What do our farmers think about their Farm Environment Plans?
A big thank you to the 55 landowners who took part in our farm environment plan phone survey recently. We were very keen to get some feedback about our farm plans to find out how we can improve our service to Northland’s land owners. Survey results were mostly very positive, reinforcing our land team’s vision of building good working relationships with landowners. Examples of feedback about the process of working with our team include: “Really good, it was much easier than we thought” and “I was a bit scared of your guys at the start when I first bought the property, but I have had nothing but good experiences with NRC”.
Most participants (49) also felt the content of their plans was helpful. The most useful information identified in the plans varied across the participants, but general sustainable land management, fencing and planting advice were among the most useful, along with the funding grants also available.
The plans generally recommend possible work that could be done (rather than being prescriptive), but they have influenced landowner action for improved sustainable land management. Several participants pointed out multiple benefits of riparian fencing, for example enhanced farm aesthetics, stock management and water quality.
Most of the participants would also recommend a council farm environment plan to a friend or neighbour.
It is likely that farm environment plans will become compulsory in the near future, as central government develops further policy for freshwater quality management. When asked who they would trust to write their farm plan, most survey participants identified the council (land management staff, often in conjunction with themselves) as their preferred supplier.
The information from the survey will be used to help us improve our processes, while providing the best service for our landowners.