Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Cow Crap, Kale, Dirty Green NZ

Recently we lived in Mackenzie Country, South Canterbury for 3 years, Lake Tekapo & Fairlie. This year we moved down SH8 to a Pleasant Point rental, so Leah had an easy rural commute to her Timaru work, as Resource Teacher Literacy, South Canterbury. Pleasant Point was on the S side of Tengawai River & Opihi River confluence.

Over the last few years, we'd regularly travelled South Canterbury, to & from Christchurch for Leah's teaching & lecturing. Near Dunsandel we passed Synlait milk processing plant seen from SH1. Leah's present job required her driving rural roads visiting schools in towns like Pleasant Point, Albury, Cannington, Fairlie, Lake Tekapo, Twizel, Temuka, Winchester, Geraldine, Woodbury, Mt Peel, Timaru, St Andrews, Waimate. I was taxi driver on long trips & we saw South Canterbury rural degradation caused by sheep, red deer, pig, cattle overstocking / overgrazing, especially cattle intensification for Fonterra & Synlait milk supply.

SH8 went through the middle of Pleasant Point. On the N side, plains farmland went down to Opihi River, draining the district. On the S side, rolling hills reminded me of England's South Downs. There were pleasant walks in & around Pleasant Point: Walks around sports fields & golf course, taking in a red deer paddock & a stream near posh golf club housing with distant Alpine views.

Walks along Tengawai River stopbank via Tengawai Rd. Walks along Ophi River stopbank via Halstead Rd or Butlers Rd.

A 5 km, circular walk along Manse Rd took me across farmland to Smart Munro Rd & back to Pleasant Point. Another walk off Manse Rd took me along Longview Rd with long views of the Southern Alps. The point of my rural walks were sublime Alpine views taking in snowy mountains from Hunters Hills, Mt Nimrod, Mt Nessing in the S, across the vast panorama of Dalgety Range, Albury Range, Two Thumbs Range, Sherwood Range, Devils Peak, Fiery Peak, Blue Mt, Waihi Peak, Tripps Peak, Mt Peel, Old Man Range, Mt Somers, Mt Hutt fading to the N.

As my feet had good circulation I often walked in flip flops, even in winter. Sanctimonious Kiwis pointed to my feet saying I had the wrong tramping gear. So what? Having waded through liquefactioned sewage during Christchurch quakes, my toes were good crap detectors. Whenever I walked along rural roads my feet became covered in cow crap from farmlands' runoff. Winter roadsides were churned muddy by farm vehicles picking up plastic covered hay bales for stock feed. No haystacks anymore, but long hay rolls covered in unsightly green or pink plastic lining rural roads.

Example of cow crap & kale on a rural walk: A 6 km farmlands, circular walk from Afghan St along SH8, turning into Keans Rd at Keans Crossing by the end of Pleasant Point's tourist railway siding. A bridge crossed a stream filled with cow crap runoff, making the stream turbid brown. I passed several lifestyle houses & sheep & red deer paddocks, then a cob cottage below the hill.

As I climbed the hill on tarseal road, a Council ute passed me spraying herbicide on roadside weeds, gorse & blackberry. A B&B farmhouse sat on top of the hill. Keans Rd tarseal road became muddy gravel. I passed plastic covered, hay bales with mud churned alongside. Muddy puddles were stained brown with cow crap & urine runoff. (1 cow produced 23 kg cow crap & 25 litres urine / day. [The Press article comment]. Nitrates to fertilize farm soil & runoff pollution into streams & Opihi River). NAWA / ECAN website: Opihi River catchment, water quality indicators showed South Canterbury, Opihi River catchment was one of the worst nitrogen pollution catchments in Canterbury.

Keans Rd: Snowy Alpine views were nice. I passed an old farm house & sheds, a couple of sheep paddocks & big farm houses. The size of big, posh farm houses & farmers' SUVs, showed South Canterbury farmers were very wealthy. I crossed a muddy ford, the water opaque brown, filled with cow crap runoff.

After Keans Rd / Olivers Rd junction, on Olivers Rd I passed rolling sheep paddocks & a stock yard one side of the gravel road & a huge cattle paddock the other side of Olivers Rd, churned up. Cows up to their hocks in mud. The muddy field, a cattle killing field where cattle were finished off for the abattoir. On top of the killing field hill, a line of cattle grazed their way along a line of kale kept straight by an electric tape. (In winter we saw that cattle / kale, break grazing all over South Canterbury in pugged, muddy paddocks). At a stock yard on top of the muddy hill, two Barwoods cattle trucks awaited the arrival of the cattle for slaughter.

Doake Rd, several farm houses, tarseal back to Pleasant Point, via Smart Munro Rd: Cow crap, muddy water, stagnant under a culvert, runoff from the muddy killing field. A concrete ford by Doake Rd / Smart Munro Rd junction: A valley stream polluted by cow crap.

Multiply cow crap, water pollution seen on my 6 km walk by 2600 farms in Opihi River catchment (LAWA / ECAN) & South Canterbury was submerged by cow crap sludge, polluting South Canterbury streams & rivers. Thanks to greedy dairy farmers, Fonterra & Synlait degrading South Canterbury's intensified cattle fields into cow crapped, muddy, killing fields, runoff polluting waterways, for milk product exports. Dirty Green NZ.

13.11.18.  A year later, getting tramping fit again, I did a 2 hour, 8 km, circular walk SW of Pleasant Point over downy, green, cropland & pastureland, incl some of the above roads - SH8, Keans Rd, Olivers Rd, Doake Rd, Smart Munro Rd, Manse Rd back to Pleasant Point SH8. Cattle had gone to abattoirs, but many rolling hill paddocks were now sheep stocked. Ponds, creeks, culverts, roadside ditches were filled with runoff sheep shit, causing waters to be polluted brown. If the water wasn't brown polluted it was filled with green scum from eutrophic algae. C'mon South Canterbury farmers! Get your act together & stop polluting your farms & rivers with toxic urine & crap. Dirty Green NZ.

Herbicide pollution by Timaru Council: Like the rest of South Canterbury main roads, every white, plastic, reflective road marker along Smart Munro Rd had a swathe of orange, dead plants around each marker, 10-12 paces long x 3 paces wide. That's a hell of a lot of toxic herbicide runoff for roadside ditches & creeks. Dirty Green NZ.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Synlait

See Fonterra 

See The truth about cow poo (The Press / Stuff Co).

See Call for action on Canterbury's ailing waterways (The Press / Stuff Co). 

See Opihi River Water Catchment (LAWA / ECAN).

See Opihi Water Project (NZ Landcare Trust).

See Cattle standing in muddy paddocks distresses farmer (The Press / Stuff Co).

See NZ election 2017 going beyond environmental slogans (The Press / Stuff Co).

See Irrigation is not the culprit in Canterburys environmental woes (The Press / Stuff Co).

See Statue of environment minister with his pants down delivered to Canterbury regional council (The Press / Stuff Co).