Tasman district deputy mayor Tim King says the result of the 2017-18 dairy farm effluent compliance survey is a “good story all round”.
It revealed 90 of the 96 farms inspected were fully compliant for effluent management. The other six, graded non-compliant, comprised five with minor ponding and one that failed to adhere to setback rules.
In a report on the matter, council compliance and investigation officer Kat Bunting says all six instances of non-compliance were considered a minor breach of the rules that resulted in “no adverse environmental effect”.
Formal written warnings with directions for improvements were sent to those six farms and return visits found full and continued compliance.
The five issues with ponding were on farms located around Murchison and Golden Bay. The one non-compliance relating to setback distances was on a farm in the Mātakitaki Valley.
No examples of non-compliance where found in the central zone, which includes farms around Moutere, the upper Motueka catchment and the Waimea Plains.
The 2017-18 result follows ongoing improvements since 2004-05.
“Full compliance improved each year until 2011-12 when it reached a very high standard,” Bunting says.
“Since this time, it is pleasing to report that Tasman farmers continue to maintain this high level of compliance and that the 2017-18 season was no exception to this positive trend.
“This continual high standard of compliance can be directly attributed to the commitment of most farm owners and their staff to employ best farm practices with respect to the disposal of farm dairy effluent.”
After Bunting presented her report to the environment and planning committee, King, who is committee chairman, said it was important to acknowledge the work behind the results.
“I’ve read a couple of reports recently from other regional council dairy monitoring programmes that are nowhere near as compliant.
“I think that reflects both on the people we’re monitoring and their work but also the way that we’ve gone about it now over quite a large period of time in terms of building those relationships,” he said.
“So, it is a very good story all round and I just want to pass on our thanks to everyone involved on the council side in terms of monitoring and also congratulate the industry in this region for continuing to meet the standards.”
Bunting said just 96 of the 134 operational farms were inspected by the end of the milking season.
Damage to the road over Takaka Hill by ex-Tropical Cyclone Gita in February meant some planned inspections of farms in Golden Bay could not be completed.
Councillor Kit Maling asked if any of the farms not inspected were “seriously non-compliant previously” to which Bunting replied no.
In light of the restricted access to Golden Bay, compliance staff took the opportunity to work one-on-one with farmers around the Murchison area.
“The time spent on these farms proved to be very successful in gaining positive traction from some of the most reluctant farmers to embrace best farm practices,” Bunting says in her report.
“This has largely been achieved by holding frequent on-farm meetings with them and/or their consultants to provide information and education on new systems and technologies.”
No abatement notices or infringement fines were issued for offences found during the 2017-18 milking season nor were any prosecutions initiated.
Farm surveys for the 2018-19 season are due to begin in September.
By: Cherie Sivignon