Otago dairy farmers are increasingly reporting their annual fertiliser use, with about 70% of farmers now complying with new government regulations in this regard, the Otago Regional Council said.
ORC’s regulatory data and systems manager, Simon Wilson, said the figure has risen almost 30% on the previous year and he praised farmers for their efforts in complying with the nitrogen reporting regulations, which have been in force for two years.
“While the deadline for reporting has passed, all reporting tools are still available and we’re encouraging anyone who hasn’t submitted to complete their returns now,” Wilson said.
For the year to June 30, 2023, 70% of Otago dairy farmers reported their fertiliser use, either directly to through the regional sector reporting tool, or via Ravensdown or Ballance reporting systems, compared with 54% having reported the year before.
All three ways of reporting are combined into one national list.
So far in Otago there have been 334 dairy farms deliver reports, out of a total 473.
On another positive note, Wilson highlighted changes in Otago fertiliser use compared to the last reporting period.
The new rules, known as N-cap, came into effect in July 2021. In terms of the rules, annual usage of synthetic nitrogen must not exceed 190kg per hectare, averaged across farmers’ grazed land areas.
A resource consent is required for higher fertiliser usage. The cap applies to all pastoral land with dairy farmers required to report their fertiliser usage annually.
Wilson said that for the previous financial year, 2% of farmer respondents reported being over the cap of 190kg per hectare, while this just-passed financial year that number was well down, to 0.6% of respondents.
“We’re really pleased to see farmers are able to apply the data, year on year, and more specifically target their fertiliser use,” he said.
The nitrogen cap was introduced as part of the government’s National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, covering activities that could pose a risk to freshwater ecosystems.