This April, Defra launched eight new rules for farming and horticulture in an effort to minimise water pollution by preventing manure, fertiliser and soil reaching watercourses.

So, as we begin to anticipate increased levels of rainfall, and therefore a greater risk of runoff and water pollution, we summarise the key points you need to remember:

1. Application of all manures and fertilisers must be planned in advance to meet soil and crop nutrient needs and not exceed these levels and take into account where there are significant risks of pollutions

2.  Organic manures must not be stored within 10m of fresh or coastal waters; within 50m of a spring, well or borehole, or where there is significant risk of pollution to fresh or coastal waters

3. Manures and fertilisers must not be applied if the soil is waterlogged, flooded, snow covered or has been frozen for more that 12 hours in the previous 24

4. Manures must not be applied within 50m of a spring, well or borehole, or 10m of fresh or coastal waters, except if precision equipment is used, then a six-metre zone applies.

5. Manufactured fertiliser must not be applied within two metres of inland freshwaters or coastal waters

6. Take precautions to prevent significant soil erosion and runoff from the application of manures and fertilisers, land management and cultivation practices, as well as poaching by livestock

7. Any land within five metres of inland freshwaters and coastal waters must be protected from significant soil erosion by preventing poaching by livestock

8. Livestock feeders must not be positioned within 10m of any inland fresh or coastal waters, 50m of a spring, well or borehole, or where there is significant risk of pollution from poaching around feeders reaching a watercourse

Those looking to learn more on nutritional planning as well as the responsible use of fertiliser and muck, should consider the BASIS certificate in Soil and Water Management. Find out more here: https://www.basis-reg.co.uk/Exams-and-Courses/Course-Listing/CourseAreaID/9a6d4a01-9a27-4969-bbb2-0ed85c5cdc73

To see the full set of Defra rules, please visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rules-for-farmers-and-land-managers-to-prevent-water-pollution#environmental-benefits