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Waimea Plains: Growers believe nitrate levels are affecting color of apples

The Tasman District Council is reporting that some apple growers on the Waimea Plains, near Nelson, believe elevated levels of nitrate in the water are affecting their crops. According to Strategy and policy committee chairperson, councillor Kit Maling, growers had told him they believed “high nitrates” in the water were affecting the color of the fruit. A staff report about “nitrate issues” in the water under the Waimea Plains also mentions the growers’ concerns.

The nitrate level in the aquifers under the plains has long been a concern. A council survey in 2016 found the concentrations in some areas did not meet the national drinking water standards. Tests of some bores in 2019, arranged by the Waimea Plains landowner Cathy Hughson and fellow Tasman District resident Lew Solomon, also showed some nitrate levels exceeded the drinking water standards.

Environmental policy manager Barry Johnson told the committee that work was under way with growers and Horticulture NZ, to rerun a model “that looks at nitrate losses”.


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