Golden Bay man warned 'wheels would fall off' his farm after slashing fertiliser use – 13 years later 'it’s going fine'

Consultants say an increasing number of farms are using less-intensive approaches, aiming to improve the environment and be more sustainable.

When Golden Bay's Mark Manson moved away from conventional farming techniques, he was told, "the wheels would fall off the farm within two years".

"And it’s been 12, 13 years now and it's going fine," Mr Manson.

The dairy farmer uses the soil nutrient management system called Kinsey-Albrecht, which targets individual nutrient levels.

"The difference between this programme and most programmes that you'd look at is not, 'how do we get the plant to make as much as it can make?' So much as 'how do we improve the soil, which then grow a good yield but also high quality?" explains American soil consultant Neal Kinsey.

"We look at the soil and measure what the soil already has and then what it needs for production. And if you already have enough you don't need to add more," he says.

Two hundred kilograms of nitrogen fertiliser per hectare was previously used on Mr Manson's farm.

Now across the entire operation, Mr Manson says "we averaged I think 36 kilograms last year of nitrogen".

Critics claim the practise is "psuedo science" with little convincing data, and could end up costing farmers more.

But a study's underway at Backtrack Dairies farm in Methven, comparing it to a conventional system.

Now in its fifth year, researchers say more time's needed to draw any firm conclusions, but the farms have remained productive while using less fertiliser.

Research soil scientist Abie Horrocks says there’s still much more to learn.

"I feel like this is quite an exciting space in regards to what the more conventional agriculture can learn from the more regenerative, biological approaches to farming, especially in the space of diversity".

Ms Horrocks says there's no "single right way" to practice more sustainable agriculture.

"There's many different scenarios and ways in which this can be done," she says.

But critics claim the practise is “pseudo-science” with little convincing data, and could end up costing farmers more. Source: 1 NEWS



Man charged after loaded gun pointed at Auckland police officers fails to fire during violent late night incident

A man faces multiple charges after a loaded gun was aimed at police officers in Auckland last night.

Police allege the man presented a cut-down rifle at the officers and pulled the trigger twice but it did not discharge as the safety catch was on.

The incident happened in Atkinson Ave, Otahuhu at around 9.35pm.

The 36-year-old is accused of two counts of using a firearm against law enforcement, along with charges for unlawful possession of ammunition, causing injuries, unlawful possession of a pistol and unlawfully taking a motor vehicle.

And more charges are possible, police said.

Police were attempting to pull over a stolen vehicle when the driver jumped out and ran up to the police car, pointing the weapon and pulling the trigger before the officers could respond, police said in a statement.

The man dropped the gun after police tasered him, but he had to be tasered a second time when he tried to get inside the officers' vehicle, police said.

One of the officers was punched twice in the face as they attempted to subdue the man, according to police. He was tasered again while attempting to run away.

"Our community will be horrified by this alarming incident, which could have easily had a tragic outcome for our police officers," said Inspector Naila Hassan, the area commander for Counties Manukau West, as she praised the officers for their quick thinking.

"Our brave staff come to work every day to keep the public safe and the absolute last thing they deserve is to be threatened with a firearm."

Deputy Commissioner Districts John Tims echoed the sentiment.

"Our staff should not have to deal with these types of situations, but the reality of policing means our officers are put in dangerous situations every day," he said.

Police car generic.
Police car generic. Source: 1 NEWS

The man is expected to make an appearance in the Manukau District Court today.

The two officers were saved by the fact the safety catch was on. Source: 1 NEWS


Auckland’s median house price increases for the first time in six months

Auckland’s median house price increased year-on-year for the first time in six months as the median house price outside the country’s biggest city had a 6.2 per cent annual increase, according to Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) data.

In August, the median price in Auckland rose 1.4 per cent to $852,000, according to the latest data.

"After six months of flat prices in Auckland it is positive to see an increase as we head towards spring," Bindi Norwell, Chief Executive at REINZ, said.

"Breaking the Super City down into its old regional boundaries has shown that areas with solid annual median price increases were Manukau and Waitakere Cities with rises of 10.1% and 5.1% respectively. Whereas, North Shore City saw a fall of -14.6% year-on-year to a median price of $915,000 the lowest median the North Shore has seen since January 2016," she said.

In New Zealand, the median house price increased 3.6 per cent year-on-year to $549,000.

With the median house price outside Auckland rising by 6.2 per cent, three regions achieved record median prices with two regions equalling previous records.

The record breakers were Gisborne, where the median price went up 42.6 per cent to $335,000, Tasman where the median rose 24.2 per cent to $615,000 and Manawatu/Wanganui, where the price went up 10.5 per cent to $315,000.

Waikato’s median house price increased by 9.4 per cent to $525,00 to equal the record from June while the media price in Hawke’s Bay rose 9.9 per cent to $445,000, equalling a record from March this year.

Auckland, New Zealand - January 11, 2014: New Homes on January 11, 2014. House prices are booming around New Zealand - with the average price of an Auckland city home rocketing to $735,692.
Auckland houses (file picture). Source: istock.com

TODAY'S
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New Zealand new Ambassador to the US named

Diplomat Rosemary Banks has been announced as New Zealand's new Ambassador to the United States, taking over the role from Tim Groser.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said Ms Banks was "highly experienced diplomat and public servant who will be a consummate professional in representing New Zealand's interests in Washington". 

She currently is a Crown Negotiator in the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process and has held roles in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Ms Banks also was New Zealand's Ambassador to France and Portugal.

"The Government also wishes to acknowledge the departing Ambassador, Hon Tim Groser for his service. He has been a strong advocate for New Zealand and has been successful in cementing the relationship between our two countries," Mr Peters said. 

Rosemary Banks, Political Science and International Relations, 7.11.16
Rosemary Banks. Source: Supplied


Lifeline turns down help offer despite struggling to cope with volume of calls

Lifeline has refused help from another helpline provider, even though it's struggling to cope with the volume of calls it's getting.

Last week, Lifeline launched a new fundraising campaign, saying a lack of money meant it wasn't able to answer one in four calls.

Homecare Medical gets Government funding to operate a number of health, depression, and counselling helplines, known as the national telehealth service.

It said it had offered support to Lifeline multiple times over the last three years, when its call demand outstripped resources.

Homecare Medical chief executive, Andrew Slater, said that to date that offer hadn't been taken up.

"Part of our work is to support the entire health system in responding to New Zealanders' needs. This includes supporting other helplines in their work. This includes advice on technology, sharing operational policy and procedures and during times of peak demand, supporting them when they can't respond to their demand," he said.

Homecare Medical remained willing to work with Lifeline to find a solution to ensure all calls were answered, he said.

Lifeline wouldn't say why it hadn't taken up the offer.

It said its discussions with Homecare Medical were ongoing.

In 2015, Homecare Medical won the contract to operate the National Telehealth Service.

The 24/7 free helplines it operates include Healthline, Quitline, 1737 Need to Talk?, and the Depression Helpline.

Lifeline is part of Presbyterian Support Northern. It does not receive Government funding.

Lifeline declined a request for an interview.

By Sarah Robson

rnz.co.nz

The telco is doing away with the old technology and switching to an internet based system.
Source: 1 NEWS


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