17 Sep 2013

Damaged irrigators could cause effluent headache

7:15 am on 17 September 2013

Storm-struck Canterbury dairy farmers should be thinking about how they are going to meet their effluent disposal obligations if their irrigators are down, an environmental lawyer says.

Last week's massive wind storm damaged about 800 irrigators, many of them central pivots and in part used for distributing effluent on dairy farms.

Duncan Cotterill environmental lawyer Ewan Chapman says farmers should keep in contact with their regional council and also keep thorough records of what they had done with their effluent, and why.

"Generally farmers do have some storage (capacity), so they'll be trying to optimise storage initially but what it might practically mean is that farmers might have to put their effluent back through a Roto-Rainer system or some other system, rather than the centre pivot," Mr Chapman says.

"We're just wanting to make the point that while needs must, they might have to be forced into doing that."

He also advised farmers to keep a good paper trail in case of any future prosecutions. They needed to be able to say what their immediate concerns were as a result of the high winds, and that was likely to be animal welfare and making sure their milking platform was operating.

"But I think that they need to keep a paper trail in terms of what they've done in terms of nutrient buildup, ponding or whatever from their effluent disposal system," Mr Chapman says.