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DairyNZ West Otago consulting officer Keely Sullivan, speaking at a wintering field day at Telford near Balclutha this month, said the Government had deferred some of its proposed new requirements for winter grazing, such as pugging, resowing requirements and new slope rules, until next year.
As a collective, farmers had "one year to get it right".
"Have those conversations with your neighbours if they’re not getting it right — no-one wants to be the one who says ‘Hey mate, pull your socks up’ but unfortunately, it’s only going to take one bad farmer to let us all down this winter and you don’t want it to be your neighbour because you didn’t say something to them."
Beef+Lamb New Zealand environment capability manager Tom Orchiston, of Dunedin, speaking in a swede paddock on the day, said farmers needed to create a winter grazing plan and "do the best that they can do" to reduce the impact on the environment and animal welfare.
"This is an opportunity for you guys to take the lead on this and get yourself a winter grazing plan and make sure it’s implemented. There will be people looking this year," Mr Orchiston warned.
Farmers as a collective needed to show the Government "we’ve got this and we don’t need all these regulations and rules".
As part of the field day, groups of farmers designed a winter grazing plan for the same swede paddock at Telford.
Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winner Scott Henderson was a farmer participating in the field day.
He shared his group’s plan for the Telford paddock.
Mr Henderson’s plan included temporarily installing fencing around an uncultivated section of the paddock, beside a shelter belt.
During bad weather, stock could be put in the area and given supplementary feed
Mr Orchiston praised farmers who included a contingency plan to ensure stock and paddocks were protected when the weather "turns to custard".
"That’s a really important part of it. Inevitably, there is going to be a big rainfall or snow storm and it’s something you need to plan for."
Otago Regional Council rural liaison team leader Rebecca Begg, speaking in a swede paddock, talked about the importance of identifying a "critical source area (CSA)" on a farm.
A critical source area was a low-lying part of a farm, such as gullies or swales, where contaminants such as nutrients and bacteria could accumulate.
Rainfall could wash the sediment to a waterway.
From her observations across Otago, she warned farmers some management of the critical areas leading into winter could be "misinterpreted".
To avoid a potential "nightmare", a farmer could avoid cultivating a winter crop in a paddock because of the number and location of the critical areas in it, she said.
If they did stock should start grazing the crop from the top of a slope towards any of the critical source areas, she said.
Ideally, crops should not be cultivated near critical areas, she said.
If crops were planted near a critical source area, stock should only graze it when conditions were dry, near the end of the grazing season, allowing the crop to bind the soil and catch nutrients for as long as possible.
Mr Orchiston said critical areas should be protected from stock by placing supplementary feed and portable troughs away from them.
If possible, critical source areas should be fenced off.
"Don’t cultivate those areas, leave them in long green grass."