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Farmers reminded about farming rules for water as spreading closed season ends

6th Feb 2020 / By Alistair Driver

As the closed season for spreading manures on land ends (January 31), the Environment Agency has issued a reminder about the rules governing the process. 

slurry rules

The agency stressed that the Farming rules for water are particularly relevant in February and March. 

The rules www.gov.uk/defra/farmingrulesforwater cover:

Slurry storage: Are you storing organic manure/#slurry on your farm? #Farmingrulesforwater ensure that all farmers in England follow good farming practice, including how to store organic manures on your land.

Slurry spreading: Are you spreading #slurry in the right conditions? Make sure you don’t spread close to watercourses, on frozen, waterlogged, snow covered ground or if there is a risk of causing pollution. 

Organic and manufacture: Spreading organic manures/manufactured fertilisers? Don't apply more than the needs of the soil and crop on your land and plan the right time/conditions to avoid causing water pollution. 

Soil & nutrients: Looking to get the most from your soils and nutrient? and avoid causing pollution to water?

All farmers should check the farming rules for water to satisfy themselves that they are complying with them in full.

slurry lagoon

The rules

There are eight rules, five about managing fertilisers and manures and three on managing soils. They require farmers to:

  • keep soil on the land
  • match nutrients to crop, and soil, and needs
  • keep livestock fertilisers and manures out of the water.

Key requirements:

  • The rules require farmers to use soil tests to plan each application of manures or fertilisers to cultivated land, to match and not exceed soil and crop needs. This is to avoid excess nutrients that could pollute water.
    • Nitrogen levels can be determined by assessing soil nitrogen supply instead of soil testing. 
  • They include minimum storage and spreading distances from water bodies.
  • They require the farmer to assess soil conditions to reduce the risk of nutrient losses.
  • They require the farmer to assess the current weather and forecast for the land at the time of application.
  • Farmers must also manage livestock to protect land within five metres of water and reduce livestock poaching.
  • In addition to these rules farmers are encouraged to incorporate organic fertilisers into the soil within 12 hours of spreading.

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