Good omens for farming
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.