Irrigation makes a difference


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.

Irrigators and Iwi appeal Hunter Downs consent


Existing irrigators and Ngai Tahu have appealed the consent granted to the Meridian Energy-South Canterbury Irrigation Trust Hunter Downs irrigation scheme by Environment Canterbury.

Existing irrigators are concerned that the amount of water the Hunter Downs scheme is permitted to use would impact negatively on their supply .

Reliability of supply was one of the factors taken into account when designing existing irrigation schemes and the farming operations which rely on them. Any threat to that is a threat to the 100% reliability, for which consent was given, is a threat to all the businesses which use the water.

One of Ngai Tahu’s problems is that the scheme would take water from one catchment and put it in another although that doesn’t always mean they’ll object.

The North Otago Irrigation Company scheme which takes water fromt he Waitaki river and discharges it into the Waiareka Creek which eventually flows into the Kakanui river.

Ngai Tahu agreed to that  and I think that’s because the creek was little more than a series of semi stagnant ponds most of the time. The discharge from the Waitaki  got the creek flowing again, improving both the quantity and quality of the water.

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