At the start of the December Defra announced new rules that farmers will be expected to follow from April next year, concerning management of manures and fertilisers and the protection of soil and water. At the moment it is not clear whether these rules will replace or merely complement existing Cross Compliance legislation, but it is a good marker of how we anticipate regulation will progress in the future.
These rules are based on good environmental practice, which when effectively applied in any farming business will not only reduce pollution risk but will also increase your farm efficiency and protect and enhance your natural resources. They echo existing requirements about no-spread zones and so on, but add in an extra element of risk-based assessment concerning soil runoff and pollution. The rules will also require soil tests to be carried out at least every five years.
These rules will be introduced gradually from April 2018, with support and advice from the Environment Agency. Full details will be available soon on the GOV.UK website, and an overview can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/farming-rules-for-water-from-april-2018
Your FWAG South West adviser will be able to give you more information, and if you are a Farmer Member Plus then perhaps consider using your free advice for an appraisal of your current status in light of these new rules!