Defra has announced that a new set of “farming rules for water” will be introduced in April 2018.
The announcement states that the rules are aimed at promoting good practice and will benefit farmers. They will be enforced by the Environment Agency through a combination of advice and inspection. The eight rules consist of five relating to application of fertiliser and manures and three about management of soil, says ADAS.
Most of the rules are already encapsulated within existing regulations and cross compliance requirements, but there is a new requirement to test soils every five years as part of rule one on planning the use of manures and fertilisers. This requirement needs further clarification as to what exactly needs to be tested, according to ADAS.
These new rules are part of the process of moving towards “green Brexit” and development of the 25-year environment plan. They will also form part of the programme of measures to meet existing obligations under the EU Water Framework Directive (which remain in force until the UK leaves the EU), according to ADAS.
Legislation will be required to implement the policy on farming rules for water which will provide further details, definitions and guidance.
The policy paper indicates that the rules will be introduced through an advice led approach, but this will be backed up by enforcement by the Environment Agency. It remains to be seen how these new rules will be integrated with the existing advice led approach through Catchment Sensitive Farming and other initiatives and how the rules will be enforced in the UK post Brexit, according to ADAS.
The policy paper can be downloaded at www.gov.uk/government/publications/farming-rules-for-water-from-april-2018
ADAS can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 03330 142950.