Page 1



New orchard vote of faith in sector. PAGE 27

Pushing the power envelope.


NEWS Irrigators push back at water restrictions. PAGE 10


Meaty matters for NZ PETER BURKE

NEW MOVES are afoot, this month, to try to resolve the issue of tariff rate quotas (TRQs) which will threaten New Zealand sheepmeat exports to Europe when Britain leaves the European Union (EU) next year. NZ’s meat industry envoy on Brexit, Jeff Grant, who is based in London, says NZ will soon lodge a submission with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to try to counter a proposal put to that body by Britain and EU which NZ strongly opposes. TRQs stipulate the amount of sheepmeat NZ can export to Britain

and EU. At present, with the UK still part of the EU, NZ can export 228,000 tonnes to the 28 countries of the EU customs union. But with Britain scheduled to leave the EU in March next year this has to be split. The present quota arrangements have been approved by the WTO and NZ wants the world trade rules to apply. The UK and EU have proposed a 50/50 split of the quota and Grant says

a study of the data from the last three years shows a 50/50 is probably right. But he says trend data shows an increase in product going into Europe and NZ wants the same flexibility after Brexit as it has Jeff Grant now. Grant says the EU is telling the WTO that the change to the quota is just a technical change and the UK is

Cheers Ministry for Primary Industries chief executive Martyn Dunne, Garage Project brewer Jos Ruffell and Hapi Research chairman Brett O’Reilly toast a $5.3 million investment by MPI in a seven year $13.25m project to breed new hop cultivars to expand the NZ craft beer industry. The venture comes under the Government’s Sustainable Foods and Fibres Futures programme. Hapi Research is a joint venture of Garage Project, Wellington and US-owned hop grower Freestyle Farms, Nelson, partnering with MPI to break new ground for the hop industry. See story page 18

making a new application. But NZ disagrees with both parties, saying that any change to the quota is a material change, meaning it will have an adverse effect on us and that is why NZ is taking on the UK and the EU at the WTO. NZ is being questioned about why it is putting up such a fight, he told Rural News.

“But NZ, especially the meat industry, is small and we don’t have a lot of political power and the WTO is a rulesbased systems agreed to by 186 countries. “We think people should stick to the rules,” Grant says. One of the problems is that, strangely, the WTO has a lot of rules about nations joining the group, but few on how to deal with a country that wants to leave. Grant says there is debate about how the WTO will interpret the rules. “I think the WTO has the power to make a decision, but the process on how you get to that is unclear. The EU and UK want an answer by March, but if the WTO decides in our favour -that it is a material change -- then the process could drag on,” he says. Grant believes if Britain crashes out of the EU at the end of March, there will be problems for NZ and UK/EU farmers. The end of March is when NZ traditionally sends a lot of lamb to northern hemisphere countries and it’s anyones guess what might happen on March 30. NZ’s key message to the UK is if they were to got a disease there, such as foot and mouth, we would have tended to shift more of our product into Europe than the UK to prevent their market being flooded with lamb, he explains. But unless the issue is resolved satisfactorily by the WTO, NZ and UK farmers could be worse off. @rural_news

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An expensive white elephant?


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HEAD OFFICE Top Floor, 29 Northcroft Street, Takapuna, Auckland 0622 Phone: 09-307 0399 Fax: 09-307 0122 POSTAL ADDRESS PO Box 331100, Takapuna, Auckland 0740 Published by: Rural News Group Printed by: PMP Print CONTACTS Editorial: Advertising material: Rural News online: Subscriptions: ABC audited circulation 80,580 as at 31.03.2018

SIX MONTHS down the track and with an estimated $250,000 of taxpayer funds already spent, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s Primary Sector Council (PSC) is looking increasingly like an irrelevant, costly, white elephant. Investigations earlier in the year by Rural News – under the Official Information Act (OIA) – revealed annual costs for the PSC would exceed $500,000. However, that was only for administration and the costs of the running the council; it did not include any estimate of the cost of external consultants – at least two lots have already been engaged. The PSC had met five times up to September 19 but it has been plagued by absenteeism and has progressed little in developing ideas. Meeting agendas, published on the MPI website, show that the PSC’s first

meeting on May 28 was making the appointments. the best attended with 17 Minutes from the five of its 18 members turning PSC meetings, published up. However, since then on the MPI website, also meeting attendances have show that little has been steadily dropped off: the achieved so far except for worst was on August 30 lots of discussions, briefwhen only seven members ings and engagement bothering to turn up while of external contractors. the other 12 didn’t show. Highlights include: Meanwhile, in August Primary Sector Council • Briefings from MinSharma Sukul Lee chair Lain Jager. ister O’Connor and his resigned from the PSC former associate Meka and has not been replaced. This brings Whaitiri (who was sacked and not the council’s total membership to 17 -- replaced in September) at the PSC chair Lain Jager, 13 other full members inaugural meeting on May 28 on their “expectations of the PSC”, which and three observer members. Rural News’ earlier OIA also centre on such ethereal concepts as revealed that no formal process was “growing leadership”, “enhancing used to select the council members. skills” and “fostering an entrepreneurMPI said the process for identifying ial environment” in the primary sector. • The council also has been privvy candidates included nominations by industry groups, interest groups, MPs to briefings from government officials and MPI with members approved by on water quality, climate change, R&D, the Cabinet appointment and hon- regional development and the Dairy ours committee prior to the minister Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA), but

has released no comment or views on these topics. • The PSC has engaged Lincoln University-based consultant the Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) to produce a situational analysis of the sector to “inform the rest of the PSC’s work and government policy more broadly”. However, no account has been given of how much this work will cost taxpayers. • It has also engaged Scott Champion from Primary Purpose consultancy to facilitate its July 23 and August 18 meetings, but again no costs have been provided for this in any of its minutes. Meanwhile, adding to the PSC’s relevance – or lack of it – is confirmation by PM Jacinda Ardern in answer to written parliamentary questions that she has no intention of ever meeting with the body. However, the PM and other senior ministers have already met twice with the Farming Leaders Group.

BUFFER ZONES ESSENTIAL – HORTNZ SETBACKS OR buffer strips between growing land and housing subdivisions are essential in any council plans and must be enforced, says Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) chief executive Mike Chapman. Otherwise it becomes impossible for horticulture to operate because of complaints from immediate neighbours about spray, odour or noise -all legitimate aspects of horticultural operations and the rural environment. HortNZ has submitted in detail on the issue – known as ‘reverse sensitivity’ – to the Auckland Council on the Pukekohe Paerata Structure Plan. Chapman told Rural News they still hold the basic premise that “urbanisa-

tion of highly quality land for growing vegetables and fruit isn’t smart”. Pukekohe has some of the best growing soils in New Zealand and the industry is concerned about any further urbanisation. But there is a “reluctant degree of acceptance” about this in respect of further housing development. Chapman says it is crucial that Hort NZ’s proposed ‘setbacks and buffer strips’ be put in place in development plans and that they be properly enforced. “We are not black-and-white; we understand there has to be some grey,” he says. “But if you are going to expand by putting housing and subdi-

visions around high quality land you need to protect that high quality land from the houses. “If [a grower has] a house right on the boundary it is going to be very difficult to do any growing. So you need those strips.” HortNZ wants assurance that buffer zones are in development plans and that those are enforced. In its submission to the Pukekohe Paerata Structure Plan HortNZ says it acknowledges that the Auckland Unitary Plan has good foundations including the intention to manage ‘reverse sensitivity’. “However, HortNZ purports that the operative provisions are not suf-

ficient to adequately manage the new rural-urban interface. The objectives and policies of the rural zones provide strong direction for protecting soils and rural production activities from the adverse effects of subdivision, use and development, including reverse sensitivity. “However, the unitary plan is distinctly lacking in a framework to support those areas where urban development immediately adjoins rural zoned land. “This is a fundamental flaw given the anticipated expansion of the ruralurban boundary to accommodate future urban growth.” – Pam Tipa



Farmers under the microscope PETER BURKE

FARMING HAS been under the microscope this month with three heavyweight Government reports -- on water quality, climate change and Mycoplasma bovis -- all appearing in just three days. Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard quipped that his response to these challenges was to think about sitting back on the dole and saving the planet that way. Hoggard says it’s like trying to fix a plane while it’s flying: as well as meeting the new challenges in water quality and climate change, things have to keep going on the farm. “We are expected to meet all the new regulations and do all the other stuff on the farm such as ensuring that the effluent system is running properly.” He says farmers are annoyed at coming under pressure while district councils consistently get let off the hook for not meeting environmental standards, and he doesn’t see this changing. New regulations announced by Environment Minister David

Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor promise a “noticeable improvement” in water quality in five years. “Clean water is our birthright. Local rivers and lakes should be clean enough for our children to swim in and put their head under water without getting crook,” says Parker. The Government has effectively scrapped the Land and Water Forum (LAWF) and replaced it with three advisory groups: a science and technical advisory group chaired by scientist Ken Taylor, a fresh water leaders’ group headed by John Penno, and Kahui Wai Maori chaired by Kingi Smiler. The Government is also planning to have a new National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management completed by 2020 to provide clear guidelines for regional and district council policies and rules on freshwater. DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says his organisation supports the Government initiative and says dairy farmers are already solving the issues, for example by greater use of stand-off pads and planting of


Environment Minister David Parker.

wetlands. But he also acknowledges the impact the dairy sector has had on the land and says it will take time to fix the historical issues. Predictably Greenpeace has called for a ban on new dairy farms and an immediate end to any more intensification of dairy farming. Meanwhile, farming made the headlines in a report by the Inter Governmental Report on Climate Change. The report

noted that 43% of NZ’s greenhouse gas emissions were caused by methane – livestock burping and 11% nitrous oxide -and by cows urinating. The lead author of the report, Professor Bronwyn Hayward, Canterbury University, says NZ must think hard to be competitive and to be seen globally as good citizens and modern farmers. The report has been described as a wake-up call pressing a need for urgent

action to reduce, not just stabilise, GGH emissions. Hoggard says the requirements of the report are challenging even given the technology that may or may not be available. “This is all fine but it would be a helluva lot easier for farmers if there weren’t all the negative comments all the time. A pat on the back would make you think ‘well there is a lot to do but at least people respect me for doing it’,” says Hoggard.

THE GOVERNMENT has acknowledged that all was not right in MPI’s handling of the M.bovis crisis, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admitting things could have been done better. She and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor unveiled new initiatives designed to make it easier for farmers to claim compensation and to give them more support. These include an online tool to calculate milk production losses, a simpler form to lodge a compensation claim and the funding of a DairyNZ/Beef + LambNZ compensation assistance team to help farmers with their claims. Of NZ’s 24,000 farms, 74 have been infected with M.bovis and 36 destocked and cleared of the disease. Ardern says the new initiatives will help farmers and their families hit by the disease to move on and get back in business. Eradicating the disease is still a priority.

NATS WANT RURAL VIEWS NATIONAL IS leaving behind last week’s rough and tumble of beltway politics – and the aftermath of the Jami-Lee Ross scandal – to take the pulse of rural New Zealand. Simon Bridges has launched the party’s ‘Have Your Say’ listening campaign for Rural New Zealand, describing it as “the next step in National’s 2020 election policy development process”. “Having the right policies in place to help rural communities thrive is vitally important. So we are keen to hear from the grassroots on issues that may evolve into policies to turbocharge rural and provincial NZ.” Bridges says National is doing the work in opposition so it will have the


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plans and policies in place should the party “earn the right to govern again in 2020”. He accuses the current Government of failing to do this homework and blames this for the “180 working groups, potential new taxes and other rushed policies creating huge uncertainty implemented in the past year”. Bridges says rural NZers deserve to be heard. “That is why National has launched an online portal to give them an easy way to share their views. National MPs will also be out in their regions talking directly to rural NZers.” @rural_news


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No payrise for Fonterra directors discretionary pool fund of $75,000; directors can be remunerated for additional duties, workload and the people/culture board committee. The committee noted that the $75,000 discretionary pool of fees put in place in November 2017 had not been used to date. Fonterra directors don’t receive fees for committee memberships, and their fee was consid-


FONTERRA DIRECTORS and shareholders council members are not getting a pay rise this year. The co-op’s director remuneration committee has unsurprisingly recommended no change to board and council fees. Fonterra reported a $196 million net loss last financial year; weaker global dairy prices have also forced the co-op to lower its forecast payout for milk, from an opening forecast of $7/kgMS in May to a $6.25 to $6.50 range. The remuneration committee of six shareholders meets every year to set director and councillor fees. It reported to Fonterra shareholders in the notice of annual meeting mailed out last week. The committee notes that between 2014 and 2016 it recommended directors’ remuneration remain unchanged, “appropriate given the very challenging economic conditions experienced by shareholders”. In 2017 the committee noted market data showing that, generally, director remuneration had increased significantly since 2013 when Fonterra directors had last had an increase. Shareholders last year approved a committee


There will be no change to Fonterra chairman John Monaghan’s $430,000 chairman fees.

“The committee reviewed the EY report and assessed workload expectations and market trends including the remuneration structure and levels of other comparable companies.” recommendation to raise fees. Fonterra’s chairman fee was lifted by $25000 to $430,000; the directors’ fee went up by $10,000 to $175,000. Fonterra’s shareholders council chair received a $9500 pay rise last year, taking his fee to $100,000. The council’s deputy chair fee went up $4450 to $60,000 and councillors got a $5000 lift in fees to $35,000. The committee says it

is important to set “realistic fee levels” to ensure highly skilled directors are attracted and retained. The committee engaged Ernst & Young to report on director remuneration practices in Australia and New Zealand. “The committee reviewed the EY report and assessed workload expectations and market trends including the

remuneration structure and levels of other comparable companies,” it says. “It discussed relativities between different roles, the nature of the

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company and the division of workload between the board committees.” Shareholders last year also approved a recommendation to set up a

ANOTHER TRY MARLBOROUGH FARMER Murray Beach is having another go to change Fonterra’s share system. The proposal was mailed out to farmers last week with Fonterra’s annual general meeting notice. Beach filed a similar proposal in 2015, which was rejected by 91% of shareholders. The ‘new share proposal’ wants Fonterra to fix its share price at $2/share. “If we fix the share price, it stabilises the price,’’’ Beach says. “It can’t go up, it can’t go down, so it stabilises your security as well; you know exactly where you are year to year.” Fonterra’s board and shareholders council have recommended shareholders vote against the proposal. The result will be announced at Fonterra’s annual general meeting at Lichfield site, South Waikato on November 8.

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Many hurdles ahead for ag The future of New Zealand’s primary export sector will depend on its ability to respond to an evolving trading environment. That’s one key message in the latest Situation and Outlook report for Primary Industries (SOPI) produced by MPI. Peter Burke reports. MPI’S LATEST SOPI report forecasts that for the September quarter primary exports for the year ending June 2019 will rise by a modest 2.5% versus last year’s nearly 12%. This modest rise is due mainly to the horticultural sector where exports are expected to rise by 13.1% and reach $6.1 billion by June next year. Dairy exports are forecast to rise by just 2.1% to $17b, while sheep and beef, and forestry, are all expected to remain static. Arable exports are expected to fall. The overall rise for the sector is modest and with

world markets in something of turmoil it’s conceivable these forecasts could change over the coming months, hence the warning. The report notes that due to trade disruption, shifting consumer preferences, the risk of pest incursion and a range of sustainability and environmental factors – not forgetting adverse events at home such as droughts or floods – NZ faces big challenges. It also points out that to make the transition to sustainability, it’s imperative to learn how NZ’s leading farmers are performing and to

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ensure that other farmers achieve the same competence in all sectors. “This will require a culture of trust, experimentation and sharing so that new innovation can be adopted rapidly across sectors,” the report says. It highlights, once again, the need for NZ to quickly produce more higher-value, recognisable, branded products and slot these into markets where consumers are prepared to pay a premium for such. MPI senior analyst Matt Dilly says meeting the requirements of consumers who will buy our ‘value add’ products is

challenging. “It’s a fast moving environment and MPI is doing a lot of work to better understand consumers,” he told Rural News. “I think people often underestimate how engaged consumers are in some countries with provenance, traceability and technology at centre stage. We are operating in an exciting world right now where those sorts of enabling technologies are being developed.” Dilly says some of the most engaged consumers in technology terms are in Asia, particularly China, where people fre-

MPI senior analyst Mike Dilly.

quently go online to check out or purchase items. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says the report gives him great confidence as the primary sector and the Government seek more innovative ways of extracting

more value from what we produce. He says the move from volume to sustainable value has its challenges. “In terms of consumers, I think there is a greater focus on that by companies. The question now is can we do it fast

enough to shift our production to what people want? “Consumers in the world have access to all the information and often a whole variety of options. We must make sure NZ is their first option.”


NEWS 7 THE RISE AND RISE OF HORTICULTURE HORTICULTURE IS the standout performer in this latest SOPI report, with all sectors making significant gains to bring the total forecast value of the sector to $6.1 billion by next June. Kiwifruit production for the latest season is estimated to be up by nearly 25% on the low volume crop 2017. Revenue for the latest season will be up by a whopping 23% to $2.2b. Gold 3 is a major contributor to this rise. At the same time, apple and pear exports are expected to top 20 million cartons – or 360,000 tonnes – and earn $830 million. Avocados are also in the spotlight, with the 2018 crop expected to earn $146m versus just $98m the previous year. Wine remains the secondlargest horticultural earner and is forecast to earn $1.7b in 2019. Most of the other sectors are just holding their own. While earnings from dairy are forecast to rise, in a turbulent market anything can happen. The report predicts that lamb prices will hold up for the next nine months. It says beef prices are showing signs of weakness in the US market where 43% of our beef exports by value go. On the wool front, there is good news for fine wool producers but little for coarse wool producers to smile about. The weather news is hardly ideal with a suggestion that El Nino may be on the way, which usually brings rain to the west and drier conditions to eastern regions. There also remains the issue of Mycoplasma bovis. Overall, the SOPI report says next year has some well-signalled challenges on many fronts and it’s a case of wait and see.

Only small methane cuts needed expert claims PAM TIPA

A REDUCTION of only 0.3% annually in methane emissions is required to ensure this gas no longer contributes to climate temperature warming, says Dave Frame, professor of climate change, Victoria University. Any further methane reduction would have a cooling effect on global temperature. But if reducing short-lived gases like methane came at the expense of carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions, we could end up with a warmer world, he told the Climate Change and Business Conference 2018 in Auckland. Frame suggests the conversation about methane could be “tied up with a whole lot of issues” other than climate change. He says short-lived pollutants like methane only hang around for a period of time, so at a stable

level new pollutants are just replacing ones that have decayed and the problem isn’t getting worse. Long lived gases such as CO2 have a cumulative effect. Frame says in considering what level of emissions reduction Dave Frame is required to prevent warming by greenhouse gases (GHG), in the case of CO2 and nitrous oxide (N2O) you need negative emissions immediately. “But for methane you can retain 99.7% per annum total emissions. So if you decline 0.3% per annum you are no longer warming the climate; we think this difference is significant,” he told the conference. “It is a dramatic difference and shows the difference between long-lived and short-lived gases.

You have time flexibility with short-lived gases that you don’t have with long-lived gases. So with CO2 -- because every unit adds to the climate -you have to start now and reduce as fast as possible. With methane and other shortlived gases you can wait and end up on the same temperature trajectory that you would have whether you made the cuts now or later.” This is provided you make the same level of cuts eventually, he says. “You can buy a bit of time for CO2 by going after methane…. But you can go after methane now or later and get the same benefit. If you don’t go after it at all you don’t get any benefit. If methane cuts come at the expense of CO2 cuts, you end up with a warmer

world.” Frame, who works with international researchers, says they have developed a better way to compare the different GHG effects on warming than the previous method used called GWP100. “We have a better way to compare gases than we did. Previous statements, e.g. that methane makes up 48% of emissions, are based on GWP100 equivalents – always comparing to CO2 equivalents; it is not a good method for measuring temperature change.” CO2 reduction is the “main event” for reducing global warming, he says. “I think sometimes people in New Zealand forget that, because the conversation about methane is tied up with a whole bunch of other issues; they want to advance their interests one way or another.” @rural_news

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Strong milk flows curbing payout SUDESH KISSUN

NEW ZEALAND dairy farmers are producing more milk, causing downward pressure on global dairy prices. The two largest milk processors -- Fonterra followed by Open Country Dairy -- are reporting strong growth in production. Fonterra says good weather and early calving, mainly in the South Island, is helping milk supply. In August alone the co-op’s South Island suppliers produced 26 million kgMS -- 13% more than the same month last year. The co-op last month revised its forecast payout by up to 50c/ kgMS; Fonterra milk collection across the season was forecast to rise 3%, from 1525m kgMS to 1550m kgMS. Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says global demand is simply not matching current increases in supply. Europe, US and Argentina are also recording strong milk flows, he says. Open Country Dairy, which has four plants, reports strong milk supply in all regions. OCD chief executive Steve Koekemoer says factories are now running flat-out to process the volume.  “The new Horotiu fac-

Both Fonterra and Open Country Dairy are reporting strong milk flows.

tory is already processing near capacity and the Wanganui factory is breaking its production records this season with  all the new farmers who have come on board. “Awarua and Waharoa [plants] are nearing peak.” Last week’s Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction result recorded a 0.3% drop in the price index; whole milk powder price slipped 0.9%. RaboResearch analyst Emma Higgins says all things considered the latest GDT event was not a bad result for farmers.

ORGANICS PLUNGE OPEN COUNTRY Dairy is taking a plunge into organics. Chief executive Steve Koekemoer says the company is nearing its first processing date in November after two years of transition onfarm and a major site upgrade at Awarua to process organic milk. “It is an exciting venture for our organics team focussed on making this a success for the business and our organic farmers in Southland.” Koekemoer expects OCD’s first branded organic products to hit the shelves in early 2019. “We are enthusiastic to see this sector grow as we prepare for our launch,” Koekemoer says.

WMP softened a little by -0.9% to US$2729/ tonne and SMP held its ground at the average price of US$1977/t. Fats recovered some

lost ground, with butter lifted 2.4% to US$4114/t and AMF lifting 1% to US$5,106/t. Higgins says while the GDT index average

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moved fractionally lower by -0.3% to US$2885/t, the results followed Fonterra lifting expectations of milk collections this season. Putting Fonterra’s forecast into perspective, she noted that a similar 3% lift in total NZ milk collection would bring record supply to close to 1.9b kgMS, just pipping the highest milk flows seen in the 2014-15 season. “We’re still comfortable with our RaboResearch forecast for around a 2% increase in national collections

and anticipate NZ milk supply tightening in the first half of 2019 due to strong comparables and changes to Fonterra’s regulations for suppliers using PKE.” Although Fonterra last week lowered its forecast farmgate milk price to $6.25 - 6.50/ kgMS, RaboResearch is still comfortable with their forecast of $6.65/ kgMS for the 2018-19 season. “Ultimately, we see milk supply growing only modestly over the coming 12 months, as tight onfarm margins and

lingering weather effects play out. But as we highlighted after last GDT Event, while we anticipate these supply conditions will provide some upside to commodity prices, NZ’s peak milk flows need to be worked through first, as evidenced by last week’s GDT results.” Koekemoer says OCD still believes prices will hover around the current levels as markets digest the additional supply out of NZ. “This also means we are not expecting a significant decline.”



Fonterra urged to focus on returns also the success of PKW to advance our aspirations,” he says. “We want Fonterra to be successful; if Fonterra is successful and performs we also benefit.” Tuuta completed the Fonterra Governance Development Programme in 2010. He is also the Maori


MAORI AGRIBUSINESS leader Jamie Tuuta says Fonterra farmer shareholders would be disappointed with the performance of the co-op. He says the lower share price has impacted farmer balance sheets. “Given the level of farmer debt the board must focus on milk price, share value and dividend. Farmers have a lot of capital tied up in our cooperative and we must perform better,” he told Rural News. Tuuta is one of five candidates vying for three Fonterra board seats; voting started last week and ends on November 6. Other contenders are sitting director Ashley Waugh, former director Leonie Guiney, Zespri chairman Peter McBride and Canterbury largescale farmer John Nicholls. Tuuta, McBride and Waugh have been endorsed by Fonterra’s board and shareholders council. Fonterra lost $196 million in 2017-18 in a $405m write down of its invest-

trustee, managing 100,000ha of Maori freehold land operating as dairy farms and leased out as dairy and dairy grazing land. “I have a solid understanding of dairy farming and the value drivers of milk price,” he says. Tuuta says he was encouraged by many

shareholders to consider standing. “I’m standing because I believe I have the skills and qualities to complement the existing capabilities of the board to add value. Like all other shareholders I want Fonterra to be successful and believe strong leadership and governance capability

is required.” Tuuta’s governance career includes former directorships of Tuiora Ltd, Taranaki Investment Management Ltd, Wools of New Zealand and the lobster export business Port Nicholson Fisheries Ltd. He was a member of the Government-

appointed investment advisory panel for the Primary Growth Partnership. And has been part of the Te Hono Steering Group since its inception, giving primary sector leaders exposure to emerging trends and Stanford University higher education. @rural_news

Jamie Tuuta

ment in the Chinese baby food company Beingmate. The co-op is reviewing its strategy and investments, something Tuuta supports. “It is important in light of the recent result that the board reviews its current portfolio and assesses the merits and demerits of each investment given the scarce capital and disappointing performance,” he says. Tuuta is a shareholder and former chair of Parininihi ki Waitotara, a large Maori-owned farming venture in Taranaki. “In that regard Fonterra and the dairy industry are a major part of the Taranaki economy but














$ GAME OVER! RETIRING MPI chief executive Martyn Dunne pictured with the two agriculture ministers he served under – Damien O’Connor and Nathan Guy. A formal farewell for Dunne was held last week in Wellington with about 100 guests and his friends present. Dunne joined MPI in November 2013. Before that he had been a teacher for three years, served 27 years in the army, rising to the rank of major-general, was chief executive and comptroller of customs before being appointed high commissioner to Australia in 2011. State Services Commission chief executive Peter Hughes says Dunne spent the entire 50 years of his working life in the public service -- remarkable and to be acknowledged and applauded. Guy says Dunne brought a great deal of professionalism into MPI and worked very hard but never sought the limelight. O’Connor thanked Dunne, saying he’d made a great contribution to the NZ agri sector and left a legacy of public service that few have achieved.








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Irrigators push back on restrictions NIGEL MALTHUS

IRRIGATORS IN the Manuherikia Valley, near Alexandra, hope they have managed to steer the Otago Regional Council away from setting an arbitrary allocation limit on the river that they believe would “devastate” the valley. The council had proposed two plan changes, the first setting allocation limits for the Manuherikia and other catchments, then a second setting a new allocation regime in line with central Government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, due to take effect in 2025. However, the council has now, in a split decision, accepted a motion from councillor Michael Laws which sidelines the first stage in favour of a single plan-change process. Otago Water Resource Users Group Manuherikia sub-group chairman Gary Kelliher says ORC chief executive Sarah Gardner had supported a “nominal” figure of 3.2 cumecs of water allocation for the Manuherikia Valley. However, Kelliher says 8-9 cumecs is used in the valley now and such a restriction would take millions of dollars out of the local economy. It would also threaten the Falls Dam project, which plans to raise or rebuild the 1930’s-vintage Falls Dam in the Manuherikia headwaters and amalgamate and upgrade several small irrigation schemes downstream. “What we’ve hopefully now done is diverted the chief executive and council away from thinking that 3.2 was possibly a target,” Kelliher told Rural News. “It’s very unfortunate that they got so misguided in heading in that direction when it would just devastate this community and totally stymie everything that has been done to date.” Kelliher says council officers are now preparing a paper on how to proceed, which he expected to go to the

“A huge amount of fruit comes out of here and every tree needs water. It’s a good place for growing fruit, but cut water back and we’re history. You can’t make water. But all we need is a guaranteed water supply.”

next full meeting, but he believes they can now get on with the process. “Our water plan really has the bulk of this framework in place now, and the council would be quite capable of just getting on with it in a reasonably timely manner and it shouldn’t delay what they were thinking. “The council is choosing to view it, I think, as something far more onerous and we’re waiting to see now what they will say in this paper that will go to the council [on November 7].” Owen Shearer, a co-owner of the Leaning Rock Orchard, near Alexandra, said the proposed 3.2 cumecs restriction for the Manuherikia was a meaningless “historic number” which would take away 2000ha to 3000ha of irrigation from the valley. “A huge amount of fruit comes out of here and every tree needs water,” Shearer says. “It’s a good place for growing fruit, but cut water back and we’re history. You can’t make water. But all we need is a guaranteed water supply.” Shearer says the ORC approach

Farmer and water user Gary Kelliher says proposed water restrictions would take out millions of dollars out of the local community.

was negative. He claims they had not done an economic study of what would happen with water loss, but the effects would be huge. “Take economics away, take finance out of the valley and you take people out of the valley. It’s all backwards,” Shearer told Rural News. “If the ORC invested in the valley in irrigation, it’s a positive. If they put a new dam in, they can lift the water in the river.” He says Leaning Rock employs up to 200 people at the height of the cherry harvesting season. Orchard manager Peter Bennie says irrigation is critical for Leaning Rock’s operation. The orchard started 30 years ago on

1.2% *

20ha on lower, flood-and frost-prone land near the river, but then moved to a higher block as piped irrigation made it feasible. The orchard now covers 70ha of cherries, nectarines, peaches and apricots, with another bare 11ha still to be planted. “This project only became possible really with the inception of pipes,” says Bennie. “Prior to that you could only grow fruit below water races and floodirrigate. So pipes became affordable and you could pump water.” With summer temperatures in the 30s, evaporative transpiration amounts to 11mm/day and Bennie says they need 1.2 times the transpiration rate nearing harvest when they are trying to fatten the fruit.


An environmental consultant working for irrigators, Susie McKeague, says that dragging out the process into two plan changes and two consent processes would have delayed environmental health outcomes as well as any certainty for irrigators. “This process will provide surety for the community of the outcomes for the river ecology, recreational users and access to water for irrigators.” She denies that irrigators are wanting everything their way. “In fact, the process has barely begun and all we were asking is that ORC do the job once, in line with central Government requirements, and not put all the community through a very expensive series of plan changes.”





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Agriculture remains key sticking point in any EU trade deal PETER BURKE

AGRICULTURE IS the challenge to New Zealand in its quest to achieve a quality comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU). This would include general trade and geographic indicators (GIs), where the name of a product, e.g. Gouda cheese, is linked to a specific region.

Thirty EU negotiators last week visited Wellington for the second round of talks with their NZ counterparts. The two sides held a public briefing on the talks, with representatives of all the major agri trading organisations present among about 100 people who attended. While both sides talked up the prospect of an agreement and spoke of the positive nature of the talks so far, the word

‘agriculture’ was clearly in the too-hard basket. The lead negotiator for the EU, Peter Berz, told Rural News that agriculture is “sensitive” because farmers in the EU are worried about the impact of NZ exports of sheepmeat, beef and dairy products. Berz says attitudes in Europe to NZ exports have not changed since Britain entered the EU in the 1970s. But he is pleased with

EU lead negotiator Peter Berz.

the talks so far, and notes a positive spirit at the negotiating table due to the time taken in preparation. “It took a year to get a mandate from the EU member states and clearly agricultural trade and GIs was a big issue for many of them.” He says the goal is to have a sustainable, highquality FTA which benefits consumers and producers and takes into account labour rights. NZ’s lead negotiator, Martin Harvey, is also pleased with the talks progress, saying that NZ, like the EU, wants a comprehensive, ambitious and sustainable FTA. He wants to see tariffs go, but says the perception of some agricultural groups in Europe is out of keeping with the reality of the situation.



NZ lead negotiator Martin Harvey.

“It took a year to get a mandate from the EU member states and clearly agricultural trade and GIs was a big issue for many of them.” “I think they have an inflated view of just how present we are in the market already. Markets for products like beef and dairy in the European Union are very small,” Harvey said. “They don’t appreciate how well we are integrated in markets globally, including the Asia Pacific area, and how committed we are to all these markets. “We are not going to put all our eggs in one basket; we are never going to flood their market with products. We want to increase our trade, but it will still

be modest in the overall markets we enjoy, so this is really an evidential issue and one that we will be working on with our counterparts.” Harvey says while the issue of agriculture, including geographic indicators, is sensitive and challenging in negotiating the FTA, he’s keen that these don’t get left until the end. Even if they are difficult he’d like all elements of the negotiation to move “in parallel,” he says. “We don’t want to come up against a cliff at the end of the day, so if

we are moving forward on a broad front it means that people can meet each other’s expectations. It is much more likely to work and have a successful negotiation.” Harvey says GIs and agricultural market access are in the same basket and for NZ to make progress on its side of the bargain it wants to see progress on the EU side. NZ has long questioned GIs and believes that if the EU takes a strong stance on this it would have a detrimental effect on NZ’s exports, especially cheese. “But it’s fair to say that agricultural market access will still be there at the end and the tough issues will be amongst the last to be resolved,” Harvey says. The next round of talks will be in Brussels.

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US case heats up Roundup debate MARK DANIEL

THE GREAT Roundup debacle keeps on with the pro and con lobbies arguing for or against continued use of the herbicide. Roundup has been sold for at least 40 years, and 6.1 billion kg of the chemical have been applied globally during the last decade alone. In 2016, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organisation, reclassified glyphosate (the active ingredient) as a possible human carcinogen. This created a furore and demands for its banning.

By contrast, international regulatory authorities have given the product the ‘green light’ for continued supply; these include the EU’s Chemical Agency Committee for Risk assessment, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Locally, the New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency responded to a call by Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage to have the product listed as a dangerous substance: it pointed her to a study by toxicologist Dr Wayne Temple who said “the product is unlikely

to be harmful to humans or genotoxic, i.e. damaging to genetic material or DNA”. And recently, a San Francisco jury has rekindled the debate with a judgement ordering Monsanto to pay US$289 million to former groundsman Dewayne Johnson, who claimed

that prolonged exposure to the product had

caused his incurable nonHodgkin’s lymphoma.

Monsanto is trying to get this judgement overturned on the basis that scientific studies that helped the finding didn’t prove Roundup caused the cancer. The company claims the findings of the jury are at odds with over “40 years of real-world use of glyphosate-based herbicides”.

Business analysts in the US say the size of the award – US$39 million to Johnson to compensate for the cancer he contracted at the age of 42 and a UD$250 million punitive hit on Monsanto – was “so excessive that it shocks the conscience”. @rural_news

RABBIT VIRUS MAKES A DENT ENVIRONMENT CANTERBURY says the new rabbit haemorrhagic virus disease strain RHDV1 K5 is established, following its release in the wild earlier this year. But ECan regional biosecurity leader Graham Sullivan says landowners should persist in killing rabbits in the traditional ways. “These will always be needed to keep on top of the rabbit problem.” Sullivan says early results of the virus are as expected but the virus remains only one of the ways to kill rabbits. “The new strain has helped us [kill] wild rabbits,” Sullivan says. “An overall 40% kill rate is in line with what we anticipated when the programme started. However, K5 was never going to be the silver bullet for rabbit control.” The virus was released at 92 sites in Canterbury. Analysis across 400 kilometres and 27 high country stations in the Mackenzie Basin -- the area with the largest problem -- showed an average reduction rate of 40%. “This reflects the combined impact of K5, the earlier Czech strain, natural mortality and the traditional control methods we are encouraging farmers to continue,” Sullivan said. “On a property basis, the reduction ranged from zero to 70%.” In Otago, with at least 100 release sites, the average rate of population decline was about 34%. “Now that the virus is established, it will continue to spread naturally,” Sullivan adds. “The programme will continue and we will continue to monitor. He says they have also learned a lot, including about the importance of national co-ordination and ongoing partnership approaches to rabbit issues. “A self-perpetuating disease that can [kill] up to 40% of the wild rabbit population is a significant benefit to the community, reducing the cost for landowners and ratepayers,” Sullivan says. The virus was released at 271 sites nationally, with Auckland yet to start. ECan managed the approval process on behalf of the New Zealand Rabbit Coordination Group (RCG), which includes representatives from regional and district councils, Federated Farmers, the Department of Conservation, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Land Information NZ.



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Fire warnings for farmers PAM TIPA

THE REPONSE to a Northland burn-off that got out of control cost $20,000 to $50,000, involving two helicopters and volunteers from four local areas. John Rasmussen, national manager rural operations, Fire and Emergency NZ, says there was also damage to a neighbouring property and work downtime for the volunteer firefighters. Farmers are now being urged to seek advice from rural fire officers before burning off standing vegetation or slash. Four rural people have died in the last 10 years in burn-

offs that got out of control. The Northland landowner was intending to burn off about 2ha of standing gorse and logging waste on the Tinopai Peninsula, Kaipara Harbour. But the fire jumped a firebreak into more gorse and slash, eventually burning through most of a 50ha block before stopping when it got to green pasture. Fire and Emergency NZ Northland deputyprincipal rural fire officer Rory Renwick says after jumping the firebreak the fire burnt rapidly along a ridge to where a digger was still building more fire breaks. “Fortunately the oper-

A recent burn-off at Tinopai Peninsula in Northland, which got out of control, cost between $20,000 to $50,0000 to get under control.

ator had not pushed far into the block and was able to get to a clearing just before the 6-8m flames crossed the narrow fire break he was

moved on to protect a small plantation of blackwoods. Two helicopters were used to try to prevent the fire from crossing a waterway through

working on,” says Renwick. Fire crews initially focused on protecting a nearby dwelling and a block of totara, then

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the middle of the 50ha block. Renwick says even though there is open fire season and permits are not required, they urge anyone considering a burn-off to get in touch first. Rasmussen told Rural News 30% of the fire service’s responses to wildfires are related to burning off waste. “Some of them cost a lot of money and some burn considerable areas. Some cause injuries and even fatalities,” he told Rural News.

“We have had four fatalities in the last 10 years where farmers or rural people were undertaking controlled burns like clearing gullies or scrub or burning an area of vegetation. They don’t understand fire behaviour, fire potential, the spread rate or how it increases intensity going uphill. “They get themselves in the wrong position or the people who are working with them on the burn do, and they end up with a disaster. “You should seek advice even if it is an open fire season if you are doing a controlled or prescribed burn; get professional advice.” The Northland fire would have cost $20,000 to $50,000 fire for the response. “Fires go far greater than $20,000 to $50,000 so it is an expensive business,” Rasmussen says. To check the fire season status of your region and, if necessary, apply for a fire permit, go to

BE CAREFUL! IF FIRE and Emergency NZ is carrying out a burn in any area of vegetation, they put together controlled burn plan, says Rasmussen “You map it out, you determine where your fire breaks will be and what weather pattern you will light that fire on and what is the forecast weather, the pattern of burn light up and where you will put your fire suppression resources etc. He says expertise of a rural fire officer might be able to add something to that. “We are not opposed to the safe use of fire. We are there to support rural people in terms of undertaking burning as part of their land management activity. We think that is a sensible thing to do. But we want them to do it safely and we are there to support them in that process.”




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More forestry not anti-farming – claim a public-good argument to say that we should be supporting that, so policies will have to vary.” Rhodes believes that if the policies are right for the commercial sector, then the carbon price should mean the taxpayer doesn’t have to do too much. Asked if the Billion Tree programme will make a difference to reaching targets under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Rhodes says realism is needed about what you can to expect to achieve in 10 years. “It will make a difference. The question we have got at the moment is where is the price of carbon going to go? There is uncertainty out there. “You have two groups of forest owners: first, those who are already


THE FORESTRY community doesn’t have an agenda to go out and shoot all livestock and replace them with pine trees, says David Rhodes, chief executive of the NZ Forest Owners’ Association. Rhodes wanted to assure the farming community and general public of this when he spoke at the Climate Change and Business Conference 2018 in Auckland recently. He was asked about policy settings to encourage natives rather than just all pine trees. “In terms of that balance – it is there in the Billion Trees programme as well – you have to have both,” says Rhodes. “When you are dealing with private landowners, asking them to effectively manage a second DOC estate for free isn’t going to cut it. We have to recognise there has to be regional development, there has to be economic employment; but… we need carbon soaked up fast. “A lot of the native stuff will do that but it will be over a longer period of time. There will be areas of NZ suited to long-standing species with permanent canopy cover. It will have to be a combination of both – pine and natives.”

Rhodes sits on a ministerial advisory group for forestry and finds that everyone talks about the right tree in the right place. However, he says, as soon as you start getting into that, it means different things to different people. “We need to think long and hard about where we are putting things and why we are putting them there. For example, in the commercial sector there is a bunch of places where we would not want to see

radiata established. It will bring us headaches in the future or it will be too far from the market and people getting involved will be disappointed and it will leave a long term legacy that we don’t want. “It is a matter of establishing the best place then using incentives, [perhaps] grants, and you can vary it so you provide more systems for indigenous. “The price of a native seedling will be significantly more than for radiata seedlings. There is

in the business and who understand it, who do not plant for capital gain; they are purchasers of land and at the moment it is difficult to make that work. We are struggling to see that planting there but once the carbon goes up that will change. “The second group is Maori, farmers and Queen St farmers… they have the land. The cost then is significantly reduced -- it comes down to opportunity cost: can that land be used for something else? In which case you will be cautious about where the price of carbon goes because you take the credit and you also take the liability in the future. But if you need cash -- it is going to help you do something else -- then you can profitably use that money elsewhere.”

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MPI ‘hops’ on the wagon PETER BURKE

THE MINISTRY for Primary Industry is sinking $5.3 million into a seven-year $13.25 million venture to breed new hop cultivars to expand the New Zealand craft beer industry. This comes under

the Government’s Sustainable Foods and Fibres Futures programme. Hapi Research is a joint venture of the Wellington craft brewer Garage Project and an American-owned hop grower, Freestyle Farms, Nelson, partnering with MPI in an initiative seen

as ground breaking for the hop industry. The aim is to accelerate the development of unique NZ hops and expand the already fast growing craft beer industry. About 800 new jobs and greater export returns are possible. Also involved are

Plant and Food Research working on the cultivars and Otago University whose beer research unit will focus on flavour. The independent chairman, Brett O’Reilly, says NZ’s hop growing industry is much more important than most people realise. At the 2013 America’s Cup in

the US he met a group of California brewers who were complimentary about NZ’s global preeminence as a hop grower. “At the time, I had no idea we were seen that way by the rest of the world and I suggest a lot of people in NZ today don’t see us through

Chair of the new venture Brett O’Reilly.

that lens. Some of the people we met in 2013 subsequently showed interest in the NZ hop industry and have invested in this project.” O’Reilly says he aims to get the rest of the hop industry engaged and encourage others to join in. “I want to see us at the forefront of developing new hop strains that can help and enhance our craft brewing industry and be used to generate exports returns for NZ.” O’Reilly sees a lot of interest in growing hops and he points to land-owning Maori who are looking for new opportunities to get better value from their land. Hops is an answer, he says. Garage Project brewer Jos Ruffell sees a great prospect in new hop cultivars and he believes hop growing will not be confined to the Nelson region. He says hops grown elsewhere in NZ may have unique flavours as have wine grapes.

He sees the craft beer industry growing in NZ and overseas. “There is potential to export our beer because the industry internationally has been growing at a phenomenal rate. NZ craft beer is looked on extremely favourably in Australia and there is interest from Asia.” Ruffell says the seven year time frame for the project is good because it will allow new varieties of hops to be developed and give brewers time to get their beer onto the world stage. Science will play a critical part in the project’s success, says Pat Silcock, Otago University. He says science helps understand what is novel about NZ hops and what makes them different from overseas varieties. “In general, NZ hops have a different flavour profile from overseas hops and it’s important to find out whether this is due to our climate, soils or just the varieties themselves.”


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OUTGOING MPI chief executive Martyn Dunne says the hop industry is not one the ministry would normally invest in, but the business case for this project stacked up well. Dunne says MPI’s investment is not so much about the end product – the beer – as the development of new cultivars. But he says the craft beer industry is making a name for itself and there is now talk of ‘craft beer tourism’. “Wellington is becoming the craft beef capital. You see a lot of craft beers around here, an attraction to many people.” Dunne says the prospect of more jobs in the regions is a very attractive proposition as is the growth of a new industry.

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Smashing strawberry promo shows the way PAM TIPA

AN AUSTRALIAN social media #smashastrawberry campaign to support strawberry growers is “absolutely brilliant”

from a public relations perspective, says Public Relations Institute of NZ (PRINZ) president Felicity Price. The campaign promotes strawberry eating as a patriotic act support-

ing growers. It pushes the consumption of smashed or cut-up strawberries by sharing recipes, ideas and photos. Separately the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also

called for consumers to start consuming cut-up strawberries to help keep growers in business. Price told Rural News the strawberry growers in Australia are in crisis as consumers are wary

about buying them. “This is an absolutely fantastic solution to pull out the patriotism and get everyone to support buying Australian strawberries,” she says. “There is nothing

Felicity Price

wrong with it. They are saying ‘cut them up or smash them’ via #smashastrawb. I would hope if anything like that happened here we could do something the same. “It has set the bar quite high,” she says, in terms of good public relations strategy. Price says food sabotage has happened before and will happen again. “It is something we need to be prepared for and pulling a trick like that out of the hat is good thinking by the Australians. I would hope that we could emulate them if we ever had to but let’s hope we don’t.” She believes public sympathy would be with farmers because it is not their fault. “Sabotage has been visited on them by others and it looks like there have been copycats. The best way to counter that is to pull out that sympathy for the farmers and pull out the patriotism to buy Australian strawberries.” Price also says it was a major coup to get the Australian Prime Minister to come out in support. “All sorts of celebrities have been getting behind


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it now too. You don’t know whether that has been driven by a PR campaign or they have just got on the wagon,” Price explains. “Probably it was started as a campaign asking the celebrities or asking the Prime Minister to be involved and the others have wanted to be part of it too because it is such a positive promotion.” Price believes the New Zealand food and the public relations industries are prepared for such situations. “Most of the food companies I have ever worked for have all had a crisis public relations plan. I don’t know that it has gone as far as #smashastrawb, but now that we have seen that work well it is probably something we could add to -- pulling out the support for the New Zealand grower or farmer or whomever. “All the food companies will have a crisis plan because there are a lot of things that can happen to food.” She adds that social and digital media are crucial. @rural_news

NO WORRIES FOR NZ NEEDLES IN strawberries is an Australian strawberry issue and there is no evidence to suggest any connection to NZ-grown strawberries,” says Strawberry Growers NZ executive manager Michael Ahern. He says NZ strawberries are ripening nicely with the approach of warm spring weather. “While we have a heightened awareness of the issues, there is absolutely no reason to think NZ strawberries will be targeted.” The NZ strawberry industry is structured on family farms and hands-on owner operators, some in business at least two generations and with strong local connections. The NZ public can trust and rely on the diligence of such growers -- everyday NZers -- to produce safe food, Ahern says.



NZ wool sews up new deals PAM TIPA

INVESTMENT IN technology and assurance programmes led to Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) becoming the supplier for a new Marks and Spencer (M&S) clothing range, says Rosstan Mazey, WNZ chief executive. M&S is one of the first major clothing retailers to launch a menswear range with wool certified under the global Responsible Wool Standard (RWS). The range contains men’s blazers and waistcoats made of NZ lambswool grown by RWS-accredited WNZ growers. “This is wool in the 28-31 micron range, more traditionally used in the production of interior textiles. It’s a big step for crossbred wool and it’s tremendously exciting to see our wool moving into high-end attire,” says Mazey. “It also validates our ongoing investment in the technolo-

Kurt Portas, of Palliser Ridge, wears one of the new M&S range of lambswool blazers.

gies and assurance programmes that allowed this to happen.” Steven Parsons, brand and business development manager for Wools of New Zealand in the UK, says the RWS was imagined and developed in 2016 as the global standard for growing wool. “Wools of New Zealand has joined a rapidly growing number of international brands

and the Textile Exchange as strong advocates for RWS as a global wool production standard, providing an assurance to consumers that the wool they are buying has been grown to the highest possible standards of farm management and animal welfare. “M&S represents a powerful partner in that respect, as they are able to influence the

value chain and change attitudes towards fibre production. There is a new reality out there for producers and retailers: they need to be responsible for driving supply chains towards true sustainability.”   Mazey says 14 grower shareholders are now accredited under the RWS, in North and South Islands.  “Through the launch of this new product we

anticipate increased interest in our wool and RWS credentials. We expect more of our growers to become RWS-certified as market demand builds.” Meanwhile, Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool) has announced a new US distribution partnership with J Mish. Under the agreement, leading carpet business J Mish will design and manufacture carpets and rugs from yarn grown and spun in NZ. The products will then be distributed throughout the US via J Mish’s large network of dealer and designer relationships. Colin McKenzie, chief executive of CP Wool, says the partnership will build on an existing relationship to increase the profile of New Zealand wool in the residential market in the US. “We’re confident that J Mish has the reputation, resources and scale needed to put NZ wool carpet in front of consumers across the US, as a highly desirable and sustainable choice for soft flooring.”

WOOL GROUP MEETS THE WOOL Working Group has met for the first time. Its 20 wool producers, processors and other industry representatives met in Christchurch to continue the momentum of the Wool Industry Summit held in July. “Around the world consumers want alternatives to environmentally unfriendly synthetic fibres and it’s up to us to work together to deliver them natural and functional wool products that are good for consumers and good for the world,” says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. “The feedback I’ve received is that it was a very positive meeting. The Ministry for Primary Industries is also working on a digital platform that will allow the working group to continue their work in-between meetings.”  The working group will develop a pan-sector action plan before the end of the year.  


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World class and getting classier PAM TIPA

Plant & Research chief executive David Hughes.

into that,” Hughes told Rural News. “We have one of the world’s biggest kiwifruit breeding programmes; we




are the biggest outside of China and comparable in size to the biggest programmes within China. We have a strong track

record in producing great kiwifruit cultivars. “Broadly our kiwifruit and apple research programmes are world


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challenged their chief scientist to come back with a definitive view of where NZ is world class. “We have been running for the last five years a series of international science reviews – panels of international experts who come and look at the science and critique it. Three more reviews to do and we will have covered

the entire organisation. At the end of that process we will define where we are world class and world leading.” With 1000 employees including about 700 scientists, Plant and Food can be divided into about five chunks from genetics to growing systems through to consumers’ experience

GROWING ROYALTIES REVENUE ROYALTIES ARE an important part of the Plant & Food Research revenue mix and they want to see that continue, says Hughes. “We think royalties are a win-win for us and the sectors we support. “It is effectively about sharing in success. If you develop something and nobody uses it, nobody pays. So you only get paid if it is picked up and used. We set our royalties to take a fair share of the value created, but we recognise the company doing the marketing for a new cultivar will have to do a lot of work to introduce it to the market, for example, spend a lot of money on advertising and promotion. So they should get the lion’s share of the value. “If we have created the cultivar we should get a bit of the value too. We can reinvest that ourselves to create the next one. It enables us to be a financially sustainable business. It is to make sure you create value then take a fair share so you can create some more.” They are getting royalties from offshore as well. “The NZ horticultural scene led by Zespri and Turners & Growers is increasingly a set of global companies. “Even when you get below that level to the next tier they are increasingly global in their outlook. They are all exporting, and some have international offices. A number of them are sourcing products internationally. In horticulture NZ is playing on a global stage.” The trend has accelerated in the last few years, but it has roots a lot further back. Zespri has been sourcing kiwifruit from other countries such as Italy and France for a long time. T&G Global has had a multinational view of the world for a long time, but this has accelerated. “The whole industry has matured substantially. The industry has evolved quite naturally as an export industry because of the size of the NZ market.”


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PLANT & Food Research is doing an international review to definitively determine the ways in which the organisation and New Zealand horticulture are world-class, says chief executive David Hughes. But they already know about some areas. For example, NZ’s apple industry for five years has been rated the world’s best. “That is everything from the way the orchards are run, the varieties grown and sold, financial returns received -- the whole way the industry works. There is also science that has gone

class. Certainly, the cultivar development parts of them but also the production systems too – pest and disease system controls, sustainable production and post-harvest and all the consumer work. All of that sweeter stuff for those two industries is world class. “We have a reasonably strong programme in processed raspberries which we do in a joint venture with Washington State in the US. We compete very strongly in that.” Some of the work done on water use efficiency and understanding natural capital stocks and quantifying that whole area and some genetics work is world recognised. Hughes says he has


NEWS 23 Potato mop top virus damage to a tuber. SUPPLIED/POTATOES NZ

Chips for spuds NIGEL MALTHUS

BIOSECURITY NEW Zealand is working with Potatoes NZ to respond to a detection of potato mop-top virus (PMTV) in potato tubers in Canterbury. Tubers from two properties have tested positive for PMTV. Further sampling is underway. Incident controller David Yard said this is the first time the virus has been found in NZ although it is common in other countries. “Potato mop-top virus is a crop disease which, if found to be widespread, could cause productivity issues for growers. It is a notifiable and unwanted organism in NZ under the Biosecurity Act.” Potatoes NZ chief executive Chris Claridge said the affected potatoes were of the Innovator variety used only for potato chips. PMTV is not a food safety issue, but affected potatoes can display symptoms including distortions to the skin, deep cracking, and rust-coloured arcs, streaks or flecks in the tuber flesh. “The industry is working with Biose-

curity NZ to learn more about the virus, the impact it could have on growers and to stop any risk of spread,” said Claridge. “We will then consider if it is possible to eradicate it or whether we will need to work with growers to manage its impact over the long term.” The Innovator variety was last imported as germplasm in July 2011. Biosecurity NZ is investigating how the virus may have entered the country. PMTV is seed and soil-borne, vectored by Spongospora subterranea, an organism also associated with powdery scab. PMTV can be spread on seed tubers, in soil associated with boots, in machinery, and in waste from potatoes. Once established, the vector can survive for up to 20 years in soil. PMTV was first reported in Britain in 1966 and has since been found in Europe, North and South America and Asia. Potatoes NZ is warning growers to take care not to infest fields with PMTV from known powdery scab or PMTV-infected fields, and to avoid PMTV or powdery scab-infected seed tubers. Only certified seed tubers should be grown.


“We rely on donations to keep our service free to patients so fundraising efforts like this are hugely appreciated.” RCNZ president David Kean says the charity auction was a great night for a great cause. “It is an honour to visit different regions around New Zealand each year and raise money for the local ambulance services. “We all know the great work that they do and it is particularly valuable to rural contractors. “We work in isolated areas, often on our own or on farms we are not familiar with. Naturally we hope nothing bad happens, but we are aware that it can. It is reassuring to know we can get help should we need it.”

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AMBULANCE DONATION $33,000 RAISED by agricultural contractors during their annual conference in Masterton was recently handed to Wellington Free Ambulance. Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ)’s annual fundraising auction of donated items was held at its Masterton conference in June. RCNZ is the industry body representing the contractors who provide services to farmers and horticulturalists. Each year it holds its annual conference in a different regional centre and the money goes to the local ambulance service. Wellington Free Ambulance spokeswoman Rachel Carr says the service is very grateful for the fundraising efforts of RCNZ.



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farmers to connect Content supplied by Rabobank – Grow with the bank farmers for farmers with by worldwide , founded

Falling dollar adds bounce to prices North Island Bull Price

MOST OCEANIA commodity prices experienced further downward pressure in September. Buoyant New Zealand milk flows for the first three months of the season continue to provide buyers with no real urgency to procure prod-

uct. With October being the peak milk supply month, the market is anticipating some bounce in this season’s milk production compared to last year. Rabobank still anticipates a 2% lift in flows for the 2018/19 season. RaboResearch

5.75/kg cwt (-1% MOM).

North Island Bull Price 590

Sheepmeat THE CONSISTENT price lifts over recent months that pushed prices to record levels came to a halt during September, suggesting prices have peaked, and have now started their seasonal

560 NZD cents/kg cwt


decline. As of the start of October, the schedule price in the North Island averaged NZ$ 8.40/kg cwt (2% lower MOM), while South Island lamb averaged NZ$ 8.10/kg cwt (2% lower MOM). Despite falling during September, these prices for the first month of the 2018/19

South Island Lamb Price and NZ Lamb Slaughter

Short-Term Pressure With NZ Spring Peak 530

500 Oct

Global dairy prices, 2014-2018





Latest month











South Island Lamb Price

New Ze



Last three months

Source: NZX AgriHQ, Rabobank 2018



5,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000





Source: USDA, Rabobank 2018

1% (July)


anticipates global milk Beef supply growing only WEAK DEMAND from modestly over the the US for imported beef 1.4% (July) 1.2% US coming 12 months. While product has seen New this will provide some Zealand farmgate prices upside to commodity for manufacturing beef -4.2% (July) take a hit over -0.8%the last Australia prices, New Zealand’s peak milk flows need to month. be worked through first. As at the start of OctoRaboResearch has5% (seasonber, the North2018) Island bull to 31 August NZ revised its NZ forecast price is 5% lower MOM, farmgate milk price lower averaging NZ$ 5.25/kg to NZ$ 6.65kgMS for the cwt, while the South Source: Rabobank 2018 2018/19 season. Island bull price dropped


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6% over the last month, averaging NZ$ 5.25/kg cwt. Prime cattle prices, which aren’t as reliant on the US market, held relatively steady during September. As of the start of October, the North Island prime price was NZ$ 5.80/kg cwt (-2% MOM), and the South Island prime price NZ$



15,00 head


NZc/kg cwt

USD/tonne FOB


Production growth key exporting regions


10,00 500




Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun July Aug Sep 2015/16

Source: NZX AgriHQ, Rabobank 2018



Source: NZ

Rabobank supports clients from farm to fork in

obal agribusiness earch analysts aring market outlooks





Wool Exports Faced Another Tough Month Content supplied by Rabobank – Grow with the bank founded by farmers for farmers New Zealand wool exports had a disappointing month in August. The volume shipped to China was the lowest since August 2016.

14,000 12,000


10,000 8,000 6,000


4,000 2,000













Southern Asia
























Source: Beef & Lamb NZ, 2018

season are still well ahead of last season’s opening prices, up 18% YOY in the North Island and up 16% YOY in the South Island. Increasing supply availability appears to have reduced some of the processor competition that has been underpinning the high pricing levels, providing processors with an opportunity to pull schedule prices back. This easing of procurement pressure is likely to continue to put downward pressure on prices. However, with chilled production for the EU Christmas trade now

underway, and supplies not lifting in significant volumes until closer to December, there will be a limit to any downward price movements during October.

Wool THE MARKET for coarse crossbred rose slightly through the month before finishing September just about where it started, with the NZWSI coarse crossbred indicator at NZc 330/kg clean. Clearance rates at auction also fell towards the end of the month. Wool production in

New Zealand is forecast to fall 2.2% reflecting lower fleece weights and fewer (-1%) sheep shorn. Fine wool prices continue to reflect the relative strength of the Australian market. Although prices softened 4% through September, reduced supply remains a critical and positive factor for the price outlook. Although official forecasts suggest a 6% decline YOY in Australia, auction volumes have been 14% lower in the 18/19 season and wool tested some 12% behind last year.

PRICE PRESSURE continued to grow in the fertiliser complex during September, with three global forces acting to elevate local phosphate and urea values. Urea rose NZ$ 45/tonne to NZ$ 570/tonne during September – this follows a NZ$ 40/tonne jump in August. DAP rose NZ$ 25/ tonne to NZ$ 780/tonne. Firstly, global benchmarks are now at their highest point for three years. Urea ex Middle East is trading above US$ 300/tonne (up 7% MOM) FOB for the first time since July 2015, while DAP ex US Gulf FOB (US$ 439/tonne) is at its highest point since November 2015. Rabobank expects urea prices to remain firm over the coming

months. Demand has also elevated prices for phosphate. Rabobank expects prices to stabilise with some easing of demand in Q4. A weaker NZ$ is decreasing the purchasing power of importers, affecting imports of product and raw materials. [Insert: Local NZ reported retail prices graph]

Currency A SMALL bounce in the NZ$ through mid-September proved shortlived, with the NZ$

trading at USc 64.42 on 8th October – its lowest since early 2016. The NZ dollar has weakened 9 cents against the US$ since the beginning of 2018. The NZ currency was temporarily buoyed by a stronger than expected economy in Q2. GDP grew 1.0% QOQ, double the pace of the previous quarter, with services industries leading the expansion. In its August policy statement, the RBNZ said that “we expect to keep the OCR at this level through 2019

NZ Dollar Rises A Little

and into 2020, longer than we projected in our May Statement”. The strength of the Q2 GDP release will prove a test to this outlook. However, in view of headwinds in the form of slowing Chinese growth and low business confidence, we expect no policy change in the coming months. As monetary policy in the US tightens and NZ settings most likely remain unchanged, we hold our 12-month forecast for the NZ$ soften to USc 64 by September 2019.

NZ/US dollar Cross Rate 0.76


0.72 NZD/USD

Export shipments remain sluggish and indicative of the ongoing slow demand for broad wool





Source: RBA, Rabobank 2018



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Milk levy plan turns sour SUDESH KISSUN

MOVES BY an Australian supermarket chain to introduce a milk levy to help drought-stricken farmers has backfired. Australia’s Agriculture Minister David Littleproud last week launched a scathing

attack on Coles, one of the two main Australian supermarket chains. He blasted Coles over its handling of the A10c milk levy for drought relief, calling its approach “slippery” and saying the extra money may not even go back to the right farmers. Littleproud also had

harsh words for the German supermarket chain Aldi, which operates about 400 stores in Australia. He says Aldi has refused to apply any levy and has done “bugger all” to help Australian farmers. Coles and its main rival Woolworths last month announced a

milk levy after weeks of intense lobbying by the dairy industry and the public. But the two supermarkets chose different systems to redistribute the levy to farmers. Woolworths is offering customers in Queensland, New South Wales and ACT its in-house brand at

A$2.20 for 2L and A$3.30 for 3L. It is passing the extra money to the milk processors, who have agreed to distribute the money to dairy farmers in full. Coles increased only the price of its 3L milk -- from A$3 to A$3.30. It says that after discussions with the National


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Farmers Federation (NFF), it has set up the Dairy Drought Relief Fund and farmers can apply for funding. But Minister Littleproud and dairy farmers are unhappy. Although he wanted to give Coles the benefit of the doubt he has now concluded it is an “empty media stunt”. “The reality is [the 3L milk] is a very narrow portion of their range that sells,” he says. “[And they’ve compounded this by making] a bureaucracy for getting that A10c/L back to the farmer.” Littleproud says a better model is to give the levy funds back to the milk processors who collect the milk from farmers. “The processors are the ones who actually pick up the milk; they’re the ones who know where the milk comes from,” he says. He says Coles’ model provides no guarantee the money collected would go to the particular farmers who supplied the milk, or that they would be paid according to the volume

of milk they supplied. “Coles never wanted to make sure farmers got fairer pay, and made a hasty announcement to match their competitor,” he says. The milk levy has also angered some dairy farmer organisations: the Queensland Dairy Farmers Organisation is unimpressed, with its president Brian Tessmann saying Coles’ publicity stunt in putting the A10c levy on a single line of their private-label milk is a slap in the face for farmers. “Because they have not put the levy on all brands and all sizes, the amount that would come back would be a fraction of a cent. “That’s bad enough, but worse is their announcement that they would deliver the pittance that would be collected back through the NFF as opposed to using the correct protocol which would be to pay it directly to their suppliers Norco and Saputo who would then be able to simply pass it on to members by way of their milk cheque.”



NAIT is an OSPRI programme

Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.

0800 482 463

AGRESEARCH SCIENTISTS have won an award for their work in discovering, patenting and commercialising a new endophyte for ryegrass. The endophyte provides ryegrass with high levels of protection against insect pests, while maintaining the health and productivity of grazing animals. This has resulted in large gains in farming productivity. It’s estimated that the use of AR37 endophyte in New Zealand has had a cumulative value to date of $125 million and will have contributed NZ$3.6 billion to the economy through the life of its patent. Led by Dr David Hume, the AgResearch scientists received the Pickering Medal from Royal Society Te Apārangi. This year’s Research Honours Aotearoa – hosted by the society and held at Te Papa, Wellington last week – celebrated the achievements of NZ researchers, scholars and innovators.



New orchard a vote of faith in sector NIGEL MALTHUS

A NEW 12ha cherry orchard now being set up by Cromwell’s 45 South is a vote of confidence in the future of Central Otago’s cherry industry. 45 South owns or manages at least 150ha of cherry orchards in the Cromwell area, producing 30-40% of New Zealand’s export cherries. Now it is planting a new 12ha block on the slopes above Lowburn on Lake Dunstan. General manager Tim Jones, who is also the Summerfruit NZ board chairman, says the industry is expanding hugely, particularly in Central Otago. The district already has 850ha of cherries and Jones expects that to double in the next three years with new investment coming in and orchards being planted. Wearing his Summerfruit NZ hat, however, Jones acknowledges that the industry has questions it must ask itself. “Where is the expertise? Where are the people? Where are the houses in Cromwell?” he told Rural News. “You can’t rent a house in Cromwell now, so if we need to double the

“As much as I think it’s great to see the industry expand, I just hope it’s happening sensibly, and people have done their due diligence to be market-led.” number of staff where are the seasonal workers going to come from? “All those sorts of things need asking, let alone is the market big enough to handle it? “As much as I think it’s great to see the industry expand, I just hope it’s happening sensibly, and people have done their due diligence to be market-led.” NZ’s two biggest markets for cherries are China and Taiwan, with Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Korea also important. “But whether we can rely on them to take double the amount of fruit in five years, I’m not sure,” says Jones. The biggest competitor is Chile,

Jones says NZ serves the high-end gift market as its point of difference. “Is that high-end gift market enough to double or triple the amount that’s coming out of this country?” However, 45 South still sees room for expansion. “The key is that you understand the market, understand the quality of the fruit that you’ve got to grow – which is really high-end. “It’s quite a niche market and you pack it in what the consumer is looking for. Ten years ago, we packed all our cherries in 5kg boxes; it was easy. “Now it’s down to 400g and 1kg boxes, so we’ve got big volumes having to go into really small vessels.” The cherries are all chilled and packaged locally, to satisfy the Chinese demand for food safety. “Consumers need to know the fruit is the real thing and hasn’t been tampered with or substituted along the supply chain.” Jones says the Chinese consumer is happy to pay a premium “if they’ve got the right quality, the right size, and the right flavour”.

Summerfruit NZ chairman and general manager of the 45South cherry orchards Tim Jones - RURAL NEWS GROUP

which is planting about 2000ha a year and comes into the market at the same

time as NZ and at a much lower cost of production.


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Pay the price FINALLY FONTERRA has got something right. Well, the co-op’s director remuneration committee has. In the notice of the dairy cooperative’s annual meeting, to be held at its Lichfield plant on November 8, a highlight is that Fonterra directors and shareholders’ council members will not be getting a pay rise this year. Thankfully, the co-op’s director remuneration committee has recommended no change to board and council fees, as it should have. In fact, a call for a cut in remuneration would not have been out of order. The past year has been a disaster for Fonterra. It reported a $196 million net loss last financial year; weaker global dairy prices have also forced the co-op to keep lowering its forecast payout for milk from an opening forecast of $7/kgMS in May to a $6.25 - $6.50 range earlier this month. On top of this, the dairy company has stumbled during the year from one public disaster to another, rightly earning the continued criticism and ire of senior cabinet minister Shane Jones and his colleagues. Notable among the disasters were the under-performance and over-the-top pay to former chief executive Theo Spierings, and the financial disaster of its investment in Chinese infant formula company Beingmate. Every one of the failures, fiascos and cockups has occurred on the watch of this Fonterra board and, to a lesser extent, this shareholders’ council. Frankly, they have all been asleep at the wheel. Yet only two directors have had the grace to step down – former chair John Wilson (mainly due to health issues) and Nicola Shadbolt. The remuneration committee of six shareholders meets every year to set director and councillor fees. It reported to Fonterra shareholders, in the notice of annual meeting mailed out last week, that between 2014 and 2016 it recommended directors’ remuneration remain unchanged, “appropriate given the very challenging economic conditions experienced by shareholders”. However, last year, it recommended increasing director fees. The chairman’s fee was lifted by $25,000 to $430,000; the directors’ fees went up by $10,000 to $175,000. At the time, the remuneration committee said it’s important to set “realistic fee levels” to ensure “highly skilled directors are attracted and retained”. Fonterra shareholders may now rightly question just how ‘highly skilled’ their directors have been during the past year. It is past time all the co-op’s directors paid the price of their collective failures.


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“Recovering from floods! Expecting droughts! Early lambing ruined by late snow! Rising costs! Failing profits! Fonterra! M.Bovis! The RMA! Greenies! Nitrate leaching! Climate change! – what’s there to be stressed about?”

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Pot calling

YOUR CANINE crusader hears that the Primary Sector Council – now six months down the track and having already sucked up about $250,000 of taxpayer largesse – is highly likely to be among the least-productive of the 250 or so committees the Government has set up since taking office. Meeting minutes published for the PSC show more members absent from its five gatherings than a government department sees on the Friday afternoon of a long weekend. So far, the group’s one big idea seems to have been a re-draft of its ‘vision deck’ to include a section on ‘what success looks like’. This has not been a great success, and rumour has it that the PSC is seen as so pointless that even Jacinda Ardern – who would meet with a dead possum if it meant a photo opportunity – has decided the council is not worth meeting with.

THE HOUND’S colleague recently received a call from a pent-up woman, who refused to identify herself, complaining about an article he’d written about wannabe Fonterra director John Nicholls. According to this old mutt’s mate, the anonymous caller was upset that Nicholls had been described in the offending article as a ‘corporate’ dairy farmer, despite his Rylib company owning many farms. During the rather testy conversation the nameless caller told the reporter that Nicholls “only owned six farms, not eight, and that he was not chairman of the company, but his wife was”. Following the phone call, the Hound’s perplexed colleague was prompted to check the phone number of the anonymous caller, deducing that the number was that of the chair and co-owner of Rylib farms Kelly Nicholls – John’s wife.

YOUR OLD mate extends his condolences to the family and friends of two old-school legends in the rural publishing/communications business who are no longer with us. Firstly, former Rural News correspondent and career journalist Ross Annabell recently passed away at the age of 91. Ross spent the latter part of his illustrious career freelancing for Rural News, covering the lower North Island. Meanwhile, former longtime NZ Dairy Board pr man Neville Martin also passed away recently. Neville was a true gentleman and a real professional who was the first port of call for many journalists and reporters wanting news about the Dairy Board. Your old mate reckons Fonterra’s pr team could do with the likes of Neville Martin handling the dairy co-op’s communications these days.

THIS OLD mutt reckons that Fish & Game and Forest & Bird needs to take a closer look at their own backyards before throwing stones at others. It seems not all is well in the running of F&G in the Canterbury region: there are questions about the North Canterbury branch spending an endowment supposedly left to it for looking after rivers in the region, but instead some of the funds were used on building its new fancy headquarters. Meanwhile, F&B are also in a bit of turmoil over the perception that the organisation took a backhander so that the Australian millionaire Keith Ross could buy a 2.4ha property on Waiheke Island for $8 million. Part of the deal included a promise by the Aussie to pay Forest & Bird $120,000, but several members of its Waiheke committee were so incensed at the ‘tainted’ money they resigned.

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Benefits of glyphosate GLYPHOSATE, THE world’s most widely used weed killer, has extensive economic and environmental benefits for farmers, especially New Zealand’s grains industry. The benefits of reducing farming’s environmental footprint are immense. Not only do glyphosate-based products successfully kill a broad spectrum of weeds, they also help farmers grow crops more sustainably by enabling farmers to practise ‘conservation tillage’ -- benefiting soil health, reducing carbon emissions and conserving water. No-till farming brings countless benefits to the land, the farmer and the environment. Firstly, by leaving the soil mostly undisturbed and leaving high levels of crop residues behind, soil erosion is almost eliminated. Using crop residues in no-till farming greatly increases water infiltration and therefore retention by the soil, i.e. less evaporation. This conserves water, due to crops requiring less irrigation, and it reduces the runoff of contaminated water by, for example, fertiliser usage. Some estimates suggest crop residues provide as much as 5cm of additional water to crops in late summer. No-till farmed soils have a water penetration rate of 13cm/ hour -- twice as much as for conventionally tilled land -- making notill farming an excellent option for drought-prone regions. Because the soil is not frequently agitated, the practice promotes biodiversity in and around the soil. Organisms like mycorrhizal fungi, which make commensal associations with crop roots, and earthworms, increase water retention in the soil. These organisms flourish through no-till farming, benefiting the plant and fungus. No-till farming reduces carbon emissions

from mechanical equipment and saves labour and fuel costs. Conventional tillage requires as many as five passes over land with a plough. Notill requires one — to

RURAL NEWS and its correspondent Trevor Hamilton are to be congratulated for the article on ‘Fonterra clones’ (Oct 2). It is noteworthy that New Zealand’s two biggest companies – Fonterra and Fletcher Building – appear to have significant governance issues. Both companies are deemed to be poor performers. Mr Hamilton has given voice to a real problem within the corporate world. Too often candidates

are endorsed by the existing board due to a pervasive holding of shares or a perception that they will ‘fit in’. The ability to say ‘no’ at board level appears to be a rare commodity, yet it is essential to sound governance as Mr Hamilton points out. This problem has been termed as ‘group speak’, where a pressure to be a team player can be overwhelming, especially when a chair fails to use the talents of single or dissenting voices.

This same condition occurs in local government where ‘group speak’ has been developed to almost an art form. The chair or mayor of a council effectively appoints to various committees like-minded individuals who won’t rock the boat, so as to promote the illusion of a united well-functioning council. Performance is confused with accountability. The issue is not going away any time soon unless all share-

holders (and ratepayers) send a clear message to their company: that the chair is to be shown the door should they fail to introduce change. Boards and councils can only exercise the powers the people mandate them to employ. If the shareholders accept the status quo and vote accordingly, who do you blame for poor performance? Gerry Eckhoff, Letts Gully, Alexandra

A good start goes a long way. Mark Ross

plant the seeds. Running the tractor less can cut fuel usage by 80%. Another way to reduce carbon emissions is by pairing no-till farming with crop covering -- planting crops specifically for soil health. This reduces emissions by sequestering more carbon dioxide by the soil. At least half of the potential carbon sequestration from farmlands comes from conservation tillage. Environmental and economic benefits aside, without glyphosate farmers would need to manually till their land to remove weeds. That would catapult NZ farmers back to the methods of the 1970s and 1980s. Why would we want to do that when glyphosate has recorded at least 40 years of safe use in NZ? There are other herbicides we can use and other weed control strategies besides those. But nearly all of them come with greater environmental impacts, especially in our grain industry where it is a cornerstone of notill agriculture. It is critical that glyphosate continues as a product of choice for NZ. Pushing farmers away from no-till farming and back towards more harmful tools for killing weeds makes no sense for any self-respecting farmer or environmentalist. • Mark Ross is chief executive of Agcarm, the industry association for companies making and distributing crop protection and animal health products.

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New Zealand needs a food security policy MIKE CHAPMAN

HORTICULTURE NEW Zealand believes it is time to take a strategic and measured look at where we grow our food and protect those regions so that we can feed our future generations with fresh, healthy food. We cannot take for granted that our fruit and vegetable growers can continue to feed NZ as well as generate increasing export returns. As the organisation representing growers, HortNZ is talking to the Government about a food security policy. This would ensure access to appropriate growing land and adequate water to keep plants alive and growing. Land most suitable for horticulture is being squeezed by the need for more housing for a growing population,

and all the infrastructure that goes with that. NZ is also looking at how we might manage climate change. We need to get the balance right between climate change mitigation and the need to produce healthy food. One of the weather patterns we are experiencing is concentrated rain followed by longer dry periods. This places pressure on water supply during dryer periods and causes problems from water over-supply during wet periods. Both rural and urban NZ are affected by these weather patterns. The environmental effects go from flooding at one extreme to very low river flows at the other.  If these patterns continue, methods and locations for growing fruit and vegetables may need to change, and it will

Horticulture NZ says it’s time to take a strategic and measured look at where we grow our food and to protect those regions.

become vital for us to store water to prevent excess flows during heavy rain and to provide water during dry periods. This water will be needed for people and animals and


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for crop survival so that we can feed ourselves. In terms of food security, it will not be possible to permit undirected urban and lifestyle expansion into areas where sus-

tainable food growing is possible. As a country, we will need to protect the current growing areas and to identify new areas; and there must be a spread of growing

around NZ to ensure that during bad weather in one region, other regions can supply the required food. To bring some evidence to the discussion, HortNZ commissioned Deloitte to look at Auckland’s food bowl – the Pukekohe hub – and report on its economic contribution to Auckland and the wider country, as well as its role in feeding NZers. The report – New Zealand’s food story: The Pukekohe hub – can be found on the HortNZ website. Although this report is focused on the Pukekohe hub, it is a proxy for many other NZ towns and cities. The report gives facts, figures, analysis and modelling to use in submissions to central and local government.  Just one fact explains how important the Puke-

kohe hub is as a growing area for Auckland and all NZ: the Pukekohe hub is 3.8% of NZ’s vegetable and fruit growing area but produces 26% of the value. Pukekohe not only feeds Auckland, but at certain times during the year feeds NZ; this is because it is too cold, or perhaps too wet further south to grow some vegetables year-long.  We need growing to be spread around the country so that our domestic vegetable supply can be year-round. We also need to keep all the existing fruit and vegetable growing regions around NZ, and plan how we can keep feeding NZers into the future. We are not asking for the earth, just enough earth to feed you. • Mike Chapman is chief executive Horticulture New Zealand



Change of guard for RCNZ board HELEN SLATTERY

OUR NEW board met in September for the first time since the elections at our successful annual conference in June. It was great to see our four new board members footing it with the four regional representatives as we reviewed the start to our contracting season. First up was Ross Alexander from Kaikohe, Northland. Ross, who replaces our former president Steve Levet as a zone 1 representative, said it had been wet up north but there was some concern that as things began to dry out we might see some of the drought conditions affecting New South Wales at present. Ross said that to date there was only one reported outbreak of M.bovis in the north. As the other representative of zone 1, I reported a wet start to spring and three confirmed M.bovis farms in Waikato. This will increase the expectations on contractors heading onto farms during the season that they follow the Clean Machines protocol. Clinton Carroll, a Wairarapa contractor,

is another new RCNZ board member, replacing Jeff Berkett of Upper Hutt. Clinton said it had been very wet with some lamb losses from an early spring southerly. M.bovis was not making a big impact in Wairarapa. Graham Greer, who operates in Rangitikei, says while it had been wet, things were starting to dry out. New board member John Ranford, in Culverden, North Canterbury, said it had been a mild winter leaving water tables full. John, who replaces Steve Murray, says the Rural Advisory Group (RAG) in Canterbury has been doing a lot of work in preparation for any disaster, including the potential for the alpine fault to move. The Canterbury/Kaikoura earthquakes had left a lot of animals suffering and this was one focus for the RAG. Martin Bruce, also a zone 2 representative, said rural contractors would be looked to for help using machinery immediately after a disaster. Richard Woodhead, of Wanaka, is the fourth new board member, replacing Brian Hughes. He said it had been a mild winter

and variably wet. In Wanaka machinery was causing dust but on the Taieri Plain you couldn’t get machinery onto the ground because it was still sodden. RCNZ president David

Kean, of central Southland, says the region has not been particularly wet; the key issue there was “getting bums on seats”. I’m encouraged by the first contributions from our new mem-

RCNZ’s 2018 board with new president David Kean and vice president Helen Slattery centre front.

bers, balanced by those with board experience. It augurs well for the chal-

lenges ahead. • Helen Slattery, who with husband Roger runs



Slattery Contracting, Matamata, is vice president, Rural Contractors NZ.



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I ALWAYS enjoy reading The Hound’s sharp jibes about items of current interest. However, although I’m not a tinfoil hat-wearing type and don’t wish to pour hatred or bile on the good Hound, our experience of DOC’s 1080 campaign in the Dart Valley, Lake Wakatipu area, is that native birds such as kea and yellow head (aka mohua) have practically disappeared, not to mention the dead deer seen after recent drops.   I’ve been here 70 years and used to see the keas so bad on our hill that we had to shoot them.   No need for that now with DOC on the job ‘saving’ our endangered native species. So, although your job is more interesting the more controversial you are, I hope you recognise that not all people who have concerns about the 1080 campaign in New Zealand are rednecks or banner-wavers. Geoffrey Thomson  Via email



Benchmarking key to plant breeding PAM TIPA

FROM THE turn of this century plant breeding research for pastoral farming has shifted from the likes of AgResearch to private institutions, says Derek Woodfield, general manager, research and development, PGG Wrightson Seeds. We are also seeing the advent of more disruptive technology – things that have raised the bar,

Woodfield told this year’s NZ Institute of Primary Industries Management conference. That fundamental shift to more private investors has brought a focus on species able to generate an economic return for those companies. Although species that are more ‘niche’ in NZ still attract investment, this country may not always be the first target of the breeder. But there is the advent

of the Forage Value Index (FVI) to give farmers confidence in the products and the returns they are likely to see. The FVI is important; it is only in the dairy industry at the moment but there are moves to develop the FVI for sheep and beef systems and through one of the Beef + Lamb NZ lead partnership bids. The FVI is there to provide confidence, Woodfield said. Rural

companies will not survive if “we are not providing better and consistent products that work onfarm and add value”. The FVI provides as opportunity to benchmark those forages. PGG is investing alongside industry. “In pastoral farming we would not be able to get there in genomic selection on our own. Private investment is being made alongside DairyNZ and others.




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PGG Wrightson Seeds’ Derek Woodfield.

“In saying that, the fundamental drivers of forage breeding in NZ are unchanged: you must be able to deliver quantity, quality and resilience of those forages for those farming systems,” Woodfield says. “In the last 8-10 years we have shifted our focus to trying to add environmental traits that will ensure we have licence to operate in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and nitrate leaching targets but that also can address the fundamental nature of climate change and that resilience. You only have to look back 10 years... you can see the changes already happening in Europe, and we use those as a lead in to go after targets here.” PGG Wrightson Seeds is currently investing about $15 million a year annually in NZ in forages. They have long term partnerships with AgResearch

in core breeding and grasslands innovation, with Lincoln in developing new and novel endophytes via the endophyte innovation programme and with Plant and Food in forage innovation such as brassicas onfarm now. “We see that as critical to not only having a good strong breeding programme but also being able to link back to science and then provide a pipeline for those innovations to come through.” With ryegrass they are seeing a 7.6% year-onyear gain in dry matter yield. The FVI provides readings on the value of different cultivars in dairy systems. There is a wide range from old cultivars with somewhat negative returns through to new cultivars yielding at least $600/ha. White clover is consistently showing about a 1% gain per year; red clover shows increased persis-

tence under grazing and some novel uses of that in farming systems. And the forage brassicas are showing improvements in quality and yield, etc, through being able to eliminate weeds with the PGG Wrightson management technology Cleancrop. Plantain and chicory have been domesticated in NZ and have had the greatest impact in agriculture and farming systems here. NZ has been the ‘beaver’ in endophytes, Woodfield says. AgResearch has led the charge. A recent report for MBIE suggests the total value of the AR37 endophyte to the NZ economy is at least $2 billion over the lifetime of that patent – at least $100m a year in additional revenue from AR37 alone. @rural_news

FIRST OF MANY? ECOTAIN IS the first product they can categorically say is able to reduce nitrogen leaching from a urine patch, says Woodfield. “Plantain isn’t new to us … but not all plantain cultivars will reduce nitrate leaching.” With Ecotain the animals urinate more frequently and have a lower concentration of N than others. Lysimeter measurements have shown that with animals fed on 42% Ecotain, 20% Italian ryegrass and the rest clover you get 45% reduction in nitrate leaching. When you apply urine from Ecotain-fed animals to those same lysimeters the reduction is nearly 90%, he says. Pallaton Raphno -- a raphanobrassica, a hybrid between Brassica oleracea (kale) and Raphanus sativus (radish) -- is in the second year of release for PGG Wrightson Seeds. In the first year they put it out over 1200ha in NZ -- 200 farms -- and asked farmers how it worked for them. 81% said they would use it again, he said. “If you saw it last spring -- a dry spring -- and early summer, a lot of brassica crops

were struggling but it worked really well.” New technologies for future forage systems include new breeding methods and tools, precision agriculture tools, new genetics resources, environmental traits, animal health and welfare and plantbased alternatives for meat and milk. Precision ag tools are already making a difference to the way we breed and do things and improve our accuracy, Woodfield says. “We have had 45 years of biotechnology research in NZ so far. But today we have no commercial products, no current field trials in NZ and we haven’t really had since we had the royal commission. We have no clear pathway in NZ for any of these products. “In NZ we are seeing improved breeding through genomic selection through plant phenomics -- tools that can rapidly and reliably phenotype our plants and give us more consistent information back off those.” With the focus on environmental questions the Pasture 21 programme and the NZ Greenhouse Gas Centre have done good work on fodder beet and brassicas.



Huge leap forward for sheep genetics tion of single-step. The message that grabbed sheep breeders’ attention was the accuracy that genomics brings in relation to the influence of grandparents. While parents contribute 50% each to an offspring’s genetics, grandparents do not generally contribute 25%, as might be expected. Quarter is the average, but genomics reveals the actual genetic contribution of grandparents can be much higher or much lower than 25% – a powerful insight and tool for breeders. Miller reinforced the convenience that single-step brings to the practicalities of breeding, in that evaluations are always current because they consolidate all the available information at that point in time. The introduction of single-step is part of a bigger picture, which will see sheep farmers having direct access to NZ’s national flock’s genetic evaluation. BLNZ Genetics national sheep genetics manager Annie O’Connell says this will put decision-making power in the hands of commercial farmers. “Our sheep genetic evaluation is undergoing a completely re-design,” she says. “Trusty old SIL is being replaced by nProve, a more intuitive and user-friendly system that will empower people to make better use of breeding values when selecting rams.”

The project will roll out in modules, beginning with the breeder-facing sections. It will be well into next year before the commercial farmer sections are released, but this process means nProve will hit the ground running. In the meantime, SIL’s FlockFinder and recently released ram buying indexes are the two top tools for commercial farmers to tap into. FlockFinder is a free smart-phone app that identifies breeders producing rams suitable for a farmer’s specific purposes. The ram buying indexes – New Zealand Maternal Worth (NZMW) and New Zealand Terminal Worth (NZTW) – were introduced last year and are already in use by commercial farmers. “These standard index figures provide one number that’s comparable across all connected SIL rams, regardless of breed,” O’Connell said. “The higher the number, the better the ram.” The B+LNZ Genetics single-step genetic evaluation system was funded by a BLNZ and Ministry of Innovation, Business and Employment (MBIE) Partnership Programme.



B+LNZ Genetics general manager Graham Alder.




BEEF + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) Genetics has launched a $5 million genetic evaluation system said to be a transformative step for the sheep industry. BLNZ Genetics general manager Graham Alder says the new evaluation results from four years of research, developing cloud-based computing systems and testing. “It is based on single-step technology whereby genomic information is incorporated into the evaluation alongside traditional genetic measures.” Adler says the result is a faster, more accurate evaluation, which will allow NZ ram breeders to make better, more timely decisions on the selection and dissemination of profitable and consumer-focused genetics. “Thanks to genomic technology and the single-step evaluation, breeders can assess a ram’s merit at birth rather than waiting at least two years until the ram has lambs on the ground. This is a massive leap forward for the sheep industry. It’s like moving from analogue to digital.” Single-step is fast becoming standard technology for all productive livestock species worldwide. The director of genetic research at Angus Genetics in the US, Dr Steve Miller, earlier this year addressed a BLNZ Genetics sheep breeder forum on the topic of US Angus’ adop-



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Training helps identify stressed farmers farmers or customers suffering from stress or mental illness. “There’s been a lot of conversations about it,” Heddell says. “We were at a farm discussing farm environment plans and the farmer spoke about mental health and said Good Yarns training would be good for us to do -- to be aware of farmers’ mental health and to recognise stress in farmers and communities. “We’d already been talking about how to better equip staff in their interactions with farmers

AN ENVIRONMENT Canterbury advisor who trained to be a Good Yarn facilitator is now better able to help a farmer who is stressed or mentally ill. She did the training in June in Wellington. Sarah Heddell, an ECan land management and biodiversity advisor -- and a sheep and beef farmer -- says the Good Yarn farmer wellness workshops are aimed chiefly at the rural community and those who interact with them. They help trainees recognise and respond correctly to friends,

and how in certain circumstances a different approach could make all the difference. “Then when someone external also encouraged us, I thought we needed to get on board and do something.” A few months later she was invited to attend the Good Yarn training in Wellington. Heddell knows how pressured the farming life can be and understands the extreme stress the Mycoplasma bovis (M.bovis) disease has put on farmers who risk losing their stock.

“Mental health is something I feel passionate about. It’s a huge issue and M.bovis has been a catalyst and a reminder for everyone to think carefully on how they interact with people.” Working in farming and through her networks she has become aware of many people affected by stress and depression, which has helped motivate her to better understand how to support people in this situation. “It worries me when I have calls from

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consultants who are getting calls from stressed farmers. That tells me things could escalate into a situation where someone was struggling to cope,” Heddell says. “Whether that’s us or a farmer, it’s like a bowstring that’s already stretched very tight and all it needs is one twang and it’ll snap.” A fluctuating market and the risk of cows contracting M.bovis has added a massive stress to farmers. This affects a much wider group of the agricultural sector than just beef or dairy farmers; it also rolls into the wider supporting community. “A lot of people are on edge; they’re not going to just come out and say it, but on their minds all the time is the thought ‘if this happens, I could lose all of that’. We need to be aware of this and the potential impact of what we say and do

when talking to our communities.” The Good Yarn training helped her to understand the need to help a farmer by, say, having a chat, calling in professional help or choosing another organisation that could help. She and three others will now run the programme for other ECan staff, teaching them to recognise signs of stress and how to respond. “I don’t want to see any of our colleagues get into a situation where they don’t know how to respond,” she says. “You don’t have to understand what’s happening, but be aware that other pressures may be impacting someone.” For help see or call 0800 787 254 @rural_news



Science answer to mitigating issues A RANGE of sciencecredible tools and practices are the way to manage farming’s environmental footprint -there’s no ‘magic bullet’ solution. So says Ngāi Tahu Farming’s general manager of dairy, Shane Kelly. Tools and practices backed by scientific data and supported by key partnerships in the industry are the means of

show leadership where we can, but more importantly we will share knowledge and kaitiakitanga -- ‘looking after the stewardship of the environment’.” With N-use a major component in the conversion process, Ngāi Tahu Farming has joined several industry initiatives aimed at reducing nitrate leaching. Onfarm this has trans-

community will be just as important. “The tools take time to develop, but when they actually work the farmers will use them. Technology will get us there, but it will take time.

“Effectively we are all in the same boat so if we can share that information we can all make the waka go a bit quicker,” he says. @rural_news

Ngai Tahu Farming general manager Shane Kelly and Ravensdown senior agri manager Sonya Perkin.

“We use N strategically to create our feed when it is low-risk and low-impact, to help set ourselves back up. “ getting environmental efficiencies, Kelly says. In its sixth year of development, Ngāi Tahu Farming’s 6500ha development Te Whenua Hou (the new lands) project has seen pine forest converted to dairy farm pastures at Eyrewell, North Canterbury. Seventeen dairy and support farms are now running, with three conversions remaining. Ngāi Tahu Farming is the iwi’s independently governed farming arm, with interests in dairy, grazing and forestry. It operates under the watch of 56,000 shareholders, which means it must remain accountable for every method and product used onfarm. Various environmental initiatives are helping to manage the impact of development, in particular nitrogen (N) leaching. “We want to know we are doing good things for the environment,” Kelly says. “Our whakataukī (mission statement) for Ngāi Tahu Farming is ‘Toitū te Marae o Tāne, Toitū te Marae o Tangaroa, Toitū te iwi -- ‘when the land and water are sustained the people will prosper’. Mō tātou, ā, mo kā uri a muri ake nei -‘for us and our children after us’ – that underpins the very essence of the business.” He says Ngāi Tahu iwi expect that their involvement in farming will make it better off. “Not only will we

lated to a lower stocking rate, the sowing of plantain in existing and new pastures, variable rate irrigation, catch crops, less imported supplementary feed and lowered N fertiliser application. Kelly says its use of N has become more tactical over time. It now only uses Ravensdown’s coated urea product N-Protect in the farming system, which helps lower the risk of volatilisation losses and reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. “We are strategic in our use of N, asking ‘do you really need it?’ ” Kelly explains. “We use N strategically to create our feed when it is low-risk and low-impact, to help set ourselves back up. “With N-Protect there is a better return: we end up using less product overall because our utilisation rate is better.” He says the next challenge will be seeing where the dust settles on new nutrient compliance limits in its zone. “We live in a world of compliance, and I don’t think that is a bad thing,” he says. “But as an industry we have to lift our game and our image, because there is so much good stuff happening out there.” Kelly says embracing all the available technologies will be key in helping them come under their compliance targets and sharing that information with the greater farming

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Changing normal drench routine may have upside SHIFTING AWAY from the common 28-day drench routine and instead thinking smarter about how, when and how often lambs get drenched, could help reduce resistance development and even improve livestock productivity, says an animal health company. Dr Abigail Chase, veterinary parasitologist for Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health New Zealand, believes that NZ farmers have generally picked up well on messages on drenching practice from 1980s research. “The research discovered then -and much of it still stands today -- that preventing larval build-up on pasture will always result in more effective worm control, rather than waiting for levels to actually rise and then trying to deal with them.” As a result NZ farmers have become adept at adopting regular four weekly drench programmes -- but almost too much so, she says. “Now we see a [farmer] trend to go

in early to control worm levels, especially when using capsules in ewes, but then not reaping the rewards of a pasture with low larval challenge by drenching less often,” Chase explains. “There may be a need to think a bit harder and smarter about whether drenching this time around is such a good idea.” The result is greater exposure of parasites to drench actives than may be necessary and almost complete elimination of any refugia parasite populations within the livestock being treated. “Maintaining these refugia (undrenched) parasites becomes vital as drench resistance grows as an issue in some areas. Good management can help push out that risk.” She says that seeking input from a vet and using the results from faecal egg counts (FEC)s can often cost significantly less than a round of drenching, and pay off for many seasons

mind about how afterwards. you want to go “It may be a case about pushing of doing a FEC check that resistance before launching into risk out, and a weaning drench, and what the simplest getting more strategic management about it.” options are.” One pathway may Chase says be to take a FEC and, that although finding that the count drenching young is low, getting selective stock regularly is on what animals get usually necessary, drenched during that there are also round if the farmer is options for helpuncomfortable with not Veterinary parasitologist ing reduce their drenching at all. Abigail Chase. parasite loadings “It could be that you by paying closer elect to draft off the lighter half of a lamb mob and only attention to how parasites are contreat them, and possibly also deciding trolled in older stock, such as ewes. “Often older stock may be left out to raise their feed levels,” Chase says. She says that with automated of the drench equation, when in reality weighing and drafting systems the their worm loadings can have a compounding effect upon young stock’s capacity for splitting stock is easy. “You just have to be clear in your loadings.”

Treatment using a long-acting capsule in ewes can contribute directly to improving that ewe’s lactation levels, in turn boosting lamb growth rates and improving their immunity levels to parasites. “A significant portion of worm infection in lambs comes from the ewe. “If you reduce exposure to the lambs you shouldn’t have to drench as often. Less larvae on the pasture means less disease for the lamb, but also less refugia. She says this is another reason not to reduce refugia more with possibly an unnecessary drench. Chase urges farmers to consider all options and tools available, both as management methods and drench options, and work with their vet to compile a considered, smart approach to drenching in the lead-up to summer. @rural_news

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Check ewes’ udders after weaning – study PAM TIPA

AN ONGOING study of udder defects in ewes has raised timely new information for farmers, says a Massey University professor. Anne Ridler, working in sheep & beef cattle health & production, says the study shows that palpating udders about foursix weeks after weaning may be better timing than at weaning. And even if a farmer has palpated at weaning a further check

One of their main findings was that a lot of ewes developed lumps after weaning. “Many farmers check udders at weaning time but actually they’d be better to wait four to six weeks after weaning. “On the commercial farms about 2.5% of the ewes had udder defects at weaning but anther 2.5% developed defects four-six weeks after weaning. “It is timely given it is coming up to weaning because a lot of farmers will be palpating udders

“These lumps are not directly part of the udder but are really close to the udder and are under the skin. Some farmers would be culling those but they are not actually linked to anything. If the lumps are

A study has found that many ewes develop lumps on their udders post weaning.

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at weaning. If they want to check at weaning that’s fine but it is well worth also checking four-six weeks later. “We haven’t done the full analysis from the big study but we have found that for ewes whose udders are hard on one or both sides, or with lumps in the udder, their lambs are three-five times more likely to die than if the mothers have normal udders. “If the lambs survive, their growth rates are 5-35g per day less. “Unfortunately we don’t have enough data yet to say whether the size of the lumps or the location of lumps (in the udder) have any impact. If farmers have ewes with a couple of little lumps and are wondering whether to cull, we can’t answer that at the moment. “But if they have hardness on one side or both, it is not a great outcome generally.” Some ewes have lumps in the midline just in front of the udder or at the back of the udder, Ridler says, and at weaning time they have found about 4% of ewes have these. A lot of farmers think they are bad but they seem to be completely irrelevant.


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“We are interested in udder defects in ewes and their effects on production. No research has been done on this for a very long time and our sheep are quite different from 30-40 years ago.” at four-six weeks is warranted. “We are interested in udder defects in ewes and their effects on production. No research has been done on this for a very long time and our sheep are quite different from 30-40 years ago,” Ridler told Rural News. “For the last few years we have been following 1200 ewes at Massey’s Riverside farm in Wairarapa and another 200 in Canterbury in association with Lincoln University. We have been palpating the udders four times a year. “We are matching the lambs to the ewes and looking at lamb survival, causes of death and growth rates. Any ewes with udder lesions are kept -- unless they are really bad -- so we can look at their effects.” Eleven farms in the lower North Island have also been involved, with researchers visiting at weaning and pre-mating to palpate udders to see if what they are finding in the research flocks is also happening on commercial farms. “We still haven’t got all the analysis from the big studies but we have finished the work at the commercial farms,” she says.

not directly in the udder then they shouldn’t worry about them.” The research is being funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

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Irish spreader firm poised to enter NZ market MARK DANIEL

ALREADY WELL-KNOWN in the northern hemisphere for its manure, lime and fertiliser spreaders, AgriSpread ought to be a great fit for the New Zealand agricultural sector. From its location at Ballyhaunis, in the west of Ireland, the company exports 90% of its production to the US, South Africa, Europe, UK and Australia. Recently, through its Australasian distributor Warringa Distribution, the company has been testing in NZ. Having sold AS 100 and AS 120 machines around the Ashburton area, it recently appointed Power Farming

Ashburton as a dealer. Having recently visited the Irish production plant during a study tour, Rural News saw the company’s commitment to quality, e.g. heavy-duty chassis, extensive use of stainless steel and shot blasting before paint application. Founded in 2006, the family-run business has at least 40 employees producing about 250 machines each year. In its muck spreader range, carrying capacities varies from 6 to 14 tonnes, carried on HD single axle assemblies. The spreading is by twin vertical beaters, fed by a moving floor comprising a 16mm high-tensile chain running in 75mm channels and carrying galvanised floor slats.

Agri-Spreader’s muck spreader range carrying capacity varies from 6 to 14 tonnes.

Standard fitments include sprung drawbars, flotation tyres, hydraulic brakes and a hydraulically operated rear door. The company’s AS Series lime and fertiliser spreader range offers capacities of 3 to 15 tonnes. Standard fitment of these machines includes a sprung drawbar, flotation tyres, a three-speed ground-drive gearbox, hydraulic brakes, hydraulic spinners and a roll-over tarpaulin system. Options include load cells, stainless steel bins, steerable axles and a range of machine control systems. The latest AS 2000 series, with capacities from 9 to 15 tonnes and up to 20.5 tonnes for lime, is aimed at the

precision application market. Its twinfloor conveyor system comprises a toothed belt-drive that engages with a toothed roller. This system is said to have the characteristics of a chain conveyor with positive feeding but it costs less to run. The twin belt system allows the operator to deliver differing volumes to the hydraulically driven spinners; these in turn can have their speed adjusted to control spread width up to 36m and across seven sections either side of the centre line, effectively offering section control. During operation, both left or right spreading discs can be controlled to shut off feed

completely, with boundary spreading enabled by just one touch of a switch on the control box. This machine won many prizes in the recent National Ploughing Association’s Innovation Awards -- Established Business, Machine of the Year and the Overall Innovation. Like its lower-tech cousins, standard specs include a sprung drawbar, hydraulic brakes, flotation tyres, a roll tarp and extensive use of stainless steel. Options include the choice of 2m or 3m wheel centres – the latter for controlled traffic operations – steering axles, load cells and a Topcon derived ISOBUS controller.



Krone pushes the power envelope MARK DANIEL

MUCH LIKE the price of petrol, the power outputs of self-propelled forage harvesters continue to rise. Take the German manufacturer Krone: although a late starter in the market it has carved itself a useful share and a loyal following. And its new four model range is likely to add a few more followers. The Big-X 680,780, 880 and 1180 wide-bodied machines offer 687, 775, 898 and 1156hp respectively. The three smaller models use a 16.16L Liebherr V8, while the flagship 1180 is powered by a colossal V12, 24.25L motor from the same supplier. Interestingly, this same unit powers John Deere’s flagship harvester, the 9900, that tops out at 970hp. As you’d expect, the 1180 needs a fair bit of fuel. Its 930L main fuel

tank is complemented by a secondary 170L tank with the option of a further tank of 400L, to take total capacity to 1500L. Similarly a standard 230L additive or water tank can be optioned to work with an additional 275L unit. Following the harvester’s chopping cylinder, the heart of the machine is an 800mm wide crop flow system. Its new OptiMaxx corn cracker system, like previous designs, uses two heavyduty chrome plated rollers that run with a standard speed differential of 30%. Dependent on the situation it can be configured for 40% or 50% options. The new design sees a roller tooth profile inclined by 5 degrees to create a greater shearing effect. And it can achieve better shattering of the maize kernels. Roller dimensions are now 10% wider, 7% faster and use more aggressive spring

Krone’s Big-X 110 forage harvester in action.

settings for a more consistent output, particularly in tough conditions. In the smaller machines, the roller diameters are 250mm; in the OptiMaxx unit, recommended for the Big X 1180, roller diameter

is increased to 305mm – claimed to be the largest in the market. This increase in diameter is said to offer 11% more surface area and 20% more rotational speed at the circumference. These combine to allow

processing of up to 400 tonnes/hour or 100kg/ second. Roller bearings have been upgraded, fitted with an auto-lube system, and temperature sensors to alert operators to overheating. Up front, the chopping


A BIG YEAR KRONE’S HARVESTING division achieved a turnover of €618 million for the 2017 market year, a rise of 7%, and an increased output of 25,000 machines. Total production exceeded 10,000 mower units, 1000 large square balers and 450 self-propelled machines in its Big-M and Big-X ranges. Commenting on the global market for selfpropelled forage harvesters, Krone estimates the total is 2800-3000 machines annually. Meanwhile, at home the company claims to have sold 25% of the 500-520 machines delivered during the year. About 70% of its production is exported, but its home market of Germany remains number-one, achieving 29% of turnover and a claim of 24% market share for all grassland equipment.

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cylinder has automatic shear bar setting utilising knock sensors, although manual setting is still included for sceptics of such witchcraft. A further option is the VariLoc system that allows a quick shift from

1250 to 800 rpm cylinder speeds or vice versa. This is said to be useful for busy operators who might need to shift from forage to AD production during the same day, which only takes a few minutes. Also aimed at maximising daily outputs is the option of EasyLoad, a 3-D image-based system for automated spout control, using a front-to-rear or rear-to-front filling sequence. Likewise, a tie up with Italian weighing specialist Diamamica Generale allows customers to option machines with the AgriNIR, near infrared sensor to record crop characteristics such as yield, dry matter, crude protein, crude ash and fat content, for future ration formulation and record keeping.

Worldwide proven reliability, replaceable gear drive modules submersed in a comer oil bath cutter bar which minimises maintenance along with plenty of space above the bar with a heavy safety curtain that helps create a vacuum, thereby ensuring ideal working conditions for the cutter bar. The mower works perfectly, even at very high speeds, and cuts at a width of approx. 60 cm narrower than the working width ensure no blockages on the outer and inner working skids. A High knife tip speed ensures a precision cut ensuring clean fast regrowth.

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Combi baler gives a big productivity boost INCREASING DAILY bale output was a priority for Davidson Contracting and the key reason for the firm’s upgrading its NH BR 6090 baler to a New Holland RB125C combi at the start of last season. The father-andson team of Colin and Michael do hay, balage, straw, ground work and general cartage around the Wanganui district. The business bought its first combi balerwrapper machine four years ago, with the aim of removing a tractor and man from the baling/ wrapping process, but over time became disappointed by the machine’s limited output.

“The BR6090 had served us well, but newer machines with more output were emerging,” Michael says. “So, it was time for an upgrade.” Already running a large fleet from Norwood Group, including New Holland tractors and balers, Davidson Contracting wanted to stay with the brand. They chose the NH Roll Baler 125 Combi for its consistently high bale quality and increased productivity. “The arrival of the RB 125 Combi has seen us increase output from 35 bales an hour with the old machine to up to 50 bales an hour, based on its ability to consume

large volumes of crop,” Michael says. Baling at a steady pace, Davidson Contracting last season made about 2600 grass bales. “The ability to deliver fine chop, the speed of the transfer from the baler to the wrapper and the speed of the wrapping are standout features of the new machine.” For the 2018 season, the business plans to trial film instead of the initial net wrapping, a process said to exclude more air from the bales, creating better quality silage and tighter, more uniform bales. After its first season, the RB125C is said to be

Increasing bale output was key to Davidson Contracting upgrading to a New Holland RB125C combi at the start of the season.

easy to maintain and service, with large opening panels on either side offering good access to all key components. Michael says the use of brass bushes instead of bear-

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ings should mean longer life for the machine’s rollers. Davidson says he cannot fault the baler and

is exceptionally happy with it to date. “Going from the BR6090 to this new machine is a massive

technology increase, which happens with every new line of machine that comes out.”

WELLINGTON SERVICE CENTRE NORWOOD IS expanding its nationwide presence, having recently opening its 19th service centre in Wellington – to service the city and the surrounding areas. Located at 12 Wareham Place, Seaview, Lower Hutt, the new centre will be home to a service team doing troubleshooting and supplying parts. “Customer experience is our number one priority,” says Norwood commercial

general manager Garry Watt. “We have a lot of customers in the greater Wellington region and we want to make sure we’re supporting them as best we can; this new service centre will make that possible. “Being based locally we can get any issues resolved much faster. And it will make it easier to get gear serviced regularly to avoid breakdowns and increase uptime.”

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Trailed post driver ideal for those ‘elderly’ steeds

CLAAS’S JAGUAR 960 Terra Trac is claimed to be the first with a factory-built crawler track system that offers reduced compaction and headland damage during harvesting. The machine was first seen at the 2017 Agritechnica Event and has since been tested by the German Kiel University’s Department of Applied Sciences. Its test results show that even when fitted with the narrowest track

option of 635mm, the resultant contact area of 1.3 sq.m is at least twice that of machines with the commonly fitted 800mm wide tyre option. As part of the Terra Trac system, an integral headland protection system comes into play during manoeuvres. This sees support rollers in each track unit pushing down hydraulically, causing the front drive roller to raise, so reducing the contact area by

about one third. The result is greatly reduced damage, particularly on grassland, by reducing the shear-effect of the tracks during a turn. The forager frame is extended by 1m to accommodate the track system and a pivoting mounting system, allowing oscillation of 10 degrees upwards and 13 degrees down. Offered with the option of 635mm, 735mm and 890mm track widths, the Terra Trac 960

has a transport width of 3m as the narrowest option, versus 3.5m for the 890mm fitment. The suspended chassis is said to achieve a maximum road speed of 40km/h, and the added benefit of the ‘chassis stretch’ is more room in the central area of the forager for maintenance, particularly for the installation or removal of the kernel processing module, which is easily accessed over the tracks. – Mark Daniel


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prevent users being ‘flatders, lessening the need effect on farm safety. tened’ by a stroppy beast, for operators to come This might mean making drenching or into close contact with upgrading from a quad dosing easier or using a heavy animals. to a UTV or even declarmotorised winch to lift And in woolsheds, ing some difficult areas of the legs of animals for clever selection of new a farm ‘no vehicle’ areas. hoof trimming or treatModern technology might plant and machinery can ment see a shearing machine offer a solution in this Looking latter case, into acquirmaybe using a The chance to update or ing new techremote-control re-think the layout of a new nologies drone to send shouldn’t live-feed picanimal handling system revolve tures to monioffers several opportunities. just around doing tor livestock, things easier or even develor more quickly; forward equipped with elecoping that technology to thinkers will also look tronic control systems muster stock off inhospiat the ‘insurance factor’ that eliminate lock-up, so table areas. reducing damage to stock, inherent in safer plant or Similarly, automated machinery. and equally importantly gate systems, e.g. highThe laying-up of a key removing the risk of tech units with push-butstaff member by injury at sprains or broken wrists ton remote activation or a key time can dramatito operators. even drive-over gates, cally affect the running Likewise, the chance allow passage from difof a farm, particularly in to update or re-think the ferent areas without the time, money and overall layout of a new animal need to dismount quads morale. handling system offers or UTVs, step down from Smart farmers will several opportunities: tractors or get in or out removing stress from ani- always be on the lookout of a ute. This saves time for areas of a farm that mals moving through the and energy and removes might pose a safety risk system, and keeping anithe risk of runaway vehito themselves or their mals and operators apart cles. workers and will welcome but retaining ease of At a more mundane and integrate new techoperation. This also drills level, emerging technolnologies to remove those down into close-quarogies are offering the risks. ter inspection of large means to shepherd anianimals with the use of mals around a farm using @rural_news automated head-bails to remote-control

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Or fill in this form and post it to: Rural News, Win a Suzuki Kingquad competition, PO Box 331-100, Auckland 0740

Q: What publication did you see this promotion in? Answer: .......................................................................................................................... Name: .............................................................................................................................. Address: ........................................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................... Phone: ...................................................... Email: ............................................................................................................................... Terms and Conditions: Information on how to enter the competition forms part of these terms and conditions. Entry in to the Win a Suzuki Kingquad competition is deemed acceptance of these terms and conditions. Entry is open to all New Zealand residents except for employees of Rural News Group and their immediate family. Each entrant may enter more than once. To be valid, each entry must contain the correct answers as determined by the Rural News Group. The competition opens on Monday August 6, 2018 and closes Friday November 2, 2018 at 11pm. The prize winner will be drawn on Monday November 5, 2018 and will be contacted by phone and email by Wednesday November 7, 2018. The winner will be announced via email by Friday November 9, 2018.The promoter’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered in to. By accepting the prize, the prize winner consents to the promoter using his/her details, photographs and recording of the prize acceptance for promotional and media publicity purposes. There is one prize of a Suzuki Kingquad 500 XE ATV. The winner may be required to pick up their prize from their nearest Suzuki dealer. The prize is valued at $16,995. The prize is not transferable or redeemable for cash. All insurance and any on-road costs are at the winner’s expense. All entries become the property of the promoter. The promoter is Rural News Group, First Floor, Bayleys Building, 29 Northcroft St, Takapuna, Auckland 0622


The secret behind success – Page 6



Kiwifruit is king! Peter Burke

A UNIVERSAL trend by consumers to live better and healthier lives is driving the demand for New Zealand kiwifruit. Zespri chief executive Don Mathieson says kiwifruit fits perfectly into that scenario, causing strong demand in all its markets. Mathieson says sales growth has

been strong again this year: 150 million trays, up from about 120 million trays last year. A lot of that is driven by the Sungold variety, and there is good growth also in Zespri green. “Looking long term, we see that trend continuing with consumers wanting great products, great food items that are filled with nutrition,” Mathieson told Hort News.

“Kiwifruit is a real king in that space with all the vitamins and fibre and the nutritional elements it has versus other fruits. Based on that trend we see strong demand.” He says their target group of consumers tend to be very health conscious, which is not region-specific but tends to be across the board. Zespri is getting good growth in both green and gold in Asia, with China going very

well. “It’s going well in Japan and they are once again our number-one market in Asia this year. We are also seeing great growth in Korea and have seen the duties start to gradually come down. “We used to pay 45% duty on our exports to Korea, but with NZ’s free trade agreement with them the duties have started to come off and we have been able to offer our kiwifruit to conRURAL NEWS GROUP

Jack Frost never sleeps Cromwell orchardist Simon Webb pictured at sunrise after a sleepless night of frost-fighting. Overhead sprinklers are a common method of preventing frost damage as water on buds releases a little warmth into the buds as it freezes, then protects them from the worst of the cold air. – See more page 7

sumers at a more attractive price and that has helped drive demand. “At the same time, Taiwan is doing well and is now our number-one consumption market per capita in the world.” European consumers have always been strong supporters of Zespri green, but Mathieson says consumers there are now starting to be attracted to Sungold. He believes this is because Sungold has a slightly sweeter taste and is easy to eat. “France is going well and continues to be a high growth market for us. In the last couple of years, it has been a real performer in the European region. And we are also seeing good growth in all our major markets in Spain, the Benelux region, Germany and Italy.”

YOUR HORT NEWS! Welcome to the first issue of Hort News. Rural News Group is proud to launch this new national publication to serve the fastgrowing horticultural sector. Hort News is a one-stop read for all horticulture sectors, covering industry news, management, markets, technology, machinery, opinion and more. Distributed with Rural News in key horticulture regions, Hort News will be the only independent publication covering the entire horticultural industry. We hope you enjoy it. Adam Fricker General manager Rural News Group

BECAUSE UNCERTAINTY IS CERTAIN, THERE’S FMG ARABLE CROP COVER. Hail or windstorm, lightning or frost, they can all hit when you least expect it. So it makes sense to safeguard your livelihood with Arable Crop cover from FMG. It protects your crops while they’re growing, and for up to 12 months after they’ve been harvested. We’ll even pay up to 80% of replanting costs if you have a loss within 40 days of planting. So ask around about us. Or better still, give us a call us on 0800 366 466. This is a summary of our product and is subject to our specific product documentation and underwriting criteria which can be found on our website or by calling us on 0800 366 466.

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Damien O’Connor

GROWING AND sharing New Zealand’s prosperity more fairly is a central plank in the coalition Government’s plan. That means working in partnership with our primary producers to ensure a resilient and profitable primary sector. In short, we are moving from volume to value. The strength and importance of our primary sectors to the NZ economy was highlighted in the latest gross domestic product figures. The economy grew 1% in the June quarter, driven by the primary sector – up 4.2%. Good prices for dairy products and horti-

sive economic development. New market access to China for our avocados was a huge milestone in January. We are one of only four countries with access to that market. Thank you to a sector that helps grow the prosperity of all NZers. We

will continue to push for greater market access for your top-quality products, protect your soils, and work with you to help grow a productive and sustainable horticulture sector. • Damien O’Connor is Minister of Agriculture

Agricultural Minister Damien O’Connor says the Government will work to help grow a productive and sustainable horticultural sector.

use to high-value crops such as avocados. Smaller players cherries and blueberries are

The primary sector sometimes misses out on the accolades it deserves for its massive contribution to our economic and social wellbeing. cultural produce, such as kiwifruit, are behind that growth. The primary sector sometimes misses out on the accolades it deserves for its massive contribution to our economic and social wellbeing. I want to thank you for the hard work you put in. Your families, communities, regions and the country see the benefit of it. Horticulture exports recently reached $5.4 billion, making up 16% of our agri exports. There have been reports of conversion from pastoral land

tries have one and we’re disadvantaged by having several uncoordinated methods of proof. Against a global backdrop of rising protectionism we are championing free trade with our Trade For All agenda to support sustainable and inclu-

also punching above their weight. Wine, apples, pears and vegetables are growing too, highlighting opportunities in a range of climates and land types. All this is achieved on about 110,000 hectares of precious soil that the coalition Government has taken steps to protect. I’ve seen first-hand the encroachment of urban sprawl on the high-quality soils in Pukekohe, south of Auckland. Officials are working to develop a national policy statement for high class soils. We

must look at soil health and protection comprehensively. On biosecurity we are not ostriches; we are strengthening the system because our flora and fauna and unique way of life depend upon it. In our first Budget we put $9.3 million into strengthening our offshore facilities. Stronger import controls were imposed on used car and machinery imports to protect us against the brown marmorated stink bug, and the Environmental Protection Authority approved of using the samurai wasp in the event of a stink buy incursion. Meanwhile we hope the Biosecurity 2025 movement ‘Ko Tatou’ (‘This is us’) will build a team of all 4.7 million New Zealanders. As Darwin said, those who collaborate and innovate prevail. To underline this ambition, I recently launched the Sustainable

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson


DEAN MATHIESON says this is an exciting time for the kiwifruit industry. Zespri is working with the industry to facilitate good quality growth. With 14,000ha of kiwifruit, the industry – right across the supply chain – must collaborate more than ever if it is to match supply

to demand. “We are licensing our Sungold out at 700ha a year, in Bay of Plenty and the regions,” Mathieson says. “We are seeing great growth for Sungold up north in Whangarei and Kerikeri and further down the East Coast – as well in Gisborne, Napier and even in Nelson. “Sungold grows better than Zespri green in more locations, which means we are getting a wider regional spread.”

However, the big challenge facing the kiwifruit industry is finding enough quality labour. A survey by the University of Waikato forecast that, based on the growth of the industry, 29,000 more people would be required. Mathieson says encouraging people to make a career in the industry is a challenge and the industry is looking for support from the Government and others to get the staff needed.

It’s the perfect time to be in horticulture – and we know you need qualified, capable people ready to grow.



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No longer a quarter-acre paradise Peter Burke

EVERY QUARTER- or eighth-acre of high-class land sold for housing or building is one more piece of land excluded from commercial vegetable growing. That’s the view of John Seymour, the head of Horticulture New Zealand’s fresh vegetable section, who sees this aspect of urban sprawl as a huge challenge for his sector. “There is an argument that says you just move somewhere else. But you can’t, because the crops are grown on class-one soil and there are very few places you can transfer that production to or if you do you get increased transport and freight costs,” Seymour told Hort News. “A lot of people appreciate the problem, but for others in urban Auckland this is not an issue as long as there are

Urban sprawl is seen as a huge challenge to the vegetable growing sector in NZ.

Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, Pukekohe and Northland (serving the Auckland market). Seymour points out that the closer commercial growing is to cities, the fresher and less expensive are the vegetables. Then there’s the weather – outside growers’ control be it floods or drought, as is access to water -- becoming more complicated due to the RMA. “Compliance costs increase every year and growers can’t directly pass these on. You can’t go to retailers and say, ‘well my costs have gone up because of compliance and we want 10% more’. This takes some growers out of the market because they can’t afford the compliance costs.

In the long term the assumption is that we will always be able to import; and that assumption is because there will always be countries that can export to us. “I think people understand the logic that if the weather creates a shortage then prices will go up because more people are demanding the product. If there is only so much product on the floor to buy, retailers know that creates demand and some retailers are prepared to pay more than others because that’s the free market and consequently that flows on to the consumer.”

Seymour believes NZ has a strong fresh vegetable sector with a great product range by global standards. He says for 95% of the time all the products are available in supermarkets. One encouraging trend he sees is strong demand from many consumers for fresh vegetables because they are healthy, and consumption of these products is growing.






fresh vegetables in their local supermarket.” Seymour believes these people will say if you can’t grow it locally just import it from overseas. But there is a risk in doing this, he says. “They don’t have the same regulations on food safety, etc. “In the long term the assumption is that we will always be able to import; and that assumption is because there will always be countries that can export to us. “But it’s possible, in the long term, those products won’t be available. For example, if China decides to feed its nation internally and stop exporting then suddenly you don’t have any supply.” He says that from the consumer’s point of view it’s important to have commercial growing areas near cities, e.g. Christchurch, Nelson, Horowhenua (servicing Wellington and Manawatu),




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Maori berry venture has big plans Pam Tipa

A MAORI-owned and operated berryfruit company, Miro, aims to return $170 million annual income in eight years to its blueberry growers using state-of-the-art systems. Its orchards are on Maori land NZwide. It is also looks to have 500ha of productive Maori land planted in berries within that time and to create at least 5000 jobs, all based on a Zespri-type model. Director and founders Steve Saunders says the Miro approach arose from investigating what a horticulture strategy would look like for Maori. “That was an end-to-end value chain -- from growing right through to the market, including genetics, marketing and all the other elements of the value chain,” he told Hort News. “As we move beyond the settlement processes we have a lot of underutilised productive Maori land, and as land trusts we end up leasing land to maize or cropping, for example, due to the complexities of multi-ownership. “When you look at the NZ berryfruit industry, it’s small -- 600-700ha -- fragmented, and has older varieties

and a range of challenges. “So there is opportunity to scale berries to an international market that is growing year-on-year. There is good opportunity to form some of this underutilised land and get better value and create better jobs for our people; 5000 people is a lot of people. “Some of it would be creating permanent fulltime jobs and some of it more jobs, like any in horticulture. But if you look at the workforce, Maori have the biggest population of young people coming into the workforce. “Also a lot of whanau want to create opportunities on their land and keep the people on their land. “As part of that we have had support from Ministry of Social Development to provide programmes for training these people. “Again the opportunity is for horticulture to be inclusive for Maori nationally. Berries are grown in the Far North, Otago and on both coasts, so there’s a really good opportunity for national inclusion.” The second part of the initiative is to work together to create the scale required – in infrastructure, breeding programmes and securing some of the value in the intellectual property (IP), he says. The IP for new berry varieties

will be owned by Maori via a joint venture between Miro and Plant and Food Research. To date, 27 Maori entities have so far invested in that opportunity, including individuals, asset holders, land trusts and incorporated societies from the South Island to the Far North. “From all the key growing regions we have seen Maori entities invest. “Formerly there was very low-value return to the landowners. This [new enterprise] is taking land that hasn’t created a lot of value for the landowners and converting that into a better value proposition. “A lot of those land uses, like cropping or grazing, don’t really create jobs for the people.” Saunders says they won’t go out and develop 800ha tomorrow; over 10 years they might develop 50ha a year over the next 10 years. “That is building the brand, building the market and the variety; it is not going crazy and then not selling it all. So it is a well-thought-out managed plan of growth. The ambition and desire is to create a 500ha Maori berry growing operation. “We are also not necessarily talking blueberries either; we are looking at other opportunities -- raspberries,

Steve Saunders says Miro aims to return $170 million annual income in eight years to its blueberry growers using state-of-the-art systems such as these tunnel houses.

blackberries and other rubus varieties. But blueberries are the first focus so it is exciting.” Saunders says the Miro plan also ticks the boxes for regional development. It will provide good opportunity in the “surge” regions – those the Government has targeted as needing accelerated development. They have growing tunnels going up already in Waikato, Gisborne region, eastern Bay of Plenty and Northland. This year they will have 15-18 ha in the

ground, moving up to 50-60ha next year and growing from there. “It has to be well planned, from ordering plants to all the tunnels, the land, doing the water; we are definitely underway. We have a team, a good board, two independent directors and five investment directors and we have done the joint venture with Plant and Food Research. “Miro and Plant and Food co-own the plant breeding programme and cofund it.” Blueberries normally crop commercially in the second year. “There are reasonable infrastructure costs but they produce a lot faster than kiwifruit or apple trees. You can get harvesting and cash flowing a bit faster.” They have the Plant and Food breeding programme but they have also been working with BerryCo to grow some of the best Australian genetics. “A variety called Eureka is one of the best varieties on the market globally so we are starting with well-proven varieties then will bring some of our own varieties through the programme. “With BerryCo the focus will be initially the Australian and NZ market and then building up volume supply into Asia.”

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Moving horticulture from products to brands Pam Tipa

A HUGE shift has occurred in the marketing sophistication of the horticulture industry, says Plant & Food Research chief executive David Hughes. “You’ve moved away from the point where you are exporting product and a country of origin; you are not just selling apples any longer. You are selling a Jazz or another brand of apple,” Hughes told Hort News. “There is a sophisticated marketing programme behind it and sophisticated quality standards. Consumers

have high expectations about what they are buying and they are certainly not comparing how many dollars per kilo is in this big bag. “They may even be buying them as a single one-off item. We saw very expensive, single Envy apples in the Chinese produce shops. You bought a single apple and you chose it quite specifically for the brand of apple. “It is a high-engagement purchase with not insignificant sums of money for a single item. It is similar to people thinking about which bottle of wine to buy -- choosing a particular brand because

“People are starting to think about primary produce in the same context; that is pretty exciting.” you like the experience and you like the brand because it matches what you want. “People are starting to think about primary produce in the same context; that is pretty exciting. It matches the increasing engagement with food particularly in western countries. If you look at YouTube it is full of cat videos, but if you look at Instagram it is full of food photos. “People are think-

ing hard about what they are eating, not just in a negative context of ‘will it make me fat?’ but in a genuinely interesting dialogue about what they are eating, where it has come from, where is the origin, or the culinary style they are engaging with: ‘what does it say about my values and my belief in my food choices?’ For Plant & Food Research that calls for “a whole of pile of sophisticated science”. Achieving

Plant & Research chief executive David Hughes says a major shift has occurred in the market sophistication of the horticulture industry.

a very high quality product that matches people’s values can present significant scientific and technical challenges. Low residue is an example, he says. “It takes a lot of sophistication to grow high quality produce that looks great, tastes great, lasts when it crosses the ocean, does all those things and yet do that with a very low input. “That is a tremendous amount of value-add, and

it is not from secondary manufacturing but from sophisticated production of primary products.” Hughes says he is hugely optimistic about the potential of the horticulture industry to keep growing its value-add and scale of exports. Plant & Food Research has been growing at about 8% per year for the last four years and will probably have to keep growing to meet the demands of the sector. “Science is becoming

a big team game. Once you gave Nobel prizes to individuals, but increasingly in science you give prizes to teams of people. A good example of that was the PM’s science prize awarded to Plant & Food Research for [kiwifruit disease] Psa work. We had 100 people on that citation and that was a harsh cut-off. That is an enormously big team tackling a very complex question needing answers in great urgency.”



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Good juice from apples the secret behind company’s success Peter Burke

ROSS BEATON and Sally Gallagher have a simple and compelling business objective: making apple juice great again, or as they say, making the apple the hero. Their company The Apple Press in Hawke’s Bay takes what many see as the by-product of the apple industry – apples

not good-looking enough to export or sell but otherwise perfectly good – and turning these into a high-quality juice. Ross Beaton has always worked in the pip fruit industry, successfully owning and running orchards. But like many entrepreneurs he wanted to try something different. He saw most apples not sold as fruit being bundled together for juice

“To me it seemed crazy to be spending a lot of money growing apples, yet thousands of tonnes were being virtually wasted by turning them into low grade apple juice.”

The Apple Press’s Ross Beaton and Sally Gallagher say they have a simple business objective: making apple juice great again!

concentrate for a base for other juices. He saw a need for a paradigm shift – a new way of thinking. “To me it seemed crazy to be spending a lot of money growing apples, yet thousands of tonnes were being virtually wasted by turning them into low grade apple juice,” he told Hort News. “So I started this project asking ‘how could we turn that volume of high-quality product into something in a different form and sell it globally?’ I had a couple of ideas, and went around looking at this and that, and during my travels I went to the food industry network in Auckland

TAKING ON THE WORLD! BEFORE COMMITTING to the venture, Beaton and Gallagher did a lot of market research in the US and China that helped them in positioning and promoting the product. They found that in the US the country of origin was not a major factor, whereas in China – which has had many food scares – it was. “Overall, they wanted it to be from a trusted and reliable source, as natural as possible with no preservatives, and they didn’t want a long ingredients declaration; rather they want a short list and they want it to be from very high-quality raw materials,” Gallagher explains. “The quality raw material piece sounds trite, but it is the key to our whole success. The

rationale is that we take the apple from the tree and look after it all the way to when we press and bottle it, then all the way to the market.” Beaton says for a long time apple juice has been a lowquality product consisting of concentrated apple juice with tap water added. He and Gallagher have moved away from this to focus instead on an apple juice beverage from a single apple variety such as JAZZ, Braeburn and Royal Gala. “It’s making the apple the hero. Scientists have developed great apple varieties we are doing out bit to showcase the quality of NZ apples,” he says. The new juices are selling in supermarkets NZ-wide

and they are seeking export markets. They acknowledge not everyone likes pure apple juice, so they offer blends such as apple and pear and apple and feijoa. But again the emphasis is on high-quality juice. While their core target market is the 20 - 40 age group, they say people of all ages seem drawn to their product. They’ve had their challenges: getting investors on board was no easy task but they have persevered and their dream is coming true by the day. “At The Apple Press we are making a world-class product and we want to share that with the world,” Beaton says.

and asked if they could help me.” They answered ‘yes’ and put him in touch with food technologist Sally Gallagher in Napier and together they looked into the project. A key parameter was to go all out on the project, not just tinker with it. “We wanted to use technology, use scale and go global using the smartest technology and the world’s best ingredients to develop the markets where we had sold apples in the past,” Beaton says. Sally Gallagher looked at the product options, e.g. baby food, service powders, extracts, but they finally decided a beverage was the best option. Then came finding technology to match

“We wanted to use technology, use scale and go global using the smartest technology and the world’s best ingredients to develop the markets where we had sold apples in the past.” their objectives. “There is a lot of cool technology you can use but it doesn’t give you shelf life, so we decided we needed to achieve a fresh tasting product with an extended chilled shelf life and that’s the technology we brought in here to Hawke’s Bay.” Their technology allows the juice to be packed in a sterile environment -- the key to extending the life of the

product. It also requires no preservatives to get the extended chilled shelf-life and no sugar is added. “Normally chilled juice has a shelf life of about 60 days. We get nine months.” Gallagher says the value proposition is clean, traceable product. They source tonnes of apples locally and these are traceable back to the exact orchard they came from.


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New apricot’s a ‘shot in the arm’ Nigel Malthus

THE NEW Zealand apricot industry is hoping for a shot in the arm from new varieties soon to enter production. A new grower co-op, at this stage just a subcommittee of the Summerfruit NZ Board, is being set up to manage the release, marketing and licensing of the new varieties. Developed with Plant and Food Research, they are now simply called NZsummer2, NZsummer3 and NZsummer4. Brand names for the fruit and a trading name for the co-op have yet to be decided. The interim board chairman, Alexandra orchardist Nigel Hinton, says the apricot industry has been in decline for several years with many trees cut down and little replanting done. “Some of the varieties coming out of the apricot breeding programme show excellent characteristics and I am confident the commercialisation of some of these varieties will revitalise the apricot industry,” Hinton told Hort News. Summerfruit NZ chair Tim Jones says the breeding is a big investment but it is finally producing “really exciting” new varieties after 20 years’ work. He says the apricot trade has suffered for years from “moderate”

Summerfruit NZ chairman and general manager of the 45 South cherry orchards, Tim Jones, still likes to get his hands dirty and can’t resist doing a little spring bud pruning while showing Hort News around an orchard at Lowburn. RURAL NEWS GROUP

“Some of the varieties coming out of the apricot breeding programme show excellent characteristics and I am confident the commercialisation of some of these varieties will revitalise the apricot industry.” crops. The main export market is Australia, where NZ apricots are for sale at the same time as domestic fruit, and consumers face strong pressure to “buy Aussie”. Jones said the new varieties include some later-ripening fruit.

later one I’m also planting as well, so I’ve got one in December

“Instead of being picked in January they’ll be picked late January into February and that then has a window all of its own.” Simon Webb, whose family has run the Webs Fruit orchard business at Cromwell since 1914, is planting two of the new cultivars – one early and one late-ripening. “There’s a particular early one that I very much like so we’re planting a bit of that,” he told Rural News. “There’s a

and one in February. “I believe they’re superior to the current apricots. Their flavours are

very good and they handle a lot better too. People will get a better eating experience out of

KEEPING JACK FROST AT BAY HORT NEWS caught up with Webb at sunrise on a frosty spring morning, when he’d been up all night protecting his orchards from frost damage. He uses wind machines and overhead water sprinklers which protect buds from damage because water releases heat into the buds as it freezes, then the solid ice isolates them from the colder air. “My wind machines turn on automatically, but I still go out and check they’re running at the right revs per minute and that there are no leaks. It works most of the time but it’s nice to be there and ensure that things are going as they should be,” Webb says. Frosts can hit Central Otago right through to November and even into December. “It looks like we’ve got a really good apricot crop on our trees at the moment,” Webb said. “It’s a bit early to tell with the peaches, nectarines and apples yet, but it looks like we’ve got good pollination in our peaches and nectarines. So it looks like it should be a good crop.”

them. I’m quite looking forward to seeing them and what comes out of them.” Webb has trialled several potential cultivars for the past six or seven seasons and is pleased that his favourites are among the three chosen for commercial release.

Webbs Fruit runs on a 32ha home block and another 30ha leased, growing peaches, nectarines, apricots and apples. The company exports, supplies NZ supermarkets and sells direct to the public at roadside stalls and via online courier orders.

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Tractors for all seasons Mark Daniel nz

THE LATEST 5G series from John Deere takes the tried-and-tested route: a wide range of formats for all horticultural and viticulture scenarios. The 5GF is designed for orchards or vineyards with wide row spacing. The 5GN, being narrower, suits row widths of 185cm. Both units have cabins 120cm wide inside, with good access and comfort. Models 5GL are the low-profile solution for narrow spaces with a minimum width of 103cm, while the 5GV is the ‘skinny minnie’ designed for 160cm row widths and offering a cabin of 100cm. Three power ratings -100, 85 and 75hp -- all use 4-cylinder engines. The two larger models run a

JD’s 5G series provides a wide range of formats for all horticultural and viticulture scenarios.

4.5L engine and a 3.2L in the 75hp unit, all sourced from industry specialists FPT and meeting Tier 3A emission regulations. All the engines have Bosch mechanical injection with 500-hour service intervals. A viscous coupled fan cools in all conditions, and a three-piece engine

hood allows easy access for servicing. Fuel tanks hold up to 73L, and exhausts are horizontal on the ROPS unit and vertical on cabbed machines. Further choice is offered in the options of 2WD or 4WD, both available in open-station or cab variants with 120cm

or 100cm widths. A high-efficiency drive-line acknowledges that this type of machine typically spends 50% of its time working at PTO applications. In the case of the 100hp unit, a creditable 82hp is available at the shaft, with options to specify 540/1000, 540/540E or ground

speed. Hydraulic systems offer a standard lift capacity of 2590kg. But in the case of the 5GF and 5GN units, it can be optioned with external lift cylinders to lift 3100 kg. Standard control is mechanical, with draught control achieved with top-link sensing. Hydrau-

HORTNEWS Introducing Hort News, a new national publication serving the needs of our booming horticulture sector. Distributed with the leading national farming publication Rural News, Hort News will be delivered to all key horticulture regions nationwide. It is the complete solution for readers and advertisers, covering every aspect of the wider horticulture industry – news, agribusiness, management, markets, machinery and technology.

lic flows of up to 122.5L/ min via three hydraulic pumps can be achieved with the 75hp and 85hp machines, while the 100hp tractor offers flows to 107L/min. Dependent on final specification, the tractors can be offered with electro-hydraulic control of the remote valves,

with flow adjustment on up to four valves and timed flow available on valves no 1 and 2. Further options include electrohydraulic linkage control and hydraulic lateral stabilisation. A steering angle of 55 degrees gives turning radii ranging from 3410 to 3650mm dependent on model and axle spacings, which is also aided by automated control of the 4WD and diff-locks at speeds of over 14km/h. Selection of 4WD and diff-locks is activated electro-hydraulically, while auto-engagement of the 4WD system to help retardation is also achieved when locked brake pedals are depressed. A wide range of accessories include front links and PTO, specialised cabin filtration and a range of ballast packages.

HORTNEWy fSor export ISSUE 1


Kiwifruit read 23, 2018 OCTOBER

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Pam Tipa pamelat@ruralnews

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Rural News 23 October 2018  

Rural News 23 October 2018

Rural News 23 October 2018  

Rural News 23 October 2018