It’s open season on irrigation and dairying.
At Bowalley Road Chris Trotter waxes lyrical about drought-stricken landscapes and mourns the conversion from sheep and crop farming to dairying.
When I was growing up the hills and paddocks of North Otago were the colour of a lion’s hide. The constant easterly blowing inland off the sea kept them dry and brown through most of the year. It was mixed farming country: wheat and barely on the flats; sheep on the hills.
Not any more.
The last time I travelled along the coast road between Oamaru and Waianakarua I was astounded to see the countryside had changed colour. Its once tawny coat was now a vivid green. The sheep were gone and everywhere I looked I saw cows, cows, cows.
There has been a big expansion of irrigation since Chris was a boy, but most of it is in the Waitaki, Waiareka and Kakanui Valleys. There is little irrigation on the paddocks along the coast road. If the pastures were green most of that would be due to recent rain.
At Pundit Claire Browning laments grass stains on the Mackenzie:
. . . the burnished Mackenzie hills and basins are turning poison green.
I haven’t seen any irrigation on the Mackenzie hills, they’re generally too steep so again if they were green it would have been because of rain.
As for the flats, some of us see green not as poison which kills but something which is productive and life giving.
And Robert Guyton seems to be concerned because one of the reasons Fonterra gives for supporting a power upgrade in Southland is that milk would have to be dumped if there was an outage.
“Fonterra’s submission says the upgrade to the power grid is necessary to protect against the potential environmental impact of dumping milk during a power outage”