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Impact of Long Dry Spell Not Over for HB

Another round-table meeting of grower and farmer groups, East Coast Rural Support Trust, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Ministry for Primary Industries was held this week to get an update on the dry conditions around Hawke’s Bay.

The group had a wrap up of rainfall, river and aquifer levels, and soil conditions plus the all-important animal welfare, feed and stock water situations.  Coming into lambing there was a focus on feed availability and stock welfare.

“It’s been a long difficult autumn and the rainfall this week is a huge relief and morale boost for farmers, and, although it will create feed challenges in the short term, in the long term the rain will be helpful for spring pasture levels,” says Will Foley, HB President Federated Farmers.

HBRC’s climate scientist Dr Kathleen Kozyniak said that, until midnight on 28 June, there had been only around 100mm of rain on the Heretaunga and Ruataniwha Plains since February.  Along with the southern coast, rainfall in these areas was at around just 35% of the Feb-Jun average.

“Around 30-50mm over the past couple of days is a game changer for the region.  More rain is likely next week and near to above normal rainfall is forecast for the next couple of months.”

The Rural Support Trust reported that, in terms of morale, community spirit is generally good and farmers are adapting well to the difficult conditions and working hard to keep stock in good condition. A few farmers are getting support from the Trust.

“If any farmer is finding it hard to know what to do or make decisions, they should contact us at the Rural Support Trust.  And keep an eye out on your neighbours so that if you see an issue or it looks like they’re not managing give us a call,” says Lon Anderson for the Rural Support Trust.

Farmers, growers, workers and their families are encouraged to contact the Trust on 0800 RURAL HELP (787 254) for a free and confidential chat.

Farmer seminars

A series of pre-lamb seminars will be held by Vet Services in Dannevirke, Waipukurau and Hastings on 6 & 7 July.  Topics include ewe-scanning, facial eczema, drenching and prospects for the rest of winter into spring.  A good turnout is hoped for to these seminars, as they will be helpful for farmers in sharing information and getting support. 

Nitrogen can be applied to green pastures but it will be 4-6 weeks before there’s much benefit to feed levels. Brown pastures will need 3 -4 weeks to recover before it is advised to apply fertiliser.

Farmers should do a feed budget to work out what they need to do to manage through the next few months.  It is important that animals are well fed through winter and supplementary feed and grazing is available. 

Farmers carrying lower than normal stock numbers are also advised to do a financial budget to assess the likely outcome going into next season.

Information and help

25 August 2016

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