11 months ago

Selwyn Times: November 01, 2016

30 2 Tuesday [Edition

30 2 Tuesday [Edition datE] November 1 2016 SELWYN RURAL LIFE SELWYN TIMES Vigilance needed to avoid debilitating sheep disease The Lincoln scientist who developed a standard New Zealand industry test for the debilitating sheep disease microphthalmia is reminding farmers to be vigilant. “We now see a few commercial farmers with the disease on their properties because they have used untested or non-accredited rams,” Lincoln University Professor Jon Hickford says. His advice: “Only buy rams from accredited breeders.” It is thought the inherited disease was introduced with the first shipment of Texel sheep to New Zealand over 25 years ago. If both parents are carriers (have a single copy of the mutation each), then there is a one in four chance that the offspring will be born either blind, or with no eyes. The Texel breed has been used widely to increase meat yield. The Registered NZ Texel Breeders organisation approached Professor Hickford to develop a robust test for microphthalmia, which is now the standard for the industry in New Zealand. In 2011 the breeders group also started a microphthalmia accreditation programme. It allows for whole stud flock testing at significant discount on the test cost, so individual breeders can be assured they have no carriers of the disease in their flock. Its aim is to give assurance to the commercial ram-buying industry that Registered NZ Texel Breeders who are accredited, do not have the disease in their flock. Professor Hickford believes the scheme has made a large difference to the industry. He feels there is under-reporting of the disease as many farmers don’t know what it is, and often it is at such a low incidence that farmers don’t follow it up. His recommendation is that if you are using Texel or Texel-cross genetics you should be asking your breeder what they have done to make sure they are not selling carrier animals. His recommendation is that if you are using Texel or Texelcross genetics you should be asking your breeder what they have done to make sure they are not selling carrier animals. Your land. Your people. Your stories. Every Wednesday at 7.30pm on CTV Freeview Channel 40 live and on demand at Brought to you by

SELWYN TIMES Tuesday November [Edition datE] 1 2016 31 3 SELWYN RURAL LIFE Shelterbelts offer benefits to farmers and the environment Lincoln University student, Johannes Welsch A Lincoln University student’s PhD work offers new insight into on-farm carbon sequestration and the ecological benefits of shelterbelts, which he says may be part of the puzzle to sustainable management of agricultural environments and improved environmental credentials. Johannes Welsch says shelter belts are a farm-friendly way to improve carbon sequestration outcomes in the agricultural sector, and may be one answer to growing consumer concern around the environmental footprint of farming and the need for New Zealand farms to adapt to climate change. “The general population, both in New Zealand and in key overseas markets, are becoming more concerned about where their food comes from and the environmental impact of its production. The agricultural sector should be motivated to get out in front of a new wave of opportunity fuelled by consumer concern, with the aim of cornering that high end of the market.” Carbon sequestration could be a key part of this approach, he says. As Canterbury becomes warmer, drier and windier, with more frequent droughts and storms, increased efficiency of water use and farming practices will be necessary to maintain and increase production. Wind is one of the few elements that farmers can control with the use of windbreaks and shelterbelts. Ironically, Johannes says, over the past few decades many shelterbelts have been removed to facilitate irrigation equipment and more intensive land use. “A case study on shelterbelt loss in central Canterbury revealed a reduction of 46 per cent between 1984 and 2004 as a result of dairy conversions. It is mind- boggling how many huge areas have become green pasture deserts.” He began to question what else is lost with these removals and whether opportunities to sequester carbon dioxide are being sacrificed. Johannes visited 34 sheep, beef, dairy and arable farms in the Canterbury region, from Banks Peninsula to the foothills of the Alps, to investigate their use of shelterbelts and the benefits of these, including increased biodiversity, soil ecology and shade and shelter for stock. Shelterbelts have also been shown to raise agricultural productivity. “Shelterbelt species selection with strategic placement and clear objectives can have numerous potential benefits to farm productivity and profitability. It is only a matter of time before this happens,” Johannes says. “There is growing pressure on farmers to do their bit and government policies may change. Farmers should look at the ‘free’ benefits they will gain across the whole farm. Shelterbelts are not a short-term panacea, but a mid- to long-term proposition that requires a flexible approach and sitespecific solutions. They contribute to equity for future generations, position farmers for a ‘low carbon’ future and enable adaption to a changing climate.” Concern has been raised over the largescale use of potentially fertile agricultural land for permanent forest carbon sinks, but Johannes emphasises that most shelterbelts are planted along, boundaries, slopes or gullies, roadsides and on marginal land. “The planting of these areas with shelterbelts benefits not only the farmer but New Zealand as a whole.” With only one per cent of native vegetation remaining on the Canterbury plains, and native species averaging similar amounts of carbon per hectare to exotic species, he recommends planting a mixture of native and exotic species to give optimal benefits of shelter, permeability, low maintenance, wildlife habitat, resistance to drought, frost and snow, is aesthetically pleasing and increases property values. 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SELWYN RURAL LIFE is a fortnightly feature, with up to date information on the latest farm technology, trends and local farming news that impacts Selwyn and Canterbury rural residents. Advertising, sponsorship or editorial opportunities are available to local businesses within this fortnightly feature. Contact Lynette Evans – Selwyn Times phone 364 7434 or email: Not just a tyre shop! • On-farm services - NO CALLOUT FEE (Selwyn district) • 24 hour fleet service • Full mechanical repairs • Nitrogen fills, batteries, WOF, shock absorbers • Agricultural tyres • Car tyres, 4x4 tyres, light truck tyres, truck & bus tyres • Wheel alignments, puncture repairs, full groom Courtesy car available. Kiddie’s toys & entertainment. enjoy a free coffee, massage (chair) & tV while you wait. Mon-Fri 7.30am-5.00pm, saturday 9am-12pm Call 03 347 4702 or 0800 838 973 847 jones rd, rolleston •