What's been happening around the country? | Issue 192

Sep 8, 2023

I hope everyone is enjoying warm temperatures and lots of grass growth. It’s nice to be leaving the cold, wet and mud behind.

The month for me has been spent pretty much in the office apart from the Next Generation programme at the beginning of August (see last issue of DFA Stagline).  I think this is the first time in years that I haven’t been travelling around the country for this long.

Over this time the Producer Management Team has been reviewing the various documents and policies and procedures that allow the NZDFA to function as the voice of deer farmers.  We’ll be looking to streamline these and re-format them as a collection of concise leaflets contained in a ring binder with tabbed dividers (à la Deer Facts) and these will be available to all the NZDFA Branch Chairs.  We are hoping to present a draft prototype at the upcoming Branch Chairs Meeting on 5 and 6 October in Wellington.  

Speaking of which, the October Branch Chairs meeting is an important event for the NZDFA as it is the major opportunity for branches to raise issues with the DINZ Board and staff, as well as the NZDFA Executive Committee.  Please get in touch with you local Branch Chair so that your queries and concerns can be included.

Earlier this week I attended a presentation from NIWA on the summer coming up – the message is of some concern.  Normally forecasts and predictions are couched in probabilities and possibilities of events happening, so when the experts state with great certainty that we will be shortly moving into an El Nino weather pattern and we should expect a long, dry summer over much of the country, that should give us a clear guide on setting up for the next few months.

The key messages from the presentation are here:

Key messages
  • El Niño developing and strength may rival historically strong events: increasing westerly winds expected to be a theme into spring and possibly summer
  • Rapidly developing positive Indian Ocean Dipole: was associated with 2019-2020 drought, fewer opportunities for tropical moisture plumes over time, connected to dryness predicted in Australia
  • Soil moisture currently near or above normal for most, but spots of dryness starting to crop up... when westerlies blow stronger than normal in the coming months, conditions will quickly dry
  • Long-term dryness risk: Northland, Auckland, Waikato/Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Wellington/Wairarapa, Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, northern Otago
  • El Niño has been associated with some of New Zealand's most severe and long-lasting droughts
  • We know the average outcome of El Niño, but no El Niño is average, especially in the context of a changing climate
  • Keeping track of forecast updates will be very important in the months ahead

Finally on a more positive note earlier in the month Otago Regional Council published a series of reports examining the regional economy and the role that agriculture plays.  There was considerable input into the agriculture reports from a number of Otago deer farmers and authorship from Tony Pearse, Solis Norton (DeerPro) and Simon Glennie (Abacus Bio).  The work was mentioned last year in Deer Industry News (Issue 114, July-September, pages 10-11,  There are two reports that will be of interest to Otago deer farmers (Farmer Grower Phase 1 and Phase 2 reports) and they can be downloaded here:

This is only the second time that such a detailed and comprehensive analysis of a regional primary sector has been undertaken in New Zealand, the other being a report for Southland in 2017 (which similarly involved Southland deer farmers).

Now that things are growing and drying out, I do hope that the upcoming venison and velvet seasons are good for everyone.  It’s also only a couple of months away from the velvet competitions and we are also casting our minds to field days at the 2023 Environment Award winners’ farms. Best wishes and prepare well for the summer ahead.

- Lindsay Fung, Producer Manager 

Continue reading DFA Stagline Issue 192, next: Welcome to new DINZ staff >>

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