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Published: 2013-03-07 00:00:00

Waikato’s Effluent Expo 2013 is set to kick off at the Mystery Creek Events Centre later this month, with a focus on maximising the value of effluent on farm while minimising environmental risks.

The popular event for dairy and other livestock farmers is being held this year on Tuesday 26 March.

More than 40 exhibitors are now confirmed. The event – which has been very well supported by farmers for the past two years – is being organised by Waikato Regional Council with support from DairyNZ. It will run this year from 9am to 3.30pm.

The council’s environmental farming systems manager Alan Campbell said ways of maximising the nutrient value of effluent on farm while minimising the risk of being non-compliant with regional council rules will be on show.

“Effluent is a major nutrient resource for farmers but needs to be managed well to maximise its value on farm, whilst ensuring that regional council rules designed to protect ground and surface water are complied with,” said Mr Campbell.

“Having adequate storage designed into effluent systems, and systems that meet the industry-developed farm dairy effluent design code of practice, are key themes for this year’s expo.”

It was crucial to have the right storage, the right pumps and irrigators, matched to soils and rainfall – and designed for available labour – so they work together and complement each other.

That way farmers can get “the best bang for their buck from their property’s effluent and always comply with the rules”, Mr Campbell said.

“The dairy industry’s own target for farmers is to have full compliance with regional council effluent regulations 365 days of the year.

“Having enough storage so that farmers can efficiently manage effluent irrigation is one of the particular keys to achieving this.”

A new approach to monitoring compliance with effluent management rules is being trialled by the council this season. Instead of random helicopter monitoring of compliance, with ground-based follow-up where appropriate, the council has been using helicopters to inspect up to 500 farms in areas with high risk soils, where effluent irrigation is more likely to contaminate waterways.

Properties seen as having significant compliance issues are followed up promptly. But council staff are also doing ground-based follow-ups with all farms in the flight area to identify compliance risk factors and discuss with farmers whether they need to improve their effluent systems to manage those risks.

This approach is helped by the fact that the new effluent code of practice, and accredited farm dairy effluent system design companies, mean farmers can access sound professional advice.

The expo will be a place where all farmers can get quality information on everything to do with effluent management, said Mr Campbell.

“Council staff will be available at the expo to answer questions about the new monitoring approach and which soils are at greater risk of effluent non-compliance. Information will also be available on details of effluent rules, system design, pond construction, water allocation and water use.”