What is a Farm Environment Plan (FEP)?
Farm Environment Plans (FEP) are a tool to help farmers identify environmental risks, record good management practices and document actions for improvement on their farms. They are specific to the farm and its topography, soils, climate, and type of farming operation. The complexity of the FEP depends upon all these factors along with the plans of the landowner.
For Fonterra, developing an FEPs involves Sustainable Dairy Advisors (SDAs) visiting supplier farms to complete the plans Fonterra set the goal of having FEPs in place for all supplier farms by 2025 and needed a better way of developing more comprehensive plans including biodiversity. That led Fonterra to create the Tiaki Farm Environment Plan digital tool (App) that would be easy to complete and use on farm.
What was the purpose of Living Water being involved with developing the Fonterra FEP App?
Fonterra had assistance from the Living Water partnership to develop the App and incorporating biodiversity considerations into their FEPs. The partnership gave Fonterra staff access to the expertise of Department of Conservation (DOC) staff working in Living Water. The partnership enabled Living Water to support the acceleration of farm environment planning and action on Fonterra farms and to ensure freshwater ecosystem and biodiversity considerations were included in FEPs.
Who could use an FEP App?
Sustainable Dairying Advisors, farm consultants, farmers, other rural landowners (including lifestyle block owners, and forestry owners/managers).
How was the App developed?
App development work commenced in late 2016. Various prototype versions were tested on farm throughout 2017 by Living Water and Fonterra’s SDAs. By 2018 the FEP digitisation project was completed, and the App was ready to use. Replacing paper templates with an online App has halved the amount of time SDAs spend developing FEPs for suppliers and is a ‘living document’ that can be regularly updated and used on farm, unlike paper documents that get filed and forgotten. As at August 2021, 40% [SY1] of farms have FEPs and Fonterra is on-track to meet its target. Fonterra is now interested in developing the depth and specificity of biodiversity information contained in FEPs and providing more support for farmers to act.
What did Living Water learn from participating in developing the App?
Living Water’s involvement has led to greater awareness and acceptance of the role of Fonterra farmers and staff in protecting and enhancing biodiversity. SDAs are now seeking out additional biodiversity information or enhancement tools to support their farmers, such as the Waikato River Authority’s native planting guide. The relationship with DOC through the Living Water partnership has opened-up a broader conversation within Fonterra about the role of dairy farming in protecting and enhancing biodiversity. Biodiversity is now a key consideration in The Co-operative Difference, Fonterra’s on-farm sustainability framework. An increased awareness of biodiversity within Fonterra field staff, and a growing acceptance amongst farmers and staff of their role in protecting and enhancing biodiversity is a significant change in mindset. Fonterra dairy farms with FEPs will result in improved environmental performance and deliver benefits to the wider community and New Zealand.
Where is more information available about the Fonterra FEP App?
Completed in 2016
Started in January 2017 and completed June 2018