Southland turns a corner as dry conditions ease in the region

southland-turns-a-corner-as-dry-conditions-ease-in-the-region

The drought conditions plaguing Southland farmers have eased, after some much-needed rain in the region.

Dry Southland pasture

Dry Southland pasture Photo: Southland Regional Council

NIWA’s latest hotspot watch shows dry conditions have lessened after rain in the region, though it is still dryer than usual for this time of year.

As of 3 May conditions were dry in parts of the upper South Island, much of Otago, eastern Southland, and Stewart Island, NIWA’s New Zealand Drought Index map showed.

Eastern Otago was also very dry, NIWA said.

Soil Moisture Anomaly Maps, relative to this time of the year. The maps show soil moisture anomaly for the past two weeks.

Soil Moisture Anomaly Maps, relative to this time of the year. The maps show soil moisture anomaly for the past two weeks. Photo: NIWA

The easing of conditions was welcome news for Southland Federated Farmers’ Southland meat and wool chair, Dean Rabbidge, who farms sheep, beef and dairy in the region.

It felt as though Southland had turned a corner, he said.

“We’ve had quite substantial rain for the last, sort of, four weeks now.

“And the best thing about that, is we’ve also had nice mild temperatures, sort of in the mid-20 degrees, so we’ve managed to grow a massive amount of feed quickly to fill a large percentage of the feed deficit hole that we were facing.

“Here, we’ve been growing north of 40kgs of dry matter per hectare, per day, which is well above demand,” he said.

“The covers are increasing, which is awesome, and on the sheep and beef side of things, we can start to see your way out in front of us now.

“The corner has been turned very quickly in Southland.”

Rabbidge said Southland farmers would still have to mindful about how they managed feed.

“We’ve just got to be careful with how we budget and be savvy.

“Instead of shifting sheep on because it’s a nice day or something, make sure you use the feed you’ve got allocated and available.”

While Southland was better, Central Otago remained dry and was a bit of a dust bowl, Rabbidge said.

Farmers there were having to dip into their winter feed.

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