Three companies hoping to set up intensive dairying operations in the Upper Waitaki River catchment have told Commissioners hearing their applications for water consents, they would consider growing fodder and crops instead.
South Down Holdings, Williamson Holdings and Five Rivers are seeking water rights from Canterbury Regional Council.
The company say they want a decision irrespective of related effluent applications called in by the Minister for the Environment, which are being considered separately.
The companies want to develop 16 dairy farms in the Omarama and Ohau area, but are now suggesting alternative uses for the land and water - namely the growing of "cut and carry" feed for beef and sheep, or cropping without stock.
They say dairying remains their preferred option and they are volunteering to provide further information to the commissioners before the end of this month.
More than 100 applications have been made for water rights in the Upper Waitaki Catchment.
Canterbury Regional Council set up a panel in September last year to hear the applications.