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Published: 2017-11-03 07:45:00

Farmers are being encouraged to get ahead of the game and prepare now for whatever final new environmental rules are rolled out in the Waikato and Waipa rivers catchments.

The Proposed Plan Change 1 for the catchments recognises that environmental solutions need to be tailored to individual farm settings, and Farm Environment Plans (FEPs) are an effective tool for doing that.  That’s why the requirement for all farms to have a tailored FEP is a central policy in the plan.

Waikato Regional Council sustainable agriculture advisor Don Harford suggests farmers start building farm planning skills now so that they can do as much as possible themselves to keep costs down, and develop the best possible FEP for their farm.

“I personally find many farmers are already doing many good things environmentally on farm. But they don’t always get recognition for this and the challenges they face, and many will be missing some opportunities for efficiencies, improvements or new ideas. That’s especially true in difficult times like the past very challenging winter when it’s been hard just to keep their head above the water and mud.”

To help with getting ahead of the game, Don has put together the first four workshops for drystock farmers, in the Whangape catchment to be held from mid to late this month.

The workshops are designed to get farmers together to talk about environmental risks and suitable mitigations relevant to their farming system. “Solutions that might work for sheep may not be suitable for bull beef. What works for dairy heifers may not work for beef cows,” says Don.

He recognises that the knowledge base among farmers is extensive and the workshops will draw on both this experience and council suggestions.

These workshops will prepare farmers to attend Beef+Lamb New Zealand FEP workshops. These B+L NZ workshops take farmers to the next level in the planning process where FEPs are developed. 

Don will also be offering these workshops in other catchments in 2018. To find out more contact him on 0800 800 401 or email