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Farmers were advised last year that winter grazing practices needed to be significantly improved and a joint approach by Environment Southland, DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Federated Farmers, Ministry for the Environment and MPI was developed to help address the issues, Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips said.
Agriculture in Southland was very important to the regional and national economies, but some farming practices, if not done well, negatively impacted water quality, Mr Phillips said.
"Winter grazing is a high-risk activity with regard to water quality and all farmers need to undertake good management practice."
Early observations from the preliminary flight last week suggested a better uptake of good management practices, such as fencing of waterways and the creation of buffer zones, with no immediate compliance concerns identified.
"I’m encouraged by what we’ve seen. Farmers appear to have made a real effort, which is exactly what we need.
"We are mindful that it’s still early in the season and this was only a preliminary flight to get an indication of any issues. Wet weather is inevitable and while this will present challenges, we expect farmers to continue their focus on good wintering practice."
The flights covered much of Southland, from Tussock Creek through to Garston and Mossburn and then some of the Western Southland area.
"Staff are still working through the information and photos gathered during the flight and at this stage it looks like we will be looking to arrange follow-up advice for a handful of properties that could be at risk of winter grazing issues in wetter weather."