Better drainage, more pasture: new guides help West Coast farmers

17 May 2016

Inadequate drainage is the number one issue affecting production on West Coast farmland. 

Waterlogged soils reduce plant growth, leading to decreased production per hectare which in turn affects the financial viability of the farm business.

To assist West Coast farmers with maximising the economic potential of their land, a team of leading primary sector organisations in association with local farmers and contractors have updated the publication Land development by flipping and hump & hollowing guide.  

The guide helps West Coast farmers make well-informed land development decisions regarding drainage methods in the interest of increasing pasture production.

Key features of the guide include identifying the most suitable land for flipping and hump & hollowing, managing the relevant stages in the process to maintain productivity, the likely agronomic and financial benefits, and any planning and environmental considerations.

“Land development of this kind has evolved over time. The updated guide provides farmers with the best information for getting the process right relative to soil and land attributes of their particular property,” says Plant & Food Research senior scientist and guide co-author Dr Steve Thomas.

“Farmers who have successfully planned and invested in these drainage methods report better stock performance overall and increased carrying capacity of the land.” 

According to Colin van der Geest, a farmer in Atarau who has applied these drainage methods, “knowing how soils develop over time is critical to understanding the land post-development and the time it takes to build up the soil fertility to reach good production levels.

“The West Coast is unique, so having research tailored to this environment is essential to manage both the environmental issues on the horizon and develop a better understanding of how to best manage the developed soils,” he says.

The guide has been sent to all West Coast farm businesses alongside an additional publication, A guide for fertiliser spreading on humps & hollows

“Fertiliser spreaders are designed for flat ground, but spreading patterns on humps & hollows may differ greatly,” says Plant & Food Research soil scientist and guide author Abie Horrocks. 

“The guide gives detailed information on the best way to apply fertiliser on such farmland to maximise growth and minimise environmental losses, and stresses the importance of set-up and maintenance of spreader equipment.”

The primary sector organisations responsible for the two guides include the Ministry for Primary Industries, Plant & Food Research Ltd, Westland Milk Products, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, DairyNZ, Landcorp, Nutrient Solutions, and AgCal New Zealand.

Emma Timewell
Communications Manager, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham
Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
Telephone: +64-9-925 8692
Mobile: +64-21-2429 365

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