Long haul remains to repair dairy farm

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 13:00 16/06/2012

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If Wainui Bay dairy farmer Mike Robertson feels depressed at the amount of work ahead to fix his farm he only needs to look at photos of his farm in the aftermath of December's devastating flood to remind him of how much has been achieved.

Much of Mr Robertson's 430-hectare farm was covered in granite sand following December's flood which saw numerous landslides and flood-swollen creeks deposit metres of mud and granite sand on to paddocks.

His milking shed needed to be dug out from under the sand and debris and the nearby single man's accommodation was flooded.

"It was everywhere, really."

Six months on, Mr Robertson said much had been achieved.

Workers took days to cart 3000 tonnes of logs and rocks from around the milking sheds.

Thousands of tonnes of big boulders from a paddock above the cow shed have also been carted away to build a stone wall to serve as a barrier on the Wainui River.

Mr Robertson said this $200,000 work, which was jointly carried out by him and the Tasman District Council, was necessary to prevent the river from flooding and depositing more granite sand on cleared farmland every time it rained heavily.

The protection work was finished six weeks ago.

On top of the protection work, fencing contractors have replaced kilometres of fences, and still have have another five weeks of work.

He says there are still culverts and ditches to get sorted.

Further big ticket work includes putting in a new irrigation scheme and water system, at a joint cost of $230,000.

What needed to be done was on a huge scale and while he had hoped to have more grass in before winter, he was happy overall with where things were at. He said he had been working seven days a week since the flood.

"We are making progress. We are going forward. You can only do what you can do."

He was thankful for the amazing help everyone had provided.

He has had to drop 60 cows from his herd of 300 because of damage to the land, and this will affect his income.

The next key focus will be building up the grass quality.

He estimates it would take another 18 months to have his farm "pretty much back where it was".

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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