Media release

Positive view of farming practices from first winter compliance flights

Tuesday 8 June 2021

No obvious breaches were identified from the air, but a few high-risk areas will be followed up in the coming weeks.

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) compliance team observed generally good compliance with national and regional rules during the first set of winter flyovers in late-May.

Manager Compliance Tami Sargeant said industry groups had helped to educate and encourage good management practices in the farming community.

“We’re working alongside groups like Dairy NZ, Beef + Lamb NZ, Deer NZ, Fonterra and Federated Farmers to support farmers with the information and advice they need to manage their farm with minimal risk to the environment. We’re all keen to encourage the progress we’ve seen in grazing preparation ahead of this winter.”

Federated Farmers has an “Early Intervention” program where anyone can raise concerns or seek advice or support about winter grazing anonymously, by calling 0800 FARMING (0800 327 646).

Ms Sargeant said it was important that risk areas were still managed appropriately.

“There are a few high-risk areas where ORC staff will follow up on the ground to make sure good management practices are being followed and to ensure compliance with our rules. These include things like crops being planted in critical source areas – where there is a risk of sediment flowing into waterways – and a few buffer zones near waterways that were narrower than we’d like.”

Another round of compliance flights will take place towards the end of June.

Anyone needing advice about environmental farming practices can contact the ORC Rural Liaison Team on 0800 474 082 or email

People can also contact their industry groups who can provide advice on farm environmental practice, including grazing plans and checklists for this winter and knowing what to do when adverse weather strikes.

Anyone who sees pollution of a waterway is encouraged to call our 24/7 pollution hotline on 0800 800 033. ORC is also reminding stock truck drivers to make use of effluent disposal facilities around the region to keep effluent off the region’s roads.


Winter flyover findings:

South Otago

Good practice: strategic placement of supplemental feed, grazing towards waterways.

61% of the sites identified with some potential risk were in the South and West Otago area. This may be due to terrain - there are more critical source areas and waterways due to the terrain, so planting winter feed in critical source areas and having small buffer zones could increase sediment run off potential.


Upper Taieri/Middlemarch

Good practice: paddock selection generally avoided the steeper paddocks, evidence of a grass buffer between crop and waterway and grazing direction observed moving from the top of the slope to the bottom.


North Otago

Good practice: grass buffers left around some critical source areas and some observations of back fencing stock.

Common potential risk identified was surface water ponding, due to flatter terrain/lack of drainage.


Central Otago

Good practice: keeping clear of critical source areas, block feeding and grazing from top of slope to bottom.

Common potential risk areas for winter grazing identified in the Central Otago flight included surface water ponding in flat terrain which could mobilise sediment in heavy rainfall events, unfenced waterways or waterways without buffers, and some steep paddocks.