What are industry agreed good management practices?

Following the industry-agreed Good Management Practices (GMPs) on your farm is an essential step towards protecting freshwater in Canterbury.

The GMPs were developed in partnership by industry groups, crown research institutes and Environment Canterbury, and first published in 2015.

They have applied to all Canterbury farms since June 2017, and work in conjunction with consents, regional plans and land management agreements.

For a full description and information on how best to action your GMPs, download the Industry-agreed Good Management Practices Booklet (PDF file,1.18MB).

These 21 GMPs are focused on water quality and may not fully take into account GMPs for other aspects of farm management, like greenhouse gas reduction, health and safety, biosecurity, biodiversity and conservation of natural and cultural heritage.

Farm planning and records

GMP: Identify the physical and biophysical characteristics of the farm system, assess the risk factors to water quality associated with the farm system, and manage appropriately.

How you can do this:

  • Take into account the soil types, topography, climate, waterways, artificial drainage networks, and irrigation.
  • Note risk factors like soil loss, nutrient loss and damage to soil structure.
  • Record details on offal pits, feed storage, effluent storage and application area, and irrigation area.
  • Farm outdoor pigs in a low rainfall area and on flat land to minimise runoff.
GMP: Maintain accurate and auditable records of annual farm inputs, outputs and management practices.

How you can do this:

  • Maintain accurate and auditable records that:
      • set out objectives to be met;
      • identify all relevant farming activities and practices, including those that demonstrate that relevant GMPs are being applied;
      • demonstrate the assessment of all risks to water quality;
      • identify how and when actions to mitigate risks will be undertaken;
      • allow the generation of an annual actual Overseer nutrient budget.
  • Utilise industry templates for recording key information - such as water use, fertiliser inputs, and spray diaries, planting dates, paddock rotation, feed inputs and composition, stock numbers and production outputs or yield.



GMP: Store, transport and distribute feed to minimise wastage, leachate and soil damage.

How you can do this:

  • Design feed storage facilities to minimise wastage and soil damage, i.e. sealed or compacted surface.
  • Minimise leachate generation (e.g. make silage at optimum moisture content) and prevent leachate from entering surface water bodies, groundwater or stockwater.
  • Site silage stacks so that overland flow of water from heavy rain cannot enter the stack.
  • Site feed areas away from waterways.
  • Distribute feed so as to minimise soil damage (from farm equipment and animals) and potential surface run-off to waterways, i.e. avoid Critical Source Areas.
  • Deer: Make sure silage is made at the optimum moisture content to reduce possible leaching, recommended at 30% dry matter or more.
  • Outdoor pigs: Feed diets and feed levels appropriate for the physiologic state of the animal i.e. separate gestating and lactating sow diet.
  • Protect waterways by following the rules for silage pits or stockpiles under the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (5.38). No liquid should enter a surface waterbody. If the silage pit or stockpile is over the volume 20m3, the site cannot be located within 50m of a surface waterbody, a property boundary, a bore, or the Coastal Marine Area. Do not locate the site within the community drinking-water protection zone or the Christchurch groundwater protection zone.
  • Choose a low-risk site that is well away from wells, ditches, races, swales bores, springs, lakes, rivers, streams and drains, gullies or areas prone to flooding.
  • Check that harvested forage has dried adequately prior to storage (only slightly damp when squeezed), consider forecasted weather and if you use contractors to prepare your silage storage, liaise with them early to plan the work.
  • Collect any leachate that is produced and add this to an existing effluent management system. Don't assume it can be diverted into oxidation ponds as they can easily be overloaded. Ensure storage is well draining with sumps big enough for effluent collection of about 3cum/100T silage.


Farm effluent and wastewater

GMP: Ensure the effluent system meets industry specific Code of Practice or equivalent standard.

Farm Dairy Effluent (FDE) systems should:

  • capture all FDE
  • spread the FDE at a time that allows uptake by plants
  • uniformly spread the FDE to the desired depth, and at the desired intensity
  • control FDE application to within the boundaries of the application area
  • ensure that FDE systems can be operated safely
  • comply with all regulatory requirements, including consent conditions.

All new effluent systems should be designed to Farm Dairy Effluent (FDE) design code of practice.

GMP: Have sufficient, suitable storage available to enable farm effluent and wastewater to be stored when soil conditions are unsuitable for application.

How you can do this with a Farm Dairy Effluent (FDE) system:

  • Calculate suitable storage using the Dairy Effluent Storage Calculator. This enables FDE to be stored when soil and management conditions are unsuitable for FDE land application.
  • Seal all areas where FDE is collected (including feed pads). All new effluent systems should be designed to FDE Design Code of Practice standard.
  • Seal and maintain all storage facilities to ensure effluent is contained. Actively manage storage to ensure capacity is available when required.

How you can do this with a deer enclosure system:

  • Store effluent for later dispersal to land where appropriate.
  • Ensure effluent and run-off water does not enter natural waterways untreated.
  • Keep solid waste away from waterways.
  • Clear faecal/urine surface material annually.
  • Ensure paddock enclosure systems do not result in significant or irreparable soil loss or erosion.
GMP: Ensure equipment for spreading effluent and other organic manures is well maintained and calibrated.

How you can do this:

  • Calibrate spreading equipment according to its design specifications specific to the product being spread.
  • Apply effluent efficiently. Record effluent applications, including product, rate, date and location.
  • Evaluate your effluent system annually to demonstrate optimal performance, e.g. through an application efficiency test (bucket test).
GMP: Apply effluent to pasture and crops at depths, rates and times to match plant requirements and minimise risk to water bodies.

How you can do this:

  • Apply effluent to pasture and crops at depth, rates and times that best prevent loss and to increase utilisation. Ensure your distribution area complies with your consent conditions (use OverseerFM® to calculate).
  • Take account of nutrients supplied by effluent or manure when calculating fertiliser requirements. (You can use the DairyNZ FDE calculator.)
  • Ensure no effluent is spread on an area pigs are grazed.


Intensive grazing

GMP: Select appropriate paddocks for intensive grazing, recognising and mitigating possible nutrient and sediment loss from critical source areas.

How you can do this:

  • Select paddocks for winter grazing that are not vulnerable to pugging and compaction, do not have significant artificial drainage such as mole and tile drains, waterways, temporary streams or natural drainage channels (running in times of high rain). Choose wintering paddocks away from waterways if possible.
GMP: Manage grazing to minimise losses from critical source areas.

How you can do this:

  • Sow crops for grazing across slopes rather than up and down hills to reduce runoff.
  • Graze lower lying areas and areas closest to waterways last.
  • Where possible, shift deer to dry, sheltered areas before wet weather arrives.
  • Monitor deer regularly on self-feed silage pits to make sure all animals retain the required body condition score.


Nutrient management

GMP: Manage the amount and timing of fertiliser inputs, taking account of all sources of nutrients, to match plant requirements and minimise risk of losses.

How you can do this:

  • Manage nutrients supplied from all sources including the soil, brought in feed, previous grazing and crops and any organic sources applied.
  • Regularly test soil to identify nutrient needs, particularly for paddocks that are going into crop.
  • Follow expert guidelines (like using crop calculators), expert agronomic advice or codes of practice where appropriate.
  • Apply nitrogen and phosphorus fertiliser strategically to meet agronomic requirements and avoid adverse environmental impacts. Detailed guidelines are provided in the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand's Code of Practice for Nutrient Management.
  • Use nutrient budgets as a tool to manage nutrient loss.
  • Use practices such as side dressings and split applications to reduce the risk of leaching and ensure greater utilisation of nutrients by plants.
  • Use a predictive nutrient budget (OverseerFM®) as the basis for managing nutrients on your dairy farm (milking platform, and any support land). Your predictive nutrient budgets and nutrient management plans should be developed by a certified Nutrient Management Advisor, and updated when the farm system changes. OverseerFM® data input standards must be used to create OverseerFM® nutrient budgets.
  • Ensure your dairy farm's audited nitrogen management system contains recording and reporting requirements for N fertiliser (including milking platform and any contiguous support land).
  • Do not apply NPK fertilisers to an outdoor pig unit.
GMP: Store and load fertiliser to minimise the risk of spillage, leaching and loss into water bodies.

How you can do this:

  • Follow fertiliser industry code of practice for fertiliser handling, storage and use.
  • Locate storage sites away from waterways.
GMP: Ensure equipment for spreading fertilisers is well maintained and calibrated.

How you can do this:

  • Ensure any contractors used for spreading fertiliser are accredited. The current industry standard is Spreadmark.
  • Ensure your spreading equipment is calibrated according to its design specifications specific to the product being spread.
  • Record information on fertiliser applications: product, rate, date and location.


Irrigation and water use

GMP: Manage the amount and timing of irrigation inputs to meet plant demands and minimise risk of leaching and runoff.

How you can do this:

Make sure there is a demonstrable reason why irrigation is to be applied:

  • to replace soil moisture deficit
  • for the purpose of herbicide activation
  • to prepare soil for cultivation
  • frost protection
  • for fertigation.
GMP: Design, calibrate and operate irrigation systems to minimise the amount of water needed to meet production objectives.

How you can do this:

  • Ensure any new development, upgrade or redevelopment is consistent with irrigation industry codes of practice.
  • Evaluate your irrigation system annually to demonstrate optimal performance using irrigation industry guidance.
  • Measure each irrigation water take with a water meter. Track soil moisture levels throughout the season to justify irrigation events (e.g. using soil moisture balance calculations or soil moisture probes or tapes).
  • Evaluate annual irrigation use for consistency with estimated agronomic needs for the season based on climatic data and pasture/crop requirements.
  • When conducting dairy shed washdown and milk cooling, ensure dairy sheds use no more water than necessary to produce hygienic and safe milk. Measure dairy shed water use with a water meter.
  • Apply water to maintain soil between stress point and field capacity. Knowledge of evapotranspiration, field capacity and use of soil probes can assist in achieving this.
  • Apply a water volume informed by all relevant factors (e.g. crop type, plant growth stage, soil type and field capacity).


Cultivation and soil structure

GMP: Manage farming operations to minimise direct and indirect losses of sediment and nutrients to water, and maintain or enhance soil structure, where agronomically appropriate.

How you can do this:

  • Consider the following:
      • distance from surface waterways, effectiveness of buffers
      • slope of land (degree and length) in relation to the waterway
      • soil type and texture, quality (e.g. pugging, or compaction susceptibility)
      • climatic and weather conditions to determine timing of cultivation
      • cultivation methods (pre-, during, and post-cultivation; contour, no- or low-tillage)
      • measures to prevent sediment and nutrients entering waterways (e.g. sediment traps or interception drains, headlands or diversion bunds, grazing techniques)
      • measures to prevent soil loss through erosion, overland flow and wind blow (e.g. space planted trees, windbreaks, cover crops)
      • measures to prevent or remedy soil damage
      • previous use of land, and future use of land
      • the use of sub-soiling or ripping to remedy compaction of soils
  • Leave grassed areas around rocks, gullies and riparian margins. If spraying out pasture, first identify areas that won’t be worked or re-sown (gullies, runners, riparian margins and rocky areas).

  • In heavy soils, cultivate soil when conditions are dry enough to reduce compaction and pugging and improve drainage and soil structure.


Ground cover

GMP: Manage periods of exposed soil between crops/pasture to reduce risk of erosion, overland flow and leaching.

How you can do this:

  • Consider soil conditions and crop rotation.
  • Resow areas that are harvested, grazed or stock damaged (resulting in bare soil) as soon as practical to minimise periods of exposed soil.
  • Rest and re-sow erosion-damaged areas.
  • Use catch crops (green feed, oats, mustard, other biological activates) to reduce losses and nutrient use.
  • When developing paddocks, retain native vegetation such as tussock and shrub habitat in gullies, steep and higher country. This will regulate run-off of water, help retain water quality, reduce soil movement and provide filter areas prior to water entering streams. It also provides cover for newborn stock.
  • For dedicated outdoor pig units or those in a pastoral rotation, maintain groundcover in accordance with the following:
      • for dry sows: at least 40% cover on 75% of the land (less than 40% cover is permissible on 25% of the land);
      • each paddock should have on average more than 10% cover;
      • for lactating sows: at least 70% cover.
  • For outdoor pig units as part of an arable operation, maintain groundcover in accordance with the following:
      • for dry sows: 25% cover (100-0% over 2 years);
      • for lactating sows: at least 70%;
      • reduce fallow during and immediately after the pig phase of the rotation (e.g. by planting a catch crop).
GMP: Retire all Land Use Capability Class 8 and either retire, or actively manage, all Class 7e to ensure intensive soil conservation measures and practices are in place.


Sediment, phosphorus and faecal bacteria

GMP: Identify risk of overland flow of sediment and faecal bacteria on the property and implement measures to minimise transport of these to waterbodies.

How you can do this:

  • Identify, record and manage risk to and from critical source areas such as wallows, bank erosion, pugging, trampling or slips on steep hillsides to minimise or eliminate sediment entering waterways. Where appropriate use methods to minimise or eliminate sediment entering waterways such as:
      • vegetated buffer strips/riparian planting adjusted in width for slope, hydrology, bank stability, land use and proximity to critical source areas;
      • sediment traps;
      • paddock contouring;
      • earth bunds;
      • raised headlands.
  • Minimise fence pacing for deer farming by:
      • maintaining appropriate feeding levels to reduce stress and fence pacing;
      • identifying the best stock class to fit the soil types to minimise the risk of soil erosion, as identified in the Deer Farmers Landcare Manual;
      • maintaining pasture length in winter or wet periods, to prevent soil being washed off in heavy rain. In particularly vulnerable areas retain tussock cover or native vegetation to regulate water runoff and to reduce risk of soil loss particularly in gullies or along riparian margins;
      • if fence pacing is bad, fill in area and re-sow or plant with trees and if damage is extreme, re-fence to remove the problem area. If fence pacing continues, review fence placement as this can be a contributing factor.
GMP: Locate and manage farm tracks, gateways, water troughs, self-feeding areas, stock camps, wallows and other sources of run-off to minimise risks to water quality.

How you can do this:

  • Locate and design laneways so that runoff is filtered by a vegetated strip. Design and manage laneways to minimise water ponding, excessive effluent build-up and erosion.
  • In areas exposed to wind erosion, establish shelter belts with trees that will filter the wind and provide added shade and shelter.
  • On tracks, allow for cut-offs and slumps that will take the run off away from streams.
  • Where deer are grazed, identify natural springs and wallows prior to cultivating paddocks and pipe or drain into retired areas.
  • Provide a suitable area away from waterways for safe wallowing of deer.
GMP: To the extent that is compatible with land form, stock class and intensity, exclude stock from waterways.

How you can do this:

  • Plan and prioritise waterway areas (including wetlands) to fence, based on the vulnerability of the land, significance of the waterway and potential to impact water quality.
  • Use a mix of mitigations and practices to minimise sediment and faecal bacteria losses from farms in hill and high country areas.
  • Actively manage stock, stock density and stock classes adjacent to waterways to reduce risks to water where fencing is not practical.
  • Exclude stock from significant waterways, drains and significant wetlands.
  • Locate and manage crossing of waterways so it will not result in degradation of those waterways.
  • Provide alternative stockwater sources away from waterways where possible.
  • Provide shade and shelter away from waterways where appropriate.
  • Place salt blocks and supplementary feed away from riparian margins.
  • Leave an appropriate buffer to filter runoff, even if only during vulnerable periods.
  • During high risk periods for erosion (e.g. winter grazing, fawn weaning), actively manage stock to prevent slumping, pugging or erosion.
GMP: Monitor soil phosphorus levels and maintain them at or below the agronomic optimum for the farm system.

How you can do this:

  • To determine the level of phosphorus fertiliser needed, conduct regular, ongoing soil testing (Olsen P or an equivalent, recognised soil test) at the block scale to monitor trends, patterns and the impacts of nutrient management decisions.
  • Leave an unfertilised strip as a buffer zone beside creeks, drains and storm water flood zones. Allow more distance as slopes become steeper.


More information on the GMPs

Your industry group representatives have developed sector-specific information that expands on the industry agreed Good Management Practices. Visit their website to take a look at some more detail on what’s relevant for your farm.

For more information on reaching GMP for water quality on your farm, call us at 0800 326 636 and ask to speak to your local land management advisor.