Leading New Zealand grower, Bostock New Zealand, is processing a whopping 100 tonnes of onions per hour with new automated handling equipment from Tong Engineering.
Based in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, in what is claimed to be one of the cleanest and purest growing environments in the world, Bostock New Zealand has been exporting a wide variety of quality produce including onions, apples and kiwi fruit for over 30 years. As part of the company’s commitment to producing premium produce, Bostock needed to increase the capacity and efficiency of their onion handling process, and Tong equipment, supplied by their local Tong dealer Dobmac Agricultural machinery, was a natural choice.
“After many years of positive growth, we are now exporting produce to over 20 different countries throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America,” explained Neville Gillespie from Bostock New Zealand. “With demand for our onions continuing to grow, we needed to upgrade our handling equipment to allow us to achieve a much higher throughput whilst improving our cleaning and inspecting capabilities.”
“We chose to purchase Tong equipment, as our experience has proved it to deliver on capacity, and at a quality which lasts,” said Neville. “We have a good relationship with their New Zealand dealer Dobmac, so we were confident that our new equipment could be specified to do the job we required.”
Simon Lee, Sales Manager at Tong Engineering comments “The first phase of equipment upgrades at Bostock New Zealand allowed them to effectively receive their harvested onions with a 2.4m wide Tong Caretaker machine, incorporating 6 rows of adjustable coils for effective removal of onion waste prior to a 4 man inspection area. Further to this we have just commissioned two fully automated custom built EasyFill-style box fillers to suit their large 5 tonne onion boxes.”
Neville adds “Following the increased capacity achieved with the Caretaker, we added automation to the bin filling function on our bulk unloading line. We fill 5 tonne harvest bins at up to 100 tonnes per hour in good product conditions, which means we are now capable of a throughput of over 1000 tonnes per day. Even better, when Tong and Dobmac last visited the facility, we shaved an extra 17 seconds off the time to fill each bin. Across 200 bins for the day, that’s the equivalent of another hour of operation, allowing us to process another 100 tonne into storage. The Caretaker, coupled with the fully automatic fillers, has resulted in our throughput growing out of sight!”
“By upgrading their handling systems to higher capacity, automatic onion loading, cleaning and filling equipment, Bostock have really turned the efficiency of their processes around. With our dedicated Tong dealer Dobmac Machinery on hand, Bostock have a local point of contact to discuss any future projects to ensure labour continues to be utilised in the most efficient way, whilst keeping downtime to a minimum,” added Simon.
Robotics and smart machinery could help accelerate efficiency, quality, safety - and it could save companies money, according to Professor Mike Duke from the University of Waikato’s School of Engineering.
More than 70% of the country’s exports come from the primary industries. By 2025, the MPI wants double exports to more than $64 billion.
Duke says that the way to achieve that goal could be robotics - especially in the face of increasing labour costs.
He says that the cost of importing labour, labour reliability, environmental and safety legislation are putting many companies on the back foot when it comes to profitability.
Robots, however, may cut through these issues.
“Robots have been used for decades in automotive factories and, more recently, they’ve been introduced in horticultural pack houses. However, ‘in field’ robotics is a much more difficult nut to crack, as the variability of the environment and products makes it far more difficult,” he says.
“Recent developments in computing power, algorithms and sensing, combined with advances in computer aided design and manufacturing technologies are resolving many of the problems. This will quickly lead to an army of ‘in field’ robots and smart machinery, replacing imported labour for many repetitive tasks.”
He believes that there are several examples of ‘in-field’ prototypes that are commercially viable - or a very close to it. Built in New Zealand, those prototypes can start the primary sector’s revolution.
That revolution includes harvesting, pollination, weed spraying, thinning, transportation, quality control and pasture repair.
“As the revolution progresses, we’ll have to get used to the sight of robots roaming the fields and orchards of New Zealand,” Duke says.
“There are interesting developments and opportunities linked to the introduction of robotics. One is the redesign of agricultural spaces to better utilise robots. A second is that New Zealand has a fantastic opportunity to not only improve its primary industry performance, but also export hi-tech, high-value machinery and services,” he concludes.
Zespri officially opened its Middle East office in Dubai earlier this week to manage its growing sales and marketing programmes in this region and other developing markets.
Zespri Chief Executive Lain Jager said at the event that Zespri was growing its presence across the Middle East, India and Africa and the new office would support this growth.
“More consumers in the UAE and these regions are enjoying the great taste of premium quality, healthy Zespri Kiwifruit, with sales set to increase by more than 50 percent over the next five years to over 4 million trays of New Zealand fruit and over 2 million trays of global supply (Northern Hemisphere) fruit.
“Zespri’s gold variety SunGold has proved particularly popular with consumers in the Middle East who enjoy its sweet, juicy taste and powerful health properties. Our team in-market is working hard to expand distribution across the region to introduce more consumers to our premium quality fruit and get more of them to buy Zespri Kiwifruit each week,” says Mr Jager.
Zespri’s aim is to grow overall kiwifruit consumption around the world and increase kiwifruit’s share of the global fruitbowl from a fraction of a percent, and building new markets like the Middle East, India and the United States is a key part of this.
A Maori cultural delegation led by kaumatua Kihi Ngatai officially opened and blessed the new office, installing a traditional Maori whakairo (carving) in the office. The carving is named Te Hau Marama which translates to the Wind of Understanding and embraces traditional architecture of the region which takes advantage of desert winds to keep a comfortable breeze for its inhabitants. The carving is made of kauri, traditionally used for pare (lintels) over doorways in wharenui (tribal meeting houses) in New Zealand which provided a boundary between the physical world outside and the spiritual world inside the wharenui.
It is made by James Tapiata who has made several other carvings for Zespri offices in New Zealand and around the world.
The first comprehensive OECD report on New Zealand’s environment in a decade calls for action on cows’ greenhouse gases and water pollution, better public transport and warmer housing, including cosier new-builds. It lands on the same day as another report outlining ways to cut emissions – by reducing cow numbers, reports Eloise Gibson.
It’s all about cows, although our cars and cities could also use a tidy-up, the OECD has concluded.
In their first comprehensive report on New Zealand’s environment in a decade, the OECD’s environmental review team called for agriculture to be brought into the Emissions Trading Scheme and said the Government needed a plan for meeting its greenhouse gas targets, while still earning more from exports.
Conveniently, the same day, London-based consultancy Vivid Economics published a plan commissioned by a cross-party group of MPs outlining how New Zealand could do its part to keep global warming under a 2°C increase.
Again, it was all about the cows. Even with ambitious improvements in renewable electricity generation and other sectors, Vivid concluded New Zealand will need to cut livestock numbers and plant more trees to be carbon neutral by the end of the century and meet the goals of the Paris climate accord. Cow herds would need to shrink even assuming impressive leaps in science and technology, like the fruition of Kiwi scientists’ efforts to design a vaccine making cows burp less greenhouse gas.
Both reports raise questions about how the Government’s goal of increasing exports can be reached without huge environmental costs, unless we also change how, and what, we farm.
And both reports question how New Zealand will meet its environmental goals if it keeps intensifying dairying.
“New Zealand’s growth model, largely based on exporting primary products, has started to show its environmental limits, with increased greenhouse gas emissions, diffuse freshwater pollution and threats to biodiversity. A long-term vision for the transition towards a low-carbon, greener economy is necessary,” says the OECD report.
“There are likely trade-offs between continued reliance on exporting primary products and environmental and climate change mitigation goals. New Zealand should build on its well-developed knowledge and innovation system for exporting higher value export products and decouple growth from natural resource use,” it adds.
Cars and cities feature, too. The OECD report includes advice for building more liveable homes and cities, less-polluting transport and cleaner waterways. Ramping up public transport investment instead of pouring money into roads, levelling taxes favouring diesel over petrol vehicles, doing more to encourage electric cars and better housing insulation are all on the “please do” list. And it’s not just mouldy old villas that are highlighted in the housing efficiency area. Even new houses are not being built to as high an energy-efficiency standard as they are in many other countries, meaning they may one day need retrofitting, says the report.
When it comes to cars: “Freight and people travel mostly by road; the car ownership rate is the highest in the OECD; and the fleet is relatively old and inefficient,” is its summary of New Zealand’s transport system.
The review team prefaces its comments by recognising New Zealand gets a lot of things right. We have a green reputation, our cities have plenty of green space, we are good global citizens and people have good access to clean air and pristine wilderness, it says.
The good, the bad and the going-to-get-worse
Cows feature heavily in two of the most critical parts of the OECD report – greenhouse gas emissions and waterways. On water quality, the review team notes some good progress by the government in bringing in a national policy on freshwater, and efforts by farmers and rule-makers to fence waterways and clean up Lake Taupo. But it says regional councils are implementing the national water policy slowly and patchily, saying they need more help from the government if they are going to clean up freshwater, faster.
Depressingly, the report points out there might a significant lag in the water-dirtying system, meaning pollution that has already left farms during the dairy boom is yet to reach waterways – and even with the best clean-up effort, water quality may get worse for a while.
Urban storm-water is a problem too, with the review labelling city runoff to waterways as a growing public health concern
Cows and other farm animals also cropped up as a major obstacle to meeting greenhouse gas targets. Leaving farming out of the Emissions Trading Scheme was listed as one of the main reasons why the ETS hasn’t been effective, along with a flood of cheap international credits and other measures that have kept the price of carbon too low to spur people to action.
The review recommended several ways to sharpen the ETS’ teeth, including bringing in animal burps, livestock manure and emissions from nitrogen fertiliser sooner rather than later.
“Given the significance of agricultural biological emissions, continuing to shield them from mitigation obligations would make meeting these objectives harder, place a disproportionate burden on other sectors and slow the pace of adjustment in the agriculture sector,” the report says.
Another report, also out today, by London-based climate and economic consultants Vivid Economics, laid out some options for New Zealand to reach carbon neutrality in the second half of the century, all of them requiring shifts away from farming cows.
The report was commissioned by a cross-party group of MPs called GLOBE-NZ, a chapter of GLOBE-International, a global group of parliamentarians who are working on climate and environmental issues. The New Zealand chapter was formed a year and a half ago and includes MPs from every party, led by Green MP Kennedy Graham. It paid for the report using funding from charitable donors (including the Morgan Foundation), the British and U.S embassies and companies including Vector, Mercury Energy and Z Energy.
The Vivid report came up with various scenarios for New Zealand to become carbon neutral before 2100 and do its part to meet the Paris climate goal of keeping warming to a rise of 2°C, or, ideally, lower. It concludes we can be carbon neutral this century, but not without replacing some of our cows with trees.
First the authors look at a technologically optimistic scenario, where efforts to design fixes for farm and household greenhouse gases come to fruition by 2050. Such fixes would include New Zealand’s bid to design a vaccine to cut methane belching by sheep and cows, selective breeding of more climate-friendly animals and precision agriculture to curb nitrogen waste. Electric heating and use of electric vehicles for freight would also need to make a major leap. We would still need to have less livestock, including cows - about 20–35 per cent fewer animals than today – and more forestry, but there would be room for a diverse range of land uses, including horticulture and a substantial dairy industry.
If, on the other hand, the hoped-for techno-fixes do not pan out so impressively, New Zealand would need to plant 1.6 million hectares of plantation forests to reach carbon neutrality. Again, we would need to cut the dairy herd, though not as drastically, and sheep and beef cow numbers would also need to shrink. And we would still need technological breakthroughs, for example in farming and freight transport, albeit not as radical as in the first scenario. In a third scenario, we keep all our cows, expand forestry only a little bit and ramp up reliance on electric vehicles, renewable energy and other climate-friendly strategies. But this would see us achieve carbon neutrality well after 2100.
All of the paths involved moving towards 100 percent renewable electricity, with more electric vehicles, and shifting the economy to lower-emissions industries such as forestry and crops.
An important factor is what other countries do. As the report acknowledges, there is no point moving away from intensive dairying and meat production for climate reasons if people around the world do not change their diets towards less climate-intensive foods. If demand for milk and meat continues to soar, any drop-off in New Zealand’s production might be filled with products from more-polluting countries. The authors stress the report was designed to explore ideas and options – not dictate what New Zealand should do, regardless of other considerations.
Farming of all animals, but mainly cows, currently makes up about half New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions. Unlike other developed countries New Zealand doesn’t have the comparatively straightforward option of reforming its electricity generation to radically cut emissions, because most of our power is already renewable.
So far the major gains in farms’ greenhouse efficiency – here and globally - have come from raising productivity, thus shrinking the CO2 hoof-print per kilo of food produced. But raising the productivity and intensity of farming has placed added pressure on the environment, as the Vivid Economics and OECD reports highlight.
The Vivid authors say New Zealand is in a “distinctive” position among developed countries because of its high animal emissions. But they also say we are lucky not to have to contend with an entrenched reliance on coal power, like some countries.
| A Newsroom release by Eloise Gibson is Newsroom's environment and science editor. She's written for the New Zealand Herald, Stuff.co.nz, The Listener, and BBC Future.com. Twitter: @eloise_gibson. \ March 21, 2017 ||
Waipukurau – New Zealand is potentially at risk of damaging its economy, unless the government does not act on improving rural health services, a national rural leader says.
Michelle Thompson, chief executive of the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ), says rural New Zealanders do not receive equitable health services. She says Kiwis in cities receive far better health support than in rural areas.
The RHAANZ met politicians in Parliament this week and pleaded for a much better health deal for rural people.
“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,” Thompson says.
“If the spending power of these people is considered, then the contribution of the agri-food sector is $53 billion, or one dollar in every four dollars spent in the economy. Yet the health and social services for this population are under increasing and significant pressure to deliver.
“We met with politicians from all the main parties this week and all were concerned for rural health. They are keen to follow this through and some have asked for further meetings before the election, because this has become a key election issue.
“More importantly, we hope to meet with Ministers of Health and Primary Industries as soon as possible, because the rural population of more than 600,000 needs easier access to modern health services and facilities, for the economic safeguard of our country. We need equitable health services for rural people. Currently we don’t have this and we urgently need to change this for rural people.
Rural health, a financial powerhouse
“New Zealand’s main producers live in the country and they are the economic backbone and financial heartland of our nation. So, it matters vitally to all New Zealanders that rural people have good health services and good health outcomes.
“Our appeal to government is a call to bring health services closer to home and timely transfer to emergency services when needed. We said we need a more vibrant rural health and social service workforce. We need social and technical connectivity in all rural areas. We are asking for rural health research.
“We need to make our small towns liveable so that people want to come and live there and stay. If we can make our rural communities vibrant again many of our issues will be solved,” Thompson says.
Farmers, families and more than 550 agribusinesses and organisations are readying for ‘the best day off the farm’ as the opening of Central Districts Field Days, New Zealand’s largest regional agricultural field day event, approaches on Thursday 16 March.
Manfeild Park in Feilding will come to life as a temporary city during the three-day event. Set to host more than 30,000 visitors from across the country, it provides an opportunity to soak up a cross-section of heartland New Zealand farming all in one place.
Topically interesting attractions
For the first time, the event will feature the new ASB Innovation Zone offering a unique window into the future of New Zealand’s agri-industry. A collaboration with New Zealand AgriFood Investment Week and sponsor ASB, the new zone represents one of the ways focus in the industry is shifting.
Nathan Guy, Minister for Primary Industries, is set to open the ASB innovation zone on Thursday 16 March and it will come to life with exhibitors demonstrating their future-focused products and technology, while also playing host to thought-provoking discussions in the seminar room.
Argentine Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Ricardo Negri, will arrive later on Thursday morning ahead of signing an Agricultural Cooperation Agreement with Minister Nathan Guy. This will take place in the Manfeild media suite at Central Districts Field Days with an opportunity for questions and photos following the signing.
A seminar highlight will be the youth debate on genetic modification, scheduled for 10am, Friday 17 March. Led by four of the New Zealand’s brightest young minds and chaired by John Hart, an organic sheep and beef farmer, and the Green Party candidate for Wairarapa,they will explore the contentious topic and how there could be a future for genetically modified food in New Zealand.
Central Districts Field Days, in its 24th year, rounds out New Zealand AgriFood Investment Week. Held annually in the Manawatu, New Zealand AgriFood Investment Week
delivers a dedicated programme of events designed to connect, challenge and grow the agrifood industry.
Visually intriguing attractions
One of the exhibitors inside the innovation zone is Sheep Milk NZ, who will have a chef on Thursday cooking up three dishes using a range of different sheep milk products (yoghurt, cheese, ice cream and milk powder) sourced from specialised suppliers located in different regions across the country.
Visitors will also be attracted by the big farming machinery and tools that congregate competitively at the event. The CCNZ National excavator operator championship is guaranteed to wow spectators by performing tasks like pouring a cup of tea with the heavy machinery, and the tractor pull competitions draw crowds.
There will be more tricks performed at the ultimate canines dog show running daily, and the black falcons display from the NZ Air Force drawing attention to the sky around midday on Saturday 18 March.
Central Districts Field Days runs from Thursday 16 March - Saturday 18 March. For a full programme of events and guide to the seminar series, visit www.CDFieldDays.co.nz.
| A Central districts Fieldays release | March 08, 2017 ||
TeenAg, an agriculture sector youth programme run by New Zealand Young Farmers, will receive $146,000 of support under a new partnership announced today by Youth Minister Nikki Kaye.
“This is about supporting more young people to develop skills such as leadership and learn about potential career opportunities in the primary sector, which is such a vital part of our economy,” says Ms Kaye.
“TeenAg aims to promote a positive picture of agriculture and raise awareness of agricultural careers from an early age.
“The funding announced today will support around 500 more young people to participate in the programme.”
TeenAg consists of two core elements:
TeenAg Clubs, which provide a context to learn about agriculture and develop leadership and broader life skills TeenAg Competitions, which extend and challenge competitors outside of their comfort zones to build character and leadership skills.
“It’s great to be able to support TeenAg to extend its reach, including into urban centres, and provide additional youth development opportunities for more young New Zealanders in such a pivotal sector as agriculture,” says Ms Kaye.
“This investment is being made under the Partnership Fund, which sees the Government co-invest with business, philanthropic, iwi and other partners to grow youth development opportunities.
“The Government is contributing $50,000 towards the programme, alongside $96,000 cash and in-kind support from partners including Red Meat Profit Partnership, DairyNZ, Lincoln University and Southfuels & Northfuels.
“More than $2 million of partnerships for a range of youth development opportunities have been announced so far in 2017, which shows the partnership model is delivering great results.”
New Zealand’s sheep and beef farmers have a profound story to tell about where and how our meat is produced, says Mike Lee.
New Zealand’s sheep and beef farmers are sitting on a grass-fed gold mine.
This is according to Mike Lee, the CEO and founder of New York-based food design and innovation agency Studio Industries, who says this country’s farmers have a great story to tell consumers hungry to know where and how their meat is produced.
Visiting this country, Lee says it is about creating the profound out of the mundane – and for NZ sheep and beef farmers – their mundane is profound.
“New Zealand farmers are grass farmers and it’s about building that image of turning grass into the protein on your plate.
“To me, it’s a romantic image.”
Stories, he says, are what connects people and any story about food is actually a human story – the story about the growers and farmers and where and how they produce food.
“Your story connects the food system with the human experience.”
While historically, stories were exchanged around the campfire, today’s digital “campfire” allows global connections and as Lee says, there are now so many ways consumers can hear and learn about food and the people who produce it.
He urges this country’s red meat industry to identify people who can tell stories on its behalf.
“Empower people as ambassadors to tell your amazing story for you – it’s just a matter of finding the right people.”
Lee says food today is no longer just about sustenance, it is intrinsically linked with social bonds and values. The food consumers eat says something about how they want the world to be, so in essence people are eating their values – and these include the way animals are farmed – although food also needs to deliver on taste.
To consumers, the process is the product and in the case of meat, this is about how animals are grown.
The adage “you are what you eat” has been expanded to “you are what you eat eats”- and this is where NZ’s grass-fed story is so valuable.
In New York, grass-fed meat fetches a premium and is a selling point on restaurant menus and in bone-broth cafes.
Thanks in part to the vilification of sugar, meat is now trendy, and butchers the new rock stars. In the US, there has been a resurgence of craft butcheries such as the “The Meat Hook” in New York city, where customers can watch carcases being boned out and gather information about how to make use of every part of the animal - not just the primal cuts. Even the meat sections in supermarkets are being transformed into old-fashioned butcher shops, where the carcases are cut in full view of the public, rather than being hidden away.
Lee says the “eat local” movement is acknowledging that local is not always better and how a product is produced can offset disadvantages of distance – which again favours NZ red meat producers.
| An article published on Beef+Lamb | March 01, 2017 ||