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Arable farmer’s concern over grain drain. PAGE 10

Monthly dog dosing will close measles gap. PAGE 20

Bank survey shows confidence re-emerges in the primary sector PAGE 18



Farmers up game


SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

A WAIKATO environmentalist who led a public campaign against poor winter grazing practices on Southland farms says farmers are making improvements.

Angus Robson, who recently visited Southland farms “just for a look”, is happy with progress being made. He told Rural News that following the public campaign farmers are looking at winter grazing “with a new set of eyes”. “Lots of things have improved…

it is a journey and we expect more improvements this season,” he says. Last year’s campaign highlighted cows in knee-deep mud while feeding on winter crops, fodder beet and kale. The campaign included drone footage. Environment Southland, which launched its first surveillance flight

over Southland farms this month, is also reporting improved winter grazing practices. Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips says early observations from the preliminary flight suggest a better uptake of good TO PAGE 3

Cutting edge FTA? Britain’s High Commissioner to NZ, Laura Clarke has got high expectations for a successful free trade agreement between the UK and NZ. Negotiations start next month and Clarke says the UK, like NZ, is very supportive of free trade and is looking for an ‘ambitious FTA’. “This is an opportunity to set the tone for our trade policy and to do an FTA that brings benefits right across society.” Clarke says the negotiations marks the start of a really important new phase in the relationship between the two countries. See more page 4


THE REASON the red meat sector has published an election manifesto is all about making sure that decision makers – especially those in government – have a complete understanding of the sector. Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison says sometimes people take the industry for granted and don’t realise how significant its contribution is to New Zealand’s local and export economy. The manifesto, which has been put together jointly by B+LNZ and the Meat Industry Association, is designed to show the extent of the industry from behind the farm gate through to the processing and exporting business. Morrison says the industry is a “quiet achiever” and may be sometimes seen “as a bunch of people in homespun jerseys with some barking dogs”. However, he says, in reality the red meat sector is a finely tuned, successful business. “When you look at the productivity gains the sector has made, the market diversification, the training we offer and the number of people employed in the sector, it is important that we draw this to people’s attention,” Morrison told Rural News. “It is also important to remind people that the ag sector, as a whole, accounts for 66% of NZ’s export revenues. Sometimes people kind of forget that so it’s good to remind them.” he says. See story page 17

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Drought impact to continue for the seasons to change. The other issue is having to restock in the spring. “Many farmers have had to sell stock on a low market but will have to buy on a high one – which adds to the difficulties of recovering from drought.” He is full of praise for the Rural Support Trust whose work, he says, often goes unrecognised. Petersen says they have done a wonderful job helping farmers impacted by the drought. Beef+LambNZ’s North Island manager Matt Ward says it could take three or more years for some regions to recover from the drought. He says few farmers have mated hoggets this year, while others have delayed putting the ram out to get ewes in better condition. “Early reports on scanning rates suggest that in some parts of the country these are down by 30% therefore there will be less lambs hitting the ground in spring,” he says.

PETER BURKE peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

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THERE IS not going to be any significant feed grown in Hawkes Bay until spring, according to Waipukurau farmer Mike Petersen. The former special agriculture trade envoy told Rural News that most of the countryside in the region has turned green – although he notes that some of the hillsides are still brown. Petersen says Hawkes Bay is now in the state of a ‘green drought’ and with low soil temperatures and frosts near the foothills, meaning pasture growth is very limited. “Everyone’s fear now is that when we get rain, we get it at a time when it probably all comes at once and that wouldn’t be great.” Petersen says this drought will rank among the worst the region has suffered and on a par with the 1913 event. “With droughts we generally talk about limiting it to one season and one financial year. But this is going to

Mike Petersen says Hawkes Bay is now in the state of a ‘green drought’.

span two financial years. That’s where it really hurts when you can’t limit the effects to just one year.”

Petersen says there is no feed in the North Island to buy. He told Rural News that all farmers can do is to wait

@rural_news facebook.com/ruralnews

Winter grazing practices improve

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: editor@ruralnews.co.nz Advertising material: davef@ruralnews.co.nz Rural News online: www.ruralnews.co.nz Subscriptions: subsrndn@ruralnews.co.nz ABC audited circulation 79,553 as at 31.03.2019


management practices, such as fencing of waterways and the creation of buffer zones, with no immediate compliance concerns identified. “I’m encouraged by what we’ve seen. Farmers appear to have made a real effort, which is exactly what we need. “We are mindful that it’s still early in the season and this was only a preliminary flight to get an indication of any issues. Wet weather is inevitable and while this will present challenges, we expect farmers to continue their focus on good wintering practice.”

Robson says he visited dairy farms two weeks ago and was accompanied by Federated Farmers Southland president Geoffrey Young to some farms. “We visited some farms with Federated Farmers and visited some farms ourselves. We also had conversations with some progressive farmers in the region.” Robson praised Federated Farmers for launching a 0800 number where anyone can report farms with poor winter grazing practices. The Feds send a support crew to the farm to help the farmer with winter grazing practices.

He says most poor winter grazing practices can been seen from the road but acknowledged drones were used on some farms. “Ninety per cent of farms can be seen from the road; we do get some drone footage supplied by other parties.” Environment Southland inspected 145 farms from the air last season. It advised farmers last year that winter grazing practices needed to be significantly improved. A taskforce made up of the council, DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb New Zealand, Federated Farmers, MfE and MPI, was set up to help address the issues.

Phillips said agriculture in Southland is very important to the regional and national economies, but that some farming practices, if not done well, negatively impact water quality. “Winter grazing is a high risk activity with regard to water quality and all farmers need to undertake good management practice.” Phillips says staff are still working through the information and photos gathered during this month’s flight. “At this stage it looks like we will be looking to arrange follow up advice for a handful of properties that could be at risk of winter grazing issues in wetter weather.”



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RURAL NEWS // JUNE 30, 2020


Ag will be sticking point in UK FTA PETER BURKE peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

LAURA CLARKE is realistic that a free trade agreement (FTA) between New Zealand and the United Kingdom will not be straight forward. Britain’s High Com-

missioner to New Zealand concedes that agricultural access issues will be one of the “sensitive areas” in the negotiation, just as they are at present with the European Union. Clarke told Rural News that the UK is absolutely aware of the importance of the agricultural market

in the UK to NZ but acknowledges that this is sensitive to them. “But we are coming from the point of high ambition in terms of liberalising those tariffs and improving market access and we will just have to see how we go in those negotiations,” she says.

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Former NZ ambassador to the WTO and NZ trade negotiator Crawford Falconer is the UK’s lead negotiator.

reform journey.” Clarke says there is money to encourage UK farmers to reform, so it will be about supporting them in making the

sector more efficient and export orientated. She says when farmers from the UK come to NZ they go away buzzing about the opportunities

and feeling less concerned. The trading relationship with the UK goes back a long time, but Clarke believes that few New Zealanders would want it to go back to the days before Britain joined the EU in 1973. She says there remains an enormous affection between the peoples of both countries. “There is something around the closeness in the relationship such as the fact that we share the same values, believe in the importance of global trade and are outward looking countries that want our businesses to thrive. In this FTA, we have the opportunity to set the standard in terms of trade policy and doing something really cutting edge,” she says. The lead negotiator for the UK is a Kiwi – Crawford Falconer who is a former NZ ambassador to the WTO and NZ trade negotiator.


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“We are not naïve; the negotiations will be tough at times. But there is something about our shared ambition to do something different that is high quality that is important.” It will come as no surprise to NZ negotiators that UK farmers will voice their opposition to NZ agricultural exports making gains in their market. However, Clarke says they recently did a survey in the UK that showed 70% of respondents were supportive of an FTA with NZ. “Of course, there will be farmers who will have concerns and what we’re focused on is getting our agricultural sector into the right space and making sure it is competitive enough,” she told Rural News. “We have embarked on a process of agricultural reform and we have obviously learned from NZ about what went well in its

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BOTH THE meat and dairy sectors have welcomed the news that a New Zealand/United Kingdom free trade agreement (FTA) negotiation will begin shortly. Dairy Companies of NZ (DCANZ) chairman Malcolm Bailey describes it as a positive development in the trade agenda. He says a high-quality and comprehensive FTA will further strengthen the historic and close relationship between the two countries, especially at a time when a number of countries are reverting to trade protectionist policies and subsidies. “It is heartening to see like-

minded countries like NZ and the UK showing leadership on trade issues,” he says. Bailey says an FTA between the UK and NZ will ensure that unsubsidised New Zealand dairy products have the same level of market access as has been enjoyed by European dairy products over the past four decades. Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the UK is an important market for New Zealand’s high value lamb exports and has good potential for beef. She says the FTA is an opportunity to strengthen our bilateral rela-

tionship and generate additional export revenue for the country. “New Zealand relies on secure, stable and predictable market access to support the livelihoods of thousands of New Zealanders and businesses,” she says. Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor says NZ has long established relationships with the UK red meat sector. The UK was NZ’s third largest individual market in 2019, behind China and the United States. The UK was also NZ’s largest market for chilled lamb in 2019, worth almost $384 million. – Peter Burke


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Fonterra risks losing $300m in annual revenue sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

FONTERRA HAS told its farmer shareholders that on-farm sustainability must improve further or the co-op could lose $300 million of annual business from key customers. The co-op says sustainability on farm is a

cooperative, but the amount that each individual farm is paid will vary depending on their contribution,” says Hurrell. “We’ve always paid our farmers based on the value that milk provides to the cooperative. The reality is that the drivers of value are changing,

“The risk is that these customers will move to competitors if they can demonstrate better performance, or a substitute for non-dairy products with lower footprints.” fundamental requirement for most of its customers now. In an email to farmer shareholders last week, Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell said many of its key customers have sustainability requirements “that we must meet and improve upon, and they regularly check up on us”. “Collectively these customers represent over $2 billion in revenue annually and it’s estimated that approximately $300 million could be at risk if we do not meet their expectations.” Hurrell made the comments as he announced a new milk payment linked to higher quality milk from supplying farms. The new maximum payment of 10c/kgMS will be paid from the next season to farms meeting the co-op’s on-farm sustainability and value targets. Presently, Fonterra farmers producing milk with lower somatic cell counts receive Farm Source dollars that can be redeemed at its stores. The new payment replaces Farm Source dollars and will be funded out of the farmgate milk price. “The total farmgate milk price will remain the same across the

and we need to reflect that. Our customers want to know that the products they are buying are not only safe, but also produced sustainably. “This payment helps us meet the changing needs of our customers, so they continue to choose our milk and enjoy dairy as a sustainable and nutritious choice.” Hurrell says Fonterra is now seeing customers from across the globe requiring it to not only meet and improve upon their requirements, but also provide proof of completion. “The risk is that these customers will move to competitors if they can demonstrate better performance, or a substitute for nondairy products with lower footprints,” he says. Nestlé spokesman Robert Erhard says at the world’s largest dairy company, how milk is produced matters. “Now more than ever, people expect farmers to act as good stewards of the land – safeguarding the climate, enhancing animal welfare and carefully managing water and the health of soils.” Northland farmer Terence Brocx says farmers put in a lot of effort to produce the best quality milk possible.

future. “It’s great to see these farmers distinguished and rewarded for their efforts to produce and deliver a product that Fonterra can capture the highest value from,” says Brocx.


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“Over recent years, large numbers of farmers have spent a significant amount of time and money to improve their local environment and waterways to make their farms sustainable for the

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell has warned suppliers that many of its key customers have sustainability requirements that the co-op must meet and improve upon or risk losing their business.

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RURAL NEWS // JUNE 30, 2020


Regenerative ag’s ‘mythology’ questioned DAVID ANDERSON

THE “MYTHOLOGY” of regenerative agriculture and lack of scientific evidence to back claims about the practice has prompted two renowned plant scientists to write to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. In the letter, Lincoln University’s Professor Derek Moot and retired plant scientist Professor Warwick Scott, express their concerns about the increased profile of regenerative agriculture in New Zealand media and farming sectors. They have called on the minister to convene an expert panel of scientists to review all the claims made about practice.

SOUND FAMILIAR? SCOTT AND Moot believe a similar “wave of hype” around regenerative agriculture also happened with organics. “Organic agriculture has been promoted since the 1980s to provide an ‘alternative’ production system for food,” their letter tells O’Connor. However, the pair say organic’s promises have not been realised. “In Europe, where it has been most strongly promoted, meta-analyses of production systems across a range of arable, horticultural and pastoral enter-

“It is important that sound science drives our agricultural systems,” they say. “We believe such a panel should provide a robust critique of the claims made about ‘regenerative agriculture’ to ensure the public, industry and

prises show an average 20% drop in production. As a result, only 6% of current European production is organic because businesses cannot make a profit from this lowered production and increased labour input, even with heavy financial subsidies. This is why organic production has and will continue to be a cottage industry aimed at a local market in most countries.” Scott and Moot believe that the emergence of regenerative agriculture is following a similar path to that of organics.

this lack of critical evaluation is potentially damaging to the current world leading agricultural practices used by sheep and beef farmers in NZ. “The underpinning scientific principles of our current agricultural systems are in danger

policy makers have a balanced and scientifically informed view of the ideas promulgated.” Both Scott and Moot say regenerative agriculture has gained highly favourable publicity, but with no critical scientific evaluation. They believe

Lincoln University’s Professor Derek Moot is concerned at the lack of scientific evidence to back claims made about regenerative agriculture.

of being devalued by a system that we believe has several serious shortcomings,” writes the pair in their letter. “We are particularly concerned that the erroneous publicity about ‘regenerative agriculture’ will divert the limited NZ agricultural science resources from more important, substantive issues.” Scott and Moot claim that regenerative agriculture has become an all-embracing term to encompass the practices of any individual who does not want to be seen to be using conventional agricultural techniques. “Importantly, this lack of definition, by default, implies that current conventional agriculture, as practiced in NZ, is degenerative. “We strongly reject

this implication. Our current sheep and beef farming practices are world leading. We recognise that there are practices and practitioners in conventional agriculture that can be improved, but consider these are minor compared with most international production systems.” The pair point to the fact that NZ’s sheep beef sector is the only industry to have reduced its greenhouse gas emissions intensity to below 1990s levels, while continuing to achieve strong productivity gains. Scott and Moot say the emergence of regenerative agriculture has arisen from unsustainable farming practices in Australia and North America. “However, this does not mean the practice is required, relevant or

useful in the context of NZ’s climates, soils and agricultural systems.” They also express concern by acceptance of regenerative agriculture by the Primary Sector Council (promoted by O’Connor) and the B+LNZ. “We accept there is a strong lobby group behind this (regenerative ag) advocacy, in a similar manner to the organic community, the anti vax movement and anti-1080 lobby,” the letter says. “However, we are convinced this system lacks credibility and contains many aspects that are scientifically untenable. We believe it is our statutory duty as academics to provide some warning about the fallibility of these systems.” @rural_news facebook.com/ruralnews


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RURAL NEWS // JUNE 30, 2020


Outlook for NZ primary exports uncertain – MPI report PETER BURKE peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

MORE UNCERTAINTY and challenges are the theme of MPI’s latest publication on the outlook for the primary sector. Normally in June, the Ministry for Primary Industries publishes the annual Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries (SOPI) report, which is full of mainly good news. However, on this occasion, MPI has produced its Economic Update for the Primary Industries report instead of SOPI. This is focused entirely on the impacts of Covid19 on the outlook for NZ primary exports and the disruption the sector has

faced and will continue to face. It notes that Covid has highlighted a number of dependencies and risks across the sector, which – to some degree – have been highlighted in the past few months. For example, it says there have been supply chain issues and, by and large, the sector has been nimble enough to deal with these well. The report also flags the issue of sending goods by air, when passenger flights are fewer in number. However, it points out that only about 5% of NZ’s primary exports are airfreighted, and these tend to be high-value ones, such as seafood, lamb, some horticultural

Export revenue for apples and kiwifruit is up by 18% on last year.

crops and infant formula. The report has some good news and highlights that in the past year, to the end of June, revenue from primary exports will be up by $1.7 billion on the previous year. This



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has been helped significantly by dairy exports, which were up $512 million from the start of March. However, to some degree, it counters this news by outlining that – for the most part – this increase is due to the falling NZ dollar. It adds that if our dollar hadn’t fallen, primary export revenue would have actually been down. The warning for NZ, says MPI, is changes in consumer behaviours with an emphasis on people cooking at home more – especially in China. It says this means consumers will look for foods that are easier to cook and these food items may outperform some high-value items


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that dominated the food service sector. Meanwhile, the authors of the report claim that consumers will be looking for quality, healthy food – which is an area of strength for NZ. MPI says that so far Covid has had little impact on NZ’s kiwifruit and apple exports, with global demand for strong fresh fruit. The report points out that the position for NZ’s horticultural exports is different to the rest of the industry, with most of our export fruit sold at retail level and only limited quantities going into the badly hit food service sector. It says the kiwifruit harvest for current season was up by

6%, due to new plantings and favourable weather. Meanwhile, the apple and pear harvest will be up by 5%. Export revenue for apples and kiwifruit is up by 18% on last year. However, when it comes to meat, fibre and dairy the news is not so good. MPI says that global meat prices have an uncertain outlook with a number of contradictory signals. Demand from China is expected to remain a feature of the global meat trade, but elsewhere the looming recession and the impact on the food service sector will limit demand. The report has quite a lot of commentary on the food service sector and warns that venison – and some high value cuts of lamb and beef – face the prospect of lower prices during the recession. The prospects for wool are also not good and the report notes that export revenue from February to April this year is down by 37%. MPI says wool prices are likely to remain ‘subdued’ for at least the next year. Dairy is also expected to take a hit in the coming year. This is reflected in current predictions for the farm-

gate milk price, with the current range sitting between $5.60 and $6.50kg/MS. The report says this will be close to – and in some cases below – break-even levels of profitability for some farmers and has the potential to undermine the financial viability of some marginal and highly indebted farm businesses. Forestry has also taken some big knocks financially in the last few months and the report says its future depends, mainly, on how China will weather the looming global recession. With the exception of horticulture, the report is full of words such as uncertainty, challenge and warnings. It also warns that in the coming years, NZ will have to contend with the rise in protectionist policies in places such as the EU and the USA. It says the battle for free trade will be a big fight for NZ. On the home front, the report says the impact of the drought, especially in Hawkes Bay, as well as feed shortages in Southland and – as always – the unpredictable weather will add to the pressure currently on rural NZ.

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RURAL NEWS // JUNE 30, 2020


ETS changes a ‘slap in the face’ DAVID ANDERSON

FARMING GROUPS have described the newly passed emissions trading reform legislation as a ‘slap in the face’ that will not reduce the country’s carbon emissions. “Put simply, the politicians didn’t listen and this legislation will not achieve the outcome

explains. “This increases exponentially and sucks towns, schools and communities into a ‘green hole’. Some 70,000 hectares of productive sheep and beef land have already been converted to forestry since 2019, with carbon-related investment as a major driver for this. Last year, the Parlia-

“This is a slap in the face to sheep and beef farmers, who have already reduced their industry’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30% since the 1990s.” New Zealand is after,” says Andrew Morrison, chairman of B+LNZ. “It incentivises productive farmland being converted to pines planted not for wood but for carbon credits.” Morrison says his organisation had asked for a clear mechanism in law that allows a limit to be placed on the use of forestry offsets, but the Government repeatedly ignored this request. Federated Farmers has described the new emissions reforms as rushed, with serious flaws remaining – echoing the concerns of B+LNZ. “A particular concern for farmers is that it incentivises the acceleration of productive farmland being converted to pines planted not for wood, but for carbon credits,” says Feds climate change spokesman Andrew Hoggard. “We lose farm production from that land, and thus export dollars. We lose real jobs, and the districts’ schools, contracting businesses and community networks are gutted.  Beef+Lamb NZ agrees, saying that planting trees do not make carbon emissions go away. “Exotic pines absorb carbon for around 17 years. If carbon emissions don’t change, the same amount needs to be planted to offset for the next 17 years,” Morrison

mentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton recommended ending the use of forestry to offset fossil fuel emissions. “Large-scale exotic afforestation will not address climate change issues,” Upton said at the time. “Allowing fossil fuel emitters unlimited ability to offset their pollution by planting trees – or ‘planting pollution on farms’ – allows the fossil fuel industry a get-outof-jail-free card, while the pastoral industry is asked to pick up the tab for other industries’ pollution.” B+LNZ says it is concerned about the impact of policies that look set to distort markets and economically incentivise wholesale land use change from pastoralbased farming into exotic trees for the sole purpose of carbon farming. “This is a slap in the face to sheep and beef farmers, who have already reduced their industry’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30% since the 1990s,” Morrison says. “Converting productive farmland to pine plantations for carbon credits is only a shortterm solution to make progress on climate change targets, but one that will lead to severe long-term negative impacts, at a community and national level.” Hoggard says Feder-

ated Farmers will continue to advocate for the development of a fit for purpose pricing mechanism that lowers global greenhouse gas emissions

while not reducing food production. “Unfortunately, this ETS reform legislation hinders rather than helps that mission.”

BLNZ says 70,000 hectares of productive sheep and beef land has been converted to forestry since 2019, with carbonrelated investment as a major driver for this.

RURAL NEWS // JUNE 30, 2020


Grief over grain drain DAVID ANDERSON

A WHOLE generation of farmers don’t seem to know about the advantages of feeding New Zealand-grown grain to livestock. That’s the claim of South Canterbury arable farmer and long-time proponent of farmers using more NZ-grown grain to feed their livestock – Jeremy Talbot. He believes the current drought in many parts of the country, and the resulting shortage of hay and baleage, is an ideal time for the practice of grain feeding livestock to be highlighted. “In a normal year, feeding grain at flushing increases the ovulation rate and therefore the conception and lambing percentages by 15-25%,” Talbot claims. “Beef and

lamb figures suggest that on the average sheep farm a 5% decrease in the lamb crop is worth $60,000.” He told Rural News the cost of the grain to feed an average flock would be less than $10,000. “Surely that’s a sound investment.” Talbot adds that with the current climatic conditions around NZ, where much of the country is in a drought situation, grain seems to have been forgotten as a viable and economic livestock feed option. “With farmers chasing hay or baleage – and not looking at the total costs – is seeing them make even bigger losses,” he claims. “This reason for not looking at grain is, I believe, the constant use of kg DM to cost

It is claimed that farmers don’t seem to know about the advantages of feeding grain to livestock.

the feeds, along with a complete lack of new information about the advantages of grain.” Talbot says that when buying any feed, farmers are actually buying megajoules of metabolisable energy (ME) and there-

fore should be looking at the cheapest cost per ME. “To use the kg DM as the basis for your costing, then the cheapest feed would be sawdust as it’s free. Not good for the animals though.” He adds that

Beef+Lamb NZ, and others, have produced feed tables based on both cents/kg DM and cents per ME. “In all cases, grain comes out as the one of the cheapest options before any transport is

considered.” Talbot says for a farmer to cart 1000 silage round bale equivalents, it takes about 17 full truck and trailer loads to shift. However, he adds that it only takes five truck and trailer loads for the grain.

“So, the transport costs are under a third – making it cheaper again than all other feed options.” Talbot also dismisses claims that when it comes to the feeding grain, expensive machinery is needed. “It can be feed with a simple feeder made from an oil drum, and 1000 ewes can be feed in four minutes,” he explains. Unlike hay or baleage, which can take about an hour to feed out, there is no plastic or net wrap to remove or dispose of or any expensive feeding machines required. He adds that grain, when fed to sheep and deer, doesn’t need to be crushed. In fact, doing so can give rise to problems due to the quicker fermentation process.


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RURAL NEWS // JUNE 30, 2020


Lapdog needs more teeth – farmers SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

FONTERRA SHAREHOLDERS have delivered a damning assessment of their elected Shareholders Council. While only 10% of farmers want the council abolished, a majority have questioned the effectiveness of the 25-member council. The common theme among most submissions is a view the council has failed to perform on its four main core roles – representation, monitoring Fonterra’s performance, farmer connection and representation. A steering group, formed to review the council’s performance, collected feedback from 1400 shareholders and sharemilkers via an online survey. An interim report was released to farmers 10 days ago and a copy was obtained by Rural News. It’s clear from the report that Fonterra farmers want the council to stand up to the board and not just accept its decisions on key issues. Many respondents feel disconnected or isolated from the company they own, and they place responsibility for this with the council. Covid-19 restrictions prevented the steering group – made up of Fonterra directors, farmers and councillors – from meeting farmers. A consultation round has been scheduled for September and October. A final report will be delivered by the end of November, instead of August as earlier planned. With just 10% of submitters backing the abolishment of the council, it is highly unlikely the steering group will recommend that. Steering group independent chairman James Buwalda told Rural News that it was too early to comment on what it will recommend. Buwalda says there were strong views that the perceived performance or effectiveness of council was not up to

expectations. “We are therefore focusing now on what needs to be done to improve the perceived performance/effectiveness of these critical functions for farmers,” he says. “Until we have considered options more critically, it is too early to say what our recommendations for fulfilling these functions will be and what implications such recommendations may have for the council.” On representation, while 67% of respondents rated the council’s role as important, 60% said it is ineffective. Fonterra’s board also came under scrutiny. The report says many perceived the council to have little influence with the board. “Concern was also expressed about the board’s willingness to engage with and listen to the council,” the council says. The council’s role in monitoring Fonterra’s performance also drew a lot of comments. While 72% rated the role highly, over half said the council’s performance in this regard was “less than average”. There were calls for greater council engagement when the board is considering significant strategic decisions and investments, and calls for the use of professional advisers and analysts by the council to keep a tab on the co-op’s performance. There were also calls for the council to be better connected with farmer shareholders. “Some felt the council offered little or no value for farmer connection, perceiving a lack of courage to express its own views, and suggested that farmers could connect directly with the board instead.” There was strong support for the council’s guardianship of co-op principles. But over 40% say the council is failing in this department as well. “Comment on the director election process was common, with most

supporting the council’s role. “However, concern was also expressed about perceived weaknesses and failures in this process recently,” the report says. The steering group is


currently planning the schedule of farmer meetings. “We are keen to ensure all farmers that want to participate in such meetings are able to do so.”

Steering Group chair James Buwalda says there were strong views that the perceived performance or effectiveness of council was not up to expectations.

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RURAL NEWS // JUNE 30, 2020


Parker dropped the EU FTA ball – Nats PETER BURKE peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

BLAME DAVID Parker, not the European Union for its “unacceptable”

offer to NZ in relation to agriculture in the current FTA negotiations. That’s the claim from Todd McClay, trade minister in the previous

National government and the party’s current trade spokesman. He told Rural News it’s a bit late for Parker to be screaming and yelling about

the EU’s initial offer and believes that no one should be surprised by it. McClay says the EU is like this and if the NZ ag sector is unhappy with

the current offer they should be directing their criticism at Trade Minister David Parker, who is responsible for the negotiations.

He questions whether Parker has been taking the negotiations with the EU seriously enough over the past three years. “I hope that the Government hasn’t given away some of the things that the EU wants – for instance around geographical indicators,” McClay told Rural News. “I’ve heard they have moved a long way towards the EU’s position on that. I am really concerned now that Parker and his negotiators have given too much to the EU too early.” Agriculture was always going to be the sticking point in the negotiations and McClay says the EU will play hardball. He says the EU is adopting a very strong protectionist philosophy, which is at the core of its agricultural policy – despite denials to the contrary. McClay says what’s surprised him is that

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Parker hasn’t been demanding every single day, since he became trade minister, the same treatment the EU gave Canada in their FTA. He says the Canadian deal was a very good deal for Canada and its agriculture sector. McClay says it’s up to Parker to salvage the deal and get on the phone and start talking to representatives of all the EU countries and other appropriate people in the trade bloc. He says the deal is salvageable, but that it’s Parker’s job to sort it out. “You’ve got to be shooting for the stars. It surprises me that minister Parker hasn’t been to Europe every single month he’s been in office, persuading politicians and officials in the EU that they must deliver what they promised – a comprehensive, high quality FTA.”


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Opposition trade spokesman Todd McClay says critics should be blaming Trade Minister David Parker for the poor deal offered to NZ agriculture by the EU in our current FTA negotiations.

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27/05/2020 1:23:02 PM

FORMER NZ Special Agriculture Trade Envoy Mike Petersen fails to understand why the EU’s initial offer on agriculture was so poor. He’s disappointed that it ran counter to the positive words of EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan when he visited NZ about 18 months ago. “Am I surprised by that? Not really – this is a common pattern that the EU undertakes when they are negotiating trade agreements,” he told Rural News. “They start very low and then gradually give small gains in certain areas.” Petersen says criticism of Trade Minister David Parker for not making more frequent trips to Europe is not entirely fair. He believes other ministers, such as tourism, education and the Prime Minister, need to meet personally with top EU politicians and officials like they did in the 1970s and 80s. “I think we need to utilise the global star power of Jacinda Ardern in helping push these agreements along and making sure that negotiators present meaningful offers.” Petersen says making personal contact in the Covid-19 environment is not easy and for this, and other reasons, he can’t see the NZ/EU FTA being concluded this year.

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RURAL NEWS // JUNE 30, 2020



Head in sand NZ’S RURAL communities risk being decimated as carbon investors buy up farmland and ever-encroaching pine forests take over more and more of the country. Farming groups such as Beef + Lamb NZ and Federated Farmers warn that recent amendments to climate change legislation will only lead to more planting of pine trees on sheep and beef farms. They point out how a rising carbon price creates an incentive for speculators to buy up farms and plant trees, with no intention of ever harvesting them – known as carbon farming. Beef + Lamb NZ raised concerns about a lack of safeguards in the legislation to limit the amount of offsetting that could take place under the emissions trading scheme (ETS). It wanted explicit limits to be placed on carbon farming through the ETS for offsetting to protect the sector, which represented about 92,000 jobs. It claims about 70,000 hectares of productive sheep and beef land had been converted to forestry since 2019, and that for every thousand hectares sheep and beef farming created about 7.5 jobs, whereas in forestry it was more like 2.5 jobs and around 0.5 for carbon farming. Rural schools, social services, clubs and communities around NZ will be gutted if something does not change. The irony is that while planting trees may soak up carbon, it does nothing to change the behaviours of the companies producing more and more carbon. An example is Dryland Carbon – owned by Air NZ, Contact Energy, Genesis Energy and Z Energy – which is buying up farmland and planting it in trees to secure carbon credits to meet the carbon liabilities of these four companies under the ETS. Government projections show sheep and beef farmland decreasing by nearly 20% over the next 15 years, and exotic forestry increasing by 25 to 30% over the same period. This could even be higher when the carbon price increases. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Forestry Minister Shane Jones appear to have their heads in the sand on this issue. O’Connor disputes the B+LNZ figures and claims only 22,000 ha of farmland was planted in forestry last year. One would have to treat the current administration’s knowledge of figures with a large grain of salt – considering the botch up it is making of managing quarantine numbers. It’s time those in power took note of the crisis facing our rural communities before NZ’s landscape – and rural heartland – is changed for the worse.


HEAD OFFICE POSTAL ADDRESS: PO Box 331100, Takapuna, Auckland 0740 PUBLISHER: Brian Hight ......................................... Ph 09 307 0399 GENERAL MANAGER: Adam Fricker ....................................... Ph 021-842 226 CONSULTING EDITOR: David Anderson .................................. Ph 09 307 0399 davida@ruralnews.co.nz

“Don’t give me that ‘this stock feed has passed its use-by-date’ look – you know there’s a tucker shortage!”

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

THE HOUND Careful!

Stuff up

Health & safety?

Fat chance

A mate of the Hound’s reckons the self-proclaimed champion of the provinces, and mouth of the North, Shane Jones, needs to be little more careful about how he publicises the way he spends taxpayer money. The NZ First list MP is desperate to try and buy himself a win in the Northland seat – and secure his failing party a lifeline after the election – by doling out billions of dollars of taxpayer funds with little or no real scrutiny. One of Jones’ recent press releases hailing his latest largesse on behalf of taxpayers was headed: ‘Jones backs investment in wood’, which was about government support for the forest and woodprocessing industry. However, as the Hound’s mate pointed out with Jones’ dodgy history of watching porn on the taxpayer dime, any association with him and investment in ‘wood’ could easily be taken the wrong way!

Your canine crusader notes that media outfit Stuff, which was bought for the princely sum of $1 (with many believing it overpriced at that), recently carried an expose about companies in the kiwifruit sector claiming the wage subsidy. The tenor of the story – or more correctly hit-job – was 60 businesses in the kiwifruit sector had claimed $6 million in wage subsidies and it inferred they shouldn’t have because the industry is doing so well. However, the Hound reckons a key point left out of said article was, despite pointing the finger at the 60 kiwifruit companies for claiming $6m in subsidies, Stuff (just one business) had, in fact, itself claimed some $6.3 million of taxpayer funding in wage subsidies. Your old mate suggests that: pot, kettle, black were three of the kinder words that come to mind when he read this tosh!

Worksafe and workplace safety legislation dominate the daily operations of the private sector, including farms. Put staff or the public at undue risk and prepare to have the book thrown at you. Your old mate asks: So why doesn’t the same standard apply to the Ministry of Health and those supposedly at the helm of our Covid response – Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Health Minister David Clark? And their boss, the Prime Minister? Kiwis complied with lockdown and it was through their sacrifice that we stamped out Covid-19. However, this victory is at risk of being squandered by the ultimate health and safety failure of our time – the utter incompetence of those in charge of our quarantine and border control processes. Anyone being held accountable for this? Of course not. It is now clear that the citizens of NZ beat Covid despite this bungling government, not because of it.

This old mutt has always believed that any hopes of a possible free trade deal – that is any good – between NZ and the EU were about as elusive as an honest politician. The reality that the heavily subsidised farming sector of the EU would be open to competing against NZ farmers on a level playing field was always somewhat fanciful and unrealistic. Speaking of which, Trade Minister David Parker still believes such a deal is possible, despite recent news of the miniscule offer the EU has made for allowing NZ dairy products into the trade block. The Hound suggests, when Parker and/or his trade officials claim that NZ can do a free trade deal with the EU, punters mimic the wise counsel of Daryl Kerrigan – the patriarch of that Aussie movie classic ‘The Castle’ – and tell them they are ‘dreamin’!

PRODUCTION: Dave Ferguson ...................... Ph 027 272 5372 davef@ruralnews.co.nz Becky Williams .......................Ph 021 100 4381 beckyw@ruralnews.co.nz REPORTERS: Sudesh Kissun ........................ Ph 021 963 177 sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz Peter Burke ........................... Ph 021 224 2184 peterb@ruralnews.co.nz MACHINERY EDITOR: Mark Daniel ............................. Ph 021 906 723 markd@ruralnews.co.nz

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ABC audited circulation 79,553 as at 31/03/2019

DIGITAL STRATEGIST: Jessica Wilson ......................Ph 027 535 2534

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

RURAL NEWS // JUNE 30, 2020


Farming key to NZ’s future DAVID BENNETT

IT’S NO secret that agriculture is key to New Zealand’s economic rebuild and is cementing itself as the most reliable contributor to our economy in a post-Covid world. It’s the same old story – no matter what, people need to eat and we have a proud reputation as the producer of some of the best food in the world. I am a farmer and I know the contribution our farmers and growers make to our communities. It’s great to see more people outside the farm gate realising what we’ve known all along about how important agriculture is to our country. However, we can’t rest on our laurels and must always be looking at ways to grow the industry for years to come. For central government there needs to be a greater focus on ensuring strategic infrastructure helps the industry reach its full economic potential. Right now, there are farmers and growers, across the country, experiencing the worst drought in living memory. Investment in water storage infrastructure is an example of the sort of projects the Government should be looking at. Other key investment areas are in roads to ensure good supply net-

works and broadband for greater connectivity. The previous National Government invested heavily in both of these with our Roads of National Significance campaign and Ultra-Fast Broadband rollout. This sort of investment helps farmers make the best commercial decisions about how best to take the opportunities in international markets and deliver to New Zealanders and to our economy. If we are going to borrow large sums of money to rebuild our economy from Covid-19, that money will need to be repaid by future generations of Kiwis – so we should be investing in strategic infrastructure that will help us grow. Farmers need certainty. They deal with uncertainty in world markets and weather every day. They don’t need any more from the Government, as has been the case of the proposed freshwater reforms. The Government has reserved its right to impose a Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen (DIN) level of 1 next year. This is the uncertainty that farmers don’t need. The proposed DIN bottom lines could have crippling costs on farmers and growers. Farmers needed certainty that any

upcoming DIN bottom lines are based on science and are practical so they can be achieved. The Government should be giving some assurance that any costs and requirements are practical and manageable. The 95% bottom line on nitrogen toxicity is very high and will significantly affect many farmers’ production and New Zealand’s economy. The 90% bottom line that Theyis are DairyNZ submitted more in line with what

is feasible for farmers to achieve. Farmers are making big steps in this area already and any requirements need to be practical, achievable and based on the best science. The primary sector is helping rebuild our economy and we have to back farmers to farm their way to achieve better outcomes. • David Bennett is National’s agriculture using here NZ has a proud reputation as the producer of spokesman our post drivers some of the best food in the world.

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RURAL NEWS // JUNE 30, 2020


A friend in need is a friend indeed! OUT OF the furnaces and horrors of war come many true stories – some horrific and some heroic. Some of courage and sacrifice almost beyond belief and others of friendship, or mateship we cannot help but admire. One story I have in my files tells of two great friends from WWI. They had enlisted together, trained together and were shipped overseas together. They fought side-by-side in the trenches and were indeed inseparable. During an enemy attack, one of them was critically wounded, but because of all the barbed wire he was unable to crawl back to his foxhole. The entire area was


Colin Miller

under withering enemy crossfire and it was obviously plain suicidal for anyone to try to reach him. Yet his friend decided he would try. Before he could get up out of the trenches, his sergeant yanked him back and ordered him not to go. “It’s too late” he yelled. “You can’t do him any good and you’ll only get yourself killed.”

Moments later when the sergeant turned his back, the guy was gone over the top to get to his friend. A few minutes later he staggered back now mortally wounded himself, with his now dead mate in his arms. The sergeant was both angry and deeply moved. “What a waste” he blurted out. “He’s dead and you’re dying. It just wasn’t worth it.” With pretty much his last breath, the dying soldier remarked, “Oh yes it was Sarge. When I got to him he said: ‘I knew you’d come Jim’!” Stories like this get me thinking a little deeper than “normal”, which of course is always good for me. In today’s fast-paced

‘pedal to the metal’ culture, hurried and shallow thinking tends to be the norm. And we miss the truly important! Do I have any friends like this in my life? Or, would any of my friends consider me to be on the same page as this? It is much easier to access quotes on friendship than find a true friend. Much easier to read stories, than be a friend who stands by someone when others have moved on, or just got themselves too busy to connect. I remember being instructed in my growing-up years, “A burden shared is a burden halved”. True, of course, when you can share that burden with a friend; not


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true if your ‘friend’ turns out to be a gossip! Life on the farm can be busy, busy and yet more busy. It can be easy to start feeling a little isolated, and then more tired than we should be. When stuff like this starts to pile up, we can get ourselves into a headspace that is not actually healthy for us. Time for a break, I reckon, or maybe time to catch-up with some friends. Here is a pertinent quote: “Sometimes being

with your friend is all the therapy you need.” (Unknown). I totally agree, and have experienced this myself many times! Let me encourage you, today, to call someone just to check and see they are doing OK. Something as simple as this can at times make all the difference in their world – even life or death. And if you need a break yourself, then take some time to catch-up with some good friends. If you happen to need

someone to talk with you but don’t have anyone at the moment, then email me as given below. It would be remiss of me not to close out today by acknowledging a quote from the Good Book: “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” How true…yes, he has been a friend to me like no other! Take care and God bless. • To contact Colin Miller email: farmerschaplain@ ruralnews.co.nz

RURAL NEWS // JUNE 30, 2020


Jobs, growth and prosperity DAVID ANDERSON

VOTE RED – meat! That’s the call from the country’s $12 billion red meat sector, following its recently released research and election manifesto. The red meat sector is calling on all political parties to recognise its significant contribution to New Zealand’s national and regional economies in the run up to this year’s election. The research conducted by SG Heilbron Economic and Policy Consulting, commissioned by the Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ), also coincides with both bodies launching a joint manifesto ahead of New Zealand’s general election in September.  The independent study shows the meat processing and exporting sector – as well as sheep and beef farmers – collectively generate $12 billion in income per year for the country. The red meat sector also accounts for more than 92,000 jobs, almost 5% of New Zealand’s full-time workforce.  It is also responsible for $4.6 billion in household income (on aver-

age that works out at $3300 for every household in New Zealand) and represents approximately a fifth of New Zealand’s productive sector. The manifesto outlines the importance of political parties working with the red meat sector as partners to rebuild the New Zealand economy. It identifies the challenges and opportunities in environmental issues, trade and market access, animal welfare, food safety, biosecurity, innovation, employment relations, immigration and health and safety.  “As New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry and the second largest goods exporter, the sector is critical to the prosperity and wealth of the country’s economy,” Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association explains. She says the industry is a significant employer, mainly in regional New Zealand, supporting the livelihoods of families and rural communities.  “The Government has a huge oncein-a-generation task ahead of it. The priority post-Covid-19 must be ensuring we have our long-term policy settings and infrastructure right. Open

The red meat sector generate $12 billion in income per year for the country.

and predictable market access is vital for the ongoing success of our exportfocused sector as it creates a stable and level international playing field in which our exporters can prosper and thrive.” Karapeeva says the industry is one of the biggest trainers in New Zealand. “The training system for meat processors is extremely effective at putting new workers onto career pathways and training them,” she explains. “We must have the right skills develop-

ment and training framework in place to support the industry, our people and the country.” B+LNZ’s Sam McIvor says the red meat sector’s contribution to the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of the country is significant. He believes the industry has underlined its resilience and its importance in the wake of Covid-19.  “In this period of adversity, the primary sector has shone. Despite signif-

icant drought, feed shortages across the country and the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak, our industry has continued to perform strongly and deliver for New Zealand,” McIvor says. “It’s important that when making any decision about the recovery and the future, the country must ask itself – what is good for exports, employment, productivity and the environment?”    He says the Government must support practical on-the-ground initiatives by farmers to improve the environment, while ensuring that the environmental policy settings are right.     “A key concern for the sector is the impact of various government policies that incentivise the conversion of sheep and beef farms into forestry, due to the negative impacts on rural communities. The sector wants limits on the ability of fossil fuel polluters to offset their emissions by planting exotic trees on farms.” Meanwhile, McIvor says improved rural connectivity and continued coinvestment in initiatives and research aimed at value adding and lifting the productivity and profitability of the sector is also crucial. 

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RURAL NEWS // JUNE 30, 2020


Primary sector confidence re-emerges – bank survey DAVID ANDERSON

WHILE MOST of New Zealand’s economy has taken a hit in the wake of Covid-19, the country’s primary sector has had a resurgence of confidence.

According to a new survey from the Bank of New Zealand – Shift Happens Agribusiness Survey – there has been a significant mindset change among NZ primary producers, with the vast

majority excited about the sector’s prospects post Covid. BNZ general manager agribusiness, Dave Handley, told Rural News the survey found that primary producers are encouraged

by how important farming’s role will be in the country’s rebuild. “A heightened awareness of essential services and food provision has increased understanding of what the primary

sector means to New Zealand.” Handley says the survey, conducted before and during the Covid-19 lockdown, found a huge shift in mindset of New Zealand’s primary pro-

Dave Handley says primary producers are encouraged by how important farming’s role will be in the country’s rebuild.

ducers. “Their pre-Covid outlook improved from 58% to 89% positive about the sector’s pivotal role in supporting the New Zealand economy.” The survey also found that less than 30% of primary producers had accessed government support during or after lockdown “Farmers are excited about shouldering a large part of the responsibility to rebuild the economy and their prospects for the future,” Handley says. He believes during lockdown many New Zealanders experienced limited options on the supermarket shelves and forced people to reconsider our food system and reconnect with the pasture-to-plate supply chain. “More Kiwis now

understand the important role of the primary sector and how it will steer the economy out of recession.” Meanwhile, Handley believes New Zealand’s Covid-free status – coupled with its existing reputation for safe, sustainable, high quality food – will offer further opportunities for the primary sector. “Consumers globally are hunting for health and seeking out items from countries that care for people, their environment and the products they produce,” he adds. “Globally, New Zealand’s reputation is strong. We’ve beaten the virus, our economy has started up more quickly than others and our reputation for safe, high quality nutrition remains undented.”

HORT RARING TO GO HORTICULTURE NEW Zealand says the findings of the survey confirm that the sector will help drive New Zealand’s post-Covid recovery. “Growers are keen to get back the recovery and provide displaced New Zealand with jobs,” says Hort NZ chief executive Mike Chapman. “However, they are wary about the possible impact of central and local government decisions around freshwater, land use, labour availability, and education and training.” Chapman says the sector wants to work in partnership with central and local government to achieve common goals when it comes to land and freshwater management. Chapman says the survey also shows that access to labour has been a handbrake on growth – which the sector has been pointing out for years. “While it is good news that many New Zealanders may want a new career in horticulture, those people will need training, and several will need support to relocate and adjust to different working conditions.” HortNZ says there will still be a reliance on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme to enable horticulture to grow and employ more New Zealanders on a permanent basis. Meanwhile, Chapman agrees with another key finding of the survey that worldwide demand for New Zealandgrown fruit and vegetables will increase long-term. “Our fruit and vegetables are grown to the highest possible standard and with complete transparency,” he explains. “This gives consumers in New Zealand and across the world absolute confidence, for which they are prepared to pay a premium.”

RURAL NEWS // JUNE 30, 2020


Catch crops after winter grazing a win-win CATCH CROPS such as oats are showing major promise for mopping up excess nitrogen after winter grazing. “It could create a winwin for farmers in terms of their environmental footprint and profitability,” says Dr Peter Carey, a Lincoln Agritech field researcher. Carey is leading a three-year Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) research programme, in conjunction with Plant and Food Research, to apply the use of catch crops more widely in winter forage rotations. He completed a PhD at Lincoln University on the use of catch crops, which found that they can reduce nitrate leaching by as much as 40%. The latest study looks to extend this research and apply it directly to commercial farms in Canterbury and Southland. The project aims to adapt catch crop use to the different soils and climatic conditions of each region. “Catch crop strategies are becoming more important, with the new Action for Healthy Waterways regulations coming into

gen per hectare. By late November, early-sown crops for green-chop silage in both Canterbury and Southland are often reaching 8-10 t DM/ha and capturing 100-150 kg N/ha.” The first year of the study has already shown that the best results occur when the crops

are sown as early as possible after grazing has been completed and are established using direct drilling methods. In Southland, researchers used a spader-drill, a relatively new piece of tillage technology, that enabled much earlier drilling than is usually possible. “Although there is often

substantial soil mineralN available to the developing cereal crop, the second year of the study showed that monitoring is advisable to ensure its N status remains sufficient to maintain quality and maximise yield, so a modest spring nitrogen application may still be prudent,” Carey adds.

FOR GREAT RESULTS Lincoln Agritech field researcher Dr Peter Carey is leading a three-year research programme on the use of catch crops in winter forage rotations.

effect in winter, 2021,” Carey says. “These will prevent farmers from leaving paddocks bare for more than a month after winter forage grazing. Fortunately, research is showing that catch crop strategies can be a profitable avenue.” He says that nitrate leaching, and nitrogen loss generally, is particularly problematic in winter as non-lactating dairy cows eat large quantities of feed over a fairly short period of time to build up their body conditioning. “Then they deposit large volumes of urine onto

bare soil at a time when plant growth is minimal,” Carey explains. “Usually, catch crops are sown in autumn between the harvesting of the previous summer crop and a new crop in spring to conserve soil nutrients over the winter. But in winter forage rotations, they need to be sown at the end of the grazing period, which is often mid-winter when soil and climate conditions are at their most difficult.” Carey believes with the frequency of warmer and drier starts to winter increasing, hardy cereals

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like oats can be successfully established in the cool conditions. He says oats are tolerant to the cold and will germinate at 5 degrees and above, reducing water in the soil and removing some of the nitrogen left when the cows had urinated on the ground. “Once the soil warms, catch crops can rapidly mop-up the excess nitrogen, reducing the amount available for leaching,” Carey adds. “Even within a couple of months, we have seen catch crops take up as much as 40kg of nitro-

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RURAL NEWS // JUNE 30, 2020


Monthly dog dosing will close measles gap REQUIRING THAT all dogs on sheep farms be treated every four weeks for sheep measles is a significant step in reducing the impact of the parasite. Dan Lynch, project manager, Ovis Management Ltd, says the change – as part of the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme – means a gap in national sheep measles control is being closed even further. He says one of the challenges with reducing sheep measles levels is that surveys show farmers buying in store lambs to finish have a higher prevalence than those finishing their own lambs. “This is occurring

despite the fact that the surveys show both groups are getting the same level of control,” Lynch adds. “This leads to a situation where the store lamb finisher is contacted about their high prevalence at processing. However, the problem is with the breeder, who is out of the feedback loop.” He says this is further complicated by the fact that, in nearly all cases, store lines are mixed – so the identity of the originating farm is lost.

Key steps for control

Ovis management’s Dan Lynch (inset) says it is a big mistake for sheep farmers to reduce on-farm dog treatments

“However, most farmers will at some point finish lambs and will likely be part of the NZ

Farm Assurance Programme,” Lynch adds. “This means they will be treating their dogs four

weekly and reduce the chances that they will unknowingly sell infected lambs to finishers.”


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Deter or ban all external dogs from entering farm unless, they have a current treatment certificate. Meanwhile, Lynch adds that the national prevalence of sheep measles for the current processing season, to the end of May, is in line with the record low of last year. “Although, in recent months, the North Island lamb prevalence is tracking slightly ahead of last year.” Lynch says that one

factor noted during farm visits is farmers who have had few sheep measles in recent seasons have been reducing on-farm dog treatments. “Big mistake!” says Lynch. “If you achieve zero or minimal infection levels, protect that achievement by keeping a tight treatment dog access programme in place.”

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RURAL NEWS // JUNE 30, 2020


JD expands its header range MARK DANIEL markd@ruralnews.co.nz

JOHN DEERE is expanding its range of headers with the introduction of the new X-Series. The company says these will offer large scale operators more tonnes per hour, more hectares per day, with minimal grain loss and no reduction in quality. The new X9 1000 and X9 1100 Harvesters feature a wider feeder house, dual separator, and the industry’s largest cleaning shoe. At the heart of the new combine is the X-Series Dual Separator (XDS), the largest threshing and separation areas JD has ever offered, delivering threshing and separation during nine revolutions of the crop. The 7 square metre Dyna-Flo XL Cleaning Shoe has 36% more cleaning area than the current S790 flagship machine. Power is provided by an all-new John Deere PowerTech 13.6-litre engine working with a robust belt-drive system and updated ProDrive XL Transmission to improve fuel efficiency. This offers up to 14 hour run times without refuelling. The X9 1000 and X1100 grain tanks allows up to 14,800L and 16,200L respectively, 5% and 15% more than the S790 machine. The machines

John Deere is expanding its range of headers with the introduction of the new X-Series.

have folding unloading augers with an adjustable spout are available in 7.9m, 8.7m or 9.4m lengths. Both harvesters feature extensive use of automated adjustments so the operator can consistently function at peak output levels, with a claim that the X9 1100 uses up to 20% less fuel per tonne harvested than the S790. Inside, the X-Series cab offers more storage space, more USB ports and better connectivity. An optional touchscreen radio is smart-phone ready to make calls, listen to music, or send and receive messages. Three comfort and convenience cab packages are available, with the Ultimate specification including a new ventilated massaging seat that swivels 16 degrees right or left for improved operator visibility and all-day comfort. The Signature Edition is also available and includes the highest levels of comfort, lighting and technol-

ogy packages John Deere offers. Precision ag technologies collect important machine and yield data, while an integrated StarFire 6000 Receiver requires no calibration of the Terrain Compensation Module (TCM). This is said to be more accurate than previous offerings, as well as booting up and acquiring the GPS signal quicker. JDLink is standard on both models. There are three technology packages available for the X-Series – including Select, Premium and Ultimate specifications. Both machines can connect to the John Deere Operations Center, a cloud-based, central location where farmers can electronically share machine or operational information with trusted partners and advisors. Expect to see a couple of demonstration units on the ground in late 2021, from where dealers will start taking orders for deliveries the following year.

Committed to Oz market WHILE A several suppliers in the Australian quad bike market are getting ready to pull the pin, CF Moto says it is in the market for the long haul. Big players Honda, Yamaha and Polaris are planning to leave Australia before October 2021, when the Stage 2 requirements of the Consumer Goods (Quad Bike) Safety Requirements kick in. These rules require manufacturers to fit appropriate Operator Protection Devices (OPD) and fit swing tags to indicate the angle at which the machine will tilt onto two wheels. CF Moto’s Australian distributor, Mojo Motorcycles, says its entire quad bike range will be updated to meet the required standards, by October 2020 – a full year ahead of the new legislation. To meet these requirements, Mojo has partnered with Queensland based Quadbar, with dealers fitting the devices at the pre-delivery stage. To meet the stability requirements, the company has worked with Crashlab in Sydney, who have confirmed the entire range exceeds the minimum ratings.

Elsewhere in the sector, the crackdown, brought about to reduce fatalities (128 deaths between 2011 and 2018) has seen growing concerns about product choice amongst farmers. “I don’t believe manufacturers should be forced into fitting OPD’s to their machines if they don’t believe it’s in the best interest of the bike and the person buying it,” Paul O’Connor, director of a mixed farming operation in NSW says. “Currently, if I buy a quad bike, I can choose whether to fit an OPD. I cannot see any good reason to legislate against that freedom of choice.”

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Victorian Farmer Georgina Gubbins is asking for more informative data to be made available to understand the age groups of those involved in accidents and the types of machines they were riding. “Manufacturers withdrawing from the market means we may have to switch to side by sides

that will undoubtedly get bogged down in our high rainfall area” she says. Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence suggests some farmers are currently buying multiple machines to beat the implementation of the new regulations, leaving dealers running very low on stock for the rest of the year. – Mark Daniel


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RURAL NEWS // JUNE 30, 2020


Made in NZ - Rotowiper Made in New Zealand is a feature that looks at the wealth of design and manufacturing ability we have in New Zealand, producing productive and cost-effective products for the agricultural sector. This issue, machinery editor Mark Daniel takes a closer look at Ashburton company Rotowiper, catching up with managing director Dougal Lamont. Q - When was the company founded, by whom and why (was it to solve a problem or market a product)? We formed the company in 2007, when my wife Jenny and I purchased Rotoworks International Ltd, which marketed and manufactured the Rotowiper product range. The decision to do so was the opportunity to be in control of my own destiny. Q - Where are you located

- is it single or multiple sites and how many people are employed? We are in Ashburton in a 2,000sq/m factory. We employ six full time, one part time employees and me, which brings the total to eight employees. Q - What are your key products and which markets do they serve? We have two very different sides to our business, which mainly service the farming indus-

unique selling points? Born in New Zealand, the Rotowiper weed wiper is a unique product that has been copied and reproduced in different forms around the world. We manufacture the largest range of weed wipers of any manufacturer in the world – from 1.8m to 12m working widths in three-point linkage and trailed layouts. Weed wiping places the herbicide on the underside and the stem of the plant, both areas where it does not have any protection. The process only kills what in touches, compared to broadcast spraying that covers everything. Chemical use is minimal, offering huge cost savings, while treatment can be carried out on windy days as there are no drift issues. Q - Looking at an everevolving market, what changes have you made over the last few years, or what will you have to do moving forwards? R & D has been in the front of our minds since owning this business, which started with bringing the manufacturing process into the 20th century, by building quality jigs and out-sourcing specialist services. During our first 12 months, we

tries. We market and manufacture the Rotowiper weed wiper range as our primary product. We also manufacture rotationally moulded plastic products for commercial customers, alongside our own range – including water tanks, troughs and caravan/motor home tanks. Q - Are your products unique - if so, what are the four key benefits? If not unique, what are the four

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Rotowiper managing director Dougal Lamont.

designed and manufactured a mounted folding 6m Rotowiper, followed by more options and sizes to suit different market situations. A key project was replacing the old current ‘WCF’ range that is towed behind a 4-wheel bike, became apparent. Over a two-year consultation and design period, the new ‘TR’ range replaced the old ‘WCF’ range. The new TR range was released at the 2018 National Fieldays. Q - What has been the company’s greatest success since its formation? Our greatest success to date has been the

development of the new ‘TR’ range of Rotowipers. The product is selling well, with very positive feedback on the strength and increased functionality of the machine. Q - In contrast, what has been the biggest “Oh Bugger” moment or the steepest learning curve? My biggest ‘bugger’ moment followed a first year of brilliant sales, so we carried on manufacturing flat stick during the winter off-season to meet the next year’s expected demand. Unfortunately, the GFC of 2008 would have such a devastating effect on our business,



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meaning we were still selling some of that stock three years later. Q - If you were approached by someone looking to start a business, what would be your three key pieces of advice? Research it well, as great ideas are not always commercially viable and make sure you have adequate funding to carry a project through. Don’t leave it too late in life as energy and drive can fade, so the business can struggle to meet its full potential. Q - Where do you see the company in the next three, five and ten years? We now have a consolidated business that achieves a level platform after a few years of lean ups and strong downs. At 65, my age is a factor now as to what and where the company heads over the next few years. I am still enjoying the business, so our immediate focus will be to expand our rotational moulding division. Over the longer term, the plan is to reestablish export markets for the Rotowiper that we can compete and make a profit in.



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