Opuha shutdown reinforces need for more storage

February 25, 2015

The Opuha dam has provided water for irrigation, recreational users and wildlife since 1998.

But irrigation has to stop today:

. . .The Opuha Dam serves 250 farmer-shareholders, who have 16,000ha under irrigation.

“We have reached the bottom of the bucket,” Opuha Water chief executive Tony McCormick said in circular to members. By Wednesday the lake will be at 371m with a little under 1.5 per cent storage remaining, he said.

As part of an agreement to reduce the minimum Opihi river flows in early February, Opuha Water will cease irrigation and the last remaining storage will be used to try to keep the river flowing for the next 10 to 12 days, he said.

The lake level is falling at just over half a per cent a day, he said.

“There have been several small rain events in the area over the last fortnight but they have had very little effect on inflows to the dam and in the catchment generally,” McCormick said. . .

The lack of water will have environmental, economic and social implications and reinforces the need fro more water storage, a need that will be partially met by a new storage lake:

A man-made lake that could hold enough water to fill 12,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools is planned to supply more reliable irrigation in Canterbury.

The lake would likely hold 30 million cubic metres of water with storage options ranging from 5m/cum to 100m/cum and was expected by managers of the Rangitata Diversion Race (RDR) to go to the resource consent stage by the end of the year.

A 30m/cum development would cost $120 million and depended on irrigator and bank backing and the support of the community and nearby neighbours.

RDR managers said initial support was from farming, hydro, environmental, Maori and government groups. They have been told to “hurry up” and get on with the project as drought hits farmland around Lake Opuha in South Canterbury.

A large lake would open up the possibility of supplying water to South Canterbury farmers as well as the four irrigation schemes and hydro-generation the RDR has serviced over the past 70 years in Mid Canterbury.

The lake would be developed on Ruapuna farming land next to the Rangitata River, about 10 kilometres  downstream of the RDR canal intake, most of which was already owned by the company.

RDR management chief executive Ben Curry said the business case for building a large water storage pond had become more compelling because of drought on Canterbury’s east coast.

He said RDR managers had been working on the project for four years, buying the farm in 2009, and believed the time was right to move forward.

“We only have to look at what is happening with the Opuha to see the need for water storage and we are looking at creating something which could have a regional context to it. We could build a relatively modest storage pond of 10m/cum which would serve it’s purpose and we could get a digger in and get the job done, but … there is opportunity because of the locality we have chosen on the boundary between South and Mid Canterbury that could serve the region.”

Curry said the pond could relieve some of the pressure from rivers off Lake Opuha and help recharge lowland streams and aquifer water.

The project would likely be funded mostly by debt, he said. . .

Irrigation New Zealand is supportive:

Tomorrow’s early cessation of irrigation from Lake Opuha reinforces the need for further storage infrastructure like the Klondyke Storage Pond proposal being launched today by the Rangitata Diversion Race Management Ltd (RDRML), says IrrigationNZ Chairwoman Nicky Hyslop.

“It’s devastating for South Canterbury that Lake Opuha can no longer support irrigation for the remainder of the season. The Opuha Water Team has done everything they can to eke out supply, but without rain they have no further options and any remaining water will need to be diverted to maintain the health of the river,” says Mrs Hyslop.

“Opuha’s early shut-down reinforces again how water-short South Canterbury is and illustrates the need for a wider network of water storage infrastructure across the region to enable reliable water supply during dry periods,” she says.

“IrrigationNZ applauds today’s announcement by the RDRML of its intentions to build a storage pond at Klondyke in the Mid Canterbury foothills. As well as improving security of supply for Mid Canterbury irrigators, this project has the potential to deliver water south which would be of huge benefit to South Canterbury farmers,” says Mrs Hyslop.

“IrrigationNZ supports further investigation of this proposal as New Zealand needs to be thinking laterally about how we redistribute water resources in the most effective manner. The RDRML Klondyke Storage Pond project is a fantastic first step in this direction,” says Mrs Hyslop.

I ran into a friend with a business in Oamaru yesterday. She said they had been expecting a slow-down and it had come as a result of the lower dairy pay out and the drought.

Most North Otago irrigation schemes are fed from the Waitaki River which gives 99% reliability but some people rely on other schemes which have imposed restrictions and not everyone in the district has irrigation.

In South Canterbury, the impact of the drought has been more severe because of wider irrigation restrictions.

Droughts are an ongoing concern for farmers on much of the South Island’s east coast and increase water storage is the answer to that problem.


Rural round-up

January 26, 2015

Record canola crop on irrigated plot - Sally Rae:

As dry conditions continue in North Otago, a world-record canola crop harvested at Hilderthorpe has provided proof of the benefits of irrigation.

Arable farmer Chris Dennison achieved the record crop on Friday, with a 6.3-tonne-per-hectare yield, beating the previous record of 6.14 tonnes, set by an English farmer last August.

While Mr Dennison has had a few attempts at wheat world records over the years, it was his first crack at improving on the record for canola.

He approached Guinness World Records a few years ago, wanting to attempt to break a canola record, having had some ”really big crops”. . .

Alpine water would counter dry spell  – Nicky Hyslop:

If you’re lucky enough to still be on holiday, no-one will blame you for basking in the hot, dry weather being experienced in many parts of New Zealand.

For the South Island’s east coast it’s been the first decent Kiwi summer for decades with temperatures regularly in the 30s and little or no rainfall.

But spare a thought for farmers whose very livelihood relies on adding water to soil to grow crops, feed and water animals. If regular water doesn’t come from the sky in the form of rainfall, irrigation plugs the gap by providing access to authorised river, dam and groundwater supplies. . .

Dairy, lamb skid on oil slick - Andrea Fox:

Tumbling prices at the petrol pump have a sting in the tail for farmers, with predictions that oil-producing countries’ appetite for dairy products and lamb will shrink along with their economies.

Economists say with some oil-producing countries – in particular the Middle East region – being important markets for New Zealand dairy exports, the oil price fall will dampen chances of a commodity dairy price recovery in the first half of the year, suggested by the recent three-strike run of improved average prices on Fonterra’s Global Dairy Trade auctions.

The oil price collapse could also offset any economic comfort for commodity exporters from the weakening of the New Zealand dollar against the US dollar, in which this country mostly trades overseas.

In the sheepmeat export sector, the oil price plunge is also said to be contributing to a fall in the lamb schedule since early December. . .

Network supportive – finalist – Sally Rae:

Andrea Murphy is proud to call New Zealand home.

Ms Murphy, who is a finalist in the 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year competition, has forged a global career as a dairy nutritionist.

Originally from Canada, she worked in China before moving to New Zealand 11 years ago. She is based in Alexandra where she works for PGG Wrightson and is also on the committee for the New Zealand Association of Ruminant Nutritionists. . .

Ready to take on the male contingent – Sally Rae:

When Olivia Ross lines up for the Otago-Southland regional final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest in Queenstown next month, she intends giving it ”120%”.

The winner will go through to the contest’s grand final at Taupo in July and only three women have ever made it that far.

Louise Collingwood, representing Waikato-Bay of Plenty, came the closest to claiming the title, finishing second to Otago-Southland’s Robert Kempthorne in 2003 and third in 2004, while Denise Brown was a grand finalist in 1981 and Katherine Tucker in 2012. . .

High-country farm owner changes the guard – Kate Taylor:

Finding a compatible lessee is critical in a successful ongoing partnership, says high country farmer Geoffrey Thomson.

For the past six months, Mt Earnslaw Station at the head of Lake Wakatipu in Otago, has been leased to former high country farm managers Cameron Craigie and partner Anita Holthaus.

The feeling of not being responsible for the stock on a daily basis after so many years was a weight off the shoulders, Thomson says. He took over the 6670 hectare station from his parents in 1976, having spent time away at boarding school, university and then working as a civil engineer. He and Diana have two sons in their early 20s, James and Thomas, who have both chosen non-farming careers. . .

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Adrienne Pierce's photo.


Anti-irrigation, anti farming, anti-provinces

May 20, 2014

Thursday’s Budget included $40m of new funding for irrigation and the environment:

The Budget’s $40 million of new funding for irrigation projects will deliver economic and environmental benefits for New Zealand, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

“This will help unlock the potential that water storage and irrigation can deliver, giving a real boost to jobs and exports in regional economies,” he says.

“This new capital funding of $40 million comes from the Future Investment Fund and will be used to purchase shares in Crown Irrigation, enabling it to make further investments. It is in addition to $80 million allocated in last year’s Budget.

“If current proposals are advanced there could be a further 420,000 hectares of irrigated land available for a variety of uses over time. Research from NZIER suggests that exports could be boosted by around $4 billion a year by 2026.

“Irrigation often has real environmental benefits, with more consistent river flows in summer and reduced pressure on ground water sources.

“Only 2 per cent of rainfall in New Zealand is captured and used for irrigation. Clearly we need to do a better job of using this precious resource.

“After the extreme drought most of the country suffered last year, and the one earlier this year in Northland and Waikato, the need for better water storage is obvious,” Mr Guy says.

Crown Irrigation makes targeted bridging investments in irrigation schemes that would not be established with private finance alone. All decisions are made by an independent board.

Last month, Crown Irrigation announced its first investment, with $6.5 million going towards the Central Plains Water Scheme in Canterbury.

Bridging investment enables schemes to get off the ground and must be paid back.

The extra money shows the government recognises the importance of irrigation for both economic and environmental reasons.

That has always escaped the Green Party and now Labour too is turning its back on irrigation.

This has, not surprisingly, upset Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills:

. . .  A recent jaundiced attack upon irrigation has me questioning if the Party gets it.  This speech reads as an electoral game plan designed to demonise a minority of the population while amplifying prejudices and preconceptions about what we do.  Labour’s political calculus is cynical because ‘farming equals bad water’ is dog whistle politics.  Something, I honestly thought we’d moved beyond when Labour Leader David Cunliffe said, in more agricultural parlance, that farmers are good guys.

Labour’s anti-irrigation stance is a flip-flop from when Jim Anderton was Agriculture Minister.

Anderton talked a lot about irrigation but never delivered.

He used to come to North Otago, promise the earth, get positive media coverage for that but failed to do anything at all to support irrigation in the area.

It also contradicts Labour’s desire to enact the world’s most repressive Emissions Trading Scheme.   Winding up the Crown Irrigation Company not only flies in the face of regional economic development but regional climate adaption.  Are memories so short, we have forgotten adaption was a key criticism of the International Panel on Climate Change? 

According to the IPCC, the Hawke’s Bay can expect to double or even triple the time spent in drought by 2040.  Adaption means new pastures and technologies, but fundamentally, it means storing rainwater.  Residents in towns and cities do not wait for rain before taking a shower.

While water is vital to farming, without stored water, it means some of our rivers will increasingly run lower and warmer.  This is a consequence of less rainfall in a changing climate.  It will also impact farming and the environment equally.  The most distressing thing about dog whistle politics is that it denies that farmers live where we farm. It denies that we drink water and denies that our families swim and fish too.  It is a naked attempt to make farmers a breed apart.  It is unreconstructed class warfare.

One thing we agree with Mr Parker on is his speech title, because “you can have both.”  Farming and the environment are flipsides of the same coin so are we perfect?  Far from it.  Does intensive agriculture have an impact on the environment? Of course it does.  Do our growing cities impact the environment? Of course they do. 

Look, farming does need to do better and we are putting huge resource and effort into reducing the footprint of our most important export industry.  This takes money but it also takes time and yet we can point to marked improvements from Lake Rotorua to Otago’s Shag River.  Last year, the Ministry for the Environment’s river condition indicator, said that 90 percent of the sites tested were either stable or improving. You need a clean and healthy environment to farm successfully, so making innovations like water storage more difficult, simply isn’t going to help. 

A denial of water in concert with an ETS seems just the start.  If I can surmise Labour’s economic strategy from this speech, it seems to tax agriculture into the sunset hoping that something, anything, will take its place.   That’s an unprecedented gamble.

According to David Parker, we can also look forward to Resource Rentals targeting farms and a Capital Gains Tax too, which pretty much puts the Sword of Damocles over our head and the 138,000 jobs we support.  I have recently seen policies and politics akin to what’s being proposed.

Argentina may not have capital gains tax, but it does have taxes on property sales with stamp duty on rented accommodation.  It may not have resource rentals but it does have GST on utility leases like water of 27 percent.  It may not have a punitive emissions trading scheme, but it does have export taxes on primary exports of up to 35 percent.  Argentina has a tax for almost every occasion and it also has 30 percent inflation.

As some Argentinean farmers face 86 percent taxation, the only way to survive is to farm in wide but ever decreasing circles.  Its big export is soy where over 20 million hectares is in cultivation and that’s a lot more acreage in one crop than the entire South Island.  It is also overwhelmingly genetically modified and that I was told came at the behest of the Argentinean government.  All needed to fund a tax and spend Catch-22.

What is at stake here is a very large chunk of New Zealand’s $50 billion merchandise exports which pays for everyone’s daily bread. 

A calculated demonisation of farming is an attempt to drive a wedge between a farming minority and the urban majority. It plays on every cliché and every negative perception about farming and it was telling there was no mention of the Land and Water Forum’s success.  It is a worry when many positives seen in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, the Dairy Industry Awards, QEII National Trust and the NZ Landcare Trust are blithely ignored.

While Labour certainly took one small step forward with its Monetary Policy, this tone represents one giant leap backwards, which is why Federated Farmers has the backs of farmers.

Labour’s not just anti-irrigation, its for more taxes and Feds’ Dairy chair Willy Leferink says Labour is gunning for farmers:

Let me put my cards on the table I am a swing voter so Labour’s recent economic policy release from Finance spokesperson, David Parker, pricked my interest.  If a week is a time in politics a few days must be like years, because another speech from him had me shaking my head in disbelief.

According to Parker, National is allowing “public rivers and estuaries to be spoiled by nutrient and faecal contaminants from agriculture.”  Funny I didn’t think we had private ones.  We also got this, “In the absence of effective environmental standards, this will also mean more dairy effluent and nutrient run-off into our rivers and lakes, and into our estuaries and inshore fisheries.”  It reads like something from Fish and Game’s head office.

Labour’s big idea is to tax farming.  I wonder what that will do to supermarket prices let alone our international competiveness.  Labour also keen to impose the world’s most extreme Emissions Trading Scheme incorporating all biological emissions.  That will see our costs explode and consumers will ultimately foot the bill.  That’s not all.  Instead of giving more money to DoC to save Kiwi, they’re going to save lawyers by toughening up the RMA and DoC’s advocacy role.

But wait there’s more.  In a bizarre contradiction, given the UN’s climate boffins say New Zealand isn’t doing enough to adapt to climate change, Labour is going to scrap all public support of irrigation. 

This gets even surreal since Labour will introduce a Resource Rental Tax on water but only that used by agriculture.  I can only surmise Mr Parker believes there is zero pollution whenever he enters the littlest room.  There’s got to be a Tui billboard in that.

When you put this together with a Capital Gains Tax (yep, targeting farms) you’ve the impression Labour doesn’t like us and wants to tax us into the sunset. 

The sting in the tale means the price of food will skyrocket but I bet Labour has a KiwiFarm policy up its sleeve.  It will have collectivised state farms producing cheap bountiful food for the masses to be sold in nationalised KiwiSupermarkets.  I think the Soviets once tried that.

Yet we shouldn’t worry because clean energy is apparently the new dairy.  Despite the fact you cannot export electricity, Parker says we have great opportunities in clean energy like hydro and geothermal yadda yadda yadda.  He talks about LanzaTech but misses the point they left New Zealand because of stultifying regulations and that’s under National!  Hydro must also be an in-joke given the last aborted attempt to build one failed and under Labour, the RMA will be tightened.  Meanwhile, any industry capable of using this bountiful energy won’t be able to emit a puff of greenhouse gas without being walloped by the ETS.

The most distressing thing to me is Labour’s clichéd view of farming.

It was a real shame the only MP at the recent New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards in Auckland was Nathan Guy.  The lack of an opposition MP surprised and disappointed me in equal measure.  One person volunteered, ‘because the tickets weren’t free’ and perhaps that is sadly true.  As a farming leader and as farmers, we get a few raspberries chucked at us but this makes you look in the mirror. 

While my farm gate is open to Mr Parker, can I suggest visiting the inspirational entrants of the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.  Being close to this competition, which Federated Farmers started 25 years ago, I know the winners are really first among equals.

Charlie and Jody McCaig have gone from being Taranaki farm management winners in 2011 to become 2014 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity farmer of the Year.  How about Ruth Hone, who was named Dairy Trainee of the Year and the first ever women to lift that title.  She is smart, capable and adaptable and those words sum up the dairy industry in 2014.  Then you’ve got a 27 year old Nick Bertram, who came into dairy with a background in accounting thanks to his teacher dad, but no farming experience.  He was named Farm Manager of the Year for 2014. 

These awards showcased others who’d joined dairying from fields as diverse as professional rugby, hospitality, engineering and the police.  As one in the eye for Kim DotCom’s party, it included an IT professional too.

Then again I suppose it shows why politicians are far less trusted than us farmers.  While they may subscribe to ‘don’t let the facts get in the way’ we don’t.

Labour has given up any pretence it’s supportive of farming and in doing so shows it has also given up on the provinces which depend so much on farming success.

The Waitaki District’s population has been going backwards for decades.

Last year’s census showed that it is beginning to grow again. The biggest influence on that must be irrigation.

There were four houses on our farm and the two nearest neighbours before irrigation, now there are 14.

We’re building a 15th and another neighbour is building two more.

That is happening everywhere that’s been irrigated bringing economic and social benefits to the district and it’s being done with due regard for the environment.

All shareholders in the North Otago Irrigation Company must have independently audited environmental farm plans which ensure that soil and water quality aren’t compromised.

Farmers used to have some faint hopes that Labour would counter the anti-irrigation, anti-farming policies of the Green Party.

Those hopes have been dashed and should they get into power, the provinces will be the first to pay the price.

 


Rural round-up

May 19, 2014

Lake Tekapo not feasible as source of irrigation:

More than $90,000 has been spent on a study showing that taking water from Lake Tekapo for irrigation would be too expensive to be viable.

The 150-page report, released by Environment Canterbury yesterday, examined the economics of transferring water for irrigation from Lake Tekapo, via Burkes Pass to farmland nearer the coast.

The report examined two concepts: a two-cumec (cubic metre per second) year-round transfer to support 11,550 hectares of irrigated land and a 10-cumec seasonal transfer for 25,000ha of irrigated land.

Both proved to be financially unviable, with the second proposal potentially costing between $478 million and $691m to build, with a negative cost-benefit of $1857 per hectare on the scheme.

ECan deputy commissioner David Caygill said the report only examined economic factors. . .

Federated Farmers welcomes return to surplus:

Federated Farmers welcomes the confirmation in today’s Budget of a return to surplus.

“The projected surplus for 2014/15 might be small but if achieved it will be a great milestone resulting from a lot of hard work,” said Federated Farmers’ President Bruce Willis.

“The achievement of a surplus should not be underestimated given the impact firstly of the Global Financial Crisis and then the devastating Canterbury Earthquakes.

“Most importantly for our economy, is to have a surplus combined with continued spending restraint to take the pressure off monetary policy and therefore interest rates and the New Zealand Dollar.

“A surplus also gives us some real choices for the first time in several years, choices which our friends across the Tasman would love to have in the wake of their own Budget.  . . .

Fonterra cleans up at Dairy Industry Association of Australia Awards:

Fonterra Australia has taken home 61 awards from the 2014 Dairy Industry Association of Australia (DIAA) Australian Dairy Product Awards.

Adding to its award collection, Fonterra Australia picked up 12 gold awards for products including Riverina Fresh milk, made in Wagga Wagga; its Tamar Valley no added sugar yoghurt and mild cheddar, made in Stanhope.

Fonterra Operations Manager Chris Diaz said the awards confirm the high-quality of Fonterra products made across our 10 manufacturing facilities. . .

Using beef semen in dairy herds – everyone wins:

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) funded Dairy Beef Integration programme is looking at the impact of using quality beef genetics in a dairy-beef supply chain. The work is supported by LIC and Ezicalve Hereford – which, as the name suggests, is a brand name for Herefords that have been selected for ease of calving.

Led by Dr Vicki Burggraaf, the five-year project is now in its third year. “Seventy percent of New Zealand’s beef kill comes from the dairy industry, yet there is limited use of proven beef genetics on dairy farms – despite the fact these genetics have the potential to increase calving ease and produce better animals for beef production.”

Dairy farmers have traditionally shied away from using beef semen, with many believing it would result in more calving problems, compared to using dairy semen. “This project is investigating how accurate this belief is,” Dr Burggraaf says.

“It aims to demonstrate to both dairy farmers and beef farmers that using beef semen with high estimated breeding values for calving ease and growth rates will benefit everyone.” . . .

Australia wool week:

Where better to celebrate wool than in the country synonymous with the world’s finest wool for apparel – Australia. And it wasn’t only fashion retailers which united in the name of this naturally inspiring fibre, interior textile brands also banded together to promote the natural, renewable and biodegradable fibre, all singing to the tune ‘Live naturally, Choose wool’.

Previous years have seen Australia celebrate Wool Week against the backdrop of Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House. This year, celebrations shifted south to Melbourne – another one of Australia’s great cities which is surrounded by prominent woolgrowing properties and an area with strong links to Australia’s wool industry. . .

How to manufacture consent in the Bay of Plenty – Jamie Ball:

Many of the repeated claims by a kiwifruit industry leader about the post-deregulation apple industry “disaster” are wrong and may be giving the kiwifruit industry false hope.

The more recent allegations, made by NZ Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) president Neil Trebilco last month and this month to support his case (opposition to deregulation of the kiwifruit industry), used figures on the apple industry that have now been rejected by Pipfruit NZ, Horticultural NZ, Plant & Food Research and Statistics NZ as either nonexistent or wrong.

Although NZKGI is the mandated grower body claiming to represent 2700 kiwifruit growers and is the self-declared “Zespri watchdog,” its primary objective is to protect the single point of entry (Zespri). . .


Water storage – essential economic infrastructure

December 23, 2013

This year’s economic growth has been good, but it would have been even better had there been more irrigation to off-set the impact on last summer’s drought.

Agricultural production has turned in a stellar performance in the September quarter, which has helped to lift Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the quarter by 1.4 percent. All this on the day China has overtaken Australia as our single largest export market.

“I can safely say ‘were back’ from the drought with agricultural production up 17 percent for the September quarter,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“That said, the lingering after effects of drought still means we’re down 5.6 percent compared to this point last year.

“To me, this reaffirms why water storage is essential economic infrastructure to meet not only surging demand for our primary exports, but whatever a changing climate will throw at us.

“I’ll leave it to the economists to deduce what the opportunity cost of this year’s drought is but small it is not. . .

This time last year most of the North Island was suffering from a drought.

Much of the country has had a wet spring and early summer but in some parts of Central Otago irrigation has been cut because rivers are too low.

Not every area is suitable for water storage but where it is it provides insurance against dry weather as well as providing opportunities for recreation and environmental enhancement.


Now it’s peak water

December 9, 2013

We’ve had peak oil, now there’s peak water.

Peak oil has generated headlines in recent years, but the real threat to our future is peak water. There are substitutes for oil, but not for water.
  
We drink on average four liters of water per day, in one form or another, but the food we eat each day requires 2,000 liters of water to produce. Getting enough water to drink is relatively easy, but finding enough to produce the ever-growing quantities of grain the world consumes is another matter.

Grain consumed directly supplies nearly half of our calories. That consumed indirectly as meat, milk, and eggs supplies a large part of the remainder. Today roughly 40 percent of the world grain harvest comes from irrigated land.

During the last half of the twentieth century, the world’s irrigated area expanded from close to 250 million acres in 1950 to roughly 700 million in 2000. But since then the growth in irrigation has come to a near standstill, expanding only 10 percent between 2000 and 2010.

Today some 18 countries, containing half the world’s people, are overpumping their aquifers. Among these are the big three grain producers—China, India, and the United States—and several other populous countries, including Iran, Pakistan and Mexico.

During the last couple of decades, some of these countries have overpumped to the point where aquifers are being depleted and wells are going dry. Several have passed not only peak water, but also the peak in grain production that often follows. Among the countries whose use of water has peaked and begun to decline are Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. In each of these countries peak grain has followed peak water. . .

Over pumping of aquifers is a problem but there are solutions including more efficient irrigation and water storage.

Some aquifers have been over-pumped in New Zealand but that is being addressed and peak water isn’t likely to be a problem here where we are blessed with so much water.

Our problem isn’t how much, or how little, water we have, it’s where we have it.

Water isn’t always where we need it, when we need it.

One solution to that is water harvesting – storing water when there’s more than enough to use when there’s too little.

That provides not only environmental benefits but social ones too through recreational opportunities and it’s a very good way to beat peak water.


Irrigation makes a difference

November 5, 2013

Yesterday’s discussion on irrigation brought up the topic of wheat.

This is wheat from a North Otago farm, one crop was irrigated, the other wasn’t:

 Peter Mitchell's wheat crop in North Otago. Proving the potential of irrigation.

North Otago has an average annual rainfall of around 20 inches but it can be as low as 13 inches in a drought.

Without irrigation, farms had big losses in bad years, caught up in good ones then got hit by another bad one.

That didn’t just have an impact on the farms, it affected businesses which relied on them and the wider community.

Now we’ve got enough critical mass of irrigation farmers know they can grow grass and crops even in the worst years.

The positive benefits from that include more jobs and higher incomes.

The Waiareka Creek which used to be a series of stagnant ponds now flows all year.

North Otago Irrigation Company’s requirement for all shareholders to have independently audited environmental farm plans ensures that soil and water quality are safe guarded.

Last year’s drought affected not only the areas which didn’t have enough rain it impacted the national economy.

There is potential for more irrigation in North Otago and other areas.

The benefits of realising that potential are not just economic, they’re environmental and social too.

#gigatownoamaru appreciates that.


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