New soil erosion and farm pollution regulations came into force from the 2nd April 2018. This may well have passed a number of people by as it was not widely publicised. The new regulations put the onus on the farmer to analyse risk and take appropriate action to ensure soil remains in the field and applications of fertiliser, slurry and FYM do not cause pollution. This is in effect introducing some of the NVZ regulations across the whole country.
There are eight main areas to be aware of:
1. Applications of slurry, FYM and inorganic fertiliser must be planned to meet soil and crop nutrient requirements. Soils must be sampled every five years.
2. Manure storage should not be within 10 metres of a watercourse or 50 metres of a well, spring or borehole.
3. Do not apply manures or fertiliser if the soil is waterlogged, snow covered or flooded or if the soil has been frozen for more than 12 hours in the previous 24 hours.
4. Do not apply manure within 10 metres of a water course or 50 metres of a spring, well or borehole.
5. Do not apply manufactured fertiliser within 2 metres of a water course.
6. Soil management: take reasonable precautions to prevent significant soil erosion and/or muddy runoff from entering water courses especially from seedbeds, tramlines, stubbles and poaching from livestock.
7. Land within 5 metres of a watercourse must be protected from soil erosion by preventing poaching by livestock. This effectively ends using rivers to supply water to grazing cattle.
8. Livestock feeders must not be located within 10 metres of a water course or where there is a significant risk of runoff from poaching.
In many circumstances these rules are being applied as a lot of them are common sense. The main ones that could catch a business out are having a written fertiliser plan for each year based on soil analysis, taking into account the use of slurry and FYM, and produced by a FACTS registered advisor, and precautions to prevent soil erosion. In terms of actions to prevent soil erosion these could include:
• Drilling across the slope of a field.
• Subsoiling tramlines post-harvest.
• Cover crops over winter on stubbles.
• Grass buffer strips along water courses.
• Break crops across steep fields to reduce run off.
• Fencing livestock out of rivers, (grant funding has been available for this under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme).
• Minimal tillage when establishing crops.
If you would like to discuss the impacts of the regulations on your farm business or would like help in producing a nutrient plan, please contact Phil at email@example.com FACTS, or your local FCG FACTS qualified consultant.