Rebuilding farm infrastructure – opportunities for farmers


  Added 2 months ago

  By Brenda Newth

Rebuilding farm infrastructure – opportunities for farmers

As published in NZME The Country.

Last year, farm infrastructure took a hammering from New Zealand’s wild weather. In Hawke’s Bay, a large number of farm bridges were severely  impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle floodwaters, either swept away or rendered structurally unsound.

In the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle civil construction specialists Lattey Group was involved in the repair/replacement of 20 farm bridges throughout Hawke’s Bay. Like-for-like replacement may not always be possible due to river course change or river bank scouring, so each case is unique.

In rebuilding, farmers should consider the opportunity to innovate and future proof their bridges.

That’s the approach taken by Dave and Steve Cornes – owner and operator (respectively) – of Kautuku, a 450 hectare spread on the Taihape Road, adjacent to the Ngaruroro River in Hastings District.

Kautuku is predominantly a finishing farm, where sheep and beef cattle gain weight before going to the works. In mid-February 2023, Steve Cornes was finishing Angus steers, which were contracted to leave later that month.

We couldn’t get stock off the farm after the cyclone because the bridge to our stockyards collapsed, says Steve.

“With the bridge out, we lost access to our yards. Our neighbours kindly granted us access through their property, but it wasn’t a long term solution. With more stock contracted to arrive in August 2023, we urgently needed our bridge replaced,” he says.

Steve started making enquiries about rebuilding the bridge in the same week of the cyclone, eventually choosing to work with civil engineering specialists Lattey Group.

The new steel and concrete bridge supported on piles is three metres longer and nearly a metre higher than the old bridge, essential for Hawke’s Bay’s predicted increasingly severe weather.

“It is designed as a single span, as the old bridge’s central pier functioned as a dam during cyclone floodwaters,” says Jonty Underhill Civil Project Manager, Lattey Group.

“Having the bridge as a single span is cost effective, and relatively quick to construct. In most cases, piling can be done in two days, and the superstructure finished over an additional three.

“This project gave us the chance to avoid the shortcomings of the old bridge and come up with a design solution that would be resilient, stand the test of time, and serve Dave, Steve, and the farm well into the future,“ says Jonty.

Steve says the $300k-$400k bridge project came in under the estimate, resulting in savings,  and would’ve also been on time, but for weather related delays. It was operational from 16 August 2023.

“An added bonus of our new bridge is it’s now certified for trucks up to 50 tonnes, which are increasingly common. Our old bridge, like many on farms, wasn’t certified, and we could see that becoming a problem into the future. Now we don’t have that problem.

“Building back the same wouldn’t have worked for us over the long term. We’re glad we took the opportunity to upgrade, and now have a much better bridge, and access to our main infrastructure. We’re grateful for the support of FMG our insurer, and for the design and build expertise of Lattey Group,” says Steve.

Nearly a year on from the devastating effects of Cyclone Gabrielle, Kautuku is lush and green and the bridge to the stockyards is doing its job.


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