Farm plans should not be left in a drawer
“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;
■ 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.