Operational plans are only required if the respective management area has been prioritised in the Environmental Management Strategy. The first activity listed under a prioritised objective in the Environmental Management Plan is often to capture and assess baseline data and draft a plan to mitigate the identified risks. The plans provide detailed guidance to farm managers after in-depth assessment of the specific circumstance, threats and needs on the farm. EcoFarms’ plans are simple, practical and operationally focused.
Annual Environmental Management Plan
An EcoFarms Annual Environmental Management Plan (EMP) is simply that part of the Environmental Management Strategy that has been budgeted for implementation in a particular year. Subsequent versions of the plan address the next-in-line priority management activities identified in the over-arching strategy. This simple spreadsheet lists: Objectives; Detailed Management Activities; Indicators; Targets; Budget; Person Responsible & Deadline. Ongoing support from EcoFarms ensures that the personnel responsible receive the necessary technical support.
Ecosystem & Biodiversity Management Plan
Individual farms, even when in the same agricultural landscape, each have some form of unique ecological system, habitat and species composition. EcoFarms will assess the ecological health of the natural areas on your farm against in-tact local benchmarks and develop a plan to conserve and restore ecological function and indigenous biodiversity. We use GIS to map the conservation areas, assess available spatial data and demarcate features to inform management activities.
Invasive Alien Plant Management Plan
Invasive Alien Plants pose one of the greatest threats to indigenous biodiversity and water availability in South Africa. EcoFarms will: assess the extent and nature of alien plants, create a GIS map of Alien Clearing Management Units (blocks); prioritise the sequence of initial and follow-up clearing operations in all management units over time; provide method statements for each invasive specie and operational situation. We recommend integrating the Alien Clearing Plan with a Restoration Plan and Wildfire Management Plan where relevant.
Wildfire Prevention & Response Plan
The risk of uncontrolled wildfires impacting production areas, infrastructure and biodiversity (if too frequent) is exacerbated through climate change and invasive alien plants. EcoFarms can draft a plan in consultation with your local Fire Protection Association that addresses firebreaks, fuel reduction, staff training, PPE, firefighting equipment needs, infrastructure protection and wildfire response. EcoFarms can also develop a broader community Wildfire Prevention and Response Plan for a group of landowners in a distinct fire management area.
Replanting conservation areas is an integral part of alien clearing and/or erosion mitigation. EcoFarms have designed social development projects that create work opportunities and provide training in the propagation of locally indigenous plants for restoration in the predominant vegetation types in an area.
Freshwater and Aquatic Ecosystem Conservation Plan
Water is a precious natural resource in South Africa and in most agricultural landscapes water conservation is a priority. This plan is based on an assessment of changes to water quality in natural streams as water moves across the farm as well as aquatic biodiversity in riparian buffer zones and wetlands. The plan summarises findings and lists management actions to mitigate risks and enhance water quality and aquatic biodiversity.
Waste Management Plan
Waste management is an important part of environmental management on a farm and is often complex with a number of waste streams such as residential, production, packing, workshop and office waste. Many historical waste management practices on farms such as burning waste in an incinerator or burying waste in a waste pit are no longer permitted. Farms are required to keep a detailed waste manifest, maximise recycling and safely dispose of chemical containers and other hazardous waste. EcoFarms has assisted clients to develop: ‘separation at source’ household recycling initiatives; on farm waste separation and sale of recyclables; and facilitated waste collection contracts with local recycling and waste management companies.
Soil Management Plan
Besides water, healthy topsoil is the most valuable natural resource to a farmer. Looking after the long-term health of the different soils on the farm is a strategic priority as it is the foundation of production yeild. EcoFarms compile GIS maps that illustrate changes of macro-organism soil biodiversity, key soil nutrient parameters (NPK, pH, salinity, carbon, compaction, etc.) and other indicators of soil health. In partnership with your agronomist we will make recommendations for the long-term ecological health of soils on the farm.
Energy Reduction Plan
Electricity and fuel consumption are significant costs on the farm and major contributors to the farm’s Green House Gas emissions and carbon footprint. We will help you to design monitoring systems to breakdown energy consumption in a meaningful way that allows operating units to set reduction targets for the consumption of fuel and electricity. Our Energy Reduction Plan summarises consumption data, presents consumption relative to operational factors (i.e. fuel per production Ha’s or electricity per bins in CA storage) and sets realistic and attainable reduction targets.
Site Development Plans
Farms in the Western Cape can make use of provisions made by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning to table a Site Development Plan for upfront approval. Such a plan outlines all future development plans (new orchards, roads, infrastructure, ecotourism, etc.) as well as maintenance activities that trigger listed activities such as excavating silt from retention ponds within 32m of a watercourse. Such plans alleviate the need for separate approval for each listed activity.
GIS mapping for planning
EcoFarms use GIS maps to capture all spatial aspects of their planning and implementation. EcoFarms is also able to capture spatial data to support production, having spatial data in a digital format allows managers to query multiple parameters that impact yield and view results visually on a map. With an increased focus on SmartAgri farmers should be consistently expanding and updating spatial data sets on the farm. Being able to integrate data from multiple sources (i.e. spraying programmes, weather, soil nutrients, aspect, integrated pest management, variety, plant age, etc.) can provide valuable management insights to improve production and reduce input costs. EcoFarms can present options and discuss your specific needs and challenges with you.