Dairy farm environmental rules compliance up

Otago dairy farmers have been more compliant with environmental rules in the past year.

Annual dairy farm inspections by Otago Regional Council staff for the 2015-16 year show a compliance rate of 93.3%, an increase from last year's rate of 89.8%.

A report to the Otago Regional Council's regulatory committee meeting today said of 373 dairy farms inspected over the year, 25 were found to be breaching the rules in one or more ways.

Of those, 10 farms were seriously non-compliant.

The council initiated two prosecutions and issued 13 infringement notices over the period.

Breaches included stalled and failed travelling irrigators, discharges on saturated soils, overflowing ponds and sumps, ponding and discharge to a river.

Staff "cold called'' farms to make an inspection, but if no-one was on the property, efforts would be made to contact the farmer or manager.

There were 465 dairy farms in the region, but due to dry weather and velvet leaf incursion, council staff were unable to do a full dairy audit this year, the report said.

In the 2014-15 year, 471 inspections were done at 451 dairy farms, with a compliance rate of 89.8%.

Those inspections resulted in eight prosecutions and 20 infringements for that period.

Since 2003, the council has issued 100 infringement notices and initiated 100 prosecutions in relation to non-compliant dairy farm practices.

Report writer Scott Maclean, the council's director environmental monitoring and operations, said the inspections raised important issues farmers should take on board.

It was pleasing to see more farmers taking a pro-active staff management/training role on effluent disposal, and the importance of maintaining equipment, but it was still not the norm, he said.

"This issue needs to be at the forefront of all dairy owners and sharemilkers' responsibilities.''

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