Thursday, August 18, 2022

Otago farmers pass aerial inspection with flying colours

ORC’s recent aerial inspections show positive winter grazing practices.
Two more aerial surveillances for winter grazing compliance is scheduled for this year, but findings have been mostly positive so far. File photo

Otago Regional Council staff are pleased with the intensive winter grazing practices by farmers that they saw during three aerial inspections during May and June.

While 12% of farms had issues and will be subject to an inspection by council staff, the council’s principal compliance specialist Mike Cummings said there were plenty of excellent examples of intensive winter grazing along with some potential issues.

These included issues such as crops being planted in critical source areas where there is a risk of sediment flowing into waterways, and some buffer zones near waterways that were narrower than desirable.

“It was obvious from the flyover the majority of farmers were making a targeted effort to develop protections around the at-risk areas on their properties,” Cummings said.

He said from 2023 resource consent will be required to graze critical source areas such as gullies and swale, and land steeper than 10 degrees.

Margins alongside wetlands, streams, lakes or drains need to be at least 5m without a resource consent.

A further 12% of those inspected do not need any follow up and 66% will receive a “catchment response”. This means that industry, catchments groups or ORC catchment advisors will have an opportunity to work with groups of farmers on education targeting the risks in their catchments.

The council plans to make two more flights, one later this month and a final one in August, provided the weather allows.

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