Jos and Marian van Loon

Jos and Marian have made a big investment in recent years, installing more efficient effluent spreading infrastructure on their Little Waipa catchment farm to get the best use of the nutrient value of the effluent from their cows.

This includes a big effluent pond to ensure effluent can be spread  at the best time to help ensure nutrient uptake by pasture.

Feed pads are used to help protect pasture from pugging, and Jos and Marian grow a lot of maize silage and other feeds on farm. Maize silage complements grass, especially in the spring. Grass has a high level of nitrogen, more than cows can utilise, and maize is high in energy and low in nitrogen. 

Waikato Regional Council's “Healthy farm, healthy rivers” project coordinator Ross Abercrombie works directly with Jos, and he says the measures taken have helped the farm achieve a high level of nitrogen efficiency and a low nitrogen leaching per kilogram of milksolids produced.

“We’ve really appreciated the work that farmers like Jos have put into the project.

“It’s all about having systems to ensure that the greatest amount of nitrogen possible stays on the farm to boost production rather than leaching or running off to waterways where they can threaten water quality.”

Using an environmental farm plan, which incorporates the farm's nutrient budget Jos will be one step towards greater nitrogen efficiency on the farm.

Jos believes their efforts are creating significant progress towards a more sustainable yet competitive business.

"Solid fertilizers brought onto the farm like phosphate rock and urea are now a third of what they used to be", he says.  "Besides utilizing nutrients to the max, we have made huge steps in recycling and reduced waste to land fill.

"There is a great future for dairy farming in this country, and I am convinced it can be done in a manner where we remain a low cost producer for the world’s growing population and at the same time protect the environment we all live in."



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