Monitoring system guides farmers

South Otago and West Otago dairy farmers are being equipped with another tool to help them make decisions on when to apply effluent during traditionally wet times.

A soil moisture monitoring system, provided by the Otago Regional Council (ORC), is helping guide farmers.

At this time of year, dairy farmers have to be careful not to apply effluent to land when the soil is too wet.

Discharged effluent can pond and contaminate waterways.

The practice was highlighted recently when the Otago Regional Council prosecuted 18 South Otago and West Otago farmers for that very reason.

The monitoring system's website provides soil moisture and rainfall readings for Kelso, Clydevale and the Inch Clutha delta.

It is updated daily.

An ORC spokesman said the information helped dairy farmers by highlighting whether ground conditions were suitable for irrigating.

"It is particularly useful during wetter periods in the spring and autumn when soil moisture conditions are often close to field capacity or saturated conditions occur above field capacity."

The system can be viewed at www.orc.govt.nz

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