For sheep and beef farmer Simon Davies of Toko Mouth it is not a matter of ''if'' the Alpine Fault will shift, but ''when''.

Mr Davies said he had heard the fault, which runs along most of the length of the South Island apparently moved every 300 years and it was overdue for another shake.

He is concerned that many farmers and rural residents were not sufficiently prepared for an earthquake, or other adverse event.

He said while most farmers could cope for up to about a week, longer term, there would probably be issues.

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Mr Davies is involved in the Rural Advisory Group to the Otago Civil Defence and Emergency Management group through his role as Federated Farmers' Otago president.

He encouraged farmers to think through possible adverse event scenarios and decide if they would be able to survive them for any length of time.

''It would be really good for farmers to do that exercise,'' Mr Davies said.

He said they needed to think about their resources and have a business continuity plan in case of an emergency.

''While there are some relatively well-organised farmers, there are a lot that are not,'' he said.

Many sheep and beef farmers would be vulnerable without water or electricity, especially those on water schemes, and they needed to have a back-up plan.

That could include a power generator and petrol or diesel pump.

''If the Alpine Fault goes, my big concern is electricity disruption.

''We are looking at the hydro lakes getting damaged and we could be talking being months without power.''

He said he intended to convert his two main electric fences to solar power and also wanted to install a solar water pump and a solar-powered weather station.

He also has a battery-operated phone and internet access in the local Civil Defence muster station on his property.

''I would like to think dairy farmers should all have back up systems for milking, maybe have a generator between three or four neighbours.''

Federated Farmers has suggested keeping solid red blankets on hand so if they needed assistance, they could spread the blanket somewhere visible to helicopter pilots, indicating they needed help.

He said he had talked to some of the retail banks and asked them to discuss the need for preparedness and awareness next time they talked to their clients.

Southern Rural Life