All Fonterra manufacturing sites are aiming for globally-leading industry standards for wastewater treatment within 10 years according to COO Global Consumer & Foodservice Jacqueline Chow.
The Co-operative, which uses some 45 million cubic metres of water in processing in New Zealand, currently recycles close to six per cent or an average 2.5 million cubic metres annually.
“As new capacity is built, Fonterra is investing in resource-efficient plants such as our upgraded Pahiatua site which recovers and recycles 90 per cent of condensate from powder processing for irrigation to nearby farmland.”
Speaking at the International Dairy Federation World Dairy Summit in Rotterdam, she reinforced Fonterra’s long-standing commitment to improving water quality and access, providing details of Fonterra’s comprehensive programmes on-farm and in its business. The commitment comes ahead of the Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam made yesterday.
The statement, culminating the conference, will outline how the dairy sector will respond to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Among the goals are an end to hunger, food security, improved nutrition, sustainable water management and sustainable agriculture. Fonterra currently heads IDF with its Chief Science and Technology Officer, Jeremy Hill the President and Chairman of the Board.
Addressing a panel discussion on water use, Ms Chow said Fonterra champions the health of waterways.
“We know water is essential to every aspect of producing milk. The issue we face is degradation of water quality through land use intensification and increasingly access to fresh water tor competing interests, so we are working closely with our farmers through comprehensive programmes to bring about change.”
Fonterra led industry change when in 2003 the Co-operative entered into the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord with the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and regional councils. Its aim was to reduce the impact of dairying on water quality through setting and achieving goals such as stock exclusion and the adoption of nutrient management plans. Other producers followed the example through the 2013 Sustainable Dairying Water Accord.
Ms Chow said that leadership meant stock was excluded from 97 per cent of 24,000 kms of waterways on farms and Fonterra farmers had invested over $1 billion on environmental initiatives including upgrading effluent systems. Farmers are recording nutrient use on farms, with 86 per cent receiving nutrient management reports which enable them to mitigate leaching.
“Every one of the streams on farms owned by Fonterra farmers is captured on GIS maps and we have a target of all farmers having documented riparian management plans by 2020 which detail how planting and other protections will help improve water quality.”
She showcased the Fonterra/Department of Conservation Living Water partnership which is working in five significant dairying regions, bringing together conservation and farming expertise, scientists and local communities.
“We have joined forces to create game-changing and scalable solutions that demonstrate a new way of farming in healthy freshwater environments. Work includes transforming farm drains into living waterways, biodiversity assessments identifying unique habitats on farms and protecting and reconnecting wetlands.”
Ms Chow also detailed other Fonterra programmes aligned to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals including its dairy development initiative. This is enabling farmers in Indonesia and Sri Lanka to improve dairy production and income from typically small farms and to improve nutrition through dairy as an energy-dense food. The initiative includes scholarships to train local farmers, as well as dairy extension officers who provide on-farm training and support.