Rural Supplies

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Fruitfed Facts_Goodnature.jpg
20 April 2018 External Supplier

Constant pest pressure requires constant control

One thing all orchardists hate is waste and Bay of Plenty orchardists Geoff and Leny Leong are no exception.

The Leongs experience constant damage by rats and possums on their 7.6 ha Paengaroa orchard, where they harvest 150 avocado, 105 macadamia and 130 walnut trees annually. Facing sizeable economic losses, the problem for Geoff and Leny was how to keep on top of pests to protect their crops and trees. “We’d see rats scampering during the day,” recalls Geoff , “and in the winter you’d shine your torch down the shelter belts and see rats’ eyes shining back.” Working with New Zealand conservation technology company Goodnature, in late 2015 the Leongs established a network of 30 Goodnature A24 and 10 Goodnature A12 self-resetting traps to provide constant control of pests. Goodnature creates the world’s only pest traps that can self-reset up to 24 times for rats and 12 times for possums before needing to be reloaded. The traps are toxin-free, certifi ed A-class humane, while  also reducing the labour needed in trap  maintenance.

Since the introduction of their trap network, the Leongs have seen less foraging of and damage to their produce and trees by pests, and ultimately have more produce to sell on the commercial market. “We no longer see those rats’ eyes shining,  which is really pleasing,” says Leny.  Over a two-year period, the Goodnature A24 trap network has eradicated 700 rats, mice and hedgehogs,  and 55 possums with the A12 traps.

Speaking on the trap network, Geoff said, “The number of kills was surprising as it was much higher than we anticipated. Adding the strike counter to each trap is great for keeping tabs on how many  pests have been killed – usually carcasses are removed from the trap within 24 hours so we would never have known the size of the problem.” Having a diversifi ed orchard creates the challenge of food abundance all year round for rats and possums – avocados fruit from late spring through summer, walnuts drop in autumn and macadamias are harvested in winter. “Our Goodnature trap network enables us to have toxin-free, year-round constant control with easy monitoring. We were surprised by how the concentration of kills changed – this followed to some extent the ripening of the various crops. Because the number of rats differs due to our production, we can be responsive to changing levels because it’s so  easy to reposition the traps,” Geoff says.

It takes Geoff and Leny only six hours a year to maintain the 30 A24 rat traps, which require attention every six months, and eight hours a year to maintain their 10 A12 possum traps which get visited  monthly. All traps receive a new gas canister (the trap’s power source) and lure device every six months. Goodnature Sales and Key Account Manager Sean O’Brien says: “This project was worthwhile for us as we had not yet measured the power of a Goodnature trap network in a commercial site with high food competition over a long period of time. The Leongs’ data demonstrates that constant pest pressure requires constant control. They’ve protected their income and their assets while removing toxin use and therefore lowering the overall chemical inputs for production.”


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20 April 2018 Daniel Sutton

Now is the time to soil test

Autumn is a key time of the year to soil test paddocks.

Soil testing is important because it provides a snapshot of soil properties and nutrient levels to identify any deficiencies, imbalances or excessive levels in the soil. By quantifying these nutrient levels and comparing those to optimum levels for growing a crop, we can determine what nutrients need to be added to achieve the desired levels. From this we can then produce a fertiliser programme specific for a crop in a given paddock.

By testing in autumn, it allows time for these fertiliser plans to be created but also allows time for some of the adjustments in the soil to take effect. As an example, pH can take a significant period of  time to be adjusted through liming. The lime itself requires water to activate in the soil, so calculating the lime requirements and applying it over the autumn and winter periods levels are sub-optimal, steps may be taken to gradually improve this.

When soil sampling, there are some key considerations to make. The sampling method must be sound, as the way the soil is sampled is the greatest contributor to the variability in the test results. This includes making sure a representative sample is being taken, at the correct depth, taking into account changes in soil type, previous land use, etc.

What is being tested for is also important. A standard recommended test, i.e. “basic soil test”, for vegetable crops should include: pH, phosphorus, cation levels, CEC and base saturation. Available nitrogen, sulphate sulphur and boron are also important for vegetable crops. For instance, boron is known to play a crucial role in maintaining the internal integrity of a range of vegetable crops including potatoes and onions, as well as assisting in the prevention of cracking in carrots and parsnips. The levels of organic matter in the soil should also be tested due to the numerous soil properties and  processes organic matter influences, from overall structure of the soil to biological activity and nutrient availability. If organic matter levels are sub-optimal, steps may be taken to gradually improve this.

Agonline April 2018 Update
9 April 2018

Sheep and Beef Market Update, April 2018

North Island Sheep & Beef

Recent years have seen the Sheep and Beef sector dominated by the rise and rise in the value of Beef across all breeds, this has been great for the Beef sector and the growth in supply has mainly been at the detriment of the Sheep flock which has been in steady decline for decades.

But 2018 looks like to be the “Year of the Sheep” as prices for sheep meat is out stripping supply from most parts of the world. This has resulted a record schedule for mutton and with lamb also approaching historical highs it is good times for those committed farmers who have stuck with sheep over the years . The current store price for lambs is demand driven which continues to build each week. With the worst of the animal health threats behind us and enquiry will continue to lift from here. If only the wool price could reach the lofty heights of the meat, and with dairy conversion coming to halt we may finally see the end to the trend of a declining sheep flock. 


South Island Sheep & Beef

South Island calf sales are now in full swing. Indications is that calf prices are on par with last year with plenty of demand from local and North Island buyers. In the Canterbury region there will be some retention of calves as good growing conditions coupled with less capital stock on farm  has resulted in farmers waiting to the spring to sell their calves.
It has been good to see spring like conditions as pasture and winter crops has been rejuvenated from recent rains in Southland and Otago. This in turn will give plenty of grass covers and supplementary feed going into the winter.

Demand for store lamb continues as finishing farmers look at purchasing their quota of store lambs. The deer weaner sales are under way with the enquiry and demand outstripping supply as confidence amongst deer farmers grows.  

For more information, sign up to the Agonline email updates.

Agonline April 2018 Update
9 April 2018

Dairy and Genetics Market Update, April 2018


2 year old bull sales are just around the corner and it is time to discuss your breed objectives and requirements with your specialist team. We can help you achieve your breed objectives and reach your goals. PGW Genetics have a national video sale on the 14th May consisting of Angus, Shorthorn and Hereford bulls. The sale is a great opportunity for the breeders across the country to showcase what they are about and the direction the breeds are moving in. With fast moving markets and premiums being paid for quality beef we can help you stay ahead of the game without compromising your breed objectives.

The PGG Wrightson Genetics team have recently been in Australia checking out what’s on offer and if NZ can benefit from using new bloodlines to help you achieve even better performance from our herds. This certainly has our stud breeders open to the opportunity of benefiting our commercial breeders. If you would like to know more please don’t hesitate to contact us.



Recently MPI announced their decision to depopulate all animals from properties that are infected with Mico Plasma Bovis. There are 28 properties in total, of which 6 have already had their animals removed. The milk testing being carried out across all herds in NZ (almost completed) has identified 1 additional property, which leads MPI to believe they can control the spread of the  disease.

At some point in the future when properties commence repopulation the market may be effected, through supply and demand,  this will be largely be influenced by timing of entry and numbers of stock required.

Normal forward dairy sales of herd and heifers prior to the above announcement have been relatively slow and sporadic. This has been due to several factors including a fluctuating GTD auction, financial pressure and a general lack of confidence. As the season progresses buyer demand is expected to strengthen. 


For more information, sign up to the Agonline email updates.

Rural Diary April
6 April 2018 Stephanie Sloan

Re-grassing checklist for autumn

Autumn is the time to decide on winter production options and start preparations for spring forage. So what should be on your checklist?

Soil testing
Agricultural soils are tested to measure the soil quality and nutrient levels for monitoring fertiliser programmes and to assist with identifying nutrient deficiency or toxicity. By taking a soil test you are measuring whether soil nutrient levels are high enough to sustain the desired level of plant growth. The test indicates any deficiency, excess or imbalance of major nutrients and provides a scientific basis on which to assess fertiliser and lime requirements of crops, pastures and turf.

Soil pH
Adjusting your soil pH by applying lime in autumn is a good option to prepare for the spring cropping period. A number of high yielding, high quality feed crops such as fodder beet or lucerne require a pH of around 6-6.5. It is nearly impossible to change your pH overnight without it being a costly experience. Lime applications in autumn allow the product to move down the soil profile, neutralising acidity and thereby lifting the pH of the paddock.

Looking ahead
Developing your maintenance and/or capital fertiliser programme before autumn is beneficial because autumn is often the most practical time to apply your maintenance or capital fertiliser in the farm calendar. The average stocking rate of your farm block is used to calculate your P-K-S balance. There are a number of options available to replace nutrients that have been mined from the soil or to build the fertility of your soil. Selecting a fertiliser product that has various phosphate, potassium and sulphur combinations is a sensible option for autumn maintenance applications. Autumn and spring are great times to apply a product that has both plant available sulphate sulphur and elemental sulphur, which is a slow release form that does not leach as readily over periods of high rainfall.

Splitting your fertiliser applications in autumn and spring provides you with multiple opportunities to lift nutrient levels. Including nitrogen to boost pasture growth and build feed covers is a cost-effective option when moving into winter, or to fill an upcoming feed gap while soil temperatures are still high and growing conditions are favourable.

Damage to pasture is often a consequence of a wet spring and can have a negative effect on future dry matter production from this area. Most damaged pastures do not recover to their initial state over the summer months and gaps in pastures fill with low-producing weeds and grasses. The aim of undersowing is to get productive plants established in these gaps before the weeds and the process involves drilling seed into damaged, old or failing pastures without spraying.

Completing the cycle
When your paddock has been through a number of crops and is ready to be planted back into a long term pasture option, aligning paddock preparation with ideal soil nutrient levels and cultivar selection to allow the best opportunity at longevity is critical. Crops remove large amounts of nutrients. Making sure they have been replaced over the cycle is significant for your overall pasture yield.

For advice about re-grassing for autumn, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.
Rural Diary April
5 April 2018 Gary Bosley

Weed control in new pasture

When establishing a new pasture, the end game is to have a high performing feed for your livestock.

Weeds compete with your newly establishing pasture for space, light, moisture and nutrients, reducing its performance and longevity. Weed control is essential to give your new seedling plants the best start in life.

There are two types of weeds, perennial or annual, and they can be either grass or broadleaf plants. I cannot express enough how important it is to control all perennial weeds before planting your new pasture. This can be done by crop rotation and the use of selective herbicides in other crop species other than those in pasture, and spraying with an appropriate dose of glyphosate during spray out before and after each crop is grown. If perennial weeds are already established and large, they have a head start competing with your new pasture and it is nearly impossible to kill perennial weeds using clover safe chemicals.

For annual weeds, however, they grow from seed at the same time as your pasture and usually at the same pace. Due to these weeds being at the same growth stage as your newly sown pasture species, it makes life easier when it comes to timing of your herbicide sprays so getting coverage of a spray is much easier. Because the weeds are small, the use of clover safe chemicals is also more effective on them, leaving a clean weed free pasture.

Sprays containing MCPB+MCPA, MCPB, bentazone or flumetsulam are commonly used to control a large spectrum of broadleaf weeds in new pasture. As long as the seedling pasture grasses and other species are at the right growth stage, they are safe too. Weeds in general should be sprayed before they reach the 4-6 leaf stage to ensure good control, however, in many cases the broad leaf constituent of your pasture mix (clover or herbs) must be big enough for the spray to be used.

All too often I get calls from farmers who haven’t got onto the weeds early enough and then need to salvage the situation. This poses a number of problems. Firstly, by letting the weeds get too big the damage is already done as far as effecting the establishment of your pasture. Having to spray big weeds, you need more robust chemistry that won’t be as clover safe and reduces the performance of your establishing pasture.

Top tips:

  • Control all perennial weeds before planting your new pasture.
  • Make the most of spray-out glyphosate products and crop rotation, using other non-pasture safe chemicals.
  • Walk the new pasture and monitor and identify weed species and size.
  • Select a herbicide appropriate to the weeds, pasture species and size.
  • Aim to spray the weeds before they get six true leaves, don’t let them get too big and get in a salvage situation.

For advice on planning the right weed control programme, contact your PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.

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