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August Newsletter 2018

Tēnā koutou,

This month we’re excited to show you the first fruits of our labour regarding all of the mapping the team have been working on. From hours in the field surveying the native vegetation types, to even more hours behind computers working on a GIS mapping system, we now have some pictures to show you!

Below you can see a small snapshot of our Ruapehu farm. Each different colour/number represents a different type of vegetation. We can use this data to work out how much native vegetation is on the farm. We can also use it in a farm management modelling system and integrate it into how the farm is run – taking biodiversity into account alongside exposure, terrain and other agricultural variables.

Vegetation map
A small part of the vegetation map for our Ruapehu farm. 3 = Planted, sparse exotic forest; 7 = Regenerating, continuous native forest; 8 = Regenerating, diffuse native forest; 9 = Regenerating sparse native grass; 12 = Regenerating diffuse native grass; 20 = Regenerating, continuous native wetland; 21 = Regenerating, diffuse native wetland.

Stepping up to the “next generation” of surveying technology, Brad, Hannah and their team have been out with the drone on our Kaipara farm. They collected vegetation data that allowed them to create a beautiful 3D, interactive map on which the owners can view their farm in a whole new way.

GIS map
A snapshot of the native vegetation on our Kaipara farm.

David and Jennifer have also been busy with GIS, writing a report for Beef + Lamb NZ on native vegetation on sheep and beef farms. Through a computer-based, GIS analysis they found that sheep and beef farms are home to the largest amount of native vegetation in New Zealand outside public conservation land. Nearly a quarter of NZ’s remaining native vegetation cover (grasslands and forest) can be found on our sheep and beef farms. This speaks to the huge role farmers play in the conservation of native species around the country and reinforces how important it is for us to find ways of integrating biodiversity into the functioning farm environment. The report was made public in early July and had a great response from the public.

Not all biodiversity is wanted however! In line with our seasonal sampling, throughout winter we set out our first round of mammalian pest monitoring devices – tracking tunnels, camera “traps” and chew cards. We found the range of usual suspects including cats, rats, possums and hedgehogs (yes hedgehogs are predators too!). We have been trialling a range of different sampling techniques because most of the common protocols have been designed for large tracts of conservation land, not the smaller patches of vegetation found on-farm. These protocols might not be effective when there are curious cows or sheep hanging around, so we have to figure out what works best to sample mammalian pests in the farm environment. We’re looking forward to seeing how this progresses throughout the seasons and tailoring pest-control solutions to our farms.

Pest species
A few of the pest species we recorded with trail cameras on our Ruapehu farm.

We hope everyone’s lambing and calving season has started off well. Kia kaha for the coming weeks!

Kia ora rawa atu,

The Farming & Nature Conservation team:

Hannah Buckley, David Norton, Brad Case, Margaret Stanley, Jennifer Pannell, Valance Smith, Estelle Dominati, Margaret Brown, Fleur Maseyk and Stacey Bryan

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