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Impact of drought continues to hit Waikato farmers

The ongoing effects of the summer drought continue to cause concern in Waikato.

Heavy rain during the latter half of April moistened parched soils and replenished river and lake levels, allowing the regional drought liaison committee to lift the drought declaration that had been announced in February.

But limited pasture growth since then has raised concerns about the impact of poor nutrition on animal health heading into the spring lambing and calving season.

Environment Waikato chairman Peter Buckley said the drought liaison committee met yesterday to discuss the situation.

“The region is still very much in recovery mode. Pastures simply haven’t had the chance to regenerate and there are growing concerns about the availability of feed and the potential impact on animal health and welfare.”

Mr Buckley said farmers should take advantage of industry seminars offering advice and information on management and budgeting to help them get through next season.

“While there has been enough rain to wet the topsoils, the cumulative effects of the prolonged dry spell are being seen in the subsoils and ground and surface waters - that’s impacting on pasture growth which is about 20 per cent down on normal for this time of year,” Cr Buckley said.

“If you look at how much rain has fallen since the start of the year, we’re still well below average.”

Anyone in the rural community who needs advice or support is encouraged to contact the Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254.

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