The students were lucky enough to observe the ecology assessment that monitors sites around Tararua. This is occurring as part of a long-term DairyNZ Tararua project, where dairy farmers are monitoring the quality of water in the catchment in response to the environmental initiatives underway on farm.
Farmers themselves sample water monthly from streams on 23 Tararua farms to track any shifts in chemical indicators. Annually a further assessment is completed by a qualified ecologist assessing the stream habitat and the bug life (Macroinvertebrate Community Index (MCI)) within the stream to complete the full picture of water quality on these farms.
One of the farms is Gorge dairy farm, where they have been doing a lot of environmental improvement. What is immediately evident is the number of native trees recently planted along the waterway, over time these trees will grow to enhance the waterway habitat and increase biodiversity on farm.
Ballance school were on hand recently to watch the ecologist complete this annual assessment on farm. The students got involved in the water testing while learning about the stream habitat which sustains the many critters living within.
Catherine Mabey, the host dairy farmer, explains that it is great that the kids get to see that catching bugs in the stream has a science meaning behind it.
“On top of all the fun, they gain understanding of ways to monitor water quality. With dairy farming being so integral to our community, it is awesome to take the kids down to a farm, to have fun, while learning about the environment where they live,” said Mrs Mabey.
The students were able to see mayflies, amphipods and snails, while also catching a long-finned eel and a freshwater crayfish.
“It is great that these kids have the opportunity to see the work being done on these farms,” says Adam Duker, DairyNZ solutions and development advisor. “Our farmers are really proud of what they are doing, and happy to show those in the community the improvements being made as well.”