Flights to support winter grazing programme
Next week Environment Southland, with support from DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand, will be taking a look at cultivated forage crop paddocks from the air, to identify areas that may pose water quality risks this winter.
Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips said Environment Southland has focused on working with the rural community to understand and support good management practices.
“No one wants to see a repeat of last year’s winter grazing issues, so this is a proactive, positive step to help farmers be in the best position to improve this year.”
The flights will focus on cultivated paddocks that may have increased risk for water quality when animals are grazed this winter. Specifically they will be looking at paddocks where critical source areas have been cultivated for winter crops, where there is a lack of buffers to waterways, or the paddocks look like they could pose an increased risk of overland flow.
Environment Southland’s land sustainability team will then follow up with those farmers identified and offer a voluntary winter grazing plan and advice on improving and grazing those paddocks.
“The plan is being offered as part of our service, so comes at no additional cost,” Rob Phillips said. “The plan will be like a road map for how to apply good management practice in a challenging winter grazing paddock.”
The plan will detail how to mitigate overland flow by managing and protecting critical source areas, how to provide appropriate buffers along waterways and describe how to feed the crop to keep vegetation between waterways and animals throughout the grazing period.
Industry-good organisation DairyNZ is supportive of providing a proactive approach around winter grazing.
“Much work has been taking place to address poor winter grazing practices and we’re encouraged by the progress that has been made on many dairy farms, but there is still opportunity for improvement,” said DairyNZ strategy and investment leader, Dr Jenny Jago.
“We all share a vision for healthy water quality and excellent animal care in Southland, and we are committed to continuing to improve wintering practices and support farmers through change.”
“We will also be working with farmers this autumn to ensure their winter plans include strategies that see animal care as top priority in adverse weather events.”
“Beef + Lamb New Zealand supports the promotion of good wintering practices and proactive measures to assist farmers with wintering plans in Southland,” said Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s South Island environment capability manager Tom Orchiston.
“We encourage all farmers to have a winter grazing plan that outlines the steps that will be taken to reduce the impacts of winter grazing activities on animals and the environment.”