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Gearing Up For Freshwater Farm Plans

Ravensdown is preparing to hit the ground running in 2024 to support farmers as they tackle Freshwater Farm Plans (FWFPs).

Already qualified and experienced in Farm Environment Planning, a specialist team from Ravensdown recently conducted national training with Pāmu staff at the company’s Bell Hill Farm on the West Coast.

The team undertook exercises focused on risk identification and mitigation designed to develop the skills required to prepare and certify FWFPs.

Arron Hutton, Environmental Consultancy Manager at Ravensdown, said the team have already begun working with farmers in Southland, but there’s lots to be done to help around 34,000 Kiwi farms comply with the new regulations by the end of 2025.

“We’ve essentially got two years before all farms in New Zealand are looking to begin the Freshwater Farm Plan process.

“What we’ve found so far is the majority of farmers are already doing the right thing when it comes to waterway and catchment protection. It’s about supporting them to link this back to a catchment context. But finding time and having the specialist knowledge for plan development can be a bit tricky when it’s just one of many on-farm requirements that farmers have to juggle.”

Cameron Walker, Pāmu’s West Coast Business Manager, said: “Pāmu is taking an integrated farm planning approach, meaning Freshwater Farm Plans form part of a much larger piece of work. We learnt a lot by hosting the training. It’s given us a good head-start toward planning for the West Coast Freshwater Farm Plan rollout in the new year and means we won’t be leaving anything to chance.”

At this point, Arron says Ravensdown is still investigating various options for FWFP delivery.

“Options we’re considering range from a simple extension of existing Farm Environment Plan templates, to a more digital or automated system that would better enable delivery at scale once demand for FWFPs increases.”

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