Winter is coming. For farmers, this of course means planning grazing arrangements to see livestock through the harsher months ahead.
Southland Federated Farmers recently collaborated with Environment Southland assisting with winter crop inspections, and Southland Federated Farmers winter grazing spokesperson Jason Herrick was pleased to see a wealth of positive management practices displayed by farmers in setting up for both last year as well as the 2022 season.
Jason returned with two key insights. Firstly, education is key to good winter grazing management. This all starts with good quality planning or to be more specific planning earlier in the season (even 12 months in advance). Most farmers he interacted with during his tour have taken this concept on board in earnest and many have gone further by leaving larger than required buffer zones against waterways and critical source areas.
Secondly he believes more education for both farmers and local government would be beneficial with regard to defining and identifying critical source areas.
“Common sense around this needs to prevail and advice listened to. It seems [government] like to give little bits here and there and keep us busier than we need to be by sticking with some of the unworkable regulations,” he says.
From seeing the grazing plans for crops he inspected the majority of farmers seem to have a sound grasp on looking after the environment around them which was not surprising to see. “An absolutely fantastic job by all” he says.
With regard to new winter grazing rules Jason says due to practices already in place pugging and sowing dates on farms down south are on track to return to pre-announcement times. In other words, it is business as usual here.
However, the ten degree slope rule is of major concern as most of Southland will fall under this regulation and it leaves most Southland and South Otago farmers again ‘farming by consent’.
“This does not sit well with me, they still haven’t listened to the advisory group around this rule so we are having to go back to the drawing board for push back once again.”
Jason will continue to work behind the scenes with Environment Southland around winter grazing and looks forward to seeing a continuation of good practices in future seasons.