Saturday, April 13, 2024

Govt commits $1.49m to farmer-led Amuri Basin restoration

The Government has today announced its backing for a farmer-led strategy in North Canterbury’s Amuri Basin to boost water quality.

Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister, Damien O’Connor said the Government’s goal is to restore the waterways within a generation.

“This project will help farmers in the Amuri Basin to work together to improve water quality in their drains and streams,” Mr O’Connor said.

The project is led by Amuri Irrigation Company (AIC) with co-investment from Environment Canterbury and DairyNZ. It seeks to build on AIC’s existing strategy to farm beyond the regulatory minimums.

“Amuri Basin farmers are innovators and leaders in their industries. This new project offers them an opportunity to continue leading from the front,” Minister O’Connor said.

“Together they will consider groundwater hydrology and land use practices in local catchments.

“The project aims to be a blueprint for other catchments faced with freshwater quality challenges.”

The Government is committing $1.49 million over three years to the $2.69 million project through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund.

“This will be a whole-system approach that looks at land use, farming practices and wider considerations such as biodiversity and cultural values. It will also seek to find the best ways to engage with farmers to create change,” Mr O’Connor said.

“For enduring success, farmers need to own and implement a strategy for sustainable farming with a combined focus on environment, farm profitability and community resilience.”

The Amuri Basin encompasses the towns of Culverden, Rotherham and Waiau.

The Minister said the project will seek to develop tools, including a spatial risk-based integrated land and water management system. The system will combine on-farm and catchment mitigations to identify environmental risks within the Amuri Basin.

The project will also develop and pilot a localised price-based mechanism, which seeks to financially incentivise sustainable land use. This will explore whether it is possible for farms to receive financial benefits proportionally to their on-farm nutrient losses, said Mr O’Connor.

“The project’s approach fits with the Government’s Essential Freshwater programme and aligns with Te Mana o te Wai Essential Freshwater regulations introduced in 2020.”

“We’ve invested over $34 million into 200 catchment groups across the country to help farmers and growers to shift the dial on water quality. This project complements that effort,” he said.

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