Friday Offcuts – 23 February 2018

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In the tech space this week we have a number of stories of interest to readers. Australian scientists have developed a world-leading genetic DNA testing system. It’s able to predict key commercial attributes of an adult eucalyptus tree from a single seedling leaf. Forico, Tasmania’s largest private forest management company, has planted several hundred trees (after DNA screening of 7000) representing one of the first ever sizeable applications of DNA marker assisted tree breeding anywhere in the world.

For forest planners and resource managers, the well-known and used forest planning and simulation software package, Forecaster, is after 10 years changing hands. Developed by Scion with support from the NZ forestry industry, it’s now going to be delivered by the software development company, Integral. For local wood transportation, planning and logistics companies, details on two transport management and operations workshops that have just been set up for WoodFlow 2018 delegates in September have been announced. Details can be found below or on the event website,

In industry personnel announcements this week, Brendan Slui has just been appointed Managing Director of Rayonier Matariki Forests following the resignation of Paul Nicholls who’s stepping aside after 25 years’ service, Prue Younger, currently CEO of the Eastland Wood Council has accepted the position of Chief Executive for the Forest Industry Contractors Association in New Zealand. In Australia, three State directors have been just been appointed to the board of Heyfield ASH Holding Pty Ltd, following the purchase of the Heyfield Timber Mill in Victoria last year.

From the air this week come two interesting articles. You may well remember, back in 2012 Qantas and Jetstar were involved in Australia’s first biofuel trial flight. In late January this year, the world’s first dedicated biofuel flight between the United States and Australia took off with the historic flight using approximately 24,000kg of blended biofuel (produced from an agricultural crop called Carinata). This was another big step forward for the development of a renewable jet- fuel industry in Australia. On a much lighter note (excuse the pun here), United airlines have just reduced the printing of their inflight magazines on lighter paper. A reduction of just one ounce over their fleet in one year - believe it or not – is expected to save the airline a whopping 170,000 gallons of fuel a year.

Finally, if you're interested in learning about the history of the forestry industry in New Zealand, a one-hour documentary includes (according to the production team) stunning archive footage and photographs from the past, beautiful new photography and interviews with experts and the people who helped shape our industry. It’s due to air on Prime television, 8.30pm on Sunday. Enjoy this week’s read.

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Billion Trees land approaches 50,000 hectares

The NZ Government says it is close to securing 50,000 hectares of land for new forests under its Billion Trees programme. The programme, to see a billion trees planted over 10 years, is part of the coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand First.

The government-owned forestry organisation Crown Forestry is writing to landowners offering to go into joint ventures to plant un-forested land with radiata pine. The Crown would pay for the cost of establishing the forests, and landowners would get the carbon credits.

Forestry minister Shane Jones has told Parliament that 12,500ha has already been secured, with negotiations under way over another 30,000ha. “The Crown is now engaging with Mâori landowners and other categories of landowners, and the size of the land package, reflective of that engagement, is now up to 30,000 hectares,” he said in response to questions from National Party forestry spokesman Nick Smith.

“When one adds the nigh-on 12,000 hectares that we have already secured, and in the event that the 30,000 is successful, I am but a small step away from 50,000 hectares.”

Smith told Jones that the Director-General of Conservation, Lou Sanson, had told Parliament’s environment select committee that his department had very little land available for planting trees, and asked Jones whether he agreed with conservation minister Eugenie Sage that only native trees should be planted on conservation land.

Jones said that native and exotic trees would be part of the Billion Trees programme. “The percentage and the mix of trees that might be grown on the DOC estate has yet to be settled,” he said.

Source: Carbon News 2018

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MD appointed for Rayonier Matariki Forests

Brendan Slui has been appointed Managing Director of Rayonier Matariki Forests in New Zealand following the resignation of Paul Nicholls who is stepping aside after 25 years service.

Brendan has held a series of roles during his 18-year tenure with Rayonier Matariki Forests, joining as a Senior Forester and progressing to Resources Manager, Regional Manager and most recently, Director, Operations. Brendan also spent six months in the USA working with Rayonier's operations there.

“I’m thrilled to be taking over the reins. It is an exciting time be leading Rayonier Matariki Forests and working towards the continuing success of the New Zealand operation".

However, I’d like to take this opportunity to recognise the huge contribution that Paul has made to both the company and the industry. His ongoing commitment to improve our industry has been tireless and we wish him well for his future.” said Brendan.

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Cloud-based Operations Management workshop planned

Woodflow 2018 conference delegates this year now also have the opportunity of registering for two workshops the afternoon before the main conference runs, both in Melbourne (Tuesday 19 June) and in Rotorua (Monday 25 June). The workshops will run the afternoon before each of the two events. Both are free to the Woodflow 2018 conference delegates.

The first workshop, Cloud-based Operations Management is being run by John Trus, Vice President, Global Sales and Anthony Kruning, Account Manager for Remsoft, Canada. The first workshop in both Australia and New Zealand, runs between 1.30 and 2.30pm. Full details on the pre-conference workshops can be found on the event website. The second workshop planned on transport management will follow on from the first, from 3.00-5.00pm.

What’s it going to cover?

Spreadsheets still dominate daily forest operations planning. Learn how companies are transforming their operations by planning across the enterprise, working against real time data, and collaborating on a cloud platform.

Forestry companies need to capture, analyze and manage their supply chain operations on a daily and weekly basis. This complex process to maximize profit, generate efficient operations management and provide critical decision-making data is conducted on spreadsheets in most companies.

Learn how companies can now integrate a cloud-based operational planning and management system into their business. See how operations users can work efficiently in a streamlined environment; and how management can use business analytics to react quickly and drive timely business improvements. Remsoft will provide a vision for how a management and planning environment can make the leap forward into an integrated solution.

Full programme details and event information can now be found on the event website, Note: Space for each workshop is likely to be limited so registrations are being taken on a first come-first served basis.

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Heyfield ASH Holding Directors appointed

The Andrews Labor Government has announced the appointments of three State directors to the board of Heyfield ASH Holding Pty Ltd, following the purchase of the Heyfield Timber Mill last year. Heyfield ASH Holding is the holding company for Australian Sustainable Hardwoods Pty Ltd and is owned by the Victorian Government and a shareholder group made up of members of ASH management.

The appointments include Don Matthews as Chair, as well as Pam Mitchell and Greg L’Estrange as the State’s Board Directors.

Mr Matthews is a highly regarded senior executive from the manufacturing industry and has previously been the Chief Operating Officer at Carter Holt Harvey and Managing Director of the Penola Pulp group. He has extensive board experience having been a previous board member of the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Food and Grocery Council, Low Carbon Australia and Powerplant.

Ms Mitchell is a chartered accountant with extensive experience in the establishment, documentation, financial management and reporting of property, investment, and superannuation funds. She has held roles as Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary in the investment and property sector, including Industry Superannuation Property Trust and Australian Farms Fund Management.

Mr L’Estrange has extensive senior management experience in the primary industries. His previous positions include CEO of CSR Timber Productions, Managing Director of Capral Aluminium and CEO for Gunns Timber. He has also provided consulting and strategic advice services around the forest and timber industries for both private and public sector organisations across New Zealand and Australia.

The appointments are a key step in the establishment of the new Board that will guide the future of the Heyfield Timber Mill.

Source: Government of Victoria

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Making NZ views on NZ television on Sunday

The very popular history series Making New Zealand is returning for a second season. Making New Zealand is a documentary history series produced by Top Shelf Productions. The series celebrates the struggles and enterprise of our predecessors who built New Zealand from the ground up, telling their stories through archive stills and footage, personal accounts as well as commentary from experts and historians.

The first series of the programme delighted audiences with stunning archive footage and photographs from our past blended with beautiful new photography and interviews with experts and the people themselves who helped shape our nation.

Tapping back into the treasure trove of footage and stills held by various New Zealand archives, public libraries, art galleries, museums and private collectors, producers have uncovered a wealth of material on a range of new subjects.

For series two the focus shifts to industry looking at Forestry , Construction and Aviation .

Forestry. The New Zealand forestry story is one of greed, loss and foresight. When the first Europeans arrived in New Zealand they were mesmerised by the potential wealth that blanketed the land. But the logistics of getting wood out of the forest were huge. Negotiations with local Maori for the trees sometimes had disastrous consequences, and using axes to fell mighty kauri and transport them out of the forest to a waiting ship required skill, tenacity and brute strength. This episode is fuelled with personal stories of hard yakka, near misses, lost fingers, pioneering approaches to making things yourself, and a real love of the bush.

Making New Zealand: Forestry tells the story of how New Zealand ’ s great native forests were decimated in 80 years. It is the story of how we discovered the beauty of our native forests only after we had almost destroyed them. It is the story of how a few visionaries had the foresight to grow and harvest a new and sustainable forest.

It was Macintosh Ellis who insisted that millions of fast growing pine trees be planted to replace the lost native wood resource, and Alex Entrican who pressured the government to build the first mill that could process the new exotic crop of trees. Forestry was one of New Zealand ’ s earliest industries. It has a rich history that is brought to life by the incredible archive of stills and film from Archives New Zealand.

If interested in taking a colourful look at New Zealand's forestry history, the documentary is scheduled to air on Prime, this Sunday (25 February) at 8.30pm.

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Forecaster software provider changes

Last Friday marked an important day for Forecaster clients as the maintenance and support of the product shifts to a new software provider. Forecaster is a forest planning and simulation software package developed by Scion over the past 10 years, with support from New Zealand's forestry industry. It is a well-established tool for commercial forestry planning, and it will from 16 February be delivered by New Zealand software development company, Integral.

Over the years, Forecaster has helped New Zealand forest owners manage their forests by generating and testing scenarios across the whole spectrum of forestry activities, from forest planning through silviculture to harvesting and marketing. Licencing the software to Integral for delivery and support will allow Scion staff to focus on developing the detailed models that help companies/consultants manage forests, while ensuring users get great service and an improved software experience.

Forest Owners Association (FOA) Research and Development Manager Russell Dale says that this has been a decision made in consultation with the FOA on behalf of forest owners. “We’re working with Scion to ensure that the delivery of IT tools like Forecaster continues to improve for the end users.”

Bryan Graham, Science Leader at Scion says, "Integral was the ideal choice to provide the future support and development that forestry companies and consultants require from Forecaster. They have an excellent reputation for delivering user-friendly forestry software into the New Zealand market, and have continued to deliver benefit to the industry through the Atlas suite of forestry management software also developed by Scion."

He says, "There shouldn’t be any disruption to customers through this change. If there are any questions or concerns, users can contact Integral on Tel: 0800 002 555 or Scion on +64 7 343 5899." Scion will continue to own Forecaster and manage the licence of the software in the best interests of the sector, while still delivering the high-quality research that underpins Forecaster.

Source: Scion

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Forestry a success story for KiwiRail

KiwiRail is reaping the benefits of an innovative growth strategy for its NZ forestry business designed to make the best use of its wagon fleet. Its financial result released this week shows an 8% revenue increase in its overall forestry business in just the six months to December. That is being driven by strong growth in the volume of logs.

“We have been working closely with the industry to maximise our ability to meet the wall of wood now coming on stream, as the result of the large volume of trees planted in early 1990s,” says KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy.

“Our log wagon fleet has grown by 40% since 2011. We have some very clever thinkers on our team and have been able to do this in an innovative and cost-efficient way by converting wagons retired from our container fleet.”

“This is happening as fast as possible, and we are running trains up to seven days a week in all our key forestry routes. However current demand is so strong we could be doing more.”

“There are more than 130 additional log wagon conversions coming on stream over the next six months, which will allow us to meet further demand this year; and a further 200 wagon conversions are planned for the 2019 financial year”.

“In the Bay of Plenty alone KiwiRail runs 60 forestry trains each week to the Port of Tauranga, from Murupara-Kawerau and Kinleith. Those trains are taking the equivalent of up to 340 trucks a day off eastern Bay of Plenty roads”.

“KiwiRail is continuing to work with the industry to identify further opportunities to take more logs off the road and onto rail. We have already worked successfully with industry to develop log hubs in key locations on the network where local forests are not directly served by rail”.

“This sees significant volumes of logs now moving to Napier Port and CentrePort from log hubs in Masterton, Whanganui and Palmerston North, rather than travelling by road. Consolidating volumes and running to export ports by train is a cost-effective option for forestry owners/harvesters.”

“Rail also generates 66% fewer carbon emissions compared to heavy trucks for every tonne of freight moved”.

Source: Scoop

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New CEO for forest contractors

It’s being announced that Prue Younger has accepted the position as Chief Executive for FICA (Forest Industry Contractors Association). Prue will commence this role on April 1, 2018 in a part time capacity for the next 12 months, as she will continue as Eastland Wood Council CEO until a new appointment is made.

Prue has an extensive background in marketing, promotions & event management. She has several governance roles and chair positions in sport, health and community trusts. As director of Public Impressions Ltd, she has also been instrumental in the establishment of several forestry award campaigns around the country.

Eastland Wood Council (EWC) would like to thank her for her great efforts over the past 2 ½ years, she has really moved EWC forward and set the benchmark for what a wood council can achieve so it will be a great loss to the organisation. However, we congratulate her on her appointment with FICA and am sure they will benefit from her skill base and knowledge now in the forest industry.

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NZ carbon market update

“The carbon price is retreating from all-time highs as we head into the 2018 emission year – down to $21.20 from $21.55 last week. However – we remain positive about prices long term” says Nigel Brunel, Director - Institutional Commodities, OMF. “Domestic ETS settings have moved one step closer to full emissions (ex-agriculture) with 33 million tonnes of surrender due this year and 40 million tonnes from 2019”.

Even though the government has signalled the ETS will stay “as is” until the end of 2019 - there is a lot going on domestically and internationally. The government intends to install a UK style Climate Commission as well as consult on proposed changes to the ETS which will include raising the $25 cap and considering the inclusion of agriculture. Internationally it will also be busy. The recent COP talks in Bonn in December were all about detail. Detail on the Paris rule book and detail on Article 6 which concerns international markets. Both are expected to be complete or very close to completion at the next COP meeting in Poland at the end of this year.

“Our view remains that New Zealand will have no choice but to seek most of its emission reductions from international markets to meet its Paris obligation. It is too late in reality to make any meaningful dent in our Paris requirement domestically by planting more trees. What New Zealand has to do is get itself in a position to be net zero by 2050. This would involve planting trees everywhere, finding the cure for methane in agriculture and investing in domestic emission reductions,” says Mr Brunel.

Long term – the price of carbon is heading north – nothing is more certain in our view short of a GFC II. If you back solve the Paris commitment of keeping temperatures to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and ideally only 1.5% - many noted people and organisations (Stiglitz, Stern, WEO, IPCC and the World Bank) say carbon prices have to be closer to USD 100 per tonne by 2030.

“Buy the dip, stay long carbon, grow trees”.

Source: OMF

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Timber Queensland launches awards program

While the cash prizes will be appealing, providing students with opportunities to engage with potential employers is the key benefit and driver behind Timber Queensland’s inaugural student awards programs SmartForests18 and SmartTimber18.

Clarissa Brandt, Communications Manager Timber Queensland said SmartForests18 is designed to enhance student awareness of issues and challenges related specifically to Queensland’s forest and timber industry. “The winner of the Award, who will act as the Queensland SmartForests18 Ambassador will be announced at Timber Queensland's state conference Doing Timber Business in Queensland: Room to Grow on 19 April 2018”.

“Stimulating new ideas to solve industry challenges and increasing exposure to new timber technologies are benefits of the competition,” said Clarissa. “But the real advantage will be the connections and conversations between students and potential future employers and suppliers,” she said.

SmartTimber18 is a program to introduce students to mass timber and glulam and to educate students regarding the design considerations required to use these building materials.

“Both awards require students to submit an abstract and poster to communicate their submission. The posters will be on display at our state conference Doing Timber Business in Queensland: Room to Grow and there will be a dedicated session for conference delegates to talk and mingle with the poster authors,” said Clarissa.

Support from award sponsors The Gottstein Trust and Hyne Timber will provide complimentary attendance at the conference for 10 students and Timber Queensland is offering a heavily subsidised student ticket price.

“Mark Brown and his colleagues at the Forest Industries Research Centre at USC have been tremendously helpful in the organisation of the awards and are also providing assistance to ensure forestry students can fully participate in the conference.”

Information about the awards program and entry requirements are available at .

Source: Timber Queensland

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OneFortyOne to halt log exports

In a move welcomed by local timber processors, OneFortyOne Plantations has announced it will not export saw logs from its estate for the next financial year. Citing “strong domestic demand and the continued outperformance across the building industry” as reasons for the decision, CEO Linda Sewell said the export volume of saw log had recently been in steady decline due to high demand from domestic customers.

“While demand remains strong, we will further support the local industry by retaining the logs onshore,” she said. However, Ms Sewell said OFO’s focus was to support the current capacity of the domestic industry and not to compromise the long-term sustainability of its forests by expanding beyond its means. “We have been meeting the rising domestic demand where we could do so sustainably,” she said.

In this regard, OFO has confirmed it will continue to export surplus pulp logs produced from forest thinning programs and will not preclude exporting saw logs in future should market conditions change. “We worked hard to develop export markets and like any industry we need the diversity that those markets bring to help smooth domestic market fluctuations,” Ms Sewell said.

Source: The Border Watch

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Robotics opportunities in forestry being explored

Forest safety, improving productivity and getting workers off the felling site has been a major push for forestry managers, forest owners, logging contractors and equipment suppliers to modify their wood harvesting operations over the last few years. Another major driver to increased mechanisation has been the skilled machine operator shortages that many forestry companies are now currently facing. The ultimate goal of the industry is to have “no worker on the slope, or no hand on the chainsaw”.

Technology development and the pace of change over the last couple of years, in keeping with other industries, has been rapid and exciting for the forestry industry. Recent research is suggesting that by 2019, 35% of leading organizations will be exploring the use of robots to automate operations. Forestry isn’t any different. In fact, the switch is already underway.

Local forestry contractors in conjunction with local engineering companies have really led the charge. Firstly, a myriad of new designs and operations, including vision systems for remote operation of equipment, have been introduced to extract wood safely off steeper slopes. More recently, tele-operation of wood extraction has successfully been trialled in New Zealand where the operator is sitting separately and away from the felling and log extraction operations.

Instead, they’re sitting in an operator’s cabin (can be on or off site) with live video and audio feedback from the machine being transmitted to the operator. The console with joysticks and pedals (not too dissimilar to the X-box they’re probably using at home) is a replica of the layout in the felling machine. In addition to improving worker safety, remote controlled felling will change how wood harvesting is undertaken on steeper terrain.

Having a similar impact on the wood supply chain are the rapid advances being made in loading and transporting wood. Like remote felling, virtual reality goggles have been introduced where operators can now operate log loading cranes remotely in the relative safety of the truck cab. The objective, like remote felling is to develop the technology so that the operator is out of the truck and operating the crane remotely from a distance.

“Advancements in robotics and automation for forestry companies, everything from planting, silviculture, wood harvesting, extracting the wood from the forest site and transporting logs to the port or processing plant are moving at a fast pace” says Grant Dodson, Chairperson of the Southern Wood Council (SWC).

To provide local operations with an insight into just where the technology is heading, both internationally and locally, and the opportunities for using remote controlled and autonomous machinery, the SWC is running a meeting for the forest products industry in the lower South Island.

Rien Visser, Forest Engineering, School of Forestry, University of Canterbury will be presenting his findings to local companies from just completed research undertaken for the Australian forest products sector in late 2017. It looks at remote control, tele-operation and automation of forest operations, both inside and outside the forestry industry.

“There are some clear near-future opportunities, including operating extraction machines such as skidders and forwarders without an operator. This will not only increase efficiency, but allow good operators to work on more complex machines, and provide a unique opportunity for new equipment design” says Prof. Visser.

“Advanced robotic systems are already commonplace in controlled workspaces such as factories. The future of wood harvesting systems is most certainly going to be robotic. The SWC meeting will be exploring the use of remote controlled or autonomous machines in these more complex environments like forestry operations,” says Mr. Dodson.

The meeting runs in Balclutha on Wednesday 14 March.

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Australian forest research breakthrough

Australian researchers have developed a world-leading genetic DNA testing system that can predict key commercial attributes of an adult eucalyptus tree from a single seedling leaf, and provide a strong return on investment to forest growers.

With research funding from Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA) and industry to validate the technology, this breakthrough could enable foresters to dramatically reduce the breeding cycle of Eucalyptus globulus (blue gum) and Eucalytpus nitens (shining gum) trees, significantly speeding up improvements to log quality.

Traditional breeding cycles are typically a decade or more, but modelling suggests the time can be halved with the new system and the genetic gains per year doubled or trebled, with a financial return of $8 for every $1 invested.

Unlike traditional crops, which have been bred over thousands of years and no longer resemble their wild forebears, eucalypts are genetically diverse, have long breeding cycles and are still close to their wild states – meaning the potential for gains are large.

The new system assesses the quality of a tree or seedling by DNA testing a 5mm hole punch of a leaf for thousands of genetic markers developed by CSIRO and correlated with commercial attributes. This project identified new genetic markers for wood density, and validated those, along with using previously-discovered markers for growth and pulp yield.

The researchers tested the DNA and commercial attributes of parent trees, and the DNA alone of their adult offspring. They used the DNA of the offspring to predict the parent’s commercial attributes – and the results proved to be highly accurate. Robert Southerton, the Managing Director of Gondwana Genomics, which was founded in 2014 and licensed the genetic markers from CSIRO, said researchers had not expected the high degree of accuracy of the genetic testing.

“Surprised is an understatement. We couldn’t believe it. We had to go back and check again and again, and the results held up,” he said. “In the past, we’d done similar research with a smaller group of genetic markers, and with slower testing techniques, and we’d had only mixed results.”

To make the breakthrough, the Gondwana Genomics research team developed a new method of cheaper, faster genetic DNA testing which enabled them to test over a thousand samples a day for less than $50 each instead of only 200 a day for over $100 each.

“If I’d known at the outset how many challenges we’d have to overcome to make this work, I would never have staked my house on setting up the business. The accuracies we have achieved would be considered very good in crops and it is phenomenal to get this in trees,” he said.

Trees, he explained, were exceptionally difficult to breed in the traditional manner for better genetics due to: a long cycle that means errors can creep in over time; difficulty separating out whether tree characteristics are genetic or environmental; and accidental pollination in planned cross-breeding.

Leveraging industry for ground-breaking trial

In total, the project screened over 11,000 seedlings from industry partners Forico, Australian Bluegum Plantations and HVP Plantations. Forico planted several hundred seedlings selected from almost 7000 screened – making for one of the first ever sizeable applications of marker assisted tree breeding in the world.

Research and Innovation Manager, Andrew Jacobs, said Forico had planted some seedlings identified via DNA as elite performers, as well as others at the middle and bottom end for comparison.

“At the moment, the DNA is predictive of quality, but the actual quality traits don’t start to really show until the tree is around the five-to-seven year mark,” he said. “In the meantime, we’ll continue to use this new technology in conjunction with our current methods. Down the track, when we’re more comfortable, I could see us moving further into this space.”

Forico decided to participate and invest in the trial because of its large and independent breeding program in nitens, he said. “We felt this technology could keep us at the forefront in terms of our breeding program given the success of the approach in other plants, and in animals.”

Maintaining genetic diversity, and other uses

In addition to identifying quality seedlings, the genetic profiling has a number of other potential applications including:

- Identifying seedlings that are genetically diverse for breeding – as inbred trees have greater pest and disease risk
- Accurately identifying a seedling’s parents
- Estimating inbreeding
- Creating a DNA fingerprint for a particular tree, eliminating the risk of mis-labelling
- Helping with ‘due diligence’ in valuing plantations
- Auditing existing tree improvement programs
- Breeding trees to combat specific risks, such as being disease-resistant.

Next steps

According to Robert Southerton, the next steps are demonstrating genetic differences within siblings in tree families, industry adoption of the new technology, exports and the potential to use their DNA testing method in other crops and, potentially, human research. Forico’s Andrew Jacobs also sees opportunities to identify DNA markers for other traits such as disease resistance, fertiliser use and resistance to stressors such as frost, heat and drought – and to further validate existing markers.

R&D Manager at FWPA, Chris Lafferty, congratulated the researchers and industry participants. “This is leading edge science, of great potential value to industry – and we’re proud to have played a part in terms both of funding and of facilitating this collaboration. It’s a prime example of the type of work we do at FWPA, investing industry levies and Commonwealth matching funds towards the generation of solutions to current and future challenges the industry will face.”

Photo: Credit: Andreachinn (Creative Commons)

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Lighter-weight paper saves US$2.3 million

Now this is one out of left field – but it’s linked to paper. What difference can an ounce make on an airplane? According to this article - a BIG difference.

If you are United Airlines, with 4,500 flights a day, an ounce can add up. The Chicago-based carrier said it recently began printing its inflight magazine, Hemisphere, on lighter paper, cutting 1 ounce from each magazine. It now weighs 6.85 ounces. In an internal message to employees, United said it has also switched to lighter paper on its seatback service guides.

The carrier operates 744 mainline planes that vary in size, carrying 50 to 366 passengers each. For a typical 737 plane carrying 179 passengers, the reduction would mean about 11 pounds per flight. The airline said that slight weight reduction is saving 170,000 gallons of fuel a year, or $290,000 in annual fuel costs. Last year, United stopped on-board sales of duty-free items -- such as perfumes, chocolates and liquor -- cutting 1.4 million gallons of fuel a year at a cost savings of US$2.3 million.

Source: Los Angeles Times

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World's first dedicated Australia-US biofuel flight

The world’s first dedicated biofuel flight between the United States and Australia, QF96 from Los Angeles to Melbourne, was set to take off in late January. The historic trans-Pacific 15-hour flight operated with approximately 24,000kg of blended biofuel, saving 18,000kg in carbon emissions.

Qantas will use biofuel processed from Brassica Carinata, a non-food, industrial type of mustard seed, developed by Canadian-based agricultural-technology company, Agrisoma Biosciences (Agrisoma). The flight is part of the partnership announced in 2017 which will also see the companies work with Australian farmers to grow the country’s first commercial aviation biofuel seed crop by 2020.

“Our partnership with Agrisoma marks a big step in the development of a renewable jetfuel industry in Australia – it is a project we are really proud to be part of as we look at ways to reduce carbon emissions across our operations” said Qantas International CEO Alison Webster.

Across its lifecycle, using Carinata-derived biofuel can reduce carbon emissions by eighty percent compared to traditional jet fuel. The ten percent biofuel blend used on the latest flight will therefore see a seven percent reduction in emissions on this route compared to normal operations.

Carinita requires no specialised production or processing techniques. It is water efficient and The University of Queensland field trials in Gatton, Queensland, and in Bordertown, South Australia, have demonstrated it should do very well in the Australian climate.

It is sown in either fallow areas where food crops fail or in between regular crop cycles, known as “cover cropping”. Rotational or break-crops can improve soil quality, reduce erosion for food crops and provide farmers with additional income.

Source: 2018, Qantas Airways

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on... boys will be boys

We may have well covered this one in the past. It was sent through recently by one of our readers to add to a future issue. The story goes that this actually happened. Maybe, it's an urban myth?

So, they dressed the truck up with the guy tied down on the roof.

The driver and passengers put on moose heads. Then they went down road on I-35 ................... causing 16 accidents.

Yes, they went to jail.

.... Yes, alcohol was involved...

... Yes, men cannot be left alone.

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
Distinction Dunedin Hotel
6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177, Fax: +64 (03) 470 1906
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