How do Farm Environmental Management Plans add Value to your Farming Business?
Farm Environmental Management Plans – Why do we need them?
Farm Environmental Management Plans (FEMPs) are fast becoming a requirement for many farmers and landowners throughout New Zealand, as most Regional Councils are progressing with proposed or operative Regional Plans that specify new rules and regulations requiring FEMPs (or similar) to be developed and implemented on farm. For farmers based in the Southland Region, you may be inquiring about whether your farm requires a Farm Environmental Management Plan. But where to start; why are FEMPs required; and how do they benefit your farming business?
For landowners farming in the Southland Region, almost all farms may eventually be required to prepare and implement Farm Environmental Management Plans. This is on the basis that the Proposed Southland Water and Land Plan 2018 (PSWLP) continues to progress, with projections for the Plan to be made operative by the end of 2020. The PSWLP sets out land use rules relating to farming activities, including dairy, sheep, and beef farming, winter grazing, and other land use practices. In particular, Rule 20 sets out the requirements for implementing Farm Environmental Management Plans which apply to a variety of different land use types and farming systems. FEMPs are required to be prepared in accordance with Appendix N, which provides guidelines for what needs to be included in an FEMP, such as Good Management Practices, identifying critical source areas, and maps showing the farm boundaries, waterways, and tile drains, amongst other features.
The team at WM Environmental have extensive farm systems knowledge and compliance experience to ensure your FEMP for your property meets those requirements set out in the PSWLP. We understand that no two farms are the same, and therefore our FEMPs are tailored to suit your unique farming system, be it dairy, sheep, beef or cropping; all the while saving you time and effort so you can focus on the important things – running your farming business.
Farm Environmental Management Plans – How do they add value to your Farming Business?
Preparing and implementing an FEMP can almost be compared to getting a Warrant of Fitness for your farm ute or truck. For example, you know the farm vehicle will work without fail and has never let you down, but it still requires a WOF and service to remain compliant on the road and to keep the vehicle in good working condition. A Farm Environmental Management Plan is similar, in that it enables the farmer to implement a “Warrant of Fitness check” to demonstrate how the farm is operating sustainably and is compliant with Council regulations. In the same way that a vehicle frequently requires a WOF and service, the FEMP is essentially a ‘living document’ that is required to be reviewed at least once a year to keep track of your sustainability goals and to update any new Good Management Practices or operations. FEMPs are implemented to demonstrate how the farm is operating at or above good management practice and to help landowners identify potential environmental risks which may require measures to avoid or mitigate potentially adverse impacts to the receiving soils and waterways (such as Critical Source Areas where areas of the farm may be prone to waterlogging or ponding).
FEMPs must also include both existing and proposed Good Management Practices to show how the farm is operating above and beyond best practice, such as using a water meter to monitor water use on-farm, or ensuring that waterways are fenced off with adequate buffer zones. Proposed GMPs can add value to the farming business in the long term, as they provide an action plan for implementing future sustainability goals for the farm. What areas of the property need attention, perhaps not immediately, but within the next five years? It could include riparian planting along waterways, or perhaps installing a wetland area or sediment trap, to capture nutrient losses. These sustainability goals and future good management practices often require investment in the property, which at times can be significant. However, any investment made over time can in turn add both economic and aesthetic value to the farm.
Farm Environmental Management Plans help to ensure that everyone involved with the farm business can understand the natural resources on-farm and how to sustainably manage these resources for the long term. FEMPs can add value to the property and future-proof the farming business through identifying improvements in farming practices that can maximise production and also enhance ecological and biodiversity values. Want to give your farm a much-needed “Warrant of Fitness” check? Contact WM Environmental today to discuss your Farm Environmental Management Plan requirements.
Posted: 8 May 2020