Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Catchment-level view the key for water quality


Ravensdown is introducing a new service to respond to demand from farmers and local communities who are coming together to improve water quality in their catchments.

Instead of looking at each farm’s impact and mitigations, Integrated Catchment Management is a more holistic view of farming’s impact on local waterways.

The service involves water testing from Ravensdown’s specialist laboratory combined with highly trained environmental consultants using nutrient loss-minimising tools.

We are seeing groups of farmers and other local community members who are saying ‘the quality of our particular waterway is not good enough and we’re not going to wait for someone else to come in and improve it,

Ravensdown’s Mark Fitzpatrick, Business Manager Environmental.

Mitigating nutrient impacts, one stream or one farm at a time, can be more costly and less effective, according to Fitzpatrick.

"Water quality is often an accumulation of consequences that is affected by the choices of a wider variety of community members. Communities are motivated to look at catchment impacts. Our new service will provide the means to take that bigger picture approach and help promote good farming practice."

Ravensdown environmental consultants combine information obtained through Analytical Research Laboratories with farm and catchment-scale modelling. “This can then inform decision making on farm resulting in catchment-wide environmental impact reduction,” Fitzpatrick said.

Consultants will use the agricultural version of the Land Utilisation Capability Indicator – a modelling tool that is the result of a collaboration between Victoria University and Ravensdown. With LUCI, a trained consultant can show farmers the location of potential “hot spots” at risk of phosphate losses. The computer model indicates the scale of possible mitigations so helps improve decision-making and nutrient management.

The model’s complex algorithms incorporate slope, water movement, groundwater, soil map data, climate, land class along with information from the OVERSEER nutrient management tool. “The unique thing about LUCI is the way it can provide insights at a farm, catchment and even national level. It is this new software that enables our consultants to deliver a service that looks at a range of factors at a catchment level,” Fitzpatrick said.