5 May 2010

1400-cow farm planned for Upper Waitaki

3:33 pm on 5 May 2010

A new large scale dairy farm conversion in the Upper Waitaki region will start milking in the coming season, after finally getting approval for effluent discharge conditions.

Little Ben Ltd has been running a dairy grazing and cropping operation on 470 hectares of land near Omarama.

The Canterbury Regional Council originally granted Little Ben Ltd consent to farm 750 dairy cows for 10 years on a 450ha farm near Omarama.

The company appealed to the Environment Court, which, after mediation, has extended the consent to 25 years and 1400 cows.

A co-director of the company, Mervyn McCabe, says that's not a high stocking rate for a farm that size.

A member of the Canterbury Aoraki conservation board, John Keoghan, has questioned whether the large-scale farm is appropriate for the area.

He acknowledges that strict environmental controls will be imposed on Little Ben but would prefer a smaller operation until more is known about the effect of large-scale dairy farming in the Upper Waitaki.

Mervyn McCabe says the dairy operation will have less environmental impact than grazing and beef production would have.

Under an agreement with the Department of Conservation, he says, he's also fencing off a 20 metre-wide buffer zone to protect a neighbouring wetland and reserve.

Mr McCabe expects the farm to be milking 900 cows in the first season.

The company says most of the cows will only be on the land during the summer.