ORC pleased with dairy farmers’ improved effluent compliance

Dairy cows rest on irrigated paddocks near Omakau earlier this year. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Dairy cows rest on irrigated paddocks near Omakau earlier this year. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The Otago Regional Council is congratulating the region’s dairy farmers for improving their compliance around effluent storage and discharges from last year.

Two-thirds of farms inspected were fully compliant and "significant non-compliance" dropped to 2%, the council said in a statement.

Council compliance manager Tami Sargeant said hundreds of farms had been inspected in the financial year to date.

"It’s really great to see high compliance across the more than 400 farms we’ve inspected ... and to see improved compliance another few points up on last year", Ms Sargeant said.

She said dairy farm compliance inspections were mostly concerned with effluent management — storage and discharge — but the council also monitored compliance with rules for landfills, silage, offal pits and water takes.

Dairy inspections themselves were up 28.7%, from 317 a year ago to 408 through April this year.

Full compliance with rules rose from 61% a year ago to 66%, Ms Sargeant said.

Farms that were found to be significantly non-compliant fell from 3% to 2% for the year.

The council’s dairy project monitored compliance with animal effluent systems and discharges, as well as farm waste streams and permitted water takes, she said.

There was also a focus on providing awareness and engaging with farmers on the requirements for animal effluent storage and discharge consents, and understanding when consents might be required, Ms Sargeant said.

The reasons for non-compliance were largely related to unconsented effluent storage, effluent pond overflows, effluent ponding, offal pit and farm landfill mixing, setbacks and silage leachate discharges.

"In many of these cases it was simply a matter of education and reiterating best management practices [on] operations, activities or changes to infrastructure", she said.

ORC dairy consents 

Consent compliance numbers             2022-23         vs          2023-24

Total:                                                   317 inspections              408 inspections

Consent not yet exercised                  24                                       1

Full compliance                                   178                                   267

Low risk non-compliance                    87                                    114

Moderate risk non-compliance            19                                    18

Significant risk non-compliance            9                                     8