While winter feed crops are crucial in Simon O’Meara’s farm system, the West Otago sheep and beef farmer is making changes to cut their damage to the environment.
That’s the view of the Waikato Primary Industry Adverse Event Cluster core group, which met on April 2 to review the dry conditions and how farmers are coping.
“The amount of rain that fell varied greatly across the region,” said Rural Support Trust chairman and group spokesman Neil Bateup. “But combined with rain from a couple of weeks ago it’s been enough to get things going, with paddocks greening up already.
“For some dairy farmers though, the rain and pasture growth has come a little too late and they’ve already started to dry off herds.
“We have also heard reports that some farmers have started eating into their winter reserves, so there could be challenges come spring,” Bateup said.
“However, forecasters are predicting that autumn in the top half of the North Island is going to be warm, which could bode well for pasture growth. And by the beginning of May, we should see a return of the usual rainmaking cycles.”
Overall, it appears farmer spirits have lifted markedly in the region, so the group has decided to meet only alternate months, Bateup says.
“We’ll be keeping an eye on the conditions, and encourage farmers to keep monitoring their positions and make decisions as they need to.”