Just over a year ago, the government introduced new Farming Rules for Water, which aim to get “full value from fertilisers and soil”.
The new rules focus on the storage and application of manure and artificial fertiliser, and keeping livestock away from water courses to prevent soil erosion and diffuse pollution. Most of the rules are covered by existing guidelines such as cross compliance, however the rule on soil testing is new and is the one that you may be least familiar with;
“You must plan in advance each application of organic manure or manufactured fertiliser to cultivated agricultural land to meet soil and crop needs and not exceed these levels, said Leila Froud Agri-Environment Advisor at ADAS.”
Fertiliser planning now needs to take into account the risks of pollution on your farm as well as the results of your soil tests. The legal requirement under the new rules is to test your soil, on cultivated land, a minimum of every 5 years.
Soil testing is required for:
The purpose of these tests is to see what nutrients you have in the soil already, and then apply only what the crops will use. This means waste will be minimized by matching crop and soil requirements to fertiliser applications, resulting in less money down the drain for farmers as well as less pollution.
Essentially the rules are aimed at keeping fertilisers and manures in your soil, and keeping your soil on your land. Many farmers already comply with most of these rules voluntarily or through cross compliance for Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) or Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) rules. However, these rules stand for everyone, with no exceptions, and will bring all farmers up to the same basic standard of good practice, including those that do not receive BPS or are not in an NVZ.
Our Consultants are feeding back that the Environment Agency (EA) are enforcing these regulations on farm visits:
“Due to a previous pollution incident, a client’s farm was visited by the Environment Agency. As part of the follow up, the Diffuse Pollution in Agriculture Regulations is being enforced. Specifically, the part about needing a Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) and soil sampling within 5 years.
If a farm has not undertaken soil sampling within the last 5 years, then testing will very likely be requested by EA. Where a farm has had zero soil testing before, the whole farm may need to be sampled in one go, rather than gradually over a number of years, to bring them up to scratch with the regulation.”
ADAS can help you to meet these requirements. ALM Consultants can provide soil testing and advice on soil nutrient planning. For more information contact Leila Froud on 01902 271306