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Releasing riparian plants

It’s about time to start ‘releasing’ our newly planted natives. At this time of year, the grass and weeds are growing rapidly and can strangle the small native seedlings. So it’s important to go around and hand weed or ‘weed whack’ around the seedlings.

It’s very labour intensive. One thing I’ve noticed on social media is a lot of negative comments towards farmers such as ‘just fence off your waterways and stop moaning’ etc. I wonder how many people know the true cost of doing that?

For us, we have invested $16000 this year, in a solar water pump for our reticulated water system, to try and reduce our reliance on dam water. This has allowed us to carry on our annual fencing and riparian planting programme. In some areas the regional council helps to fund fencing and planting...not ours unfortunately. That cost falls on us.

So we take these areas of the farm out of production, losing any potential to graze them, which is how we make money in a grass fed system. Then we pay the labour and material costs for fencing (many thousands of dollars every year). Then we buy the plants and I spend my days putting them in the ground, placing individual tree protectors around them and spraying them with hare repellant. Then over the next months and years we have to care for all these areas, releasing the plants, managing aggressive weeds such as blackberry, that will take over in ungrazed areas if left unchecked.

It improves biodiversity on our farm and protects our waterways but it comes at a huge cost to our business.

We have maintenance jobs in our home that desperately need doing but have been sacrificed to buy feed for our animals in the drought and to continue our environmental improvements on the farm. I wonder what proportion of other business’s income goes into environmental protection measures such as this? I wonder if they make the same personal sacrifices?

So when you hear farmers grumbling about these new rule changes, they usually have some pretty valid reasons to grumble!

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