The government is backing a farmer-led strategy in North Canterbury’s Amuri Basin to boost water quality, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced.
The project will help farmers in the Amuri Basin work together to improve water quality in their drains and streams and assist the government’s goal of restoring waterways, O’Connor said.
The project is led by Amuri Irrigation Company (AIC) with co-investment from Environment Canterbury and DairyNZ. It seeks to build on AIC’s existing strategy to farm beyond the regulatory minimums.
The government is committing $1.49 million over three years to the $2.69m project through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund.
The Amuri Basin encompasses the towns of Culverden, Rotherham and Waiau.
O’Connor said the project will seek to develop tools, including a spatial risk-based integrated land and water management system. The system will combine on-farm and catchment mitigations to identify environmental risks within the Amuri Basin.
The project will also develop and pilot a localised price-based mechanism that seeks to financially incentivise sustainable land use. This will explore whether it is possible for farms to receive financial benefits proportional to their on-farm nutrient losses.
The project aims to be a blueprint for other catchments faced with freshwater quality challenges, O’Connor said.
“This will be a whole-system approach that looks at land use, farming practices and wider considerations such as biodiversity and cultural values. It will also seek to find the best ways to engage with farmers to create change.
“For enduring success, farmers need to own and implement a strategy for sustainable farming with a combined focus on environment, farm profitability and community resilience.”