New cross-compliance regulations to protect water from pollution through the application of fertilisers and manures have been announced.

The rules have been released with a view to next season’s planting and they will come into effect in January 2012.

They form part of the Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) standards, which reinforces existing laws on maintaining soils, habitats and landscape features.

Farmers are required to meet these standards to receive the single farm payment and comply with cross compliance.

The new rules mean:-

• Inorganic fertiliser must not be applied within two metres of surface waters

• Organic manure must not be applied within 10m of surface waters, except on land managed for breeding wader birds, or as species rich semi-natural grassland and under certain other restrictions.

• Organic manure must also not be applied within 50m of a spring, well or borehole.

• If farmers do apply organic manure, they will be asked to keep a map of all surface waters on the holding and land within 10m metres of them; all springs, wells and boreholes on the holding, and within 50m of the boundary of the holding, and land within 50m of them.

Russell Graham, of the RPA’s cross compliance unit, said: “We have had to introduce this new Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition as it was part of the CAP Health Check.

“The GAEC is based on existing rules included in the nitrate regulations, therefore farmers who are meeting the Statutory Management Requirement (SMR) 4 Nitrate Vulnerable Zone requirements will already be meeting the new regulations.”

For further guidance call the RPA’s Cross Compliance Technical Helpline on 0845 345 1302 or visit www.rpa.defra.gov.uk/crosscompliance/farmerguidance.