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Wetland restoration for cleaner water

Land & Water

Already the 15,000 plants in the new wetland on Gray and Marilyn Baldwin’s farm have grown to half a metre tall from when planting first started in May 2016.

Wetland’s play a vital role on farms, improving water quality by removing up to 70 percent of the nitrate from runoff through bacteria and uptake by plants.

The wetland showcase on the Putaruru farm is part of a joint project looking at how wetlands contribute to improved water quality and the most efficient and effective way farmers can create them.

Dairy farmer Marilyn Baldwin says they will share information about the on-farm management of wetlands to help other farmers come up with a recipe that will contribute to improved water quality.

“For us, this is about us saying we want to be farming here for many years and so a project like this allows us to put a front foot forward and see what we can do to try and minimise our environmental footprint,” says Marilyn.

The project is a partnership between DairyNZ, Baldwin Family Trust, the Waikato River Authority, Opus International Consultants, Hill Laboratories, NIWA and the Waikato Regional Council.

The 1.1ha wetland has been constructed and planted, and monitoring equipment has been set up by NIWA at the points where water enters and exits the wetland. Nitrate removal rates will be measured to assess the wetland’s performance.

Results and learnings from the project will be shared with other farmers through open days on the farm and the DairyNZ website.

Ultimately, it’s hoped it will lead to a greater uptake of wetland development among New Zealand farmers.

The Baldwins are focused on shaping a positive future for the farm and the next generation of farmers. They are considering options to gain a protected status for the wetland to protect it in the future.

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