Farm Environment Plans Optimised On Digital Platform
The government’s fresh-water regulations are close to being fully in place, and most in the primary sector acknowledge regardless of which government is in power, the rules will by and large remain in play. Included within them is the need for all farms to complete a farm environment plan (FEP), identifying the farm business’s land management units and how environmental risk within them will be managed and mitigated.
Ideally, farmers want to take ownership of their FEP. They know their farm best, they know its limitations and challenges, and how to work sustainably within them. More often than not, it is simply a case they hold this in their heads, rather than on any formal plan template.
But FEPs have to be more than a compliance driven “box ticking” exercise, and need to deliver real benefits not only to the environment, but to farmers’ profitability, given the time and commitment required to complete them.
Just as electronic tagging of livestock under NAIT has eventually delivered greater amounts of data to help farmers better manage their stock, an FEP borne of compliance needs to bring valuable management information with it that can be turned into informed, profitable decision making.
Already some processors are requiring farmers to furnish an FEP as part of their supply agreement, and in return offer premium level payments for extra evidence of sustainable practices.
Digitising the FEP and doing away with volumes of paper is vital to farmers only want to enter their data once. Keeping it digitised and accessible also maintains the FEP’s role as a “living document”, easily adjusted to allow for inevitable changes in the biological system it records.
Putting the FEP on a digitised platform means it can be shared among multiple parties including compliance organisations like councils, and farm advisors or key staff. As the plans become an integral part of a farms ability to operate, having a digitised FEP means there is no risk of loss of institutional knowledge around it when key staff depart or the property is sold.
FarmIQ has developed a FEP template that can generate an auditable plan for the property, drawing on FarmIQ’s ability to pull data from the multiple points of collection in a farm business, including its physical and financial data.
Ultimately, as more farmers compile FEPs using FarmIQ the platform will not only offer individual farmers peace of mind they are meeting environmental standards.
It will also provide a valuable database of industry wide information that can highlight the successes and challenges across catchments that farmers operate in.