Farm Environment Plans – how we're tracking
Farm Environment Plan (FEP) audits show good management practices are being achieved. Our measure is the percentage of audits graded A or B.
Ninety-three percent of FEPs audited in 2019-20 achieved an A or B audit grade.
An A grade audit means industry-agreed Good Management Practice was achieved for that property. A B grade audit indicates the property is compliant and on track to achieve GMP before it is next audited.
Protecting the environment is the top priority
There are several aspects to our work to protect and improve Canterbury's rural environment:
- Setting the necessary nutrient limits across Canterbury through planning rules.
- Promoting Good Management Practice (GMP) for farmers.
- Requiring land-use consent to farm and an independent Farm Environment Plan audit.
- Ensuring effective and targeted consent compliance monitoring.
- Responding quickly to incident reports.
- Implementing on-the-ground work programmes to protect and improve the environment.
FEPs in place
- As of 1 September, 2021, there were 2624 Farm Environment Plans in place.
- In the 2019/20 year, 1097 Farm Environment Plan audits were carried out.
- Fifty-two percent of Farm Environment Plans (FEPs) achieved an A audit grade in the 2019/20 year (the farmer/land manager is meeting GMP standards).
- Another 41% of FEP audits achieved a B grade (the farmer/land manager is on track to meet the industry agreed good management practices).
- In total, 93% of FEPs audited achieved an A or B grade and complied with the relevant Farming Land Use Consent or irrigation scheme requirements.
FEP audit cumulative results
Over the past five years 3807 FEP audits have been completed, including the 1097 in the 2019/20 year.
Farmers who achieve an A or B grade benefit by having more time before their next audit is due. Scroll down to see a detailed explanation of what FEP audit grades mean.
FEPs audited by year with running total
* Irrigation Schemes includes collectives/enterprises
How do good management practices help improve water quality?
Achieving on-farm good management practices is key to meeting nitrogen loss limits and mitigating other environmental risks, as well as maintaining and improving freshwater quality across Canterbury. Implementation of a Farm Environment Plan that is subject to an independent audit gives confidence that farmers have implemented or are on track to implement good management practices by their next audit.
FEP audit result by scheme or individual farm
There were 21 certified FEP auditors operating in Canterbury who completed 1097audits during the 2019/20 year.
The programme is on-track to ensure that by this year all farms that are part of an irrigation scheme have at least one audit and by 2024 all individual farms have been audited at least once. Individual farms receiving an A grade for their FEP audit will be on an audit cycle of up to three years with farms in schemes or collectives on a maximum four year audit cycle. Farms that receive a B, C or D grade will receive more frequent compliance follow-ups.
What do the FEP audit grades mean?
Frequency of audit
Compliant and achieving GMP
Compliant and on track to achieve GMP by the next audit
Non-compliant and not achieving GMP
Serious non-compliance and not achieving GMP
|Individual farms||3 years||2 years||1 year||6 months|
|Farms connected to ECan accredited audit programmes (Industry programmes)||Dependent on approved ISO Accredited Programme timeframe||2 years||1 year||6 months|
|Farms connected to an Irrigation scheme, Principal Water Supplier or Hurunui Waiau Collective||4 years||2 years||1 year||6 months|
|Change in management or significant change in farm systems||1 year||1 year||Within the year||6 months|
FEP audits: Frequently asked questions
As we work to improve water quality and our environment, what is considered Good Management Practice is changing.
In the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan, some regions are asked to make greater reductions in nutrient loss for future dates. So what is considered achieving GMP on one farm now, might fall short of GMP in three years’ time. We also strive to ensure farms continue to operate at GMP through future audits.
We conduct farm-by-farm, one-on-one follow-ups. Experience has shown that each farm has a unique set of circumstances and challenges on their journey to implement good management practices.
Either the appropriate irrigation scheme or an approved International Standardization Organization (ISO) connects with each farm graded C or D to provide the required support and agree an improvement plan.
Farms that do not meet the compliance requirements are subject to the irrigation environmental management scheme rules or ISO programme rules for ceasing membership. In the case of an irrigation scheme this may mean stopping water supply to a poor performing farm.
The C and D grade individual farms are provided support by a Land Management Advisor before there is any compliance follow-up.
All compliance follow-up is determined by a panel to ensure that farmer circumstances have been fully considered before determining a compliance approach.
What underpins the FEP Audit Programme is a robust quality assurance framework.
Included in this framework are processes for auditor approval, auditor monitoring, mandatory training days, calibration exercises, annual assessments and spot checks.
The programme is accountable to the Farm Environment Plan Auditing Reference Group with formal six-monthly reporting and face-to-face meetings.
The group includes primary sector bodies, NGOs, our treaty partner Ngāi Tahu and two nominated FEP auditors.