Environmental Management

Environmental management of soils, fertiliser and effluent comes under voluntary and mandatory codes of practice. Both provide minimum standards for environmental management. The dairy and fertiliser industries have also developed technical information and decision support tools to assist dairy farmers and advisors with environmental management. There are many examples of dairy farmers quickly adopting new technologies and changing their farming systems to minimise environmental impacts. The Australian dairy industry continues to investigate more effective ways of managing farm resources to ensure long-term sustainability of the industry. See the following for more information:

Fertiliser Management

Labelling Regulations

In Australia the regulations governing the sale of fertilisers are State Government based resulting in seven different sets of regulations with varying requirements. A Code of Practice has been developed by Fertiliser Australia, working with State jurisdictions. It is expected that the Code will eventually be submitted for COAG approval. The main risk is from the heavy metal contaminants, cadmium, mercury and lead, present in some fertilisers.

Industry Practices

The dairy industry has developed voluntary industry standards for fertiliser management outlined in DairySAT. DairySAT is a voluntary self-assessment tool which describes unacceptable, acceptable, and innovative fertiliser management practices.

Fertiliser Australia has developed guidelines for developing a nutrient management code of practice for your industry, region or farm. A Nutrient Management Code of Practice can help farming industries to minimise environmental impact, and increase production efficiency.

Fertcare Courses

Fertcare trains industry staff in the competencies required to meet their responsibilities for food safety and environmental risk management. It includes the competency to warn, advise and refer customers to information about the risks and how to manage them.

Technical Information

The Dairy Soils and Fertiliser Manual includes technical information to assist with the environmental management of fertiliser use, including:

Risk Assessment Tools

The following tools have been developed to assess environmental risks associated with fertilisers and farm nutrients:

Case Studies

There are many examples of dairy farmers using fertiliser with greater precision to reduce environmental impacts. See the following case studies for more information:

Research and Trials

There are many dairy research projects investigating more efficient ways of using fertiliser to minimise nutrient losses. This type of research helps to reduce farm fertiliser costs and improves long-term sustainability of the industry:

Effluent Management

Regulations

Dairy effluent is considered a potential point source for pollution of waterways. Mismanagement has the potential to impact water quality resulting in degradation of environmental assets. All Australian States and Territories have set minimum standards that all dairies, irrespective of size, must comply with.

Industry Practices

The dairy industry has developed voluntary industry standards for effluent management outlined in DairySAT. DairySAT is a voluntary self-assessment tool which describes unacceptable, acceptable, and innovative effluent management practices.

Technical Information

Australian dairy farmers, industry and government agencies can now access a wealth of technical information that has been collated from around Australia and overseas with respect to the design and management of dairy effluent systems – see the following:

Other sources of technical information include:

Case Studies

Most dairy farmers are now realising the high value of dairy effluent and are using it strategically as a fertiliser and soil conditioner. The following video clip is an example of how a dairy farmer in the great barrier reef catchments is using dairy effluent.

Soil Management

Regulations

Soil conservation and land management is a state government responsibility. Relevant laws, guidelines and codes include the following:

Industry Practices

The dairy industry has developed voluntary industry standards for soil management outlined in DairySAT. DairySAT is a voluntary self-assessment tool which describes unacceptable, acceptable, and innovative soil management practices.

Technical Information

The following technical information assists with understanding and managing dairy soils:

Case Studies

Dairy farmers are always looking for new ways to improve both soil condition and farm productivity. See the following case studies for more information:

Research and Trials

Soils on established dairy farms are generally fertile and contain high levels of soil carbon. However, there are a number of trials investigating more effective ways of reusing dairy effluent and manure to improve soil condition – see the following examples: