Rural land and water management

The way land is managed ultimately affects the quality of water in streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands and ultimately coastal environments.

Good land management is important to ensure that the quality of these waterbodies is protected now and in the future.

Why is land management important?

Soil resources have made an important contribution to the growth, prosperity and diversity of the Auckland region. Poor land management practices can lead to soil degradation, or the loss of soil’s physical, chemical or biological properties. The loss of any of these properties may seriously compromise a soil’s productive capability.

Soil erosion and the leaching of nutrient from soil can also have a negative impact on our waterways and subsequently our harbours.

Eroded sediment smothers stream habitats making waterways uninhabitable for much of our native stream life. Run-off can also add surplus nutrients to stream systems leading to excess weed growth or algal blooms downstream.

You can help by:

  • managing your farm practices to prevent nutrient and soil loss
  • managing your waterways and riparian margins
  • installing adequate farm systems (e.g. effluent storage on dairy farms).

Effects on waterways

Sediments, nutrients and effluents are contaminants, and can lead to the following problems in our waterways:

  • E.coli from faecal contamination is a human health risk.
  • Murky water, affecting native fish and insects (including the banded kokopu and other whitebait species) by destroying habitats, clogging the gills of fish, and affecting their hunting and feeding ability.
  • Increased aquatic weed growth.
  • Pathogens (e.g. liver fluke) and other contaminants such as pesticides causing stock health problems and making water unfit for stock drinking and other water uses.
  • Blockages and flooding downstream.
  • Negative effects on sea life in estuaries and coastal areas.
  • Negative impacts on cultural and recreational values.

Effects on your farm

Te Hana landslide. Soil loss from surface erosion harms your crop yield, because it removes the topsoil. The topsoil contains the nutrients and other inputs needed for plant growth, and once it is lost it cannot be replaced.

Soil compaction and degradation from poor grazing management also affect the productivity of your soil.

Good land management has benefits for your farm:

  • Protecting soil resources (i.e. from erosion and compaction) protects the production potential of your soil both now and in the long term.
  • More efficient fertiliser and effluent use (i.e. applying fertiliser to crop requirements and recycling animal effluents) saves you money.
  • Stock exclusion and riparian protection leads to easier stock control when mustering, and reduced stock loss or injury.
  • Pasture management is optimized by keeping stock away from riparian margins and poor quality wetland grasses.
  • Keeping livestock away from streams with poor water quality reduces the likelihood of stock illness (e.g. liver fluke).

What we doRiparian planting.

Auckland Council deals with a wide range of rural land users, from dairy and dry stock farmers to forestry operators and commercial cropping units.

Some of the activities we engage in:

  • Supporting community and industry group programmes to enhance the environment.
  • Investigating the reasons for poor water quality results discovered during monitoring.
  • Developing factsheets and educational materials on land and water good management practices.
  • Assisting with the development of new land management tools and sharing innovations with industry representatives.
  • Supporting and advising farmers and rural landowners on ways of securing funding for environmental works.
  • Providing land management advice about soil conservation, riparian management and nutrient management.

Ballance Farm Awards

Auckland Council and the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust ensure the region’s farmers and horticulturists are eligible to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The awards encourage sustainable land management and reinforce that profitability does not need to come at the expense of our environment.

Participating in the awards is a stimulating, informative and enjoyable way to benchmark your farm with other like-minded farmers.

All entrants go through a judging process which considers:

  • the entire environment your farm operates within
  • sustainable profitability
  • environmental awareness
  • good business practices
  • social and community responsibility.

Visit the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust website for details, including when and how to enter.


Factsheets and resources

Dairy farming

To help you meet compliance on your farm:
Dairy farm effluent compliance checklist (PDF 629KB)


From the Franklin Sustainability Project (FSP), an industry document outlining best practice for sediment and erosion control on commercial cropping properties:
Soil and drainage management guide (PDF 369KB)

Erosion Management

For information on managing erosion, see the Soil Conservation Technical Handbook on the Ministry for the Environment website.

Waterway Management

How to design a riparian planting project:
Riparian zone management guidelines, Technical Publication 148 (PDF 941KB)

For information on designing stock crossings, see Culvert and Bridge Construction: Guidelines for Farmers on the Ministry for the Environment website

Effective Land Management

Find out about the Land Management Advisors and their work in your region:
Effective land management factsheet (PDF 536KB)

Soil Management

See the Visual Soil Assessment field guides on the Landcare Research website.

Riparian Management

See Auckland Council's Riparian Factsheet:
Streamside Planting Guide (PDF 506KB)


Contact us

For more information, contact us.

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