Field days hosted to monitor rural waters

The Otago South River Care and Puerua Catchment Group hosted a field day for water testing last...
The Otago South River Care and Puerua Catchment Group hosted a field day for water testing last Wednesday, at the Pamu Landsdownfarm near Balclutha. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Field days to test rural waters were held last week in South Otago.

The Otago South River Care and Puerua Catchment Groups came together to host a field day to test water in the Puerua River, near Balclutha, last Wednesday.

About 20 people came along to the field day, including farmers and year 13 science pupils from South Otago High School’s chemistry class, who came along to understand monitoring wetland effects for assessments.

The field day was held to display the best ways to do testing for salt water intrusion on farms.

Otago South River Care received an Access to Experts fund where scientists from Land and Water Research New Zealand came along to talk about methods which would ensure farmers could get accurate results when testing their water.

"There seems to be a particular problem for the area, especially around Inch Clutha," Otago South River Care catchment co-ordinator Craig Simpson said.

"It’s good to get people along to show them the best ways of water quality monitoring to get accurate results.

"It was a pretty cool day. Clint, the scientist, dug a massive hole on farm to look at soil structures.

"Historically, we’d associate high nitrogen levels with dairy farming but because of the nature of the soils, nitrate won’t be a problem but other contaminants may be instead."

He said it was interesting to see the soils after the hole was dug and listen to experts talk about top tips and best methods to test for salt water.

One of the ways to do the testing was a simple method of testing the outgoing tide test where it was mainly fresh water.

Another way was to test if a shallow bore could draw up shallow water with fresh water, which was a bit trickier but more accurate, Mr Simpson said.

"We see what’s coming through the soil into groundwater and can test that.

"Farmers do testing on their own and monitoring to see their impacts, and they’ve been doing that for about 5-6 years.

"Our river care group has been helping test for about three years but that’s about to finish up.

"It was overall just a good day for people to get off their own farm and others to come along to continue to learn."