Northland Regional Council is encouraging owners of erosion-prone properties from Te Hana north to orders this winter's poplar and willow poles early.

With limited pole numbers, and an increasing uptake across Northland, Cr Rick Stolwerk said the coming season's supply was already being allocated rapidly. Priority would be given to land owners where the council had identified a high risk of erosion.

The supply of planting material also depended on having a NRC Farm Water Quality Improvement Plan or NRC planting plan.

To keep up with demand, the council was continuing to expand its nursery operation at Mata, south of Whangarei.

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"Last year we added a further 2.8ha to the 6.3ha nursery, with plans in our upcoming long-term plan to increase output significantly to match demand," Cr Stolwerk said.

Hill country farmers whose erosion-prone properties drained to the Kaipara Harbour were again eligible for a share of more than 3500 fully-subsidised poplar poles in a joint NRC-Ministry for Primary Industries initiative, but subsidised poles were also available to others who were keen to control erosion and protect water quality.

Contact should be made with council land management staff as soon as possible (on 0800 002-004) to arrange a consultation and site visit, to ensure trees would be planted appropriately, in the correct place and proper spacing. Land owners would be responsible for their future maintenance.

The council sold the 3m poles (usually retailing for up to $12 each) for $6 (ex-GST) plus a small delivery fee, delivered to the farm gate, provided land owners have a farm water quality improvement or planting plan.

A number of sizes were now available, down to 1m, to cater for a range of situations.
Cr Stolwerk said the fast-growing poplars and willows had broad, binding root systems, and had been used widely for many years to prevent and control erosion, in as little as three years after planting, and reduce waterway sediment pollution.

Orders would be taken until May 4, or until stocks ran out. The best time to plant the trees was typically from June to mid-August.

¦More information was available at www.nrc.govt.nz/poplars