It is a team effort between industry body DairyNZ and the Waikato River Authority to improve nutrient and sediment loads in the Waipa catchment as well as encourage more efficient water use.
The Sustainable Milk Plan (SMP) project is being rolled out in stages, beginning in spring with the Mangaotama, Mangopiko and Kaniwhaniwha catchments. It is supported by Waikato Regional Council, Waipa District Council, Federated Famers, local iwi, milk supply companies, the fertiliser industry and the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management.
DairyNZ is managing the project which is a free environmental plan delivered to the farm gate to help farmers assess their businesses for environmental risks and opportunities and help them plan for the future.
The plan outlines specific achievable activities agreed with farmers and is developed by DairyNZ consultants who provide support to implement the plan.
DairyNZ catchment engagement manager Adrian Brocksopp says the success of a similar project in the Upper Waikato catchment where 640 farmers developed Sustainable Milk Plans has led to this latest rollout in the Waipa catchment.
“Our Upper Waikato Sustainable Milk Plan project was given national recognition as a good example of farmers caring for water when it was named a finalist in the Ministry for Environment and Department of Conservation’s Green Ribbon Awards held last week. Farmer involvement in the project wasn’t compulsory but those in the Upper Waikato realised that taking part paid dividends for their own farms, the river and for the wider catchment,” says Adrian.
“It’s all about good practice and becoming more efficient in the use of resources which can bring environmental benefits as well as saving money by making operations more efficient.”
“They also know that having a Sustainable Milk Plan will give them a head-start in terms of coping with changing regulations,” says Adrian.
Project manager Nicola McHaffie says that SMPs are not about telling farmers what to do, but about helping them identify risks and find practical solutions.
“We’ve created a model that supports farmers to make changes through advice and customised plans. We have conversations with them about their farm. This approach is about setting out a plan that farmers can see will work for their farms and for the local environment.”
“The project is demonstrating to policy makers and the wider community that farmers are committed to sustainable dairying and improved water quality,” says Nicola.
Farmers in the Mangapiko, Mangaotama and Kaniwhaniwha catchments can learn more about the Waipa project by attending a two-hour farmer meeting at the Te Awamutu Sports Club on 16 June at either 10.30am or 7pm. For further information visit dairynz.co.nz/WaipaSMP or contact project manager Nicola McHaffie on 027 838 5943.
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