Sunday, 2 November 2008

Election '08 - Agricultural Policies

Follow these links to the major parties' Agricultural policies:

Labour - Labour values the contribution of our rural communities - they are the backbone of our country and an integral part of our history and our future prosperity.

National - Agriculture is the backbone of New Zealand’s economy and will be at the heart of the economic step change that our country so badly needs.

NZ First - For far too long the vital contribution of New Zealand's rural sector has been under valued by successive governments.

Greens - All rural production land must be managed in ecologically sustainable ways.

Act - ACT acknowledges that Agriculture is the backbone of the New Zealand economy and the role of government should be to create an environment where the industry can flourish in the most free and efficient manner.

United Future - UnitedFuture recognises the importance of primary industries to the security and prosperity of New Zealand.

Plan Your Brassica Crop Now

For many farmers, brassica crops are an invaluable source of feed when pasture growth or quality is insufficient to meet stock needs. In addition, brassicas are widely regarded as an ideal crop to sow as part of a pasture renewal programme.

Ballance Technical Consultant, Jeff Morton, explains that there are many factors that contribute to the success of any brassica crop.

‘Put simply, they are: the selection and preparation of the paddock(s); the selection of the brassica crop; and the management of the brassica crop. Taking short-cuts or making poor decisions at any of these stages will impact on the return on investment and the absolute value of any brassica crop.

‘When choosing a paddock to use for a cropping cycle, look at your most poor-performing blocks of land. These paddocks – with low-fertility plant species, poor physical soil condition, or low nutrient status – will be yielding least economic benefit for your farm.’

Jeff says that early identification of these paddocks is ideal, as that enables them to be properly prepared for the brassica crop. This is particularly important for paddocks that require liming
‘Paddocks that are being cropped in brassicas as part of a pasture renewal programme will benefit most if soil pH is between 5.8 and 6.0. However, getting the soil pH right is just one part of the picture when it comes to soil testing. It’s equally important to make sure that soil fertility will meet your crop’s needs.’

The Ballance Brassica Test has been designed to give farmers all the information they need to determine their crop’s nutrient requirements. Soil samples are taken and analysed for pH, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, magnesium, boron and available nitrogen.

‘The Ballance Brassica Test will enable your Ballance representative to develop a fertiliser strategy that meets your crop’s needs. As a general rule, you will require a source of nitrogen, and phosphorus, potassium and magnesium (if the soil is very low in these elements).

‘The other nutrient that is vital for good brassica growth is boron. This trace element helps to stabilise plant cell walls and membranes, and without sufficient boron brassicas develop disorders such brown heart and hollow stem,’ says Jeff.

For more advice on soil testing and fertiliser strategies for brassicas contact your local Ballance technical sales representative on 0800 222 090.

Jamie's Weekly Sports Thought

With the notable exception of Warwick Taylor and Walter Little, filling the number 12 jersey has long been a problem for the All Blacks. Now I wonder whether we are filling the jersey with a problem child?

No one would deny for a moment Dan Carter is anything other than a magnificent rugby player. Arguably only Richie McCaw could lay claim to being better. But have Carter’s tight-fitting Jockeys cut the circulation to his very astute rugby brain?

I realize it borders on blasphemy to take Dan’s name in vain but questions need to be asked about his and the NZRU’s behaviour. It’s not out of character for the latter to be dysfunctional but Carter, since his meteoric debut in 2003, has been the poster boy of All Black rugby and has hardly put a foot wrong, if you forgive him an indifferent and injury-affected World Cup.

His non-appearance in the Air New Zealand Cup final was nonsensical and reeks of the tail wagging the dog. The NZRU had already cut him considerable slack by allowing him a lucrative six month sabbatical. Surely an appearance in the country’s premier domestic showcase was not too much to ask in return.

Today in Riversdale, it’s with great sadness we farewell a man who has made a mighty contribution to Southland as a farmer and in sporting circles.

Like countless hundreds of other kids in this province, I have fond memories of being carted to sporting events around Southland by Bill and Claire Horrell. In my case it was for tennis tournaments as a youngster but many others will have equally enjoyable memories of jaunts to hockey and badminton.

Bill’s son Rohan, and I, claimed the Southland primary school doubles title way back in 1972. While I’d like to think I was an equal contributor to our success, the fact that Rohan had won the same title in the two preceding years with two separate partners probably indicated otherwise.

As an also-ran singles player I seldom ventured past the quarter-finals of the Southland champs which were seemingly always dominated by Michael Turner (who went on to be the chief reporter at the Southland Times before graduating to television) and Graeme Liddell from South Canterbury who was an excellent player. Other notables in our age group included Paul Dale, Paddy and Casey O’Brien, Terry Flynn, Ross Stewart and, of course, Rohan.

As a young country kid coming to the big smoke I can still remember being in awe of the multi-storey buildings, H & J Smith’s escalators and the size of the water reservoirs on Queen’s Drive.

We camped in the Horrell’s caravan at the showgrounds and amused ourselves after tennis by loitering in a really cool pool hall just up the road and mischievously hitting old tennis balls into the nearby Borstal.

I’m going to miss you Bill. Thanks for the memories.

Jamie's Weekly Sports Thought

School’s out for summer! Here’s my end-of-year report card for the Stags:

Jamie Mackintosh (8): Powerful presence around the park and personable off it. Deserves his Highlanders’ captaincy and All Black destiny.

Chris King (7.5): In the 1990s we imported some real lemons at prop. This good old fashioned front-rower is the antithesis. He’s a peach!

Jason Rutledge (8.5): Huge heart. Huge loyalty. I can’t wait for the third generation of Rutledges. Just pipped for player of the year.

David Hall (7.5): Gutsy footballer. We’re so embarrassed for riches at hooker we had to move him to No.8. If the Highlanders had any idea, Southland would provide both hookers.

Josh Bekhuis (7): Last year I thought this young man would be an All Black. This year I’m not so sure. He has time on his side to prove me wrong.

Hoani McDonald (7): Has had better seasons for the Stags but even when he’s not at his best he’s not bad at all.

Daniel Ramsay (6): I’m a big fan of this bloke but I wonder whether David Henderson is? We farewell unfulfilled potential.

Dion Bates (7.5): Like Rutledge, he’s too small. But what a big ticker!

John Hardie (6.5): Saw just enough to know I liked what I was seeing.

Hua Tamariki (6): Solid without reproducing some of last year’s sterling efforts. Injury robbed him of that opportunity.

Jimmy Cowan (8): He’s an angry man and don’t we just love him for it. His tackling is unsurpassed, his passing and kicking superb. If he learns to run more, could be an All Black great.

Scott Cowan (6.5): The surprise package of the season. Mini-me Cowan is a cracker too. I think the SRFU needs to put Paddy Cowan out to stud to breed some more of these.

Blair Stewart (7): My hitherto love affair with this man was sorely tested by some dodgy defense and questionable running (across the park) of the backline. However, he’s still the fourth man (behind Cowan, Mackintosh and Boys) I’d pick in my team.

Jason Kawau (7.5): Brains are a wonderful asset, not every rugby player enjoys. This guy’s got plenty. A lot more than the Highlanders’ selectors.

Kendrick Lynn (7.5): At last a Southland back with real pace! Like brains, speed is a wonderful commodity. We’ve got Gordon Teitjens to thank for the turnaround in fortunes.

Matt Saunders (7): I’m a bit biased because I play golf with his old man. Has inherited considerable talent from his mother.

Pehi Te Whare (7.5): I wouldn’t have picked him for the Bay of Plenty quarter-final. I’m glad Simon Culhane is a better judge of talent than me.

Willie Rickards (5.5): In a club game last year he looked, to me, an All Black. Never looked like one for Southland but, like Ramsay, we never saw the best of his obvious ability.

Mark Wells (6): Lacks a bit of pace but not courage under the high ball. Great punter but I’m just not sure to what position he belongs in the modern game?

Robbie Robinson (7.5): The baby-faced boy wonder brought back memories of the mercurial Steven Pokere and Jeff Wilson. Can’t wait till he grows up!

Tim Boys (9): My player of the year. Unlike Samson, he went a lot better minus the mullet.