Well-constructed wetlands can remove up to 75 percent of the nitrate from runoff through bacteria and uptake by plants, vastly improving water quality. They also trap sediment and phosphorus and reduce faecal bacteria.
Wetlands help protect land from flood damage by slowing or holding surface water and releasing it slowly over time.
As one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems, wetlands provide a valuable home for native plants and animals.
Identifying and protecting wetlands on your farm
Wetlands include anything from small on-farm swamps and seeps, to large, regionally recognised areas.
New Zealand has lost 90 percent of its wetland areas from drainage. Protecting even small wetlands on farm adds a lot of value to the environment.
What should I do with wetland areas on my farm?
Fencing wetlands will protect them from stock and allow them to perform to their maximum benefit, reducing the amount of nitrate, phosphorous and sediment entering waterways, improving stock management, protecting land from flood damage and providing a habitat for native wildlife.
Planting wetlands will add further benefit by increasing the uptake of nitrate, trapping more sediment before it enters waterways and increasing the habitat available for wildlife. For more information on what to plant and planting methods, visit the planting page.
What funding is available for protecting wetlands?
Some regional councils offer funding for the development of wetlands. Contact your regional council before you start work to find out what funding is available.
A farmer's perspective on managing wetlands
In the video below Waikato farmer John Hayward explains the benefits of managing wetlands and his passion for being both environmentally friendly and productive.
- Wetlands secret ingredient to future water quality (20 March 2018)
- Seepage wetlands work wonders (23 February 2018)
- Science shows riparian plantings are keeping streams clean (9 August 2017)
DairyNZ has partnered with other organisations and developed an on-farm wetland to find out the most effective and cost friendly methods for restoring and constructing wetlands on individual farms.
The 1.1ha wetland was constructed in 2014 on a 267ha dairy farm in Waikato. It will be monitored for two years to provide advice around effective design, construction and management.
A fielday will be held in November 2015 so farmers can see progress first hand. Design guidelines and final results of wetland performance will be available by the end of 2016.
For more information see the Waikato Wetlands Showcase page.