Farmers commit to reducing nitrogen loading in rivers

Ninety percent of Canterbury farmers have committed to improving water quality in the region by applying for a consent to farm.

Under the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan, many farms now require a consent that ensures that a farm is meeting its environmental responsibilities, including adhering to nitrogen loss limits.

Nadeine Dommisse, Environment Canterbury Chief Operating Officer has confirmed that more than 90% of these farmers have taken the action required.  This will have an enormous impact on water quality in the years to come, she said.

“Earlier this year, we began a rigorous, targeted campaign to ensure that every farmer knew of their responsibilities, and how to approach them,” she said.

Over 900 farmers have acted, the remaining eighty have received formal warning letters this week.

Farmers were required to work out their nitrogen losses to determine whether they needed a land use consent.  Many require the services of a farm consultant to do so, and are on a waitlist for their nitrogen budget to be completed.

Nadeine Dommisse said Environment Canterbury is aware of those on waitlists and that they will be exempted from the compliance visits to take place from early next year.

‘We know that it takes time to complete a nitrogen budget, and we would rather these were done well.  What’s most important is that farmers are taking the necessary steps required towards gaining their land use consent, whether that is implementing good management practices, determining the nitrogen budget, creating a farm environment plan, or applying for consent,” she said.

From December, Resource Management Officers will start visiting farmers who have yet to either act or advise Environment Canterbury of their progress. “We’ll be visiting anyone who has not yet taken action or contacted us, because we are very serious about those who are not on track.  Next year, we’ll start looking at issuing abatement notices to those who have still to take action.

Image credit – ECan