A Queenstown farmer has never had to irrigate so late

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The effect of one of the best summers in years is showing in the land around Queenstown, as seen in this image, taken from Coronet Peak looking towards Arrowtown. Photo / Tracey Roxburgh

A Queenstown-born and raised farmer says he has never seen the land so dry.

Chris Dagg, who runs a sheep and beef farm at the foot of Coronet Peak, said he’s never had to irrigate so late in the season.

It was likely that irrigation would be needed for at least two more weeks.

Dagg fed the irrigation system off Mill Creek and said there were no problems so far.

“That’s one of the interesting things is that Mill Creek actually stayed…for some reason, even though we didn’t have any rain…Mill Creek is still running above its minimum flow. “

Otago Regional Council’s chief regulatory and communications officer, Richard Saunders, said there were no regional council water restrictions in place for Queenstown or Central Otago lakes at this stage.

“We continue to monitor river and lake levels; however, given the current dry conditions, we encourage everyone to be mindful of their water usage,” Saunders said.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council last week issued a water level warning for some rivers and lakes, including the Shotover River, Kawarau Approaches and the mouth of the Clutha River, which would have were extremely low.

Last Thursday, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor called drought conditions in Southland and Clutha and Queenstown Lakes districts a “medium-scale adverse event” and announced up to $100,000 in funding government to support farmers by October.

“The funding will go to Southland and Otago Rural Support Trusts to help with both individual support and community events, with additional technical advice also available from industry groups, including advice on planning the ‘diet,’ O’Connor said.

Dagg said from what he understood of the funds, there did not appear to be any funding to purchase animal feed.

He said he had started sending lambs to Canterbury and would soon be reduced to social capital for which he said he had a surplus of feed, ‘so that should be fine’.

Dagg said he will start supplementing foods earlier than usual this year.

“Here it’s dry, no doubt about it, but I’d say it’s a bit tougher [for Southlanders] because they are more stocked,” Dagg said.

“There will be a fairly high cost, especially for dairy farmers. I know the price that was paid for the bullets and that [is] surprising.”

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