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Published: 2007-11-26 00:00:00

Managing dairy farm effluent properly can be a particular issue over the Christmas-New Year period as farmers and staff take holidays, says Environment Waikato.

Along with other agencies involved with a new three-year Sustainable Farming Fund project, the regional council is next week beginning a series of four pre-Christmas field days aimed at helping farmers “turn effluent into gold”.

“Using dairy farm effluent to grow maize silage for animal feed will be one of the main ideas discussed. This is a great way for farmers to save money and increase farm profits,” said Environment Waikato’s sustainable agriculture coordinator Gabriele Kaufler.

“It’s also a way of helping farmers comply with effluent management rules and capitalise on the nutrient and organic matter content of dairy effluent.

“We will look at the trials set up by the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) and speakers at the field days will include experts from Pioneer, Dexcel, FAR, Environment Waikato, Ballance Agri-Nutrients and Summit Quinphos.”

The field days will be held at the following farms:

  • Monday 3 December – Wynn and Tony Brown, Matai Rd, Matamata
  • Tuesday 4 December – Mike and Sue Visser, Ngahape Rd, Otorohanga
  • Tuesday 11 December – Russell and Alison Gibb, Proctor Rd, Orini
  • Wednesday 12 December – Jim and Sue van der Poel, Hams Rd, Ohaupo

The field days will run from 10am to 12.30pm, followed by a BBQ lunch.

“Farmers have found earlier field days on managing effluent very valuable,” said Ms Kaufler.

“We encourage all interested in finding better ways to manage their effluent to come along.”

For further details, contact Gabriele Kaufler on 0800 800 401.

Meanwhile, a report to a meeting of Environment Waikato’s regulatory committee on Monday 26 November noted four out of five dairy farms in the region spread effluent on their land under permitted activity rules.

The council uses aerial surveys to check farmer compliance with the rules on effluent management practices. It also responds to complaints about poor practices.

“Recent monitoring [in the past two years] has resulted in significant serious non-compliance being detected, requiring enforcement actions either by way of written warning, infringement notices, abatement notices or prosecutions,” said environmental services programme manager Ross Wightman.

He said it was planned to undertake a total of six aerial inspections over the summer, with one flight already undertaken in the Otorohanga-Pirongia-Te Awamutu area with “mixed” results.

“Observations from the air resulted in fewer follow-up inspections being required than previous flights. However, the seriousness of the offending was worse than on previous surveys.”

Mr Wightman urged farmers to ensure they were complying with effluent rules and to seek advice from sources such as the field days, Environment Waikato’s environmental services staff or Gabriele Kaufler if they feel unsure about their effluent management.