Lower Effluent Pond Levels Now23 January 2013
NEW ZEALAND – Last summer Dairy New Zealand (DNZ) launched the ‘Keep it Low’ campaign, aimed at raising environmental awareness around effluent spreading, which has been added to by further calls this week to empty storage ponds as much as possible before the cold season starts.
Analysis of significant effluent non-compliance information from regional councils is helping DairyNZ tailor information for the campaign. DairyNZ's sustainability team leader, Theresa Wilson, said last season, for the first time, farmers lowered the level of significant non-compliance to below 10 per cent.
"Dairy farmers have made really good progress meeting effluent management requirements and we want to help them improve even further," said Ms Wilson. "To do this, we are honing in on the main causes of effluent non-compliance nationwide and are tailoring our information accordingly."
Giving credence to these messages is a DairyNZ-funded report which analyses the reasons for significant non-compliance. Regional councils nationwide provided compliance data which was then analysed by Nicola Waugh, from AgFirst Waikato, who authored the report.
Ponding, and the causes of ponding, such as lack of sufficient storage or over-application of effluent, accounted for more than half of significant non-compliance incidences across many regions.
"Through the Keep It Low campaign, we’re reminding farmers to irrigate when conditions allow from mid-summer through to early autumn, so when the wet weather starts, there is as much free capacity as possible in the pond," added Ms Wilson.
"It is also really important to manage the process of applying effluent to land. Is the irrigator well-maintained? Are staff effectively trained on when to irrigate and where?
A range of DNZ guides have been developed to assist farmers in managing on-farm effluent levels by disseminating information clearly.
Collaborative projects with the Institution of Professional Engineers (IPENZ), Irrigation New Zealand, Milking and Pumping Association and effluent management system design companies to ensure the best information is available to livestock farmers.
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