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Drought crisis information hub

This year's severe drought, combined with Covid-19 pressures, is having a major impact on farmers. This drought information hub provides information to assist farmers and landowners.

Latest Info & News

Feed Coordination

Feed co-ordinators have been appointed in the North and South Island.  Their role is to collect information about feed needs, and where possible connect farmers with any feed that may be available.

Drought Recovery Advice Fund

The 2020 Drought Recovery Advice Fund is to help you recover from the 2020 drought, and plan for future droughts. It will pay for professional advice to a maximum of $5,000 (excl GST). Find out more...

Hawke’s Bay Rural Advisory Group Drought Crisis Response

Web graphic DROUGHT April 2020We know that this year’s persistent and severe drought, particularly in Central Hawke’s Bay, combined with Covid-19 pressures, is having a major impact on farmers.

That’s why the Hawke’s Bay Rural Advisory Group in partnership with Hawke’s Bay Emergency Management and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has created this drought support hub.

The RAG are operating satellite teams covering feed, water, logistics, animal welfare, welfare, and finance and are delivering effective drought response and support to the rural community.. A team is co-ordinating Maori Liaison and another team link in with the Wairoa Civil Defence Emergency Management team.

There has been below normal monthly rainfall in the Ruahine Ranges, Heretaunga and Ruataniwha Plains and southern Hawke’s Bay for five consecutive months. The Regional Council is regularly monitoring soil moisture, which is currently well below normal. To ‘break’ the drought, the region requires about 60-80mm of rain over two weeks.

You can find more information on specific subjects here:

It’s not too late to develop a plan for this drought. A good plan will reduce stress and mitigate the effects of the drought for next year’s production.

It may not be easy to predict when it will rain, but a plan provides the framework for what decisions need to be made and when. The plan needs to be reviewed as conditions change.

Advice for farms and agriculture businesses

Drought Recovery Webinar Series

dougth webinars


Monday, 25 May, 2020

Below is a map of the rain for yesterday and this morning up until 9am. Finally Central Hawke’s Bay seems to have caught the main rain band, with about 30 mm in the ranges and 10-20 mm on the Plains and also the southern coastal area. Most other areas got less than 10 mm except for the northwest ranges where 40 mm fell in a couple of places.

There’s a few showers still making their way through Central Hawke’s Bay today but then probably little else until the weekend when a small low looks to cross the North Island. It could bring us some more rain though early forecasts suggest East Cape is the more likely recipient than us. Temperatures cool as winds turn southerly later today but only for a couple of days.

weather mnap 2505


Most of the region has now had 50% or more of the average for May except for northern Hawke’s Bay.

rain map 2505



Tomorrow will give us a better idea of any movement in soil moisture.  So far there isn’t much to report and things remain flat-lined at Bridge Pa, Ongaonga and Crownthorpe.  Soil temperature is about 10°C at those sites.  Hangaroa, north of Wairoa, is above median levels for the time of year.  Taharua is below median levels and is nearing the lowest 10th percentile but will probably bounce back now that 41 mm of rain has fallen overnight. 

 soil moisture 2soil moisture 3soil moistrue1

Check long-range weather forecasts:

MetService's 10 day forecast for Hawke’s Bay

Keep track of drought conditions:
Niwa’s drought monitor


Looking for stock feed?

Feed co-ordinators have been appointed in the North and South Island.  Their role is to collect information about feed needs, and where possible connect farmers with any feed that may be available.

MPI has appointed feed co-ordinators.  Their role is to collect information about feed needs, and where possible connect farmers with any feed that may be available.

To use this service you can call your feed budget support number who will take your information:

  • 0800 BEEFLAMB (0800 23 33 52)
  • 0800 4 DairyNZ (0800 43 24 79 69)

As the feed you usually want may not be available, it's critical that you have  built a feed budget to identify how you are going to balance limited grass, silage and baleage supplies with grain and other feeds.

This service does not give free feed, nor subsidise costs. 

Are you a farmer or lifestyle block owner with livestock? Do you need help planning your animals feed?

Use the new feed budgeting service. The first two levels of help are FREE.

The third tier of support is using a consultant, either from those recommended or one of your choosing and it’s at your own cost.

Call 0800 4DAIRYNZ or 0800 BEEFLAMB

Find more detail here

Hawke’s Bay is experiencing feed shortages, exacerbated by a reduction in processing capacity as a result of the new protocols that processing companies have to follow in order to operate during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Beef and Lamb NZ are urging farmers to act now and to figure out how much feed they have and what steps they need to take, in case they are not able to get their stock processed when they want.

Useful links:

Alternate Stock Feed Sources

  • Ensure that any chemical residues that transfer to the animal from fruit and vegetables will comply with the applicable maximum residue levels in meat and milk. The easiest way to do this is to avoid feeding any fruits or vegetables that are within their agricultural chemical withholding periods.
  • Only feed fruits and vegetables in proportions that are appropriate for the species. You can use 10-15% of the total daily diet and for no more than a few consecutive days at a time as a rule of thumb for most types, but there are some exceptions.
  • Consult your veterinarian on what fruits or vegetables are appropriate or should be avoided (such as avocados), and how much of the diet can be supplemented with a particular type of fruit or vegetable.

Supplementary Feed from Poplars & Willows

Poplars and willows can be pollarded for supplementary feed by removal of leaders and branches from the tree trunk above cattle grazing height. Trees will easily regrow new branches, and trees can be pollarded on a 2 – 3 year cycle. Poplar and willows leaves have 65–70% dry matter digestibility, with a crude protein level of 15%. Cattle eat trimmings up to 10mm diameter and sheep up to 5mm diameter.

Operator safety is paramount when pruning or pollarding poplars and willows; remember it is dangerous and illegal to use a chainsaw above shoulder height. However with the right precautions and equipment, trees can be harvested efficiently and safely. More information on pruning, pollarding and safety advice can be found via these links:

Pollarding poplars and willows for fodder
Video: pollarding fodder willows
Video: pollarding older willows
Video: High pruning poplars
Willow management for drought fodder

Nitrogen fertiliser use

Beef + Lamb say that nitrogen fertiliser is worth considering as a short-term tactical response, when in recovery mode. After a period of dry, there is some release of nitrogen in the soil, but a small amount of nitrogen fertiliser (25-30kgN/ha) applied to growing grass with adequate soil moisture and temperature– ideally immediately before rain – will boost growth.

The Regional Council recognises that this drought is unprecedented and farmers are facing major feed shortages and stock issues.

Some dairy farmers may be concerned about how adding extra nitrogen fertiliser will impact their resource consents in the Tukituki catchment.

Nitrogen-leaching in Overseer tends to occur from excess nitrogen excreted in urine. The excess nitrogen comes from cows eating pasture, so given there is less pasture, it would follow that there will be lower amounts of nitrogen leached compared to previous years.

However, farmers may need to keep stock on for longer due to lack of grazing elsewhere, and other reasons, which could increase N-leaching further.
Given every farm system is different, the Regional Council is encouraging farmers to seek advice from their farm consultant/adviser, milk supply company or accredited farm plan provider as to how any changes proposed to their system for drought recovery may affect their nitrogen leaching. Any changes to the farm system must be recorded in your farm’s year end nutrient budget.

See Dairy NZ’s paper about nitrogen use after a dry summer

Dairy NZ: Feed shortage budget case studies

 Grain is a good option for feeding sheep - find out more in this info sheet  Feeding Grain to Sheep




Please see this directory of Hawke’s Bay water providers.
For those who have consented irrigation water takes, the water can be used for stock and domestic use, however please talk to the regional council before doing this so we can understand where the water is being used. Contact the water irrigation team here.

Wage subsidy help for farmers

Did you know that farmers struggling from the effects of the drought may be eligible for a COVID wage subsidy through Work and Income?

Make sure you’re not missing out.

Contact Cheryl Nicholls on 029 660 0060 or to find out more

Talk to your bank and accountant, and talk to them regularly.

If you need help with planning and budgeting for your farm, the Rural Support Trust can point you in the right direction.

As well as the drought, a number of farmers have been adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to qualify for assistance, you must have been materially affected by the pandemic.

Work and Income can tell you about emergency benefits, special needs grants, or rural assistance payments.

When applying for a Work and Income grant or subsidy you will need to get your business number which (assuming you have a registered business) can be found here.

When applying for a Work and Income grant or subsidy please provide whatever information that applies to you as follows:

  • your IRD number
  • your New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) if they have one
  • your business:
  1. name
  2. address
  3. contact details
  • your employee details (if applicable). Please include full-time and part-time employees in the same application including:
  1. names
  2. date of birth
  3. IRD numbers
  4. employment type (whether they are full-time or part-time)

Here is some more information about available tax relief for drought



MPI is helping to co-ordinate animal welfare services if needed for affected animals or their owners.

If you have any questions about animal welfare, email

MPI is talking to meat companies to help ensure there is capacity at the works for farmers wanting to destock.

Advice for farms and agriculture businesses

Animal welfare contact list (vets, butchers, pet processing)

Wild Game Salami

Hawke’s Bay   027 855 9773  

Mobile Farmkill          

Hawke’s Bay     027 226 6671  

CHB Meat Processors 

Waipukurau        06 858 8224  

RTN Homekill            

Clive          06 870 0364  
HB Farmkill Napier 06 842 2698  

Medallion Pet Food


0800 364 882

Carlyle Vet Clinic


06 835 1096

CareVets Napier


06 842 2033 

CHB Vets Ltd


06 858 6555 

Vet Services HB
Vet Services HB
Vet Services HB


06 843 5308
06 843 5308
06 858 9060

Vets One                     Hastings 06 878 8666


0800 00 83 33 

Call 0800 422 923 for urgent access to essential household goods and services (7am-7pm). If you are unable to call between these hours, fill out a welfare needs referral form here.

It’s understandable to be stressed given the pressures from the drought, combined with the lock down restrictions.

It’s ok, to not be ok.

Here are some simple actions to consider:
• Stay connected with your community and networks, and don’t be afraid to ask for help
• Be kind to yourself and others.
• Keep active, eat well, get sufficient sleep.
• Enjoy the little things in life and take time out.

If you need further support, don’t hesitate to call or text 1737, at any time 24/7 to speak with a trained counsellor.

Useful videos

In this video series, Lance Burdett, of Wellness, Awareness, Resilience and Negotiation (WARN) International, talks directly to farmers about the different aspects of mental well being.

Dealing with Uncertainty



Staying Alert

Planning ahead


The RAG are operating a logistics satellite group who are helping the rural community with moving stock, sourcing and transporting feed, and monitoring processing times at the freezing works

A team is providing support in Wairoa, and is connecting in with the Wairoa Civil Defence Emergency Management Group and the East Coast Rural Support Trust and the Rural Advisory Group. 

The RAG are operating a Maori Liaison group who are monitoring and responding to the the needs of Hawke’s Bay’s rural Maori community, affected by the drought.


Using social media to stay in touch, especially during a crisis (and especially in lock-down) is a great way to support each other, help each other out, and swap stories and useful tips. There are a number of social media tools to do this and we have covered the basics of some of these below to get your started.  


The purpose of WhatsApp groups is to establish collective conversations with others. With group chats you can share messages, information, documents, links, photos, and videos with up to 256 people at once. This is an ideal app to use for those not on Facebook or other social media.

How you can get started with a Whatsapp group:

  • Download the app in google play or Apple store, or on Mac and PC.
  • Go to your ‘chat’ tab in WhatsApp and select ‘New group’. Then select who from your contact list will be part of the group. From the next screen, you’ll be able to name the group and add an icon if you wish.
  • The people you would like to add need to be in your contact list on your phone – so add them in there first so that you can select them in Whattsapp.
  • You can tag members of the group in messages by using the @ symbol. You can also visit each member’s profile and start a private chat with them by tapping on their icons.
  • Any messages in the group chat itself will go to all members of the group.
  • Within the group settings — which you can access by tapping on the group name at the top of the screen — you can search for what kinds of links and photos you’ve sent to each other, as well as find individual messages with ‘Chat Search’.
  • Depending on how large the group is, it might be helpful to appoint another user to be an admin, who is also permitted to make changes to the group.
  • It is worth establishing rules of behaviour/conduct for your group at the start –here’s an online guide with ideas about what these could include.
  • Make sure you have allowed WhatsApp to access your contacts and your photos.
  • You can also voice or video call any of your Whatsapp contacts through the app.

Facebook Messenger

  • Facebook Messenger lets you chat with your Facebook friends using a dedicated mobile app that's separate from the primary Facebook app.
  • You can send text, pictures, videos, documents, links and voice messages.
  • How to Group Chat on Facebook Messenger:
  • If you don't already have the app, Facebook Messenger is available for download on iOS, Android, and Windows 10. You can also use it in a web browser from Facebook.
  • Open Messenger and tap the new chat icon.
  • Tap Create a New Group.
  • Select people from your friend list to add them to the group
  • Give the group a name.
  • You are automatically an admin for any group you create and you can control who is allowed in. If you'd like to require approval from you or another admin, tap the group name at the top, then tap Member Requests, and toggle on Admin Approval. At any time, you can remove people from the group chat.
  • You can add people to a group manually through your contacts or by sending a share link that anyone can use. New members can see all the past messages sent within the group.


Group Chats in Snapchat allow you and up to 31 friends to stay in touch. When you create a Group Chat, a Group Story is also created. Its main purpose is exchanging photos/videos with messages.

We wouldn’t recommend this as the best tool for communicating in a group as all messages in Group Chat are deleted by default after 24 hours, although there are ways of saving messages. You can’t send attachments either, and everyone in the group would need to sign up to Snapchat to be in the group.

The drought is proving challenging for lifestyle blocks owners who haven’t experienced these kind of conditions.

The Rural Advisory Group is available for support and advice to those who need it. If you want to speak with someone to get some advice, fill in the contact form on this page.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has specific resources and support for small block owners operating through the drought and lockdown restrictions

If you’re not sure what assistance may be available, or you don’t know who to contact for help, call the Government Helpline on 0800 779 997, 8am to 10pm, 7 days a week.

Small block owners can ring AgFirst on 0508 AGFIRST (243 477) for assistance with feed planning. It’s not a service that provides feed, but will help small block owners come up with a plan to care for their stock.

Find out what feed planning assistance is available to you

Here are some useful links:

Contact us

If you would like support and advice from the RAG and satellite teams, contact

We want to hear from you

We want to provide the most comprehensive and up to date information in this hub. If you have information you think we could include here, or have a question for us, please complete the form below, and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Follow this link if the form fails to load. online form.

Mayoral Drought Relief Fund register1



If you need support, call 0800 787 254, and you can speak with a representative from the East Coast Rural Support Trust, who are experienced in managing severe drought conditions on farms.

Farmers Hub

Our Farmers Hub is a one stop shop for all the information farmers may need from us. Check it out using the link below.

Farmers Hub

Green Circle Environment Logoe-newsletters 

Keep in touch with the latest news and information through the Rural Advisory Group's regular e-newsletter

6 May 2020 Newsletter

22 April 2020 Newsletter

6 April 2020 newsletter

Sign up to the mailing list to receive the e-newsletter into your inbox.


Follow this link if the form fails to load. online form.

Facebook group

The 'Hawke's Bay Drought' Facebook page was started by a Maraekakaho farmer. It’s proving to be a great way for people to connect and share experiences. Join the group by using the link below.

Hawke's Bay Drought Facebook

Drought Recovery Webinars

Join Beef & Lamb for a conference call every Thursday from 5–6pm. Each week a different expert will be available to have a discussion with you about managing your way through the drought.

B+LNZ Seasonal Planning Webinars

beef and lamb

 Rural Support Webinars

Find out more about the Rural Support Drought Recovery Webinar Series here

dougth webinars


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While every endeavour has been taken by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council to ensure that the information on this website is accurate and up to date, Hawke's Bay Regional Council shall not be liable for any loss suffered through the use, directly or indirectly, of information on this website. Information contained has been assembled in good faith. Some of the information available in this site is from the New Zealand Public domain and supplied by relevant government agencies. Hawke's Bay Regional Council cannot accept any liability for its accuracy or content. Portions of the information and material on this site, including data, pages, documents, online graphics and images are protected by copyright, unless specifically notified to the contrary. Externally sourced information or material is copyright to the respective provider.

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