Plan 'better' but still issues for farmers

Bernadette Hunt.
Bernadette Hunt.
Southland's Water and Land Plan decision version has made some significant progress from the original, but there is still room for improvement, farmers say.

Chatton farmer Bernadette Hunt said looking at the plan her initial thoughts were it was great the hearing panel had treated the hearing process seriously.

''All the work that farmers have put in has definitely been considered.''

While improvements had been made, there were still a few areas of concern for Mrs Hunt.

Under Rule 25, the degree of land which can be cultivated is still 20 degrees as a permitted activity, as it was in the original plan.

This was a big issue for Mrs Hunt as part of her farming operation was arable.

''We grow arable crops on those paddocks and we get a header across them just fine.''

Appendix N, which requires farmers to have nutrient budgets using Overseer was also an issue, Mrs Hunt said.

In the Hunts' submission, they talked about how the budgets were ''extremely challenging to determine for mixed farming types, and have questionable accuracy for sheep and beef farms''.

She asked how this would better water quality if it was not accurate.

Under Rule 20, there had been some positive changes made about intensive winter grazing, Mrs Hunt said.

She believed that limiting the amount of area farmers could put in to crop to 100ha or 15% of the landholding, whichever was smaller, would force bad habits.

Farmers would have to grow more crop in the area and feed more supplements, which would do more damage than good to improve water quality.

On the plus side, Mrs Hunt was pleased to see physiographic zones had been removed from being embedded in the plan.

''The simplified approach to appendix N is, as a whole, much better too,'' she said.

Pourakino Valley dairy farmer David Diprose, like Mrs Hunt, said the removal of physiographic zones from the plan had been a step in the right direction.

The plan still had strategies linked to the zones on what you could and could not do, which included points concerning dairy cows and the wintering of them.

Changes to the rule about sediment traps and farmers being allowed to remove the sediment from that was a good move, he said.

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