These guiding principles are built into the nutrient management approach in this Code. They are the underlying philosophies used in this Code that enable land managers to use this Code to manage nutrients practically and profitably in their production systems.
This Code’s five guiding principles are:
- Effective process
Nutrient management planning can improve results for land managers and the environment simultaneously.
Change for its own sake never makes sense – there must be a reason for it. The nutrient management process as outlined in this Code is a simple yet effective process that enables land managers to maximise the benefits of nutrient use while avoiding or minimising adverse effects on the environment. Widespread adoption of the process can be expected to aid production and profit while addressing community and market environmental concerns.
Although not all land managers face a requirement for external audit of their practices, this Code is set out so use of this Code can be audited. Keeping good records is an essential part of this process.
- Ease of use
Nutrient management must be ‘user friendly’ – i.e. it allows users to accept responsibility for their actions, is simple yet effective and allows users some flexibility to choose and adapt practices to suit their situation.
Simplicity and flexibility do not mean ‘dumbing down’ to a system that does not achieve environmental objectives. Rather, the approach advocated through this Code encourages land managers to use their knowledge and skills to understand, choose and apply the most suitable practices for their individual situations. In practice, this can produce greater environmental benefit than can be achieved by prescribing practices for all land managers to follow regardless of situation.
- Legal and industry compliance
As a minimum, this Code requires compliance with all legal and industry requirements relating to nutrient management. In reality many land managers will aim higher than this as they seek effective nutrient use and best value for money from their investment in nutrients.
While helping users meet legal requirements, this Code provides flexibility in how land managers choose to meet them, selecting practices that best suit their situation and production systems. It provides a framework of practices that should be followed to help meet legal requirements and defining practices that are strongly advised or recommended on a site specific basis.
- Risk based
The basis of effective nutrient management is being aware of and understanding the actual and potential environmental risks associated with these activities. Once understood, these risks and impacts can be strategically managed.
The concept of ‘environmental risk’ is an important part of sustainable nutrient management. While there is potential to cause environmental harm when using nutrients, this need not happen in practice. Depending on conditions and practices, the risks can usually be managed.
Nutrient management risks refer to the chance of an unfavourable consequence resulting from nutrient inputs or outputs. This can be determined by undertaking a nutrient budget, which will indicate an excess or deficit of nutrients. This Code sets out a process for assessing environmental risks associated with nutrient management activities.
- Continuous improvement
Continuous improvement implies that practices are considered more than once, in light of new information and the results of previous management. This leads to future practices reflecting things learned along the way. A cycle of planning, doing, monitoring and improving (‘PDMI’) ensures practices are continuously getting better.
The ‘PDMI’ process emphasises the use of past results when planning management and choosing the best practices for the future. Many managers already use continuous improvement approaches to problem solving and day to day management. Using the same process for nutrient management means the nutrient management plan is not just a static document but a vehicle for learning and improvement.