Hot, dry conditions becoming nightmare for Northland farmers

Hot, dry weather is every holidaymaker's dream but it's quickly becoming a nightmare for Northland farmers who haven't seen rain in months.

Last year was one of the driest in decades for parts of the north and even if it does rain it could be too little, too late.

The scorching sun is relentlessly beating down on Northland and the land is bone-dry.

Last month brought with it the driest conditions seen across the region in decades and farmer David Neumann is feeling the heat.

"[It's] pretty dry, haven't had much rain at all for a month or so," he says. "[We're] going into our crop season in October extremely dry."

Neumann has seen just 20 millimetres of rain on his Puhipuhi farm in the last month. It's an area that usually experiences the highest amount of rainfall in Northland.

It's been the second-driest year in Puhipuhi in more than 100 years and water sources are evaporating.

"Went and checked the main creek and its dropped about 500mls in the last two months," Neumann says. "It's almost coming to a point where it's not even running anymore."

Northland's Regional Council says rivers in the area are below minimum flow levels.

It isn't unusual for levels to get this low but this usually occurs later in the season, around March.

NIWA's Nava Fadaeff is predicting it could get worse.

"Currently there are no meteorological drought conditions anywhere across the country," she says.

"Having said that though there's not a lot of rain, we are approaching some of those thresholds."

Even if rain does come, Northland Council fears it could take years for the region to recover and the tinder-dry conditions are bringing another risk for farmers.

"With the current conditions, we could easily have a fire start that would be very difficult if not impossible to control," Northland deputy principal rural fire officer Rory Renwick says.

Fire and Emergency Northland is urging farmers to be wary of their surroundings while working this summer.

"Things like grinders, mowers, chainsaws - any sort of machinery, just be careful using that around dry, dead grass," Renwick says.

Neumann says farmers are already on edge heading deeper into the summer months.

He's hoping there'll be relief soon for the sake of his livestock.