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Partnership checks Rotorua lakes dairy effluent systems

Partnership checks Rotorua lakes dairy effluent systems

For release: 16 December 2010

Dairy farmers in the Rotorua lakes catchments can now find out how well their effluent management system is working.

DairyNZ and the Regional Council are jointly funding a Dairy Environmental Liaison Assistant for three months to provide a free service to all existing dairy consent holders. All farmers in the wider Rotorua lakes catchments will be able to use the service.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Group Manager Water Management Eddie Grogan said last year Regional Council compliance monitoring checks showed significant non compliance, which led to the establishment of a collaborative working group including Fonterra, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, AgResearch and the Regional Council.

“This year our checks revealed no major non compliance at all, which is a dramatic turnaround. This result is a clear signal that the industry is committed to improvement, which is backed up by individual farmer actions and significant investment from them to get things right.”

Scientific expertise was commissioned by the working party and a new farm dairy effluent ‘storage calculator’ was developed by Massey University and integrated with a soils categorisation framework developed by AgResearch.

Regional Council Sustainable Farming Advisor John Paterson said all dairy consents due for renewal will be processed using the new calculator that assesses a farm’s physical conditions and determines appropriate volumes of effluent integrated with application rates.

DairyNZ Development Team Leader (Sustainability) Mike Scarsbrook said there were significant benefits for farmers who wanted to review their existing effluent systems now and potentially get ahead of the game by planning for future consent renewal.

Each participating farmer will get a status report of their existing system, with clear guidelines for any improvements needed to meet current best management practice. The assessment includes cow numbers, effluent irrigation area, current storage capacity, soil moisture monitoring, details about irrigator performance, system failure contingencies, system risks and suggestions for improvements based on the new calculator.

ENDS

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