Good practice information

Our responsibilities

Whether you live in a town or city there are many things you can do to help protect our waterways, including keeping pollution out of stormwater drains and conserving water as much as possible. It's also important to keep soil from development and construction out of waterways. 

If you are a farmer or rural landuser, follow good practice techniques to reduce the run-off of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus or E.coli into waterways from your property. These contaminants adversely affect the health of waterway ecosystems, as well as posing a threat to human health and restricting recreational and cultural access to lakes, rivers and streams.

Catchment Advisors

ORC's team of Catchment Advisors provide advice and assistance to landowners, catchment groups and other community groups with on-the-ground projects and programmes that contribute to positive environmental outcomes for catchments across Otago.

This includes improving water quality, enhancing our region’s biodiversity - the flora and fauna, promoting sustainable land management practices and initiatives, and to support the development and aspirations of catchment groups.

ORC’s Catchment Advisors have a broad knowledge of farming systems and will support you in your endeavours to be compliant across your property and farming activities.

ORC Catchment Advisors


Each Advisor is responsible for a Freshwater Management Unit (FMU) or rohe (area).

Need a hand with any of the above or simply want to talk about your options...?


Or meet your Catchment Advisor today

Attend one of our Intensive Winter Grazing workshops.


Helpful information

Riparian zones are the land beside a creek, river, lake or wetland. Planting native grasses, sedges, flaxes, shrubs and/or trees in riparian zones can improve the health of Otago’s waterways by filtering nutrients before they reach the water, including nitrogen, phosphorus and bacteria such as E. coli.

Check this guide to see which plants will work best for where you live.

Riparian planting guide for Central Otago

Riparian planting guide for Coastal Otago

Riparian planting guide for East Otago

Riparian planting guide for South and West Otago

Riparian planting guide for Upper Clutha

For those wanting to set up their own native nursery, you can download this handy DIY Nursery Guide produced by Otago South River Care.

Good farming practices over the winter can help to maintain and improve water quality.

Winter poses particular risks to water quality as any exposed soils can become saturated and prone to muddying from stock, and can then be carried away during rain and storms into waterways. As well as carrying soil that can clog waterways and cause issues for ecosystems, this runoff can also contain phosphorus, nitrogen and E.coli that are a risk to downstream water quality and human and ecosystem health.

Here are some practical tips, videos, links and guides including a management plan to help you. 


Management plan

Download the Winter Grazing plan here.

You can use this paddock plan to assist with documenting the grazing management of winter crop paddocks. It covers environmental good practice and should be completed with the assistance of a Catchment Advisor.
Note: It is not a regulatory document, but you can use it or other templates for the plan you need as part of any application for consent.

Attend one of our Intensive Winter Grazing workshops. 

Tips and Links

There's great work being done to promote best practice over the winter by other groups and organisations from around the region and the country. Here are some useful links:

Some tips from Beef+Lamb NZ for good practice this winter:

    1. Exclude stock from waterways. Create an ungrazed buffer zone between the stock and the waterway. 5 metres is a good starting point, but this should increase with slope and soil instability. 
    2. Leave an ungrazed and uncultivated buffer zone around Critical Source Areas. Critical Source Areas (CSAs) are parts of the paddock that can channel overland flow directly to waterways (e.g. gullies, swales, very wet areas, spring heads, waterway crossings, stock camps and vehicle access routes). Read the Critical Source Areas fact sheet here.
    3. Graze paddocks strategically. On a sloping paddock, fence across the slope and start grazing at the top of the slope. That way, the standing crop acts as a filter. Or, if there is a waterway in the paddock, start grazing at the far end of the paddock.
    4. Create a written paddock plan. Include a paddock map marking waterways, CSA's, fences and grazing direction.
    5. Make breaks “long and narrow”. The crop will be utilised more efficiently by stock. (note: deer might need alternative grazing management)
    6. Back fence. Regularly back fence stock off grazed breaks to help minimise pugging damage and to reduce runoff risk. (note: deer might need alternative grazing management)
    7. Place portable troughs and supplementary feed in a dry part of the paddock well away from any waterways or Critical Source Areas.
    8. Look after your stock. Provide adequate feed, shelter, lying areas and clean fresh drinking water. Doing this will limit stock movement and help reduce damage to crop and soil.
    9. Plant a catch crop. Where soil conditions and farm management allow, consider planting a fast-growing crop in spring such as greenfeed oats. It can make a substantial difference to reducing nitrogen losses.
    10. Plan early. When choosing paddocks for next year’s winter feed crop, think about how you can improve your management of Critical Source Areas and waterways.

We recommend you regularly test the water on your property so you can understand what impact your land use is having on water quality.

Check out this booklet below that tells you more about water testing.

Sampling water quality on your farm


Check out this video that explains water sampling.

Working with your farming neighbours means you can learn from each other and share results. Many catchment groups already exist throughout Otago and some have set up a system for water testing; you could look at joining one, or establish one if there is a need in your area. Give one of our catchment advisors a call on 0800 474 082 to find out more.


Helpful maps

Water quality limits

(schedule 15)


Contaminant threshold limits

(schedule 16)


Nitrogen leaching threshold zones

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