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20 September 2018

King West

The Code of Good Agricultural Practice on protecting water, soil & air

The Code of Good Agricultural Practice (CoGAP), written by specialists from Defra and Natural England, is a practical guide to help farmers, growers and land managers protect the environment in which they operate, describing the key actions that those involved in land management can take to protect and enhance the quality of water, soil & air. In a number of cases, following the guidelines set out in the Code may also achieve cost savings for the farm, as well as helping land managers and owners to meet the legal obligations, including those relating to cross compliance. The code has recently been updated and released as a working document for farmers, growers and land managers. 

Protecting our natural resources of water, soil & air is essential for a sustainable environment. There are a number of factors that, when modified, benefit all three areas of the environment that are included in the guide; water, soil and air. The CoGAP sets out numerous cases where improvements can be made and gives examples of the results which can be expected. Examples of good practice include; 

  • The careful management of livestock manures to reduce ammonia losses and other gases into the atmosphere, limit nitrite leaching into groundwater, avoid excessive build-up of nutrients & contaminants in soil and stop micro-organisms such as salmonellae, E-coli and campylobacters being washed into surface waters. 
  • Changing the contents of animal feeds to; reduce surplus nitrogen, limit the accumulation of phosphorus in the soil and reduce the risk of soil contamination from supplements such as copper & zinc. 
  • Following a nutrient management plan will ensure an improved efficiency in the use of fertilisers & organic manures which can, in turn; limit nitrate leaching, prevent phosphorus build up in soils and reduce the risk of nitrous oxide being lost into the atmosphere.  

The Code is split into sections. Each section begins with a statement of relevance to the landowner or manager, followed by key advisory messages that should, where relevant, be followed on the land. Each section then continues to clearly state; the actions that must be taken in order for legal obligations to be met- or where to find further information in order to comply as well as actions that should be considered, as best practice,to minimise harmful environmental effects and improve overall land management. Sections of the Code include;

  • Pollution sources & impacts
  • Soil fertility & plant nutrients
  • Management plans
  • Farm buildings & structures
  • Fieldwork & soil management
  • Specialised horticulture
  • Waste & waste disposal 

The guidance offers practical interpretations of legislation and provides advice and statements of good practice. Good practice within the agricultural arena leads to minimising the risk of pollution whilst protecting natural resources and allowing economically viable agriculture to continue. The Code provides an important point of reference, often referred to in tenancy agreements, setting a baseline that farmers, growers & land managers should follow. 

If you require advice in the application of the CoGAP or support in your farm management plan, in the first instance, please email hepsom@kingwest.co.uk or call King West on 01858 435970. 

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