Farm chop­per checks re­duced

South Waikato News - - FARMING -

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil will trial a new way of check­ing up on dairy farm­ers’ ef­flu­ent sys­tems, with fewer he­li­copter checks and a greater fo­cus on “high risk” soil ar­eas and ground-based vis­its.

The num­ber of dairy farms to be checked by he­li­copter will more than halve, from about 1000 last sea­son to up to 500 this sea­son, coun­cil com­pli­ance and ed­u­ca­tion man­ager Rob Dragten said. This would mean up to an eighth of the 4000 dairy farms in the Waikato would be checked from the air rather than about a quar­ter.

The num­ber of flights, where large batches of dairy farms are checked in one flight, would re­duce from about seven flights last sea­son to about five this sea­son.

How­ever, farm­ers should not re­lax. All farm­ers will still be expected to com­ply with ef­flu­ent man­age­ment rules and any­one could still have a he­li­copter in­spec­tion over their prop­erty, Mr Dragten said.

The coun­cil trial would in­volve more ground-based work with farm­ers to fix prob­lems and a fo­cus on high risk ar­eas. These ar­eas are not be­ing di­vulged in ad­vance as this, com­bined with the he­li­copter checks, will en­cour­age farm­ers to get their sys­tems up to scratch, he said.

The cut-back in he­li­copter mon­i­tor­ing was in­tended to im­prove en­vi­ron­men­tal out­comes by bet­ter tar­get­ing of re­sources, he said. It was not a re­sponse to AgRe­search stud­ies which showed that he­li­copter checks were one of the high­est sources of stress for un­der-pres­sure farm­ers.

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