Riparian management is a key activity to improve water quality, enhance ecosystem health and improve biodiversity. Fencing defined waterways prevent cows excreting directly into waterways and protects river and stream banks from cows grazing on them, which helps limit erosion. Planting along river and stream banks also help with erosion by filtering sediment. It also filters nutrient run-off, provides shade for the water for cooling and encourages increased land and water-based biodiversity.
At the end of May 2017, our farmers have essentially delivered on the targets to keep stock out of all permanent waterways on their dairy farms, through fencing 98.4 percent of the entire length of these waterways and installing bridges or culverts for 99.8 percent of all crossings. This work is independently inspected and verified. A specific process is now being followed by the few remaining farmers who have work outstanding.
We are working with our farmers to have documented riparian management plans in place for 100 percent of farms by the end of the 2019-20 season. Within the plan key activities are identified specific to each farm’s location and waterways and include planting decisions and the approach for ongoing protection and maintenance of the plants to deliver long-term benefits for waterways.
We have not made as much progress in this area as originally planned – at the end of FY17 four percent of our farmers had a documented plan in place. However, through the additional SDAs and the services they will be offering, including Farm Environment Plans, we expect accelerated progress over the next three years.