Beyond regulation tackling carbon and water quality challenges

Catchment Group:

Mataura FMU Catchment Group


Beyond regulation tackling carbon and water quality challenges


$45,000 excl. GST.

Thriving Southland provided funding for this project for the case study – data capture report $5,000 plus project management $40,000. 


Nov 21 to Jun 23

Project Description

Pourakino Catchment Conservation Trust (PCCT) is acutely aware of wintering pressures and the need to revisit existing practices.  Exacerbated by dairy expansion since 1990, wintering on crops has attracted much negative attention from an environmental and animal welfare perspective.   

This pilot trial looks to explore alternative pastures and forages, designed to be highly resistant to treading. Current grasses are bred for high productivity, but if certain pasture paddocks were planted to be pugging-resilient, could the trade off in production be worth it, and could a system be designed to cope with particularly adverse weather events? 
The project farmer has started the process of sowing alternative species with various strips of sward mixes. Establishment and first year sward production will be recorded by the farmer, with voluntary assistance from Agricom. An agricultural scientist/field technician will be engaged to help with planning set up for wintering and recording observations for the demonstration sites.

A field day will be held to show the demonstration site and the effect of the pasture covers, grazing management and wintering system. At the conclusion of winter, a report on the observations, measures, learnings and recommendations for winter 2023 will be available that can potentially lead onto a stage two study. 


  • Utilise various tread resilient deep rooting plant covers that allow for semi-intensive cattle wintering which minimises the risks of causing mud, and the need for capital intensive off-paddock infrastructure.   
  • Run an observational and active learning wintering trial with skilled technical support on a Pourakino dairy farm that allows for impartial assessment as to the merits of an on-grass system, utilising alternative pastures, including those with high tiller density, winter activity and treading resilience.   
  • Provide learnings to enable well-structured trials of on-grass wintering systems across four sites in Southland during winter 2022. 


  • A new wintering concept is studied by farmers in the Pourakino catchment, utilising adaptive learning. Achieving improvements or new system designs targeting dramatically reduced environmental effects and improved animal welfare outcomes is a step forward for sustainability. Reducing or eliminating will assist with the public perception of farming. 
  • Learnings are structured so that they can be applied to the trial areas or the farm for next winter, or by other interested farmers. This could form the basis for a broader programme across Southland to be established in 2022-2023. 

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