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No rain reprieve yet for drought-hit farms

No rain reprieve yet for drought-hit farms

While farming areas in the South Island and the main centres receive rain, very little has fallen in areas affected by the upper North Island’s second consecutive autumnal drought.

“It is clearly a localised drought adverse event covering Waikato and parts of Auckland and Northland,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers adverse events spokesperson.

“I must add that we are also concerned about conditions in Manawatu-Rangitikei too.

“Having been through drought myself last year, I fully understand why farmers up north would dearly like to trade weather with us in the South Island.

“While there was widespread rain on Friday in Waikato, it has not even dented soil moisture deficits. Speaking to farmers in Auckland and in Northland there was precious little for them.

“We are desperate for a rainmaker to show up because it will take up to six-weeks before there is good pasture recovery. Even that assumes good rain followed by sunshine.

“Given it’s now mid-April, in six weeks time we will be on the cusp of winter so time is not exactly on our side.

“The risk now is what we call a green drought. That’s where you get the appearance of green but there’s no substance to the pasture. As roots will be close to the surface they become vulnerable to either heavy rain, an absence of rain or dare I say it, frost.

“It is a shame we cannot just dial up the weather we want and given the climate is in flux we’ll have to adapt to events of this type as being a new normal.

“It really underscores the need for science research, the need for water strategies and the need to look at new types of pasture,” Mrs Milne concluded.

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