Back in September last year, I spoke about uniting town and country and the importance of us all working together for the benefit of our district.
As a resident with an understanding of both rural and urban issues, I can appreciate a variety of perspectives that have historically divided our community, and it is one of my ambitions to help bridge this gap and provide clarity.
It's sometimes said that we don't always understand each other as 'townies' and 'farmers'. One particular issue that comes to mind is the matter of stubble burning.
To our rural counterparts, stubble burning is one method in their land management practices for pest control and sustainability, while for those in town, it's a nuisance as smoke drifts around the district.
There are actually some benefits to this practice that some may not be aware of. For instance, did you know that stubble burning creates a fire break so that in the event of an out-of-control fire, it will stop at the area already burnt.
Although some carbon is emitted during burning, it also produces potassium for use as a fertiliser, which saves having to use artificial fertiliser.
Primarily, controlled burning also kills many undesirable insects and weeds which reduces the need for pesticides and herbicides to be used. Although baling the stubble or ploughing the residue back into the soil are other options, neither of these addresses the issue of fungal diseases, pests and weeds.
On the other hand, stubble burning produces smoke and removes straw that could otherwise be used by stock as food or bedding, or even insulation in a house.
Understandably, when not done correctly, the smoke can also be a real nuisance for nearby residents or even more worryingly, the fire can burn out of control.
Although we might have different points-of-view regarding stubble burning, I believe it's important that we try and put ourselves in the others' shoes and weigh up what is the right thing for our community, both environmentally and economically.
Can we put up with the inconvenience of smoke for a few weeks of the year? Can we ensure we have any required fire permits and carry out the task responsibly and safely every single time?
This is a another particularly dry time around the Ashburton District, and I'd encourage anyone who is planning on stubble burning to look up the Fire & Emergency New Zealand's Crop Residue or Stubble Burns guide on the correct way to burn so as to reduce risks and mitigate any effects on others in the community.
We are in this together, no matter if we reside in town or out on the land.