Week in Review

In Aotearoa, the Horticulture and Agriculture Teachers Association (HATA) have collaborated with industry initiatives, Agribusiness in Schools and Sow the Seed, to launch a revised "Primary Industries Scholarship" webpage. This webpage allows students to easily browse a wide range of scholarship opportunities in the food and fibre sector. Federated Farmers latest Farm Confidence Survey reveals a slight increase in farmer confidence compared to record-low results seen in 2023. While farmers remain concerned about inflation, interest rates, policy, and weak commodity prices, there is a cautious sense of optimism among some farmers anticipating improved conditions. The Livestock Improvement Corporation Limited has introduced a facial eczema breeding value to help farmers to breed disease-resistant cows. This breakthrough comes at a crucial time in the sector as climate change is increasing the range and prevalence of facial eczema. The disease impacts thousands of cows and annually costs the sector over $100 million in lost production.  In late 2023, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) sent auditors to the East Coast of New Zealand to investigate the management of its certification system, prompted by complaints over the significant damage to property and infrastructure caused by slash. The recently released results of the audit showed serious shortcomings in New Zealand’s certification bodies, just one major non-conformity shy of the certification bodies receiving potential suspensions.

In international news, the global dairy trade auction saw the average dairy price fall for the first time in four months, dropping by 2.3%. Farmers are closely monitoring the price of whole milk powder, which fell by 2.8%, as it has the greatest impact on the farmgate payout price. In Australia, the Bureau of Statistics has reported that chicken meat has overtaken lamb in value for the first time. The value of sheep and lamb has dropped by 7.6% whilst poultry has experienced a steady increase. This shift has been driven by the volatile sheep and lamb market compared to the more consistent poultry supply chain. In Europe, a recent study has shown that farming regions have ammonia levels four times higher than other areas, with agriculture accounting for about 80% of the ammonia in the air. This ammonia primarily comes from nitrogen fertilisers and animal waste, and when it interacts with vehicle emissions can lead to particle pollution. Meanwhile, Croatian food tech company and craft bakery, Boogie Lab, will soon expand their operations into the United States with their new micro-bakery opening in New York. Boogie Lab is known for its unique approach to sourdough fermentation, using smart fermenters technology and advanced sensors to precisely control the baking process. 


Spotlight Stories

Trade Spotlight:

Beef cows in paddock

Farmers hailed as Irish grass-fed beef given all-Ireland EU status [ 3 March, Farming UK]

Beef farmers in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have been awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status within the European Union (EU) for their grass-fed beef. The decision comes after a collaborative effort by The Livestock & Meat Commission for Northern Ireland, Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board), processors and farmers to put through a successful application. The PGI recognises the unique climate, landscape and practices specific to Ireland that produce Irish grass-fed beef. PGI status is given to a product to highlight its origins, quality and reputation, giving producers a point of difference in the marketplace. Examples of PGI products are Champagne and Central Otago Wine. 

Tags: Protected Geographical Indication, Ireland, beef industry; grass-fed

Apiculture Spotlight:

Pot of honey

A gentle tap to the hive can reveal health of honeybee colonies, study confirms [5 March, Phys Org]

A study conducted by Nottingham Trent University has investigated the reaction of bees to short and weak vibrational knocks on hives to understand the activity and health of honeybee colonies. Traditionally, beekeepers inspect hive health by opening them, but this is invasive and can cause detriment to the colony. Bee colonies are understood to follow specific patterns of activity throughout the year, in that they should be active in warmer seasons and idle in colder seasons. In the study, accelerometers were embedded in multiple hives to give out gentle pulses (a gentle tap) causing unique buzzing reactions from the bees. Key findings showed that bees were less reactive when busy during the summer. When it got colder, pulse signals caused a buzzing reaction indicating that the colony was clustered together for warmth. It is hoped that this research can support the development of real-time devices capable of relaying information to beekeepers for better management of colonies.  

Tags: Bee health, research and development

Headline Stories

Satellite in space

SouthPAN dishes in position to refine farming and forestry work [11 March, Stuff]

Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) is building the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN) alongside Geoscience Australia to help improve GPS accuracy. The programme has recently installed a pair of satellite dishes at the uplink and ground centre site in Awarua. The satellite augmentation system uses infrastructure from both the ground and in space to compare satellite data and precisely measured positions. This will allow it to recognise and correct positioning errors in global navigating systems such as GPS. The SouthPAN system is expected to provide productivity gains in sectors such as agriculture, forestry and agritech. For example, it could enable pilots to fly safely in poor weather conditions, and support precision agricultural applications like virtual fencing of livestock and real-time stock monitoring providing location accuracy of within 1 metre compared to the current 5 - 10 metres. SouthPAN is expected to be fully operational by 2028

Tags: GPS, precision agriculture

young inflorescene

Government allots $6.2m for passionfruit project Vietnam [12 March, RNZ]

The New Zealand Government has announced a fund of $6.24 million for a project to take place in Vietnam to double their passionfruit exports. Vietnam is a strategic trade partner for New Zealand, with goods and services traded in excess of $1 billion in both imports and exports. This will be part of a long-term development programme by New Zealand in support of Vietnam’s agriculture sector, to build climate change & disaster resistance and grow a more skilful and educated workforce. The Viet Nam Climate-Smart Fruit Value Chain project (VietFruit) will enable local Vietnamese passionfruit growers to access the expertise offered by Plant and Food Research’s scientists in areas including planting methods, harvesting & processing and strategizing high-value horticultural exports. Plant & Food previously spent over a decade in Vietnam supporting their dragonfruit industry, they were successful with introducing new growing systems that doubled the yield, improved quality and increased returns for growers. 

Tags: horticulture, Vietnam, investment

Satellite in space

How Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is sorting good bugs from bad  [5 March, Farmers Weekly]

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (Fonterra) are using genomic sequencing technology to understand the DNA of their milk cultures, identifying marker genes for aspects including flavour, colour, and appearance. With access to the almost 40,000 milk cultures the cooperative holds in storage, and their own in-house genomic sequencing capability, Fonterra has partnered with Irish-based research centre, APC Microbiome Ireland, to focus on the human microbiome. The partnership will investigate the uniqueness of New Zealand’s dairy cultures in hopes of being able to patent a strain linking back to New Zealand. Fonterra currently have two patented probiotic strains present in supplements that support immunity and health for mothers and young children, as well as improved digestive health. The DNA technology has also proven successful in identifying unwanted bacteria in Fonterra’s manufacturing plants, enhancing their food safety product quality management systems.

Tags: innovation, dairy, genomic sequencing

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