Our Wa­ter

New re­gional rules that will af­fect your block

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - Words Emma Buchanan

When I first started my

work help­ing farm­ers to com­ply with reg­u­la­tions, I had the nag­ging sus­pi­cion that I was go­ing to be cre­at­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment plans that would do a great job of fill­ing up some­one’s bot­tom drawer and not much else.

But the re­sponse of farm­ers to the new rules on nu­tri­ent lim­its in­tro­duced by re­gional coun­cils na­tion­wide has ex­ceeded my ex­pec­ta­tions.

I spend many hours each week rid­ing a mo­tor­bike or quad over stun­ning land­scapes. I talk to farm­ers about how they can im­prove their en­vi­ron­ment with­out spend­ing a for­tune.

Some of my great­est suc­cess sto­ries have come from life­style blocks.

Re­cently, I com­pleted a farm en­vi­ron­men­tal plan for a farmer we’ll call Bob. Bob has 37ha (91 acres) but he works full-time off-farm. Every year he would plant as many pad­docks as he could in win­ter crops, like fod­der beet and green feed oats. All win­ter, be­fore and af­ter work and on the week­ends, Bob would slog through mud, shift­ing elec­tric fences through those crops for his cat­tle.

When I cal­cu­lated his nu­tri­ent bud­get, he was three times over the limit for his prop­erty. That led Bob to look at the back­break­ing work he was do­ing with new eyes. He com­pared that work to the mar­ginal profit it was bring­ing in, and to the huge en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact it was cre­at­ing.

Then he de­cided to com­pletely change how he was farm­ing. Bob re­turned his land to per­ma­nent pas­tures and stopped crop­ping. This brought his nu­tri­ent bud­get within the re­gional coun­cil lim­its. I’m hop­ing Bob can en­joy his free time and peace of mind know­ing he doesn’t need a re­source con­sent to keep farm­ing.

The gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced its Na­tional Pol­icy State­ment for Fresh­wa­ter Man­age­ment in 2014. This gave re­gional coun­cils al­most free rein to work with res­i­dents to de­velop rules and poli­cies to main­tain or im­prove the qual­ity of fresh­wa­ter in their re­gion.

This has cre­ated dif­fer­ent regimes around the coun­try. In up­com­ing col­umns, I’m go­ing to out­line the dif­fer­ent rules for dif­fer­ent ar­eas, and prac­ti­cal steps you can take to com­ply.

What is a nu­tri­ent bud­get?

A nu­tri­ent bud­get tracks in­puts (ie, fer­tiliser, ni­tro­gen from clover, ef­flu­ent, ir­ri­ga­tion) and mea­sures out­puts (ie, grass pro­duc­tion, sup­ple­ments, runoff). It can re­duce or at least op­ti­mise fer­tiliser use, and re­duce run-off.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.