Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Fact and fantasy

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  • SteveH, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Comments from the British Met office:

    None of which supports the idea that what the HadCRUT dataset is showing is a real, long term slowing of the warming trend. In both answers they essentially blamed short term trends. So I will reiterate my point again: the idea that global warming has slowed to 0.03 deg C per decade is not supported by any reasonable analysis of the data.

    I hope the emphasis you added to the second answer doesn't indicate that you think that research should be ignored just because it is ongoing.

    Since Sep 2009 • 399 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to SteveH,

    Hell no. I was arguing that global warming in excess of 0.03 /decade was a good thing that I would like to see continue, and that we should hope to see rates of at least 0.07 /decade for two or three decades during the next warm phase of the PDO. But let’s just see what happens during the remainder of this current cool phase 1999-2030(approx). We still only have unequivocal data for such a short period ; less than one complete PDO(60 years). We cannot possibly be categorical about a disturbance in the long term trend with the available satellite data. Even 60 years is a mere instant.
    The ongoing nature of the research is what makes the whole topic so interesting.
    Not to mention the vital importance of getting it right.
    When the GCMs are accurately predicting short-term (multi-decadal) trends then we might begin to have some confidence in them.
    Still early days.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    Of course neither of us has mentioned the margin of uncertainty in these minute changes in temperature, but I’m sure that we both know the order of this uncertainty.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    When Good Fertiliser goes Bad:-


    A Taranaki farming couple are "shellshocked" after 120 of their cows dropped dead one by one in their paddock.

    Around 20 vets who rushed to the Oeo farm of Chris and Catherine Cook on Tuesday could not save the animals, part of a herd of 600.

    Mrs Cook's brother, John Murphy, speaking for the family, said the loss of the cows was a devastating blow.

    "The farmer was out there topping up the water troughs and minutes later the cows were falling to the ground," he said.

    It was heart-breaking for the Cooks.

    "They're gutted. Massively tearful. In disbelief and shellshocked."

    An investigation under way by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment should determine the cause of death, he said.

    "They'll do all the tests and find out what happened and go from there, but until then it's all just speculation," he said.

    He said the cows were worth around $400,000, and their deaths would probably mean around another $300,000 loss of profit for the season.

    "Cows are just so important and so close to farmers. It's like losing a loved one. In this case it's like losing multiple loved ones," Mr Murphy said.

    The vets were called immediately and arrived quickly.

    "Just the massive scale of it, they all dropped everything and came straight out because they knew how serious it was."

    He said the family wished to thank the vets who attended as well as Fonterra, Federated Farmers and Dairy NZ who had shown their support.

    In May last year, the Taranaki Daily News reported the deaths of 35 cows from nitrate poisoning on a Tikorangi dairy farm. The cows died after eating new pasture on a cloudy day. Similar cases were reported in South Taranaki.

    Three months ago Taranaki Veterinary Centre vet Stacey Bateman, of Manaia, warned a seminar that cows were at risk of the illness in spring if carbohydrates were introduced too quickly into their diet.

    Nitrate poisoning occurred when nitrates in forage was converted to nitrite, which starved animals of oxygen, causing them to collapse and possibly die. Those who recovered were likely to abort if pregnant.

    On cloudy days photosynthesis may not occur, so plants do not convert nitrogen in the soil into protein.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Interesting theory. I was pretty shocked by that one. Even an anthrax outbreak would have been less sudden.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8592 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Farmer Green would appreciate any feedback you might offer, particularly on the economic aspects of the drastically lowered stocking rate, and the added-value proposition.

    I'll bite :)
    Given that: lowered stocking rates would be far more environmentally desirable and; adding value in NZ is great for the NZ economy and; you've demonstrated that on a small scale this is possible- it still doesn't follow that the whole NZ dairy industry can do the same.
    The markets may not be there- or stable enough, or willing to pay as much on a far larger scale, or able to be built up and well-managed and capably marketed to by Fonterra, or- there are many imponderables.
    Such change would need to be at a thoughtful rate. To change even 10% of the current industry would be massive (and risky.) Definitely a road worth trying. Getting a far higher return per unit by adding value would be win-win for NZ. But it's by no means a sure bet.
    I'm sure you realise that too :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1574 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Herald is reporting that they died shortly after drinking from troughs that had just been topped up from a portable tank. What’s that do to your nitrate poisoning hypothesis?

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Nullify ? It's the media's hypothesis.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    " Definitely a road worth trying."

    Do you think that we should leave it to Shanghai Pengxin to have a go?
    It seems to be their strategy.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Farmer Green,

    No :)
    But if they are going to lead the way and NZ investment follows? Maybe that isn't so bad.
    Cos I don't think we should leave it to Fonterra, either: we'd wait forever. And I doubt Westland Milk Products are looking in the right direction.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1574 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Added -value milk powder? Yeah right! It's not doing much for the Fonterra payout.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Then put on your farm advisor hat and explain how do do it while maintaining a viable farm organism.
    All manner of agricultural scientists will be hanging on your every word.

    Perhaps you misread where I said I was an expert on farming or an agricultural scientist. I just said that any claim that the only person who knew what could improve this situation on an individual farm was the farmer, is patently nonsense.

    As proven by the fact that you yourself have ideas about how reduced stocking and year round milking could help improve the whole industry in New Zealand, not just your farm.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6205 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    But if they are going to lead the way and NZ investment follows? Maybe that isn’t so bad.

    So if Shangai Pengxin approached FG with a view to buying the brand and expanding the business, and repatriating say 50% of the profits, then you would say go for it?

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    ' I just said that any claim that the only person who knew what could improve this situation on an individual farm was the farmer, is patently nonsense.'


    Of course ; that perhaps is what you meant, but it is not what you said. here’s your words:-
    “The idea that only person that can say what needs to be done is the farmer”.
    Only the farmer could implement the plan for his own property - “what needs to be done ” i.e the specific actions.

    It would take 5 years minimum to implement the required changes on-farm. And viability has to be maintained throughout the transition. Definitely not a job for an outsider; a farm advisor could monitor progress and act as a sounding board perhaps, but the usefulness of his input would depend upon his knowledge of the individual property. Farms are not factories , in spite of the efforts of many to make them so.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Farmer Green,

    if Shangai Pengxin approached FG with a view to buying the brand and expanding the business, and repatriating say 50% of the profits, then you would say go for it?

    No. That’s a very different scenario to Shangai Pengxin producing added value products in NZ and Fonterra opening its eye a tad and moving down the same road. (And I’m sure you’re aware such a deal would contravene Fonterra’s constitution.)
    (There was a moment when I thought Westland Dairy Products might move in the added value direction. This now seems naive :-) )

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1574 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Sorry, it wasn’t clear; I meant their plan was to buy an existing NZ dairy business with a brand and expand manufacturing within NZ, possibly by redesigning some of the 16 farms that they already own here. That might open Fonterra’s eyes. But possibly not , if Fonterra had previously turned down the same opportunity.

    Yes they would be starting small but the growth prospect is very attractive.
    The dairy company that seemed most likely to diversify into added-value was the TUI Dairy company but it was one of the early victims of the quest for monopoly.
    That’s history.
    One of Fonterra’s first moves was to kick FG out, although he did argue at the time that it could have been the beginnings of something better. . .

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    (There was a moment when I thought Westland Dairy Products might move in the added value direction. This now seems naive :-) )

    Similar hopes might once have been held for Synlait, but look what happened to them; now in part- foreign ownership , having suffered because of the fictitious default milk price which according to the Commerce Commission "is not inconsistent with the provisions" embedded in the DIRA.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Farmer Green,

    It’s the media’s hypothesis.

    My bad. It's considered extremely bad form to not at least indicate genesis, if not actually provide a link to the source.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    When in Rome eh? :-) It was hardly Farmer Green’s style was it? It’s not easy when 89% of the population is urbanised; the highest % of any country in the world. (Jacqueline Rowarth in Rural News Dec 4 2012)

    FG is slowly learning blog tikanga , including providing the occasional koha to the resident trolls.


    The theories are converging on the substance the farmer was putting in the trough. Farmer Green wonders why he was putting anything at all in the trough; it was meant to be full of clean fresh constantly- replenishing water.
    Carting water to 600 cows is slightly unusual.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    I apprehend that you may have assumed Farmer Green was a Fonterra supplier. FG is not in a cooperative.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Farmer Green,

    I apprehend that you may have assumed Farmer Green was a Fonterra supplier. FG is not in a cooperative.

    Nah. But I’d assumed FG was at least moderately well-informed on the subject of Fonterra :)

    their plan was to buy an existing NZ dairy business with a brand and expand manufacturing within NZ, possibly by redesigning some of the 16 farms that they already own here. That might open Fonterra’s eyes.

    If so, great. But I share FG's skepticism about Fonterra, and add a little skepticism about Shangai Pengxin too. Can FG be sure it’s not a paper plan developed solely for the purpose of hoodwinking people?

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1574 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Farmer Green,

    It’s not easy when 89% of the population is urbanised; the highest % of any country in the world. (Jacqueline Rowarth in Rural News Dec 4 2012)

    As a bald statistic, it means nothing. You think its bad? How so?

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1230 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to andin,

    I can’t say that it is bothering Farmer Green particularly.
    Anyway some soundbites from the article:-

    “lack of societal understanding of what it takes to farm is one of the biggest threats facing NZ agriculture”

    “People here are making statements about what our farmers are allowed to do and then buying products from overseas” (She is talking about pork)

    ’a Lincoln University study showed only 5% of people think that our river and lake water quality is poor, while another 7% think it is not so good, but over 80% in NZ think that it is good and improving”

    “Rabobank has just done a rather depressing analysis telling how many dairy farmers are going to go to the wall because of the current payout-and they have revised it from 20% to more like 35%”

    ’A recent survey showed that about 60% of urban people believed that if the rural sector was doing well, then the urban sector would be better off”

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 487 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to Farmer Green,

    When in Rome eh? :-) It was hardly Farmer Green’s style was it? It’s not easy when 89% of the population is urbanised; the highest % of any country in the world. (Jacqueline Rowarth in Rural News Dec 4 2012)

    Speaking of Rome, that "highest %" claim can't possibly be correct. The urbanised population of Vatican City is 100%. Other city-states like Singapore and Monaco also have 100%. Countries like Belgium and Israel and a lot higher than us too. Even Australia is higher than us.
    (source: CIA World Factbook).

    Since Sep 2009 • 399 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Anyway some soundbites from the article:-

    Meaning what again?
    Them city dwellers dont know shit?
    Farmers need some lovin' from the banks and society?

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1230 posts Report Reply

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