ASM & Farm Environmental Plans
Opuha Water uses an online farm environment plan (FEP) to capture, track, and improve our farm management practices. For more information on this digital tool, please contact Julia Crossman firstname.lastname@example.org
As irrigation schemes are developed and land use intensifies, farmers are increasingly finding themselves farming under the watchful eye of a the community, and there is an ever-growing expectation that we must show we are maintaining high environmental standards and have processes in place to deal with non-performance.
The bar is being raised in terms of environmental standards and requirements, and one can assume that it will continue to rise in the future. Therefore, the best approach Opuha Water can take as an irrigation scheme is a coordinated one, to ensure that best practice is achieved on farm and we are in the best possible position to ensure that all our shareholder can continue their operative in a viable and productive way and maintain as much flexibility as possible.
In order to retain the privilege of having access to water we need to demonstrate responsible use, through consent compliance, monitoring and auditing, and we need to be proactive in our management – Audited Self Management (ASM) and Farm Environment Plans (FEP) are a good way of proving this.
To make sure that ‘best practice’ environmental management is part of the normal farming business on all the farms in the scheme, Opuha Water has developed an ASM programme that includes a requirement for each water user to prepare and implement an FEP. This FEP will demonstrate how each water user is actively managing their use of natural resources in order to achieve high standards of environmental management and optimise production from irrigation.
Opuha Water has developed an ECan approved FEP template – this approval is important as it means that shareholders will be able to meet their requirements under the Land & Water Regional Plan (LWRP), as well as meet Opuha Water’s environmental objectives. The FEP covers five farm management areas, where relevant: Irrigation Management, Nutrient Management, Soils Management, Collected Effluent Management, and Riparian, Wetland and Biodiversity Management.
Opuha Water has set objectives for each of these topics however, importantly, farmers will retain flexibility as to how they achieve these. Opuha is assisting shareholders to develop FEP’s specific to each property, funded already through the annual water charges. An online application is being used to develop the FEPs as this enables efficient recording, reporting and updating of information, it also allows shareholders to log on and complete or update their plans from any computer.