Farm planning - setting your vision for your land

Property plans can help you achieve your rural living goals by setting up the basis for efficient and sustainable property management.

This will help you to play a part in supporting a healthy landscape and prosperous region. Property plans take a whole-of property approach and are useful for both farmers and rural residential landholders.

There are a number of methods and documents that can help you to develop a property plan. The basic property plan guide below will help get you started.

Property plan guide

Obtain a good map of your property, one that is to a metric scale of a large enough size to clearly show the features of the property.

Aerial photographs are very useful, as well as surveyor’s boundary plans, topographic and cadastral plans.

You will need to identify the following:

  • soil types and characteristics as well as areas of soil degradation
  • slope
  • areas of natural vegetation and vegetation type
  • the presence of endangered species as appropriate
  • streams, gullies, drainage lines and dams
  • flood liable land
  • water and shade areas for stock
  • rock outcrops
  • climate, rainfall and seasonality
  • landscape types and physical features
  • current land uses.

Carry out a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, considering:

  • the property’s strengths you can take advantage of e.g. areas of high quality soils
  • the weaknesses that will need attention before they cause problems e.g. existing weed infested areas
  • opportunities to develop resources further e.g. moving fence lines to improve management
  • threats that could affect the property e.g. erosion.

On an overlay of your property map, illustrate the permanent features such as the property boundary, waterways, vegetation, structures, contours and land types (i.e. the most productive soils to the least).

Use this information as a base.

On another layer, sketch where features are wanted, e.g. fences, productive paddocks, shelter-belts, wildlife habitat areas, woodlots, dams, troughs, lanes and gates.

Rearranging fences according to land features can help you to use the land more efficiently.

Write notes about:

  • proposed land use
  • planning for houses, sheds, stockyards, windbreaks, dams, roads and fence alignments
  • methods to control and prevent weeds and pest animals
  • methods to sustain or improve water quality for stock and downstream users
  • vegetation management including methods and timing of any proposed clearing for increased production or efficiency as well as revegetation in disturbed areas
  • the frequency of planned harvests if your property has a Private Native Forestry plan or you are considering one
  • wildlife management strategies
  • methods to control stormwater and prevent erosion
  • ways to reduce bushfire hazards, conserve soil and preserve trees
  • options for treating and disposing of wastewater and rural rubbish
  • legal and planning requirements
  • methods to improve stock or alternative water sources for stock.

Use the information in this handbook to help you understand issues and best practices in these areas.

Use the map, your notes and information in this handbook to plan actions and prioritise them.

Constantly monitor, improve and reshape your goals as necessary

Further reading

Rural Living Handbook (Local Land Services)

How to Prepare a Farm Plan (AgricultureVictoria)


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