All farmers in England will need to follow a new set of ‘Farming Rules for Water’ from April 2018.
Farm consultant Phil Cooper, a member of the Farm Consultancy Group, sums up the basics.
1. All manure and fertiliser applications must be planned in advance to meet soil and crop nutrient needs.
Planning must take into account where there is significant risk of pollution and the results of soil testing. Testing every five years will become compulsory, but this requirement will be phased in.
2. Muck heaps must not be sited within 50m of a spring, well, or borehole; within 10m of inland freshwaters or coastal waters or where there is significant risk of pollution to freshwater or coastal waters.
3. Manures and fertilisers must not be applied if the soil has been frozen for more than 12 hours in the previous 24 hours, if the soil is waterlogged, flooded or snow-covered.
4. Manure must not be applied within 50m of a spring, well or borehole, or within 10m of inland freshwater or coastal waters.
5. Fertiliser must not be applied within 2m of inland freshwaters or coastal waters.
6. Farmers must take reasonable precautions to prevent significant soil erosion and run-off caused by poaching, the application of manure and fertilisers, or land management and cultivation practices.
7. Land within 5m of inland freshwaters and coastal waters must be protected by preventing poaching by livestock.
8. Livestock feeders must not be positioned within 50m of a spring, well or borehole, less than 10m from inland freshwaters or coastal waters or where there is significant risk of pollution from poaching around the feeder entering watercourses.