Riverside Stock Grazing
Rivers on the Heretaunga Plains are fenced off for cattle, where land is owned or administered by HBRC. We are actively working with private landowners on this, even though the earliest rules to prevent stock entering waterways don’t apply until 2020 (Tukituki catchment). Riverside stock grazing has been part of HBRC’s flood control management plan.
Stock grazing has been used in the past as a cost-effective method to keep grass and other vegetation at a manageable level on river edges and stopbanks.
The advantages include helping with flood control. Taller vegetation causes flood levels to increase. It traps silt and sand (sediment) and reduces a river’s ability to deal with flood water flows. Dry vegetation is also a fire hazard in our hot dry summers.
HBRC leases riverside land to farmers to graze their stock. Electric fences prevent stock from entering the water on council owned land, though these are vulnerable to small and larger floods, and vandalism.
The income from leasing this land goes to the flood control scheme to offset rates.
Stock exclusion from waterways in the Tukituki catchment is part of the Tukituki Plan. This legally comes into effect in 2020 – as fencing and other farm practices are expensive and take a while to put in place. We are already working closely with landowners and the farming sector to maintain and improve water quality in that catchment. On the Heretaunga Plains, stock exclusion from waterways is part of the TANK collaborative project, where HBRC aims to adopt stock exclusion measures as part of a TANK Plan Change late next year
Why do I need to exclude stock?
Livestock (especially cattle and deer) reduce water quality by ‘treading’ damage leading to erosion of stream beds and banks, directly depositing dung and urine into waterways and the grazing of riparian plants which beneficially filter runoff and stabilise stream banks.
As a result of the actions of livestock having direct access to waterways, the amount of faecal matter, sediment, Phosphorus and Nitrogen in waterways can be increased, with all four contaminants reducing water quality if in excessive amounts.
Do I need to exclude all stock?
All stock except sheep need to be excluded from permanent and intermittent streams. Sheep do not need to be excluded because they do not cause as much damage due to being lighter animals.
Do I have to plant the areas from which I exclude stock?
Plan Change 6 does not require you to do riparian planting, but the regional council actively encourages it because it has multiple benefits for both water quality and biodiversity, and can also help with farm management. The regional council has good quality native plants for sale – further information is provided here.
What is a stock unit?
The definition of stock unit that HBRC uses is from the Lincoln University Farm Technical Manual and is a standard agronomic term to measure the carrying capacity of land used for livestock production. One stock unit is the equivalent of an adult ewe with a lamb at foot. Since sheep are excluded from the Plan Change 6 rules equivalents for cattle and deer are shown below:
|STOCK TYPE||STOCK UNITS||STOCK NUMBER 18 su OF THAT TYPE|
If you are not sure whether you need to exclude stock from streams on your property, get in touch with someone in the Land Management team who can help you out:
(06) 833 8001 or 027 496 6289