Preserving One of Our Most Precious Resources for Future Generations – Water!

Sir Tipene O’Reagan opened the recent “Water in Canterbury – our vital resource,” with a challenge to all present to “think differently and broaden current ways of thinking.”

New Zealand and Canterbury are blessed with water – we get over 500 km³ of snow and rain annually, which is 2.5x what the UK gets with a population of 65 million. This rich resource gives us our resilience and in Canterbury, with over 500,000 hectares of existing irrigable land enabled by an infrastructure started after the depression and continually enhanced, increases the efficiency of water use. There is an opportunity for an additional 100,000 hectares, but only if we show leadership creating and managing precious water catchments. The second largest region is Otago with less than 20% of Canterbury’s irrigable land. Irrigation enables productivity in areas that previously would have suffered, creating new and exciting opportunities for land use. It also builds resilience and provides prosperity for rural communities.

This forum explored water in Canterbury, focusing on the opportunities and challenges we are facing. Sir Tipene pointed out that the population of New Zealand is set to double by 2075 and along with climate change and other challenges, we need to be thinking ahead at what the future of land use and food production will look like.

Some questions were posed by the speakers as we look and plan for New Zealand’s future as the world faces water scarcity by 2050…

  • How might we access alpine and flood water more efficiently?

  • How might we ensure and know our aquifers are being recharged to sustain future generations?

  • How might we store water?

  • Where do bottled water exports fit in our future?

Collaboration and co-creation were key themes; ways of working to start to create solutions together. As Richard McDowell of Lincoln University pointed out, adoption of new technologies and ways of working in agriculture are slow with peak adoption time in New Zealand at 16.5 years—what role can we all play to decrease this adoption time? Ideas put forward by the speakers, in response to Sir Tipene’s challenge, included how we might collaborate and increase sharing of insights on results that did not work so we can learn faster. “We are stronger together” to solve these challenges and unlock and preserve this precious resource for future generations.

Join us on 14-15th November at The New Zealand Agricultural Show as we continue to explore this topic during our “Creating a Sustainable Farming Future” seminar series at the Blinc Innovation Hub. At 1:30pm on the 14th we have a specific panel, “Water Provides Us with Resilience: Valuing it for Our Future,” hosted by Mike Manning (GM Innovation and Strategy of Ravensdown) with a panel passionate about solving water quality and efficiency. Hear from Bridgit Hawkins (CEO/Founder of Regen), Mel Brooks (CEO of MHV Water), Phil Beatson (Business and Research Development Manager of CRV Ambreed) and Andrew Macfarlane (Agribusiness Director) to learn what others are doing and discovering. Bring your questions and join the discussion.

Click here to learn more and register.