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Environment Commissioner challenges intensive dairying due to water quality concerns; professor fears recommendations will fall on deaf ears

Environment Commissioner challenges intensive dairying due to water quality concerns; professor fears recommendations will fall on deaf ears

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment wants the dairy industry to question its quest for higher production, to help keep our waterways clean.  

Commissioner Jan Wright has updated her 2013 report ‘Water quality in New Zealand: Land use change and nutrient pollution’, with new information that’s since become available.

She says the conversion of sheep/beef farms to dairy farms has continued the way she had forecasted in her 2013 report, but the increase in forested land hasn’t stated to occur as expected.

“This is not good news for water quality. The modelling in the 2013 report is likely to have under-predicted the nutrients that will be lost from land into water,” she says.

While she admits we can’t blame all our water quality woes on dairy, the 2013 report revealed a clear correlation between large-scale land use change to dairy farming and increases in the nitrogen ‘stress’ on waterways.

New figures collected show that between 2008 and 2012, 151,700 hectare of land that had previously been used for sheep/beef was lost. This loss was almost matched by the 157,900 hectare increase in dairy land.

Wright's 2013 report predicted a big increase in both forest and scrub land by 2020. However, between 2008 and 2012, the area of plantation forest has dropped, and the increase in scrub land has been small.

In fact; the amount of land used for forestry plantations dropped by 9,600 hectares between 2008 and 2012, while scrub land only increased by 6,600 hectares.

“The projections of land use change in the model are largely driven by forecasts of commodity prices and interest rates. The actual prices over recent years have differed somewhat from the official forecast prices used in the modelling”, she says.

The biggest changes in land use between 2008 and 2012 occurred in Waikato, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.

Wright says, “In the Waikato, large areas of new dairy land have come from the felling of forest on the Volcanic Plateau. This will lead to big increases in nutrient losses into water in the upper Waikato catchment.

“Nearly 70% of the increase in dairying land has taken place in the east of the South Island – in Canterbury, Otago, and Southland.”

Solutions costly  

Wright provides a quick science lesson on the problem with this scenario:

“The intensification of dairy farming – more milk from each cow and more cows on each hectare – has been enabled by using more nitrogen fertiliser, irrigation in some regions of the country, and by supplementing grass with palm kernel extract and other stock food.

“The increase in nitrogen concentrations in waterways is sometimes attributed to the rapid increase in the amount of nitrogen fertiliser used. But it is not nitrogen fertiliser per se that has caused the problem. Rather, it is what it has enabled – a longer grass growing season, and thus, more cows and more urine.”

There is of course no silver bullet to reducing nitrogen pollution, while keeping farmers’ bank balances healthy.

Wright says it’s a matter of cutting production and implementing (often costly) farming techniques to mitigate the problem of nutrients leaking into waterways.

“Encouragingly, some new research is showing the benefit of using a combination of techniques”, she says.

“On the Future farmlet in Waikato, nitrogen losses were reduced by 40 to 50% by using less nitrogen fertiliser, a lower stocking rate, with cows that excrete less nitrogen in their urine and are taken off pasture for defined periods – however, profitability fell by 5%.”

Wright says, “The volatility of milk prices is leading some to question the high input model that has become increasingly prevalent on New Zealand dairy farms.

She points to a talk DairyNZ principal scientist, Dr John Roche, gave to a group of farmers, where he essentially said rising feed costs were contributing to the average dairy farmer milking a hundred more cows than a decade ago, yet making no more money.

“Dr Roche believes that the greater use of supplementary feed is undermining the resilience of the system, and that changing the model would reduce nitrate leaching”, she says.

Wright ends her report saying, “high stocking rates that rely on importing feed not only lead to high nutrient losses, but also carry greater financial risk. It is encouraging to see the focus on ever-increasing production being questioned, and some win-win strategic thinking occurring.”

Policy recommendations

Calling for some fairly major policy reforms to address nutrient leaching and water quality issues more broadly, Wright has made six recommendations to central and local government, in a second report she’s released today, ‘Managing water quality: Examining the 2014 National Policy Statement’.

She suggests:

  • Clarifying the requirement for councils to ‘maintain or improve’ water quality;
  • Providing guidance on freshwater management units;
  • Clarifying the policy around exceptions to national bottom lines;
  • Taking a strategic approach to implementation;
  • Including the Macroinvertebrate Community Index as a measure of freshwater quality; and
  • Including estuaries in the National Policy Statement.

Scepticism over govt action 

Massey University senior lecturer in Ecology and Zoology, Dr Mike Joy, is sceptical the government will take Wright’s recommendations on board.

He says he’s been suggesting similar changes for years, but his ideas have fallen on deaf ears.

Research he’s done indicates you can make the same amount of money using half the number of cows.

“A few percent of the farmers that are on to this and are doing really well because they’ve cut right back, but the rest of the industry’s still in dinosaur phase”, he says.

He says that while in most types of business, you can keep increasing your production to meet the demand; it’s different when you’re dealing with the environment.

“In natural systems you hit a plateau, and we’ve got to that stage with dairy in New Zealand.”

He says production’s reached a plateau, while productivity in agriculture has dropped over the last 10 years, indicating we’ve hit that natural limit.

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For a balanced discussion on this matter the author should have contacted our Chief Scientist and PM for Parnell.
He has been basically "Look, at the end of the day ....." giving us the bs from the start. He tied his colors to the dairy industry and ran with it and now we are a one export country with him hoping high immigration will inflate the GDP figures enough to keep things rosy until he can catch that one way flight to Hawaii where you can at least swim in the rivers.

Which New Zealand is JK living in? Does he think that as long as he keeps denying this pollution problem that it will go away? It seems that a good spin like "100% Pure" is his only solution!

DairyNZ's revenue solely depends milksolids production, therefore its only goal is to help farmers to improve productions.

The relationship between milksolids production and profitability is NOT linear, even without taking into account of the cost to the environment.

One way to address this, without over complicate stuff, is to change the legislation (Levy Act) so that a newly proposed revenue structure for the DairyNZ should be

3.6 cents per kg of milksolids * all MS collected - environmental costs liable to the Crown

I personally think it is fair and easy.

But they _don't_ help farmers improve milk solid production. The current regulations, and constant harrassment and low payouts prove that.

AS soon as I saw the words excessive growth of weeds, slime and algae I switched off.......

If anyone is going to throw environmental information around then the first thing they need to do is start with peer reviewed studies on the water and all the life in that water and what that life in the water needs for survival.......Some people seem to be assuming that all weed, slime and algae are bad in waterways.....many species need these things to fact low populations of many species are simply low because there is not enough feed.

When discussing Nitrogen what type of nitrogen? Nitrogen 13, 14 15 etc....there's a big difference!!

As for Dr Mike Joy come on mate get off the use extensive budgeting software and can prepare numerous budgets easily and effortlessly.......or are you now trying to be a financial advisor??

We didn't used to have excessive weeds, because the animals ate them banks tidy. With tidy but healthy banks, there wasn't all the catchment of nutrients and leaf mold falling in the stream and riparian strip...
I believe I may have mentioned the problem at the time...

"Research he’s done indicates you can make the same amount of money using half the number of cows."
Here's where things really get messed up. This statement is perfectly fine when applied to the individual farms at farm level, but this isn't really a farm level problem even though that's where the dirty deeds are manifest. If production is halved then farmers may well be able to make more profit but the country as a whole will make much less gross and the cities and their people and the politicians simply cannot afford for that to happen.

This statement is perfectly fine when applied to the individual farms at farm level,....
Disagree redcows. This is a one brush fits all comments and it is bs. There are a number of farms like us - low input, all grass/silage/own grown crops, <500 cows where if we had to halve our cow numbers we most definitely not be making the same amount of money.

This 2015 research has been peer reviewed using real farm data that shows some farms are more impacted than others

Your right CO, though your interruptation is not quite how I meant it. My assumption being that farms like yours and mine would happily fit within any stocking rate and efficiency rules. As opposed to the many that won't just need to halve stock numbers but imply stop dairying.
My point remains, farmers care about profit while the rest of the country are more worried about gross as emphasised by the governments push to increase production.

Its A load of hot stinking BS. Stop banging on about airy fairy things that are not going to happen.
Hey you can have water(streams) come out of virgin bush and be unfit to swim in. Its so open-ended.
Offer sound Scientific alternatives to the current way of farming. Show us the way, stop just slagging us off.

I guess i don't understand why there are still new dairy conversions. Forget about the environment side of things. Why? To make higher production at a loss. I personally think the governments trying too hard to create employment in this country. Maybe they need to keep increasing dairy conversions to keep the water quality industry going? From talking to local meat company reps, they are saying they have been killing a lot of dairy cows. Does anyone think production will increase at these prices?

Dairying is a very long term investment. The idea is that it is all going to come around and China is going to save us all LOL. Yep meat processors have their cool stores full of ground dairy cow to go to Macca's in the US. Only problem is they are also stocked up on prime meat and can't sell it, well they were 3 months ago. I recon that dairy production will be down about 3% next year. With cows culled to keep cash flow going and herds wintered on farm is going to hit spring production.

" cool stores full of ground dairy cow "

How now ground cow?

You run only enough animals that can be sustained on the land they are farmed on, you aren't going to get too much bother with nitrates, its pretty balanced what comes out from what goes in, so its not rocket science to understand that if you intensify and have to import feed from elsewhere you are going to get more pee and poo than the land can cope with, and its got to go somewhere


Agriculture ruins the environment. Intensive agriculture ruins the environment intensely.

I'm currently employed on a farm where we have been grazing dairy cows on a winter crop right next to a flowing water way. We've recently had some heavy rain and I watched as the water ran off the severely damaged soil and into the stream. In order to give further protection to the environment wintering cows on crops will surely have to be prohibited at some stage. To continue the same production we will require a herd home but that will never happen with such a volatile income.

I don't see a sustainable future for dairy in NZ. Anyone dreaming of increasing dairy production across the country is ill informed.

Oh and the thing that really drowns my fish. Is that a massive proportion of the income that comes from polluting my rivers all goes towards debt servicing or AKA profit for the Australian banksters. I want this addressed.

Sounds like both you and your employer needs to read up on best practice management for winter grazing. Ignorance is not an excuse.

If you are in Southland or any other regional council area that has policies around winter grazing - dob your employer in. If you are happy to continue what is clearly not Best Practice Management for winter grazing and are happy not to report it, then frankly you are blowing nothing but a lot of hot air and are part of the problem.

Ignorance is a good excuse. How much money is your average dairy farmer making??
How much real work do they have to do? How much paper is thrown at them?
How many hours are you paying them for again, and at what rate?

You want a self-financing, outside, all weather, on-call 365/24, with all the farm skillsets, including management and executive and director responsibilities, include the rent for the farm to because IRD is not going to keep wearing farmers supplying millions of dollars of equity for nothing/interest free for much longer.... how much are you paying this "ignorance isn't an excuse" farmer? 300k p.a? 500k? 900k? Remember it's food safety as well as animal welfare 24/365... way more than your average mult-imillion dollar investment+operation...and most of those salaries are only _employees_ not people who put up big chunks of captial & guarantees. AND the farmer unlike the employee is liable in case of fines and imprisonment..."no we're big enough" down on the farm

So considering they get a fraction of that, and worse conditions/hours...yeah not having every perfect answer _is_ a valid excuse.

AND the farmer unlike the employee is liable in case of fines and imprisonment..

Not so, cowboy. Some regional councils such as Southland look to see who actually carried out the breach and prosecute/fine that person. Farm staff are now also held accountable in Southland, not just farm owners, so it is in their interests not to be part of any practice that could likely land them in Court. On a large farm when the farm owner informed the staff that Environment Southland had charged another farms staff over effluent breaches, the owner noticed a considerable change in attitude from his own staff relating to effluent disposal.

the Once-ler, I believe is a troll.

Unfortunately Onceler is likely telling the truth. Crikey landcorp/Shanghai pengxin were seen to be grazing their fenced off streams during heavy rain. Yep large mob of cows pushed into the electric fenced waterways. Interestingly Environment Waikato didnt want to know.

EW do seem to be a soft touch compared to other Regional Councils Belle. Though most Councils will try education first and only prosecute/issue infringement notices if they believe it is blatant.

There would be few farmers who had been farming for a while that could say they have never had stock push through an electric fence. The issue for Landcorp seems to be that they should be permanently fencing off the water way. However, travelling through the Lindis recently, we came across a mob of 40-50 bulls, on a dark night on the highway. They had simply pushed over a few posts on a boundary fence. So sometimes even 'permanent' fences fail to hold stock in.

If someone is regularly and or blatantly causing environmental issues then I fully support throwing the book at them. I have no time for people who claim to be working on farms that are causing these issues, complain about it, and then turn a blind eye to it.

What is the difference between a one off weather event situation that causes a problem on a farm and this:

The biggest difference is that Joe Bloggs public expects a farmer to have the book thrown at him/her, all the while fully accepting the prosecution free stance the regional councils take/allow for incidents such as that mentioned in the link.
I congratulate Environment Southland for now taking a 'one rule for all' approach to pollution of waterways etc.

Council probably scared of losing to big corporate...and rightly so, they know the government won't back them.

With storms there's the problem of cattle pushing each other through the fence to clear a path or just to beat on each other because they're grumpy about the weather. Also if the fences aren't perfect then there's risk of extra power loss from shorts with wet grass and fallen tree limbs. Also when rain comes in very hard posts can wash out or pull out dropping their wires straight to earth, then the wind or extra feed drives the animals to cross. Another common problem is that fences often drop a "hot" wire into river and stream gaps, normally these sit above the water line but in heavy rain events the water can cover them, shorting them out, or even tangle them in floating debris. There is a fancy isolation device that stops the whole electric system shorting out to nothing, but like most things in the farming industry there just isn't the profit margin for most farms to afford such frivolities - and those who can afford it, are either big corporate, or having been getting away without for decades.

In this instance CO it was not an accident by any means. All the waterways were grazed out hard. The cattle were fenced in. All in full view of state highway 30.

That sucks Belle. That sort of thing gives all of us dairy farmers a bad rap with the public. Says quite a bit about your regional council though. ;-)

Yes for _farm_ staff, which is why we're finally seeing improvements in behaviours, as opposed to other industries (see recent article on Milford Asset Management or for residential property where they still just blame the owner (not evern the landlord) for everything.

I was referring to farm vs other industries.
I'm am _fully_ aware of the councils fine and notice to sharemilkers....having received one of those when I started sharemilking and the local dairy engineering firm send out a sparky with 20years dairy experience....who wired our three phase effluent pump backwards, so it didn't keep up and overflowed, and wouldn't fix or admit that anything was wrong (we got fined $2000, before I threatened the engineering firms owner with violence if he didn't get someone out there to at least _look_ at it. They just said "Richard has years of experience it wouldn't be anything he has done". But yes, he had swapped the phase in the on/off switch and never tested it.
Fortunately for me the majority sharemilker took pity and covered the fine. My only other option was to fight it in court which would have cost far more than $2000, which is exactly why the system is designed that way, prisoners dilemma, to make such things more economical to admit to fault which isn't mine rather than apportion fault (and thus cause remedy) to the actioner (the sparky). said sparky also wired a light switch (so that it could never turn on). "forgot" to reconnect power factor correction gear, fitted a 230v relay to a 400v relay switch and was surprised when it blew out, completely screwed up a simple switch-over design, housed switch over in a box half the size it should be, mounting some of the 400v relays "floating free", broke said box and refused to replace it, wired a single to three phase converter backwards causing months of failure, recommended an expensive upgrade to a meterboard then refused to touch it on his next visit declaring it "substandard" and "dangerous". Our only recourse was to refuse entry to the property for the guy because we were sick of paying for his screw ups, he still retains his license, and I'm not sure how long it will be before his failure kills someone..... But yes it's the farmers or farm workers fault.

Cmon CO, get off the grass. We can't call everyone whose points we disagree with a troll. Lets learn some new words please.

I'm not a troll CO. Have just got back from shifting the cows on their fodder beat. Good to see the sun is shining and drying out the damaged soil. Your right in that I'm part of the problem if I don't do anything but I just started on the 1st of June so I'm not going to dob my employer in but I'll make some suggestions on how we could improve our wintering system for next season.

But I would still like to point out that even a "Best practice" winter crop which I researched over on the DairyNZ website will be causing significant damage to water. If it's on heavier soil you can see clinical damage during heavy rain and having no where to stand the cows off with the water running off the surface of the paddock and if it's on a lighter soil everything looks fine on top but there are still massive quantities of nutrients being leeched which one way or another finds itself in a river or lake. I can't see anyway around mitigating the massive pollution from winter crops. If we would like to walk the talk and reach the environmental standards of Western European countries like Switzerland this practice will definitely have to be banned.


Find your own river to s**t in then...

Been there, done the business, fenced them off, moved the feed pads, had the storage ponds.
Covered concrete pads and methane recovery scrubbers all in the waiting list.
Developed systems that _didn't_ pug that badly and on soil types that could handle it, improved by active management.

But no interest in negative cashflow or corporate businesses/consumers that aren't willing to pay for what they want.

I _been_ there, boy. Been there and done that. And I _left_ when it was clear the funding wasn't there to make it happen right. I didn't just keep filling _my_ pocket while bitching how bad it was - I was _doing_ the walk.

Fair enough. The biggest issues from winter crop grazing are sediment, phosphorus, and e-coli (faecal matter). Strategic grazing trials at Telford showed that the first two can be reduced 80-90% just by the way you graze the paddock.

I don't know what region you are in, but check out your local regional council rules for winter grazing. e.g.

I take it that you have a scientific background due to your comments that Best practice will still cause significant damage to water. Please quote URLs to back up your claim as it is very easy to get emotive about water quality.

Depending on whether or not you have a phosphorus limited or nitrogen limited waterway will depend on which mitigation strategy you need to use. Where areas are P limited, mitigation will be different to where it is N limited e.g. riparian plantings will do very little as a N mitigation option, but it is a potential significant mitigation for P. You can't generalise about water quality - different catchments can have different problems and may require different mitigation options. If you want to be successful in dairy going forward you will need to accept that you need to be knowledgeable about the catchment in which you are farming.

Swiss farmers receive between 50 and 97% of their income from subsidies with the average being 57%, so if Kiwis want their water quality then, like their Swiss counterparts, they have to be prepared to pay for it. ;-)

Thanks for the info.

On that final topic of NZ agriculture trying to lower its environmental impact. Is there no other way of getting our standards on par with Switzerland without NZ taxpayers subsidising us. Surely with clear, simple and targeted regulation we can show the world how to be profitable and environmentally honest.

Or am I dreaming?

The thing that is the problem is I assume the intensity of the farming, that I assume is driven by a) debt b) profit plus numbers chasing the profitable pars of the sector. c) costs/overheads/rates eg A while back I talked to a farmer friend of my wife's family who had farmed for 40+ years in Marlborough. He was struggling because the mounting costs of fuel, power and the assumptions of the council that the rateable value of the land was based on grape. Of course since then the grape returns are down 75%? bet the rates have not declined.

While I think the word sustainable is over-used and abused you just cant keep putting up costs and expect no issues. Funny thing of course is the cost of power is National party derived due to the privatisation, so the voter base can thank the ppl they voted in for that one.

you're dreaming (and its not your fault, the NZ education system doesn't give you the tools you need - as that would mean you would start asking "inconvenient questions, instead of working.)

Fonterra/NZ have got there position by _underselling_ surplus milk. Which means they have such a large business because they charge and therefore pay less than everyone else.
Competitors _also_ receive boosted income including subsides in return to reducing their production (which also reduces their costs) or to help them uptake better technology, cheaper, as a benefit to the whole country and their industry.

How do you think little old New Zealand can compete against that - remember that even in "Free Trade Agreements" China is _still_ invoking the emergency clauses to allow them to charge extra duties against New Zealand milk imports.

"I take it that you have a scientific background due to your comments that Best practice will still cause significant damage to water.".

Nah that's just in all the dairy industry propaganda. Young folks am programmed to follow whatever an authority figure tells them is true, that's why he's just parroting that.

..if Kiwis want their water quality then, like their Swiss counterparts, they have to be prepared to pay for it. ;-)

Or introduce water use charges that reflect the true environmental cost?

Water charges or nutrient limits. One or the other. So far regional councils have voted for nutrient limit settings. Easier to set policy around?
What is the 'true' environmental cost - who decides?

the Once-ler - Yep lets force the bankers to stop lending to the industry, good for everyone right ?

Banks are intermediating other's savings, with little capital liability - right?


"little" worse, none. It is a moral hazard in that the more money lent out the bigger the annual bonus. ie if you dont make the sales figures they expect they sack you, if you surpass it they reward you.

I never implied forcing anyone in the industry to be prevented from borrowing. I was just stating that I am deeply annoyed with the profits from "our" exploited resources going overseas. The profit has gone to a minority and the problem/deficit has gone to the majority.

yep, but that is what we voted for.

Do you remember the TV show "The Dukes of Hazard"?
Remember why Uncle Jesse was about to lose the farm?

Why do we no want to much borrowing...ask Mr Crafar.

You _want_ it addressesed eh?

Then don't support the practice NIMBY !!!!

You're still happy getting the wages from that organisations.
And no, you're not legally allowed to winter or stand cows near streams. check the legislation under standing pads. If there is run-off of nutrient or effluent it's considered pollution of a waterways and you need the regional council to consent to make it non-polluting. Oh, and by the way, you have just admitted in writing, in a public declaration, that you are a profiting party to the crime. So you might want to cop a plea with the council asap.

And if you _really_ want to fix it...then buy yourself a farm and show everyone how its done.
Any arsehole can make noises about how they _want_ it to be. Let see you provide _solutions_ (instead of profitting from the crime). Bloody hypocrites is what gets me....

Its the same old treadmill, other than some details, this time is no different; if we don't care enough for the ecosystem (value the commons, be it soil, air or water), it won't be there for us....

"...If they could only rotate the crops they might pump blood back into the land.
Well its too late.And the owner men explained the workings and the thinkings of the monster that was stronger than they were. A man can hold land if he can just eat and pay taxes; he can do that.
Yes, he can do that until his crops (markets...?) fail one day and he has to borrow money from the bank.
But - you see, a bank or company can't do that, because those creatures don't breathe air, don't eat side meat. They breathe profits; they eat the interest on money. If they don't get it, they die the way you die without air, without side meat. It is a sad thing, but it is so. It is just so...."
Grapes of Wrath...

This is the classic part of this article....

"There is of course no silver bullet to reducing nitrogen pollution, while keeping farmers’ bank balances healthy...."

" The Bank is something more than men, I tell you. It's the monster. Men made it, but they can't control it."
The Grapes of Wrath

So we defecate on our environment to feed our monster. No different to the environmental mess we point our fingers at in China.

Maybe a few people need to do some reading. I recommend something like "Topsoil and Civilisation"..

rotating the crops in and of itself is still no magic bullet.
Rotating crops won't put back what has been taken out, and won't suddenly create humectant layers.

Can't just take one piece of a solution and insert it and expect the problem to vanish.
Rotating crops works because it's inefficient, and traditional includes things like burning off the stubble.

Work needs to be put in to how nutrients return to soil, what keeps them there, and how the plants get access to them, while not losing excess to or creating stagnant zones...all while staying economically sustainable (on real wages, passing on all costs to consumers).

ummm my comment was more aimed at identifying the squeeze farmers now find themselves in. Much more than a few crop rotations are required to fix the growing environmental car-crash that is dairying in NZ. But the current masters, the financiers are hard to shake. Ultimately however, the economy is dependant on the ecology, not vice versa. Economically sustainable is NOT sustainable if its not environmentally sustainable, no matter how many think tanks say otherwise.

Have a look at Lebanon; the cedar is the symbol on their national flag. Where are they all? They went, and so did the topsoil. The fertile crescent is/was where exactly?

Nature will definitely be passing on all costs to all consumers; actually its always been this way. In the footsteps of man are the deserts!!

So how is best practice going with all the town sewerage systems that have been overwhelmed by the recent weather. Don't worry ,it's only human sewerage and most of it will get washed out to sea along with a heap of dairy derived nitrate.

You seem unable to comprehend that this is a 1 in 70 or 1 in 100 year event in a locality, v an every day event across NZ.

Farmers are expected to be prepared for that one in 70yr event, yet towns don't have to be???

Nope but I dont think that is what he is implying. I certainly wouldnt blame anyone for being unable to cope with such an event of this magnitude, farmer or council, or individual.

Well you got me....! Lets just not worry about it in that case!!

Nothing is %100, you can only do the best you can. The biggest polluter is people and yet, we want to increase immigration and tourism. Treated wastewater has to be put in the rivers and oceans, anyone who says any different is spreading propoganda. In our area councils have bought farms to irrigate town waste water on to, but they can only it do it in the dry months, for the rest of the year it's dumped in the river. (Or we could pay to put it in tankers and truck it to the ocean or build a rocket and fire it in to space?) Farming is a fairly finite thing and research is being done to improve it, where tourism and population has the potential to grow a lot more in NZ and that's where we will become alot more polluted.

problems began when humans started to mix human waste with water.
it immediately made both waste and water unusable.
Back to septic tanks? Start using composting toilets?
Farmer's aren't the only ones polluting water, I agree, everybody is polluting water.
And attitudes need changing, urgently.
From everybody
We can't keep going the way we have.
Massive world drought is already being predicted, so polluting the fresh water we have, is stupid at best, insane (or should I say selfish) at best