Order now to secure poplar and willow poles; NRC

26 Feb 2018, 8:39 AM

Landowners with erosion-prone properties from Te Hana north are encouraged to get their orders into the Northland Regional Council (NRC) early for this winter’s poplar and willow planting season.

With limited pole numbers – and an increasing uptake for planting across Northland – regional councillor Rick Stolwerk says this season’s supply is already being rapidly allocated.

Councillor Stolwerk says when allocating poles, priority is given to applicants in areas the council has identified as having a high erosion risk.

“Supply of planting material is also dependant on having  a NRC Farm Water Quality Improvement Plan or a specific NRC planting plan in place.”

To keep up with increasing demand, the council is continuing to expand its nursery operation, which is based south of Whangarei at Flyger Rd, Mata.

“Last year we added a further 2.8 hectares to the existing 6.3Ha nursery, with plans in our upcoming Long Term Plan to increase output of the nursery significantly to match community demand.”

Councillor Stolwerk says hill country farmers whose erosion-prone properties drain to the Kaipara Harbour are again eligible for a share of more than 3500 fully subsidised poplar poles in a joint NRC-Ministry for Primary Industries initiative.

The ‘Kaipara Hill Country Erosion Project’ is now three years into a four-year project targeting areas of high erosion risk on hill country properties in the very large greater Kaipara catchment, which drains roughly one-third of Northland.

Outside of the Kaipara initiative, the council is also offering subsidised poplars and willows from its Flyger Rd nursery to other Northland landowners keen to help control erosion and protect water quality.

Councillor Stolwerk advises anyone interested in securing the poles (either partially or fully subsidised) to contact council land management staff as soon as possible to arrange a consultation and site visit.

“This consultation is to ensure trees are planted appropriately, at the correct place and spacing , and landowners are aware of the future maintenance required for these trees.”

The council sells the 3.0-metre poles (which usually retail for up to $12 each) for a GST-exclusive $6 each – plus a small delivery fee – to the farm gate, provided landowners already have a farm water quality improvement plan or planting plan.

Councillor Stolwerk says a number of size grades are now available, from 3.0m poles down to 1.0m stakes, to cater for a range of applications and situations.

“However, this scheme is only available to those in the Northland region and projects must be for erosion prevention or control.”

The fast-growing poplars and willows have broad and binding root systems and have been used widely for many years to prevent and control erosion, and cut waterway sediment pollution.

He says interested landowners should contact the Land Management Team directly on (0800) 002 004 as soon as possible to allow time to arrange a farm visit to undertake a required planting plan.

“Orders can be made ASAP while stocks last; otherwise the closing date for orders will be Friday 04 May.

Councillor Stolwerk says the best time to plant the trees in Northland is typically from June to mid-August.

While the two species aren’t native, they’re favoured because their rapid growth rates mean they can be starting to control erosion within as little as three years.

“These trees play a pivotal role in stabilising land and slowing hillslope erosion.  Erosion and resulting sedimentation of waterways and receiving harbours is one of Northland’s most problematic waterway contaminants.”

Councillor Stolwerk says everything people need to know about establishing poplars and willows is also available from the council’s website via: www.nrc.govt.nz/poplars