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Canterbury region dairy report released

December 10, 2009
Canterbury region dairy report released

Environment Canterbury has today released the Canterbury region dairy report for the 2008/09 season. The report covers Environment Canterbury’s regulation and enforcement activities related to dairy shed effluent and the progress in meeting community outcomes.

Cr Bronwen Murray, regulatory overview committee chair, says there has been a significant increase in the number of dairy farms in Canterbury over the past year.

A total of 851 properties were monitored by Environment Canterbury, up 23 percent from the 696 monitored in the previous season.

“The additional monitoring work required for the increased number of farms demonstrates how the growth in dairying is increasing the amount of work we must do to meet our obligations under the RMA, and to ensure the outcomes of our Long Term Council Community Plan,” says Cr Murray.

New dairy conversions are required to produce an effluent management plan, and are encouraged to adopt approved industry practices, including an adequate system for effluent storage.

Compliance results were similar to previous years. Of the 851 farms monitored 43.2 percent were fully compliant compared with 45.8 percent in the previous year. Each consent has a number of conditions and there was 88.2 percent full compliance with conditions, compared to 89.5 percent last year.

The number of farms with significant or major levels of non-compliance was 19.3 percent, compared with 20.0 per cent in the previous season.

“One encouraging indicator is the rate of nitrogen application to pasture, which is limited to 200 kg per hectare per year to reduce the risk of leaching to groundwater,” says Cr Murray.

“There is a consistent trend over the past four years of a reduction in average application rates, which shows farmers are spreading effluent over larger areas and making better use of the resource.”

In the latest year 60 per cent of farmers were applying nitrogen at a rate below 100 kg per hectare per year, compared with fewer than 50 percent in the 2005/2006 year.

“This is an example of best practice exceeding the regulatory requirements. It is also worth noting Canterbury continues to have very low levels of direct discharges of dairy effluent to surface water, with only six occurrences observed during the year,” says Cr Murray.

“Another encouraging aspect is the work Environment Canterbury is now doing with dairy companies Fonterra, NZ Dairies and Synlait, and industry groups DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, to improve the level of dairy effluent compliance.”

“This partnership is a first for the region and follows a commitment made last year to work together to improve dairy effluent management. Our goal for the coming season is to continue to support and work with industry partners to educate and assist farmers to dispose of effluent in the appropriate manner.”

“This will include working with industry representatives to address significant individual non-compliance issues as they arise, as well as assisting farmers with minor non-compliance issues to achieve full compliance,” says Cr Murray.

For a copy of the report go to http://ecan.govt.nz/publications/Pages/dairy-effluent.aspx


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