Fonterra targeting year-round compliance
Posted: 17 March 2011 | Fonterra | No comments yet
Fonterra said today the slight increase in significant non-compliance with regional council dairy effluent rules was unacceptable…
Fonterra said today the slight increase in significant non-compliance with regional council dairy effluent rules was unacceptable...
Fonterra said today the slight increase in significant non-compliance with regional council dairy effluent rules was unacceptable, but believed its Every Farm Every Year inspections regime was a concerted effort to turn this result around.
Today’s Dairying and Clean Streams Accord snapshot for the 2009/10 season shows significant national non-compliance rose by 1% to 16%, despite considerable improvements in Northland, Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago.
Fonterra Group Director Supplier and External Relations, Kelvin Wickham said Every Farm Every Year was a concerted effort to address non-compliance by identifying farms at risk and ensuring remedial plans were put in place.
“The programme got underway nationally in August so it was never going to change last season’s results. But what is encouraging is that the compliance message is getting through and farmers are taking it seriously. That’s also evident in the snapshot results for full compliance which rose 5% to 65% last season.”
He said Fonterra’s Sustainable Dairying Advisors have completed 1188 consultations with farmers keen to ensure their on-farm effluent infrastructure is able to cope with the year-round demands put on it. Farms are referred to the advisors if the Every Farm Every Year inspection identifies properties at risk of non-compliance, but Mr Wickham said some farmers had also proactively sought advice ahead of their farm’s assessment.
“Our initiative is beginning to have a positive impact with farmers willing to accept advice and to spend the money needed to improve their effluent systems. By the end of this season we expect to have 1,000 remedial plans in place. Since August, 252 farms have already completed their plans and a further 582 are underway. There are no quick fixes but farmers are working hard to get it right and in many cases a significant investment is needed to ensure systems are compliant 365 days a year.”
Mr Wickham said good progress was being made on other Accord targets and Fonterra was this year highlighting the work of five farmers who were contributing to this progress. Click here to see Clean Streams in Action
“Across the country there is a lot of good work going on unnoticed and while we know there’s more work to be done, it’s also appropriate to acknowledge the real efforts being made.”
The snapshot showed 85% of farms nationally now have stock excluded from waterways and in Northland, Canterbury, Otago and Southland 90% have been excluded. Less than 2% of farms required bridges or culverts for waterways. Nutrient budgets had been adopted by 99% of farms but the challenge now was to work towards full management plans where nutrient inputs and outputs are measured and managed.
“The results show a lot of good effort has gone in from farmers, regional councils and organisations like DairyNZ and Every Farm Every Year is stepping up the effort in the key area of compliance.”
Farms working through remedial plans include those which could pass a compliance spot check, but farmers still accepted the work had to be done.
“Every Farm Every Year assesses whether an on-farm system is fit for purpose 365 days a year. This is about risk assessment and mitigation, not compliance monitoring. It’s not enough for a farm to comply 90% of the time. Year round compliance is what we are looking for and that’s where we are heading.”
Mr Wickham said risk factors being identified on farms mirrored those identified in the Dairying and Cleans Streams Accord snapshot.
“We know effluent storage capacity, irrigation systems and feed pads or standoffs are all potential trouble spots. Without adequate storage farmers can’t defer irrigation in wet conditions and Every Farm Every Year helps them recognise that. They are also recognising the value of effluent as a source of nutrients and can see the money spent on upgrading systems has a relatively quick payback through better grass growth and productivity.”
He said new tools like the Massey University effluent pond storage calculator were invaluable for ensuring individual farms had storage matched to soil types, herd size, production days, yard and feedpad areas and irrigation capacity. DairyNZ had also successfully established a new industry code of practice to ensure the design and installation of effluent systems meets set standards. Positive working relationships between regional councils, Fonterra and DairyNZ also meant farmers were getting good information and practical programmes such as open days.
“There is a lot of commitment out there and both Fonterra and our farmers are taking sustainability very seriously. There’s a way to go, but the effort is going in and we are starting to see some promising results.”