Inspections during 2020-21 of the 124 active dairy farms in Tasman District found all but two were fully compliant for effluent management.
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All 124 active dairy farms in Tasman District were inspected at least once during the 2020-21 milking season.

That latest finding follows a near-perfect result in 2019-20 and a 95 per cent compliance rate in 2018-19.

Of the two farms not fully compliant during the 2020-21 milking season, one was graded as “non-compliant” for “minor ponding of effluent on the ground”.

“This ponding was not in danger of running off and entering water,” says a Tasman District Council staff report on the matter, which is on the agenda for a council regulatory committee meeting scheduled to be held on Thursday.

Tasman District now has 33 farms practising full-season once-a-day milking rather than the traditional twice-a-day regime. That’s three more farms than last season.
TOM LEE/STUFF
Tasman District now has 33 farms practising full-season once-a-day milking rather than the traditional twice-a-day regime. That’s three more farms than last season.

 

The other farm not fully compliant was graded as “serious non-compliant” due to “moderate ponding of effluent” after an irrigator malfunctioned.

“This ponding occurred on the crest of steep sloping land where a small stream flowed at its toe,” the report says. “The slope of the land was enough to promote overland flow.”

Farm staff immediately shut down the effluent system when the fault was found but not before “a small amount of effluent” entered the stream.

“Council staff undertaking water sampling downstream at the time observed the discolouration in the steam,” the report says. “They traced this back upstream to the farm boundary and notified compliance staff who responded.”

One infringement fine was issued for effluent entering a waterway, the only enforcement action taken by the council during the 2020-21 milking season.

When the first full dairy effluent compliance survey was done in 2005-06, there were 155 farms across the district. By 2020-21, that number had dropped to 124 farms. (File photograph)
THE-TIMARU-HERALD
When the first full dairy effluent compliance survey was done in 2005-06, there were 155 farms across the district. By 2020-21, that number had dropped to 124 farms. (File photograph)

 

Half of a major overhaul of the effluent system had been completed at the farm and the installation of the final components was “well under way” at the time of the incident.

“A low-application system and more storage that will meet industry standards will be completed ready for the 2021-22 season,” the report says.

Despite the non-compliant and serious non-compliant gradings for the two incidents, “there exists a continuing high standard of compliance that can be directly attributed to the commitment of most farm owners and their staff to employ best farm practices with respect to system design and the disposal of farm dairy effluent”.

“This ponding occurred on the crest of steep sloping land where a small stream flowed at its toe,” the report says. “The slope of the land was enough to promote overland flow.”

Farm staff immediately shut down the effluent system when the fault was found but not before “a small amount of effluent” entered the stream.

“Council staff undertaking water sampling downstream at the time observed the discolouration in the steam,” the report says. “They traced this back upstream to the farm boundary and notified compliance staff who responded.”

One infringement fine was issued for effluent entering a waterway, the only enforcement action taken by the council during the 2020-21 milking season.

When the first full dairy effluent compliance survey was done in 2005-06, there were 155 farms across the district. By 2020-21, that number had dropped to 124 farms. (File photograph)
THE-TIMARU-HERALD
When the first full dairy effluent compliance survey was done in 2005-06, there were 155 farms across the district. By 2020-21, that number had dropped to 124 farms. (File photograph)

 

Half of a major overhaul of the effluent system had been completed at the farm and the installation of the final components was “well under way” at the time of the incident.

“A low-application system and more storage that will meet industry standards will be completed ready for the 2021-22 season,” the report says.

Despite the non-compliant and serious non-compliant gradings for the two incidents, “there exists a continuing high standard of compliance that can be directly attributed to the commitment of most farm owners and their staff to employ best farm practices with respect to system design and the disposal of farm dairy effluent”.

Herd numbers in Tasman District have dropped from 55,878 cows in 2016-17 to 47,197 this season. (File photograph)
CHRIS SKELTON/STUFF
Herd numbers in Tasman District have dropped from 55,878 cows in 2016-17 to 47,197 this season. (File photograph)

 

That high compliance rate comes as the face of dairy farming continues to change in Tasman District. When the first full dairy effluent compliance survey was done in 2005-06, there were 155 farms across the district. By 2020-21, that number had dropped to 124 farms operating.

“This number is likely to fall further next season with at least four more dairies indicating they are ceasing supply,” the report says. “This trend has also resulted in a dramatic drop in total herd numbers (55,878 cows in 2016-17 to 47,197 cows this season) as well as the corresponding decrease in land used for dairy farming (20,934ha in 2016-17 to 18,250ha this season).”

That decline in the number of farms is largely attributed to the amalgamation of small farms into bigger entities through buyout or lease of neighbouring farms that had ceased supply.

“The other factor, which is more obvious in recent years, is farms moving entirely away from dairying to dairy support, beef and more recently converting to hops,” the report says.

Dairy farms in the district are concentrated in three main sub-regions – Golden Bay, Murchison and Central, which includes the area around Motueka, Moutere and the Waimea Plains.

About two-thirds of the farms are concentrated in Golden Bay; the remaining third are distributed fairly evenly between the Central and Murchison sub-regions.

Of the 124 active farms – all of which were inspected at least once during 2020-21 season – 121 dairies operated as permitted activities; the remaining three held resource consents to discharge treated effluent to water, “although all of these farmers preferred to apply effluent to land”.

“All farms that hold resource consents fully complied with all conditions of their respective consents.”

97 Milk’s slogans supporting whole milk are appearing ever farther afield from the group’s home base in southeastern Pennsylvania.

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