An Environmental Disaster Waiting To Happen: "Spray And Pray"

An intensive farming practice taking off in the Rangitikei, known locally as spray and pray, is an environmental disaster waiting to happen, according to Fish and Game.

The method involves aerially spraying steep hill country with herbicide, then sowing a winter crop and aerially spraying with fertiliser.

Stock are then fed in mobs on the crop during winter, which strips it back to bare land.

It has locals, including farmers, worried about what it is doing to waterways, particularly the protected Rangitikei River, which is one of 15 rivers in the country with a water conservation order on it.

Fish and Game chief executive Bryce Johnson said he first heard about the practice from a fishing guide in Rangitikei, who was noticing the river was clouding with sediment on fine days and becoming increasingly discoloured.

He said spray and pray was disgusting and pushed the boundaries.

"It's intensifying land that shouldn't be intensified in that way. This is really steep, erodable hill country and it's just asking for an environmental disaster, and that's obviously what's starting to show up."

Labour Party environment spokesperson David Parker said he was alerted to the practice by Rangitikei locals.

He thought it was abhorrent it was being allowed to happen.

"It's just a recipe for disaster and I think it's completely irresponsible of the local regional council not to be controlling that activity."

The practice was not regulated by the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council, and therefore not monitored.

The council said the practice came about after its regional plan was devised 10 years ago, but it was in the process of looking at it more closely.

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Unfortunately I think its happening elsewhere too, I looked at a huge farm on the outskirts of the Mangamuka's ( advertised as "The land of Beef and Honey") just south of Kaitaia. Very hilly country where the house was on top of a small hill with a view towards a big steep hill just across a river, and the whole hillside was dead, whole tree's, the lot.

The farmer said he had aerially sprayed it first with roundup and then with clover. He said it like it was routine and thought he was doing the potential new owner a fav.

The view from the house would have been nice if it was not of a massive dead hillside, let alone a river feeding the stock below. He said the house water came from elsewhere but with this small hill in the shadow of the large one the whole place would have been covered in drift.

When I told the real estate lady (out of earshot of the farmer) that no one in their right mind would buy this place, especially not me, she was a bit concerned, listened politely and seemed to understand.

I thought I was just unfamiliar with farming right then but apparently I was right in thinking this was nuts.

Sadly it's been happenning for years all over NZ Gerry, and is only now being highlighted in the mainstream media.

Hillside runoff has affected Akaroa and various surrounding waters and continues to do so. I remember a mate of mine who has a batch at Duvauchelle bay talking about it twenty years ago.

Despicable practice and wholly against Nature!

This has been the norm for a long time.

Met an awful lot of ex farmers at the Vit C clinic trying to offset the effect "'Monsanto farming" had on their health. For them its like a window into a whole world of conspiracy they never knew existed. Just ordinary guys trying to do the right thing.

My first full time job in the 80s was on a market garden. You would never eat non organic strawberries if you saw what they stick on them.

My grand-daughter shared some photos today that she took of a helicopter with a bucket below and a huge billowing white mass pouring out from it. They live in a rental farm cottage in the Clevedon area in a hilly valley. It looked horrific, and if that was the same thing you are talking about here, that is unbelievably reckless and dangerous. Do you know if this is commonly done using helicopters, and don't they have to notify everyone in the area first?

Most likely just lime Marian, quite harmless

Iv seen whole hillsides of gorse and broom returned to usable productive land through this method.

Obviously over stocking any land is not ideal but if managed well it has benefits.


Depends on your definition of Gorse..and of Produtive..and of Quality with relation to Food.

All these definitions have been turned on their head in Modern times (i.e. 21 Century) its time for "Farming" to enter the same Century.


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