11 Dec 2014

Water accord making some progress

8:02 pm on 11 December 2014

A new water accord covering all dairy companies and farmers introduced last year is making progress on reaching some of its environmental targets, but lagging behind on others.

The Sustainable Dairying 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 other dairy companies. It replaces an earlier accord limited to Fonterra.

DairyNZ's environmental policy manager Mike Scarsbrook has compiled a report on the accord's first year.

"Some of the highlights are around progress with stock exclusion (from waterways) and with stock crossings, and on-going progress around effluent management.

"An area we where need to do a lot more work is around collection of effluent management information from farms. We had a commitment there to collect data from 85 percent of farms for the 20123-14 season and that would then allow us to run Overseer models (measuring nutrient loss) for those dairy farms. We fell short on that one.

"What that tells us is we need to let farmers know what value that information does have, both to them and the wider industry. Next year, our target is to get 100 percent of farms providing that information."

Dr Scarsbrook said all dairy companies had systems in place to make sure new dairy farm conversions coming into production were meeting accord standards.

However, he said the level of farmer compliance with effluent rules was still lagging behind in some regions, including Northland.

Federated Farmers said it was generally pleased with the progress towards meeting targets in the accord.

But dairy chair Andrew Hoggard said there was a bottleneck where different dairy companies were using different reporting systems that needs to be ironed out.

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