New regulations to affect all agricultural land

Farming rules for water

From April 2018 all farmers in England will need to follow a new set of farming rules for water. DEFRA are making regulations which will give these rules legal force from then.

The rules will:

  • promote good practice in managing fertilisers and manures
  • encourage land managers to take reasonable precautions to prevent diffuse pollution from runoff or soil erosion
  • require soil tests at least every 5 years

DEFRA will work with farming industry partners and through existing advice channels so that everyone has the opportunity to understand the rules. They’re introducing soil testing in a phased way so that soil testing undertaken during the four years before the rules come into effect can be considered.

Farming rules for water – Policy paper

Farming rules for water – Overview

How the rules will be enforced

The Environment Agency (EA) will be the regulator for these rules. They will check compliance through its existing programme of work with farmers.

The EA will work with farmers by providing advice on how to meet the rules and help make sure they are compliant. The EA can use their formal enforcement powers where necessary to ensure compliance and to prevent or stop pollution. We expect that most cases will be dealt with by issuing advice and if necessary, through the use of civil sanctions such as compliance notices, with prosecution reserved for where other enforcement actions have failed.

What is different

The main difference here is the fact these rules affect all farmers and not just those who claim the Basic Payment. However, it would be required that all farmers conducted a soil test at least every 5 years for the levels of:

  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • pH
  • Nitrogen

Planning of your fertiliser applications (organic and manufactured) must take into account all risks of pollution and also the soil test results.

Further Information

If you require any more information, contact CXCS on 01981 590514 or email

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