Defra tightens rules for farmers on use of fertilizers and manure


The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has issued rules for farmers proscribing how, when and where they use manufactured fertilisers and manure. The rules will be backed with legal force when they come into play in April 2018.

Defra has drawn up eight rules covering the following matters.

The department said the Environment Agency (EA) will work with farmers “by providing advice on how to meet the rules and help make sure they are compliant.” Defra said the EA can use its formal enforcement powers to “ensure compliance and to prevent or stop pollution,” but it expected that advice or civil sanctions will be adequate in most cases.

Environment minister, Thérèse Coffey, said: “These new rules will help us deliver our plans for a Green Brexit along with a better future for farming business.”

The rules in brief

Planning use of manures and fertilisers

Farmers will be obliged to do five-yearly tests for soil pH and the levels of substances including phosphorus and potassium and take the results into account the results when planning to use manures and fertilisers. They will need also to account for factors such as the slope of the land and the proximity of fresh and coastal waters and wetlands.

Storing organic manures

There are restrictions on proximity to water sources including springs, boreholes, rivers and coastal waters.

Applying manures or fertilisers

Application is prohibited where pollution is a risk including instances where soil is waterlogged.

Where not to apply organic manures.

Similar but tighter restrictions to those for storage.

Where not to apply fertiliser

A two-metre minimum proximity to freshwater or coastal waters.

Reasonable precautions to prevent soil erosion

Farmer will be required to take all reasonable precautions to prevent significant soil erosion and runoff when applying fertiliser or manure and in other practices.

Protecting against soil erosion by livestock

Land within 5m of freshwater or coastal waters should be shielded from livestock.

Position of livestock feeders

Feeders’ proximity to water bodies, springs and boreholes will be restricted.

position of livestock feeders

Feeders’ proximity to water bodies, springs and boreholes will be restricted.