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Published: 2013-10-15 00:00:00

Farmers and rural media are being reminded that they are invited to a field day at Whatawhata on Thursday 24 October which will discuss ways of boosting farm profits and improving environmental protection.

The field day is to be held by Waikato Regional Council, NIWA, AgResearch, Beef & Lamb NZ, NZ Farm Forestry Association and the NZ Association of Resource Management.

The one-off event is a great opportunity to learn about practices that can increase farm profits while ensuring the environmental impacts of farming are minimised, said the council’s sustainable agriculture co-ordinator Bala Tikkisetty.

“I encourage drystock farmers, dairy grazers, farm foresters, farm consultants, rural professionals and rural journalists in particular to take advantage of this field day.”

The event will run from 9.30am to 3.30pm at the Whatawhata Research Farm at 1872 Whatawhata Rd, on state highway 23 between Hamilton and Raglan. Lunch and morning tea will be provided.

Presenters will discuss the results of a series of farm-scale experiments that began in 2001 at the Whatawhata Hill Country Research Station, which assessed the costs and benefits of a range of management practices to reduce the effects of hill country farming on the environment.

Mr Tikkisetty said information to be presented at the field day will give farmers a range of options to help manage the environmental challenges they face, while still maintaining or improving on-farm economic performance.

“The area had erosion and weed reversion challenges, poorly performing beef and sheep breeding enterprises, and degraded streams,” he said.

Changes made included conversion of the steepest land to plantation forestry, indigenous forest restoration, intensification of the farming enterprises on to easier terrain with better pasture production, changes in stock type, poplar planting for soil stabilization and exclusion of livestock from streams.

“Significant improvements have followed. The per hectare economic surplus for the pastoral enterprise improved from 30 per cent below industry average to 13 per cent above. The forestry enterprise will further improve economic performance in the long-term.”

There were reductions in the discharge to waterways of suspended sediment (-76 per cent), total phosphorous (-62 per cent), and total nitrogen (-33 per cent), he added.

“Water clarity has increased, stream temperature has declined and stream invertebrate indices indicate improvements in the fauna.”

  • For further details on the field day and to RSVP, please contact Bala Tikkisetty or Megan Pritchard on 0800 800 401.