Managing waterways benefits farm
There are many benefits to protecting and managing farm waterways, so the time and resources put into it should be considered an investment, not a cost.
The investment creates direct benefits for the farm, the waterways and the broader environment.
Waterways include rivers, streams, creeks, drains, ponds, swamps and wetlands that go through or border on the farm – basically anywhere natural water runs or ponds.
The area beside waterways, that forms the connection between water and land, is the riparian or waterway margin. This margin is an important buffer between activities on farm land and the natural waterway.
Future managing waterways articles will provide practical, how-to advice for planning and getting started on waterway management, including fencing, planting and revegetation, controlling weeds and pests, protecting wetlands, and constructing drains and sediment traps.
Key benefits of managing waterways:
Benefits for (action steps)
Contributes to stock security and health.
Can improve stock control and grazing management.
Slows down the buildup of silt and cuts drain maintenance.
Contributes to bank stability.
Reduces faecal bacteria entering waterway.
Reduces phosphorus levels. Reduces sediment inputs. Eliminates stock-induced erosion.
Less health risk for adults and children swimming or playing in the stream.
Water generally looks cleaner.
Improves habitat for fish and other freshwater life.
(grassy margins, flax, sedges, etc):
Further improves bank stability, reducing channel maintenance costs.
Further reduction in faecal bacteria.
Filters phosphorus and sediment from runoff.
Adds to the benefits noted for low planting.
Shading keeps the water cooler.
Further improves habitat for fish and aquatic life.
Provides habitat for native insects, birds and plants.
Shade reduces growth of nuisance plants and algae.
Slows flow of water off the land during flooding
Releases water in dry periods, helping to maintain flow in waterways
Can improve stock safety and make grazing management easier
Enhances aesthetic quality of the farm.
Captures sediment and phosphorus
Removes nitrogen from resurfacing groundwater.
Reduces flooding and lowers the water table. Reduces sediment inputs Reduces animal dung and urine deposits into the stream
Improves water quality.
Can provide habitat for endangered wetland species.
Limits downstream movement of gravel, sand and silt
Helps maintain channel capacity
Reduces need for more extensive waterway clearing
Cuts excavation costs.
Reduces re-suspension of sediment.