Thursday, 12 September 2019 13:25

No more houses!

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says NZ’s most fertile and versatile land will get new protection. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says NZ’s most fertile and versatile land will get new protection.

Farmer groups are backing Government proposals to prevent productive land from falling to housing development. Horticultural land is especially in view.

The Government’s draft National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land (NPS-HPL) proposes a nationwide approach to protecting highly productive land for future generations. About 14% of NZ land is classified ‘highly productive’. 

A two month consultation is underway. Stats NZ says urban expansion threatens all forms of land based primary production. But horticulture is especially at risk. 

The scale and value of horticulture hubs, on typically flat, well serviced land at urban fringes, makes that sector more vulnerable to urban expansion than other types of farming. 

From 2002 to 2016, NZ’s land area used for vegetable growing decreased 29% from 100,000ha to 70,000ha.

HortNZ’s natural resources and environment manager, Michelle Sands, says the Government’s proposal is to help retain vegetable and fruit growing in NZ. “NZ needs its best soils for domestic food production,” said Sands.

“Once you build houses on the best soils you cannot get the soils back. 

“With good planning and buffer zones, houses and horticulture can co-exist, which is important for three main reasons: one, so growers can make best use of available land; two, so growers can quickly get fresh produce to market; and three, so growers have access to workers, given how labour intensive horticulture is.”

Sands says keeping the best soils for producing food also helps the transition to a low emissions economy.

HortNZ says poor rules in Auckland are preventing new vegetable gardens being set up to replace land lost to housing.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says NZ’s most fertile and versatile land will get new protection.

“Our land is a precious taonga – an irreplaceable treasure and a source of life and wellness,” said O’Connor.

“We cannot afford to lose our most highly productive land. 

“It brings economic benefits including employment for nearby communities, and adds value to NZ’s primary sector.”

More like this

An actual plan or more woolly thinking?

Despite claims by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor that a new report will be the plan “to revitalise New Zealand’s strong wool sector…” there’s widespread belief it will do no such thing.

Country’s backbone performs

New Zealand's primary sector has added steel to the country’s economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recently released report.

Hort exports worth $6.2 billion in 2019

New Zealand horticulture exports reached a record-breaking $6.2 billion in the year ending June 2019 – an increase of $720 million on the previous year.

Featured

Water reforms come at a cost

The government’s new freshwater laws, signed off this week, have the potential to create significant unnecessary costs for ratepayers, farmers and entire communities, Federated Farmers says.

2020 harvest yields up

Final harvest data for wheat, barley and oats (milling/malting and feed) in 2020 show yields were up 17% overall across the six crops.

 

Difficult but the right call

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says the joint decision three years ago to eradicate Mycoplamsa bovis was a difficult call.

Milking cluster milks runner-up award

DeLaval has come away with the runner up prize in this year’s Fieldays Online innovation competition with a new milking cluster that eliminates the need for conventional liner changes.

Glow worms to cows

Thomas Lundman's work focus has gone from tracking tiny critters in pitch black caves to looking after considerably larger animals in paddocks near Whakatane.

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Spell check

Your old mutt was not surprised to see the NZ Dairy Industry Awards hastily remove the title of this year’s…

About time!

Your canine crusader has been a long-time critic of NZ governments – of all stripes – who, for the past…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter