Rural round-up

Invercargill MP says the Government’s road funding cuts are a bitter blow – Penny Simmonds:

Roads are our lifeblood, and I’m particularly concerned about the economic impact on Southland if our roading infrastructure can’t be kept up to scratch.

The Southland District Council is currently grappling with some tough decisions around the future of our ageing road network after the Government recently cut funding by $7.5 million.

The situation in Southland is dire and the statistics make sober reading.

There are currently 1081 bridges, including 239 stock underpasses, across the province. . .

SNAs cover much of province – report says

It is official — West Coast is pretty much one big significant natural area.

A desktop assessment of native vegetation on private land on the West Coast has identified nearly every site as a potentially significant natural area.

Wildlands Consultants, which researched SNAs for councils working on a new combined district plan for the Coast, have handed in their report in time for the Te Tai o Poutini Plan Committee meeting yesterday.

The team of ecologists did a desktop evaluation of the region’s biodiversity using computerised topographical maps and have cautioned that nearly all the mapped sites will need to be field-checked. . .

David Parker admits wetland rules ‘have gone too far’ but changes will be difficult and expensive – Hamish Rutherford:

David Parker admits new rules on freshwater management have gone too far in defining wetlands, but the difficult path to fixing it shows why the Resource Management Act needs changing.

On Tuesday morning the Herald reported ministers have faced warnings from some of New Zealand’s leading housing and construction companies that the new rules on wetlands effectively mean farm tracks and even the overflow of septic tanks can be captured by the new definition.

As he released the first of three pieces of legislation which will replace the RMA, Parker said the freshwater rules brought into place just prior to the 2020 election would need to be fixed.

“We do accept that that definition’s gone a bit far,” Parker told reporters in the Beehive on Tuesday on the definition of wetlands. . .

Wairarapa durum wheat trial aims to supply NZ bakers:

It’s hoped a trial of durum wheat in the Waiarapa will help supply flour for New Zealand’s growing appetite for pasta.

Durum wheat had been grown in Canterbury and processed in a factory in Timaru, but inconsistency in quality led to the factory moving to Australia.

A Ministry for Primary Industries-funded study carried out between 2017 and 2020 found the wheat could be successfully grown in the Wairarapa thanks to its warm, dry summers and quality soils.

The Foundation of Arable Research is doing further work to see how growers can get the best value for the crop. . . .

Sheep remain dominant on South Island hill and high country –  Keith Woodford:

In previous articles, I first described the North Island’s 4000 commercial hill-country farms (Beef+Lamb Classes 3 and 4). Subsequently, I wrote about the approximately 4400 intensive sheep and beef farms that are spread across both North and South Islands (Beef+Lamb Classes 5, 6, 7 and 8). That left the story of 620 South Island hill-country farms and 200 high-country farms to be told here. It is a contrasting story.

The combined number of South Island hill and high-country farms is modest, comprising less than ten percent of the 9200 commercial sheep and beef farms in New Zealand. However, these farms comprise more than one third of New Zealand’s total sheep and beef grazing area.

These are big farms both by area and livestock numbers, despite much lower stocking rates than all other farm types.  However, the differences between the hill and high-country farms are sufficient that first I will consider them separately before, drawing out some common themes. . . 

Stoatally different! How the ‘science of individuals’ is changing how we see pests – Jamie McAulay:

It’s just before midday and starting to drizzle as stoat trapper Ana Richards pulls a rotting stoat carcass from a DOC trap and scoops it into a plastic container, dripping.

She’s 4 days into a 6 day trapping trip through Fiordland’s wild Murchison Mountains. From this rugged spur, the stinky stoat will eventually find its way to a University of Otago laboratory, and the forefront of efforts to understand how the ‘science of individuals’ plays out on protection of our native birds. 

We tend to think of pests as pests – a rat is a rat, a stoat is a stoat, right? But we know the types of prey taken by large bodied carnivores, like bears and wolves, actually varies considerably. Individuals have different tastes, or so it would seem. In my research, I joined scientists at the University of Otago, Department of Conservation and Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research to see if this was true of the small-sized carnivores too. We set out to understand individual variations in how small carnivores hunt, and how we could use any lessons to our advantage in the fight to protect native species.  . . 

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