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Helping out nature .. Waikaka Valley farmer Don Morrison stands in front of one of the wetland areas on the farm which act as nutrient sinkholes. PHOTOS: ASHLEIGH MARTIN

Increased tree planting, more wetlands and water testing are some of the ways Don Morrison is creating a regenerative farm.

What those trees have given is more shelter, which is great for performance, has created a more favourable eco-climate for the animals and has a great aesthetic value for us farming the land. Increased tree planting, more wetlands and water testing are just some of the ways Don Morrison is creating a regenerative farm.

Mr Morrison said the main value of moving to regenerative farming was the ability to look at their farm and ask what they could be doing better.

“It probably arose out of doing a land and water plan two years ago through Environment Southland, which allowed us to assess the vulnerable areas on the farm where we needed to have a more careful level of management,” he said.

The ultimate focus for Mr Morrison was to regenerate the environment through soil, water and air.

“It is the opportunity to create a more favourable environment which enhances the production, aesthetic values and creates long-term market and price-premium opportunities.”

An example on the farm of how this more favourable environment was being created could be seen with the planting, which had been taking place over the last 20 years.

“What those trees have given is more shelter, which is great for performance, has created a more favourable eco-climate for the animals and has a great aesthetic value for us farming the land.”

Planting also offered shelter at lambing time, after sheep had been shorn, during cold weather and had also been “fantastic” for shade during the summer season.

to create more wetlands, which can create biodiversity. It’s got a great aesthetic value and they can also act as nutrient sinkholes, which is good for the environment, capturing sediment and phosphorus.”

Wetlands also offered great water insurance for the farm during the dry season as they were opened for stock water or for articulation if current systems failed.

Mr Morrison said one of the main tools being used to measure the effect of what they were doing on the farm was water testing.

“We want to test the nitrogen, phosphorus, E. coli and sediment levels within our waterways to see what we’re actually doing to those waterways and what effects our different practices are having.”

Mr Morrison said farmers were now in a place where they could not ignore the science of what they were doing to New Zealand waterways.

“We’re all part of the problem, which means we can all be part of the solution in fixing it.”