Growers scramble to survive water ban

By Patrick O'Sullivan

A report detailing the costs resulting from an irrigation ban in Twyford has been commissioned by the Hawke's Bay Fruitgrowers Association.

Twyford Irrigator Group chairman Jerf Van Beek said the regional council bans on water use because of low Ngaruroro River levels had resulted in significant losses to growers.

"They have been a month without water - that has definitely had an effect," he said.

Shallow-rooted crops and young trees were especially suffering. Areas that had not been considered prone to drying out were now parched.

"There may be a shingle vein running through that block - in that area the ground has dried up quicker," said Van Beek.

"In the past it has never been an issue because there has been either rainfall or irrigation.

"Now we have been under a ban for a month those stress symptoms have come through, so we may have to look how we set up our irrigation systems."

Irrigation bans were bad for horticulture, he said. "Plants can do with less water but they can't do without water - neither can stock, nor humans.

"What we need to do is find a solution - what we might call 'survival water' during ban periods." The group had been talking to the council to find a long-term solution.

Through co-ordinated measures of growers the Raupare Stream, which runs out through to the Pakowhai Country Park, had been kept well above minimum flow levels, he said.

"Those growers only had a two-day ban early on in February and since then, through rostering and budgeting, we have been able to stay out of ban and work together with the Hawke's Bay Regional Council."

He said the drainage system in Twyford might need to be revised so tree roots are not killed by the high water table in winter.

- Hamilton News

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