Better control of effluent
Two-thirds of Waipa catchment dairy farmers are meeting their effluent requirements after inspections by the Waikato Regional Council, however eight were found to be lagging behind.
Council staff visited 212 farms in January and February of this year. Of those inspected, 41 were fully compliant, 99 were provisionally compliant, 65 achieved partial compliance and 8 were significantly non-compliant.
Farms are deemed provisionally compliant if the council is uncertain whether the effluent pond achieved the required sealing standard, despite there being no issues on the inspection day. When combined with the fully compliant farms, two thirds of the farms were compliant.
The visits are part of the council’s effluent compliance monitoring throughout the year. The data was released by council staff at a Dairynz-run ‘Ask Us’ event at the Don Rowlands Centre on May 4.
The visits looked at compliance on the day, the farm’s infrastructure including the pond’s sealing standard and size and how effluent was managed by the farmer.
‘‘We also look at infrastructure and this includes sumps, ponds, tanks and basically this is your risk of non-compliance. We are looking at the ability for your infrastructure to make you compliant 365 days of the year,’’ the council’s resource office Ryan Morrison said.
WRC sustainable agriculture advisor John Vosper said the figures were fairly indicative of the whole region.
While having only 41 out of 212 farms deemed fully compliant was ‘‘not great’’ when looked at in isolation, it had to be put into context with the 99 farmers who were provisionally compliant.
‘‘Those farmers are on the right track, they just need to provide some evidence,’’ he said.
Morrison said there was positive change happening around compliance among farmers. He said there had been a lot of movement by farmers from insufficient to properly sealed ponds and he had noticed a change of attitude among farmers around proper effluent storage.
‘‘[It’s] definitely in attitude and understanding.’’
Pond liners are used to ensure effluent does not leak from the pond into nearby groundwater.