Southland waterways protected

TERRI RUSSELL
Last updated 05:00 20/09/2013

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Almost all the waterways on Southland dairy farms have been fenced to exclude stock, Environment Southland says.

Environment Southland senior land sustainability officer Gary Morgan said "close to 100 per cent" of waterways were now fenced for stock exclusion on Southland dairy farms.

"Virtually all waterway crossings are bridged or have culverts; there are no milking herds crossing waterways via fords in Southland," he said.

It had resulted in improved water quality; in particular, it had reduced the amount of phosphorous and sediment entering waterways on dairy farms, he said. Pathogenic bacterial levels had also improved.

The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord, which came into effect last month, aims to exclude all dairy cattle from waterways by May 2017 and all dairy cattle from wetlands by May next year.

The accord is led by DairyNZ and other industry stakeholders and succeeds the Dairy and Clean Streams Accord.

The accord also includes riparian, effluent, nutrient and water use management, and sets new industry standards for conversions of land to dairying.

Mr Morgan said many Southland dairy farmers had "risen to the challenge" of the accord.

Managing nitrogen losses in Southland into the future would involve industry wide monitoring and support systems and close collaboration between farmers and the regional council.

DairyNZ Southland/South Otago regional leader Richard Kyte said stock exclusion from waterways was now the "norm" for Southland dairy farmers.

With the expansion of dairying in Southland over the last 10 years Southland dairy farmers had been in a position to lead the way with the protection of waterways, stock exclusion and fencing, he said.

Fonterra Supply Fonterra programme director Lisa Payne said Fonterra farmers in Southland were making "strong progress" to get all Fonterra-defined waterways fenced by December this year.

"We have mapped 2960 kilometres of Fonterra defined waterways in the Southland region.

"A few new farmers have recently joined the co-operative and we are currently mapping their waterways," she said.

A "significant" number of waterways had already been fenced and Fonterra continued to visit farms to confirm that all necessary fencing was in place and that the mapping systems were up-to-date.

Dacre dairy farm equity manager Andrew Wilkinson runs two farms where the Waihopai River passes through.

All waterways had been fenced to keep stock out of waterways and native plants had been planted along 1.5km of the waterways, he said.

Mr Wilkinson said he was initially "sceptical" about fencing the waterways but could now see the benefits.

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"In today's standards it really has to be done and you can see the benefits," he said.

- The Southland Times

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