The Poverty Bay Flats, also known as the Gisborne Plains, covers over 20,000 hectares around the lower Waipaoa River.
The 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.
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.
Gisborne District Council's online soil fact sheets at S-map Online
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.
Smaller areas within and around the stop banks 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 and are important both environmentally and economically.