Farm Environment Plans

Prioritising on-farm improvements with Farm Environment Plans
In New Zealand, helping our farmer owners establish a Farm Environment Plan (FEP) is our top priority. Each FEP is unique to the farm, identifying areas of existing strength and prioritising improvement actions. 

Since we launched the FEP service in 2018 we have continued to develop our framework and delivery service, listening to feedback from farmers and ensuring they can remain a step ahead of future regulations and the requirements of our customers. 

Helping farmers to achieve Good Farming Practice through FEPs is how we can continue to make the biggest difference to areas such as soil health, water quality and freshwater biodiversity. This year we expanded our framework to include a focus on whakapapa, mahinga kai and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. All new FEPs include these modules and when we revisit farms with earlier FEPs we upgrade to these to include these modules. 

Whakapapa is the relationship between people, places and things and the new FEP module captures each farm’s unique history, recognising the people and their connection to the land over multiple generations. 

Mahinga kai focuses on the value of natural resources – birds, plants, fish, and other animals and resources that sustain life. 

To support the release of our farm-specific GHG emissions reports, our FEPs now include basic information on GHG and advice on how to reduce emissions.

"The whakapapa section is a great addition that captures both contemporary and historical aspects of a farm that can only enhance our Aotearoa-NZ milk story."

Justin Tipa

Fonterra’s Matakahi Māori Development Team

  • Understanding our on-farm emissions

  • Improving on-farm performance

Understanding our on-farm emissions

Understanding the full carbon life cycle for the regions where we collect milk is important to us and our customers, so we regularly commission analysis by AgResearch, an independent New Zealand Government research agency, to help us do this using recognised methodologies and tools. 

The approach considers the full life cycle from feed production (including purchased supplementary feed) to the milk leaving the farm gate. We use this information to estimate our absolute GHG emissions related to farming and to identify opportunities for further reduction. In New Zealand, for the 2018/19 season milk, the estimated cradle-to-farm-gate carbon footprint, including land use change (LUC) is 0.931 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilogram of fat-and-protein-corrected milk (kg CO2-e/kg FPCM). 

Improving on-farm performance

The carbon footprint of New Zealand’s on-farm milk supply is one of the lowest in the world. New Zealand has natural advantages, such as our climate and pasture-based farming system, but it also comes down to the hard graft of our farmers to be as productive and efficient as possible. 

They are farming with improved precision to produce more from less, which in turn has a positive impact on the environment. Over the last 25 years or so, New Zealand farmers have reduced the intensity of their on-farm biological emissions by about 20%. 

But there is more to do – particularly when looking at the overall picture.