Home' Advocate Communications : Fiordland Advocate 30 August 2012 Contents Fiordland Advocate
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The last of 500 extra predator traps
were flown into the Murchison
Mountains this week as added
protection for New Zealand’s
precious wild takahe population
against a predicted increase in stoat
A beech seed mast, as witnessed two
years ago, usually leads to a large
increase in rat numbers the following
year with the stoat population rising
dramatically the following season.
This pattern led to the decimation
of the wild takahe population in the
winter of 2007 when numbers there
plummeted from 160 to about 90 as
a direct result of stoat predation.
Presumed extinct until their
rediscovery in the Murchison
Mountains in 1948 by Dr Geoffrey
Orbell, the takahe population
nationwide has now recovered to
260 birds but this includes just
77 breeding pairs. Only 45 of
these breeding pairs are safe from
predation as they live at predator
Lessons learned from the 2007
tragedy led to an extensive review
of the management of the Takahe
Special Area in the Murchison
Mountains. The Department of
Conservation expanded the trapping
programme to cover the entire
50,000ha area (previously just a
third of this was actively trapped) and
increased the trap checks from four
times a year to a minimum of six.
A trap check early this year indicated
that the population of stoats in the
Murchison Mountains was likely to
expand to levels at least equivalent
to the 2007-08 season so measures
were swiftly put in place to increase
both the number of traps and the
frequency of their monitoring.
Biodiversity ranger Sanjay Thakur
said those efforts appeared to be
paying off. After several years of
intensive intervention, DOC had
resolved to take a largely hands-
off approach to the Murchison
Mountains population to see how
the birds managed on their own. The
focus was primarily on stoat trapping
in the area, although about 55 of the
estimated 110 birds there had been
fitted with radio transmitters which
confirmed there had been no stoat
predation deaths among any of the
monitored takahe, he said.
The last 200 of the 500 extra stoat
traps were airlifted to the area on
Tuesday by The Helicopter Line and
these would be set up as soon as
The Helicopter Line pilot Gaven Burgess lifts a load of stoat traps ready for
deployment in the Takahe Special Area of the Murchison Mountains this week.
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15.5hp Briggs and
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ITS TIME TO SPRUCE UP FOR SPRING!
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Plants & Other Things
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Spring’s perfect combination of warm sunshine and rain
means growth is at its most exuberant. All this activity
needs fuel to keep it going, so now is the time to get
What do plants need?
The three ‘major nutrients’ that plants need in biggest volume
are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). As well,
they need smaller quantities of a wide range of minor and trace
Nitrogen is important for leaf growth and the conversion
of sunlight into plant energy.
Phosphorous is critical in cell formation particularly in
root growth and seedling growth, as well as flowering and
Potassium plays an important role in a plants strength, water
uptake and disease resistance. It enhances the quality of
flowers, fruits and seed.
Plants grow best when they receive all the nutrients they need
without one overpowering the uptake of another. A complete
balanced fertiliser is the simplest way to achieve this. To make
it easy, a wide range of specific plant foods are available.
Organic or inorganic - what’s the difference?
Organic fertilisers come from plant and animal waste. Inorganic
fertilisers are manufactured from chemical reactions. Some
products blend the two.
Organic fertilisers add to a soil’s physical structure, improving
water holding capacity and drainage, while promoting the
activity of beneficial micro-organisms. They release nutrients
over a period of time and are generally less concentrated than
other fertilisers so need to be applied in larger quantities. The
exact nutrient content of any one organic fertiliser is hard to
ascertain, but using a range of different organic products helps
to approximate a ‘balanced diet’. Blood and bone, for example,
is a highly effective and long lasting fertiliser for a wide range
of plants, but it doesn’t contain potassium. Exclusive use of
organic manures works best when there is a local supply of
free or low-cost manures.
Chemical fertilisers do nothing to maintain the physical structure
of the soil. However, because they are more concentrated, and
we know from the label what’s in them, they provide fast reliable
results. The nutrient content in 100 grams of general garden
fertiliser is roughly equal to 3 kg of organic manure. The risk
is over-use, as high concentrations can burn plant roots. Also,
any excess ‘run-off’ is bad for the environment. Over time, soils
fed solely with inorganic fertiliser suffer reduced humus content
and biological activity. This leads to reduced water and nutrient
holding capacity, and the need to add even more fertiliser - a
vicious cycle. It’s important to strike a balance.
A fast-acting plant food applied as a liquid or powder (washed in
with water) will provide a quick boost to growth and greenness.
Liquid fertilisers are especially useful for plants grown in
containers, and should ideally be added little and often. Use
them as a supplement to longer lasting fertilisers.
Pelletised poultry and sheep manures, blood and bone, and
inorganic controlled-release fertilisers release their nutrients
gradually, more in sync with plant growth. They allow the
convenience of feeding less often, while helping to avoid waste
and damage from overuse.
What about lime?
Adding lime to the soil has many benefits, but it must be used
wisely. There are three main forms:
Garden lime is made from natural limestone and provides
calcium in a slow-release form. It can be used to raise the pH
and is also useful for breaking up heavy clay soil.
Dolomite lime contains calcium plus magnesium, which
is good for leafy crops such as broccoli and lettuce. An ideal
composting agent, dolomite stimulates rapid decomposition
of organic matter, and can be safely applied with other
Both garden lime and dolomite will raise soil pH, which is also
known as ‘sweetening’ the soil. In general, an acid to
neutral soil (pH 6.0 to 7.5) provides the broadest availability
of nutrients. If the pH gets too low or too high, nutrient
availability and beneficial soil microbe activity will drop. Apply
at the recommended rate and avoid overuse. If in doubt, test
your soil with a DIY pH test kit available from most garden
centres. Lime can be very effective in the vege garden and for
many perennials, but keep it away from ‘acid-loving’ plants
such as camellias, daphnes and rhododendrons.
Gypsum is a good source of calcium and sulphur. It is excellent
for improving soil structure, and often used to loosen clay and
compacted soil. Gypsum is a natural mineral, with a pH of
about 7.0 (neutral). It does not affect the soil pH balance so is
safe to use with acid loving plants. Use gypsum in compost to
enhance microbial growth and decrease unpleasant smells.
While not solely about feeding - Spring is an ideal time to get
your patch of pasture into top notch condition. Support the
spring growth flush with lawn fertiliser.
Feeding and frequent mowing is the best way to keep lawns
free of weeds but if things have got away on you, spring is the
time to act with a selective lawn weed spray.
Thin or lumpy lawns can be revamped by top dressing with a
mixture of topsoil and compost. Small packs of lawn seed are
ideal for fixing bare patches.
Regular mowing promotes thick, healthy growth. But if cut too
short, lawns are vulnerable to weed invasion. Keep mower
blades extra sharp for a clean cut. In spring it’s best to use a
catcher as excess build up of clippings can invite disease.
Courtesy of Sue Linn, Go Gardening, www.gogardening.co.nz
Time To Feed
Workshop - industrial area Ph. 0220 60 59 89
Cnr Caswell Road & Snodgrass Drive
TE ANAU 9600
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Ph. 0220 60 59 89
* Garden Systems: raised framed beds - compost bins.
* Outdoor Furniture: picnic tables - adult & child sizes.
* Trellis: framed or unframed - made to measure.
* Fence Panels: trellis- corrugated iron- wood- combos.
* Gates: for house and farm.
* Trap Boxes: for rats - stoats - ferrets - magpies.
Talk to us about all your outdoor woodwork projects
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