Dairy farm delight on Inland Road

Funding of $12,000 has helped one dairy farming family kick-start a ten-year planting project on their farm in Kaikōura.

Rod and Catherine Lamb run a 125 ha dairy farm in rural Kaikōura and for the last two years have been taking steps to restore 25 ha of waterway riparian margins (edges) on their property.

In 2018, the Lamb’s received $12,000 of Immediate Steps (IMS) Biodiversity funding, which the Kaikōura Water Zone Committee has supported.

Recreational values rife in environmental protection

Brought up in the Bay of Plenty, Rod says he was always outside hunting, fishing, and gathering, so wants to provide the same opportunities for his children.

“We’re taking both an environmental and recreational approach,” he says.

Since starting to enhance freshwater values on farm, Rod and Catherine’s youngest daughter is “already out there, catching eels and bringing them home to smoke. I take her out when I go hunting now."

To be able to enjoy this kind of lifestyle, you have to protect your environment, Rod says.

Thousands of dried giant hogweed flowers along the stream have been eradicated for the last 4 years.

Thousands of dried giant hogweed flowers along the stream have been eradicated in the last 4 years.

Planning proves pivotal

Initially, the Kaikōura Plains Recovery Project supported landowners to access post-earthquake Ministry for Primary Industries funding for professional advisory services.

This funding enabled them to get a comprehensive restoration/planting plan, completed by Landscape Ecology NZ Limited (LENZ). The plan covers the whole farm, with detail around suitable plant species specific to each site in the plan.

The plan spans a ten-year period and outlines timelines and budgets for shifting and replacing fencing, planting natives, weed control of giant hogweed, willows and blackberry, seed scattering and maintenance.

The plan will see the Lamb’s 25 ha project becoming a healthy, restored riparian cover which will shade the stream and provide a corridor from the spring source to the Kahutara River, allowing freshwater species to thrive.

It has prompted a range of conservation and resource management actions to happen along-side the day-to-day managing of the farm.

Upper stream planting, June 2020

Upper stream planting, June 2020.

Planting programme progresses   

The project site has maintained moderate diversity, including regenerating secondary kānuka, regenerating understory and the occasional remnant tōtara and mataī.

Catherine oversees the planting programme, placing plants in the ground once a year, then carrying out weeding and spot spraying every six weeks. To date, 2000 plants have been planted over two years of the Lambs’ project.  

“Planting isn’t an issue, it’s about making sure we only plant enough that I can handle the maintenance of them, otherwise, we’ll just be wasting the plants as they will die,” Catherine says.

Old, used wool carpet and weed mat is placed around the base of the plants when they are put in the ground, to discourage weed and grass growth at the base of the plants.

Felled willow trees are mulched and then used in the calf rearing shed, soaking up the cow poo. The fertile mulch is placed at the base of the plants to add more nutrients.

“Using the carpet as a base around the new plantings means the nutrients in the willow mulch are released slower, giving the plant lower levels of nutrients over a longer period. It seems to work really well,” Catherine says.

The Handy Landy crew who helped plant 560 plants in May 2019

The Handy Landy crew who helped plant 560 plants in May 2019.

Working hard to make it work

The Lambs see benefits from taking a systems approach, seeing how they can improve ecosystem, mahinga kai and biodiversity values on farm, but also how this can add value to the farm as a business.

They calve around 370 cows and then milk around 350 and with seemingly low stock numbers, Rod says it’s intentional so that the family can maintain a good balance between work and play.

They do almost all the work themselves but are happy to have help where it’s offered. 

In 2019, they had around 12 Lincoln University student Handy Landys come and help plant on the property. Handy Landys are a group a young, like-minded students keen to give back to the rural community and the Lambs were grateful for how easy the process was and how motivated the students were.

The project is upstream from another IMS project, Greenburn wetland, helping work towards ki uta ki tai (mountains to the sea) protection.

Next steps

With the first stages of planting having been completed and well maintained by the Lambs, they are well on their way to creating an ecological haven. With a 98% success rate for their plantings, their hard work is paying off.

The Lambs are awaiting a visit from Environment Canterbury’s biodiversity advisor to look at the next stages of restoration works guided by the LENZ Ltd plan, and to be considered for further IMS funding.

Find out more

Local landowners and managers who are interested in assistance or resources for protecting or enhancing native biodiversity on their property can get in touch with our Kaikōura office by calling 03 319 5781.