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Farmers - prepare for Canterbury stock exclusion rules

21 February 2012

Farmers reminded to be prepared for stock exclusion rules in Canterbury

In June this year additional and more stringent rules will come into force to ensure stock are kept out of natural waterways to safeguard and improve water quality in Canterbury.

“Fencing and other on-farm work required to keep stock out of natural waterways by the June deadline should be well in hand,” said Kim Drummond, Environment Canterbury’s Director of Resource Management.

Stock are already excluded from natural waterways under the Canterbury Natural Resources Regional Plan (NRRP) if there are significant adverse effects.

The additional rules, which come in to effect this June, mean intensively farmed stock or any stock grazed on irrigated land will be completely prohibited from entering natural waterways.

“There is a real focus in Canterbury on excluding stock from natural waterways in order to improve water quality.

“For example Environment Canterbury has been working in collaboration with industry partners and other stakeholders over the past few years to improve the levels of environmental performance on dairy farms.

“The Clean Streams Accord is an important part of this ongoing work to encourage and educate farmers about how to continue to lift their environmental performance and to be seen to be doing so.

“It is important we are able to build on the progress we have made in recent years and ensure we are ready for the new rules when they become operative in June.

“A MAF Stock Exclusion survey released late last year showed Canterbury has one of the highest rates of stock exclusion i-n the country.

The MAF Stock Exclusion Survey was based on an independent assessment of 587 Fonterra dairy supply farms throughout New Zealand.

In Canterbury 65.4 per cent of Fonterra’s dairy farms had complete stock exclusion (compared with a national rate of 42.1%), 78.2% of streams had complete stock exclusion (57% nationally), and 93.8% of stream banks had fences or barriers to exclude stock (78.4% nationally).

“It’s pleasing to see the figures in the MAF report are similar to the self-reported figures in the Clean Streams Accord report.

“We are recommending now is a good time for farmers to review their practices and check their farms to ensure they will be fully compliant with the new rules,” said Kim Drummond.

Another important initiative is the Canterbury Dairy Effluent Group, set up in 2008 after Environment Canterbury initiated a meeting with industry partners, Fish & Game and Forest & Bird, to discuss ways to improve levels of dairy effluent compliance.

The group has met regularly since then and organised an inaugural dairy effluent expo which was held in Christchurch this week. More than 500 people attended the expo which showcased the latest in dairy farming good practice and technology and featured more than 25 companies and organisations providing services and advice to the dairy industry.

Kim Drummond said Environment Canterbury will continue to work collaboratively to encourage good practice while enforcing the new rules to underpin this approach.

“All of us – whether rural or urban dwellers – should be doing the right thing to reduce the contamination of natural waterways. For stock farmers this includes actions to reduce the impact their animals have on waterways.

“Stock exclusion can be as simple as a farm manager putting in a temporary fence to keep stock away from a natural waterway. Other options include new permanent fences as well as new bridges or culverts

“Planting of riparian margins – whether natives or just grasses – is also a good way to protect waterways by restricting stock access and providing a nutrient absorption zone.

“Our preference is to work with farmers to ensure there is widespread understanding of what needs to be done under the new rules but we will take enforcement action if necessary,” said Kim Drummond.

Environment Canterbury has a hands-on team which works with farmers and community groups to restore waterways and biodiversity. There is also a team which works closely with industry and farming groups to implement good practice in water metering and develop audited self management systems.

The rules around stock exclusion are available at www.ecan.govt.nz/nrrp


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