Fresh Water Farm Plans

Freshwater farm plan regulations are being rolled out across New Zealand from now to the end of 2025.  These will identify practical actions on-orchard to address risks to water quality.  Actions will be tailored to a particular orchard’s physical environment & what is important within the catchment the orchard is located in.

Farmers and growers who have 20 hectares or more in arable or pastoral use, 5 hectares or more in horticultural use, or 20 hectares or more of combined use will need a freshwater farm plan.  Where an orchard meets one or more of these thresholds, a freshwater farm plan is required for the full property.

Freshwater farm plans have been legislated under Part 9A of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and the Resource Management (Freshwater Farm Plans) Regulations 2023 (the regulations).  The regulations set out the requirements for the content of freshwater farm plans, as well as certification, auditing and information requirements.

Freshwater farms plans are now required in parts of the Waikato and Southland regions.  There are no kiwifruit orchards in Southland.  Within the Waikato Region, the regulations came into effect in the Waipā freshwater management unit (FMU) on 1 August 2023, and the remaining FMU and freshwater catchments in the Waikato will be rolled out between 1 January 2024 and 1 July 2025.  Confirmation of timing for remaining regions to rollout FWFP’s will be confirmed by MfE early in 2024.  The Bay of Plenty Region is not expected to have regulations switch on until 2025.

Growers in areas where freshwater farm plan regulations are in effect will have 18 months to prepare their first plan for certification.

Zespri and HortNZ are both working on projects to help growers to prepare freshwater farm plans.

  • Zespri is developing and piloting a digital tool in the Waikato later this year that will help step growers through the development of  their Freshwater Farm Plans and you will hear more about that through the usual NZKGI and Zespri communication channels. If the pilot is successful, further decisions will made on how and when the tool will be rolled out to growers in other regions – this will most likely be phased in line with regulation rollout.  The intent long-term is to integrate freshwater farm plans into Zespri GAP when regulations and system capability permits.
  • “Growing Change” is a three-year partnership between Horticulture New Zealand and the Ministry for the Environment.  The project aims to build capacity and capability within the horticulture sector, and enduring support for growers, to deliver Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) freshwater farm plans.

The following regional council web pages will provide more information for your region, including (for Waikato) the date that the regulations are activated in your FMU and when you need to submit your freshwater farm plan for certification, and for other regions, proposed commencement dates where available:

Current as of: 1:55pm 07/09/2023