HB Today - Hard work under way to roll out 1100 farm plans across Central Hawke's Bay

The challenge of delivering over 1000 farm plans in Central Hawke's Bay is being tackled head-on by local farmers, and the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

Earlier this week regional council land advisors met 34 Farm Plan providers in Waipawa to discuss how 1100 plans could be delivered by May 31, 2018.

The regional council's Tukituki Plan will lead to better water quality in the Tukituki catchment through land use practice improvements and landowner-led innovation.

At this stage, the pressure is on individual landowners to commit to work with Farm Plan providers.

The council has said these plans are not a solution in themselves, but spell out what adjustments to make to reduce individual farm impacts on the environment.

HBRC's catchment management team leader Brendan Powell said, from their perspective, "priority setting and on-farm actions that come out of a farm plan will see water quality improve downstream from farming activities".

The regional council relies increasingly on approved Farm Plan providers to deliver plans that are a solid foundation for next steps.

"The farmer-provider relationships are hugely important," Mr Powell said.

"We're setting up an approval, accreditation and auditing process for providers so that farmers dealing with an approved provider can be confident in the product they receive".

Of the 1100 farms plans in CHB, so far 200 have been completed, 43 need approval, and 40 are in progress.

In 2014 the government introduced the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPSFM) to improve freshwater management in New Zealand.

Part of the NPSFM would direct regional councils to establish objectives and set limits for fresh water in their regional plans.

The Tukituki is the first of Hawke's Bay's catchments to be focused on. The aim is to sustainably manage the land and freshwater in a way that enables recreational use, ecosystem health, safe drinking water, decreased algal growth, enhanced mauri and the use of water for primary production and processing purposes.

New rules include stock exclusion from permanent and some intermittent streams, Farm Environment Management Plans, and maintaining records for nutrient budgeting.