Gisborne Farm Environment Plan requirements

Farm Environment Plan and waterway setback requirements for vegetable and cropping growers

Horticulture New Zealand, Vegetables New Zealand and NZGAP, with the help of Leaderbrand and the Gisborne Produce Growers Association, have been working with Gisborne District Council on an agreed approach to approving growers who meet the requirements of Rule 6.2.9(3) of the Tairāwhiti Resource Management Plan.


Part (a) of the rule: submit a Farm Environment Plan (FEP) by 1 May 2021

Commercial vegetables and cropping growers (see definitions below) who operate on more than one hectare of land (leased and/or owned) need to have submitted a Farm Environment Plan to Council by 1 May 2021.

Definitions from Council’s Tairāwhiti Resource Management Plan:

'Commercial vegetable growing':
Using an area of land greater than 1 ha for producing vegetable crops for human consumption, which may be undertaken on a rotational basis, but managed as a single operation. It does not include perennial crops.

Using an area of land in excess of 1 hectare to grow annual crops other than commercial vegetable crops. This definition does not include crops grazed on by animals from the same property. This definition also includes seed crops.

If you intensively farm animals, you may also be captured by this rule. See Council’s website for more information on this and if it applies to you.

Without a submitted Farm Environment Plan, growers will need to apply for resource consent to continue to operate.

Council approved pathways to meet part (a) of the rule:

  • The approved industry approach is for growers using the Environment Management System (EMS) add-on to submit their FEP to NZGAP for audit and certification, and for NZGAP to report on progress and status to Council.
  • For growers using the Council process and FEP (or other approved) template, the requirement is for those FEPs to be submitted directly to Council for review and sign-off.

Nutrient budgets for your growing operations are a requirement of part (a) of the rule. The nutrient budget guideline provides an overview of how and when to develop your nutrient budget using the LandWISE budget templates.


Part (b) of the rule: cultivation setbacks to waterways must be in place before any new cultivation from 1 July 2021.

By 1 July 2021, no cultivation within 5 metres of a waterway is allowed, unless a grower can demonstrate to Council that they are managing the risk to waterway(s) appropriately.

Gisborne District Council’s Tairāwhiti Resource Management Plan states:

“From 1 July 2021, no cultivation is undertaken within 5 metres of the edge of any modified watercourse, permanent or intermittent stream, except where the Farm Environment Plan can demonstrate that a smaller setback of at least 1 metre can occur without adversely impacting on the quality of receiving waterbody and this is certified by the Consent Authority.”

The industry setback guidance document provides more information on the rule and the process for growers to prioritise their FEP actions.

NZGAP has created an additional FEP Template checklist 6H. Growers can use this tool to plan their setbacks / alternative mitigations in your FEP.

Council still has an overarching role in monitoring and compliance for both the EMS add-on pathway and the direct Council pathway.

Rule 6.2.9(3) (a) and (b) does not apply to permanent orchards.