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Swine fever a big threat to NZ pig industry. PAGE 36

JD increase their offering in the grass harvesting sector.

Rob Hewett to take charge at Farmlands PAGE 12



Bankers circling? SUDESH KISSUN

FARMERS ARE urging banks to take a long term view of their businesses, now under growing pressure to improve their balance sheets.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says some farmers feel they are facing “a banking crisis” because of relentless pressure from banks. While ultimately farmers must ‘own’ their individual financial posi-

tions, Lewis says banks need to go easy. “They must take the long term view that dairying is a profitable business,” he told Rural News. He says farmers have contacted him to complain about bank tactics.

Shining a light on sector Fruit and vegetables literally lit up the recent Horticulture Conference 2019 at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton. To showcase the sector’s produce, the organisers had designed and built six huge chandeliers out of fruit and vegetables. These hung in the main conference room. Amy Miller, HortNZ’s event manager, says they wanted to catch people’s eyes immediately they entered the auditorium. “We first thought of one gigantic chandelier but the weight proved too difficult so we opted for several structures. For variety we chose oranges, apples, lemons, cabbages and cucumbers and for a vegetable focus leaks, fennel and parsnips.” She says they were conscious that their using fruit and vegetables this way risked being seen as wasteful. “But once the conference was over most of the fruit and vegetables, perfectly edible, were donated to a soup kitchen in Hamilton. This included the table decorations at the conference dinner.”

“There’s no doubt that farmers are under increasing pressure from the banks,” he said. A Putaruru farmer, preferring to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal by his bank, contacted Rural News to complain about its high-handedness. “I’ve never been spoken to like that in my life,” he said referring to a meeting he recently had with his ANZ bank manager. He says rumours are rife that some banks are devaluing land by 25%, leading to higher debt to equity ratio for farmers. His Putaruru farm, whose value was at least $5 million five years ago, would now fetch no more than $4m, giving the bank an opening to devalue his farm to $4m. “With my debt around $3 million, the bank is forcing me out of farming, my livelihood,” he said. ANZ general manager agri, Troy Sutherland, says the bank has been encouraging dairy customers to repay debt and improve their balance sheets to enable them to deal with challenges facing the sector. “Currently, the agri sector is in good shape, but there are challenges ahead, such as increased regulatory demands, regional economic cycles and more stringent environmental practices,” he told Rural News. “In our experience farmers are not afraid to lean into some of these challenges. But confidence is lacking in their uncertainty about what ‘good’ looks like and what their pathway is for getting there.”

Sutherland says the bank has seen some land values slip over the past few years, but he denies a 25% drop in value. “Our own tracking of the market has seen a slight decrease of land values over the past two years, but sales evidence has been very low.” However, Lewis believes the situation is dire for farmers in Southland where they don’t have the choice of selling land to other sectors like horticulture, as farmers have in Waikato. “In Waikato land values are holding up because they are being converted into horticulture blocks, housing development and even chicken sheds. In Southland, where they can’t diversify, any drop in land value will hurt farmers.” Milk price volatility, including swings in global dairy prices, is also adding to uncertainty in the dairy sector. Ironically, it seems Westland Milk suppliers are among the best placed since the August 1 takeover by Chinese company Yili. Lewis says one Westland farmer contacted him to say they were getting a $5.70/kgMS advance rate from Yili as per their sale agreement. Yili is matching Fonterra’s payout for 10 years and paying 85% of that as the advanced rate. Fonterra has an opening payout range of $6.25 to $7.25/kgMS, paying an advance rate of $3.80/kgMS to its farmer suppliers. @rural_news

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Muller farming’s new advocate


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HEAD OFFICE Top Floor, 29 Northcroft Street, Takapuna, Auckland 0622 Phone: 09-307 0399 Fax: 09-307 0122 POSTAL ADDRESS PO Box 331100, Takapuna, Auckland 0740 Published by: Rural News Group Printed by: Ovato Print CONTACTS Editorial: Advertising material: Rural News online: Subscriptions: ABC audited circulation 79,553 as at 31.03.2019


NEW NATIONAL agriculture spokesman Todd Muller says he will spend time listening to the views of the primary industries. “I will spend time listening. I tend to do that, it’s my style,” he told Rural News. “I’m very keen to listen first hand to the agribusiness sector and the views of farmers.” Muller this month took over the

role from Nathan Guy, who will retire from politics at the general election next year. Muller promises to advocate fiercely for the agribusiness sector. The Bay of Plenty MP says if he sees the Government doing something against the interests of agribusiness he will speak out. “I will be a fierce advocate for the agribusiness sector.” Muller, a former executive at Zespri and Fonterra, says it’s a huge privilege to be the agriculture spokesman for National.

New hort trophy A NEW Ahuwhenua horticulture trophy was unveiled at the recent Horticulture Conference 2019 at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton. The trophy, made in England, is mounted on a carved base. Maori horticulturalists will compete next year for the trophy in a contest which has previously alternated between sheep and beef and dairying. But from 2020 with horticulture in the mix there will be a three-year rotation. The trophy was unveiled by the Minister for Maori Development, Nania Mahuta, at the conference dinner before a crowd of 600. Ahuwhenua Trophy chairman Kingi Smiler applauds the support of HortNZ and the sector groups sponsoring and supporting the new trophy competition. He says it was logical and timely to have a separate event to recognise the Maori contribution to horticulture. For at least two centuries, Maori have exported horticultural products, a fact not widely known in NZ.


“In the last ten years in particular, Maori have become major investors in the sector and this has resulted in good financial returns and jobs for our people,” he told Rural News. “But much remains to be done and I’m sure the positive publicity the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition generates will encourage more Maori to become involved in the sector.” Smiler sees it as timely to celebrate the achievements of Maori working in the horticultural sector. He says the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition has mana and prestige no other event in NZ has and the prospect of winning the cup will be an incentive. “I urge Maori leaders and rural professionals to encourage Maori to enter this competition,” he said. “For the finalists there is not only the prestige of winning the competition, but the added benefits of high quality feedback on their enterprises. Past finalists have noted how valuable this is.” – Peter Burke

National’s agriculture spokesman Todd Muller.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to contribute to National and to be a voice for the agribusiness sector.” Muller says discussions on the primary sector mostly concern its contribution to the national economy – a whopping $45 billion annually. However, he says other stories also need to be told about farmers doing good work to be more environmentally efficient relative to other countries. Opposition Leader Simon Bridges announced that Muller will pick up the agriculture, biosecurity and food safety portfolios. He already has forestry. “Todd is a hard working and high performing MP who deserves promo-

tion. I have no doubt that Todd will hold this Government to account on behalf of rural New Zealand,” Bridges said. Bridges also paid tribute to Guy. “Nathan has been a valued colleague and friend. I wish him all the best for his future career and thank him for the service he has given NZ over 15 years. “Nathan has been a champion for rural NZ. As a farmer and a businessman he understood more than most what the sector needed and he delivered for them.” Muller’s climate change portfolio has been picked up by Scott Simpson. • Guy says goodbye – p19

REGIONAL FIELD DAYS CLARIFICATION AN ARTICLE that ran in Rural News July 30, about the clash of dates for the 2021 regional field days, insinuated that the organisers of both the Northland and Central Districts events had declined to change their dates. Northland Fieldays says it was not uncooperative and that while it ultimately didn’t need to shift its 2021 dates it was willing to consider it.








Bite back now! PAM TIPA

MEAT EATERS shouldn’t relinquish all advocacies on animal welfare to lobby groups, says Freedom Farms general manager Hilary Pearson. “A lot of good work is being done by Safe and the Animal Law Association,” she says Pearson says farmers and other industry people are concerned that animal welfare advocacy groups have got a strong anti-meat agenda. “I know some of them do, but I also think it is a dangerous thing for us to relinquish advocacy for animal welfare to those groups. Meat eaters must have a say in it as well. “If we are the consumers and the people making those purchasing decisions we have a

Freedom Farms general manager Hilary Pearson.

big role to play in deciding what we want to support in terms of social licence.” Pearson reckons it is bizarre to have all the animal welfare ‘voices’ advocating for the end of

livestock farming. She says meat eaters should be front and centre, saying “this is what I will or won’t tolerate. This is what I will and won’t open my wallet for”.

“The work being done by Safe and the Animal Law Association is a good opportunity for meat eaters to have their say about what they like and don’t like. “It is important we figure out how to work together with those groups rather than taking an adversarial approach.” Pearson later told the ProteinTech19 conference that most consumers do not want to know the details of farming practices. They just want to know that farmers are doing the work. “If you want something cheaper than the real cost of production then something suffers – the farmer, the animal or the environment. And I hope we can get NZ consumers on board with that,” she said.

Telford gets a lifeline THE GOVERNMENT is paying another $4.7 million to keep the Telford farm campus going for another two years. The money, mostly to be spent on refurbishing and maintaining buildings, will enable the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) to run Telford until 2021. It was formerly run by the Government, which last February paid $1.8m to keep the school open this year. Another such school, Taratahi, went into interim liquidation last year at the request of its board. In February, the Government

agreed to a proposal by SIT to take over Telford. Education Minister Chris Hipkins says the Government values the agricultural sector “extremely highly”. The money will “ensure more trainees will enter the sector and help it grow,” he said. “This is the first step in a complete revamp of agricultural education.” Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says the number of people in agricultural training fell dramatically over the last decade. “The Government is ensur-


ing we have a sustainable primary sector education model for the future.” Hipkins said the funding is expected to set a platform for SIT to run Telford beyond 2021. SIT has told the Government that it plans to teach at least 220 students in 2020 and 250 in 2021 at the Telford campus and further afield. The Government will spend several million extra to support these studies and training. Hipkins says SIT will fully account for the money, most of it for earthquake strengthening of buildings and maintenance.

Ray Smith

Smith promises more MPI engagement PETER BURKE

MPI’S DIRECTOR-GENERAL, Ray Smith, wants his staff to engage more with the rural sector. He told Rural News this is a key element in his just released strategic plan for this year. Smith says he’s told his management team to engage more, be agile, open and proactive, and be much more available to local communities. “We have to be seen to be listening and acting on things people want us to do to support them. We are the Ministry FOR the Primary Industries and our job is to back industry to win,” he says. “We will always hold our regulatory bottom line and make sure food is safe, but the top line is getting businesses to win and getting in behind them.” Smith says he intends to practice this himself and says if a farmer rings up with a problem he can solve… “then I will take the call and do what I can to help”. The new strategy focuses on how MPI does things and adjusts its working style to be a better partner with others, Smith says. “In the past we have had a strategy of growing and protecting NZ. While this is still valid it’s now been broadened out to focus on prosperity to ensure the wealth created by agriculture and horticulture is shared by more NZers.



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“We have a strong focus on sustainability and caring about the environment, which includes such things as climate change. “Sustainability is a big issue for us and we need to get farmers talking to farmers about the positive experiences they have had.” Smith says he’s read many stories about farmers who have done amazing things on their properties and landscapes – integrating trees, looking after waterways or introducing wetland areas onto their farms to protect the ecology and biodiversity of their land. “We need to promote that, and help other farmers make those transitions too,” he says. Biosecurity is a huge focus requiring big spending to deal with increased imports, tourists and parcels through the Auckland mail centre. “I have been through it a couple of times and it’s really not fit for purpose for the millions and millions of parcels that go that through that facility,” he said. “We are working with NZ Post to build a new facility, but this is probably two or three years away.” Smith also wants to work with the industry to find ways to import new plant material into NZ faster. There is now a four year waiting list to get material assessed and he wants this speeded up. NZ’s diversifying into new products requires a better system.

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Unsocial media DIFFERENCES ARE publicly emerging between farmer leaders and DairyNZ over support for the Government’s policies on sustainability. A lively exchange on Twitter last week underscores differing views on tackling climate change. The exchange at times got personal. It started when Tracy Brown, chair of DairyNZ’s Dairy Environment Leaders Forum, tweeted a Ministry for Environment proposal on climate change -- on farmers not being charged on the interim for emissions but at the farm level from 2025. Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis replied that it wasn’t farmers’ job to promote Government policy to farmers. “I want the right triggers and policy outcomes that promote a winwin for climate, environment, cows, farmers and Govt. incentivise good outcomes!” he said. He also questioned whether dairy farmers will pay twice -- for milk and meat. “We don’t want another 94:6 levy,” he said, referring to the split-

ting of costs between dairy and beef farmers for eradicating Mycoplasma bovis. Some dairy farmers remain unhappy with the deal struck by DairyNZ. Lewis’ reply triggered DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle to join the fray. “Err Chris, Tracy not selling govt policy. She’s highlighting that there’s an alternative proposal on the table -- one that has Federated Farmers logo on it -- and she’s encouraging farmers to support us taking a lead ourselves rather than sitting back & having it done to us...” Mackle tweeted. DairyNZ’s social media-savvy general manager farm performance Vanessa Winning also had a go at Lewis. “Perhaps that is not helped by some of the fearmongering at the mo Chris? Isn’t it our job (us & all industry leadership) to provide solutions instead of just pushing back? Don’t we want to remain the best in the world? Ireland on the path to 30% our 10% seems much more doable?” This prompted Feds sharemilk-

ers chair Richard McIntyre to invite Winning to sit through a few farmerbanker meetings. “Might change your view on this,” he tweeted. This tweet got Winning going…. “Are you serious Richard? I’m an ex. Banker. I’m also aware of what’s happening with the credit situation given my economics background. Control the controllables, stopping fighting everything so your org can actually support the important things -- like the credit situation, focus.” McIntyre said he wasn’t trying to offend Winning. He’s aware of Winning’s background and said she understands what is happening. But Winning wasn’t finished. “You don’t think I talk with farmers every single day? They pay my wages, I work for them. I attend an event most weeks. I listen and I help when I can. But I don’t believe the earth is flat or wear a tinfoil hat. We evolve and no more so than farmers I work with, you included.” Lewis declined to comment on the Twitter exchange.

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Yet another committee AGRICULTURE MINISTER Damien O’Connor is setting up a ‘taskforce’ on the animal welfare issues of winter grazing. “Images of cows up to their knees in mud, unable to lie down and rest and calving in these conditions is unacceptable to me and I’ve heard loud and clear from the public that it’s unacceptable to them too,” O’Connor says.

“Winter crop grazing is necessary in some regions to provide enough feed for stock at a time when there’s not a lot of pasture. Done well, it provides animals with quality feed to keep them warm over winter. “Done badly it means cattle can be knee deep in mud which gives rise to completely justifiable concerns for their welfare. Winter grazing also

has an environmental impact and the Government is working on ways to address that too.” Some farmers are falling well below acceptable winter grazing practice, he says. “Unfortunately, it’s another situation of a small number of farmers letting the side down and bringing everyone into disrepute.” O’Connor says MPI’s

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animal welfare unit has stepped up its compliance activity and is watching. “I am bringing together a taskforce of vets, industry leaders and officials to identify the issues and bring me some solutions.” The group will first meet “in the next few weeks” and will report to the minister on first steps by the end of the month.

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NEW TECHNOLOGIES on the horizon were the focus of the recent Horticulture Conference 2019, says HortNZ chief executive Mike Chapman. This was signalled in the theme ‘Our Food Future’. Chapman says attitude shifts overseas and in NZ present opportunities for the rapidly expanding industry. More and more people want and can afford a healthy diet, rich in plant based foods. Despite the sector’s good outlook, there are major challenges ahead, such as retaining sufficient high quality land to grow crops, rather than seeing the land gobbled up by urban sprawl.

Mike Chapman

Access to water and a skilled labour force are also essential ingredients for the future of the industry, Chapman notes.

Conference speakers talked about new technologies and consumer trends, and a large exhibit area enabled attendees to talk to companies developing new products. “If you were a grower at this conference you would have gone away with new ideas and new robotic concepts to use in your business,” Chapman told Rural News. “The speakers and exhibitors were mixing with growers and talking about all sorts of robotic applications. We also had a good contingent from MPI talking to them about how we can integrate these robotic technologies.” Plenty of networking time was provided and the growers appreciated this, Chapman says.





Robotics nearly upon us PETER BURKE

ROBOTICS HAS moved out of the talking stage and into the early doing stages, says the chief executive of Plant and Food Research, David Hughes. Keeping listeners attentive at the recent HortNZ conference, Hughes teamed up with namesake Professor David Hughes – emeritus professor of food marketing, Imperial College London, to discuss the topic. Together they gave a futuristic view of technologies and ideas the horticultural sector can expect. David Hughes, a New Zealander, says in just the last year, various robotic companies in different countries had done field trials on different crops -- strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, lettuces and asparagus. And there had been plenty to interest NZ in trials of robotic picking of apples and kiwifruit. But picking by hand still remains cheaper, he says. “But the cost of robotics is coming down sharply and you can see a point where those two lines will cross and

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A couple of Davids... David Hughes (left) and colleague Professor David Hughes (right).

robotics will be the cheaper option.” Hughes says the widely held view is that technology will reduce labour costs. True, he says, but other benefits may reduce costs over a whole sector and so improve producers’ returns. For example, while using robotics for loading containers onto ships saves money, the real gain is that robotics enables shipping companies to more precisely schedule their ships to avoid having them wait to be loaded.

“Absolute precision in loading schedules saves a lot more money than just the cost of labour. So in the horticultural industry, yes there will be labour benefits, but I think there will be lots of secondary benefits we can’t see,” he says. Hughes says a big benefit of robotics and technology for horticulture is its ability to gather and immediately act on information a human or handpicker cannot act on.

“If a robot is picking, it can be programmed to record and sort all the individual information about a single piece of fruit. This could be which bin it might go into, whether it be put on a vessel to go to Japan tomorrow because it is perfect for the Japanese market or whether it should be put into storage for six months and sold in another market.” @rural_news

MAN VS MACHINE THE TOPIC of hand versus robotic picking was raised by the speakers. Professor David Hughes says handpicking works well for premium fruit, where consumers want to know more about the provenance of the product. And such consumers are also attracted by the ‘artisan’ nature of handpicking. “Handpicking works really well for premium products and anything that bruises, such as strawberries, just-ripe peaches and tomatoes,” he explained. “Mechanical harvesting is fine for green tomatoes, but for the ripe red tomatoes hand picked is better.” Professor Hughes says in the UK at least 50% of the total cost of strawberry production relates to labour. But retail prices have remained static over about ten years, which has pressured growers to reduce their costs. This is opening the way, as robotics get cheaper, for more mechanical harvesting. “As my colleague David says, some people are saying robotics are years away,” he told the conference. “I think they are looking backwards rather than forwards. It has taken a long time to get to where we are, but I think you will see an accelerated growth and it will come sooner than we expect.”



Meat given a bum steer RED MEAT is unfairly a scapegoat in the fight against climate change, says a European academic. Frédéric Leroy, a professor of food science and biotechnology at Vrije Universiteit, Brussels, told the recent red meat sector conference in Christchurch that people are viewing food in a surreal way in this “posttruth” era. For example, he said, “egg-free” egg and artificial burger meat both have a similar list of ingredients of mostly water, protein, oils and “a very long list of additives to texture and structure it”. “This is the future of food according to a minority – a loud minor-

ity, but a minority nevertheless. I worry because this narrative now is being endorsed by high level policy makers.” He says various agencies are producing reports calling for meat eating to be discouraged or banned. “These are, in actual fact, reports designed by policy people. So don’t underestimate the potential impact,” Leroy warned. He pointed out that Christiana Fagueres, the architect of the Paris Climate Agreement, had called for meat eaters to be banished from restaurants to have their steaks outside with the smokers. And New York City mayor Bill de Blasio had introduced measures to reduce beef buying in the city by 50%, phase out

Frédéric Leroy

all processed meat and introduce meatless Mondays in public schools. In 2018, the UN environment agency proclaimed Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods –

whose stated mission is to eliminate meat from animals from the food chain by 2035 – as ‘Champions of the Earth’. However, Leroy claims these were all endorsing

an “extremist agenda”, unjustified on either environmental or health grounds. He pointed out how livestock account for only about 4% of the total

greenhouse gas emissions, dwarfed by transportation, energy and industry. “Basically the elephant in the room here is fossil fuels. No doubt about it.” He says meat eating is a “quite modest” contributor to an individual’s carbon footprint. “Going to a plant based diet will reduce a person’s footprint, but it is not the numbers you often see. It is something in the range of 1-6%.” Leroy says one study modelling the switch from an omnivore diet to a vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian diet also found it resulted in deficiencies in essential nutrients. Claims that plants are good protein sources often vanish if you take digestibility into account, he said. “Animal source

foods are far superior in the way they deliver protein.” Leroy says the claimed health risks must also be put into context. Doubling a tiny risk is still a very small risk. “We are today facing a global challenge. Let’s not forget that. We are facing a global challenge to feed the population – not with calories, not with carbohydrates, not with quantities but with quality protein.” He believes there is a place for animal products in quality diets. Leroy says humans have been eating red meat for at least 2.6 million years and without it would have died out as a species 1.5 million years ago. @rural_news

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6/08/19 1:47 PM



Respect is the key PAM TIPA

THE FIRST hour on an orchard is more important for a worker’s employment prospects than anything in their life previously, says successful Whangarei grower Patrick Malley. His family hydroponics berry and kiwifruit business, Maungatapere Berries, believes in giving people a chance. Northland has massive potential in horticulture to boost the region’s economic base and employment, Malley told Rural News. To provide job opportunities to long-term unemployed people can be a struggle, he says. There’s hard work involved and you have successes and failures. “But we find there

are a couple of key things: respecting people regardless of what their history is, and an employee’s history starts and stops at the front gate. “That means that in the first hour someone is on our orchard, their attitude and their application to work are more important to us than their previous years’ job history and any of the challenges they might face in their lives. “So having that level of respect for who they are and giving them opportunities to succeed rather than continually penalising them gives them the opportunity to do well.” Another aspect of respect is having a reasonable contract. Rather than casual, weather dependent and on-call

Rebecca and Patrick Malley.

seven days, they instead provide workers 40 hours of work, rostered in advance over the work week. “We say ‘come rain, hail or shine there will be work ready for you when you turn up for work’. That gives them a lot of confidence and surety. “When people know

they are likely to have enough money to put food on the table it takes away the pressures that affect their lives and enables them to focus on work. “Then you can start building on the culture, the attitudes and the skills you want after that.”

Maungatapere Berries is tipped to become a model both for horticulture and for employment opportunities under a $2.37 million Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) partnership. The PGF business loan is targeted to create the first centre for growing excellence in the New Zealand hydroponics horticulture industry. “We have 45 fulltime staff and 180 casual for nine months of the year,” he told Rural News. The PGF partnership will enable Maungatapere Berries to double its fulltime workforce over the next five to eight years and to develop the first phase of a high-tech education, training and employment operation, as part of Maungatapere Berries’ 20ha hydroponic orchard expansion.

NZ’S NEXT FRUIT AND VEGE BOWL? NORTHLAND HAS massive untapped potential in horticulture, says Patrick Malley. “One of the greatest things about horticulture careers is you can start your training and learning on the job,” he said. “You don’t need to get a degree, even though there is a huge amount of knowledge and experience required to be good at it. You can start from day dot, you can get a job and start getting paid. You can earn and learn at the same time.” Northland has a lot of unemployment. “Generally speaking those people actually prefer to work with their hands than sit in front of a desk. And one of the great values of horticulture is you can see the results of your work at the end of the day,” Malley told Rural News. He points out that dairy or sheep and beef have a low level of fulltime employment per hectare, whereas avocados need 0.5 employees per hectare and kiwifruit closer to one employee per hectare. “Hydroponics provides closer to eight fulltime equivalent jobs per hectare. When you look at those numbers and you look at return on investment per hectare it is no wonder people are turning land that maybe not suitable for different types of agriculture into high value horticulture,” he says. “Horticulture in general – whether it be traditional or hydroponics – is there permanently and because you are growing plants that require a healthy environment sustainability is at the core of what you do.


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Climate change challenges will grow PAM TIPA

PRESSURE ON farmers from climate change – both from the changing climatic conditions and reducing emissions – will only increase, says Primary Sector Council chairman Lain Jager. The 16-member council has been tasked with creating a pan-industry vision that balances economic opportunity with environmental concerns. Jager says they have been operating under the radar since their inception in April last year and will continue to do so for three to four months. After that industry leaders may be able to take some ideas out to the sectors. The council is due to wrap up by April next year. The council has been looking through a strate-

gic lens at the food and fibre sector including a situation analysis by Paul Dalzeil, professor of economics – agribusiness, Lincoln University. “The first idea is that the food and fibre sector is hugely important to NZ. It is not a sunset industry,” Jager told the ProteinTech19 conference in Auckland. “It is 75% of NZ’s merchandise exports, 20% of NZ’s GDP, one in 10 jobs and 14 million hectares of productive land.” Export revenues have been growing at about 4% a year over the last 10 years. “But looking at the future, it is very important the sector continues to grow at about 2%.” That is the Treasury forecast for the growth of NZ’s economy, he says. “If we are not growing at 2% a year the implica-

Primary Sector Council chair Lain Jager.

tion is that some other sectors will have to make up the difference. Finding those sectors to make up the difference off such a big base would be pretty tough. “NZ has historically been a bio-based economy and is likely to remain so into the future. However, where and how we grow is of fundamental importance.”

Of our 14m ha we are hugely invested in ruminant protein. NZ has 8.5m ha in sheep and beef, about 1.7m ha in dairy, and about a 1m ha in some sort of farm forestry and 1.8m ha in canopy forestry. He says the “sexy” high value industries wine, kiwifruit and pipfruit, from a land use perspective, occupy a very


small space – less than 100,000ha out of 14m ha. “On the one hand that represents an enormous opportunity, on the other hand all three of those businesses are demand constrained. They have been growing at roughly 10% a year for the last decade and they can’t grow any faster. And they are a very small sliver of our land use,” Jager

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explained. That means sheep and beef and dairy are absolutely an important part of this equation and we really need to think about the future of those industries.” From the perspective of return per hectare the sectors are vastly different. Some produce much more in export lines. Meat in particular is problematic on a returns per hectare basis. “It has very low margins and that has implications for the resilience of that sector through the change ahead. However, as I have said, the meat sector is hugely important to the NZ economy today.” The sectors are growing at different rates. Wine, kiwifruit and pipfruit are all growing at 7-10%. Dairy has been expanding rapidly, driving very strong growth,

and forestry too has been growing quickly. Meat has been much more challenging over time. What farmers are currently doing must shape the discussions needed, Jager says. “Farmers aren’t stupid – they tend to have their land in the use which is most economically viable for them taking into account the class of land. “If you want a farmer to change land use probably they are going to have to spend money and take risks. You won’t do that as a farmer unless you have something better to go to.” Any talking about alternative land use must take into account the options people have. “It can’t be just on the regulatory side. It also has to be on the opportunity side so investment is hugely important.”

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Claims of trouble at Alliance DAVID ANDERSON

BIG STAFF rumblings, safety issues and the likelihood of yet another poor result are claimed to be unfolding at the Alliance Group. According to Rural News sources, the meat processor, which labels itself as New Zealand’s only 100% farmer owned meat cooperative, has now lost five members of its 10-person executive leadership in less than two years. The latest loss was the shock departure of Heather Stacy, general manager livestock, who resigned earlier this month. Her quitting made a total of five executive leadership team resignations within the past 20 months under the controversial leadership of Australian chief executive David Surveyor. Stacy’s resignation follows the departures this year of Alliance’s chief information officer, the general manager of marketing and the general manager of sales. All resigned. Meanwhile, Rupert Mitchell recently quit as the Lorneville plant manager, meaning 100% of the co-op’s processing plant managers have turned over in the last few years.

Heather Stacy

Rural News is told this long list of senior executive resignations and departures can be blamed on the company’s culture, described as “seriously toxic” and in “free fall”. All this is being sheeted home to chief executive David Surveyor’s leadership style described as an “old-fashioned 1970’s, big stick style -- cancerous and bullying”. Alliance’s board, including chairman Murray Taggart, have been accused of being “ineffectual” and are said to be well aware of Surveyor’s heavy-handedness. Many report

David Surveyor

bullying, internal culture issues, escalating recruitment costs and repeated calls for internal reviews. Rural News understands Surveyor was brought into the meat co-op by Taggart as an experiment to shake up the sleepy processor. But many now feel the company is so damaged by his management regime that it may be irreparable. Several of these senior staff resignations were Surveyor’s own hires. Industry insiders predict Surveyor is positioning himself for a quick exit.

They point to a new, professionally written, LinkedIn profile of Surveyor, poor profit results and intense board scrutiny. And there’s an issue in unravelling plant safety, especially in some of the co-op’s old South Island plants. There are claims the company is struggling to get on top of asbestos and ammonia safety at these plants. The ammonia systems are said to be in such decay that they could seriously threaten local communities as well as the workers.

“Naturally, plant maintenance seriously bites into profitability and most of these plants are seriously antique,” the source told Rural News. “Surveyor and the board know these risks and are holding things together with plasters and nice press releases.” The bad news does not stop there. Sources also claim that Alliance is reportedly making nothing from lamb and is weak in beef, pointing to what many commentators expect will be another “very poor” annual profit result. – Alliance response, p11






No issues for us DAVID ANDERSON

ALLIANCE GROUP chairman Murray Taggart is somewhat perplexed by these claims and denies the co-op has problems with staff turnover, plant safety or profitability. Speaking to Rural News from overseas, Taggart said the claim about Alliance facing another poor year financially was

and no one has raised any issues.” Taggart says the turnover of plant managers has included two who retired at age 65, and other plant managers have been promoted. This shows that talent is recognised and rewarded at Alliance, he says. “Two of our plant managers are women, which is not common

believes that ever since Surveyor took over at the co-op, shareholder and staff support have increased for the transformation of the business, including better staff safety, adding value to product, investing in the marketplace and upgrading plants and technology.

“Actually, we are tracking better than last season and the last numbers I saw show us tracking ahead of budget.” one of the more “puzzling” allegations. “Actually, we are tracking better than last season and the last numbers I saw show us tracking ahead of budget,” he said. “Beef is doing significantly better and lamb also looks to be pretty strong.” Meanwhile, Taggart dismissed any talk of a ‘toxic culture’ at Alliance and/or claims that he and his board are ignoring problems with the management style of chief executive David Suveyor. He says there are “definitely” no concerns at board level about this. “Yes, we have had those people leave, but all for different and genuine reasons,” he told Rural News. “Those people – and everyone who departs the company – have conducted exit interviews. All have offered different reasons for leaving

in the meat industry and something we are extremely proud of.” Taggart says they don’t pretend they get everything right all the time. But he claims company culture reviews “have been done from the executive team down to the boning room floor” and show it has a “good set of values”. He puts this down to management by Surveyor and says since he began as chief executive at Alliance in January 2015 this has steadily improved. Taggart says the board has heard no reports on any negative aspects of Surveyor’s management or style. “Most of our directors are farmers who live and interact in the communities where our plants operate,” he said. “There has been no messaging back about any concerns on this front.” In fact, Taggart

SAFETY COMES FIRST TAGGART SAYS plant and staff safety have been top priorities under the management regime of David Surveyor at Alliance Group. Taggart believes staff and community safety around asbestos and ammonia issues are better now than a few years ago. “In regards to asbestos, every plant has been mapped to show where it is,” Taggart told Rural News. “Of course, asbestos is not a problem until you disturb it. So we now know exactly where it is if we need to do any plant maintenance or building work.” On ammonia, Taggart says the risk is also far less than in the past. The gas, used in refrigeration, poses a risk to staff and communities if it leaks out. But a specialist’s review of the risk resulted in “significant” investment in ammonia detection equipment. He says the company has talked to emergency services and civil defence officials in the communities where its plants are based, to ensure proper safety plans are in place to deal with any issues with ammonia.

“During this time, our profitability is up and so is our competitiveness in the marketplace.” Meanwhile, Taggart is confident that Surveyor is not also about to depart the company. “Well, he hasn’t told me. Why has he said something to you?” he joked.

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Hewett to take charge at Farmlands NIGEL MALTHUS

THE INTENDED chairman of Farmlands CoOperative, Rob Hewett, expects to take over a business in good heart and well-placed for the future. The Otago farmer and businessman will take the helm follow-

ing the annual meeting in November, succeeding Lachie Johnstone, who decided to stand down after 19 years. Hewett says there is a lot of change and uncertainty in the rural sector, and so huge opportunities. “A stack of stuff is coming up and we need

to make sure we’ve got our eye open for opportunities for our customers and shareholders. And we must ensure our business is capitalised adequately to take advantage of it.” With turnover of $2.4 billion, Farmlands operates 81 retail stores, feed barns, seed stores, fuel

A SIMILAR STORY COMMENTING ON the recent sale of the Westland Co-operative Dairy to the Chinese dairy giant Yili, Rob Hewett says Westland had found itself in the same space as Silver Fern was in several years ago. Silver Fern’s case was solved by the then-controversial investment from Shanghai Maling, which now jointly owns, with the co-op, the meat processing and trading arm Silver Fern Farms Ltd. Capital has to come from somewhere, said Hewett. “In the case of Westland, and Silver Fern Farms, the capital was introduced by an overseas partner from

China,” he told Rural News. “I have no problems with Chinese money. I’m not proposing that Farmlands needs Chinese money – or any money for that matter – but it’s something you need to keep a weather eye on. “The challenge with a co-operative is to keep this topic under control. The last situation you want to get into is to diminish capital over time by not reinvesting.” Hewett says a co-op is there to serve its members, and part of that obligation is to ensure a business is adequately capitalised -- but capitalisation is always a challenge.

Incoming Farmlands chair Rob Hewett.

distribution, grain trading, rural property and horticulture. It’s a diverse business with a lot of moving parts, Hewett says. “My view of Farmlands is that each of its individual business units aren’t that complex, but the complexity comes when you put it all together,” he told Rural

News. “It’s meeting the needs of our shareholders and customers and anticipating what they’re going to need in future, given changing farming practices and the increase in lifestyle blocks. “The big one right now is the Zero Carbon Bill and what that means for our shareholders’ and

customers’ businesses.” He says Farmlands is also well placed for the future with its revamped integrated computer system Project Braveheart now coming on line, which he claims will “turbocharge” the business. Hewett’s appointment builds on a strong working relationship with

Silver Fern Farms. He recently stood down as chairman of Silver Fern Farms Co-operative, but remains on its board. He remains co-chairman of its meat processing and trading arm Silver Fern Farms Ltd, jointly owned by the co-op and Shanghai Maling. Hewett points out that Silver Fern and Farmlands share many needs and much overlapping shareholding. In recent years they have co-operated in joint governance training and mentoring with their To The Core project aimed at identifying and fostering shareholder talent to raise governance standards. Hewett says all co-ops need an eye on succession, given the fiduciary duties and obligations now placed on business directors.

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We will deliver – Yili SUDESH KISSUN

PUT YOUR faith in us and we will bring prosperity to your farming businesses. That’s the message Yili Group chief executive Jianqiu Zhang had for Westland Milk’s farmer suppliers following the Chinese company taking ownership of the West Coast dairy processor on August 1. Westland’s former board has resigned and Yili is retaining the current management for the time being to ensure a smooth handover. Zhang, who attended a handover ceremony in Auckland earlier this month, told Rural

News that Yili was a big, responsible and trusted company. “We would like our farmer suppliers to trust us and we will bring benefits for all of you,” he said. Westland’s former shareholders have now received a cash payment of $3.41/share, a 10-year guaranteed competitive milk payout plus guarantees that all milk will be collected. Zhang says Yili is happy to have acquired Westland and feels a strong sense of responsibility towards farmer suppliers. “We are obliged to improve operations, reduce costs and lift efficiency to bring more ben-

Pete Morrison


Jianqiu Zhang, Yili Group chief executive.

efits to stakeholders.” Zhang points to Yili’s success with Oceania Dairy Ltd, South Canterbury, which started processing milk in 2014. “This is how we work through all our projects

CONTRACTS WILL BE RESPECTED CHINESE DAIRY giant Yili says it will respect all contractual obligations to pay current and former milk suppliers of Westland Milk. The company, which bought Westland on August 1, says it knows former milk suppliers are owed money for having surrendered shares. Yili Group chief executive Jianqiu Zhang told Rural News that Yili is “a very responsible company”. “We will always strictly follow the contract,” he said. Zhang pointed out that when the global milk price plummeted in 2014, it still paid its Oceania Dairy Ltd suppliers the contract fixed price. “We did not drop a cent. In the second year a lot of new suppliers signed up because we won their respect and admiration,” he said. The farmer group’s spokesman, Pete Williams, said that at the end of the 2018 milking season he ceased supplying Westland and went to Fonterra, surrendering his shares at their nominal price of $1.50/kgMS.

-- pushing the concept of mutual benefit and ending with a win-win situation for all stakeholders.” Zhang says Westland’s acquisition is only “a small step” in Yili’s globalisation strategy. The Chinese conglomerate plans to expand in the US, Europe and Asia. Speaking at the handover ceremony in Auckland, Zhang alluded to Westland forming part of its “dairy silk road”. Zhang says NZ’s strong dairying tradition, high quality raw milk and well regulated industry, and Yili’s access to global resources and markets, will strengthen the ties between Asia and the Oceania region.

“We intend to use our global assets of innovation, excellence and quality to create a ‘dairy silk road’ linking our two regions on a trade journey that will benefit us all.” The ‘dairy silk road’ echoes the idea of a trade corridor promoted by Chinese President Xi Jinping -- to reopen channels between China and its neighbours in the west, most notably Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Zhang says Westland’s acquisition can be seen as a vast dairy bridge crossing the Pacific Ocean, helping the world to share healthy products. @rural_news

FORMER WESTLAND Milk chairman Pete Morrison says Yili’s new ownership represents a significant milestone for the former co-op and the start of a new era for the dairy industry on the West Coast. He says Westland is a proud business with a strong history on the West Coast and in Canterbury. “Jingang’s ownership provides confidence, security and competitive payouts for farmers – and their families – in our region. I am sure this will provide a strong platform for dairying in the region for many years ahead.” Morrison says throughout the sale process all farmers were treated equally and all stand to be equally rewarded in the future. “Fairness and equality were critical principles for the board and we are pleased these principles were understood and respected by Jingang and Yili throughout our negotiations. “My fellow farmers and I now look forward to helping Yili achieve its long term goal of becoming the most trusted healthy food provider in the world. It is an exciting vision and it is exciting to help make this a reality. “The strong engagement and support shown by Westland’s shareholders at the recent shareholder meeting demonstrates the importance our farmers place on the new relationship and their faith in Yili working with them to build Westland’s positive future. “It is truly a win-win result for all involved.”

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Fonterra’s Aussie struggles SUDESH KISSUN

FONTERRA HAS told its Australian farmer suppliers that it remains committed to that market. During recent farmer meetings, Fonterra Australia was asked about its future in the competitive market, particularly after saying it would close the Dennington plant in Victoria within four months. John Dalton, the chairman of Bonlac Supply Company (BSC), which represents Australian farmers supplying milk to Fonterra, told Rural News that sentiment among suppliers remains mixed. Some are still unhappy with the “stepdown” of the milk price by Fonterra in 2016 while others are happy with the current payout and eager to get on with dairy farming. He says at meetings held in June, farmers questioned Fonterra about its commitment to Australia. “That question was certainly raised, especially after the announcement to close the Dennington plant… and Fonterra has assured us that it remains committed to Australia.” Dalton says in his 30 years as a dairy farmer he had never seen such challenging times for the sector. “It’s certainly in a place never seen before. The lack of milk for processors is almost unprecedented,” he said. Australia’s dairy industry has faced challenging times over the last two decades. In 2000, the industry produced nearly 11 billion litres of milk, according to Dairy Australia. In the 2017-18 season the industry processed only 9.2b litres. Fonterra said in its July Global Dairy Update

that it collected 122 million kgMS in Australia last season, ended June 2019 -- down 20% on the previous season. Fonterra collections in June were 7 million kgMS, down 30% on June last season. The co-op blames the drop on poor seasonal conditions, high input costs, increased cow cull rates, farmer retirements and milk collection movement in a highly competitive market. Dairy Australia forecasts annual milk production to decline by another 7% to 9% for the 2018-19 season. Dalton expects milk production to either remain the same or drop even further, mostly because of water supply and weather problems. He expects Tasmania to produce more milk this season, and Gippsland and Western Victoria supply to remain the same. But Dalton says milk supply out of Northern Victoria will be down again this season. Fonterra’s loss of milk supply is also due to suppliers switching to rival processors. Dalton would not say how many farmer suppliers remain with BSC, referring Rural News to Fonterra. Last month, former BSC director and Victoria farmer Matt Billing switched supply from Fonterra to another processor. He says other farmers have also left Fonterra, unhappy with how the co-op has been treating suppliers. Fonterra Australia managing director René Dedoncker told Rural News that about 25% of farmers changed proces-

sor in the last 12 months, versus an average of 10% per year since 2015. “Like last season, this season we’re seeing continued heightened competition for milk largely due to the drought, which is the worst on record and has seen milk volumes drop to two-decade

lows. Like many processors we have had losses but we’ve also had new farmers join us. “In this environment we, like all other businesses, need to continually assess whether we’re best placed for the future, look at ways we can reduce complexity and

become more efficient.” Dedoncker says Fonterra is clear on its commitment to Australia. “We’ll continue to deliver a return to our shareholders, and offer a competitive milk price to our farmers.” @rural_news

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Bad winter grazing does do harm PETER BURKE

WINTER GRAZING of forage crops is very harmful to the environment, says an AgResearch scientist, Professor Richard McDowell. His comments follow the publication of photographs showing cows deep in mud grazing a fodder crop in Southland, which have drawn much negative comment. McDowell says 20% to 40% of agricultural contaminants come from forage crop areas, despite them occupying only 10% to 15% of an average farm. But about one third of contaminant losses from winter grazing of forage

crops can be mitigated if a range of strategies are

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to an area where all their effluent and urine can be captured and not deposited on the paddock,” he told Rural News. “Also ensure that, where possible, cows are kept off the remainder of the paddock by using back fencing. “Another option is to apply alum (aluminium sulphate) to forage crop areas after animals have grazed to decrease phosphorous losses to surface run-off.” McDowell says if the fodder crop is grown on a sloping area, animals should be fed at the top, working down to the lower areas. This means the cows will be on any muddy areas for the minimum of time. In some areas prone to being wet, cut and carry to a feed pad where dung and urine can be contained is also an option. McDowell says winter cropping has developed because of the economics

and simplicity of it. “Another alternative is a herd home, which stacks up environmentally. If the economics are right these could be a viable option.” Meanwhile, Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell and deputy chairman Lloyd McCallum have also entered the fray, saying some farmers need to step up to avoid the whole industry being tarred with this brush. They say the photographs show wintering practices neither the council nor the farming industry can accept. There is no excuse for ignorance of good practice or for the rules on winter grazing. “It was very disappointing to hear that recent aerial monitoring showed a lack of good practices. We expect farmers to reflect on their winter grazing practices now and start to prepare for next season.”

MOOVE AWAY FROM MUDDY COWS OUTGOING DAIRYNZ director Ben Allomes says farmers need to change with the times and adopt practices good for their animals and the environment. He says if a farmer in 2019 thinks he can farm for the next 10 to 15 years without any change to their system then he is kidding himself. “They must hold up a mirror and say ‘hang on a minute, change has always come and I have to keep changing with it’. There is no status quo,” he told Rural News. Allomes says many farming practices are unfit for the environment in which they are occurring. Each farmer must understand their particular property and manage their resources so as not to harm animals or the environment. Allomes says, overall, winter grazing is not a big problem in New Zealand. But certain key regions and even catchments may have problems if farmers don’t properly plan their winter grazing. Not only catchments but also soil types can make a huge difference.

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NATHAN GUY says he’s not too concerned about transitioning from politics into the normal workforce. Two weeks ago, the former minister responsible for primary industries in the National Government decided to quit politics at the end of the current parliamentary term. Some colleagues were a bit stunned and many hadn’t seen it coming, he says. But they realised when he talked to them that this was a personal decision and they quickly accepted it. Guy says his children are likewise understanding of his decision to leave politics. They have only known him as an MP. His oldest boy was just four days old when he was selected as the candidate for Otaki. “So, every birthday he has it’s the time Erica and I reflect on our political journey. It’s been a hellava ride, it’s been a blast I have loved every minute of it,” he told Rural News. “I’ve been blessed to have such a strong supporter in my wife Erica. Her fantastic rural credentials have been great when talking through ideas. But I think deep down she thinks the time is right to go and do something else.” Likewise, Guy says the timing just feels right for him. He says he is nearly 50 and it’s time for him to look at doing something else, but he quickly adds that this is likely to be in the primary sector. “It’s been a big decision and it’s one I have only really started thinking seriously about in the last couple of weeks. This is because we (National MPs) need to go for selection in the electorates we hold and my electorate, Otaki, would be going for selection in September. “I owed it to my delegates and

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Nathan Guy

party members to be upfront and to give them enough time to go and find a talented replacement who can hopefully serve Otaki for another fifteen years.” Guy is a farmer whose family has had a long history in local government politics going back over at least a century. Guy himself served on the Horowhenua District Council before entering national politics. He has no interest in going back into local government. “I am very fortunate to have been given the opportunities I have, serving as a whip and later as a cabinet minister. When I came into Parliament I was just 35 and had no grey hairs, but now I am leaving with quite a few. The journey for me has been fantastic,” he says. Guy says the highlights of his political career were based on supporting the primary sector during tough times such as the dairy downturn and the many adverse events such as floods and droughts. He rates his advocacy for water storage and says he’s disappointed that the present Government has pretty much turned its back on that, which is surprising given all the talk about climate change.

“I guess a big thing for me was dealing with the criminal blackmail of 1080 going into our infant formula, which ended up being a hoax. “The PM asked me to lead the response on that and we worked on that for months with industry and kept our trading partners – particularly China – well informed and when the story finally broke there were no negative impacts on our trade. “That incident could have been disastrous for the dairy industry and had a massive impact on the NZ economy. I am proud of the role I played there, which ultimately led to a prosecution.” Guy believes another success was negotiating the Government Industry Agreements (GIAs) on biosecurity which now have 20 industry groups signed up. Guy says he pleased to hand over the reins to Todd Muller – a person he says he knows well and respects. “I will be doing all I can to support him and ensure he hits the ground running. I am happy we as a party are in good shape and have someone who is going to be a champion and supporter of the primary sector,” he says.

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Methane inhibitor facing hurdles SUDESH KISSUN

FARMERS are urging the Government to help register a novel methane inhibitor for cow rumens. Trials have shown that the 3-nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP) feed additive can reduce methane production in cows by 30%. But DSM, the global animal health company seeking to market the product, says it is facing delays in getting the product registered in New Zealand. Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard met a visiting DSM group headed by its chief executive Christoph Goppelsroeder. Hoggard says he’s sur-

prised by the “glaring gap” in regulations that’s preventing the registration of 3-NOP. He says there’s nothing to stop DSM selling the product in NZ right now but the company wants it registered. “Farmers also want to know that the product will give them results in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Hoggard says the issue has been raised with the Prime Minister and some ministers. “We want the Government to get on and create this category: feed supplements for environmental benefits.” Any sale of an agricultural compound or veterinary medicine (ACVM)

in NZ must be authorised under the ACVM Act 1997. But DSM claims it has been unable to register the product in NZ because MPI’s register doesn’t have a category for such a product. Goppelsroeder told Dairy News that DSM has hit a roadblock on how to approve the product for use in NZ. “The regulatory framework in NZ doesn’t have a category for a product whose main benefit is environmental performance. This is surprising given that the country is ready and very sensitive to climate change.” DSM has already filed an application for approval of the feed addi-

DSM chief executive Christoph Goppelsroeder with a handful of 3-NOP pellets.

tive in Europe. Registration of a product there takes on average 12-18


months. Goppelsroeder says a green light from European regulators could come before the end of next year. “If they see this product as a special bullet, approval could

come from Europe even faster.” He says there’s “a big risk” that European farmers could leapfrog NZ farmers in mitigating methane emissions. Goppelsroeder hopes MPI will create a new category and approve 3-NOP. “We will be watching like hawks over the next few weeks.” MPI director of assurance Allan Kinsella rejected assertions that there is no category in MPI’s regulatory framework for 3-NOP. “3-NOP can currently be registered under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act as a ‘feed additive’, and this was communicated to DSM when MPI staff met with them,” he told Dairy News. “Consequently there is no barrier to DSM

marketing 3-NOP as an environmental inhibitor in NZ in relation to MPI-administered legislation. However, it may be subject to other legislation such as the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act administered by the Environmental Protection Authority. MPI is considering how to effectively and efficiently manage products like 3-NOP as ‘environmental inhibitors’.  Issues include their level of risk in respect of trade and residues. Kinsella says there is no “MPI roadblock” to registering 3-NOP and that DSM may decide whether or not it enters the NZ market now. He says MPI will talk to industry and other key stakeholders soon in respect of its work on inhibitors.


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Woke crowd a challenge for meat NIGEL MALTHUS

THE IMPACT of a no-deal Brexit will be brutal for the UK meat industry, Grant says. About 35-45% of Welsh lamb goes to France, but won’t if the UK crashes out and WTO rules kick in, imposing tariffs of 48-55%. Johnson’s new minister in charge of Brexit planning, Michael Gove, has said the market would be propped up in some way, but Grant had been unable to find out what that might mean, and any regime would have an impact on prices. A fundamental issue is the Irish backstop, Grant says. Under the Good Friday peace agreement there were 320 border crossings between Ireland and Northern Ireland, with no physical controls, and nobody wanted to put the border back up. About 330,000 tonnes of Irish beef goes annually to the UK. Under a no-deal Brexit it would be subject to tariffs, but Irish beef farmers know they could illegally dodge the tariff by taking it into Northern Ireland across the uncontrolled border. “They will, in my view, find ways to shift product around,” Grant says. “There will be delays at Dover. There will be chaos during the initial period but eventually for our industry it will get better.”






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ian, but 7% are ‘flexitarian’, ie they eat two meat meals a week, but that has come from zero in five years. Grant, a farmer, businessman, former National Party MP and former chairman of AgResearch and Beef + Lamb NZ, was appointed 15 months ago by BLNZ and the Meat Industry Association to help manage NZ’s red meat sector response to Brexit. He says the UK is trying to get out of “what can only be described as a bugger’s muddle”. “The lovely thing about Brexit is that you can predict anything about what the model might look like going forward and you’ve got about a 50% chance of being right,” he told the conference.




“There are no experts on this because it has changed every day and every week.” Grant believes the simplicity of new UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pro Brexit message “has some breakthrough”.

Johnson has strongly argued for a no-deal exit. “I’m not saying this is a good or bad thing, but we’ve needed a circuit breaker of some kind and, looking at the candidates, Boris was the one who looked most likely to be [the circuit breaker].”


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MEAT CONSUMPTION has dropped 20% in continental Europe and the UK in the last two-three months and it’s not all due to the summer heat, says the NZ red meat sector’s man in London, Jeff Grant. Calling it “the biggest issue in front of us,” Grant refers to underlying changes in attitudes to eating meat. He told a recent red meat sector conference in Christchurch that an Oxford University report had essentially said if you want to save the planet, stop eating meat. This was the main topic of general conversation he heard while “sitting in the pub in Kensington”. “They genuinely believe they have to do something,” Grant said. He says “sticky times” lie ahead and the meat industry must collectively address consumers’ attitudes. The UK and Europe is a mature market with not a lot of growth in it, so “we should be thankful for North Asia,” he said. Grant says consumer patterns are continuously changing, eg new apartment blocks are being built in London with only kitchen microwave ovens, and a lot of food is bought ready to eat. Only 0.5% of UK are vegan and 5% are vegetar-


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Notice of Election - DairyNZ Board of Directors - DairyNZ Directors Remuneration Committee Invitation for 2019 candidate nominations – three positions available In October, two elections will take place for DairyNZ Incorporated – one election for two farmer-elected directors for the Board of DairyNZ Incorporated and a second election for one member of the Directors Remuneration Committee.

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Registered levy-paying dairy farmers are invited to nominate candidates to fill these three positions. All farmers paying a levy on milksolids to DairyNZ are eligible to stand for either election. An information pack outlining desired criteria and nomination requirements for the positions can be obtained from the Returning Officer. Nominations must be received by the Returning Officer by 12noon on Thursday 5 September 2019.




Elections If more candidates than the required nominations are received, elections will be carried out by postal and internet voting using the STV (single transferable vote) voting method. Votes will be weighted by annual milksolids production. Voter packs will be posted on 23 September 2019 to all registered DairyNZ levy payers, with voting closing at 12noon on Monday 21 October 2019.

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Emissions profile for every farm SUDESH KISSUN

ALL FONTERRA farms will get a unique report about their biological emissions within 15 months. The co-op says it will provide emissions profiles of its 10,000 supplier farms using data the farmers provide annually. The profiles will be similar to nitrogen reports provided to Fonterra farmers for the past six seasons. They will be free and farmers will not be required to provide extra information or have a farm audit. The dairy co-op believes on farm reporting will help show its leadership and progress against external targets. Fonterra director for on farm excellence Charlotte Rutherford says a key part of achieving emissions reductions is clearly understanding where farmers stand today. “New Zealand farmers are already some of the most carbon efficient in the world. This has

Fonterra’s Charlotte Rutherford.

come about through significant research and investment, and a willingness and ability to adapt over time. “We still have work to do, so getting a clear baseline for each farm will be central to moving forward. We are proud to be able to provide these emissions pro-

files at scale -- a NZ first – to our farmers.” Fonterra says its approach to on farm sustainability is an aspect of its guide ‘The Cooperative Difference’. This makes it easier for farmers to know what is expected of them, and it recognises farmers taking steps to

produce high quality milk more sustainably. “We are committed to helping our farmers reduce their emissions through changes to their farming practices,” said Rutherford. She says farmers have little understanding of the sources

of greenhouse gas emissions on their farms and how to mitigate their emissions. In December 2018, the Biological Emissions Reference Group (BERG) found that 98% of farmers do not know their emissions and are uncertain what sort of mitigation strategies could be implemented. At least 40% of farmers did not know how to reduce emissions. Meanwhile, Rutherford says the Dairy Action for Climate Change (DACC) is a project by DairyNZ, developed with Fonterra, to build a foundation for supporting dairy farmers and the wider dairy industry to address farm methane and nitrous emissions over the longer term. In June 2017, under the DACC, Fonterra ran a pilot scheme with 113 farmers, each getting a biological greenhouse gas report. The farmers’ feedback was “exceedingly positive,” Rutherford says. At least 90% said the reports improved their understanding of biological greenhouse gases on farm.

NO SILVER BULLET A MATAMATA farmer who chairs the DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders Forum, Tracy Brown, says there is no silver bullet for treating emissions from farms. She says the industry needs to treat each farm uniquely – recognising its individual production system, climate, topography and location. “On our farm we’ve done a number of things to reduce our emissions, but no one farm is going to have the same solutions as another. “A significant NZ reduction will only come once all farms have done what they can, according to their individual production system, to reduce their emissions,” she explains.

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Back to the future? Dairy LOW VOLUME winter milk collections have been boosted by 14% YOY for June 2019, as weather patterns across the key milk-producing regions replicate last season’s mild winter conditions.

Broad-based improvement was evident across the dairy complex in July. All Oceania dairy commodity prices saw an uptick for the month of July, with the biggest price increase evident in SMP. The theme of tight milk supplies from major

year (+0.1% YOY as of 29 June). This is consistent with B+LNZ’s forecast in their ‘Mid-Season Update’ that the 2018/19 cattle kill will only be marginally ahead (+0.7%) of last season’s kill.

exporting regions is still very much at play and remains an underlying factor for price pressure. Despite this, Rabobank believes that inventory is building in China and we anticipate some price weakness to eventuate over the coming weeks. Some price recalibration is expected in light of full inventory pipelines and modest end-demand.


Beef RABOBANK EXPECTS farmgate prices to firm slightly over the next month, as domestic cattle supplies hit their seasonal low. Export returns remain solid as China continues to compete with the US for NZ product, supporting strong import prices for NZ beef from both markets. Farmgate prices

remained largely steady over the last month as processors began reducing killing capacity in an attempt to match the declining availability of cattle. As at the end of July, the North Island bull price is 2% higher MOM, averaging NZ$ 5.45/kg cwt, with the

South Island bull price moving up 1% MOM to NZ$ 5.10/kg cwt. There was a notable drop off in supplies of prime cattle through July, well-below 2017/18 levels, which lead to some healthy price lifts for this class of cattle. Chinese demand for NZ beef continues to

outpace demand from the US. Of most significance to NZ is Chinese demand for manufacturing beef, a product that, traditionally, NZ has almost exclusively exported to the US. NZ’s overall cattle kill is sitting almost exactly where it was at this stage last

RABOBANK EXPECTS farmgate prices to steadily climb between now and the end of the season, driven by strong market fundamentals, both locally and globally. Prices are on track to at least match last season’s record highs with some upside potential. Lamb supplies during June continued to fall behind last year’s kill numbers, increasing procurement pressure domestically while also contributing to scarcity on the global lamb market. As a result, prices

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Content supplied by Rabobank – Grow with the bank founded by farmers for farmers in the North Island have broken the NZ$ 8/kg cwt mark, with South Island prices not far behind. Tight export supplies out of both NZ and Australia are severely limiting availability of lamb on the global export market, supporting strong export returns as international buyers compete over what product is available. China remains NZ’s largest single-country

ago when supply growth was exceeding demand, and prices decreased during the European summer. This supply imbalance highlights seasonal dynamics at play, with US and Mexican production shortages in 2019 encouraging a shift of export focus from key South American countries to the US versus Europe.

export market, followed by the US, which continues to grow in importance for NZ exporters. NZ lamb exports for June totalled NZ$ 212m. China accounted for 34% of the month’s export receipts, followed by the US (15%) and the UK (9%).

Horticulture BOTH THE cherry and avocado sectors domestically and

Foreign exchange Australia continues to open up markets in Asia for cherries, however, New Zealand retains a tariff advantage in key market Taiwan versus both Australia and Chile currently. What a difference a year has made to the European avocado market. Fresh avocado prices are spiking in Europe currently, due to a reduced volume coming from key South American suppliers. This is in stark contrast to 12 months

internationally continue to undergo changes in supply amid an environment of rising demand. The 2019 New Zealand cherry export season finished on a high note for New Zealand’s exporters on a per kg fob value basis, but this was achieved on the back of a lower supply volume due to the smaller New Zealand crop. Resultantly, exports were down by around a third but continued rising demand in key markets supported prices.

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No plague with these locusts NIGEL MALTHUS

AN AGRESEARCH survey which found most New Zealanders would try eating insects does not surprise the country’s first locust farmer. Malcolm Diack runs his business, Otago Locusts, out of two shipping containers on his residential property at Lookout Point, Dunedin city. Diack first farmed locusts as feed for frogs which he rears as a hobby. Discovering he was good at it, he won certification three years ago to farm them for human consumption.

He says while it was hard to guess “who’s up for it and who’s not,” the AgResearch finding is in line with other researchers and his own experience in trying to get people to eat insects. “It’s that first one,” Diack told Rural News. “Once you’ve eaten that first one you’re away.” Diack feeds his locusts on fresh grass harvested mostly from public reserves and verges in and around Dunedin and out onto the Taieri Plain, avoiding areas perhaps sprayed. Locust numbers vary with the time of year, but when running at “full

heading in the last half of this year, to make some foods that we can package and sell -- processed food rather than just live locusts.” While insect protein is billed by some as a way


Malcolm Diack with one of his locusts at his farm overlooking South Dunedin.

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and trying to re-use greenhouse gases and the locust droppings as fertiliser. “I’m doing it because I love animals and insects and I work well with them,” he said.

to save the world, Diack doesn’t see himself as an environmental crusader. However, he is aiming for maximum environmental sustainability, using solar power, a dehydrator to capture and recycle water,


speed” he says 8-10kg of fresh grass a week produces 3-4kg of locusts. Diack sells the locusts live, delivered by overnight courier. Customers include restaurants. He also sells some as animal feed to zoos. He concedes it’s “slightly intimidating” for the public to receive live locusts which they must kill themselves by freezing, rather than something processed and ready for use.

However, he has experimented with dehydrating and grinding them into a flour. Baked into brownies and tested on friends and family it “went gangbusters,” he claims. “No-one knew the difference and was happy to eat them.” Diack has also experimented with locusts covered in chocolate or embedded in lollipops. “That’s where we’re

IN THE AgResearch survey of 1300 people ical barriers such as disgust toward insects self selected through Facebook, 67% said as food, poor presentation of insects as an they were likely or very likely to try insects appealing food choice, and lack of familas powder or flour baked into other goods. iarity. Over half (55.6%) said they would likely “In particular, in most Western counconsume fried insects. tries people may associate insects with Asked to rate their connotations of pests interest in eating native and disease transmisspecies, participants said sion, due to this being the they were more likely most common way they to eat black field cricket are portrayed.” nymphs and locust However, 60% nymphs, followed by thought that eating mānuka beetle and then insects would be a more huhu beetle grubs – environmentally sustainsuggesting a clear prefable option than eating erence for crunchy rather beef, lamb, pork and than “squishy” insects. chicken from traditional AgResearch scientist Penny Payne AgResearch social New Zealand farms. SUPPLIED scientist Penny Payne, Meanwhile, Payne who ran the survey, says the three most herself was trying out cookies on her referenced factors are texture, “disgust” Ruakura colleagues, made with about 3% then taste. That differed from previous cricket flour, which she said gave a nutty studies where disgust was ranked top. and earthy flavour. While insects are an excellent source “I should’ve put more in actually. I’ve of protein and healthy fats, with high levels made them a few times and I put more in of vitamins, minerals and essential amino last time and they were more nutty and acids, they are seen as inappropriate or flavourful.” unappealing in Western societies. She says the texture was interesting -Payne says the reasons are culturally “a little bit gritty once you get the legs in and socially complex, notably psychologthere”.


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Pay people better – O’Connor PETER BURKE

PAY PEOPLE better, the Agriculture Minister has urged growers. Damien O’Connor was addressing 600 people at The Horticulture Conference 2019 at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton. Its theme was ‘Our Food Future’. O’Connor says despite the kiwifruit sector’s latest bumper season, it still struggles to recruit workers -- illogical in a strict market environment. Overseas labour will always be needed, but more must be done to get the right young New Zealanders with the right skills into horticulture. And dollars are a factor, O’Connor says. “Millennials have access to all the information they ever want. They are making choices based on values and based on their perceived future. “It may not be what they hope it will be, but they have aspirations to have a better world and life and some of that comes down to the returns they get for their efforts.

Damien O’Connor

“They are smart and have lots of options. So to attract and retain them in horticulture and other primary sectors we will have to pay them well.” O’Connor says the industry must also give them pathways to a sound career and a reason to do what they want to do. Another challenge for horticulture is to retain quality land to

grow crops. Pukekohe, notably, and other cities, are under pressure to succumb to urban sprawl. But the Government will not sit back and watch this happen, O’Connor says. It is now planning to protect high class and highly productive soils. “I was alarmed to read a recent report showing more than 10,500ha of such land is already


designated by local councils to be converted for use for housing. “While we need more houses, places like Auckland should grow up not out. I feel strongly about continued urban sprawl, because it encroaches on our highly productive land and it adds to the complexities of infrastructure.” @rural_news

BIOSECURITY REMAINS TOP PRIORITY O’CONNOR SAID again that biosecurity tops his priority list as Agriculture Minister. He believes most people in agriculture are aware of biosecurity problems, especially given the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis, and the PSA that struck kiwifruit some years ago. “Some of you will be connected to the livestock industry and we have to acknowledge the pain and anguish for those people who’re caught up in that. It is difficult having to slaughter and cull your whole herd which you worked on to build up over many years. “That sadly is the cold hard reality of biosecurity incursions.” O’Connor says biosecurity is a multi-layered system that must be improved and upgraded at every level. He pointed to the setting up of a biosecurity intelligence unit that will build a worldwide network for biosecurity information and trends. Biosecurity must be actively managed, he said, taking another swipe at Auckland International Airport for its perceived failure to provide adequate space for a modern biosecurity operation. MPI will not compromise the rigour of its operations there due to the lack of space, he says. “You who are taking your holidays -- if it takes a little longer to come through Auckland airport because they haven’t invested in providing adequate space for us, then I make no apologies.” O’Connor said the Government is focused on NZ making more money from primary exports versus the volume of exports.



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Sellouts? DESPITE THE much hyped claim by certain prophets about the ‘historic’ agreement between the farming sector and the Government over the Zero Carbon Bill, the rumblings of discontent are growing louder by the day. Climate Change Minister James Shaw crowed about the “remarkable shift” in the agricultural sector over the last few years and in particular the last few months resulting in striking the deal to work together. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor also chimed in about the agriculture sector and the Government “working together”. While levy funded groups such as DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb NZ and even Fonterra have been overtly cuddling up to the Government over its demands to cut agricultural emissions, others in the sector wonder if these bodies and their advocates are selling the sector out. And DairyNZ and BLNZ has joined other farming groups, eg Federated Farmers, DCANZ, FOMA and Irrigation NZ, to launch an alternative to manage agricultural emissions at lower rates than the Government is demanding – especially for methane. Many critics still fairly believe that both industry groups are advocating emissions reductions far greater than what current technology and farmer wallets can attain and/or afford. Even the Government concedes that the technologies to solve on farm emissions problems are not proven or haven’t even been invented. However, it along with both the dairy and red meat ‘industry-good’ bodies seem intent on ploughing ahead and lumping NZ’s agriculture sector with major problems and unaffordable costs for years ahead. Yet when farmers dare to question the sense of the Zero Carbon Bill – especially in its penalising the world’s most carbon efficient farmers and risking our low emissions meat and dairy products being replaced in world markets by less efficient overseas goods – they are either accused of being climate change deniers or criticised for being negative. Many of these accusers and critics are within the ranks of the highly paid executives at DairyNZ, BLNZ, Fonterra or their surrogates. It is frankly insulting to farmers to have such quislings hiding inside the very bodies they fund. Now is precisely the time our agriculture industry bodies and its executives should be fighting the good fight for its levy payers. They should be fighting stupid and dangerous regulations being imposed on the sector by the Government – not appeasing it.


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THE HOUND No idea!


What ethics?

Good point

THIS OLD mutt was flabbergasted at the reaction by some mainstream (lamestream) media to the news that Todd Muller would be replacing the retiring former primary industries minister Nathan Guy as National’s new spokesman in the portfolio. According to many of these beltway millennials Muller’s appointment to the primary industries role – he moves on from the climate change portfolio – was a ‘demotion’. However, the Hound insists that Muller’s corporate background at Fonterra and Zespri, and the work he’s done for the Nats on climate change, rank him among NZ’s best qualified potential ag ministers. And consider the importance of the portfolio to this country’s economy. Muller’s promotion from number 31 to 17 up the National caucus rankings shows this was, in fact, a big promotion and not a demotion.

THE HOUND can’t believe how full of hot air this Government is in demanding the ag sector reduce its carbon footprint – no matter what the cost – while it fails to do anything itself. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, with 16 members of his hugely expensive, invisible and ineffective Primary Sector Council, were more than happy to jet off around the world clocking up huge air miles and carbon gases to attend a glorified talkfest in the US. O’Connor and his PSC lapdogs joined other NZ primary industry leaders at the recent Stanford University, California, for the annual Te Hono Bootcamp. As a mate of yours truly asked, “Surely it would have been better for the planet to have these ag leaders meet in Wellington and have the Stanford University experts Skype in.” Yes, but that’s not how the Government and its mates work.

YOUR OLD mate just about choked on his bone when he read a media release from the multinational, tax dodging, perennially anti farming organisation Greenpeace calling on Feds to stop “kicking farmers”. This followed the latest anti farming publicity stunt by Greenpeace ‘kicking farmers’ about winter grazing practices in Southland. Paid mouthpiece Steve Able accused Feds president Katie Milne of being “unethical” and “blaming individual farmers” instead of the “systemic failure of NZ agriculture of cramming the land with too many cows”. However, what the not-so-ethical Greenpeace’s media release did not mention was that these photos had actually been taken almost two months earlier – after unprecedented flooding in Southland – and since then the region has had one of its driest winters with no mudbound livestock winter grazing issues.

A MATE of the Hound’s, recently back home in Wakefield, Nelson following a month in Christchurch for medical treatment, reckons health and safety, ACC and other rules being imposed on farmers are ridiculous compared to other risky sectors. A month in the big smoke exposed our man from Wakefield to hundreds of people indulging in the latest craze to hit our cities – Lime scooters. He reports that he saw none of these scooter riders wearing helmets, and more often than not two people were hanging off one scooter, weaving in and out of traffic on footpaths or broken roads damaged by the earthquakes. As he rightly pointed out to yours truly, “One has to question how much in ACC or WorksafeNZ fees the scooter operators are paying and what, so far, are the mounting costs of scooter accidents NZ-wide.”

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Don’t mention the ‘B’ word! KIRSTIE MACMILLAN

YOU’D BE forgiven if your eyes were starting to glaze over reading yet another Brexit headline, but we seem to be getting to the sharp end of things now. Setting off on our annual UK and Ireland farming tour in June, we knew Brexit would be a hot topic. It was pretty clear a day or two into our trip just how frustrated the British people are with the status of this 2016 decision to leave the European Union. About 30 million people voted and the ‘leave’ voters won by a close margin -- 52% to 48%. It’s easy to understand why the process has been hard going, with aspects like ‘the divorce bill’ and the ‘Irish backstop’ being particularly tricky. After hearing heartfelt points of view and exasperation during our first few farm visits, we decided it was best practice not to mention ‘the B word’ unless it was first raised by our hosts. Inevitably it would come up, mostly the uncertainty and how the farming industry will adapt to a post-EU Britain. We heard various perspectives, but immigration frustrations and the bureaucracy of Brussels were a motivator

for many in England and Wales, both with a majority of ‘leave’ voters. Most farmers we met in Scotland felt differently. A majority of Scots voted to remain in the EU. Many cannot see how they will survive without the extended European trade opportunities and feel uncertain that Westminster’s promises to the south will be extended to the north. Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is even calling for a new independence vote. From a farming perspective, many Scots value the EU as an important source of affordable labour (eg Poland, Romania) and the EU’s single farm payment remains a significant proportion of income for many British farmers. The Irish have their own concerns about Brexit. Like Scotland, a majority in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU. While there are still tensions, Northern Ireland has experienced 20 years of relative peace following ‘the troubles’ and they want this to continue. They fear that a return to a ‘hard’ border could cause a new wave of tension, not to mention the practicalities of movement and trade with a ‘hard’ border in place. Brexit, we discovered, isn’t the only troublesome ‘B word’ in the UK right

now. There’s also Prime Minister Boris Johnson. After three weeks of travelling and meeting locals throughout the UK, we were yet to meet

one of his supporters. But clearly, they’re out there. • Kirstie Macmillan is a director of Farm To Farm Tours

New UK PM Boris Johnson – along with Brexit – were two of the key talking points of the recent NZ farmers’ tour to Britain.

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NZ’s agriculture GHG policy working against us JOHN JACKSON

I’M NO earth or space scientist, nor do I hold a particular view on who or what is responsible for global warming. Given that most statistics indicate a warming change is happening, we should consider this a given. So whether global warming is indeed anthropogenic or just a naturally occurring phenomenon, our approach to stabilising the environment in which we live should be the same.

Ask the simple question, what methodology should be taken in the best interests of global success? Global success in this instance is an attempt to limit the increase in global average temperatures to 1.5 degrees C above preindustrial levels. New Zealand has made an agreement which places us all in a very uncomfortable situation. We have agreed to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and more specifically our Government has tar-

geted agricultural production and its associated industries directly as the main contributor of NZ’s GHGs. There is no argument, even from the Ministry for the Environment, “that NZ is amongst the most efficient producers and providers of agricultural products to the world’s tables per kilogram of product from an emissions viewpoint”.  It is also no secret that most food production in the world is in countries either not signed up to the Paris Accord or

whose food production is government subsidised in one form or another. The former don’t care or believe in anthropology, while the latter might be taxed on their emissions but this will be balanced by an equivalent government handout in the normal manner to ensure their economic survival. Under the proposals detailed for NZ food producers under the Action on Agricultural emissions, NZ’s ICCC recommends a levy on both agricultural produce and fertiliser inputs which


John and Jenny Jackson.

will directly incentivise NZ farmers to reduce output. The impact this will have on our economy will be substantial. The basic substitution effect of economic modelling will ensure that our production shortfall is picked up by less efficient producers the world over. Assuming a status quo situation, the global output of

GHGs in respect of agricultural product per kg will increase. Given that current annual global population growth is estimated at 82 million and rising, more food will be required and a greater proportion of GHG-rich product delivered. So we can expect a warmer world under the NZICCC policy.  If you are a believer

in anthropogenic global warming, following the proposed ideology from NZICCC for agricultural greenhouse gas emissions will in fact work against potential gains made in other sectors. If you are a sceptic, relax it was never your fault. • John Jackson is a sheep and beef farmer at Te Akau, Waikato.



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OPINION 31 QUESTIONS ABOUT NITRATE CONCLUSIONS DR JACQUELINE opinion piece in Rural News July 16 appears to be a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Rowarth doubts nitrate poisoning of Canterbury’s waters and rivers, but nitrate pollution of Canterbury’s ground and surface water is real. The damage to aquatic ecosystems is apparent to anglers and other recreational users of Canterbury’s lowland rivers and streams. The chief medical officer of health for the Canterbury DHB’s repeated warnings,

relative to human health, about the unacceptable state of the region’s water and Ecan’s failure to act, are a matter of record. Anyone interested in the tension between exploiting and preserving the environment knows there is never enough science to accurately predict the effects extracting constrained natural resources. The Danish study of the apparent association between nitrate levels in drinking water and

colorectal cancer involved 2.7 million people. The nitrate levels considered in this study are about one third of the maximum limits set for New Zealand (11.3 mg NO3-N/ L). There are a number of rural wells in Canterbury that show double this figure. Dr Mike Joy and the Otago Medical School were right to raise this concern.

NZ has one of the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the world. Ecotain or plantain does not reduce nitrate pollution per se. The plant acts as a diuretic so cow urine is not deposited in such concentrated amounts on a small area. The fact remains that Canterbury’s light porous soils do not retain the exces-

sive amount of urea loading they receive from Canterbury’s 1.4 million dairy cows. This pollution, plus pathogens, pass directly into our groundwater. The New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers (NZFFA) has an enlightened self-interest in attempting to see that the destruction of Canterbury’s freshwater fisheries ends. These

fisheries have been lost because of high nitrate levels and sediment due to industrial-scale irrigated dairy farms. NZFFA has noticed that Ecan appears to be selective in where it chooses to monitor nitrate levels in the region’s surface water and so has decided to do its own monitoring rather than rely on a pro-irrigation council.

Rowarth’s response IN MY article on nitrate and colorectal cancer, about which Dr Peter Trolove has expressed concerns, I was showing my concern about a misquotation of the original research in Denmark. The Danish researchers looked at ‘hazard risk’ and stated that their results could ‘NOT’ take lifestyle factors into account. The ‘NOT’ was omitted from media reports in New Zealand. The figures are drawn from the data in the Danish research. It shows no increase in the incidence rate of colon and rectal cancer with increasing nitrate concentration in drinking water. Incidence is the actual occurrence. In the Danish research the hazard risk couldn’t be disentangled from other factors. The researchers said so. The World Health Organisation in 2017 published an update on nitrate in drinking water and incidence of cancer and stated that “the weight of evidence shows no clear association between nitrate in drinking water and risk of cancer, including cancer of the gastro-intestinal tract”. Similarly a review of research published from 2004 onwards concluded that “the number of welldesigned studies of individual health outcomes is still too few to draw firm conclusions about risk from drinking water nitrate ingestion”. My aim in drawing attention to the conclusions of global bodies is to prevent (a) unnecessary anxiety in people feeling that their health is under threat, and (b) expenditure in areas that are unlikely to make a difference. There are some clear indicators of predisposing factors to cancer, and education is ongoing about healthy eating (including dietary fibre and its importance in avoiding colorectal cancer), exercise and moderation in consumption of meat and alcohol, as well as not smoking and using sun-block. My other aim in writing the article was to explain the advances that are being made by the agricultural sector. Change is effected when people feel there is hope. This is the basic tenet of education – positive reinforcement of good behaviour. My article was not focussed on the concerns about fishing raised by Dr Trolove. I note that the Ministry for the Environment has indicated that less than 1% of New Zealand’s river length is considered to pose a nitrate problem for native fish. I also note that clarity of rivers (which is linked to sediment) is improving. Again, change is effected when people feel there is hope.

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NZFFA believes Ecan’s chief scientist may be quoting science out of context at meetings held to reassure ratepayers. When the science is incomplete and nitrate pollution is increasing, a precautionary approach is rational. Dr Peter Trolove President, NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers



Freedom farming more than words try who feel very strongly about the role of ing crates and I understand those systems work CREDIBILITY AND confor some farmers, but not sumer appeal can depend for Freedom Farms.” on how you translate Pearson says Freedom the five major points Farms stands for taking it of animal welfare into action on farm, says Free- easy on the environment and she reckons some dom Farms general manclaims about sustainable ager Hilary Pearson. farming can be just marIt requires taking a keting speak. holistic view of all the “My biggest feeling little points -- from how animals can express natu- is that sustainability is a mindset and a way people ral behaviour to environoperate. It is not a box to mental effects, she told the ProteinTech19 confer- be ticked.” The company’s farms ence in Auckland have environmental audit For Freedom Farms, standards, but they recthe bottom line is no ognise that all farms have crates, no cages. different environments, “That is a no brainer. constraints and landThe freedom to express scapes. natural behaviour is Pearson says there are directly in contrast with misconceptions of envikeeping a sow in a farronmental management rowing crate,” Pearson in pig farming. explained. “In a lot of media “I understand there METAREX RURAL NEWS 265W X 200H communications, free MM are people inINOV the indusPAM TIPA

range pig farming has been put up there as the gold standard.” There are at least 3000 farms in New Zealand running fewer than 50 pigs and she says she fully supports them. “But it doesn’t work when you are farming at scale... 1200 pigs going to the abattoir to meet

the demands of the NZ market. “That many pigs on any pasture is an environmental disaster. “Looking at a 70kg pig – the lower end of the weight scale for grower pigs – those pigs are producing 2L of urine and 5kg of poo every day. “If you put 20 of them

in a paddock you’ve got a big problem.” Pigs have nitrate-rich urine, and nitrate- and phosphate-rich manure, Pearson says. “So we cannot have that going into the water table, being blown into the paddock without some control.” That is why Freedom

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Farms supports the deep straw shelter, a growing farming system in NZ. All its sows are in the paddocks, each with her own little shelter. She goes into the paddock 10 days before she is due to farrow. “She builds her nest, she does all the things mum pigs usually do. She farrows her piglets in her little farrow hut and those piglets will stay with her until they have been weaned. “The mums have single line electric fences to keep them in a space, otherwise they get lost, go into the wrong farrowing hut and start stealing piglets and it all gets a bit chaotic.” She says the piglets at that time are not fazed by electric fences because they just hoon under them. A lot of people stop to look at the pig-

lets, including tourists buses. Once weaned they go into deep straw shelters -- big open side barns with shaded spots and sunny spots -- and the farmers build straw huts in them. When the pigs go into the barn they naturally pick a corner to toilet in and all the manure and urine is collected in the straw. “The pigs will burrow down in the straw, they will eat it and will play on it. All the farmers have enrichment happening in those barns to keep [the pigs] entertained and happy.” Without those the environmental impact would be beyond what NZ soil can reasonably maintain. The straw is composted, reused on farm or goes to the retail compost market.

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Ideas and expertise freely shared BEN TROTTER works full-time for Agricom, a business that researches, develops and markets proprietary pasture and forage crop seed to the agriculture industry. He also runs a small farm with his wife Rebecca, facilitates a Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Group in Southland and is a member of an Otago Action Group. “The real power of the RMPP Action Network is in people talking and collaborating,” Trotter says. The RMPP Action Network model supports small groups of seven-nine farm businesses to work together to explore ideas and share expert resources to help them to make positive changes on farm. Kick-start funding of $4000 per farm business is pooled to fund facilitation and expertise. The group Trotter facilitates is looking at environmental issues and management, soil management and crop rotations, and the group he is a member of has a bull beef focus. At the soil group’s first meeting members will hear from the first subject matter experts. “The group has been going for

“The real power of the RMPP Action Network is in people talking and collaborating,” about nine months and we have nine farm businesses involved. We decided to build up some trust on mutual ground first and spend some time getting to know one another before we brought in the experts,” Trotter said. “We are just starting to bring in subject matter experts now. We have Abie Horrocks, the research manager environment for the Foundation for Arable Research, and senior soil scientist Trish Fraser from Plant and Food Research, presenting to our next meeting. “Our farmer members are looking to maximise their opportunities in soils and increase yields.” Trotter grew up on a sheep and beef station in South Canterbury, studied agricultural science at Lincoln and then worked in chemical research in Australia. He returned to New Zealand

RMPP co-ordinator Ben Trotter and wife Rebecca.

eight years ago and joined Agricom. He has held three roles with the organisation, including R&D in the North Island, and is now South Island sales leader, working with clients and industry to increase farm productivity. His and his wife’s 135ha farm at Luggate is run in a partnership with his parents John and Pauline, run-






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ning calves and R1 bulls in a grass and fodder beet based system. Trotter says he first heard about RMPP’s work several years ago. “I was at a meeting with ANZ in Waikato and they were talking about the opportunities and I thought it sounded interesting. Then RMPP started presenting at field days and I

picked up some resources and thought it would be good to start some groups around here. “I started out as a connector with George Collier from ICL accountancy and ended up as a member and facilitator.” The group Trotter is part of in Upper Clutha focuses on bull beef and is facilitated by Sam Jury and farm consultant Steph McFarlane from the Centre for Dairy Excellence. “That group has been running for about a year and we have done field trips, including to Canterbury where we visited Five Star Beef and Coleridge Downs. We have had a number of subject matter experts speak. “Vet Craig Trotter from the Centre for Dairy Excellence came in to talk about animal health and considerations on feeding winter crops and nutritionist Andrea Murphy from PGG Wrightson covered requirements of young stock. I also presented to the group on grass species and crop rotations.” He says the funding encourages farmers to get involved in action groups and to demonstrate their effectiveness.



A valuable, but poorly used resource BERT QUIN

NEW ZEALAND produces about 100 million chickens for meat production annually. Typically, chicken growing facilities rear young chickens to slaughter weight for supermarkets in 40-45 days per year – about 6.5 times per year – with some producers achieving nine cycles. This means that, at any one time, about 15 million birds are being reared for meat, with another 2 million or so egg laying chooks. Given that each bird poops about 15 grams a day, this gives an annual total of 900,000 tonnes fresh weight of droppings per year in NZ. Most chickens are reared in barns. So before each new cycle of chicks are brought in, sawdust is laid on the floor in a ration calculated to be about 8% of the weight of the droppings. With cages, the droppings are collected underneath and removed and mixed with fine wood chippings, typically once or twice a week. The woodchips are used to raise the carbon to nitrogen ratio of the

droppings from the 10:1 or 12:1 of droppings to about 20:1 or 25:1. This encourages microbial growth and minimises unpleasant odours, most of which are associated with emission of ammonia and other malodorous volatile N compounds. This mix of droppings and woodchips is commonly referred to as ‘chicken litter’ and less commonly ‘poultry manure’. Depending on feed quality and feeding management and wastage, it usually contains 2-4% N, 0.3-0.6%P, 1.5-2% K and 0.3-0.5% S. At today’s fertiliser prices, this equates on average to about $90/ tonne worth of NPKS. But because of the transport and spreading costs, and lack of awareness by most farmers of its benefits, it usually sells for much less than this. It also contains a lot of organic matter of course (typically 60-70% carbon) and a squillion bacteria. Most is ‘good’ bacteria, with a relatively tiny number of nasty disease bacteria like Salmonella. There are two main options available with chicken manure. Most is

applied immediately on pasture, maize for later grazing, or on other crops and kiwifruit and avocado orchards. When applied to pasture, a minimum 21 days holding period is required before grazing. This provides plenty of time for any Salmonella bacteria to die. This practice optimises the amount of nutrient applied, and the addition of ‘good’ bacteria to the soil, and of course minimises costs. However, up to 50% of the N can be lost as ammonia during and after spreading. The chemistry behind this is very similar to what occurs with urea fertiliser, as about half of the N is present as uric acid and urea, which quickly get converted to ammonium ions.

Because of the alkaline nature of the litter (its pH is normally about 8), the ammonium can be quickly converted to ammonia gas. So something needs to be done to stop this. Burying the litter is effective, but impractical. The alternative could be to fully compost the litter. If kept in the right moisture content (3050% by weight), the litter quickly self-composts to a temperature of 60-70 degrees C before dropping off after a few days. If the litter pile is turned every few days for the first fortnight to keep it aerated, it has the opportunity to be composted over a twoweek period. Only 1-2 days above 60 degrees C is needed

to kill disease bacteria. The longer the composting goes on, the more the litter becomes a darkcoloured, sweet smelling compost, which greatly improves the soil’s water holding capacity, aeration and drainage. However, it is likely to have lost most of its N and bacteria, and about one third of its weight in the process, due to gaseous losses of ammonia, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide gases. Therefore, it depends what you mainly want from the litter. If it is for maximum nutrient content and healthy bacteria, then don’t compost. But if it is to improve soil structure and water holding capacity, then do compost it. In my experience, dairy farmers who use chicken litter straight out of the shed swear by the tremendous pasture production it gives. They accept that, at application rates that will provide optimum applications of N and K without large losses to the environment, it needs to be applied with a sustained release form of P and S. Genuine RPR, mixed with fine elemental S, is by far the best option.

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Swine fever a big threat to NZ pig industry PAM TIPA

IF AFRICAN swine fever (ASF) hits New Zealand it will “absolutely and totally” obliterate our pork industry, says Freedom Farms general manager Hilary Pearson. If the disease reaches our shores “we will overnight lose every single pig in NZ,” she told the recent ProteinTech19 conference in Auckland. Pearson says she hears this from “all the vets and all the people we speak to”. “With consumers, the penny hasn’t dropped yet about buying imported product. Every single person who does that puts our industry at risk. “That will have massive blow-out effects for all sorts of agriculture businesses, especially around South Canterbury where there are a lot of pig farms. I don’t think we have got our heads around that yet.” Pearson says she is “absolutely not satisfied” that MPI has a handle on it as much as they say they have. “I wait, hope and pray

FREEDOM’S ANIMAL WELFARE INDEPENDANTLY AUDITED Freedom farms generalmanager Hilary Pearson.

we will not have to grapple with it here.” Pearson says she has seen information that pork is still imported into NZ from China, Poland and other countries that have confirmed ASF. She says MPI claims it is satisfied that the vet check that comes with this imported pork means it is not carrying the disease. But she says there is “absolutely” a threat from processed products as

well as raw pork. Pearson says investigations into an outbreak last year in Belgium, which has strict biosecurity controls, have shown the disease likely came from a truck driver who threw a ham sandwich out of his window. “It got into the wild pig population. “There is also the idea that the wild pig population and the domestic pig population are somehow

separate.” She says every farmer Freedom Farms talks to tells them a wild pig occasionally gets onto their farm. Pearson also pointed out that the last foot and mouth outbreak in Britain — about 15 years ago – came from imported, processed food waste. Only about 40% of the pork consumed in NZ is grown here, she says. So 60% is imported and in

the bacon category that is closer to 85%. Pearson is welcoming the country of origin labelling coming into effect this month. “That has been a very big struggle to get that across the line. I find phenomenal the level of resistance there has been to writing on packs of meat where that meat came from.” @rural_news

FREEDOM FARMS is equated with animal welfare and independent audits are done by AsureQuality to agreed standards. The audits are based on the five underlying freedom principles: freedom from hunger and thirst, discomfort, pain, injury and disease; freedom to express normal behaviour; and freedom from fear and distress. “The conversation most started by consumers is on the freedom to express normal behaviour,” says Pearson. When Freedom Farms started in 2006, some pork farmers were doing “cool stuff” but were not being financially rewarded. Freedom Farms is a team of four who do not own farms. They source pork from eight pig farms between Christchurch and Timaru. Its first offering was bacon, which is still central. But over the last 13 years it has added different categories. Its products are in 87% of NZ supermarkets and it works hard at answering consumers’ questions.



Small things make a big difference JULIE ROBERTS

LAMB DAILY growth rates on sheep farms in New Zealand are in a huge range -- from as low as 80g to 350g or more per lamb per day. Getting to the top of this range requires attention to detail. Ewe condition score and milking ability, pasture quality and quantity, weather, trace elements and genetics are just some of the variables farmers need to manage.  If just one of these ingredients is missing, or is in short supply, lambs will struggle to reach target weights. Trace elements, although only required in small amounts, are a key part of this big picture. Adequate dietary levels are essential for healthy lamb growth and production.  Selenium and cobalt (used to make Vitamin B12) are of particular importance in NZ farming systems.  Providing the ewe’s selenium and B12 levels are adequate, her suck-

Julie Roberts

ling lambs should receive enough of these minerals through to weaning. If the ewe mineral levels are not adequate, then extra supplementation may be necessary to ensure good lamb growth rates.  The trick is to know if you need extra supplementation and whether to give this to the ewe or the lamb.  If targeting the ewe, then a pre-lamb mineral boost is ideal. If targeting the lamb, then docking/tailing is the first ideal opportunity. Test before supplementing Herbage samples in the spring, when the grass is actively growing, can give you an idea as to whether the pasture will supply adequate amounts

WOOL’S SMELL MAY COMBAT FLYSTRIKE AN AUSTRALIAN research project has identified compounds in Merino sheep wool that are attractive to blowflies. This could help sheep breeders develop fly-resistant flocks, which would improve animal welfare and productivity. The discovery was recently published in Medical and Veterinary Entomology. The study is led by The University of Western Australia with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Western Australia. Professor Phil Vercoe, from the UWA Institute of Agriculture and UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, says the findings may help to prevent flystrike, a disease caused by blowflies and one that poses significant health risks to sheep. “This research is a step towards developing more clean, green and ethical approaches to preventing flystrike. “If future studies find that the wool odour is inherited, then the compounds we’ve identified could lead to a more effective way to breed sheep resistant to flystrike.” This would improve animal welfare and productivity and address the cost of flystrike, estimated to cost the Australian sheep industry $280 million annually. Dr Johan Greeff, at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, says the discovery could lead to a simple test – based on the presence of certain volatile compounds in sheep’s wool – that determines whether flies will be attracted to the sheep or not.

of key minerals. Herbage trace element information should be supported with liver or blood samples, to confirm actual levels for animals and the level for supplementation required.   All stock have different needs for each trace element. However,

HERBAGE (mg/kg DM)

LIVER (nmol/kg)

SERUM Blood (nmol/L)







– >375


Vitamin B12

Ideal selenium and B12 levels for lambs.

an animal health professional can help you decide where there may

be shortfalls and interpret the results. There are different

options available for boosting animal trace elements, including

mineral amended fertilisers, mineralised drenches, injections, pour-ons, etc. Your regional animal health technical advisor can advise you on mineral requirements for stock this spring. • Julie Roberts is Ravensdown animal health area manager

BUYING CALVES? Record and confirm the movement on-farm within 48 hours Check the calves are correctly tagged

Ensure the calves are registered online in NAIT

Expect an animal status declaration (ASD) form from the seller or sender.

Support disease management and help build lifetime animal traceability NAIT is an OSPRI programme

Need help? 0800 482 463 7am–6pm (Mon-Fri)



Holden ups the ante with latest Colarado ute MARK DANIEL

SOMETIMES A vehicle feels right, either because it drives well, is comfortable or the controls fall easily to hand. If you’re very lucky you get a combination deal on all three. After 10 days spent with the latest Holden Colorado Z71, things came close to this reviewer finding the perfect ute (that from a man who prefers the ‘softer’ ride of an SUV). When the ‘domestic manager’ heard of the plan to leave at 5am, head down from Hamilton to Hastings then return the same day – a round trip of 650km -- there came the response, “In a ute? You must be having a mid-life crisis. You don’t even like utes.” That got me thinking. But 20km into the trip, passing Cambridge, clearly the choice of the Z71 for a big day out wasn’t bad. The Colorado range has had a refresh for the 2019-20 season. It has a more muscular front end, with a new grill, bumpers and lights. The standout feature was the power and torque on tap. The VM Motori 4-cylinder engine pushes out 146kW and 500Nm torque -- the latter coming in at 2000 rpm. This means that at legal road speeds of 100-105 km/h there’s plenty of boogie. Mated to a six-speed automatic box, the engine gave us progress south without fuss, eating up plenty of kilo-

The Colorado range has had a refresh for the 2019-20 season.

metres in a laid-back fashion. In the spacious cabin, first impressions of the 2019 model are of a general tidy-up with a new infotainment system taking centre stage. It offers the must-haves -- Apple Car Play, Android Auto, Satnav, paring sensors, cameras and voice control. Add soft-touch plastics and classy, comfortable black

leather and you’ll get the idea. On the morning of the big trip we started in mid-winter Waikato fog then hit -7 degree C temperature passing the Kinloch Station on the Taupo to Napier highway. Clearly the clever people at Holden had done good work on the suspension, delivering a better, less harsh, on-

road feel, with more occupant comfort and less body roll. This has been achieved with revised damper settings, a beefier front sway bar and slightly softer springing all round. About the mid-point of SH3 towards Napier, and deep into the forest, black ice showed its hand. But the Z71 kept

its nerve, staying on-line, with the only noticeable reaction being a kickback from the traction control system and a flash of a warning light. For staying on course, the steering – now electrical – offers a quicker rate: 3.3 turns lock to lock make manoeuvring easy in tight spots and give excellent feedback on the open road. Living with the Colorado is made easy by its commanding driving position, heated seats with plenty of adjustment for all sizes and about the right amount of vehicle data available without being distracting. Towing capacity is 3.5 tonnes (braked) and load capacity is slightly under 1 tonne. Off road, the selectable 4WD system should give peace of mind. But on wet Waikato paddocks the limited slip differential seemed to negate the need for all wheels being driven. On the plus side of this vehicle’s ledger there’s a lot to like. On the minus side, for this rural dweller, the side steps and rear sports arch are a bit ho-hum, with the latter making visibility poor when reversing out of angle parking bays. And come on Holden, the fiddly, soft tonneau cover won’t last long if the vehicle is expected to do a decent day’s work. No doubt the Z71 will be compared to the market leading Ford Ranger WildTrak. But it still gets my vote for the great engine and those oh-so-comfortable seats.

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Battery-powered tractors still a way off MARK DANIEL

THE LIKELIHOOD of electric or hybrid powered farm tractors still appears a long way off. The German news site Top Agrar says research by Fendt indicates that the energy density of currently available batteries would not suit high horsepower prime movers. Fendt director of research, development and purchasing, Heribert Reiter, says tractors up to 68hp (50kW) can

typically use batteries to run for one to four hours depending on the task. Calculations show that a 250hp (180kW) tractor running for 10-12 hours a day at about 50% capacity would need a massive battery. A capacity of 800kWh would be required, taking up about 2 cu.m of space and weighing about 6 tonnes. And a 395hp (290kW) unit would need a battery of at least 1700 kWh requiring 4 cu.m and could weigh up to 12 tonnes. Fendt also reports

its new 700 series -- its most popular range -- will probably appear at Agritechnica in November. It will include a new multi-function joystick with added functions such as a revamped cross-gate lever with forward/reverse shuttle control, and extensive colour coding to ease opera-

tor use. The tractors will also have three display options with a central computer. A 9-inch steering column mounted, tablet style display will offer machine features and road travel information. A 12-inch terminal is mounted to the righthand armrest, while an

optional 12-inch display is located just below the roof lining on the righthand side of the cabin. The tractors will eventually have the FendtOne system that will connect on-board information with, say, farm offices or mobile devices, all with consistent appearance and layout.

A look inside the cab of a new Fendt 700 Series.


NEW Enviro ATD30 The ultimate triple disc, multi purpose seeder featuring opening Turbo Tilth discs and double discs.

Tine/disc: Triple Disc

Kubota gets closer to the big league KUBOTA IS busy shedding its image of being only a maker of compact or municipal tractors. Its new M8 series will take it beyond the 200hp mark towards its goal of higher power tractors and ultimately a long line of products. The M8 results from a recent OEM deal with the large-tractor maker Buhler Industries, whose Versatile Nemesis tractor was the starting point for the agreement. The deal will allow blending the engineering quality and product development of both companies. The new range will be built in Winnipeg, Manitoba and will increase Kubota’s offering beyond its flagship M7-172 made at its factory in northern France. Power will come from a Cummins-B 6.7L engine with a choice of 190 or 210hp outputs, both conforming to Tier 4 Final emission regulations, Kubota says. “The arrival of the M8 will allow us to aggressively target a large sector of the market where customers require a large utility or mid-size row crop tractor for materials handling, hay tool applications and a variety of fieldwork. “All models will have easy to control comfort and intuitive precision farming options.” That operator comfort will be seen in the sector’s largest cab -- 4.2 cu.m. Kubota asked for an operator environment for long days and nights, using premium seating, extensive sound deadening, climate control and an ergonomic multi-function command centre. Details are yet to be released, as is the likely availability or timing of the range’s arrival in New Zealand.

Operation size: 300Ha plus

• 115mm/125mm row spacing options • Depth control press wheels • Electric drive off radar • Large capacity split hopper • Large 1300L split hoppers • 2 point hitch tow capacity

Enviro DD30

Renovator MK4

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The MK4 with four ranks of tines allows for closer row spacing and excellent trash flow, and is simple to set-up and calibrate

Tine/disc: Disc

Operation size: 100Ha-300Ha

Tine/disc: Tine

Operation size: 300Ha plus

• Dual 700 litre hoppers

• 3m or 3.5m sowing width

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• Accurate metering system • Optional press wheels

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New baler/wrapper launched MARK DANIEL

TWO NEW machines from John Deere increase their offering in the grass harvesting sector. The new C451R and C461R variable chamber, baler wrapper combinations are said to meet the needs of farmers and contractors. Mirroring the C441R fixed chamber model, both machines have a full frame chassis for reliability and strength. Additionally, a high capacity feeding system combines with the maker’s Fast Release System for increased outputs. The manufacturer says the main point of the baler’s design is its performance and ability to work in heavy, wet grass crops, and to deal with dry, often brittle, straw. Making bales up to 1.85m diameter, the baler has a pick-up with a five-tine bar, cam track design, carrying 6mm tines and stainless steel stripper bands for durability. There is a choice of feeding systems using a high capacity MaxiCut HC rotor with 13 or 25 knives, with a new reinforced wear resistant

Hardox steel rotor also adding to the machine’s overall performance and strength. The C451R and C461R use a well proven in-line rotor concept, which positively transfers all types of crop through to the bale chamber. This minimises any possibility of crop build-up and uneven feeding. Both

versions also have a full width, parallel drop floor system operated from the tractor cab, which enables blockages to be removed easily. As on the C441R wrapping baler, the C451R and C461R now have a 15% faster wrapper element working at 40 rpm. With a table transfer system 18% faster than on the previ-

ous C440R model, the new machine is said to achieve much higher overall productivity. These new machines also have a tandem axle layout for improved stability and reduced ground compaction. @rural_news

HEAVY METAL TO HIT THE CAPITAL ‘GEARING UP’ will be the theme of the Tractor and Farm Machinery Association’s first industry conference later this month. Importers, manufacturers, dealers and affiliated companies are encouraged to register now. The conference will be in Wellington on Friday August 23 for all sectors of the industry to discuss its many challenges and opportunities.  The programme is designed to enable industry members to share information on how better to future proof their businesses. It includes keynote speakers, panel discussions and opportunities for networking and catching up with peers.  Speakers include Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, economist Cameron Bagrie and Professor Ian Yule of Plant Tech. The conference will end with an industry awards dinner.  Register at http://tama. More information from Ron Gall, ( or tel. 027 446 6838.



Hilux upgrade scores well MARK DANIEL

IN ITS first test in 2015 the eighth generation Toyota Hilux gained a 5-star ANCAP rating. It was recently re-submitted for testing against the more stringent 2019 criteria and the venerable ute again came away with 5 stars. The upgraded ANCAP rating stems from a bunch of mid-life safety additions. These include autonomous emergency braking capable of detecting and reacting to other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists; active lane keep; and an advanced speed assistance system fitted as

standard on all variants of the vehicle. In the tests the Hilux achieved 96% for adult occupant protection. This was enhanced by fitting rear seat belt pre-tensioners and an occupant detection system. Now the ute is rated 87% for child occupant protection in dual-cabs, 88% for pedestrian protection and 78% for its safety assist features. AA motoring services general manager Stella Stocks commended Toyota for its proactive safety approach, particularly as utes are increasingly used for work and family duties. “We wouldn’t normally see such significant safety

BOOTS GET A BIG TICK A FAVOURITE pair of boots is like your armchair, coat or baseball cap. When you get told they’re past their best your heart sinks. Take my old boots, thrown into the rubbish by ‘Er indoors’. It was time to find a new pair. That quest took me to Earthwalk, Palmerston North, which duly delivered size 11 slip-on boots with plain toes (my old feet dislike steel toe safety boots). Three months on they seem well up to the job. Fashioned from dark brown, high grade buffalo leather with a matte finish, the boots shrug off mud, dirt and other farm unmentionables. And if they get a bit scruffy or whiffy they can easily be washed off with the garden hose and placed on the boot drier overnight to bring them back into line. They’re not the lightest boot on the market, and like any new boot they take a little breaking in. The elasticated inserts on each side took quite some effort to overcome when they were new. But now they are broken in, the tabs at the front and rear of the boot allow a good tug to get them on. Designed in a wide fitting, the boots are extremely comfortable even during a long day. But they need a good pair of thick socks as the internal surface above the toes is a little rough. Traction is good thanks to their composite sole with a deep, cleated profile that gives excellent twofoot drive. The tread looks much deeper than many more expensive brands so should ensure a long life. This is also likely because of the quality of the stitching. Out on the farm the boots inspire confidence, even in difficult terrain or when it’s a bit slippery underfoot. So I have to say the missus’ decision to throw my old boots into the trash wasn’t such a bad idea.

upgrades like this until a new model or generation of a vehicle,” Stocks said. “Now New Zealanders in the market for a Hilux can be assured they’re getting the latest advances in vehicle safety.”





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JD updates 6R Series MARK DANIEL

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

GREAT VALUE SD-1825 with 1 collar ................$595.00 SD-1225 with 1 collar ................ $495.00 SD-825 with 1 collar ..................$405.00 Extra collars $295.00 – PRICES INCLUDE GST

JOHN DEERE’S updated line-up of 6R Series tractors (110-250hp) includes the 6110R, 6120R, 6130R, 6145R, 6155R, 6175R, 6195R, 6215R, 6230R and 6250R. All models are available in either two- or four-wheel drive configurations with cab. Three new options, said to enhance tractor performance and control, include the all-new CommandPro Control multi-function joystick with IVT transmissions (as seen on the 6230R and 6250R), variable ratio steering and a 155L/ minute hydraulic pump. CommandPro is a customisable, ergonomic joystick that enables the control of tractor speed, direction and implement functions with a single control lever. Configu-

rable buttons offer the best fit for a job or operator preference and these can then be saved as profiles, such as ‘baling’ or ‘mowing’. Tighter turns can be made easier by adding the new variable ratio steering option to the tractor. When travelling at speeds less than 14km/h, steer-

ing wheel rotations are reduced by one-third. In operation, one revolution of the steering wheel makes front wheels turn faster and further, making the set-up particularly suited to frontloader work or repetitive headland turns. The option requires a John Deere AutoTrac

Ready equipped tractor with activation via the Generation 4 CommandCenter Display. To further boost output in loader operations on the 6145R to 6215 tractors, an optional hydraulic pump delivering 155L/min can be added to the specification of the 6145R–6215R, to

reduce frontloader cycle times. Additionally, a small door has been added for access to the engine oil service area without opening the tractor hood. Particularly useful if the tractor is equipped with a frontloader and loader hood guard that would impede regular checks.



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HUNTER BOOTS Comfortable, durable and stylish.

The heavy duty sole construction makes this a robust boot designed for climbing over rugged ground. This boot has a soft toe and is made from a thick Mad Dog Nubuck Leather, stitched and screwed construction with a rubber, replaceable sole, that is glued and screwed. Soft padding for ankle support and D-Rings for your laces are an added advantage. Great fitting boots full of comfort, ideal for those long hunting and tramping trips.

FARMER BOOTS Lastrite’s Farmer boots are made for comfort. Constructed from Reverse kip leather they are an ideal farmers, fencers and builders boot. Very sturdy and made to last this boot is robust with a heavy duty construction. It has a leather insole and midsole that is stitched and screwed construction with a rubber, replaceable sole, that is glued and screwed. Update your old boots now and you will never look back.

10 HALL ROAD, RD5, WHANGAREI Phone 09-436 2794 or 027-436 2793



valued at $320

STEEL TOE X (with Scuff Guard)

plain TOE

PLAIN TOE (without Scuff Guard)


note: some sizes out of stock until November

steel TOE

Buffalo Leather - Dark Brown Soles stitched on through tread


$128 valued at $280


0800 16 00 24

Limited Stock

UV Resistant RUBBER Cotton Canvas Lining

STEEL TOE (without Scuff Guard)

Perfect 35cm Height

Shock absorbing heel

STEEL TOE X (with Scuff Guard) PLAIN TOE (without Scuff Guard)

Wide Fit 175% more crack resistant leather


valued at $120

valued at $120

Scuff Guard with Kevlar stitching

100% Waterproof Durable Seams Acid Resistant




JACKET Sizing for these is the same as NZ WORKboot sizing (not NZ gumboot sizing). Available in sizes 6-11







Sizing for these is the same as NZ womens GUMboot sizing. Available in womens size 3, 4, 5, 6 (plain toe)

earthwalk, r d 2, palmerston north please add $12 freight per order


valued at $230 sold out of size: S, L, XL, 2XL 3XL



valued at 160 sold out of size: XL, 2XL, 3XL

sizes: BOOTS 5 - 13 (NZ)



valued at $145 sold out of size: S, XL, 2XL, 3XL


Things to do



So don’t delay. Offer valid to 30 September 2019 or while stocks last. Details at

Profile for Rural News Group

Rural News 13 August 2019  

Rural News 13 August 2019

Rural News 13 August 2019  

Rural News 13 August 2019