Keeping clean and GreenThursday, Sep 6, 2001
A small plane flight from the Manawatu to Central Otago today show the range farming of conditions and
developments that are that are being managed at the moment by farmers.
The lush green of Manawatu was in sharp contrast to the low cover and frosted look of much of the South
Island’s eastern coast. I fact in some regions particularly, North Otago, there was clearly
little other than supplementary feed available.
Of note on the journey were the mobs of block and strip grazing dairy stock on country that had once
been singularly sheep country and an unexpected and major shift in land use in a decade or two.
The scale of the irrigation and particularly centre pivot irrigation showed the large investment in
dairying that has been undertaken, in particular, in Mid and South Canterbury. The size of these individual
dairy units gives some credence to the South Island dairy industry’s claim that they
are different from the rest of New Zealand.
The large sum of capital spent on these units confirms the strength of the industry that has developed
in these regions.
The mystery is why there is a continuing criticism of the industry as a polluter and destroyer of the
‘clean green environment’ when it appeared from the air that capital investment was
not the limitation on these new farms.
It was apparent that capital is available for the irrigation systems and milking facilities and from
that it could be conclude that capital is not the limiting the installation of effluent management
So if there are environmental problems being created by the new large dairy units could it be contended
that the problem is that technology is not now matching the new needs for environmental management,
The answers is not in setting limits on stocking intensities in each catchment but a more sustainable
approach is to place an expectation on the industry suppliers for better systems that more closely
match the new industries needs