The AIC Environmental Collective was established by the Amuri Irrigation Company (AIC) in early 2013. The Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee asked AIC to take a leadership role and establish an Environmental Collective to help deliver better water quality in exchange for a delay in the implementation of new minimum river flow limits on the Hurunui and Waiau Rivers. AIC was the first Collective in Canterbury with an Irrigation Scheme Management Plan. Farmers are required to demonstrate that they are farming at a ‘best practise’ standard defined by our own industry known as Good Management Practice (GMP).  A farm’s level of GMP is assessed through the auditing of its Farm Environment Plan (FEP). Even if you receive an “A” grade, you are required to continually improve as GMP develops and standards change. Likewise, if  receive a “D” grade it means you have the opportunity to improve and you need to work out a formalised plan to improve on what you have in place. Membership for the Collective extends beyond AIC shareholders and now includes most of the larger irrigators from across the Amuri, Hawarden and Hanmer Basins.

AIC Environmental Collective membership (May 2018)

Total membership 173
AIC Shareholder Members 143
Non-shareholder Independent Members 30 (+2 pending)*
Total FEPs on File 162**
Area (ha) covered by shareholder FEPs 56,424
Area (ha) covered by Independents FEPs 28,307
Total area (ha) covered by Collective managed FEPs 84,731

*Membership needs to be approved by Environmental Subcommittee

**Several independents and new AIC shareholders joined in 2017 and are awaiting FEPs.  The preparation of FEPs was put on hold until auditing completed.  A new AIC FEP Template is currently being developed and all farms will be transferred to new templates by the end of 2019.

Executive Summary

  1. The 2017-18 auditing round took place from October 2017 to March 2018 auditing 106 farms. Of those audits, 83% are either at GMP or on track to achieve GMP for all management areas audited.

 

Total audits undertaken 106
Number of first audits 51
Number of repeat audits 54
Audits by farm type:  
Dairy 61
Beef & Sheep 23
Dairy Support 18
Other 4

 

2. Almost all farms had a fit for purpose nutrient budget available for auditing which was a significant improvement from the previous audit round. Many farmers took advantage of the AIC/TAG Nutrient Budget service to get cost effective budgets prepared. The nutrient budgets are a valuable and cost-effective resource for educating farmers, targeting on-farm inefficiencies and improving N use efficiency.

3. A large sample of dairy, beef and sheep and dairy support farms were audited (61 Dairy, 23 Beef and Sheep, 18 Dairy Support and 4 Other) enabling some comparison by farm type. About half of all audits, mostly dairy farms, were repeat audits.

4. The results, and in particular those for re-audited farms, indicates that the Collective is making good progress in moving farms towards GMP across all management areas. Audit Grades: A: 19 (18%), B: 69 (65%), C: 17 (16%) and D: 1 (<1%) Almost a quarter of re-audited farms achieving an A grade in 2017/18 compared to around 10% of A grades in the first round of auditing in 2015/16.

5. Different farm types show different relative strengths and weaknesses between management areas. Results suggest that an effective programme for moving farms to GMP will need to be targeted to the needs of each farm type.

6. The analysis of the nutrient losses from the various farms audited suggests a complicated set of scenarios. With each farm type, and even individual farms within a type, potentially making a significant contribution to nutrient losses to water in ways that are masked by looking only at a single average rate of N loss to water expressed as kg/N/ha/yr.

7. Analysis by farm type suggests different farms have different starting points, different strengths and weaknesses and pose a range of potential environmental risks. Therefore maintaining momentum to move towards GMP will require a range of approaches and blanket measures or requirements are unlikely to be successful.

 You can view a copy of AIC’s Environmental Manager, Alastair Rutherford’s full report here May 2018 Audit Report