As of April 2018 new rules came into force designed to protect water quality through good farming practice.
Many farmers will already follow the guidelines as a matter of course, but it is important to know what the new rules cover to ensure compliance in the future.
There are eight rules in total; five on managing fertilisers and manures and three on managingsoils. The main principles involve keeping soil on the land, closely matching nutrients to crop and soil needs, and keeping livestock fertilisers and manures away from water courses.
Planning use of manures and fertilisers
Application of organic manures and manufactured fertilisers on cultivated land must be planned in advance to closely meet soil and crop nutrient needs and not exceed these levels. Soil testing for P, K, Mg, pH and N must be done at least every five years.
Application planning must take into account any significant risk of pollution by assessing the slope of the land, any ground cover, the proximity to waterways and coastal waters, the proximity to wetlands, weather conditions and forecasts, soil type and condition and the existence and condition of land drains.
Storing organic manures
Organic manures must not be stored on land that is within 10 metres of a waterway, on a site with significant risk of pollution entering waterways or within 50 metres of a spring, well or borehole.
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 is frozen, or if there is any significant risk of causing pollution.
Where not to apply organic manures
Organic manures must not be applied within 10 metres of any inland waterway or coastal waters or within six metres of such waterways where precision equipment is being used. The restriction is also for within 50 metres of a spring, well or borehole.
Where not to apply fertiliser
Manufactured fertiliser must not be applied within two metres of inland freshwaters or coastal waters.
Reasonable precautions to prevent soil erosion
Every effort must be made to prevent significant soil erosion and runoff from the application of organic manure and manufactured fertiliser, from land management and cultivation practices, and through poaching by livestock.
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.
Position of livestock feeders
Livestock feeders must not be positioned within 10 metres of any inland freshwaters or coastal waters or within 50 metres of a spring, well or borehole. Locations where there is significant risk of pollution from poaching around the feeder entering any waterway should also be avoided.
If clients need further guidance they can talk confidentially to any of our specialists based in our Hexham, Alnwick, Sedgefield or Northallerton Offices.
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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