Our dairy farmers care deeply for the natural world that surrounds them every day of their lives – and they are passionate about protecting and nurturing it for future generations.
For dairy farmers, the focus in the past few years has been on improving waterways, enhancing biodiversity, and controlling predators, both weed plants and animal pests, such as possums, rats and stoats.
The farmers around the country who are part of the Dairy Environment Leaders programme, set up six years ago to develop responsible dairying, are true kaitiaki. They not only roll up their sleeves on their land, but they are also inspiring other farmers. They are active in their communities, on boards and local committees and catchment groups, leading the way in achieving good outcomes for the environment and farming.
With the 50th anniversary of Conservation Week underway – and to honour dairy farmers’ protection of their special part of the planet – they have come up with 50 actions that are being embraced across thousands of farms in New Zealand: each farmer does a few to a lot of these 50 ‘loves of the land’. Here are our top 20 from the list.
- Creating farm environment plans (FEPs) to recognise on-farm environmental risks and set out a programme to manage them. FEPs are unique to each farm and reflect the local climate and soils, the type of farming operation, and the goals and aspirations of the farmer.
- Fencing waterways to keep cows out – 24,249 kms of waterways are now fenced, comprising 98.3 percent of significant dairy waterways (more than one metre wide and 30cm deep).
- Bridging stock crossings, again to exclude animals from waterways.
- Installing constructed wetlands, again to remove key contaminants before they enter streams.
- Protecting natural wetlands.
- Trialling new electronic virtual fencing technology that enables greater control of where cows need to be at certain times to reduce contaminant losses from critical source areas.
- Providing important ‘native corridors’ through New Zealand’s pastoral landscape with riparian planting and protecting remnant bush areas on farms.
- Spending, literally, millions of dollars on installing and maintaining effluent management systems.
- Using ‘green gold’, the natural fertiliser, cleverly and efficiently: effluent spreading on paddocks. There’s even an app many farmers have on their smartphones to instantly tell them how much and when to spread.
- Using recycled water to wash down cow sheds and feed pads.
- Installing solar panels on cowsheds.
- Some wind turbines too.
- Recycling and upcycling.
- Reducing plastic waste.
- Stabilizing hillsides to reduce erosion and sediment entering waterways.
- Retiring marginal land and protecting it with stock-proof fencing.
- Fencing off and protecting significant trees.
- Protecting native birds by fencing out dogs.
- Keeping beehives and harvesting honey from their riparian manuka plantings.
- Adopting technology that helps to lower the footprint, including various smartphone apps, and sophisticated devices for water and fertiliser measurements and for irrigation.
You can read the full article from DairyNZ here.