Planning ahead for winter forage crop management

// Forage Cropping

The 1 May application date has passed for farmers requiring a resource consent to graze their winter forage crops this year, but it's not too late to put together a wintering plan.

winter grazing

Under the new Intensive Winter Grazing regulations, farmers whose wintering practices do not meet the permitted activity criteria need a resource consent, and applications for these were due by 1 May. 

Heather McKay, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Environment Policy Manager, suggests that anyone who might have missed the deadline, or is unsure of their responsibilities, can still contact their regional council.

“This is the first year of these new rules and councils have indicated they are taking an educative approach to implementation. They have staff who understand what is required and who will support farmers as they work through their regulatory requirements.”

Mrs Mackay is encouraging all farmers grazing forage crops this winter to put together a wintering plan before the onset of the cold weather.

This plan will help identify any risks to either the environment or animal welfare associated with intensive winter grazing and allow strategies to be put in place to mitigate them. Winter plans also help ensure the whole farm team knows what is required of them as they manage these crops over the winter months.

She says anecdotal reports from regional councils confirm that wintering practices have improved significantly in recent years, and she is encouraging farmers to carry on the great work by putting plans in place that protect soil and water resources while ensuring livestock is well-fed and comfortable.  

“B+LNZ has winter plan templates available which makes the process very simple. Farmers know their farms better than anyone; they know where critical source areas are and which paddocks are more vulnerable in wet weather. The planning template taps into this knowledge and ensures that practices are documented if ever proof was required to meet regulatory or market requirements.”