Farmers in the Aparima Catchment in Southland are doing great work making environmental changes to improve water quality, says David Burger.

DairyNZ's strategy and investment leader for responsible dairy spoke to The Country Early Edition's Rowena Duncum about the farmer-led initiative to improve the catchment.

"The most exciting thing about this project is that it's really driven by the farmers," says Burger.

The Aparima Catchment is in the western part of Southland and is very large with a "real mix of land use," says Burger, including forestry, dairy, natural conservation land and sheep and beef country.

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"What's really great about this project is ... all primary sectors are involved in this work, together with the regional council and the various industry agencies and central government as well."

Burger says DairyNZ focused on the Aparima Catchment because of the work already taking place there, which made it easier to "tell the story".

"Quite often farmers all around the country are doing a lot of good work but it's very hard for us to demonstrate what that actually means downstream for improvement."

Burger says farmers are improving the catchment by establishing buffer zones for wintering, riparian planting, utilising best practice use of crops and fertiliser, and setting up wetlands.

The catchment hosted Minister for the Environment David Parker last Friday, who visited farms to see the work under way.

"It was a very positive event," says Burger.

Listen below: