Page 1




Ahuwhenua finalists show how it’s done. PAGE 29

Merge Maxx added to the mix.


Opportunities in forestry open up to farmers PAGE 12


Bovis surge anger NIGEL MALTHUS

FARMERS IN the district most affected by Mycoplasma bovis are up in arms at the Ministry for Primary Industry’s news that it will boost its efforts to eradicate the disease. This is expected to bring hundreds more farms under controls over the next few weeks. MPI said just before Easter that it would increase its activity in the leadup to autumn and winter stock move-

ments to limit the risk of disease spread and “to give farmers as much certainty as possible heading into this busy period in the farming calendar”. Mid-Canterbury farmers say it’s already too late. MPI’s programme director Geoff Gwyn says the ‘surge’ results from increased surveillance, late last year, showing a spike in the number of highrisk properties identified. He says MPI wants to get ahead of the curve before autumn and winter stock movements

get into full swing. “We will contact about 300 farmers as a priority over the next few weeks who have had high-risk animals move onto their property. We expect 250 to have notice of direction movement controls placed on them immediately and, following testing, that 10-12 % may become confirmed properties.” Gwyn says about two thirds of the properties are beef farms and the remainder dairy. Mid-Canterbury Federated Farm-

ers meat and wool chair David Acland told Rural News that farmers are already starting to move cattle around, for cattle and calf sales, heifer grazing and dairy cows going out to grazing as they dry off. “We’re coming into a really critical phase and everyone likes to dry off their dairy platforms at a certain cover,” he says. “It’s the same conversation we had last year. The middle of April is too late.”

Top performers FORMER ALL Black captain Taine Randell was one of 250 attendees at the recent field days of the finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Maori sheep and beef farm. Randell told Rural News he was impressed by the finalists and that to describe them as good Maori farms doesn’t do them justice. “They are top performing farms in New Zealand and top farms globally,” he said. Randell, who is involved with Ngati Kahungunu, pointed out that Whangara Farms, a finalist, is an aggregation of three farms. He also praised another finalist, Gwavas Station, which was bought several years ago by the Te Awahohonu Forest Trust for finishing lambs bred on its other farm Tarawera Station. Randell said the vision and excellence shown by all the finalists show how good Maori farming is today. • See more pages 29-31



A MID Canterbury farmer who has already lost his dairy herd to Mycoplasma bovis believes MPI is repeating the mistakes it made last year. Frank Peters says the region’s farmers are “just bloody up in arms” about the surge in M. bovis notifications. Peters says MPI was told last year to make sure it had everything done before the change of season, yet here was a surge happening at the start of May. “Suddenly now they’re hot on the case again? Well, come on, you’re supposed to be on it all the way through,” he told Rural News. Peters has restocked after destroying 1220 cows last year. Although his farm is self-contained with its own winter grazing, he says the new insecurity for those who needed winter grazing, and for the graziers, was “horrendous”. Meanwhile, he is still waiting for compensation money “but that seems to be normal practice”. “That seems to be the worst part about it,” Peters added. “They say compensation is like-for-like, but we will never ever be like-for-like when they finish this.”


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MPI under fire FROM PAGE 1

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Acland says many heifer grazing contracts run from May 1 to May 1. “The timeframe is just too short. By the time they organise meetings and testing and re-testing, all of a sudden you’re crashing into winter.” He wants to know a specific reason why the surge is happening now. Carriers are already flat out moving stock, he said. Acland says it is frustrating when the M.bovis effort has apparently been “trucking along really well” and nothing indicated that the surge was coming. MPI’s news came just before the Easter/Anzac, which for many people meant just three working days in the following 10. Although it later emerged that MPI had people working through, it added to the uncertainty and frustration, Acland says. Last year’s wet spring also meant there was less winter feed around, which reduced flexibility. Farmers who might now be prevented from sending stock away for grazing might buy in feed, but then fall


CONTACTS Editorial: Advertising material: Rural News online: Subscriptions: ABC audited circulation 79,599 as at 30.09.2018

THE TRANS-PACIFIC trade deal, CPTPP, has already cut tariffs on New Zealand beef to Japan from 38.5% to 26.6%. According to Esther Guy-Meakin, Beef + Lamb NZ’s manager international trade, over the next 15 years those tariffs will fall to 9% “which is obviously quite a big win for us”, she told Rural News. Estimates show the meat industry expects to save $60 million in tariffs

into Japan once CPTPP is fully implemented. On December 31, 2018 the CPTPP came into force and everyone in the 11-country trade deal had to make their first tariff cut and then in January everyone made their second, she says. Because of Japan’s financial year they were allowed to make their second cut on April 1. That brought the beef tariff down to the 26.6%. “With the Japanese market the agreement also puts us on a level playing field with Australia, which has had a deal in place for a few years. That has

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meant they have an advantage,” says Guy-Meakin. “The CPTPP puts us on the same footing as Australia so we will have the same preferential access as them.” Beef exports to Japan are about 4% of NZ global beef exports by volume, but of high value. Guy-Meakin says while we have free trade agreements with many other CPTPP countries, we didn’t with Mexico, Peru, Canada and Japan. “That means we [now] get a good deal with those countries too,” she says.







firmed properties.” Gwyn emphasises that the surge does not represent an increased spread of the disease, and does not change MPI’s confidence that it will achieve eradication, which requires “that we prevent the movement of high-risk animals before moving day and winter grazing movements. Doing this as soon as possible before moving day will mean less disruption to the farmers involved,” he told Rural News. “We know that hearing your farm is at risk is distressing for any farmer. We will ensure they are well supported through the process.” Gwyn expects 12 more months of intensive surveillance, movement controls and depopulation before the bulk of the eradication effort is completed. “We are now entering a period where we will have to look at a greater number of farms to find a diminishing number of confirmed properties.”

TPP already paying off

Published by: Rural News Group Printed by: PMP Print

foul of ECan nutrient limits, Acland adds. Angela Cushnie, a member of a support group for affected Mid-Canterbury farmers, says the surge news was unsettling for everyone. She told Rural News her major concern is whether MPI has enough qualified people to ramp up the effort. She doesn’t know of anyone in Mid-Canterbury caught up in the Geoff Gwyn surge. Time is passing while everyone is waiting to see how it would pan out, she said. “It hangs over everybody.” Meanwhile, Gwyn says another 800 properties will be contacted about very low-risk animal movements. “This is a very different category of farm. These properties have had low risk events, like having sent an animal to a property that has become infected, but we need to check. We expect fewer than 0.4% of these properties to become con-


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RICHARD YOUNG was announced as Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Ltd’s new chairman at the company’s annual meeting in Dunedin, last week. Former chair Rob Hewett passed on the role to Young as the first stage of a planned succession for the co-op and its joint venture with Shanghai Maling – Silver Fern Farms Limited. Hewett stays on as the co-chair of the joint venture company and remains a director of the co-op. “While I will remain an active member of the co-operative board, this is the first stage of long-planned succession for our co-operative and Silver Fern Farms Ltd,” Hewett says. Young says he is determined to continue to progress being made by the co-op. “The co-operative has been set up well to reward shareholders through their investment in Silver Fern Farms. We will continue to maintain a high level of oversight to make sure Silver Fern Farms performs to expectations, while delivering services to our shareholders.” Meanwhile, Mid-Canterbury sheep and arable farmer Gabrielle Thompson is SFF’s first board appointed farmer director. A trained veterinarian and chartered member of the Institute of Directors, Thompson is also a director of Rural Co. Independent director Tony Balfour stepped down from board, ending a 10 year association with Silver Fern Farms.







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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Brexit delay gives more time PAM TIPA

BEEF + Lamb NZ is pleased the UK got an extension for Brexit, says Esther Guy-Meakin, BLNZ’s manager, international trade. “It is not ideal that the deadline keeps shifting but it was certainly much better than having a no-deal scenario,” she says. “We had done a lot of preparation for a no-deal situation with the NZ Meat Board and the Meat Industry Association. We were prepared for that eventuality. “This new extension gives us almost six months of additional time so we will continue to work on our processes,” Guy-Martin told Rural News. “It also gives us an

opportunity to work with the NZ Government on some of those trade implications at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). “It gives the EU and UK time to discuss among themselves and hopefully come to an agreement that means an orderly exit. I think all in all that was a good thing.” The work towards a no-deal was not wasted, she adds. “We needed to do that work because we needed to make sure our companies wouldn’t be adversely affected in the case of no deal. We had to be prepared. We are still not out of the woods. A no-deal could certainly happen still. “One of the conditions the EU put on the UK for this extension was

prepared for October 31. “So that work certainly wasn’t wasted,” she says. “All that feeds into the ongoing work we are doing with Mfat and MPI here in NZ on our interests in terms of the WTO work and our access arrangements under the WTO.” The extension is more time for everybody, she says. “It is more time for

Esther Guy-Meakin

that they put forward a member for the EU parliamentary elections. If they fail to do that then they could have a no-deal scenario. “They still haven’t reached a deal internally on what a withdrawal agreement will look like

so if the UK continues unable to resolve the impasse we could find ourselves in a no-deal situation.” Guy-Meakin says they were well prepared for former Brexit deadlines of March 29 and April 12 and will be very well

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the UK and the EU to understand what their future trade relationship is going to be and then understand the implications of that trade relationship on their WTO commitments. “Then it is an opportunity for us to have more time to talk through those implications with the EU and the UK.” @rural_news

What’s worrying farmers? DESPITE TWO of the best years in history, sheep and beef farmers are not exactly happy. That’s the view of Beef + Lamb NZ’s Sam McIvor who says while there is good demand domestically and internationally for sheep and beef, farmers are facing challenges and concerns on the home front. A big issue is attracting good people to work in their businesses. “Two years ago, you’d say poor farmers were struggling to get good employees, but now I am hearing that from good farmers so for us that is big challenge,” he told Rural News. “Labour is an issue I hear consistently from farmers.” McIvor says the primary sector is united in working with Education Minister Chris Hipkins on industry training. He says the primary sector is aiming to put a proposal to the minister on how they see things could be done better. Farmers are also worried about what regulations might emerge from the Government. The issue of climate change and zero carbon is one, another is national environmental standards and water policy and what these might mean to farmers. “In the case of sheep and beef farmers, 70% of their land is hill country and there is uncertainty about what that will mean from a water quality management perspective,” McIvor adds. “Farmers don’t make short terms decisions, often they are making decisions for the next 10-20 years. So, the feedback they give to me is that they want certainty around their investment decisions and what these might look like in the future.” He says one example of uncertainty, is how sheep and beef farmers who have stands of trees on their land will be treated under an emissions trading scheme (ETS). McIvor believes that is a massive issue for sheep and beef farmers where they are sequestering carbon at the moment but there is no credit for it. “The Government hasn’t got a consolidated view across things. There is someone here on climate change and another one across there on water and someone else dealing with biodiversity,” he explains. “What we need and what we are working with Government to do is get a common view on how we deal with those things on the farm. And while farmers want certainty they also want the Government to make good decisions based on good science.” McIvor says there is always a risk that a decision could solve one problem but unintentionally create a problem in another area. – Peter Burke


SOCIAL LIFE, exercise and sleep are the three things that keep all of us well, says the former police crisis negotiator Lance Burdett. He says for farmers, exercise is pretty well covered by the daily running of the farm, but a lack of social life has the most impact on rural wellbeing. Burdett, a former crisis negotiator with 22 years experience working with police – and the military, emergency services, prisons and the FBI – now runs a consultancy called WARN (wellness, awareness, resilience and negotiation). It provides tips and techniques for people to handle difficult situations by understanding what goes on in their’s and others’ brains. Burdett will share his message in a speaking tour of 16 South Island rural centres arranged by the regional Rural Support Trusts with support from MPI. He says there are two ways to “get things out of your head” – one is to speak and the other is to write. But for farmers the biggest problem may be isolation and not talking. Burdett’s speaking tour will include three different programmes for various audiences: Rural Support Trust’s own people on how best to engage with their clients, a second for merchants and others who deal with farmers, and the third for farmers themselves. The three-week tour starts in Timaru and Fairlie on May 6. It follows a successful tour of Central North Island regions last year. The full schedule is on the Rural Support websites. @rural_news

RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Not just good Maori farms PETER BURKE

GOOD MAORI farms shouldn’t just be pigeonholed as good Maori farms, they should just be recognised as top farms globally. That’s the view of Taine Randell, former All Black captain, who is involved with Ngati Kahungunu. Recently, Randell attended the field days of the finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy, which this year is awarded to the top Maori sheep and beef farm. He told Rural News that he was very impressed with this year’s finalists and says that to describe them as good Maori farms doesn’t do them justice. “They are top performing farms in New Zealand and top farms globally,� he says. Randell pointed to fact that Whangara Farms, a

finalist, was an aggregation of three farms which was fantastic. He also praised another of the finalists, Gwavas Station, which was bought several years ago by the Te Awahohonu Forest Trust with a view to finishing lambs bred on its other farm Tarawera Station. “This is all about moving up the value chain.� Randell says the vision and excellence shown by all finalists shows just how good Maori farming is today. Meanwhile, Beef + Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the Ahuwhenua Trophy has been tremendously successful in encouraging Maori farming and the whole farming industry to aspire to excellence. McIvor was at two of the field days and says ordinary farming leaders can learn from Maoridom. He points to governance as one area

BIG HORT CONFERENCE AGENDA THE PROGRAMME for Hort Connections 2019 has been released for the 3200 people expected at the ‘Growing our food future’ conference in Australia in late June. Hort Connections 2019 is the premiere event in the Australian horticulture industry, encompassing the vegetable, fruit, nut, cut floral and nursery sectors. The conference, a joint effort by AUSVEG and the Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand (PMA A-NZ), will run from June 24-26 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. It welcomes all members of NZ’s horticulture industry, from primary producers to retailers and the entire supply chain. “Over 100 NZ delegates and exhibitors have already registered for Hort Connections 2019, paving the way for... a strong trans-Tasman partnership across the entire supply chain,� spokesman Nathan McIntrye says. “Alongside trade show exhibitors from NZ, United Fresh has also come onboard as an industry partner to share their experience in supporting and promoting the fresh produce industry.� Key events will cover topics including onfarm productivity, agricultural innovations on the horizon and industry issues affecting the supply chain and consumers. A National Awards for Excellence Gala Dinner will acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of the industry’s leaders. “Hort Connections 2019 is set to build on the success of previous events to bring even more value to the horticulture industry in Australia and New Zealand,� McIntyre says. For more information or to register online: – Pam Tipa

in particular. “For me, the Ahuwhenua Trophy is a great way to recognise excellence. What this competition does so well is really dig deep down into businesses to identify what are the strong and weak points, what are the things that drive successful businesses,� he told Rural News. “By their nature, Maori are very proud and competitive, and this competition brings out the best of those competitive juices.� McIvor says Maori have a certain entrepreneurial spirit in them and he believes a lot of farmers could learn from that. He says while Maori take risks, they are calculated risks, and this is helped by the fact that they build around them a very strong team of advisors. These may be in farm management, financial or environmental areas. “One of the things I have observed about Maori businesses is the emphasis on paying off debt. Many of their entities have often had hard beginnings and in some cases they inherited debt and have had to borrow, but they have real focus on paying off debt. “That’s something unique to Maori. There

are pakeha farmers who work hard at paying off debt, but there are others who basically just pay interest.� According to McIvor, one of the great things about the Ahuwhenua competition is that it celebrates success in excellence and that those in the competition share their knowledge, especially at the field days. • See pp 29-31

The Ahuwhenua field days attracted big crowds.


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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Australia’s last dairy co-op popular SUDESH KISSUN

AUSTRALIA’S LAST surviving iconic dairy cooperative says it’s getting enquiries daily from farmers wanting to supply it milk. Norco is one of the top 10 dairy processors in Australia, the only co-op remaining since the oncemighty Murray Goulburn Co-op was bought by Canadian company Saputo 18 months ago. Owned by 335 farmer shareholders, Norco collects milk on a farming belt extending from northern Sydney to Gympie, 160km north of Brisbane, Queensland. Norco chairman Greg McNamara says there is a growing interest among Australian dairy farmers to supply a co-op. “We have a daily enquiry list; we haven’t

moved supply beyond our traditional supply pool between Gympie in Queensland and north of Sydney,” he told Rural News. “But at some point, if we choose to we certainly can have a farmer listing from southern NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. Yes, we’re even getting calls from Tasmania and South Australia.” McNamara says Norco is looking at expanding its footprint at the appropriate time; adding value is priority, not growing just for the sake of it. “Our philosophy is we are here to serve the interest of dairy farmer members and the rest of the stakeholders -the community and our employees.” McNamara says some Australian farmers were unhappy to see their

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ABOUT NORCO AUSTRALIAN DAIRY co-op Norco processes about 220 million litres of milk annually. It operates two fresh milk plants and an ice cream factory, making it one of Australia’s biggest ice cream manufacturers. Fresh milk and ice cream make up two-thirds of the co-op’s business. Its rural retailing arm Norco Rural Retailing makes up the rest. Norco Rural Retailing operates 30 stores in NSW and Queensland. Norco produces ice cream for third parties; products are sold in Australia, China, Japan and the US. Some of its ice cream produced for supermarket giant Woolworths ends up in Countdown stores throughout New Zealand.

co-op bought by global giants and want to continue supply a co-op like Norco. Others are after a sense of community. “Sometimes, farmers want to access the chairman or the chief executive to express their concerns; sometimes they are happy to just know they can access the chairman and the chief exec-

utive. “That’s the level of accountability a co-op brings; there are no ivory towers, we aren’t locked in a room where you can’t get to us. “In regional communities, you come across one of your managers, directors or the chief executive and there’s a level of personal connection.”

Norco chair Greg McNamara.

Australia’s dairy industry was rocked in 2016 when Murray Goulburn, the largest dairy co-op in the country, was forced to retreat on its milk price offer to farmer shareholders. After months of promising to raise the farm-

gate milk price, Murray Goulburn suddenly and retrospectively slashed milk prices, stunning its suppliers and leaving many of them hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Frustrated MG farmer shareholders saw their

co-op disappear overnight into the hands of Canadian giant Saputo, now Australia’s biggest dairy processor. Fonterra is the second-biggest player in Australia and its milk suppliers there aren’t shareholders. McNamara says farmers have seen what’s transpired in the dairy industry over the years; they like what they see in Norco. The co-op is focused on a competitive milk price, paying about A59c/L for milk (equating to about A$8/kgMS) this year. “To be competitive on milk price we run the business on a commercial basis,” McNamara says. Another reason Norco still exists is its farmer voting structure: every farm has the same number of votes irrespective of milk production.

RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Brexit: trick or treat for NZ? PETER BURKE

ORGANISATIONS REPRESENTING New Zealand’s largest food and beverage exporters are calling on Britain and the European Union to work with NZ and honour existing WTO tariff rate quotas. The present proposal from the UK and EU would see a 50/50 split in the sheepmeat quota and a range of quotas for dairy and other products. All are deemed unsatisfactory from NZ’s point of view. The organisations, which include Beef + LambNZ, Meat Industry Association, DCANZ, Horticultural Exporters and Wine Growers, want the EU and the UK to use the six month extension of Brexit to propose a more equitable arrangement for NZ. The EU has given the UK until Halloween (October 31) to sort out the shambles over Brexit. This breathing space may help NZ to get its message across to the two entities. NZ food and beverage exporters say EU and UK have argued that cutbacks to their WTO tariff rate quotas (TRQs) are necessary in order to facil-

Beef + Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor.

itate the UK’s exit from the EU. They claim the EU/UK use the term ‘apportionment’, but NZ says while this sounds mild, it hides the harsh reality that they are undermining the quality and quantity of the EU/UK access

commitments and seriously disadvantaging third country exporters. “Without this quota access, many third country exporters would be shut out of the EU/UK markets due to prohibitively high tariffs. In some cases,

this ‘apportionment’ would completely do away with all current quota access into the UK or cut back access by 95 - 99.9%. “The figures are just as alarming for the EU side which would see reduced quota access into its market ranging from 11% to 100%. The EU and UK commitments are clearly set out at the WTO and there is no need for these to change, Brexit notwithstanding. There are wider ramifications from a precedent being established by the EU and UK actions which adversely affects WTO members and erodes current levels of liberalisation,” says the group. The NZ exporters go on to say that it seems the EU and UK are inconsistent by adopting one rule in the case of their multilateral trade commitments and a completely different one for their bilateral trade commitments. They point out that with some current EU bilateral FTA partners, the entirety of their quota access into the EU seems to have been preserved and additional, separate quotas created for access into the UK post-Brexit. @rural_news

SPLIT QUOTAS CAUSE ANGST THE SPLIT quotas as proposed by the EU and the UK don’t work and won’t honour the WTO agreement, says Beef + Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor. He says BLNZ, and the NZ Government, are continuing to progress that argument with UK and EU officials. McIvor believes the Brexit extension just means more uncertainty. He says what the NZ meat industry is doing is preparing the various scenarios that may unfold over Brexit. “For us it’s how we manage quota and if they go out without a deal what will happen with the quota system?” he told Rural News. “So what we have done is worked with the meat processing industry and we are absolutely prepared for each scenario.” McIvor says the Brexit saga has caused extra work and costs for BLNZ and other exporters. He notes the appointment of Jeff Grant to London, funded by the Meat Industry and BLNZ, to deal specifically with Brexit. And other staff are needed. “It’s a pretty constant load and you have to deal with it and put the time into it. We have done a lot of software development in terms of our quota management system,” he adds.

30/04/19 12:47 PM

RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Hort boosts farm syndicate’s result PAM TIPA

AN AGGREGATE 10% cash return during 2018-19 is shown in the first full year financial results of MyFarm’s horticultural and commercial rural property syndicates. This covered nine MyFarm syndicates in permanent crops including vineyards, apple, kiwifruit, avocado orchards and two commercial properties. MyFarm head of investment research Con Williams told Rural News MyFarm has begun offering a wider variety of investments in farming. It began this in 2015-16 and now has nine syndicates producing cash returns. Williams expects positive results will continue. This is the first release of the syndicates’ full year results. They look at the sector and its prospects, the quality of the asset and the partnership and any special factors that come with that.

“If all those three things continue to perform we expect good returns in the future,” Williams says. “Definitely from a sector point of view at the moment things are looking pretty solid.” MyFarm has set up 17 permanent crop syndicates since 2015, widening out from its former focus on dairy only. Williams says the company’s Bay of Plenty SunGold kiwifruit orchard syndicates show what can be achieved. They yielded cash returns of 14-26% in 2018-19. If the rise in orchard capital values were included the overall result would be even better. “Kiwifruit’s impressive run in 201819 was maintained as Zespri maintained strong orchard-gate returns. Exports to China and North America increased, and [good weather] and first class management by the DMS Progrowers team produced good quality crops.” In contrast, he says, the MyFarm apple, vineyards and commercial prop-

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MyFarm’s Con Williams.

erty investment syndicates in rural areas generate solely lease incomes and cash returns of 6-8%. However he says that as production kicks in on the developing apple orchard, returns from the profit share arrangement with the lessee is forecast to generate double digit cash returns. Williams also acknowledges the risk of problems such as occurred with a Northland avocado investment property hit by harvest timing, pest and market access issues. Of these, whatever is controllable has been addressed for the coming season and investors have since bought a neighbouring avocado orchard. MyFarm in 2017 and 2018 also went into bareland developments in hop gardens, cherry orchards, manuka plantations and Rockit apple orchards. These yield no or low returns whilst the plants mature, but they have the advantage of new, improved varieties planted at scale in modern formats. The earliest of these will start contributing cash returns in full year 2020.


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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


More woolly yarns or progress? PAM TIPA


Miles Anderson

tion from the Wool Industry Working Group to work on the action plan.” Many people have been involved since its inception last year to ensure a wide cross section of the industry felt represented.

Anderson, who is also Federated Farmers meat and wool chair, says they now can narrow that down to a smaller number in an ‘action group’ under the independent chair. They will continually feed back to the stakeholders and follow the



JOHN RODWELL is the new independent chair of the Wool Industry Working Group. Rodwell has a background in corporate finance, investment banking and agribusiness. He is the founder and part-owner of Kintore Dairy Farm and co-founder of Lindis Crossing Station (lambs, steers and deer). He is also a part-owner of Alpine Pastures Ltd, which buys, markets and distributes sheep and beef stock. He is the founder of BGA Lao Plantation Forestry Ltd, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and a plantation forestry business. He is a director of Landcare Research/ Manaaki Whenua, chair of Waka Aotearoa and a member of the Primary Sector Council.

THE WOOL Industry Working Group has found common ground that all players in the industry agree on, says chairman Miles Anderson. “It is early days but I am quite confident. There is a willingness and determination from all participants to have concrete outcomes beneficial to the industry as a whole,” he told Rural News. “It is positive. It has been refreshing to be involved thus far because this sort of thing has been tried in the past and there have been failures, probably due to patch protection and so on. “Whereas, at this stage everyone [in the Wool Industry Working Group] has been very open and collaborative in their approach, which is excellent.” An independent chair has been appointed, John Rodwell, and representatives are meeting next month to work on an action plan. Terms of reference have been drawn up. “We are going down the path now of having a smaller representa-

lead of the wider group. They will be empowered to get the work done, he says. Anderson says a wool levy is not a definite part of the proposition at this stage. However, it will be part of the discussion once an action plan has been developed and funding options are under consideration. “The Government is supporting the work the group is doing over the next six or so months and the onus is on the group to come up with a collaborative action plan. It will be a long term solution to some of the issues the wool industry has,” he told Rural News. “If we can come up with the plan that everyone agrees on, which I am sure we will, then we have to talk about how we make sure it is sustainable long term. “That will involve discussions of the long term funding of the entity or whatever [the structure] looks like when the plan is finished. We are not going in with any preconceived ideas.”


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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Lepo risk stretches beyond dairy PETER BURKE

ORCHARD AND forestry workers could be exposed to the disease leptospirosis. This warning comes from Associate Professor Jackie Benschop of Massey University, a keynote speaker at an international conference on epidemiology and occupational health, held in Wellington last week. The conference attracted 270 delegates. It was the first time this particular conference has been held in New Zealand. Benschop, a worldknown expert on leptospirosis, says while traditionally in NZ it’s associated with dairy farms and meat works, it is also known to be spread by rodents. “So we need to consider the risk anywhere where there is food for rodents – calf feed, palm kernel and even fallen apples,” she says. “The strain of lepto carried by rodents is different from the strains we see in sheep and

cattle, but they can make people sick. So it’s possible that people working in orchards or forestry could be exposed to the disease.” Benschop says a problem in diagnosing leptospirosis in humans is that it often presents like flu. This has led to an underreporting of the disease. To confirm whether a person has lepto requires two blood tests about four weeks apart. But she says people often feel better after a week or two and don’t have the second test. The three day conference covered a huge range of topics. Conference organiser David McLean, of Massey University, says another prominent topic was exposure of humans to chemicals in the work place, especially pesticides. Dr Laura Beane Freeman, from the National Cancer Institute in the US, told the conference that worldwide one billion workers are exposed to pesticides and in the US there are 800 chemical ingredients

TOP PLOUGHERS IN ACTION NEW ZEALAND’S top ploughmen and women will descend on the small town of Chertsey, near Ashburton, this weekend for the National Ploughing Championships. About 40 competitors from around NZ, and dozens of spectators, will be there. The main competitions will be in conventional, reversible, vintage and horse drawn ploughing, and vintage machinery will be on display. Each day’s competition will end with a demonstration of modern ploughing equipment. NZ Ploughing Association president Willy Willets says a huge amount of preparation goes into organising the annual event. He says in any area selected it will take local organisers about three years to prepare for the event. This includes selecting and preparing the site, organising accommodation and administration. All competitors bring their own tractors, horses and ploughs -- a big logistical exercise. “Nowadays you have to take your tractor and plough with you if you are to stand a chance of winning,” Willets explains. “You simply need your own equipment which suits you.” Rural News will again sponsor the horse drawn competition, which always attracts a lot of interest. Rural News Group general manager Adam Fricker says it’s great to be involved in the National Ploughing Championship’s. – Peter Burke

registered. Beane Freeman says investigating the effects of pesticides in causing cancer is a challenging task and has to take into account the chemical and its management by farmers.

Worldwide some farmers still have a she’ll-beright attitude to the use of pesticides. She says the effects are often masked by the fact that compared with urban dwellers farmers lead quite a healthy lifestyle.



Jackie Benschop














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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Opportunties in forestry open up to farmers PAM TIPA

POLICY CHANGES have created new opportunities in forestry for farmers, says RaboResearch sustainability analyst Blake Holgate. Those opportunities will vary vastly across different land uses, farming systems and individual operators, says Holgate, commenting on a new Rabobank report entitled ‘Seeing the Carbon for the Trees’. So farmers need to discover what these opportunities represent to them individually as a landowner, Holgate told Rural News. “Historically farmers have been wary of forestry and carbon farming. Carbon farming has seen significant price fluctuations as a result of policy interventions,” he says. “That has created uncertainty. There has been a legacy effect from that. “But the billion dollar trees scheme is lowering the barrier to entry. You are looking at more certainty than we have

had previously in climate change policy and changes in how credits are earned and surrendered. It is swinging back towards creating greater interest again from farmers.” He says the Rabobank report emphasises that while there are opportunities for individual landowners there are also things to watch. In the long term, “the way it is set up there may be short to medium term gains and benefits that are very appealing,” Holgate told Rural News. “But there are longer term implications that may restrict farmers’ ability to farm land as they want. “It is up to the individual to decide what best suits them. They need to go in with open eyes and have the appropriate information and take all relevant considerations into account.” He adds that if the Zero Carbon Bill becomes law it will create another level of certainty. “We still aren’t 100% clear on what that will look like. So once we

Takeouts from the Rabobank report ❱❱ The New Zealand government’s policy agenda in relation to climate change and forestry will make forestry a more appealing land use option than it has been in the past for some landowners. ❱❱ The key question for landowners considering planting trees on a portion of their property is whether the benefits to the overall farming business are greater with that land in trees or in its existing use. ❱❱ This is an assessment that should be based upon the specific characteristics of the property, farm system, and the landowner and/or operator themselves. ❱❱ Given the long-term implications, it is important that landowners gather the appropriate information to ensure they can make an informed decision that takes into account the relevant financial, strategic, and environmental considerations.

have that Bill introduced to Parliament and greater clarity on what we are working towards, and the framework for achieving those targets, that will again provide another level of certainly that we still don’t have.” The Rabobank report doesn’t look at agriculture coming into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) or simi-

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lar issues. It simply looks at what opportunities forestry represents and the ability to generate income from carbon. “One of the challenges of generating a regular cashflow from carbon is that historically the prices have fallen from $20 down to $1.50 in the space of a couple of years. That has largely been because of Govern-

RaboResearch analyst Blake Holgate.

ment intervention and policy influencing that. “So I think that even signing up to the Paris agreement, which puts targets on NZ going forward, and the ETS being the primary mechanism for achieving those targets, creates more certainty around that carbon price than we have had historically. “If we can get the domestic targets in place under the Zero Carbon Bill that will provide

another level of certainty.” Farmers must understand that currently it is not clear how offsetting (carbon emissions on farm) will be incorporated if agriculture comes under the ETS, he adds. The Interim Climate Change Committee will soon provide recommendations to the Government on how agriculture can be incorporated into the ETS. “But it is still not clear how planting on farm could be used to offset livestock emissions.” If farmers are planting trees and selling the credits to generate income as they go, those trees cannot then be used to

also offset their livestock emissions. His understanding of the billion dollar tree fund is that grants are available to plant but you have to be the landowner to do that. You can buy the land, get a grant and use that money to plant and maybe to offset any costs involved in buying the land. But you can’t directly use the grant to purchase land. “This has made it very appealing for foresters or people looking to plant to buy land for that purpose because they know they are able to access these grants to do the planting. It is a strong incentive to make that purchase.”

MORE TREES LIKELY STRONG PLANTING incentives provided by the Government will likely see farmers in some regions taking land out of food production and switching to planting trees, says the RaboResearch report. The long-term social and economic implications at local and national levels are legitimate issues requiring further consideration, the bank says. Holgate says while this is not the focus of the current report, if this happened on a large scale it would be of concern, “probably if we have semi productive land or land that is currently in food production planted in trees”. “But there are large tracts of New Zealand that aren’t very productive at all and aren’t producing much food, so putting that in trees probably makes sense in a lot of places. “But where it tips over to land that is productive and is producing food at the moment and it is taken out of production... on a large scale over a long time that would create its own issues and challenges.”

RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


DIRA tweaks more than likely NIGEL MALTHUS

THERE WILL be no major changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA), claims Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. “It’s not broken,” he told a DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum in Timaru last month. “[But] there are some things that need to be tweaked.” He said that the DIRA review needed to protect the position of dairy farmers. “You have an asset for 48 hours and beyond that it’s a liability. You need to have secure contracts to pick up your milk and process your milk and get you enough from the marketplace to cover costs. That’s my starting point.” O’Connor said he was not an advocate for competition, but there were some “healthy tensions” that a competitive environment in some spaces brought to the industry. “I’m just trying to find the right balance and hopefully we’ll end up in the right spot.” O’Connor would soon report back with some ideas around DIRA. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, but we are taking the opportunity to look at the legislation and make sure that if there are ways that we can improve it to better suit the modern reality that we have,” he told the

meeting. “Not one that was set down in the early 2000s, around the level of competition for Fonterra, the issues around environment, animal welfare. They will be taken into account.” Milk price-setting arrangements were a core part of the discussion. He said he’d come back with a set of proposals that he hoped the industry would see as sensible. However, there would be time for feedback from the dairy sector and from dairy farmers themselves. O’Connor said dairy should be looking to the future with confidence, although he was not denying the sector faced challenges. On the proposed sale of Westland Milk Products to Chinese dairy giant Yili, O’Connor said he was not a shareholder, but has family who are. “As the second biggest co-op in this country, I am really saddened to see it go through the process of potential sale. Partnership might have been better,” he said. “I’m not familiar with all the details. All I’ve said is that farmers, if they are shareholders, if they have an interest, they should ask all the questions they think of now – not worry after the deal that they should have asked.” Now was the time for debate. “The board’s gone out with one single proposal

MIGRANTS IMPORTANT TO SECTOR MIGRANT WORKERS who have been here for five years deserve the right to apply for residency, Damien O’Connor told the forum, in response to questions from the floor. In opening the forum earlier, Dairy NZ director Colin Glass said that the dairy sector had 46,000 people working in it but with 14% churn, needed 5000 new entrants every year just to stand still. “We have a massive people shortage in Canterbury and Southland with up to 24% of staff on farms operating on short term work visas. “So migrant employees are absolutely valued members of our teams but we need to create certainty for them.” Glass also called for a focus on regional education, employment and welfare.

- which is unusual. I just hope if there is another option that might be a better option, that they can put that on the table as well.”

O’Connor said it was a warning to all co-ops – big and small – that mistakes at governance or management level can get them into trouble.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Cellular what?

Forget the Avengers, farmers the real heroes


CELLULAR MEAT and molecular whiskey are among new developments taking over global food production, an international agri-summit recently heard in Christchurch. American entrepreneur and consultant Raymond McCauley told the inaugural Grow 2019 Agri Summit that the world will reach “peak humanity” of nearly 10 billion in about 30 years. He says this will require that we grow as much food in the next 30 years as in our entire recorded history, “and we’ve got to do it in 1/400th of the time”. “Challenge accepted,” he said. McCauley heads Exponential Biosciences, a consultancy in integrated systems in genomics, bioinformatics, systems biology and nanotechnology. He also holds the chair of digital biotechnology at California’s Singularity University and is associated with Boma, the international network which organised the summit. Depicting rapid, widespread change coming to the food production sector, McCauley said cellular agriculture includes the already accepted Impossible Burger, made of artificial meat and available in restaurants worldwide. Speaking as “a Texan boy who likes his steak,” McCauley said Impossible Burger 2.0 was about to roll out and was a whole step above the current version. “It’s a game-changer and a wake-up call.” He said companies worldwide are now “within striking distance” of producing artificial chicken, beef, fish and leather. American company Endless West was producing Glyph molecular whiskey, made to mimic a very high-end 30-yearold cask-aged whiskey which sells for


Raymond McCauley on stage at Boma’s GROW 2019 Agri Summit in Christchurch. RURAL NEWS GROUP

US$2000-3000 a bottle. Reviews of the product, produced overnight and sold for about $50, range from “surprisingly good” to “can’t tell the difference”. McCauley believes the faux whiskey is a metaphor for what is going on in food production. “I’m not saying this replaces the old thing. Not everybody’s going to want it,” he told the conference. “Will traditional agriculture be replaced? The answer is no, we’re going to need everything we’ve got to get through this next 30 years.” McCauley says the idea of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in crops and feed is already old fashioned and increasingly giving way to gene editing. GMOs require taking DNA from one organism and putting it in another, raising concerns that it could be creating allergies or somehow harming the environment. However, gene editing involves

turning up or turning down traits already existing in an organism. “None of those (GMO) concerns have ever actually come true. This remains one of the safest technologies humans have ever invented. But with gene editing we don’t even have those theoretical concerns.” He said gene editing is also turning away from simply wanting to increase yields by being able to use more pesticides or herbicides. Instead it is changing the traits of crops so they can grow in different climates or soil types. An example is a drought-resistant soybean already approved for use in three countries and estimated to save farmers $5 billion/year. “This is not the product of a big traditional American company. This is from Argentina and a little company called Bioceres. They’ve actually got a whole list of things they’re working on,” McCauley added.

FARMERS ARE the world’s real superheroes, says Rabobank executive Marc Oostdijk. Launching Rabobank’s recent FoodX programme, which aims to introduce high school students to career paths in the food industry, Oostdijk says world population is expected to reach 9 or 10 billion by 2050. “That’s massive, and to grow food and fibres for them is a massive challenge.” About 30 year 12 and 13 students from a dozen urban Canterbury high schools attended the four-day programme organised by Rabobank’s Canterbury Client Council with Lincoln University. The students were introduced to all facets of primary industry -- animals, food production, marketing, agribusiness and science. Activities included visits to producers, including dairy and high-country deer farms, and processors including Synlait, Hellers and the Three Boys boutique brewery in Christchurch. Oostdijk is Rabobank’s Sydney-based general manager of knowledge, networks sustainability and community engagement for New Zealand and Australia. He says the bank’s


client councils, which meet regularly to discuss the challenges facing the agricultural sector, are an important way for it to understand what is relevant to rural industries and communities. He says the number-one concern is always how to make sure there is enough young talent going into the industry. Rabobank client councils run a similar agri-leadership programme for year 12 and 13 students in Waikato, and in Australia it places students and secondary school teachers on farms for week-long visits. “This is a space we love to be active in,” Oostdijk told Rural News. “Food is what drives us, fibre is what drives us.” Young Farmers chief executive Lynda Coppersmith told the opening that she grew up as a city girl but wished she had known then what opportunities existed in the agricultural sector. She says success for young people in the rural sector could mean many different things for different people – a degree from Lincoln, rural banking, farm ownership and food production. “We want to be able to excite young people and then connect them with the options available to them in the agricultural sector.”

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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Fines for farm invaders SUDESH KISSUN

ANIMAL RIGHTS activists entering Queensland farms without permission now face being fined. The Queensland Government last week announced measures against activists who risk the lives of farmers, workers and animals: unauthorised entry into farms pose biosecurity risks. Spot fines of A$652

ers are unable to operate their businesses and go about their lives for fear of being the next animal activist target.” Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development Mark Furner says people going onto a farm must now comply with the property’s biosecurity management plan when they enter or leave and while they are on the property. “We have amended

jail time as well as serious fines. “There has been a well organised, well-funded campaign by animal extremists that has been

terrorising Queensland family businesses in regional Queensland for months,” she says. @rural_news

Australian animal rights activists released this map identifying farms and abattoirs earlier this year.

Spot fines of A$652 will be issued to people caught trespassing on farms. The government move follows an escalation of animal activism in Queensland. will be issued to people caught trespassing on farms. The government move follows an escalation of animal activism in Queensland. Recently, an animal rights group Aussie Farms published a map showing the location of hundreds of farms and abattoirs, encouraging people to upload photos or videos of animal exploitation in a bid to influence consumer choices. It lists the coordinates of people’s home farm businesses and other details, such as ABN numbers, which can be used to find more personal details about the owners. Queensland Farmers Federation president Stuart Armitage says the state farmers adhere to world leading animal welfare standards. He condemned animal activists for their radical and unjustified actions “which invade farmers’ privacy, threaten the welfare of their animals, pose unacceptable risks to their businesses and have implications for food security”. “For many farmers, their property is their business, their workplace and their family home. As the frequency of these incidents increase, farm-

the regulations under the Biosecurity Act to allow Queensland Police Service and biosecurity officers to immediately fine people who put onfarm biosecurity at risk,” Furner said. “This is a direct response to the growing incidence of unauthorised entry by animal activists to places where animals are kept. This can pose biosecurity risks including spread of diseases between humans and animals causing production losses that impact the business, supply chain and ultimately consumers.” The gross value of Queensland’s production at the farmgate for livestock and livestock products for 2017-18 was A$6.784 billion, including cattle and calves, poultry, pigs, eggs and milk. The Government claims a biosecurity harm caused by a person carrying or spreading a disease while entering, leaving or at a livestock production premises could be catastrophic to Queensland.  Queensland’s opposition leader Deb Frecklington, Liberal National Party, says the Labor Government’s measures don’t go far enough and extremists who invade properties need to face




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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Ngai Tahu eyes growing horticultural opportunites NIGEL MALTHUS

NGAI TAHU Farming’s plans to diversify into horticulture are surging ahead on the strength of excellent results from a trial orchard near Culverden, North Canterbury. The orchard has only been in development for two years, but good soil and sunshine hours have combined to produce excellent growth rates, says Ngai Tahu Farming commercial development manager Ben Giesen. “This has gone better than we thought,” he told Rural News. The 2ha orchard is in the Balmoral block, the former state forest bor-

“We didn’t want to go too narrow; we were getting told what they think was going to work but we thought ‘Well, that’s great. Let’s do it and see for ourselves’.”

dering the Hurunui River, on the south side of the Culverden Basin, which was transferred to Ngai Tahu as part of its 1998 treaty settlement. The 9500ha block is now being progressively converted to farmland, mostly beef, but Giesen said Ngai Tahu also wanted alternatives. The iwi commissioned Plant

and Food to look at the area’s climate and soil types and present some options. However, the company went ahead with the trial because they “just wanted to put some stuff in the ground and see what happens”. The project, Ngai Tahu’s first venture into horticulture, started two

Ngai Tahu Farming commercial development manager Ben Giesen with one of the first apples from a trial orchard at Balmoral, in the Culverden basin. RURAL NEWS GROUP

years ago with shelterbelts of Italian alders and poplars, fencing and irrigation. Apricots, peaches, olives, and nuts were planted in the first year “basically because they were available,” Giesen says. The feeling was just to “get on with it”. There are also some blueberries. “It’s a quite a mix, and that was part of the appeal of doing it,” he added. “We didn’t want to go too narrow; we were getting told what they think was going to work but we thought ‘Well, that’s great. Let’s do it and see for ourselves’.”




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Most of the site is now planted in apples and that appears to be where the venture is headed. The apples, planted last August, grew well. All varieties, bar one, hit the top end of a hopedfor range of 500-800mm growth, Giesen said. “That’s very exciting because if we’d got anywhere in between we were going to be happy enough, but we constantly got growth rates like that across these varieties. “We’ve been told this is as good as anywhere in the country.” The varieties include Jazz, Envy, Galaxy and Lady in Red – all good

export varieties enjoying good returns, Giesen said. “From a market point of view, from a returns point of view at the moment, it’s quite hard to go past apples.” Turners and Growers provided the trees and will also handle marketing as the venture moves into production. FruitFed and AgFirst are providing technical support. More trees have been ordered for the 2021 season. • See more about the exciting developments happening in the NZ horticulture sector in the latest issue of Hort News, inserted in this issue of Rural News.

ARE ROBOTS THE FUTURE? THE ORCHARD is also trialling two different trellis systems installed with an eye to eventual robotic harvesting. Ngai Tahu Farming has put $300,000 - $400,000 into the venture so far. “It’s big money, but if you get it right... some of these varieties here now are growing up to 100 tonne/ha so they can produce big volumes,” Giesen said. The initial Plant and Food study said Balmoral’s climate was very close to that of the Waitaki Valley. But in his view some of that data was influenced by the forest, much of it now gone. Ngai Tahu Farming has since installed four of its own weather stations, providing what he believes is more accurate and relevant data. “The latest data I got from last year on, for example, growing-degree days,

showed a lot more growing-degree days than what was in that original study.” The remaining exotic forest at Balmoral is now owned by Rayonier Matariki, who will harvest the trees as they mature. The land will then return to Ngai Tahu to decide what to do with it. It’s not clear how much will eventually be orchards, but Giesen says putting some back into pine forests is also “reasonably attractive”. He points out that 100ha is a big orchard and 200ha would be “massive”. “From a land utilisation point of view it’s just a drop, but it’s a point of difference. “It’s diversification. We’ll be giving ourselves another income stream as well as another farming practice, so that’s probably the more exciting thing.”

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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Embrace change or die NIGEL MALTHUS

CHEESE WITHOUT the cow, synthetic meat, robotics and gene editing were among the topics discussed at the inaugural Grow 2019 Agri Summit last week in Christchurch. The conference aims to help the country’s food and fibre sector become more innovative, sustainable and profitable in a world of rapid change. Opening the two-day event, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said he hoped it would provide thought, provocation and challenge to the attendees “because to carry on doing what we’ve done in the past and think it will carry us into the future is both naive and stupid and

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“Consumers around the world will want to know more about your products and will be expecting us to be able to prove each part of our supply chain and our production system is the very best in the world.” potentially disastrous for our country”. In spite of our efforts since the 1980s to talk diversification, we still rely and depend on the primary sectors to create wealth, he said. O’Connor says the Government’s ‘Trade For All’ agenda, launched last August, is aimed at ensuring every New Zealander understands the value of trade and selling the pri-

mary sector’s products. “Consumers around the world will want to know more about your products and will be expecting us to be able to prove each part of our supply chain and our production system is the very best in the world. Because we will be asking them for more money.” Singling out Zespri, O’Connor said he applauds the horticul-

tural sector for showing the value of consumeroriented packaging at orchard level and better understanding the requirements of their orchard system, processing and marketing. “We have to replicate that right out across our economy, in all areas of the primary sector, and I believe we can do it.” O’Connor said he is, as minister, doing his best to help the sector. “We might not always agree, but be assured that we want the best for you and for every NZer to make this place a better country.” The Grow 2019 Agri Summit was organised by Boma, a new international group with the stated aim of “supporting

Boma New Zealand chief executive Kaila Colbin on stage at the GROW 2019 Agri Summit. RURAL NEWS GROUP

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business leaders, politicians, educators, entrepreneurs, young people, and change-makers to navigate our rapidly changing world, helping create a better, more sustainable, and human-centered future for us all”. Also supported by MPI, it was the first largescale event for Boma anywhere in the world and was billed as NZ’s biggest agrifood summit with at least 30 speakers and 600 attendees. The co-founder of Boma Global and chief executive of Boma New Zealand, Kaila Colbin, told the conference it is about disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology and biotechnology. “When we’re talking about the primary sector they include things like

autonomous tractors, satellite imagery for precision agriculture, and vertical farming, which a recent study projects is going to grow at a compound annual rate of 24% over the next six years, resulting in an industry worth $3 billion by 2024.” She noted that Impossible Burger, an American synthetic meat developer, has recently signed a partnership to supply Burger King. Colbin says there is “a convergence of all the vectors of change coming our way” including technological, climate, political, economic and social. “All these vectors of change are converging to create a future that’s highly uncertain and ambiguous and we need to be more intentional and intelligent about the future we’re creating.”

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Border biosecurity need tech upgrade

A REVIEW of biosecurity controls at New Zealand borders recommends continuously adapting new technology. The review was commissioned by MPI director-general Ray Smith after fruit fly was detected in Auckland earlier this year. Australian biosecurity expert Rob Delane did the review. Smith says it is pleasing to see that the review found overall border protection services in mail and passenger pathways are world-class and they protect New Zealand well. But it notes significant challenges to NZ’s border and urges ongoing tactical and strategic improvement.

“To that end, a number of recommendations are made that I will ask Biosecurity New Zealand to carefully consider,” says Smith. Importantly, MPI must equip with new technology to ensure its border systems keep up with rapid changes in travel and trade. “The findings support our work to develop new baggage scanning technology, recommending that we move quickly to use real time tomography to scan all baggage at Auckland Airport,” says Smith. “We are well advanced in developing a prototype scanner that can automatically detect goods that pose biosecurity risk. Earlier this month, officers detected an egg in a suitcase shortly after the

installation of the first version of software specially designed for biosecurity.” Interestingly, the review makes no case for additional detector dogs but suggests other changes would lead to more effective use of our existing dogs. And it recommends finding ways to fast-track low risk passengers through airport processes, something MPI is keen to talk further about with airlines and airports. “But our bottom line will always be that biosecurity cannot be compromised,” he says.

MPI director-general Ray Smith.




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CONTROLS BACK IN PLACE CONTROLS ON the movement of fruit and vegetables in the Auckland suburb of Northcote are back following the detection of another Queensland fruit fly. A single male fruit fly was found in one of the network of traps remaining in place following the discovery of six other fruit flies in the area between February 20 and March 14. The previous restrictions on the movement of fruit and vegetables were lifted in April, although additional surveillance was kept as a precaution. “This latest fly was found 185m from the edge of the previous control zone A, and 460m from where a cluster of male flies was found,” says Biosecurity New Zealand spokeswoman Catherine Duthie. “Despite this latest find there is still no evidence of a breeding population.”


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Government intervention will encourage new planting RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019

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farmers to connect Content supplied by Rabobank – Grow with the bank farmers for farmers with by worldwide , founded 1. The One Billion Trees Programme lowers planting barriers 12630



Rabobank supports There are three major government initiatives (either already actioned or pending) encouraging global agribusiness clients from research analysts farm to fork in sharing market outlooks new forestry planting. These initiatives will lower forestry establishment costs, underpin more COUNTRIES consistent carbon prices in the long term, and reduce some risks of participating in the ETS.

In late 2018, the government launched the One Billion Trees Programme (‘the Programme’) to incentivise landowners to plant a greater number of trees. The government introduced the Programme to achieve its stated goal of having one billion trees planted by 2028. Landowners can access funding under the Programme, lowering the planting barriers they currently face (notably the cost of land clearance, preparation, and planting). The two funding options most relevant for landowners that don’t specialise in large-scale forestry are direct landowner grants and Crown joint ventures (see Box 1).

Opportunities for forestry FORESTRY WAS included in the New Zealand Emission’s Trading Scheme (ETS) in 2008. Since then, landowners have had the opportunity to generate a revenue stream from the carbon sequestered by trees planted after 31 December 1989. This process, known as carbon farming, entails that post-1989 forest landowners who register as an ETS participant are entitled to receive one New Zealand Unit (NZU) for each tonne of carbon dioxide stored in their forests. Once acquired, NZUs can be accumulated or sold at the market price on the New Zealand carbon market to generate income. Weak carbon price signals and ongoing climate change policy uncertainty has, to date, made land-

owners hesitant to either register existing post1989 forest land or plant new forest land with the intention of registering as an ETS participant. In addition, the current ETS requires that land owners must surrender NZUs equal to the amount of carbon dioxide that is deemed to be released when any forest land is harvested. For ETS participants that do sell their NZUs prior to harvesting, this creates a liability that can’t be valued until harvest time, when NZUs must be purchased and surrendered at the spot market price. This has proved a strong disincentive against carbon farming for many landowners. There are three major government initiatives (either already actioned or pending) encouraging new forestry planting.

1. The One Billion Trees Programme lowers planting barriers In late 2018, the government launched the One Billion Trees Programme (‘the Programme’) to incentivise landowners to plant a greater number of trees. The government introduced the Programme to achieve its stated goal of having one billion trees planted by 2028. Landowners can access funding under the Programme, lowering the planting barriers they currently face (notably the cost of land clearance, preparation, and planting). The two funding options most relevant for landowners that don’t specialise in large-scale forestry are direct landowner grants and Crown joint ventures.

2. Long-term emission targets provide greater certainty for carbon market New Zealand’s ratification of the Paris Agreement in 2016 commits the country to reducing emissions in the long term. This commitment will be re-enforced by the likely passing into law of the Zero Carbon Bill. The ETS is the primary mechanism by which New Zealand intends to reduce its emissions. The Paris Agreement commits all signatories to take action on climate change. The agreement came into force in New Zealand on 4 November 2016 and will take effect from 2020. New Zealand committed to reducing national greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. The government’s 2/10

Box 1: Funding option for landowners 1. Direct landowner grant  Landowners can access the following grants from the government for the establishment of indigenous and/or exotic plantations smaller than 300 hectares.  These grants should cover most, if not all, establishment costs for the majority of landowners. Table 1: Grants available for landowners Type of planting

Project size (ha)

Grant (NZD/ha)

Top-up available (NZD/ha) Erosion


Ecological restoration


Indigenous mix




up to 500

up to 2,000









Indigenous natural regeneration




up to 500









All except radiata pine first 6 years 1

Source: Te Uru Rakau – The One Billion Trees Programme, 2018

2. Crown joint venture  For landowners considering radiata planting on blocks of land over 200 hectares, Crown Forestry are willing to “lease the land or enter into a forestry joint venture for a one rotation (30-year) term. The Crown would pay for all establishment and management costs over the lifetime of the crop and pay a negotiated rent to the landowner. […] Rental can be structured as an annual rental, a share of the net profit at time of harvesting, or a mix of both. The landowner would retain all rights to any carbon credits.” 2

an independent climate future governments, proposed Zero Carbon change commission, making prescribed tarBill would set long-term 1 Radiata pine cannot registered in thegets ETS until six years after the responsible for establishmore difficult toyear of planting. greenhouse gas be emis2 amend. The bill will likely ing the framework for sion targets into law. If achieving these targets. also propose setting up enacted, this would bind

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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019



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3. ETS was amended to remove surrender obligations for participants On 25 March 2019, the government approved changes to the Climate Change Response Act 2002 that simplify how post-1989 forests can earn and repay carbon credits. The changes are known as the averaging approach. They will eliminate the need for landowners to repay NZUs when forest land is harvested, provided that area is replanted. They also abolish the obligation to repay NZUs for any reductions in carbon stock that result from a storm or fire. Together,

these changes remove the existing risk associated with selling NZUs before harvest. ETS participants will be able to sell their NZUs as they earn them without having to repay any of them upon harvest. Under the averaging approach, there will be a cap on the ability of landowners to generate carbon units for a particular area of forest land. This would prevent landowners from generating NZUs indefinitely. Instead, NZUs will be earned up until a forest reaches a level of carbon storage that represents the average carbon stock it will hold over the long term (i.e. when multiple growth and harvest cycles are taken into account). Once that average level is met, ETS participants will not receive any more NZUs for either the remainder of that growing cycle or for any subsequent growing cycles (see Box 2). After that point, there will be no

Box 2: 'Averaging' carbon farming example  A radiata pine forest grown in New Zealand and harvested at age 28 will usually reach its average carbon storage at age 18-20. So the ETS participant would earn NZUs up to 18-20 years of age in its first growing cycle. After that, NZU payments would cease.  In the below example, a forest would earn a cumulative total of 473 NZUs/ha by the time it reaches its average carbon storage at age 18.  At NZD 25/NZU, this equates to NZD 11,825/ha, or an average annual revenue (undiscounted) over 18 years of NZD 656/ha. Figure 1: NZUs earned up until year 18 when ‘averaging’ level met 900 800 700 tCO2/ha (NZU/ha)

Depending on the final form of the Zero Carbon Bill, it has the potential to significantly depoliticise climate change and provide greater long-term certainty about future policy direction. This should reduce the likelihood of policy changes that result in sharp NZU price swings.

600 500 400 300 200 100 0












Current Accounting










Source: Te Uru Rakau 2018

Identifying and assessing forestry opportunities

Identifying and assessthe averaging approach. was willing to repay all future carbon income ing forestry opportunities Forests registered in NZUs received in order available for that area The opportunities that 2019 and 2020 will have to deforest. of forest land. The land The opportunities that forestry represents for individual landowners will vary widely. For those forestry represents for the option to use either All forests registered would still have to remain operating high-value landinuses such as 1dairying may beorvery little, or no, net benefit to individual landowners the existing averaging the ETS from January there in trees indefinitely, planting on their existing property. There willapproach. be other landowners with operations span will vary widely.that For those 2021 will operate under unless the trees landowner

a range of land classes, possibly including a small percentage of land which is relatively nonproductive, where trees could be planted without a meaningful impact on the existing farm system. For other landowners, forestry will provide an opportunity to generate income from large areas of land that had previous effectively generated very little economic benefit.

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operating high-value land uses such as dairying there may be very little, or no, net benefit to planting trees on their existing property. There will be other landowners with operations that span a range of land classes, possibly including a small percentage of land which is relatively non-productive, where trees could be planted without a meaningful impact on the existing farm system. For other landowners, forestry will provide an opportunity to generate income from large areas of land that had previous effectively generated very little economic benefit. For any landowner considering converting land to forestry, it is important to assess the net benefits of doing so. Landowners should consider long-term profitability, broader strategic implications, and the value of the environmental benefits provided by the proposed planting versus existing land use.

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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019



A sensible outcome? NOW THAT any notion of a capital gains tax has been struck down the agriculture sector nervously awaits the Government’s plans for tackling climate change and the resulting impact. As this issue of Rural News goes to print, there are reports that it is close to announcing a deal on its climate change legislation and how it will deal with agricultural emissions. Last week, Climate Change Minister James Shaw received a report on agriculture from the Interim Climate Change Committee (ICCC). It is understood that this report – and another on transitioning to 100% renewable electricity – will be held back until the Government decides on its response.  However, according to the Stuff media outlet, the Government has decided on a ‘split gas’ target which would see methane treated differently from other long-lived gases like carbon. If so it’s a good thing. The farming sector has been rightly concerned about any proposed climate change legislation because agriculture accounts for about 50% of NZ greenhouse gas emissions – mostly methane from livestock. The country’s methane emissions will need to drop significantly for global warming to be limited to 1.5 deg C, which would have major repercussions for NZ’s farming sector. The agricultural sector believes it, and our economy as a whole, would be unfairly disadvantaged, as NZ’s methane emissions are six times the global average and there is no clear way to reduce our levels other than by culling livestock numbers. Earlier this year,  Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton argued  that the biological greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide do not need to go to zero and that farming should be allowed to offset emissions using forests as sinks. Upton’s report departed from widespread calls to drag agriculture into an expanded ‘all gases, all sectors’ version of the current Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). But industry bodies Dairy NZ and Beef  + Lamb NZ welcomed Upton’s more nuanced approach. They have been calling for just such a change in policy makers’ views on methane and other carbon emissions. The agriculture sector argues there is growing authoritative evidence that methane – a biological emission from animals – differs from carbon dioxide in its impact on global warming. Let’s hope the Government has listened.


HEAD OFFICE POSTAL ADDRESS: PO Box 331100, Takapuna, Auckland 0740 PUBLISHER: Brian Hight ......................................... Ph 09 307 0399 GENERAL MANAGER: Adam Fricker ....................................... Ph 09 913 9632 CONSULTING EDITOR: David Anderson .................................. Ph 09 307 0399

“Edna handed in my gun!”

Want to share your opinion or gossip with the Hound? Send your emails to:

THE HOUND Playing politics?


Lord help us

Follow the money

THE HOUND’S not-so favourite government department, the state-run farmer formerly known as Landcorp, has proven that it is not just a poorly-performing entity but that it can’t even pick winners with the current Government policy. Now that plans for a CGT and for water and fertiliser taxes have been ditched one has to question, yet again, why the state farmer wasted $14,000 of taxpayers’ money preparing a (late) submission to the Tax Working Group advocating for such taxes. New chair Warren Parker claims that the decision to make its controversial TWG submission and put several anti-farming critics on the payroll was not ‘political’. However, your canine crusader reckons even blind Freddy can see these moves as political in an effort to curry favour with its current Government owner.

YOUR OLD mate reckons plenty of the current crop of MPs in Parliament would struggle to read, let alone make laws for this country. The Hound was reminded of this by a mate of his attending the recent Beef+Lamb annual meeting in Timaru, which some MPs turned up to. Ag Minister Damien O’Connor couldn’t attend because he was under security watch due to the Christchurch shootings and was replaced by a MPI policy wonk. However, the Nats’ climate change spokesman Todd Muller was invited to speak on his work and seemed to impress the audience. However, the same can’t be said for NZ First list MP Mark Patterson who was not down to speak. But when given the opportunity – by all reports – he completely misread the room and went on a long, boring rant about how great the current government was.

IT”S NO wonder your canine crusader rolls his eyes whenever he hears about public servants developing new ideas. The latest bright idea comes from the Treasury, the government agency responsible for monitoring public spending. It is busy trying to “surprise Aotearoa with a strain of compassion so delightful that it re-wires our collective consciousness”! In what is supposed to be the busiest time of year for Treasury – the lead-up to the Budget – many of its top officials recently hosted a ‘social lab’ centred around a ‘Heartwork Wellbeing Card Game’, in which they consulted their ‘sun’ and ‘moon’ feelings. Unsurprisingly, the Treasury has been labelled ‘bizarre and out of touch’ for playing a ‘wellbeing’ card game and it is hard not to disagree.

WITH THE duck shooting season now underway, your old mate is picking up a fair bit of discontent – and justifiably so – from the farming fraternity about having to fork out money for a duck shooting licence to Fish and Game (Bitch & Complain). What really grates most duck shooting cockies’ gears is that the $100 for the licence goes to an organisation charged by statute with managing this pest. But at the same time it funds large campaigns against the farmers, e.g. dirty dairying. The Hound wonders whether, with questions being raised NZ-wide about how wisely Bitch & Complain uses its funds, it is now time the auditor-general was asked to investigate exactly how the duck shooting licence money is used and whether any of this money is being siphoned off by F&G to fund its anti-farming campaigns.

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

RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Snake oil or real information? IN THE current era, when farming seems to be at or near the top of the hit list for complaints from many different groups, it isn’t surprising that people are looking for ‘a better way’. The people are from farming, support industries and society. All are open to persuasion by clever marketers, leveraging on a desire – in this case to do a better job. (It could equally well be ‘just three minutes a day to lose weight and get fit using the miracle machine…’) This leaves them open to snake oil because desperate people will believe things that in normal times they wouldn’t entertain. The boundary between clever marketing and snake oil is not hard and fast, but there are things to look out for that will give clues. Firstly, is the merchant credible? Does he or she have qualifications and a track record of professional experience? Is the track record appropriate for New Zealand? The soils and farming systems here are very different from those in the rest of the world.


Jacqueline Rowarth Our cows are pasture not grain fed and most of the productive land is under pasture not cropping. This is sometimes forgotten by groups such as Greenpeace when they advocate the replacement of animals by protein crops. NZ cannot yet produce commercially viable yields of soybeans, lentils or chickpeas. Most of NZ is unsuitable for cropping. Under pasture, NZ soils have relatively high organic matter, giving water holding capacity, aggregate stability and a nutrient reserve for plant and microbial growth. This is well known by soil scientists. Increasing organic matter even more is not as easy as when the starting point is low. Does the salesperson understand the issues? Secondly, are the

claims being made about the new way or new product supported with evidence? ‘Client testimonials’ are not evidence. Evidence is facts, data and research, preferably where appropriate comparisons have been made with other products or systems, and in a setting appropriate for NZ, by an independent science organisation? Time is a component – not a oneoff trial. Thirdly, are actual figures of production given – not percentages with no base starting point? A current example circulating at field days is that northern hemisphere farmers have cut their fertiliser use by 40-50% with no impact on yield. An obvious question is ‘yield of what’. Another is ‘what is the actual yield’? Actual could be before or after the reduction, but without a starting or end point the percentage means nothing. The same applies to the amount of fertiliser. Of note is that NZ’s nutrient balance, whether nitrogen or phosphorus, is lower (indicating greater efficiency) than many other countries can achieve. The OECD fig-

ures for 2016 (latest data) report that the Netherlands loses 99kg/ha nitrogen, UK loses 87 and New Zealand loses 59.5. Relativities are important. NZ is using more fertiliser than it did in the past, but not as much as other countries are using. Productivity (yield per unit of input) has increased hugely, which could be taken to indicate that insufficient fertiliser was being applied in the past. Increased productivity benefits the whole country, and onfarm this means being able to afford new technologies allowing precision application of water and fertilisers, for instance. Fourthly, what are the concerns that are being overcome with the new product or system? The suggestion has been made that NZ doesn’t need nitrogen fertiliser because clover can do the job. This overlooks the effect of clover root weevil, poor temperatures and the natural clover cycle within a pasture that operates on a 3-4 or even 7-8 year boom and bust dynamic. It also overlooks the fact that nitrogen is leached from a clover pasture.

Research at Ruakura in the 1990s compared clover-ryegrass with ryegrass supplied with the same amount of nitrogen as the clover was fixing. The nitrate leaching loss was the same.

Clever marketers are everywhere and it is up to the buyer to beware. A bit of research on the web, and some simple questions, will help sort fact from fiction. • Dr Jacqueline Rowarth

CNZM CRSNZ HFNZIAHS is a soil scientist. Her research has focussed on phosphorus, nitrogen and carbon cycling. @rural_news


FEDS OFF-TARGET ON GUNS I READ with amazement (Rural News April 16) the Feds’ rural security spokesman Miles Anderson’s statement regarding the use of military type weapons on the farm. Anderson’s quote… “especially as a shooter may lose the opportunity for a kill if forced to open and reload the kind of weapon…” sums up his one-eyed approach. These same weapons have been used to slaughter innocent people without the accuracy of his deadly sight.

Bullets have been sprayed from a rifle at the shooter’s hip. If these farmers are incapable of chambering a round and then using all their sniper gear to dispatch the vermin, maybe they should hand the job over to a skilled operator. I grew up with a rifle with a bolt which I was taught to use and did so quite satisfactorily. Miles, take a look around. The world has changed, you change with it. Don McLaren, Levin

WHAT ARE YOU FEEDING THEM? I READ with bewilderment about ‘Agriculture’s wicked problem’ (Rural News, April 16). This terrible problem of animal belching and farting. What is the source of the carbon in these belches and farts? Are they all sipping petrol or diesel? Farming must have changed a lot. As I recall the animals ate plant material whose carbon content had been removed from the atmosphere, not sourced from fossil fuels. Am I the only one who thinks that is a huge distinction? What about all the people who use firewood? If these farts and belches are to be taxed why not firewood? Are trees different from grasses in this respect? Vivian Gandar

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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019

26 OPINION Making pesticides safe MARK ROSS

A CULTURE of trepidation about consuming foods which have been exposed to pesticides is misleading and has sparked much confusion of late. To abate the concerns, an analysis of the process for getting products to market can reassure consumers that our most nutritious foods -- fruits, vegetables and grains -- are safe to eat. This is reflected in the decadelong process which includes 11 years of research and hundreds of millions of dollars. At the start of the process, chemicals are tested for their effects on people and the environment. This testing is agreed at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) level. Regulators from OECD countries -- including New Zealand -- participate in designing, validating and issuing guidelines. The OECD has ten guidelines to assess the properties of crop protection products. This includes testing the efficacy of a molecule against the target pest or disease,

its residue levels in plants and animals, and how the active ingredient breaks down in plants and livestock. New molecules undergo over 150 safety studies. For testing, concentrations are much higher than real world exposure. Internationally agreed test methods cover effects on health, biotic systems and the environment. These are continuously revised with the latest scientific knowledge, practices and techniques. The safety tests can be thought of as an array of ‘gates’ or hurdles which a candidate molecule must pass. Some gates can be seen as critical pass/fail hurdles, others as alerts for further investigation. If a molecule is found to directly damage DNA, for example, then industry practice is to drop it, even if it demonstrates extraordinary levels of efficacy. The test guidelines are continuously revised according to new knowledge, technologies and practices.  The rigour of the safety testing regime becomes more and more stringent. As a result, the number

of molecules that need screening and the time it takes to find a suitable candidate are increasing rapidly. According to CropLife, it now takes 11 years and NZ$400 million to bring a single crop protection product to market. On top of this, regulators, importers and even supermarkets test produce for residues, ensuring they meet very strict guidelines, well below any potential risk to people or the environment. Legitimate crop protection manufacturers recognise that science leaves no stone unturned to ensure the safety of our environment, health and ecosystem from pesticides. So, consumers can benefit from the nutrition of fruit, vegetables and grains at a reasonable cost, with the assurance that the products used to keep them pest free are stringently and continuously monitored. • Mark Ross is chief executive of Agcarm, the industry association for companies which manufacture and distribute crop protection and animal health products. @rural_news

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Greg Campbell says NZ waterways are crying out for just the right approach to nutrient management.

Progress is being made on nutrient management GREG CAMPBELL

MOST OF us are under the impression that all New Zealand has fertile soil that’s great for growing food. It’s more or less a fairy tale. We do have some good soils, but not enough. Only about 5% of our soils are fertile enough to grow food without some sort of human assistance. As a nutrient management co-operative, Ravensdown tries to help farmers aim for soil conditions that are ‘just right’ for growing food – whether it’s carrots for kids in Pukekohe or clover for cows in Culverden. This ‘Goldilocks approach’ has started to pay dividends. Over the course of a decade, our laboratory has run nearly one million soil tests for farmers which look at, for example, phosphate levels in the soil or its acidity. In that time, about 25% have shown fertility levels below the optimum for growing food and where farm nutrients would have an effect. 12% of the test results have shown the soils to be above the optimum and not needing any more fertiliser or nutrients until they drop back to the optimum levels. To successfully grow the grass needed to feed livestock – or the fruit and vegetables we buy from the supermarket – we need to put nutrients used by the growing plants back into the soil, or introduce those which were not there in the soil in the first place. This is true even if, as the recent EATLancet Commission’s global report suggested, the world consumed less meat protein and ate more vegetables. Because fertiliser would still be required to grow all those plants. The UN’s Global Environmental Outlook states that in 30 years, 10 billion people will be wanting to eat and to feed them will require a 50% increase in food productivity.

So, replenishing what the soil and plants need is vital. But we can all agree that what our waterways are crying out for here in our backyard is better nutrient management. Good advice and smarter farming practice are starting achieve some progress. The National Science Challenge ‘Our Land and Water’ has found that phosphorus has decreased at 40% of measured sites in streams and rivers since 1994 and by 65% of sites since 2004. The second national LAWA trend report on river water quality between 2008 and 2017 showed that, at 60% of the sites measured, improvements in the amount of ammonium (nitrogen) were being seen. Over the past year, 2110 square kilometres have been assessed by Ravensdown consultants for environmental mitigations. Nobody is getting complacent as there is still a massive task ahead and there are lag effects that mean some data could show things getting worse before they get better. Other countries’ farm nutrient sectors are dominated by global corporations chasing shareholder profits. NZ is mainly served by two local co-operatives who are not here to maximise profits at the expense of the environment. The awareness of what constitutes a ‘just right’ approach to fertiliser for the sake of the soil, plants and waterways of NZ has come on leaps and bounds in the past 10 years. Combined with scientific research, smarter technology and a field-based team of certified advisors advocating changes in farming practice, this approach is starting to have an effect. There’s no reason why there can’t be a happy ending to this story. • Greg Campbell is chief executive of Ravensdown


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At the end of May, the winner of the Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Maori sheep and beef farm will be announced at a gala dinner in Gisborne. Peter Burke continues his series on the finalists and reports on recent field days at Gwavas Station and Kiriroa Station. OWNED BY the Te Awahohonu Forest Trust, Gwavas Station is essentially a finishing farm in Central Hawkes Bay and takes stock bred on the hills from its sister farm Tarawera Station on the Napier-Taupo road. The property is 1000ha and the trust leases 178ha more adjoining land, combining to provide an effective farming area of 989ha. The farm winters nearly 12,000 stock units -- 50% cattle and 50% sheep. Between 14,000 and 16,000 lambs and about 800 cattle are finished annually depending on the season. The land is flat to rolling and on the farm tour, which was part of the field day, visitors took in magnificent sights

of the district from the high points on the farm. Bob Cottrell, chair of the board of Gwavas Station, is a highly-respected farmer and consultant. He has spent much of his lifetime in the primary sector working on and with Maori farming enterprises. He says Te Awahohonu Forest Trust bought Gwavas in 2011 with the goal of gaining better access to the value chain. The property is managed as a farm in its own right, but Cottrell notes that it is inextricably tied to Tarawera station as well. “When we developed Tarawera Station we started to put emphasis on productivity and our lambing percentage rose significantly,” he explains.

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Gwavas Station board chair Bob Cotterall.

“We then realised that in order to retain a high performing ewe flock we needed to sell a lot of store lambs so purchasing a finishing block for those store lambs was critical for us,” he says. Tarawera Station won

the Ahuwhenua Trophy in 2013, but Cottrell says the reason for entering Gwavas is because it is a different farm. They felt that there was a story to be told about developing a finishing property out of a farm that was a nice

was a place where his people used to travel through on their way north or south. He was one of the main speakers at Powhiri and talked about the significance of Gwavas now being in Maori ownership. He says in the mid-1800s the land


Back on their land A SPECIAL feature of the Gwavas field day was the presence on the day of a descendant of the original Maori owners of the land – Brian Morris. Morris’ hapu is Ngati Marau and he says before the land was settled it was a totara forest and for Maori it

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Brian Morris

Back on their land FROM PAGE 29

in one of the homesteads. But for Morris and his whanau, the fact that Gwavas station has come back into Maori ownership is great news. “This is special for us because we can come back on our land and establish a relationship with Te Awahohonu Forest Trust and rekindle our connections with the land. It’s just great to be a part of this event today,” he says.

AMONG THE farmers and agribusiness leaders at the Kings field day was the mayor of Gisborne Meng Foon. A fluent te reo speaker, Foon says given the close association Sir Apirana Ngata had with the East Coast region it was special to host the event there. He says it was exciting to see so many quality farms in the competition. Also, at the field day was real estate agent James Macpherson who’s worked in the region for 25 years. He says the Kings have taken their farm to a new level with the work they have done. Macpherson says they have made sensible decisions that

fit in well with the climate they farm in. He believes the area is thriving with good sheep and beef prices over the last six years contributing to its popularity. “It’s such a good farming region, very reliable rainfall, good contour, very low animal health issue and parasite issue,” Macpherson told Rural News. “In my lifetime it’s been regarded as a very good farming area. It’s also good for recreation with hunting and fishing available and it is not that isolated. “It’s an hour closer to Auckland than Gisborne.” @rural_news

James Macpherson

A TOUGH JOB FOR LEAD judge Dana Blackburn and his team, deciding the winner is challenging. He says the farms are all different and it is hard to compare them so you just have to judge them on the criteria. “This year the competition is a lot more intense because the competitors’ are a lot more professionally prepared for this competition. They are all out there to win and the margins are small.” Blackburn says he enjoys judging, describing it as an exciting and enjoyable time.

Lead judge Dana Blackburn


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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Kings of Kiriroa Station PETER BURKE

IT”S HARD to imagine a greater contrast with Gwavas Station than Eugene and Pania King’s hill country property about 70km northwest of Gisborne on the road to Opotiki. Most of the 483ha (357ha effective) is either medium or steep hill country. In winter, it will snow on the tops and the rainfall can be up to 2500mm. The farm trades cattle and finishes all stock on farm. It currently winters 3800 stock units -- 40% cattle and 60% sheep. The Kings bought the farm in 2013 and since then have made major improvements to the farming infrastructure and to the environment. For example, they have established a wetland habitat for weka and with ongoing monitoring and maintaining the habitat the weka are now thriving. There are three QEII covenants on Kiriroa and two more to be done within the next three years. The Kings have an amazing pedigree when it comes to the Ahuwhenua Trophy. Eugene’s sister Nukuhia and husband Bart Hadfield won the

competition in 2015, while brother Ron and wife Justine were finalists in 2017. Like all the field days, the event at Kiriroa went like clockwork. After the powhiri (welcome) and hearty morning tea, visitors were taken on a tour of the farm. Strict safety rules were enforced as a convoy of quads and side-byside vehicles headed along the farm tracks to see the property and had two stops to hear presentations by Eugene and Pania. “The field day went really well. “It was quite exciting that so many farmers turned up. Some were friends and locals from around the district, but there were others we didn’t know,” Pania told Rural News. She admits it was hard work preparing for the field day, but she says whānau, family, friends and their children all pitched-in and worked hard to make the day a success. “My family did all the catering and my sister prepared the food. She’s a great cook. “We were really stoked with the field day. We tried to think of something we would have changed if we could turn back the clock, but we couldn’t think of

anything.” Husband Eugene says he was ecstatic at the crowd that came to the field day. “Word of mouth is a wonderful thing and the advertising and all that certainly got a lot of people here; so we were pretty overwhelmed,” he says. Eugene King says it was great to show people what he and Pania have

achieved but admits that organising the day and entering the competition was probably a lot more involved than he’d initially envisaged. He’ll be interested to see what the judges have to say, but as for the event and entering the competition “I wouldn’t change it for quids,” he says. @rural_news Eugene and Pania King

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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Dairy genetics not keeping up THE RATE of improvement in dairy genetics is not keeping pace with technology, says World Wide Sires. It refers to dairy farmer Louise Tupoutoa having become a WWS breeding specialist “because there had to be a better way”. “I’ve been involved in dairy farming all my life, growing up on a dairy farm and now involved with my family in a 700 cow farm in Southland.” She first worked in genetics for another company before joining WWS where “the ‘big guys’ have all put cups on cows”. “They’re farmers who get around the world to experience hands-on dairying and understand how genetics can solve the challenges farmers are facing,” the company quotes her as saying. Like a lot of countries, New Zealand is at a crossroads in its onfarm production, she says. Farmers are facing radical change because, to maintain viability while protecting the environment they need to reduce

the size of their herds and maintain or improve profitability. And that requires a new approach from what we’ve been doing – fertile cows which consistently produce more than 550kg over a long time, Tupoutoa says. “New Zealand’s breeding worth (BW) evaluation tool was introduced decades ago and has given us a national herd average of 380kgMS/cow. “Farmers tell me BW isn’t paying the mortgage. I’m frequently learning about heifers which don’t last more than a season in the herd, whose udders and conformation simply aren’t ‘commercial’. The industry, let alone individual farmers, can’t afford this level of wastage. “The base cow is holding us up as an industry. Most NZ farmers are doing the same as they were years ago and they’d go further (and assure their viability) if they had better bred animals under the same management system. “Today’s farmers need

WWS breeding specialist Louise Tupoutoa.

animals which will survive many lactations and produce high components. Their farms need to make the same amount of money with fewer cows. When you do that, running costs come

down.” They also need genetics which come from a larger gene pool. Tupoutoa says it’s generally recognised that there is an unacceptable level of inbreeding in the

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national herd and that we need more outcrosses and hybrid vigour to produce a robust commercial

animal. “I’m finding more and more farmers are adapting their breeding strat-

egies which produce fertile, productive, profitable cows which last in the herd. Rather than make a radical change, I’m encouraging them to judge the difference for themselves: breed a proportion of the herd to overseas genetics and the balance to NZ genetics. The result is usually very stark in the strength and vigour of the World Wide Sires’ calves, and the heifers as they come into and last in the herd. “As an industry we have to recognise that cows need to be fully fed to realise their potential. Do that and (with the right genetics) you can average at least 550kgMS/ cow.” Tupoutoa said she knows of cows which are fully fed and averaging 800kgMS. “These are cows which are a pleasure to milk. They get in calf easily, produce beautiful strong quiet calves and milk like trains.”

Vets ready for horny issues VETS NZ-WIDE are gearing up to help farmers comply with new rules on using local anesthetic while removing horn tissue from cattle. The new rules come into force from October 1 this year. NZVA chief veterinary officer Dr Helen Beattie says the NZVA has been educating members so they are ready to help farmers comply with changes to the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations. “We support these changes as they are a win for animal welfare,” Beattie says. “They mean that the immediate pain associated with these common procedures should be eliminated for all cattle.” She says it is important that farmers are aware of their obligations and how best to meet them. Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) regulation 57 (disbudding, which is the removal of horn tissue in calves) and regulation 58 (dehorning in cattle) require that cattle undergoing disbudding or dehorning be under the influence of appropriately placed and effective local anaesthetic pain relief (as a minimum). Failure to comply may result in fines from $3000 for an individual to $25,000 for a body corporate. In many cases, horn removal is done

by veterinarians or technicians. However, farmers with appropriate training and a local anaesthetic veterinary authorisation may also do the task. “We have been working hard to ensure that veterinarians and farmers are well supported regarding these changes to make sure veterinarians can help farmers meet these requirements on-farm,” Beattie says. This has involved NZVA in running workshops for member veterinarians NZ-wide outlining the new regulations and ways that veterinarians can help to ensure farmers can comply with them. “We have also developed new and updated existing policies, guidance and standard operating procedures, which include step-by-step best practice instructions for these common procedures.” Only vets are legally mandated to authorise non-veterinarians to use registered veterinary medicines such as local anesthetic. Vets can support farmers to comply with the new regulations in various ways. Veterinary staff (including veterinary technicians) can perform the procedures, a veterinary authorisation can be issued to the farmer (or person in charge), or veterinary operating instructions can be given to someone who is not the animal owner or person in charge.

RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Changes to NAIT coming PROPOSED LAW changes to further improve the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme were unveiled last month by Minister for Biosecurity Damien O’Connor. The NAIT Review, released in 2018, and the Mycoplasma bovis Eradication Programme highlighted significant flaws in the NAIT scheme. “These proposals are the next step to create the animal tracing scheme New Zealand needs to keep our primary sectors and economy safe,” O’Connor says. The proposed changes will: • tighten rules for handling untagged animals, • improve the use of data, • align penalties with other Acts to reflect the seriousness of non-compliance, and • make changes to the performance framework for the organisation running NAIT (NAIT Ltd). This follows changes made last year to improve the NAIT scheme, including operational changes within OSPRI, and some minor technical changes to the Act. Farmers and industry were widely consulted on proposals in late 2018 and the feedback was considerable, and overall positive. “I have heard the calls from industry for common sense changes to make NAIT an effective business and biosecu-

rity tool. “The proposed changes will ensure there is proper oversight of the agency managing the scheme, and gives the Government the ability to deal with any performance issues that affect biosecurity or food safety. “NAIT compliance has improved in recent months and that helps in tracking and tracing animals in the M bovis eradication programme as we step up our efforts and try to trace every possible infected animal. However, more work is required to improve NAIT.” The Cabinet has agreed to introduce the legislation in the latter half of this year. “The next step is to draft the new law, which will then go through the Parliamentary select committee process, giving people yet another avenue to express their views on the final proposals,” says O’Connor. “Meanwhile, efforts to get more farmers fulfilling their NAIT obligations have ramped up with NAIT putting a big focus on educating farmers about their obligations and how to use the system. “Compliance is important, but we should also make it easy. “This means we need to do more work to ensure we have a worldclass traceability system that is future proofed,” he added. “When there is wilful non-compliance with the

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NAIT scheme, the entire sector is put at risk. This is unacceptable and I know MPI is focusing on holding those people to account.

“Combined, these steps will see real changes for the industry and improvements to our biosecurity system,” O’Connor said.


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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Off-road leader adds new farm steed MARK DANIEL

THE CANADIAN off-road vehicle maker Can-Am, which claims the top spot in the side-by-side sector with its Defender range, went on tour recently to show its machines NZwide. Can-Am’s Outlander, Maverick, Renegade and Commander ranges are good for sport, adventure and work. For the 2019 season, the farmer-focused Defender range is extended with the HD8 Pro version powered by a 50hp fuel-injected Rotax twin-cylinder engine. The machine has Can Am’s safety key system which allows operators to select output and power delivery to suit experience, terrain and use. It has learner, work and unlimited modes. Building on the Defender Base and DPS versions, the Pro models have a glass windscreen with a wash/wipe system,

Its turning capacity is said to be the best in the market, and it has engine braking downhill for greater user safety.

a polycarbonate roof, soft rear cabin screen and a useful “brakehold” control. The latter ‘locks’ the brake pedal in the depressed position, making stops to open gates or leave the vehicle much safer. Can-Am says the system is ‘parttime’ and advises using the park function of the transmission for lengthy stops. As for its work capability, the Defender PRO has 1134kg towing capacity via the standard 2-inch receiver and tow-ball, and a load bed capacity of 454kg. Its turning capacity is said to be the best in the market, and it has engine braking downhill for greater user safety. A removeable tool-

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box is built into the right-hand side of the dashboard and there is seating for three with safety belts, flip-up seats with under seat storage and a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Also of interest at Can-Am’s show events was its Outlander 450 Max Limited DPS, good for carrying passengers -- the big ‘no-no’ on con-

ventional quads. Powered by a single cylinder Rotax engine pushing out 38hp, the machine has a king-andqueen dual seat set-up that takes a passenger who gets footrests and grab handles for safe riding. The machine has independent rear suspension, stiffened up to carry two people, or it can be converted to single seat use with a larger rear platform. The model is also available in 570, 650, 850 and 1000cc engine capacities, with the three larger versions having a twoinch wider wheel track for increased stability.

MAKING PARTS LAST LONGER WEARING PARTS for soil engaging implements are a hefty cost for any farmer or contractor, so selection should be based on factors such as prevailing conditions and areas to be covered. German manufacturer Lemken has recently announced the division of its tillage wear parts into two ranges: Dural for a long service life and DuraMaxx for long service life particularly in abrasive conditions. Utilising its comprehensive knowledge gained from inhouse production -- including

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From the mid-1980s this saw the introduction of Dural plough bodies, followed in the early 2000s by DuraMaxx bodies made from specially hardened steel, increasing service life by up to 150%. Now it also offers high wearresistant parts for stubble cultivation, including a full range of carbide parts to supplement existing standard steel and hardfaced items. The company now also offers discs made from high-temper steel that gives 20% longer service life.


RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Merge Maxx added to the mix MARK DANIEL

TWIN OR four rotor tinebased swathers tend to dominate the market for machines that will satisfy the voracious appetites of self-propelled foragers and large balers. But the French grassland and cultivation specialist Kuhn has recently introduced a new concept that moves away from this format. The Merge Maxx 950 uses individual tine-based pick-ups, which in turn feed onto belt conveyors to form the required swath, in a choice of eight delivery options. A substantial central frame and heavy duty rear wheel and tyre equipment carry the two raking and conveyor elements. The pick-ups have five tine bars controlled by a cam system for clean raking, and a wind guard and roller layout for accurate clearing. Pick up height is controlled by steplessly adjustable skids under each unit, working with a spring suspension system. The crop is lifted by the pick-up, from where the material is fed onto the belt conveyors. These gently handle the crop and place it into a windrow. The format is said to be ‘gentler’ than tine-

based layouts that move crop across the ground. It reduces the risk of seed head loss, leaf shatter and soil contamination. Dependent on the crop, terrain and, of course, the following machine, the Merge Maxx can be set for centre or side delivery. The former offers an 8.2 to 9.5m clearing width and delivers a swath up to 2.5m wide. Side delivery can clear 8.8m and finished swathes are 1-1.5m. For clearing larger areas, either for high power harvesters or when raking in light crop conditions, swathes can be lifted two, three or four times to maximise volume. Importantly, this reduces the following passes of subsequent machines and haulage crews, so saving fuel, tyres, wear and tear and ‘wheelings’ in the paddock. A self-contained hydraulic system eliminates the possibility of cross contamination from different tractors. The speeds of the pick-up and conveyor assemblies can be adjusted steplessly to suit crop conditions or operating speeds. In operation, the Merge Maxx is said to travel 2-3km/h faster than typical tine-based machines. This means it

can stay ahead of the largest harvesters. Operation is said to be simple, using a push-button control box to change functions such as tine or belt speeds, belt directions and headland lift and lower sequences.

Are you hitting your target market? National Sales Manager Stephen Pollard ....... Ph 09-913 9637 Waikato Ted Darley ................ Ph 07-854 6292 Wellington Ron Mackay ............ Ph 04-234 6239 Christchurch Kaye Sutherland ...... Ph 03-337 3828

Ferist et quati aut pedici te vollab imod quamet atur soleniet quiatibu. PAGE 15

You can target irrigation for certain soil types, avoid watering unproductive land such as waterways and wetlands, and water around obstacles underneath your pivot like buildings, tracks, drains and roads.


With Growsmart® Precision VRI, you will make a positive contribution to the world’s food bowl, while saving New Zealand’s vital natural resources. Call your Zimmatic dealer or visit Ph 0800 438 627

Ferist et quati aut pedici te vollab imod quamet atur soleniet quiatibu. PAGE 23


MAKING EVERY DROP COUNT Growsmart® Precision VRI is the world’s most environmentally savvy precision irrigation system. It’s an efficient method for saving water because you apply exactly the right amount of water needed to specific areas of your land.

For advice, contact your local sales consultant


The Merge Maxx 950 in action.

Ferist et quati aut pedici te vollab imod quamet atur soleniet quiatibu.



RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Band tillage machine designed to cut fodder beet establishment costs MARK DANIEL

MANY AGRICULTURAL contractors use off-theshelf machinery to deliver their services, but others ingeniously modify such gear or design bespoke implements to fulfil a particular need. For example, Paul Linklater, of Agrilink Contracting, Palmerston North, in 2012 set about designing a system to reduce establishment costs in the rapidly expanding fodder beet

sector. Working with Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Linklater designed and manufactured a strip tillage machine able to achieve a satisfactory seedbed for beet in one pass and handle the wide range of soil types found in NZ. The current machine, now with intensive testing and many thousands of hectares of work behind it, follows that original 2012 layout. Up front, a set of disc coulters cut through any surface trash or plant res-

idue. This is followed by a bank of ripper tines to break up the subsoil and remove any compaction. The next module of the machine sees an enclosed tunnel/hood configuration that houses a powered rotary blade layout. This produces a 200mm wide band of worked soil, leaving untouched and uncultivated bands between each worked area. At this point, fertiliser can also be incorporated if required before the band of cultivated


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soil is firmed by a packer roller to produce the ideal medium for planting small seeds. At the rear of the unit, a Vaderstad Tempo precision drill plants the crop, with slug bait also available at this stage. Development trials of the band tillage machine were done at the Lincoln University Demonstration Farm near Christchurch. The aim of the trial was to reduce overall establishment costs by 30% and to push yields to 35 tonnes DM per hectare. With a difficult trial season – limited rainfall and summer heat -- overall yields were significantly depressed, but similar results came in for conventional and the test establishment regimes. Interestingly, the trial showed that the striptill process followed by banded fertiliser and spraying applications make for the lowest cost of growing a fodder beet

crop: only 11 cents per kg of DM produced. Linklater says that after six growing seasons and many thousands of hectares planted -- at lower establishment costs – the strip tillage machine is seen to achieve better moisture retention. So in a dry season, growers could delay planting to await ideal conditions. “It’s hard to be specific about crop yields compared to conventional planting techniques as there are many variables from season to season. However, given similar yields, this system offers a lower cost per kg of DM produced as establishment costs are so much lower.” Two machines are available: the P3050 offers 500mm spacing for crops such as swedes or fodder beet, or the P3075 unit said to be ideal for maize, sweetcorn or squash. www.precisioncultivation.

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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019


Tractors keep firm at cutting edge MARK DANIEL

SINCE MULCH and Mow Ltd started business in 2004, Duane Crow has run out of fingers counting how many tractors he’s bought, but he thinks the tally is 14. Crow has bases in Hawera and Taumaranui, from where six full-time staff mow roadsides, trim shelter-belts and do mulching for farmers. The firm’s territory takes in Mokau to Whanganui and Bennydale to Waiouru. Over the last 14 years Crow has trialled and bought many types of tractor, but now he’s sticking with the German Deutz Fahr brand. The fleet includes three M600 Summit units delivering 140hp from a six-cylinder engine, with a long wheelbase layout that makes a stable work platform. Add to that a 6160P featuring sharp design details and highend technology such as auto-powershifting and programmable hydraulic output. The ‘baby’ of the group is a 5130 TTV, a smaller but no less sophisticated tractor than its bigger brothers. The 5130 spends much

of its time in mowing roadsides or the region’s sports fields. The use of its stepless transmission helps deliver the exact speed for the job at hand, while programmable engine control and a clever steering system reduces the number of turns of the steering wheel to make turns. This makes for a very versatile tractor. Much of Mulch and Mow’s work is with rear mowers, heavyduty mulchers and rear reach mowers powered by 140hp M600s and the high-tech 6160P units. Crow says long wheelbases combine with high lift capacities and flow rates from the hydraulic system to make the bigger Deutz machines ideal to cope with the demands of this equipment. “Good visibility, operator comfort and excellent ergonomics make the Deutz brand a winner for our team,” he told Rural News. “Add in the unique colour coding for the main control groups, so then operators, who generally stick to one tractor, can switch machines if required with no time lost becoming familiar with controls.” Looking forward, an upcoming addition to

Deutz Fahr tractors help keep Duane Crow’s business moving.

the largely green fleet is waiting in the wings -- a new 6215 RC high power prime mover. This will go into service powering front and rear-mounted mowers in combination, effectively doubling workrates, while also providing plenty of power for tough jobs. The new addition will take the overall count to 15 tractors. However, it looks as if Crow may have to take a second sock off if he adds to the fleet, just to keep an accurate tally.

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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019

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RURAL NEWS // MAY 7, 2019




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Culvert Pipes New Zealand’s CHEAPEST Culvert Pipes! FREE joiners supplied on request. ONE STOP WATER SHOP 300mm x 6 metre ................................ $410 400mm x 6 metre ................................ $515 500mm x 6 metre ................................ $690 600mm x 6 metre ................................ $925 800mm x 6 metre .............................. $1399 1000mm x 6 metre ............................ $2175 1200mm x 6 metre ............................ $3475 ALL PRICES INCLUDE G.S.T.



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Moving farm?

We’ll make switching the power on easy. If you’re moving farm for the new season, don’t forget to pack Meridian. Our team of agribusiness specialists will ensure switching the power on at your new farm is stress-free. What’s more, we work with top rural supply companies, so you can simplify your power bill by paying through them.

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