Photo credit LEI
In the six months since this project started, a vast amount of work has been completed. The 10 ha native vegetation ecosystem will be comprised of 60% mānuka and kānuka, with the remaining 40% a mixture of 17 other native species that naturally thrive in the region. The location of each of the species will respond to their natural habitat and the conditions of the plot (wet or dry areas, slope, neighbouring species, etc). The native ecosystem plot will be divided in areas which will receive non-effluent (control areas) and increasing rates of effluent irrigation (1000 mm/year, 2000 mm/year, 4000 mm/year).
The setting at The Pot, with areas of pine that have been irrigated with treated effluent over the last 30 years and areas that have received no irrigation, created an exceptional “natural experiment” to investigate the effects of long-term land application schemes.
Photo credit Maria Gutierrez-Gines
In December 2017, the team conducted a large sampling campaign of the area. About 400 samples of soil were collected to cover the areas of pine plantation irrigated for 30 years, pine plantation non-irrigated, pasture irrigated, pasture non-irrigated, and an old kānuka stand as a control of native vegetation. Soil samples were collected at increasing depths down to 2 m, and are currently being analysed. The importance of this data is demonstrated by the co-funding received by ESR-Pioneer Fund to contribute to the chemical analysis.
At the moment, the pine plantation is being harvested, and the experimental plot will be ready for planting this winter.
The first meeting with the projects Governance group took place in early May. The projects Technical Group, with representatives from District and Regional Councils, Department of Conservation and local iwi took place at the end of May.