Response of Dairy Farmers, Industry and Government to Drought in the Grey Valley, West Coast - An inquiry into environmental circumstances and multi-level management
Intensive dairying is a developing industry in the West Coast economy but has been a source of employment to the region since the early 1900s. Despite having the highest rainfall anywhere in the country, the West Coast is still subject to climatic variations and experiences drought-like conditions, especially the event that occurred over the summer of 2012-13. The objective of this study is to evaluate the response strategies of farmers, industry and local authority during the 2012-2013 summer drought event and understand what approaches could be used to manage future drought conditions in the region. The key factors analysed were environmental components, such as soil type, topography and climate, along with the management and farming system components, such as irrigation, dairy pay-out and multigenerational management. Three key responses undertaken by farmers were the establishment of irrigation, on-farm and externally sourced supplementary feed, and dropping to once a day milking in the early stages of a drought event. The size and location of the farms did not show any clear links to the response strategies but rather farmers responded according to the characteristics of their property and individual circumstances. The dairy pay-out played a large role in the decision making process of the farmers and introduced constraints on what response and management strategies could be implemented at a farm level. The role of the industry and local government informants were primarily advisory, support and regulatory roles but did not participate on any farm level assistance. The Grey Valley has the opportunity to develop drought response policies in reaction to this event, as this is the direction that modern drought responses have taken in international case studies, replacing the reactive, responsive element with the overall management of drought risk. Thus there is the opportunity to urge farmers to incorporate sustainable water management into their farming strategies that is designed around the available water resources. By decreasing risk, drought vulnerability will decrease accordingly and the adverse impact of the water scarcity may be mitigated.
Advisor: Connelly, Sean; Mager, Sarah
Degree Name: Master of Applied Science
Degree Discipline: Geography
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: New Zealand; agriculture; west Coast; drought; climate; Dairy Farming; irrigation; industry
Research Type: Thesis