The Maitahi wetland near Okato is one of 24 regionally significant wetlands protected by fencing on Taranaki dairy farms.
Taranaki is the only region in the country to have fenced almost all its regionally significant wetlands.
Its figure of 90 per cent is well ahead of the rest of New Zealand, according to the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord snapshot of the 2011-12 dairy season released last week.
Fencing the Maitahi wetland, on the dairy farms of Merv Hooker and Daryl and Ali Gibson, began in 2002. A memorandum of encumbrance on their titles ensures its protection.
A total of 3.5 kilometres of fencing has been erected alongside the four waterways on the Gibsons' 90 hectare farm. The couple are undertaking riparian planting as their budget allows and they spend about $2000 a year on plants.
The couple, who both have Massey University masters degrees in planning, recognise their obligation to protect waterways on the farm and have completed the work ahead of Fonterra's requirement to exclude stock from waterways by the end of this year.
The 7.5ha Maitahi wetland features vegetation that includes mahoe, cabbage trees, raupo, sedges and flax and is a habitat for the rarely seen spotless crake and Australasian bittern.
The native spotless crake, or putoto, is up to 20cm tall, slate- blue on its underside and brown on the top, is a fast runner and good swimmer. It builds nests on the ground in the crown of the wetland plants.
In the last four years the convolvulus weed has appeared in the wetland. Massey University scientists have been studying it and will present a management strategy for it to the Taranaki Regional Council next month.
The Gibsons milk 240 friesian cows at peak and are hoping to produce 98,000kg of milksolids this season. At present they're 5 per cent ahead of last season, even though production is declining in the dry conditions. They're moving to once-a-day milking to conserve feed.
"We're hoping production will bounce back," Daryl Gibson said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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