Draft Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) 2020 Regulations – 09/04/2020

  • Posted

The draft regulations have been published for stakeholders and interested parties to understand the potential measures that could apply in Wales. The draft regulations are currently for information only, and a final decision about whether to implement them has not been made. The decision about whether to implement or not, has been delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic and a date has not yet been announced.

These regulations will be of most significance to poultry, pig and dairy farmers. It is anticipated that beef and sheep farmers will be relatively unaffected practically, although there is a requirement for further paperwork to be kept by all farmers.

The draft regulations that have been proposed have multiple implications and requirements, each different element is considered in a different part of the regulation. Critically, the regulations do not include a date for when/if they will be bought into force as a whole. Thereafter, it appears that different requirements will be phased in over time, with a space for inclusion of future dates by which point farmers will need to comply with another level of the regulations.

There is a requirement within the draft regulations for the Welsh Government to review the regulations, within 18 months of the regulations coming into force. This is said to provide the agricultural industry with an opportunity to develop alternative measures which would need to be more effective than the regulations.

Phase 1

Storage of Manure & Silage

This would be one of the first matters to be bought in; 14 days’ notice would need to be given to NRW before construction begins on a new or improved slurry or silage store.  Currently, notification to NRW is required prior to first use.

Phase 2

Risk Map

Farmers who spread organic manure on the holding must maintain a “Risk Map” this will need to show all the fields, all surface waters, boreholes etc, areas with shallow or sandy soils, land with an incline of greater than 12⁰ , land drains, and sites of temporary field heaps (TFH) (if used).

Storage of Manure

The location of TFH for organic manure must not be on a field liable to flooding, within 50m of a borehole, spring or well or within 10m of surface water or a land drain. TFHs cannot be in the same location for more than 12 months or located on the same site as a previous one within the last 2 years.

Poultry manure that does not include a bedding material must be covered with an impermeable material. For all TFH’s, they cannot be within 30m of a watercourse if the field has an incline of more than 12⁰ and the area of the heap must be kept as small as practicable.

Control of the spreading of nitrogen fertiliser (manufactured, slurry and other organic manures)

If the farmer intends to spread nitrogen fertiliser, he must first undertake a field inspection to consider the risk of the nitrogen getting into the surface water. Nitrogen fertiliser cannot be spread on the land if there is a significant risk of nitrogen getting into the surface water by taking into account  factors such as ground cover, slope, proximity to surface water. No one may spread fertiliser if the soil is waterlogged, flooded, snow covered, frozen or has been frozen for more than 12 hrs in the previous 24hrs.

Manufactured nitrogen cannot be spread within 2m of surface water. There are various other limits for spreading organic manure near watercourses and boreholes, and various deductions that can be made if using precision equipment.

There will be time limits on the incorporation of manure spread on to bare soil or stubble; poultry manure must be incorporated as soon as possible or maximum within 24hrs. Slurry, digestate and sewage sludge must be also be incorporated as soon as possible or within 24hrs unless applied with precision equipment. Other organic manure (general FYM) must be incorporated within 24hrs if the land is within 50m of surface water and slopes in a way that might induce run off.

Closed Periods for Inorganic Nitrogen (manufactured)

No manufactured nitrogen can be spread during the following periods:

ALL SOILS 15th September to 15th January 1st September to 15th January


There are certain exemptions for specific crops including oilseed rape and grass, but nitrogen cannot be spread after the 31st October. Brassicas and onions are also within this exemption.

Phase 3

Application of Organic Manure

The proposed regulations consider the application of livestock manure and imposes a total nitrogen limit for the whole holding. The total amount of organic manure either from grazed animals or physically spread on the holding cannot exceed 170kg/ha multiplied by area of the holding. This means non-spreadable areas such as woodland, ponds and hard standing must be deducted, and the remainder of the holding must average 170kg/ha or less. There would be derogations available for farms of 80% or more grassland.

No one hectare can receive more than 250kg/ha of organic manure.

Spreading of Nitrogen Fertiliser & Nutrient Management Planning

Farmers who intend to spread nitrogen fertiliser must calculate the amount of nitrogen already in the soil from previous cropping (soil nitrogen supply (SNS)), and then calculate the optimum amount of nitrogen that should be spread on the crop.

Thereafter, they should produce a plan for spreading of nitrogen fertiliser for that growing season. For all crops other than permanent grassland this plan should be produced prior to spreading any fertiliser.

For permanent grassland a plan should be produced from the 1st January based on the SNS, the amount of nitrogen the crop requires and the amount that will be applied.

The plan needs to record the field name and/or number, the cropped area of the field, the type of crop, the soil type, the previous crop, the SNS, anticipated planting month of crop, anticipated yield, and the optimum nitrogen that should be spread on the crop considering the SNS. The applications of organic manures/slurries must also be considered in this regard, and included in the plan, quantities, types and dates of organic manure spreading should be accounted for.

The regulations propose different permitted amounts of nitrogen for different crops, furthermore there are various exceptions and additional amounts available dependent on previous cropping and fertiliser applications. For example, winter wheat is permitted 220kg/ha but an extra 20kg/ha is allowable if the soils are shallow, or for every tonne that the expected yield exceeds the standard yield. Or an extra 40kg/ha is permitted for milling wheat.

Fertiliser must also be applied as accurately as possible and spreading trajectory must be below 4m from the ground.

The farmer must maintain records relating to nutrient management plans and fertiliser applications.

Phase 4

Phase 4 will be the last stage of the transition to be bought in, as such it has the largest practical implications.

Closed Periods for Organic Nitrogen (with high readily available N)

No organic nitrogen with more than 30% readily available Nitrogen (pig, poultry and slurry) can be spread on land between the following dates:

SANDY OR SHALLOW 1st September to 31st December 1st August to 31st December
ALL OTHER SOILS 15th October to 15th January 1st October to 31st January


Spreading of high nitrogen organic manure is permitted between the 1st August and 15th September if the crop is sown on or before the 15th September.

Spreading after the end of February would be limited to 30m3 (8T/ha of poultry manure) at any one time and there must be at least 3 weeks between each spreading.

Storage of Slurry

The draft regulations state that there must be sufficient storage for all slurry produced on the holding for the storage period. A slurry store must have capacity to store the manure in addition to any rainfall, washings or other liquid that enters the vessel either directly or indirectly. If slurry/poultry manure is sent off the holding storage facilities are not required.

The storage periods are:

1st October to 1st April for pig and poultry manure (6 months)

1st October to 1st March “for any other case” i.e. slurry. (5 months)

This differs from the existing Silage and Slurry Storage Regulations (SSAFO) which requires 4 months storage, in cases of low rainfall areas the new requirement might be lower than the existing SSAFO requirement, in which case an assessment should be made to determine the most effective way to meet the new storage requirement, i.e. an improved clean and dirty water system.

The regulations also require farmers to keep records detailing all of the above factors, confirming they have not exceeded the maximum nitrogen, the amount of all types of nitrogen applied to crops and grassland, any manures imported or exported, numbers and ages of livestock on the holding to calculate how much nitrogen they produce. These records will be required annually, and should be completed by the 30th April each year, and ultimately 5 years of records will need to be kept.

These regulations could have massive practical implications particularly for poultry, pig and dairy farmers, please contact either Ellie Watkins on 07495 006808 or Katie Davies on 07495 006849 if you are at all concerned or wish to discuss the practical implications on your farm.

At Agri Advisor we already have software for producing these records for our English clients, and if it should become necessary, we will be able to produce records swiftly and efficiently for our Welsh clients.