Water Management

Water Management

As of 2 April 2018, Defra is introducing new rules for farmers to help protect water quality. These rules require farmers to:

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

What does this mean for organic farmers?

Many of the new rules are already covered by cross-compliance. However, there are three new rules that you need to be aware of. These are:

  1. Soil testing and analysis need to be completed on “cultivated agricultural land” every five years. This must test the levels of Phosphorous, Potassium, Magnesium, pH and Nitrogen. The Nitrogen level can be assessed by soil N supply methods.
  2. The rules covered by the cross-compliance guidance SRM1, to assess run-off risk when applying organic manures, which currently applies to NVZs has been extended to include land not designated as a NVZ. Nutrient levels required by crops, must be taken into account where applying manures and manufactured fertilisers, and these requirement levels not exceeded. Significant risks of pollution must be taken into account and a pollution risk map produced
  3. Livestock feeders must not be positioned:
  • within 10 meters of any inland freshwaters or coastal waters
  • within 50 meters of a spring, well or borehole
  • where there is a significant risk of pollution from poaching around the feeder entering any inland freshwaters or coastal waters. Significant pollution is assessed by the slope of the land, ground cover, the proximity to water and wetlands, weather conditions, soil type and condition and agricultural drains. There are some exceptions and variations to this rule.

You can find full details of the new rules here >