Six years ago, NZ Landcare Trust started a one-year project that aimed to bring together farmers and stakeholders to scope out a catchment plan for the Pomahaka Catchment in Otago. The success of this initial work led to a further three year Sustainable Food and Fibres Future (SFF) project ‘Pathway for the Pomahaka’. In this project NZ Landcare Trust with support from the Pomahaka Farmers Water Care Group and the Pomahaka Stakeholders Group utilised and showcased industry tools that enable farmers to improve farm practices that impact on water quality, infrastructure, reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality.

Following the success of the project, the Pomahaka Water Care Group are now leading the efforts.

Over the years, there has been a heavy focus on monitoring farms and water quality, combined with action on the ground.

Main focal points of the project included:


  • Monitoring farms with DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb NZ.
  • Farmers trialling different monitoring tools to measure water quality, resulting in the analysis and production of monitoring protocols.
  • Good farm management practices on effluent storage and management; fertiliser use and efficiency; cultivation and management of winter cropping; and riparian management was showcased at field days and workshops.
  • Rabobank providing analysis of the economic and environmental implications of the farm system options to improve winter management.
  • Fertiliser companies showcasing different tools to manage fertiliser use and reduce nutrient leaching.
  • Beef+Lamb NZ running six Land Environment Planning (LEP) workshops with farmers to identify risk areas and produce action plans.
  • DairyNZ funding 45 dairy farmers to develop Sustainable Milk Plans (SMP).
  • Fish & Game surveying streams to identify aquatic values.
  • Surveying undertaken in Years 1 and 3 to identify farmer perceptions on issues affecting water quality.
  • Faciliatating a master class on community catchment engagement.
  • Holding a media course for leading farmers to provide links, networks and the confidence to tell their stories.
  • Producing a short film to promote the activities the catchment farmers are undertaking to improve farm sustainability and water quality.
  • Producing a six-monthly newsletter to go to catchment landowners and stakeholders.

NZ Landcare Trust, in partnership with Rabobank, created a video that tells the story of the Pomahaka project