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Transcript of Dairy Farming
Dairy Farming is a major New Zealand industry. To be precise it takes up more than 1.6 million hectares of NZ land, but it’s still growing – some herds have more than 1000 cows.
The dairy industry is extremely important to New Zealand's economy, in fact, according to the 2010 NZIER report of the dairy sectors contribution to the economy, dairy provides 26% of New Zealand's total goods exports.
Most of New Zealand’s dairy farms are unsustainable, which means they contribute excessive amounts of nutrients, sediments and pathogens to the environment.
What exactly fills our streams, estuaries and environment with these things? Well… the runoff… Cow poo, nitrogen etc. which causes problems to the land and/or water (and human use of these areas) after it leaves the farm.
What the Problem is Doing
The nutrients, sediments and pathogens mentioned before all do different things that cause issues.
Nutrients help things grow, but some types of nutrients are also toxic ( eg. ammonia can kill fish and insects.) Nutrients can also cause nuisance growth of algae, weeds and phytoplankton.
Sediments cause streams and estuaries to become muddy, which impacts the plant life and animals. It reduces water clarity which makes swimming less inviting and it's harder for fish like trout to feed.
Pathogens can cause diseases to animals and humans and make shellfish unsafe to eat.
There are a few simple things farmers could do to help improve this situation.
-Good management of farms by keeping cows out of streams
-By managing fertilizer use
-By keeping cow numbers at a lower level
-By catching and treating effluent/store high in transit
-By using nature like wetlands plantings to filter runoff
-By monitoring water quality
Thankfully there are already laws making farmers do these basic things (not that they all follow them yet).
Dairy farming is a major problem with some simple solutions. The only problem is people aren't following laws and regulations already in place. The solution isn't in making more laws, it's in enforcing the ones we already have.
By Rohan O'Neill-Stevens