DairyNZ and NIWA are looking for riparian planting options for farmers which benefit not only the environment but can also be used to produce fodder for stock, food for people, or even pharmaceuticals.

Dairy farmers throughout the country have done extensive riparian planting as part of their efforts to protect and enhance waterways, driven by the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord.

To encourage them to continue their planting efforts, DairyNZ environment manager Aslan Wright-Stow said they were looking for a "win-win" solution that provided environmental, economic and social gains.

"We're looking at different types of vegetation that farmers can use to not only improve water quality but also retain a degree of farm productivity from riparian areas, which will encourage larger setbacks from waterway," Mr Wright-Stow said.

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NIWA aquatic rehabilitation programme leader Dr Fleur Matheson says the project will be a collaborative effort. Research agencies will work with local farmer groups.

The three-year project has been co-funded by the Sustainable Farming Fund.