Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Slurry, solid manure and silage effluent

Livestock slurry, silage effluent and solid manuresslurry, silage effluent and solid manures

This guidance is for farmers who spread:

  • livestock slurry
  • solid manure from agriculture
  • silage effluent.


In Scotland - SEPA have issued temporary guidance on the land application of uncollected milk in Scotland - View the guidance here >>>


What you must do

In Northern Ireland all farmers must comply with rules under the Nitrate Action Programme Regulations and the Phosphorous Regulations.

Northern Ireland: Nitrate Action Programme Regulations

DAERA: Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) and Phosphorus Regulations 2015-2018

In Scotland find out whether you are within a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ). If you are within an NVZ you will need to follow certain rules, such as limiting the amount of organic and inorganic nitrogen fertiliser you use and keeping records.

Scotland: nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZs)

You must not let livestock slurry, silage effluent or manure enter rivers, streams or other watercourses. If you allow polluting effluent to enter surface waters or groundwater you may be committing a pollution offence.

Preventing water pollution

In Scotland you must not apply slurry or organic fertilisers:

  • within 10 metres of any drainage ditch or any surface water or wetland
  • within 50 metres of any well, spring or borehole that supplies water for human consumption, or any uncapped well or borehole
  • on land that is waterlogged or covered with snow
  • on land with an average soil depth less than 40cm that overlies gravel or fissured rock .

You must not apply livestock slurry on frozen land.

In January 2018 some changes were made to diffuse pollution regulations that may impact on the activities of your business.

The Water Environment (Miscellaneous) (Scotland) Regulations 2017

In summary, the changes to the regulations mean that the following activities are now covered by General Binding Rules (GBRs).

• The storage, transfer and application of slurry, manure and other fertilisers to land
• The storage and application of digestates and sewage sludge to land
• The use of plant protection products by all application methods
• The use of herbicides in or near to water to control invasive species
• The operation of sheep handling facilities when using pour on chemicals
• Specific types of work carried out to protect river banks from erosion
• The storage of agricultural fuel oil

 Farming and Water Scotland – Know the rules guides: slurry and manure


Good practice

You should:

  • spread manure, dirty water and slurry from livestock premises to land in line with good agricultural practice
  • match the amount of nutrients you apply to the needs of your crops (especially phosphorous and nitrogen) by drawing up a nutrient management plan
  • supervise the work of contractors spreading your slurry to ensure they are aware of the codes of good agricultural practice and the advice on high-risk and non-spreading areas
  • monitor the content of metals in pig and poultry manures and in the soil on fields which receive regular applications.

A manure management plan will help you decide when and where to spread your organic manures. It should take into account slope, watercourses, drainage, soil type, crop type and rainfall. The codes of good agricultural practice will help you develop a manure management plan.

In Northern Ireland, see section 3 of the DAERA code of good agricultural practice for water, air and soil.

DAERA: Code of good agricultural practice for the prevention of pollution of water, air and soil

DAERA: The Code of Good Agricultural Practice for the Reduction of Ammonia Emissions

DAERA: Agricultural waste - roles and responsibilities

The NIEA has produced a leaflet about the problems caused by ammonia emissions and what can be done to reduce them.

NIEA: Leaflet on ammonia

In Scotland, see section 4 of the Prevention of Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activity (PEPFAA) Code and the 4 Point Plan.

Scottish Government: Prevention of Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activity (PEPFAA Code) 2005 (Scotland) (Adobe PDF - 1.34MB)

Scottish Government: 4 Point Plan

Watch our short videos:

How to protect soil and water on a farm

How to reduce costs on a farm

How to prevent diffuse pollution on a farm

Further information

The codes of good agricultural practice also provide general advice on how to prevent nitrates and phosphorous leaching from your fields into the water environment.

In Northern Ireland:

DAERA: Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) and Phosphorus Regulations 2015-2018

In Scotland:

Scottish Government: 4 Point Plan

Farming and Water Scotland: 'Know the rules' guidance
Agricultural Industries Confederation (UK): Fertiliser publications

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