The deadline has passed to submit Farm Environment Plans, so if you haven’t got yours into Council yet please get in touch with us.
A FEP outlines the sustainable management of soil, water and nutrient resources on farms and is individually designed to identify and manage environmental risks.
The plans are required under the Tairāwhiti Resource Management Plan (TRMP) for growers and farmers to carry out specific activities in the region.
“For some low risk on-farm activities such as stock crossings, culverts and setbacks, farmers or growers may be able to use their FEP instead of applying for resource consent,” said Kerry Hudson, Council’s integrated catchments manager.
“However non-compliance with this regulation could trigger the requirement for resource consent for certain activities. Ultimately, getting your FEP sorted now will save time and ensure better environmental management practices.”
As outlined in the TRMP, a FEP must be provided if you are undertaking the below activities:
- Intensively farmed stock over 5 ha – Intensive is defined below
- Cattle or deer grazed on irrigate land or contained for break feeding of feed crops
- Dairy farming
- Farming of more than 9 pigs per hectare of land
- Sheep farmed for milk production that are contained for break b=feeding of feed crops
- Commercial vegetable growing and cropping activities (maize and seed maize fit into this category).
If you are have an operation that includes a small amount of the above activity, the details of your FEP only need to be focused on that area.
For example: low intensity sheep and beef, with no break feeding of feed crops however grow maize on some of your flats. Your FEP needs to outline your whole operation (size, boundaries, waterways) however the details and focus will need to be on the maize area such as nutrient budget and cropping practices.
Operations that do not yet require a FEP under the TRMP
- Intensively farmed stock under 5ha – however there are certain permitted activity standards that need to be met (see 6.2.9(2) b i)
- Permeant crops (citrus, vineyards, avocados etc.)
- Low intensity sheep and beef that graze lambs on Lucerne etc.
Farm environment plans and the Ministry for the Environment - what we know
The government is introducing mandatory and enforceable freshwater modules of farm plans which means that all farms will be required to have a FEP in the near future, however these are separate to the FEPs outlined above.
We are still to be updated on what is required in these FEPs however, once that information is released by the government, Council will provide updates on what it means for our region.
We hope that once you have a FEP, you will be able to build on it over time to include the different modules as needed.
Setback rules in the TRMP
There are rules in the TRMP that require setback from waterways if you are undertaking certain activities. Therese are outlined below:
In relation to intensive farming
- Where dairy or intensively farmed stock activities are within a paddock adjoining a waterbody, all livestock shall be excluded from 5 metres from the top of the bank or edge of any permanently flowing stream, lake or wetland, and within 10 metres of the top of the bank or edge of any Aquatic Ecosystem Waterbody identified in Schedule G15, any Outstanding Waterbody identified in Schedule G18 or any Regionally Significant Wetland identified in Schedule G17.
- On all winter grazing land of a 15 degree slope or greater stock are to be excluded from 10 metres from the wetted bed of all permanent and intermittent streams and rivers, all lakes and the edge of all wetlands for the period 1 May to 30 September.
- On all winter grazing land of a 15 degree slope or less stock are excluded from within 5 metres of the top of the back or edge of any permanently flowing or intermittent stream, lake or wetland and within 10 metres of the top of the bank or edge of any Aquatic Ecosystem Waterbody identified in Schedule G15, Outstanding Waterbody identified in Schedule G18 or Regionally Significant Wetland identified in Schedule G17 for the period 1 May to 30 September on all winter intensive grazing land.
In relation to vegetable growing and cropping
- From 1 July 2021, no cultivation is undertaken within five metres of the edge of any modified watercourse, permanent or intermittent stream, except where the FEP can demonstrate that a smaller setback of at least 1 metre can occur without adversely impacting on the quality of receiving waterbody and this is certified by the Consent Authority.
Resource Management (Stock Exclusion) Regulations 2020
- These regulations, which came into force from 3 September 2020, apply to a person who owns or controls beef cattle, dairy cattle, dairy support cattle, deer or pigs (stock). The regulations require the person to exclude stock from specified wetlands, lakes, and rivers more than one metre wide.
- Dairy cattle, dairy support cattle, and pigs must be excluded from the water bodies regardless of the terrain.
- Beef cattle and deer must be excluded from the water bodies regardless of terrain if they are break-feeding or grazing annual forage crops or irrigated pasture. Otherwise, the requirements apply to beef cattle and deer only on mapped low slope land – this doesn’t include sheep.
- Stock must be excluded from the beds of lakes, rivers and wetlands, and must not be on land closer than three metres to the bed of rivers and lakes. However, stock need not be excluded from land within three metres of the bed if there is a permanent fence in place on 3 September 2020.
- Stock, except deer, may only cross a river or lake by using a dedicated bridge or culvert, unless they cross no more than twice in any month. The regulation sets out specified circumstances when cattle and pigs can cross without a dedicated culvert or bridge. Deer are not subject to restrictions for crossing rivers and lakes.
If you have any questions about FEPs, setbacks or stock exclusion, please don’t hesitate to send an email through to us at FEP@gdc.govt.nz – rules and regulation can be tricky to decipher, especially how it is going to affect your situation. We are more than happy to help.
For more information about farm environment plans