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Practical ideas to reduce pollution risks

24 June 2016

With an ongoing focus on Scotland’s water quality and the introduction of new Diffuse Pollution Priority Catchments, its worth taking another look at the Diffuse Pollution General Binding Rules (DP GBRs).  As part of the DP GBRs introduced in 2008, there are some key distances to keep in mind when working next to watercourses.  These include:

  • Keeping 10m away from watercourses when spreading slurry or manures
  • Preventing significant poaching by livestock within 5m of a watercourse
  • Maintaining a 2m buffer between the top of the bank and in-field cultivations.

Keeping on the right side of the DP GBRs can both protect surrounding water quality and be of benefit to the farm business.  For example, steps such as planning when and how to apply slurry or manure to make best use of nutrients and balance bagged fertiliser applications can lead to financial savings and efficiency improvements.  When used at the right time, a 10m3 tanker of cattle slurry could be worth in the region of £35 in terms of equivalent nutrient value.

Preventing significant poaching from livestock within 5m of a watercourse is required under the DP GBRs; however this doesn’t automatically mean full exclusion fencing.  Work with alternative watering systems to supply a drinking trough filled from the burn via a solar panel or ram pump, coupled with temporary electric fencing to discourage access to the burn at badly poached areas, has been enough to reduce the number and frequency of livestock entering the watercourse and protect the bankside at a couple of trial sites.  This has reduced the number of stock going into the burn on a daily basis and has cut down the amount of soil erosion through poaching and dunging into the water, improving quality for stock using the water further down stream and removed the need for full exclusion fencing.

For a list of the DP GBRs and practical ideas highlighting what other farmers have done to reduce pollution risk and benefit the business, visit Farming and Water Scotland.  You can now do this either on the web or in person – Farming and Water Scotland will be at a number of agricultural shows across Scotland this summer and there are more details on the website at  You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @FarmWaterScot

Rebecca Audsley, Senior Consultant, SAC Consulting

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