Freshwater farm plan support

Creating freshwater farm plans are new for everyone who needs them. The information here aims to help you get started on your freshwater farm plan and provide some of the information you will need to complete them.


What are my options for developing and certifying a freshwater farm plan?

Anyone can develop a freshwater farm plan, but there are four general pathways:
  1. Develop your plan through an industry programme.
  2. Engage an advisor, consultant or other rural professional to help.
  3. Adapt your existing farm environment plan or other farm plans (for example, Whole Farm Plan formulated as part of SLUI) to meet the requirements of freshwater farm plans.
  4. Develop your own from scratch.
The Ministry for the Environment has created a factsheet to help farmers and growers develop freshwater farm plans. Horizons is working with the ministry and other sector groups to provide additional resources for farmers and growers in the Horizons Region.

Each plan will then need to be certified. Farmers and growers have 18 months from regulations applying in their area to have plans submitted to a certifier. Plans must then be audited within 12 months of certification. Horizons is in the process of appointing certifiers and will have their contact details ready by 1 July 2024. A full list of certifiers will be available via this link.

Freshwater farm plans must be recertified every five years, or sooner if significant changes are made to the farm system. See the Ministry for the Environment's guidelines for what is classed as ‘significant change’, or contact Horizons by calling freephone 0508 800 800 or emailing

What needs to be included in a freshwater farm plan?

A freshwater farm plan must identify the risks of adverse effects of farming activities on wai māori (freshwater), actions to avoid, remedy or mitigate the risks, and timeframes to implement each action.

Each plan will need to include:
  • Administrative details about the farm 
  • Maps 
  • Catchment context, challenges and values 
  • Identification and assessment of risks to wai māori (freshwater) and associated ecosystems
  • Identification of actions with timeframes to avoid, remedy or mitigate effects on wai māori (freshwater) and associated ecosystems.

We have a series of downloadable guides available below to help you tailor your freshwater farm plan to the requirements of your farming operation:

Many farmers and growers have already done similar planning, including Whole Farm Plans under Horizons’ Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI), and mahi (work) under the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme and Good Agricultural Practice scheme.

These plans can be used as a starting point for your freshwater farm plans – if you want more information on how to use your SLUI Whole Farm Plan in particular, please reach out to our Land team for assistance on freephone 0508 800 800 or email with 'SLUI' as the subject.


Each freshwater farm plan needs maps containing key information, which will help to describe the farm operation area, perform risk identification, and for choosing actions to mitigate those risks. Please see the maps section of the Ministry for the Environment’s Developing a Freshwater Farm Plan guidance for a full list. You can also download this printable document for a guide to freshwater farm plan mapping.
You may present the maps in a way that makes most sense to you, providing the requirements are met. This means you can decide on the form and number of maps, and the combination of features you display on each map.
We've created a viewer to help you find a number of maps relevant to freshwater farm planning. The maps will help you find soils or erosion risks likely to be in your area, determining where stock exclusion regulations apply, and more.

Click here for the map viewer

Regional Information

There is a map of Land Use Capability legends which overlap with the Horizons region in the map viewer. You can get background information on these Land Use Capability legends via these links:


Certifiers and auditors

You will find a list of certifiers and auditors by clicking or tapping this link. A list of certifiers and auditors operating in the Horizons Region will be published once they have been through training. We expect the first to be ready on 1 July 2024, with more added over time.

Government-owned assurance scheme provider AsureQuality will be providing freshwater farm plan certifier and auditor training. If you’re interested in becoming a freshwater farm plan certifier or auditor, visit
To work as a certifier or auditor in the Horizons Region, you’ll also need to complete regional training. This regional training will give you understanding of the key issues in our region. We’ll post further information here when we have it.
To apply to become a certifier or auditor in the Horizons Region, either head to once our region goes live or email with 'Certifier/Auditor' as the subject.


Guidance for certifiers and auditors