This page provides lots of information to help our farmers and growers in extreme dry events.
Occasional extreme dry periods have been a feature of the Hawke’s Bay climate since agriculture and horticulture began in the region. The most recent of these occurred in 2020 and placed the region’s primary sector under huge pressure.
Extreme dry events are likely to become more prevalent with climate change. The Council works with individual landowners, community groups, and farming and grower organisations to build climate resilience and prepare for extreme dry spells.
We recommend anyone looking for help or advice from a farm advisor on planning for dry events to contact the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management.
Find more information about specific extreme dry related topics below.
It’s not too late to develop a plan for extreme dry weather or droughts. A good plan will reduce stress and mitigate the effects 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.
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:
Grain is a good option for feeding sheep - find out more in this info sheet Feeding Grain to Sheep
Our system to notify water consent holders of low flow water levels is back online.
After Cyclone Gabrielle, the Regional Council’s low-flow system was temporarily suspended and any required notifications to consent holders ended.
The low-flow system is online and watertake consent holders who have low flow conditions in their consents will receive notifications in the form they have.
The Regional Council records water levels at 50 river sites in Hawke’s Bay, from the Hangaroa River in the north to the Pōrangahau River in the south. The Regional Council measures river flow at 41 of these sites and this information is combined with water level data to produce continuous flow records.
When a river or stream goes below a certain flow rate it’s considered to be in low flow – and may put additional stress on the waterway - and each river or stream has different low-flow levels.
When the flow in rivers or streams falls too low, then watertake consent holders who have low flow conditions in their consent must stop taking water.
To find out more about low flows, go to https://www.hbrc.govt.nz/environment/low-flows/
Planning for an extreme dry period may be challenging for lifestyle block owners who haven’t experienced these kind of conditions. The Ministry for Primary Industries has specific resources and support for small block owners in a drought.
It’s understandable to be stressed given the pressures from extreme dry events or a drought. If you need further support, don’t hesitate to call or text 1737, at any time 24/7 to speak with a trained counsellor. You can also call 0800 787 254 and speak with a representative from the East Coast Rural Support Trust.
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.
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.
As the land dries and pasture growth slows, watch and review animals’ body condition score and keep an eye out for health risks. MPI advice on preparing animals for dry events and droughts can be found here.
The following recycling providers deal with farm plastic wastes.
Agrecovery (containers only)
How do I prepare my plastic waste for recycling?
What are the other disposal methods?
What if my silage wrap is too dirty?
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 dry conditions on farms.
This tool is intended to help farmers prepare and plan for dry conditions and drought.
The Regional Council's Farmers Hub is a one stop shop for all the information farmers may need from us.
The latest newsletter and previous copies can be found here. Sign up below for regular updates on extreme dry planning and support:
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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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