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Feedpads, wintering barns need pollution prevention focus

The ARC is becoming concerned at the increasing contamination of water that appears to be occurring from feedpads, wintering barns and hardstands used by dairy farmers.

Nationwide over the past five years the dairy industry has seen a large increase in the development of feedpads or wintering facilities on farms to improve operating efficiencies.

“We congratulate most farmers in the Auckland region for now being on top of their dairy washwater management through the Regional Plan: Farm Dairy discharges. But contamination from wintering barns and feedpads have received little attention and we’ve realised it can be a significant source of contamination,” said ARC Environmental Management Committee chairman, Brian Smith.

Under the Resource Management Act 1991 discharges to both land and water are prohibited under section 15(1)(a) and (b). Yet feedpads and wintering barns as a source of contamination are not specifically addressed under any of ARC’s regional plans. There is a wide variation in their use and no guidelines appear to have been developed anywhere in the country to ensure contamination does not occur.

The ARC has contacted other regional councils, who are also concerned, and also Dexcel, Fonterra and other industry advisers who advise that environmental management systems and good practice guidelines are not readily available.

“We have decided to take the initiative on this worrying issue. We are holding two meetings for local farmers and we hope farmers will discuss with us the issues that they are facing in the Auckland region,” said Cr Smith.

“Then we are convening a meeting for regional councils, industry and farmers, where we hope that the industry will pick up the ball and take the lead in developing a solution nationally,” said Cr Smith.

“At some times of the year, contamination from feedpads or wintering barns can be a bigger problem than dairy effluent. That tends to be the time when land application of waste is most difficult because the ground is wet. The industry is best placed to find sensible engineering solutions that will protect the environmental outcomes that we want,” said ARC pollution control officer Glenys Kroon.

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