'We as farmers need to take some responsibility' - industry reviewing irrigation methods after criticism

Farmers are looking into new ways of managing irrigation in light of ongoing criticism of the industry.

This month the government announced it was pulling its support from several irrigation schemes including the Hurunui water project, as well as those in Flaxbourne, Malborough and Hunter Downs near Timaru.

Irrigation New Zealand's biennial conference this week attracted more than 400 representatives including local and regional councils, farmers, experts, and environmentalists, all wanting to discuss the industry's future.  

"We as farmers need to take some responsibility and accountability for that and lead the charge of cleaning up our own environment," said James Dicey from Mount Difficulty Wines.

The conference was all about developing new ways of working, with a key focus on the role technology can play in improving the industry's environmental footprint.

"We need to really make sure we encourage those innovative thinkers and get them out there to share their story," said Nicky Hyslop, Irrigation NZ chair.

"They often lead the way and they lead change."

Mount Difficulty Wines is a leader in sustainable wine-making. They compost all their grape waste and reuse their wastewater to grow more than 14,000 native plants in the last eight years.

"We need to be aware of what we're irrigating, why we're doing it and only giving what's required," said Dicey.

According to international water expert, Dr. Stuart Styles, in global terms we're pushing ahead. In New Zealand 85 per cent of farmers have changed to pressurised irrigation systems, which use water more more efficiently than those previously used.

"In California we still have almost 40 per cent that have surface irrigations," said Dr. Styles, professor at Cal Poly State University. "So we have a long way to go in that arena for efficiency on farms."

Another focus of the conference was changing the perception of irrigation. While it's often associated with dairy farming, that's not its only use.

At Central Otago's historic Bendigo Station their focus has predominantly been on producing merino wool. However, through irrigation they've been able to turn their masses of rabbit infested-land into vineyards.

"It's transformed all our lower country, all our pastoral country," said John Perriam, owner of Bendigo Station.

With water from the Clutha River, they're also building a shared water storage reservoir for the vineyards and new fruit orchards.

"It's really now developing into a new Garden of Eden here in Central Otago," said Perriam.

Farmers are hoping smarter and more efficient water use could help clean up the environment, and their image.

More than 400 representatives gathered at Irrigation NZ's conference this week to discuss the industry's future. Source: 1 NEWS

Watch: Air NZ explains Dreamliner engine issues that have disrupted thousands of Kiwi travellers

An in-house video for Air NZ staff has been publicly released today, explaining the Dreamliner engine issues that have disrupted thousands of travelers this week. 

The two minute video was designed for Air New Zealand's 12,000 staff, and explains why tests on the Rolls Royce engines on Boeing-787 Dreamliner planes have been enforced globally.

Around 6500 Air NZ passengers have, and will, have their flights disrupted into next week.

In layman terms, as the video describes it, the checks are looking for cracks in the blades of the compressor section of the jet engine.

"If the engines fail, they will be removed and sent to Singapore to the Rolls Royce facility for repair," Air NZ engineer Logan Horrell says.

Operators have been ordered to do inspections on a specific part of the compressor in the Rolls Royce engine much earlier than expected - at 300 cycles instead of 2000 cycles.

A single cycle in aviation terminology is when a plane takes off and lands.

Asked by Air NZ chief operating officer Bruce Parton whether these Rolls Royce engines are " lemons, or are they alright" Mr Horrell assures this is normal practice. 

"No, this is a normal engine process for any engine type. These engines go through teething issues and once we repair the engines we expect them to be just as reliable as any other engine," Horrell says.

Mr Horrell ends the video by assuring viewers that the engines were safe, and the tests currently being enforced were "conservative".


Auckland activist Penny Bright may have ovarian cancer, asks for forced sale of house to be halted

Well-known activist Penny Bright has told 1 NEWS that she could have ovarian cancer and is asking for the forced sale of her home to be halted.

The Auckland resident was admitted to hospital with bloating and abdominal pain, where doctors drained nearly five litres of fluid from her stomach.

Ms Bright says she had a biopsy and the results are expected back in a week.

The health scare comes as Auckland Council puts Ms Bright’s Kingsland home on the market to recover her unpaid rates bill, which is in excess of $35,000.

Ms Bright broke down in tears as she questioned why the council needed to proceed, asking it to show compassion and delay selling her home.

"What has I done to deserve this?" she said.

"All I’ve been trying to do is get the council to comply with the law so we know where our rates money is being spent."

Ms Bright has refused to pay her rates for more than a decade in an attempt to get the council to be more transparent, including how contracts are awarded.

Auckland Council’s chief financial officer Matthew Walker says this type of action has happened just once before in the super city’s seven-year history.

"This is not a process we want to get into with any Auckland resident or ratepayer. We certainly hope we can settle Ms Bright’s rates account ahead of any sale of her property."

Mr Walker said that the council will meet with Ms Bright tomorrow to try to find a solution before the deadline of 4pm on Tuesday.

Bright's home is being sold as she has refused to pay rates for over a decade. Source: 1 NEWS