What are the Farming Rules for Water?

Wensleydale landscape_20508

There are eight new rules that apply to farming and horticultural practices. These rules aim to prevent manure, fertiliser and soil getting into watercourses - known as diffuse water pollution.

The Environment Agency is responsible for enforcing these rules. It will do this through its farm inspections work. If the Environment Agency finds you’re breaching the rules, it will help you by identifying the changes you need to make, agreeing a timescale with you to make changes.

To check you’ve made changes, the Environment Agency may give you a follow-up visit or ask for evidence, such as photographic evidence of a change.


For information on the NFU's position on the rules click here.


What are the rules?

Organic and manufactured fertiliser management, storage and management

Rule 1a) Application of organic manures and manufactured fertilisers to *cultivated agricultural land must be nutrient management planned to meet soil and crop nutrient needs without exceeding these levels and assessed for significant risk of pollution in advance

b)            Nutrient Management Planning must take into account the results of testing for Phosphorus, Potassium, Magnesium, pH and Nitrogen levels in the soil, which must be done at least every 5 years.

You may determine soil Nitrogen levels by assessing the soil Nitrogen supply instead of testing the soil. (This can be done using the Tried and Tested SNS calculator)

Note: The soil testing requirement is only for land that requires a nutrient management plan due to it receiving an application of organic manure or manufactured fertiliser by spreading on the surface of the land, injection into the land or mixing with the surface layers of the soil. It does not include direct deposit of excreta onto land by livestock.

Rule 2) Organic manures must not be stored on land:

a)            within 10 metres of inland freshwaters or coastal waters,

b)            where there is significant risk of runoff entering inland freshwaters or coastal waters within 50 metres of a spring, well or borehole

Rule 3) Organic manures or manufactured fertilisers must not be applied:

a)            if the soil is waterlogged, flooded, or snow covered

b)            if the soil has been frozen for more 12 hours in the previous 24 hours

c)            if there is a significant risk of causing environmental pollution from soil erosion and run-off

Rule 4) Organic manures must not be applied within:

a)            10 metres of any inland freshwaters or coastal waters, except, if precision equipment is used within 6 metres of inland freshwaters or coastal waters

b)            50 metres of a spring, well or borehole

Rule 5) Manufactured fertiliser must not be applied within 2 metres of inland freshwaters or coastal waters

Soil management

Rule 6) take all reasonable precautions to prevent significant soil erosion and runoff from:

a)            seedbeds, tramlines, rows, beds, stubbles (including harvested land with haulm), polytunnels and irrigation, and

b)            poaching by livestock

Rule 7) Land manager must ensure that poaching is prevented within 5 metres of inland freshwaters or coastal waters.

Rule 8) Livestock feeders must not be positioned:

a)            within 10 metres of any inland freshwaters or coastal waters,

b)            where there is a significant risk of runoff* from poaching around the feeder entering any inland freshwaters or coastal waters

For more detailed description of the rules you can find the NFU briefing here.

Or you can find the Defra guidance at:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rules-for-farmers-and-land-managers-to-prevent-water-pollution#environmental-benefits



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