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24 May 2018 External Supplier

Drape Net trials prove benefits

With three years of use in local apple and pear orchards throughout New Zealand’s major growing regions, Drape Net® is showing benefits to growers’ returns.

The black Drape Net has a 25% shading factor due to the black impregnated polymer pigment, reducing the impact of sunlight on the apple skin, says industry consultant Bruce Gemmell.
Bruce has been working with Fruitfed Supplies Hastings senior representatives Gary Speers and Richard Griffiths who have now trialled black Drape Net in numerous Hawke’s Bay Granny Smith blocks. Gary and Richard report that growers are getting increased pack-out due to reduced sunburn and fewer cosmetic defects on the Drape Net-covered blocks.

Richard says: “Being a green apple, Granny Smiths have always had an inherent problem of attracting sunburn or a red blush, which reduces export pack-outs. With growers either reinvigorating or planting new Granny Smith blocks, the ability of Drape Net to help prevent sunburn is an important focus for this variety. As sunburn is one of the leading reject factors in all apple varieties, not only Granny Smith, we can see Drape Net’s further application for this purpose.” Bruce reports that, this season, some growers were getting to the stage that pickers were harvesting fruit into two different bins at picking time to speed up the process of sending the good green Granny Smiths to their packhouse.

With many existing Granny Smith trees reaching 4.5m in height due to older more vigorous rootstocks Drape Net has also had the effect of controlling shoot extension growth. In one orchard, after two years of application, trees did not need to be pruned last winter. This has led to reduced tree input costs and easier Drape Net application.

Drape Net application contractor Jamie Gemmell says the reduced extension growth following two years of Drape Net application on tall Granny Smith trees made it far easier to put the nets on. With three years of Drape Net application experience, Jamie says the best way to apply netting properly over trees is with the specially-developed NetWizz applicator. “Drape Net’s NetWizz applicator gives the correct cover and net tension which ensures spray coverage and fruit rub do not become issues.”

Further trial work with Drape Net and other tree growing systems will continue in the coming season, specifically in new apple plantings. Internationally, Drape Net is sending major shipments to North American and South African growers who have seen the benefits gained by New Zealand and Australian growers. Drape Net was originally developed over 15 years ago by an Australian orchard trying to negate the devastating effects of hail. It offers a cost effective way of protecting tree crops from hail, birds, sunburn, wind damage and specific insects, and also disrupts codling moth flight and reduces under-tree evapotranspiration. For further information, please contact your local Fruitfed Supplies Technical Horticultural Representative.

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Fruitfed Supplies' trainees get stuck in

24 May 2018

Late last year PGG Wrightson initiated a new trainee programme for retail sales representatives, with four Rural Supplies and two Fruitfed Supplies trainees selected to start in 2018.

Mentored by highly-experienced Technical Field or Horticultural Representatives, the trainees learn about the wider PGG Wrightson business through a structured programme of modules and assessments. They also complete the company’s in-house NZQA accredited programme to gain a National Certificate in Rural Servicing (Level 4). The trainees work full-time in the business for 18 months while completing the programme, leaving them well positioned to move into a permanent role as a fullyfledged Technical Sales Representative. The two successful applicants for the trainee positions within Fruitfed Supplies are Kirsten Ellmers (pictured), based at the Richmond store, and Paul Kahaki, based in Gisborne.

Kirsten, who has a Bachelor of Arts and English, and a Diploma of Science and Technology, was looking for the right role to commence her professional career. Her background includes fulltime work on a Havelock North pip and stonefruit orchard, university holiday work on a sheep and beef station in Rere, Gisborne, helping out at the Matawhero saleyards, and growing up in the rural/equestrian community. The 24-year-old says she’s keen to make the most of the programme’s variety. “I am enjoying being part of this year’s academy group. It’s an excellent place to make contacts and meet people who relate to where I’m at in the trainee programme. I enjoy learning from the Richmond store staff. I am very grateful to be chosen for the programme. The move to Nelson has been a great kick-start to a potential career in Fruitfed Supplies and PGG Wrightson, and I look forward to progressing through the programme.”

Paul Kahaki, age 35, is originally from a Gisborne farming family. “I lived in Auckland for 19 years and saw this as a great opportunity to return home and start a career in farming.” Paul says: “Growing up on the East Coast I spent a lot of time on the farm with the olds, school was non-existent during October whilst docking, and I have always had a keen interest in sheep and beef systems. Comparing farms up the coast back then and the same operations today, the growth and technical development have increased dramatically. As part of the trainee academy, I have chosen to study the export of beef into China. Whilst study has come as a bit of a shock, it is developing my knowledge of a key market New Zealand supplies. “I want to be seen as a trusted technical advisor dealing with the farms I grew up around, helping grow their farming businesses. So far, the programme is great. I’m learning a lot of information that will help me further down the track. I have met a lot of key people within the business in a short space of time, and enjoyed some travel already."

Effluent testing and use: knowing what is in your pond

01 June 2018

Having the ability to utilise dairy effluent as a source of nutrients for pasture growth effectively utilises on-farm resources.

Dairy farm effluent is mainly comprised of dung, urine, udder wash water, milking plant wash water and milk spillages. It contains valuable nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur) and adds organic matter to your soil profile. When using effluent as a nutrient source on-farm, the nitrogen availability to plants is generally less in comparison to granular fertiliser applications, due to the nutrients being bound up in your soil’s organic matter.

The crude protein of a feed is the nitrogen percentage multiplied by 6.25. When using this equation, it shows that the crude protein content of the diet can result in significantvariation of the nitrogen analysis within the effluent. Nitrogen put into the animal that doesn’t come out in milk protein potentially ends up in your effluent as dung or urine. When working in a dairy system, the basic minimum crude protein number required by a dairy cow is 18 percent. Quite often during the spring and autumn this can reach as high as 25 to 30 percent crude protein in a ryegrass/white clover sward. As a result, the nitrogen content in the effluent system may be higher, as crude protein supply of the diet exceeds the animal’s demand.

As your pasture moves into its reproductive phase (seed head) over the summer months, the crude protein generally decreases. However, the pasture crude protein may be higher if you have irrigated pastures. Taking samples of your effluent in spring and again in summer (due to the variance in your dairy cows’ diet), will give you a more accurate assessment of the nutrient composition of the effluent being applied.

How do you sample?

Hill Laboratories carries out dairy effluent tests. The comprehensive analysis allows you better proof of placement around annual loading rates, as well as effective plant demand vs supply application rates. Wherever possible, synchronising effluent applications with your herd and paddock rotations allows for sufficient time between grazing and nutrient uptake. Nutrient concentrations in your effluent results are reported as milligrams per litre (mg per L), where mg per L is the same as kilograms in one million litres. This is useful to comprehend as we apply fertiliser in kg per ha and effluent ponds are often measured in mega litres (ML).

Nitrogen availability varies between liquid and solid effluent. Liquid effluent often has a high proportion of nitrogen that is plant-available. On the other hand, effluent sludge is predominately in the organic slow release form. The sludge needs to be mineralised in order for the nutrients to be converted into plant available forms.

For more advice or to complete an effluent test, ask your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.

How to ensure a profitable lucerne stand

01 June 2018

When it comes to weed control in lucerne, there’s really only one option says Central Otago Farmer, Barry Smith. And that’s to spray Gramoxone® 250 during winter months when the crop is dormant.

Lucerne is a highly nutritious feed which supports excellent stock growth rates in spring and summer. It has a reputation as a challenging crop to manage. However, by following some basic guidelines, it is possible to grow a successful stand.

Barry grows about 100 ha of lucerne on his sheep and beef property in the Maniototo area, which is in Central Otago. He works with Spray Contractor, Richard Mulholland from Donegal Contracting and PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative, John Kreft.

“Profitable lucerne production is based on a rapidly growing, dense stand” explains John. “Lucerne does not tolerate competition from weeds, so winter weed spraying is essential to maintain longevity and maximise the production of high quality feed.

“We always recommend Gramoxone 250 because it’s been used for years and it works well. It eliminates most weeds for a clean paddock.”

Syngenta Gramoxone 250 is a non-selective, non-residual contact herbicide. It is normally applied to lucerne at a rate of 2.4 L per ha and often combined with a residual herbicide (atrazine) to increase residual.

“Only established paddocks (stands that are one year old or more) should be sprayed with the combination of Gramaxone 250 plus atrazine” continues John. “Winter is the best time, when the lucerne is dormant, usually from early July through to September.

“Prior to spraying, the crop should be grazed firmly to remove excess lucerne and weed foliage. More bare soil showing results in better residual control.”

It is advisable to allow 10 to 14 days between grazing and spraying, as dirty foliage will deactivate Gramoxone 250.

Spray Contractor Richard has worked with Gramoxone 250 since the early 1980s. He agrees that it is the only option for effective weed management in lucerne. And they cover around 5,000 to 6,000 ha of lucerne each year.

"We’ve tried different products over the years, but nothing seems to have the same quick burn off that Gramoxone 250 provides” explains Richard. “Gramoxone 250 is cost-effective because it does what it’s supposed to. Many farmers only use it every second year as a result."

Barry sprays approximately half of his crop (50 ha) each year. Both Richard and Barry rely on PGG Wrightson to supply the products they require and they’ve worked closely with John for over 10 years. “John is very helpful and approachable. Getting what we need from PGG Wrightson when we need it is never a problem” confirms Barry.

It is important to ensure you are using the right herbicide and application rates. Contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative to check your lucerne paddocks and provide you with the right advice.

Article sponsored by Syngenta

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