The downturn in the dairy trade hasn't stopped farmers investing in the environmental value of their properties.
A recent survey has revealed the country's dairy farmers have spent over $1 billion in the last five years on environmental investments and Federated Farmers and DairyNZ, who conducted the survey, say this shows the commitment farmers have to improving their properties.
Environmental initiatives included effluent management, stock exclusion, riparian planting, upgrading systems and investing in technology, retiring land and developing wetlands.
Federated Farmers Dairy Chair Andrew Hoggard said the survey shows farmers understand the need to get the balance right when it comes to lifting production and profits along with environmental responsibilities.
"The survey reflects this commitment with an average spend per farm of $18,000 a year. That's equivalent to $90,000 per farm in New Zealand over the past five years," he said.
The main investment is going into effluent management, Mr Hoggard said, but it was interesting the amount was about 70 per cent of farmer's total expenditure.
"It is mind blowing to think that the collective investment of over $1 billion by dairy farmers on the environment has just been for over the past five years. This is money coming directly out farmer's bank accounts some of it voluntary and some of it necessary all the same it is significant and shows the level of accountability that is happening in the dairy industry."
The survey flows on from DairyNZ's effluent warrant of fitness programme which was created at the start of the year to help ensure farm effluent systems are up to standard.
The programme consists of a voluntary and independent inspection and assessment, which is available to farmers and rural professionals wanting to ensure a property's effluent system and procedures meet council compliance levels.
DairyNZ Chief Executive Tim Mackle said the survey showed there was a significant commitment from New Zealand dairy farmers to farming responsibly and investing in actions that make a difference to managing their farms' environmental impact.
The spending of more than 500 farmers who was analysed across eight dairying regions.
The Waikato region's dairy farmers have spent over $350 million on environmental initiatives over the past five years followed by Canterbury and Southland farmers spending about $200 million in each region.
On a per cow basis farmers in the Waikato and Otago-Southland spend the most at about $260 per cow, while Canterbury and the Bay of Plenty spent over $200 per cow over the past five years.
Mr Hoggard said there were no surprises in the results.
"The survey was also open for farmers to tell us exactly what they've been up to, and they've been doing a hell of a lot. Respondents have spent over $8 million in the past five years retiring land and developing or preserving wetlands.
"This survey has opened up a window for the New Zealand public to see just what farmers are doing to protect and enhance their land. We knew the investment and work was happening but it's great to see it on paper."