Laggard farmers ‘crucifying’ others

Despite this waterway near Otapiri appearing to be fenced in line with expected practice, severe...
Despite this waterway near Otapiri appearing to be fenced in line with expected practice, severe weather caused sediment to get into the stream after the riparian margin was overwhelmed by heavy rain. Photo: Fish and Game NZ
"She'll be right" is not an acceptable approach for farmers when it comes to keeping sediment out of waterways, Pourakino farmer David Diprose says.

He was responding to warnings from Fish & Game that South Otago and Southland were facing another season of environmental damage, along with animal welfare issues, if farmers flouted winter crop-growing guidelines.

"The reality is that there are still laggards in the industry and they are crucifying those of us who are making a concerted effort to improve the situation," he said.

Mr Diprose said farmers had to face the reality of changing seasonal patterns and must adjust accordingly.

"The issue that Fish & Game have highlighted is more one of cultivation and unseasonal rainfall rather than intensive wintering practices," he said.

DairyNZ’s regional leader for Southland and South Otago said  it was not just a dairying matter.

"It’s about all animals being wintered in the South on crops."

He said that farmers accepted the need for changes and a lot of work was being done to improve the situation.

"Crops are being planted too close to streams and on steep slopes with no effort being made to exclude gullies, provide proper buffer zones or follow guidelines," Fish & Game chief executive  Martin Taylor had said in a media release.

The dairy industry needed to address the problem  and local government should be doing more, he said.

Environment Southland  expressed disappointment at the release.

"Tackling Southland’s water quality is a big, complex challenge that requires us all to work together," its director, science and information, Graham Sevicke-Jones said.

Southland had experienced record-breaking rain that had affected sediment run-off, he said.

- Ken Muir

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