Farmers and growers will have to meet eight new rules relating to fertiliser and soil management as part of a new Defra policy to protect the water environment.
The new rules, which will be in place from 2 April 2018, aim to keep soil on the land, match nutrients to crops and soil needs, and keep livestock fertilisers and manures out of the water.
Five are about managing fertilisers and manures and three on managing soils. The fertiliser rules require farmers to test soils, then plan and apply fertiliser or manure to improve soil nutrient levels and meet crop needs. They include minimum storage and spreading distances from water bodies. They also require the farmer to assess weather and soil conditions to reduce the risk of runoff and soil erosion.
The remaining rules require farmers to manage livestock by protecting land within five metres of water and reducing livestock poaching.
In addition, farmers are encouraged to incorporate organic fertilisers into the soil within 12 hours of spreading to significantly reduce ammonia pollution.
Environment minister Thérèse Coffey said: “These new rules are a win-win for farmers and the environment. They will help improve water quality, set a level playing field for all farmers, help businesses save money from better resource efficiency and improve their resilience.”
The Environment Agency will roll out the rules through an advice-led approach, working with farmers to meet the requirements before enforcement action is taken.