January update: Banks Peninsula and Selwyn Waihora Zone Delivery Lead

Banks Peninsula and Selwyn Waihora Zone Delivery Lead Gill Jenkins offers some timely reminders for irrigation efficiency over summer.

Welcome to the new year! After another year of COVID-related challenges and uncertainties, I hope you managed to enjoy the Christmas break and spend some quality time with friends and family.

For farmers, the new year is an opportune time to take a breath and plan to help ensure smooth sailing for the months ahead.

As we enter the peak of summer, irrigation is in full swing and some small reminders can help with your planning. 

Efficiency is key

An efficient irrigation system will maximise pasture growth while minimising wastage and costs.

Tips for achieving this include:

Know what your consent takes are, and any minimum-flow conditions imposed.

Know what your consent takes are and any minimum-flow conditions imposed

  • Checking your equipment is certified, such as your backwater flow preventer – which must be tested annually. 
  • Bucket testing for Farm Environment Plan (FEP) audits is due every three years, so if you’re planning for a spring audit, these tests may need completing now. Don’t forget to keep your records of any maintenance or certification, to show to your auditor.
  • Keeping an eye on river levels and making sure you’re aware of what your consent takes are, and any minimum-flow conditions imposed. (Find out more about irrigation restrictions for specific areas – or visit our consent search page and enter your water consent number.)
  • Ensuring your water metering device is verified every five years.

Lifestyle block owners who have their own water supply that’s not subject to a resource consent must still abide by permitted activity rules. More information around things like domestic and stock water takes, can be found in our farming resource section.

Don’t waste a precious drop

When irrigating, make sure the water stays within your property boundary.    

Watering the road is not a good look. Not only is it wasteful, it can also be hazardous to drivers by making the road slippery and reducing visibility.

Ensure your irrigator is set back from the road and that end guns are operating correctly, and that irrigation runs are adjusted, if necessary, on very windy days.

What to do if you see irrigation on the road

Seasonal outlook

A return to normal winter rainfall over the cooler months meant Canterbury entered summer with healthy soil moisture levels.

However, areas like Ashburton and Leeston-Southbridge didn’t really benefit from the rain top-up, meaning groundwater levels have remained low.

As we head further into summer, a weak La Niña pattern is set to bring higher temperatures and lower river and stream flows.

Find out more about the seasonal outlook on our Canterbury water this season page.

And finally

There’s plenty to think about when it comes to water use, but taking a few moments to consider whether you’re operating as efficiently as possible could mean big savings in the long run.

We also want to make sure that water is used sustainably by everyone - so complying with your consent is very important. Doing the wrong thing may lead to enforcement action.

Before I sign off, I also wanted to let you know that our staff are still available to help with advice and support for landowners. We will be following government COVID-19 guidelines and we still hope to hold our monthly drop-in sessions in Darfield and Leeston from March for those who would like to meet in person.

Here’s to a plentiful 2022.

Gill.