New Zealand’s freshwater resources are at a critical point; we cannot currently define acceptable values for water quality and quantity or ensure they are achieved in a defined time frame with any certainty. Lincoln Agritech is working closely with industry, Crown Research Institutes, Regional Councils, and Maori Iwi to investigate these issues to provide new understanding and advice on best practice methods. The research teams will model the flows of contaminants, quantify pathway-specific transfers of nitrogen and phosphorus, and elucidate the lag times and assimilative capacity (chemical transformation of nutrients and contaminants).
The work will focus on four case study areas, the Wairau Aquifer, Ashley-Waimakariri, Hauraki, and Upper Waikato regions. Modeling the flows of nitrogen and phosphorous, both in terms of quantity and time, will identify knowledge gaps. By characterising and quantifying fluxes, and analysing uncertainty it will ultimately create a better understanding thus allowing better management practices to occur. This in turn will assist Regional Councils to define acceptable water quality (limit setting) and measures to achieve them (manage to limits). Furthermore, the information will enable stakeholders in land and water management to develop fit for purpose policies, management practices and mitigation measures.
Key benefits of this science programme include improved long-term freshwater quality, water quality that meets the kaitiaki needs of Maori; quicker and less expensive decision making by regional councils in developing regional plans and decisions on resource consents; and maximize productive value from land balanced with sustainable freshwater for the community. This programme will benefit all New Zealanders – the public, iwi, Government and the agricultural and tourism sectors.
The Transfer Pathways Programme is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The multi-disciplinary team includes researchers from AquaLinc Research Ltd, Environmental Science and Research (ESR), AgResearch Ltd, Plant and Food Research Ltd, Landcare Research Ltd, DairyNZ, and council partners from Waikato Regional Council, Environment Canterbury and Marlborough District Council.