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
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.