Making the most of a damp situation


Bridie Virbickas, wants to leave the planet in better shape than she found it so she’s starting with some changes on her farm.

The Bay of Plenty farmer says things need to change because we can’t farm the same way we did 20 years ago. 

“I know farmers are doing great things on farm to improve their environmental footprint. We should always be thinking about ways we can do things better, not just individually but for the bigger picture.”

Bridie’s developing a wetland on the farm, and she’s getting the local school involved to help do so.

Wetlands play an important role in creating healthy and biodiverse habitats. Commonly described as the ‘kidneys of the earth – they help protect and improve water quality by filtering nutrients and waste, provide fish and wildlife habitats, while also helping to store water in times of flooding and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods.

Twenty-eight kids from Otakiri Primary School helped her plant the wetland. During the day, they also learnt about dairy farming and about the importance of looking after the environment.

Bridie says an environmental expert was also consulted to work out which plants would best suit the area.

“We got Charles Harley, Land Management Officer from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, involved to educate us on the best types of plants for our area. He suggested the likes of water grasses for the wetter areas, flaxes for the drier areas and cabbage trees for the outer area.”

Since the project began the wetland has become a home for many species.

“When you’re a farmer, your farm is not just a home for your cows. It’s a home to a lot of other species and we have to look after them.”