Skip to main content

Environment

Know anyone who wants to potty train the cows?

Some of our population, rearing our children some years ago, remember the chore of washing nappies. The more children the more nappies to be washed, until thankfully the little children were potty trained. The functions of the body were perfectly natural and critical to life.
 |  Malcolm Campbell  | 

Practically thinking, if you do not eat, poo and pee, you die.

My apologies if offensive, but that is the way it is and that is the way it is as far as I am aware, in all animal life.

A recent issue in another paper distributed in this region, relates yet again to the problem science has with animal effluent, and particularly nitrogen as a part of a perfectly natural function, delivering a biodegradable waste back into the soil that it originated from in the first place. (‘Biodegradable’ – capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms. Oxford Dictionary). Where then, is the problem?

The biodegradable waste is recycled into the soil to grow more fodder to feed the animal again.

Sir Robert Muldoon was correct about one thing and that is, “Get a statement three times on television and it becomes a fact.”

Mussolini, Italian dictator during the Second World War said, “If you want to tell a lie make sure it is a big one.”

So while farmland produces most of New Zealand’s tradeable income and the biggest earners are animal products, we are now faced with animals being a serious problem according to science.

A pamphlet produced by Wairarapa sheep farmer, Derek Daniell, makes some very relevant and interesting comparisons with Africa, where huge animals such as elephants, rhinos, hippos, wildebeests, frolic and bathe directly in the waterways and the fish life is abundant.

The fish very likely feed on the scraps from the dismembered wildebeests the crocodiles have torn to shreds. Distasteful in some ways, but real natural life in the waterways of that continent, with a lot of the urine and dung from the said animals excreted directly into the water.

Derek Daniell says African waterways have over 1200 species of fish compared to New Zealand with only 58 species.

Returning to the nitrogen problem, this was briefly mentioned in Item 17 printed in ‘The Informer’ where we have taken samples of our pond water tested by Hill Laboratories in Hamilton with the pond water reading 3.5 parts per 1,000,000 on a number of tests and on one test no nitrogen detected. Our pond is now quite a serious test bed, as it has a closed catchment where only water from this property enters our pond.

The World Health Organisation place the upper level of nitrogen at 11 parts per 1,000,000 for safe drinking water and here we are under four while science is going to virtually ‘potty train the cows’ to find out how to reduce nitrogen levels in the water.

Now this farm is not alone. Speaking to another farmer in Waipukurau where he has a stream flowing at the rear boundary, he said, “The water entering my property tested at 4.5 ppm N (still quite low) but down to 4ppm N exiting my farm”.

Obviously, this farmer was doing something right by lowering nitrogen levels as the stream flowed through.

Now in our case for the first time, we have taken a test for e coli and it revealed 110 /100ml. The 110 is 110 cfu (coli forming units) per ml. The plot thickens as Land and Water Aotearoa (LAWA) state water with a count below 540/100ml is safe for swimming while above 540 may be risky.

It must be admitted that the e coli count was something of a surprise at such a low level as there is a population of Canada Geese, ducks – several varieties, sometimes swans and shags, and of course eels in the pond. Further e coli tests will be taken to establish a standard level, as has been done with the nitrogen levels.

A farm pond with a closed catchment, subject to the runoff of rainwater that is normally associated with cattle farming, reading both low nitrogen and low e coli levels – apparently, according to science, this could not be.

Now here is another example relating to historical figures. The American Indians claimed and it would have to be a bold man to refute their claim, that ‘before the white man came, we could drink from any stream’.

There were reputed to be forty million buffalo in North America and who thinks for one moment that when they went to drink their forty to seventy litres daily, that they said to themselves, we must not pee or poo in the stream, the Indians drink here.

As always, nature, if allowed, takes care of the problem.