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Extreme Dry Hub

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.

Monthly summaries of the region’s weather trends can be found in our State of The Environment newsletter. The most recent newsletter can be found here.  To sign up for the newsletter to be emailed to you, please click here.

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.

Advice for farms and agriculture businesses

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 over any extreme dry or drought event.

Check out Beef and Lamb NZ’s comprehensive guide on how to manage through a drought, including feed supplies.

Click here for the latest feed planning advice from MPI.

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

Dairy NZ: Feed shortage budget case studies

• Northland owner-operator Awanui

• SW Waikato owner-operator Pirongia

• South Waikato owner with CM Putaruru

• BOP owner-operator Whakatane

• LNI 50-50 SM Waikato

• Southland owner-operator syndicate Invercargill

Feeding grain 

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

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.


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.

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                       

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. 


  • Recycles bale wrap, silage pit covers, small low-density polyethylene, feed bags, shrink wrap and pallet covers
  • pick-up by arrangement; freephone 0508 338 240 or visit

Agrecovery (containers only)

  • Pick-up by arrangement; collections held up to three times a year, generally during November, March and June. For more information, freephone 0800 AGRECOVERY (0800 247 326) or visit


How do I prepare my plastic waste for recycling?

  • Chemical containers can be prepared for recycling by emptying the last of their contents into the mixing tank for use, and triple-rinsing the empty container with water. You can then put the rinse-water into your mixing tank prior to filling it – it's a hassle-free way to get rid of your rinse-water, as it simply ends up a part of the properly diluted spray.
  • Silage wrap needs to be relatively clean for recycling – keep it clean by removing it from the paddock to a dry area for storage. Dispose of the wrap as soon as you have enough for a pickup or drop-off. 

What are the other disposal methods?

  • The only alternative to recycling your empty chemical containers is taking them to an approved landfill.
  • Burning silage wrap is a non-complying activity in Hawke’s Bay and could result in a fine or prosecution under the Resource Management Act. Burning silage wrap or other plastics can affect your health and the environment.

What if my silage wrap is too dirty?

  • If your silage wrap is too dirty to be recycled, it can be landfilled as general refuse, through your local waste service provider.

Need help?

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.

Drought Risk Indicator web app

This tool is intended to help farmers prepare and plan for dry conditions and drought.

Access the easy-to-use drought web app here

Drought app Red

Farmers Hub

The Regional Council's Farmers Hub is a one stop shop for all the information farmers may need from us.

Extreme dry e-newsletter

The latest newsletter and previous copies can be found here. Sign up below for regular updates on extreme dry planning and support: 

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

Disclaimers and Copyright
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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