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Published: 2014-03-14 00:00:00

A record number of exhibitors will be providing timely tips for dairy farmers at this month’s fourth annual Waikato Effluent Expo at the Mystery Creek events centre near Hamilton.

The expo runs from 9am to 3.30pm on 25 March. Past events have proved very popular and more than 500 farmers are expected at this year’s event.

“We’ve brought together over 50 exhibitors for this year’s expo, with the aim of supporting farmers who want to boost farm profits while minimising their environmental impacts,” said Waikato Regional Council environmental farming systems advisor Electra Kalaugher.

“The expo is a great chance for farmers to take a step back and think about future proofing their farming system, including setting it up to get the most out of effluent as a source of valuable nutrients.”

Supported financially by DairyNZ and organised by the regional council, the expo will feature a range of seminars.

These include:

  • Design and construction of ponds and tanks for dairy effluent (hosted by DairyNZ’s Theresa Wilson and Rex Corlett from Opus)
  • Key principles for designing an upgrade or installing a new effluent irrigation system (Logan Bowler and Nick Tait from DairyNZ)
  • Nutrient management on dairy farms (DairyNZ’s Adrian Brocksopp)
  • Making the most of your effluent irrigation (AgResearch’s Bob Longhurst and dairy farmer Trevor Phipps)
  • Investing in the environment (ANZ Bank’s Scott Neely)
  • “Dairy effluent monitoring – What is the council looking for?” (Waikato Regional Council’s Ben Franks).

Besides the exhibitors and seminars inside the pavilion, there will be outside demonstration of effluent irrigators and other applicators in action.

Kalaugher said it was great to see that at least one bank has recently introduced a special low-interest loan package for on-farm environmental improvements.

“This is a sign that banks are more and more aware of the importance of farmers investing in future-proofing their farms and we are watching developments in this space with interest.”

The expo also comes at a time when organiser Waikato Regional Council is working more proactively with farmers whose properties have soils which present a greater risk of contaminants getting into waterways.

Kalaugher said the council encouraged farmers to get ahead of the game and start looking at the right effluent management system for their farm before the council starts engaging directly with them. If the council has already paid a visit and asked for an effluent management plan to be provided, this is an ideal opportunity to get it sorted.

An industry standard expectation is that effluent management systems should enable farmers to comply with council rules 365 days a year.

The council sees a good system as including:

  • adequate sealed storage so farmers don’t have to irrigate effluent to pasture when soils are waterlogged
  • applicators, pumps and lines appropriate for the farm
  • good management and maintenance
  • contingency infrastructure and plans to handle unforeseen situations.

Besides the serious business of talking effluent management, there will also be a once-an-hour, 10 minute activity run by QCONZ in which farmers and their staff are invited to come along and do a maintenance check on a travelling irrigator, and pit their knowledge against the experts. Those taking part will go in the draw win a free Primary ITO course on “Dealing with Dairy Farm Effluent”.