Farm plans should not be left in a drawer

CHB Mail - - Farm Focus - BY SHELLY NAIRN Crowe Hor­wath

“At the very least, you will need to main­tain your nu­tri­ent and stock records to de­ter­mine a 4-year rolling av­er­age.”

Farm plans are ei­ther be­ing worked on, drafted or fin­ished. But what do we do now? In speak­ing with var­i­ous farm­ers, there seems to be a con­sen­sus that the farm plan is go­ing to gather dust in the bot­tom drawer for the next three years, to be pulled out and up­dated/ rewrit­ten at the next fil­ing date.

If this is the type of plan that you have, then it re­ally isn’t go­ing to help you or your farm achieve your per­sonal or busi­ness goals.

If you re­call, the Hawke’s Bay Re­gional Coun­cil’s Tuk­i­tuki Plan Change is an amend­ment to the Re­gional Re­source Man­age­ment Plan.

The plan change, which be­came op­er­a­tive in Oc­to­ber 2015, is in re­sponse to cen­tral Govern­ment’s 2014 Na­tional Pol­icy State­ment for Fresh­wa­ter Man­age­ment. This amend­ment in­cluded a num­ber of new pol­icy and reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments — in­clud­ing a re­quire­ment for Farm En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Plans (FEMPs).

The aim of an FEMP is to iden­tify the en­vi­ron­men­tal risks to wa­ter qual­ity with the prin­ci­pal risks re­volv­ing around the con­tam­i­na­tion of wa­ter­ways by ni­tro­gen, phos­pho­rus, sed­i­ment and fae­cal bac­te­ria. The FEMP should then cover off what mit­i­ga­tions are, or will be put in place, to man­age th­ese risks — and in what time­frame.

You should think of your FEMP as a doc­u­ment which tells the story of your farm and how you are man­ag­ing that re­source for the ben­e­fit of you (af­ter all, you most likely to live on farm!), your busi­ness and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

There should be: Pho­tos show­ing the work that you are do­ing, such as;

■ Fenc­ing.

■ Cul­verts / bridges.

■ Ri­par­ian plant­ing.

■ Pole plant­ing for ero­sion or shade.

■ Wa­ter retic­u­la­tion.

■ Water­way man­age­ment.

■ Crop­ping/win­ter­ing best prac­tice.

■ Soil con­ser­va­tion.

■ Along with: Notes and ticks be­side the mit­i­ga­tions that you have iden­ti­fied as be­ing done or needed. Copies of soil tests and fer­tiliser plans.

Trac maps ap­pli­ca­tions.

Rea­sons for changes to the FEMP that you had in place.

An FEMP is also part of your de­ci­sion-mak­ing process around where the cap­i­tal spend on the farm should be made.

Is it bet­ter to be fenc­ing? Ero­sion man­age­ment? Re­pairs/ changes to yards, race­ways, cul­verts? Or even the fer­tiliser spend?

We would also rec­om­mend that you up­date your nu­tri­ent bud­get on an an­nual ba­sis. Be­sides saving you time when it comes time to re­view and up­date your plan, it helps you keep track of your nu­tri­ent po­si­tion and makes sure that there are not go­ing to be any is­sues with your on-farm plans. At the very least, you will need to main­tain your nu­tri­ent and stock records to de­ter­mine a 4-year rolling av­er­age.

It is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that, at min­i­mum, your FEMP and nu­tri­ent bud­get must be re­viewed three yearly from June 1, 2021, or ear­lier, where there is a sig­nif­i­cant change in the farm­ing sys­tem.

Please get in touch with your Crowe Hor­wath ad­viser if you have any ques­tions on what you should do with your com­pleted plan or to help you cre­ate/ re­view your plan.

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