Forty farmers attending a Beef +Lamb NZ farming for profit field day in Waitahuna got a close-up look at a research project aiming to benchmark contaminant losses from sheep on winter crops and assess the impacts of retaining critical source areas (CSAs) in the grass in winter crop catchments.
The Sheep Wintering project is based in Otago (with research undertaken by AgResearch) and aims to understand the significance of contaminant losses and the effectiveness of good management practices for sheep wintering to enable farmers to make evidence-based land management decisions.
This project is funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries and managed by NZ Landcare Trust. The project is sponsored by Beef + Lamb NZ, Ballance Agrinutrients, Horizons Regional Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Otago Regional Council and Environment Southland.
Project manager Craig Simpson said, “research on the impact of sheep on winter crop had not been quantified and this research project built on the work undertaken by AgResearch at Telford examining the impacts of wintering cattle on crop”.
Water samples from runoff events were captured throughout each year, with most samples being captured post-grazing. As a result, the risk period for contaminant runoff extended beyond the winter season into spring. To ensure the research fully captures this data, MPI approved an extension to the project to ensure that the final year of field data collection could be maximised and confidently predict the risk periods.
The project has highlighted that protecting the critical source area by retaining it in grass cover effectively reduces the runoff of sediment and other contaminants. The final results of the project are expected in early 2023.
Sheep Wintering Project
- 3-year paired catchment study
- Research Objectives
- Benchmark contaminant losses from sheep grazing on winter forage crops
- Assess the full impacts of leaving critical source areas in the grass in contrast to cropping critical source areas
- Major funder – MPI, Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund
- AgResearch undertook research (Project management by NZ Landcare Trust)
- Research site on the property of Ronald and Carol Alderton
- Final research results are expected in early 2023