Farm Environment Plan (FEP)


A farm environment plan (FEP) is a tool which helps farmers recognise on-farm environmental risks and can assist the farmer to set out a programme to manage those risks.

FEPs are unique to a property and reflect the landscape setting (i.e., climate and soils), the type of farming operation, and the goals and aspirations of the land user.

The level of complexity of a FEP will largely depend on how much farm system change is underway or being considered.

Your local Regional Council’s planning legislation and/or resource consent for land use, water use, or effluent discharge will describe what information should be present in your FEP.

Usually this will be:

  1. A Farm Map showing the areas of environmental risks

  2. A description of Good Management Practices (GMPs) you intend to implement on farm to manage the identified risks.

This should include:

  1. Setting out the objectives of what you want to meet.

  2. Identifying all relevant farming activities and GMPs already in place, practices you wish to improve, and plans to achieve those improvements.

  3. The assessment of all risks to water quality, current and potential.

  4. Identifying how and when you will take action to mitigate risks.

  5. showing how you plan to review the planned actions (e.g., carry out a self-audit annually).

  6. A Nutrient Management Plan

    • Providing an annual actual OVERSEER® nutrient budget for your property or
    • Nutrient management plan GMPs where OVERSEER is not applicable.

To aid in your Farm Environment Planning we recommend:

  • Utilising industry templates for recording key information – such as water use, fertiliser inputs, spray diaries, planting dates, paddock rotation, feed inputs and composition, stock numbers and production outputs or yield.

  • Some regional councils and industry groups may have approved consistent templates to assist in preparing FEPs.

  • Mixed systems may need to combine or adapt existing FEP templates to suit their farms requirements.


A FEP is a way of recording your plans and progress towards achieving ‘good management practice’ and shows you are doing the right thing.

The Good Management Practices component of FEPs encourage farmers to:

  • Manage farming operations to minimise direct and indirect losses of sediment and nutrients to water, and maintain or enhance soil structure, where agronomically appropriate.

  • Manage periods when soil is exposed between crops/pasture to reduce risk of erosion, overland flow and leaching.

  • Identify risk of overland flow of sediment and faecal bacteria on the property and implement measures to minimise transport of these to waterbodies.

  • Locate and manage farm tracks, gateways, water troughs, self-feeding areas, stock camps, wallows, and other sources of run-off to minimise risks to water quality.

  • Exclude stock from waterways, to the extent that is compatible with landform, stock class and intensity.

  • Identify risks and mitigations associated with the winter period.

  • Monitor soil nutrient levels and maintain them at or below the agronomic optimum for the farm system.

Explore the SCIENCE and MAPS sections to help you understand and identify risk areas and find ACTIONS to manage the identified risk.

What is Overseer and how does it work?

Overseer is a nutrient budgeting tool. It incorporates 30 years of scientific research into a user-friendly online software that analyses nutrient flows on farm and produces nutrient budgets for seven key farm nutrients, as well as greenhouse gas emissions and farm-gate product footprints. It now has a carbon stock tool that enables farmers to estimate the carbon sequestration potential from existing and planned tree blocks.

Overseer allows farmers to assess how efficiently their farm systems use the available nutrients, including where hot spots of nutrient loss may occur on farm, and how planned changes in farm practices will impact that. This allows farmers and their advisers to make more informed decisions about nutrient management, potentially saving them money, improving their farm’s productivity and profitability, and lifting environmental performance.

However, it is important to note that there are challenges in representing the complex realities of the real world in tools and models. It is important to consider the limitations and uncertainties associated with the outputs. Therefore models, such as Overseer, should be used in conjunction with other tools or expert advice to guide to support good management decisions.