Intensive Winter Grazing


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Intensive Winter Grazing rules cover Changes to wintering rules Timeframes - when do these rules apply? Reference Period Pathways to IWG Intensive Winter Grazing decision tree Existing IWG activity Permitted activity Resource consent

Intensive winter grazing (IWG) is the practice of grazing livestock on an annual forage crop between 1 May and 30 September each year. The rules for IWG address aspects such as the farm area, slope, proximity to water bodies, pugging, and more. If you're considering IWG, there are three paths to follow: 1) meeting specific conditions, 2) obtaining a freshwater farm plan with equal or better environmental outcomes, or 3) seeking a resource consent. New IWG regulations began on 1 November 2022, emphasising the need to minimise pugging effects and establish vegetation post-grazing. Before expanding IWG, ensure your activities align with the set rules, and always check with your regional council about resource consents.

Intensive winter grazing (IWG) means the grazing of livestock on an annual forage crop at any time in the period that begins 1 May and ends 30 September of the same year. Generally, winter crops (where fed in situ) come under the IWG regulations.

Intensive Winter Grazing rules cover

  • Farm area used for IWG
  • Slope
  • Distance from water bodies
  • Critical source areas (CSAs)
  • Pugging
  • Resowing
  • Expansion of IWG activity

Changes to wintering rules

The Government consulted and decided on further changes to the rules, which came into effect in November 2022 for rules on existing IWG activities. This section has been updated to reflect the changes. Restrictions on the expansion of IWG still apply.

Timeframes - when do these rules apply?

01 May 2021 – resource consent applications required for new IWG activity; expanding the area above the maximum used in the reference period 2014-2019.

If you think you need a resource consent for expanding your IWG activity and have not already applied, contact your regional council to discuss applying for a retrospective resource consent.

Note the rules for new IWG activities are temporary and will be revoked on 01 January 2025.

01 November 2022 – Deferred date for any existing IWG activity.  At this stage, it is anticipated that further guidance on the regulations will be provided by the Government in the third quarter of 2022.

Reference period

The regulations introduce a reference period which is the period from 01 July 2014 and ended 30 June 2019. The reference period is relevant to some IWG activities.

Three pathways to undertake IWG

The regulations provide three pathways for farmers to undertake intensive winter grazing;

  • Pathway 1: IWG is permitted if a farmer complies with the specified conditions.
  • Pathway 2: IWG is permitted if a farmer obtains a freshwater farm plan that achieves an equivalent or better outcome for the environment. Note: this pathway is not yet available.
  • Pathway 3: if pathway 1 or 2 can’t be followed, resource consent is needed.

Intensive Winter Grazing decision tree

Intensive Winter Grazing Decision Tree June 2022 V3

Existing IWG activity

Note: The following part of the regulations has been deferred until November 2022.

However, farmers planning intensive winter grazing for the 2023 season should become familiar with the requirements and adjust practises to comply with the new regulations. It is good to take action now to ensure IWG activity is managed under good management practices. See Wintering. Existing user rights will not be available for the 2023 season.

This part of the regulations only applies to existing IWG use where land on the farm has been used for IWG during the reference period, and the amount of land used on the farm for IWG does not exceed the maximum area used during the reference period.

Permitted activity

Regulations relating to existing IWG use provide for IWG as a permitted activity where standards are met. Standards include:

  • The area of the farm used for IWG must be no greater than 50ha or 10% of the area of the farm, whichever is greater; and
  • The slope of the paddock used for IWG must be 10 degrees or less, determined by measuring the slope over any 20 m distance of the paddock; and
  • Livestock must be kept at least 5 m away from the bed of any river, lake, wetland or drain (regardless of whether there is any water in it at the time); and
  • On and from 1 May to 30 September of any year, in relation to any critical source area that is within, or adjacent to, any area of land that is used for intensive winter grazing on a farm,
    • the critical source area must not be grazed; and
    • vegetation must be maintained as ground cover over all of the critical source area; and
    • maintaining that vegetation must not include any cultivation or harvesting of annual forage crops.

Resource consent

If any of the above standards cannot be met a certified freshwater farm plan or resource consent is required.

At this stage the Government has not determined the requirements around certified freshwater farm plans and until this is determined the freshwater farm plan pathway is not available.

New regulations

The pugging and re-sowing conditions have been changed and replaced with a stand-alone duty, in separate standards, to;

  1. Take all reasonably practicable steps to minimise the effects of pugging on freshwater.
  2. Establish vegetation as ground-cover as soon as practicable after grazing.

Farmers will have to follow the requirements and provide information required by a regional council for the purpose of monitoring compliance. There is no resource consent pathway for the new standards. This part will come into effect on 1 November 2022.

Expanding IWG activity

The IWG rules in relation to expanding IWG activities have not been deferred and still apply. They include situations where:

  • Land on the farm has not been used for IWG during the reference period, or
  • The amount of IWG exceeds the maximum amount undertaken during the reference period (2014-2019).
Last updated: Aug 2023

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