A study of cow movement on hill country yielded some surprises, including that cows walk about 3km a day.
Massey University's beef research team put GPS collars on 30 cows within three herds of 20-30 cows and monitored their movements over two winters, as part of a project looking at pugging and cows' environmental impact.
The GPS collars were fitted for the wettest, coldest week of that period, during which cows did only 5 per cent of their walking on steep slopes, and walked about 3km a day. After two months of grazing, 23-51 per cent of a paddock had pugging damage. The pasture growth rate in spring was 40 per cent less in damaged areas, compared to undamaged areas. Each paddock had rest areas where cows congregated.
Scholarships a boon for industry
Agriculture and farming is reliant on highly skilled young Kiwis entering the trade to keep the industry world-leading. Improved career progression opportunities, support networks and scholarships are attracting a higher calibre of young blood to the industry than ever before.
One such trust is an example of a scholarship programme which enhances career prospects outside the traditional farming scope. The Taranaki-based Alexander and Gladys Shepherd Scholarships Trust -- managed and administered by Perpetual Guardian and supported by Federated Farmers Taranaki -- has granted nine young locals a $2000 scholarship each this month.
The trust, established in 1989, has become a boon and beacon for New Zealand's farming industry as it seeks to attract and retain young Kiwis.
Federated Farmers executive member Bryce Kaiser says: "In farming, the traditional apprenticeship route has been bolstered by trusts such as the Alexander and Gladys Shepherd Scholarships Trust, and there isn't another quite like it in the country or the Taranaki region in that it focuses purely on farming."
Since 2010, the trust has distributed more than $144,000 in scholarships, and since 2014, twice-yearly distributions have become standard.
Gladys and Alexander Shepherd forged their passion for farming on a Mangawhero Road farm in Riverlea, where they worked for 40 years. The couple retired in 1963. In accordance with the Shepherds' will, a charitable trust was established and its income directed to fund scholarships and bursaries for locals aged under 21 to study towards an agricultural or farming career.
Jade Tyrrell, client assistant at Perpetual Guardian New Plymouth, says the trust is "a superb example of how structured philanthropy can touch many lives and fulfil the wishes of specific individuals for many generations".
In the 2014 financial year, Perpetual Guardian granted more than $4 million to education.
Wills to challenge for Ravensdown
Anyone who thought Bruce Wills was looking forward to a break after three years as Federated Farmers national president and then the passing of his parents, less than a month apart, late last year, simply doesn't know the guy.
Now he's making sure they do, by announcing a rare challenge for the East Coast position on the board of Ravensdown, held since 2000 by now-retired Gisborne farmer Patrick Willock, who is seeking re-election.
Wills says, from the family farm Trelinnoe, near Te Pohue, he hopes the knowledge that there is a choice this year will motivate shareholders to "get out and vote".
"This East Coast seat hasn't been challenged for many years," he said. "The incumbent director has held the role for 15 years ... I am standing to bring fresh ideas and energy to an important farmer co-op."
Wills has governance roles with QEII National Trust, Motu Research, Todd Foundation, NZ Farm Environment Trust, Hawke's Bay environment protect project Cape to City, NZ Poplar and Willow Research Trust, Ballance Farm Environment awards and others.
He can add chairmanship of a governance group for the $16 million Passion to Profit partnership in the deer industry, an interim group merging major players in the bee industry, and membership of a governance group heading the ministerial Our Land and Water Challenge.
Wills is keen to add Ravensdown to the list and said it was sparked by his "strong support" of farmer-owned co-operatives, and having two farmer-owned operations was a "real strength" of the fertiliser industry.
"I am excited with how new science and innovation around soils and fertilisers is going to help our businesses," he says.
"Ravensdown is doing good work here but needs to do more."
Wills became Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre sector chairman in 2008, and served one-term as national president from 2011 to 2014.
The East Coast directorate stretches from East Cape to the southern reaches of the Tararua District and the seat is one of eight on the board -- four in the North Island and four in the South.
Willock has been a prominent member, serving more than eight years as deputy chairman. A member of the Gisborne District Council from 1989 to 2001, he had a term as Federated Farmers Gisborne Wairoa provincial president in 1995-1998, has been chairman of the East Coast Rescue Helicopter Trust since 2001 and was awarded the MNZM in the 2015 New Year Honours.