Page 1




Selecting genetics will improve beef herds. PAGE 26

Clever sprayers will ease workload. PAGE 31

Fodder beet a ‘game changer’ PAGE 29


Merino concerns PAM TIPA

THE SALE of Icebreaker to a United States company could leave the New Zealand merino production industry with too many eggs in one basket, says Federated Farmers high country industry group chairperson Simon Williamson of Glenbrook Station. The US company VF Corporation, which has bought Icebreaker, also owns another major Merino apparel company SmartWool NZ, he told Rural News. Williamson says the two compa-

nies probably add up to a big chunk of where NZ Merino Company (NZM) wool goes; he doesn’t have a figure but estimates it could be about 60% of their Merino wool production. “We once sold all our wool to Europe, but that all came to a crashing end and if you rely on one market too heavily everyone gets very complacent.” However, NZ Merino Company chief executive John Brakenridge says the figure of about 60% to the two apparel brands “is wildly inaccurate and shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the industry”­­­­.

“The NZ Merino Company works with over 50 different local and international brands to deliver value back to our growers in the form of sustainable, long-term supply contacts, such as the world-first 10-year forward contract with Icebreaker,” he says. “Federated Farmers would be better suited supporting businesses like NZM in our endeavours to promote natural wool fibre and the building of markets, particularly the opportunities for the wool industry when considering the negative impact synthetics are having on the world.” Williamson thinks “there is a lot

of stuff to go under the bridge” with the Merino industry. “They’ve got two brands that up to now have been competing with one another and now they are both owned by the same company; how do they intend to create a difference? They are all owned by VF Corp.” He says it may work out when it becomes apparent what they intend to do with the two different brands. “Will they make Icebreaker into an in-house sports activity type thing and smart wool outdoorsy type stuff? I don’t know; they haven’t come up with that yet.” Williamson says there are challenges ahead to work through for the whole Merino industry. “It is not only the sale; I think it has been coming for a while.” Icebreaker has been buying quite a lot of wool for some time out of Australia, as NZ can’t supply all the Merino wool needed, Williamson says. “Wool production in NZ is still dropping with the drop in all sheep numbers including Merino. But also with tenure reviews high country farmers are shifting to other breeds. The Australian market production is also half what it used to be.” • More on Icebreaker sale page 13

Winter is coming The snow begins to settle near Springfield, where State Highway 73 rises into the Southern Alps foothills. Farmers throughout the country were having to deal with the first big southerly storm of the year, last week, which brought snow to about 400m in Canterbury, closed the Desert Road and brought down trees and power lines as far north as Auckland. RURAL NEWS GROUP

PULL YOUR FINGER OUT GETTING CROPS sown and harvested and other farm work done this year could be in jeopardy unless the Government moves quickly, warns the group representing agricultural contractors in New Zealand. Businesses wanting to place overseas workers in jobs not on the Government’s skills shortage list must go to Immigration NZ (INZ) with an Approval in Principle (AIP) request. Rural Contractors NZ says its members who are seeking overseas workers are still waiting on the AIP applications to be assessed or allocated. RCNZ wants to bring in 325 farm machine operators this year. President Steve Levet says INZ is making it difficult for employers to hire skilled overseas labour. Rural contractors need seasonal labour up to six months a year, he says. “The Government is shagging us around something chronic about this AIP,” Levet says. “The guys we require are highly trained  on the machinery they are using.” Levet says pay rates are about $20 an hour and each machine is typically worth up to $500,000. “The Government seems to think you can just pluck someone off the street to fill these positions.” Levet says rural contractors would prefer to take on local workers, but there simply aren’t the numbers around, particularly in small rural communities. • Labour worries - page 7

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Hanging in the balance PAM TIPA

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RURAL HEALTH Alliance Aotearoa NZ’s future hung in the balance late last week. The Alliance was meeting, late last week, with Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor to find out the Government’s response to a requested $600,000 to keep the five-year-old organisation alive. “If it is a ‘yes’ answer, wonderful; it will be a good news story and we will be plotting a more positive future,” RHANZ chief executive Michelle Thompson told Rural News. If it was a ‘no’ answer, the board was due to meet under urgency on Friday to talk about contingencies. “But we already have a motion on the table to wind down if the Government is not forthcoming,” says Thompson. The final outcome of that would probably not be resolved until this week. The organisation until now has been funded by charitable grants and levies. “What we are asking for is some

Government funding for a contribution to our core activities. We are not asking for 100% funding; we don’t want that,” Thompson said. “We are still going to have membership levies and we are still growing our bases, our industry support. It takes time to do that. “We still hold one Government contract which is the rural mental health contract, but that contract is very narrowly defined. We have to do specific deliverables. “There is no money left to do our other work – leadership function across rural New Zealand about what needs to be done and what solutions are required. “That’s what we want some money for because we believe it provides an inherent value back to Government.” The possibility of closing down if they don’t get the funding is “very high”. “The board have already made that

Published by: Rural News Group Printed by: PMP Print CONTACTS Editorial: Advertising material: Rural News online: Subscriptions: ABC audited circulation 80,580 as at 30.09.2017

Icy blast

The central North Island was hit by snow and powerful winds last week. At Waiouru there was a heavy dump of snow which saw some sheep and cattle having to work a bit harder to get a feed. The snow was heavy in many places, but stock managed to cope and farmers were for the most part not forced to feed out. The Desert Road was closed for a period and motorists, including stock trucks had to divert through Ohakune. There were also a series of tornados around National Park which damaged many houses. PHOTO PETER BURKE


RHANZ chief executive Michelle Thompson

decision. We have been going five years, we have got by on the smell of an oily rag, we have punched well above our weight and now we’ve got to get serious.

LANDCORP’S JERICHO Station has gone to a New Zealand buyer after the preferred Chinese buyer pulled out of the deal. Southland farmer Ed Pinckney will now own the 1359ha sheep and beef station in Fiordland. Landcorp Farming said it went with Pinckney after the preferred foreign buyer withdrew. “We’ve been advised that the preferred purchaser of Jericho farm has withdrawn their application from the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) and is therefore unable to complete the purchase of the farm,” a Landcorp spokesman said. “We have proceeded to finalise the sale and purchase of the farm with the party that has made an unconditional back-up offer, which does not require OIO approval.” Pinckney, who bid $8.5 million, was initially pipped by an $8.7m offer from Chinese buyer Qianlong Farms when the farm was put to market in late 2016. The OIO declined to comment other than to confirm the applicant had withdrawn their application. It is not known why Qianlong had withdrawn, but it has been reported that the hurdles the company faced may have been too high. Landcorp recently reported an underlying loss for Jericho Station of $6m in the six months to December 31. @rural_news

RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


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robots in NZ “very soon”. He says the A5 will be “somewhat higher priced” than its predecessor the Astronaut A4; Lely’s 180 independent Lely Centre owners determine the


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Farmers left high and dry – Guy NIGEL MALTHUS

THE GOVERNMENT has dealt a body-blow to farmers and growers in pandering to its mates in the Green Party by axing funding to irrigation projects, says National’s agriculture spokesman Nathan Guy. While existing commitments to three irrigation projects would be honoured, three others had been “left high and dry,” Guy told Rural News.  “That’s despite the fact many farmers, growers and councils in these areas have invested their own money and time to progress these localised schemes for over a decade. They’ve bent over backwards to meet the strict environmental consent conditions required to secure government backing. “Many of those I’ve already spoken to feel this decision by the coalition Government is not in good faith and a real kick in the guts,” he says.  “In the case of Hunter Downs in South Canterbury, farmers have raised $40 million in capital knowing that if they met all the criteria they would secure the funding. This scheme was going to sup-

port 21,000ha of irrigation and it was designed to increase flows into Wainono lagoon and

tive vineyards and arable crops. “While [Finance Minister] Grant Robert-

Nathan Guy

supply water to Timaru and Waimate townships.  “The Hurunui community in North Canterbury has battled through three years of continuous droughts that caused heaps of stress and anxiety. These farmers have persisted for over 18 years to get their water storage scheme close to design stage. It would have turbo-charged the region with 21,000ha of irrigable land -- most of it for sheep and beef production.  “The small Flaxbourne scheme of 2200ha east of Blenheim would have turned dry hill country carrying a handful of sheep into produc-

son thinks he can dance through legal loopholes and ditch these three schemes, they have neglected their moral obligations.” Guy claims agriculture minister Damien O’Connor had been “rolled by the Greens” and would forever be remembered as a weak minister of agriculture for not standing up for rural communities. Robertson said the Government had begun winding down public funding for large-scale irrigation through Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd (CIIL), in line with the coalition agreement and the confidence and

supply agreement. “The decisions are the result of an extensive review of how to wind down funding through CIIL while honouring existing commitments, as provided for in the agreements signed on the formation of the Government. The decisions will provide certainty to the individual schemes which had applied for Government funding alongside private investment.” Robertson said it represented a shift in priorities. Large-scale private irrigation schemes should be economically viable on their own.  “I recognise that this decision will be disappointing for proponents of projects that won’t be considered or progressed. However, a decision had to be taken on how to put into practice the agreements made on formation of the Government. It is important to remember that schemes may be able to continue, but the Government believes that public subsidies for large-scale private irrigation can instead be better directed to other areas of need.”  Robertson says “smaller-scale, locally run and environmentally sustainable water storage

projects” could be considered on a case-by-case basis through the Provincial Growth Fund, due to the importance water plays in growing our provinces. Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor says

access to water is vital to NZ farmers, growers and rural communities that power the economy. “My vision is for a resilient primary sector striving for value over volume; this means largescale irrigation schemes

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AAAD AND Wilma Van Leeuwen, the owners of the Van Leeuwen Group, wish to correct the comments made by Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor, in the article headed, “M Bovis cull the ‘only way – O’Connor” published in Rural News on April 4, 2018. O’Connor wrongly identified two Van Leeuwen farms as the source of the cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis in New Zealand. MPI has acknowledged to the Van Leeuwens that the source of M.Bovis in NZ is not identified and there is no evidence which points to the Van Leeuwens being the source or at fault in any way relating to the outbreak of the disease or its spread to other farms. Contrary to the minister’s comments, Van Leeuwen Group farms have no connection with a number of other infected farms. VGL farms have received stock from (two) infected farms but not exported any animals to those farms. Further, Ministry for Primary Industries testing has traced an older strain of the disease than that found in VLG cattle. This older strain of M.Bovis originated from other farms. • Editor’s note: Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor has clarified to Rural News that he never intended to suggest that all M.bovis-infected properties are linked to the Van Leeuwens and he apologises for any misconception this has caused.



RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


A real kick in the teeth NIGEL MALTHUS

THE WITHDRAWAL of potential Government funding for North Canterbury’s Hurunui Water Project is “a kick in the teeth,” says project chief executive Chris Pile. However, this scheme and two others that have had funding withdrawn will all go ahead, say their spokesmen. The Government has vetoed loans from Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd (CIIL), for the Hurunui scheme, the Hunter Downs scheme in South Canterbury and the Flaxbourne scheme in southeast Marlborough. Pile told Rural News the Hurunui project will still go ahead, but may now be limited to only the initial infrastructure without capacity for future expansion. Loss of CIIL funding was “just another hurdle in a long

line of hurdles”. “Yes, it’s a bit of a kick in the teeth, the Government signalling that it doesn’t care about the regions despite saying it does.” Pile says Crown Irrigation was created was to fund overbuild capacity -- beyond what the initial shareholders could finance -- in recognition that irrigation schemes generally attract further demand after they are built. Pile says the funding veto may change the amount of overbuild, but the scheme remains “full steam ahead” and will go out for a water rights share issue in June. “The size and scale may change slightly, and [could] disadvantage future generations,” he said. Andrew Fraser, chairman of the Hunter Downs Water, said

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they would comment in more detail after considering what the change would mean. “All I’m prepared to say is we’re still committed to making this scheme happen,” he said. Ward farmer Kevin Loe, chairman of the Flaxbourne Community Irrigation Scheme, said the scheme is in its final planning stages, but so far advanced that the funding announcement will have “minimal effect”. It has already been downsized to about half its originally proposed coverage area, and will take water from the lower reaches of the Ure River rather than the Awatere and Flaxbourne rivers as originally hoped. However, Loe says the funding withdrawal means it cannot be built with extra capacity for expansion.

Good and bad IRRIGATIONNZ HAS welcomed the Govern- and Flaxbourne irrigation projects all have ment’s saying it will honour existing Crown local community support and meet strict Irrigation Investments Ltd commitments to new environmental requirements on river swimmability and nutrient limits. three well-advanced irrigation schemes. “Also they plan to do more to help However, it is disappointed that CIIL loans will not now be extended to another improve existing water quality; for example, the Hunter Downs scheme was planning three planned projects. to augment river flows into the Wainono Funding remains Lagoon to help restore this culturally and available for stage environmentally significant ecosystem.” two of the Central Curtis says these projects aimed to proPlains Scheme, the vide water security to mostly beef, sheep and Waimea Community cropping farms in drought-prone areas. Dam and the Kurow “Over the past summer we have experiDuntroon Irrigaenced droughts followed by unprecedented tion Scheme, but is wet conditions. This indicates the climate now off the table for Irrigation NZ’s Andrew Curtis. change impacts we can expect to see in the North Canterbury’s Hurunui Water Project, South Canterbury’s future,” Curtis adds. “It is critical for rural east coast farmHunter Downs and Marlborough’s Flaxing communities to have access to a reliable bourne irrigation projects. “In a Crown Irrigation investment brief- water supply in order to help them manage ing to incoming ministers, the socio-eco- through these effects.”  Curtis says when farming communities nomic gain to communities from  planned irrigation projects in NZ was over $1.2 bil- suffers serious droughts, it is not just farmlion per year. With a number of these ers who suffer but also the rest of the comprojects being unable to access loan fund- munity and local businesses. “We would like to see the merits of these ing, this is a huge lost opportunity for these rural communities,” says Irriga- projects considered through the Provincial Fund.  These projects will build more tionNZ chief executive Andrew Curtis.    Growth   “The Hurunui Water Project, Hunter Downs resilient rural communities.”– Nigel Malthus

RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


Too few workers a real headache for Labour PAM TIPA

WITH A shortage of 500 workers in the kiwifruit industry, the declaration of a seasonal labour shortage in Bay of Plenty could be imminent. It is “highly likely” that declaration will be made, the Kiwifruit Growers Association chief executive Nikki Johnson told Rural News last week. But they have to wait until the peak of the season’s harvest – in about a week – before they can make the declaration. This follows hot on the heels of a seasonal labour shortage declared in the Tasman district recently in several crop sectors and a similar declaration in Hawkes Bay early in March in the pipfruit industry. “We have labour shortages in the industry right now but in order to declare a labour shortage with the Ministry for Social Devel-

There is a shortage of 500 workers in the kiwifruit sector.

opment (MSD) there is a process we need to go through,” Johnson says. They can’t start that process with MSD until they are at the peak of the season. But seeking that declaration “is highly likely, to be honest”, she says. Johnson says as in Hawkes Bay, the first couple of weeks of the season have not seen the usual

number of backpackers arriving. “We don’t have the internationals students we would have had over the last couple of years,” she says. Last year was a low season for us but the volumes we are harvesting this year are very similar to the volumes we harvested in 2016. We didn’t have a worker shortage in 2016. But it is probably a combination of the lower num-

bers of backpackers and international students which is causing the problem. “It is possible the backpackers will all arrive in the next two weeks... they could be in Hawkes Bay with apples, they could be travelling, we are not really sure. “Because we can’t track them we won’t know until the situation occurs. Whether we will suddenly have an influx of people, I am not sure.” She says the industry now has about 500 vacancies. The biggest shortage is in Bay of Plenty which grows 85% of NZ’s kiwifruit. “The other regions appear to be relatively okay although Nelson declared a labour shortage last week.” These labour shortages may pose a problem for the coalition government, as both Labour and its support partner NZ First campaigned heavily against reducing immigration and migrant labour.


THE APPLE industry will harvest all its fruit this season, but it’s an increasing challenge, says NZ Apple and Pear chief executive Alan Pollard. He is also confident quality won’t be compromised, but it will be a big effort. “A couple of things are happening,” he told Rural News. “The unemployment around the regions is a lot lower now than historically -- certainly in Hawkes Bay, which has had some of the highest unemployment in NZ. “The regions are doing well so we are competing for that resource. And the backpackers are just not around. I am not sure why that is but right across the regions they are struggling to get the backpackers in.” The major issue is getting the harvest in. About 300 more workers have been found in Hawkes Bay since the declaration of a seasonal labour shortage on March 12. “That is quite encouraging but we can always do with more,” says Pollard. “Our biggest worry is that next season the volumes are likely to be increased again so it is a cascading effect of where pickers will come from next time.” Because they discuss this every year with Government they are taking a long term view. The industry is working on that with the Ministries for Business and Innovation and Social Development, he says.

27/03/18 10:44 AM

RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


Minister sprays OSPRI over NAIT PETER BURKE

MINISTER OF Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor has hit out at the NAIT system and its manager OSPRI. He told Rural News that from top to bottom changes are needed to make the NAIT system more effective. He says NAIT has failed to deliver at a time of great need, during the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. O’Connor says the NAIT Review, just released, should have been reported to the government a year ago, but those parties have been

“The last government wasn’t keen to enforce NAIT and the management agency OSPRI didn’t take action on glaringly obvious problems with the system.” reluctant to release the final report and take action on it and that’s been frustrating. A review of NAIT started in 2016 under the previous government, and a final report was recently given to O’Connor after he asked for its completion. The report was scheduled to be com-

pleted in March 2017. “If we had had this report when it was due over a year ago, changes could have been made and we could have been in a better position with Mycoplasma bovis,” he claims. “We would have been able to track and contain the disease more quickly if NAIT had been

Damien O’Connor

operating properly. “The last government


for animal movements in NAIT have complicated and slowed response efforts,” he says. O’Connor says the NAIT report raised issues including a lack of upto-date information on cattle location and the need for enforcement, which he says had been non-existent for people failing to use the system. It also pointed to inconsistencies across data sets because of multiple farm IDs and the need for more resources to operate NAIT. “There has been a lack of appreciation of the need for a tracing system despite New Zealand’s high economic dependence on cattle and that NAIT was behind systems used internation-

ally, especially Australia,” he adds. O’Connor says the report shows that a lack of, or inaccurate, animal movement data leads to time consuming interviews during a biosecurity response. He notes the report includes a summary of performance statistics showing the poor uptake of NAIT. “I will work with the industry to make NAIT fit-for-purpose, which the previous Government did not,” he says. O’Connor says a consultation process would start soon so farmers and industry could have their say on how to improve NAIT as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.


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wasn’t keen to enforce NAIT and the management agency OSPRI didn’t take action on glaringly obvious problems with the system,” says O’Connor. He has called on all farmers and the industry to read the report reviewing the performance of the animal tracing system NAIT. “Given what we’ve learnt from the Mycoplasma bovis response, I was concerned that this report had not been finalised and released. The technical advisory group helping with the Mycoplasma bovis response, and investigators tracing animal movements on the ground, have made it clear that the lack of accurate records

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RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


Fed farmers back report FEDERATED FARMERS says it welcomes the NAIT recommendations. President Katie Milne says the Federation’s position is that anything that can be done to improve the system and make it more effective and easier for farmers to use will be valuable. “We don’t believe that the recommendations should be treated as

THE 58-PAGE report is a statement of the obvious and the 38 recommendations a fix for what many people have been saying for some time. It calls for NAIT and MPI to sort out their respective responsibilities and tell the industry. It calls on NAIT to develop mobile applications and lightweight web application for improved access by end users and it wants all calves, including bobby calves, to be tagged if they leave the farm of birth prior to six months of age and are not consigned direct to slaughter. It also calls for NAIT to develop a streamlined and simplified process for animal registration. Other recommendations include NAIT developing a centralised system for the reporting and monitoring of tag losses. And it recommends that NAIT tag suppliers and information providers be required to provide information to farmers on tag replacement. OSPRI’s Michelle Edge says the review involved representatives of Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ, DCANZ, Deer Industry NZ, Federated Farmers, the Meat Industry Association, the Ministry for Primary Industries and OSPRI. The working group was supported by a technical user group of farmers, and representatives of MPI, OSPRI and companies.

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Another crack at the title NIGEL MALTHUS

WEST COAST dairy farmer Andrew Wiffen has successfully defended his Tasman regional FMG Young Farmer of the Year title. The 50:50 sharemilker from Chesterfield, near Kumara, won his second consecutive regional title after a day of practical and theory challenges culminating in an agriknowledge quiz. There were seven other competitors. It means Wiffen, who was third in the 2017 Grand Final in Feilding, will have another crack at the national title in Invercargill in July. “I’m stoked to be heading to grand final again. It’s an amazing experience,” Andrew told the crowd at the regional

event. “It’ll be a chance for me to rectify errors I made last year.” “I’d love to be the 50th FMG Young Farmer of the Year, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work to reach that goal,” he said. Wiffen won almost $12,000 of prizes, including an XR150 Honda farm bike. On his way to the overall regional title, Wiffen won the Ravensdown Agri-Skills Challenge, the AGMARDT Agri-Business Challenge and the Meridian Energy Agri-Knowledge Challenge.  Second place went to Culverden drystock farmer Jono Satterthwaite in his first regional final. Dunsandel farm consultant Simon Ferguson

won third place and the Massey University AgriGrowth Challenge. Oxford drystock and cropping farmer Roscoe Taggart won the Agri-

Sports Challenge. LIC farm solutions manager Vanessa Robinson won the award for highest-placed woman contestant.

Andrew Wiffen has successfully defended his Tasman regional Young Farmers title, winning the competition for the second year running.

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Lamb to lift incomes PETER BURKE

SHEEP AND beef farmers are in for one of their best ever seasonal pay cheques thanks to a big rise in lamb prices. Beef + Lamb New Zea-


land’s chief economist, Andrew Burt, is predicting that, on average, farm profit before tax for the 2017-18 season will be $126,300 – up 39% on the previous season. He says revenue from sheep, a major driver of

Lamb exports will surpass the $3 billion mark for the first time this year.

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or $122 per head the improved farm “The fast start to the – up 15% on last profit before tax, is season has been a season – due to expected to be up 22% and contribsignificant feature of the the higher proportion proute 47% of all sheep production year so far.” cessed earlier and beef farm revin the season at enue. This rise in good prices. The forecast support prices for the average farm income is at the start of the season remainder of the season. also due to both lamb was 555 cents/kg. Strong wool continues and beef export prices “Total mutton receipts to perform poorly while together breaking the $3 are also forecast to be fine wool has improved,” billion mark for the first up strongly – by 11% he says. time. Beef exports, says to $602m,” he adds. “A “The fast start to the Burt, will be $3.2b while 24% increase in the averseason has been a siglamb exports will surpass age value per tonne to nificant feature of the $3b for the first time. $6500 more than offsets production year so far. He says sheep and the forecast 7.3% drop in For the December 2017 beef prices have stayed mutton export volume.” quarter, the numbers of strong despite increases Burt says tight sheeplambs, sheep and cattle in the number of sheep meat export supplies processed were all up, and cattle processed so from NZ and Australeaving fewer available far this season. Burt says lia are driving the strong for January to Septemthis shows that internaexport receipts because ber than in the 2016-17 tional meat markets have together the two counseason.” been strong. tries account for 90% of Burt says the aver“However, improved international sheepmeat age farmgate price for pasture availability and trade, excluding intralambs has been revised tighter remaining liveEuropean Union trade. upwards to 661 cents/kg stock availability will

THE DATA Andrew Burt is quoting is part of a large mid-season update of the beef and lamb sector produced by BLNZ’s Economic Service. It contains a wealth of information compiled by its staff. It notes, for example, that sheep numbers at June 2017 were 27.4 million – a drop of 0.8% on the previous season. Sheep numbers declined more in the North Island than in the South Island. Conversely beef cattle numbers are up by 2.1% on the previous season and now stand at 3.61m. The report also comments on the global outlook, observing that the middle class in big cities in China are driving up demand for lamb, as consumers look for high quality protein sources in their quest for healthier lifestyles. And while North America is still the major beef market for NZ, the value of exports to China increased. Overall, the report paints a rosy picture of the sector, noting that the NZ economy is strong and expected to grow in the coming year. However, it predicts that in September the NZ$ will weaken against the currencies in major economies where we sell our meat – the US, Europe and Britain.

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Icebreaker goes to US buyer ers, even though we all know they are made in China they are still seen as an American brand.” With companies, often the value is in the brand and only the brand, he says. Developing an international brand requires huge investment in marketing. Even a company the size of Fonterra struggles to


ALTHOUGH THE sale of an iconic New Zealand brand to overseas investors is somewhat sad, there are real advantages, says agribusiness commentator Nic Lees, of Lincoln University. He was commenting on the $288 million sale of Merino clothing company Icebreaker to the US based global apparel, footwear and accessory business VF Corporation. The US company also owns North Face, Vans, Wrangler and Timberlands. “Icebreaker has the potential to become a global brand in the same way as Patagonia or other brands including North Face,” Lees, senior lecturer in agribusiness management, told Rural News. “To achieve this Icebreaker needs significant capital investment in terms of opening new stores, product development and marketing. “More importantly it needs the expertise and experience required to develop a global brand. “This is lacking in New Zealand. NZ companies have generally struggled to do this and many have been burnt when trying to establish themselves

have major international retail brands, he says. “The main concern is about profits going overseas. This is true though often NZ companies have significant debt which automatically [benefits] overseas lenders. “Ownership means that both profits and losses go overseas. Profits will only go overseas if

the company is successful.” But Lees says the headquarters and staff will still be in NZ. The company will pay taxes in NZ as will employees. The company and employees will spend money in NZ benefiting other businesses. Having a global iconic NZ brand internationally

Nic Lees

internationally; examples are Michael Hill and Pumpkin Patch. “So the main benefits are the expertise, investment and distribution channels to become a global retail brand. The [question] is do we want Icebreaker to be a small NZ-owned company or part of a larger global business?” Lees says concerns about foreign ownership are not as significant as people think. “Icebreaker brand is inextricably linked to NZ and Merino wool,” he says. “International expansion will increase the demand for NZ Merino wool which will benefit NZ Merino farmers.” The brand will still be perceived as from NZ; brand image is what is being paid for in the purchase, he says. “Like Apple comput-

will lift the profile of NZ and benefit other businesses that trade on that image, e.g. tourism. “Icebreaker has led the way in showing NZ food and fibre businesses how to move from commodity products to high value brands. “The $288 million sale price will be $US that flow into NZ. This

money will need to find a home and is likely to be invested in NZ. “The sale provides an exit strategy for the founders and NZ companies have generally been unable to raise sufficient capital from NZ. An example is Synlait Milk that originally failed when it tried an NZ sharemarket listing.”




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Better, but not flash DAVID ANDERSON

MEAT COMPANY Silver Fern Farms has turned around its fortunes during the last year from a $30 million loss to a profit of just over $15m. However, despite the big profit turnaround, its chairman has only given the company a pass-mark. “It still remains very much a work in progress,” Rob Hewett says. “There’s still more to do.” He claims the after-tax profit of $15.4m for the year ended December 31 would have been even better if the one-off cost of $10m for closing the Fairton plant, near Ashburton, had not been included in the result. Despite the better result, only half of the profit will go to farmer shareholders in the Silver Fern Farms Co-op; the other half will benefit its new 50% shareholder Shanghai Maling. Hewett says there will be a dividend payout for co-op shareholders and a patronage reward

SFF chair Rob Hewett.

payment for qualifying farmer/ shareholders. “Co-op shareholders and Shanghai Maling will receive a 50/50 share of the $12m dividend – about $6m,” he explains. “And a patronage reward will go to farmers who hold shares in SFF and supplied livestock to the business during the year.” The co-op’s share is taxable but Hewett says the tax paid will come back to co-op shareholders as imputation credits on the div-

idends they get. The main dividend, payable on April 27, will amount to a fully imputed 2.8c/share and the patronage dividend to qualifying shareholders will be 2.9c a share. SFF Ltd’s net profit before abnormal items was $25.6m. The one-off abnormal charges totalled $10.2m, mostly the closure costs of the Fairton plant. Earnings were $50.9m, versus a loss of $7.5m in the previous full year to September 30, 2016.

The change of balance date followed the Shanghai Mailing investment. Last year annual sales were $2.2 billion, the same as in 2016. Hewett says the latest result reflects improved market conditions for sheep and venison, lower overhead costs following plant closures and improved efficiencies. He describes the current market conditions as a bit of a “purple patch” for the red meat. No inventory build-ups occurred in the lamb and mutton markets, he says. Product moved quickly at high prices and good margins. “Everyone is short in the supply chain; they haven’t got any inventory,” Hewett explains. “Right now our inventory days are as low as they have ever been; we just don’t have the stock available. “Farmers are being well paid and processors are making money; everybody is pretty happy.”

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ONLY THE BEGINNING ROB HEWETT describes the link-up between SFF and its 50% partner Shanghai Maling as very positive. “For a start, we don’t have any debt and that makes life a helluva lot easier.” He says a major gain for SFF had flowed from repaying debt after the $260m capital injection by Shanghai Maling. Of that amount, $203m was used for debt reduction and $57m was paid to the co-op. For the year, borrowings costs were reduced to $3.3m from $14.8m previously and now there are only season borrowings. Meanwhile, Hewett says the relationship with Shanghai Maling is only getting started and he believes even bigger dividends will come to SFF from its joint venture with Shanghai Maling. He adds that the co-op and Shanghai Maling are working their partnership relationships and the market benefits were yet to happen. “With regards to what Shanghai Maling can bring us in China, quite frankly I don’t think the partnership has had the time to unlock the full potential of that opportunity yet.” Hewett says they are still working at studying China, but he fully expects these benefits to flow back to SFF. “China is a very important market, right on our doorstep and the fastest growing protein market in the world,” he adds. “But it is only one of 60 markets around the world SFF sells to.” A major trading focus is a repositioning of SFF’s branded retail offering in Germany to improve its performance, and this will soon also be offered in the US. “We are keen to get branded retail into China and Shanghai Maling is keen for an early start, but we will get it performing in Germany and the US first.” Hewett says branded retail is also performing well in the domestic market.

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RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


The toast of the Coast ABOUT 130 people turned out to a field day at a Hokitika dairy farm, a finalist in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy competition. The competition, started in 1933 by the Maori leader Sir Apirana Ngata and the GovernorGeneral Lord Bledisloe, showcases excellence in Maori farming and encourages Maori farmers to improve their production and environmental work. Finalists are required to run a field day to show their farm and its features to other farmers and to the judges. The 348ha Mawhera Incorporation farm, in the Arahura Valley north of Hokitika, milks 500 cows that produce 190,000kgMS James Russell, chairman of the proprietors of Mawhera Incorporation, says the field day was a great success, attracting other farmers on the West Coast and visitors from other regions. “We had a welcome at our marae and then presentations about the farm by various members of

our trust. “Then three buses took the visitors around the farm to see what we have achieved,” he told Rural News. “There were two stops along the way at which our sharemilkers Mark and Debbie Van Beek, who have been with us since 2006, talked about animal performance and other aspects of our farming operation.” Also present were the mayor of Hokitika and other local government people. They had talked before about entering the farm in the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition, but didn’t feel ready. However, when Rakaia Incorporation won the Trophy in 2016, Mawhera thought it was an appropriate time to enter. “To become a finalist is an honour and a privilege,” he says. Chairman of the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition, Kingi Smiler, says the field days are a great feature of the contest. They enable finalists to tell the history of their property, how it has been


developed and to highlight their achievements. Smiler says the field day at Mawhera attracted 120 people and this shows how interested the local people are in seeing what the incorporation has achieved and what its goals are for the future. “It is one thing to read about the achieve-

ments of a farming enterprise, but then you can go out and see the land and cows and meet the people and take in the environment in which they operate.” Smiler says it has been a very difficult year because of the erratic weather for Mawhera Incorporation and other



West Coast dairy farmers. But their resilience in dealing with the difficult weather has produced a fine result and a good looking farm. The winner of the award will be announced at a function at the Wigram Air Force Museum in Christchurch on Friday May 25.













NEW INDEPENDENT research about farmers’ and growers’ media habits reveals the rural market is unique. In response to demand from marketers for more data on the rural media landscape, four major publishers collaborated to have independent research done about farmers’ and growers’ media habits. The Rural Media Habits Survey 2018 shows that in the internet age, rural newspapers and magazines are still accessed at least weekly by 88% of farmers and growers. Respondents included dairy, beef and lamb farmers, and commercial fruit and vegetable growers. Crucially, the research found that printed newspapers and magazines have the biggest impact on farm purchase decisions, with 82% placing it in the top three. And rural print (newspapers and magazines) carries advertising that farmers pay attention to and find more relevant to their businesses than all other media. The level of influence of rural print on farm and horticultural property decision making is significant. One third say they have made a purchase after reading rural publications; tractors, motorbikes, vet products and agrichemicals are the most frequently purchased items. While internet use by rural people has increased, they most often use it for email (80%) and paying bills (48%). On farms and horticultural properties, internet use is heavily influenced by rural print, with 63% accessing a website after reading about it in a rural publication.

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RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


NZ’s apple reputation on the line PAM TIPA

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cups,” he says. The Tasman region has about 3.5% unemployed. “Those [people] clearly are not suitable for picking,” Raine explains. “Most of that could be age and physical capability, and we require people who aren’t colour-blind. A number of males are colour-blind and that’s a problem where we need fruit picked of a certain colour.” He says people tend to think of apple harvest as just picking, but more than just pickers are needed. “We also need them in the packing operation and in support services, for example, quality control, tractor drivers, truck drivers; there is an overall shortage of people.” For optimum quality, trees need to be picked three or four times. At each of those pickings, fruit of the right maturity needs to be selected. “That is how we get better prices than our opposition – other countries – as NZ quality is better than everyone else’s.” There are several aspects to attracting more

workers to the industry, Raine says. “We have the Recognised Seasonal Employers (RSE) scheme. Unemployment is a lot lower than it has been: it is now at record lows. Not that there’s a strategy to get more unemployment; it is good the economy is going so well and we actually need more people. “So there is not just one strategy to attract more workers; there are a number of strands. One is more RSE, another is attracting more people to the industry over time, at all ages and stages -everyone from schoolleavers to people who want a different lifestyle. “They are referred to as the ‘grey nomads’ – people who no longer have family ties and are semi-retired and want to travel the country in a bus or caravan and take in a bit as they travel around. We are attracting more and more of those sorts of people.” Robotics are on the horizon – doing more repetitive tasks with new technology, but that is probably on the 10-year horizon, Raine says.

IWI CHIEF UP A TREE AN INFLUENTIAL Hawke’s Bay iwi leader last week temporarily swapped his corporate job for apple picking to help ease the industry’s serious labour shortage. In an attempt to get more locals picking apples, the chairman of Ngati Kahungunu, Ngahiwi Tomoana and his wife Mere, are picking apples for three days for Bostock NZ and are calling on other members of their iwi to join them. “I just can’t sleep at night knowing that our delicious Hawke’s Bay apples could go to waste. The apple industry drives our economy and creates thousands of jobs for our iwi. So we need to support our local growers so the apples don’t rot on the trees. We can’t drive past the ‘apple pickers wanted’ signs and detach ourselves from the main economy of our region.” Tomoana is working hard to encourage more community iwi leaders to enter the apple industry. “For every four RSE workers, there is a permanent job for our local people and it’s not just picking apples. It’s a staircase career where there are many diverse jobs and opportunities now.”

RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


Co-ops also present in German ag The power of cooperative agriculture is proudly on display at a dairy farm near the southern German city of Dresden. Sudesh Kissun reports. THE AGRARGENOSSENSCHAFT Gnaschwitz (Agri Co-op), in the town of Gnaschwitz, milks 460 cows year round with eight Lely robotic machines. The co-op is owned by about 100 shareholders, each owning a small parcel of the farm. Following the reunification of Germany in 1990, land seized by the former communist regime in East Germany was returned to people if they could show evidence of their family’s ownership. However, members of Agrargenossenschaft Gnaschwitz found little use for the small parcels of land they received so they decided to form a co-op and start a dairy farm. The co-op holds an annual shareholder meeting and profits are paid out as dividends. Day-to-day operation of the farm is overseen by a board of directors. Shareholder and board member Lisa Russig hosted visiting journalists at the farm earlier this month. She

says maximising milk production and increasing shareholder returns are the main objectives of the dairy business. Cows are housed in a barn 193m long and 38m wide. All feed -- grass silage, maize silage, lucerne and rapeseed meal -- is grown onfarm. Russig says when the old barn needed replacing six years ago the co-op board visited other dairy farms in Denmark, Netherlands and Germany to explore options. The co-op was at a crossroad – whether to continue milking in a refurbished old barn or build something new. “We opted for robotics because it’s very difficult to get farm staff in this region; just to reduce labour pressure we opted for robotics,” she told Rural News. The new barn can house 590 cows, but now milks 460 cows daily; the others are either dried off or calving. The milking cows are in four groups, each group milked on average 2.5 times a day by Lely A4 robots. Each

Lisa Russig, farmer T Graduated in agri economics and management at the University of Dresden. T The study included three 6-month attachments on the farm, which employs eight fulltime staff and four students. T The co-op also owns a grains business and sells raw milk on the farm and in the city. T Under German employment laws, employers must provide daily hot meals to workers. The co-op runs restaurants serving 250 meals daily to workers in the region.

cow produces about 36L. The milk is sold to German processor Muller for 29 euro cents/L plus an extra 1.5 euro cents/L bonus for milk quality. European dairy processors have been hit hard by Russia’s ban on dairy imports. Russig expects the milk price to fall further in the coming months. Calving is done year round. Cows are dried off six to eight weeks before calving; two to three weeks before calving they are taken to one end of the

barn which has straw bedding. Cows are calved in groups and hand-milked by bucket milkers for the first few days. Calves are taken to the old milking shed now used to house young stock. Cows are eased back into the milking herds. Russig says milk from the Lely robots can either go into the main storage tank for collection by Muller or a smaller tank for feeding calves. Milk not suitable for collection is dumped

on the farm. Effluent is scraped and then injected into paddocks using a tractor and slurry tanker. The barn also has a Lely Juno automatic feed pusher doing 19 trips around the barn daily, pushing feed closer to cows Cows are fed twice a day, barn feed accounting for 26L/cow/day. Feed concentrate given to cows in robotic machines provides an extra 4-5L of milk per cow daily. • Sudesh Kissun flew to Dresden, Germany as a guest of Lely.


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NEW ZEALAND milk production is dropping back on last season, with February 2018 collections behind by 2.2% for the month compared to February 2017. Seasonto-date milk production now lags 0.2% behind the prior season. Weather conditions have improved in most key dairying areas over recent weeks and Rabobank expects total milk production for the full 2017/18 season to land only slightly behind last season, at -1% YOY. There is a risk that downward pressure on global commodity prices will emerge over the coming weeks. While ongoing China and Southeast Asia purchasing will help, the anticipated seasonal flush in the Northern Hemisphere will weigh on commodity prices over the next few

now down 8% YOY. With the autumn cow kill kicking into gear late March, the increased supply of cattle has reduced available killing space and consequentially processors have dropped schedule prices across all classes. This situation is expected to continue throughout April. However, B+LNZ’s recently released ‘Mid-Season Update’ reinforces Rabo-

bank’s earlier predictions that total supply for the 2017/18 season will be relatively tight, with export beef production expected to drop 1.3%. Rabobank expects that the increasing supply of cattle available for slaughter over the next month, combined with the persistently high NZ$, will continue to put further downward pressure on prices throughout


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over the seasonal peak and, in particular, Rabobank expects European milk production to trend lower throughout the remainder of 2018.

Beef PRICES CAME back slightly over the last month as the seasonal lift in cow supply eased some of the procurement pres-

Source: NZX AgriHQ, Rabobank 2018



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April, with further easing of schedule prices likely.

Sheepmeat COMPETITION AMONGST processors for lambs that are available for slaughter has pushed schedule prices back over the NZ$ 7 threshold. As of the start of April, the slaughter price in the North Island averaged NZ$ 7.10/kg cwt (2% higher MOM), while South Island lamb averaged NZ$ 7.05/kg cwt (3% higher MOM). Prices continue to sit well above last season’s pricing, with the average slaughter price for North and South Island lambs up 25% and 31% YOY respectively. The high volume of lambs killed prior to Christmas (due to due conditions in many regions), combined with good growing conditions through February/












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Source: NZX AgriHQ, Rabobank 2018

March, has made sourcing sufficient supply a challenge for processors over this period. This has forced processors to raise schedule prices to draw lambs off farm. While the number of lambs processed between Oct-Dec was up 13% YOY, as of 10th March, New Zealand’s YTD lamb kill had actually fallen behind last season by 1%, showing just how tight supply was through Jan-Mar. However, in recent weeks supply has started

to lift again, and Rabobank expects the rate of slaughter to increase progressively throughout April. Despite the increasing level of supply, there remains sufficient competition in the market to ensure schedule prices should remain firm throughout April.

NZ300c/kg clean mark. The most recent South Island sale just saw a little softening in the market, almost across the board for all wool types, retracing some of the gains made at earlier March sales. The market holding through the month with the strong volumes on offer remains a positive point for the outlook. Season to date there have been 42% more bales sold at auction than in 2016/17. Exports also continue to reflect the increase in demand for NZ wool with

18.5% more wool (tonnes clean) exported season to date. In fact, the almost 10 thousand tonnes clean exported in the month of February was the highest monthly volume shipped since April 2016. This improved demand is important to underpin potential market improvement through 2018 as the excess supply is consumed and volumes. The two-speed wool market continues, however, with merino types still showing very solid price strength. While the market in Austra-

lia eased slightly through March, at 1,772c/kg clean the Australian Eastern Market Indicator remains historically strong.


Currency NZ$ ROSE marginally against the Greenback in March/early April. The currency was worth 72.91 US cents early on 9 March. The strengthening currency came despite rising trade tension between the US and China, and marginally weaker dairy prices on the April 4 GDT auction. We expect to see the Kiwi soften against the

Source: RBA, Rabobank 2018

Greenback over the next 12 months. Monetary policy will likely tighten in the US than in NZ. At this stage our baseline scenario assumes three US hikes in total this year. But, if confidence amongst Fed officials in the US economy continues to grow and inflationary pressure increases, the trajectory of US interest rates could steepen Moreover, rising trade tensions between the US and China are negative for the NZ$/US$ cross rate. A protectionist stance by the US is likely


Wool NEW ZEALAND coarse wool prices were flat through the month in March at just over the

Source: NZWSI, Rabobank 2018

to impact the growth outlook for the US. On face value this is a negative factor for the US$. After trading around current levels over the next 6 months we expect the NZ$ to fall to 68 US cents by March 2019. • Want to keep up-todate with the latest food & agribusiness insights? Tune into RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness Australia & New Zealand podcast channel. Most Apple devices have the Podcasts app pre-installed – if not, you can find it in the App Store. These are also available on Android.








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RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


Massey Uni and Fieldays team up Massey University’s vice-chancellor, Professor Jane Thomas, signing the new agreement with National Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation.

NEW ZEALAND National Fieldays Society has a new partner in the form of Massey University. The university and society signed the threeyear initial term agreement earlier this month,

in this 50th anniversary year for Fieldays. Fieldays’ spokesman Nick Dromgool says Massey University’s focus on the agricultural and health sectors makes it a strong partner for



the event. “We feel Massey’s ethos of being an accessible university through its many campuses and its distance learning is an excellent fit.” The Massey College of Sciences pro vicechancellor, Professor Ray Geor, says the university is pleased to be connecting with Fieldays. “We are a strong supporter of Fieldays and have always had a large presence at the event. It’s an excellent fit for Massey and our plans for the future. “We often exhibit new technologies with our partners at Fieldays, and always enjoy talking to visitors about the benefit studying at Massey brings to the primary industries.” Massey University will be a partner of the

health and wellbeing programme that began at Fieldays in 2017. The College of Health at Massey University is a member of the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and wants to help ensure researchled education benefits NZ rural health. Fieldays says its fourday event last year turned over $538 million in sales revenue for NZ firms; demand for sites at this year’s 50th anniversary event is unprecedented. Fieldays says it will visit several rural communities telling the story of Fieldays, hosting discussions and family events and encouraging communities to be part of the national event. This year’s theme for Fieldays is the ‘Future of Farming’.

2017 numbers ■■

■■ ■■ ■■ ■■


A record 133,588 people visited Fieldays in 2017 – its highest visitor number yet 30,000 downloads of the Fieldays app wre made 998 exhibitors occupied 1473 sites 232 volunteers helped out 10,680 visitors travelled by bus to Fieldays, a 200% increase on 2016 93% of visitors rated Fieldays as very good or excellent.

COALS-TONEWCASTLE WITH THE season’s first shipment of Zespri kiwifruit leaving for China at Easter, the New Zealand-grown crop this year is expected to be about 20 million trays (70,000 tonnes) – higher than last year. Zespri will announce the current season’s sales figures in May, but sales will certainly exceed $2 billion and are expected to grow in the 2018-19 season. Sales in 2016-17 were $2.26b.  In 2017, 123m trays of NZ fruit – at least 430,000 tonnes – were sold and 102m of those trays came out of Bay of Plenty soil.   An additional 14m trays were grown offshore. Zespri’s overseas growers are charged with supplying fruit outside the NZ growing season, so boosting, and trying to meet, year-round global demand.  Chief executive Dan Mathieson says both the company’s two biggest markets, Japan and China, are forecast to grow strongly. Zespri is also looking for solid growth elsewhere in Asia and in Europe and North America, where supply did not meet demand last year.  “Demand for safe, healthy fruit continues to grow exponentially in China, in both volume and value. However, our Japanese market is going great guns as well: we’ve seen 30% sales growth there over the past four years.” – Pam Tipa

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RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


NZ Toyota managing director Alistair Davis.

No more talking turkey for Toyota TOYOTA IS changing the way it sells new vehicles, notably by moving away from commission-paid sales staff and haggling over purchase price. Called the ‘Drive Happy Project’ it sees Toyota’s 51 traditional dealerships becoming agencies in local ‘stores’ and receiving a fee for dealing with customers; staff will become salaried product specialists. Vehicles will no longer carry recommended retail prices but rather a Toyota Driveaway Price including such normal add-ons as pre-delivery costs, registration and a full tank of fuel. Toyota says this will end haggling over price. (It remains to be seen how this will go down with farmers, who love to haggle.) New vehicle prices could fall as a result, in some cases by $10,000. The company says

e.g. a test drive of up to 20 hours rather than the traditional 10 minutes around the block. And a seven-day money-back option will benefit the customer who feels the chosen vehicle is not the right one. “Our way of business needs to evolve to align with our custom-

ers’ expectations,” Alistair Davis, chief executive of Toyota NZ says. “As a result, the Drive Happy Project will save customers time and money, while putting a little bit of pleasure back into buying a new vehicle.” @rural_news

try career, both in farming and leadership roles including a founding director of the Fonterra and the inaugural chairman of the NZ Dairy Companies’ Association. He holds interests in several dairy farming and related businesses here and offshore. He is a chairman of Binsar Farms, a pioneering Indian /NZ dairy farming and fresh milk marketing company in Sonipat, Haryana. Rattray manages his own dairy industry consultancy, Dairy Link Ltd, specialising in NZ and Asia dairy sector insight and analysis. Rattray’s success in India is a classic case study in ‘how to do it the right way’ and can provide good insight into how the Indian industry operates, says the INZBC on his appointment. Rattray says NZ enjoys a favourable standing in India. “They trust us, but being the good folk from a clean country with high quality merchandise is not enough on its own to stay relevant in India. India totally re-sets your comprehension of demand, competition and margins. “NZ companies should be at the front of the queue when India eventually begins to reduce its trade barriers, which will happen over time.” – Pam Tipa


research shows that many would-be buyers dislike current motor-industry selling tactics and find them intimidating -- especially price negotiation, which can leave them wondering if they really had a good deal. And some customers feel overwhelmed by a large product offering and the ‘pushing’ of a stock vehicle that may not seem the right one. Toyota ‘stores’ will not be expected to carry their own stock but will instead get display vehicles from three regional hubs -Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. These hubs will supply the vehicles eventually purchased. ‘Store’ vehicles will be demonstrators, allowing would-be buyers to test drive before deciding what meets their needs. They will then order their new vehicle online or via the agent from the regional hub. Toyota says its Drive Happy Project will allow flexible test drive options,



TWO OF three new appointments to the India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) are stalwarts of the primary industry sector. The manager of international trade at Beef + Lamb NZ, Esther Guy-Meakin, and Dairy Link NZ director Earl Rattray have joined the board. Guy-Meakin has a background in trade policy and trade negotiations after a diplomatic career at Mfat. She was lead goods negotiator on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Pacific Alliance and India-NZ FTA negotiations, and legal advisor on services and investment in the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. She also served in the NZ High Commission in New Delhi, India from 20142016, working on market access for NZ companies and trade and economic policy. “India and NZ have a long history of partnership and knowledge sharing in agriculture to the benefit of both countries,” Guy-Meakin told Rural News. “The opportunities for our respective farmers to learn and benefit from a closer partnership are significant and NZ has the experience, skills and agri-technology to continue to be a valuable partner with India.” Rattray has had a long dairy indus-

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RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018



A dry argument NEWS THAT the Government will no longer back major irrigation projects will not come as much of a surprise, but it is still wrong. Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced, earlier this month, that the Hurunui, Hunter Downs and Flaxbourne schemes will no longer get money from Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd (CIIL). “We must also be mindful of the potential for large-scale irrigation to lead to intensive farming practices which may contribute to adverse environmental outcomes,” Robertson says. That line comes straight out of the Green Party’s playbook and those of its NGO apologists Greenpeace and Forest and Bird. And this is Green Party policy: its hates irrigation and blames it for the growth in dairy farming in NZ. Robertson all but admitted this fact in his statement, conceding “… the winding down [of] public funding for large-scale irrigation through CIIL [is] in line with the Coalition Agreement and the Confidence and Supply Agreement”. In other words, both Labour and the supposed champions of provinces NZ First have rolled over to keep the Greens happy. Winston Peters and Shane Jones should hang their heads in shame and rural New Zealand won’t forget this betrayal no matter how many provincial churches they help earthquake-strengthen. Irrigation critics claim the Government is ‘subsidising’ it, but this is wrong. The CIIL fund lends money – which is repaid – to help get these schemes going. This is an investment in the future, much like Peters’ and Jones’ Provincial Growth Fund, but with far more checks and balances in place. The fact is that this country’s economic future is dependent on producing agricultural and horticultural products and selling these to the world (see Mike Chapman’s article on the opposite page). Properly managed irrigation helps us achieve this. As agribusiness expert Keith Woodford has said, it’s remarkable that the Greens and others who claim the reduction of poverty is at their core have lost sight of the dependence we as a country have on our primary sector; their failure to appreciate the destruction of it is incompatible with poverty elimination. Irrigation has helped us earn the $16 billion a year we get from dairy, the $3b plus we make from beef and the $3b plus from lamb, as well as the $6b from the horticulture sector. It is a stupid argument – economically and environmentally – to rule out future support for irrigation based on petty politics.


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YOUR OLD mate notes that Young Farmers has made great fanfare of a recent board appointment: Hawke’s Bay farmer and agribusiness leader Sam Robinson is joining the organisation as a director. However this old mutt is a little confused as the new appointee does not appear to be that… um, err… young. As the YF media release says, “The 67-year-old brings strong governance experience and extensive industry connections to the role.” Now while some people may claim that 60 is the new 50, in this old mutt’s opinion 67 does not make you a young farmer. Mind you, Robinson replaced yet another not-so-young-farmer on the board, Jeff Grant, a fresh-faced fellow when he first became an MP back in 1987; but would now also well exceed the Young Farmer age limit of 30 years. The Hound suggests YF should refer to appointees Robinson and Grant as Gold (Card) members.

THE HOUND couldn’t help but notice the outlandish public crowing and back-slapping by eco-terrorism – sorry, environmental – groups Greenpeace and Forest and Bird over the coalition government’s recent decision to can all future funding of irrigation schemes. If anyone doubts this announcement was the Green Party flexing its muscle and rolling the supposed ‘provincial champions’ NZ First in the coalition, then just look at who fronts the two non-governmental bodies celebrating the axe coming down on irrigation. Greenpeace is headed by former Green co-leader Russel ‘Red’ Norman, and Forest and Bird is headed by former Green MP Kevin Hague. It shows how weak a link in government are NZ First’s Russian ambassador Winston Peters and his sidekick Shane ‘Pinetree’ Jones when they can be so easily rolled by the Greens.

A MATE of yours truly says he was flabbergasted by the incoherent response of the body overseeing NAIT, following the recent review of the animal tracing system and the blistering criticism of it by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. In a bizarre media release – almost out of the Yes Prime Minister television series – the OSPRI chief executive Michelle Edge stated: “The review (of NAIT) determined that the existing framework could be improved to better reflect the core principles supporting effective traceability of livestock and to provide a higher level of readiness for biosecurity issues in the livestock sector through enhanced usability, uptake and adherence for those participating in the programme.” The Hound’s mate reckons that Ms Edge has a glorious future ahead, perhaps heading a useless wing of the United Nations.

YOUR OLD mate is so excited (not!) to hear yet another committee has been formed to go with the 40 already set up by the government since it came to power last October – Damian O’Connor’s much vaunted Primary Industry Council. O’Connor will soon tell us who is on the primary sector council, and claims the “panel members will have a wide range of skill sets”, or in other words will be friends of the coalition partners and getting a junket. Estimates of the cost of fees, flights and accommodation for the average government committee are about $400,000. Frankly your old mate doesn’t hold much hope that the PIC will be more than just another jolly for the government’s mates, given that O’Connor’s brief to the council is, “… go out and stir things up and come back to me with some great ideas”. Give me strength!

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RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


Water essential for sustainable growth The Waimea scheme is essential to sustainable horticulture production, providing town supply and keeping river flows at optimal levels. ment. In reality, organic farmers use irrigation and well-managed water storage schemes can lead

to good environmental outcomes. The value of planned, not existing, irrigation projects to NZ was

maintaining healthy rivers, urban water supply, productive and sustainable vegetable and fruit growing, and meeting climate change challenges. Our plea to the Government is that they don’t rule out large-scale irrigation schemes as bad, but that they look at the purpose of water storage

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schemes and make decisions based on good outcomes overall. There are two truths: plants need water to survive and climate change means food is being grown where it would not be possible without irrigation. • Mike Chapman is chief executive of Horticulture NZ


ment river flows to keep water ecosystems alive and healthy. This benefits everyone. The Government’s decision to wind down irrigation funding is very disappointing for growers and, will ultimately impact consumers of healthy food and NZ’s ongoing prosperity. We are thankful that three schemes already in advanced stages are to be funded: Central Plains Water Stage 2, the KurowDuntroon scheme and the Waimea Community Dam. The Waimea scheme is essential to sustainable horticulture production, providing town supply and keeping river flows at optimal levels. Waimea is an example of the vital funding role Government plays. Local farmers and growers are simply not able to raise the money to fund massive infrastructure that benefits not only them, but the wider community. Many years and hundreds of thousands of dollars go into getting approvals before one drop of water flows. There is a misconception that irrigation means intensive farming and bad outcomes for the environ-

over $1.2 billion annually (from the Crown Irrigation Investments briefing to the incoming Government). These schemes add to the wealth of NZ, provide food and jobs and keep rural communities viable. How irrigated water is used needs to be understood in the full context of the environment,


IN THE last two years, extreme climatic events have alternated between intense rain and drought. Last winter, heavy rain made vegetable growing difficult in the North Island. Supply was short and prices went up. Supply had to be supplemented from parts of New Zealand that rely on irrigation to sustain fruit and vegetable growing. In December, the country went into drought. After having had too much water for months, then there was none. In Waimea, growers were forced to make decisions about which trees would not fruit and would have water supply reduced to root stock survival levels only. This is a highly productive area for horticulture and water supply during dry periods is vital. In fact, to maintain production and produce high quality vegetables and fruit a consistent supply of water is needed throughout the main growing areas in NZ. Water storage and irrigation are key for sustainable growth of horticulture to feed NZers. Water storage helps keep river flows at the right level during heavy rain, to use during drought. In many cases, water schemes have full community support, meet the strict environmental requirements around river swimmability and nutrient limits, and aug-

Gearing you up for success.

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RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


Producing less that is worth more PETER REIDIE

NEW ZEALAND agriculture is facing interesting times and we need to be ambitious if we’re to win. The model that has enabled us to succeed for 100 years cannot ensure our success in the future. We can’t win on the most efficient farm-

ing model in the world. China, USA and Australia each have 40 times the land mass in agriculture. Other countries are prepared to adopt lower standards in factory farming, GMOs, people practices and impact on the environment. That means we can’t win on scale and low

Peter Reidie



of food is being redefined. In my view, we must produce less that is worth more. An example that brings it home to me is NZ wine in China. NZ wine is an amazing international success story: we are now generally accepted as the best

cost. Also, the world is changing, and what consumers want is making greater demands. We must be aware of, and manage, the consequences of what we are doing on the earth. The role of technology is growing massively and the role and expectation


Pour On














producers of sauvignon blanc and pinot noir in the world. But we haven’t cracked it in China. China takes about one fifth of all our exports and this is consistent across all our sectors. The exception is wine: China buys only one fiftieth of NZ’s wine exports. Why is this? Because in China there are two types of wine purchased: what we would call ‘plonk’ – very cheap and generic, and the best. The best in the perception of the Chinese is wine from France; serving French wine is the way to make an impression in China. In China you can buy plonk for $2 a bottle, or $200/bottle French wine, and there is very little in between. And you don’t want to be stuck in the middle as neither one thing nor the other; hence only 2% of our wine exports are going to China because we are in the middle. This sums up the opportunity for the food we produce. We can seek to provide ‘plonk’ -- a losing strategy as already outlined, because others have scale and practices that enable them to produce plonk more effectively than us -- or we can seek to become the ‘French wine’ of food; or as I have heard one farmer put it – become the premium delicatessen to the world. NZ must produce less that is worth more. NZ can only produce for 30 40 million people – that’s 0.5% of the world’s pop-

ulation. If we target the fussiest 0.5%, here is what they will be asking: 1. Where is my food from? 2. What has gone into my food? 3. Is my food good for me? NZ is incredibly well placed to own the critical answers to these questions. This strategy is not only sound; we are very well placed to deliver on it. Most NZ landowners look after their land, animals and people very well. We must modify the behaviours of those who don’t, ensure those who do keep doing it and provide the means to prove it to the fussy consumers of the world. Technology will play a huge part in this. When I am talking to farmers about the change we need to make, I tell them to be aware of what the consumer is asking: not the Government, not the regulator, not the manufacturer, but the consumer – the person who eats our food. The consumer is not going to accept dirty rivers or overuse of sulphates or bad animal practices. By meeting the demands of consumers we can deliver on this strategy for a prosperous primary sector for NZ. • This is an edited version of a recent speech given by Farmlands chief executive Peter Reidie at the Universal College of Learning graduation ceremony in Whanganui.


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RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


Selecting genetics will improve beef herds JULIET YOUNG

THE FIRST meat quality results from the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics (BLNZ Genetics) beef progeny test are showing that farmers can select genetics to markedly improve their beef herds, and better marbling than expected in some breeds. Last year the test showed superior growth rates for the Simmental breed compared to Angus, Hereford & Charolais. Recently the 52 bulls involved in cohort 1 of the progeny test were ultrasound scanned, providing a snapshot of their meat quality. The results show how the different sires of the five breeds are performing with regard to intra muscular fat (IMF), or marbling, a key indicator for meat quality. National beef genetics manager for BLNZ Genetics Max Tweedie says there’s a tendency for Angus cattle to have the highest IMF, but there are Simmental sires that have performed above the average for the group and


National beef genetics manager for Beef and Lamb Genetics New Zealand Max Tweedie says bulls with strong growth rates are also producing good marbling results.

above some Angus sires. “They performed at or above expectation for a terminal breed. There are certainly bulls in the Simmental breed

that have both traits (strong growth and marbling) and the results are hammering that home.”

WHANGARA FARMS, 30km north of Gisborne, is one of five commercial farms involved in the project. It runs a 2500-cow herd, half of them mated to Simmental bulls as terminal sires and for the last four years has had 800 cows involved in the test. Manager Richard Scholefield encourages farmers to take on board results from the test and apply the data to their own operation. “The results coming out are pretty compelling when you look at the figures; you can’t refute them.” BLNZ Genetics says Simmental in NZ perform particularly well because its breeders have continued to invest in genetic improvement. “They are a pretty forward-thinking group of breeders who all seem to have clear breeding objectives.” Absolom says the Simmental society supports the project because it is gleaning information not captured before. “We believe the data from this project will shed new light on the genetics that actually make commercial farmers the best returns from their cow calf operations. All commercial farmers can use that information to their own advantage.”

BLNZ Genetics says one key finding from the research is that using estimated breeding values (EBVs) to select sires with desired traits to improve a herd is effective. “Every farmer should have a breeding objective: they should know where they are going and what their preferences are for their breeding herd,” says Tweedie. “From there they can use the test results to identify the sires and programmes they need to help them meet their objectives, especially given how easy artificial insemination is now for commercial herds.” Scholefield says it would add huge value to the beef industry if more farmers used EBVs and genomics. “We need to get up with other countries and embrace the genetic technology available. I challenge farmers to look at their genetic gain and where they are going and make sure they use a breeder who has the same goals and objectives,” he explains. BLNZ Genetics is releasing the carcase results at two field days in May, at Mendip Hills Station, North Canterbury on May 1, and Rangitaiki Station, Taupo on May 8.


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RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


More than just dropping numbers Dr Andy Reisinger, deputy director (international) of the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC), believes the challenge for NZ in climate change is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock farming without simply farming fewer animals. Nigel Malthus reports. THE NUMBER of animals we have in New Zealand and how we use our land is part of our greenhouse gas emissions profile and must be part of any policy discussions, explains Andy Reisinger. The challenge is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions without economic pain, especially for farmers. One way would be to increase efficiency at farm level. Another would be to develop a methane inhibitor or vaccine to enable animals to perform normally but emit less less methane. “To what extent do we have to look at the longer-term rejigging of livestock agriculture?” he asks. “This then raises questions about alternative land uses. Because it’s all very well to say ‘just have fewer cows’, for example. But what are you going to do on the land? And what does it mean for the people who are currently farming the land?

“These are not foregone conclusions but are the issues NZ has to grapple with.” Reisinger says NZ is seeing the effects of climate change and climate variability on its food production. “Heatwaves… droughts… floods – these are impacting our ability to produce food the way our farm systems are geared up for, to the point where if we have a major drought we will see a reduction in total milk production.” NZ is not isolated from the world, he points out. And its dominance in global milk markets means that what happens here influences global milk prices. Reisinger was speaking after a recent meeting in Christchurch of international climate change experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) who are writing a ‘special report on climate change and land’. The panel

“These are not foregone conclusions but are the issues NZ has to grapple with.”

meeting in Christchurch to nut out the structure of their report, which will be formally reviewed

advises the UN on climate change. About 100 experts attended the five-day

NZAGRC deputy director Dr Andy Reisinger.

then released to the world’s governments in August 2019. Reisinger says the panel’s function is not to give policy recommen-

Do you need to rebalance your FEI?

dations but to compile the best available scientific evidence on climate change to help governments decide what they want to do.

Selecting genetics FROM PAGE 26

He says while the ultrasound results are not as conclusive as carcase results collected in the abattoir, being released next month, they give an indicative sire comparison. Now in its fourth year, the beef progeny test is being run on five large commercial properties, involving about 2200 cows and heifers each year. It aims to determine how bulls of different breeds – Angus, Hereford, Stabilzer, Simmental and Charolais, from USA, Australia and NZ – perform under comparable commercial conditions in different environments, capture the worth of superior genetics from breeding cow performance, finishing ability and carcase attributes. Simmental NZ council member Daniel Absolom says the across-breed performance and variation within breed between sires is of most interest. For Simmental to show such superior growth performance from birth to slaughter should be compelling for commercial farmers to consider them as terminal sires, he says. “The early indication from the ultrasound is that they are competitive in meat quality. Effectively they are punching above their weight because the European breeds have not previously been recognised in NZ as having that sort of marbling.” The ultrasound results are available on the BLNZ Genetics website.

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RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


Family farm wins Auckland award THE DILL family of Kaipara Flats, north of Auckland, has won the 2018 Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Family teamwork and a multi-generational attachment to the land

are said to have created a successful and sustainable farming business with many environmental highlights for the Dills at Kaipara Flats. The father-and-son duo Bruce and Steve Dill

farm the 488ha sheep and beef property. They are supported by Bruce’s wife Felicity and Steve’s wife Clare, who also works in communications and marketing consultancy. Three quarters of the

Dills Farms Ltd land is steep and the home farm has spectacular views looking west to the Kaipara Harbour and the Hoteo River. The awards judges said this is both an asset

and a liability because of winter flooding and erosion and sediment control. But it is also the setting for their eco-tourism venture -- a rental Winners of and this year’s farm hut farmAuckland walks. Ballance Environment Farm Award , Clare, Steve, Felicity and Bruce Dills. Clare runs a social

The original Atuanui farm, at Kaipara Flats, was bought by Marcus Gordon Dill in 1889 and now fourth-generation Bruce and fifth-generation Steve are the directors of the much-enlarged Dills Farms Ltd. A neighbouring 135ha block was bought after Steve returned from working overseas.




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media campaign called Grass Fed in the City with near-neighbour and friend Nicky Berger; they aim to improve relationships between rural and urban people. Last year the farm wintered 1957 sheep, including 1320 Romney ewes and 388 Hereford and Angus-cross cattle – including 138 cows. Twoyear-old Hereford bulls are sold to local dairy farmers. Total stocking was 3750su or 9.35su/ha. The original Atuanui farm, at Kaipara Flats, was bought by Marcus Gordon Dill in 1889 and now fourth-generation Bruce and fifth-generation Steve are the directors of the much-enlarged Dills Farms Ltd. A neighbouring 135ha block was bought after Steve returned from working overseas. Knowledge and understanding of the land, ecosystem, weather patterns and stock over the years is being passed on from previous generations. Knowledge of soil types and capabilities enables sustainable management of the farm. Sediment loss to the Hoteo River is the main risk, managed by riparian retirement, three-wire electric fencing on floodprone banks and low intensity stocking policies in sensitive areas, especially over the winter. Stock water reticulation is crucial, using a variety of dams, reser-

voirs and springs to pump to header tanks for delivery of water to troughs. A 2008 land and environment plan is being worked, providing stock management, planting and fencing policies. At least 10,000 plants have been planted – 3000 of them last winter as part of the Forest Bridge Trust scheme in the Kaipara District. These plantings are to reduce the sediment in the Hoteo River and enhance biodiversity. The Dills have started their own nursery to build up manuka seedlings and poplars for the farm. Erosion is a problem on the steep slopes and kawa poplars are planted to mitigate soil slip and for tomo stabilisation. Four small areas of native bush are fenced for some time (one since the 1940s) to contain mature native canopy species such as taraire, titoki, rimu and totara 15m tall, plus a healthy understory. The farm drains to the Hoteo River and the fencing and riparian planting by the Dills and adjoining landowners have improved water quality, including sedimentary and nutrient run-off. As well as the 2018 Regional Supreme Award, Dill Farms Ltd won the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, Beef + Lamb NZ Livestock Award and CB Norwood Distributors Ltd Agri-Business Management Award.

RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


Managing fodder beet NIGEL MALTHUS

FARM VETERINARIANS are struggling with the emerging animal health effects of long-term fodder beet use on dairy farms, says DairyNZ senior scientist Dawn Dalley. This problem has attracted a $565,000 research grant from MPI’s Sustainable Farming Fund -- the largest single grant in the latest round. Problems are showing up on farms that have sorted the initial transitioning issues, Dalley says. “A lot of farms won’t have any problems for two or three or four years. But we’re seeing that the farms that seem to be getting these issues -- particularly phosphorus -- are those that have been feeding fodder beet for up to 10 years,” Dalley explains. Cows are showing very low blood phosphorus levels despite supplementing with DCP or NCP, and giving low production despite having good body condition scores. “On some of those farms the vets are struggling to understand what’s happening and animals aren’t responding to treatment that should be working,” she says. “So we’re trying to look and see what it is on those farms that could be causing that. “The challenge we’ve got in our grass-based system is that phosphorus is a mineral we haven’t really had to think about previously, because pastures have a pretty good calcium-tophosphorus ratio; it’s something new to our systems.” The research will be a joint project of the South Island Dairy Development Centre (SIDDC), DairyNZ and AgResearch, PGG Wrightson and Plant&Food. Dalley says the aim is to better understand the mineral interactions at play when fodder beet is included in the diet. The initial phase will include

Vets are struggling with the emerging animal health issues of long-term fodder beet use on dairy farms.

a national survey of farmers’ fodder beet usage. “We know it’s being used differently in different regions,” she says. “Farmers are very innovative and they’ve been trialling different things to make it work in their system. So we will seek to understand what their issues are, whether they’ve changed

anything in their feeding or mineral supplementation, and what that’s meant in animal health.” The researchers will analyse fodder beet’s mineral content, which is thought to differ between regions and cultivars. That aspect of the project will start on samples already held by Plant&Food and PGGW; these may

GAME-CHANGER OR END GAME? IN ITS funding application to MPI, SIDDC called fodder beet “a gamechanger in dairy systems”. However, it pointed out that its benefits are jeopardised by animal health and welfare issues which, if not addressed, would cause a decline in fodder beet use, so increasing cost, workload and farmer stress, and could impair the social licence to farm. “We want to move away from anecdotal information,” says SIDDC executive director Ron Pellow. “We want more science on what the opportunities are, where the challenges are and how to rectify them, and give farmers

solutions based on science.” Land used to grow fodder beet has increased from very little to about 75,000ha in about 10 years, Pellow says. That equals 100,000ha of any other feed because of fodder beet’s high energy content. Fodder beet’s value is in providing energy without too much protein and so lowering nitrogen losses. “It’s a really good feed and that’s why it’s taken off so rapidly, but we’ve probably got to do some things differently,” he says. “We need to understand how to do those things differently to get the most out of it.”

already have been analysed for dry matter content but not minerals. Dalley says the project will also link with the Southern Dairy Hub -the new research and demonstration farm at Wallaceville, Southland. It is now setting up four separate farm systems to run for three years -- two using fodder beet and two using kale.

Dalley says some of the changes may be happening in calves even before birth so the Southern Dairy Hub project is a good chance to track calves born to dams fed on kale versus those fed on fodder beet. “So we can take animals in two different directions and see what that means once they get into the herd.”

South Island Dairying Development Centre (SIDDC) executive director Ron Pellow.

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RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


Solving the genetic jigsaw LIC’s Bevan Harris

RESEARCHERS AT Livestock Improvement Corp (LIC) are working with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to piece together a genetic jigsaw of 15 million pieces. They are using LIC Jersey and HolsteinFriesian bulls to build a genetic map of New

Zealand dairy cattle. Improving the genetic reference sequence is expected to help in identifying disease genes and speed up the delivery of breeding worth traits, among other things, LIC says. This will lead to more efficient cows and thus environmental benefits, and may help

researchers to breed diseases out of the livestock population. Improvements in genetic gain reward farmers and so help the NZ economy. In 2009, after a six-year effort, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and 300 scientists from

25 countries published the first cattle genome sequence of a female Hereford cow called Dominette. Though now dead, this cow ‘lives on’ in research laboratories worldwide where researchers have used her DNA sequence for other genetics discoveries. Improved genome

sequencing is enabling researchers to overhaul Dominette’s sequence to improve accuracy. LIC’s work in charting the DNA differences between beef and dairy cattle will help scientists understand what role different genes play in milk production, fertility and body condition, and

IS LIVER FLUKE PUTTING HOLES IN YOUR PROFITS? Fluke larvae burrow through the liver, Impacting stock health and production.

the potential these genetic markers might have for the country’s dairy herd. Each DNA sequence makes up a piece of this jigsaw puzzle. This research was funded by the Transforming the Dairy Chain (TDVC) Primary Growth Partnership programme, a seven-year, $170 million innovation programme led by commercial partners including LIC, DairyNZ and Fonterra, and partnered by MPI. LIC’s acting chief scientist, Dr Bevin Harris, says the work with the USDA will bring benefits for the NZ dairy herd. The bovine genome has three billion base pairs (the building blocks of the DNA double helix) containing 22,000 genes, 80% of which are shared with humans. Within these 22,000 genes there are genetic variants. To use a book analogy, each cow has the same number of chapters, i.e. 22,000. But there are a number of word and spelling changes (variants) in each chapter of each book. You could read any book and be able to broadly describe

what each is about, but there would be slightly different contextual differences with different interpretations. This is what leads to diversity within a species. Put crudely, everybody looks the same (the same book of 22,000 genes) but there are slight differences in most traits or characteristics. By the end of this year, genomes from 1000 dairy cattle will have been sequenced. Through this sequencing, LIC has identified about 19 million variations that exist within the NZ dairy cattle population. These will be compared to Dominette’s and the new dairy cattle reference genomes, and the next job will be to identify which of these genes affect the traits that dairy farmers are interested in. This information can then be used to improve the ability to predict how well animals will perform at birth based on their genome sequence.

DNA PROGRESS IN THE last three years, improvements in DNA sequencing technology have cut the cost of sequencing a new genome and newer technology is allowing genomes to be sequenced more quickly. A once-massive, costly exercise (US$50 million when Dominette’s genome was sequenced in 2006) now costs NZ$1000 per genome. Harris says if genome sequencing had to be done manually, it would take someone typing 60 words per minute eight hours a day for 50 years to type the bovine genome. “The entire DNA sequence would fill 200 one-thousand-page telephone directories,” he explains. “The knowledge gained from this sequencing project will enable us to identify the potential benefits of genetic gains for the NZ dairy herd, and this will increase the accuracy of bull selection which will increase the national rate of genetic gain.” NZ Animal Evaluation (NZAEL), a subsidiary of DairyNZ, estimates that improvements in genetic merit are worth $300m profit a year to the dairy sector.

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RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


Clever sprayers will ease workload MARK DANIEL

POWER FARMING Wholesale has been testing the water with a phased introduction of the latest range of sprayers from global machinery giant Kverneland. Available in fully mounted or trailed configurations, the iXter ranges use clever solutions and innovative technology to achieve easier operation and high daily outputs. “At this stage, we are purposely keeping the rollout low key as we want to understand the market and what our customers want,” the company’s general manager machinery, Graeme Leigh, told Rural News. Looking at the mounted ranges in detail, operators can choose between the basic iXter A or the higher specification B series. The A series offers tank sizes of 800, 1000 and 1200L, pumps of 100, 150 and 200L/min output and the option of steel or aluminium booms. The steel (HC) booms are offered in 18, 20 and 21m widths, while the aluminium set-up (HOSA) comes in 12 or 15m working widths. The aluminium

The iXter sprayer range uses some clever solutions and innovative technology to delivery ease of operation and high daily outputs.

booms use aircraft industry technology -- a glued-up construction process without welds that is light and durable and backed by a five-year guarantee. The iXter A machines have a control panel on the tank, a 30L chemical induction hopper, a 130L clean water tank, an 18L hand wash tank and a closed storage box. The higher specification iXter B series offers tank sizes of 1000, 1300, 1600 and 1800L and pumps of 150, 200 and 260L/min output; these also handle liquid fertiliser and will toler-

ate being ran dry. An Easy Hitch quick attachment system allows the sprayer to be closecoupled to the tractor and is said to deliver maximum weight transfer. Again, the choice revolves around steel or aluminium booms, with the former available in 18 to 30m widths and the latter at 15m. Compared to the more basic A series, booms are fitted with anti-yaw systems to allow high speed operation, the steel booms get one-sided, symmetrical and asymmetrical folding, while the aluminium set

get a z-fold layout said to be useful for spraying around structures. Other equipment for the B series includes an Easy Set control panel, separate induction and spray controls and return flow agitation. A 30L induction hopper is mounted on frame rails and has a rotating cannister cleaning nozzle and rinsing system as standard. A patented iXclean system uses semi-automatic valve control for autofilling and a remote-control function for cleaning and rinsing. A range of options includes the IsoMatch and

Tellus control functions, GeoControl and BoomGuide, with the latter using ultrasonic sensors for boom height on slopes and sidling land. Completing the package is the new iXtra front mounted tank offering 1100L or 60% extra capacity, which can be used for the same spray mix, a differing spray mix or carrying clean water for future use or as a counterweight. It is filled and emptied via the rear pump set-up, requires no PTO or hydraulic feed and connects via two hoses with cam-lock fittings.


McHALE round BALERS and fusions Some McHale Round Balers (V660) and McHale Fusion Baler Wrapper combinations sold in New Zealand since 1 January 2016 require a small modification to their grass intake system. This is a simple fix requiring no more than 3-4 hours work but is essential to preclude the possibility of significant and costly damage during future operation.

This work must be carried out by an approved McHale technician to ensure that the modification is made correctly.

If you purchased a new McHale machine from a Power Farming dealer, or a used McHale machine originally sold by Power Farming, then there is no cost to the customer for completing O N E N AM E COV E R S I T A L L FA409RN

this repair. Your local Power Farming dealer should already have been in touch to make the necessary arrangements, but if not then please contact them as soon as possible. Power Farming has only been supplied with sufficient repair kits to cover machines sold through its own authorised dealer network. If you imported your new machine from outside our network, then unfortunately we are unable to provide assistance in relation to this recall. It’s therefore very important that you contact your supplier immediately to identify a solution. Failure to do so could result in serious damage to your McHale machine in the future.

McHale New Zealand

RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


Small but perfectly formed MARK DANIEL

KUBOTA NZ has added another machine to its KX series of excavators. The KX033-4 compact excavator is said to offer efficiency, stability and comfort alongside power and style in the competitive 3-tonne class. The new unit shares many of the standard features of Kubota’s larger machines, e.g. a larger cab, dash-controlled pre-sets for auxiliary circuits and a standard hydraulic diverter valve. But the company claims the KX033-4 delivers best-in-class hydraulic breakout power of 3690kg, a digging depth of 3m and fast cycle times. This

all helps to move more material per hour when tested head-to-head against other 3t excavators. Power comes from a 24.8hp Kubota direct injection Tier 4 Final certified engine. The engine RPM may be set to automatically idle when control levers are in neutral for more than four seconds, saving fuel and cutting noise and emissions. Adjustable auxiliary hydraulics allow the operator to program up to five different oil flow rates, controlled from a new digital control panel. Replacing the popular KX91-3 in the Kubota KX series, the auxiliary hydraulic circuit can deliver a maximum oil flow of 60L to power a wide variety of

The KX033-4 is said to offer efficiency, stability and comfort – alongside power and style.

auxiliary attachments, while the standard third-line hydraulic return system allows oil to return directly back to the tank without flowing through control valves, resulting in less back-pressure, less heat and greater efficiency. Thoughtful design and engineering include an innovative counterbalance resulting in stable operation, and a low centre of gravity and doubleflanged track rollers that also contribute to safety, whether working to the

side with hydraulic attachments or in challenging lifting conditions. A swivel negative brake and travel negative brake automatically lock the swivel function and tracks, respectively, to prevent unexpected machine movement and keep the excavator secure. The KX033-4 operator station has a reclining high-back suspension seat for operator comfort, including weight compensation and firm, adjustable

wrist supports. A wider, updated digital display panel with push button operation allows for easy monitoring of critical controls, including changing hydraulic oil flows. A ROPS canopy is standard, and the optional cab includes air conditioning, more foot space with a wider door, a gas-assisted front window mechanism, a large cup holder and, of course, a charging point for a mobile phone.

Loader wagons raise the bar

AUSTRIAN MANUFACTURER Pottinger has added two models to its Torro Combiline series of loader wagons – the 7010 and the 8010. Proven in the existing product ‘family’, the Torro 7010 and 8010 units offer loading capacities of 40 and 43cu.m DIN respectively. High-speed unloading is said to be made possible by a newly designed driveline that can deliver 1700Nm torque to meet peak loadings. All models can now also be specified with a

4000kg capacity drawbar option claimed to aid weight transfer and improve traction in the paddock or over the clamp, and allowing increased loading and greater productivity. Both wagons have a side-mounted control panel connecting key elements via a CanBus system. This offers an overview of functions such as the knife-bank, AutoCut, the scraper floor and a new system for easy hitching and unhitching system from the tractor.

Also, the Torro Combiline can be equipped with optional driver assist systems such as intelligent steered axles, integrated sensors for driving speed and direction, and a steering angle sensor. An optional integral weighing system displays dynamic nett weights and can be programmed with a maximum load setting. This will give an audible and visual warning if the pre-set load is exceeded. Also available are newly released DuraStar loader wagon blades that have a hardened, wear-

Two new additions to the Torro Combiline series of loader wagons – with the 7010 (pictured) and 8010 models.

resistant cutting edge for longer service life. The blades combine the char-

acteristics of spring steel for wear resistance and Boron steel for durability,





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RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


Kuhn expands its seed drill range MARK DANIEL

KUHN HAS expanded its seed drill range with its new foldable Espro 4000 RC with seed and fertiliser or twin seed distribution, and the new foldable 8m Espro 8000R. These follow the company’s launch of the 6m foldable Espro 6000 RC seed drill at SIMA 2017. The 8000 R drill has a 5500L seed hopper fitted with two distribution systems and two distributor heads -- ideal for large arable farms and contractors.

Key features specific to Espro seed drills since their launch in 2015 have been carried over to the new models. These include 900mm diameter wheels with an exclusive profile, and tyres with a specific deep tread pattern for seedbed tilling and a low power requirement. The Crossflex coulter bar ensures even emergence and quality seeding using elastomer mounts fitted to the cross-shaped sectional tube for improved ground following. Optional front presswheels, with in-can pres-

sure adjustment, enable the machine to perform well on ploughed ground or in light soil. Simple adjustments, automated headland turn management, userfriendly terminals (VT or

CCI) and ISOBUS compatibility combine to make a drill that is easy to use; and it can plant a large variety of seeds at speed in a wide variety of seeding situations.

RECORD BUSTED THE NEBRASKA Test Laboratory in the US state of Lincoln, Nebraska dates back nearly a century, when horses were used to pull ploughs and harvesters. Tractors appearing early in the 20th century often performed poorly, so in 1919 the Nebraska Test Law required manufacturers to verify horsepower claims before a tractor could be offered for sale in the state. The first test occurred in 1920 on a 15hp tractor and about 2000 tests have since been done. As an example of present-day testing, the German manufacturer Claas submitted its Xerion 4500 and 5000 prime movers for evaluation. Used primarily for heavy tillage, planting and seeding, the machines use a host of modern technologies such as four-wheel steering, GPS and even the option of a rotating cabin. Powered by the latest Mercedes MTU series 1300 engines (OM571) meeting Tier 4 Final emission regulations, the machines were proven to deliver maximum power of 490hp and 530hp, respectively, giving the record books a decent shake-up. The tests give Claas something to crow about: the tractors broke records for fuel efficiency, pullto-weight ratios and low cab noise; and the Xerion 4500 now holds the record for the most fuel-efficient tractor in its class. Both the 4500 and 5000 units also set a record for low engine speeds while producing maximum torque, which was recorded at 2300Nm and 2450Nm respectively. In the ballasted section of the test, the 4500 set a record for pull-to-weight ratio that had been held for 25 years and in doing so it dispelled the myth that tracks have more traction than conventional tyres. When operated over long days during the harvest and tillage seasons, cab noise is a major consideration for operators. In this the Xerion 4500 recorded noise of 68.5 decibels while the Xerion 5000 came in at 67.0 decibels. To put this in perspective, both tractors had less cabin noise than a Volkswagen Golf running at 110km/h on a highway.

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RURAL NEWS // APRIL 17, 2018


MF to introduce three new models MARK DANIEL

MASSEY FERGUSON has launched three new tractors in its MF 6700 Global Series, soon to arrive in New Zealand and Australia. Delivering up to 132hp, these represent the largest, most powerful models in MF ’s Global series of sturdy, straightforward, all-purpose tractors, which now covers three ranges in the 70 – 130 hp sector. The MF 6700 series has a 2.5m wheelbase and 5.2 tonne linkage capacity, making them ideal loader tractors capable of handling heavy loads and suitable for livestock and mixed farming, or even as a second or third main tractors on arable farms. They are powered

by an AGCO Power 4.4L four-cylinder Tier 2 mechanical injection engine, which provides low cost operation and maintenance. Power and torque are said to be excellent, with low maintenance and operating costs. All models are equipped with a 12 x 12 synchronised mechanical transmission offering six synchronised gears in two ranges and a top speed of 40km/h. Direction changes are made simply using the standard power shuttle, providing fingertip forward/reverse shifts without using the clutch as well as a button on the gear lever for clutchless shifting on the go. In the paddock the gearbox provides seven gears in the important 4-12km/h field work-

The new MF 6700 Global Series will soon arrive in the Australian and New Zealand markets.

ing range, and a practical overlap of speeds to ensure it is possible to pull away with a laden trailer without the need to change ranges. A high-pressure gear pump supplies 57L/ min hydraulic flow for the rear linkage, and a

second 41L/min pump is dedicated to the auxiliary spool valves. A separate pump delivers 27L/ min for auxiliary circuits including the steering, 4WD, diff-lock engagement and PTO control. When extra flow is required -- perhaps when


using a frontloader -- the primary and secondary pumps can combine their flows to provide 98L/min to the auxiliary system. Two double-acting spool valves with float are fitted as standard and a third spool with flow divider is optional. The three-point linkage has a maximum lift

capacity of 5200kg and uses linkage arm sensors to provide accurate draft and position control through Massey Ferguson’s electronic hitch control (ELC) system. A choice of three PTO speeds (540/540E/1000 rpm) is offered as standard, with engagement via independent PTO (IPTO) multi-disc clutch, engaged electro-hydraulically to ease driveline stresses by taking up the drive gradually. In the cab, controls are grouped logically, with the right-hand console housing the throttle and spool valve controls, while a small mouse-like control fits into the operator’s hand to control the electronic linkage. At the rear, a range of sockets power auxiliary control boxes and equipment.

ents a mix of analogue and digital displays showing all essential information, including a performance monitor to provide information on work rates and area worked, and advanced diagnostic capabilities. A degree of automation to make life easier includes electro-hydraulic activation of the differential lock and 4WD. To complete the package, a range of frontloaders, including the MF 900X and MF Professional series loader ranges, are standard with mechanical self-levelling, and a range of non self-levelling loaders are also available for New Zealand; these all offer a choice of lift capacities and reach, and control via the integrated Massey Ferguson joystick. @rural_news

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Walco Have the Spreader to suit YOUR Needs

Walco Spreaders are Leading the Pack with: ● ● ● ● ● ●

P 06 835 6863 -

Best Value for Money Reliability & Durability All Round Strength Even Spreading Huge Range to Choose From Extended Warranty

Rubber Safety Matting Sizes from: 70 - 675 litre ATV Trailed & 350 - 2600 litre PTO linkage

To u & gh Ma St No d e ro ng n-C fro Ga orr m lva osi ni ve se P d las St ti ee c l

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


Incredible adhesion Rapid cure Chemical resistant Extremely hard in 6 hours


Free Range & Barn Eggs


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


Helping Farmers Boost Production Made in New Zealand


Phone: 0800 80 8570

Contact us NOW for more info on these Fantastic Machines 0800 355544 or TM

PH 09 376 0860 -

• Complete Package

0800 542 542 WEBSITE:



• Nest boxes - manual or automated • Feed & Drinking • Plastic egg trays

Got Diesel Bug in your Farm Tank?


A trusted name in Poultry Industry for over 50 years ❖

4 Fix it with Fuel Right.


1 x 6 foot bale 2m diameter 15 feed positions 15 - 30 animals

100% New Zealand Made Quality Stockfeeders

0 $ 85 +GST

OVAL FEEDER (S2 Pinned) • • • • •

3 x 4 foot bales 2 x 6 foot bales 24 feed positions 24 - 48 animals 4m long

Quality construction and options • Get the contractors choice

Fuel Right Right isis the complete Fuel diesel diesel system treatment that that deals deals with diesel bug and keeps expensive and keeps your your expensive equipment running equipment running smoothly smoothly and and efficiently. efficiently.


• Incredible chemical economy • Amazing ease 1500+ per hour • Unique self adjusting sides • Environmentally and user friendly • Automatically activated • Proven effective on lice as well as fly • Compatible with all dip chemicals • Accurate, effective application

$ 120+G0 ST

0800 104 404 |

New Zealand’s proven stock feeder for 24 years | 100% New Zealand Tensile Steel

07 573 8512 |

J000060_BDMA Revolution


The magic eye sheepjetter since 1989 PH: 0800 777 551 Ph: 0800 777 551


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 Ph 06 323 4181 Fax 06 323 4183 |


0800 625 826

for your nearest stockist

Joiners supplied FREE with culvert pipes

Rural News 17 April 2018  
Rural News 17 April 2018  

Rural News 17 April 2018