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Published: 2015-04-24 00:00:00

Another Waikato Regional Council field day focused on farm planning and environmental sustainability is being held in the wider Waipā River catchment near Otorohanga on 12 May.

It is a follow up to the highly successful field day held just recently in the Kaniwhaniwha Stream catchment where about 35 farmers and other landowners attended a council and DairyNZ-organised event.

The 12 May field day in the Moakurarua Stream catchment will be held at Andre and Doreen De Haan’s sheep and beef farm at 297 Bromley Road, Honikiwi, from 10am to 2pm.

The De Haans’ involvement in the field day comes after they attended a council drop in day last year and expressed interest in being involved in a farm plan process. A council staff member subsequently visited and they came up with some agreed actions.

The field day will showcase what they have done since and plan to do. Topics to be covered will include enhancing wetlands and pole planting for stabilising slopes. Those interested in attending should email john.vosper@waikatoregion.govt.nz or call him on 0800 800 401.

Meanwhile, the event in the Kaniwhaniwha catchment was at the Te Pahu property of dairy farmers Denis and Felicity Ahlers where attendees heard ideas for managing their properties in a profitable and environmentally sensitive way. 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.

The Ahlers have previously worked with DairyNZ to develop an environment-focused sustainable milk plan and identify work that can qualify for council and Waikato River Authority funding.

Topics covered at the field day included farm planning, planting beside waterways, aquatic life, council river management and land stabilisation.

Council catchment management officer Paul Smith described how sediment loss can be reduced by taking the capability of land into account when farming, by creating or enhancing wetlands, and by building sediment traps and cut offs on races and around culverts. Many of these options for cutting 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 Mr Smith.

Works supervisor Lyndon Stokes illustrated how recent work on the Kaniwhaniwha Stream had balanced clearing unwanted material from rivers with making sure that stream banks are protected so that erosion is avoided.

Environmental officer Michael Lake gave a demonstration of electric fishing and displayed specimens of fish and koura living in the Kaniwhaniwha.

“The Kaniwhaniwha catchment supports a particularly high number of native fish species, including several that are considered threatened. Fish habitats can be enhanced by riparian plantings, which provide food and shade. Poorly constructed farm culverts can restrict fish access to kilometres of potential habitat,” Mr Lake said.

The field days 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 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