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Water Protection measures since 1st January 2021 – do they affect my farm?


Many farmers have asked about water protection measures that have been in place since the start of 2021 and if these apply to their farms. These measures were introduced to reduce nutrient and sediment run-off to waters to improve water quality. Tim Hyde, Environment Specialist has the answers here

from 1Jan2021 THyde

View Water Protection Measures Jan 2021 as a PDF here

Some key points around these measures are outlined below:

Who the measures apply to

These on-farm requirements will vary from farm to farm depending on the farm’s stocking rate in the previous calendar year and apply to the 13,000 farmers below.

    1. Applies to Derogation farmers in 2021
    2. Applies to those farms with a Grassland Stocking rate >170 kgs N/ha in 2020
    3. If you exported slurry/FYM in 2020 to reduce your stocking rate below 170 kgs N/ha

What the measures involve

The measures include:

Fencing bovines back from watercourses

  • Where watercourses are currently unfenced, a fence must be erected at least 1.5m from the top of the bank.
  • Existing fences must be moved out to at least 1.5m from the top of the watercourse bank.
  • An exception to this is where an existing roadway runs parallel to a watercourse. The existing fence will suffice provided there is a fence on both sides of the roadway and the roadway is cambered away from the watercourse, along with an earthen bank between the roadway and watercourse.

Moving water troughs 20m from watercourses

  • All new and existing water troughs must be located at least 20m from watercourses. 

Crossing watercourses with bovines

  • Bovines are still permitted to cross through watercourses provided both sides of the watercourse are fenced 1.5m back from the top of the bank.
  • While not a legal requirement at present, the provision of bridges over watercourses where regular crossing is necessary; is still considered to be best practice.

Moving water troughs 20m from watercourses

  • All new and existing water troughs must be located at least 20m from watercourses.

No drinking points for bovines from these watercourses

  • Bovines cannot freely drink from the watercourse, and fences are in place to prevent bovines freely crossing or going up/down stream.

OSI maps clarify watercourses affected by the measures

To make this easier to understand and see what watercourses this applies to on your farm these OSI maps will help. 

Watercourses on your farm are defined as the solid blue lines on the OSI 1:5000 scale maps

  • View watercourses here at OSI Place map (select Customise, A3, 1:5,000 and landscape).
  • Make sure to zoom in and out, as the solid blue lines can be hard to spot.
  • There will also be some non-solid blue lines which these measures don’t apply to. 

Prevent direct run-off from farm roads into waters

There is also a requirement to prevent direct run-off from farm roads into waters. This applies to all farms, regardless of enterprise or stocking rate. For all farm roadways, there can be no sediment or nutrient run-off into “waters”. Waters includes watercourses, rivers, drains, lakes, etc (including features which may carry no water for part of the year).

Additional information is available on the DAFM FAQ on Nitrate Regulation - New Measures effective from 01/01/2021 (PDF) 

Find out more on Water Quality here