Farmers in the Waipa catchment have an opportunity to become involved and to adopt good environmental practices which will stand them in good stead for the future.
Waikato River Authority chief executive Bob Penter says the Sustainable Milk Plans (SMPs) are key projects.
“The recent Upper Waikato catchment programme was one of our first big funding partnerships and the environmental results that have been achieved there with the 640 dairy farms taking part have been extremely encouraging. We are pleased to be able to fund a new extension of that programme into the Waipa River catchment given it is a priority area for the Waikato River Authority,” says Mr Penter.
First farmers to sign up
Among the first farmers in the Waipa region to sign up to the project are John Hayward and his wife Susan O’Regan who farm 240ha in the Mangapiko Stream catchment south of Cambridge. They milk 420 cows on a 140 effective ha milking platform.
“While as a farmer I have some concerns that we are losing control of our farms and being told what we can do on our land, I am also passionate about waterways and being sustainable; so we are keen to be involved,” says John.
DairyNZ Waipa catchment project manager Nicola McHaffie says that SMPs are not about telling farmers what to do, but helping them identify risks and formulate practical solutions.
“We’ve created a model that supports farmers to make changes through advice and individualised plans. We have conversations with them about their farm. This approach is about setting out a plan that the farmer can see will work for their farm 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.”
Sustainable Milk Plans are managed by DairyNZ and strongly supported by the dairy industry including Fonterra, Open Country, Miraka, and the Waikato Regional Council.
Farmers who participate receive:
- a free plan tailored to their farm with farmer agreed actions
- consultant support to implement the plan
- a benchmark for where their farm is at now
- an understanding of how their actions have contributed to river improvements.
The first subcatchments in the Waipa catchment to receive SMPs are; Mangaotama and Mangapiko streams, Pirongia streams, Kaniwhaniwha streams and Waipa Pirongia to Ngaruawahia. If you live in one of the sub-catchments and would like to register for a Sustainable Milk Plan, contact Nicola McHaffie, project manager. 027 838 5943, or at Nicola.McHaffie@dairynz.co.nz.
To see a map of the catchment click here.
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy May 2015