Despite a little rain last weekend, Waikato and South Auckland farmers are being encouraged to put their hands up promptly if they need advice due to the ongoing very dry conditions in the region.
Soil moisture levels are currently low, which means the ability of pasture to grow is reduced, although there is plenty of supplementary feed about for stock at present following a good spring and farmers generally are reported to be coping.
As a result of the dry conditions, river and stream levels around the region are getting low, so water users are also reminded by Waikato Regional Council to keep an eye on flow gauges. Flows are published on the council website and will enable users to reduce takes, as required by some consents when rivers reach certain low flow thresholds, to help look after the region’s waterways.
The Waikato Primary Industry Adverse Event core group convened on Monday to collectively review conditions and how farmers were coping.
The core group includes representatives of Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Ministry for Primary Industries, Rural Support Trust, Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Rural Women New Zealand, Beef + Lamb and Horticulture NZ monitoring how the dry conditions are impacting on farmers.
Federated Farmers Waikato president and group spokesperson, Andrew McGiven, said the ongoing dry conditions were going to make for a long and lean winter for some farmers.
“Budgets are going to be stretched as cash flows dwindle and the next real cheque may not roll in until September. So let’s be proactive.
“Keep the communication flowing with your bank manager, the accountant, the farm advisor and get some strategies to address the problems. The same applies to government departments like IRD and ACC.”
Mr McGiven said that with no substantial rain forecast for the near future, the group wanted to “give our communities confidence that we have this on our radar and are looking out for them”. Later this month, the group will meet again with its partner agencies to consider the outlook for April and whether any other collective response to ongoing dry weather is required.
“The cluster agreed Waikato farmers know what they are doing – they’re pragmatic and philosophical about the season, and due to a good spring they have feed and silage on hand,” he said.
Officials reported farmers were managing the situation, but encouraged people not coping to seek advice.
“It is hard work feeding out every day. Make sure you take some time off the farm and don’t hold back from using the many avenues where farmers can go to support good farm decisions and their wellness,” Mr McGiven said.
“Both DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ also have some excellent resources available that provide advice on how to manage through dry conditions.”
Waikato Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254