OPINION: People need to get their knives out of farmers’ backs and look at the science.
The Bull family owns three dairy farms, straddling two catchments, which the Bulls wanted to ensure were compliant for the next 25 years.
Ali McLean, sister and business partner of Adrian Bull, says the process was made simple by bringing in Chris Tidey, Ravensdown environmental consultant, who did the work for them.
"I was very impressed with him. All we had to do was give him the background work and he did the rest. He's quite passionate about what he does, which helps."
Tidey says the Bulls were very clear that they wanted the security of the Controlled Land Use Consent.
"I enjoyed working with them because they were really good at keeping detailed records and they knew what they wanted. Being able to deliver that to them was really satisfying."
The farm had to be modelled over two different catchments, with half the farm inside the Coastal Rangitikei catchment (targeted catchment) and the other half within the Lower Rangitikei catchment (non-targeted catchment).
Tidey modelled two different scenarios, the status quo and their target scenario, the latter which would future proof their farms and enable them to plan ahead.
McLean says Tidey knew the right people and what they required, which was a huge part of the process.
"Having someone like Chris to sit down and explain the process to you and why it's there really helps."
Tidey said the challenge was to go from a milking scenario of 900 cows milking two thirds in spring and one third in autumn to an even split throughout the year.
"Moving a third of the herd into summer milking meant there was an extra 400 cows on-farm during the winter period. To mitigate the effect that would have we pushed some of their nitrogen fertiliser applications back to early autumn and changed their effluent application to a lower rate (less than 10mm) by purchasing a new irrigator."
Fortunately the proposed target scenario was within the boundaries of the controlled activity consent and the consent was eventually granted.
"There was a hell of a lot of back-and-forth with the council requiring additional information for the consents, with the whole process taking about four months rather than the usual two," Chris added.
Ali says dealing with government agencies and compliance processes is part of farming now, which is made a lot simpler by having Ravensdown Environmental Consultants to help them through it.
Now at the end of the process, Chris says he's really pleased he was able to help get the Bulls the consent they wanted.
"They were absolutely chuffed – I was really happy when it worked out."