The new Freshwater rules require all farmers to have a Freshwater Farm Plan and they will be phased in over time with roll-out prioritised to areas where waterways are less healthy. A decision about the contents of these plans is still to be finalised.
Many arable farmers already have a farm plan that meets regional requirements and are concerned they will need to develop another plan. FAR’s Farm Systems Research Manager, Diana Mathers, says that is likely most existing plans will meet the requirements of a Freshwater Plan, but that it will pay to check once the final format is known.
The requirements for the Freshwater Plan are likely to be:
- A farm map identifying features such as waterways, critical source (discharge of contaminant) areas, high erosion-prone areas and other risks to the health of the freshwater ecosystem,
- A risk assessment across specific activities including irrigation, application of nutrients and effluent, winter grazing, stock-holding areas, stock exclusion, offal pits, and farm rubbish pits,
- A schedule of actions to manage identified features and address identified risks.
They will need to be
- approved by a suitably qualified and experienced person
- audited by independent auditors
- enforced by regional councils.
FAR will be adapting its existing FEP templates to meet the new national regulations and relevant regional rules. We are not expecting substantial changes as our templates already have a focus on reducing losses to waterways.