AGRICULTURE

The environmental sheep and beef farmer

Friday 14 December 2012, 3:54PM
By Federated Farmers of New Zealand
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Federated Farmers has welcomed Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s refreshed Land and Environment Planning Toolkit, having attended its launch in Christchurch today.

“Federated Farmers believes it is vital to have the tools and means that make a real difference.  The toolkit will not only help us to do better but also shows how seriously farmers take the environment,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“Being farmers we aren’t big on spin but we are big on actions.
“As a toolkit for meat and fibre farmers, it will help differentiate extensive farming systems from low-land intensive farming too.

“The big two problems faced by extensive sheep and beef farmers are erosion and stock access to waterways.  This is more pronounced on hillier or high country farms.

“On hillier farms, mine included, we are fighting gravity so it is impractical to fence every waterway because floods damage fences and farm infrastructure.  The other issue you face in fencing off water is then the control of invasive noxious weeds.

“Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre believes we can take a separate tack to the same environmental objective and Beef+Lamb’s refreshed toolkit will help to deliver it.

“As an organisation, Federated Farmers has work-shopped with members on things such as creating central crossing points for stock using culverts or concrete posts placed into water.  The idea is to minimise damage to banks and to stream beds.

“When looking at steep but highly productive hill farms with multiple waterways, this seems a much more cost-effective and reliable solution.

“With erosion control, it is clear there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. While riparian planting may work on one farm, spot planting of poplars on another farm may be more viable.

“Given extensive farming systems cover a greater pastoral area, we believe a focus for investment ought to be on the section being intensively farmed. 

“This is especially pronounced over winter when the most nutrient loss can occur.  Doing this allows spot planting on the less intensively farmed areas to stabilise soils and to provide future shade.

“Taking a strategic approach means investment can be prioritised to what will give the best environmental payback.

“I think what we are doing and the refreshed toolkit by Beef+Lamb shows is that farmers are taking our environmental responsibilities seriously.  We have different issues and challenges from our more intensive colleagues but we are facing up to them,” Mrs Maxwell concluded.