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Published: 2007-01-15 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is offering dairy farmers in the Waikato region the chance to have the nutrient value of their dairy effluent tested at a special discounted rate.

The first five hundred samples received will be tested for $75 plus GST, down from the regular price of $90 plus GST.

Many farmers realise they can significantly reduce the amount they spend on fertiliser by irrigating their dairy effluent to pasture. But to avoid overloading their soils, for example with potash which can cause animal health problems, they need to be careful not to apply too much. This is particularly important if they’re also applying bagged fertiliser, said Environment Waikato’s sustainable agriculture facilitator Gabriele Kaufler.

“To work out the nutrients going onto their land during irrigation, farmers need to know the nutrient value of their effluent. To figure this out they need to get their effluent tested by a lab.

“Once farmers know their effluent’s nutrient value they can calculate how much they should be applying for optimum pasture growth and how much money they can save by reducing the amount of bagged fertiliser they buy.

The nutrient composition of effluent varies greatly depending on the farm system, supplements used and time of year, so like soil and herbage testing, it’s good practice to regularly test effluent.

Under Environment Waikato’s Regional Plan, irrigating effluent to land is a permitted activity. This means farmers don’t need a resource consent, but they must follow certain rules including, not applying more than 150kg of nitrogen per hectare per year on pasture and 200kg of nitrogen per hectare per year on maize.

“Knowing their effluent’s nutrient value will also help farmers comply with this rule,” said Ms Kaufler.

If you’re a dairy farmer in the Waikato region, and want to figure out the nutrient value of your dairy effluent, you can register for this offer by calling Environment Waikato on 0800 800 401.