Intensive Winter Grazing FAQ
The Government made amendments to the intensive winter grazing rules within the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater in April 2022.
Environment Southland welcomes the Government’s proposed changes as they look to make the intensive winter grazing rules more practical for councils and farmers to apply and comply with.
In summary the amendments to the permitted activity conditions include:
- To remove the date for resowing, change to as soon as practical
- To remove the specifics on pugging, change to take reasonable practical steps to avoid
- Change measurement of slope to maximum allowable slope rather than mean slope (retain 10-degree threshold)
- A new condition to protect critical source areas. These must be left ungrazed, have vegetation as ground cover, and they must not be cultivated in annual forage crop
A further 6-month deferral to the commencement of the regulations has been put in place, now beginning on 1 November 2022.
Both the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan and the new National Environmental Standard for Freshwater have a list of permitted activity criteria for intensive winter grazing. This means in some instances a resource consent will be required for intensive winter grazing in 2023. Find out if you will need a resource consent here.
Freshwater farm plan (FWFP) regulations are expected to take effect in 2023. Your plan will need to include information such as:
- 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
- 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
- schedule of actions to manage identified features and address identified risks.
Freshwater farm plans will need to be:
- approved by a suitably qualified and experienced person
- audited by independent auditors
- enforced by regional councils.
We are currently working with other regional councils on a process for introducing FWFPs. While we await decisions on how exactly FWFPs will be implemented, it is important that farmers with FEPs continue to follow that plan and focus on their next audit.
Stock exclusion from waterways is required under both the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan and the regulations that form part of the Essential Freshwater package.
New regulations under the Essential Freshwater package mean that stock must be kept at least three metres from our waterways. This is being applied in a phased approach up to 1 July 2025. The stock exclusion rules apply to beef cattle, dairy cows, dairy support cows, pigs and deer, and are slightly different for each. More information on when each stock type must exclude from waterways are available here.
The rules in Southland’s proposed plan and the national regulations do not fit well together, so if you’d like to chat through your specific situation, please give our consents team a call on 0800 76 88 45.
The tools have been developed in response to farmers’ concerns around the accessibility and interpretation of what’s needed on-farm. The tools will support farmers planning for next season’s cultivation and winter grazing requirements.
Once you’ve completed the checklist, you’ll know if you can continue your winter grazing as a permitted activity (you don’t need a resource consent), or whether you’ll need to apply for a resource consent.
If you’re permitted, you’ll be prompted to register this with Environment Southland. This will help us develop an understanding of the scale of permitted activity wintering happening across Southland, which will be helpful in reporting back to the Minster for the Environment.
Environment Southland is attempting to develop a more complete picture of the amount of winter grazing happening in the region and information registered around this will be added to the database - but only with the permission of the person entering it.
Information registered with council about permitted intensive winter grazing is stored on file for statistical purposes and can be used as part of a total figure when reporting back to Ministers on the area of winter grazing in the region.
Information uploaded or generated by a user on the mapping application is not saved or held by Environment Southland.
These online tools are free to use and are provided to guide and assist farmers and landowners.
You can get help or advice by talking to one of our consents team. Give us a call on 0800 76 88 45 or email email@example.com. We're happy to help.
The map pulls in data from a range of areas. It allows farmers to see the features on their farm and on nearby farms, such as wetlands, rivers, drains and flood banks. Physiographic and topoclimate data is also used. Information is sourced from various local and central Government databases, including LINZ and the Ministry for the Environment.
Currently the map is using the Ministry’s slope map – but we understand changes are being made to this and we will update this information when it becomes available.
Both the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan and the new National Environmental Standard for Freshwater have a list of permitted activity criteria for intensive winter grazing. You can find out if you need a resource consent here - and information about what to do if you need a consent.
Before you start, we suggest you have details on the location of the farm where your wintering will take place, the number of hectares of crop you’ll be establishing and grazing, animal numbers, your farm environmental management plan and nutrient budget. You’ll also need to have or can answer questions about an Assessment of Environmental Effects, and be able to answer questions about how your activity meets the policy framework in the proposed plan and national standards.
Our consents team is available to chat through all these aspects of your application before you submit it. Make a time to get some advice by calling 0800 76 88 45 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A consent officer will be assigned to process your application and will be in touch. If you have questions about your application, give us a call on 0800 76 88 45. More information about the consents process can be found here.