A new guide for good management practices for farmers has been launched by the primary industries.
The new definitions were developed in collaboration with Environment Canterbury, AgResearch, Plant and Food Research and Landcare Research. It is a key part of the Matrix of Good Management (MGM) project which is being developed for the Canterbury region.
Federated Farmers’ environment spokesperson Ian Mackenzie who is a member of the cross-sector governance group for the Canterbury MGM project, says the New Zealand public’s concern about water quality and environmental stewardship has made it imperative for farmers to show they are getting land, plant and nutrient management right.
He says this has been defined by a range of primary sector industry groups as “good management practice” in a summary that is “the first of its kind”. “This document goes beyond a list of practices that are good for water quality and outlines a suite of good management practices that all farmers, regardless of sector, are expected to achieve.
“As a first step to get all farmers up to a high standard of environmental awareness, we needed to agree as a sector what good management practice looks like. We have to involve farmers in that process to help us define that in very practical terms. We are now well on the way to getting industry-wide agreement on what ‘good’ looks like in terms of farming that protects water quality.”
Mr Mackenzie says the good management practices detailed in the new document are a comprehensive list of the outcomes that all farmers, wherever they are in New Zealand, could reasonably be expected to achieve.
“The summary has been prepared over the past 18 months with discussions at farmer workshops and with individual farmers, rural professionals and industry representatives. We’ve tested this with different groups including leading farmers to make sure it’s practical and doable. We want to get some consistency in everyone’s approach to this multi-dimensional topic.
“It’s tough for farmers if they keep getting mixed or confused messages from different bodies. We hope this document will give farmers some certainty on what they need to concentrate on to lift environmental performance. The public can also see the kind of responsible farming practices that are needed to protect water quality,” he says. “This will be an evolving suite of tools and practical measures that the industry can develop as we learn new practices and science.”
Two examples of the good management practices listed in the new guide include:
- Locate and manage farm tracks, gateways, water troughs, self-feeding areas, stock camps, wallows and other sources of run-off to minimise risks to water quality.
- Manage the amount and timing of fertiliser inputs, taking account of all sources of nutrients, to match plant requirements and minimise risk of losses.
Mr Mackenzie says the summary has been approved by a cross-sector governance stakeholder group, which includes senior representatives from industry, government and the community.
“The details on how exactly the good management practices will be used and reflected in council plans and policies are still being worked through with everyone. However their successful uptake will need to be underpinned by industry extension programmes for farmers and supported by farm environment plans,” he says.
To view the summary of good management practices, visit www.ecan.govt.nz
Primary industry associations: DairyNZ, Horticulture New Zealand, Foundation for Arable Research, New Zealand Pork, Beef and Lamb NZ, Federated Farmers, IrrigationNZ and Deer Industry NZ.