Farming Rules for Water

What we’re doing

In 2018, Defra introduced the ‘Farming Rules for Water’ – new regulations designed to protect water environments and help farm businesses save money and improve resilience. There are eight rules that farms must follow, requiring farmers and landowners to:

  • keep soil on the land
  • match nutrients to crop and soil needs
  • keep livestock fertilisers and manures out of the water

We found that many farmers in the area were unclear on what some of the rules meant in practice. In response to this feedback we established a project to work with farmers on a one-to-one basis to improve awareness of the rules.

The project employs a Catchment Based Approach, enabling us to collaborate and call on the knowledge of other organisations currently working in the catchment, including Catchment Sensitive Farming and the Environment Agency.

By working with farmers to help them better understand and implement the Farming Rules for Water, we aim to

  • help the Crookhurst catchment move towards a ‘Good’ water quality classification status under the Water Framework Directive
  • improve bathing water quality at Allonby to move towards ‘Excellent’ classification status under the Bathing Water Directive.

Project progress

The project launched in late 2019 and, as of July 2021, we have worked with 20 farmers and landowners across the catchment to deliver practical one-to-one support. This has included:

  • Farm walkover surveys to identify potential sources of pollution and recommend ways to avert the problem.
  • Farm steading and drainage reports to raise awareness of possible issues in the farmyard and signpost funding opportunities to improve infrastructure.
  • Soil sampling and nutrient mapping to help farmers carefully plan the fertilisers they apply to match the crops needs. You can view an example farm soil analysis map (.pdf). 
  • Manure and slurry analysis for nutrient content to enable farmers to make better use of the manures produced on the farm.

This advice-led approach will continue in the catchment until autumn 2021. 

Project Officer assessing a field’s soil structure

Sediment source identified during a walkover survey, and a slurry sample ready to be analysed

Funders and partners

The project is funded by Natural Course, an EU funded LIFE Integrated Project. (Project number: LIFE14 IPE/UK/027) and is supported by the Environment Agency and Catchment Sensitive Farming.