Week in Review

In Aotearoa, Agri-Women’s Development Trust applications for ‘Escalator 2024’ are now open until October 9. Escalator is an impact leadership accelerator programme which runs for 10-months to empower purpose-driven women with the mindsets, skills, and connections to create systemic change in our sector and rural communities. According to horticulture experts, growing bananas could help solve water pollution issues for farmers in the Far North. Bananas are a sustainable alternative to beef farming as the plant prevents pollution, absorbs nitrates and phosphates, and is drought and flood resistant. Bananas could also be more profitable to beef farming, horticulture expert Aaron McCloy suggests as much as $30,000 per hectare per year. However farmers diversifying into bananas are more conservative with expected annual earnings, saying they are mainly trying it for the environmental benefits. ANZ Bank has provided a $250 million debt facility to Lodestone Energy to support the construction of new solar farms in New Zealand. The facility will allow the solar energy firm to expand its renewable energy portfolio beyond the five solar farms it has already announced. Informing New Zealand Beef (INZB) programme attendees have returned from visiting the US and Canada. The group found New Zealand is behind North America in genetic science and methane emissions research. The INZB group was impressed by the significant collaboration between universities, commercial companies, farmers and breed societies. Also impressive was the scale and progress in reducing methane emissions in beef cattle through genetic science and technology like sensors and AI.

In international news, a delegation of 50 New Zealand business representatives are visiting India this week (one of the largest ever delegations to India), to strengthen economic ties exploring opportunities in various sectors, including agriculture, renewable energy, and horticulture. Japan will begin releasing radioactive wastewater into the ocean this week from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. They are facing opposition from fishing communities, China, and some scientists - the water contains tritium and concerns have been raised over food safety and reputational damage to Japanese seafood. China's economic recovery has stalled, affecting New Zealand's primary sector. Declining imports and export growth contraction is causing concerns about weakening consumer demand. China’s central bank has cut lending rates and introduced policies to support the private sector, but a recent survey found most NZ companies remain committed to the Chinese market. Open Country Dairy is expecting Chinese demand for dairy products to improve from January 2024, and do not believe a significant turnaround in the Chinese economy is required to improve purchasing behaviour. In Northern Ireland, the winter barley harvest has been disappointing, with high moisture content driving up drying costs, however winter beans have been a success story.

Spotlight Stories

Aquaculture spotlight


Freshwater seaweed trials a sparkling success  [18 August, Farmers Weekly]

A successful trial testing the use of seaweed to clear pollution from waterways has been conducted in Thames, New Zealand. The study by AgriSea and Waikato University used seedlings of sea lettuce to soak up freshwater contaminants from the Waihou Estuary. The resulting filtered water had 90% less nitrates and 70% less phosphorus. The successful results have led to plans to scale up the project. Partnerships with local government and other interested parties such as water treatment companies, local iwi, farmers and landowners are being considered to help achieve this. The project was co-funded by the government's Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund, AgriSea and AGMARDT.

Tags: Aquaculture, Environment 

Research & Development spotlight

Working in a lab

Bacteria that ‘eat’ methane could slow global heating, study finds [22 August, The Guardian]

A recent study conducted by researchers from California University Long Beach propose using methane-eating bacteria to slow down global warming. Methanotrophs, a group of bacteria that can naturally convert methane to carbon dioxide and biomass, can remove methane from the air. At present, most proposed solutions are focused on decreasing emissions, however researchers stress both removal and decreasing emissions are needed. The technology has the potential to help slow global warming, but to implement this technology on a mass scale, thousands of high-functioning reactors would be needed.

Tags: Research & Development, Emissions

Headline Stories

Fishing net

Net gain as old fishing gear recycled for other uses [21 August, Stuff]

Sealord and Motueka Nets, a Port Nelson based business who have a national and international reputation for making and repairing nets, have partnered to repurpose tonnes of expired nylon fishing nets. According to Bill Healey, the fleet harvest manager at Sealord, Sealord have been exploring solutions to handle midwater trawl nets that have become obsolete for fishing for approximately 15 years. The nets are composed of nylon, polyethylene and steel, and couldn’t be recycled without dismantling. Motueka Nets experience and skills in net-making are being applied to dismantling the nets. The nets will have a new life with the polyethylene ropes given away to farms, the steel work recycled in Nelson, and the nylon nets now being shipped to Spain where they will be repurposed into other products including mussel farming ropes. 

 Tags: Fisheries

sheep on hill

Emissions pricing plan 'tone-deaf' [18 August, Rural News]

The New Zealand government has announced the final timeline for its emissions pricing plan, including mandatory reporting of farm-level emissions from Q4 2024 and pricing starting in Q4 2025. The government's plan also includes the recognition of scientifically validated sequestration under the country's emissions trading scheme (NZ ETS). Sector leaders in New Zealand have criticised the government's emissions pricing plan, with concerns raised about the timing of the announcement, and the lack of detail on issues such as cost and revenue recycling. They feel this final plan has not been designed in partnership with the sector and instead has only created more uncertainty and complexity for farmers. The red meat sector is anticipated to be most impacted by emissions pricing, and industry leaders have called for a focus on creating a practical and cost-effective emissions measurement and reporting framework before pricing is considered.

Tags: Farmers & Producers

Concrete wall

Full of beans: scientists use processed coffee grounds to make stronger concrete [22 August, The Guardian]

Researchers at Australia’s RMIT University have developed a technique to recycle used coffee grounds, incorporating them into concrete to make the concrete stronger. By converting the coffee waste into biochar and replacing a portion of the sand typically used in concrete, the engineers enhanced the material's strength by 29.3%. Using coffee waste as a substitute for natural sand in construction materials could improving the sustainability of the construction industry, as well as reducing food waste going to landfill and the demand for natural sand. The researchers are collaborating with local councils to explore the use of the new material in infrastructure projects.

Tags: Research & Development, Food waste

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