Friday, 25 June 2021 06:55

Time to put your foot forward

Written by  Alison Worth
Farmers are in the spotlight this winter for intensive grazing practices. Farmers are in the spotlight this winter for intensive grazing practices.

The Government's recent decision to delay Intensive Winter Grazing (IWG) rules until May 2022, following pressure from farming and industry groups, has provided farmers with a year-long opportunity to demonstrate how best practice management on-farm can influence future environmental policy.

If you practice IWG on your farm, now is the time to put your best foot forward. Shine your Red Bands and prepare your paddocks like you would a cricket pitch, because farms all around the country could be host to some impromptu spectators this winter.

While the thought of environmental groups and activists surreptitiously snapping photos may cause all sorts of unpleasant feelings. However, if you're doing everything right (and more) and following the rules then swipe left on those feelings. Keep your hands firmly on the wheel and focus on controlling what you can control and not worrying about what you can't control.

Ministry for the Environment (MfE) have published a helpful document on the 2021-22 Intensive Winter Grazing Module. This includes a step-by-step process, some good guidelines and recommendations and a paper-based template to include with your farm environment plan (FEP) and/or resource consent application.

What is unhelpful is that the template calls for information many farms manage in a digital format - such as a farm map, stock movements and nutrient losses. Print more copies off? Fill in the same information about your farm for the 50th time?

Really?

If you're a FarmIQ farmer, then you can swipe left on that time-wasting nonsense. If you're not (yet), then put your sunnies on because this is where FarmIQ can put the shine on your Red Bands. By recording stock and land activities, and events as well as using the interactive map to its fullest potential you can manage, measure, report, record and provide all the evidence and proof potential regulators need to give your IWG practice the stamp of approval.

We've prepared a guide of where and how in FarmIQ you can address MfE's Intensive Winter Grazing top ten actions for success.

Be kind to yourself this winter, do your best to show the Government that our IWG practice this season is the stuff of good future policy that serves everyone well. Help your neighbour if you see they're struggling to manage IWG on their farm and remember, you can only control what you can control.

Farmers Guide

  • Identify Critical Source Areas* (CSAs) and keep stock out of them
  • Keep baleage and water troughs away from CSAs
  • Have a 5-meter (at least) buffer strip next to waterways
  • Graze down the slope and back fence
  • Plan how you will manage adverse weather events this season.
  • Replant land left bare after IWG as soon as practicable.
  • Minimise negative impacts on cultural values by minimising sediment, nutrient and pathogen losses.
  • Plan for next season to make improvements and meet regulatory requirements.
  • Plan for next year to ensure you are not planting land for IWG that is too steep.
  • Maintain good animal health and welfare.

Alison Worth is environment lead at FarmIQ.

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