A Freshwater Farm Plan is a tool introduced in the Government’s Essential Freshwater package. It will identify practical actions on-farm that help improve the condition of local waterways. Freshwater Farm Plans build on the work that many land operators are already doing to identify and reduce the risks of farming activities to freshwater and ecosystems.
Southland farmers are making good progress in working towards improving freshwater quality. Many belong to catchment groups, have farm plans and are practicing environmental mitigations. These regulations provide flexibility for Southland farmers to find the right solutions for their own farms within their wider catchments.
The Government is rolling out Freshwater Farm Plans region by region, with Southland being one of the first. This means the regulations went live in the Aparima and Fiordland and Islands freshwater catchments on 1 August, 2023. However, farm operators are not required to have their plan complete and submitted for certification until 18 months after this date.
For those in Aparima it encompasses the Pourakino, Aparima, Waimatuku, Taunamau and Orepuki areas.
Outside of these areas, the freshwater catchment rollout will be as follows:
1 February, 2024 - Oreti and Waiau
1 July, 2024 - Mataura and Waituna
Farm operators in these catchments will also have an 18 month period to develop and submit their plan for certification.
Guidance information on preparing Freshwater Farm Plans for pastoral farm operators can be found here.
Freshwater Farm Plans are a tool designed to stop further decline in freshwater quality, make water quality improvements within five years, and begin to reverse past damage to our waterways. They will identify practical on-farm actions to help improve local waterways. Actions will be tailored to a particular farm’s physical environment and what is important in the catchment that the farm is in.
All farms with the following land uses will require a Freshwater Farm Plan:
20 hectares or more in arable or pastoral use
Five hectares or more in horticultural use
20 hectares or more of combined use.
In Southland, we will be incorporating Appendix N, of the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan requirements into this once they are confirmed.
What do I need to include in my Freshwater Farm Plan?
Your Freshwater Farm Plan will need to include information on:
your catchment context – including values, ecosystem and community outcomes
risk identification and impact assessment – including the identification of critical source areas, plans for the management of fodder crops and wetlands
actions to mitigate risks – including plans to strategically fence waterways, restore wetlands, and intensive winter grazing plans
how you will meet the NES-F – including meeting the synthetic nitrogen cap, intensive winter grazing, stock holding and wetland rules