Government announces new “Basic Rules” for fertiliser management to protect water quality
Defra consulted on a proposed set of rules at the end of 2015 which the NFU suggested were unnecessary given farmer best practice. However Defra have now decided to introduce the rules as a requirement for all farmers. From April 2, 2018 all farmers in England will need to follow a new set of farming rules for water. New regulations will now be made which will give these rules legal force from then. The rules will be enforceable by the Environment Agency and will:
- promote good practice in managing fertilisers and manures through eight rules covering planning and use, storage and application of fertilisers and manures and soil erosion measures
- encourage land managers to take reasonable precautions to prevent diffuse pollution from runoff or soil erosion
- require soil tests at least every 5 years on cultivated land
Defra state they will work with farming industry partners and through existing advice channels so that everyone has the opportunity to understand the rules. Soil testing will be introduced in a phased way so that soil testing undertaken during the four years before the rules come into effect can be taken into account.
Further detail can be found on the government website here and the NFU will publish further guidance as more details become available between now and April.