Shar­ing so­lu­tions for farms

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport - ILLYA MCLEL­LAN

Groups ad­vo­cat­ing for waste man­age­ment in­no­va­tions on dairy farms say they are are a pos­i­tive step to­ward re­de­vel­op­ment and sus­tain­abil­ity of the New Zealand en­vi­ron­ment.

Waikato farm­ers were among those watch­ing the Greater Welling­ton Re­gional Coun­cil, Min­istry of Pri­mary In­dus­tries (MPI) and Sus­tain­able Wairarapa, which are co-op­er­at­ing to de­velop sus­tain­able out­comes that will have na­tional im­pli­ca­tions.

A field day was held at Keith Fin­layson’s Piri­noa dairy farm on Thurs­day to show­case a new dairy ef­flu­ent sys­tem that helps man­age waste, re­duc­ing farm costs and lift­ing wa­ter quality on the farm and in sur­round­ing ar­eas.

Fin­layson, who has a 500-cow dairy farm over a 193-hectare area, said the sys­tem he in­stalled was a headache at first be­cause of the cost in­volved, but over time he re­alised it had many ben­e­fits.

‘‘The sys­tem has en­abled fil­ter and stor­age of a lot of wa­ter for longer pe­ri­ods, which lessens worry about our abil­ity to man­age high rain­fall. It also en­ables a re­duc­tion of fertiliser bills and also re­duces nu­tri­ent loss to wa­ter,’’ he said.

‘‘It is a hands-off sys­tem so doesn’t take up the time of staff who can do other ac­tiv­i­ties.’’

Dr John-Paul Praat is a sus­tain­able land man­age­ment ex­pert help­ing Sus­tain­able Wairarapa, the re­gional coun­cil and MPI to de­velop prac­ti­cal so­lu­tions for farm­ers.

Many farm­ers were keen to come up with ways to im­prove farm man­age­ment and the en­vi­ron­ment, he said.

Aware­ness has im­proved over the past few years but it is of­ten farm­ers, who are more fi­nan­cially se­cure, and who can de­velop and main­tain good ef­flu­ent man­age­ment sys­tems.

‘‘There are eco­nomic fac­tors that come into play.

‘‘When the milk solids price dropped a few years ago farm­ers were sud­denly in a po­si­tion where they were wor­ried about sur­vival and dropped out of sus­tain­abil­ity projects, he said.

‘‘There is a will­ing­ness there, though, in the farm­ing com­mu­nity to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion, which is some­times lost on the gen­eral pub­lic and in me­dia cover­age.’’

An­drew Ste­wart, of Sus­tain­able Wairarapa, said there has been a shift to­ward greater aware­ness in the farm­ing sec­tor about the is­sue of wa­ter quality in rural ar­eas.

There are farm­ers who are do­ing things to im­prove their ef­flu­ent man­age­ment sys­tems, which have ben­e­fits for the en­vi­ron­ment.

A lot of pos­i­tive things hap­pen­ing on farms goes un­re­ported and un­no­ticed, he said.

‘‘There is a long way to go, but there are en­cour­ag­ing signs that change is hap­pen­ing.

‘‘Sus­tain­able Wairarapa is sup­port­ive of this project that en­cour­ages farm­ers shar­ing in­for­ma­tion about in­no­va­tions be­ing im­ple­mented on farms,’’ he said.

‘‘Farm­ers like to hear other farm­ers’ ex­pe­ri­ence of an in­no­va­tion or change and how it has ben­e­fited their farm and made a dif­fer­ence.’’

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