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Drought recovery programme ends

THE official drought recovery programme put in place for Tairawhiti earlier this year has ended, but recovery coordinator Kristin Kirkpatrick reminds farmers to plan and prepare for the next one.

“It seems ironic to be talking drought when earlier this month we had significant rainfall.

“However, as official drought recovery closed on November 30, it's never too early for farmers to remind themselves a level of planning and preparedness will set them in good stead,” Mrs Kirkpatrick said.

“Mother nature is the great equaliser, the uncontrollable, the challenger.

“Her only guarantee is unpredictability and our only defence is to utilise all of the information at our fingertips to best prepare for what she will bring us,”

Mrs Kirkpatrick said, again the key message or takeaway from her conversations with farmers around the region was planning and preparedness.

“Now is the time to be sitting down with your farming partner or farm team and analysing the conditions on your farm, undertaking an inventory of feed supply and feed stores, and checking water supplies and storage.

“Also, looking at your summer stocking rate and calculating stock feed requirements should we get another dry summer.

“Beef and Lamb NZ's online knowledge hub has a raft of easy to use tools and information on Dry Management Planning.

“This is free and accessible to everyone and a great deal of thought and knowledge has gone into the creation of these resources.”

Mrs Kirkpatrick said though climate predictions were looking favourable it should be noted that after two years of ‘dry', many farmers were heading into summer with the attitude of ‘erring on the side of caution'.

“Niwa's Seasonal Climate Outlook November 2021- January 2022 for Gisborne, Hawke's Bay and Wairapapa predicts temperatures very likely above average (60 percent chance).

“Rainfall totals most likely near normal (40 percent chance), with moist, humid easterlies increasing the chance of periodic heavy rainfall across Gisborne and northern Hawke's Bay.

“Also, soil moisture and river flows are most likely to be near normal (50 percent chance)”.

This would be an opportune time to remind farmers that getting in early supplementary feed suppliers for baleage would be one of the most important steps to mitigating the risk of ‘dry', she said.

“Many of our local suppliers sold out of on-hand bales very early in the New Year this year, so planning for and knowing feed requirements is really important.

“I want to thank all those farmers who took the time to share their drought experiences with me during the year.

“I have learned a huge amount about living and farming through ‘dry' periods, and have heard first hand about the importance of people and community connectedness to provide help and support through adverse events,” Mrs Kirkpatrick said.

“I encourage all farmers and growers to look after themselves, their team and enjoy the festive season.

“Take a break and get off farm whenever you can to refresh and regroup.

“Do something off farm that gives you joy.”

Kristin Kirkpatrick