Farmers making changes to target water quality

March 17, 2011

Dairy farmers are making changes across the country in an effort to improve water quality but are still meeting only two of five targets from the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord the latest progress report says.

The Snapshot of Progress is released annually by the Accord partners Fonterra, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry for the Environment and Local Government New Zealand.

It measures dairy farmers’ performance in meeting resource consent conditions, bridging waterways, excluding stock from streams and wetlands, and using nutrient management tools.

The Snapshot for the 2009/10 dairying season shows some progress has been made on four of the five targets, and farms have reached or exceeded two of the five Accord targets, the same overall progress as was recorded in 2008/09.

MAF Deputy Director-General Paul Stocks says farm effluent management is a critical part of a successful farming business, and the Snapshot reflects the fact that a consistent effort by the Accord partners is needed to improve farmer behaviour and farm system performance.

“After the good early progress of the Accord, all the easy wins have been achieved. The sector is at now at the stage of incrementally improving farming practices and upgrading equipment.”

Mr Stocks says the variation in monitoring regimes and climatic conditions between different councils and in different seasons made direct comparison of effluent compliance difficult, but the overall trend since the start of the Accord showed progress continues to be made.

“Nationally, the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord remains a key environmental initiative alongside a wide range of other projects and strategies set up to support and improve the dairy industry’s social, economic and environmental performance.

“Farmers and Accord partners understand the need to maintain improvement against all the Accord targets and work on getting farmers up to speed with new technology and best practice to ensure our country’s largest economic contributor can also be among its best corporate citizens.

“This is evidenced in the early results of Accord partner Fonterra’s Every Farm Every Year initiative, which will see about 1000 farms identified for, or volunteering for, remedial plans by the end of the current dairy season.”

Mr Stocks also says a survey into stock exclusion on Accord farms will take place mid-year, with a report due in November.

“This will provide Accord partners with further assurance about farm practices in keeping dairy effluent out of waterways.”

Dairying and Clean Streams Accord Snapshot of Progress 2009/10 highlights:

Target 2008/09 2009/10
Dairy cattle to be excluded from 50 percent of streams, rivers and lakes by 2007, rising to 90 percent by 2012 80% 85%
Fifty percent of regular crossing points to have bridges or culverts by 2007, and 90 percent by 2012 98% 99%
All dairy farm effluent discharge to comply with resource consents and regional plans immediately 60% 65%
All dairy farms to have in place systems to manage nutrient inputs and outputs by 2007 99% 99%
Fifty percent of regionally significant wetlands to be fenced by 2005, rising to 90 percent by 2007 (note: progress on this target relies on the 13 relevant councils identifying their significant wetlands) Identified: 7 of 13;
2005 target met: 3
Identified: 9 of 13;
2005 target: 3
2007 target: 1

Resource consent compliance

  • Nationally, compliance with effluent resource consents have increased since the last Snapshot, with minor non-compliance figures dropping. Significant non-compliance figures have increased slightly from 15 to 16 percent
  • Full compliance rates varied markedly across the country with the worst in Southland (39 percent) and the best in Taranaki (96 percent)
  • The best improvement was recorded in Otago, with 95 percent full compliance, compared to 75 percent in 2008/09

To view the full Snapshot report, visit

For more information, contact:
Iain Butler, Senior Communications Adviser, (04) 894 0471; 029 894 0471;


Last Updated: 17 March 2011

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