Not just a pretty sight: planting initiative helps irrigation

Waimate farmer Martyn Jensen inspects a planting to improve water quality on his family’s...
Waimate farmer Martyn Jensen inspects a planting to improve water quality on his family’s property. PHOTO: SALLY RAE
Alongside the Waihao Back Rd — the southern entrance to Waimate — there is an attractive oasis of plantings amid the farmland.

It is the initiative of the Jensen family who applied for a grant from the Morven Glenavy Ikawai Irrigation and Waihao Downs Irrigation environmental fund.

The fund was established to support environmental enhancement projects in the two irrigation areas.

Applications for this year close next Sunday.

Priority will be given to the following types of projects:

•  Physical protection of, stock exclusion from, and indigenous vegetation planting along riparian margins of rivers and streams.

•  Wetland enhancement and wetland creation, including the development of wetlands along intermittent streams.

•  Permanent protection of wetland areas that could contain mudfish.

•  Reduction or mitigation of hill country erosion and sediment runoff, provided that the intended use of the land involved is not for agricultural purposes.

•  Projects for the enhancement of farmers own properties, that are not directly covered by Farm Environment Plan requirements, may be eligible for up to 50% levy rebate provided that the project can demonstrate environmental benefits.

•  Catchment group projects undertaken within the scheme command area, which may include mitigation projects that will result in an improvement in water quality.

Martyn Jensen, whose son Carl now runs the farm, spent about nine years as a director of the irrigation company but did not want to apply for funding during his tenure.

The property could get quite a bit of water coming through it.

The planting, done about four years ago, was a good way of collecting nutrients before they continued further down through the system.

Thomson Plantings co-owner Hugh Thomson sourced the plants — which included rimu, totara and coprosma,

He was employed to do the planting and look after them for two years afterwards.

Another smaller low planting, which an irrigator went across the top of, was also done.

Mr Jensen and his wife Gloria moved south from Waipukurau in 1994, drawn by the prospect of cheaper land.

He had started his farming career in Hawke’s Bay and owned several properties when Rogernomics hit.

The couple had a daughter studying medicine in Dunedin and a friend in the South.

They discovered they could start again, which was exactly what they did.

Initially, they were all cropping, sheep and beef.

When Carl — who had "no diesel in his blood" — returned home to farm, they got into beef, and then dairy grazing.

Once you started increasing your footprint, you needed to think about how to offset that footprint on what was lovely, rolling clean country, Mr Jensen said.

Asked the impact of irrigation on the Waimate district, he said "you’ve only got to drive down the main street of Waimate to see what it does — that’s the blunt answer".

It had given vitality to the area and, in his family’s case, it had provided a future.



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