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Published: 2007-02-07 00:00:00

Practical actions farmers can take to manage their effluent efficiently are the focus of two field days Environment Waikato, Federated Farmers, Fonterra and Dexcel are running with effluent system suppliers in February.

Full of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, sulphur and trace elements, farm dairy effluent is a great liquid fertiliser when irrigated onto pasture and crops. But applying too much effluent can cause problems.

“We see many cases where farmers apply more nutrients than they need for optimum pasture growth,” said Environment Waikato sustainable agriculture coordinator Gabriele Kaufler.

“This can impact on soil health, reduce pasture production and quality, increase the risk of metabolic problems at calving, pollute groundwater and reduce water quality in nearby waterways.”

However Dexcel’s developer Mike Bramley said farmers could avoid these problems by installing a good effluent system and ensuring all farm staff know how to operate and maintain it.

“All farm staff responsible for moving and managing the effluent irrigation system should be fully trained in its operation and maintenance. It is also important to ensure they know the local rules and regulations for effluent disposal,” he said.

The latest developments in effluent management, storage of effluent and deferred irrigation are some of the topics the field days will cover. Other topics include staff training and Environment Waikato regulations for managing dairy effluent.

“Environmental management should not be the last thing farmers do,” said Waikato chairman of Dairy Farmers of New Zealand John Bluett.

“There are basic procedures farmers can put in place to meet their environmental responsibilities. And like other management practices, for example herd management, these should become part of their operational routine.

“These field days are a great training opportunity and I hope dairy farmers and their staff will take the time to attend one of the days.”

The field days will be held at Kevin Were’s farm on SH3, Te Kuiti, supply number 74772 on February 21 and Keith Holmes’ farm on 115A Williams Rd, Tauhei, Morrinsville, supply number 72489 on February 22.

Field days will start at 10.15am and run to 12.30pm. Lunch will follow.