Primary Sector News

The head of the national rural health group today made an impassioned plea for the government to consider much-needed rural research.

Michelle Thompson, chief executive of the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) says there is a strong feeling that rural health outcomes are poorer than urban health outcomes but until they have the hard data they can’t be sure whether there is a difference or understand the scale of the difference.

Earlier this year the RHAANZ presented its five most urgent priorities to government, one of which included comprehensive rural health research support.

“It’s been such a relief today to see the government provide a further half a million dollars for rural mental health initiatives. This is a good sign to us they agree, in the absence of hard data, this is an area of concern.”

Thompson was speaking today from the National Fieldays in Hamilton which is the biggest agricultural event in the southern hemisphere, reflecting the importance of rural industries on the NZ economy.

“Yet we know very little about the people who live and work in rural NZ from a health perspective. To do this we first need a nationally agreed definition on rurality as it pertains to health in New Zealand.

“Then we need to ensure that the Ministry of Health, the district health boards and primary health organisations use this definition to routinely report health statistics using a rural/urban comparison.

“The 49-member organisations of RHAANZ believe the lack of a fit-for-purpose definition of rural is a major stumbling block to our work and until we have such a definition that is routinely used across Government neither we, nor the government, can write informed health policy. Neither can we be sure that our precious resources are being targeted to where they are most needed.

“It is not okay that we don’t know whether our children are disadvantaged because they have poorer access to maternity and youth health services than urban children, for example.

“We just don’t know whether our outcomes for cancer are poorer because of the extra difficulties getting to chemotherapy or radiotherapy services. Logic would tell us that having to travel long distances to services would make a difference but we can’t be sure about this without a firm evidence base.

“Alongside a new definition of rural we want to see a rural proofing tool reinstated across policy development in New Zealand.

“We used to have this 10 years ago but it appears to have dropped off the scene. Rural proofing requires our policy-makers to take in to account the circumstances and needs of rural communities and rural business when developing and implementing policy before the policy is introduced.

“This is to enable any unintended consequences to be addressed before the policy is rolled out. Consideration of low population density and isolation are critical to rural proofing.

“While rural definitions and rural proofing may sound dry and boring, they are seen as absolutely essential to get right. These are the top two election issues our members took to government last month.

“Words talk but numbers shout. Without hard evidence, it’s pretty much impossible to make a case to government for additional support and resourcing for rural communities,” Thompson says.

For more information contact RHAANZ chief executive Michelle Thompson on 021 2347413 or Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188.

| A make Lemonade release  ||  June 15,  2017   |||

Published in AGRICULTURE

Modern, science-based farming is the way to achieve a future for New Zealand where dairy farming has a lower environmental footprint, says DairyNZ’s chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle.

His comment follows today’s announcement of the Dairy Action for Climate Change at National Fieldays.

The Dairy Action for Climate Change lays down the foundation to reduce greenhouse gasses on dairy farms. The plan is spearheaded by DairyNZ, which represents all dairy farmers in New Zealand, and is in partnership with Fonterra. The plan has the support of the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Dr Mackle says dairy farmers, and the scientists working alongside them, are serious about improving the environment.

“This plan lays down the foundation for dairy’s sustained, strategic approach to a lower carbon future. We’re taking the first steps in understanding what dairy can do – in conjunction with the wider agricultural sector, plus industry and urban communities – to help meet New Zealand’s Paris Agreement emissions reduction target.

“Our farmers are ready to work on lowering emissions – they are used to rising to the challenge, and they’re dedicated stewards of their land who want to do the right thing by the environment.”

Dr Mackle says addressing on-farm emissions – methane, which is formed when ruminant animals burp, and nitrous oxide, formed when nitrogen escapes into the atmosphere – is one of the most challenging issues facing the dairy and food producing sectors, globally and in New Zealand.

“Tackling the reduction of on-farm emissions is not going to be easy. It requires our Government and the agricultural sector to work together, and, as such the plan is an important part of a broader work programme underway.”

Fonterra’s Chief Operating Officer Farm Source, Miles Hurrell, says it is crucial to take an integrated approach to all the challenges facing dairy – from climate change and animal welfare, to the protection of waterways – and all the while maintain productivity and the profitability of dairy.

“The plan complements the environmental commitment dairy farmers have voluntarily undertaken through their work under the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord.

“Some of their work – such as tree planting, better soil management and reducing nitrogen leaching therefore reducing the release of nitrous oxide – is already helping to address emissions. Then there are the other science-based endeavours that are well underway, like the research to breed cows that produce fewer methane emissions, and a methane inhibiting vaccine.”

Dr Mackle adds that the Dairy Action for Climate Change dovetails with the work of the Biological Emissions Reference Group (BERG), a joint sector and Government reference group. The BERG’s purpose is to build robust and agreed evidence on what the sector can do on-farm to reduce emissions, and to assess the costs and opportunities of doing so. The BERG’s final report in late 2017 will be necessary to inform future policy development on agricultural emissions.

“New Zealand’s agricultural output of greenhouse gas is accentuated because we have a relatively small population, and we are not heavily industrialised. In other countries where there are larger populations the greater contribution is from the transport, manufacturing, construction, and energy sectors.

“Our agricultural sector is a very efficient producer of high-quality food – food that feeds many millions, not only in our country, but also around the world.”

New Zealand is acknowledged as a world-leader for efficiently producing milk on a greenhouse gas per unit of milk basis, as identified in a 2010 report from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Dr Mackle says this positioning is the result of New Zealand dairy cattle being healthier and largely grass fed, unlike animals in many other agricultural countries which are fed grains and other supplements that are harvested and transported. Added to this, their animals are often housed in barns, sometimes year around, not just over the winter months.

The Dairy Action for Climate Change was launched during the opening of the 49th National Fieldays by Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett.

| A  DairyNZ release  ||  June 14,  2017   |||

Published in AGRICULTURE

New Zealand’s primary industries need to latch on to technology faster to support the economic growth of its agri sector and become a world leader in a fast growing agritech market, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

NZTech members have joined hundreds of other firms at Fieldays in Hamilton this week as technology becomes increasingly important for the New Zealand agri sector.

A growing awareness of the value of technology in agriculture can be seen by the number of farmers looking into technologies such as IoT, drones, sensors and robotics, Muller says.

“A report by the IoT Alliance, due for release on June 29 looks into the economic value that IoT could bring the New Zealand economy, has identified that better use of IoT by dairy farmers could potentially generate as much as $448 million worth of net economic benefit for New Zealand.

“For example, even firms like Xero have identified how effective business processes are now critical for modern farmers promoting Xero Farming. Xero Farming in the Cloud delivers New Zealand farmers with a tool for effective farm management. Xero is delivering a farming eco-system of partners which will connect farmers with digital tools to save time.”

New Zealand is achieving good agritech export growth rates relative to other nations. Global agritech investment is expanding rapidly, with investment in agritech firms in 2014 was estimated at over $US2.36 billion making investment in agritech higher than fintech.

“With our traditional strengths in agriculture and our growing strengths in tech, this is an opportunity we should pursue with vigour. Agriculture is a big user and creator of technology,” Muller says.

“Tech sector innovations are being adopted in many agricultural areas with examples such as the application of precision agriculture on-farm and industry-wide information capture and utilisation through activities such as the development of initiatives such as the Dairy Data Network and Agrigate.

“Production costs have placed pressure on the competitive position of New Zealand agriculture in world markets. Reversing a slowdown in productivity growth is critical given the challenges the sector faces with strengthening environmental regulation.

“Digital agriculture, in the form of precision farming, big data, sensor technology and drones, delivers a new potential for productivity gains across rural New Zealand,” he says.

The tech sector is the country’s third largest and fastest growing export sector, worth over $6.3 billion in 2015 and employing 5 percent of the New Zealand workforce.

| A MakeLemonade release  ||  June 14,  2017   |||

Published in AGRICULTURE

The new John Deere 4640 Universal Display raises the bar for performance, uptime and cost of operation as part of the latest John Deere Generation 4 Operating System. For customers, this translates into better data collection, increased application functionality, and greater choice for monitoring and managing many tractor-driven field operations.

The new 4640 Universal Display enables customers to use the most common and popular John Deere applications, including AutoTrac™, documentation, and Section Control, in a portable display that has the latest internal components, design and user interface.

"The new 4640 Universal Display provides a transportable, easy-to-operate solution for customers with the John Deere Generation 4 operating system," says John Mishler, production and precision ag marketing manager for John Deere. "Some enhancements built into the display include more on-screen help and diagnostic information to keep operators running and informed of their display capabilities; simplified Work Setup app with page-by-page navigation; and greater user customization of run pages."

When it comes to performance, the 4640 Universal Display provides improved documentation for high-speed planting and nutrient applications, coupled with the latest data syncing functionalities for increased on-board/off-board flexibility. Additional enhancements include the ability to more accurately map and operate Section Control to precisely apply multiple products simultaneously with individual coverage maps and application points.

The display is designed to import new customer and product information without the risk of overwriting existing client/farm/field and guidance line information. It also has an expanded suite of Precision Ag Core applications, including AutoTrac, Section Control and documentation, as well as wireless data transfer (WDT) with the “data sync” feature for automatic transmission of work documentation to the John Deere Operations Center.

The time it takes operators to set up and start up the display has been reduced and display navigation has been improved. This equates to more uptime for the user, as a quickly learnable display results in reduced training time, more time working, and fewer operator mistakes.

Cost of operation also is lower with the 4640 Display. Improved Gen 4 applications such as AutoTrac, Section Control, and documentation increase customer profitability by helping users work more efficiently, reduce overlap and skips, and maximize inputs and field operations. Combined with Gen 4 Section Control, operators can optimize field performance using distance and speed-based turning with the ability to dial in more quickly and accurately the desired settings.

In addition, a power button has been added to the back of the 4640 Display so operators can shut the display off or reboot without powering down the tractor. The display is compatible with the Gen 4 Extended Monitor, which increases the number of run pages visible to the operator, giving easier access to more operation information.

Mishler adds that precision ag software for the display is available as either one- or five-year subscription durations and in two levels, either AutoTrac only or as Precision Ag Core that includes not only AutoTrac but also documentation and Section Control. This gives customers the flexibility to match the right software subscription level and duration to their needs.

"John Deere is the only supplier to offer machine-based precision ag subscriptions that allow customers to select the software they want and the duration of the subscription," he explains. "This gives customers a lower cost of entry into these precision ag applications and the ability to try new applications without having to buy permanent software licenses."

The 4640 Universal Display is available to order now. It is compatible with John Deere 30-Series to the latest 6R, 7R, 8R and 9R Series Tractors, as well as AutoTrac Universal and AutoTrac Controller compatible competitive tractors. Software update 17-2 is required for functionality. Precision ag application compatibility for implements and controllers, and for general applications, is limited to the latest Gen 4 OS software available.

For more information on the new 4640 Universal Display, see your local John Deere dealer or visit or

| A John Deere  release   ||  June 9,  2017   |||

Published in AGRICULTURE

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits (“Southern Glazer’s”) — the largest North American wine and spirits distribution company — today announced that it is expanding its existing distribution agreements with Delegat, a leading global super premium wine company. With the new agreements, Southern Glazer’s will be distributing Delegat brands in 15 additional markets. As a result, Southern Glazer’s will be Delegat’s exclusive distributor partner in a total of 32 U.S. market.

In addition to the 17 markets that were already represented by Southern Glazer’s, Delegat is adding Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, South Carolina, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Washington D.C.

“We are excited to extend our business relationship and represent Delegat’s world-class super premium wines across our unmatched national network,” said Mel Dick, Senior Vice President of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits and President of the Company’s Wine Division. “This significantly expanded relationship further enhances our world-class wine business and enables us to introduce these great wine brands to a broader base of Southern Glazer’s customers.”

“Delegat’s Oyster Bay and Barossa Valley Estate wines are poised for growth in light of strong consumer demand for super premium brands,” added Steve Slater Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Company’s Corporate Wine Division. “Leveraging this trend, and with our new national alignment, we are confident that we can accelerate Delegat’s presence within Southern Glazer’s key national account customer base.”

“Delegat USA has worked very successfully with Southern Glazer’s over the past decade to achieve strong growth with our category leading brands Oyster Bay and Barossa Valley Estate,” said Graeme Lord, Managing Director of Delegat Group Limited. “Extending our relationship with Southern Glazer’s will provide a powerful distribution platform across 32 markets in the United States. We are looking forward to working with Southern Glazer’s to serve our customers, grow distribution and realize the significant growth potential of Oyster Bay and Barossa Valley Estate.”

| Delegats release  ||  May 25, 2017   |||

Published in VITICULTURE
Sunday, 28 May 2017 14:14

Lives of rural NZ at risk

The lives of rural New Zealanders are at risk every day because of poor connectivity and inequitable health services, a rural health leader says.

Dr Martin London, chair of the Rural Health Alliance of Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ), says government needs to help remove barriers so rural people’s health be considered just as important as those who live in cities.

RHAANZ has 47 national member organisations encompassing rural health providers, agribusiness groups, universities, rural community groups and local government. This week it held a series of national rural conferences and meetings in Wellington.

Later, London met Health Minister Jonathan Coleman outlining RHAANZ’s priorities for improving health services in rural areas: rural wellbeing, rural connectivity, rural research and policy, rural health services and the rural health workforce.

“We reminded him that with at least 600,000 people living in rural regions, effectively New Zealand’s second largest city, we are an important constituency from an economic and political perspective.

“Overseas evidence links health and wellbeing to economic productivity. Intuitively this will apply in NZ so it is an imperative rural people receive their fair share of publicly funded health services and have equitable access to health services.

“We asked him to reinstate rural proofing across all government departments and we want to fast track a new definition of rurality as it pertains to health services in New Zealand. These are two of the most important ways we can hold policy makers to account for equitable health outcomes for rural people.

“Mobile blackspots remain a serious issue across rural New Zealand, especially in case of emergencies. Poor broadband connectivity is a barrier to education and the slow pace of UFB and RBI2 roll-outs are dampening progress, production and innovation,” London says.

The responses to major disasters such as last year’s Hurunui-Kaikoura-Marlborough earthquake show what can be done in an innovative way to bring services to rural areas. Much can be learned from these adverse events and needs to be carried over into business as usual. It’s just a pity it takes a major earthquake to do it.

“We also know there are simply unrealistic expectations placed on the rural health workforce especially in regard to emergency and after-hours services. Our rural health workforce is ageing, tired and burnt-out and we need better retention and recruitment. We need greater workforce flexibility, nurse practitioners and pharmacists for example, as a key way to improve access to health services for rural people.

“We also need to make our small towns liveable so that people want to come and to stay. If we can make our rural communities vibrant again many of our issues will be solved,” London says.

“We want a national virtual health care service for rural New Zealanders, bringing services closer to rural people and helping rural people to age in their own homes. The technology and expertise is there. We need, in an election year, evidence of the political will to see it happen.

“Agriculture and tourism are the powerhouses of our economy. Each year, more than two and a half million tourists visit rural New Zealand. In 2011-2012, $40 billion, or 19 percent of GDP, was generated directly or indirectly by the agri-food sector.

“The Government needs to work with our ideas on rural health and social services if it wants the sector to thrive,” London says.

“We will meet Minister Coleman again at the inaugural Health Hub at the annual Mystery Creek Fieldays in the Waikato next month.”

|  A MakeLemonade release  ||  May 28, 2017   |||

Published in AGRICULTURE
Thursday, 11 May 2017 09:51

Claas to build a new test centre

LEADING European farm machinery manufacturer, CLAAS, who are represented throughout New Zealand is significantly increasing its research and development capacities with the construction of a new test centre at the company’s headquarters in Harsewinkel, Germany.

Due to open early next year, the €15 million facility will merge several test laboratories at the site into a single, state-of-the-art complex.

The new complex will boast 8,000 square metres of floor space – the equivalent of about 40 full-size tennis courts – and more than 200 individual workstations and laboratories.

The centre will enable CLAAS to test the performance and reliability of components for its high-performance combine harvesters, forage harvesters and tractors under a wide range of operating and climatic conditions.

It incorporates a number of energy-saving innovations, including the use of 300 kilowatt electric drive units to test transmission components instead of diesel engines.

A heat recovery process will eliminate the need for a conventional heating system during winter, while a water system with heat exchangers fitted to the underfloor radiators will provide cooling in summer.

|  A Claas release  ||  May 10, 2017   |||

Published in AGRICULTURE

John Vosper’s family farm Cleavedale in Matamata went organic in 2003 and two years ago launched the Jersey Girl Organics brand; now the bottled milk is sold North Island-wide and fresh milk is available from two vending machines in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.

The business won the outstanding producer dairy primary award at the recent Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards.

Vosper told Dairy News the win affirms “we are on the right track; we are pleased to win award”.

He sees a growing demand for organics in New Zealand.

“Customers are increasingly concerned about where their food is coming from and how it is produced. Organic certification gives them assurance about environmental impacts and the way food is produced.”

Vosper says the farm went organic “as it fitted our farming philosophy and we hoped to increase returns”.

“Our milk is pasteurised to eliminate bugs; it is not homogenised. In the vending machine the milk is kept cold, dark and stirred.

“Jersey Girl milk is audited to strict organic standards. You can be sure the milk is free of antibiotic, herbicide and pesticide residues.”

The farm runs a herd of 250 pedigree Jersey cows, producing about 800,000L; surplus milk is sold to Fonterra.

On the system 2 farm the Jerseys graze on organic pasture, supplemented with hay, silage and maize cut from local paddocks.

A support block was used to graze replacements and produce silage. Vosper says after a series of dry summers the farm started growing maize for silage, giving more options for feed.

“Maize paddocks are planted in permanent pasture consisting of a diverse species mix. After a few years of decreasing pasture production we now have a fertiliser policy of maintaining nutrient levels in the soil and spend above-average amounts on fertiliser.”

The farm calves about 200 cows in spring and 50 in autumn; usually about 55 heifer replacements are reared.

Cows are milked in a 20-bail rotary.

Vosper says animal health is challenging at times as any animal that has a prohibited treatment has to leave the farm. “In future we will be placing more emphasis on animal health traits in sire selection.

“Last October we did four weeks of Jersey semen followed by eight weeks of using short gestation sires. Our empty rate was 10%.”

The Vosper family has been farming on Cleavedale farm for five generations.

Vosper says the family loves organic dairying.

“We love the land we live on and the animals that share it with us; we take pride in producing a top quality milk in a way that honours natural processes.

“Organic production methods require committment and energy. There are no shortcuts, no artificial fertiliser, no production line fast tracking, no modifications.”

|  A Dairy News release  ||  May 10, 2017   |||

Published in AGRICULTURE

New Zealand's pavilion at the World Expo 2020 in Dubai will have strong potential to showcase this country’s primary industry products and innovation in sustainability.

So says Catherine Beard, chief executive of ExportNZ.

The Government has just announced New Zealand will participate in World Expo 2020, to be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is committing $53.3 million to construct a NZ pavilion.

Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges says “that will allow Kiwi businesses to highlight their innovative products and services and open doors to new export markets”.

The expo site will be about 2 and will contain three themed areas: opportunity, sustainability and mobility. NZ has been invited to participate in the sustainability precinct.

Beard told Rural News Dubai is the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the UAE is NZ’s largest export market in the Middle East and the country’s 12th-largest trading partner.

“In addition NZ is close to securing a free trade deal with the wider area of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which includes the UAE and Saudi Arabia,” she says.

“If the trade deal comes off then our exports will become even more competitive than they are now and there will be increased interest from NZ firms to tackle those markets.”

This expo in Dubai will be an important showcase for NZ’s country brand, showing the range of things we can do as a country with a sustainability theme, Beard says. “GCC countries are rich in oil and gas, but lack farmland for food production and have high demand for imported food and drinks,” she says.

“NZ’s trusted dairy and meat exports meet some of that demand and there is increasing interest in food service exports into hotels, restaurant chains, etc.

“GCC countries are also motivated to reduce their trade reliance on oil and diversify their economies into high-tech and service sectors.”

Beard says the focus of NZ’s stand will be showcasing our innovation in sustainability, showing we can do more than just sell commodity products.

“I imagine we will be showcasing sustainability in farming practices right through to manufacturing and services.”

Bridges says showcasing NZ to the world is a crucial aspect of boosting economic growth. Expo 2020 will provide a springboard to promote us as an innovative, solution-focused economy to the 25 million visitors expected to attend from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.

“It will also allow us to build on our strong economic and transport links to the UAE, which acts as a global air and sea logistics hub, providing access for NZ exporters to a much wider region. We’re already well connected by five direct daily Emirates flights, contributing $700 million to the economy,” says Bridges.

The expo will run from October 2020 to April 2021.

The organisers expect about 180 nations to participate. NZ is among the first 20 to formally confirm attendance.

|  A Rural News release  ||  May 02, 2017   |||

Published in EVENTS
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