Roger talks at Boma Grow - Agri Summit 2019

Industry confronts big issues

HOW to grow primary industries sustainably, changing consumer expectations, technological transformation of growing and selling we issues confronted at the BOMA Grow 2019 Agri-Summit in Christchurch.

More than 600 people ranging from farmers, producers and researchers to educators and students and those working in government and finance met to discuss ways the food and fibre sector can be more innovative, collaborative, sustainable and profitable now and in future.

Consumer aren’t interested in the productivity of an animal. They want taste and increasingly to know how the animal is raised, farmer and Wyld Group chief executive Roger Beattie says.

Consumer aren’t interested in the productivity of an animal. They want taste and increasingly to know how the animal is raised, farmer and Wyld Group chief executive Roger Beattie says.

Event organiser Kaila Colbin said the two-day summit was a chance to learn about future trends affecting the agriculture sector and what to do about them, in a practical way, from people on the ground.

“Our aim was to bring together people from all across New Zealand’s food and fibre sector and empower them to take action. 

“Throughout the two days attendees were exposed to case studies from credible people – who’s tried it, what worked, what didn’t, what’s just a flash in the pan and what’s going to be sustainable into the future.”

Wyld Group chief executive officer Roger Beattie founded an organic meat and woollen apparel company from his 1000-hectare sheep, beef, paua and kelp farm on Banks Peninsula.

“Farmers have been worshipping at the alter of productivity for far too long,” he said.

“The consumer isn’t interested in the productivity of the animal. They want taste and increasingly to know how the animal is raised. Was it ethical, sustainable, were chemicals used?”

Beattie and his wife Nicki are certified organic farmers focused on adding value to all the products they produce, which include Pilana and Wyld wool and meat at Wyld and Wyld Lamb, blue pearls at Eyris Pearls and Valere and Zelp at NZ Kelp.

Grown sustainably and ethically without chemicals in the wild environment, the sheep are served up in some of the best restaurants in the country. 

“We’ve been able to identify supportive pathways and networks for action after our event,” Colbin said.

“It’s not enough to know what the changes affecting the sector are – we have to learn what to do with them and how the sector can collaborate and thrive together in the future as well.” 

Farmers Weekly was a partner of Grow 2019 and sponsored two students from Lincoln University to attend.

Angela Low
The special seaweed diet for cows that could reduce NZ's methane levels
Roger Beattie on News Hub, NZ Kelp, cows

Scientists are researching a special diet for cows that could help to reduce the amount of damaging greenhouse gases they burp into the atmosphere every day.

Farmers at Lansdowne Valley Farm near Christchurch have already cracked onto something, feeding their cows seaweed.

The dried out extract is left out by farmer Roger Beattie, in a ploy that could be helping to save the planet.

"There's been a number of studies done on methane, and they seem to be pointing in the same direction; you feed some kelp and it has a methane mitigation benefit," he says.

Currently, researchers from UC Davis University in California are trying to decipher if it does in fact make cows less gassy.

They're claiming the diet has the potential to dramatically reduce the amount of methane cows burp into the atmosphere.

But Mr Beattie has been harvesting seaweed or kelp commercially off the coast of Akaroa for the past eight years.

His small team, including marine biologist Peter Randrup, harvest 500 tonnes every year by hand.

According to Mr Randrup, seaweed's reproductive organs are at the bottom - so when harvested, you can simply cut the top and then it all regrows.

Seaweed is one of the most sustainable ecosystems on earth, and that's because it grows so fast - in fact, if grass grew as fast as seaweed does, you'd have to mow it seven times a day.

The seaweed harvested by Beattie and his team is then dried out and sold to dairy farmers, under the brand Zelp.

Mr Beattie has been feeding it to his cattle for years, and while he doesn't test for methane, he says you can see the change.

"The kelp is just one of those things - if you've got an animal that's in a poorer condition, you give them kelp, and very shortly afterwards, they pick up in condition," he says.

While the science is still underway, seaweed could be the pill that helps New Zealand rein in its big methane problem.


R&N Beattie Partnership New Website

We are all about change here right now. Updating the websites across all platforms. Newest to launch is R&N Beattie Partnership Ltd where you will learn all about Roger and Nicki Beattie and all the projects they have on the go and all the farms they manage and livestock they sell. This website has a clean and simple layout that is easy to navigate, with all the information right at your fingertips.

Peruse at your leisure and give is a call if you have any more questions.

Check it out.