Australia: Cattle Baron Welcomes Trump and Brexit
A cattle baron in Queensland has welcomed the things everyone else seems to dread. Peter Hughes, managing director of Hughes Pastoral Group thinks Britain's exit from the EU and Donald Trump's election will be good for his business. Having just spent A$67.5 million on adding the 68,000 hectare Tumbar station to his portfolio, Mr Hughes said: "I have always had a lot of confidence in the beef industry. I have been in it [the beef industry] for generations and I am very confident," he said. I am even more confident now that we have [...] a few good people that will be in places of influence around the world. With Brexit and with Donald Trump getting in in the United States, a few sensible people get into places of influence … it couldn't help but give you confidence." How he expects these international developments to help him he did not venture to say, but presumably he thinks Australia will benefit if the US reneges on current trade deals and Britain gets locked out of the common market. Read more here.
Germany: Poultry restrictions in wake of Avian flu will affect exports
South Africa, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Bosnia-Herzegovina have all placed restrictions on imports of German poultry products, in the wake of another outbreak of avian flu. Eight European countries have reported finding the disease in wild birds, but Germany and Austria have also found it in domestic stocks of ducks and turkeys, leading to widespread culls. Till Backhaus, state agriculture minister for Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, said in a statement: “An impact from the current bird flu incidents in Germany and other parts of Europe [was] to be expected.” Bird flu is not known to be transmitted through food, but safety measures require trade restrictions. It comes at a bad time with Christmas around the corner. Read more here.
Germany: Innovative Solar Systems Maximising Land Use
Peter Högy is a professor with the Institute of Landscape and Plant Ecology at University of Hohenheim. He is working on ways of maximising land use, as the world's population expands and pressure increases to make the most efficient use possible of productive areas. "Agricultural land areas are not available in unlimited quantities. Therefore, it makes sense to double up and use available land for both the production of food and of energy." He is overseeing a project that uses suspended solar panels under which crops can be grown as normal. Researchers are growing wheat, potatoes, celery and a clover/grass mix partly under photovoltaic panels mounted on frames five metres above the ground. "Based on previous simulations, we believe potatoes grow slightly better under the solar panels. Wheat, by contrast, grows slightly worse," Högy told Deutche Welle.
Stephan Schindele, project manager with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems based in Freiburg, added "In principle, the process is working.” But he said the electricity from these systems is currently more expensive than from conventional photovoltaic sources as the substructure adds to costs: “The production cost for the electricity produced by the pilot project will be 11.3 euro cents (around 12 US cents) per kilowatt hour." He expects this cost to fall as more units are made. Read more here.
New Zealand: Quake Damage has led to Farmers Irrigating Land with Fresh Milk
Graham Collins has been dairy farming in Kaikoura for the past 44 years and he remembers a few natural disasters, like the severe flood of 1993 and the big wind of 1975 that took away everyone's sheds. "But they were nothing compared to this," he says, pointing out the irrigator behind him, which is busily spreading tens of thousands of gallons of milky effluent onto the fields. Roads have been destroyed by last weeks earthquake and Fronterra milk trucks are unable to access dairy farms and the cows must be milked. Collins is dumping 14,000 litres of milk per day, while 21 neighbouring farmers are in the same predicament.
It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of gallons of milk are being similarly wasted each day. Fronterra is absorbing the cost and an insurance scheme is expected to compensate farmers, though pollution from all that milk is likely. Farmers have also lost grain silos and cowsheds to quake damage. Mark Hilop had to take down his silo and shed while some of his workers have been made homeless by the quake. "It's been a very stressful experience — the actual earthquake and the ramifications that it's had on our business. It's indescribable really, but you just have to get up each morning and face the challenges." Read more on Stuff.
Italy: New Irrigation Method aims to Relieve Drought-Affected Areas
Water scarcity is a growing phenomenon world-wide, while agriculture uses 70% of the world's freshwater, so it makes sense to develop mechanisms to minimise farmers' impacts on precious water resources. Yara International ASA and Pessl Instruments have devised a combination technology which measures turgor pressure in plant leaves and a system which responds and irrigates according to the plant's needs. Turgor pressure is the measurement of pressure from liquid moving against a plant's cell walls. It is imperative to plant health, affecting aspects such as rigidity and fruit production.
When plants suffer from drought they lose turgor pressure and wilt. Yara's water sensor measures the turgor-pressure of strategically-chosen trees within a plantation or orchard, and calculates their water needs throughout each day of the season. This information is then sent to the irrigation system which distributes the exact amount of water needed for each part of the plantation. Pal O Stormorken, Head of Application and Crop Management System at Yara said: “Collaborating with Pessl Instruments enables us to offer a solution that increases the profitability and productivity of farming through greater nutrient and water use efficiency.” Read more here.
US: Farmers don't know what to expect from Trump
Farm groups in the USA are uncertain what the Trump presidency will mean for them. Bob Hanson, Montana Farm Bureau Federation president told the Casper Star Tribune: “Everybody is interested in who we will be dealing with. We were completely caught off guard about who won.” Both Trump and Clinton had denounced the Trans Pacific Trade Deal which wheat farmers in Montana would have welcomed for its promise of lowering trade barriers with Asia-Pacific nations. Farmers are also worried about the impact of the Clean Water Act, which was seen as over-reaching in its imposition of controls over small ponds and canals unconnected with larger waterways. Trump said he would repeal the Act. The Republicans will be crafting their first Farm Bill with full control of Presidency, Congress and Senate since 1954. Read more here.