Intenstive farming is being placed under increasing scrutiny due to the clear links between it and New Zealand’s declining water quality. So it is pleasing to be able to highlight a successful farming operation that is ahead of the game in deliberately incorporating habitat protection within its business plan.
This approach is nothing new to the Southland-based farming company Fortuna group. Their specialised grazing farm managers Craig and Rachael Horrell have converted a third Te Anau property to dairy support. With their experience and foresight, they ensured that catchment protection and wetland creation works dovetailed with the farm developments. This was achieved along with advice from Fish & Game, Environment Southland, and the Waiau Trust.
This approach allowed the conversion to proceed as per plan with the practicality having the earthmoving machinery on-farm for new lanes and water lines; they were also able to construct the dam walls for wetlands.
The fencing of riparian margins will drastically reduce soil loss from paddocks and the very destructive sedimentation of the creeks. The well-placed ponds can intercept sediment and the accompanying phosphates that do make it into the creeks.
Fortuna group and the Horrells have taken the concept of being good environmental citizens further. Where there were clear advantages of setting aside a greater width of stream margin to encompass remnant native vegetation this was done. Once given protection from grazing, these areas will respond dramatically. Fish & Game Southland operates a reimbursement scheme as an incentive for pond creation. We are also more than happy to spend the time required to run levels and provide basic plans.