Increase your planning this stubble burning season

Crop residue burning or stubble burning is an important land management practice for arable farmers in our region. While stubble burning is a permitted activity in Canterbury, it’s vital to follow the rules and be considerate to neighbours.

If you’re planning to burn crop residue, there are a few things you need to do to prepare:

  • Visit to find out if you are allowed to burn. If you’re burning in a restricted or prohibited fire season, you’ll need a permit from Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ).
  • Make a smoke management plan. This is a legal requirement and must cover everything from the weather forecast for the day of the burn to how you’ll inform those who may be affected. An easy-to-follow template is available at
  • Read the FENZ guide to crop residue burns. The guide gives advice on things such as firebreaks, weather, the right way to light, and insurance.
  • Consider your neighbours and the wider community. Making a sign or two saying "planned crop residue burn" can reassure passers-by and avoid unnecessary emergency calls.
  • If your farm is in the Timaru or Ashburton crop residue burning buffer zone, you will need a resource consent before burning.

View maps of crop residue buffer zones

Most farmers follow the rules

Environment Canterbury’s South Canterbury Service Delivery Leader Brian Reeves said most Canterbury farmers who burn crop residue do so responsibly. "The vast majority check conditions, make smoke management plans, and apply for consents where required, which is great," Reeves said. 

"Some even go the extra mile by putting out signs when they’re crop burning. This is especially appreciated, as it avoids unnecessary callouts to Fire and Emergency and our incident response teams."

Usually, problems arise when crop residue is burnt in unsuitable weather conditions and/or without an adequate smoke management plan, which may result in complaints from neighbours and passers-by, or even FENZ call-outs.

Report an incident

If smoke or ash from a crop residue burn is causing a nuisance, call Environment Canterbury on 0800 765 588 (24 hours) or use the Snap Send Solve app to report an issue from your mobile phone.

If you're concerned about people or property, call 111 immediately. 

Contact us for advice

Brian Reeves encourages farmers unsure of the rules to ask for help. "Don’t hesitate to ask us for help and guidance," he said. "We can even arrange to talk through the rules with you in person at your place." 

If you want more information about the stubble burning rules, start by visiting our outdoor burning page or call Environment Canterbury’s Advisory Team on 0800 329 276.