Aparima body signs funding agreement for projects

Mid-Aparima Catchment Group co-chairwoman dairy farmer and Ace spokeswoman Jolene Germann was...
Mid-Aparima Catchment Group co-chairwoman dairy farmer and Ace spokeswoman Jolene Germann was delighted when the Aparima Community Environment Project (Ace) signed a three-year, $421,100 agreement with Thriving Southland to run several catchment and engagement projects. PHOTO: SUPPLIED BY JOLENE GERMANN
The Aparima Community Environment Project (Ace) has taken a big step with its catchment projects when it recently signed a three-year funding agreement with Thriving Southland.

Mid-Aparima Catchment Group co-chairwoman, dairy farmer and Ace spokeswoman Jolene Germann said the funding of $421,100 was provided through the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Ace has been running for about three years and encompasses the six catchment groups (Pourakino, Lower Aparima, Orepuki, Mid-Aparima, Upper Aparima and Waimatuku) that make up the Aparima Freshwater Management unit (FMU).

There are 636 land holdings, covering more than 207,000ha.

Ace intends to spend the money on several different projects, some of which are ready to be rolled out.

"We hope to create even more farmer and community engagement than we have now," Mrs Germann said.

Funded projects will be either catchment wide, or run by individual catchment groups.

They include a water sampling programme to complement Environment Southland’s work.

"We will also have a stream walk programme to have local land owners and communities assess the health of local waterways over three years."

Ravensdown and Ballance fertiliser companies will also help six farmers within the project area with their Enhanced Farm Environment Management Plans (FEMP) programme.

Those farmers will help other farmers in their areas to create their own plans.

Another new project looks at sediment trap designs and they eventually hope to create a network throughout the catchment, in partnership with Environment Southland.

Another project explores future farming systems with ultimate outcomes of improving soil health, greenhouse gas emissions quality, freshwater ecosystem health and animal health, as well as maintaining profitability and resilience to change.

They have advertised for a project manager and will hold field days.

"Probably the main feature of the Ace project and group is that it is farmer led," she said.

"We have already achieved a lot without any Government funding and all farmers involved donate their time as they are passionate about the cause.

"As a whole catchment we can achieve so much more than as individuals."

The group also includes Environment Southland, Fonterra, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Ace will hold a Future Farming Expo in Otautau on March 3.

The day is an interactive discussion with industry experts on how the food and fibre sectors are researching, innovating and leading to reduce the farming environmental footprint. Registration is on the Thriving Southland website.

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