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Waterway fencing research findings welcomed

Thursday 5th October

Waterway fencing research findings welcomed

Environment Canterbury today welcomed research from Our Land and Water National Science Challenge showing that waterway fencing is not the total answer to rural water quality protection.

Chief Scientist Tim Davie said the paper by AgResearch Scientist Dr Richard McDowell and others backs the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, which goes well beyond relying solely on stock exclusion for improving Canterbury’s waterways.

“We are working towards Good Management Practice (GMP) by farmers throughout the region using Farm Environment Plans (FEPs) and setting load limits for nitrogen, frequently beyond GMP. FEPs aim to reduce the contaminant load in exactly the situations described in this research.”

While fencing riparian margins is important to keep stock out of waterways, and industry has taken large steps to make sure this happens, it is a common misconception that the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan requires fencing.

“Farmers must meet nutrient limits set in the plan, which are often tougher in local catchments via sub-region rules,” Dr Davie said. “They must also keep stock out of waterways in intensively farmed areas and cause no significant damage in areas where there is no intensive farming. How they do that is largely over to them, although their industry groups have agreed Good Management Practices for their sectors. Keeping stock out of waterways is obviously good practice.”

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For the Science Challenge research, go to

For industry-agreed Good Management Practices and related information, go to

Stock access rules

Environment Canterbury was one of the first regional councils to develop and implement a comprehensive set of rules on stock access. The Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan, which has been operative since 2012, makes it clear that intensively farmed stock are not allowed in waterways, particularly lowland streams, drinking water supply zones, sensitive lakes, bathing sites and inanga (whitebait), salmon and trout spawning sites.

Intensively farmed stock is defined as all dairy and dairy support, farmed pigs, and any cattle or deer grazed on irrigated land or contained for break feeding on winter fodder crops.

In areas where there is no intensive farming, stock are not allowed to cause damage from pugging, bare ground or effluent discharges. Stock access to water in these areas must still be carefully managed by Good Management Practices such as providing drinking water troughs.


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