Clarifying updated Intensive Winter Grazing regulations

// Forage Cropping

Following the Government’s recent announcement of amendments to Intensive Winter Grazing regulations, Beef + Lamb New Zealand has produced factsheets explaining what these changes mean for farmers.

image of cow grazing in winter crops

B+LNZ’s Environment Policy Manager, Heather McKay, says from November of this year, which is when these regulations come into effect, some farmers may need to make some changes to their intensive wintering practices if they want to avoid having to apply for a resource consent.

“In the two factsheets we have outlined what is allowed as a permitted activity and detail how farmers can apply for a resource consent if their practices fall outside of the permitted activity standards.”

She says the activities the regulations cover includes the area of crop permitted, the proximity of crops to waterways, the re-establishment of vegetation after livestock has finished grazing, pugging, the protection of Critical Source Areas and slope.

The slope regulation is one that farmers may need to start thinking about soon, as they consider where they are going to plant next year’s crop.

Winter forage crops can only be established on land that is 10 degrees or less, determined by measuring the slope over 20 metres.

“In the factsheet we have suggested some tools farmers can use to measure slope, but in some instances, where paddocks exceed that 10-degree limit, farmers will need to apply for a resource consent.”

Heather says that the regulations also allow for the use of a certified freshwater farm plan as an alternative to requiring a resource consent.  However, the Government is still developing the freshwater farm plan regulations so this pathway is not currently available.

“It is unlikely it will be available by the time the intensive winter grazing regulations come into effect in November 2022.”

Heather says B+LNZ was pleased to see that the amendments to regulations relating to pugging, the re-establishment vegetation after grazing and the protection of Critical Source Areas are pragmatic and reflect good practice management for both livestock and the environment.

“We are however encouraging farmers to keep records and photos of their wintering practices so they have evidence available for any regulatory requirements.”

As well as producing factsheets, Heather says B+LNZ is updating all Intensive Winter Grazing tools and resources to ensure farmers have the most up-to-date information when the regulations come into effect later this year.

“Winter forage crops are a valuable part of many sheep and beef systems and we want to support farmers to help them make the best use of these crops while protecting their livestock and soil, water and nutrient resources.”

The factsheets and further resources are available on our dedicated winter grazing information hub