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  Community » Your Community » For farmers » Healthy Farms » Be on the front foot of changes

Be on the front foot of changes

Image of farmer's gumbootsUpdated April 2016

Two projects could affect how you farm in the future.

Waikato and Waipa river catchments

The Healthy Rivers: Plan for Change/Wai Ora: He Rautaki Whakapaipai project is working with stakeholders to develop changes to the Waikato Regional Plan to help restore and protect the health of the Waikato and Waipa rivers. The plan change will target sediment, bacteria and nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) entering water bodies (including groundwater) in the two rivers’ catchments, an area of 1.1million hectares. It could mean you have to develop and work in accordance with a property management plan and/or apply for a resource consent.

When:  The proposed plan change is being notified now.

Other catchments in the Waikato region

In the rest of the region, Waikato Regional Council has started a wider review of the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan and is expecting to start a review of the Waikato Regional Plan in 2016. This will include incorporating stakeholders and the community in the setting of objectives, limits and targets for all water bodies, as required by the Government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014.

Waikato Regional Council, informed by both legislative requirements and community input, prioritised its approach to managing water quality throughout the region. The Waikato and Waipa river catchments are the first priority, followed by the Waihou-Piako and Coromandel catchments, then the West Coast. The timing and approach taken for each catchment will be determined by legislation and supported by community input to get the best representation outcomes for the particular and unique catchment communities.  

The approach to be taken for the Waihou-Piako and Coromandel catchments is yet to be determined, and depends on completion of the Hauraki Treaty settlement. 

What: Waikato Regional Plan review

Where: Entire Waikato region, excluding Waikato and Waipa river catchments

When: Due to start in 2016

Preparing for change

Contact a Waikato Regional Council sustainable agricultural advisor (listed below) to find out how they can help you to prepare for change.

You can prepare for upcoming changes by using Overseer(external link) to estimate your current nitrogen losses. Several agencies can produce and explain an Overseer nutrient budget for you, including:

Then use the menus of practices to improve water quality(external link) to consider ways to reduce any excessive losses.

Farmers around New Zealand are changing their farm systems to increase their nutrient efficiency and lower their environmental footprint. Some are finding these changes also result in increased profitability.

Useful links

Click on the links in teal listed below. 

Interactive menus of farming practices to improve water quality for cropping land and dairy and drystock farms(external link)

Waipa Catchment Plan includes targeted funding and other support for farmers in priority areas

Waikato Regional Council’s farmers’ page

DairyNZ’s environment page(external link)

DairyNZ’s Waipa Sustainable Milk Plans(external link)

Beef + Lamb New Zealand - Land and environment planning toolkit(external link)

Fonterra’s environment page(external link)

Fonterra’s Farm Focus videos(external link) highlight responsible dairying initiatives

Foundation for Arable Research’s resilient cropping factsheets(external link)

AgResearch’s land and environment research(external link)

We can help

Contact one of Waikato Regional Council’s sustainable agriculture advisors. We work with farmers, researchers and the wider agricultural industry to develop and implement practical solutions to ensure the long term sustainability of farming in the Waikato region.

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