Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith today announced $2 million funding for a wood-processing facility which uses automation and robotics to turn low-value pine trees into high-value wood products.
This is just one of the local initiatives announced at the release of the Tairāwhiti Economic Action Plan in Gisborne.
“Forestry is a major employer in the region and this funding accelerates research and development in this sector. This technology from Wood Engineering Technology Ltd ensures that even low value ‘pulp’ logs, or forestry blocks on remote sites, can become economically viable,” says Mr Bridges.
WET Gisborne Ltd, a joint venture between Wood Engineering Technology Ltd and the Eastland Community Trust, is building a $9 million prototype plant, where this technology is being developed.
It is expected that there will be three plants on the initial site creating 120 highly skilled jobs, and see potential opportunity in opening further plants in the more remote locations of Eastland.
“The processing plant is being partly funded through a Callaghan Innovation growth grant and demonstrates how innovative technology can improve productivity and profitability,” says Mr Goldsmith.
“Delivering commercialised technology to market is a core part of Callaghan Innovation’s mandate, so it is pleasing to see the Gisborne region benefitting directly from the government’s investment in research and development through growth grants.”
Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy has witnessed an agreement in Tehran enabling the resumption of sheep and beef exports to Iran, and witnessed Zespri signalling its willingness to explore the development of the kiwifruit market.
“This is a crucial step for New Zealand meat companies as they look to re-enter the Iranian market," says Mr Guy.
The conclusion of a Meat Arrangement between the Iranian Veterinary Organisation (IVO) and the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries provides the conditions for chilled and frozen sheep and beef exports to resume with Iran, the second largest economy in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The agreement was witnessed with Iranian Minister of Agriculture Mahmoud Hojjati during their meeting in Tehran yesterday. The Ministers also discussed an action plan for agricultural cooperation in the year ahead.
Ministers Guy and Hojjati also witnessed the signing of a Statement of Intent between Zespri and Iran’s Ministry of Agriculture acknowledging the potential of the Iranian market as a large fruit consuming and growing country.
"Current import conditions mean that New Zealand is unable to export kiwifruit to Iran. However the letter of intent outlines undertakings to further explore commercial opportunities in Iran."
Iran has well established kiwifruit orchards and supply chains, and operates in a counter seasonal supply window to New Zealand.
"This visit is an important opportunity to strengthen our agricultural relationship, following the signing of an Agricultural Cooperation Arrangement last year.
“Iran has traditionally been an important market for New Zealand agricultural exporters, particularly dairy, and this visit has identified areas in which we can diversify these commercial ties and further technical cooperation."
Will alert environmentalists, Greens, to renewable value , emissions reduction, organics
Napier advanced agri process technology specialist TEKAM is bringing to New Zealand Peter Franke a world leader in turning agricultural waste into electricity and in the process ridding farms of the effluent which increasingly threatens drinking water.
Mr Franke is the founder of Germany’s Bio Ost which is a leading developer of closed loop systems which collect effluent, notably the dairy version, and convert it into energy for refrigeration and other milking systems, and also for distribution into the national grid.
These closed loop effluent-to-power systems are commonplace in Germany where installers are offered generous subsidies to install them.
The other Baltic nation leading in closed loop effluent-to-power is Denmark.
The Danish government has set a short term target of up to 50% of livestock manure to be made into this green energy supply.
Power derived from biogas and fed into the national grid is exempt from taxation in Denmark.
Mr Franke will advise on the installation and commissioning of on-farm plants and will outline returns to users in terms of energy recovery and in obtaining fertiliser by-products.
He is expected also to talk to local government officials about the value of the plants in reducing runoff contamination threats and also how the plants reduce methane emissions.
Similarly he will outline the benefit in which weed seeds and pathogens are killed during the biomass digestion process, thus lessening the farm need for synthetic herbicides and pesticides.
Ken Evans of TEKAM said that in his New Zealand visit Mr Franke will focus exclusively on discussing the technology and the cost-benefits of the on-farm bio gas installations.
Mr Evans’ TEKAM organisation is working in conjunction with Napier Engineering & Contracting on introducing the effluent-to-energy technology to New Zealand.
He noted that he did not anticipate any discussion of introducing state incentives, subsidies for these plants such as exist in Europe.
Mr Franke instead he said would focus on the practical evidence of his company’s world wide effluent-to-energy installations.
The problem in New Zealand of effluent finding its way into ground water would though be a priority topic, he said.
According to Mr Evans, New Zealand had been an early developer of dairy waste into energy conversion systems. But these early plants along with their associated research and development had been abandoned when the millennialist energy crisis scare failed to materialise.
New freshwater reforms will result in 56,000 km more fences protecting New Zealand waterways from stock – enough to go round the world one and a half times, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.
The new rules on stock exclusion are part of the Government’s plans announced today setting a target for 90% of rivers and lakes to be swimmable by 2040.
“Farmers have made huge progress in recent years to improve their environmental practices and this will be another important step forward. Dairy farmers have already voluntarily fenced off over 24,000km of waterways,” says Mr Guy.
“We know that stock standing in or regularly crossing waterways can do significant damage. While dairy farmers have voluntarily fenced off around 96% of their waterways, we want to extend this to other types of farms as well.
“The proposed national regulation would ensure that dairy cattle, beef cattle, pigs and deer are kept out of waterways.
“We need to ensure the changes are practical for farmers, so the exclusions would be implemented in a staged process starting this year through to 2030, depending on the stock type and land slope.
“There are long term benefits for the primary industries and wider economy from these reforms. Overseas markets and consumers increasingly demand a strong environmental performance over and above regulatory requirements. In this context, protecting New Zealand’s natural advantage has never been more important.
“No single organisation or group is solely responsible for improving our water quality. Meeting the target will take a collective effort, but the primary industries have a key contribution to make.
“In the meantime, the Ministry for Primary Industries continues to work with the primary sectors to invest in good ideas which promote environmental best practice. One example is the Farm Systems Change program, which identifies high preforming farms and uses farmers’ networks to spread their knowledge.
“Another is a major programme under the Primary Growth Partnership, called Transforming the Dairy Value Chain. Under this programme effluent management systems have been improved, and every region now has a riparian planting guideline developed in conjunction with regional councils.
“As a Government we are committed to growing the primary industries at the same time as improving water quality. Water storage schemes like Central Plains Water and the Waimea Community Dam help in this by taking pressure off groundwater sources and maintaining summer river flows, delivering both economic and environmental benefits.
“We also know that science will play a major role in improving our freshwater. The ‘Our Land and Water’ National Science Challenge is investing $96.9 million over 10 years into this, hosted by AgResearch and involving six other Crown research institutes.
To read the proposals, and find out how to have your say, visit www.mfe.govt.nz
Trade barriers cost New Zealand billions of dollars annually, according to an NZIER report for the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ).
The report, titled Dairy trade’s economic contribution to New Zealand, highlights the strong contribution the dairy sector has continued to make to New Zealand’s national and regional economic development, even while it has been at the bottom of a price cycle, and despite global dairy markets remaining highly distorted.
“Trade barriers are a significant cost to New Zealand. Tariffs alone are suppressing the value of our dairy products by around 1.3 billion dollars annually,” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.
“On top of this, non-tariff measures add over $3 billion in costs to New Zealand dairy exports in the APEC region alone,” he adds.
The report found dairy exports generate more than one in every four dollars earnt by New Zealand and the sector provides incomes for 40,000 New Zealanders, including 2,100 jobs in Auckland.
“These are good jobs with the highest average salary levels for a food manufacturing sector, and the second highest for a farming sector,” says Mr Bailey.
“Federated Farmers and DairyNZ have a workplace action plan underway to make sure the working environment for jobs in our sector is a good one that goes beyond compliance levels.”
At a district level in New Zealand, the dairy sector is responsible for:
One in every five jobs in the Waimate, Otorohonga and Southland districts.
More than one in every ten jobs in Matamata Piako, South Taranaki, Hauraki, Waipa, Ashburton, South Waikato, Clutha and Kaipara.
One in every 20 jobs in Hurunui, Tararua, Stratford, Waikato, South Wairarapa, Buller, Westland, Timaru, and Manawatu.
“Over the past 15 years, the dairy employment has grown by an average of 3.7% per year, over twice as fast as the 1.7% recorded for total employment” says Mr Bailey.
The report outlines how the economic contribution goes beyond the farm gate. It found dairy processors are spending $5.4 billion on non-milk inputs like equipment hire, management services and packaging each year.
Additionally, dairy farmers are spending $12.2 billion dollars on goods and services within their communities. This flow through economic effect means the dairy sector accounts for more than ten per cent of regional GDP in the Waikato, the West Coast and in Southland.
Mr Bailey emphasises that it is not all an economic story for dairying.
“The dairy industry has been working hard to also invest in and deliver on sustainability. There is a commitment to stock exclusion from streams, to riparian planting, better effluent management and better nutrient budgeting. The sector is proud that these efforts are beginning to translate into noticeable improvements.”
“Over the past four years dairy processors have also invested more than $2 billion in processing capital to improve processing efficiency and diversity New Zealand’s dairy production mix.”
“These investments will support the sector to continuing delivering high-quality, safe dairy products with increasing value for consumers”.
“Removing trade barriers will allow New Zealand’s dairy sector, ultimately, to maintain and build both sustainability and value-adding momentum,” says Bailey.
To read NZIER’s Dairy trade’s economic contribution to New Zealand report, visit www.dcanz.com/news/
New Zealand’s top two export commodities, meat and dairy, both fell by value in 2016, Statistics New Zealand said today.
The total value of all export goods was $48.4 billion for the year ended December 2016, down $544 million from the previous year. This is the second annual fall in a row for exports. The latest annual total is $1.6 billion less than the high of the 2014 year.
The biggest fall by value was for meat and edible offal, our second largest export group, with sales down $909 million to $5.9 billion. The fall in meat was driven by beef (down $481 million) and lamb (down $415 million). The United States accounted for three-quarters of the fall in beef, while the European Union (EU) accounted for nearly half of the fall in lamb. The amount of meat fell 7.4 percent from 2015, with beef falling 14 percent and lamb falling 4.6 percent.
“The large fall in meat exports for 2016 reflects a decline from the record meat season in 2015 for both value and quantity,” international statistics senior manager Nicola Growden said. “The 2016 year’s meat exports have returned to levels similar to those seen in 2014.”
The quantity of milk powder, butter, and cheese exported rose to a new high of 3.0 million tonnes, despite a near 3 percent fall in the value of dairy exports to $11.2 billion.
The quantity of milk powder, butter, and cheese has been rising since 2013 and is now 14 percent higher than it was then. The quantity exported to China was 25 percent of the total in 2016, slightly up from 23 percent in 2015.
The value of imported goods was $51.6 billion in 2016, down $883 million (1.7 percent) from the high of the December 2015 year. The fall was led by cheaper oil and petrol, and partly offset by a rise in cars, trucks, and parts.
Oil and petrol fell $840 million in 2016, mainly due to crude oil (down $666 million). The value of crude oil has been falling for the past four years, and is now 55 percent lower than the 2012 value ($5.7 billion). The amount of crude oil imported rose 2.3 percent in 2016, and has been increasing for the past two years.
In 2016 there was an annual trade deficit of $3.2 billion (6.6 percent of exports). This is smaller than the deficit of $3.5 billion for the December 2015 year. The trade shortfall in 2015 was the largest December year deficit since 2008.
Fonterra’s Research and Development Centre has developed a new white butter product to meet growing demand from manufacturers in the Middle East market.
The New Zealand dairy co-op developed the product alongside its global ingredients business NZMP.
Fonterra’s butter is renowned amongst Middle East consumers for its golden appearance thanks to milk from grass fed cows.
However, a niche segment of manufacturers prefer white butter as a processing ingredient for their food products.
These Middle Eastern food manufacturers have traditionally sourced butter from grain fed cows which produce dairy products with a pale colour, according to Fonterra.
The co-op seized an opportunity to respond to customer needs by developing a high quality white butter ingredient, Fonterra’s Dairy Foods Category Director of NZMP, Casey Thomas said.
Produced through an innovative manufacturing process, Fonterra is now able to reduce the golden appearance of the butter without impacting its quality.
“While our yellow butter already sees great success in this market, we saw an opportunity to tap into this new area for customers to use in a variety of applications such as spreadable jar cheese, recombined cream cheese, and could soon be used in ice cream,” he said.
This innovative approach is already seeing strong results, NZMP General Manager of Middle East and Africa, Santiago Aon said.
Our customers have had positive feedback about the white butter, it is performing to our expectations as a high quality ingredient for food businesses across the Middle East region.
The Fonterra Research and Development Centre and NZMP team both have a long history of partnering with customers to not only provide them with steady supplies of ingredients, but creating business solutions with them.
The product is now available in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Bahrain, Turkey and Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the Kiwi co-op plans to the launch the product in Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and even South America in the future.
| First published on Agriland | January 29, 2017 ||
The Farming Robots Market Projected to Reach $5.7 Billion by 2024 Brandon Marshall has a look at this market on machinery.com. He writes, Transparency Market Research (TMR), has released a report, “Agriculture Robots Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2016 – 2024,” predicting a sizeable increase in demand for agriculture robots within the decade.
The report estimates that the agricultural robotics industry has generated USD $1.01 billion in revenue globally as of 2016. Going forward, TMR suggest that revenue for this industry will rise to approximately $5.7 billion by the end of 2024. This estimate is based upon a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.1 percent over the forecast period.
What's Driving Demand for Farming Robots?
According to one TMR analyst, the migration of populations away from traditionally rural areas toward densely populated cities and suburbs has increased the demand for food in these regions. In addition, the population drain from farming communities–combined with the repurposing of former farmland for industry and residences–is driving the need for precision farming. That’s where robots come in.
Opportunities for Innovation in Agriculture
Beginning with the debut of the Rotolactor (a large, rotating, milking machine) at the 1939 World’s Fair and continuing today, the majority of agriculture robots have been designed to perform one specific task. TMR’s research report categorizes robotic farming systems accordingly:
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (for the spraying of pesticides and agrochemicals)
Milking robotsAutomated harvesting machines
The installation and operational costs of these non-integrated, task-specific systems has, unfortunately, slowed the adoption of automated processes on many farms. Additionally, legal and regulatory concerns continue to pose a challenge for agriculture innovators.
According to TMR analyst, innovations in agriculture technology are likely to take place in the area of wireless telemetry; including sensors used to monitor crop health or the status of machines operating out of view.
Industry Leaders in Farming Robots
The research report found North America currently leading the industry in terms of market share, though strong growth within Asia is likely to continue. Some prominent players within North America include: PrecisionHawk, Inc., Clearpath Robotics, and Harvest Automations, Inc.
SenseFly SA and Naio Technologies dominate in Europe, while Shibuya Seiki is a leading player within the Asia-Pacific region.
TMR has also suggested that competition in the farming robots market will increase around the globe as start-ups continue to push innovation.
Waste-to-energy showcase for reluctant New Zealand dairy sector
A 1,100-cow dairy in southern California became the first-ever operation in the world known to produce no-sulfur renewable diesel products from manure on a livestock facility in late April.
The milestone is the culmination of three years of collaboration between Scott Brothers Dairy in San Jacinto, California, and Ag Waste Solutions (AWS), a privately held company that designed the farm’s manure processing system.
“To make it to the top of the hill is a euphoric moment,” dairyman Bruce Scott says.
Steve McCorkle, founder and CEO of AWS, announced the partnership’s achievement on Facebook on April 27, 2015. The company claims its technology is the “future of sustainable farming.”
“We have proven that we can complete the circle of energy for individual farms while creating profit centers from manure, enabling farmers to exceed regulatory requirements and truly control their own destiny,” McCorkle said in a statement.
Scott says he is most proud to have produced a “deliverable” for the California Energy Commission, which helped fund the project. As far as he understands, the commission has no other no-sulfur diesel projects dealing with this type of waste stream, so he is pleased to have “crossed the finish line” by submitting a final report. The next step for the system is to prove it can operate continuously and thus be a commercially viable option for other agricultural operations.
“I didn’t expect to win over favor on this project quickly. But I’ve firmly believed in the direction of this project,” Scott says. “The tunnel may have gotten longer, but the light at the end of it has always stayed visible in my mind. I still believe it’s the most viable technology to get rid of a waste stream and produce something that’s value-added at the same time.”
Processing manure into renewable diesel products is just one of the system’s manure processing capabilities.
The dairy’s multi-stage system first separates high-BTU manure solids from the dairy’s liquid manure effluent. McCorkle says the first stage removes 98 percent of the total suspended solids and 40 percent of the dissolved solids, making good irrigation water for most farms.
The extracted water is further purified at Scott Brothers Dairy to remove the other 2 percent of suspended solids and the remaining dissolved solids, making the water potable. (This step was to satisfy manure application requirements that were specific to the dairy’s regional regulatory agency. See this Progressive Dairyman Feb. 7, 2014 article for more background about dairy’s unique permitting situation.)
The dairy’s manure solids are then fed to a pyrolysis gasifier. The gas production module then thermochemically decomposes the manure solids in the absence of air to produce syngas. The gas is then scrubbed of impurities and compressed for storage.
Using a Fischer-Tropsch process, the hydrogen and carbon in the gas is then converted in the system’s final stage into no-sulfur renewable diesel products. The Fischer-Tropsch process had been used to convert other feedstocks to renewable diesel but until recently was never proven to work with manure, let alone on a farm.
Perhaps more importantly than producing diesel, the process also produces a refined wax product in a controllable diesel-to-wax ratio. McCorkle says the wax product’s market value is three times that of the renewable diesel and can be further processed or blended off-site with other petroleum products, such as jet fuel or kerosene.
“We exceeded our own expectations on the first pass,” McCorkle says. “We were able to control the types and factions of liquids and waxes created. And we were able to attain the optimal ratio of liquids and waxes. This satisfies our business model of making enough diesel fuel for farm use and selling the wax products off-farm to create additional profit centers from manure.”
The system on Scott Brothers Dairy that produces renewable diesel products was built at pilot-project scale, meaning it is not commercially sized nor automated enough in order to operate 24-7 with minimal manpower.If the dairy had an adequately sized liquid fuels production module that ran continuously, it could produce at least 1 gallon of diesel fuel from three cows’ manure for a day. Right now the system can convert only one-eighth of the dairy’s gasified manure per day and has not yet been automated to run continuously.
The first production run of renewable diesel products was evaluated in an on-site lab as well as sent to an external lab for validation.. Future production runs will be tested to validate the fuel is consistently comparable, or superior, to other diesel fuels. Initial tests have shown the fuel has very similar characteristics to pump diesel but without detectable levels of sulfur. Even ultra low-sulfur pump diesel contains up to 15 ppm of sulfur.
When asked if it passed the sniff test and whether he would put it in his own tractor, Scott says: “No question about it.”
McCorkle suggests the next steps toward a commercially viable, 24-7 system require more funding to upsize the liquid fuels production module in order to match the size of the rest of the system and to demonstrate that the system can run continuously and more automatically with predictable results and with minimal personnel.
McCorkle is optimistic both goals can be achieved. For now, his countenance glows over the petrochemical milestone he and the dairy have achieved almost entirely by themselves.
“We didn’t achieve these results in a large, complex refinery with tens of engineers, chemists and scientists. We achieved these results with only a handful of people working in a remote farm environment,” McCorkle says.
As New Zealand marks the one-year anniversary of its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea, Fonterra Co-operative Group is gearing up to take advantage of huge potential for its dairy products there, particularly cheese.
Since the FTA was signed in December 2015, New Zealand has experienced 16 per cent growth in exports of food and beverage products to Korea.
The country is New Zealand’s fifth largest cheese market, worth US$50 million (NZ$70m) a year – comparable to New Zealand’s cheese trade to the United States.
New Zealand’s new annual duty free quota of 7000 metric tonnes (MT) of cheese to Korea will increase by three per cent a year.
Tariffs on cheddar and block mozzarella will be removed after seven and 12 years respectively, with all cheese tariffs eliminated and quotas removed after 15 years.
Quotas and tariffs on butter, anhydrous milk fat and infant formula will also be phased out over 15 years.
Fonterra has seen strong interest in its products off the back of the Agreement, reflecting the growing demand for high quality dairy in Korea, Jason Murney, Fonterra’s Country Manager Korea, said.
“A lot of our existing customers and new customers are approaching us to develop new business opportunities,” he said.
“The FTA will help Fonterra deepen its commercial relationships in the market over time, as our access continues to increase.
“We have already seen positive results, with government import statistics showing that New Zealand’s share of the Korean cheddar market has grown to over 60 per cent in 2016, up from 50 per cent in 2015.”
So far Fonterra has developed a new cheese specifically designed for use on pizzas, which will be launched in Korea. This will help the Co-operative meet Koreans’ growing taste for pizza and fusion foods.
Fonterra has expanded its Korea team and is investing in a warehouse so that it can import and distribute more high value products itself.
Consumption of dairy products is rising in Korea, as dietary trends follow those of neighbouring Asian countries such as Japan. In 1990 Koreans consumed 43.8kg liquid milk equivalent per capita but by 2014 that had risen to 72.4kg.
The access under the FTA allows Fonterra to invest in product and supply chain innovations, and implement a strategy to transition its Korean business from low risk ingredients to higher value food service.
“The development of the Korean market is absolutely in line with Fonterra’s strategy of moving more milk volumes into higher margin products, thus earning greater returns for our farmer shareholders,” Murney said.