Hurunui landowners now need to identify nutrient loss figures

Landowners in the Hurunui and Waiau river catchments need to know their property’s nutrient loss figures, required under the Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan, which became operative in December 2013.

“The plan aims to maintain and improve water quality by setting catchment-wide limits for key nutrients, said David Bedford, an Environment Canterbury Commissioner and a member of the Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee set up as part of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

"Improved nutrient management in the Hurunui-Waiau zone is crucial if we are going to provide for both more development as well as better environmental and cultural outcomes, as envisaged by the zone committee.

“The plan encourages land-users to become more aware of and involved in nutrient management as part of the catchment-wide approach to improving water quality.”

Farmers who aren’t already using Overseer® to assess their nutrient management will need to start a nutrient budget this year. Producing a nutrient budget is a service provided by a rural professional such as a fertiliser representative, farm advisor or consultant.

“Knowing how much nitrogen and phosphorus is leaching from properties is critical because the plan sets nutrient concentrations for the wider catchment as well as load limits for the Hurunui River, where the phosphorus load has already been exceeded.”

The plan’s loads for nitrogen and phosphorus are measured in the Hurunui River at the SH1 bridge and the limits are based on the average level between 2005 and 2010. The nutrient limits in the plan are designed to protect fish and other aquatic animals from nitrate toxicity, as well as meeting drinking water standards.

“For farmers, the plan means they need to start monitoring their nutrient loss and looking for ways to minimise leaching and nutrient runoff.”

Farmers planning land use change also need to seek advice as the plan restricts activities where increased nutrient losses of more than 10% may result.

A resource consent may also be required if a farmer is looking at intensifying or changing land use. Examples of land use change include dairy conversions, wintering of cattle, new or increased irrigation, changed stocking types or rates and deforestation.

Land users are advised to talk to Environment Canterbury (0800 324 636) if they have questions about the plan or are thinking about a significant land use change.

For more information: http://ecan.govt.nz/our-responsibilities/regional-plans/hwrrp/Pages/Default.aspx