Tararua farmers on slippery slope after relentless wet

By Christine McKay

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Tararua Federated Farmers president Neil Filer says that after a tough spring and summer and wet autumn and winter, the last thing farmers need now is a wet spring.
Tararua Federated Farmers president Neil Filer says that after a tough spring and summer and wet autumn and winter, the last thing farmers need now is a wet spring.

Last week's storm which ripped through Tararua was terrible for farmers and stock throughout the region.

But as bad as it was, it could have been worse, Tararua Federated Farmers president Neil Filer told the Dannevirke News.

And with farmers in southern Tararua measuring rain in metres, not millimetres, Mr Filer agreed it was a similar situation in Dannevirke.

"Over the past 12 months it's been exceptionally bad," he said.

"We had a tough spring, a tough summer, wet autumn and winter and we could have a wet spring.

"I hate to say it, but we would like a bit of wind to dry things out."

Pahiatua farmer Mike Burmeister has 960 dairy cows to calve and they will be home from grazing this week.

"It's been relentless and challenging all season because we only had 10 or 12 days in the summer when it was dry," he said.

"This is one of the biggest floods I have seen. Flood waters from the Mangarama Stream surrounded houses at Makuri.

"The only good thing is we had the flooding last week, not when the cows were home."

Following heavy rain last week, Mr Burmeister was spending Tuesday in clean-up mode on his farm, which he said was better off than most.

"We're cleaning up the mess off the fences and working on a big hunk of concrete race which was washed away.

"But our dairy farm is looking good because we've had our stock grazing off.

"Anyone who had cows at home all winter will be under pressure and all those farming east of us were hit pretty hard."

The river at Tiraumea peaked close to the level it was during the 2004 flooding.

"Everyone is feeling it," Mr Burmeister said.

"Most businesses in our small Tararua towns are tied in some way to agriculture and they're feeling it too."

Mr Burmeister said the district needed six to eight weeks of sun to help grass recover.

"And much as we curse wind, we need it to dry out the top of paddocks," he said.

The weather has also played havoc with farm maintenance and applying fertiliser.

"It's been a nightmare trying to resurface our tracks," Mr Burmeister said.

"Everything has been hard work, but we've got to keep our chins up and be positive."

Farmers have told the Dannevirke News they are struggling to get their fertiliser on and with most bringing home dairy cows from grazing in the next week, they're concerned about protecting pasture.

"There's enough for one round (of feed), after that it's challenging because the ground just pugs up," one said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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