Farm­ers pre­pare for an­other dry sum­mer

It’s been a tough last few years for Mata­mata farm­ers. With very lit­tle rain this Oc­to­ber pre­dic­tions are for an­other dry sum­mer. Jeremy Smith talks to Fed­er­ated Farm­ers’ Mata­mata-based Waikato pres­i­dent Stew Wadey about what that would mean for the in­dus

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

o be hon­est, if we have too many more dry sum­mers there’s a school of thought out there that says there’ll be some farm­ing busi­nesses that have to call it a day.’’

It’s a harsh re­al­ity but Fed­er­ated Farm­ers’ Mata­mata-based Waikato pres­i­dent Stew Wadey said farm­ers were pre­par­ing for the pos­si­bil­ity of yet an­other dry sum­mer, the fourth in al­most as many years.

‘‘ In my per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, I only recorded about 18mm of rain in Oc­to­ber. The grass may look green but deeper down the soil mois­ture deficit is in fact worse than it was this time last year.’’

Mr Wadey said while the out­look wasn’t all bad, it did pay to be proac­tive and pre­pare in ad­vance.

‘‘It’s all very well to have a de­cent pay­out fore­cast but to get the re­turns, of course, you’ve got to have the pro­duc­tion up there as well.’’

In prepa­ra­tion for sum­mer Mr Wadey said he had planted twice as many turnips as he usu­ally would. ‘‘It isn’t all doom and gloom out there but it’s my view we can’t have four dry sum­mers in a row with­out some dam­age be­ing done.’’

Ru­ral Sup­port Trust chair­man Neil Ba­teup said since the or­gan­i­sa­tion was set up farm­ers have been mak­ing use of the trust’s ser­vices on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

‘‘The bad drought in 2008 cer­tainly had flow-on ef­fects in the 2009 sea­son, which was dif­fi­cult but wasn’t of­fi­cially a drought. Then 2010 was a drought again.

‘‘ So an­other dry sum­mer would be ex­tremely tough for ev­ery­one. But we’re hope­ful that doesn’t hap­pen.

‘‘We just need a good year and I’m sure things will be­gin to look up for farm­ers. The pro­jected milk price is good too so that helps.’’

Mr Ba­teup said while the trust had fielded in­quiries about deal­ing with dry weather, it was there to help a wide range of is­sues. ‘‘ We en­cour­age any farmer with any need to call us and we can of­fer ad­vice.’’

The Ru­ral Sup­port Trust can be con­tacted on 0800 787 254.

Stew Wadey

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