Farm Water Quality Improvement Plans are individualised plans for landowners, used to identify on-farm opportunities to reduce the impact of land use on water quality.
Together, land management advisors and landowners work to produce a plan tailored to the property and its resources. The content of each plan may vary; however, generally a plan includes:
- A description of soil resources on the property which could include land resource inventory and land use capability information.
- An aerial map, visually showing resources on the property and suggested actions that may be taken to improve water quality. It will also incorporate the landowners' priorities for long and short-term goals for their business and farm management.
- A short report, identifying on-farm opportunities that could be as simple as a small change in management that may cost little but benefit water quality.
Issues considered when looking over the property include:
- Stock exclusion – including industry requirements and other areas where benefits could be gained.
- Identifying past and possible future erosion issues and how to manage them.
- Wetland information and possible uses of wet areas as buffer zones to runoff.
- Runoff from tracks.
- Culverts and stream crossings.
- Riparian management, including new plantings if desired, management of weeds and willows along rivers, and stream bank erosion.
Poplars planted for erosion control.
The process of creating an improvement plan gives you access to free advice on soils and resources on your property, advice on erosion control, and riparian and wetland management. It is worthwhile in identifying potential actions that landowners can undertake to improve the quality of water running through and leaving their property. It is also a good opportunity to plan for future works that may be expected of landowners from industry, government and consumer requirements.
There is also an opportunity to use these plans to gain funding for poplars and willows in erosion control work or for helping with the cost of fencing off waterways and wetlands.
Unfenced farm drains can contribute a lot of sediment to waterways from bank erosion.
Ideally the landowner and advisor look over the property together, discussing issues and management ideas as they go. These discussions form the basis of the prepared plan, which will then suggest recommended prioritised actions that will gain the greatest benefit to water quality.
The actions discussed in the plan are generally not compulsory, although some actions recommended may already be required to meet industry standards (such as the dairying accord), or they may be covered by a rule in a regional plan.
The advice and plans are both FREE to landowners. These plans are useful to identify work that can be partly funded through the regional council's Environment Fund.
Simply contact Northland Regional Council and ask for one of the land management team.