All types of farming need to be managed carefully to avoid adverse impacts on our environment and waterways. 

The sustainability of farming activities depends on reaching a balance between the financial, social, cultural and environmental issues that arise as a result of on-farm practices. There are four main contaminants that can impact surface water and groundwater, affecting swim ability and waterway health: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Sediment and E-Coli.

  • Nitrogen is mainly lost as nitrate leaching through the soil profile into ground water and later into surface water. An overseer analysis can be used to help farmers understand their nitrate losses and mitigate to reduce them.
  • Sediment, Phosphorus and E-coli is commonly lost in surface run off events, critical source management and erosion control is needed to mitigate these losses.  
  • Effluent from livestock contains a high percentage of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and E-coli so needs to be managed carefully to avoid adverse effects on water quality.
  • Spray drift of agricultural chemicals can also be of concern, in horticultural growing areas in particular.

Farmer-lead Catchment Groups are one solution helping farmers in our region address the above issues in their community and with their neighbours. Find out more and if there’s a catchment group in your local area or contact your local Land Management Officer.

In 2020, Government announced new national rules and consenting requirements for the management of farming and horticulture activities, including:

  • dairy farm or forestry-to-pasture conversions of more than 10 hectares
  • irrigation expansion of more than 10 hectares
  • intensive winter grazing on forage crops
  • expansion of dairy support activities
  • stock-holding areas
  • synthetic nitrogen fertiliser use and reporting
  • work in or near wetlands and rivers
  • structures in rivers
  • compulsory farm plans
  • water use metering and reporting, and
  • stock exclusion from waterways

Synthetic nitrogen fertiliser cap

The use of synthetic nitrogen fertilisers on land is linked to lowered water quality in some of our rivers, streams, and groundwater.

Intensive Winter Grazing

Intensive winter grazing is a farming practice where livestock are grazed on paddocks planted with forage crops


Stock Exclusion

Stock activity can damage the bed and banks of our waterways.

Protecting flood defences

Flood defences, such as stopbanks and pump stations, need to be in good condition during winter to continue to protect lives, livelihoods and properties.

Freshwater Farm Plans

The new Freshwater Farm Plan regulations have now been published by the Government and will come into effect over the next 18 months. 

There are many options to achieve your environmental goals, from small management changes to larger infrastructure decisions. DairyNZ have developed an extensive range of on-farm actions that can help improve or maintain water quality.