Sue Brown and John Nalder on the flood bank above the Aorere River.
Golden Bay dairy farmer Sue Brown has been acclaimed for her leadership of the Aorere Catchment Project. It's been responsible for cleaning up waterways in the Collingwood area after it was found in 2004 that run-off from pastures was affecting water quality in the coastal marine harvesting area.
Golden Bay is particularly sensitive to faecal bacterial contamination given the local importance of aquaculture and mussel farms in Collingwood were under real threat of closure. Marine farmers were desperate for improved water quality and threatened dairy farmers with legal action.
Farmers began putting measures in place to reduce run-off into the catchment’s rivers and streams. This involved fencing stock from waterways and investing in low rate effluent irrigation systems with increased storage capacity, meaning irrigation could be delayed if soils were too wet. This was no small task with estimated costs well over $100,000 per farm.
As well as her involvement in water quality projects, Sue Brown also chairs the Golden Bay dairy section of Federated Farmers and is on the Nelson Marlborough Conservation Board. Sue and her partner, John Nalder, farm 300 dairy cows at the foot of the Wakamarama Range; a flood prone block of coastal land where they've lived for 17 years.