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.
The majority of Canterbury dairy farms need a land-use consent to farm. Each of these farms also requires a Farm Environment Plan (FEP) to identify and manage environmental risks. An audit, conducted by an independent expert, is required for each FEP at regular intervals.
All farms within irrigation schemes require FEPs with regular independent audits. Check with your irrigation scheme whether its consent covers your farm or, if you need to apply for your own consent. 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 (ECan) in the Farm Portal and may also be required to have a Farm Environment Plan. For more information, contact ECan.
Latest updates (updated 27 September 2018)
Plan Change 5 - key info
Appeals on Plan Change 5 (PC5) to the LWRP have now been resolved, and we expect ECan to shortly announce that it has taken legal effect (become operative).
PC5 requires dairy farmers to operate their farms at Good Management Practice by 2020, calculated by a Farm Portal: an online tool for estimating nitrogen losses from farming activities during the specified baseline period (2009-2013)
We continue to work with ECan and other stakeholders to support farmers in understanding and implementing these changes to improve water quality.
For more information about PC5, visit the ECan website.
What does PC5 mean for farmers?
All farmers in Canterbury need to operate within the PC5 rules, unless you are in any of the following catchments:
- Hurunui and Waiau
- Selwyn Te Waihora
- Hinds Plains
- South Canterbury Coastal Streams
To continue to farm within nutrient management rules, most dairy farmers will require:
- a resource consent
- a nitrogen baseline and
- a Farm Environment Plan.
The rules vary depending on which colour nutrient allocation zone your farm is in. For more information on what you need to do in your zone and when, visit the Canterbury Water website.
Under PC5 the trigger for a consent requirement will change. Please see below:
Under the Operative Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP) rules are:
|Under PC5 will be:|
|A Farm Environmental Plan||A Farm Environmental Plan|
A Nitrogen Baseline (average loss between 2009-13)
No Increase above Nitrogen Baseline
* Winter grazing definition = means the grazing of cattle within the period 1 May to 30 September, where cattle are contained for break-feeding of in-situ brassica and root vegetable, forage crops or for consuming supplementary feed that has been brought onto the property.
DairyNZ accepts the approach in PC5 to define Good Management Practices (GMPs), using Farm Environment Plans to implement and monitor the uptake of GMPs.
The timeframes for compliance are as follows:
- Compliance with the Baseline GMP loss rate is not required until after 30 June 2020. The Baseline GMP loss rate needs to be entered into the Farm Portal.
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.
It also determines if the land use is authorised as a permitted activity of if a resource consent is required from ECan. This is determined by where the property is located and a series of questions about the land use. Farms that are a permitted land use will need to register their activities in the Farm Portal and may also be required to have a Farm Environment Plan.
DairyNZ supported, at the conceptual level, the development of the Farm Portal, although we had concerns with some of the equations used to model the Baseline GMP loss rate. We believe that OVERSEER-estimated nitrogen losses from a farm operating at GMP may differ significantly from the values derived from these Farm Portal equations.
During the hearing on PC5, DairyNZ proposed an alternative nitrogen fertiliser model which was not accepted. Our concerns have not changed and we are committed to working with farmers and ECan to resolve these issues in a proactive manner.
We also had some concerns the irrigation requirements under PC5 may be unachievable for some farmers with older irrigation infrastructure. The Hearings Panel had proposed that all older spray irrigation systems in Canterbury be replaced with new ones by 2020. This would result in a considerable cost over a short timeframe for farmers to comply with this proposal. We are pleased with the outcome of the Irrigation NZ appeal which now means only older spray systems operating on light soils may need to be upgraded.
PC5 has introduced mahinga kai values into Farm Environment Plans. 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. Mahinga kai values are protected as a result of measures taken to protect and enhance water quality and stream health.
For Ngāi Tahu, it is critical to manage these resources to allow people to continue gathering kai (food) in the way the ancestors did, and about mana and manaakitanga - the ability to welcome and host visitors by providing bountiful produce, as a demonstration of hospitality and respect. These things are the essence of kaitiakitanga, or what many people today call guardianship. For more information click here.
Alternative consenting process
ECan have provided a provision for an alternative consent option if the model used in Farm Portal creates numbers that don’t make sense. Farmers who encounter any of the below situations should contact their certified nutrient management advisor for assistance:
- when a nutrient budget cannot be generated
- when the Farm Portal cannot produce a GMP loss rate, or
- when the GMP loss rate produced by the Farm Portal is considered to be erroneous.
Our focus is to continue to support dairy farmers through the implementation of PC5. We will be working with ECan to get absolute clarity on the implications of the plan change and the requirements for dairy farmers in the affected catchments. We will communicate regularly on what implementation measures are being developed and what you need to do to meet the new PC5 requirements.
If you have any concerns or want advice, please contact:
Katherine McCusker, DairyNZ catchment engagement leader, email@example.com
Terms you need to know
- Nitrogen Baseline
- Farm Environment Plans
- Farming activity resource consent
- Matrix of Good Management Practice