Soils and waterways
Dairy farmers’ commitment to environmental sustainability extends to careful use of fertilisers and other nutrients to maximise productivity and minimise environmental impacts. Dairy industry organisations are well placed to coordinate industry programs and provide specialist input to support best practice and environmental outcomes on-farm. There is a role for the Australian Government to support industry led programs that work across Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions and are not confined to working within individual NRM regions.
There is an opportunity to accelerate the awareness and uptake of nutrient management best practice through the dairy industry’s targeted program “Fert$mart” which has been developed with government support. The roll out of the program is critical in optimising the potential environmental results of the program. Government support could be provided in extension and on-the-ground advice for farmers and through government programs to improve environmental assets such as the Gippsland Lakes and Ramsar-listed wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin.
Dairy farmers are active in programs to protect and conserve biodiversity, such as fencing off remnant native vegetation and riparian zones on waterways. Government programs have previously recognised the link between production and broader conservation benefits. Funding programs can successfully leverage farmer co-investment and participation to deliver improved outcomes for both farmers and the environment.
- Provide funding to support nutrient management programs to reduce farmers’ fertiliser costs, boost soil productivity and keep waterways and lakes clean.
- Provide funding for integrated biodiversity management on farms that boosts productivity, such as shelter belts for stock and fencing off waterways, noting the role for industry-led programs that work across many Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions.