Friday, July 1, 2022

Farmers act

Waituna dairy farmers have updated their catchment action plan as promised, presenting it to Environment Southland in early November.

The eight-page booklet, Dairy Farming in the Waituna Catchment: Protecting Lagoon Health Update October 2012, follows on from their publication released in December 2011.

Waituna, on the coast east of Invercargill, is part of the internationally significant Awarua Wetlands. In February 2011, the regional council voiced its concern that farming practices by the 80 landowners in or partly in the catchment (40 dairy farms and 40 drystock farms) might cause the lagoon to flip to a devegetated and turbid state.

The new booklet, produced by the farmers and DairyNZ, describes how dairy farmers in the catchment have spent more than $1 million implementing hundreds of identified recommendations to protect the lagoon health.

“All dairy farmers in the Waituna catchment now have a nutrient budget and are using the information to manage nutrients more efficiently.”

Of the actions implemented so far, 33% relate to effluent management and include new effluent systems, improved drainage from dairy laneways and changing to K-line effluent irrigators. A further 34% are to do with nutrient management such as using less urea and replacing tile drains.

Other actions include fencing off native bush blocks, improving rubbish management, fencing off waterways and increasing riparian plantings.

Farmers have identified 178 action items that still need to be done and have estimated it will take a further $3m to implement them.

A further update is planned for early next year.

Meanwhile more than 250 people have given spoken submissions on the ORC’s proposed Plan Change 6A (Water Quality) after 410 written submissions were received. The council said the plan change is needed to maintain water quality or improve it in the region’s waterways.   

ORC has already signalled there will be a five-year transition time for farmers to meet discharge limits in 6A and they will have until 2019 to meet the nitrogen (N)-loading limit.


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