Tuesday, 28 July 2020 08:55

Double whammy for farmers

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
AgFirst Northland consultant Kim Robinson. AgFirst Northland consultant Kim Robinson.

Two weeks ago, many farmers in Northland were in drought recovery mode, now they are repairing fences and culverts washed away by flooding.

Damage to infrastructure and water-logged pasture are the biggest issues facing many Northland farmers following the devastating flood earlier this month, says AgFirst Northland consultant Kim Robinson.

After months of near-crippling drought, more than 200mm of rain fell over 10 hours in parts of the region.

Robinson says while farmers are “bloody resilient”, they are facing a double whammy. She told Rural News that the drought’s impact on a dairy farm last season was estimated around $1000/ha. For an average 150ha farm, this equates to a loss of $150,000.

“Before we got the flooding, farmers were facing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of losses from the drought, that’s a huge amount of money for a little farm,” she says.

The recent floods washed away culverts and fencing around farms throughout the region. Pasture damage is also severe.

Robinson says because of the drought, many farms were forced to re-grass paddocks scorched by the drought.

“Lots of these new pastures were very short because they were regrassed much later as we waited for rain.

“Young pastures, under two inches, don’t cope very well with water inundation, so there’s a lot of pasture loss.”

Last week, Robinson visited her clients in Hikurangi where some farms still had floodwater. Despite heavy flooding, there has been no report of stock losses.

Robinson says one of her clients in Hikurangi moved calves to safety during the night through flooded paddocks.

Federated Farmers Northland meat and wool chair Roger Ludbrook, who farms in the Bay of Islands, told Rural News little pasture is available and it’s becoming difficult to graze cattle on heavier soils.

He says the situation has been exacerbated with no supplementary feed on most farms.

Ludbrook has started repairing exclusion fences on his 400ha sheep and beef property but rain is continuing to fall in the region.

“We’ve been repairing fencing for three days but it’s a lot harder when rain continues to fall.”

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