Rural Hub

Spreading organic manures on farmland – what’s new?

3 mins

The Environment Agency has issued a Regulatory Position Statement (RPS 252) to clarify the rules for farmers in England governing when they can apply farmyard manures, slurry, AD digestate and sewage sludge onto farmland.

New Farming Rules for Water (FrfW) were introduced in April 2018 which stated that to prevent water pollution any applications of organic manure should be planned “so that the application does not exceed the needs of the soil and crop on land”.

However, the EA says despite this requirement being introduced three years ago significant quantities of organic manure are still being applied to arable stubbles in the autumn – prior to winter cereals – even though there is no crop need or where phosphate levels are already sufficient.

It is understood there is particular concern about the amount of sewage sludge being applied in the autumn, which poses a water pollution risk because of the level of nitrate-nitrogen leaching.

The RPS 252 restates that organic manures should only be applied in the autumn provided there is a soil and crop need – for example, where oilseed rape rather than a winter cereal is being grown – and will not give rise to a significant risk of pollution.

But until Spring 2022, the EA will allow farmers to plan to apply organic manure to agricultural land that may exceed the needs of the soil or crop on that land, so long as they comply with certain conditions and notify the EA first.

The primary conditions are:

1 . Ideally, the manure should be stored at the place of production until it can be used to provide a crop and soil need.

2 . If not able to be stored at the place of production, then it should be stored at the place of use until spread to meet a crop and soil need.

3 . If neither of the above is viable, consider sending the manure to an off-site treatment plant, such as an AD plant or even sewage treatment works.

4 . Only if none of the above is viable, farmers can spread the manure on land with a low risk of leaching and /or run-off, in which case they should notify the EA that this is what they are doing.

The EA says it is planning that this extra flexibility will apply for spreading up to 1st March 2022 only.

Farm leaders have voiced their concern at the new guidance, acknowledging that while improving water quality is of huge importance, this new regime will throw up practical problems and suggesting farmers need much more clarity.

Although technically this is a tightening of existing rules, rather than the introduction of new ones, it is clear that moving forward many farmers will have to implement significant changes to the way they store and spread manure, which will present huge challenges for some.

Read the Environment Agency’s Regulatory Position Statement (RPS 252).

The EA has also produced a more detailed guidance note which has answers for 72 common questions.

If you would like to discuss how this will affect your business, contact a member of the Farming Department.

Paul Dennison
Senior Associate Director, Farm Business Consultant
+44 (0)1609 897104
Send a message to Paul Dennison
3 mins

Related Articles


5 top tips for a successful pumpkin diversification

The UK pumpkin market has seen impressive growth in recent years, with a trip to a farm to pick out a pumpkin now a popular annual outing for many families. Whether you have an existing pumpkin diversification or are thinking about establishing one, here are some tips for establishing and running a successful enterprise. 1. […]

Scotland consults over shape of new Agriculture Bill

The Scottish Government has published a consultation on a new Agriculture Bill for Scotland. The introduction says the Agriculture Bill will provide Scotland with a framework ‘to support and work with farmers and crofters to meet more of our food needs sustainably and to farm and croft with nature’. The government says the key aims […]

Exploring lower carbon farming systems in the Cairngorms

Strutt & Parker is helping the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) to deliver on an ambitious plan to address the climate change crisis and restore and protect nature across what is the UK’s largest National Park. As part of its Heritage Horizons: Cairngorms 2030 programme, the Park Authority has asked Strutt & Parker to deliver […]

Wales unveils Sustainable Farming Scheme details

More details of the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS), which will become the primary source of government support for farmers in Wales, have been published by the Welsh government. There is no information on possible payment rates, which does make it hard to assess how attractive the scheme might prove to farmers and the implications for […]

Talk to us

Want to talk to us about our rural specialisms? Send us a message and we will make sure it gets to the right person.

Please write your name
Please write a message

Sign up

Sign up to be notified when we launch new publications so you’re always ahead of the research.

Please write your name
Please write a correct email address
Send me updates about
Please tick a box