The updated manure usage rules

The updated manure usage rules and tips to help you comply with them.


On 30 March 2022 DEFRA published an update to the Farming Rules for Water concerning application of manures in autumn and winter. A summary of what these manure usage rules mean in practice for farmers can be found below:


  • The guidance reconfirms the requirement for farmers to have nutrient management plans in place, detailing planned applications to meet a crop or soil’s need, showing that applications will not cause significant risk of pollution.


  • Growers will now be able to apply manure in autumn for winter sown crops, though in most cases the crop or a cover crop must be established by 15 October to reduce run-off risks.


  • High readily available nitrogen (High-RAN) and low readily available nitrogen (Low-RAN) manures will now be differentiated at 30% based on industry standard figures, or testing. Application rate limits of 8t/ha will apply to High-RAN manures (eg. slurries and digestates) between the following dates:


    • Tillage land (shallow or sandy) 1st Aug – end Feb
    • Tillage land (other soils) 1 Oct – end Feb
    • Grassland (shallow or sandy) 1 Sept – end Feb
    • Grassland (other soils) 15 Oct – end Feb


  • Farmers should avoid applying organic manures that raise the phosphorous index above level 3 (or the targets for that soil or crop). This is the case unless a farmer can demonstrate that it is not reasonably practical to comply, for example, where a farm produces and applies its own organic manure and cannot take reasonable measures to treat or manage the manure.
New Manure rules picture of muck spreading

How to use crop recording software to help you comply with the new manure usage rules.


Can you enter your nutrient management plan into your crop recording software?


  • By having your nutrient management plan setup within your software, you will be able to plan for your actual applications, keeping them in line with compliance requirements.


  • By creating nutrient management plans in advance, you will be able to better plan how much organic and inorganic fertiliser you will use, as a result you will know how to order and manage your stocks for the coming year.


Can your software help record your livestock numbers to help estimate and manage your yearly farmyard manure production?


  • By recording your livestock numbers, you can estimate how much manageable farmyard manure is produced on farm. Having this information means you will be able to manage how much you have on farm at any one time, enabling you t0 create more targeted manure application plans.


Are you recording the yearly breakdown of N, P and K for your livestock’s manure and are you recording it as an input cost?


  • Every year the amount of N, P and K in your manure changes. By measuring and recording these changes, you will be able to more precisely plan applications for your crops’ requirements.


  • Remember that all fertilisers have a cost! To get more accurate crop margins, your farmyard manure should be managed as any other input for the farm and have costs attributed to it. This will allow you to identify whether there are any potential cost savings, so you can make an informed decision when committing to use.


Are you able to record the locations of water courses etc?


  • By having locations records, you can add application restrictions around water courses helping you to manage where farmyard manure can be applied on farm. Not only will this help you to mitigate any pollution or contamination risks, but you will also be able to more precisely calculate your manure or fertiliser requirements.


Can you plan and record intermediary cropping?


  • Tools like Geofolia crop recording software allow you to record field margins and intermediary crops on a field, along with planning for follow on crops based on previous cropping and residual management. As a result, you can demonstrate compliance with the new manure usage rules by having records of established cover prior to autumn manure application date restrictions.


Customers using our Geofolia crop recording software can record all of the above easily.

If you are a farmer looking to find out more about crop recording software like Geofolia please call 01798 877100 and select Option 3, or email  If you are an existing Geofolia customer looking for advice on how to keep these records, please contact us on 01798 877100 and select Option 1, or email

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