Resilient Kiwi spirit kept agriculture strong through the pandemic

Kiwi ingenuity and a drive to “make it work” have been pivotal in New Zealand’s agriculture sector getting through the COVID-19 pandemic with relatively little impact, according to a new study by AgResearch and its partners.

Farmers and others working in the agriculture and food systems in New Zealand and Australia were surveyed or interviewed about the impacts of COVID-19 in the period through to June 2020, which included national lockdowns.

While acknowledging overall negative effects, additional stress and pressures from the pandemic and response, only 47 per cent of New Zealand survey respondents viewed the effect on their farms or businesses as negative over that period. A further 37 per cent said the effect was neutral. Continue reading

New research reveals what makes high-performing farmers tick

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has posted the results of new research which reveals what makes high-performing farmers tick

The Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) commissioned UMR Research (UMR) to ask a group of New Zealand’s highest performing sheep and beef farmers to identify the main drivers of their performance.

This research, which followed a similar study in 2015, identified the critical characteristics that enabled them to consistently achieve good results.

The research also focused on what had changed for these farmers, particularly the challenges they were facing and how they were responding to the issues compared to five years ago. Continue reading

Survey of Rural Decision Makers 2019 finds biosecurity likely to become increasingly important

The results of the fourth biennial Survey of Rural Decision Makers, run by scientists at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, have been released.

More than 3700 people responded to the survey during spring 2019. Respondents include both lifestyle and commercial farmers, foresters, and growers from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

A core set of questions remained similar to previous waves of the survey, to allow researchers to identify trends over time.

New questions were added to reflect emerging issues in the primary sector such as farm-level biosecurity and climate change.

The 2019 survey shows greater adoption of land management practices since 2017 such as managing effluent storage, restricting stock from waterways, and managing soil compaction and pugging. Riparian planting also increased slightly relative to 2015.

More dairy farmers and growers reported intentions to intensify their operations in 2019 than in 2017, with one in seven dairy farmers and one in five growers planning to intensify within the next two years.

All sectors reported that biosecurity would take on increasing importance over the next five years relative to the last five years. These intentions rose especially for dairy farmers and fruit/nut growers, consistent with increased awareness of Mycoplasma bovis, brown marmorated stink bug, and other emerging threats.

The majority of survey respondents believe that climate change is already affecting New Zealand. Roughly three-fourths of these anticipate that the frequency or intensity of drought, heat waves, flooding, and storms will increase in the future. There was an increase across the board of management practices to mitigate climate change effects such as changing stock rates, planting native trees, increasing feed reserves, changing stock breeds, investing in infrastructure to stop flooding, and increasing water storage.

The Survey of Rural Decision Makers is a significant data resource to help policy makers, industry groups, and farm and forestry businesses better understand both current practice and future plans.

More information is available from

Source:  Landcare Research

Survey of rural decision-makers

Farmers, foresters and growers are being asked to help researchers understand what New Zealand’s rural landscape may look like in 10, 20 or even 50 years.

Landcare Research this month is conducting a nationwide Survey of Rural Decision Makers. It is the second time the on-line survey has run.

The first was held in 2013 when more than 1500 people participated. Organisers are hoping even more will take part this year.

Survey of Rural Decision Makers director Pike Brown said the survey aimed to help policy-makers, researchers and industry groups better understand the realities of how land management decisions are made at an operational level.

The survey – which takes about 20 minutes to complete – covers the dairy, sheep, beef, deer, pigs and other livestock industry through to arable, horticulture and wine-growing sector.

“This survey is quite different from other surveys that farmers, growers and foresters typically receive. There are a lot of thought-provoking questions on topics such as new technologies, farming goals, and plans for the future,” Dr Brown said.

“It focuses on how and what farmers are thinking, rather than counting the number of sheep they have.”

“The results of the survey will provide fine scale information about what’s happening in the primary sector. This will allow land owners, policy-makers and primary sector bodies to make better decisions about how to ensure economic productivity while sustaining natural resources for the future,” Dr Brown said.

The survey was developed in collaboration with subject-matter experts and given a thorough test-drive with a group of rural decision-makers last month.

To take part in the survey, go to the Landcare Research website here. The information provided will be anonymous and results reported in a way that individuals are not identifiable.

For the first 3000 responses Landcare Research will donate $10 to the Westpac Chopper Appeal, CanTeen, Maori Women’s Welfare League or Federated Farmers Adverse Events Trust. Everyone who takes part will be in the draw to win one of five $500 Prezzy cards.