Wetter future forecast

The calf shelter farm worker Kayla Wylie stands on could almost be a submarine. This photo was taken at James Adam's Otokia dairy farm last Thursday after some of the highest rainfall for the month of November recorded in Otago and Southland. Photo: Ella
The calf shelter farm worker Kayla Wylie stands on could almost be a submarine. This photo was taken at James Adam's Otokia dairy farm last Thursday after some of the highest rainfall for the month of November recorded in Otago and Southland. Photo: Ella Stokes
Otago and Southland experienced last week some of the highest November rainfall on record and downpours at this time of the year are set to become more common.

Although farmers' wet-weather gear may have been pushed to the back of the cupboard, it had to be dug back out as it rained and it poured.

Taieri dairy farmer James Adam said his farm had been in their family since 1911 and they had only seen flooding this bad in November once, in 1993.

''Because of where our farm is we're prone to flooding ... but that's in the winter, not at this time of the year.''

Of Mr Adam's 194ha dairy block, 190ha was under water.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research climatic scientist Nava Fedaeff said high rainfall at this time of the year could start to happen more often.

''Climate change modelling shows us that extreme rainfall events like this will only become more common in the future,'' Ms Fedaeff said.

Taieri dairy farmer Mike Holmes stands on a freshly sown paddock of fodder beet, which now resembles a lake. Photo: Ella Stokes
Taieri dairy farmer Mike Holmes stands on a freshly sown paddock of fodder beet, which now resembles a lake. Photo: Ella Stokes
Henley dairy farmer Mike Holmes said he was gutted to get so much rain at this time of the year following a good winter and successful calving.

''It's just a shame because everything was going so well.''

''It's pretty stressful and it keeps you awake at night ... but, as long as [making sure] the stock are safe there's not much you can do about it.''

This illustration shows soil moisture in New Zealand at 9am November 1. Credit: NIWA
This illustration shows soil moisture in New Zealand at 9am November 1. Credit: NIWA
Mr Holmes said he was four weeks into mating and said he hoped it wouldn't have a negative impact.

''There's just a ladder of how [much] it could affect ... in the meantime we can only do our best and then assess the damage.''

Sheep and beef farmer Lindsay Carruthers says he has farmed in Middlemarch ''all my life'' and he had only seen this much flooding in November three times.

''I had four paddocks just sown in rape for summer seed and fodder beet and another three that were meant to be baleage paddocks ... they won't be any good now.''

''There's not much you can do about it ... you just have to let Mother Nature do her best, or her worst - it depends which way you look at it.''

Mr Adam's paddocks were four metres under water in places, he said, and though the rain may have stopped and the sun was out, it wasn't necessarily a good thing.

''If the water hangs around and heats up it will kill all the grass.''

Three weeks later, following a record-breaking rainfall in Otago, soil moisture has dramatically increased. The second illustration shows soil moisture at 9am November 22. Credit: NIWA
Three weeks later, following a record-breaking rainfall in Otago, soil moisture has dramatically increased. The second illustration shows soil moisture at 9am November 22. Credit: NIWA

Otago Federated Farmers president Simon Davies said the downpour was predicted.

''Farmers should've been well prepared. Even though it wasn't normal to get all this rain at this time of the year, it was well forecasted.''

Mr Davies anticipated there would be some damage but it wouldn't be extreme.

Ms Fedaeff said the high rainfall was certainly significant as it had broken records, however spring was a turbulent season.

''Only two years ago, Dunedin had its third-wettest November on record and Middlemarch its fourth-wettest. Flood alerts were triggered in Otago on November 15.''

She said in the short-term, flooding wasn't a good thing and the wet soils increased the risk of further flooding if there were any more heavy rain events

''In the long-term, the wetter-than-normal soils for the region may be good as we head into the dry season and it may ease the strain on irrigation.''

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