Waikato Regional Council is set to kick-off its 2019/20 monitoring of dairy farms next week, with a continued focus on high risk farms.
Farming services team leader Stuart Stone said: “We will be continuing our strategy of inspecting high risk properties around the region, without prior notice, and hope to see more farmers improving their effluent management.”
Last year, the council monitored more than 1000 farms and found “mixed results”, with significant improvements on some high risk farms but not all.
Over the 2018/19 season council officers physically inspected 936 farms, with a further 99 being checked from the air with no visible issues.
“Overall our inspections revealed mixed results. While we are definitely seeing significant improvements on some farms, we have unfortunately also found a number of farms with inadequate infrastructure and management practices. Some of these are allowing their dairy effluent to negatively impact on the environment.
“The use of a fixed wing aircraft has enabled us to cover far more ground. If we see something of concern from the air we have ground teams that can follow-up immediately to see exactly what is going on,” Mr Stone said.
He said there are a number of elements which determine whether a farm is ‘high risk’, including insufficient effluent storage, an expired resource consent and previous compliance issues.
Good systems have the dual benefit of preventing effluent polluting the environment, while also providing an excellent source of fertiliser for the farmer.
DairyNZ and Waikato Regional Council encourage the use of certified designers and the dairy effluent storage calculator, as storage requirements depend on a number of different factors.