Week in Review

In Aotearoa, Pāmu’s Aratiatia Farm is creating the cornerstone of a new deer milking industry. The state-owned farm located north of Taupō is now in its third season, milking 175 red deer hinds once a day. Milk is processed at the Waikato Innovation Park’s spray dryer where it is turned into a high-value products for the export market. A new agricultural model developed for the arable sector, funded by Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, suggests diversification by Canterbury dairy farmers to include wheat, could result in almost eight times less CO2-e biogenic emissions and consume a third less water for irrigation than as a dairy system alone, as well supporting national self-sufficiency in wheat. New Zealand and the United Kingdom have agreed to bring forward their Free Trade agreement (FTA) to the 31st of May. The FTA will eventually allow tariff-free access for beef and lamb into the UK. Beef + Lamb New Zealand, chief executive, Sam Mclvor said is the FTA is good news for sheep and beef farmers, rural communities, and the New Zealand economy.

Internationally, the FTA between the United Kingdom and Australia is also being brought into force on May 31st. This is good news for Australia’s winemakers, farmers, and fishers as it will eliminate tariffs on 99% of Australian goods going to the UK, and increase quotas for beef, sheep meat, dairy, sugar, and wheat. The trade deal also increases cooperation on biosecurity, animal welfare and antimicrobial resistance. In Queensland Australia, three universities have launched the Food and Beverage Accelerator (FaBA) with the intention to double the value of Australia’s food and beverage manufacturing sector by 2030. FaBA will create a projected 1,700 skilled jobs, 20 new start-ups and 30 new products and ingredients. FaBA will bring together some of Australia’s top researchers and industry leaders to pioneer efficient, and more nutritional and sustainable ways of manufacturing foods and beverages. In Canada, the largest wheat crop in 20 years is to be planted to meet strong demand and the favourable wheat prices. This will be an increase of 6.2% on the previous year, taking the total wheat land area to 23 million acres.

Spotlight Stories

Agri-Technology Spotlight


Why Farmers Business Network launched Norm, an AI advisor for farmers built on ChatGPT [4 May, AgFunder]

Farmers Business Network (FBN), a US farmer-to-farmer network and e-commerce platform, has launched a chatbot named Norm, which uses OpenAI's GPT-3.5 technology to provide near-real-time farming advice to registered farmers in their network. Norm draws on publicly available data and FBN's proprietary data feeds to assist growers with a range of topics including farm equipment, planting times, soil health, and input guidance. The chatbot has been developed with farmer input from the start and is intended to be a first-line advisor to FBN’s members across dozens of topics. FBN stresses that Norm is not a replacement for agronomy advice, and does not want it used for animal health or crop protection purposes, as agriculture in the US is governed by a complex web of legal and regulatory requirements that vary from one state to the next. 

Tags: Agri-technology 

Horticulture Spotlight


Australia's biggest kiwi fruit grower, Seeka, gambles on jujubes for expansion [7 May, ABC News]

Seeka, the largest producer of kiwi fruit and nashi pears in Australia, is investing millions of dollars to plant 40,000 jujube trees in Victoria, Australia. Although not widely recognised in Australia, jujubes have been a dietary staple and traditional medicine ingredient in many Asian cultures for thousands of years. Seeka's General Manager, Jonathan Van Popering, believes the fruit is well-suited for the region's climate, requires minimal water, and is a prolific producer. Seeka's young jujube trees also performed well during a recent flood when mature kiwi vines were less resilient. The company intends to export some of the fruit to prevent saturating the Australian domestic market and to process the majority into dried jujubes, as 90% of the world's jujube consumption is as a dried product.

Tags: Horticulture 

Headline Stories

Zespri pleased with new kiwifruit auction system [8 May, RNZ]

Zespri has successfully auctioned off kiwifruit licences for Sungold and RubyRed opting for an ascending-price auction system over a bid tendering system for the first time this year, to provide greater price transparency. This year Sungold was also split into two auctions, with 200 hectares reserved for growers wishing to transition from Haywood green kiwifruit. These licences sold for $678,000 per hectare, and another 148.8 hectares in the unrestricted auction were sold for $700,000 (below last year's median price of $921,150). For RubyRed licences, nervousness around growing the product saw 125.8 hectares of the 150 hectares available sold for $38,000 per hectare (down from last year's median of $147,000). 

Tags: Horticulture

Dive in log prices making harvesting uneconomic [8 May, RNZ]

In New Zealand, log prices dropped by 14% between March and April for A-grade logs as China's expected seasonal increase in consumption failed to materialise. Current prices, selling at $112 - $115 per A-grade log, are uneconomical for harvesters, according to Laurie Forestry's managing director, Allan Laurie, and need to be in excess of $120 to be economic. Mr Laurie is frustrated that logging exporters were trying to push prices up when market signals already showed China's construction boom ending. Laurie Forestry is calling for a strategic approach to explore alternative markets, such as Europe and India, to avoid the current peaks and troughs in log prices and the stress it places on contractors and forest workers. 

Tags: Forestry

A foot in the door of the alternative protein market [9 May, Farmers Weekly]

New research funded by the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge suggests that developing a pea and fava bean protein market in New Zealand would have high environmental benefits, with peas and beans requiring half the amount of water and five times less nitrogen used to grow mainstream crops. However, the potential development of the market hinges on increasing the value of the crop for growers and building a protein processing plant, estimated to cost around $50 million. Food manufacturers would need to place greater value on locally grown protein, as well as requiring greater cooperation between growers, processors, and food manufacturers to make it feasible. 

Tags: Alternative Proteins 

Get in touch


Audit – Auckland
Ian Proudfoot
09 367 5882
Agri-Food – Auckland
Andrew Watene

09 367 5969
Management Consulting – Wellington
Justine Fitzmaurice
04 816 4845
Private Enterprise – Hamilton
Hamish McDonald 

07 858 6519
Farm Enterprise – South Island
Brent Love

03 683 1871
Agri-Food - South Island
Paulette Elliott
+64 2788 61744

Field Notes Administrator
Demosson Metu
+64 9365 4073