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Dairy conversions - getting it right from the start


Dairy conversions - getting it right from the start

Friday January 23, 2015

Farmers contemplating a land use conversion to dairying can get a new online environmental 'how to' planning guide to help ensure any new farm meets the industry's standards.

Responsible dairy conversions outlines farmer environmental responsibilities during the conversion process. It has been produced by industry body DairyNZ to help farmers understand what the requirements are for new dairy farms and what is expected under the industry's commitments in the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord.

"It is important to get the conversion process right from the start. Detailed planning will pay off," says Dairy NZ's environment manager Dr Mike Scarsbrook. "I recommend a three-step planning process for farmers. Take advice, talk to your regional council and talk to your prospective dairy company. These actions will stand you in good stead for the future," he says.

"Planning and implementing a dairy conversion is a massive undertaking and the decisions farmers make at the beginning will underpin future performance. Responsible environmental stewardship includes an effluent system that complies with regulations from the word go and waterways need to be fenced off from your cows."

Every dairy company has programmes in place to assess new conversions, with a range of requirements to be met before milk supply commences. Usually, this includes a trained company assessor visiting the farm and running through a pre-supply check procedure, and developing an environmental management plan to ensure all requirements are met. Under the industry's Water Accord, new dairy farms are expected to establish and operate using good practice at the outset to minimise potential negative consequences on waterways, comply with all relevant regional plan rules and hold all the necessary resource consents.

The online conversions guide covers:

* the importance of responsible dairying for the industry

* regional regulatory requirements

* information which may affect the conversion process and the suitability of land for dairy use

* incorporating responsible dairying considerations into conversion plans

* a template and list of actions for managing a conversion to achieve industry best practice.
A Southland case study detailed in the guide provides helpful insights on the process and on key areas such as effluent and nutrient management, waterways and water use.

For further information visit


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