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New water rules: What farmers need to know

From April 2, 2018 Defra will require all farmers in England to follow a new set of farming rules for water which will be legally enforceable by the Environment Agency.


Marianne   Curtis

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Marianne   Curtis
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New water rules from next month: What farmers need to know #Advice

Rule 1: planning use of manures and fertilisers

 

Application of organic manures and manufactured fertilisers to cultivated land must be planned in advance to meet soil and crop nutrient needs and not exceed these levels.

 

Planning must take into account where there is significant risk of pollution and the results of testing for P, K, Mg, pH and N levels in the soil, which must be done at least every five years. Soil N levels can be used to assess N levels instead of soil testing.

 

In assessing whether there is “significant risk of pollution” take into account:

  • the slope of the land, especially if greater than 12 degrees
  • any ground cover
  • the proximity to inland fresh waters and coastal waters
  • the proximity to wetlands
  • the weather conditions and weather forecasts
  • the soil type and condition
  • the presence and condition of agricultural land drains

Rule 2: storing organic manures

 

Organic manures must not be stored on land:

  • within 10 metres of inland freshwaters or coastal waters
  • where there is significant risk of pollution entering inland freshwaters or coastal waters
  • within 50 metres of a spring, well or borehole

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Rule 3: applying manures or fertilisers

 

Organic manures or manufactured fertilisers must not be applied:

  • if the soil is waterlogged, flooded, or snow covered
  • if the soil has been frozen for more than 12 hours in the previous 24 hours
  • if there is significant risk of causing pollution

Rule 4: where not to apply organic manures

 

Organic manures must not be applied:

  • within 10 metres of any inland freshwaters or coastal waters, or within six metres of inland freshwaters or coastal waters if precision equipment is used
  • within 50 metres of a spring, well or borehole

Rule 5: where not to apply fertiliser

 

Manufactured fertiliser must not be applied within two metres of inland freshwaters or coastal waters.

 

Rule 6: reasonable precautions to prevent soil erosion

 

Take reasonable precautions to prevent significant soil erosion and runoff from:

  • the application of organic manure and manufactured fertiliser
  • land management and cultivation practices (such as seedbeds, tramlines, rows, beds, stubbles (including harvested land with haulm), polytunnels and irrigation)
  • poaching by livestock

 

Rule 7: protecting against soil erosion by livestock

Any land within five metres of inland freshwaters and coastal waters must be protected from significant soil erosion by preventing poaching by livestock.

 

Rule 8: position of livestock feeders

 

Livestock feeders must not be positioned:

  • within 10 metres of any inland freshwaters or coastal waters
  • within 50 metres of a spring, well or borehole
  • where there is significant risk of pollution from poaching around the feeder entering any inland freshwaters or coastal waters

 

For more information visit: www.gov.uk/government/publications/farming-rules-for-water-from-april-2018/farming-rules-for-water-overview

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