4 May 2010

Much more rain needed before drought over, says trust

1:46 pm on 4 May 2010

The Waikato Rural Support Trust says much more rain is needed before the drought in the region is over.

The region was declared to be in drought early in April.

The trust says calls to its helpline have eased over the past week. Chairman Neil Bateup says this may be due to the fact that the hardest-hit farmers have already made contact.

Mr Bateup says many farmers will be getting increasingly worried, given that substantial rain has still not fallen.

Between 20 millimetres and 40mm has been recorded in the past week. However, another 75mm is needed over three to four days and then ongoing rain to keep pastures healthy before the drought has broken.

Every day that dry conditions continue, the ability to grow grass for winter lessens and farmers worried about coping need to start talking to their farm adviser, accountant or bank, Mr Bateup says.

Farmers advised to make most of soil temperatures

Drought-stricken farmers are being advised to make the most of the unusually high soil temperatures for this time of year.

Fertiliser cooperative Ballance Agri-Nutrients says soil temperatures are holding up well under milder conditions, so farmers should look to grow as much grass as possible before they drop.

Science extension manager Aaron Stafford says recent rainfall in several of the drought regions will also help in boosting pasture cover before winter.

Mr Stafford says new research has found that farmers do not need to hold off from applying nitrogen fertiliser until drought-breaking rain.

The forecast of a milder winter is also likely to help in pasture recovery, he says.