Thursday, 25 June 2020 10:58

Taranaki welcomes revised water reforms

Written by  Staff Reporters
All existing Taranaki Regional Council riparian plan fencing can remain and will be accepted as compliant. All existing Taranaki Regional Council riparian plan fencing can remain and will be accepted as compliant.

The Taranaki Regional Council is welcoming the Government’s revised stance on freshwater regulation.

Council chairman and former Fonterra director David Macleod says the revised Essential Freshwater reforms unveiled this month validates the serious concerns raised about its original proposals.

“We all want our waterways to be healthier – we share that goal with the Government,” says MacLeod. 

“However, we had major concerns about the ability of the original proposals to deliver. We told Wellington their initial plans would have brought unpredictable and likely only marginal environmental benefits, but would have taken a very heavy toll on the social and economic well-being of this region and many others.”

MacLeod says the Government is now moderating its approach and seeking to build a more worthwhile, rational, science-based freshwater regulation regime. 

“We’re still working though the details. But in general, this change of stance is to be welcomed. The council’s strong and evidence-based submissions were substantially agreed with and key changes made.”

Notably, the Government has delayed any decision on a key nutrient limits pending further analysis of their worth, rather than going ahead with strict limits that one study estimated would cost $100,000 each for up to a third of the region’s farms, threatening their viability. 

It has also not proceeded with proposals to universally use OverseerFM in water regulations – the council strongly advised the OverseerFM model was not fit for that purpose.

“We’re delighted the Government agrees OverseerFM is best used as originally intended - for farmers to review and improve on-farm nutrient management,” MacLeod says.

The Government has also eased up on an initial proposal to impose a blanket 5m setback for all riparian fencing, saying now that 3m is the minimum. 

Importantly for Taranaki, all existing council riparian plan fencing can remain and will be accepted as compliant, which the council strongly advocated for. 

The Government has also backed off what would have been harsh constraints on dairying in the Waingongoro catchment, instead progressively targeting freshwater farm plans by which dairy farmers can implement farm-specific management to improve efficiency and reduce off-site effects.

Overall, MacLeod says it’s clear the Government has taken account of many of the points made in the council’s submission. 

MacLeod says that Government was firmly reminded the Taranaki region has, over time, collectively demonstrated strong commitment to improving freshwater health, taking carefully considered long-term action and spending millions of dollars on interventions of proven effectiveness. 

“If anything, the original proposals threatened to undo a lot of good work and goodwill and bring hardship and deprivation to communities engaged in productive and sustainable enterprise. We are still working through the amended proposals, but we’re encouraged that the voice of reason appears to have been heard, at least in part.

“We all know we have more to do in both our rural and urban areas, but Taranaki people know how to roll up our sleeves and keep moving forward – we’ve consistently led and shown New Zealand that it is not about endlessly changing plans, policies, meetings and paper – it’s on-the-ground actions that change and improve our environment.”

More like this

Don't run out of water

 Water is something we often take for granted but over recent years, through the droughts inflicted on us, I have seen many farms whose water systems have been lacking.

State funding for riparian planting

More than 600km of Taranaki river and stream banks will be planted with a million native plants next winter as the region’s farmers take advantage of a $5 million government boost.

$300m to clean up harbour

A $300 million project has been signed to try and prevent sediment loss from land to sea at Kaipara Harbour.

Parker refuses to bend

Southland Federated Farmers vice president Bernadette Hunt says she finds it “interesting” that Environment Minister David Parker continues to downplay the feedback on the Government’s freshwater regulations.

Featured

 

Lely offerings for the future

Dutch robotic specialist Lely launched a new farm management application called Horizon at its recent Future Farm Days 2020.

Designed to connect data from a range of on-farm equipment and suppliers into one management system, it creates a real-time decision-support platform, to make the farmer’s life easier, the herd healthier and the farm more profitable, says Lely.

Developed over a 24-month period, with over 100 test farmers in seven countries, working with 75 engineers, designers, farm management advisors, veterinarians and AI specialists, the new application will eventually replace the current Lely T4C management system. It uses smart algorithms and the cloud to deliver data that is processed into actionable information that is always accessible on any device in a user-friendly way.

Lely claims the Horizon application unburdens farmers from routine decision making and helps them optimise their workloads, using integrated routines based on easily scheduled cow ‘touches’, create logical and more efficient workflows. It is also possible to assign a certain task to an employee and to schedule a time slot for the cow touch, rather than analysing different reports and filtering long lists.

Horizon is also able to connect and combine data from non-Lely sources into a complete solution for the farmer removing the need to enter the same data twice, while scrutinising individual data streams in different applications will no longer be necessary. Currently, connections with farming applications such as Dairy Comp, Uniform-Agri, CRV and Herde already enable farmers to synchronise information about calving and inseminations between applications. Lely’s ambition is to connect with more partners over time, to hand the farmer more smart data.

To ensure full support in the migration to Lely Horizon, existing Lely T4C customers will be personally informed by their Lely Center before the end of 2020.

The migration is planned in a phased approach, from country to country, over the year 2021.

Also launched at the event, Lely Exos is an autonomous concept for harvesting and feeding fresh grass to the herd.

The company suggests that feeding fresh grass makes better use of available roughage, suggesting “fresh” has between 10 and 20% more nutritional value than grass silage, as there are minimal losses typically seen during mowing, tedding, raking, harvesting and feeding.

Lely suggests that feeding fresh grass over an extended season reduces the amount of silage that has to be conserved, reduces the need for concentrates and bought-in feed and increase the margin made on each litre of milk produced.

Based around an all-electric vehicle that mows and feeds, Exos is light weight and uses soil friendly technology, that can be exploited throughout the growing season. Design to work 24/7 as feed requirements change, the system places no constraints on labour or time, while it is also designed to work in tandem with the Lely Vector automatic feeding systems.

In operation, Exos also collects field data as it goes about its job, giving framers live data on grass supply and lending itself to a further concept of delivering a targeted liquid fertiliser as it passes over a harvested area.

Goat farming on the rise

Dairy goat milk processors, looking to increase their supplier numbers, are helping to drive interest among farmers in New Zealand’s growing goat milk industry.

TB fight goes on

The total number of TB-infected herds in Hawke’s Bay has risen to 20, following the recent reclassification of a new herd in the Waitara Valley.

Milking cows behind the barbed wire

A recent field day at the Waikeria Prison Farm near Te Awamutu offered farmers the chance to see what goes on “behind the wire”, alongside introducing the idea of farmers employing offenders near the end or after the term of their sentences.

National

Miraka picks up awards

Taupo-based Maori dairy company Miraka took the top honours at this year’s Biosecurity Awards.

Wyeth ready for new challenge

The chief executive-elect of Yili-owned Westland Milk Products Richard Wyeth says he’s looking forward to the challenge of running the…

Machinery & Products

Mixer makes feeding easy

Coolbreene Trust near Taupo is a large-scale dairy operation farming 1150ha, including run-off blocks, within a 10km radius of its…

More colour to light range

Originally available with amber lenses only, Narva’s ‘Geomax’ Heavy Duty LED Strobe Beacon light range has been upgraded with the…

State funding for recycling

Having declared in July that all farm plastics sold in New Zealand will have to be recycled or reused, the…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Avoiding listeria

OPINION: The company that makes dairy products under “The Collective” brand, and which copped a nearly $500,000 fine for failing…

Greenpeace seeing red

OPINION: Still with Greenpeace, the organisation’s push for a price on agricultural greenhouse gas emissions is gaining momentum since the…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter