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Soil and Water Management Programme

(Option closed to new applicants from 2010)

Introduction/What is this about

Sustainable farming depends on good soil management. Poor soil management can damage soils and lead to poor plant growth. A damaged soil structure can also result in poor drainage and may lead to ponding, run-off and erosion. This may cause pollution of watercourses. Management of soils can help to reduce the risk of compaction and erosion, and will help to optimise the yields and quality of crops and pasture.


The SWMP will assess the risks to soil and water on the farm including soil erosion, compaction, structural degradation, and losses of organic matter and of nutrients.

Where risks to soils or to the water environment have been identified, management practices should be outlined in the SWMP to protect soils and the water environment. This may include the prevention or mitigation of soil erosion or compaction, or preventing water pollution resulting from soil erosion, manures or other nutrients.

What will this achieve

This SWMP will benefit both the environment and the farm business. It will reduce the risk of diffuse pollution and help ensure compliance with water environment legislation.

What you can do

Option 1: Preparation of the SWMP
The farmer is required to draw up a SWMP which should assess the risks to the soils from erosion, compaction, structural degradation, loss of organic matter and contamination. The Programme will identify measures designed to address these risks.

As guidance, farmers should use the Farm Soils Plan (FSP) which provides basic guidance and reminders on:

  • recognising poor soil conditions
  • maintaining soil structure and rooting potential
  • reducing soil erosion and protecting water quality
  • targeted nutrient application
  • protecting soils and the Single Farm Payment.

The farmer should then record information on the soil types and structure on all the fields of the farm. This may involve a physical examination of the soils. A Risk Assessment for Manures and Slurries (RAMS assessment), using the 4 Point Plan (4PP), would also be beneficial. The farmer should also record what current soil protection measures are in place, and identify any other relevant issues such as ponding or poaching.

The information should be recorded on the Soils and Water Plan. Where a series of fields suffers from similar problems, the form may be used to record and address these collectively.

The farmer should also use a copy of the farm field map to highlight areas on the farm with soil risks, issues and problems. This should include marking on the map:

  • fields at risk of water erosion and run-off on a field by field basis
  • fields where wind erosion occurs or flooding occurs frequently
  • the main flow pathways to watercourses, roads, houses, etc.
  • poor soil structure, waterlogging
  • soils with low organic matter.

The farmer should then record what positive measures will be taken to minimise the risks and problems that have been recorded. This will require a written statement for every field, or series of fields, where risks have been identified. A range of positive measures is outlined in FSP, PEPFAA Code and 4PP for farmers to consider. Links to guidance are given at the foot of the page.

An application can be made for funding the preparation of the SWMP.

The SWMP can then be used in future to support applications for the SRDP options which it identified as measures to minimise the risks and problems recorded.

The Programme should also be updated annually, or on adoption of measures, and be available for inspection by SGRPID staff.

Option 2: Implementing measures where no SRDP Option is available.

A SWMP should already have been prepared to the standards listed in Option 1.

Where a SWMP identifies site-specific measures which cannot be funded elsewhere within the SRDP, the applicant may apply separately for funding under Option 2.

The measures must be to protect or enhance the soils and/or waters from the effects of erosion, compaction, structural degradation, loss of organic matter, or contamination.

The applicant should identify the measures to be carried out, the improvements expected to be achieved, and the costs involved.

Who can apply (including geographical element)

Farmers in any part of Scotland.

Eligibility criteria

The applicant must be running a farm business.

What costs could be supported

Option 1: Provided that the audit has been carried out and a programme produced to a satisfactory standard and the potential beneficiary submits a valid RDC application:

  1. If the audit was prepared by a professional adviser, 50% of the cost up to a maximum payment of £300 will be paid.
  2. If the potential beneficiary carries out the audit rather than employing an adviser, or the farm has already been audited under another scheme, a fixed sum of £150 will be paid in recognition of the time involved and cost of conversion to the SWMP.

Option 2: Funding will be a proportion of the costs up to a maximum £30 per hectare based on the area to which the measure is to apply.

Rate of support

Normally up to 40%. Plus 10% Young Farmer Premium if eligible*

*To be eligible for the Young Farmer Premium, you must be a farmer or crofter who, at the time of committing a Proposal is:

  • 16 years of age or over, but under 40 years of age
  • the head of an agricultural business (either as sole proprietor; or as the majority partner; or as the equal partner with another farmer or farmers under 40 years of age).


The Programme will be subject to inspection and verification by staff of the Scottish Government, normally a staff member of the Area Office.

List of links to relevant technical guidance

Prevention of Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activity (PEPFAA) Code http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2005/03/20613/51366

Farm Soils Plan http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2005/12/01130314/03142

Four Point Plan http://www.sac.ac.uk/mainrep/pdfs/fourpointplan.pdf