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Making long term improvements to farm soils in sympathy with nature's challenges is tough enough. But doing it in the face of misguided Wellington bureaucrats rules and politics is even tougher. The pressure is now intense

Making long term improvements to farm soils in sympathy with nature's challenges is tough enough. But doing it in the face of misguided Wellington bureaucrats rules and politics is even tougher. The pressure is now intense

Soil is the foundation of New Zealand’s farming practices. When soil erodes, it makes land less productive, and can lead to floods, slips and damage to infrastructure and property.

The annual cost in New Zealand to mitigate erosion is north of $100 mln.

Poplar and willow trees are commonly planted for erosion reduction to stabilise our pastoral hill country, increase water storage, reduce sediment transfer, improve water quality, benefit stock and enhance the farm environment.

Sediment loss is an issue and many farmers are working hard in many ways to mitigate erosion and sediment loss through avoiding heavy stock grazing on steeper, more vulnerable soils, especially when areas are wet. They are fencing stock out of waterways and leaving buffers when cultivating, oversowing, topdressing and/or burning. Many others are installing sediment traps such as decanting dams or detainment bunds.


There are many things farmers are doing to improve the environment in which they live. On top of that, others impose ideas as rules and regulation that are often counterproductive. Rob Stokes mentioned that this past year has been one of the toughest in his farming life.

His thoughts and feelings are widely shared in the farming community.

Urban policy makers sitting in Wellington need to be more engaged with the farming community, listen to what they have to say, and work with farmers.

The pressures for farmers are real, and those pressures are only increasing.

To get the full story listen to or download the podcast above.

Angus Kebbell is the Producer at Tailwind Media. You can contact him here.

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As observed by Mr Kebbell, the rules and regulations imposed on the farming community by shiny arsed Wellingtonians (most of whom have never stepped foot on a farm) are draining the life out of rural communities. Interesting how some of the SAs are finally admitting and realising which industry actually pays the bills. Better late than never I suppose
It'd be nice if all the virtue signalling pollies put the same restrictions on urban water quality and applied the "swimability" requirements on the beaches and streams bordering and flowing through our cities. Not holding my breath on that one though.

Well over 1.6 million tonnes of topsoil is lost every year in Hawkes Bay and southern Gisborne District (see HBRC soil erosion). It needs tree cover to stop it - very simple a lot of the practices/landuses are not sustainable and this has been proven by SCIENCE over decades. Still it carries on. I wonder who the silly ones really are!!!

Jack, Interested in your take on this - at a public meeting in Dunedin, a scientist who said they were involved in Otago sediment fingerprinting study, said that the study showed most of the sediment in Otago waterways comes from forestry. This was in response to presenter claiming it came from livestock farming.

Forestry is not without blame and the regs around harvesting are very tough now. If you do it properly it can be done but it costs more to do it properly. You need wider buffers around streams and waterways and need to use proper harvesting systems and have good water control systems in place. Many areas harvested in the past wont be able to be harvested in the future to achieve the water sediment rules - we are retiring more land that wont be harvested and the portion of native we grow is increasing as a permanent forest - this is happening all over the industry. We have to have 5 to 10m strips either side of waterways, depending upon size, retired and in many cases we are doing even bigger areas to just avoid any sediment loss and sediment discharge in the future. This all costs through loss of land and harvest systems but the industry is just getting on and doing it - heard any forest owners moaning!! The HBRC is fully behind forestry as they lose over 1,500,000 tonnes of soil per annum the vast majority from farming - just think about that and try to envisage that volume of topsoil - it cant go on without the farmers themselves being driven broke as its there livelihood. We have very strict rules about crossing streams and rivers - bridges now needed and we watch as farmers just carry on doing things we would be prosecuted for now. It will be different by regions and soil types but when you think about it break feeding on a slope - open soil - big rain - water runs downhill into a stream - you get sediment plus animal effluent - its not rocket science - the fact is if we want cleaner water much of this land will need to go back to permeant pasture as it was a decade or so ago and have 5 to 10m setbacks in trees to filter water and P.

Paroa Forest is an 1800-hectare plantation forest to the west of Tolaga Bay, owned by Permanent Forests Limited, and one of thousands of forests across New Zealand managed by PF Olsen....sentenced by Environment Court Judge Brian Dwyer in Gisborne.....(due to ) the mobilisation of a huge volume of sediment and wood debris from the area's plantation forests.

And this is just the first of many as the "wall of wood" begins to hit the eastern north island.

Its easy to see who the silly ones are Jack.