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Mud from paddock closes Southland kindy, as council cracks down on winter grazing breaches

A Southland kindergarten was forced to close this week after mud washed through the grounds from a neighbouring paddock in an incident that comes as the Southland Regional Council cracks down on intensive winter grazing. 

The council, known as Environment Southland, says it's carrying out aerial monitoring and on-the-ground inspections of grazing properties and has a range of enforcement options available to it.

Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips says he continues to be concerned at some of the intensive winter grazing practice in Southland, particularly as farmers now deal with the recent wet weather.

This week the council's compliance team was called to an incident where winter grazing runoff affected the Longbush Kindergarten, forcing it to close, he said. 

"Our staff have been out to the kindergarten and, although there is no evidence of waterway contamination, mud and sediment has washed through the grounds of the facility from an adjoining paddock," Mr Phillips said, adding that a clean-up has been undertaken.

He said the council is working with the kindergarten and the farm manager to resolve the situation and a full investigation is underway, while an abatement notice has been issued to ensure the farmer stops the runoff onto the property immediately.

"Farmers need to understand that they must use good management practice for all winter grazing, including using portable water troughs and back fences to prevent cows going back into already grazed areas, as well as carefully managing critical source areas," Mr Phillips said.

"It is simply unacceptable for runoff to impact on neighbours or waterways and it is the farmers’ responsibility to ensure this does not happen," he said.

"As part of our programme to improve winter grazing and deal with those who are breaching the rules, our compliance team is currently carrying out aerial monitoring and on-the-ground inspections of grazing properties. We have a range of enforcement options available to us as required."

Mr Phillips said it is clear some farmers need to "step up and improve their practice", and those who are demonstrating good practice need to support and encourage their peers to do the same.

Source: 1 NEWS