Farmers'' perceptions of ECAN’s proposed, “good practice discharge allowance” in the Waimakariri sub region of Environment Canterbury’s (ECAN) district of New Zealand.
Eutrophication is an excessive richness of nutrients in a lake or other body of water, frequently due to run-off from the land, which causes a dense growth of plant life. Eutrophication is generally stated as the main environmental problem in water management and agricultural production as the major cause of nutrient leakage. Irrigation growth in the Canterbury area has been immense. Irrigation growth goes hand in hand with land intensification in order for the farmer to gain a required return from the money invested in irrigation. Presently the best optimum from land intensification is dairy farming. However, dairy farming is seen as one of the main causes of eutrophication. Environment Canterbury (ECAN) have proposed in their land and water plan a “Good practice discharge allowance” to achieve acceptable levels of nutrient leaching losses. There appears to be limited literature within the Canterbury region of ECAN on how much farmers’ actually understand the adverse effects of high nitrate and phosphorous in groundwater. This dissertation explored the perceptions of a group of Waimakariri district farmers’ on ECAN’s proposal of “good practice discharge allowance” in order to protect Canterbury’s groundwater from eutrophication. Furthermore, it aimed to identify how much farmers’ actually understand the consequences of intensification of land use and increased fertilizer use, and the implications of high nitrate and phosphorus in groundwater. In addition, farmer’s perceptions of nutrient management proposals made by ECAN, and whether farmer’s perceptions of these changes are going to impact on farm profit and farm production, were investigated. It endeavored to ascertain what farmer’s perceptions were of the proposed nutrient management changes. Are farmers’ aware of the consequences of eutrophication to ground water and do farmers’ think ECAN proposed “good practice discharge allowance” will affect profit and production on their farms? This dissertation presents results from a qualitative study. A survey instrument was used to question forty farmers’ in the Waimakariri district of ECAN with twenty-four farmers’ responding to the questionnaire. This was a small sample of farmers’, however big enough to get a scope of the understanding perceived by Waimakariri district farmers’. The results of this dissertation indicated farmers’ perceive nutrient damaged groundwater with a mix of denial, a lack of understanding about the consequences of high nitrate and phosphate in groundwater and fear the proposed “good practice discharge allowance” will negatively influence farm production and land values. To overcome denial, apprehension and a lack of understanding about ECAN’s proposed, “good practice discharge allowance”, a lot of work is required to help farmers’ familiarise, interpret, and comprehend the reasons and future benefits of nutrient management to groundwater. With the new nutrient management changes proposed by ECAN in order to protect Canterbury’s water, this study illustrated how farmers’ have identified new opportunities. Results included foreseen opportunities with marketing opportunities; protection against New Zealand’s greatest asset, water; more efficient and careful use with fertilizer by farmers and perhaps a more biological approach to fertilizer use. The findings from this research identified how policy makers can help farmers’ understand and influence better environmental management of groundwater.... [Show full abstract]