WIT Press

Using Individual Farm Management Plans To Manage Land Use Change Effects Associated With New Irrigation Development, Canterbury, New Zealand


Free (open access)





Page Range

133 - 141




749 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


B. Ellwood, L. Mead, C. Mulcock & S Dawson


Managing the environmental effects arising from intensive agriculture has become a key issue in obtaining permission to abstract water for irrigation in New Zealand. Hunter Downs Irrigation (HDI) is a proposed irrigation scheme that would divert approximately 20 m3/s of flow from the Waitaki River to 40,000 hectares of lands in Canterbury, New Zealand. In addition to carrying out extensive assessments of potential environmental effects of the proposed scheme, it also needed to demonstrate how it would be able to implement and maintain ongoing environmental management of irrigated agriculture. Many of the effects arising from the new development are not readily quantifiable in advance, as they depend on the particular mix of land uses that will be established once the scheme is commissioned. These may also change over time as they will depend not only on the biophysical environment (soils, topography, climate etc.) but also on market drivers and other economic signals. As the area supplied by this scheme is suitable for a range of land uses, the challenge was to provide sufficient certainty to regulatory agencies and to the public that adverse environmental effects generated by the irrigation scheme will be minimised and that poor practices can either be avoided or can be identified and remedied. At the same time farmers needed to have sufficient flexibility to develop a wide range of agricultural enterprises. To achieve this an environmental management system was developed that requires each farmer to develop and use an environmental farm management plan that is linked to a rigorous audit and compliance regime, and continuous improvement process, so that farmers maintain up to date practices and by doing this it is assumed that the environmental effects are the lowest possible for an irrigated agricultural system. Keywords: Environmental Management System (EMS), irrigation management.


Environmental Management System (EMS), irrigation management.