Intensive winter grazing flyovers

Winter grazing cows

In July 2022, we're conducting our first trial flyover to get a better look at intensive winter grazing in our region. Our trial flyover will take place in the Waimakariri district. 

Other regional councils have found flyovers a valuable tool to observe current land management practices and provide better support to landowners who need it most.

The decision to do this trial in the Waimakariri was based upon the proximity to Christchurch Airport (where the plane will depart), Environment Canterbury staff availability for follow-up, industry partner network availability and the diverse geographies in the Waimakariri district.  

We will not be recording video or taking photographs during the flyover. Our staff will be viewing the land from above and noting examples of good management practice, as well as potential areas where support is needed.

Working with industry partners

We’ve been working with industry partners and stakeholder groups in the Waimakariri district to ensure that supporting your needs is a priority. 

As part of this collaborative approach, we will invite an industry representative to join the flight as an observer. Several representatives will be available to attend follow-up visits if landowners would like additional support. 

If you have questions about the intensive winter grazing trial flyover, contact us on 0800 324 636.

Your industry representative and Rural Support Network are available as well – don’t hesitate to contact them if you’re concerned or have questions. 

Support for winter grazing

If you have questions about good management practice, contact your local Environment Canterbury Land Management Advisor or an industry representative.

Industry contacts for the trial flyover:

More information

What will we do with the information we learn from the flyover?

The information will be used to identify any properties that may require additional help or support from our local land management team. Environment Canterbury staff will contact these farms via phone and, if required, visit in-person between July and September. Industry representatives are available to attend any visits alongside staff to provide additional support to the property owner.

Learnings from the trial will help inform further use of flyovers for our intensive winter grazing campaign in subsequent years and how flyovers may be used regionally.

Why a flyover, and why this year?

Regional councils are required to report to Central Government on how we monitor intensive winter grazing. 

To evaluate how regional flyovers could occur we are introducing a trial flyover in this year’s intensive winter grazing work programme before new regulations come into effect in November, giving us a chance to take an educational approach and support farmers. 

Including flyovers in our intensive winter grazing campaign will also bring us in line with other councils and with government expectations.

Following the flyover, we’ll work with our industry partners to share the findings and provide opportunities for feedback. 

We’ll also be continuing to share information on how to meet good management practice when it comes to intensive winter grazing, plus additional information about the new legislation coming into effect in November. 

The most important thing to remember when it comes to winter grazing is to plan ahead – industry and Environment Canterbury are here to help.

How will we conduct the flyover?

A fixed-wing plane will depart from Christchurch Airport and travel over some areas of the Waimakariri District in early to mid-July (weather dependent). The flight will take place over both rural and lifestyle properties.

We have contacted other regional councils to understand how they conduct their flights, and worked with the flight operator to fly at an appropriate height.

The flyover is being led by Environment Canterbury’s implementation team and on board will be:

  • Environment Canterbury land management staff
  • Environment Canterbury implementation staff
  • a farming sector representative as an observer.

No photography will take place. Areas where additional help or support may be needed to meet good management practice will be identified and noted manually for follow up. 

What will we do if non-compliance is identified?

This trail flight is for educational purposes only, with appropriate feedback to landowners through our land management team and industry partners. In some instances, if a land management advisor identifies non-compliance with current regional rules or consents while visiting a property, they may bring in a compliance officer, but this is not the aim of the trial.

What next?

Following the flyover, we’ll work with our industry partners to share the findings and provide opportunities for feedback.

We’ll also be continuing to share information on how to meet good management practice when it comes to intensive winter grazing, plus additional information about the new legislation coming into effect in November.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to winter grazing is to plan ahead – industry and Environment Canterbury are here to help.