Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective
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December 2015 
Dear <<First Name>>
As another year comes to a close, we've been reflecting on what we've achieved. We've spent many hours at meetings about the draft nutrient rules when they could have been spent on the farm. On a positive note we've shown that we can, and will continue to, work collaboratively with Councils and landowners. We'll continue to push for an Accord that reinforces Council's commitment to change tack in line with new science. We have showcased some great farming practices happening around the catchment - take a look at our new website section - 'Our stories'. The Collective's SFF project concluded this year with some promising results. Developing our Strategic Plan this year has also been valuable for focusing our efforts. 

We hope you have a great Christmas with family and friends. Let's hope Santa brings us plenty of rain to keep the stock happy. We look forward to catching up again in the new year. Happy reading! Remember, everything you read here is on our website -
One thing I have learnt in doing this job is never miss an opportunity to talk to someone of influence.  While waiting for a plane in Wellington at the end of last week I had the opportunity to get in Doug Leeder’s ear again about the Collective’s concerns. He couldn't escape and had no choice but to listen. I encourage you to take these opportunities to put your point of view across. 

Hot off the press... the draft nutrient rules will be notified on 29 February 2016 - about bloody time! We'll keep pushing for workable compromises  though the submission process. Read below for further info about this. 

Our congratulations to Christina Walker on the completion of her production 'A Milkman's Paradox'. Christina, a Fulbright scholar from America, recently hosted a viewing of her film which shows how individual families feel about the imposing nutrient reduction rules. A link will become available to view from the Collective website once the scheduled film screenings have been completed.
A lot of work has gone into the Farm Nutrient Management Reports. We have asked questions on the legal implications, status of leased land and acceptance of the Sustainable Milk Plans. One point that has come out of this process is to show whether or not a farm is compliant with the property Rule 11 benchmark. 

Every farmer in the catchment needs to apply to Regional Council for their provisional Nitrogen Discharge Allowance (pNDA). You do not need to engage in the whole Farm Management plan process at this point unless you choose to. Your pNDA will give you some understanding of the reduction needed in your farming system from the system you operated in 2001-2004, the benchmark years. We're interested in compiling a few case study scenarios to prove our point to Councillors as to how difficult the reduction rules will be to meet. If you are prepared to give your figures please contact a member of the Collective executive.

A group of farmers helped to progress our many questions on the science of the lake and catchment with members of BOPRC's Land Technical Advisory Group. Questions covered Overseer issues, farm systems research, phosphorus & nitrogen ratios, and water science. They have agreed to answer the two pages of concerns submitted. There was some agreement on a ground water boundary validation meeting to discuss this issue. With the latest changes in Overseer Version 6.2 it has become apparent that truth testing of location & drainage calculations of the podzol soils is needed quickly. S maps are the accepted NZ register of soil types but there has been no recent local analysis done. We have asked Council to prioritise this science.

At the Special General Meeting held in October we presented an alternative option for Rules that we had been promoting to Regional Council. We can now report that the Opt In option is no longer tenable.
We are now putting our efforts into negotiating an Agreement/Accord in a similar way to the Oturoa Agreement, to be signed by stakeholders involved in the nutrient debate. This will give undertakings of the Regional Council's intent to review the science and if necessary change the direction of the Regional Water and Land Plan Rules and Regional Policy Statement, irrespective of the staff or Councillors of the day. 

I hope you all have a merry Christmas and enjoy some well deserved time out relaxing with family and friends.

From Neil Heather, Co-Chair of the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective
Nutrient Rules to be Notified 29th February 2016 
On 14th December BOPRC decided to notify the new nutrient rules for the Lake Rotorua catchment. Leap day 2016 is the actual plan change notification day. Everyone will have until 15 April 2016 to make submissions on the proposed plan change. The Collective will consult with its members so it can make a comprehensive submission on the good, the bad and the ugly bits of the plan change. We’ll start this process with a members meeting early in the new year.

The Collective’s position will partly depend on things outside of the plan change itself, especially: 
  • what do the higher recent Overseer nitrogen leaching numbers mean for farmers’ ability to meet the limits in the new rules, and
  • what political assurances can be given in an “Accord” about BOPRC’s willingness to amend the plan in future if science shows us there is a better way of keeping the lake clean while protecting farmer livelihoods.
You can read the current version of the draft rules here
Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching
Rotorua farmers will need practical and cost-effective mitigation options to meet the new Nitrogen Discharge Allowances. Many other NZ farmers are facing similar challenges and scientists are busy looking for solutions with support from Government and the farming industry. One such programme is called “Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching” (FRNL).

The FRNL programme aims to reduce nitrate leaching losses by 20 percent through delivering proven, adoptable and profitable pasture and forage crop options.  This includes looking at pasture species with lower nitrogen content, cool-season growth or which are deeper rooting e.g. chicory, plantain, Italian ryegrass and lucerne.

Collective member and Parekarangi Trust Chairman Jamie Warbrick hosted a meeting with the FRNL research team on 27th November. Read more 
Stakeholder Advisory Group (StAG) meets for the last time 
StAG members and associates met for the last time on 8th December. A huge effort has been put in over the past three years into developing land use policy aimed at protecting Lake Rotorua. We won’t really know the value of that effort until after the rules and incentives scheme become fully operative. We’ll learn some lessons through a formal independent review of StAG in early 2016. Meanwhile, I’d like to make a few general comments:
  • Workable compromises are critical to getting anywhere
  • The information needs of members are large and challenging to service, especially as members have
    a wide range of technical knowledge
  • Trust takes time to build around the table, and ongoing effort and respect is needed between members and staff 
  • Collaborative policy development with stakeholder input is becoming the norm, so we all need to keep learning how to do it better. It isn’t easy!
Thanks to all those who have invested time around the StAG table. I’d especially like to thank my predecessor Chairman Stuart Morrison, and my occasional deputy Cr Karen Hunt.

Nga mihi, 
StAG Chairman,Tanira Kingi 
Rotorua Lakes Website Upgrade
The Lakes website,, has had an upgrade to make it easier for landowners to find information.
Key changes that have been made include:
  • The link to the Draft Rules, Incentives Programme, Gorse Programme and StAG meetings can be found as soon as you arrive on the home page.
  • A function has been added so that you can do a quick check as to how the rules will affect you . We'll keep this up-to-date as we receive submissions and any rules changes.
  • Users can make comments on news items. We want your feedback on what's happening in the Lakes Programme. It is also an opportunity to ask any questions in a public forum.
It is a responsive site – what does that mean? It's device friendly. Whether you’re on your phone or your iPad the site will change the layout to suit your device.

Did you miss the science presentations on 17 November? 
Professor David Hamilton and Dr Grant Tempero presented their latest research on the long term use of Alum dosing and phosphorus sources into Lake Rotorua. You can view their presentations here
Consultation on national environmental reporting - closes 23 December
The Government is consulting on proposed topics for national environmental reporting for each of the five environmental domains (air, atmosphere and climate, fresh water, land, and marine).  Your feedback will help determine what the topics for environmental reporting will be and shape New Zealand’s environmental reporting. Complete your submission here.
There's local support for Rotorua farmers under stress 
There are professional services out there who can help. Here are some key contacts. Farmers can also contact the Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254. Remember, if you’re really concerned about someone, don’t hesitate to call the police on 111.
Meet Jim Hitchcock from Castlerock Farm
Castlerock Farm, owned by Jim and Barbara Hitchcock is a recognised leader within the dairy industry. Their business goals combine best environmental practice, productive capacity and profitability.

The 206 hectare farm is managed by 50/50 sharemilkers Rhys and Kim Meredith.  This successful partnership between the Hitchcock’s and the Meredith’s has been in place since 2005. They won the BOP Supreme Ballance Farm Environment Award in 2012.  Recognising their collective strengths and abilities the team also won the Ballance Nutrient Management Award and the LIC Dairy Farm Award. 

Jim continues his involvement with the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.  He is the current Chair of the BOP Awards Committee, and was elected as Trustee to the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust in October 2014. Fellow committee members have a lot of respect for him both as a Chairman and a person. “He has good ideas, is straight up with his thoughts and has a very nice way of being firm” says John Mackintosh. Read more
Have your say on technical rules documents
BOPRC is currently seeking comment by 29 January 2016 on three technical documents that will be referenced in the new rules. Two of the documents are NZ-wide codes of practice relating to nutrient management and fertiliser spreading. The third document relates to NDA reference files and the stocking rate table. For more info, click here
Farming's engine room gets an improvement through better science
Rye grass and white clover, the cornerstone of New Zealand's pastoral farming system, are being reinvented by AgResearch scientists.The work could lead to a new generation of grasses and a reduction of the environmental footprint of farmers. Dr Jim Crush believes the scientists' work could help reduce fertiliser inputs.Read more
Waterway and wildlife protection wins
Bay of Plenty Regional Council targets for waterway and wildlife protection were exceeded last year according to a report presented to the Regional Direction and Delivery Committee. By working with landowners, Regional Council staff had protected an additional 61.7 kilometres of the region’s waterways... Read more
New water allocation rules
Region-wide changes are being proposed to the way water is being allocated. Changes are proposed to the daily allowable water take, along with a new requirement to have meters installed in most cases. Resource consent will be triggered for takes that total over 15 cubic metres per day per property (beyond personal and stock watering needs) regardless of the source. Read more
Farmers need to open up, not harden up
Most of us know that life on a farm isn’t always easy – often far from it. Long hours. Cold winters. Dry summers. Falling prices. But I suspect not everyone knows quite how tough it can be. In 2013, there were 22 farmer suicides in New Zealand – that’s a rate 20 per cent higher than in any other working sector. Read more
Rotorua Lakes Council – Councillor numbers shrunk
A last-minute attempt by a group of councillors to have the Rotorua Lakes Council’s election arrangements changed to suit a Federated Farmers submission has fallen flat when they were out-voted. After robust debate regarding the council’s election review, councillors voted 8-5 to go ahead with recommended changes for the next two local government elections. Read more
Dairy NZ Rural Professionals Meeting, Rotorua
Following a theme at recent Tactics events, we will explore “How much this season has changed everything”. Please RSVP to for catering purposes Date: Wednesday 27 January, 4:30 - 6:00pm 
Location: BNZ Partners Centre. Amohau St, Rotorua
Dairy NZ Kaharoa/Mamaku Discussion Group
The Kaharoa/Mamaku Farm Assessment group discusses and investigates the farm system on the host farm. An open forum that utilises the experiences of all members within the group
Date:  Tuesday 2 February, 2016
Venue:  Tony and Margot Cairns. 726 Oturoa Road
29th Annual Fertilizer, Lime and Research Centre (FLRC) Workshop
Integrated Nutrient and Water Management For Sustainable Farming
Date : 9th – 11th February 2016
Location: Massey University, Palmerston North, NZ

Click here for workshop information
2016 Bay Of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards
Celebrating sustainable farming practices that protect and enhance the environment
Date: Friday 26 February 2016
Location: ASB Baypark Stadium, Mt Maunganui

Agri-Women’s Development Trust - Engaging women as critical farming partners
Are you involved in a sheep and beef farming business?  This course engages women as critical farming partners through building business knowledge, skills and confidence.
Date: 31 August - 21 September (4 full-day workshops within this period)
Location: Rotorua, venue TBC
Cost - FREE

Limited to 16 participants. Take a look at the programme brochure here

Would you like to become a member of the Collective?
Three reasons to get involved!

 1. Influence policy that will affect your farm business
 2. Learn about on-farm nutrient management solutions
 3. Get support from fellow farmers and industry bodies

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