizes. Andrew, Karen and Sam Simpson from Lake Tekapo were runners-up. Alan and Sharron Davie-Martin from Culverden won the BNZ award for best human resource management and award for resource use efficiency.

overseas travel for study, research, and marketing, Yealands landed the $5000 Silver Fern Farms’ Plate to Pasture award and Lincoln University’s award for best technology and innovation, which also carries a $5000 prize. Chief competition judge Nicky Hyslop said Yealands’ entry demonstrated outstanding innovation inside and outside of the winery business. “That was backed up by sound business practices integrated into every

aspect of the operation, and a holistic ‘vine to bottle’ approach.” Today’s massive 1000ha vineyard began back in 2000 when Yealands bought his first block of land at Seaview (near Seddon). In 2007 he began building his own winery, the very first in the world to be CarboNZero from conception, and in 2008 he produced his first wine. These days Yealands Estate wines are sold in 65 countries.

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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014

34 MANAGEMENT High point: the field day crowd enjoys the view.

Reflecting on drought VIVIE NNE H AL DANE

MAKING DECISIONS early and not delaying acting on them was the key to Anawai Station coming through last year’s drought, a field day on the Hawkes Bay Beef + Lamb New Zealand monitor farm heard last month. “One of the key drivers

to our farm’s survival was having grazing available next door for all our Angus cows,” station manager, Colin Davis, told the gathering of about 50 farmers and industry representatives. Having 400t of wet silage that had been buried two years prior to the drought, and 660t stashed

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in a silage stack was also a lifeline. Mark Harris, BLNZ’s extension manager, Eastern North Island, also noted the benefit of various rural professionals giving their time to the farm team monthly to help it through the drought. “They just got stuck in and now we’ve come out the other end.” Station owner, Craig Hickson reflected that a kind winter and spring had been a “get out of jail card.” Consequently, most parts of the farm had more than adequate grass cover at the time of last month’s field day, a big difference to being 30% down on pasture at the end of last summer. Heading into this autumn and winter, the team at Anawai is focused on pasture management to maximise autumn growth, without compromising animal performance. On the highest part of

the property, the Maraetotara Platform, a lush crop of lucerne looks set to boost hogget weights. “We are pleased with the way we are tracking with our commercial ewes: 64kg and body condition score (CS) 3.5, compared to 56kg and 2.2 CS last year,” says Davis. “Our 1-year commercial ewes were mated on February 27 to Texel rams as they were last year. Ewes averaged 66kgs and 3.9CS. That’s a huge difference to this time last year at 54kgs and 2.4CS. “We moved that mating date forward from March 15 in order to gain a bit more and hit that November market.” Last year it was decided to lamb the two-tooths on the platform so they were on lucerne during lactation but having experienced the disadvantages of lambing at that altitude with frequent southerlies, this year they’ll lamb lower

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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


recovery in Hawkes Bay down with more shelter. “We’ve got some good statistics and performance from the two tooths lactating on the lucerne versus ewes lactating on grass up at the same altitude,” notes Davis (See box). Last year’s dry saw 800t of silage (wet weight) fed out, the majority to breeding hinds. Davis’ wife Denise says that was “a huge commitment in terms of time, labour, fuel and machinery cost. “We have avoided having to feed out silage this year, as we had an exceptional late spring and summer.” The drought highlighted the need for work on infrastructure, which is being actioned. Existing fences have and continue to be made stock proof and an overhaul of the water systems is another priority. While they currently rely on dams with

some reticulation, the long-term plan is to have comprehensive water reticulation using springs on the station to create a gravity fed system. Subdivision has increased paddocks from 189 in 2011 to 208 in 2013. Davis says further subdivision last year to create some 4ha paddocks cut grazing periods in these paddocks to 3.5 days. Annual crop area targets at Anawai are 108ha of established lucerne, 96ha of plantain, 33ha of winter crop and 24ha of Italian ryegrass. AgResearch has been monitoring lucerne drymatter production with cage cuts. It’s divided into 12-13ha cells for grazing and a strict rotation maintained. “Plantain is a new crop for Anawai and we are just starting to build figures around this,” adds Davis.

FARM FACTS ❱❱ 1390ha effective ❱❱ 450ha on Maraetotara platform, easy to moderate hill with high. rainfall (2032mm) and free draining soil. ❱❱ 500ha of steep hill, moderate rainfall, heavy soil. ❱❱ 440ha on Elsthorpe platform, easy to moderate hill, low summer rainfall (1016mm), heavy soil. ❱❱ 232ha of recently purchased lower altitude country will increase plantain area. ❱❱ Stock: 5,500 Dorset ewes; Angus cows put to Angus; Friesian bulls; Red and Red/Wapiti cross deer. Target ratio: 50% sheep, 25% cattle, 25% deer.

Anawai Station managers Colin and Denise Davis.

North American market OWNER OF Anawai Station and Progressive Meats, Craig Hickson, told the field day they’re working on developing a premium prime beef market in North America. “We recently sold at few at 347kg carcass weight for $5.86/ kg. That’s a $2,001/head return, which is pretty good.”

That prompted castration of all Angus calves this year in anticipation of further development of that market. In December 313 Friesian bull calves were bought in at 135kg to take through to next spring. “We also have 300 R2 bulls and are targeting to either store or kill these,” adds Davis.

Performance of lucerne and grass TWO MOBS of multiple bearing ewes on grass or lucerne were monitored from September 17 to December 12 to compare performance. Stocking rate was 53% higher on lucerne than grass, at 14.4 ewes/ha compared to 9.4 ewes/ha. To control grass quality five sire bulls and 16 R1 hinds were added in November. Ewes on lucerne put on just 0.1kg and 0.77 of a condition score on average compared to a 4.9kg increase in bodyweight on grass and a 1.1 gain in conditions score. Ewes were shorn during the monitoring period. However, there was 33% more production of the lucerne, 506kg of liveweight/ha compared to 381kg/ha off grass. Lamb growth was good of both grass (282g/day) and lucerne (245g/day) compared to Anawai’s three year average of 236g/day.

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Bayer responds on iodine issue Rural News’ March 4 edition relayed a North Island Farm IQ suggestion that it’s best to test rather than resort to iodine injections as a matter of routine (p31). Bayer technical veterinarian Rebecca Christie responds IN REGIONS of New Zealand, predominantly the South Island, there are iodine deficient soils. Without supplementation these farms could experience high lamb mortality

and weak iodine deficient lambs. These flocks may also show lower scanning percentages (ref 1). The problem is accentuated by brassica feeding over winter as the plants

are not only low in iodine, but also contain chemicals that prevent iodine being absorbed. In some years this deficiency may lead to severe production losses so routine iodine supple-

mentation is vital for these farms as you can never predict exactly how much iodine will be available in a given year. How can we assess the need for supplementation?

Assessing iodine levels can be difficult and a number of factors might need to be considered. Generally, enlarged thyroids (neck swellings) in newborn lambs as a result

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of inadequate iodine while in utero is the trigger (ref 2). Weighing the lamb and weighing the thyroid gland and calculating the ratio gives a valuable indicator of iodine deficiency. Contact your local veterinarian to help you with this. It is fairly labour intensive but it is by far the most accurate way to measure whether a flock is deficient enough to affect production. A blood test is available. It will reflect recent iodine intake, including supplementation, but cannot be used in isolation as a predictor of the requirement for iodine in the future. Iodine supplementation can prevent the serious lamb loss associated with iodine deficiency. Local field trials and studies have proven Flexidine long-acting iodine injection (3) prevents this type of deficiency. Unfortunately the reporting of conclusions drawn from a recent FarmIQ study on a farm in the Wairarapa may well have confused some farmers about supplementation, which needs to be addressed. This farm already had very good scanning rates and low neonatal mortality figures so iodine deficiency was unlikely to be an issue for them. On top of this they showed no evidence of a production limiting iodine deficiency when dead newborn lambs were autopsied, so it was not surprising when they saw no increase in their scanning or survivability figures after supplementation with iodine. What this trial did illustrate was the importance of assessing the need for supplementation before it is implemented on a farm as it may be an unnecessary expense in some regions – as may well have been the case on this particular Wairarapa farm. In other regions however, devastating results may be experienced when iodine supplementation is missed. The conclusion from the study that the Flexidine had no effect on scanning or neonatal survival on this non-defi-

cient Wairarapa farm may lead people to make inappropriate choices around whether to use Flexidine in more deficient regions. Flexidine is an extremely useful tool for farmers in truly deficient regions, such as Southland. It covers the full period from tupping to lambing with one injection, without the need to bring ewes repeatedly back through the yards for oral iodine dosing. We must always remember that the main purpose of supplementing iodine in deficient regions is to improve neonatal survival. Improvement in fertility may be an additional benefit if all other factors around ewe fertility are optimal as well (1). If considering iodine supplementation need, you should talk to your vet about whether deficiency is likely to be affecting your flock and whether an iodine supplement such as Flexidine might improve production. This decision may be difficult without lambs to autopsy but the discussion can begin with what neonatal losses were and scanning percentages. Blood sampling may identify whether ewes are consuming sufficient iodine from pasture but results should be treated carefully: levels can change rapidly with changes in pasture so shouldn’t be used in isolation, especially when considering what may happen in later pregnancy, when it matters the most as far as neonatal survival goes. • References: (1) “The effects of iodine deficiency on ewe fertility and perinatal lamb mortality” ND Sargison, DM West and RG Clark. NZVJ. 46:2 72-75, 1998 (2) “A practical approach to managing the risks of iodine deficiency in flocks using thyroid:birthweight ratios of lambs” SO Knowles and ND Grace. NZVJ 55:6 314318, 2007 (3) Flexidine is a registered pursuant to the ACVM Act 1997, No. 7866 and is only available from your veterinarian.

RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Three mobs of bulls were monitored under different FE regimes.

SUD ES H K I SSU N sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

AS BEEF + Lamb NZ demonstration farmers, Steve and Sandra Parrott were last year invited to nominate a topic for further investigation on their property. For the Parrotts it was an easy call. Having lived his whole life on the farm near Raglan, west of Hamilton, Parrott has long grappled with the fungal spore induced livestock disease facial eczema (FE). Teaming up with BLNZ, Gallagher, Franklin Vets and AgResearch, the Parrotts decided to run a project to see if sub-clinical FE caused a decrease in liveweight gain in beef animals. Three mobs of R2 mostly Charolais and Charolais cross beef bulls took part in the first phase of the trial. The first mob was treated with Face-Guard zinc boluses; the second with zinc through a Dosatron water dispenser, and the third was grazed on paddocks treated with fungicides Mycotak and Mycowet. Baseline levels of animal weight, serum FE, serum zinc and trace min-

erals were taken at the start of the trial in February. Breeding and FE history were also recorded. During the six-month trial, weekly grass spore counts and faecal spore counts were taken; trough zinc levels were tested and monthly weight and serum FE levels taken. Results from the sixmonth trial (see table) were discussed at a recent field day on Parrotts’ Matira Farm at Raglan. Increases in FE resulted in lower liveweight gains, beef bulls treated with zinc had lower increases in FE and higher liveweight gains, and beefs bulls treated with Faceguard boluses had the best increase in serum zinc to protective levels. Parrott says the first year of the project has uncovered interesting data and will help build the second year’s results. The second phase of the trial looks at the most cost-efficient treatment to maintain liveweight gain in beef animals. Speaking to 60 farmers at the field day, Parrott said many farmers do nothing about FE because the disease is not always visible but

there’s a long history of FE-related issues on their farm. “We’d rather do something than nothing, but are we treating when we don’t need to be? What are the implications of using zinc?.... We want to find out how much it actually costs. “We already used a Dositron as well as giving our dairy grazers and sheep a bolus; we also sent some grass samples to be spore counted. However, we had no real proof how much these were helping the stock or affecting eczema.” For Parrott, the ultimate question is how

much FE costs farmers. He hopes the demonstration study on his farm will help them find answers. AgResearch scientist Neil Cullen is involved in the trial and told the field day that FE can hit farmers’ pockets hard. It will impact all areas of production. “Growth, fertility, lactation, survival can all be affected and FE can leave either a temporary or residual effect.” Cullen says FE can be avoided by not feeding toxic pasture, suppressing the fungus by spraying fungicides and breeding more genetically tolerant animals.


The Parrotts have two farms; the 610ha Matira Farm, 64km west of Hamilton and the 194ha Te Uku Farm, 23km away. Matira runs 600 finishing lambs, 1100 ewes, 270 Friesian bulls and 190 beef bulls; Te Uku has 550 heifers, 115 calves and 50 bulls. The soil is mostly Maeroa ash. Steve and Sandra farm in partnership with Steve’s brother Alex and his wife Rika. His parents John and Dot are also still actively involved.


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First year results summary Group 1: Face-Guard (zinc) Bolus

Group 2: Zinc via Dosatron

Group 3: Pasture treatment with Mycotak/Mycowet

• 35 Bulls • No visual signs of FE • Negative or low liver fluke • Trace Minerals within adequate ranges • Average increase in GGT levels: 26.54iu/L • Average increase in Zinc level: 16.91umol/L • Total spore count: 170,000 • Average lightweight gain: 80.44kg

• 20 bulls • 4 had mild signs of FE • Negative or low liver fluke • Trace minerals within adequate ranges • Average increase in GGT level: 52.07iu/L • Average increase in Zinc level: 3.21umol/L • Total spore count: 85,000 • Average lightweight gain: 87.06kg

• 27 bulls • No visual signs of FE • Negative or low liver fluke • Trace minerals within adequate ranges • Average increase in GGT levels: 156.23iu/L • Average increase in Zinc levels: 1.04umol/L • Total spore counts: 10,000 spores • Average lightweight gain: 11.5kg

AVAILABLE ONLY UNDER VETERINARY AUTHORISATION. ®Registered trademark MSD Animal Health. Phone 0800 800 543 www.msd-animal-health.co.nz COV-289A-2013

RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Responding to ‘facts’ on milk urea J O HN RO C H E

IN THE February 18 edition of this newspaper, I was asked by Mr Steve Clark to elaborate on my statement that “excessive milk urea (MU) does

not impede NZ dairy cow reproduction”. I’ve tried to contact Mr Clark, author of the page 38 opinion piece, to explain the reasons for my remark, but he requested I reply in writing to the newspaper.

His article provides a number of “facts” that he has collated from conference proceedings. From these statements the reader is led to believe that increased nitrogen fertiliser use over the last 20

years has increased blood and milk urea nitrogen and that this is responsible (at least in part) for the decline in fertility in NZ dairy cows during that time. In the scientific pro-

cess, we refer to this approach as Inductive Reasoning: a series of facts is used to ‘induce’ a hypothesis that is then tested in an experiment. However,



Registered trademark. COOPERS Phone 0800 800 543 www.coopersonline.co.nz PTUP-120-2014

Sustainable Control of Nematode Parasites –a New Zealand perspective. D.M. Leathwick

John Roche

in the case presented in Mr Clark’s article, the approach is incorrectly used to conclude a “fact”. This is similar to concluding that organic food causes autism, because the number of people identified as autistic has increased linearly with the consumption of organic food. However, this is as nonsensical as claiming that wearing a bra increases the risk of breast cancer, because people that wear bras (women) are 100-times more likely to get breast cancer than those that don’t (men) – “fact”. So, let’s consider the facts. As stated by Mr Clark: • there is a strong correlation between blood urea and MU concentrations; • MU is associated with dietary crude protein (ie. a high protein diet results in higher MU); • Nitrogen fertiliser generally increases the protein content of pasture, although other factors such as rotation length play a bigger role; • The use of nitrogen fertiliser has increased in NZ since the 1970s; • Dairy cow conception rates have dropped over the last 20-30 years worldwide. These points are all factual. However, the conclusion that high MU associated with nitrogenfertilised ryegrass pastures has, in some way, contributed to the reproduction problem, is incorrect. There is evidence from North American production systems, in which cows consume a total mixed ration including about 50% concentrate, that cows with higher MU have poorer reproduction. The hypothesis induced from this fact is that reproduction is compromised in grazing cows with high MU as well. However, the research undertaken in

grazing cows does not support this hypothesis. Ordonez et al. (2007), Massey University, and Kenny et al. (2001; 2002) from Ireland both investigated the effect of nitrogen-fertilised pastures on reproduction. Both concluded that there was no detrimental effect of the high protein and the associated high blood urea or MU on reproduction. In fact, embryo weight was greater in heifers receiving the high crude protein diet in one of the studies (Kenny et al., 2001). To determine the association between bulk MU and reproductive performance on NZ dairy farms, Smith et al. (2001) collected a sample of bulk milk each week from calving to three weeks into breeding on 10 farms in the Waikato. Bulk MU concentrations ranged from 11.5 to 57 mg/dL. Their data indicated that the submission rate and final pregnancy rate actually increased on farms where bulk MU increased during the first three weeks of mating. In apparent support of their findings, a study of the relationship between nitrogen fertiliser use and empty rate across 12 farms in mid-Canterbury found final pregnancy rate improved with nitrogen fertiliser use. MU was not measured on these farms. In summary, results from research experiments in grazing systems indicate either no relationship between MU and reproductive function or, at worst, that reproductive performance improves with MU. I therefore restate my original remark: “there is no evidence that a high MU (milk urea) is, in anyway, detrimental to cow production, health or reproduction in NZ pasture-based systems”. • John Roche is Dairy NZ’s principal scientist, animal science.

RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014

ANIMAL HEALTH 39 Cattle pour-ons are singled out by AgResearch’s Dave Leathwick (inset).

Single action drench a resistance risk DAVE LE AT H WI C K

OVER THE last few months a series of articles in the rural press has promoted continued use of single active injection and pour-on drenches in cattle. The argument put forward is that although these products will almost certainly fail to control Cooperia, because of widespread drench resistance, they are still likely to adequately control Ostertagia, which is the most pathogenic parasite of cattle. There are a number of reasons not to follow this advice. Drench-resistant worms are widespread in New Zealand, and are common in sheep, cattle (both dairy and beef), deer and possibly horses. The days are long past when you could simply buy the cheapest drench, assume it would do a reasonable job of killing worms, and then not worry about the future. Today, the prevention and management of drench resistance must be a consideration in every worm control (drenching) decision. The use of combination drenches, ie. containing more than one class of drench effective against the target worms, is now a well-established tool in the fight against resistance. A number of modelling and in-the-field studies have demonstrated the potential of combinations to slow the development of resistance. Importantly, these studies all show that combinations have the greatest potential to slow resistance development when they are used before resistance has developed in the worm population. In other words, the best time to use combination drenches to minimise the development of resistance in Ostertagia in cattle is NOW, before it has developed significant resistance to one or more of the drench actives. Use of single active drenches of any kind should be discouraged. Next, there is the issue of whether it is better to use orals, injections or pourons, and whether there is indeed any

Figure 1 – The concentrations of moxidectin in plasma of cattle after treatment by the injectable, oral or pour-on routes.

difference between them. That last question is the easiest to answer. As figure 1 shows, it is scientifically well established that pour-ons result in the lowest concentrations of drug in the bloodstream, both in terms of the peak concentration – the maximum value on the graph – and the total volume – the area under the concentration curve. Delivery of drug by pour-on tends to be more variable, and penetration through the hide can be influenced by breed of cattle, weather (particularly if cold) and animals licking themselves or each other. A recent AgResearch study found moxidectin was more effective against Cooperia in cattle when administered orally, than when given by injection or as a pour-on. Efficacy was poor for the injectable and pouron routes at 55.5% and 51.3% respectively, but 91.1% effective when the drug was delivered orally. Efficacy against Ostertagia was good for all

treatments. This last point has been taken as evidence that all routes of administration are equal. This is far from the truth. The important conclusions from this study are: • oral administration of moxidectin delivers a higher concentration of drug to the small intestine of cattle than injection or pour-on • oral administration is the least variable method. Almost all Cooperia populations in the study were resistant, as is the case on almost every farm in New Zealand, yet the oral killed more worms. This shows the oral route must have delivered more drug to the small intestine, killing more of the resistant worms. Other studies have shown the same effect in sheep. The point here is that these differences would not be obvious against fully susceptible worms because they all die, as was the case for Ostertagia. These findings are important to TO PAGE 40



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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Coupling calves makes clever cows ALAN HARMAN

COWS LEARN better when housed together, which may help adjustment to complex new feeding and milking tech-

nologies, a University of British Columbia, Canada, study shows. Its latest research also found dairy calves learn faster in a “buddy system” than when penned indi-

vidually. The university says this is the first evidence that individually housing calves – a common practice in Canada and many other nations – is associ-

ated with certain learning difficulties. The study by the university’s Dairy Education and Research Centre involved two cognitive tests for two groups of

Rebecca Meagher

Holstein calves housed in individual pens or in pairs. “Pairing calves seems

to change the way these animals are able to process information,” says Dan Weary, a professor in the university’s animal welfare programme. “We recommend that farmers use some form of social housing for their calves during the milk feeding period.” As farms become increasingly complex, with cattle interacting with robotic milkers, automated feeding systems and other technology, slow

adaptation can be frustrating for cows and farmers alike, he adds. Individual calf pens are used in the belief they reduce the spread of disease but Weary plays down the animal health advantage, provided cows or calves are housed in small groups. “The risk of one animal getting sick and affecting the others is real when you’re talking about large groups, but not with smaller groups like two or three.”

Resistance risk FROM PAGE 39

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work out how to manage drench resistance in cattle. A dose of drug which just manages to kill susceptible worms, but has little or no efficacy against resistant ones, will select for resistance faster than one which kills a good proportion of the resistant worms. This ability to kill emerging resistant worms is one of the major factors determining how fast resistance will develop. So, the evidence from a number of studies is that the use of orals delivers more endectocide to the small intestine and this kills more of the resistant worms hence, for small intestinal species, the use of orals is likely to result in the slower development of resistance. The situation with abomasal (stomach) species such as Ostertagia is less clear. There are pharmacokinetic studies in sheep which show much higher delivery of endectocide drenches to both tissues and worms (Haemonchus) in the abomasum after oral administration than by injection, resulting in higher efficacy of oral treatment.  However, in other studies injections appear to be as good, if not better, against resistant worms which live in the abomasum. So, at this stage the jury is still out regarding orals and injections against worms which live in the abomasum. It should be noted studies in deer in NZ show pour-ons deliver far less drug to the abomasum than either injections or orals, resulting in poor efficacy against Ostertagia in deer compared with orals and injections. In summary then, drench resistance is a very real threat to the cattle industries in New Zealand. Resistance in Cooperia is widespread and resistance in Ostertagia has recently been confirmed on both dairy and dairy-beef farms in the North Island. The time to take steps to prevent the problem getting worse is now, while small changes can still make a difference. Choosing to use drenches which are least likely to select for resistance is the easiest thing to do to ensure sustainability. Based on the evidence we have today the best products to use are oral combinations containing two, or preferably three classes of anthelmintic. • Article supplied to Rural News Group by Dave Leathwick, Principal Scientist, Animal Nutrition & Health, AgResearch .

RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Three-in-one precision soil sampler In the past month two Veris MSP3 precision soil samplers have been imported into New Zealand, the first such machines to be operated here. Andrew Swallow reports. SOIL TEXTURE, pH and organic matter content are key factors in the productivity of any paddock and some New Zealand farmers will this year be gathering more detailed data on those parameters than ever before. It’s thanks to the import of two Veris MSP3 soil samplers from the United States, one into the North Island, another into the South (see pXX). The machines carry sensors for soil texture, pH, and organic matter on one frame or ‘platform’, hence the initials MSP – multi-sensor platform. Texture is measured by recording the soil’s electrical conductivity (EC) as the MSP3 traverses a paddock. A pair of electrically

charged discs cut 10-15cm into the ground and how much electricity is picked up by receptor discs either side of them gives a measure of soil texture: the higher the clay content the greater the conductivity. There are four receptor discs, set at different distances from the charge discs. The closer ones give a reading relating to texture at from 0 to 30cm, while the further ones read down to 90cm. “We can identify sand over clay, or clay over sand,” explains Tyler Lund of Veris. “That’s going to affect your rooting depth and water permeability, as well as all the other things associated with those soil textures.” Lund says electro-mag-

a visual wavelength. The lights are shone through a sapphire window in a skid sliding through a shallow furrow in the soil at 2.57.5cm. “The residue is cleared

to diamond” for hardness, hence can cope with the constant wear of soil sliding underneath it. The more light absorbed, the higher the TO PAGE 44


Tyler Lund of Veris Technologies helping Smart Ag Solutions get their MSP3 set up last week.

netic mapping produces similar textural data but EC has the advantage of not being affected by nearby metallic infrastructure such as fences, powerlines, irrigators, or even the vehicle towing the sensor. “That’s why they have to tow EM sensors on a plastic sled: to keep it as far away as possible from

out in front of the sensor and it goes through just under the surface; we can vary the depth to a degree.” Sapphire is used because it is “second only

the metal of the machine towing it.” It means the EC sensors can be mounted on a robust steel frame that can carry a range of other devices, as the MSP3 demonstrates. It assesses soil organic matter (OM) by measuring soil reflectance of two wavelengths of light: near infra red (NIR) and

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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


All pumped up for effluent expo SUD ES H K I SSU N sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

PROGRESSING CAVITY (PC) pumps will be among the advanced effluent handling offerings from 50 companies exhibiting at the Waikato Effluent Expo, on March 25 at Mystery Creek. PC pump pioneers

Mono Pumps New Zealand, which has sold NOV Mono PC effluent pumps here for more than five years, will have two area managers on its dealer’s stand: Mike Jackson and Naim Alsaeksaek. The company’s general manager, Shazad Ibnul, says the Waikato Regional Council-organised expo

is a valuable forum for farmers to share ideas and knowledge – based on their practical experience – with researchers, engineers and equipment manufacturers. “Using such ideas and knowledge, more effective techniques and technology are able to be researched and developed to provide

effective effluent solutions,” he told Rural News. Past events were well attended, the organisers say. They expect 500 farmers this time. “We’ve brought together 50 exhibitors for this year’s expo, with the aim of supporting farmers who want to boost

farm profits while minimising their environmen-

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Four model range aims to meet needs MASSEY FERGUSON is introducing the best features of its award winning MF7600 range in a new medium-power package – the MF6600 series. The new four-model range meets the needs of farmers and contractors cropping using up-to-date methods of establishing, nurturing and harvesting, the company says. “Massey Ferguson has developed the MF6600 series for the new generation of farmers looking at their asset management in terms of labour, power, soil protection, cropping and the environment,” says Tim Andrew, product manager, Massey Ferguson in Australia and New Zealand. “This new range combines the right size and power with productive features needed to farm effectively in today’s challenging conditions.” The MF6600 tractors have the power, torque and operating features of a 6-cyl tractor in a 4-cyl compact, agile machine with a good power-to-weight ratio. They come with a wide choice of transmissions, hydraulic systems and cab comfort. The MF6600 Series is available with Dyna-4, Dyna-6 or Dyna-VT transmissions and in ‘essential’ or ‘efficient’ cab specifications. “While keeping everything that has made Massey Ferguson tractors great, the new MF6600 Series has been developed to meet the needs of the latest generation of farmers,” says Andrew.

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Innovations wanted NATIONAL FIELDAYS’ innovation competition is now open for 2014 entries, and the organizers are urging people to enter their rural inventions. It celebrates New Zealand ingenuity by showcasing the latest innovations, backyard inventions and commercial improvements. With a range of categories, the innovation centre incorporates commercial innovations and backyard creations. In 2013 the competition had 75 entrants, with many also taking the opportunity to enter and pitch to investors in the inaugural Fieldays Innovation Den. Winning innovators included: Patrick Roskam (then 12) who won several awards for his Gudgeon Pro fencing system plus a personal invitation from Sir William Gallagher for an internship at Gallagher’s R&D department. Droidworx (now called Aeronavics) won the Most Viable Business award for their aerial robot that is now receiving expressions of interest from all over the world. And 13 year-old Ayla Hutchinson was named Fieldays Young Inventor of the Year and also won the James & Wells IP Service Award with her Kindling Cracker innovation. She has since taken her product to market and gone on to win other awards. After the success of the competition in 2013, the centrally located innovation centre has grown in size and organisers are anticipating an increased number of entries. All innovations are kept confidential until they are unveiled on the first day of the event.

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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Soil samplers gathers much better data FROM PAGE 41

organic matter. Following the OM skid, and dipping into the same shallow furrow, is the pH sampler. A metal shoe mounted on a parallelogram frame takes a short horizontal core of soil which is lifted up to electrodes that measure the pH. As it descends the electrodes are pressure-

washed (hence the tank on the MSP3) and when the shoe re-enters the soil, the forward motion of the machine pushes the old sample out and replaces it with a new one. The whole process takes about seven seconds. How many pH samples taken per hectare will depend on the distance between passes the opera-

tor chooses to use, and the speed he works at. Lund says typically 20-25 samples/ha are needed to cope with the variability that’s often seen in pH. “We’ve seen pH 5.6 to 7 in the same [area] in the states.” From the limited data he’s seen from New Zealand to date it’s possible that variability could be exceeded here, he adds.

“[pH] doesn’t necessarily vary by soil type or topography. It seems to follow its own lines which is why we have to map it individually.” A lime spreading truck making seven or eight passes per hectare square, varying its application rate according to the pH maps produced from the MSP3 data is sufficient to correct

imbalances, he says. “We don’t want to map any more variability than we can manage. We’re at that sweet spot where we know that what we’re mapping in the field is at a scale we can manage.” All the sensors are linked to GPS with the data logged as the machine travels across the paddock, building maps of pH, soil

Wools of New Zealand Shareholder and Supporter Relationship Managers

Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) is a grower-owned sales and marketing company seeking new opportunities for wool growers. 720 farmers subscribed capital to WNZ and pay a Wool Market Development Commitment to support the company’s operations. A further 300 growers pay a Wool Market Development Fee also to support the company. WNZ has several customer specific contracts in the market currently, alongside our Direct-to-Scour model. We are looking to link growers directly with WNZ Global Partners: users of WNZ branded wool mostly for carpets and textiles. WNZ seeks to build on and improve its relationship with its Shareholders and Supporters with the appointment of these new roles. WNZ has also created a Grower Advisory Panel, appointing regionally based noted growers as a test-panel for two way feedback. WNZ seeks to appoint four shareholder relationship positions and seeks applications for these roles.

Shareholder Relations Manager This person would report to the Chief Executive and lead a small team of supplier liaison officers, dealing with all shareholder and supporter relationship issues, encouraging contract supply and Direct to Scour (D2S) supply, management and maintenance of Integrity Programs and carrying the WNZ message wider afield. This includes our new logistics model and securing wool for the new contracts that we will roll out over the next few months. In time, this will involve facilitating the trading of shares. We seek a gregarious farmer-friendly person willing to work farm friendly times and someone with a comfortable telephone manner. This role will be 0.5FTE (with the other 0.5FTE potentially filled by a range of other WNZ work options). Domicile is flexible with a preference for Christchurch, as the four positions are intended to be Upper North Island, Lower North Island, Upper South Island and Lower South Island. While some wool technical skills would be an advantage, this is not a prerequisite for the role. We need someone who can relate well to farmers on their own terms.

texture and organic matter as it goes. Data is displayed on a screen in the cab. “You can see the results as they’re coming in,” says Seaun Lovell, operations manager for Smart Ag Solutions, one of the firms to have imported an MSP3 (see p30-31). “It can be quite fascinating how it varies, and if anything goes wrong,

such as it missing a reading, you’re alerted immediately.” He anticipates some Smart Ag clients will want to see that for themselves. “I’ve no problem with that, they’re the ones paying for the service after all, but I might have to move my lunchbox so they can get on the passenger seat first.”

About Lund and Veris technologies VERIS TECHNOLOGIES is based in Salina, Kansas. It started making and marketing EC sensors in 1997, adding a standalone pH machine and dual-purpose pH and EC model in 2003. The MSP3 with its EC, pH and organic matter sensors was launched a couple of years ago. Lund says it was their top seller last year, at least 40 machines sold as far afield as Russia, Brazil, the Netherlands, and Canada, plus New Zealand. “We have a saying, ‘know your field; know your yield’,” says Lund. “The more you know about the limiting factors out there, the more you can overcome the challenges. We want weather to be the only limiting factor.” He’s the son of company founder Eric Lund, a Kansas farmer, and the family still farms soy, maize and sorghum. In the US growers vary seed rates as well as altering inputs such as fertiliser, lime and irrigation according to the management zones created with the sensor data. With maize, higher populations are planted on better areas of soil, as the water-holding and nutrient capacity will support more plants. But with soya the reverse applies: a lower seed-rate on the better parts of the field producing higher yields and using less seed, while more seed on poorer soils pays because the plants don’t branch to the same extent. Lund says he’s excited by the diversity of cropping he’s seen in New Zealand and the plans of the Smart Ag Solutions team for the MSP3.


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Shareholder Liaison Officers (3x) Reporting to the Shareholder Relations Manager (above), these positions are envisaged as 0.3 FTE, and the person specifications and attributes are similar to the SRM. This position might suit someone returning to the workforce, or stepping back to a part time role from somewhere in the wider farming/ agribusiness/wool area. All four roles will be provided with full training about WNZ and the way forward and receive regular support. APPLICATIONS FOR THESE ROLES SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO: Ross Townshend, Chief Executive, Wools of New Zealand

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RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


Green machines compact, efficient THREE NEW models in John Deere’s 6M and 6R tractor series are designed for medium-size arable, livestock and mixed farms. The German-made 6090MC, 6100MC and 6110MC models use the maker’s “highly efficient” PowrQuad Plus transmission and 4.5L 4-cyl PowerTech PWX engine. These fuel-efficient, dieselonly engines have cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and an exhaust filter said to lift performance and cut emissions. The 6MC tractors have a 2.4m wheelbase and optional low-profile cabs for better access to small buildings. The frames accept front loaders such

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• Surface ponding of pastures? • Hay & silage being tramped into pasture and wasted? as the John Deere H310 or H340. These are available in non self-leveling, mechanical self-leveling, and hydraulic self-leveling

versions, with a variety of attachments. With up to four mechanical selective control valves, the closed-cen-

Clarification AN ARTICLE on the new Deutz Fahr Series 5, in our recent regional field days supplements, may have given a limiting and incorrect impression of the range, suggesting the DF is only in the midrange tractor market, which it is not. Power Farming says the DF Series 5 introduces, “a new level of performance, technology and affordability to New Zealand’s highly competitive mid-range tractor market” – which represents about

70% of the tractor market. Rural News apologises for any wrong impression given on Power Farming’s intentions for the brand in New Zealand. Meanwhile, the contact details for the New Holland maize harvester on page 36, Rural News March 4 were incorrect. The correct email address is: newhollandclub@norwood.co.nz and the website is: www.newholland.co.nz

tre pressure-compensated hydraulic system is said to respond quickly. It can lift 5600kg. It is available with a 65 or 80L/ min pump. PTO options are 540/540E/1000rpm, described as fuel-efficient. The cab has 320o visibility and low noise levels. Also available is a premium version of this new line-up: the 6090RC, 6100RC and 6110RC. Features include a 205L fuel tank, and the maker’s Intelligent Power Management (IPM) and Triple Link Suspension. Operator comfort is greater and JD’s “intelligent” Total Equipment

Control and GreenStar precision farming options are said to offer better implement control. Three transmission options are offered: PowrQuad Plus, AutoQuad Plus and AutoQuad Plus EcoShift, all giving smooth gear changes on the move, assisted by a standard declutch button. Other features include a pressure and flow compensated hydraulic system providing up to 114L/min, with 37L/min available for implement operation, plus an optional ex-factory front PTO and front hitch with a lift capacity of 3000kg.

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innovation up to the last section.

Sulky ECONOV, the only system on the market that will automatically control the real crescent shape of the spreading pattern and therefore precise application. It truly manages the PROGRESSIVE shut-off of all boom sections!

For more information on how Sulky can optimise your fertiliser investment phone 0800 667 9663 and ask your local Sulky dealer for a demo today! C B Norwood Distributors Ltd

Save tractor hours & reduce fuel consumption. Your greatest asset is the soil you farm DON’T DESTROY IT • Independent trial results available •


~ SOIL AERATION SPECIALISTS ~ Maitland RD5, Gore • Ph/Fax: 03-207 1837 or 027-628 5695m • www.james-engineering.co.nz

RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014

46 RURAL TRADER Happy Birthday

FREE DUMMY COLLAR If required, with all

sportDOG orders • Protect over a wide temperature range • Resist moisture • Protect against corrosion • Minimise lubrication frequency • Extend component life

To mark a birthday, retirement or any milestone, give that special someone, something special - a personal cartoon portrait by Edna cartoonist Malcolm Evans - $200 plus GST Send no money - just email a few up-to-date photos of subject, with a note of details you’d like included, to; malcolm@evanscartoons.com

Ph 0800 33 66 66 www.powerupnz.co.nz

Up to 6 rechargeable waterproof collar units & remotes • Model SD-1825 – 1.6 Kms range (1 mile) • Model SD-1225 – 1.2 Kms range • Model SD-825 – 800 Metre range All with Tone & Vibration options 24 levels of correction – 3 year warranty


Or post your inquiries to; M. Evans, 39J Cape Horn Road, Hillsborough, Auckland 1041 . and don’t forget to include your return address.


SD-1825 with 1 collar ................$895.00 SD-1225 with 1 collar ................ $775.00 SD-825 with 1 collar ..................$645.00 Extra collars $475.00 – PRICES INCLUDE GST


• The magic eye sheepjetter since 1989 Unique • Quality construction and options self adjusting • Get the contractors choice sides • Direct from the manufacturer • Efficient application and unequalled cost savings

Phone 07 573 8512 • www.electrodip.com

on Duals for more traction, stability, flotation, towing power, versatility.

Clic Wheel Systems Ltd, Rotorua

Ph/Fax 07 347 2292



NZ’s finest BioGro certified Mg fertiliser For a delivered price call... 0800 436 566

YOUR ADVERT HERE For details contact: JULIE BEECH Ph 09-307 0399 • julieb@ruralnews.co.nz


The award winning Australian Quadbar is now on over 250 farms in NZ and is saving lives and preventing injury daily. It is now made here and is a well proven crush protection device for quad bikes.



+GST delivered

For a Quadbar, call me, Stuart Davidson, owner of Quadbar NZ, on 021-182 8115. Email sales@quadbar.co.nz or for more info go to


MOBILE FEED TROUGHS 4.5M (3 Wheel) Jumbo Culvert PK Feeder $3499.00 inc

6M Culvert (mobile) $1375.00 inc

4M - 800L Budget Drawbar $2050.00 inc

6.0M (6 Wheel) Jumbo Culvert PK Feeder $4999.00 inc

1700 Litres

2400 Litres

McKee Plastics, Mahinui Street, Feilding | Phone 06 323 4181 | Fax 06 323 4183 McKee Plastics, 231 Kahikatea Drive, Hamilton | Phone 07 847 7788 sales@mckeeplastics.co.nz | www.mckeeplastics.co.nz

RURAL NEWS // MARCH 18, 2014


• Pest Free puts 50Hz pulse along power cables • Rats and mice stress, dehydrate, exit • No harm to humans, pets, computers, etc. • Models to suit buildings/plant 200sq.m to 1000sq.m • NSW-made, patented, science proven • Used in ten countries • Two-year warranty • 100% 60-DAY MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE

Rubber Safety Matting

Pest Free Domestic for homes, garages, etc to 200sq,m – $159.90 incl. GST & post.

Pest Free PRO for large homes, small offices & factories, etc to 400sq.m – STOP RATS with Pest Free $399.90 incl. Buy with confidence from authorised rural sales agent N + J Keating, GST & post. 70 Rimu Street, New Lynn, Auckland 0600. Tel. 09 833 1931 Pest Free Commercial (cell 021 230 1863); email keating@orcon.net.nz for dairy TWO WAYS TO ORDER/PAY: sheds, 1) POST: cheque to N. Keating telling us the product(s) you want, grain mills, plus your name, address and telephone number. 2) INTERNET: direct credit ASB 12 3039 0893559 00 factories, (your surname as reference) PLUS telephone or email us, etc – $1800 saying which product(s) you want. incl. GST & post.

• ATV Carrier Mats • Exit/Entry Areas • Calf Trailers • Horse Floats & Trucks • Weigh Platforms • Bale Mats • Comfort Mats for Wet & Dry Areas • Utility Deck Matting

Phone: 0800 80 8570

Cretex™ TR

Epotread™ SL250

Incredible adhesion Rapid cure Chemical resistant Extremely hard in 6 hours

Non Toxic, Solvent Free Chemical Resistant Self smoothing, easy to spread Covers eroded & pitted floors




CRAIGCO SENSOR JET DEAL TO FLY AND LICE • Cost Effective • Complete Package



0800 542 542


• Unbeatable pricing

why not fit a Lifeguard®?

• Performance Guaranteed

– award winning – made in NZ – saves lives – easy to fit – FLEXIBLE


P 06 835 6863 - www.craigcojetters.com

Fantastic Penetration



(safest form of crush protection)

PPP Super Jetter

✓ Highest European quality ❍ ✓ No expensive cartridges ❍


✓ Dual stage filtration ❍ ✓ High flow rates ❍



0800 782 3763


• Make a big job quick & easy • Total body coverage, 2.5 litres/sheep

Clean water OUT


A Flexible CPD makes sense!

• Sheep & Beef Farms • Is drought a problem? • PPP have a cost effective solution for you • Storage silos from 6 tonnes upwards • Contact PPP • A trusted name in farming • Serving rural NZ for over 50 yrs

✓ Economical to maintain ❍ ✓ Domestic & industrial ❍ Ph: 09-376 0463 Email: mark@jder-cintropur.co.nz www.jder-cintropur.co.nz





RAINWEAR & BOOT SALE! $60 $50! $80 Flexiskin Rainwear - 100% Waterproof, Lightweight, Breathable!

Buffalo Boots!

Free Range & Barn Eggs



• Nest boxes - manual or automated • Feed & Drinking • Plastic egg trays QUALITY PRODUCTS MADE IN EUROPE OR BY PPP

www.ruralnews.co.nz www.dairynews.co.nz

A trusted name in Poultry Industry for over 50 years ❖

@rural_news facebook.com/ruralnews

Please add $10 Freight per order

Culvert Pipes New Zealand’s CHEAPEST Culvert Pipes! FREE joiners supplied on request.

ONE STOP WATER SHOP 300mm x 6 metre ................................ $410 400mm x 6 metre ................................ $515 500mm x 6 metre ................................ $690 600mm x 6 metre ................................ $925 800mm x 6 metre .............................. $1399 1000mm x 6 metre ............................ $2175 1200mm x 6 metre ............................ $3475 ALL PRICES INCLUDE G.S.T.

• Lightweight, easy to install • Made from polyethylene

McKee Plastics, Mahinui Street, Feilding Phone 06 323 4181 Fax 06 323 4183 McKee Plastics, 231 Kahikatea Drive, Hamilton. Ph 07 847 7788 sales@mckeeplastics.co.nz www.mckeeplastics.co.nz


0800 625 826

for your nearest stockist

Joiners supplied FREE with culvert pipes



That’s why there’s Can-Am®. Best-in-class torque for more hauling and towing. Better stability to get over those bad patches. Advanced suspension for superior comfort. It’s made for farming. No matter what day it is.








0800 020 074


* Yellow Tag Event ends April 30th 2014, eligible on MY12, 13 & 14 units only. ^ 3 Year Warranty covers MY12/13/14 Can-Am Outlander & Renegade ATV’s. Always wear protective gear & approved helmet. Use proper riding techniques to avoid vehicle overturns on hills, rough terrain & in turns. Never operate without proper training, contact BRP for riding skill courses (02-9355-2700). For full terms and conditions please contact your local participating Can-Am dealership.

Profile for Rural News Group

Rural News 18 March 2014  

Rural News 18 March 2014

Rural News 18 March 2014  

Rural News 18 March 2014