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  • Farming Rules for Water

  • Farming rules for water – EA Regulatory Position Statement

    The farming rules for water are not new, they were introduced in April 2018 to help standardise good practice for water quality.  There are 8 rules and many of them duplicate with other regulations such as NVZ and cross compliance.  However, Rule 1 is definitely worth taking a look at in isolation for livestock farmers or indeed arable farmers that spread organic manures.

    Rule 1 – You must plan how much fertiliser or manure to use, so you do not use more than your crop or soil needs.

    This means you cannot spread fertiliser and manures where there is no crop requirement.  Any field parcel which is chemically (organic manure or fertilizer applied in the last 3 years) or mechanically cultivated must also have up to date soil analysis (no older than 5 years).

    Under Rule 1 in most circumstances there will be no requirement for autumn Nitrogen applications as arable crops with a permitted autumn N application are limited

    • Oil seed rape
    • Brassica fodder crops (established in early autumn)
    • Grassland where applications are permitted for a late sut of silage or for the autumn establishement of a temporary ley

    In August 2021 the Environment Agency released a Regulatory Position Statement (valid until March 2022) to allow spreading even where a nutrient plan may show there is no crop need but there needs to be a contingency plan in place to show there is a low risk of water pollution (including runoff and leaching).  The biggest impact will be on livestock farmers where routine applications of slurry and/or farmyard manure are carried out in the autumn to make space for storage capacity over winter.  If this is the case you will need to contact the Environment Agency and comply with Regulatory Position Statement 252. 

    RPS 252 includes a hierarchy of steps you must follow to avoid untimely spreading or excessive nutrient applications.  Your contingency plan must show that using the RPS is the only option and you must inform the EA you are using it.

    When the Farming Rules for Water were introduced 3 years ago there was an advisory approach to enforcement but it is now becoming increasingly more stringent.  Using the RPS 252 this autumn/winter means the EA will not normally take enforcement action as long as you meet the conditions and you are not currently or likely to cause pollution or harm to human health.

    If you would like advice regarding whether you need to inform the EA and use RPS 252 please contact the office