Monday, 14 September 2020 09:42

Border controls hit spud growers

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Potatoes NZ says domestic NZ fresh and frozen fries sales will have been impacted by the closure of hospitality in this Level 3 response in the Auckland region. Potatoes NZ says domestic NZ fresh and frozen fries sales will have been impacted by the closure of hospitality in this Level 3 response in the Auckland region.

Potato growers say the recent border controls around Auckland affected supply chains and transit for staff living outside the region.

Also, the closure of Auckland fruit and vegetable shops during Level 3 last month led to a food surplus and waste among growers.

Potatoes NZ chief executive Chris Claridge says the industry swiftly adapted to lockdown alert Level 3 in Pukekohe and Level 2 elsewhere, just as they did during the first lockdown earlier this year.

“There have been difficulties, with border controls in Pukekohe/Auckland, which have hindered transit for staff,” he told Hort News.

“Sadly, the Government has again not allowed fresh produce shops to open during Level 3, which has again meant difficulties for supply chains and potentially this sort of thing will lead to food surplus and food waste. 

“In saying that, growers have given surplus to food banks and charitable activities as they always do.”

HortNZ’s plea to the Government for fruit and veggie shops to remain open during the Level 3 fell on deaf ears.

In New Zealand there are multiple ways fresh fruit and vegetables are available for sale to the general public. The majority of these sales are made through large supermarket chains and independent fresh fruit and vegetable retailers, at a market share of approximately 80% and 20% respectively. However, in Auckland independent retailers represent 60% of sales of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The closure of Auckland fast food outlets and restaurants also dealt a blow.

Claridge says domestic NZ fresh and frozen fries sales will have been impacted by the closure of hospitality in this Level 3 response in the Auckland region. 

“It is too early to see the economic impact on our sales data,” he says.

Claridge expects domestic sales to be affected in the coming months by hospitality activity, business closures and consumer activities.

Evidence of spud dumping

Potatoes NZ has filed a tariff application with the Government for frozen fries imported from Europe.

Potatoes NZ chief executive Chris Claridge says the application was based on evidence.

The tariff application is sitting with Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and is under investigation.

“We made the application based on evidence of price and volume dumping from Europe into NZ,” says Claridge.

“We wouldn’t have been able to make the application without evidence, so yes we have seen and collected the evidence.”

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Lely offerings for the future

Dutch robotic specialist Lely launched a new farm management application called Horizon at its recent Future Farm Days 2020.

Designed to connect data from a range of on-farm equipment and suppliers into one management system, it creates a real-time decision-support platform, to make the farmer’s life easier, the herd healthier and the farm more profitable, says Lely.

Developed over a 24-month period, with over 100 test farmers in seven countries, working with 75 engineers, designers, farm management advisors, veterinarians and AI specialists, the new application will eventually replace the current Lely T4C management system. It uses smart algorithms and the cloud to deliver data that is processed into actionable information that is always accessible on any device in a user-friendly way.

Lely claims the Horizon application unburdens farmers from routine decision making and helps them optimise their workloads, using integrated routines based on easily scheduled cow ‘touches’, create logical and more efficient workflows. It is also possible to assign a certain task to an employee and to schedule a time slot for the cow touch, rather than analysing different reports and filtering long lists.

Horizon is also able to connect and combine data from non-Lely sources into a complete solution for the farmer removing the need to enter the same data twice, while scrutinising individual data streams in different applications will no longer be necessary. Currently, connections with farming applications such as Dairy Comp, Uniform-Agri, CRV and Herde already enable farmers to synchronise information about calving and inseminations between applications. Lely’s ambition is to connect with more partners over time, to hand the farmer more smart data.

To ensure full support in the migration to Lely Horizon, existing Lely T4C customers will be personally informed by their Lely Center before the end of 2020.

The migration is planned in a phased approach, from country to country, over the year 2021.

Also launched at the event, Lely Exos is an autonomous concept for harvesting and feeding fresh grass to the herd.

The company suggests that feeding fresh grass makes better use of available roughage, suggesting “fresh” has between 10 and 20% more nutritional value than grass silage, as there are minimal losses typically seen during mowing, tedding, raking, harvesting and feeding.

Lely suggests that feeding fresh grass over an extended season reduces the amount of silage that has to be conserved, reduces the need for concentrates and bought-in feed and increase the margin made on each litre of milk produced.

Based around an all-electric vehicle that mows and feeds, Exos is light weight and uses soil friendly technology, that can be exploited throughout the growing season. Design to work 24/7 as feed requirements change, the system places no constraints on labour or time, while it is also designed to work in tandem with the Lely Vector automatic feeding systems.

In operation, Exos also collects field data as it goes about its job, giving framers live data on grass supply and lending itself to a further concept of delivering a targeted liquid fertiliser as it passes over a harvested area.

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