Fonterra helps out Selwyn farmers

by Kent Caddick

Dairy giant Fonterra is helping Selwyn farmers with riparian planting to help them improve and protect water quality on their farms.

Recently Fonterra staff along with members of the freshwater ecology group Carex, Department of Conservation and Environment Canterbury descended on Richard and Jill Simpson’s Five Springs Farm on Marshalls Road in Ellesmere.

Together the group planted around 400 plants in a 1ha area with five springs.

About 15 years ago the Simpsons decided to start rehabilitating the areas around the springs, and got the areas protected by a QE2 covenant so it’s preserved in perpetuity Richard said one day they had a guy called David Hewson from ECan on the farm and they walked around the farm to identify places where he thought water might be getting into the stream from the paddocks.

“We arrived at this area here and he said ‘this would make an amazing wetland. Jill is a real big picture person, and she thought it was a great idea and immediately latched onto it.”

“We’ve gradually worked away at it over the years, and while it might seem a bit daunting, this is the result of 16 or 17 years’ worth of gradual work and growth.”

“Initially we fenced it and ECan helped us with the streams and deepened the springs, then we started planting. It’s been a gradual process, and a very, very rewarding one.”

Richard said they have had help from organisations like Whakaora Te Waihora, the Living Water Partnership (DOC & Fonterra), Carex and others to help take the area to the final level.

“It’s really exciting to see it start to reach that,” he said.

“We have the tracks and bridges in place, the last of the fencing and planting going in, and now we’re actually starting to see it regenerate itself .”

Around 30 people helped with planting on Richard and Jill Simpson’s 
Five Springs Farm in Ellesmere

“We’re seeing seedlings arriving which means it’s becoming self-sustaining. It’s really pleasing and it’s starting to fulfill our wildest dreams.”

Libby Sutherland, a Sustainable Dairy Advisor at Fonterra who works with the Simpsons said having healthy waterways is in the interests of all of New Zealand and planting our river banks helps farmers protect and improve the quality of the waterways on their farms.

“These plants basically act as big filters and help slow down any surface water running off farms.

“They filter out the nutrients and sediment that can get into waterways, provide shade that reduces the growth of weeds, and create a healthy environment for water life.” She said waterway planting is a common feature in a farmer’s Farm Environment Plan which Fonterra’s Sustainable Dairy Advisors work with them to prepare.