Foodbanks around the country could soon be handing out two-litre packs of milk with each food parcel.
Taupo milk processor Miraka, with about 100 suppliers, is offering bonuses to suppliers who meet the five criteria set out in its Te Ara Miraka Farming Excellence programme: people, environment, animal welfare, milk quality and prosperity.
NZ agricultural technology company Regen is helping Miraka farmers manage their effluent more effectively with a smartphone app. This texts daily effluent irrigation recommendations to farmers, and logs data to prove compliance, meeting the company’s caring-for-the-environment criteria.
Miraka suppliers received at least $3 million in bonuses during the 2016-2017 season for meeting the five key criteria.
Regen chief executive Bridgit Hawkins says her company’s work with Miraka’s farmers is bringing a new level of transparency to farming practice. She says this is an issue that’s even more important with the Government’s new five-year water improvement plan released last month.
“With Miraka’s focus on kaitiakitanga, they’re encouraging incremental gains across their farming community, something we fully support,” Hawkins explains.
“Effluent is an issue that farmers deal with day in, day out. Managing it well is key to sustainable farming because it reduces nitrate leaching and the impact on our waterways – an issue the Government has highlighted in its plans to improve water quality.”
Miraka general manager of milk supply Grant Jackson says the goal of Te Ara Miraka is to minimise the impact on whenua and protect resources for future generations.
“Our farmers now have a better appreciation of the value and impact of their dairy effluent. Using Regen’s technology they’ve taken the complication and compliance out of day-to-day farm management. Now, our farmers are proactive and know what they need to do and when.”
Hawkins says ultimately sustainable farming and milk production is about more than just effluent management.
“It’s important the dairy industry continues to innovate and extend its products and services to support our farmers in meeting the challenge of sustainable farming,” she adds.
“Doing the right thing can be hard. However, Te Ara Miraka makes it clear what the right thing is – and how to achieve it, benefiting farmers and the environment”.
Miraka recently held field days in Taupo and Tokoroa for its suppliers, where Regen presented on best-practice effluent management systems.
Founded in 2010, Regen is a New Zealand company aiming to improve the environment with technology for farming, with real-time data to provide specific recommendations. The company offers scheduling services for water and effluent irrigation and a nitrogen use calculation service.