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Soils of Poverty Bay flats

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Soils of Poverty Bay flats

The Poverty Bay flats, also known as the Gisborne Plains, covers over 20,000 hectares around the lower Waipaoa River. Aerial of Poverty Bay flatsThe majority of this area is covered by recent alluvial soils, derived from the soft, calcareous sedimentary rocks of the upper catchment and together probably constitute the most naturally fertile group of alluvial soils in the country.

Soil fact sheets

Gisborne District Council worked with Landcare Research Manaaki Whenua, with funding from the Foundation for Research Science & Technology, to create fact sheets for each of the mapped soil types on the Poverty Bay flats. The fact sheets use the soils information from the 1962 Soil Bureau Bulletin ‘Soils and Agriculture of Gisborne Plains’.  They list the soil's key physical and chemical properties such as texture, drainage class, topsoil and profile available water, bulk density, percentage organic matter, as well as factors to consider relating to crop and irrigation management practices such as water logging and drought vulnerability. Also included is Information on soil classification and a soil profile description.

The fact sheet gives landowners updated soil physical and chemical data.  This will enable more accurate and timely environmental management decisions to be made. As an example, the soil data could be used to help make decisions about irrigation scheduling, septic tank placement, natural hazard assessment or estimate loading capacity of soils to receive wastes.

Search soil maps and fact sheetsS-map Online

Gisborne District Council's online soil fact sheets at S-map Online

Search the soils database

  • if you don't know the name, click 'search' to view the list

Contact us if you don't know the local name of the soil types on your property.

Search the maps & factsheets

Note: the soil name on the factsheets are not local names. But the information is relevant to that land parcel's soil. S-map screenshot

  • tick 'Soils' in the Layers menu
  • on the tool bar - click on 'Zoom Box' and click and drag a box around Gisborne
  • keep zooming in until the the soil references display
  • click 'Feature information' on the tool bar
  • click on the map reference to view the PDF fact sheets

Land use on the Poverty Bay flats

Recent studies on land use in the Poverty Bay flats has shown approximately one third is in pasture or is unused, a quarter planted in maize and sweetcorn and a tenth in grapes.
This article from Conservation Quorum issue 63, shows cropping land use trends from 2007 - 2011(518kb)
Smaller areas within and around the stopbanks are used for fat lamb and beef production.
The Poverty Bay flats are essential to the region's economy and sustainable management of its soils are of the utmost importance; both environmentally and economically.

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