HIRE US:

Don’t Muddy the Water

Regional authorities around New Zealand are developing plans to improve freshwater quality while enabling agriculture and horticulture.  The focus on freshwater issues has recently been highlighted by the release of the National Policy Statement on Freshwater which sets a bottom line for attributes in freshwater such as nitrogen and phosphorus.  The MfE / MPI led programme to further develop the National Objectives Framework indicates a focus on national sediment standards in future revisions. A common theme in regional plans and consents is the application of Good Management Practices (GMP) by farmers to reduce their environmental footprint.

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Quantifying the effectiveness of sediment control on cultivated land

The horticulture industry has proactively developed a guide to address erosion issues, ‘Erosion and Sediment Control Guidelines for Vegetable Production’. This and other guides such as the ‘Menu – Practices to improve water quality on cropping land’ produced by FAR and Waikato Regional Council are examples of documents that advise on farm practices to reduce erosion and sediment loss from cultivated land.

This project will quantify the relative effectiveness of the key practices advocated for reducing sediment and phosphorus loss. While there is a myriad of factors that determine the absolute rate of soil erosion the project’s goals are achievable by focusing on the relative effectiveness of measures e.g. wheel track ripping reduces erosion by 90% over a 4-month window. In response growers and the wider community will have much better knowledge and confidence when selecting the most appropriate measures for their situation.

The results will be brought together in a web app (see photo of the prototype app, currently under development) that will estimate the impact of applying various mitigation practices on soil loss, while taking into account soil type, slope and area. The information gained from these experiments will inform national and regional policy development on soil and water quality management.

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Growers and the wider community will have much better knowledge and confidence when selecting the most appropriate measures for their situation.