Media release

Media release: ORC farm flyovers beginning this week for 2023 season

Friday 24 March 2023

The Otago Regional Council is about to begin its first farm flyovers for the Intensive Winter Grazing season, which will also be looking at any large land disturbance such as forestry or earth works around waterways.

It is intended there will, in coming months be three flyovers over the region, broken into three flights per flyover, with the first flyover happening over North Otago this week. Areas around South Otago and Central Otago will follow.

These flights are one tool in the toolbox when it comes to monitoring activities in Otago.

ORC’s Principal Compliance Specialist, Mike Cummings says each flyover is about gathering information and then having talks with people before anything happens.

“These are part of our proactive approach to Compliance. We’re looking out for things like forestry, any machinery which is working in or around our streams, rivers and wetlands and of course Intensive Winter Grazing (IWG) practices,” he says.


2022 a ‘massive positive change’ for IWG

Mr Cummings says last year’s flyovers found there had been “a massive positive change” in IWG practices compared to previous years, now that farmers were coming to understand how the rules, which came out in 2020, apply to their practices.

“It was great to see the on-farm changes last year and we are hoping to see the same level of practice this year, if not better given the level of engagement from the community” Mr Cummings said.


Aerial flyover


“The flyovers are also for gathering information about any type of large land disturbance such as forestry or earth works around waterways,” he says.

Mr Cummings says while the ORC maintains an education first philosophy, if reports of breaches of the rules are significant, then appropriate steps will be taken.

He says ORC will be actively monitoring the IWG season, with not only the flyovers, but site visits, and will be responding to complaints and other information received. Complaints or information about IWG practices, or any other activities can be made to ORC’s Pollution Hotline, 0800 800 033.

“We are here to help, and we will be focusing on some areas for greater attention based on criteria including historic satellite imagery combined with where farmers haven’t yet obtained consent,” Mr Cummings says.

ORC’s Manager Compliance Tami Sargeant says staff are working closely with Dairy NZ, Beef + Lamb NZ, Deer NZ, Fonterra and Federated Farmers to support farmers.

“We want to ensure farmers have the information and advice they need to manage their farm with minimal risk to the environment,” she says.


ORC’s IWG consenting workshops underway

Mr Cumming highlighted that IWG applications by farmers should be in by mid-April, to ensure consents are in place by 1 May.

Earlier this month, ORC’s annual series of farmer workshops for (IWG) consenting got underway, with 10-12 workshops being held at up to nine locations during the next four weeks.

Three workshops have been completed at Moeraki, Ranfurly and Middlemarch, but farmers can still attend Hawea/Luggate, Catlins, Papakaio and Five Forks’ workshops.

Two further workshops are being arranged at Lawrence and Milton (am/pm), on 27 April.


28 March 2023, 4-6:30pm Wai Wānaka, 185 Riverbank Road
Register for the Hawea / Luggate workshop


29 March 9:30-11:30am, Papakaio Community Hall
Register for the Papakaio workshop

Five Forks

29 March 1-3pm, Five Forks Hall
Register for the Five Forks workshop


4 April 10am-12 noon, 1pm-3pm, Catlins Search and Rescue
Register for the Owaka morning workshop
Register for the Owaka afternoon workshop


ORC’s Acting Manager Consents Alexandra King says if farmers are unsure of how to put an IWG resource consent together, they should consider attending one of the remaining workshops where they should be able to complete their consents “on the spot”.

“The focus of the workshop sessions is on how we can help people and these workshops are hands on,” she says.


What farmers need to bring to workshops

  1. Whole Farm Map
  2. Individual Paddock Maps of Forage Crops for 2023
  3. Any existing relevant Farm Plans, Grazing Management Plans and information on soils,
    slope i.e. from consultants, Beef+Lamb, DairyNZ, NZFAP etc. Please note this is not needed
    but if you have this information already it may be useful to bring along.


Other resources