Ducks Unlimited NZ
Monday, 22 July 2019 13:59

Riparian plan helps BoP farmer

Written by Carmen Hall
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Jim Coster has been farming Mataiwhetu Station for almost 60 years (his family 
purchased the property on his 21st birthday) and now his eldest son, Allen, manages operations.

The farm was originally rundown with leaky fences, rudimentary sheep yards, a basic woolshed and no cattle yards. About a quarter of the 300ha was covered in fern and manuka, and plenty of gorse.

Today the sheep and dairy grazing station has been heralded as a sustainable success. The former Meat & Wool Board monitor farm, and supreme winner of the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards, has benefited from technology and environmental practices.

Jim said measures had been put in place on the farm located in the lower Kaimai Ranges, to preserve the fauna, flora and Mangakaiwhiria Stream that meanders through the property. Thousands of trees were planted, most waterways fenced and land around the stream
was retired to take advantage of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council riparian programme. However, Jim said the process takes 
perseverance and hard work.

“When you retire land from grazing, you can have real problems. First, you need to have a substantial fence that is stock proof, and it’s advisable to run a hot wire at shoulder height to deter cattle from reaching through.”

Noxious animals and weeds were other problems, and although the gorse had been beaten any spraying done had to be judicious as there was the risk of killing replacement plantings. Regional council natural resources operations manager Warwick Murray said the council has been working for decades on land and waterway management.

Since 2009, 569 farmers have taken advantage of regional council assistance to improve water quality and farm productivity, he said. The riparian programme uptake was increasing year on year.
Between 2001 and 2005, it averaged 224m of waterway protected annually per landowner, compared with 379m in 2009/10 and 541m in 2012/13.
“This response has been terrific but we’d love to have more landowners on board,” Warwick said.
“Up to 25 percent funding is available for most work the under a riparian management plan and there is a ‘trees at cost’ option, for landowners to get plants and trees for propagation from nurseries.”

The Western Bay of Plenty District Council also provides funding for fencing in certain circumstances. Figures show stock has been excluded from 87 percent of the stream length within the Tauranga Harbour catchment, 83 percent of Ohiwa Harbour catchment streams and Nukuhou and Waiotahi Rivers, and 93 percent of stream margins in the Rotorua Lakes.
Carmen Hall


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