A Sustainable Milk Plan is a free farm environment plan, personalised to your farm, which helps you focus on environmentally sustainable farming practices.
During a one-on-one visit, a consultant helps you to benchmark your farm by assessing your business for environmental risks and identifying where improvements can be made. This allows you to prioritise and plan for the future. Ongoing support helps you to evaluate progress and revise goals.
How do I get a Sustainable Milk Plan?
The first Waipa sub-catchments to receive SMPs are:
If you farm in one of these sub-catchments and would like to take advantage of this opportunity sign up now.
Please fill in and sign this form, then either scan and email back to email@example.com or post it back to
Private Bag 3221
For those not in these areas, you will still have the opportunity to sign up. Roll out is being staggered to ensure that we can coordinate support for farmers in each catchment.
Waipa rollout due to Upper Waikato success
The Waipa rollout is building on the success of the project in the Upper Waikato where 647 farmers took the opportunity to get a Sustainable Milk Plan.
Nick and Cathy Prendergast, who farm at Arohena between Te Awamutu and Mangakino in the Waikato, signed up for a plan in 2013. They said doing a Sustainable Milk Plan was a great opportunity for them to focus on sustainability and to find out if their farming practices were sustainable.
“It gave us valuable guidance and confidence that what we had implemented in our business was addressing the key factors in sustainability. We found the whole process positive, informative and beneficial for our business, the environment and the industry,” said Cathy.
Contracted Waipa consultants
- Aleisha Broomfield
- Ballance Agri-Nutrients
- Dairy solutions
- Mark Robinson
- Nutrient Management Services Ltd.
- Rural Business Solutions
Frequently Asked Questions
Why was the Waipa catchment chosen for this project?
The Waipa River was chosen because restoring its water quality will have a large, positive impact on the Waikato River. The Waipa catchment is the largest tributary of the Waikato River. It faces significant water quality challenges from both historic land management decisions (e.g. erosion and resulting sediment issues in the river and its tributaries) and continued intensification of agriculture.
The Waipa SMP project builds on the success of the Upper Waikato project and is part of the dairy industry’s on-going commitment to a cleaner Waikato River.
What will farmers and the industry gain from this project?
Farmers will gain a good overview of their farms’ environmental status and have access to free one-on-one support to make changes where they are needed. The industry will gain information that allows us to demonstrate what farmers are already doing in the catchment, and what farmers can achieve through industry support.
Do dairy farmers have to get involved?
DairyNZ strongly encourages all farmers to participate, but any changes on farm are voluntary. Farmers who get involved will have access to top professional advice at no charge, and will be much better placed to meet changing regulations.
How will this impact on dairy company supply commitments?
Open Country, Miraka and Fonterra all strongly supporting this project as does the rest of the industry. The DairyNZ Sustainable Milk Plan looks to build on current milk supply commitments and encourages farmers do to more than what’s currently required by regulation.
Is this project supported by the Waikato Regional Council?
Yes, the Council is very supportive of the project and is represented on the Steering Group.
What does it cost farmers?
The project provides farmers with professional advice delivered to each farm throughout the catchment. Subsequent changes on farm may require farmers to invest time and resources.
Who is paying for the project?
The project is funded by the Waikato River Authority. And of course, farmers that are making changes on farm are also contributing.
Why is the Waikato River Authority supporting it?
The Waipa River is significant to the WRA and over time, the collective actions of 850 farmers in the catchment will make a real difference to the environmental health of the Waipa and the Waikato Rivers. The Authority is charged by the government with supporting projects to clean up the river.
Can I choose which consulting company I use?
Yes, you can choose from a list of consulting companies contracted by DairyNZ. If you do not wish to work with any of the consulting companies listed, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and an alternative arrangement can be discussed.
Are consulting companies being paid to do this work?
Yes. They are contracted by DairyNZ.
Who will have access to the DairyNZ Sustainable Milk Plan for my farm?
Only the farmer, the consultant and the project team at DairyNZ have access to individual Sustainable Milk Plans to complete the plans and to provide on-going support.
What will information about my farm be used for?
Information about your farm will help your conversation with a consultant as you develop some actions to improve the environmental performance on your farm. Aggregated information from farms across the catchment will help us understand current farm performance, the opportunities to improve, and the potential improvement in water quality.
Will any of the information I might share with the consultant end up with the regional council?
No. No identifiable individual information will be shared with the regional council.
What happens if a Sustainable Milk Plan isn’t suited to my farm?
All Plans are farm-specific. There is no ‘one size fits all’. Your Sustainable Milk Plan will be tailored to your farm through the discussions that take place with the consultant.
Do I have to do what the consultant suggests in the Sustainable Milk Plan?
The plan will only capture the actions you have agreed to in your conversation with the consultant. The plan will provide you with ideas for future on-farm change that you do not wish to pursue as part of the process.
What will the cost be to implement the Sustainable Milk Plan on my farm?
That is entirely up to you. The only things you are expected to do are those things which you have agreed to.
Do DairyNZ Sustainable Milk Plans cover effluent management?
Yes. Your consultant will be able to help you to assess your current effluent system and help you put a plan in place if required.
What are the targets for the Waipa catchment?
No nutrient or sediment targets have been set for the Waipa catchment. There are a number of rules in the existing Waikato Regional Plan that are relevant to the catchment. There is also the Waikato Regional Council Waipa Catchment Plan which sets the overall direction for protecting and restoring the Waipa catchment. The Waipa SMP steering group has developed a series of targets to guide farmer action. These can be found here.
How long have I got to get involved?
We are staggering the rollout of SMPs throughout the catchment to better coordinate farmer support and speed up the analysis and good news stories coming out of sub catchments. The map below shows the sub catchment groups and when SMPs will be available. The sooner farmers get involved the better - so if your sub catchment is up soon why not start the process today?
Does the wider community know about this project?
Yes. The industry is keen to demonstrate that farmers are taking voluntary action to reduce the environmental impacts of dairy farming, and that many farmers are already strongly committed to good environmental management.
How will the Healthy Rivers process affect this process?
We do not currently know what the Healthy River plan change process will mean for farmers in the catchment. However, the SMP process will provide you with a greater understanding of your risks to allow you develop appropriate strategies to meet future policy requirements.
I have already given heaps of data to Fonterra and my fert rep do I really have to repeat it?
No, when you sign up to complete a SMP we will get your permission from your milk company and/or your fertiliser rep to share the environmental data they have already collected. This will save time and allow for more in-depth discussion to tailor a SMP to identify your risks and opportunities.
Who is contributing to the success of the Waipa SMP project?
Steering group members
Brett Alexandra Fonterra Richard Allen Fonterra Wade Bell DairyNZ Grant Blackie Waikato Regional Council Mike Bramley DairyNZ Adrian Brocksopp DairyNZ Alan Campbell Waikato Regional Council John Fairweather Open Country Jacqui Hahn Federated farmers John Haywood Catchment farmer Lisa te Heuheu Raukawa Charitable Trust Monique Houghton Open Country Edward Hardie NZIPIM/LIC Ngahuia Herangi Maniapoto Trust Tim Manakau Waikato-Tainui Mike Manning Ravensdown Nicola McHaffie DairyNZ Ian Power Ballance Mike Scarsbrook DairyNZ Liz Stolwyk Waipa District Council Teresa Tarr Ravensdown John Vosper Waikato Regional Council
Key DairyNZ staff
Adrian Brocksopp - Project Leader
Adrian joined DairyNZ in early 2013 as Project Manager, Catchment Engagement. Prior to that, he worked for Ballance Agri-Nutrients for eight years, the last three and a half as Waikato area sales manager. Adrian was raised on a family farm in Leicestershire in the UK and has a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in agriculture. Adrian was the project leader for the upper Waikato Sustainable Milk Plan project.
Nicola McHaffie - Project Manager
Nicola is a developer in the sustainability team at DairyNZ. She works to translate and extend science, research and good management practice in the environmental space into useable products and services for farmers and rural professionals. She has her Masters in Science majoring in Environmental Science from the University of Canterbury. Nicola was a key member of upper Waikato Sustainable Milk Plan team.
Mike Bramley - Environmental Extension Specialist
Mike has a Bachelor of Agriculture from Massey University. He has worked as a consulting officer in the Waikato and on the South Island’s West Coast and has a range of experience in farm systems and the environment. He has been involved in the Sustainable Milk Plan process from the beginning and helped a number of farmers in the Upper Waikato. Mike is also supporting dairy farmers in the Waikato Regional Council’s Healthy Rivers Plan for Change process.
If you have a question about this project that is not covered above, please email project manager Nicola McHaffie at email@example.com. Questions will be answered as quickly as possible and, if appropriate, will be posted on this site.
DairyNZ with funding from the Waikato River Authority and support from Fonterra, OCD, Miraka and Waikato Regional Council, is assisting with the delivery of Sustainable Milk Plans (SMPs) in the Waipa catchment.