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Water babies drive successful waterway planting

Land & Water

The Zillwood family enjoy swimming in the local river and wanted to protect water quality to ensure this could still happen in the future.

They started fencing and planting their waterways which also helped to stabilise eroding banks. Mark and Simone live in Marlborough’s Canvastownwith their five children, milking 140 cows on 50ha (effective).

Planting native trees is a task the whole family happily gets involved in and Mark and Simone have already seen the benefit it has in improving water quality and providing shelter for animals.

“A lot of school groups and tourists use the local river for swimming, fishing and other activities. We’re keen to improve the quality of water flowing downstream and to protect the river for the future,” says Mark.

Fencing and planting their streams has helped to stabilise banks and protect valuable farmland.

“After seeing the difference our initial planting made, we’ve continued to fence and plant the rest of our waterways,” says Mark. “The planted areas now require very little maintenance.”

“To keep it manageable, we plant a little bit more of our property each year. We plant hardy species like flax and pittosporum immediately after the fence has gone up to reduce competition from weeds.

“We also ensure that there’s at least a one-metre gap between the fence and the plants. We use biodegradable weed mat to protect the young plants from getting overgrown by weeds and to trap moisture during dry months.”

Weed control maintenance is a key part of their planting project and is carried out two to three times each year over the first three years to give the plants the chance to flourish.

The Zillwood family say it’s rewarding to see the plants looking beautiful on the land and the new trees have increased the bird life on the farm. With warm weather on the way, they are looking forward to enjoying the local swimming spot.

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