Northern News : January 19th 2011
7 NORTHERN NEWS, JANUARY 19, 2011 NEWS PRE-SEASON SUPER RUGBY V HURRICANES 5PM FRIDAY 4 FEB 2011 KERIKERI DOMAIN Ticket Prices Seated Grandstand $30, General Admission Adult $10, Child $5. Ticketing Outlets Council Service Centres at Kaitaia, Kaikohe, Kawakawa, Rawene, Procter Library, Kerikeri. i-SITES at Kaitaia, Opononi, Paihia and Doubtless Bay Information Centre. Website www.fndc.govt.nz/rugby Phone 0800 920 029 Email email@example.com MORTGAGEE Sale/Auction Need help or assistance ? Then visit www.hekorowaitrust.co.nz Phone 09 407 8561 (Opposite the Warehouse in Waipapa.) Open Monday to Saturday! Late nights Tuesday & Thursday! Call now for an appointment Keyline system is a dam good idea Gravity-driven: An aerial photo of the Keyline irrigation system Percival Yeomans developed at his New South Wales farm Yobarnie in the 1940s and 1950s. Photo: DOUGLASS BAGLIN Free fertiliser: Donn Groom uses aquatic weed from a storage lake at his Taheke property as garden mulch. Photo: RICHARD EDMONDSON By RICHARD EDMONDSON Storing water in interconnected dams along hill contours would help farmers weather droughts and create new economic opportunities for rural communities, a Taheke man says. Donn Groom says the Keyline irrigation sys- tem developed by Aust- ralian farmer and engin- eer Percival Yeomans in the 1940s offers a low- cost means of harvesting rain for multiple uses. Building dams along contour lines and gravity-feeding water from these to irrigation channels and ripped soil below allows farmers to control the movement of water and spread rain runoff. Mr Groom says the system has the potential to ease pressure on pas- toral farmers during droughts, especially if dams are fed by nearby rivers during peak flows. Keyline could also drive the growth of mar- ket gardens, allowing water-hungry crops to be grown during summer. Aquatic weed har- vested from dams fed by rivers rich in nutrients from animal effluent and fertiliser runoff from farms makes excellent compost and garden mulch for market gar- dens. The fertility that comes out of these rivers is mind-blowing. We ve got a pumpkin patch that s taking over our place. Mr Groom generates electricity for his mud- brick home from a small hydro scheme fed by an artificial lake topped up with water from the Punakitere River. He can see the poten- tial for bigger schemes capable of powering local homes or electric car support services. Once you ve got water coupled with power gen- eration, it s amazing what you can do. Mr Groom is disap- pointed that people he has spoken to don t share his passion for the Key- line irrigation system. He thinks they may find the concept of Key- line difficult to under- stand without a close examination of the physical layout and patterns involved. He is keen to talk to people interested in set- ting up Keyline systems in Northland. He will be holding seminars on the subject at his property Taheke Mud. Retired World Bank agricultural adviser John Greenfield spent 40 years developing soil and moisture conservation systems in tropical countries after farming in New Zealand. He has seen Keyline in Australia and says the irrigation system and contour farming have a lot of potential in North- land, given its topogra- phy and inconsistent summer rainfall. Without those sys- tems, the runoff takes the moisture down the drainage network. After a couple of days and a bit of wind, you ve got no moisture in the soil to support pasture growth. He also supports water harvesting for general use and has been asking Northland s councils for years to identify dam sites in the catchment of Kerikeri where he lives. The population of Kerikeri is expanding enormously and we ve done nothing about storing more water, he says. Damming water would also slow the flow of water through the catch- ment during storms, reducing flooding. If we had enough dams around the catch- ment it would alleviate flooding tremendously. He has urged councils to preserve suitable dam sites from residential developments. I told them about three years ago: Go out and find good dam sites and put a ring around them. Buy from whoever has them, because you re going to need them in the future . Federated Farmers dairy chairman and environmental spokes- man Lachlan McKenzie says the lobby group supports water har- vesting, especially inno- vative, low-cost systems. We do know of areas where irrigation effec- tively doubles production and in some cases it s by four times. Public water storage projects may qualify for a start-up grant under the government s community irrigation fund. Farmers may be able to get bank loans to fund private dams if projects are supported by a robust business case. Banks will lend on it if the numbers stack up. That s their simple cri- teria. But getting resource consents for irrigation schemes can be a slow and costly process, he says. Some of these big schemes have spent $10 million and haven t even got a consent. I was looking at build- ing a small hydro dam on a property in the Tau- ranga district. The con- struction was going to be about half a million dollars, but the consul- tants told me you d bet- ter have a million dollars stashed away for the con- sent process. Federated Farmers is lobbying the government to make it cheaper and quicker to get consents for farming activities. We must be able to have a more pragmatic, sensible, faster system than what we have at the moment. We seem to have a fetish desire to wind up in court and we think the judges have superior knowledge to everybody else. That is a major handbrake on New Zea- land. Northland Regional Council consents senior programme manager Dr Rob Lieffering says the council has policies that support off-stream water storage when river flows are high. It s a good idea and the way of the future anyway. I guess we wish more people would look into it. Dams could also form part of the council s flood reduction strategy. In some of the areas where there have been flooding issues, the coun- cil has been looking at the construction of reten- tion dams. Obtaining consents for small-scale farm dams and water takes should range from $1000 to $2000 if applications are straightforward and don t need to be publicly notified. Where multiple activities are part of the same project, we process them together and that saves a lot of costs. Costs are higher when bigger projects are proposed and consent applications are referred to the Environment Court. If it s a large-scale project and the effects are large, you re talking about $10,000. People interested in keyline irrigation can read about it in Ken Yeoman s book Water for Every Farm, available online from Amazon. See Donn Groom's website www.taheke mud.com, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 401-4700.
January 12th 2011
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