Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Massey launches rural waterway project

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Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki and Manawatū farmers and iwi to be given training and education in preserving waterways.
New Zealand Landcare Trust Ecologist Tania Bramley gives a practical demonstration of stream health assessment during a recent Manawatū field day.
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A project aimed at improving rural waterways is being launched by Massey University scientists.

The Catchment Solutions Tiaki Wai project is being funded with $3 million over the next three years by the Ministry for the Environment (MfE), as part of $56m of funding for the protection of lakes, rivers and streams across New Zealand.

Professor David Horne and Associate Professor Ranvir Singh of the School of Agriculture and Environment will lead the project. It will be launched in the Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki and Manawatū regions and aimed at educating and providing training for farmers and iwi.

 “The strength of the project lies in its collaborative approach, translating emerging water quality science, combined with targeted water sampling and testing, into practical water quality solutions and practices that farmers and landowners can use to reduce contaminant losses to waterways,” Singh said.   

The project will use Massey’s research in edge-of-field technologies. Edge-of-field solutions, where the pasture meets the waterway, are crucial for the control of potential contaminants from farmland into waterways. 

The measures include drainage management practices, controlled drainage management, woodchip bioreactors and sediment detention bunds that all seek to minimise contaminant losses that can affect the waterway ecosystem, such as sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus, from farms into rivers and streams. 

One of the project’s aims is to use the river’s biological and water quality data and analysis to facilitate co-discovery, co-learning and co-innovation, where the farmers, iwi and scientists work together to develop targeted water quality mitigation, or improvement, practices. 

 Head of the School of Agriculture and Environment Professor Paul Kenyon said the project is another example of Massey working proactively with industry and the community to ensure the environment is appropriately managed, “while also ensuring New Zealand agriculture remains productive and profitable”.

 The workshops, field days and masterclasses include information and practical demonstrations of water quality testing, stream health assessment, innovative drain designs, tools to map critical flow pathways from farmland, potential solutions to prevent contamination runoff and demonstrations of a newly constructed woodchip bioreactor to help treat drainage waters.

 School of Agriculture and Environment Māori Student Co-ordinator Michael Smith, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tūhoe, said, “As Kaitiaki, Māori from across the motu (country) have worked hard to protect their awa from environmental threats. This project gives us tangible methods to complement the work of Māori to create a positive change in Te Taiao.”

The learning opportunities are free for the rural sector or anyone who works with land and water, with options to attend increasing as the project continues.

 Information on classes and digital resources will be made available on the Catchment Solutions Tiaki Wai website.

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