DairyNZ prepares a One Plan sweetener

Last updated 12:00 03/01/2014

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DairyNZ has committed to spending $350,000 this year to help its farmers secure resource consents under the new rules of the Horizons Regional Council's One Plan.

The offer is part of a strengthening of the relationship between Horizons and the advocacy group since DairyNZ's appeal against the One Plan was resolved in court last year.

The spend-up is confirmed in a letter sent in November to Horizons chief executive Michael McCartney from DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for sustainability Dr Rick Pridmore.

"We see this as an opportunity to play our part in achieving a robust and workable implementation that will deliver real benefits in water quality and at the time enhance the prosperity of urban and rural communities," Dr Pridmore writes.

The One Plan introduces contentious new nutrient management limits for farmers that were the subject of much debate during the court battles over the document.

Horizons group manager strategy and regulation Dr Nic Peet said the move was part of Horizons' plan to work with industry bodies around the implementation of nutrient management rules for dairy farmers in priority catchments such as the Waikawa and Mangapapa.

"DairyNZ has committed to assisting farmers to efficiently manage their nutrients and obtain consent to do so.

"DairyNZ advisers will help farmers better understand how they currently use nutrients and what nutrients are being lost from their dairy farms."

When nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, which are found in fertilisers, run into waterways they can encourage the growth of weeds and algae that negatively impact aquatic life and water quality.

Horizons staff had found they were being asked for advice when visiting farms on how to meet One Plan requirements, something that should not be their role. Dr Peet said the primary source of advice should be farm consultants and industry bodies such as DairyNZ.

"Horticulture New Zealand is working with growers on good practice management options. Horizons will continue to support the process but welcomes the key role farmers, growers, industry organisations and rural professionals are taking around management and mitigation advice.

"It is a real opportunity to harness the skills and innovation amongst these groups to keep the region's rural sector flourishing and benefit water quality by reducing nutrient losses to waterways."

Dr Peet said meetings would be held with farmers in each of the priority catchments well in advance of the nutrient management rules taking effect, and if anyone had queries around any aspect of the One Plan they could call Horizons.

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- Manawatu Standard

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