It’s hoped forecast rain this week will help ease dry conditions some farmers and growers are facing.

NIWA’s latest hotspot watch showed there were abnormally dry conditions in parts of eastern Northland, central Waikato, much of the lower North Island, Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, interior Otago, coastal Southland, and Stewart Island.

Very dry to extremely dry conditions were now located in Wellington, Marlborough, parts of Canterbury, and interior Otago, while a small area of meteorological drought was indicated in far southern Marlborough and far northern Canterbury.

On the east coast of the South Island pastures have turned brown, some irrigation schemes were on restrictions due to low river flows, and farmers were dishing out supplementary feed.

Dairy farmer Patrick Whittle who milks 880 cows near Culverden in the Hurunui District said things were getting serious.

“It’s pretty dry, it’s been hot for the last month really and we’ve had water restrictions through the local irrigation scheme so things are going backwards quickly.”

He said farmers in the region have made changes to adapt to the dry conditions.

“We ramped up a little bit of supplement, we had silage shut up we were getting ready to cut so instead of cutting it we put it back into the cows, which isn’t as good of quality, so there’ll be a milk cost there but at least they’re fully fed.

“Those are short term solutions, if the dry continues we’ll look to change our milking regime to three in two or depending on how bad it got we could go down to once a day.”

Whittle said coming into February they would start to scan the cows to find the empties to try and destock a bit.

Down the coast in South Canterbury, the dry was also causing issues for arable farmers.

Federated Farmers arable chairman David Birkett said the fire risk was very high at the moment.

“There’s been a few fires around already, they think a recent one was caused by farm machinery, so its a good time to remind people to think about the fire risk when using machinery or mowers which could cause a spark.

“The risk is higher at the moment because there’s a bit of extra growth around and it’s dried off now.”

MetService has forecasted rain for parts of the east coast of the South Island this week – so farmers were hoping that soaked into the ground.

One region not struggling with the dry was the West Coast which had huge rainfall on Friday – there was some surface flooding – but no reports of any damage on farms.

rnz.co.nz

Share.