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Dairy farmers show and tell with shire planners

Dairy farmers across the state are working towards meeting new standards in the recently revised Code of Practice (the Code) for Dairy Farm Effluent Management 2021,  and by doing so are helping to keep waterways healthy and reduce their fertiliser bill.

Farmers in the Geographe catchment are on the front foot after years of working with GeoCatch towards best management practice to improve their effluent management systems, putting them in a good position to be able to meet the new standards.

Late last year a group of environmental health officers and landuse planners from City of Busselton, Augusta-Margaret River, Capel and Harvey Shires visited two dairy farms to gain a better understanding of the technologies and practices being used for effluent management on local farms.

Both farmers that were visited talked about the importance of meeting the standards in the Code, which includes new standards for storing and reusing effluent to protect water quality in streams, rivers and estuaries.

Garry Haddon, who runs a 1300 cow dairy in Yoongarillup with his family gave an honest rundown of the newly upgraded system he uses to manage large daily volumes of effluent.

‘Managing effluent is the worst job on a dairy farm. We employ a system that is simple and has good storage over the wet winter months,’ said Garry. ‘In summer, we pump effluent to paddocks that are 2km from the dairy shed, because that’s where we can make the best use of the nutrients.’

Wesley and Sarah Lammie who share farm at a dairy in Ruabon, explained to the group how important it was for them to meet community and industry expectations for managing dairy effluent.

‘Our family loves where we live and work. We get to have a dairy farm that’s twenty minutes from Geographe Bay, and the kids love swimming down there. We don’t want to impact on that privilege and it’s important for us, and our industry, to do the right thing environmentally.’

The Code provides a clear set of standards that all dairy farms are expected to meet. Staff from the shires gained practical insights into how farmers were meeting the standards and how each of the sites employed different systems based on their farm characteristics.

‘We have some existing issues with dairy effluent management and it’s good to see how GeoCatch and Western Dairy are supporting farmers to improve effluent management’ said Paul Grayson, who is an environmental health officer with the Shire of Capel.

‘The standards are really clear which is important, but the Code also provides farmers with the flexibility to match the needs of their farming systems.’

Western Dairy, in partnership with GeoCatch and Department of Water and Environmental Regulation are continuing to provide technical advice on best practice dairy effluent design and effluent system reviews for farmers to assist them to meet the Code of Practice over the next three years.

This project is part of Royalties for Region’s Healthy Estuaries WA and Revitalising Geographe Waterways programs. These State Government initiatives aim to support the long-term health of our south-west estuaries.

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