A survey of effluent management on the 124 dairy farms in the Tasman region has given thumb up to farmers and dairy companies.
Some farmers may need to upgrade their existing effluent storage to meet the new requirements; others will now require resource consent from Otago Regional Council to construct a new effluent pond.
All farmers will eventually need a discharge permit to be able to apply effluent to their land.
RDA Consulting senior farm environmental leader James Muwunganirwa says the changes form part of the council’s Proposed Plan Change 8, which was notified on July 6.
Muwunganirwa says Plan Change 8 will herald new rules around effluent storage and discharge.
For existing effluent storage systems, farmers would be required to prove their effluent storage system meets the permitted activity criteria. They will be asked to complete a Dairy Effluent Storage Calculation.
Muwunganirwa says they would be required to provide a storage calculation showing that they have sufficient storage for their farm system. The calculation is done using the Massey University Dairy Effluent Storage Calculator.
Farmers would also be required to do a pond drop test.
Muwunganirwa says the test, to be carried out by suitably qualified person (SQP), measures changes in pond level over a period of time.
“The test is able to detect even small amounts of leakage,” he says.
Visual inspections of effluent systems will also need to be done.
“The effluent storage is likely going to need to be visually inspected, while empty, by a SQP who will look for imperfections, cracks or holes in the structure, to ensure there are no obvious signs of leakage.
“If the effluent storage system is not well designed and maintained and does not meet the requirements of a permitted activity, a farmer would be required to apply for resource consent.”
To help farmers prepare for the looming regulations, RDA Consulting has organised a field day in Milton on October 8.
“We want to increase farmer knowledge of the proposed Otago Regional Council Plan Change 8 Rules,” he says.
The field day will include pond drop testing, use of the effluent storage calculator and show farmers focus areas for visual inspections of effluent storage systems.
Speakers will include RDA project engineer Karen Ladbrook, environmental consultant Georgia Robinson and Muwunganirwa.
“RDA has the knowledge to help farmers prepare for change and the field day will be a practical demonstration of all the proposed requirements. We are up to date with all the new freshwater changes and keen to help farmers get ahead of the game,” he says.
“We urge all farmers in the region to attend the field day.”
The field day will be hosted by Scott Johnstone, Moneymore Dairies, Milton.