Aerial inspections continue to show improved practice
Despite heavy rain over the last week, the second aerial compliance inspection undertaken yesterday has shown positive signs of improved practice.
Chief executive Rob Phillips said early indications from the flight are that, although significant water and mud is around, farmers have taken the advice from Environment Southland and other industry groups to implement good management practices.
“We know the weather can provide some challenges for farmers carrying out winter grazing, but we also know that there are many things that can be done to mitigate the effects of winter grazing on the environment.”
He said observations from the flight demonstrated the majority of farmers were using back fencing, buffer zones and being mindful of critical source areas.
Several complaints have been received in the last week from members of the public concerned about stock in muddy paddocks and the compliance team are following these up.
“We understand that seeing stock in muddy paddocks can cause concern for people, but some mud can be part of winter life in the south. That doesn’t mean it’s acceptable for animals to be in unsatisfactory conditions or for the grazing practices to have negative impacts on the surrounding environment and waterways.
“We will follow up complaints received and take the necessary action. This may mean enforcement action where that is appropriate, but in many cases it may mean a referral to our land and water services team or another industry group for further advice and support to improve their practice. Where animal welfare concerns are identified, these will be passed on to MPI.”
A joint approach by Environment Southland, DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Federated Farmers, MfE and MPI, was developed last year to tackle winter grazing issues.
“Winter grazing is a high risk activity with regard to water quality and, although we are seeing significant improvements so far this year, we don’t want anybody to become complacent.”