Spotlight on the environment

SAPPO presented an information day at Baynesfield in November. The environment and the implications of environmental laws and regulations pertaining to pig farmers were placed in this spotlight.

“Although the number of farmers in South Africa has decreased by a third since the 1990’s production must increase by more than double by 2035 to feed the population. Production however needs to increase by using the same or fewer natural resources. We need to regulate development in order that biodiversity and natural resources are not irreparably compromised.” This was the message of Susan Machpesh, of NatureStamp at the information day.

She discussed the development of environmental legislation since the 1970’s. “The Constitution stipulates that South Africans have the right to a healthy environment and it promotes growth and environmental protection,” she said. NEMA and NEMWA are the main environmental laws and they list activities that may have the potential to cause detrimental impact on the environment. It makes provision for environmental impact assessments by farmers. “You have to comply, plan ahead and there is no excuse for ignorance,” she said.

Dumisane Gwede of the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs said that failure to comply with environmental legislation, such as failure to obtain environmental authorisation before commencement with activities listed in the legislation and failure to comply with conditions of environmental authorisation, will lead to enforcement action. Fines of up to R1 million and even imprisonment of up to ten years may apply.

Pieter van der Merwe of REC Services said that it is not always clear what exactly all the terms with regard to environmental legislation mean and this is somewhat confusing.

It is debatable if piggeries produce “waste” in terms of the Waste Amendment Act of 2014. The legislation refers to either general or hazardous waste. Effluent from piggeries is stored in effluent dams. The product is irrigated in the fields for crop production or the enhancement of grazing. “The correct term for piggery waste water is biodegradable (agri) industrial waste water. The solution is to ‘incorporate’ the handling of the biodegradable industrial waste water in all its facets on a pig farm under Section 21 of the National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998),” Van der Merwe said.
He also discussed water use license applications for piggeries and why and how pig farmers must go about to obtain these. (More about this procedure in a following edition of Porcus.)

Dr Annie Labuscagne of CS Vet discussed water quality and how to measure and improve it. She said that an animal could lose practically all its fat and over half of its protein, and yet live. A loss however of one-tenth of its water results in death. “Water is the most essential nutrient to livestock nutrition and must be considered as much as possible. It should be drinkable, it should not contain harmful substances and should be readily available for the animals concerned.”