Te Waihora farmer Tony Dodunski

Successful environmental performance

by Mike Isle

Looking after the environment is an essential part of Selwyn dairy farmer Tony Dodunski’s philosophy. A recent independent check shows he’s well on the way towards achieving sustainable farming in a challenging area.

Tony has been rated ‘A’ for his farm environment plan audit by Environment Canterbury. He’s also achieving his production goals.

Tony and his wife Clare, a doctor, bought their 190ha farm next to Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere two years ago.

To start with, they thought that under Environment Canterbury’s tightening environmental regulations, it would be too difficult to comply as well as make a profit.

They needed to be within half an hour of Christchurch Hospital so Clare could commute to work. A land agent persuaded them to view the property next to the lake in the Selwyn Te Waihora Cultural Landscape Values Management Area’s Phosphorus and Sediment Risk Zone.

Dairy farms here must have a nitrogen budget, and those leaching more than 15kg of nitrogen a hectare each year are required to cut this by 30 per cent by 2022.

Tony said the property’s previous owner was a very good farmer who had fenced off drains, planted flax and put in effluent storage. He has added to that, planting 4,000 trees and shrubs as well as deepening and digging a further 8.5km of drains.

He built a 700-cow concrete feed pad to get cows off wet pasture quickly.

As well as meeting his environmental targets, Tony is hitting the production mark too. This year, with 660 cows, production so far is up 16 per cent and on target to achieve 280,000 kgs.

His ‘A’ audit result shows he’s well on the way towards environmentally-friendly farming.