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Farmer field day popular in Waipā catchment

About 25 farmers have attended a second Waikato Regional Council field day focused on farm planning and environmental sustainability in the Waipā River catchment near Otorohanga.

The 12 May field day in the Moakurarua Stream catchment was held at Andre and Doreen De Haan’s sheep and beef farm on Bromley Road, Honikiwi.

It was a follow up to another highly successful field day held recently in the Kaniwhaniwha Stream catchment.

The De Haans have previously worked with the council and the QEII Trust to fence off and protect significant bush areas.

Approximately 25 local farmers came to the workshop at the De Haan’s to engage with representatives from the council, DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb. They heard about the various ways each agency can assist farmers in the area of sustainable land management to be both profitable and environmentally sensitive.

Topics covered included farm planning, enhancing wetlands, pole planting and forestry for stabilising slopes and the level of grant assistance available for undertaking approved work.

There was a particular focus on reducing sediment getting into waterways, which is a major problem in the Waipā catchment. Sediment affects water clarity and can damage aquatic life.

A number of the Waipā catchment committee farmer representatives were also on hand at the field day to explain how the voluntary measures promoted in the Waipā catchment differ from anticipated rules within the Healthy Rivers regional plan project.

Council catchment management officer Joanna Nash described how sediment loss can be reduced by taking the capability of land into account when farming. Creating and enhancing wetlands, which the De Haans had done in several large gullies, was another option. Many of these options for reducing sediment loss can also reduce the discharge of phosphate and E.coli bacterium to waterways.

“The council is able to help landowners develop farm plans that not only improve environmental outcomes but also increase farm profitability,” said Ms Nash.

The field days in the Waipā catchment follow an announcement late last year that the Waikato River Authority is planning to provide the council with up to $1.5 million over three years for implementation of projects identified in the recently released Waipā Catchment Plan. The plan is aimed at contributing to the restoration and protection of the Waipā River.

The Waipā Catchment Plan has identified high erosion risk areas and targeted funding to assist landowners to develop and implement farm plans which will contribute to the restoration of the Waipā River.

The catchment plan promotes sustainable land uses and management practices, as well as providing targeted funding and assisting landowners to develop property or farm plans.

Overall, the plan sets 20-year aspirational goals for the catchment, including reducing erosion and sedimentation of the river, having productive soils, having swimmable water quality throughout the catchment, and providing good flood protection and enhanced ecological health.

For more information on the catchment plan visit www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/waipaplan or call the Waikato Regional Council on 0800 800 401.

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