Sunday, February 28, 2010

Home Sweet Home

We are back to home sweet home. We have worked very hard to make this place our home and it just stood out like a jewel when you turn that curve on 28.

The airflight was so much better on the way home. The main leg was a Qantus 747 again but this one had less seats and more room. If you get the old one with red seats, run! If you get the newer one with blue seats, you will be OK. The Lycoming we flew to Paris was more comfortable though.

You meet the neatest people travelling. The flight to Chicago found us sitting with a sweet young gal who is a neo natal nurse and working with UCLA on a revolutionary new program for her training. She is about the age of our youngest two and would fit right in our family.

Jet lag can really throw a person off but this time we both seem to be handling it pretty well so far because we talked about it and planned for it. 21 hours in the air over two days that is one calendar date is something the body isn't trained for. 10 flights in 21 days isn't either but we did it to get my job done.

We both fell asleep and woke up just in time for the Bonanza party at church. Remeber Bonanza? Hoss and Little Joe? Cabin fever was running high and the church was packed. I have never seen so many people in that church hall in my 40 years experience with it.

Everyone had a good time. This morning I could really feel how important a good church and its people is to ones well being. It brings people together for the right reason. The church is the physical rock we need to keep our spiritual rock in place. I have seen rocks washed away and I don't want any part of that.

It's Monday in New Zealand but Sunday in Ohio. It feels like Sunday so I guess we are getting used to home and everyday life again.
The picture of the painting of our farm was done by neighbor Donna, I love it.


Saturday, February 27, 2010


A chicken blogger emailed me and I thought I would share his blog since I was raised on a farm with 500 chickens. Chickens were always mom's thing and how we made grocery money for our family.

Jeff Shamblin writes;

"Removing the skin and visible fat from chicken can lower the fat content by about 50 percent. Since the skin of chicken is the major contributor of saturated fat and cholesterol, removing the skin is a good technique to reduce the fat content of chicken for people who are trying to eat lean. The breast is the leanest portion of poultry. Removing the skin from a six ounce serving of boneless chicken breast before cooking it, reduces the fat content, on average, from thirteen to seven grams. I have found that cooking chicken with the skin on and removing it after cooking makes little difference in the final fat content of the meat. But it can make a big difference in the moisture and taste. Cooking with the skin on keeps the meat insulated and allows it to retain more of its natural moisture and flavors. This is particularly important when cooking the breast portion of poultry, which can easily become dry and tough. When you peel off the skin after cooking, the meat may look much fattier but what you are seeing is not a large increase in fat, but a large increase in moisture. Skinless chicken has very little fat, and you may be tempted to use more oil when cooking to avoid sticking and to add flavor.

But even vegetable oils are essentially pure fat, so you may actually be adding more calories than if you cooked the chicken with its skin intact. As we are all told white meat is better for you and dark meat contains too much fat. While it is true that chicken thighs contain twice the amount of fat of boneless skinless breasts. It is only 11 grams of fat per four ounce serving. Less than you would find in the same size serving of beef pork or lamb.

The calories and cholesterol in chicken thighs weigh in at 232 calories and 105 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. Breast meat is not much different at 196 calories and 96 milligrams of cholesterol. After frying your chicken, place it in a covered pan in your oven and steam the fat and cholesterol out with a half cup of water. If you dont have a lid for your baking pan use aluminum foil. You can also add lemon, orange, ginger, coconut, garlic, etc in the steaming process for additional flavor. People with heart disease should probably boil their chicken, to remove nearly all the the fat and cholesterol."
Poultry is very important to the world. I remember all the fowl in China. I heard a few in New Zealand but didn't see many. No pigs either, just sheeeeeeeeeeeeep and cattle!
They must have chickens somewhere because they use a lot of eggs! Eggs are fairly popular for breakfast and I even had them on fish! They love a heated up, not fried tomato with eggs and breakfast, too.
Neighbor Donna is our local poultry farmer so this one is for you Donna.

Friday, February 26, 2010


We were talking about New Zealanders having more or less freedom than we do.

After listing some things, we came to the conclustion they may have more.

They basically have no military but are pretty isolated as far as getting attacked or taken over by anyone.

They have personal, financial and religious freedom. They sure have freedom of speech. You should hear their commentators just attack politicians then they both say thank you and sign off. It sounds hostile sometimes but it ends friendly.

They don't have near the beauraucracy we have, in fact very little if any compare to us. You wouldn't think so talking to a Kiwi, they think they have too much!

They don't have the big corporations monopolizing their country's business and economy like we do. And their weather and climate, their soil, their rolling hills to graze. It looks more like utopia to me!

I think they have more freedom and I think they will keep it.

We met young people today that didn't know where New Zealand is or if it even existed!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Today we met with our last farmers before leaving Hamilton. One farmer and his son brought a soil chemist with double PhD's. The subject matter got busy in a hurry!

Planter setup, fertility management and cover crops brought lots of attention here just like home.

Tonight we went up in the Sky Tower in Auckland. It is 1,076 feet tall and has the plexiglass you can walk over and see the streets below. LuAnn had mentioned this winter she wouldn't get near it when we saw it on a travel program.

We thought about the Eiffel Tower, Toronto Tower, Empire State Building, Chicago Tower and Sky Needle in Seattle we have seen. The Gateway Arch is still one of my favorites in good ole St. Louis.

Time to get ready to go home and back to work and pay the bills.

This job was a lot of fun and so revealing and educational.

Just Perfect!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010


We finished up near Bulls New Zealand yesterday on the Hugh Dalrymple farm. We had another really good turn out and two hour session.

We had a very good discussion and most really saw what I was talking about. One farmer told me he had to work a field 13 times to get it in shape and admitted he cannot afford to do that and needs help. Soil quality is gone after 13 times working the field. The result is the consistency of a roadbed. Plants don't like that.

So we explored all the ideas we could come up with to build soil and reduce tillage just like we have across New Zealand. It has been a very good exchange.

Drainage is a problem here, the water table is too high. Hugh was investing a whole lot of money digging new drainage ditches to get the water table down. I agreed with his assessment.

Lake Taupo is New Zealand's largest lake. Volcanic pumice surrounds the borders. We walked 3 KM to Jolly Good Fellows for dinner. I asked LuAnn, isn't that Winston Churchill's picture on the sign and menu? She said no, that is some local person. So of course I asked a waitress and it was Churchill. I laughed and said I won and she said who did you think it is? I said she thought it was a local bloke. She said do we look like that??? We all laughed.

Well that is enough for now.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Zealand

It has been a great experience in this country. My brain is starting to consider everything I have to do when we get home. Lots of things have happened at home, weather, people, jobs, we have tried to keep up but it is not like being there.

The food is good, the people are great, the island is an isolated paradise in summer and their winter doesn't sound all that bad.

Few Americans have found New Zealand because it is so very far away from our homeland.

They still have the little towns intact. The big box stores have not taken over like they have in the states. I hope they are able to keep their home town charm and rural atmosphere. It is so different from home.

We will surely be keeping an eye on this country and conversing with our new friends. NoTill will work here and they are aware they need to keep their good soil structure and reform the land that has been overworked. One farmer said 13 passes across the soil in a year is just too much and they need to change. They are aware.

They refer to soil quality and sustainability like we started to decades ago in parts of the states.

It will be real interesting to see how this country responds in coming years.



Today we drove down the windy coast from Gisbourne to the Napier Hastings area. We met with farmers at Hugh farm where they can grow anything. They have a good rotation of corn to various vegetable crops. The big difference from some areas is they plant ryegrass and grass it down before planting the next crop.

Mr. Nicholes is the custom operator or contractor there and brought his John Deere planter over for discussion. They are making the planter work in strip till with the Orthmann strip bar made in the states. They seem to be quite happy with it.

As usual I showed what we do on our farm and across our country. They liked the ideas of no coulter and the spading wheels and the Reduced Inside Diameter gauge wheel tire that actually lifts the sidewall beside the seed trench instead of mashing it down on regular planters. The liked the design of the drag chain, too.

We had a real good discussion on reducing tillage and introducing cover crops into the crop rotation. LuAnn, Dianne and I had tea with Hugh and Nicoles after the discussion and talked about Hugh's trip to the states. The innovators here know all the main people I know in the states so we often trade ideas and experiences.

Then we head up state route 2 to Palmerston North and passed through a Scandanavian town named Dannevircke. 21 families settled here in 1871 and started dairy farming and the town was born. Many still dairy there.

We passed the first wind farm we have seen in the country on the way to Palmerston North. Those turbines were working hard.

That pretty much does it for Tuesday. Tomorrow we visit and another farm and their neighbors near the town of Bull.

That should be a good talk, LOL.

The survivors of any industry, especially farming, source information, sort the BS, try it and implement what works best for them.


Monday, February 22, 2010

More on Monday

13 hours of driving, field days and one farmer visit today. More when I get time!

This motel just had a shower curtain over a drain, no ledge or stall. Hose it down and your done. The showers have been good, mostly European style. The water is soft, some of the most mineral free water in the world. Someone said NZ had the fifth best water supply in the world but I don't know who did that comparison.

Most of the urinals you stand up on a ledge into a trough, usually stainless steel if its public. I like the two speed toilets, half and full flush.

TV is limited but they don't watch much. They are outside all day. Internet is slow and pricey and there are efforts to change that. Rates have varied from $5 to $25 per day and only one Wifi spot found out in the country where we have travelled and worked.

The talk at David Clark's was just like being home with Mike Clark and his son David. Similar equipment, practices and mannerisms. Top notch operation and we went into detail on notill planting.

It was good!


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday in New Zealand

Yesterday we watched the Ohope Surf Rescue competition. It was quite a sight.

They launched off three teams at one time past three bouys and then they raced back to shore.

We had breakfast at a cafe beside the beach and talked with the locals. More long black coffee for me.

It is a beautiful beach I hope you can all see someday if that is your desire. It wasn't in my plan of teaching notill corn but it just happened along the way.

Many good things happen the same way.

I have more detailed notes on LuAnn's laptop but it is there I am here.

LuAnn just emailed them to me:

Today we walked to the Ohope Beach outside our room and watched some of the New Zealand Surf Rescue competition. Groups of surfers would take off at the gun and paddle around 3 bouys in the sea and race back to shore. They were divided by age and male/female. Talk about a bunch of buff Kiwi’s!

We had breakfast on the beach and talked to the locals. That is always good fun.

I wrote a couple of blogs and checked email before the connection died. Then we went to the I center or Information center where we had a better connection. LuAnn shipped her new piece of old English furniture, a fireplace quilt stand and shopped for reading material. She is a voracious reader.

By then it was lunch time and we had lunch a café on the street. Then we headed for a farm on the coast where we had been invited for tea. I wasn’t sure which farm it was so we stopped at a kiwi orchard and they told us it was their neighbors and gave them a call. Send them over they told us!

We had a good chat with David and Kate and son Michael. We showed pictures off LuAnn’s new Lenovo until the battery died over tea and cakes. Then David and Michael gave me a whirlwind tour of their farm in their little 4 door diesel Toyota pickup or ute as they call them.

We walked some maize and I saw all their fields. 1500 hectares of maize, 600 ewes and 100 hectares of kiwi fruit right along the south Pacific. The view from their living room is truly amazing. I know no-till would help their erodible hillsides above the beach and increase their maize production. They had tried it but couldn’t make it work and now erosion is taking its toll.

We had some of Mike’s famous watermelon before leaving and more when we got back to the apartment.

We said our goodbyes and went back to Ohope where we walked the beautiful beach. We had dinner at another café in walking distance and came back to the apartment to catch Australia’s Sky News and finished watching Julie and Julia on DVD.

Tomorrow we head for Gisbourne and have three more talks before heading back to the states next weekend.

What a trip!

Ed and LuAnn

Friday, February 19, 2010

No-Till Blog

Darrel Bruggink at No-Till Farmer just posted my New Zealand No-Till blog on You have to register to read it but here it is on my blog:

We are in New Zealand promoting and teaching no-till. It’s an exciting experience and a great opportunity for my wife LuAnn and I. New Zealand is ripe for no-till. They notice their great soil quality diminishing after 100 years of tillage and are interested in learning how we make it work in the states.

I hosted a farmer in 2006 and took him to no-till farms in Iowa and Illinois. He even brought home Keeton seed firmers and ordered no-till attachments. We spent 3 days with their family near Onewhero between Auckland and Hamilton. We traveled the south island and saw tillage radish that will be shipped to the states for our cover crop use.

This farmer has been using my planter setup for 3 years now and his crop looks great. You can already see soil-quality improvements, which the local media and some scientists are picking up on. We have filmed a TV show and completed journal interviews while there and at the Waikato Aerable Research Station.

The field day we taught at had almost double their record 2009 crowd on Tuesday and ran out of everything — plates, programs and almost food. Plenty of water and sunscreen though! That is a must down under.

I spoke to the Maize Board yesterday and we toured a local weed science station and had lunch with their scientists. They don’t have the weeds or other pests we have yet, but they are coming. They were amazed of the four glyphosate-resistant weeds I spoke of in my home area.
All of the corn goes to dairies here, mostly as silage, and they are a net importer of corn. There are lots of opportunities for corn growers here.

Yes, this is the trip of the lifetime for me and I thank No-Till Farmer for helping me get the word out. It’s all about net profit for me, and the other benefits come along for the ride. My no-till student studies No-Till Farmer magazine and I shared that with the corn growers who really want to get serious about no-till.

The great benefit of a good no-till planter setup is it can be used for no-till, minimum till or tillage as you progress and learn. They don’t teach this stuff at the university.


Long Black

I had a long black coffee this morning. You can order a short black, a long black, a short white with milk in it and every kind of coffee you can think of. Tea is their specialty.

Evening tea is dinner. Last night I had fish and chips and they put two big shiney eggs on my fish. Never saw that before. The salads are always tasty and this one had different lettuce, beets, carrots, onion and sprouts. They sure make good dressings and sauces in NZ.

We are on the Ohope Beach this weekend where the national lifeguard surfboard trials are being held. I was told Shania Twain owned a nice place on down the coast but lost it in divorce. Apartments here are $400,000 on up.

I met two farmers who invited me over for tea and I think I will try and see them today. They had some hard questions on notill so they must face some real challenges.

The little Carrolla really seems to sip the fuel, haven't spent much on petrol. Good thing at $1.72 per litre. I can almost drive on the wrong side of the road now without fear. Almost.

Looks like there will be some meltoff at home this weekend with a predicted 40 degrees but I hope it is slow so we don't get flooding.

Darrel Bruggrink at just posted my New Zealand no-till blog. I can't copy and past it on this computer and you have to register at their site to read content.


Thursday, February 18, 2010


We just did another no-till talk near Whakathane. Wh is pronounced f in Maori.

We had a good group of farmers who asked good questions and seemed very receptive to the no-till idea.

I have invited all my groups to the states, especially to the National NoTillage Conference in the second week in January next year. I know they would get a lot our of it.

I am writing a 4 page summary to go in their newsletter that should cover all of the questions I have received.

Monday we head out early for Gisbourne but lots of time to sun before then.

Thanks for the all email updates from the states.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday 2010

Ash Wednesday 2010 is not like 2009 for us. Today our friends and neighbors will get their ashes on their forehead. Most everyone in the little farm town of Fayetteville will receive ashes.

We didn't see any in New Zealand. We did see a Catholic Church in Rotarura but we also saw church that the Anglicans, Methodists and Presbyterians share. I have never seen that before.

The mark of ashes on the forehead goes way back to early Roman Catholic times. I found a good quote but it won't copy and paste on this blog so I will at least try and give you the link.

Ash Wednesday starts the 40 day Lenten period of fasting and abstinence. Some places show more recognition to Fat Tuesday, the last day before Lent.

Whatever your believe, we wish you a good Ash Wednesday and the 40 days leading to Easter.

Ed and LuAnn


Today we worked with the committee on the many things facing maize growers in New Zealand. One of those is weeds.

We went to the lab where FAR has invested money to help study weeds in maize and how to control them. It is confusing because almost every weed and chemical has a different name than the states, just like the automobiles here.

The directors truck looks like a Ford Ranger but has a 4 cylinder turbocharged diesel. LuAnn asked why don't we have that in the states?

Good question. Basically we had a few but they got squashed a long time ago in our country.

The weed lab was interesting and so was their research. Switching metrics to English is tedious in chemical rates and all math conversions like 2.47 acres per hectare, kilograms to pounds and so forth.

Friday we start traveling the north island for mini field days on member farms where the community is invited to attend.

It will be interesting. More in the morning...

It is early in NZ and I was thinking how the people here don't watch TV or use the Internet as much as we do in the states.

Everything is so expensive, they are so isolated on these islands that would fit inside Texas with a population of 4 million. This connection is 18MPS and costs $15 NZ or about $10 US.

Did I tell you the people are happy and live to be 90 years old typically?


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Awesome Field Day

What a great day. Beautiful weather, record crowd, beautiful corn, good discussions. Probably the best I ever participated in and I have been to many. It was pretty as the flowers and as nice as the wonderful people here.

The crowd was almost double last year's record numbers. The planned for a big crowd and still ran out of plates, ran out of programs and publications, then ran out of meat and almost everything was gone by one o'clock. It was a great compliment to the FAR Maize Committee that organized the event and Mike Parker, the Maize Research Coordinator.
I did another TV interview and an interview with an Australian-New Zealand contractor magazine. They went very well.
The best compliment I got was a farmer who told me he flew from the south island to hear me talk. It was easy today because I was prepared, I had super support and everything just fit together.

The planter sitting there made my sessions very meaningful to the farmers and industry people. My host brought his planter parts and pictures we could share with the existing notill planter.

I think New Zealanders are ready to attempt more notill. Costs of production are so high, this is one way of controlling costs and labor for more net profit.

Another key is what I told you about the notill conference and every good conference. The topics and speakers all fit together and complimented each other. That is extremely important for a successful event.

Tonight we had dinner with the staff and committe members and evaluated the day. Everything went so well it was more like how can we ever improve this? It was that good.

Tomorrow we meet with the full board for more planning and evaluation. It is a good group and this should be fun. It is good to help where you fit in.

This trip is going to fast. Next thing you know I will be complaining about that big plane ride again.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Field Day

I like Field Days. I remember the famous ARRL Amateur Radio Field Days where we tested Emergency Communications. Morse Code communication was a key to that field day.

Now for years I have been involved in agriculture field days. Today we set up tents and plot signs for the Waikato Aerable Research Station field day tomorrow.

A local farmer brought his tractor and planter so I can teach from the planter tomorrow. That should work out real well. Farmers love to gather around a planter and talk. Planters set the yield for the year and thus your profit or loss the day you plant.

The notill planter setup is critical. I can see three changes I would make to the John Deere notill planter right now. Reduced Inside Diameter gauge wheel tires invented by International Harvester many years ago that allows the row unit to plant in damp conditions with little down pressure. Many farmers use too much down pressure and cause compaction in the seed trench.

It has one Dawn closing wheel on it but I prefer two Martin spiked closing wheels instead. Many farmers use both setups. I would also install the heavy steel drag chains on the back of that planter.

A local maize grower picked us up and and we had lunch with him and his wife. She had fresh catch snapper and sweet corn and all the trimmings! These people really roll out the red carpet! They call sweet corn cob corn, had to laugh. This fellow was loaded with Kiwi terms and I should have recorded the whole conversation. You would crack up. That means you are upset in Kiwi, we both laughed.

He had all Massey tractors and even his wife mowed the placed with a brand new looking 135 petrol tractor, gas engine in our lingo and that tractor is over 40 years old.

We looked over his corn crop and walked to his wife's native preservation land area with trees over 500 years old. I can't spell or prounce it in Maori but it is a conifer that was used to make boxes to hold butter to ship to England and all over the world.

Tomorrow will be interesting and I will try to give a report before bedtime.


Sunday, February 14, 2010


Tomorrow the mission starts. Try to explain how and why we notill and why New Zealand might want to look at it.

I helped one Kiwi start no-tilling 4 years ago and he is one of the few in the country and the only one who does it like I do.

One pass strip till with no coulter. His soil is improving already and looks very good.

Still, few will want to change and why and how should they?

I have the ideas if I can communicate them.

I see clearly now why dad and I started notilling in 1976. Our soil was going south, literally and we never could plant on time working the ground so much. Livestock suffered when we tended corn.

So we made the bold move and rented a brand new White 5100 and planted corn. We were so ignorant, we didn't even close the open slot the seed was in. God smiled on us and it rained on the seed and every one of them came up.

I still have a 5100 but it looks nothing like the one we used. The coulters are gone, it has Martin row cleaners, a Case IH gauge wheel tire, Keeton seed firmers, Martin spiked closing wheels and 40 inch drag chains. The closing wheels are nothing but the residue cleaners mounted just backwards of the row cleaners to lightly till and close the seed trench.

That planter plants corn. 245 bu per acre in 2004, the first year on our new farm.

It saves soil, oil and toil. It makes more net profit. It frees up time for other chores. The soil gets better every year.

The Kiwi's don't have erosion but they can stop their soil degradation, build their soil back to good condition and gain all the other benefits.

Now if I can just communicate that over the next two weeks....


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dinner With Strangers

When you are traveling, you meet many new people everyday.

We have met many already on this journey. We met many new folks last week and three became friends. Of course I had already met my host in the states but I had not met his family and none of them had met LuAnn.

Tonight everyone wanted to eat outdoors at the restaurants and cafes. We invited two English couples to eat with us and they had not met before either. We had a great conversation and two hours went by quickly. It is amazing how much in common we all have even in foreign lands.

This morning we met a nice couple from Sydney. We got to talking about the rented beehives for pollination we had both seen across the country and the various bee problems around the world.

First we had the Africanized bee, then the Varroha mite and now hive collapse. This threatens the pollination of our food crops.

I told her she sounded like a scientist and I said she said no, she was a female with common sense. She got me on that one! We all had a good laugh. I told her I was putting it on my blog today, she got a kick out of that.

Strangers quickly become friendly. It is a natural bonding process. They are always interested in the farming industry but we kept this conversation very non-farming. That is difficult for me to do sometimes!

I really never met anyone I couldn't talk to and most end up being quite friendly. I have always tried to be. I am probably the most worldy person of my family and I imagine my dad's family was much the same way. Mom's family is too, they talk to me more than they do her.

I like meeting new people. I like learning about them and they always seem interested in my own interests and my vast background of learning and traveling and sharing. I guess that is what makes me tick. It is easy to see that from my 15 year history on the Internet.

Thanks to the Internet the world has really gotten got much smaller even though the population keeps growing.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Kiwi Speak

We love the new Kiwi terms we have learned this week:

Don't flush the nappies or diapers down the toilet. The toilet has two speeds, half flush and full flush.

Do you want that for takeaway? Take out food.

Bap is a type of roll, e.g. I had a breakfast sandwich on a delightful bap. They don't pick it up to eat it either, fork and knife in hand at all times.

Weather is fine instead of sunny.

Blimey, that was a good ride. I think that is my vernacular for darn that was a wild ride.

Yield sign is give way in Kiwi. Probably English too, much of the language is.

Country is full of roundabouts and walkabouts. Walkabout before you back up, get out and walk around your vehicle.

Flat black is stong, black coffee, white coffee frothed with milk.

Signal back is call me back.

Ring me instead of call me. The telly is the telephone.

Shuttles are nice and less expensive than cabs. The bus driver said ring yourself a shuttle to the airport, don't take a cab unless you have to. One cab in front of us had $4 rang up on it before it left the airport. The bus driver dropped us off right at our motel. It is motel here, not cheap motel versus hotel in the states.

They basically don't watch TV so they keep to themselves but know the world news before we do. The newspaper is very wide and still very read.

They pay Internet by the gigabyte, not the minute or month.

These people have it right. The obituaries show they often live to 90 years old!


The Nelson Rocket

Early this morning we left Christchurch and the beautiful Canterbury plains on the TranzAlpine railroad. What a beautiful 4 hour train ride through the southern Alps as they call it!

I should have some decent pictures to share. We stopped at our first National Park and travelled through the mountains and rivers to Greymouth.

There we boarded what would turn out to be the Nelson Rocket. That is what I nicknamed the InterCity bus ran by Abel Tasman Cruiselines.

The bus was manufactured by MAN but I think this one should have the N changed to a D.

Wildest bus ride I ever took!

That driver kept on hand on the wheel and the other on the 6 speed manual transmission navigating 328 kilometers of mountainous, treacherous, near the ocean drop offs at high speed. I mean high speed. It was hair raising!

Six hours later we landed and I mean landed in Nelson, New Zealand.

At one stop I went to the bathroom and had to hold onto the walls with a touch of vertigo.

Another out of body experience like that 12 hour jet ride to Auckland.


We passed through another 3 national parks, it was beautiful but I am still a little giddy, even after a good dinner.

I don't think I will ever forget this day.

The Winkle's cruising by the Tasman Sea. Something I never ever thought would happen.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blue Planet

We took the day off today. We visited the art gallery, the Canterbury Art Buildings that used to be Canterbury College, the museum and the Botanical gardens.

I have it all written down but can't get it to copy and paste here like I do at home. Maybe I can straighten this out later!

We sure walked alot, I can tell you that!

The blue planet was part of the art gallery display. Do you remember the earth is 71% water and only 3% of that is fresh water?

More later I hope,


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tea Drinkin' Kiwi's

LuAnn and I have become tea drinking kiwi's. That is a compliment to our new friends. Tea helps digestion and makes you feel good. LuAnn had already pretty much switched from coffee to tea and it is natural to do so here.

The coffee is strong like Europe. You sip it, not a 32 ouncer like some American's do.

The toilets have a half flush button and full flush button, very cool. The faucets are simple, old fashioned but classy. Everything is smaller here.

We had a good visit near Ashburton today. We visited farms and talked to farmers and seedsmen. Of special interest was the radishes. Their valley is about the same size and soil and weather as the Willamette Valley in Oregon which we visited in August.
They know more about grazing and endophytes in grass than anyone I have met. That is their industry, they had to learn. The grazing and grazing seed industry is huge in New Zealand and very important.

I can see more and more how the Tillage Radish will help us in America. More crop due to relief to compaction, nutrient scavaging, less pests and many other reasons.

We will be planting more.

This is truly another opportunity of a lifetime, the trip and better farming practices.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010


It takes awhile to adapt to change. One fellow said it takes a day for each our for your body to adjust and Ohio is 18 hours behind New Zealand.

We made it to the hotel after a nerve wracking first drive. Everything is opposite of our country, even the turn signal is on the right. Making right hand turns is tricky. We missed three of them even with the help of Garmin.

Everything is so very expensive in New Zealand. A common meal is $60 New Zealand with tip and the exchange was around 76 cents yesterday I think.

The petro is $1.70 per litre. Seed is double the price of the states. My host is paying 10 times more for laboratory tests for soil and tissue than I am. A bearing for his mower was over $100. Fertilizer is like buying gold.

The island country is held captive. There is no competition. One company dominates most industries.

The people are happy though and go about their business. We miss our hosts already, what a fantastic family, our new friends. They did so much for us but we just got along so well. They sure would be great neighbors like the ones I miss at home.

Today I learn more about cropping on the islands and how cover crops might fit in. You can see from the plane the earth is pounded to death. Soil quality has went downhill just like it has for us in the states. I am 30 years plus into rebuilding and revitalizing soil and only the innovators like my host have just started.

They need to wake up and make a change. As consultant David said crop production here is easy queasy and no incentive to change. But he did agree with me change is needed.

I hope I can bring about a dash of a thought of needed change in farming practices here.

I also hope it is not pie in the sky thinking.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Off to Christchurch

Today we fly out of Auckland to fly to Christchurch. We will pick up the rental car there, drive to the Hotel and rest a bit.

Then we will visit three farms around Ashburton tomorrow. First will be Allen Lill of Norwest seeds who is growing tillage radish seeds for the states and around the world.

Two other farmers want to meet and one has a 16 row JD planter, very large for the islands.

My goal will be to see if tillage radish will fit into these continuous notill corn rotations on the islands. They need something growing in their rainy off season and I don't know if they will work or not or if we need to find another cover crop like mustard or perhaps phalacia.

Driving on the opposite side of the road sounds like a wary challenge to me.

Say a little prayer for us.



New Zealand TV

Today we spent most of our time filming a segment for New Zealand TV channel 99.

Even the producer noticed the soft no-till soils and he said he has been in many maize or what we call corn fields and never saw one that soft on the feet. I thought we were in one of the harder end rows!

We showed what my host friend's corn planter and resulting corn looked like. It is an excellent crop but we spent the afternoon diagnosing a few trouble spots and how to avoid them in the fields. They call fields paddocks because fields are smaller here and New Zealand is a livestock country with many small paddocks but some large fields, too.

Brian and David, crop consultants and I our hosts walked and analyzed the crop and soil quality. You can see the soil really improving after three crops of no-till corn.

I even got a picture of one of the farm cats and it is half lynx!

What a day of questioning and exchange about crop production!

Whew, we are both tired. It is after 8 pm here Monday evening.

Looks like the Saints won the Super Bowl and the East Coast and our home is freezing!

It has been as high as 90 degrees here but it doesn't feel like it.

What an island paradise!


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Walking Corn in New Zealand

The hosts too us to our first Anglican church service this morning. It is a mix of the Catholic Church and reminds me of my old farm community Methodist Church where we raised our children. Beautiful people, mainly women, 3 men including me.

Then we walked corn fields all afternoon talking about how to grow better corn. Just like doing it at home or Iowa. No non GMO corn in New Zealand and no insecticides, they don't have our issures.

Beautiful countryside, 300 sheep for every person and probably 100 cattle!

Wonderful hosts here, having a great time!

More Later,

Best Wishes,

Ed Winkle

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Made it to New Zealand!

What a horrible plane ride across the Pacific! I getting to old for this!

Beautiful island, between Auckland and Hamilton at a NAT'ers house, Chris.

Will be working field days for Foundation for Aerable Research across the north island and of course some site seeing.

More later!


Thursday, February 4, 2010


Won't be long until Maundy Thursday!

The moon was still full last night but it didn't last that long.

Thursday has always been a good day for me, day before Friday, must be my work day habit.

I have so much on my mind today I don't know where to focus.

Sure has been a good week though! Tnew has been worrisome.

$14 Trillion debt scares me, I don't know what they are thinking but I could be no better.

I think it is different when the government is doing compared to me. They represent 300 million people, I represent me and my wife.

There is so much to talk about, the government, business, farming, gardeing, family life!

I will pick up on something.

That is those long blogs!

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pork Over Viagra

Don't you just loathe those Viagra and Cialis commercials?

"Pork Instead of Viagra

A Reuter's news release states that Argentina's president recently recommended pork as an alternative to Viagra, saying she spent a satisfying weekend with her husband after eating barbecued pork. "I've just been told something I didn't know; that eating pork improves your sex life...I'd say it's a lot nicer to eat a bit of grilled pork than take Viagra," President Cristina Fernandez said to leaders of the pig farming industry. According to the release, she said she recently ate pork and "things went very well that weekend, so it could well be true.

"Argentines are the world's biggest per capita consumers of beef, but the government has sought to promote pork as an alternative in recent years due to rising steak prices and as a way to diversify the meat industry. News like this could cause pork demand to shoot up."Trying it doesn't cost anything, so let's give it a go," Fernandez said in the televised speech.

This is for my friend Neil and all good producers like NPKK Pork in Iowa.

Does this mean that Viagra users don't eat enough pork?

Eat pork, it is good on the fork!

And, it may do wonders for you!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Is Extension Dying?

Abraham Lincoln started the Land Grant college idea, and Extension and Research filled the "three legged stool."

Now all three are in jepaordy because of limited funds from these hard times. Extension is taking it hardest because the dream and reality of a county office in all 3000 US counties is coming to an end.

"Extension programs brace for cuts, decreased funds
By Kantele FrankoMarch 12, 2009

Educators and agriculture advocates in Ohio and other farm belt states say budget proposals would cut funding at many university-based extension programs, even as the grim economy prompts more and more penny-pinching residents to seek out their advice on gardening, canning and do-it-yourself repair projects. Each state has an extension office at its land grant university along with several local or regional offices. They provide services and research in agriculture and consumer sciences, on topics ranging from organic farming and animal breeding to child care, nutrition and work force development.

Farmers, consumers, educators and small businesses all rely on extension offices for help and advice. Officials are bracing for potential layoffs or restructuring at the cooperative extension service programs from Minnesota to Louisiana, as state and county governments that largely fund the programs say they must cut their contributions amid the recession. “It’s fairly common with the state budgets suffering as much as they are,” said James Wade, director of extension and outreach for the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges. Ohio allotted about $26.3 million in 2008 for the Ohio State University Extension program.

Gov. Ted Strickland’s plan would scale back funding to $21 million in fiscal 2010 and just under $20 million in 2011. The extension office announced this week that it is cutting 22 of its 235 county educator jobs after two funding reductions. It’s also restructuring its staff and eyeing more layoffs under proposed budget cuts. Its office in northwest Ohio’s Allen County will close because the county can’t afford to help with funding. With a similar reorganization and funding drop in Minnesota in 2003, many unhappy clients found it difficult to adjust to having less one-on-one service from field agents, said Bev Durgan, dean of extension at the University of Minnesota. Minnesota is facing another round of proposed cuts, as is economically hard-hit Michigan, where Gov. Jennifer Granholm wants to combine extension and agriculture research budgets and proposes cutting the total funding by half, from $64 million to $32 million. At Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, officials expect to lose more than 100 extension instructors and staff under Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed budget. “The public has really relied heavily on their parish offices being the door to solutions to local issues,” especially as they rebuild their lives in areas ransacked by hurricanes, extension Director Paul Coreil said. “I think then they’re going to say, ‘What happened?”’

In Ohio, Jay Begg, 51, a farmer in Allen County, has relied on his local extension for everything from pesticide training to leadership skills as a child growing up in the 4-H program. “I think it’s going to be harder, especially for the guy like me, the part-time farmer or the beginning farmer who has more questions,” he said. But the prevalence of other information sources may make the extension less important than it once was, he said. That theory doesn’t fly with Tim DeHaven, 62, who co-owns two garden centers in Allen and Hancock Counties and says he regularly contacts the extension for help. “People like us, we can’t replace what these people do for us,” he said. The closing is also bad news for the increasing number of residents seeking help with moneysaving projects like canning.

“The unfortunate thing is, at a time when we’re in economic straits, when we are needed more than ever, we’re not going to be able to do the same services, at least not this year,” Allen County extension director Nancy Recker said. It’s not yet clear how the cutbacks in Ohio will effect specific services for farmers and other extension clients, said Joe Cornely, a spokesman for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Perhaps the only certainty is that any cuts will have ripple effects for businesses and residents in rural economies, he said Tuesday from Washington, where about 100 Ohioans were lobbying the state’s congressional delegation for help with agriculture funding.

The advance of the Internet has seemed to wipe out any advantage of driving or calling to the county Extension Office. In this county, it seems like 99% of the farmersgo to the USDA Farm Service Office and not to the Soil and Water or Extension Office right beside it. Extension gets a few gardeners or 4-H aged parents but that is it.

Extension has helped my family most of my life. Then, the county agent was somebody. Today he or she just blends in with everyone else.

It is easy to be torn between tradition and reality. The reality is I never go there for information, they are too far behind the times.

There is one man, one man only I go to in this state for information. He does his job, he knows what I don't know. I need him. One out of how many thousand employees?

It hurts to write this but if I ran my farm like Extension and most government offices run theirs, I would be broke before I started.

My 4-H agent and county agriculture agent from 1957-1969 are sickened by this happening. They taught me so much and took me to so many good places. They are good men, I always hold them in highest esteem.

Some institutions can't be kept forever.

It looks like the Extension Service has seen its time?

Ed Winkle

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Airplane Cold

I found a great article that pertains to many of us on Independent Traveler, Fighting the Airplane cold.

Many travelers would swear that they get sick after every trip or vacation. They wonder if it was the food, the water, the pina coladas -- or, like me, the airplane ride. While I don't think you can count out the pina coladas (or that burrito you bought on the street), it turns out you could be right about airplanes.Airline carriers are also formidable carriers of the common cold.

A recent study says you may be 100 times more likely to catch a cold on a plane than you are in your normal daily life, according to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Health Research.Why this is the case isn't perfectly clear, but the publishers of the study investigate a panoply of possible causes, including close quarters, shared air and, as I will explain, the most likely culprit: extremely low cabin humidity.

On to the Numbers

The study found that "When the scenarios of 6 days, 24 hours or 5 hours were taken as the relevant flight exposure times to colds, passenger transmission rates for colds of 5, 23 and 113 times the normal daily ground level transmission rate were obtained." (Ominously, transmission rates for tuberculosis were also found to be dramatically increased as well.)Thus, the common perception that flying causes colds seems to be based in fact -- maybe even 113 times over.

The Culprit: Low Cabin Humidity

The study runs through several potential sources of higher transmission, but settles primarily on a single likely cause: extremely low cabin humidity caused by low humidity at high elevations. (A review of the study reveals the conclusion that aircraft that actively recirculated air actually showed slightly lower transmission rates than those that did not.) Most commercial airlines fly in an elevation range of 30,000 to 35,000 feet, where humidity typically runs at 10 percent or lower. At very low levels of humidity, the "natural defense system" of mucus in our noses and throats dries up and is crippled, creating a much more tolerant environment for germs to infect us.

This protective system, called the Mucociliary Clearance System, is your first line of defense against harmful germs and bacteria. To wit, if the common cold is pounced on by a sufficiently moist and percolating proboscis and throttled by your throat, you remain uninfected. Shut down those systems, and you'll be suffering within days.Tips to Avoid the Airline Carrier Cold1. Stay hydrated. It turns out that drinking plenty of water will not only counter the overall dehydrating effects of air travel, which can lead to headaches, stomach problems, cramps, fatigue and more, but can actually fortify your preemptive natural immune mechanisms to function considerably better. Of course, this is the case in normal daily life -- when exercising, during prolonged sun exposure, etc. Even caffeine and alcohol consumption can dry you out.

However, in an airplane, where your nose and throat are on the front lines of the war with exceedingly dry air, these are the first places to suffer.Sipping water or some other fluid regularly throughout the flight may be more effective than drinking a lot of water at one time before or during the flight; this will keep your protective system from long dry spells. (And we do mean to single out water here -- as noted above, alcohol and caffeinated drinks such as coffee or sodas can actually dehydrate you.)

Nasal mists have been found to be very effective in keeping this system working in your nose. Additionally, hot drinks are a good way to keep your protective mucous membranes working -- first, to assist in keeping you generally hydrated; second, by triggering the system into gear; and third, by directly providing moisture in the form of steam. Note that this is not a treatment per se. Rather, it just keeps your defenses strong and functioning.

2. Keep your hands clean.

Your hands are the most consistent point of first contact with cold, flu and other germs. It is a direct line from armrest/seatback/handshake to fingers to fork to mouth to full-blown fever a few days later. According to a National Institutes of Health factsheet, the type of virus that causes the common cold and the flu has been found to survive for up to three hours on your skin or on objects such as armrests, TV remote control handsets, tray tables and other similar surfaces. However, the simple act of washing your hands with hot water and soap is a formidable rampart against this transfer of harmful microorganisms. Hand washing is not just for restaurant workers and travelers; health professionals and researchers working to combat communicable diseases in many third-world countries are waging a fierce campaign to encourage residents to adopt this simple practice into their daily routines.

If possible, wash your hands before any in-flight meals, and after your flight as well.Of course, airplane cabins are tight places, and getting out of your seat to wash up before and after every snack time can be almost impossible, as the flight attendants command the aisles, your seatmates are trying to eat, tray tables are down cabin-wide, and no one involved really wants to have folks getting up and down and roaming around the cabin. (Even on the ground, the water in many locations can carry water-borne bacteria that may not agree with all Western constitutions.) In these cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends alcohol-based products made specifically for washing hands.

3. Don't forget the dental hygiene. Just as keeping your hands clean can prevent transmission of germs, using a germ-killing mouthwash in-flight may add another layer of protection while simultaneously helping to keep your throat moist. Just make sure your mouthwash bottle is three ounces or smaller to comply with the latest carry-on rules for liquids and gels.

4. Take your vitamins.

The rapid response effect of vitamins is unproven, but many travelers swear by them. Charles Westover, a retired VP of fleet management for a major shipping company, starts taking vitamins two days before flying. "I have no idea if it helps at all, but of the hundreds or thousands of flights I have taken, I rarely get colds," he said. "I just take a standard multivitamin, and it has never let me down." The NIH concurs, sort of, offering that no conclusive data has shown that large doses of Vitamin C will help but they could reduce severity and length of suffering from the cold.

Makes sense, to me, hope it does for you. It is so dry in our house I have had to keep water in the teakettle, sinks and bathtubs We even sleep better because of these little thoughtful tricks.