What do Northland farmers need to know?
- The current regional plans are being rewritten:
- A draft will be out for comment mid-2016, with formal notification expected mid-2017.
- NRC is also running five ‘Priority Catchment Projects’ alongside the regional plan review in Doubtless Bay, Waitangi River, Mangere River, Whangarei Harbour and Pouto Dune Lakes.
- This may have impacts on your farm business.
- You need to be aware of the process and be prepared to comment on the new plan.
What do farmers need to do?
- NOW: Comply with Fonterra and NRC existing requirements.
- LATER this year: Comment on the draft regional plan – it’s really important.
What are the problems?
- NRC considers the following to be the key water quality issues for Northland:
- Poor water clarity in many lowland rivers (due to sediment)
- Elevated levels of faecal microbes in the majority of rivers and estuaries
- High sediment accumulation rates in a number of estuaries and harbours
- Elevated levels of nutrients in the majority of lakes and in some rivers.
- And there are issues around water quantity:
- High levels of water allocation in some areas
- Poor information on water takes.
What plan changes are anticipated?
This is yet to be confirmed by the Northland Regional Council, but may involve:
- Tightening of criteria for farm dairy effluent systems that rely solely on land application. More farmers may require consents.
- More focus on the efficient use of water for the farm dairy and for stock. Some catchments are highly allocated and farmers may require consent to take water for their farm dairies.
- Requirement for stock exclusion beyond the milking platform (dairy and beef) in the longer term.
- Limits on water allocation.
- Revised controls on activities that impact on wetlands.
Who has been involved so far?
- A 'Dairy Industry Liaison Group', comprising farmers, Fonterra, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and Farmers of NZ have met with council staff throughout the process.
- Dairy farmers are involved in each of the priority catchment community groups.
- DairyNZ water quality scientists have assisted the NRC’s technical review of the status of water quality. Any new plan must be based on the best science possible.
So remember - focus on compliance in the short term, but be prepared to get involved in giving feedback to the Regional Council on their proposals as they will affect your farm business later this year. Further information will appear here when it becomes available.
Keep It Low
Northland Regional Council will be visiting some farms this year to check effluent pond levels and diversion systems. (These visits will be free of charge, and chosen farmers will receive a notification letter giving them the chance to be present to talk with council dairy effluent officers.)
More than 20% of significant non-compliance could be reduced if farmers:
- Ensure that their ponds are as close to empty as possible just before winter
- Use their storm water diversions systems more.
☺ Being compliant can save up to $1000 in fines and revisits!
☺ Getting the effluent out of your ponds and onto potential crop paddocks means more efficient use of nutrients - saving money.
☺ Going into calving with good storage in your system can help reduce spring stress.
A full pond has no storage, so have a plan to get your effluent storage ponds empty. This includes knowing just how many days and pumping hours it will take.
- 300 cow spring calving herd
- Effluent from the shed only (no feed pad etc).
- Effluent pond has 2000m3 storage, (40m x 27m 3.5m deep 2:1 internal slopping batter)
- Pump at 16–18m3/hr.
Pumping for 4 hours a day, it will take 27 - 31 consecutive days to empty the pond from full! That’s without ongoing inputs from washdown if you are still milking, or rainfall.
For more information, contact
Helen Moodie, DairyNZ
Northland Catchment Engagement Leader
0800 4 DairyNZ (0800 4 324 7969)
021 816 365