Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 


Better ‘banking’, better water

Better ‘banking’, better water

By Bala Tikkisetty

Winter weather can place increased strain on the banks of farm waterways, increasing the risk of erosion from them affecting water quality.

So it’s timely to look at the issues involved in erosion generally and land management practices that can contribute to contamination of waterways.

Some of our Waikato rivers, lakes and streams have eroding banks, silted beds, water weed infestation and debatable water quality, often the result of sub-optimal land management practices.

Such practices – whether related to farming, forestry, roading or horticulture – can cause soil erosion and a build-up of contaminants such as bacteria and chemicals which end up being washed into watercourses during heavy rain.

Stock wading in water, poor cowshed effluent treatment, overgrazing, inappropriate fertiliser application, pugging and poor runoff control on cultivated land, roads and tracks can all contribute to the contamination of water bodies. Bacteria can cause water-borne diseases like giardia and cryptosporidium which in turn can cause serious health problems, while nitrates and phosphates can also create severe health disorders both for people and stock, and contribute to algal growth.

Good management of the banks of waterways can reduce these types of effects by stabilising the banks and providing a filter for contaminants washing off the land. Effective management of the banks – or riparian strips – is a key to protecting aquatic life and improving water quality generally.

Careful selection of the mix of species planted within riparian areas makes it possible to beneficially modify what’s happening with light, temperature, nutrient and sediment loads, channel and bank stability, carbon inputs, and habitat for terrestrial species.

A well-managed riparian margin will filter out contaminants, such as sediments and nutrients from farm run-off, including soil, animal dung and urine, and agricultural chemicals.

Shrubs and trees with extensive root systems, which tolerate moist soil conditions and frequent silt deposits, are ideal for stream bank erosion control. They physically hold the stream banks together and some tree roots also protect the streambed, limiting the scouring effect of running water.

Streamside vegetation provides shade which cools the water, improves dissolved oxygen levels, helps aquatic life and reduces the risk of algal blooms.

Suitable plant species beside waterways also provide cover for spawning fish, and food and habitat for nesting and juvenile birds. Such planting helps water plants and invertebrates become numerous, providing a better food supply for fish. Streamside trees can link areas of native vegetation together, extending habitat for native birds.

Besides environmental benefits, riparian planting can also help a farm’s economic bottom line.

Well designed riparian fencing can be used to improve subdivision, help with mustering, and protect animals from drowning or getting stuck in wet areas. The provision of shelter and shade is recognised as an important aspect of animal production and health.

Improved milk grades are documented where dairy sheds no longer draw water from contaminated streams. On sheep and beef properties, stock are in better health and have faster weight gain when water sources are no longer contaminated.

The council’s catchment management officers are available through our freephone 0800 800 401 to provide advice on good riparian management.

Bala Tikkisetty is a sustainable agriculture coordinator at Waikato Regional Council. Contact him on 0800 800401 or email bala.tikkisetty@waikatoregion.govt.nz

Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Ombudsman’s Verdict On Paula Rebstock And Ian Rennie

Unfortunately, the brave and damning report by Ombudsman Ron Paterson on the “flawed” and “unfair” inquiry conducted by Dame Paula Rebstock into events at MFAT pulls back the veil on a far wider issue. More>>

ALSO:

Charities' Report: Stressed Families - Overstretched Services

“Like so many of the whānau and families they serve social service organisations are under huge financial stress. The support demanded from desperate people in communities is far outreaching the resources available.” More>>

ALSO:

Detention: Wellingtonians Protest Treatment Of Refugees

Peace Action Wellington (PAW) and around 50 Wellingtonians blockaded the Australian High Commission, creating a symbolic detention centre to protest the Australian Government's policy of mandatory offshore detention for refugees and asylum seekers. More>>

ALSO:

Diver's Alarums: Breach Means Training Provider Must Repay $1.47 Million

The New Zealand School of Outdoor Studies is to repay $1.47 million (GST-exclusive) to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) following an investigation which showed that some student enrolments between 2009 -2014 could not be validated and that courses were under-delivered against their agreement with the TEC. More>>

ALSO:

Education: Government Plans Suggest Bulk Funding Return

Plans by the Government to return to bulk funding are likely to see increased class sizes and schools most in need missing out on much-needed resources, Labour’s Acting Education spokesperson Grant Robertson says. More>>

ALSO:

Interim Report: Auckland Looks Long Term To Pay-Per-Km Road Pricing

Aucklanders can expect to be paying variable rates per kilometre to travel on the city's most congested roads under an emerging transport strategy being formulated by the government and the Auckland Council. More>>

ALSO:

Despite Promises: Government Extends Iraq Deployment

Cabinet has agreed to extend New Zealand’s contribution to the joint New Zealand-Australia mission to train Iraqi Security Forces until November 2018. More>>

ALSO:

On The 'Terrorism' Card:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news