Soils are a non-renewable resource and are vital to Southland's
productive capacity. They sustain plant and animal production, can
maintain or enhance water and air quality, and support human health and
When the physical, chemical and biological performance of
soils is optimised, they are able to soak up rain and contaminants. Even
if the soil structure is good, if not well managed, it threatens
agricultural productivity, air and water quality.
Poor water quality in lowland streams and rivers in Southland has been linked to the rapid intensification of land use. Scientific studies have shown that soil and water quality is strongly linked to land use and land management practices.
What we are doing
Focus Activity Farm Plans
We are offering Focus Activity Farm Plans for all farm types across Southland. A Focus Activity Farm Plan is an environmental plan that provides farm-specific good management practice advice and recommendations for your property. As part of the plan, you'll receive colour aerial photo maps detailing soil types, waterway locations and winter grazing paddocks, along with factsheets and recommended actions for your farm.
Southland Science Programme
Environment Southland is investing in a comprehensive science programme to build a better understanding of Southland's river catchments.
The programme will fill the gaps in our knowledge of how Southland's waterways function and how the ecological communities respond to the pressures from different urban and rural land use.
By better understanding how land use has changed in Southland and where change has occurred, scientists can better understand the complexities of environmental degradation across the region.
A next step involves more detailed research about nutrient loss relating to different land use activities. This will allow us to understand and manage Southland's land and water resources more effectively.
Find out more about the science programme here.
What you can do
Reports & factsheets
Southland was colonised relatively early in New Zealand’s history and
has undergone a dramatic change in vegetation cover over the past 150
years. Download the Land Use Change - Agriculture factsheet to read more about this change.
Poor water quality in lowland streams and rivers in Southland has been
linked to the rapid intensification of land use. Scientific studies have
shown that soil and water quality is strongly linked to land use and
land management practices. Download the Land Use Change – Environmental Impacts factsheet to read more about this linkage.
Southland is home to a diverse range of habitat types, ranging from
forests to wetlands. However, what we see today is just a fraction of
what once covered Southland. Download the Land Use Change – Indigenous Vegetation factsheet to learn more.
Report - Assessment of Farm Mitigation Options and Land Use Change on Catchment Nutrient Contamination Loads in the Southland Region - March 2014
Report - Contribution of on-site wastewater disposal to cumulative regional nutrient loadings - July 2014
Report - Environmental Effects of Activities within the Riparian Zone
Report - Factors Affecting Contaminant Loss in Overland Flow
Report - Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Sediment losses from rural land uses in Southland - August 2013
Report - Overseer Comparison Wintering Report -September 2013
Report - Seasonality Report - 2014
Report - Seasonality Report - Appendix 1
Report - Seasonality Report - Appendix 2
Report - Soil Quality and Stability Programme for Southland
Report - Spatial analysis of winter forage cropping in Southland and the implications for water quality management
Report - The impacts of animal wintering on water and Soil Quality
Report - The Influence of Soil Drainage Characteristics on contaminant leakage risk asscoiated woith the land application of dairy effluent - 2009
Report - Winter Livestock Forage Map - Southland Region - 2014