Te Kunenga Ki Pūrehuroa Massey University has a launched a new February 2024 intake for its popular Fresh Water Farm Planning online courses.
In 2020, in response to declining freshwater quality across the country, the government announced the Essential Freshwater Package.
New Zealand’s freshwater is under increasing pressure from drinking and irrigation water supply schemes, loss of wetlands, climate change and run-off from urban and rural settings that can cause contamination.
A critical part of the Essential Freshwater Package is the Freshwater Farm Plans (FWFPs). FWFPs are a tool for farmers and land managers to identify the strengths and risks of their land and farming systems and help target resources towards actions that will achieve better freshwater and business outcomes.
Massey runs intermediate and advanced Fresh Water Farm Planning courses to provide rural advisers and farmers with the skills and knowledge required to produce high-quality FWFPs. The government finalised FWFP regulation in June 2023 and these courses are updated yearly to be consistent with changes in rules and regulations.
Course co-ordinator Associate Professor Lucy Burkitt and lecturer Dr Callum Rees from Massey’s Farmed Landscapes Research Centre (FLRC) in the School of Agriculture and Environment deliver the courses and complete research on strategies to reduce the impacts of agricultural management on freshwater.
“The strength of our training course is that students gain an understanding of how water and contaminants move from the farm to freshwater. This is critical if we want to effectively target actions to achieve the FWFP and Essential Freshwater objectives of reducing risks to freshwater and bringing waterways and ecosystems to a healthy state within a generation,” Burkitt said.
“Now that the government has finalised the regulations, our courses and templates have been updated to reflect the new requirements. This means anyone taking our courses learns the relevant knowledge and skills required to develop comprehensive FWFPs and that they receive up-to-date, constructive feedback on how to improve their plans.”
The courses focus on understanding farm systems and physical farm resources so that participants can identify their own farm’s strengths and risks, and suggest sensible, realistic actions to help target resources towards achieving good freshwater and business outcomes. This includes understanding the local river or waterway context and inherent vulnerabilities associated with a particular farm, Rees said.