Spreading Organic Manure on Agricultural Land

Following on from the Environment Agency’s (EA) publication of the regulatory position statement 252 (RPS 252) on the 3rd of August 2021, there has been some uncertainty over what this means for land managers.


The rules governing the use and spreading of organic manures were set in November 2017 (revised March 2018) in the “Farming Rules for Water” policy paper. These were put in place to tackle the issue of diffusion pollution from agricultural land i.e., run-off and leaching of nutrients into surface and ground water.


In summary, The Farming Rules for Water say, all land managers must plan their applications of fertiliser and organic manures, and need to have the following in place;


  • Nutrient Management Plans
  • Applications, based on RB209 rules and are made to crop or soil requirement only
  • Up to date soil samples, less than 5 years old
  • Soil Nitrogen Supply assessments, or Nitrogen soil samples
  • Application machines calibrated and records kept
  • Pollution risk assessments
  • Controls in place to minimise or eliminate pollution
  • Work with neighbouring farms to create contingency plans


Storage of Organic Manures, this must not pose a risk of pollution, stores must not be:


  • Within 10 metres of inland freshwater or coastal water
  • Within 50 metres of a spring, well or borehole


These should all be marked on maps as part of your Nutrient Management Plans


Organic manures cannot be applied:


  • If the land is to be left bare over winter
  • If the land has been drained, pipe or mole, or subsoiled in the last 12 months
  • If surface water is within 10 metres or a conduit leading to surface water
  • If a spring, well or a borehole is within 50 metres
  • If the land is within a designated ground water source protection zone 1
  • If the land is at field capacity above the land drains, i.e. the land drains are running
  • If there is a risk of nitrate-nitrogen leaching at above 5kg/ha
  • If there is a high risk of leaching or run-off


On the 3rd August 2021 the EA released the RPS 252, which whilst not a derogation, has given land managers some leeway over the details set out in the “Farming Rules for Water”, although there must not be any risk of pollution. The RPS 252 is in place until the end of February 2022, after which land managers must comply with the regulatory requirements unless the EA extends the RPS.


If there is potential of a breach the RPS must be used to inform the EA and can be done by contacting them on enquiries@environment-agency.co.uk.  Examples of breaches include:


  • Unavoidable production of solid livestock manure or slurry and no available storage, followed by spreading on cropped land with an application that exceeds the needs of the soil and crop
  • No available storage for treated sludge from sewage plants treating domestic or urban waste waters (biosolids), supplied within a contract with the sludge producer, followed by unavoidable spreading on cropped land with an application that exceeds the needs of the soil and crop


If you wish to discuss further please contact your FACTS qualified advisor, or if you want to discuss this with one of our consultants, please do not hesitate to contact our office. Any further information can be found on the links below: