By Emma Dangerfield,,  10 February 2016
Environment Canterbury commissioner Peter Skelton says all farmers should have, as a starting point, a baseline nitrogen leaching rate that reflects Good Management Practice

Proposed changes to the Environment Canterbury (ECan) Land and Water Regional Plan could affect all farmers in the Kaikoura district, regardless of their water quality zoning. ECan announced last week that it would notify the Nutrient Management and Waitaki Plan Change, Plan Change 5 to the Land and Water Regional Plan, for public submissions on February 13. Submissions close on March 11.

The proposed changes seek to deal with the effects of land uses, particularly farming activities, on water quality at a region-wide level.On all properties in Canterbury larger than 10 hectares, farmers will be required to implement industry agreed good management practices.Farming activities which require resource consent will need to meet good management practice loss rates.

Anyone carrying out a farming activity on a property larger than 10ha will also need to register this activity using a new online Farm Portal. Commissioner Peter Skelton said the plan change sets industry agreed “Good Management Practice” as the minimum standard for all farming activities.”If the plan becomes operative in its current form, resource consent, including audited Farm Environment Plans, will be required if properties irrigate more than 50ha or have more than 20ha for winter grazing of cattle,” Professor Skelton said.

“The nutrient management rules are intended to address the effects of changing land use and promote improved water quality outcomes throughout the region.”With this in mind we need to be clear about what constitutes Good Management Practice on farms. Industry groups have now described what this means for their sector.

“All farmers should have, as a starting point, a baseline nitrogen leaching rate that reflects Good Management Practice.”Implementation of good management practices responds to community expectations, and will help achieve better water quality outcomes,” he said.

Every farmer was encouraged, and often required by the rules, to do an assessment of the environmental impacts of their farming activities.A farm environment plan was a valuable tool for doing this, he said.

Dairy NZ will be holding an information meeting on the plan change on February 24 between 10.45am and 1pm at the Kaikoura Rugby Club Rooms, Takahanga Domain. All farmers are welcome to attend.