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Makara leads the way with full catchment stocktake

By Holly Ormond

Farmers in Elsthorpe and the surrounding Makara catchment have taken part in a comprehensive catchment stocktake funded by a grant from local farmer-led catchment collective, Tukituki Land Care.

"As a new catchment group, we decided this was a great place to start to gain an understanding of the current state of the Makara catchment," says Kate Laugesen, who farms in the area and serves on both the Makara Catchment Committee and the Tukituki Land Care Executive.

Twenty-five landowners from the Makara catchment participated in the study, representing a land area of 14,806 hectares.

A final report produced by agricultural consultants KS Agri offers valuable insights into environmental challenges and opportunities in this catchment, gleaned from farmer interviews, analysis of Farm Environmental Management Plans, and mapping.

The report not only explores key indicators such as DIN, phosphorus, and turbidity but also provides insights into a wide range of data, including erosion pole planting, wetland creation, and riparian fencing.

"We are aiming to raise awareness among farmers in this catchment about their risks and how we might manage them moving forward," says Laura Keenan from KS Agri. "By 2025, these farmers will likely need to provide a Freshwater Farm plan, and this data will enable them to begin considering their contaminant load and how they will mitigate their risks in the future."

The report also offers actionable recommendations, including increasing the number of water testing sites, managing existing sediment traps and dams, and introducing dung beetles to enhance soil health.

In addition to providing valuable and actionable data for the farmers in this catchment, the study also served as a unifying force, bringing together farmers in the area. At the conclusion of the project the farmers and their families gathered at the Elsthorpe Hall to share a beer and sausage sizzle and hear a presentation by KS Agri on the preliminary findings.

"This project would not have been possible without the amazing funding from Tukituki Land Care, and it has been a fantastic way to kickstart our catchment group," says Kate. "KS Agri did a brilliant job, and their knowledge and enthusiasm for the project were exceptional."

This is the first time a full stocktake has been completed in a Tukituki sub-catchment and the key findings and learnings will be shared with other catchments.  

In September, Tukituki Land Care awarded twelve sub-catchment groups $10,000 to fund projects with demonstration value.  The grants offered an opportunity to trial something new while gaining valuable knowledge which can be shared and replicated across the region.

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