Southern charities benefit

It would be fair to say the south of the country has had the pick of the farming weather at present.

The rest of New Zealand, especially in the North Island, has been inundated with rain, making it difficult for contractors to get on to paddocks and get key work done.

In our part of the world, we have been blessed with a fantastic winter, allowing us to get on with spraying and cultivation work.

With spring upon us and calving and lambing about to get into full swing; we look forward to the run of golden weather continuing.

Recently, I was pleased - on behalf of Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) - to give out more than $36,000 raised from the charity auction held at our annual conference in Queenstown back in June, which was organised and run by Zone 4.

Just over $18,000 was given to the Lakes District Air Rescue Trust, headquartered in Queenstown and covering the wider southwestern region of the South Island.

This will go towards essential equipment for the southern helicopter rescue service.

We also donated just over $18,000 to St John in the southern region.

RCNZ's previous highest sum raised from the charity auction was about $25,000, so we were pleased to be able to split the proceeds between two beneficiaries for the first time this year.

As rural people, we believe in putting a little bit back into our communities.

In St John and the Rescue Trust, we recognise two organisations that give vital service to our community.

This month, RCNZ has teamed up with Agcarm and New Zealand Aviation in Agriculture Aerial to ensure bees are protected from any unintended exposure to agrichemicals.

We all know bees are extremely good pollinators of crops and contribute substantially to New Zealand's multibillion-dollar agricultural economy.

Therefore, it is important we ensure agrichemicals are used responsibly and do not pose any threat to the all-important bee population.

This campaign is being run during September to coincide with Bee Aware Month, and the peak sale period for agrichemicals.

It follows some simple rules around the responsible use of products.

The campaign focuses on agrichemical manufacturers having clear label statements regarding safety precautions for their products, including how to protect bees.

It also emphasises the importance of adequate training for people applying agrichemicals, as the correct application is as important as using the correct agrichemical.

Of course, the best way to guarantee this happens is for farmers and others to use only registered chemical applicators for spraying, to ensure the safety of both bees and people.

Finally, as we head into the busy part of the year, it is timely for all of us involved in the rural contracting to ensure that we are doing our work safely.

In today's work environment, health and safety is no longer a nice-to-have but a necessity.

While the rural contracting environment can be challenging, requiring long and irregular hours at certain times, it's important to take regular breaks and rests.

Well-rested employees, contractors and others help make the work environment safe.

Correct employment procedures and safe workplace practice are essential parts of doing business nowadays.

This is as important to the success of rural contracting today, as is having the right gear to do the actual work.

-David Kean is an agricultural contractor based at Centre Bush and vice-president of Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ), the only national association for rural contractors in the country.

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