Storms hit farmers hard on land and in the pocket
West Coast farmers are still cleaning up washed-out paddocks from a heavy downpour two weeks ago.
Native trees were carried on to rain-lashed farmland during the storms, taking out fences, lanes and culverts, and spreading debris over silted paddocks.
The worst-hit areas were near Inangahua, Rotomanu near Lake Brunner, and Kowhitirangi, inland from Hokitika. Heavy rain lashed South Westland, removing part of the Wanganui River Bridge, but farmland escaped the heavy damage of further north.
Dairy farmers in localised areas will be left out of pocket as they regrass and return paddocks to a fertile condition and are looking for more sunshine to help them complete the work.
The rain continued for much of the period from Christmas to January 11, with some farmers receiving an estimated 500mm to 600mm, the annual rainfall in some parts of New Zealand.
Federated Farmers West Coast chairwoman Katie Milne said farmers were looking for two weeks of good weather, which often happened after an extreme downpour.
The wet spell had been frustrating for farmers, who were unable to remove silage from paddocks, and it had put grazing rotations out of kilter, she said.
Repairing the damaged paddocks was a work in progress.
"There was a localised pocket of cloudburst of 40mm an hour of rain. All the little creeks from the high hills couldn't cope and burst their banks and rimu and rata and everything else were strewn across paddocks.
"That debris buried fences and culverts, so there has been a fair bit of punishment and it's costly to bring in contractors.
"The grass is covered, so it has been a severe hit financially for some farmers." Some farmers were left with more damage than others and will need to rebuild fences and get contractors in to repair farmland.
The severe downpour was the first for many years and farmers are concerned creeks may bring down more debris when they run dirty again.
Grass growth has continued at good levels all over the Coast, because rain did not fall solidly throughout the two weeks.
Overall, milk flows are up, even though some milk went into nutrient ponds when the Wanganui Bridge was closed.
Milne said Canterbury farmers knew by the "bank to bank" rivers in their region that the Coast was being hit hard.
It was another reminder of the wisdom of water storage in dry Canterbury to harvest some of the river flows thundering out to sea.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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