Manawatu farmers sick of the rain and sodden paddocks

Paddocks are sodden and it is still officially autumn at Turakina in Rangitikei.
PHOTO: MURRAY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Paddocks are sodden and it is still officially autumn at Turakina in Rangitikei.

Manawatu and Rangitikei farmers are sick of the rain and winter hasn't even hit yet.

It's only late autumn and the paddocks are sodden, gateways are muddy and the water table is full.

Farmers sloshing around in gumboots on most farms say the water is just under the pasture surface in many places.

They are looking for a lull as more rain keeps arriving to make life hard for them and stock.

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Dairy farmers drying herds off this month say they luckily have feed on hand. Grass growing through the summer has allowed them to keep supplementary feed in sheds for winter and spring feeding.

DairyNZ's regional manager, James Muwunganirwa​ said conditions were very wet on most dairy farms.

He said farmers that could winter herds off the dairy farm were taking the opportunity to remove heavy treading cows and grow some grass ready for their return, usually in July.

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Muwunganirwa said dairy farmers should be focusing on getting cows to target body condition scores at calving and concentrate on having enough pasture to calve on.

New Federated Farmers president, sheep and beef farmer Richard Morrison said the wet was taking a toll on farms.

Farmers were finding some small slips appearing on farms, he said.

"We think the rain will balance itself out in a year.  But this year, that might not happen."

He said many farmers were hoping for a warm and dry winter ahead after a wet spring, wet summer and wet autumn.

"It will depend on the winter. We complain about the weather, but you can't do anything about it."

Lynda Gray who farms at the top of the Pohangina Valley with her husband Tony Gray, said the farm was wet underfoot and the rain continued to fall.

"We had Denis Doughty finally come last Tuesday to spread some fertiliser and he got stuck in places where it isn't normally wet all winter."

She said Doughty ended up leaving half the fertiliser for Tony Gray to spread on the farm by quad.

However, feed was holding up well.

"We haven't started feeding out to deer yet and it is still reasonably mild. We haven't had a frost but places nearby have. We are just high enough to pick up a bit of breeze."

She said they suspected it would be a long, wet winter.

Bulls Farmer Denis Hocking said it was already wet in sand country.

"Ground water is up at ground level or above over much of the sand country with major risk of serious pugging. "

He said the good news was that there was plenty of supplementary feed.

"So I am picking many others have the option of keeping cattle on drier paddocks and feeding them hay and silage."

Hocking had offered some hay and baleage for organisers of the Bay of plenty (flood) relief effort.

"But if they don't pick it up soon I may have used it  with the wet conditions," he said.

"Stock is in good condition.  And last year I had a logging crew working from mid-May into June, thank God it wasn't this year.  Got it done earlier this year and it paid very well, yet again.  Trees have generally grown pretty well this season."

He said there was potential for significant hill country erosion with the latest dump of rain and it would be interesting to see how the regional council's Sustainable Land Use Initiative efforts, that mainly involved tree planting in hill country, were holding up.
 


 
 

 - Stuff

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