The Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council (MWRC) One Plan has identified 29 sensitive water management sub-zones of catchments. The approximately 420 dairy farmers in these sub-zones must prepare farm plans describing the practices that they will use to manage the impacts of potential nutrient, sediment and microbial contamination of their farms. They then use these plans to support their application to the MWRC for a landuse consent.
DairyNZ has worked with MWRC to put in place a pilot project that assists farmers formulate the farming system changes required in their farm plans and to apply for their consents. Two examples are described in this paper of relatively high producing farmers that have successfully participated in the project. These farmers intend to modify their farming systems including increasing their use of dairy effluent, reducing nitrogen fertiliser, improving feed flow, and herd composition, to increase dairy production by 5-15% and at the same time decrease their estimated nitrate leaching by over 10%.
In both examples the farmers have committed themselves to making changes that could be difficult to implement in an uncertain future. The changes will require the farmers to develop their existing skills in farm management even further. Both sets of farmers are motivated by wanting their communities and the public to be more positive about the contribution of dairying to the economy, New Zealand’s way of life and our national environmental stewardship.
Parminter & Ridsdale, a draft, prepared for “Moving farm systems to improved attenuation. (Eds L.D. Currie and L.L Burkitt). Occasional Report No. 28. Fertilizer and Lime Research Centre, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand”, 2015.