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Reducing Diffuse Pollution

Why are we funding this package?

Good water quality is a key outcome of the SRDP. It will help to maintain and enhance biodiversity and environmental conditions on farmland and in the waters which drain from farms.

This package will help to deliver the Water Quality outcome. It will support actions which are needed under existing water legislation and codes of good practice, and provide additional benefits to both the farm environment and the farm business.

What will this package achieve?

Most of Scotland's water environment is generally in good condition. However, some 20% of river water in Scotland is not on target to reach good quality standards, as a consequence of diffuse pollution.

Diffuse pollution arises from a wide range of land use activities, such as fertiliser application, cultivation and grazing, often spread across large areas. These activities can result in loss of potential pollutants such as nutrients, faecal pathogens, toxic compounds and sediment. From a single field, such losses may not appear significant but together, across a catchment, they can lead to poor water quality.

Reducing the losses of these potential pollutants through the implementation of the options in this package will help to maintain and improve water quality in Scotland.

A similar package, Reducing losses of nitrate, seeks to support actions to minimise diffuse pollution from nutrients, including actions anticipated under the revision of the Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) Action Programme. It focuses on nitrate losses and supports a narrower range of options.

Reducing diffuse pollution will:
  • improve water quality by reducing the risk of nutrient enrichment which can damage freshwater habitats and species
  • safeguard human and animal health by keeping water quality within acceptable water quality standards
  • improve biodiversity on land and in water by reducing nutrient loading in sensitive habitats such as wetlands
  • improve terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems by reducing contamination from faecal material, pesticides or veterinary medicines
  • improve soil conditions, if slurry or manure is applied in the right conditions, the soil can hold more organic matter and its fertility can increase
  • improve the farm business, applying fertiliser at the right time and in the right amount can reduce costs
  • enhance the landscape, enjoyment and recreational use of land.

What can you do?

You should choose which of the following Options will help deliver the outcome you have selected.

We suggest the following Options may all be appropriate.

Some Options- shown in the top list - will always deliver the desired outcomes. If you choose any of these Options, you will not be expected to provide any justification for choosing that Option.

Other Options - those in the bottom list - will only help achieve the desired outcome in specific circumstances. If you choose any of these, the application system will ask you to explain how you see this Option helping to achieve the outcome. You can select as many, or as few, Options as you think you will need. You must judge which Options will most effectively deliver the desired outcomes taking account of your circumstances.

A Nutrient Management Plan Option or a Soil and Water Management Programme Option could help you to draft your proposals. You can produce these plans with an audit of the whole farm.

These Options will always deliver the desired outcomes:

These Options will help to achieve the desired outcome in specific circumstances:

Other support available under the SRDP

There are other Options available under the SRDP that can help you reduce diffuse pollution and the risk to the water environment. Several involve a change in management practices and will reduce the amount of fertilisers and pesticides applied to the land. These Options are available under the Land Managers' Options Scheme and they can complement and support your proposal. They include:

  • Management of conservation headlands
  • Retention of winter stubbles
  • Management of grass margins and beetlebanks in arable fields
  • Biodiversity cropping on in-bye
  • Management of moorland grazing
  • Improvement of rush pasture for wildlife
  • Summer cattle grazing
  • Nutrient management plan