Home' Otago Southland Farmer : May 31st 2013 Contents 31.5.13 Farmer
Irrigation millions predicted to boost jobs and exports
By DIANE BISHOP
An estimated $80 million has
been confirmed in the Budget for
regional irrigation projects.
Primary Industries Minister
Nathan Guy said after the
extreme drought that most of the
country had struggled through
this year, the need for better
water storage was obvious.
''There is no shortage of water in
New Zealand but we lack the
ability to store and use that
water when it's needed most,'' he
Only 2 per cent of rainfall was
used for irrigation and increas-
ing irrigation would see a
further 420,000 hectares of
irrigated land becoming avail-
able, creating thousands of new
jobs and boosting exports by $4
billion a year, Mr Guy said.
''More consistent river flows in
summer will also have real
benefits for the environment,
with improved habitats for fish
The $80 million funding was
announced in January and
comes from the Government's
Future Investment Fund.
In total, the Government has
signalled plans to invest up to
$400 million in regional irri-
gation schemes to encourage
third-party capital investment.
A new Crown company will be
established on July 1 to act as a
bridging investor for irrigation
That would involve short-term,
minority investments to help
kick start these regional projects.
2013 OTAGO BALLANCE FARM ENVIRONMENT AWARDS
and enjoy the taste of success
FROM Page 14
Water the way: Peter Mitchell explains the benefits of irrigation.
Field of food: Fodder beet is harvested at Rosedale.
lateral irrigators and hard hose
They also have shares in the
North Otago Irrigation Company.
Irrigation has significantly boo-
sted crop yields and taken the risk
out of farming Rosedale, which is
prone to hot dry summers but
irrigation is also their single
''We've seen a few droughts so
irrigation is a way of drought-
proofing the property.
''An average wheat yield on dry
land is 6.5 tonne per hectare and
the worst we've seen is 3 to 4
tonne per ha,'' Peter said.
Eighteen staff are employed full
time at Mitchell & Webster and
Topflite but at busy times up to 40
people can be on the payroll.
Each company has a board with
an independent advisory director
and shareholder meetings are
held three times a year and
weekly planning meetings are
held with staff.
Areas of responsibility are
delegated to individual strengths
and they try to avoid the ''two
''Communication is important
and it's something we work hard
at,'' Jock said.
Jock oversees Topflite, a company
that grew out of drought, high
interest rates in the 1980s.
To diversity their income he and
Ross started out growing 2ha of
sunflowers for their seeds and
sold them via mail order to bird
clubs around New Zealand.
Such was their success that they
now grow about 120ha a year.
The company also sells about 1600
tonnes of birdseed mixes and
associated products in Austral-
asia using all the canary and
sunflower seed they grow and also
buy in other raw material to make
''We have about 15 different mixes
and a lot of the recipes have been
created through the bird club
people,'' Jock said.
However, their main market is for
wild birds and they account for 70
per cent of their birdseed mixes
compared with just 30 per cent for
Topflite also makes feeds for
rodents with rats and mice and
more recently, chinchillas, have
been catered for.
''One guy asked us if we were
putting enough poison in our
mixes because he kept getting
more and more mice so we sent
him a mouse trap.
''He saw the joke,'' Jock said.
Topflite makes a good profit on all
the products it produces and is
known as a market leader in
birdseed and small animal feeds.
''We've got a very good name for
quality among the bird frater-
nity,'' Jock said.
National enviro title
Mitchell & Webster Group,
the winners of the 2013 Otago
Ballance Farm Environment
Awards, will vie for the
national title at the New
Zealand Farm Environment
Award's Sustainability Show-
case in Hamilton on June
They will compete against nine
other regional winners for the
national title and the Gordon
Stephenson Trophy, including
Southland winners Abe and
Anita de Wolde, who operate a
large-scale dairy farming busi-
ness at Heddon Bush.
This year's judging panel
includes Waikato University
Professor of Agribusiness
Jacqueline Rowarth, Ballance
Agri-Nutrients Head of
Research and Environment
Warwick Catto and Landcorp
chief executive Chris Kelly.
Last year's national winners,
North Otago farmers Blair and
Jane Smith, recently returned
from an industry-backed study
trip to Asia.
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