Media release

Farm flyover reveals soaring compliance

Tuesday 23 August 2016

South Otago farmers are to be commended for the improvements they’ve made to their winter cropping practices.

During a recent flyover of the area, it was evident to Otago Regional Council (ORC) staff that farmers and other land users are proactively undertaking best practice crop management, showing their stewardship of the land and environment.

Water quality can be affected by poor cropping practices, which can cause leaching to waterways. This can result in E.coli and other contaminants entering fresh water, and this can have a negative effect on human and animal health, as well as affect the aquatic flora and fauna. 

Farmers are taking measures to mitigate negative effects of winter cropping, which was seen in the minimal number of cases needing follow-up from ORC after the flyover.

ORC director environmental monitoring and operations Scott MacLean is pleased with the results, which show a decrease of more than 70 percent in the number of sites requiring follow-up, down to five sites this year from 19 last year.  

“Flyovers are necessary for us to identify potential risk areas and where we may need to investigate further,” Mr MacLean said.

“Looking at winter cropping is part of this because if it isn’t managed well, it can cause significantly higher nutrient loss than pasture grazing, meaning contaminants such as nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and E.coli can enter our waterways, and resulting in poor water quality that affects our whole community,” he said.

Low-lying areas such as gullies and swales can become highways for nitrogen runoff, but best practice crop management such as creating buffer zones or grass strips in these areas, as well as strip-grazing across a slope instead of up and down, can help mitigate negative environmental effects resulting from contaminants entering Otago’s waterways.

The Otago Water Plan sets out to maintain water quality where it is already good, and improve it where needed.

For more information please contact

Scott MacLean
Director environmental monitoring and operations
Ph 0800 474 082 or 027 4119459