Some of the areas identified as needing more work by the industry are nutrient management data collection, effluent compliance in some regions and data collation and verification systems across all dairy companies.
The Water Accord is a voluntary dairy industry commitment to improving water quality, led by industry body DairyNZ, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) and dairy companies.
A broader new Water Accord was launched in July 2013 involving all dairy companies, with a number of targets and commitments across the dairy sector.
DairyNZ’s environmental policy manager Dr Mike Scarsbrook compiled the One Year On report with assistance from dairy company staff and other sector bodies.
Some of the key achievements highlighted in the report include:
- Every dairy company having an assessment programme in place for new farm conversions
- Effluent assessment systems in place for farms across all dairy companies
- Stock exclusion from farm waterways across the country
- Regionally-tailored waterway planting advice for farmers
“We’ve made meaningful progress in our first year of operation and we’d like to thank farmers for all the work they have done. There is still a lot more to do but there are lots of examples where farmers are making a real contribution to improving water quality,” he says.
“We need to put a greater focus on nutrient management data collection at the farm level and on how to benchmark and deliver useful information back to farmers. The dairy companies are going to lead a review of how we collect information across the industry to ensure we can gather more data and lift the level of reporting from farms,” says Dr Scarsbrook.
“We’re going to learn from this report and keep on improving. The big focus is on getting better collation and alignment of how we collect our industry data across the dairy companies for next year’s report.
“We’ve achieved some but not all our targets for this first year so we need to keep working on all the initiatives we have underway. We’ve got new EnviroReady field days for farmers, a Warrant of Fitness programme for effluent systems and 15 local projects focused on waterways. We are committed to proactive environmental stewardship,” he says.
The industry is also working on a three year water use study on over 100 dairy farms across the country. Data from the first 59 farms was collected during the 2013/14 season. Preliminary results will be available in 2015.
For a copy of the One Year On report including a highlights summary click here.
Water Accord - Questions and Answers
Who is DairyNZ and who is DCANZ?
DairyNZ and DCANZ are the two bodies that lead the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord. DairyNZ (www.dairynz.co.nz) is the industry body for dairy farmers (funded by all dairy farmers through a levy on the milksolids they produce). DCANZ is the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (www.dcanz.com) and is the umbrella body of companies processing milk in New Zealand.
When was the new Accord launched?
The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord was launched in July 2013 and came into effect for the 2013/14 dairy season. It replaced the Clean Streams Accord which expired at the end of 2012 and only covered Fonterra farmers.
What is different about this Water Accord?
It covers all dairy farmers - no matter where they are located or what dairy company they supply. It is also more comprehensive covering a range of environmental requirements from new dairy farm conversions to nutrient management and water use.
Who are the Accord partners?
There are a range of partners but the key partners are the five dairy companies (Fonterra, Open Country, Miraka, Synlait, Tatua) and DCANZ. They have specific responsibilities and commitments. DairyNZ also has specific lead responsibilities. The total number of farms covered is around 11,400.
Who oversees the Accord and how is progress monitored?
A Dairy Environment Leadership Group (DELG) has been developed to provide oversight of the Water Accord. It includes representatives from central government, regional councils, farmers, dairy companies and the Federation of Maori Authorities.
One year on from the new Accord, where is the industry at?
What have you achieved?
We've made some real and meaningful progress - particularly in key areas such as stock exclusion and crossings and fencing off waterways; effluent and irrigation management, advice and training; regional waterway planting guidance and accrediting experts for nutrient management advice to farmers.
What do you need to keep working on?
More work is needed on nutrient management data collection at the farm level and how to benchmark and deliver useful information back to farmers. There is also more work to do to align reporting systems at the dairy company level so we able to provide robust reporting for the industry. At the farm level, we got the tick – as farmers are reporting their actions to their dairy company correctly. However, our auditors have identified a number of areas for improvement in the collation of that data across all the dairy companies to report at an industry level. We need more reliable systems for that as it has been a challenge to fully verify some reported figures this year.
Has the information in the report been independently scrutinised?
Yes. Independent assessors Telarc SAI has carried out an audit on the report and made some recommendations. We have also made it clear in our report where reported figures have not been independently verified.
What is the industry going to do to address some of the issues raised in this first report?
- The dairy companies' association will lead a project to align reporting requirements.
- We’re going to focus on our data and systems so we can achieve key targets going forward.
- Pick up the pace on the other targets to make sure they are met on time.
DairyNZ Communications Manager
Tel 027 703 0211