NZ Dairy Winter 2022

98 | nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE CANTERBURY » Ruapuna Farms Ruapuna Dairy farm. Nick Giera. Karen Phelps Mid-Canterbury dairy farmer Nick Giera is concerned that the targeted nitrate levels planned to be imposed on farmers in their catchment are unworkable. Nick says, modelling undertaken by experts on various farming systems in his district, show that regardless of the type of system and land use the fresh water regulations in the NPS for Canterbury are unworkable. “There is plenty of evidence now that achieving nitrate levels of 2.4mg per litre is just not achievable with any current land-use apart from production forestry. The government has indicated that they don’t want this to happen (widespread conversion to forestry), so it probably doesn’t appreciate the potential social and economic impacts of what is proposed.” Nick believes that the target needs to change and be set on a catchment basis with more input from local communities and stakeholders on what water quality targets they want, balanced against social and economic costs that all stakeholders are willing to bare to achieve it. He also feels that the situation, as it existed, prior to the NPS regulations coming out, was a move in a positive direction to nd the right balance and achieve long-term sustainability. “Prior to the NPS ECan was relatively well advanced in their plans to address water quality in the region. Their targets were 6-8mg per litre and even that was going to need considerable Targets better set on a catchment basis time to achieve. It was all done on a catchment by catchment basis which recognises the reality of land use, soil types, environmental conditions.” Put simply, when the legislation was drafted up, Nick says there was not enough consultation at the nal step. “In some catchments 2.4mg might be achievable but it certainly isn’t in ours.” He also feels that this current Government is intent on being heavily involved in setting the direction of the industry and the role of organisations such as Federated Farmers is to be as engaged at all levels of policy making so that farmers and the industry can continue set its own direction. While acknowledging there are still farmers engaging in practices that ‘let the sector down’ Nick knows that the overwhelming majority of dairy farmers care greatly about their land, the welfare of their people and their stock and want to work in ways that are sustainable environmentally. One of the harder water quality issues to tackle Nick says are N leaching from non-point source urine patches which hold concentrations of nitrates that leach down through the soil layers. “We need to be open to nding a variety of ways to address N leaching. This could include GM technologies at feed and animal vaccine level. There are such a wide range of technologies in this area now, many of which the majority of New Zealanders could be willing to consider if we, the industry and public, were willing to have an informed conversation about.” Nick and Tina are contract milkers at Ruapuna Farms owned by Grant and Jan Early. The preferred milking systems partner for Dairy Farmers Ph 0800 577 583 | Proud to support Ruapuna Farms Servicing all makes & models of platform • I Beam & Roller Replacement • Platform upgrades • Backing gates Proud to support Ruapuna Farms