You may have seen the Government has released a new winter grazing module – this is basically guidance to farmers and industry groups on what to consider and document when planning your forage cropping and grazing activities over winter. This guidance is non-regulatory. Our advice to farmers remains unchanged – follow best practice, ensure you have a documented plan in place for this winter, keep an eye out for B+LNZ forage cropping workshops and resources.
B+LNZ’s North Island General Manager Corina Jordan says the Government’s module draws from B+LNZ’s new forage cropping farm plan chapter – the material in this chapter also informed the farmer-led Southland Winter Grazing Advisory Group’s recommendations (which were released in December 2020).
“That material used the best research available, tested by farmer learning. It sets out practical steps farmers can take to manage the environmental and animal welfare risks from winter grazing on forage crops, and is more outcomes-based and practical than the rigid resowing and pugging rules the Government was originally intending to implement this year.”
Corina says what the Government has announced this week shouldn’t be confused with ‘the rules’.
“There’s still a lot of work to do to get the unworkable aspects of the original winter grazing rules removed. B+LNZ is still working with other industry groups to get the pugging regulations, re-sowing dates and slope rules permanently removed.
“The Government has put the rules on hold for 12 months, but in return it has indicated it’s looking for farmers to have a written plan in place and be implementing good farming practices this winter.
“That means we need to support farmers to get it right this winter. Continued good practice by farmers this year will provide us with a strong case for the removal of the unworkable winter grazing rules.
“The best way to access support will be by attending a workshop on the winter forage cropping chapter of the B+LNZ farm plan.”
Corina says B+LNZ is aware many farmers already have a plan for this winter, and notes there’s still value in attending a workshop.
Farmers can double-check their plans are consistent with the new guidance, document their plans, and also start to plan for next winter.
“We’re also working with other industry groups on a checklist that farmers can use – this won’t help you write a plan but it will be a useful reference to check your wintering practices against what’s recommended.”
Look out in the events section of e-diaries for dates for workshops on forage cropping.