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Understanding Factors Leading to Non-compliance With Effluent Regulations by Dairy Farmers

TR 2007/37

Report: TR 2007/37

Author: Anji Davies, Geoff Kaine and Ruth Lourey


In the past the primary policy initiative to assist farmers’ compliance with effluent regulations and best management practices has been extension. Extension has focused on influencing dairy farmers’ attitudes and practices towards effluent management by communicating the benefits of utilising effluent and by providing technical assistance for system design. Despite this investment, activities to increase compliance have resulted in unexpected responses by landholders and the level of non-compliance with relevant regulations is, in some cases, still at an unacceptable level. In response regulating authorities have questioned the effectiveness of using extension alone and have increased regulatory efforts in recent years.

This research explores the factors leading to dairy farmers’ compliance or non-compliance with effluent management regulations to protect water quality in the Shepparton Irrigation Region (SIR) Victoria, Australia and the Waikato region, New Zealand. This study comprises two qualitative case studies in these areas of intensive dairy farming. Interviews were conducted in a manner that enabled farmers to describe their systems, their management routines and their perceptions of their compliance with the regulations.

The I3 Response Framework (Murdoch, 2006), a framework designed to predict likely behavioural response to policy interventions, along with insights from literature on compliance and deterrence, are used to interpret the findings and gain understanding of where future policy intervention may focus to improve compliance rates.

Understanding Factors Leading to Non-compliance With Effluent Regulations by Dairy Farmers [PDF, 317 KB]

Acknowledgements iv
Executive summary iii
1 Introduction 1
2 Background 2
3 Theoretical framework 6
4 Method 10
5 Results 11
5.1 Shepparton Irrigation Region 11
5.1.1 Effluent management practices 11
5.1.2 Views on effluent as fertiliser 14
5.1.3 Behavioural responses 15
5.2 Waikato region 17
5.2.1 Effluent management practices 17
5.2.2 Views on effluent as fertiliser 24
5.2.3 Behavioural responses 25
6 Discussion 30
7 Conclusions 37
Appendix 39
References 44