Waitomo News : NKC Farmer January 2015
4 Thursday, January 15, 2015 DESIGNED & BUILT FOR WORK & LIFE! Multi-Purpose Storage Shed 10.5m x 8m x 3.6m with 3 Doors & Awning Lifestyle Combo 18mx7.5mx3m with 2 Sectional Doors, 2 Partition Walls, Awning & 2 PA Doors Heritage Barn with Woodshed 10.5m x 11m x 2.7m with Awning & 2 Roller Doors “What I needed was really quite specific.Totalspan provided a solution that took care of everything I was looking for.” Showroom: 639 Te Rapa Rd, Hamilton • P: 07 957 3685 E: firstname.lastname@example.org Display building: 240 Maniapoto St, Otorohanga • P: 07 873 6515 Te Awamutu 2 Livingstone Brothers Ln P: 07 871 6781 Otorohanga 12 Progress Drive P: 07 873 8500 Putaruru 89 Tirau Street P: 07 883 3423 HELICOPTER monitoring of Waikato dairy farms has been grounded. Last month the Waikato Regional Council (WRC) endorsed in principle a new approach to ensuring compliance with dairy effluent manage- ment rules. The proposed new regime includes an end to helicopter monitoring of farms and routine visits by inspectors without an appointment, while increas- ing co-operation with the dairy sector. The move comes following reports that helicop- ter monitoring may be a contributing factor to the high rate of rural suicides. This is despite aerial inspections being quicker and more cost effective than ground based visits. COST UNKNOWN The cost to ratepayers of implementing the new plan, developed by a special working party which included WRC councillors and industry representa- tives, is unknown. The working party was formed following farmer concerns about helicopter use, inspections without appointments and rules around the sealing of ef- fluent storage ponds. The group comprised councillors Alan Living- stone, Stuart Husband and Clyde Graf, Tatua Co-operative Dairy Company chairman Stephen Allen, Waikato Federated Farmers president Chris Lewis, DairyNZ sustainability strategy and investment leader Rick Pridmore and Fonterra en- vironmental policy manager Charlotte Rutherford. RECOMMENDATIONS At a WRC meeting on December 11, councillors agreed in principle to the working party’s seven recommendations and asked that staff report back on how much they would cost and also whether the council would still be able to meet its legal obliga- tions under such a system. The recommendations are: l The council continues to monitor non-compli- ance of dairy effluent rules. l The council and industry focus on making sure farms have an effluent management infrastructure so that they comply with rules all year round. l Helicopter monitoring ceases, all routine compliance-related farm visits are done by appoint- ment with authorised farm decision-makers, and that monitoring focuses on areas of greatest risk of non-compliance. l The council supports voluntary industry initi- atives and guidelines to help farmers be compliant. l The council improves feedback to farmers. l The dairy industry and the council collaborate to improve compliance. l The industry and the council work to increase farmer awareness of compliance needs. During the meeting, the group agreed that ten- sions caused by helicopter monitoring and visits without appointments inhibited farmers from adopting best effluent management practices. So there was a need to do more to encourage full compliance and adequate effluent management in- frastructure by working with the industry, as this could offer the greatest environmental benefits. Working party chairman Mr Livingston said: “The helicopters have run their course. Significant changes have already been made, and are being made, with farm effluent systems, and at consider- able cost. However, if improvements weren’t made voluntarily by farmers it was possible they could face tougher rules further down the track.” LOCAL VIEW Piopio dairy farmer Derek Kloeten, who milks 550 cows on 365ha, says he has “no problem” with helicopter monitoring. “I can see how some farmers might find it a bit stressful, but personally it doesn’t bother me. “I think ground or helicopter visits are about the same. “As long as your effluent systems are compliant you should have nothing to worry about.” The use of helicopters to monitor dairy farm ef- fluent compliance was introduced by WRC in 2004. Aerial inspections of each of the Waikato region’s 4200 dairy farms were carried out once every six years. About 100 farms can be inspected from the air in the same time it takes to conduct ground- based inspections of one or two farms. WRC grounds choppers NO FLY: Waikato Regional Council has endorsed ‘in principle’ the grounding all helicop- ters as a tool to monitor dairy farm effluent.
2 April 2015
17 July 2014