Fonterra takes sharper focus on water quality

02/12/2011

Fonterra will require all suppliers to fence all waterways on their farms which are covered by the Clean Streams Accord.

Fonterra’s General Manager Milk Supply Steve Murphy says since signing the Clean Streams Accord eight years ago, the co-operative has made measurable progress on protecting New Zealand’s waterways.

“In addition, our Every Farm Every Year programme introduced last year has achieved improvements in effluent compliance.  We are heading in the right direction and are now taking the next step by introducing a clause that will mean the Co-operative’s 10,500 suppliers will be required to fence all Accord waterways on their farms.

“Fonterra is committed to doing its bit to look after our environment.  Ensuring stock stay out of lakes, rivers and streams is fundamental to maintaining water quality and this clause sets a clear Fonterra standard for all of our farmers.”

Many farmers have already done this but some are lagging behind and Fonterra’s contractual requirement will ensure they comply with the standard expected on all farms.

Oh, and what consitutes a waterway?

Accord waterways are defined in the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord as deeper than a red-band gumboot, wider than stride (one metre) and permanently flowing.

Would anyone else in the world have a gumboot measurement? And are all red-bands the same height?


Keeping waterways clean

03/10/2008

A report by Fish and Game and Forest and Bird concludes that the Dairy and Clean Streams Accord:

 has failed to achieve its major goal to reduce the impact of dairying on the quality of New Zealand’s streams, rivers, lakes, goundwater and wetlands.

Susie McKeague, Otago Regional Council  manager of land resources said that in South and West Otago there was a declining trend in ammonia as a result of fencing and planting along waterways, the Clutha River was clean because the volume of water diluted contaminants but water quality in small streams and tributaries was deteriorating.

She put this down to intensive farming on wet soils. Fencing and planting along waterways to keep animals away from them helps prevent run off, but dung and urine move through the soil structure and leach into waterways. One solution to this would be more use of feed pads, particularly in winter when it rained more, so that animals weren’t on the paddocks when they were soaked.

North Otago waterways are cleaner than those further south and Susie put this down to a drier climate and the Environmental Farm Plans which are a requirement for every farm which gets water from the North Otago Irrigation Company.

“The EFPs are the best choice for environmental protection and they are driving good practice more than anything in other areas,” she said.

Susie said that it would be impossible to protect waterways from pollution during floods but at other times it was necessary to capture everything on farm or have remedies if more nutrients than desirable leached into water.

“For example, if phosphorus makes algae grow then we need something to reduce any concentration of phosphorus.”

Susie believes that the best way to solve any problems is to tell farmers what the issues are and leave them to find solutions.

“They have the best ideas to achieve what’s needed. Farmers are switched on, well networked and they know how to find answers.

“EFPs are making a difference in areas we didn’t anticipate and are leading change. Farmers are monitoring soil moisture, irrigation scheduling and effluent disposal and have a real desire to get it right.”


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