NZFarmer : January 19th 2010
9 Straight Furrow • January 19, 2010 NewsWeek MORE of the same is the prediction by NIWA for the remainder of the summer. The current El Niño is well established in the equatorial Pacific, and is likely to per- sist at moderate intensity through the rest of summer, before weakening during the autumn. Scientists at NIWA's National Climate Centre said that meant more of the same over the next three months: similar condi- tions to those experienced in December, for most of the country. Mean sea level pressures were likely to continue to be higher than normal to the north of the country and lower than nor- mal to the south, resulting in stronger than normal westerlies over New Zealand. Dry soil conditions were likely to contin- ue in the north and east of the North Island, and in much of the eastern South Island, where below normal stream flows and soil moisture levels were likely through to March. January to March rainfall totals were likely to be in the below normal range in the north and east of the North Island, nor- mal or below normal in Nelson- Marlborough, and in the normal range in other regions. Temperatures were likely to be average or below average in all regions, for the three-month period (January, February and March) as a whole. There would still be warm spells at times, especially in east- ern regions in north-westerly wind condi- tions. Rivers flows and soil moistures were likely to be below normal in the north and east of both Islands, but in the normal range in western regions. Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty: Temperatures are likely to be in the near average category. Seasonal (three-month) rainfall totals are likely to be below nor- mal, while river flows and soil moisture are very likely to be below normal. Central North Island, Taranaki, Wanganui, Manawatu and Wellington: Seasonal temperatures are likely to be in the average or below average category. January-March rainfall totals, stream flows and soil moisture likely to be near normal. Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa: Temperatures averaged over the three months are likely to be in the near average category. Seasonal rainfall totals are likely to be below normal, while stream flows and soil moisture levels are very likely to be in the below normal range. Nelson, Marlborough, Buller: Seasonal temperatures are likely to be near average or below average levels. Rainfalls are likely to be normal or below normal, with below normal rainfalls more likely in the east of the region. Stream flows and soil moisture levels are likely to be below normal. West Coast, Alps and foothills, Inland Otago, Southland: Temperatures are likely to be in the aver- age or below average category. Seasonal rainfall, stream flows and soil moisture lev- els are expected to be near normal. Coastal Canterbury, East Otago: Temperatures are most likely to be in the near average category. Seasonal rainfall is expected to be in the normal range, while soil moisture levels and stream flows are most likely to be below normal overall. Drier conditions expected to continue By JEFF SMITH AN increase in short-term demand could result in a spike in fertiliser prices in 2010 according to a recently released Rabobank report. With many manufacturers and distribu- tors running on low inventory stocks, any sharp increase in demand could result in a logistical bottleneck pushing prices higher in the short term. Report author Rabobank analyst Adam Tomlinson said that while strengthening agricultural commodity prices might increase short-term demand and drive up farm input prices as the supply chain adjusted, he did not expect prices to reach the highs of mid-2008. "In New Zealand, the demand for manu- factured farm inputs is largely dominated by the dairy sector and fertiliser is a key farm input," he said. "Following the slump in dairy prices from the fall-out of the global financial cri- sis, fertiliser consumption in New Zealand fell considerably. In 2009/10 annual fertiliser consumption in New Zealand is estimated to be 25 per cent below 2007/08 levels when New Zealand dairy farmers' confidence was at much higher levels. "Lower demand levels globally have meant that prices for manufactured farm inputs have remained subdued through- out 2009. The rapid fall of international farm input prices in late 2008 resulted in many manufacturers and distributors of farm inputs being caught with stocks of highly priced inventory and production capacities in excess of demand. "In response to this, manufacturers of farm inputs have wound back production and run down inventories which could potentially have a marked impact on prices if we see a large rise in seasonal farm input demand." The report said that the impact of the global financial crisis on demand for agri- cultural commodities was such that prices slumped from their highs of mid- 2008. Around the world farmers deferred farm input purchases as sharp falls in commodity prices squeezed returns. This had a direct impact on farm input manufacturers and distributors with the result being that many were now operat- ing at lower capacity. With agricultural commodity prices looking to remain above 10-year aver- ages, there was a risk that a spike in demand for farm inputs might occur, causing the price for farm inputs to push higher due to logistical constraints. A repeat of the 2008 farm input price spikes when capacity utilisation nearly reached 100 per cent was not expected. The El Niño is now well-established, and exhibits the typical features of a mature event: weakened Trade Winds, enhanced tropical rainfall near the Date Line, and increased surface and sub-sur- face ocean temperatures from the Date Line eastwards across the equatorial Pacific. Almost all of the El Niño forecast models predict the El Niño event to peak over summer before declining in autumn. El Niño events can often lead to dry conditions in eastern and northern parts of New Zealand over the summer sea- son. Soil moistures are already very low at the start of January through most of the north and east of the North Island, and the eastern South Island. Conditions have been particularly dry lately in Northland, the Bay of Plenty, and Central Otago. The latest guidance suggests that drier conditions are likely in the north and east of both islands over the January- March 2010 period. 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January 27th 2010