Farmers must also prepare a Farm Environment Plan, have a nutrient budget and, a land use resource consent or be covered by an irrigation scheme or collective resource consent.
We’ve summarised some of the latest policy developments so you can get a better understanding of what might affect you and how you can respond.
About the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan
The LWRP has rules for farming activities relating to nutrient management. These rules are aimed at maintaining current water quality and prevent further increases in nutrient losses until the catchment limit setting process is finalised. These limit-setting processes have been completed in some catchments. In others, they are still being decided by Zone Committees following community consultation.
Does your farm need consent?
The majority of Canterbury dairy farms need a land-use consent to farm unless they are covered by an irrigation scheme and collectives resource consent. Check with your irrigation scheme or collective whether its consent covers your farm or, if you need to apply for your own consent.
- Your farm has 50ha or more of authorised irrigation; or
- After 13 February 2016, your irrigated area has increased by more than 10ha; (if you are in a red zone)
- You have an area of winter grazing that exceeds the limits in the table below:
On a property:
Winter grazing greater than:
Less than 100ha
10ha Between 100 and 1000ha 10% of the property More than 1000ha 100ha
Some smaller scale farms are covered by permitted activity rules. While they need to meet the rules, they will not require a resource consent. Many of these permitted farms however, will still need to register their activities with Environment Canterbury in the Farm Portal and may also be required to have a Farm Environment Plan. For more information, contact ECan.
What are your obligations?
An audit, conducted by an independent expert at regular intervals, is required for farms that have a land use consent or are part of an irrigation scheme or collective.
Plan Change 5 (PC5)
All farmers in Canterbury need to operate to Good Management Practice (GMP) and these are audited as part of the FEP audit process.
PC5 requires dairy farmers to operate their farms at Good Management Practice by 30 June 2020, calculated by a Farm Portal: an online tool for estimating nitrogen losses from farming activities during the specified baseline period (2009-2013).
PC5 requires farming activities to restrict their nitrogen losses to rates that are reflective of ‘Good Management Practice’. The two GMPs that have the greatest impact on nitrogen losses are the following:
- Manage the amount and timing of irrigation inputs to meet plant demands and minimise risk of leaching and runoff.
- Manage the amount and timing of fertiliser inputs, taking account of all sources of nutrients, to match plant requirements and minimise risk of losses.
The following zones need to meet GMP nitrogen losses by June 2020:
The Farm Portal, is a web-based tool for estimating nitrogen losses from farming activities operated at Good Management Practice. The portal uses a farms baseline Overseer XML files (2009-2013) to generate a baseline GMP loss rate.
ECan have provided a provision for an alternative consent option when the Farm Portal cannot produce a GMP loss rate, or if the numbers generated don’t make sense. Farmers should contact their certified nutrient management advisor for assistance.
PC5 has introduced mahinga kai values into Farm Environment Plans in all zones. Mahinga kai is about the value of natural resources – our birds, plants, fish, and other animals and resources that sustain life, including the life of people.
For more information click here.
Where to next for farmers?
- Assess your baseline nitrogen leaching to understand the gap between your current practice and the baseline GMP loss rate.
- Assess your options to reduce N-loss to meet the reductions required for your zone.
- Follow what is happening in Meeting a Sustainable Future - Selwyn / Hinds project for examples of mitigation strategies that are being implemented by other farmers
If you have any concerns or want advice, please contact Katherine McCusker, DairyNZ Catchment engagement leader: firstname.lastname@example.org
Frequently asked questions
What do I need to do for a FEP audit?
Under your land use consent and some other farming consents there is a requirement to have an FEP audit within 12 months of getting the consent. You will need to book an audit date and time with an Environment Canterbury Certified FEP Auditor. This list can be found on www.canterburywater.farm/fep/fep-audits/.
Environment Canterbury have a checklist to prepare for an audit
What happens if I want to sell my farm?
Where you have already obtained a land use consent:
The conditions attached to the consent will remain with the property and the new owner will be responsible for meeting the conditions. You will need to ensure that your consent has been updated to the most recent version of OVERSEER® and that your real estate agent and any potential purchasers are fully informed of your farm management policies and the commitments you have made as part of the consent.
If you want to sell just one part of the consented farm area, for example a runoff block, then you will require either a variation to your current consent or a new consent to reflect the impact of the change to the resource base and management plans.
Where you don’t have a land use consent yet:
You should work with a suitably qualified person to determine your baseline N-loss to water, which will inform potential purchasers of likely consent requirements. This allows the new owner to apply for the consent based on management practices and mitigation options that they are prepared to implement.