Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Fertilisers used in golf

Fertilisers used in golf

Fertilisers can be a major cause of water pollution. They can raise nutrient levels and cause excessive growth of algae and other aquatic plants in both rivers and the marine environment.

If you are looking for information pesticides read our guidance on Pesticides and Biocides.

What you must do

Do not allow fertilisers to enter watercourses such as rivers, streams, burns, lochs and loughs or drainage ditches. If you do, you may be committing a pollution offence.

For information on how to prevent pollution incidents and tips on how to store and handle materials responsibly, read our guidance on preventing water pollution. Businesses in Northern Ireland should also visit The NIEA and water pollution pages on the DAERA website.

Storing fertilisers

In Scotland you must not store any fertilisers:

  • within 10 metres of surface water or wetland
  • within 50 metres of any spring or borehole
  • on land that is waterlogged
  • on land with an average soil depth less than 40cm that overlies gravel or fissured rock
  • on land that is sloping, unless any runoff can be intercepted by a sufficient buffer zone.

Organic fertilisers

In Scotland you must not apply organic fertilisers to:

  • land within 10 metres of any ditch, burn, river, loch, wetland or coastal water (on sloping ground a wider buffer zone may be required).
  • land within 50 metres of any well, spring or borehole that supplies water for human consumption
  • land that is waterlogged or covered with snow
  • land with an average soil depth less than 40cm that overlies gravel or fissured rock

For more information, download the following factsheet from Farming and Water Scotland:

Know the Rules: Slurry and Manure

Inorganic fertilisers

You must not apply inorganic fertilisers to land that:

  • is within 2 metres of any surface water or wetland
  • is within 5 metres of any well, spring or borehole that supplies water for human consumption or any well or borehole that is not adequately capped
  • has an average soil depth of less than 40 cm and overlies gravel or fissured rock

is frozen, waterlogged, or covered with snow.

Application of fertilisers

In Scotland it is an offence to apply organic or inorganic fertiliser to land in excess of the nutrient needs of the crop.

In Scotland you must ensure that the equipment used to apply organic or inorganic fertiliser is maintained and in a good state of repair.

For more information, download the following factsheet from Farming and Water Scotland:

Know the Rules: Inorganic Fertilisers

 

Good practice

Analyse the soil before you apply fertilisers so that you can judge the timing, method and rate of fertiliser application.

Limiting the amount of fertiliser that you use by carefully planning where you need it and how you will apply, it will save you money and reduce any negative environmental impacts.

Do not apply fertilisers if the ground is waterlogged, frozen, snow-covered or, at the other extreme, baked dry. This is when the risk of wash-off is at its greatest.

Apply fertiliser by hand in areas close to riverbanks, and avoid land that could end up under water.

In areas that drain into sensitive water bodies, consider:

  • applying fertiliser by hand or ground machine
  • phasing aerial treatments over several years
  • using slower release fertilisers.
  • Avoid storing large quantities of fertiliser; store only as much as you think you will use.

You should store fertilisers:

  • under cover, and away from combustible materials
  • where there is no risk of flooding
  • as far away as possible and at least 10 metres from watercourses or field drains or 50 metres from a spring or uncapped borehole supplying drinking water.
  • where the risks of vandalism and damage to tanks from vehicle movements are low.

Bund your storage tanks. The bund should be able to hold 110% of the tanks capacity

Inspect your tanks and pipework regularly (at least once a year) for signs of damage.

Lock valves shut on tanks if the tank could empty when the valve is accidentally opened.

Use storage tanks that are resistant to corrosion from liquid fertiliser. If you use a mild steel tank to store nitrogen fertilisers, you can protect it from corrosion by first filling it with a phosphate-containing fertiliser. This creates a protective layer on the inside of the tank.

Clean up any spilt fertiliser immediately to prevent it entering or being washed into a drain or watercourse. When you wash spreaders after use, do not allow the water to enter a drain or watercourse.

Familiarise yourself with the drainage surrounding the course you are working on so that you will be able to deal with any spills of fertiliser and minimise their effects.

Contact your environmental regulator in the event of a spill and take immediate action to contain the spill and prevent the contamination of watercourses.

GPP 21 Pollution incident response planning (Adobe PDF –318KB)

When you wash spreaders after use, do not allow the water to enter a drain or watercourse.

 

Further information

Scottish Golf Environment - Turf

Amenity Forum

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