Dirty dairying case examines soil condition

images Extreme examples of soil pugging on Glen Crafar’s Bay of Plenty dairy farm have come under the spotlight in the Rotorua District Court.

Crafar, 28, is facing a jury on a charge of ‘dirty dairying’ between June and September 2008, by discharging contaminants on his Reporoa farm, 41km southeast of Rotorua.

Crafar has pleaded not guilty to a charge brought by Environment Waikato.

Regional council science manager Peter Singleton outlined how difficult it was to drain large quantities of dung from land churned up by animal hooves over a long period of time. The result was it flowing into the groundwater below.

Dr Singleton told the court it took many animals over a long period of time to pug and pond the type of pumice soil common to Reporoa.

Questioned by Regional Waikato’s counsel Fletcher Pilditch, Dr Singleton said holes dug in and around ponding in an attempt to remove effluent were ”very, very conducive” to contaminating ground water.

Questioned by Crafar, who appeared for himself, Dr Singleton said he found it highly unlikely that most effluent ponds in Reporoa were unsealed holes.

Crafar is representing himself before Judge Chris McGuire, but is being assisted by a McKenzie Friend, former lawyer Vinay Deobhakta. A McKenzie Friend can assist a defendant but not address the court.

In his brief opening statement on Monday, Crafar said he had not breached any section of the Resource Management Act.

”There was no way water in these ponds could have entered groundwater eight metres deep and there is no running water within eight kilometres of that paddock,” he said.

The paddock was bare because it had been used for cropping and he had drained the water that collected to get more grazing out of the area, he said.

Crafar is a son of Allan Crafar, whose dairying operation was placed in receivership almost two years ago with debts of more than $200 million.

The trial is expected to end tomorrow.


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