DairyNZ supports the Government’s plans to amend the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and introduce a new National Environmental Standard says DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle.
“We share Minister Parker’s vision for improving New Zealand’s waterways and the need to accelerate the good work that is already underway in many parts of the country,” says Dr Mackle. “Under our Dairy Tomorrow strategy we committed to leading efforts to improve our waterways, and much of this involves changes to how we care for our land and soil.”
Healthy soils increase farm productivity and filters water to help prevent nutrients entering waterways.
“No farmer wants to see their soil damaged,” says Dr Mackle. “At DairyNZ our scientists are working with farmers in a number of rural communities to find out what changes they can make, especially over winter when soil is most at risk of damage, to accelerate water quality improvements.”
“In Aparima River for instance we are monitoring how initiatives like targeted planting at specific times of the year can improve soil condition and lower water contaminants.
“These are complex projects because every region and farm is different, and they usually involve multiple land uses, not just dairy,” says Dr Mackle. “DairyNZ has significant research and trials underway across at risk catchments to support this vision and we are working to provide our farmers and communities with practical tools and enduring solutions.
“Around the country we’re seeing increasing numbers of farmers using solutions like standoff pads or removing stock from the paddock when the soil is most vulnerable to compaction,” says Dr Mackle. “Many farmers are also restoring wetlands and carrying out extensive planting to manage sediment loss and erosion prone land.
“Our farmers have been on this journey for a long time and the evidence and information about best farming practice is continually improving.
“We look forward to working with the Government on how on-farm tree planting could be better supported through the One Billion Trees programme, and continued freshwater investment in R&D from Government.
“It’s important to remember we can’t talk about just one environmental issue in isolation,” says Dr Mackle. “We are also heavily focused on reducing the dairy sector’s greenhouse gas emissions and this work will directly improve the health of our soil and waterways.
“We look forward to working with these new advisory groups announced today and although the scientific environmental expertise working in the dairy sector isn’t directly included in these groups, we look forward to constructive engagement in the process ahead.
“As a sector, we’ve recognised for many years that change is happening,” says Dr Mackle. “We’ve acknowledged the impact dairy farming has had on the land and it will take time to fix some of the historical issues. But I am proud of what we have achieved so far and the continued vision we have for healthy land and water.”
More information is available on the Ministry for the Environment website.
DairyNZ senior advisor, communications and stakeholder relations
021 107 5071