Hill country planting to mitigate erosion

The Horizons Region has some of the most highly erodible land in the country. However thanks to the implementation of the Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI), landowners are working with the support of Horizons to keep soil on our hills and out of our waterways. 

In February this year Hunterville farmers Justin and Mary Vennell hosted approximately 120 people including Hunterville School and Waituna West School students at their farm Richcrest to showcase the work underway to mitigate erosion and improve water quality. The Vennell’s have had a SLUI Whole Farm Plan since 2007 and were winners of the Horizons Region Ballance Farm Environment Awards in 2014. 

Under the SLUI programme, Horizons’ grant assisted works include afforestation, riparian retirement, wetland establishment and poplar pole planting. Since 2007, the Vennell’s have planted over 35,000 trees on approximately 45 hectare of top priority land. Forestry has been planted in their steep gorge and the natural vegetation has been allowed to regenerate. Riparian plantings have also provided wildlife refuge, stock shade and shelter. 

The Vennell’s have a vision that each farming enterprise on their land is suitable use of that land. Essentially sticking to the mantra of “right tree, right place, right purpose”. 

“What we are doing here on farm with the assistance of Horizons and SLUI not only benefits the farm by keeping our soil on the hillsides, but also the wider community by reducing the runoff of water from the farm, and so reducing the amount of soil, nutrients and pathogens from entering the waterways,” says Justin Vennell.

“I also feel that we are doing our bit by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions as well.”

If you are interested in finding out more about Horizons’ SLUI programme, contact our Land Management Advisors on freephone 0508 800 800 or email help@horizons.govt.nz. There have been some recent changes to the programme which now means works can be subsidised without farmers completing a Whole Farm Plan. Over the last 10 years the SLUI programme has planted 16 million trees and completed over 35,000 hectares of erosion control works.