13 May 2014

Pressure eases but tough times ahead

6:39 am on 13 May 2014

The number of calls from farmers seeking help on Northland's drought-affected west coast has dropped dramatically but a local farmer welfare advocate says there's a tough road ahead.

Rural Support Trust Northland co-ordinator Julie Jonker said there had been some rain in the area, which had greened things up slightly. However, there was still not a lot of grass growth.

Drought-hit farmers had been able to get supplies of palm kernel for stock feed, which had taken some of the pressure off.

However, the hard summer and autumn which stock had endured would take their toll next season, she said.

"I think we're all very concerned about what's going to happen in August and September, when we've got the cows milking fully that have calved during the spring time, and the fact there isn't a lot of supplement that people have been able to save to get them through the winter," Ms Jonker said.

"It's going to be one of those things where everybody will be watching it carefully and doing their absolute best to try and minimise that by putting plenty of nitrogen on, by resting pasture so that they can get some growth ahead, by sourcing alternative feed supplements when they're available.

"It's one of those balancing acts."