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Labour pains!



OVERSEAS WORKERS on their way here to drive machinery and pick fruit could be affected by last week’s decision to pause the release of MIQ rooms. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) announced last week that MIQ facilities which were used to accommodate returnees from overseas are now being used for community cases. More facilities and more rooms will be needed as the outbreak unfolds. “The Government has decided to extend the pause on the release and re-release of rooms for a short period until the situation becomes clearer,” it says. Rural Contractors New Zealand

(RCNZ) expects 125 machinery operators to arrive in the country between now and December. About 150 fruit pickers from selected Pacific countries are expected to start arriving every 16 days from the end of this month. MIQ rooms for these arrivals are booked under ‘time sensitive travel allocation’ approved by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). RCNZ chief executive Andrew Olsen told Rural News that the first

cohort of arrivals, making up 65% of the total contingent, is expected within the next two months. The rest will arrive between November and December. “I have spoken to MPI and they tell me there’s no change to our arrangement.” Apples and Pears NZ chief executive Alan Pollard says the hort sector has MIQ rooms booked until November. He says while some arrivals were deferred in recent weeks, planning for

Get jabbed! IT WAS deja vu all over again for MPI director general Ray Smith, who was working from his home in Wellington again last week, during the last Covid lockdown. Smith says the primary sector has handled the Covid crisis extremely well so far and things are running much more smoothly in the current lockdowns. However, he warns that a lot of challenges lie ahead as the sector winds up for the busy time of year. Smith says the focus, right now, should be on keeping all of the workers safe and keeping production and systems moving. He says it’s about QR codes, bubbles, masks, TB temperature checks and social distancing where you can. Getting vaccinated against Covid is important and Smith is urging all those in rural areas to find the nearest place to get their jabs. He says there are lots more vaccination stations in rural areas now. – See full story page 4.

these flights and spaces continues. In addition, the Government recently announced one way quarantine-free travel from Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga. Pollard says planning is well advanced on putting in place the steps needed to make this happen. “We were hopeful that these flights would commence in September, but realistically it is more likely to be October,” he adds.

BRITISH AND New Zealand trade negotiators are burning the midnight oil in a bid to get a free trade agreement between the two countries. Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor had a Zoom call about the talks with his UK counterpart, Liz Truss, last week. When the pair met in July, they made much play of the fact that they would try and come to an agreement in principle by the end of August. At the time, O’Connor noted the pressure was on to get an agreement but conceded there were sensitive issues. Only recently, the former NZ High Commissioner and trade minister, Sir Lockwood Smith, stated that the FTA with the UK was there to be had and if the present government didn’t do a deal it would be a massive failure on their part. Last week, as Rural News went to press, there was still no deal. However, O’Connor is hopeful of a deal and said that negotiations were “continuing” toward reaching an agreement in principle. “However, as we have always said, we need that agreement to be commercially meaningful for our exporters.” O’Connor says NZ remains committed to negotiating a high quality, comprehensive and inclusive FTA with the UK.  

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Freshwater changes hit stumbling block PETER BURKE

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THE GOVERNMENT’S new proposed changes to freshwater farm plans has seemingly hit a stumbling block in the form of Beef+Lamb NZ. Last month, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced the changes, which he claimed would be “more practical” and give farmers “greater flexibility” than the earlier rules. In particular, he highlighted changes to the stock exclusion rules in the earlier proposal and stated that any land with more than ten degrees of slope would be excluded from having to fence small streams. When the new proposals were announced, there were murmurings from the various ag sectors that the proposal were an improvement on the previous rules. However, they warned they would need to analyse the details. B+LNZ have just done this and say that while the map for stock exclusion is better than the original, it still won’t practically work. Chief executive Sam McIvor says since the stock exclusion regulations

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the new mapping approach still has inaccuracies and does not provide regional councils with enough flexibility.

were first proposed, the industry body has said the map should be replaced with a general stock exclusion rule that regional councils would be empowered to give effect to. “The original low-slope map for stock exclusion was unworkable and wouldn’t have delivered good environmental outcomes.” McIvor says the new mapping approach still has inaccuracies and does not provide regional councils with enough flexibility. He says where

the cost and effort to exclude stock vastly outweighs the environmental risks and impacts, there needs to be scope to address those situations. “The proposals still don’t take into account the fact that requiring stock exclusion on some of the identified 0-5 degree slope land would be inefficient or ineffective, especially given the waterway or catchment characteristics,” he explains. “Based on the feedback we’ve been getting from farmers, we believe the

Government has underestimated the scale of the remaining problems with the map. With the current levels of satellite information, we do not believe it’s possible to get a national-level map accurate enough to determine where stock exclusion should occur.” McIvor says B+LNZ also has reservations about the freshwater farm planning approach outlined in the current consultation. He says his organisation was originally one of very few agricultural organisations to oppose the Government’s plans for a mandatory certified freshwater farm plan. “We still have significant concerns about using farm plans as a compliance tool. Historically, farm plans were intended to add value to the farming business and help inform management decisions to unlock the productive potential of the land while managing environmental effects,” he adds. “Our guiding principles are that the freshwater farm plans should be based on industry-led farm plan approaches, be practical, effects-based and not input-based – as well as ensuring the privacy of farmers’ data.”

Published by: Rural News Group Printed by: Inkwise NZ Ltd CONTACTS Editorial: Advertising material: Rural News online: Subscriptions: ABC audited circulation 79,553 as at 31.03.2019

Vaccinations at meat plants THE PENNY seems to have dropped that the workforce which produces food for local and export markets are very much essential workers. That’s the view of the Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva. She says the MIA – along with

MPI, DHBs and the Ministry of Health – are working with employers at meat processing plants to see if these facilities can be used as sites for large-scale vaccinations. Karapeeva says the MIA has been advocating this since the beginning of the year.

“We have a very large workforce of 25,000 people, which includes a high proportion of Maori and Pacifica,” Karapeeva told Rural News. “People come on a shift and start at a certain time and leave at a certain time, so conceivably it would be possible to develop an onsite

vaccination programme with relative ease.” She says with the advent of the Delta variant of Covid there is a bit more realisation about the need to vaccinate people and the meat industry is offering a solution. Karapeeva


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Farming sector urged to keep vigilant – MPI boss DON’T DROP your guard – with the Delta variant you’re dealing with a much more serious strain of Covid. That’s the message to the primary sector from Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director general Ray Smith who told Rural News, from his home in Wellington last week, that the primary sector has handled the

RSE workers for the hort sector,” he says. “Most of the companies I have been talking to are well planned and well managed and are thinking about how to manage that workload through as the season comes on.” Smith says the focus, right now, should be on keeping all of the workers safe and keeping production and systems moving. He says it’s about QR codes, bubbles, masks, TB

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Ray Smith is urging the primary sector to remain vigilant and do the right things, so that when the season arrives they’ll be able to pick, pack and process products.

temperature checks and social distancing where you can. “These are the critical things that people need to do now, so that they don’t lose their labour force as we go into the busy part of the season,” he told Rural News. “It’s about being vigilant and doing the right things now, so that when the season arrives we’ll be able to pick, pack and process products.” Getting vaccinated against Covid is important, says Smith, and he’s urging all those in rural areas to find the nearest place to get their jabs. He says there are lots more vaccination stations in rural areas now. He says MPI will be monitoring the situation to make sure that people in very isolated areas are not neglected in the vaccination programme. Smith says an issue he’s been asked about is

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Covid crisis extremely well so far. He says things are running much more smoothly in the current lockdown and the different industries have been very organised, worked well with each other and stepped up and done the right thing. But Smith warns that a lot of challenges lie ahead as the sector winds up for the busy time of year. “Quarantine travel is still on the agenda for countries that supply

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SHOUT OUT FOR SECTORS RAY SMITH believes the country recognises, values and trusts the efforts of all those working in the primary sector. He says by putting in place good protocols and mechanisms – and sticking to them – the sector has demonstrated that it can handle itself well and has maintained its license to operate. “Can I just say a huge thank you to every person who got up in the morning and went to work in the primary sector over the last few weeks and in the weeks

what happens if a farmer, by some chance, contracts Covid. He says farmers have been asking if they can self-isolate on their farms rather than go into quarantine. “This is a health issue and it’s up to the local medical officer of health to decide if a person needs to go into quarantine or not,” Smith told Rural News. “Almost all [Covid positive] New Zealand-

to come. Thank you for doing your bit to keep us all healthy and well and keeping our exports moving to countries that need our food. And for helping to support our economy and keeping each other safe.” Smith says he’d like to especially single out the forestry and wood processing sectors who have had a “tough time” with the Covid lockdowns. He says these industries are a big part of the primary sector and contribute significantly to our export returns and the local economy.

ers, regardless of their circumstances, have to go into quarantine – so that is probably the likely starting point. “The medical officer of health would look at the circumstances and make a decision.” Given that, Smith says all farm operators, large or small, should have a back-up plan to deal with such a contingency. He concedes that for an owner-operator dairy farmer that would be very

difficult, given that it’s such a busy time of the year, hence the need to have a plan in place. He says MPI – along with all the various farmer groups – will be there to help and support that individual and their family. “Farmers shouldn’t be unduly worried, but they must make sure they have a back-up plan and the names of people who could potentially help them out,” Smith says.


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Rural solutions for rural people PETER BURKE

LOCAL SOLUTIONS using local people is the best way of ensuring people in rural areas are vaccinated against Covid19, according to the chair of the Rural General Practitioners Network. Dr Fiona Bolden says things such as big vaccination sites, which work well in large urban areas, don’t work well in rural areas because they are often difficult for people to access. She says initially the Ministry of Health wasn’t focusing on using rural GP’s to deliver vaccines, but this has changed. However, Bolden says the rural health workforce is comparatively small and needs to be supported with proper funding and staff. She says community trusts and iwi have done a fantastic job in ensuring that rural people – especially Maori – are vaccinated.

Rural General Practitioners Network chair Dr Fiona Bolden says things which work well in large urban areas, don’t work well in rural areas because they are often difficult for people to access.

“We have seen lots of local solutions, because the one size doesn’t fit all and that is certainly the case for the rural workforce,” she told Rural News. “We know that we

can’t do mass vaccinations in rural areas like they do in urban areas.” Bolden says there are many essential workers in rural areas who are engaged in food produc-

tion and other primary industries – such as forestry. She says in the case of the latter, these people are often forgotten, but with the way the roll-out is now configured, these

people will be eligible to get vaccinated. “Then there is the issue of how you get vaccinated if you are an essential rural worker,” she adds. “For farmers it is quite difficult for them to leave their work and get vaccinated. That is why it is so important that we have local vaccination provision, with local providers using general practices, but supported by DHBs.” Bolden says the DHBs are meant to be leading the roll out, but they are very reliant on local staff being available to do this and also local people doing the organisation to make it happen. Bolden works in a practice in Whangamata in the Coromandel and says they recently had a big drive though vaccination centre operating. She says it was great to see how excited the local people were to get vaccinated. “There was a real feel-

RELUCTANT RURAL PEOPLE FIONA BOLDEN says with Covid lockdowns more common, rural people are now getting used to ‘virtual’ consultations with their local GP. She says under lockdown level 4 only about 30% of patients are seen by GPs. But Bolden says virtual consultation is working well for some people who are finding it easier to talk things through with their GP via phone or video link – rather than face-to-face. “The other thing about that, for rural people, it can be a bonus, because if a person is working on their farm and they need to see a doctor about something, it can take much more time out of their day.” However, Bolden says there are still many rural people who prefer face-to-face contact with their doctor.

ing of coming together and a relief for these people – especially the elderly. That was really positive.” She says there are still workforces in rural areas that are under extreme pressure and it gives her hope to see people working together across different organisations and communities.

“It is important that decision makers have a good understanding of the particular needs of how health matters in rural communities should be managed and resourced,” Bolden adds. “Rural people know their needs better than the people in Wellington.” @rural_news


says it has taken time for health officials to get their heads around working collaboratively with industry to look at practical solutions on the front line. Meanwhile, DairyNZ’s head of farm performance, Sharon Morrell, says she’d like to see if they can facilitate more dairy farmers to

be vaccinated against Covid-19. Morell says it’s often forgotten that dairy farmers and others in the primary sector are classed as essential workers and need to be protected against Covid. “It would be great to see a boost in rural vaccinations,” she says. Morell says the present outbreak

of Covid has struck at the start of the dairy season; compounding the issue is the fact that many dairy farms are understaffed and there are few options to right this situation. “Everybody is busy at this time of the year. They all have their heads down working hard, so it puts extra weight on taking the precautions

that are necessary for safety around Covid,” she told Rural News. “It’s about thinking about the bubble on their farm and ensuring it is not being extended in directions that farmers hadn’t anticipated. This could involve people coming on to the farm – such as other family members, caregivers or contractors.”

Morrell says if for any reason farmers can’t keep their bubble tight, they then need to take that extra step in terms of hygiene and follow all the protocols around cleaning and personal hygiene. She says it’s up to managers to take the lead and make sure the business is Covid free. – Peter Burke


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We are fighting – Morrison “We’ve been advocating for GWP* for some time, with other primary sector organisations here and overseas, and with the Government.”


BEEF+LAMB NZ is committed to arguing for a fair and appropriate framework for tackling climate change, claims chairman Andrew Morrison. “The latest International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report adds weight to our argument that the current targets of a 10% reduction by 2030 and 24-47% reduction by 2050 in New Zealand’s Zero Carbon Bill are too high,” Morrison says. “The IPCC report makes it clear that the current accounting metric for climate emissions, known as GWP100, overstates the effect of constant methane emissions on global surface temperature by a factor of 3-4 over a 20-year horizon. GWP100 also under-

Beef+Lamb chair Andrew Morrison says his organisation is committed to arguing for a fair and appropriate framework for tackling climate change.

states the effect of new (or increasing) methane emissions by a factor of 4-5 over a 20-year horizon.” He says the IPCC report makes it clear that New Zealand’s current methane targets do not “let farmers off the hook”. “It states that a 0.3% reduction per year in methane is equivalent to

net zero for carbon dioxide – that is, there would be no additional warming from methane at this level of reduction.” Morrison points out that the IPCC states that if methane is stable or reducing, (as it has been in New Zealand since 2001), then using GWP100 to report methane’s contribution at a national level each year

to climate change is inaccurate. “It notes that an alternative accounting method, known as GWP* scales emissions over time and better accounts for the different warming behaviours of short-lived gases,” he adds. “We’ve been advocating for GWP* for some time, with other primary sector organisations here and overseas, and with the Government.” Morrison says following the IPCC report, B+LNZ will be renewing its efforts to have the Government use GWP* and report on both emis-

sions and warming each year, so that the true contribution of each sector’s emissions to warming can be seen and understood. “We will also be redoubling our efforts for a review of the methane reduction targets in New Zealand’s Zero Carbon Bill using GWP* in collaboration with other agricultural organisations.” Morrison adds that B+LNZ will work with counterpart international organisations to promote the global adoption of GWP* as the appropriate metric for measuring the climate impact of agricultural GHGs.

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS! MEANWHILE, IN a joint letter – along with Feds Andrew Hoggard and DairyNZ’s Jim van der Poel – Andrew Morrison has rejected consultant Steve Cranston’s proposed ‘vision’ towards climate neutrality, suggesting that GWP* cannot be used to credibly achieve this. In the letter, the three leaders say they believe that all farming groups have a different role to play in farmer advocacy. “While Groundswell has been successful in applying pressure as a grass roots movement, they play a very different role to traditional agricultural bodies like DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb NZ, and Federated Farmers. We each need to play to our strengths if we are to achieve better outcomes for farmers.” Morrison and co go on to say that while they agree that it would be great if agriculture could be branded as NZ’s first major climate neutral industry, it needs to be underpinned by something. “You can’t credibly achieve this simply by saying that we reject GWP100 and are now using GWP*,” they explain. “We are all supportive of exploring GWP* as an alternative metric to GWP100 and will continue to advocate for a better understanding of the differences between short-lived and long-lived gases, and their warming impacts, to inform policy settings both internationally and here in NZ.”

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No sector agreement on new methane targets NOT DOING THEIR JOB


DESPITE AGREEMENT among farm industry bodies that the current methane targets for the sector are excessive, not based on science and need to be changed, there is currently no plan in place to achieve this. That’s the claim of agricultural consultant Steven Cranston, following a recent meeting of pan sector voices with Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel and Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard. Cranston says one of the main concerns raised at the meeting, organised by North Otago farmer Jane Smith and held in Wellington last month, was the lack of a coherent strategy to get the methane emissions reduction target reduced (currently 24 to 47% by 2050). “The emissions targets were set back in 2015 and since then no groundwork has yet been put in place to get the targets changed,” he told Rural News. “The sector bodies are asking Government to measure agriculture by its warming effect, yet it has not even produced

STEVEN CRANSTON says farmers are asking why they don’t see industry body leaders openly challenging bad government policy. He claims the current farming leadership don’t see this as their role. “The expectation is that farmers need to take the tougher positions and allow the industry bodies to ‘play to their strengths’, which is keeping a close relationship with Government,” he claims. “It should not be up to full time farmers to call out the Government on bad policy. “The idea that farming industry leaders expect farmers to ask the tough questions, while they remain quietly in the background, is appalling.” Cranston reckons if farm body leaders spent as much energy on changing bad policy as they do on finding excuses not to, “the industry would be in far better shape”. One of the reasons behind the nationwide Groundswell protest was about the current methane targets for the farming sector being excessive.

a warming model itself yet.” Cranston says the farming industry has been lobbying for the use GWP* since 2018 – but with no success. “Beef + Lamb produced a ‘carbon neutrality’, report in 2020, but did not use GWP*. That’s a major disconnect between what the industry bodies are asking for and what they are doing,” he claims. “We are told to trust them and that work is going on behind the scenes, but that is clearly not the case.” Cranston says there

was acknowledgement from the farm body leaders that the general public have a misconception of the impact agriculture has on climate. “But there is in no media strategy in place to correct public understanding or lack of context provided in the media,” he adds. Cranston says the farming leaders highlighted the progress they made in improving the way farmers will be taxed on emissions. “But our group remains concerned that

without addressing the emission targets as well, it will end in a bad result for farmers.” Cranston says his group emphasised to the farming bodies that the timing to get the correct information out and set new emission reduction targets that are directly related to agriculture’s warming effect is critical. “We are currently in the later stages of developing a pricing mechanism for farmers that may not be aligned to our own intended targets,” he adds. “There are targets set for farmers

to ‘know your numbers’ which everyone agrees are the wrong numbers, the entire process is a shambles.” Cranston says it is vital that Overseer is upgraded to reflect warming effect. “However, none of these changes can be made until we send a clear signal,” he told Rural News. “At the industry level, dual reporting of both warming effect and carbon equivalents would provide the information the Government needs and help draw attention to the discrepancies between the two

accounting practices. But the pricing mechanism and farm-level reporting should be based on climate impact. Farmers have a right to know this information.” He claims that the farming industry leaders hold the position that emissions targets will not affect how pricing mechanisms works. “They all agree that all emissions reductions, below the point of zero warming, should be incentivised,” Cranston adds. “However, there was no explanation how this incentive pricing will be built into HWEN if the pricing mechanism does

not account for warming.” Cranston says the group presented a vision statement to the farming leaders for agreement calling for agriculture to set a new target of climate neutrality. “The objective was for it to be a catalyst to help inform the public of agriculture’s true warming impact and start building pressure on the Government to review the targets,” he told Rural News. “However, while this was initially agreed at the meeting, all three bodies rejected it before it went to print.” Cranston says the entire direction of emissions policy is now hinging on whether advocacy leaders will take a firm stand against the reduction targets. “The IPCC has just released the six assessment report, which backs the use of GWP* being used for agriculture and that warming related targets are more appropriate,” he adds. “Farm industry bodies now have a rock-solid case to call for an overhaul of the emissions targets – but there is no indication by them that they are yet ready to do this.”



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Shortage beefs up prices SUDESH KISSUN

A GLOBAL shortage of beef and surge in demand has lifted farmgate prices

for New Zealand farmers. The price of beef imported into the US has reached levels not seen since late 2019. According to

Rabobank’s latest Global Beef Quarterly report, New Zealand producers are heading into the spring in a great position. RaboResearch analyst

Genevieve Steven noted that farmgate pricing in New Zealand has remained elevated over the past three months. She says the high



Rabobank’s latest Global Beef Quarterly report says New Zealand beef producers are heading into the spring in a great position.

pricing comes off the back of strong demand from China and suppressed beef export volumes from Australia. Argentina’s decision to curb its beef exports is also helping prices rise. “Pricing across both islands is tracking well ahead of last year and currently sits 10% above the five-year average,” says Steven. New Zealand beef exports for the first half of 2021 were 3% ahead of 2020 volumes: while volumes to the US and Canada were down 26% and 56% respectively, exports to China rose strongly and were up by 21% on the first six months of last year. But while volumes were higher, export earnings for the first half of the year were back by 5% as a result of a stronger NZ dollar and greater volume going to lower-value markets. However, the Rabobank report says New Zealand beef pricing is expected to remain strong through to November. ANZ agriculture economist Susan Kilsby agrees that farmgate beef prices will remain supportive in the shorter term. Kilsby says prices are lifting sharply, supported by strong international markets and limited global supply. “Global supplies of beef are limited whereas global demand remains strong in a number of markets. “The quantity of beef being traded globally is relatively tight, which is helping support the markets. Strong demand for beef from a number of markets is assisting prices.” Global supply of beef is relatively limited as

the quantity of meat being offered by Australia continues to be much less than normal as farmers look to rebuild the number of stock being run on their properties. Kilsby notes that the quantity of Australian beef entering the US is only about half of normal levels. Argentina temporarily banned some exports, which also tightened up supply. The restrictions — imposed by the Argentinian Government in late June with the aim of boosting domestic beef supply — limit Argentinian beef exports to 50% of the average monthly volume. Argentina is the world’s fifth largest beef exporter and the second largest supplier to China. RaboResearch’s Genevieve Steven says government restrictions on Argentinian beef exports are set to have a substantial impact on global beef trade over coming months. She says while Argentina’s restrictions are being reviewed, it’s unlikely the new export system will end in August. If restrictions remain in place until the end of the year, beef exports for 2021 could drop by 23.5% year-on-year. “This is the scenario that we believe to be the most likely, as it would meet the demands of the production sector and raise the availability of beef on the domestic market,” Steven says. At this stage, Argentina’s export reduction is having little, if any, direct impact on New Zealand beef exports. “However, it could help to provide a pricing-floor in the market,” she notes. @rural_news



HONEST, HARDWORKING, NZ MADE LEGENDS Lockdown has again highlighted the issue of internet connectivity for those in rural areas.

Connection issues for rural students JESSICA MARSHALL

AS MANY students continue their online learning amid Alert Level Three and Four lockdowns, it – again – highlights the issue of internet connectivity for those in rural areas. President of the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) says Covid-19 lockdowns have further highlighted issues of connectivity in education. Melanie Webber says internet connectivity has proven to be an issue during this lockdown. “It’s absolutely an issue,” Webber told Rural News. “We’re aware of areas where they don’t have connection – you can get a device but without internet it’s not a huge amount of use.” She says that while schools are able to send out packs of hard copies of classwork for students to work on during lockdown, those students are still being impacted, particularly at the secondary school level. “It’s quite difficult to tailor those when you’re in a level four situation for the specific coursework students are doing,” she says. Webber says that the Ministry of Education has been unable to provide a solution other than the hard packs, “probably because there aren’t any”. “When I say there aren’t any, the

issues are those that cannot be fixed in this short period of time. The fact that we don’t have universal internet access and device access for students is a problem,” she says. Webber adds that equitable access to internet has always been an issue in New Zealand. “What the Covid lockdown has done is it has shone a light on what is an issue and it’s made it a real problem rather than just an inconvenience.” In an update provided to schools and teachers, the Ministry of Education recommended using the hard packs to students who can’t access devices or the internet. The update came in the 24 August issue of the Ministry Bulletin for School Leaders. The update recommended educators create their own hard packs for students instead of relying on Ministry-produced packs. “You know how best to meet the needs of your students and it is preferable for their learning if you can send materials to them rather than using Ministry-produced learning packs,” it reads. The Ministry also notes that they have provided devices to schools for the use of students in Years 9-13. They are also recommending that for students who are encountering connectivity issues, they should contact their internet service provider.

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Overseer – ditch it or fix it! PETER BURKE

DEBATE ON the value of Overseer, the software tool designed to measure and regulate nutrient loss from farms, continues to rage. It follows the first overall review of Overseer by a Science Advisory Panel of experts, which questioned the veracity of this tool to be embedded as a definitive regulatory tool. This prompted the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton to say that Overseer may have limited application in certain parts of the country, but can no longer be a central pillar of fresh water quality management. Graeme Wake, Adjunct Professor of Industrial Mathematics and

long-time critic of Overseer, says it should be scrapped altogether and is not fit for purpose. However, he concedes that soil science components of Overseer are likely to be solid science and up-to-date. “Overseer is definitely not suitable as a regulatory tool, which is what the science panel that have just reviewed the tool have said,” he told Rural News. Wake describes Overseer as an overly simplistic approach that does not incorporate temporal ‘cause and outcome’ effects and system interactions. He says Overseer relies on averages and in a dynamic system evolving in time the mean or average can be very poor statistics to use. But Wake’s views are


not shared by MPI’s chief science advisor, Dr John Roche. MPI, along with AgResearch and the Fertiliser Association, are the ‘owners’ of Overseer. Roche says the concerns raised by the Science Advisory Panel about nitrate leaching can easily be fixed and says a plan is underway to produce a new and updated version of Overseer in the next 12 months. He claims Overseer – in its present form and even the revised version – is not and was never intended to be a simple single fix to solve nutrient loss in every part of NZ. “Think about farming from Cape Reinga to Bluff, from high country stations to sea level, from 600 millimetres of rain to six metres of rain, with all the different farming

MPI’s John Roche believes the new version of Overseer can be configured to have an application for both the arable and horticulture sectors.

enterprises and all of the different intensities of those farming enterprises – you would struggle to find a model that would do all that,” Roche told Rural News. Unfortunately, not everyone has seen the limitations of Overseer in its present form and

as a result it has become embedded in some regional council plans as the main regulatory tool. Roche says it is elevating Overseer to a level that was never intended. “It is possible that people didn’t fully understand modelling and probably believed that

Overseer was more accurate than it actually was,” he says. “But that doesn’t mean that it’s not a useful tool and a redeveloped version of it could be a very useful tool. But as one of a suite of tools in helping meet our needs.” In this context – as one of a number of tools – Overseer will naturally fit and play a role in managing and improving fresh water quality. But as a single tool, will not drive regulation. For example, Roche says overland flow paths, which carry phosphorus, sediment and organic nitrogen, need to be managed by separate tools. He adds, as part of producing the new version of Overseer, industry groups such as horticulture will be consulted to get a better understand-

ing of what problems they have experienced with the tool. Roche believes the new version of Overseer can be configured to have an application for both the arable and horticulture sectors. “The concept some people have of some single, magical regulatory tool is unrealistic,” he adds. “This is really a complicated landscape and what I think came out quite clearly in the panel’s report was that one tool is unlikely to be the one and only tool. The approach we are taking is that we will develop a suite of tools that will help regional councils and farmers meet their environmental targets.” Roche believes that the new version of Overseer will be available within a year.



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Allied Farmers doubles profit SUDESH KISSUN

ALLIED FARMERS has more than doubled its net profit thanks to a rebounding livestock agency business. The listed agribusiness reported a net profit of $2.5 million for year ending June 30, compared to $1.1m profit the previous year. Allied Farmers’ balance sheet has improved, with a net cash position of $1.5 million – compared to a net debt of $1.7 million end of June 30, 2020. Post balance date, the company says it will repay the $1 million bond, when its term expires this month – lowering debt and funding costs in the year now underway. The company says the result reflected an improved performance from its livestock agency business, which recovered from the prior year’s impacts of Covid and drought. However, this improvement was partially offset by a lower contribution from its veal business, which Allied says reflects Covid’s impact on in-market pricing and returns. The result also

includes an inaugural half year contribution from its recent investment in rural property manager New Zealand Rural Land Management Limited Partnership (NZRLM). Allied Farmers chairman Richard Perry says the livestock business result reflects the continued hard work of staff and ongoing initiatives aimed at providing them with the right tools, support and environment to safely and efficiently deliver services to farmers. “We continued to invest in our digital technologies, recognising that while sale yards play a critical role in the rural value chain, there is ongoing need for innovation to support the changing needs of farmers, and ongoing operational requirements and compliance costs.” Allied Farmers hosted 303 auctions via its digital platform. All its sales yards now have live auction capabilities and the ability to livestream paddock auctions on farm throughout New Zealand. Perry says the growth of its livestock lending business – with its loan book expanding by an additional $1.6 million to $5.2 million – was pleas-

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ing. NZRLM delivered earnings of $1.15 million for the year. Perry says Allied Farmers has been heavily focused on both growing its underlying business and diversifying through targeted investment. He says the board has completed a review of its

capital requirements and concluded that its strategic goals can be achieved through utilisation of its current balance sheet, and therefore has determined that it will not undertake the additional share placement. “Having completed a strategy reset, Allied Farmers will continue to

optimise and invest in its existing businesses and evaluate new opportunities and proposals when they present themselves.” A decision on whether a dividend will be paid out will be announced at its annual shareholders meeting in November. @rural_news

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Spray resistance a big problem for Arable Research and the NZ Winegrowersowned Bragato Research Institute, involves germinating weed seed samples and seeing how susceptible the plants are to various common weedkillers. Common resistant weed species include pasture-related grasses such as ryegrass, wild oats, and chickweed. New resistant strains have also been identified – including sow thistle (puha), summer grass, prairie grass and lesser canary grass. Herbicide-resistant weeds were first detected in New Zealand in 1979. However, until recently, reporting has been ad hoc and left to growers and rural professionals to recognise and alert researchers. Asked why the extent of herbicide resistance has not been apparent prior to the formal survey, James explains that a farmer might not consider it a problem. “As long as there is a herbicide available, albeit more expensive, that works on a particular weed,” he says. “But overseas data shows eventually we run out of herbicides.” James says Australia has among the worst resistance problem in the world. That country now has a grass weed – rigid ryegrass – which is resistant to eight or nine different modes of action; so essentially nothing can control it. Meanwhile, James says New Zealand’s small size makes it unprofitable for


HERBICIDE RESISTANCE in New Zealand agriculture is a far more serious problem than previously realised. This is the finding of scientists conducting the first nationwide survey on resistance. Instead of the expected 5%, they’ve found more than 50% of the arable farms and vineyards surveyed have weed strains resistant to commonly used herbicides. AgResearch senior scientist Dr Trevor James called the results “very surprising”. He says when the researchers put their funding proposal together three years ago they thought the worst case scenario would be finding resistant weeds on just 5% of farms. However, out of 87 Canterbury arable farms tested, 54 were found to have a resistant weed. Results for glyphosate resistance in ryegrass in Marlborough vineyards has also shown more than 50% with a resistance problem, James told Rural News. This year they have also sampled Southland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty maize fields. “We’ve got a lot more testing of samples to do yet, but to date what we’re finding is a lot more serious than what we originally estimated.” The programme, funded by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment and supported by the Foundation

AgResearch senior scientist Dr Trevor James (inset) says research has found more than 50% of the arable farms and vineyards surveyed have weed strains resistant to commonly used herbicides.

some companies to sell some herbicides here, which gives us potentially an even greater problem. “In vineyards, if they lose glyphosate, they’ve got glufosinate – which is more expensive. Or clethodim, which they’ve got to get permission from New Zealand Wine to use,” James told Rural News. “Evidence from Chile demonstrates that if you start using clethodim regularly in vineyards, it’s only about four to five years before ryegrass becomes resistant to that.” Should we be worried? “Yes,” James says. “We need to get the mes-

sage out there that this is, if not serious now, very soon will be if we keep on having resistance emerge as it has.” Testing involves collecting mature seed from weed species at the end of the growing season. It is then put it in a coolstore for a while to break dormancy, then grown in pots. The plants are then sprayed with various common herbicides to see how well they work. “You can see that takes quite a long time,” James told Rural News. “Which is why we’re only assessing samples now, which we collected in January, February and March.”

QUICKER TESTS ONE THREAD of the research project is developing quicker methods of testing, possibly by analysing DNA or growing test seeds on agar. James says the researchers are also looking at sociological factors around farmers’ decision-making – given that herbicide resistance has been known for some 40 years and farmers have been advised to use methods like rotating chemicals to avoid it. “We haven’t been successful to the point where we have stopped the evolution of resistance because we are getting more and more of it,” he adds. “So, we’ve got sociologists looking at why and how farmers make decisions to rank importance of the various problems they have, because we all know farmers have to make huge decisions on a daily or

weekly basis that will impact their farms, so this is just one of many.” Another thread of the research is collecting and analysing overseas data for indications to see which weeds may be likely to develop resistance in future. Or which chemicals might lose effectiveness, in the New Zealand context. They are also looking at non-herbicide intervention – such as cover crops to manage resistant weeds. James says they are now starting to work with arable farmers, the ones initially appearing to be worst affected, to formulate farm-wide or system-wide methods to avoid herbicide resistance. “We don’t believe it’s enough anymore, for a few scientists to get up and say, ‘thou shalt do this, and you shouldn’t do that’,” he adds.




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Milk prices lift govt farmer SUDESH KISSUN

STRONG MILK prices have helped state-owned Landcorp Farming (Pāmu) return to profitability. For year ending June 30, 2021, it reported net annual profit of $29 million. Last year it slumped to a $24m loss on the back of Covid-19 and drought. Total revenue for the last financial year reached $250m, similar to the previous year – with milk revenue accounting for 50% of all Pāmu’s operating revenue.

The company will pay a $5m dividend to its shareholder, the Government, with surplus cashflow used to reduce debt. Outgoing chief executive Steve Carden says a solid milk payout and a diversified business portfolio helped offset lower global prices the company received for its livestock. He says a “rigorous” focus on operating expenses and lifts in productivity in dairy and livestock farming operations drove the positive result. This was despite difficult market

conditions for some red meat categories due to Covid-19’s impact on food service markets. The company’s growing forestry portfolio also contributed strongly towards earnings for the year and will help it meet Pāmu’s emission reduction targets. “As a diversified farming business, our capacity to offset any downsides in year-onyear returns with upsides across other aspects of our portfolio is growing,” Carden says. “While pandemicrelated disruption resulted in falling venison


Chief executive Steven Carden (inset) will finish up with Landcorp in December.

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prices and increased farm input costs, these have been more than offset by higher milk revenue, the growth in carbon revenues and a reduction in operating expenses.” Carden says revenue from the dairy business saw an increase in productivity and revenue over the previous year, due to high milk prices. However, Landcorp’s livestock business performance was impacted by lower meat prices. Overall livestock revenue slipped slightly to $112 million – due to lower meat prices in global markets disrupted by Covid-19 – but lamb and beef prices gained

BOSS LEAVING STEVE CARDEN is leaving Landcorp at the end of December to become managing director of winemaker Delegat Group. Carden has been at Pāmu’s helm for nearly eight years. He says he’s proud of the direction the company is taking. “Along with the reshaping of the company’s strategic direction towards higher value products and land uses, I am proud of the work we have done to improve the health and safety of our

momentum during the final quarter. Carden says these gains together with processing contracts for specific quality requirements helped even out declines in venison returns.

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people.” Carden claims the company has faced agriculture’s big challenges of improving its environmental performance. However, he acknowledges it has further to go. “Pāmu is a special and unique New Zealand company.” Pāmu chair Warren Parker says the search for a new chief executive will commence immediately.

Pāmu chair, Warren Parker, described the result as “very pleasing” and evidence of further progress in executing the company’s strategy and dedication of its people. “The company’s

diversification strategy to achieve best land use such as expansion into forestry and horticulture is already contributing positively to the company’s outlook,” he says.

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Tree protectors made from trees! PETER BURKE

SEEING PLASTIC tree protectors in the forest prompted a Christchurch cardboard packaging manufacturer to try something different – and now the business is booming. Pakworld, originally a

lished – be this in a forest or alongside a highway. Flett says they quickly designed their own cardboard protector and it’s been a winner. “With the plastic protectors, the grower has to go out into the forest and pick up the plastic because it is not biodegradable,” he explains.

manufactured and used in Europe. On a general note, Flett says they are noticing that discerning customers and consumers are favouring cardboard

packaging over plastic. He says people want to do their bit for the environment and using recyclable and biodegradable packaging is one way of doing this.

Jonathon Flett says the tree protectors are designed to prevent animals such as rabbits and hares from attacking and damaging young trees.

The protectors are designed to prevent animals such as rabbits and hares from attacking and damaging young trees until they are established – be this in a forest or alongside a highway. family-owned business, makes cardboard boxes in which are packed everything from cosmetics to alcohol – and cherries for the horticultural sector. Jonathan Flett, who was one of the original owners and still works for Pakworld, says seeing the plastic tree protectors occurred at the same time as the Government was rolling out its large tree planting programme. He told Rural News they realised that they could produce a tree protector from cardboard, which was sustainable and naturally biodegradable. The protectors are designed to prevent animals such as rabbits and hares from attacking and damaging young trees until they are estab-

“But with the cardboard product, it will last for between 18 months and two years and will then naturally rot into the soil.” Incorporated into the tree protectors is a small weed mat, which slides around the base of the small newly planted tree and prevents it from being overcome by weeds. The weed mat also has a small hole in it, which allows for a stake to put alongside the tree. “When we are making the main protector, we use the off-cut from this to make the weed mat so there is little wastage,” says Flett. He admits the idea of the cardboard protector is not new and understands that similar products are

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Nats new first woman of Ag PETER BURKE

THE NATIONAL Party’s new agriculture spokesperson says she’ll be working from the grassroots up, rather

than the top down, as she tackles her new role. The Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger has been handed the agriculture role in Judith Collins’ latest reshuffle of portfolios.

appointed National’s agriculture spokeswoman is a “dream come true”. Kuriger is the first woman to hold the agriculture role in either National or Labour. She has had a lengthy career

She takes over from Waikato-based list MP David Bennett who has been handed the transport, horticulture and biosecurity portfolios. She describes being

National’s new agriculture spokeswoman Barbara Kuriger with former Prime Minister John Key.





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uses of various bits of legislation, leading to the enormous pressure now on the agricultural sector. And farmers have had a gutsful. It’s too much, too fast.” Kuriger says the broad brush approach to farming will do nothing to either fix or support what the Government claims the outcomes will be. “I intend to be out and about...I just really live for agriculture and rural communities. “It’s my reason for being in Parliament, and I’ll be giving the Government a bit of a shake up.” Other changes of note in the latest Collins reshuffle sees Stuart Smith pick up Viticulture, Tim van Molen – Animal Welfare, and Nicola Grigg – Trade and Export Growth.

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in dairy farming and agribusiness – including being a former board member of DairyNZ, Primary ITO and the Dairy Women’s Network. In 2012, she was named the Dairy Woman of the Year. Kuriger says since her appointment to the agriculture role, she’s been speaking with rural leaders and advocacy groups. She says she and her team are “fizzing and ready to go”. Kuriger says part of her new role is to hold the Government to account and that she’s yet to see a workable and warranted proposal from them. “Creating change with no concept of food production is not helpful or useful,” she told Rural News. “Labour has drafted a raft of regulations, altered others, and enacted unintended


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Kiwifruit faces up to challenges PETER BURKE

“We are looking at the way we can incentivise our growers on taste and how we can bring fruit forward in the season.”

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson says the kiwifruit industry is facing unprecedented challenges.

has got a team dedicated to finding new solutions for the future and helping to coordinate an outreach for the whole industry. He says this includes

growers and packhouse owners. Labour and logistics are by far the biggest challenges facing the kiwifruit industry in

the Covid environment. Mathieson says this is the same for the entire the primary sector. He says, before the recent Covid outbreak, it was pleasing to see the Government announce that it was going to increase the number of RSE workers from the Pacific Islands allowed into NZ. He adds, if this happens, it will really help. Mathieson says the aim is to find more inno-

vative solutions to bringing people in this year to prepare the crop for the 2022 season. Then to pick, pack and manage that fruit well – “so we can maintain our quality standards and product off to customers around the world”. Aside of overseas workers, Mathieson says Zespri continues to put a lot of effort into encouraging New Zealanders to work in the kiwifruit industry. He claims the sector has a good track record in this area.

“At the onset of Covid, we were able to tap into those industries that had workers who lost their jobs,” he told Rural News. “We were able to bring many of these workers into the kiwifruit sector and offer them employment. We will be doing the same this year and we’ll also work with tertiary institutes to see if there are young people who can come out during their holiday breaks and work in the kiwifruit industry.” Mathieson says they are also targeting retirees who might be looking for something to do. He also adds that Zespri believes there are real opportunities to adjust the way packhouses operate through the next year.


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“WE HAVE to think a bit differently now.” That’s the word from Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson, who says the industry is facing unprecedented challenges because of the lack of people available to work in the sector as a result of the Covid pandemic. Mathieson says the situation is likely to be around for some time and the sector has to think about how else it can make different decisions that free up capacity and jobs that people have been doing, but don’t need to do in the future.

“That’s a decision we are making across the entire supply chain. For example, we are looking at how we can pack our fruit in different ways and times that make it easier to go across the supply chain,” he told Rural News. “We are looking at the way we can incentivise our growers on taste and how we can bring fruit forward in the season – so that we can fill that early bit in the year. Our philosophy is to question and challenge decisions to make sure there isn’t a better way through this next period when we won’t have enough people.” Mathieson says Zespri




IN BRIEF GUY STANDING FOR RAVENSDOWN FORMER AGRICULTURE Minister and Horowhenua dairy farmer Nathan Guy is standing for election to the Ravensdown board of directors. “As farmers and growers grapple with environmental and climate change regulations they are crying out for leadership and user-friendly technologies to make adjustments inside the farm gate,” he says. “We have been using Ravensdown technologies like Hawke Eye and N Protect to better manage our whole operation but more needs to be done in this space.” Since retiring from politics, Guy – the former Minister for Primary Industries for five years – says has overseen massive on-farm development. This includes building a new twin rotary farm dairy, as well as a new effluent and water system. He adds that he’s also become active in governance, transferring the “critical thinking, connections and experiences gained from 15 years in Parliament and around the Cabinet table to the board room”. Guy currently serves on the boards of Barenbrug (formerly Agriseeds) and the Horowhenua Kapiti Rugby Football Union.

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NEWS 19 Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson says the kiwifruit industry, like other exporters, is experiencing shipping delays and congestion and this is likely to continue right through 2022.

Shipping exports no plain sailing! PETER BURKE

SCHEDULES HAS now become the norm, leaving many exporters frustrated. Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson says the kiwifruit industry has coped better that most, because it has dedicated vessel routes and longstanding relationships with some of the best shipping companies in the world – especially in the charter space. “We have increased our charters from 50% to over 70% this year and are continuing in to look to bring more vessels in early to get our fruit off to market,” he told Rural News. “On the container side it continues to be fairly chaotic out there and we are experiencing delays and congestion, which is likely to continue right through 2022.” The other issue facing Zespri is congestion at NZ ports. Mathieson says its main port is Tauranga and while there

are problems with congestion and delays there, the port is working hard to address the issues. He says the same applies to Auckland, but he’s hopeful they can fix their problems because the port is important to Zespri. Overall, Mathieson says he’s proud of the team at Zespri – and the industry as a whole – for handling the challenges brought about by Covid. “The whole industry has pulled together in what’s been really challenging times,” he says. “The 2020 season was tough, but ‘21 is tougher. Despite this, we have pulled together and found solutions and we have managed to get through.” Mathieson believes the next season will be equally challenging, but he’s confident the sector will be able to get through “thanks to the same innovative and collaborative team spirit that got us through last year.”


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CHINA REMAINS AN ISSUE DAN MATHIESON is off to China soon to get a better handle on what is happening with the illegally-grown NZ SunGold kiwifruit there. He says the amount of unauthorised SunGold in China has grown quite rapidly over the last couple of years and he sees no reason why it won’t continue to expand. Mathieson says the quality of this fruit is variable, with some of it actually very good and some poor. “At the moment, the quality spectrum is quite wide,” he told Rural News. “But they (Chinese growers) are learning and many have spent quite a considerable period of time in NZ.”

He says they have learnt from the best here and they have taken that know-how back to China and are getting better and better. Mathieson says Zespri’s strategy is to have the world’s best kiwifruit on the shelves of supermarkets for 12 months of the year. He explains that NZ can only supply premium quality fruit for seven months of the year and is looking to see whether other countries can fill that gap. Mathieson says some of that gap is filled from kiwifruit grown in Italy and hinted if the Chinese fruit matched the quality of NZ fruit – it may help fill some of the void in the market.

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NZ beef demand to remain strong Good spring

DESPITE SIGNIFICANT turbulence in global beef markets, pricing for New Zealand beef remains strong and local producers are heading into the spring in a great position, according to Rabobank’s latest Global Beef Quarterly report. Farmgate pricing in New Zealand has remained elevated over the past three months. This high pricing comes off the back of

strong demand from China and supressed beef export volumes from Australia. Pricing across both islands is tracking well ahead of last year and currently sits 10% above the five-year average.

Exports rise

NEW ZEALAND beef exports for the first half of 2021 were 3% ahead of 2020 volumes. While volumes to the US and Canada were

down 26% and 56% respectively, exports to China rose strongly and were up by 21% on the first six months of last year. Although volumes were higher, export earnings for the first half of the year were back by five% as a result of a stronger NZ dollar and greater volume going to lower-value markets. New Zealand beef pricing is expected to remain strong

through to November. We anticipate New Zealand prices will be held up by continued strong demand from the US and China.

Some risk DOWNSIDE RISKS do exist however, with an easing of wholesale beef prices in the US, higher US cow kill, the

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end of their summer grilling season and the winding up of stimulus packages all having the potential to adversely impact NZ

beef pricing.


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on Argentinian beef exports are set to have a substantial impact on global beef trade over

coming months. The restrictions — imposed by the Argentinian Government

in late June with the aim of boosting domestic beef supply — limit Argentinian beef exports to 50% of the average monthly volume exported from July to December 2020. As Argentina was the fifth largest beef exporter in 2020 and the second largest supplier to China, this cut in export volumes has the potential to have a significant impact on global beef trade. Limited exports from

Argentina – mainly to China – would benefit other beef-exporting nations, primarily neighbouring markets such as Brazil and Uruguay. At this stage, Argentina’s export reduction is having little, if any, direct impact on New Zealand beef exports. However, it could help to provide a pricing-floor in the market. @rural_news




Here to help not harm – claim MARK DANIEL

IS IT time farmers looked at workplace health and safety from an unfamiliar perspective? That’s the view of Al McCone, agriculture engagement lead at WorkSafe New Zealand. While many perceive WorkSafe NZ as a heavyhanded regulator that arrives with a big stick, McCone suggests that nothing could be further from the truth. “We would much rather be invited onto a property in an advisory capacity to help identify potential hazards, rather than be compelled to turn up because of a major accident or

WorkSafe New Zealand agriculture engagement lead Al McCone.

fatality.” He points out that people are not perfect and will make mistakes, some minor and others not so minor. McCone believes there will always be a need to look at and

tweak systems so that the “human factor” in any process can be reduced or preferably eliminated. He told Rural News a great starting point is to listen to workers’ views on individual systems,

adopt good suggestions and reap the benefits of worker buy-in. “Without doubt, a better system will lead to a better workplace that will lead to more productivity, enhanced profits

and an ongoing issue for many employers – that of better staff retention,” McCone adds. He says most New Zealand rural businesses fall into four categories when it comes to attitudes to health and safety. The first group is ‘Reactive’ – taking the stance that there aren’t any operational issues and only consider making H&S improvements if there is a monetary impact and largely only do so to meet legal obligations. McCone reckons it’s unlikely that they include workers in decision making. The next group is ‘Compliant’ focused businesses. McCone describes

these as those that are aware they need to improve, act because they need to and offer some worker engagement but suffer from poor leadership. On the flip side, ‘Proactive’ companies realise that rules lead to empowerment and generally seek worker buy-in. “They factor risks into all key decisions and ‘do it’ because they ought to,” he says. The final group, the ‘Enlightened,’ actively seek their employees’ input in all H&S decisions, and adopt H&S as a core value of the business. “They give it equal status with other key areas of the business, seek continual

improvement and realise that operational excellence leads to a good H&S result – alongside general wellness and ultimately a great business,” McCone explains. He says the benefits of a great workplace are multiple. “Besides worker retention, our research shows less absenteeism, less sickness and a generally happier workforce, who typically perform extra hours for free,” McCone adds. “With fewer injuries and better profitability, we are seeing an enhanced reputation for these businesses with potential workers knocking at the door looking for jobs.”

Wait on RMA reforms – Feds FEDERATED FARMERS is urging the Government not to try and push through radical reforms of the Resource Management Act (RMA) during the current pandemic. Vice-president Karen Williams says all is not well with important pieces of the legislation. “But before we replace the RMA, let’s make sure the new legislation will drive better outcomes.” The Government is proposing a

drastic overhaul of New Zealand’s resource management framework with its Natural and Built Environments Bill. “But from what we can see in the skeleton of the Bill available so far, things will be much worse, communities will be robbed of their ability to have their say on matters that affect them, there will be disruption to society and the economy, and the environment will

be no better off,” Williams claims. “A big problem is not just with what we have seen to date but what is yet to come. “We’ve only seen the bare bones of the proposed Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA) and nothing of the other two pivotal Acts that are proposed to replace the RMA – the Strategic Planning Act and the Climate Change Adaption Act. “We are effectively running blind

at the moment due to a lack of detail,” Williams adds. She says, at this stage, there is no guarantee at all that the Bill will generate more benefits than costs and there is a significant risk of the reverse. “We must not under-estimate the costs of delay and the risk of drawnout litigation that could stem from that lack of clarity. Large chunks of the economy are underpinned by

consents and related resource management processes.” Feds’ submission included suggested changes to Part 2 of the Bill (the purpose and related provisions), to turn it back to the terminology and concepts in the RMA. “Any replacement legislation needs to keep local democracy, community stewardship and local identity. They belong at the heart of resource management.”




Questions are OK! AS THE country endures yet another lockdown in the battle against Covid, a nasty undercurrent appears to be rearing its head. It is not mass dissent in the streets and people deliberately flouting the rules. In fact, the vast majority of New Zealand’s population has been remarkably compliant and done the right thing. Despite the overall – health – success of the country’s fight against Covid, there are genuine questions about aspects of the Government’s response. Be that the leaky border, the awful rate of the vaccine rollout, concerns about vaccine supply, the economic damage of lockdowns and just exactly how truthful the information we’re getting during the daily sermon – 1 pm press conferences – from the ‘pulpit of truth’. However, when anyone does pose such questions they tend to be shouted down – usually by self-important, partisan critics on social media with too much time on their hands – for not being part of the ‘team of 5 million’ or ‘playing politics’ with peoples’ lives. The reality is that if these same critics believe that the Government is not ‘playing politics’ with the way it is handling the Covid response, they are either naïve or being deliberately deceptive. All governments are political! Unfortunately, a similar undercurrent of shouting down genuine criticism seems to be occurring in the agriculture sector. Even blind Freddy can see that many of the rules and regulations currently being imposed or proposed on the farming sector from government are neither practical nor workable. Industry bodies claim they are ‘working’ with the Government and need to be ‘at the table’ so that can effect change. That is well and good. But this does, and should, not stop questions and criticisms of the efforts and success of these bodies getting practical and workable changes. Yet, we see self-professed ‘experts’ and ‘professionals’— usually not farmers and with little or no skin in the game – criticising those who dare to ask such questions. What is this about? It is a sad state of affairs when debate and discussion in our sector is being shut down because it does not suit some peoples’ agendas. Surely we live in a democracy, not some dictatorship ruled by keyboard warriors and socalled industry authorities? In fact, questioning and debate is the sign of a strong, vibrant and health sector. Long may it continue.


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“No, no – compliments of Jacinda – this vaccine is to be administered as if you were treating a cow with mastitis!”

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


Full of s@$t!

Good question!

Too many hits?

Your canine crusader reckons this story could only come straight out of the ‘Only in America’ file. Apparently, health officials in the US have been warning people not to self-dose themselves with ivermectin drench in an attempt to prevent them from getting Covid-19. Such is the concern about Americans contemplating using ivermectin instead of getting a Covid shot, the US federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had a simple message: “You are not a horse,” it said. “You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.” As with other purported alternative treatments for Covid-19, misinformation about ivermectin has spread on social media and through some media and politicians. US surgeon general Dr Vivek Murthy told CNN: “The best protection we have against Covid-19 is the vaccine, and if you get Covid-19, we actually do have treatments that work. Ivermectin is not one of them!”

The Hound almost choked on his dog biscuits when he recently heard a self-promoting and selfprofessed ‘agricultural expert’ blab on the radio about farmers being nothing but “a bunch of whiners”. According to this so-called ‘insight’ specialist – who is not shy about taking farmers’ money or clipping the ticket with cosy government appointments – in her very self-important view “farmers are coming across as entitled and full of hubris”. She also went on to opine that farmers should stop blaming the Government, which according to her is doing a great job for imposing more unworkable regulations on them, and “take personal responsibility”. So much for this legend in her own lunchbox’s claim about “Inspiring a new generation of food producers and keeping it real”. Your old mate reckons with so-called ‘friends’ like this, the farming sector doesn’t need many enemies.

A mate of the Hound’s thinks it was more than a bit dodgy when DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel recently announced the director elections for the industry good body. In van der Poel’s news release calling for candidates to stand for the board, he happened to ‘forget’ to mention that current director Jacqueline Rowarth was re-standing – but did happen to name other directors who were standing again. The Hound’s mate wants to know if this was a genuine error or a deliberate mistake. He reckons it might be more of the latter than the former and surmises that because Dr Rowarth is not shy about expressing her opinion on things, perhaps van der Poel’s omission was not a mistake. Now he may very well think that, but this old mutt could not possibly comment!

Well-known professional protestor, John Minto has run off at the mouth without checking his facts. Minto, who came to fame 40 years ago as the head of the anti-Springbok tour movement, recently wrote an open letter on a left-wing blog accusing the Groundswell movement of… “giving platforms to vile and repugnant racism and antiSemitism”. Minto claimed he had been “informed” that the group was holding meetings where speakers… “promoted a series of conspiracy theories which centred on Jews, Socialists and Communists working together through the United Nations to promote ‘world government’”. The problem was he was misinformed about these meetings and they had nothing to do with Groundswells. The Hound reckons Minto probably took too many hits to the head from the Red Squad back in 1981 and this could be the reason he was way off beam – again – on this claim.

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What sounds good, may not be “THE CARBON market is based on the lack of delivery of an invisible substance to no one.” This was investigative journalist Mark Schapiro’s description in a 2010 article in Harper’s Magazine, under the title of ‘Conning the climate’. The problem? The lack of ability to verify what was going on. This, he explained, contrasts with traditional commodities, which must be delivered to someone in physical form. Schapiro avoided ‘the emperor has no clothes’ analogy but indicated that the people benefitting from the trading game were auditing companies who weren’t always employing appropriate people. He used the terms ‘flawed, inadequate, and overall failure to assign assessors with the proper technical skills’.

Primary sector companies are doing what they can to show that they are doing what is thought to be right by the environment. COMMENT

Jacqueline Rowarth There are lessons in this for New Zealand. Primary sector companies are doing what they can to show that they are doing what is thought to be right by the environment. Moving to woodfired processing plants instead of coal is an example. Wood sounds better than coal. But do the calculations and the sound isn’t quite so sweet. The problem with wood is that tree trunks require transport and processing to make them

into pellets, and wood has only half to two thirds of the energy density of coal (depending on source and processing of both products). Fossil fuel carbon dioxide release is avoided, but in some cases, it appears that the end result is not the reduction in GHG emissions anticipated for the company. Despite this, companies are moving ahead with plans for farmers. A premium is being offered to suppliers of milk and meat if specified outcomes are achieved. But unless the custom-

ers and consumers are prepared to pay more for the product, there won’t be more money to share. Some individuals will be worse off so that others can be paid the premium. In addition, the companies themselves will need to keep more for themselves to ensure that they can move to greater sustainability while employing more staff to cope with the increased paperwork to do with auditing and reporting. The question remains whether the premium promised will compensate for the cost

of the auditing. Yet another problem is that the paperwork, based on a regulatory framework, is confining people to last year’s thinking. It cannot encourage or enable innovation… except, as we’ve seen overseas, how to innovate around the system. The Savory Institute’s Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV) is different. It recognises that the goal of positive outcomes depends on ‘contextual variances in cultural, environmental and economic conditions’. The words sound OK. However, turning the desired outcomes into something measurable is much more difficult than writing words on paper. This is particularly the case where variability in measurements due to soil differences are large (even when monitoring

sites are involved). And changes in environment caused by drought, flood or simply a cold spring mean that trends due to a change in management take several years to be identifiable. The longterm superphosphate trials run by MAF (the precursor for Ministry for Primary Industries) showed that withdrawal of fertiliser was not observable in measurements for the first 2-3 years, and in cases of high phosphate soil, took 7 years to appear. Verification, audit, checklist – whatever you call it - something must be measurable and reportable. What is being measured and reported should also be linked to something that the farmer or grower can affect with a change in management. Further, the people doing the verifica-

tion or auditing, should understand the issues and be able to assist the farmers and growers with what they are being asked to do. This was the problem identified in ‘Conning the Climate’. New Zealand has insufficient skilled people to do what is being asked. That calculation has already been done for farm plans. This all leads to the question of who verification might be conning and whether the consumer and the environment will be better off. It doesn’t appear that the farmer will be. • Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, Adjunct Professor Lincoln University, is a farmerelected director of DairyNZ and Ravensdown. The analysis and conclusions above are her own.

A kilo liveweight gain makes a big difference in the long run. It’s a single dose, a one-shot wonder. ANDY MCLACHLAN TARARUA DISTRICT

ASK YOUR VET FOR THE B12 SHOT THAT LASTS* Registered pursuant to the ACVM Act 1997, Nos. A9984 and A9402. Copyright © 2021 Virbac New Zealand Limited. All rights reserved. *Based on label claims and dosage, and supporting published literature.



Not all history stands up! READING COMMENTS from yesteryear can at times be rather amusing. In my files I have kept quite a number that caught my attention at the time. Those who made the comments were usually well-educated, with many considered ‘experts’ in their field.

Just like today, their comments influenced many people. These few examples I have space to list, surely expose and highlight for us, yet again, just how easily we humans can be so wrong about stuff. I’ll kick this off with a couple of the more amus-


Colin Miller

ing ones. Obviously, they may not have been amusing at the time for those involved, but they can put a smile on your face today! “We don’t like their sound... Guitar groups are on their way out… the Beatles have no future in show business.” Decca

Records on rejecting The Beatles -1962. “Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” – Darryl F Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox - 1946


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an evolutionary left-over that was disappearing from the human body! Of course, ‘science’ confirmed it! I quote from a Family Health Encyclopedia: “This is an evolutionary relic from the times humans ate grass. It has no useful function today but is prone to an infection called appendicitis.” Really? Yeah right! By 1976, good medical textbooks were beginning to learn that the appendix was not totally useless. In a 1995 medical text, the authors were emphatic about the function of the appendix. According to North Korea’s State information, their former leader (the “Dear Leader”), holds the world record for a round of golf. He is said to have completed the 18-hole course in a staggering 34! He came home 38 under par, with five hole-inones! Wow! The amazing thing is that people believe it. I guess when any government becomes the only outlet for ‘truth’, stuff like this can easily happen! Where knowledge is controlled, results like this become the new normal. Humans with the little bit of knowledge we have, we think we’re know-italls. I say we seriously need help! I’m thankful for all I have learnt, plus, I’ll stick with the ‘Good Book’; it’s never let me down! Take care out there and keep well. • To contact Colin Millar email: farmerschaplain@

And one for us horselovers: “The horse is here to stay, but the automobile industry is only a novelty – a fad.” President of Michigan Savings Bank to Henry Ford’s lawyer, warning him to stay away from the industry. I’m sure these guys would all love to be alive today so they could get their words blocked, or better still, edited from history! Tobacco companies used to recruit medical doctors to promote their products. Usually, the doctor was gifted a carton of the cigs first, then asked for their support. Thousands obliged, even recommending smoking! Ads contained pictures of doctors and/or nurses – even mums with newborns! Try this line from the past: “Chesterfield Cigarettes are just as pure as the water you drink.” In a 2006 ruling, Judge Gladys Kesler stated: “Substantial evidence establishes that [tobacco companies] have engaged in and executed – and continue to engage in and execute – a massive 50-year scheme to defraud the public…” Yep, they had been lying for 50 years, and finally got officially busted for it. Surprise, surprise! I was never big on the science options offered when I was a kid at school many sunsets ago. I ended up getting cornered and taking biology. I well remember learning about the human appendix being totally useless;

Read us until the cows come home! Scan the code with your phone camera to learn more. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS. Revystar Fungicide ACVM registration number: P9654. ©Copyright BASF 2021. ®Registered trademark of BASF. 209957 8.2021

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A case for changes to methane approach ANDREW MORRISON

IN HIS recent open letter, David Lloyd asked for our help in clarifying the impact of methane in global warming (Will you help, Andrew?, Rural News, 24th August 2021). I want to reassure him that B+LNZ is committed to doing all we can to help him, and other farmers, by arguing for a fair and appropriate framework for tackling climate change. The latest International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report adds weight to our argument that the current targets of a 10% reduction by 2030 and 24-47% reduction by 2050 in New Zealand’s Zero Carbon Bill are too high. The IPCC report makes it clear that the current accounting metric for climate emis-

sions, known as GWP100, overstates the effect of constant methane emissions on global surface temperature by a factor of 3-4 over a 20-year horizon. GWP100 also understates the effect of new (or increasing) methane emissions by a factor of 4-5 over a 20-year horizon. The IPCC states that if methane is stable or reducing, (as it has been in New Zealand since 2001), then using GWP100 to report methane’s contribution at a national level each year to climate change is inaccurate. It notes that an alternative accounting method, known as GWP* scales emissions over time and better accounts for the different warming behaviours of short-lived gases. We’ve been advocating

Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison.

for GWP* for some time, with other primary sector organisations here and overseas, and with the Government. Following the IPCC report, we will be renewing our efforts to have the Government use GWP* and report on both emissions and warming each

year, so that the true contribution of each sector’s emissions to warming can be seen and understood. We will also be redoubling our efforts for a review of the methane reduction targets in New Zealand’s Zero Carbon Bill using GWP* in collaboration with other agri-

cultural organisations. We will also continue our work with counterpart organisations internationally to promote the global adoption of GWP* as the appropriate metric for measuring the climate impact of agricultural GHGs. The IPCC report makes it clear that New Zealand’s current methane targets do not “let farmers off the hook”. It states that a 0.3% reduction per year in methane is equivalent to net zero for carbon dioxide – that is, there would be no additional warming from methane at this level of reduction. Using the science in the IPCC report, a similar target to “net zero” for carbon by 2050 would be a 10% reduction in methane by 2050. The report therefore makes clear that the Gov-

ernment’s current 24-47% methane reduction targets by 2050 are asking agriculture to “cool” (i.e., reverse previous warming), while fossil fuel emitters only have to get to no additional warming by 2050. While the report supports our view New Zealand’s methane reduction targets are too high, the fact remains every New Zealander in every sector needs to make a fair contribution to limiting global temperature increases by limiting emissions. That’s why in parallel we’ll keep working towards a system for measuring and managing emissions and recognising sequestration through He Waka Eke Noa, the Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership signed by 11 primary sector organisations and

the Government. If every farmer knows their emissions numbers and has a plan for managing emissions, then we will be in a better position to demonstrate that we are making a fair contribution to the challenges the whole country, and the whole world, faces. That’s important to our consumers and to the public. Through He Waka Eke Noa, we’re also focused on ensuring farmers get better recognition for the sequestration happening on their farms from their native vegetation. We are taking this issue seriously, we have been strongly making the case, and following the recent IPCC report, we will be looking to redouble our efforts. • Andrew Morrison is the chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand



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The group is made up of nine Waikato farms, which are all part of the local Mangatangi catchment.

Farm planning at the core “THERE’S NO hanging round with this group,” says Red Meat Profit Partnership Action Group facilitator Rob Macnab. “They know what they want to do and our role is to help make that happen.” The group is made up of nine Waikato farm businesses, which are all part of the Mangatangi catchment – part of the Waikato River/Whangamarino Wetland catchment. The members originally met at a risk mitigation workshop, held at a Maramarua farm, where representatives from Waikato Regional Council outlined environmental requirements for the Waikato region, particularly around waterways. They went on to create an informal group to provide mutual support in the work that needed to be done. However, they recognised a more formal structure was needed, so in August 2020 they transitioned to become a RMPP Action Group. The Action Network model supports small groups of seven to nine farm businesses to work together to explore ideas and share expert resources, to help them make positive changes on-farm. Kick-start funding of $2,000 per farm business is pooled to fund facilitation and expertise. The group held its first meeting as an Action Group in September and work is now well underway towards developing individual farm environment plans for each business, as well as an overall subcatchment plan. Their ultimate goal is to share what they learn, to help other farmers within their catchment develop their own farm environment plans. McNab is a farmer and a director and consultant with Total Ag. His background includes both working in the fertiliser sector and as a farm finance manager with Rabobank. He currently facilitates six RMPP Action Groups. “This group is taking the work at a sprint,” he says. “They have made very rapid strides. Their goals are to continue to be profitable farm businesses while having positive outcomes around soil, water, biodiversity and climate change.” In its first two meetings the group refined their goals and developed the first cut of their sub-catchment plan. Next they started developing their farm environment plans with the aim for them all to be completed by the end of March 2021. The group also plans to hold open days, working with the wider catchment community. As well as using the in-house skills of

Total Ag, particularly around farm environment plans, the group has brought in a number of subject matter experts. “So far, we’ve had a sub catchment planning expert, with experience of getting groups of farmers to communicate and verbalise what they want out of the environment,” McNabb says. “We are also looking to bring in expertise around biodiversity and farm greenhouse gas emissions.” Group members Robyn Budd and Hamish Browne farm organic beef on 106ha Black Pond Farm at Mangatangi. They bought the farm three years ago to convert it to organic farming and set about an extensive land restoration programme. This has included planting thousands of native trees to provide shade and help stop erosion and sediment from entering waterways. “Having created an informal catchment group and held a couple of meetings, our group realised we were a bit stuck around how to get to the next level in terms of developing the systems and paperwork required to apply for funding,” says Budd. “To access the funding and support available, we needed to be more than just a group with good intentions.” She says the RMPP funding makes it possible to bring in other subject matter experts. “There is no way that, individually, we could have found the funds to access this kind of facilitation and expertise.” Browne adds that McNab also plays a vital role in keeping members up to date regarding regulatory change. “He simplifies everything in the process down to a working level. There are so many rules and regulations and they keep changing. He makes sure we are working to the latest requirements.” Fellow group member Will Murphy, who farms Friesian and beef bulls on 350ha at Maramarua, said there was already a lot of knowledge in the group but the Action Group model would help simplify the work members needed to do. “We are all in the same boat together. We are not being judged on water quality on a farm by farm basis but on a sub catchment basis, so we are all working together, to help out each other and the wider farming community.” Browne says the group is also really looking forward to sharing the knowledge they are gaining more widely.

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Genomic sheep selection tool gets an upgrade “Breeders can select their animals a lot earlier – prior to weaning – from a DNA sample taken at birth or tailing,”


A GENOMIC selection tool that is helping New Zealand sheep farmers lift animal performance is getting a revamp. State-owned AgResearch has partnered with global genomics giant Illumina to upgrade the InfiniumXT tool, which uses single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to predict the performance of animals in the breeding stock. An updated SNP chip, containing 60,000 DNA markers for maternal and terminal breeds, has been developed for NZ sheep industry. The ‘AgR Ovine Genomics 60K Plus’ SNP chip will be available to farmers this spring. Its promoters claim that NZ farmers have already been seeing the benefits of the InfiniumXT technology – the first AgResearch developed ‘18K XT’ chip has been available since 2017. AgResearch scientist Shannon Clarke says this has enabled parentage, single gene test and genomic enhanced breeding values to be delivered from one test for early selection decisions to be made. It is also used for traits that are hard to measure – such as meat quality and methane emissions. “The new upgraded SNP chip will improve

Tom Berkovits claims the Infinium technology is the most widely adopted genome-wide genotyping technology globally.

imputation accuracy – and potentially alleviate the need for imputation in genetic evaluation systems – compared to the previous chip,” Clarke told Rural News. She says the InfiniumXT has enabled a competitive price point for sheep breeders. Genomic selection (genomic breeding values) can be implemented at a similar price to products that were delivering parentage and/ or single gene tests only to the industry, Clarke claims. “Breeders can select their animals a lot earlier – prior to weaning – from a DNA sample taken

LONG TERM PARTNERSHIP AGRESEARCH HAS been a long-standing research partner and an early adopter of Illumina genotyping and genome sequencing technologies, says Tom Berkovits. He says since the mid-2000s – when Illumina first introduced its next generation genome sequencing and Infinium genotyping platforms – AgResearch and Illumina have been working together on developing genotyping tools for livestock research and genetic testing. “One of the earliest examples of our collaboration is the creation of a highdensity sheep genotyping array, known as the OvineHD array,” he says.

at birth or tailing,” she explains. “Furthermore, we have been able to con-


“With scientific contribution from AgResearch and other international partners, OvineHD became one of the first tools for characterising genetic diversity of different sheep breeds around the globe and understanding genetic variation contributing to economically important traits such as wool and meat quality. “Since then, we have collaborated on several iterations of Infinium technology and versions of custom arrays, including InfiniumXT.” AgResearch was one of the early adopters of Infinium XT technology in 2016.  

tinuously update the SNP chip to include the latest research. As well as increase the number of

markers, while maintaining a similar price point.” Illumina senior director Tom Berkovits claims

the Infinium technology is the most widely adopted genome-wide genotyping technology globally. He says several iterations of this technology are commercially available, with Infinium XT being the most recent version. Berkovits reckons the agility and robustness of Infinium’s technology makes it equally attractive and beneficial for academic research, as well as ultra-high throughput genetic and genomic testing facilities. “As a result, we have a very diverse group of research, agribiotechnology and agrigenomics customers around

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the world. These include major universities and research centres, as well as leading agribiotechnology and genomic testing service providers, such as Zoetis Genetics, Neogen, and Weatherbys Scientific to name a few,” he told Rural News. The InfiniumXT is Illumina’s most recent innovation on the Infinium genotyping platform, which was invented by Illumina more than a decade ago. Berkovits says the InfiniumXT is unique in its capacity to examine large sets of genetic variants in large numbers of animal or plant samples. “This enables a broad range of applications for livestock, crops, aquaculture, and forestry breeding,” he adds. “This includes standard applications such as parentage testing and verification, as well as novel advanced selective breeding approaches such as genomic selection.”

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Methane inhibitor show results Key points


A FEED additive that reduces methane emissions in ruminants is poised for commercial launch in Australia – making it one of the first global markets to access the product. Bovaer, developed by global science company Royal DSM, was evaluated under Australian feedlot conditions and found to reduce methane emissions by up to 90%. In New Zealand, Fonterra is trialling Bovaer under a joint partnership with DSM. Trials overseas have shown Bovaer reduces methane emissions by up to 30% in non-pasture raised cows. Fonterra wants to know whether it would also work in New Zealand’s pasture-based

When the feed additive Bovaer was added at a rate of 50–125mg/kg DM to Australian barley-based finishing diets containing Monensin and 7% fat (DM-basis), methane production and yield was reduced by up to 90%.  Average daily gain and feed conversion ratios for steers were in line with industry expectations.  Bovaer (3-NOP) is safe and effective at reducing methane emissions in feedlot cattle and could potentially help the Australian industry move towards carbon neutrality.

farming systems. The additive is a synthetic chemical compound called 3-NOP, developed by DSM, which has been studied for many years in cows fed in feedlots. In Australia, Bovaer was recently evaluated as part of a Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA)-funded project on reducing methane emissions in Australian feedlot operations. The trial, at different inclusion rates, was com-

pleted at the University of New England and is linked to the Australian red meat industry’s CN 30 target to be carbon neutral by 2030. A total of 20 Angus Steers were provided with different rates of Bovaer, ranging from 0.5g up to 1.25g a day over 112 days in a typical Australian feedlot finisher ration. At the lowest rate, a methane reduction of 60% was observed, and


Bovaer has been found under Australian feedlot conditions to reduce cattle methane emissions by up to 90%.

at the highest inclusion rate, methane emissions reduced by 90%. MLA says steers in the study had average daily gain and feed conversion ratios in line with industry expectations, with Bovaer treatment steers performing as ‘good or

better’ than control steers in these performance parameters. Professor Roger Hegarty – from the University of New England’s School of Environmental and Rural Science – says he had seen research about Bovaer from other

countries and was curious how the product would perform under Australian conditions. “We’re excited about the strong results, and we’ll continue to research how to bring this product to more extensive operations,” he says.

Mark van Nieuwland, programme director at DSM, says it’s looking forward to bringing Bovaer to market in Australia in the near term. “These exciting results are an important building block in that journey,” says van Nieuwland.

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Increases output, maintains accuracy MARK DANIEL

THE KVERNELAND Optima precision drills are well known and respected for high levels of accuracy and performance. The recent addition of the SX pressurised seeding unit addresses increasing workloads or shorter timeframes. It can operate at speeds of up to 18km/h, while still maintaining the pinpoint accuracy and reliability that professional users have come to expect. The latest 6-metre trailed Optima TF Profi combines the benefits of the SX seeder system with an alternative to the conventional format of individual seed hoppers over the seeding unit. It uses a central seed hopper with an 870-litre capacity. The machine is designed to increase daily outputs, with the large single hopper offering an extra 390 litres capacity over eight, 60 litre single

hoppers. It uses a highspeed delivery airstream, generated by the standard fan, to the individual seeding units. The hopper is configured with an outlet for each of the rows, with seeds transported via the airstream to individual 1.5-litre capacity intermediate hoppers. These act as a buffer at each precision unit. If, for any reason, the buffer hopper is full, seed delivery is suspended, then re-engages as the level drops. At the SX seeding unit, air is used for delivery, with a layout featuring an upper scraper assembly for seed singulation and a lower scraper controlling the alignment of larger seeds. Once “selected”, seeds drop into an airstream for positive placement, with seed-to-soil contact achieved by large diameter V-shaped press wheels. Throughout the process, an infra-red photo sensor monitors seed positioning and indicates

The latest 6-metre trailed Optima TF Profi combines the conventional SX seeder system, with a central seed hopper over the seeding unit.

any “doubles”, while also offering information on hopper levels and any coulter blockages. Utilising Kverneland’s patented e-drive system, each row is powered by the ISOBUS control system. This removes the

need for the additional PTO-driven generators – typically seen on competitive machines. Additionally, the layout of the e-drive system sees a shaft and gear drive acting directly on the singulation disc.

This means there is a near elimination of moving parts within the unit, resulting in reduced friction or wear and a minimised power requirement. As part of the package, GPS and Geo Con-

trol – via the Kverneland Tellus Monitor – is used in conjunction with the Optima e-drive system to automatically switch seed delivery on and off. This helps to ensure headland accuracy and remove overlaps in short ground

or irregular headlands – thus saving on seed costs, while also maintaining accuracy in dusty, poor light or night-time operations. Aimed at getting crops off to a rapid start, the TF Profi is also equipped with a 2,000-litre fertiliser hopper. Again, it is controlled from the ISOBUS system and driven hydraulically from the tractor. Integrated weigh cells work in conjunction with the Tellus/ GPS componentry to apply pre-determined rates, control auto shutoff at boundaries and section control – while also helping with accurate calibration. Like the seeding componentry, an air delivery system deposits fertiliser adjacent to the seed, via its own double-disc coulter configuration. Kverneland machinery is imported and distributed in NZ by the Power Farming Group. @rural_news

First Claas patent hits a century WHILE CLAAS has registered more than 3,000 patents during its 108-year history, the company is currently celebrating the 100th anniversary of filing its first patent. That first patent covered the knotting device for the Claas binder. This was the company’s first product after the formation of the company in 1913 by August Claas. Patented in 1921, the Claas knot-

ter has remained virtually unchanged over the last century – in either single or double knotting versions. In 1923, a new patent number, 414212, saw the development of a knotter billhook with a floating upper jaw – easily recognised by those with an interest in agricultural mechanisation as it was the Claas company logo for many decades. In 1934, the arrival of the first

Claas pick-up baler revolutionised the European hay and straw industry. It brought haymaking into a single mechanised process, thus reducing labour and significantly increasing output. The knotter then went on to appear in the HD pick-up baler of 1953, the Markant conventional baler in 1967 and the Quadrant big square balers launched in 1988.

Over the last century, Claas has always produced its knotters inhouse, with estimates suggesting that over one million units have been made since 1921. The company is reminding potential purchasers of the reliability delivered by the looped knots simplicity and the added bonus of the absence of any twine waste. More recently in 2015, the knotter billhook and twine retaining plate

was “beefed up” to handle the thicker, stronger twines required by modern high density balers. Meanwhile, at the same time, the company introduced Automatic Pressure Control (APC), using sensors to continually monitor twine tension and compaction pressure in the bale chamber to avoid twine breakages during high-density operations. – Mark Daniel


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WindControl is a fully automatic system that effectively neutralises the effect of wind upon fertiliser spreading operations.

AMAZONE’S RECENTLY released WindControl System automatically monitors and adjusts the spreading pattern to compensate for the effect of the wind on the company’s top-of-theline ZA-TS mounted and ZG-TS trailed twin disc centrifugal spreaders. CLAAS Harvest Centre product manager for Amazone, Steve Gorman, says even minor changes in wind speed and direction can have a significant impact on the distribution of valuable fertiliser. “Headwinds or tailwinds can stretch or compress the spreading pattern, while crosswinds can shift the pattern laterally,” he says. “These changes can result in significant differences in application rates within the same tramline and from one tramline to the next.” WindControl is a fully automatic system that effectively neutralises the effect of wind upon your fertiliser spreading operations, helping you to make the most of your application window. The system utilises a highfrequency wind sensor to record wind speed and direction. The job computer calibrates this data with ground speed, calculates new spreader settings and then makes these adjustments automatically. In operation, if there

is a crosswind, the disc speed on the side facing the wind is increased and the delivery system is rotated outwards. At the same time, the speed of the downwind side is reduced, with the delivery system rotated inwards. The adjustments to both discs automatically counteract the wind effect and ensure accurate distribution. Projecting above the tractor cab, to avoid any turbulence generated by the tractor itself, the spreader-mounted wind sensor is automatically extended when the spreading discs are activated. When the spreading discs are switched off, the mast retracts to its protected position between the tractor and the spreader. The control terminal displays wind speed, direction and gustiness. In addition to all the usual spreader settings, it comes with a ‘traffic light’ colour system to advise the operator to what extent the system can compensate for the effect of the wind. If the wind is too strong or gusty, the system will issue a warning that the limit of control has been reached. WindControl also complements Amazone’s ArgusTwin system, which uses 14 radar sensors to monitor the spread pattern of the left and right discs.

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Agriculture 4.0 misses the mark! AT THE recent launch of the New Holland T7 HD Series in Europe, the company spoke of their commitment to ‘Agriculture 4.0’ – a term that is been creeping into the world of agricultural technology for the last couple of years. But what exactly is Agriculture 4.0? While there is no precise definition yet, it appears to be the new buzzword or general umbrella for tech-driven developments that will see users depart from what might be considered current day practise. The term’s origins seem to have been a report from The World Government Summit – a global think tank based in Dubai that describes itself as “a global, neutral, non-profit organisation dedicated to shaping the future of governments”.

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Its report Agriculture 4.0, published in 2018, promised to: “deliver breakthrough impact through collaboration”. The report suggested that because very little innovation had taken place over recent years, the need to feed future generations had become urgent and was a reason for disruption. The document goes on to outline what it believes to be the major underlying issues that are hindering world food supply. Those issues obviously include a burgeoning popLASER FF95


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ulation, reducing natural resources, climate change and food waste in the production and utilisation sectors. Whilst the first part of the analysis seems wide of the mark with regards to innovation, there is indeed a reality emerging with respect to global food shortages. The report calls for a fourth industrial revolution, powered by an almost total reliance on digital technology— a hypothesis that has raised many important questions in academia. Those academics point out that a major revolution had already taken place, not least with automation in agriculture, with examples of robotic milking that have been around for more than a quarter of a century and the widespread use of GPS in the last decade or more. Interestingly, they also note that despite the talk of robotics bringing production gains over a similar period, the technology is still relatively scarce on commercial farms. The initial report also looks at areas that will be an anathema to many contemporary farmers with terms such as artificial meat, ‘vertical farms’ in warehouse-style buildings, hydroponics, seawater farming and algae-based foodstuffs all being touted as possible solutions to food short-


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ages. It goes without saying that most of these “potential” solutions would take the base of food supply away from farmers, probably into the hands of large food corporations with enough capital to finance their implementation. This has the potential to concentrate the food supply chain to a small group of wealthy corporations, which could possibly use that supply chain power to push up prices as they saw fit. Drilling deeper into the report, as to what it means for today’s farmers, it is a little light on detail. It just regurgitates words that have been around for a decade: such as connectivity, the Internet of Things (IOT) and a recurring theme about automation. The latter point has managed to raise the eyebrows of a research group at the university of East Anglia in the UK, which notes, “while smart technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and the IOT could play an important part in the role of achieving enhanced productivity and greater eco-efficiency, critics have suggested that the social implications of these moves has been largely side-lined or ignored”. The group goes on to call for a more systematic and considered approach

for the implementation of digital technology. They also suggest that the “disruption” called for in Agriculture 4.0 appears to bring with it the sudden or uncontrolled displacement of farm staff for the sake of high tech-implementation. Although this is an unlikely scenario, given most farmers conserve nature. In summary, given that Agriculture 4.0 is centred around food growing practices with little consideration for current farm practices, it’s not clear to this writer what benefits tractor and agricultural machinery manufacturers may hope to gain by being associated with the report. Of course, improved farm management through the likes of yield mapping and variable inputs are well within the realms of modern machinery, but little else in the report appears to consider current agriculture. In the case of manufacturers, some are obviously buying into the buzzword of Agriculture 4.0 while others are choosing to give it a wide berth. Of course, growing more food with fewer resources is laudable and a task that can be done in many ways. However, which way is the best— only time will tell!


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Mike 027-236 4133 • Chris 027-427 5004 • Sales 027-626 2117






40 YEARS IN BUSINESS 1980-2020


Thank you to our Valued Customers for • Easy assembly • NZ made since 1980 your continued support over the years ! • Strong Win! and durable • Grow all year round PROUD TO BE NEW ZEALAND MADE


T/F 03 214 4262 E






valued at $160

valued at $230

100% Waterproof Fleece Collar Hood Visor

Acid Resistant Durable Seams



0800 16 00 24


STEEL TOE X (with Scuff Guard)

STEEL TOE X (with Scuff Guard)

valued at $280

STEEL TOE (without Scuff Guard)

PLAIN TOE (without Scuff Guard) Colour = Dark Brown Buffalo Leather



$155 sold out of size 8

PLAIN TOE (without Scuff Guard)

sold out of size 5

Stitched On Soles

valued at $140 PHONE



valued at $320



in stock now

ZIP STRIP quick lacing



more water & BUFFALO BOOTS! 175% crack resistant

175% more crack resistant ( yes - we can send during lockdown)

175% more crack resistant than normal leather ONLINE BANKING

EARTHWALK 06 0746 0177988 02 (ANZ)

New Zealand owned & operated

sizes: BOOTS 5 - 13 (NZ)




Now is the perfect time to prepare for Spring. Invest in quality spraying equipment from Croplands to ensure that you are geared up for the season ahead. Secure what you need now to make sure you don’t miss out.


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6m boom




600L AGRIPAK 6m boom




8m boom





SPOTON PRESSURE TESTER* Ideal for testing nozzle pressures across AgriPak booms *Free SpotOn Pressure Tester with all AgriPak orders received from 1st September to 30th November 2021. While stocks last.


Offers valid from 01/09/2021 to 30/11/2021. Prices and specifications are subject to change without notice. All prices are exclusive of GST. Freight charges are not included in any of the advertised prices. Photos are for illustrative purposes only.

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800L AGRIPAK 8m boom


10m boom with leveller LA800/MAX10

1000L AGRIPAK $7,789 $8,339


10m boom with leveller


12m boom with leveller




12m hydraulic boom


15m hydraulic boom









CRE0050_OptimaSpringCatalogue_NZ_FA.indd 3



26/7/21 6:22 pm









10m boom with leveller

12m boom with leveller

4m boom, 10m hose reel

6m boom, 10m hose reel










UA300B/20S/4BX RRP

UA300B/20S/6BX RRP

Offers valid from 01/09/2021 to 30/11/2021. Prices and specifications are subject to change without notice. All prices are exclusive of GST. Freight charges are not included in any of the advertised prices. Photos are for illustrative purposes only.

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MANUAL REELS 200L TRAYPAK 30m manual reel US20F/252/HR30

$4,655 300L TRAYPAK RRP

30m manual reel US30F/30/HR30TG


$5,176 600L TRAYPAK RRP

30m manual reel

Twin 30m manual reels






100m electric reel US20F/25/100R3


100m electric reel US30F/30/100R3


100m electric reel US60F/30/100R3



Twin 100m electric reels US60F/40/100RT3 US60F/40/100RT3




CRE0050_OptimaSpringCatalogue_NZ_FA.indd 5


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RL10 B26.901.165MK 2



Pistol type spot-spray gun B35.901.16




Gun and extendable lance SW-LANCE-ASSY




Turbo400 with metal grip and protected lever



RL10 gun with 500mm steel lance, adjustable nozzle



PUMPS B26.901.165MK2


















Offers valid from 01/09/2021 to 30/11/2021. Prices and specifications are subject to change without notice. All prices are exclusive of GST. Freight charges are not included in any of the advertised prices. Photos are for illustrative purposes only.

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26/7/21 6:29 pm








PGG Wrightson Stores – Nationwide, contact your local store Fruitfed Supplies Stores – Nationwide, contact your local store

Auckland Landscape and Grower Supplies 09 573 3007 Dargaville Norwood 09 439 3266 Gisborne Norwood 06 867 9865 Hamilton Waikato Tractors 07 843 7237 Hastings Croplands Spray Shop 06 879 5720 Hastings Norwood 06 873 7300 Hawera Norwood 06 278 6159 Kumeu M.E. & A.L. Mannington 027 471 5920 Masterton Norwood 06 377 3184 Morrinsville Norwood 07 889 8505 New Plymouth Norwood 06 757 5582 North Shore Norwood 027 443 0780 Opotiki Opotiki Engineering & Hardware 07 315 6285 Palmerston North Norwood 06 356 4920 Pukekohe Norwood 09 237 0104 Rotorua Piako Tractors 07 345 8560 Stratford Norwood 06 765 6139 Tauranga The Equipment Centre 07 548 0194 Te Awamutu Norwood 07 872 0232 Te Puke Splash Direct 07 573 6138 Wellington Spraying Equipment Specialist 04 478 2258 Whangarei Norwood 09 438 4719

SOUTH ISLAND Alexandra Ashburton Balclutha Christchurch Christchurch Cromwell Gore Invercargill Malborough Mosgiel Mosgiel Mosgiel Oamaru Riwaka Richmond Richmond Timaru West Coast

03 440 2350 03 307 8330 03 418 0988 03 349 7862 03 349 5089 03 445 3730 03 203 9100 03 211 0013 03 572 8787 03 489 6268 03 489 8199 03 742 7123 03 437 2007 03 528 9212 03 544 5723 03 544 6115 03 688 1133 03 788 9050

Fruitfed Supplies Norwood Advance Agriculture Noble Adams Machinery Norwood Fruitfed Supplies Advance Agriculture JJ Limited Agrivit Ltd Agrispray & Equipment JJ Limited Norwood Norwood N.S. Rogers Brian Miller Truck and Tractor Fruitfed Supplies Norwood Norwood

NATIONAL SALES & SUPPORT CROPLANDS NEW ZEALAND Freecall 0800 106 898 Freefax 0800 117 711



0272 486 822


Duncan Rennie

027 726 0330


Vic Barlow

027 475 2322


+61 8 8359 9300 +61 8 8359 9333

Leon Powell

027 700 0066


Rob Marshall

027 248 6822


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Profile for Rural News Group

Rural News 7 September 2021  

Rural News 7 September 2021

Rural News 7 September 2021  

Rural News 7 September 2021

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