Practical hints given for effluent compliance

A DairyNZ-funded report has highlighted practical ways to help improve Otago and Southland's effluent compliance results.

Compliance data provided by regional councils nationally was analysed by AgFirst Waikato's Nicola Waugh, who produced a report identifying trends in the region's significant effluent non-compliance. Better management practices around storing and applying farm dairy effluent had been identified as ways which might bring down significant non-compliance in the region.

The information was being used in DairyNZ's Keep It Low campaign, launched last summer to remind farmers to irrigate effluent in the drier months, when conditions allowed, and to get effluent ponds as empty as possible before winter. This year, the message was the same, but with extra emphasis on keeping application depths low with an effluent irrigation system. Summer was a good time to lower effluent pond levels, DairyNZ environmental extension specialist for Otago/Southland, Donna Corbin, said.

''Ensuring you have sufficient storage next spring requires action in the next couple of months. If you empty your pond by the start of March, and apply effluent when conditions allow after this, you will likely be in good shape in September/October,'' she said.

Managing effluent application was very important to non-compliance problems in Otago and Southland in the past few years, especially with ponding.

A major cause of ponding was incorrect irrigation. The nutrient benefits of effluent could be maximised, and environmental risks minimised, by checking application rates and equipment, Ms Corbin said.