Week in Review
In Aotearoa the government is supporting a $1.7 million project using genomic sequencing to improve the breeding of farm dogs. There are over 200,000 workings dogs across the country, and the AL Rae Centre for Genetics and Breeding is leading the project to identify desirable traits and develop new genomic prediction criteria to improve selection of farm dogs. Latest data from New Zealand Wine Growers shows demand for New Zealand-made wine has soared internationally, especially with the unlocking of the US market. Wine exports were worth $2.4 billion in the year to May, up 25% on the previous year. A new report by FoodHQ has identified four emerging protein types that New Zealand could become a leader in producing: hemp, leafy greens, seaweed and fungi. The report ranked New Zealand’s chances of success for 10 novel proteins looking at metrics of competition, natural resources, know-how and regulation. Dr Victoria Hatton, chief executive of FoodHQ, says given the limited resources and investment New Zealand has compared to other countries, it is important to understand what capabilities we have that can be used to the nation’s advantage in the emerging protein supply market.
In international news, Indonesia has suspended the import of live cattle from four Australian export facilities after detecting lumpy skin disease (LSD) in livestock from Australia, a number of days after they arrived in Indonesia. Although LSD is a highly infectious disease transmitted through insects it does not pose any risk to human health, there have never been cases of LSD detected in Australia. Authorities are currently working to test for LSD and restore exports from the four affected facilities. China announced in July its decision to impose 100% inspection protocols on seafood imports from Japan to safeguard consumers. This comes as Japan plans to release treated and diluted radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant this summer. China’s response has effectively blocked fresh fish imports as the measures mean seafood is held for weeks at customs. Indian researchers have developed a photovoltaic-driven (transforming sunlight into energy), environmentally controlled, indoor farming technology for off-grid farms. The system combines crop growth enhancement with efficient water resource management. The prototype was tested using a complete tomato crop cycle and resulted in an increased leaf area index and higher return on investment compared to open fields. The technology has potential to transform global agriculture and generate renewable energy.
- Science sets out to round up better farm dogs
- International demand for NZ wine up 25% from last year
- New proteins NZ could be best at growing
- Indonesia suspends live cattle imports from four Australian facilities after lumpy skin disease found
- Japan protests China’s rigid radiation checks on fish imports
- How modern agriculture technology are redefining farming forever
Farmers & Producers spotlight
Cyber crime puts farm hacking on tech security’s radar [2 August, Farmers Weekly]
The agriculture industry's increased adoption and reliance on technology has left it exposed to potential cyber attacks warns cybersecurity expert, Alistair Miller. Recent data from the governments Computer Emergency Response Team shows a significant 66% surge in direct financial losses due to cybercrime in the agriculture sector during the first quarter of 2022 in comparison to the same period in the previous year. Cyber criminals are increasingly targeting businesses through their IoT systems and sensors which control heating, cooling, irrigation, security, and lighting. Once a system has been accessed, offenders seek to "cause chaos" by altering sensor settings, which can lead to destroyed crops. Businesses are advised to segregate their system networks and educate employees on how to spot suspicious emails and texts.
Tags: Farmers & Producers, Rural Communities
Research & Development spotlight
Feijoa study focused on targeting Type 2 diabetes [1 August, Farmers Weekly]
Researchers at the University of Auckland are conducting a six-month study focused on the feijoa fruit to learn more about its potential to help prevent Type 2 diabetes. Researchers believe that feijoas contain compounds such as polyphenols and abscisic acid that may help reverse pre-diabetes symptoms. The study will involve giving adults with elevated blood sugar a gram of whole fruit feijoa powder or a placebo every day. Participants will also follow a low energy Cambridge weight-loss diet for eight weeks and complete a four-month weight maintenance programme. The study is aimed at overweight individuals who are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes but have not yet contracted it. The study is being supported by the High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge and is a collaboration between the University of Auckland, AgResearch, the Malaghan Institute, and Plant and Food Research.
Tags: Research & Development
Cromwell orchard launches New Zealand’s first driver-optional, fully electric tractor [31 July, The Country]
New technology has arrived in New Zealand with the launch of the MK-V Monarch tractor in Cromwell. The tractor is the country's first driver-optional, fully electric tractor and was launched at Forest Lodge Orchard - the world's first 100% electric, zero-fossil fuel orchard. Owner Mike Casey spent two years working to get the tractor into New Zealand, which arrived from California two weeks ago. The launch was attended by 150 people, including farmers, environmentalists, and politicians. Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor stated the launch was an exciting step forward for the agriculture industry and a step towards the future of decarbonisation across agriculture.
Tags: Research & Development, Farmers & Producers, Environment & Emissions
The Australian merino wool industry could face supply difficulties if Western Australia's sheep flock decreases due to the federal government’s commitment to the phase-out of live sheep exports. The industry has predicted a potential 20 to 30 percent drop in the state's sheep flock if the federal government is re-elected. This could lead to a decline in wool supply and make wool products more expensive and less accessible. China has heavily invested in wool processing technology over the last few decades and there is a fear they could turn to other fibres like synthetics if the supply of sustainable wool from Australia decreases. There are also concerns from industry members, including wool buyers and shearing contractors about the potential impact on employment and the future of the industry.
Tags: Farmers & Producers, International
Garston Hops farm proves they can grow in the south [1 August, Stuff]
Garston Hops, a hops farm in Southland has secured a $2.5 million loan from the government's Regional Strategic Partnership Fund to expand its business and create a "hops community" in the region. Most New Zealand hops are grown in Nelson. The loan will be used to construct a large shed and machinery to harvest, dry and press the hops on the farm and other farms in the future. Their goal is to have the new shed and machinery fully operational by March 2025. Garston Hops is the only commercial hops farm in Southland, and have been harvesting commercial crops for two years, with 10ha of hops harvested this year and will grow to harvest 23ha next year. The company hopes that the funds will lead to more hop growers establishing in the region, providing a new crop option and diversifying Southland’s economy.
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