Water quality champion commended at national sustainability awards

9 Dec 2014 by The Million Metres team Northland

Alison Dewes at Headlands consultancy received a commendation for the Community Impact category of the NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards held in Auckland last month.

Alison leads the Tomorrow’s Farms Today project which has been underway for three years in the Central Plateau portion of the Waikato River Catchment.

The key focus of the Tomorrow's Farms Today project is the farm influence on water quality.

“This project has identified leaders who can lead a revolution of change to the current attitude towards farming within nutrient loss limits,” says Alison. “Not only has it raised awareness of the issues facing farming nationwide, it has communicated solutions to other farmers and the wider community.”

As we all know, nitrogen is an important algae-promoting nutrient, and excessive leaching of nitrates into groundwater and streams contribute to algal blooms which can deplete the water of oxygen leading to eutrophication. Without oxygen, even for a few minutes, our precious native fresh-water fish and invertebrates cannot survive.

Riparian planting cannot prevent nitrate leaching, so it is organisations like Headlands which have picked up the challenge and are now helping farmers develop long-term strategies to limit the amount of nitrates leached through their farming practices.

Better still, after a rigorous analysis of profitability and environmental performance of 25 farmers over three years, Headlands has demonstrated that it is possible to be sustainable and still make a profit.

Congratulations on the commendation Alison, and keep up the good work. Our waterways will thank you for it!