New Water and Land Plan does not satisfy farmers

According to NZ Herald, Southland’s Water and Land Plan decision version have 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 number of area farmers could put into the 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.

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