Do you hear the people . . .

June 21, 2014

Protests by the usual suspects on the left aren’t unusual.

It takes a lot more than the usual disgruntlements to get other people on to the streets in any number which makes yesterday’s Don’t Damn the Dam rally a serious sign of popular support.

RivettingKate Taylor recorded the rally in words and photos:

CHB people gathered in Waipukurau in their droves this morning to support the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme. The dam.

I was going to say hundreds of people lined the streets, but I really have no way of quantifying how many people were there. Watch the news tonight – they might tell you. Suffice to say, in Kate terms, there were lots and lots.

Farmers, bankers, fertiliser reps, spreader drivers and two former regional councillors Ewan McGregor and Kevin Rose, who are probably secretly glad the decision is not up to them anymore.

There were tractors, utes, motorbikes, stock trucks and a few huntaways. . .

After clogging up the state highway system for a wee while, the vehicle possession (bigger than the annual Christmas parade but no Santa!!) parked up and the “green space” on “post office corner” was filled with claps and cheers for Mr Streeter and Mr Heaton, HB Federated Farmers president Will Foley and local fifth-generation farmer (and CHBDC district councillor) Andrew Watts. We also heard from someone from Timaru who had seen the growth in South Canterbury from the Opuha dam and resulting irrigation systems. . . .

I think the someone from Timaru was Federated Farmers vice president William Rolleston.

Feds is firmly behind the project, but Hawkes Bay provincial president Will Foley is concerned about nutrient limits:

Last month, Massey’s Dr Mike Joy told a Canterbury audience, “The nitrate toxicity in some waterways is 10 times the safe level already. We have gone from safe levels of 1.9 millilitres a litre, to 3.8ml/l in Canterbury.”

With the Tukituki Board of Inquiry proposing a limit of 0.8 milligrams per litre for dissolved inorganic nitrogen, it would seem contradictory, but its draft decision is about a very different limit – what it believes is good for ecosystem health.  And on the nitrate toxicity score, the draft National Objectives Framework has set 6.9ml/l as the bottomline and the Tukituki is not even remotely close. 

So let’s park Dr Joy and focus on what we all want to achieve for the Tukituki. 

That means remembering why we started out in the first place.  It was to tackle an algae that’s been with us forever called Periphyton.  Everyone agrees it’s a problem so what’s the solution?

We get Periphyton because the Tukituki is a rocky river running warm during summer low flows.  Its growth is exacerbated by nitrogen and phosphorus so Hawke’s Bay Regional Council came up with a three-pronged approach hitting phosphorus, managing nitrogen and increasing water flows. 

In all the debate since, this environmental solution with strong economic benefits has been parked out of sight.

You can only increase water flow during summer by storing rainwater and that’s where Ruataniwha comes in.  This extra water helps to cool the Tukituki during summer while flushing it of Periphyton.  That’s been the experience of South Canterbury’s Opuha scheme on a similar river. 

We’ve had a similar improvement in the Waiareka Creek from the North Otago Irrigation Company scheme.

It used to be little more than a series of stagnant ponds. Now with guaranteed minimum flows from irrigation water it runs clean and wildlife has re-established.

Another experience is the economic boon Opuha has been to South Canterbury.

Yet during the Board of Inquiry, Dr Joy’s colleague Dr Death, helped to shift the focus off Periphyton and towards the stream life of rivers using a model developed for the Manawatu; a very different river to our Tukituki. Arguably, that’s how a limit of 0.8mg/l entered the minds of the Board of Inquiry, but how many invertebrates found in water doesn’t correlate to any one nutrient. 

Ironically, it was Fish and Game’s Corina Jordan who confirmed that while nitrogen and clearly phosphorus have impacts, so does river flow, sediment, light intensity and temperature.  The upshot being that there is no straight line relationship between a limit of 0.8mg/l and invertebrate health. 

Farmers like me are not in denial because Federated Farmers is okay with having a number, but that number must be an indicator and not chiselled into granite.  Especially since that number was derived from a model not validated for the Tukituki River and especially since Dr Death’s use of the Macroinvertebrate Community Index happens to be an indicator itself.

The Hawke’s Bay community needs a solution but the proposed limit of 0.8mg/l is so blunt, it makes Ruataniwha untenable. 

The Port of Napier is right to call Ruataniwha a game changer for the entire Hawke’s Bay region.  Before Ruataniwha’s viability was compromised we were talking about a quarter of a billion dollar boost each and every year.  If 0.8 remains as a hard limit, it not only kills the dam but means the region going forward will become $50 million poorer each year.  

Unless 0.8 becomes an indicator it will seriously compromise all the farming we currently have.  We’re not just talking sheep and beef but the guys who grow crops, the guys who run orchards, those who milk and even the guys who grow the grapes our region is famous for.

A hard limit of 0.8 means no Ruataniwha leaving us with Periphyton, a worsening economy and increasingly, rivers suffering from ever lower and warmer flows due to drought.  If farms convert to forestry we can possibly add sediment to that list.  Can anyone tell me what the environmental or community upside is? 

Dr Doug Edmeades wrote recently, “the best pieces of advice I was given as a young scientist: ‘Edmeades, I do not give a damn for your opinion what are the facts.”  Opinion seems the basis for 0.8mg/l but it is fact that it’s 14 times more stringent than the international standard for drinking water.  Don’t damn our dam.

Water storage and the irrigation it enables can improve both water quantity and quality.

It provides recreational opportunities and a significant economic boost. Farmers will make the biggest investment and take the biggest risk but as the people rallying yesterday obviously realise the benefits will flow right through the community in more jobs and more business opportunities with the economic and social boost that will bring.

The people of Hawkes Bay spoke through their support for the rally yesterday.

The Regional Council will show whether or not it heard them when it makes it decision on supporting the project, or not.


Rural round-up

May 22, 2014

Dambusters must not damn Hawke’s Bay’s future:

The draft report from the Tukituki Board of Inquiry is a poor outcome for the entire Hawke’s Bay community, not just farmers.

“The recent Board of Inquiry draft report won’t be a good outcome for Hawke’s Bay if it ends up blocking the single largest environmental and economic opportunity we’ve got from progressing,” says Will Foley, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay provincial president.

“We mustn’t kid ourselves that Ngai Tahu’s polite wording in its withdrawal, simply reflects the kicking Ruataniwha got in the draft decision. 

“They are a big loss but Ngai Tahu is also one very smart farmer.  If it can see the scheme is a financial goer then I am certain they’ll be back, as will other investors. . .

Recovery from Psa and record returns drive rebound of orchard values:

New Zealand kiwifruit growers have received the highest-ever average per-hectare return for supplying Zespri Green Kiwifruit, Zespri’s 2013/14 annual results show.

While the return to the individual grower is influenced by factors such as orchard yield, costs and fruit characteristics, the average $42,659 per-hectare Green return underlined confidence in the industry’s future, Zespri chairman Peter McBride said.

“After the impact of Psa over the past three years, there is a real sense of optimism in the industry now. Orchard prices have rebounded, investment has started again and the future looks bright,” Mr McBride said. . . .

Federated Farmers backs wool levy vote:

Federated Farmers welcomes the opportunity wool growers will have to vote on whether to reinstate a levy on wool.  It urges its members to engage in the process to come, to talk with the Wool Levy Group we’ll help to set up meetings with and above all, to vote.

“Wool has been the quiet export achiever worth $700 million to New Zealand in 2013,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“At that level, it easily eclipsed the exports of personal, cultural, and recreational services, which, by the way, includes motion pictures.

“We are here now because the pan sector Wool Levy Group has learned from history. It is defining what the levy will fund and do but boy, do we need to crack some industry good issues that are holding wool back. . .

$33,000 sale ‘amazing highlight’ for family – Sally Rae:

Selling a bull for $33,000 at the national Hereford sale at AgInnovation was an ”amazing highlight” for the Paterson family from Greenvale, near Gore.

Waikaka Skytower 1289 was bought by Peter Reeves, from Mokairau Station at Gisborne – the third-highest-priced Hereford bull at the sale.

The Paterson family, from Waikaka Station, have been breeding Herefords since 1954 and it was the highest price they have achieved. . .

Student ‘gets his name out there’ – Sally Rae:

It may have been his debut at the Hereford national show and sale – but young Middlemarch breeder Will Gibson made his mark.

His bull Foulden Hill McCoy was third in the Honda Motorcycles Impact Sires led class and went on to sell for $9000 to Nelson Hereford stud Lake Station.

Mr Gibson (20), a third-year student at Lincoln University studying agricultural commerce, also received the Hereford herdsman award. . . .

The simple answer to MPI milk chilling regulations:

There are very few dairy farmers who will not be affected by the new MPI milk chilling regulations. An innovation first revealed at Central Districts Field Days promises to be the simple solution, with some added advantages. And it’s already creating a flurry of interest in the industry.

Matt Parkinson and Dale Stone are already well known in the dairy and refrigeration industries and Snapchill is their answer to the issues that the MPI’s regulations will create.

Snapchill is a milk chilling solution aimed at the 75% of New Zealand farmers who have herds if between 300 and 600 cows. The unit can typically be fitted in a day or two and does not require a power upgrade to the farm supply. It sits between farmers’ existing pre-chillers and the bulk milk vat and works by creating ice during off-peak times when power is cheaper. As it does so, it recovers heat – enough to make a tank full of water at around 82° for the plant wash. . . .


%d bloggers like this: