NEW ZEALAND – More New Zealand farmers are benefiting from independent assessments of farm effluent programmes in assisting with compliance as standards tighten.
Launched earlier this year, the Dairy Effluent Water of Fitness (WOF) programme attests to the efficiency, compliance and robustness of a farm’s system.
Sustainability leader at DairyNZ, Theresa Wilson, says it provides ‘peace of mind’ just like getting a warrant for a car.
Farmers building offpaddock facilities and managing increasing effluent volumes should particularly take note of the scheme.
South Island farmer Ewen Mathieson, one of the first to take on the assessment, said he has been able to plan on outgoings over the coming years.
“Our system is compliant and has another four years to run on our consent. However we have a large catchment area, with the dairy, underpass, calving pad and race areas,” said Mr Mathieson.
“The WOF process was to get an understanding of what we needed to do to maintain best practice, and enable us to budget on what we would need to spend over the next four years before our consent was up.”
Irrigation Area Increased
Part of the challenge for Ewen has been trying to increase the area his system is capable of irrigating with effluent. The present system covers the 72ha required by council for the 900 cow herd, but he has one eye on the future where extended areas, including the underpass, could be included in effluent capture.
“We wanted to get a larger area irrigated over a 24 hour period and still be compliant,” says Ewen.
Ewen’s WOF was conducted by independent assessor Donna Corbin.
Donna’s assessment is a “top to tail” process covering a farm’s individual characteristics in terms of soils, rainfall and contour. Work also incorporates nutrient loadings, irrigator performance, and storage capacity on-farm.
Donna identified the options for increasing effluent application over wetter periods.
“We identified the opportunity to ‘pulse’ effluent out by adding extra lines to the system, to get three times the amount of effluent out in a low risk way.”
For Ewen the value of the WOF process is enhanced thanks to Donna’s independent status.
“You need advice that has your best interests at heart, that enables you to make choices that best suit your system, not a certain piece of equipment or process.”
The number of rural professionals certified as WOF effluent assessors is increasing and farmers can choose assessors at effluentwof.co.nz.
TheCattleSite News Desk
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