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Environment Southland is utilising aerial reconnaissance techniques to weed out poor environmental practices on-farm this winter.
The wintering flights, which use both fixed wing and helicopters with GPS mapping technology, are on the lookout for winter grazing patterns and to ensure best practice is followed.
Environment Southland compliance manager Simon Mapp said one of the main areas of concern was that farmers kept their stock away from waterways during the colder months.
He said the team was hoping to cover as much of Southland as possible in three flights, with compliance and land and water services teams following up with on-ground inspections if required.
Mr Mapp said there was no specific focus on any one type of farm, for example dairy, with the aim being more preventive and educational than punitive.
''Our response is largely risk-based from advice and education through to enforcement action depending on the risk of environmental harm.''
In 2018, 19 Southland properties were identified during the winter flights, of which 12 received advice and education, three were referred to the land and water services team and one issued with a written warning. The remaining three had required no action.
''Now is also a good time for farmers to reflect on the good wintering practices they have been using this season and consider if there are more improvements they could make for this year, or next.''
He said that could include maintaining riparian buffer zones, grazing towards the waterway and back fencing breaks would would ''significantly reduce sediment and contaminant runoff into waterways and help maintain soil structure.''