9 Nov 2015

Farmers encouraged to take environmental advice

2:24 pm on 9 November 2015

Dairy farmers in Waikato are being encouraged to sign up for free advice aimed at lifting their environmental practices.

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Photo: 123rf.com

DairyNZ is extending its Sustainable Milk Plan project - a free environmental plan for farms in the Waipa River catchment - after its success in the upper Waikato.

Project manager Nicola McHaffie said the project was targeting the Kaniwhaniwha, Mangapiko and Mangaotama catchments.

Ms McHaffie said as regional councils began to introduce stricter environmental controls, it was important for farmers to understand individual improvements at a farm level could help to improve the river's overall health.

"They [plans] look at six environmental areas on farm: nutrients, waterways, water use in the shed, irrigation, land and waste management and effluent.

"The farmers have a one on one visit with a consultant...together they come up with some actions, things that the farmer agrees on that they'd like to do that are either going to improve efficiency or reduce losses of sediments and nutrients and bacteria and then the farmers gets a plan, 10 months of support from the consultant and then at the end we'll do a report on it and move into another three catchments.

"A lot of the changes are looking at planning for the future, so researching and investigating certain options. But also things like putting cut-offs on your races so the water doesn't collect and then run straight into water ways but is being channelled out into paddocks along the way. We've got a lot of actions around improving water use efficiency in the shed, looking at things like wash down times, nozzles and fixing leaks," she said.

Nicola McHaffie said 90 people have signed up so far, and it's hoped to have almost 300 farmers signed up for an environmental plan by next May.