Did you walk into the office this morning wishing you were anywhere but there? DairyNZ can transport you to a Waikato farm through a live broadcast of its paddocks and streams designed to clean up the image of farmers being polluters of New Zealand’s waterways.
The live stream coincides with today's launch of The Sustainable Dairying – Water Accord report, a three-year progress update on sector-wide efforts to protect water quality and the environment. It will be formally launched at an event at Te Papa in Wellington this afternoon.
Alister Body, chair of DairyNZ’s Dairy Environment Leaders Group, says the initiative came from the realisation that these days, most Kiwis don’t get the chance to actually see what a real, working dairy farm looks like.
“So we thought we’d give people the opportunity to go ‘down on the farm’ using technology so that they can see things for themselves. It’s based on a concept of ‘Slow TV’, which has become really popular across the world.”
And slow TV it is. Since 5am this morning, four HD cameras have gave been live streaming the farm’s paddocks, vistas, stream and cows—some of which have taken an interest in the camera. And to make sure none of the action is missed, the four cameras have been combined in the one stream.
It will continue until dusk tonight and Body says any farmer will tell you that taking some time out to watch the grass grow is a nice way to start the day.
Live stream aside, he says the dairy sector has accepted it has to keep lifting its game to improve the quality of waterways.
“There’s absolutely no doubt we have an important job to do. That’s why we set up the Water Accord several years ago, to make sure everyone involved in dairy farming is working toward the goal every Kiwi, including farmers, want – clean and healthy waterways.”
According to DairyNZ, in the past five years, dairy farmers have spent over $1 billion on environmental initiatives. Results include making 96 percent of the waterways on New Zealand dairy farms excluded from dairy cattle, building bridges or culverts over 99 percent of the 42,773 regular crossing points of dairy farms, dropping dairy effluent discharge to 5.8 percent and fencing-off 25,656 kilometers of waterways.
Examples of what it wants to achieve can be watched below.
With the dairy industry having increasingly come under pressure for their environmental record, companies like Fonterra have been on a concerted campaign to help shift the image of dairying. Over the past few months, the company has enlisted the help of stars such as Richie McCaw and Eliza McCartney, and has also used the voice of scientific authority to promote the benefits of milk. Its most recent videos have purported its use of technology and innovation to create more efficient farming.
The Water Accord report for the 2015-2016 season will be released today at 2:30pm.