Mackenzie development proposal to be liquidated as irrigation rules tighten

Mackenzie development proposal to be liquidated as irrigation rules tighten

Lots of issues can be discussed in these two articles which will have an influence on farming in the future. The large dairy development proposal with plans to milk 11,000 cows on a newly irrigated block in the heart of the MacKenzie country caused a huge groundswell of debate.

Issues of concern were the change to an  intensive landuse in this unique environment, the prospects of factory farming with dairy cows and issues of irrigation and water use.

But it appears the consent process and the huge time constraints involved put too much pressure and cost on the proposal and the investors have sought solvent liquidation to exit this venture. The Federated Farmers organised water forum also learned that a licence to farm may be needed by some from as close as 5 years away as the regional councils endeavour to control nutrient leaching into the acquifiers and streams.

Focusing farmers to industry best practice by using the standards of the top 10-15% of each sector will set high goals that should see rapid improvements in containing nutrient losses. However many will find the business of farming much more difficult than in the past as record keeping and auditing could take up a significant part of the normal workload.

What are your views on the collapse of this large development proposal in the MacKenzie Basin and your thoughts on needing a "licence to farm" in the future?

Two companies which caused a furore almost three years ago with plans to milk nearly 11,000 dairy cows in the Omarama area have gone into voluntary liquidation reports The ODT. Richard Peacocke, director of Southdown Holdings Ltd and Williamson Holdings Ltd, confirmed yesterday when contacted, shareholders had decided to enter "solvent liquidation", for both companies because the process for the dairy developments had become "too long, too hard".

Mr Peacocke, a Mt Maunganui businessman, became the companies public face in the debate over plans for widespread dairying and land intensification through more irrigation in the upper Waitaki catchment. Millions of dollars were spent on the proposal, resource consents process and property development.

Southdown proposed establishing six dairy farms running up to 7000 cows on Glen Eyrie Downs in Quailburn Rd near Omarama. Williamson Holdings planned three dairy farms with 3850 cows on 1200ha of Killermont Station land on SH8 it had a purchase option over, subject to conditions. The 2135ha Glen Eyrie Downs property, which has a Waitaki district rateable value of just over $5 million, has been offered for sale.

In 2010, he said "millions of dollars" had been poured into the project, including $2 million just on removing wilding pines from Glen Eyrie Downs."In the nine years since we started this project, the world has changed. There are easier ways for my shareholders ... to make a dollar," he said.
The proposal for widespread dairying development in the Omarama and Ohau areas caused a national outcry. Some environmental groups described plans to house the cows in cubicles as "factory farming". That was denied by the companies involved, but they faced more than 5000 submissions on their and others' resource consent applications for water from the upper Waitaki catchment.

At the time, Mr Peacocke said if the two companies did not get approval for the dairy farms, "we would have expended considerable capital and the farms will be in a difficult position". He said the developments presented "a unique opportunity to make these land blocks highly productive and create a positive economic benefit to [the two companies] and the district".

And this story in the Timaru Herald signals that" a licence to farm" for some areas may be only a few years away!!

Environment Canterbury's Land and Water Regional Plan could see some Canterbury farmers need a resource consent to farm by 2017. Although still being finalised the plan would see new limits brought in on water quality for Canterbury, ECan's principal planning advisor Peter Constantine said. These limits would be made at regional and sub-regional levels through the zone committees of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

Sub-regions would establish nutrient discharge limits by community discussions. These limits would be based on the productive potential of the land. Mr Constantine outlined the plan in Ashburton at a water forum organised by Federated Farmers. Look-up tables for agricultural sectors would also be established. These would guide farmers on nutrient limits and would be based on industry-best practice aimed at the top 10-15 per cent of operators within each farm sector.

Consents to farm would only arise if after July 1 2017 there were no industry articulated good practice nutrient discharge limits established on the look-up tables. Farmers below that threshold would need a consent to farm if they could not change their nutrient loss to meet that top 10-15 per cent.

Ultimately the goal is for industry-good practice to be the norm rather than the exception, he said. The agricultural management tool Overseer will also be used as way for farmers to determine nutrient use on their farm.The rules will not take effect until July 1, 2017. During that time period he expects these look-up tables and Overseer to be improved and made workable for all farming sectors, he said. ECan hopes to have the plan notified by August 11 and in operation by February 2014.

A separate lakes zone consisting of the catchment zone in the high country lakes would also be established. Farming would continue as it is for existing farming activities outside this lakes zone until June 30, 2017.

Any farm discharging more than 20kg of nitrogen per hectare would have to be recorded and reported to ECan and have a farm plan in place. Farming will become a discretionary activity for those farms located inside a lake zone and meet requirements under the look-up table. Farms inside a lake zone and which do not meet the look-up table's conditions would also require a consent to farm.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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Sounds like environmental ideology gone mad.

Gone mad? Are you serious? Marginal farming techniques in marginal farming areas. End of story. There is a very good reason dairying has not been undertaken in these areas in that the natural fertility and climate are simply not where they need to be.
it's good to see a line has effectively been drawn in the sand.
Now if only we could do it with those bloody wind farms...

"a very good reason dairying has not been undertaken in these areas in that the natural fertility and climate are simply not where they need to be"
Which is why irrigation has been suggested as a solution. Whats wrong with irrigation? 

Ask Environment Canterbury what's wrong with irrigation...

Ask the Israelis whats right with Irrigation. They don't see anything wrong with making deserts bloom. They don't have an ideology that says irrigation is wrong. 
It is called "de-desert-ification" by environmentalists, and Israel leads the world in countering the creeping desert-ification that has made large swaths of Africa and Asia uninhabitable. Satellite photographs show that only two countries in the world have increased the area of land covered by forest and agriculture - the United States and Israel. It was Israeli farmers who revolutionized the watering of agricultural crops through the drip-irrigation system that they invented more than 40 years ago, since adopted worldwide.!&id=4049116

Kiwi - you should have studied some history.
Try 'the Sumerians, irrigation, desertification.
You're either doing something which is sustainable, or you're not. 

The Archimedes Screw, Archimedean Screw or Screwpump.
"The Archimedes screw is one of the oldest machines still in use today, it's a device for lifting water. It's been used for thousands of years to help irrigate crops, as an example, an excert from the writings of Diodorus Siculus, a Greek historian from around circa first century BC writes;
Men can easily irrigate the land by means of a certain instrument conceived by Archimedes of Syracuse, which gets its name because it has the form of a spiral or screw."
From the text it seems that Irrigating crops has been used for thousands of years. Its tried and true, it works and has been proven over the milleniums.
The Jordan river will keep flowing. Israel has been investing heavily in desalination plants.
Israel could become a water exporter in the future,7340,L-4166084,00.html
This is totally sustanable. The earth is a closed system and the oceans will never run dry.
These plants will be built all over the world, helping to bring life and prosperity to millions 

And ask Egypt to peer review their literature. israel is not New Zealand.
I'd argue quite happily that the McKenzie Basin is more productive as a tourism attraction than a dairy farm.


Israeli irrigation expert wins World Food Prize
Quinn noted several of the letters supporting Hillel's nomination for the prize came from individuals and institutions in Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
I think tourists would find a greened landscape more attractive than lots of dry bare land.

"I think tourists would find a greened landscape more attractive than lots of dry bare land."
In Israel (which has a massive tourist industry obviously), I'm sure you may be correct.
But in NZ, McKenzie Country as is vs. Shitty Dairy Farm - I assume you are joking and are not wanting a serious reply.

What is your take on the NZDairies sale to fonterra?

Makes sense to Fonterra - increased milk supply and shareholder capital, new powder plant capability at a reduced price plus consents (which is where a significant amount of value is held).
And obviously it is easier to incrementally grow your business versus a material increase in capacity (as it would have been for Synlait or others).
And ironic. As most of those suppliers would have left Fonterra for reasons of capital release and/or disillusionment.


ITYS - Farming techniques are evoloving at exceptional speeds and it is these new techniques which allows what you refer to as "marginal farming areas" to become productive.
 To insinuate that natural fertility and climate are simply not where they need be and that any activity should cease on these grounds is rather silly.  Soil, pasture and animal health are always improving as technology expands.  There are certain fertiliser regimes that can actually decrease the volume of water necessary yet grass growth is improved along with the soil biology, animal health and production is increased.
Drawing a line in the sand is rediculous and impedes progress as productivity stays limited.
New Zealand has some absolutely brilliant farmers, horiculturalists etc who are paving the way for these technical farm systems that will become mainstream. Everyone benefits in higher productivity, quality nutrient dense food, better soil and feed health etc.

What you are talking about is using more and more energy in one form and another to make less and less "naturally" productive / usable land suitable for something it isnt.  That is only viable as long as you can get / use more and more energy to do it and energy stays cheap.  Also to do this enhancing work usually requires debt, which is a future call on that land's it becomes imperitive that energy stays cheap long term ad high stable returns are seen...the more marginal the more imperitive this is.
In terms of climate I would think you can only do so much......sure you can irrigate dry areas however in china for instance they now have to go so deep for water that the pumping costs outweigh the gains, hence they are regressing to traditional dry farming techniques......
Now I would suggest in the good times there are decent margins that justify such intensive technques, but we are looking at a highly volitile future where such returns are dubious and will drop......and hence repaying the debt improbable.....
Doesnt strike me as sensible.

Actually I'm not "talking about using more energy in one form or another to make less and less naturally productive/usable land suitable for something it isn't".  I'm talking about balancing the calcium to magnesium ratios for a start off. This is quite different from orthodox methods.  Water requirements can be halved within the first 18 months of implementaion so you save not only on water but also on power.
Cost are actually driven down so economically this stacks up. Stock health improves significantly so farmers aren't so reliant on orthodox animal health remedies.
Pasture is not grazed at the normal grazing length currently applied.  Measuring the sugars in the pastures is undertaken with a refractometer before grazing commences.  Stock don't have to graze all day as the pasture is better quality and so they eat less to maintain production levels.  Stock may need some nutrional support in the early stages of conversion until the soil is balanced. This is cheap to provide and very effective.
I have seen barren waste land in Australia being converted to productive usable land simply by changing the fertiliser type. There have been similar results in the USA with about 2000 family farmers converted in one are alone. The current salt based types of fertiliser being used make plants thirsty which take up more water which requires more irrigation.  The plants may grow fast but have poor nutritional content.
Energy usage and it's price are not the big things to worry about in fact the more expensive it gets the better as the market will then be able to step in with the alternatives which will probably be cheaper and maybe even free e.g Tesla's free energy. 
I can see why this National Govt wants to sell some of the energy assets as there is a whole lot of new technologies that will replace the current sources. The world is changing rapidly and information is around the world in seconds.  What a first year uni student learns is obsolete by their 3rd year because things are changing so rapidy. 
Your concern with farmers debt repayment is really not a concern. Why would anyone in a a farming business pay back debt when under the current system they will incur tax on any capital repayments they make.  If a farmer has had a good income year it is better to spend or invest into any area other than debt repayment.

Actually, the mad ideology is all with the folk who think you can grow indefinitely on a finite planet, and grow exponentially at that.
It's not just stupid, it's intergenerationally criminal. Who represents those yet to inherit?

Your comment doesn't make sense.  Are you suggesting that humans can invent a replacement for the laws of thermodynamics? Or that humans can invent a new earth? Or is it rather that heads in sand is more comforting?

mist42nz  is correct, we live on the cusp of a new world based upon sustainable energies , innovative technological & medical advances  ....... but steven & PDF wanna send us back to the era of scooping up hoss poop after the drafthorses have traversed the main-streets ......
..... mind you , the rhubarb was of stellar flavour back then ........

No GBH, steven and PDF are talking about the future and how we can best survive in it, not the comfortable past you are so keen to keep.

The comfort of an oil-based economy

to what?

......... actually , it was the CEO of the U.S. Patents Office who in the 1890's declared that everything worth a patent licence had already been patented ...
But your point is well made , PDF , steven & their ilk would have us shut down all innovation , as it uses " peak oil " , and other " limited resources "  ......
....... sorry lads , but the spirit of mankind will not be constrained by small minded murderous gits 'like you two ;  folks just wanna progress their personal standard of living , and by defacto , increase the wealth & well-being of all of us ......

actualy thats not what we say.....but keep going, Im beginning to find you very funny.....I'd have to pay for such entertainment of a court fool otherwise....

Steven, you want a bunch of court fools,  then try the last 3 PM's of the UK.
Major, Blair , Brown, & might as well throw in Cameron as well. That makes 4.
All whinging on, belatedly, about undue influence from News Corp.
All these PM's, with thier elected finger on a nuclear trigger, apparently cannot refuse to take a phone call from Mr Murdoch.
Anyone round here seen Mr Rupert Murdochs' name on a public voting ballot? 
Mabey not, but do take a look at the controlling shareholders of SKY TV in New Zealand.
You might learn something.

They are long added, especially Brown.....champion fool.
Gareth Morgan has an epiphany - slags the Greens - still he bought into their global warming crap,now it looks like he's backing out.

No, Gareth Morgan is well aware that anthropogenic climate change is real. What he is saying is that banning fracking and other sources of energy is not the answer.

Looking at the info out there on fracking putting a hold on it until we know more is sensible.
but yes some of the Greens stuff is very NIMBY such outllok is why I have a love / hate relationship with them.

SimonP - you could plant the whole earths surface in trees and that would not change the greenhouse gasses. If you are concerned with the melting ice at the poles - perhaps you should read some history they poles have not always been covered in ice.
You might also like to read up about the oceanographers mapping the ocean floor who found a massive string of undersea volcanoes that no-one knew existed and guess what they have been erupting. This large line of undersea volcanoes go from South America to South Africa and it is believed that these volcanoes are highly likey for ice melt in that region.
You can also find some interesting volcanic information in the North Pole as well that is appears has a direct link with melting ice there.  There is a lot of misinformation out there and the current carbon debacle has more than its share of utter rubbish printed.
Farming for a kick-off has a scientifically known and measurable carbon cycle. The carbon is released into the air and finally ends up back in the soil.  This cycle is constantly continuing.  Farmers can carbon sequester at their will by slight fertiliser changes. There have been a number of conferences on carbon farming already held in NZ and guess what the mainstream media doesn't even report these events.  Not even the Minister of Agriculture could show up despite these conferences providing some of the best science and practices from aroung the world.
You could plant the whole earths surface in trees and you wouldn't make one bit of difference - climate change is deflecting the real issues.

Now I know that not only are you notaneconomist I know you are notaneducated.
Actually if you did plant trees you sort of wood....
until they died and broke down....the problem is you buy time at best unless the CO2 is permanently trapped.

Steven I note your cranky comment and suggest you read from the links below.
I have also planted thousands of trees and so know quite a bit about wood and pruning the dead wood is what's most important. I can smell the CO2 coming from your exhale so hope you have planted plenty of trees to counter your own omissions oh I meant emissions.

LOL...yes Ok a bit cranky....and that was a bit OTT.
In terms of that piece Ive already read it and frankly its rubbish...the AGW science is sound. So some rocket engineers and other free riders at the public expense dont like NASA's stance, oh dear, never mind.
Trees extract CO2 and trap it, by dead I mean the tree dies of old age at some point and decays and out comes the trapped stuff....
So really planting trees is dubious long term, the only option is not to burn it....
More importantly the output is going to go into decline and when it does much marginal business activity will go to the wall....

Nope, now where does he say he knows no longer believes in AGW, or being a conservationist......
What he does question is why the Greens dont go with National and thats simple. National is not a Maggie Thatcher style right wing party...its a dig it out and burn it party...a Ronald Reagan party in effect....hence the Green's stand clear....
The maori party has sold its soul for much for moral character.....

GBF - you're starting to look plain foolish. I'm a second-generation technology-pusher/inventor, and never cease thinking of new/more efficient ways things can be done.
My house pushes the boundaries, and is way ahead of where the bleating mass are at. And they are ahead of you. I just spent a couple of cold days getting 30% more power from my hydro system, for no material cost. How? By research, followed by first-principle thinking.
Innovation cannot do more than make us more efficient. The rest of the optimism is dreaming, arrogance, denial, in some mix/proportion.

You come up against the laws of thermodynamics and marginal gains v ever increasing ppl with the back of the fag packet ability and indeed outlook is totally different to where we are today in materials and applying them.......
So Someone "invents" an insulation at half the present Ok its now economic to do 200mm insulation instead of 100mm....even that of course is a stretch....can we do that again? or build structures to accomodate 300mm? sometimes, for instance straw bails...but unless you are in -30Deg C 600mm just isnt worth the compromises you have to make elsewheres....
PDK has also commented that now is the time to do a lot of the work we need to do before were are energy constrained...really to minimise real hardship we are already at least 10 years to things are going I think we will be looking at another 5 years then many businesses and jobs will be going bye bye pretty fast....evolution needs time to adapt, so does an economy.

I think you are very wrong on evolution but then I think you see things in small "lumps" on this occasion for sure.  Yes a species, those close enough to the new situation will survive, unless say its prey (heard of the food chain?) cant adapt.
A classic problem we face right now is acidification of the oceans....plankton wont be able to grow and form sure fish adapt OK....they just wont have anything to eat and hence neither will we......
What you can see when you look back over the last ten thousand years is humans adapting to less ideal environments with a greater and greater use of energy and energy density to compensate....the move from hunter gatherer to agriculture for instance....coal to oil.....right now we are pretty much close to the limits of huge improvements are very unlikely....and the problem is expotential yeas Ok lets say we get a breaktrhough today.....trouble is at present rate of expansion/growth in at most 2 decades we'd need to double that again....just to deply this make believe solution will take us 20 years today....
aint gonna happen.......all those doublings have been done.........

Mist - no, there we have the nub of the problem. Statistically, sooner or later optimisn has to be unfounded - sooner with exponential pushing of the boundaries.
If it's optimism where the ramifications/mitigation are too big - AGW for instance - then the 'it's always been fine, so it'll be fine' approach is simply wrong.
The only approach which will guarantee social contunuance of our species, is the precautionary one. Each change has to be proven safe, each new technology has to be proven before being relied upon.
To rely on optimism to overcome thermodynamic problems, is wrong, as is your historical comment - do some homework on the law of diminishing returns within a finite-potential sphere of knowledge.

not belief,, science....

There is a huge difference in religious belief and mathematical proof.....the problem is when ppl have a religious belief where maths does not support the work or proves the reverse is true.
For instance the laws of thermodynamics is a provable thing, belief in god isnt....
PDK's system is my system also.....I go with the maths...and this case anyway.

These are the sort of actions that are necessary if we actually want to improve water quality.

Anyway isn't it bog standard market economic theory that effects should be internalised, including the effect of contamination of water?

Be careful what you wish for.  The most contaminated waterways in Canterbury are the Avon and Heathcote.  The last time I drove past them I failed to find a single farm on it's banks.  ;-)

Sorry, accidental double post.

"In the nine years since we started this project, the world has changed. There are easier ways for my shareholders ... to make a dollar," he said.
Now perhaps the Government will come to a similar conclusion on behalf of New Zealand taxpayers, spare us the losses and liquidate this plan as well;

Thats right Kate.  Based on MAFs expectations for lift in farm productivity within CPW command area under irrigation, the net economic benefits to the district as a whole are minimal at best, Unless model farm performance is achieved, commodity prices are higher than current, and there are no cost overruns in construction, CPW when all set up and running is unlikely to meet the districts financial costs. CPW lifts GDP but struggles to make a real change in wealth. It is relying on a big fat tax payer hand out to swing it for them.
Similarily for HWP up on the Hurunui; which has just been refused its application to the Irrigation Acceleration Fund and the operations manager has been sacked. HWP has a marginal net benefit to the Hurunui District.  In both cases the schemes are being told clearly by ECan that their environmental impacts could not be contained.

It is relying on a big fat tax payer hand out to swing it for them.
That's right and I saw another press release from National on the asset sales describing the fund being for 'public good' works - and naming irrigation as a 'public good'. 
That to me seems to be stretching ecdonomic theory - I would have thought the 'public good' was water quality whereas irrigation is a private good - just like an effluent disposal system, a cost of doing the business of farming.
I'm all for farming .. I love my milk and my meat but tussock land is tussock land - I feel most of the property owners within the catchments of these major irrigation schemes bought the land with the intention to farm the LV capital gain once we taxpayers coughed up the subsidy.   I recall reading where the original CPW scheme intended to compulsory acquire an existing viable/productive farmers land to flood his naturally productive valley.  It all just seemed stupid.   Corporate farming interests pushing around an individual landowner in the worst sort of way.

could be public goof.
we put an earlier post discussing investment return from irrigation for pastural production (and that with a good or better milk price).
bombing the light soild for pasture to animal to milk/produce is not best use of water....
we think the boffins are aiming for much more intensive use (vegie/hort), think Motueka but look at the wreckage of applefields...
point being, being the dairy farm to Aisa is just half the story.
Food manufacturers must target the region's booming middle classes with innovative processed products, writes Paddy Manning.
You get what you focus on,'' said Kraft Food's Australasian chief, Rebecca Dee-Bradbury, this week, both admonishing and urging her industry peers to seize the opportunity at our doorstep: to be much more than Asia's paddock when it comes to food supply.
After touring food hubs in Shanghai and Singapore last month, Dee-Bradbury told a business gathering this week, ''it may shock you to understand that Australia is not seen as a high-value food innovator. It is seen as a critical supplier of food commodities.
''The impact on Australia's largest manufacturing sector, if we become a farm gate supplier, is unthinkable.''

Advertisement: Story continues below

"The impact ... if we become a farm gate supplier, is unthinkable" ... Rebecca Dee-Bradbury, Kraft Foods. Photo: Penny Stephens

From meat, to dairy, to wine, Australia's food manufacturing exports are worth up to $17 billion a year, bigger than education and tourism. But the Kraft boss's warning underlines Australia's emerging role in the region. The mining boom has already seen Australia become Asia's quarry - digging dirt out of the ground to fuel China's future.
Now Australia and NZ risk becoming Asia's farm rather than an exporter and manufacturer of quality foods from trusted quality produce.
True enough, as Europe and North America's economies flounder, Australia has enjoyed a surge in mining investment and that ''other boom'' in the soft commodities we export to Asia's burgeoning middle classes, lifting the income of farmers recovering from the millennium drought.
But when it comes to food and beverage manufacturing, most focus lately has been on tales of woe. Supermarket wars, rising input costs and a high dollar have crunched suppliers - in some cases pushing them to the brink, or driving them offshore.

Read more:

Pastoral Alternative: "Banks often required 80 per cent equity on sheep and beef loans."
Federated Farmers spokesman Bruce Wills said the amount of debt that was taken on when land prices increased during the past decade was a big problem for farmers now wanting to retire or move on.
Rural debt topped $47 billion and many owners could not afford to sell their farms to their children for a cheaper price even if they wanted to.
Wills said the fact that beef and sheep farms often gave returns close to zero made it even harder to get loans.

Not traditionally known as a farmer-focused bank, Westpac is looking to change all that, its new chief executive, Peter Clare, said at National Fieldays.
Westpac had about 22 per cent market share in most of the business areas it operated in, but in agribusiness it had only about 12 per cent, he said.

Greetings Henry_Tull, hope alls well.
As a dairy farmer, what am I to read into these posts? The adding value mantra has been trumpted for years, but don't (Asian) tarrifs and quotas act as an effective barrier? Are the FTA our savior in regard to this issue?
How will Kraft et al help capture and return value to the farm and by default NZ/Aust economies?

Put it down to a general where are we now thought.
Rudderless put this up on another thread:
the last para's
1. A strong dairy payout, and much improved prices for meat and wool, have convinced many farmers there was no need for banks to start calling in their loans.
prices are down 30% to 50% since...
2. But some veterans, such as Wills, are not convinced the worst is over. As Wills pointed out way back in 2006, a "correction" may be painful, but it is also necessary so that young people can continue to enter the industry and to see a future in farming.
"Debt in rural New Zealand is still the elephant in the room, and it's still a significant problem that we haven't yet addressed," he says.
"Sure, the banks have slowed down their lending and attitudes have changed and we're all a little bit wiser now, but what worries me is we haven't really started deleveraging our sector. And that has got to happen and when that happens, it's going to really hurt."
3. refer Westapc comments above.
4. There is now one less independent processor... and yet govt. policy seems to drive toward many and at fonterra and we suppliers expense.
5. We are not seeing moves by fonterra to counter the power of the Oz supermarkets and efforts to regain the ANZ earnings taken away by those supermarkets..
6. And there is TAF with no visiblity of how such will increase $/KGMS or otherwise increase farm or fonterra income.....

CPW was/is a good old scrap between Dairy holdings and synlait (local side) the farms, see u in court they said, was it not...

I don't have a problem with no dairy farming in the McKenzie country.
One of the things that the Waituna Lagoon issues have brought to the fore is that different soil structures result in very different leaching effects. Within the Waituna Catchment there are three different soil structures.  Environment Southland have recently released a report on their scientific findings in to the effect different soil structures have on leaching.  It is a most interesting read. There is no 'one size fits all'.

  • Report by Diffuse Sources and NIWA titled “Waituna Catchment Loads”
  • This report was commissioned to develop a methodology for calculating nutrient and sediment loads in the Waituna catchment.  Applying flow data to a regression was recommended with creeks sampled twice monthly and during high flow events to capture sufficient data.


  • Report by Environment Southland and Liquid Earth titled: “Waituna Catchment Groundwater Resource Technical Report”
  • This report describes the nature and state of the Waituna catchment groundwater resource including the role groundwater plays in nutrient loadings to the lagoon.  The initial data indicates that  groundwater plays a significant role in the water quality and nutrient loading to Waituna Creek and via direct groundwater seepage to the lagoon.  


  • Report by Dr Scanes titled “Nutrient Loads to Protect Environmental Values in Waituna Lagoon, Southland NZ”
  • Dr Peter Scanes was commissioned to recommend nutrient load targets to protect Waituna Lagoon, based on loads for similar NSW lagoons.  Main points were a recommended reduction to 9 t/km2/yr in TN load and 0.57 t/km2/yr TP load, which was consistent with the Lagoon Technical Group interim recommendation load targets.


  • Letter by NIWA titled “Comparison of catchment modelling approaches for the Waituna Lagoon catchment”

<>-Dr Sandy Elliott (NIWA) was asked to provide information about and a comparison of two catchment models; CLUES and SWAT.  This brief piece of work will be used by the Catchment Technical Group to inform modelling in the Waituna catchment.

From reading some of your links I think the Waituna Lagoon issues are to do with fertilser runoff causing alga blooms in this particular lagoon rather than irrigation per se.
The Waituna saltwater/freshwater lagoon is on the coast near Bluff. The McKenzie basin is in the middle of the South Island. Is there any linkage between the two?
The benefits to irrigating the basin could be quite large. More Hospitals, Schools etc. Still not sure what the downsides would be though.

Irrigation doesn't affect the Waituna Lagoon, you are correct, kiwi. The Waituna Catchment lies to the southern coast so is usually blessed with enough rain during the year. :-) The point I was trying to make is that sweeping generalisations about dairying and it's effects on waterways can't be made.  Soil type is fundamental to any environmental impact.
Kiwi, I hear what you say re the benefits of dairying, however a few very large dairy units won't bring the same benefits of repopulation,improved services etc that smaller farms do..  Southland was dying until the dairy boom.  Even the most hardened southlanders will admit (albeit grudgingly ;-) ) that dairy has revived the region but the dairy revival was done mainly by owner operators moving in to southland.  That is quite different to large corporate absentee-owner farms
Overseer will also be used as way for farmers to determine nutrient use on their farm  Overseer has it's limitations. e.g. it currently can't allow for any mitigation from things like wetlands, riparian strips etc.  These must be taken in to account when preparing nutrient budgets.
These would guide farmers on nutrient limits and would be based on industry-best practice aimed at the top 10-15 per cent of operators within each farm sector. The top 10-15 percent of what - environmental mitigation, profitability, production?  We have, on our farm mitigation options that other farmers beside us don't - large wetlands, tussock area and native bush. Just how are they going to determine what the parameters for the top 10%-15% are?  There is technology out there however reliability is proving to be an issue with some of it. Using GPS tracking for fert spreading sounds very grownup, but Spreadmark has been around for years and it could be argued that that is more beneficial than gps tracking on it's own.
The various government bodies (local and central) all have their own agenda.  An environmentalist was heard to comment after the National Wetland Symposium this year, that DoC was presenting, via their monitoring results, a different picture (more positive) on the Waituna Lagoon to that which ES had been projecting. The chap went on to the Lagoon while staying in Invercargill and said the fishing was excellent.  His question is, if the Lagoon is in such dire health how come all the fish etc are sooo good and healthy?  Agendas, agendas.


Interesting thread.
Key question for anyone yammering on about 'sustainability' is this:
'At what level of comfort?'
This can be stated as  'which century in a given land'
E.g. Americas, 1450 - lap of luxury if a little theocratic (read Charles Mann '1491' for a primer here - terra-forming the Amazon, and genetically engineering maize, no less.)
England C1100 - OK if'n yer a Noble or a Priest
New Zealand C1870 - factory-built houses and lotsa Steam and Coal
and so on.
Soon shows up the writer's agenda.....anyways, and that's never a Bad Thang.

 All we need to know is that it takes up to 25,000 liters of water to get a kilo of milk solids.

All we need to know is that irrigation is economic and that the rivers won't run dry.

All we need to know is that 96% of the Waimakariri's yearly flow goes straight out to sea.

I wasn't aware of that.
Maybe my comment should have read.
"All we need to know is that the irrigation is economic"

As it should! That's the role of rivers in our ecosystem. Send valuable nutrients out to sea. This uneducated  misinformed perception that river water running into the sea serves no purpose is utter bollocks. It's serves a very important purpose for all coastal fisheries to survive. 

Can you describe these nutrients a bit more Justice? What are the nutrients and where do they come from?
Do your own god damn research! What did you learn at highschool IF you stayed that long?

When someone mentions "uneducated  misinformed perception" in their post I think they should back their statements up with some link extracts. 
I've looked at your two links and cannot find anything there which supports your quote that rivers "Send valuable nutrients out to sea."
Why should I be doing your research for you? 

Vitamin M is often washed out to sea , along NZ's waterways ...... not sure about other nutriments , but alotta Vit. M is leached into our rivers from dairy farms ......
...... M oooooooo !

ahhhhhh, Glacial silts and valuable minerals for example, they also help oxygenate the surrounding coastal waters, provide a  food source to young sea life, provide safe breeding ECO system
This more to your liking smartass?

I think I know what these nutrients are Justice. I got a clue from reading your link.
Apparently there can just as easily be too many nutrients flowing down a river. The nutrients go up when the human population goes up. I think the nutrients come from fertilser runoff and manure. 
If the fishes are complaining about not enough food(nutrients) then this can be fixed very easily. 

ecosystem? ... surely just another leftie, greenie, luddite, malthusian concept. :-)

A leftie,greenie ecosystem is where all the animals live together happily ever after.
The real ecosystem is where the animals fight and kill each other. 
I know this after having tried to train the cat to stop killing mice. The cat just does not understand.
My logic tells me that its not the end of the world if during irrigation development some fishes have to die.

Yeah, yeah,  .. utilitarianism in the extreme.   Sorry to tell you your cat "logic" actually supports the opposite perspective... that being man (you) don't actually have "dominion over .. every living thing that moveth upon the Earth" as Genesis 1:28 would have you believe... hence you can't "train" your cat.

Actually animals get trained all the time(eg in a CIrcus)

.... I saw this dinosaur documentary on TV , and the triceratops adults  were wantonly stomping on the newly hatched T-Rex babies ..... oooooh , made me so mad !
Left to their own devices , animals are just so blasted cruel to one another ...... we need to set up a committee to look into establishment of a quango which will implement U.N. style watch-dogs ( no pun intended ) to oversee the planet's animals's for their own good .....
.... did they have colour video-cams in the cretaceous era , or were the images digitally enhanced from the original black & white  ?
Nature is a bastard place to hang out .....

What I think.
When it comes to the animal kingdom its a whole different world. They can get tamed and seem to grow some human traits but their instincts are quite strong and they are definitely not human in nature.  They can be good company though.

... the baby T-Rex's looked ever so cute ..... and just wee tadgers when born , barely a metre long ........ ahhhhhhhhhh !

Oh, sorry, world.  I seem to have pulled out the Leachate Plug by mistook....and now we're all covered with Green Goo.....
P'raps this'll Cheer y'all up as we approach the Shortest Day (and the opening of the nearest skifield ter Christchurch):
A live feed from a Real Power Crisis Solver - PV Panels, working through rain, sun and cloud.
Oh, wait....

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