A review into government investment in Whole Farm Planning found that while it continued to provide clear public and private benefits, the approach needed tweaking.
The review, commissioned and overseen by the Goulburn Broken and North Central Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs), found factors which influence design should be flagged early to ensure their inclusion in a Whole Farm Plan.
Goulburn Broken CMA senior contracts and inspections officer Chris Nicholson said the review was timely, given the current complex water environment.
‘‘The tweak is helping landowners set a vision for what they want to do on their property and looks at any obstacles or hurdles that might stand in their way,’’ Mr Nicholson said.
He said the review identified landowner input was critical to the success of Whole Farm Plans and added there were opportunities to build in greater collaboration with the property owner.
‘‘They could have changed their mind since the plan was drawn up and are now looking at retiring or maybe upgrading their irrigation plan.
‘‘Whatever the case may be, the designer needs to know what factors are driving the plan.’’
The review found there was a continued need to invest in Whole Farm Plans, given the complicated and changing nature of irrigation.
Mr Nicholson said the Victorian Government had invested in Whole Farm Plans since the late 1980s.
‘‘It’s one of our longest-running and certainly one of the most successful programs,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a lot cheaper to make a mistake on a piece of paper rather than when you’re out actually doing the earthworks on the farm.’’
He said farm planners needed to take a ‘wide lens’ approach when plans were being drawn.
‘‘There’s great value in developing a plan which also looks at how that property fits into the whole catchment.’’
He said one of the main messages from the review was landowners should be encouraged to either undertake new plans or update existing ones.
The Victorian Government provides incentives to cover up to 85 per cent of the plan’s design costs.