Good omens for farm­ing

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery - By JAMES HOUGHTON

IHOPE ev­ery­one had a safe and en­joy­able New Year and is en­joy­ing 2013. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see what New Year’s res­o­lu­tions are be­ing formed by our politi­cians, par­tic­u­larly about the en­vi­ron­ment.

No doubt some po­lit­i­cal par­ties will come up with some bright ideas, but the prob­lem with res­o­lu­tions is they are of­ten dis­carded be­fore Jan­uary is over.

It is ac­tion plans, not res­o­lu­tions needed at this point, oth­er­wise any good in­ten­tions are merely dreams.

The Fed­er­ated Farm­ers team has been work­ing hard to help get real re­sults for the en­vi­ron­ment, agri­cul­ture and the coun­try, and we will con­tinue to do so over 2013.

The year started off with some good news for our dairy farm­ers, with a 2 per cent rise in prices for dairy prod­ucts in the lat­est Glob­alDairyTrade auc­tion.

Hopefully this is a good omen for the in­dus­try that prices will con­tinue to rise and bring a larger dairy pay­out with them.

How­ever, it was also tragic to hear of the death of a South­land teenager in a quad bike ac­ci­dent on Box­ing Day.

At this time of year, es­pe­cially over the hol­i­day pe­riod, farms seem to adopt a lot of ur­ban rel­a­tives.

This is great for both town and coun­try and it is great to be able to share our ru­ral life­style with them.

How­ever, this ac­ci­dent was also a ter­ri­ble re­minder of the im­por­tance of ex­plain­ing all the haz­ards a farm can con­tain.

I mean, would you throw the keys of your brand new dou­ble­cab Hilux at a young vis­i­tor and say, ‘ Go for it’?

It is vi­tal that those us­ing farm ma­chin­ery such as quad bikes know how to prop­erly use them and what ter­rain they may en­counter.

It may cause dis­ap­point­ment to keep quad bike rides to a min­i­mum but that is bet­ter than the grief which could en­sue if an in­ex­pe­ri­enced rider is hurt or worse, killed.

Quad bikes need to be ac­tively and prop­erly rid­den to be safe.

For ex­am­ple, I showed one vis­i­tor to my farm how easy it was to get one up on two wheels and I was only rid­ing around my lawn.

That shocked my young vis­i­tor no end.

Go­ing over th­ese haz­ards with vis­i­tors can also be a good re­fresher for your­self. It is too easy to be­come blinded and over-con­fi­dent when you are work­ing in agri­cul­ture and we see too many ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple be­ing in­jured in pre­ventable ac­ci­dents.

Christ­mas is ap­par­ently a dan­ger­ous time of year across the board. It has been re­ported that last year about 3500 peo­ple were in­jured play­ing with their new gifts, re­sult­ing in $2 mil­lion worth of ACC claims. I hope ev­ery­one was a bit more cau­tious as they re­moved the wrap­ping pa­per this Christ­mas.

I also hope bosses treated their em­ploy­ees as they should over the fes­tive sea­son.

While this in­dus­try is no re­specter of pub­lic hol­i­days and not ev­ery­one can take time off, it is sim­ple to show our ap­pre­ci­a­tion while boost­ing the mo­rale of those who are work­ing through.

The wet weather over Christ­mas eased fears of Waikato en­ter­ing a drought, although a re­turn to dry con­di­tions got peo­ple think­ing again.

Things have been get­ting drier over the past week and farm­ers in Waikato and else­where, such as Hawke’s Bay and Can­ter­bury, will be hop­ing the forecast rain ar­rives to get those pas­tures green and grow­ing.

There has also been talk of farm­ers need­ing to start think­ing about fa­cial eczema con­trol.

I may talk a lot about hav­ing plans in place, but it is al­ways bet­ter to be on top of any po­ten­tial prob­lem that could arise.

‘‘An ounce of preven­tion is worth a pound of cure’’ is one res­o­lu­tion I have an ac­tion plan to keep.

An­other good way to start the year on the right foot is to do some soil test­ing and nu­tri­ent bud­gets to ac­cu­rately cal­cu­late fer­tiliser needs.

Con­sid­er­ing how much fer­tiliser costs, and the po­ten­tial neg­a­tive im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment if it is ap­plied where it is not needed, this is some­thing all farm­ers should be do­ing.

We have this tech­nol­ogy to help us find a bet­ter way for­ward and need to use it for the ben­e­fit of all.

OPIN­ION: Talk­ing through haz­ards with vis­i­tors can be a good re­fresher for farm­ers them­selves, James Houghton says.

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