Stakeholder comment - Anna Veltman
Demonstrating sound and responsible water use
Shortly all those independent irrigators in the Waimakariri Zone (& elsewhere in Canterbury) that don’t already have a Farming Land Use consent will be required to get one.
When Plan Change 5 becomes operative (expected to occur in first half of 2019), it resets the ‘drafting gates’ for those required to have a Farming Land Use consent. Farmers with more than 50 hectares of irrigated area and/or with larger areas of winter feed will need to apply. This will require everyone to operate at GMP for key areas of farm management – including irrigation.
Affected farmers will need to make smart, informed active management decisions as to when to irrigate and when not to. They will need to demonstrate they are using their water allocation responsibly – only irrigating when the soil and plants require it and avoiding excessive drainage that leads to loss of nutrients below the plant root zone.
These changes to the plan aim for the sustainable development of irrigated farming. Just like the Irrigation Insight programme we are aiming for water use that is both economically sound and environmentally responsible.
The Irrigation Insight Programme will help understand how and what benefits come from this – not only in terms of environmental objectives but also what benefits arise for the farm business – in terms of production and bottom line.
Like the farming participants in the Irrigation Insight programme, many farmers are facing todays’ challenge of how to use new data that is available to them on-farm via computers and apps such as soil moisture monitoring information. Often this information can reveal that small, incremental management changes can make a big difference over time. It is those differences that will benefit both the farmers bottom line and, for everyone that shares it, the environment.