09: Codes of Practice and Environmental Protection

At the end of this session you will be able to:

  • Describe the main Codes of practice that aim to reduce environmental impact.
  • Explain the main purpose of the Soil, Air and Water Codes.
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses in current agricultural practices and their impact on the environment.

Starter Task

In a group, list “good practice” examples for being a student, which will lead to the topic and help them see the difference between rules and good practice.

Identify "Good practice".

Identify Rules

Identify Laws

What is included in the Code?

The Code of Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Water, Soil and Air for Wales provides advice and guidance for farmers and land managers to minimise the risks of causing pollution.

The Code draws together advice on good agricultural practice from many sources.

Good practice is defined as that which reduces the risk of pollution, while allowing profitable and productive farming to continue.

The Code also provides a reference source for the legal requirements for farmers and land managers with respect to air, soil and water. It also contains references to related legal requirements such as planning, access and biodiversity.

Why do we need a Code of Practice?

Protecting our natural resources of water, air and soil is essential for a sustainable environment and for farming and forestry. Good management of these resources will help sustain your farming business, reduce costs by avoiding pollution, and add value by demonstrating to customers that their food has been sustainably produced.

Code of Practice Introduction

What can farmers do to reduce the impact?


Duty of Care: According to the Codes of Practice

All farm staff and any contractors you employ should be familiar with the causes and effects of pollution. They should:

  • receive appropriate training for what they have to do; know how to operate and maintain the equipment they use;
  • know what to do in an emergency;
  • be able to follow any emergency plan for the farm;
  • comply with any risk assessments prepared, for example, in manure, nutrient, soil or crop protection management plans;
  • be aware of the presence of areas which they might damage in the course of their work, such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, other protected areas, and land under management agreements;
  • be particularly aware of high-risk times such as silage making and sheep dipping.

Pollution-limiting advice in the Codes of Practice

On a farm map, note the main sources of pollution risk, the potential route the polluted matter would take, and any mitigation methods that could be put in place.

For example: Main Pollution Sources (with likely routes/positions marked)

  • Slurry lagoon tin tank and reception pit – could overflow to ditch
  • Farmyard Manure Heap – drainage could run to ditch
  • Silo clamp and effluent tank – overflow to ditch
  • Fuel Oil Store – not bunded and could drain to ditch
  • Cubicle Shed – all drainage to slurry tank/reception pit Parlour – all drainage to slurry tank/reception pit
  • Dairy normally drainage to slurry tank, but spillages could run to ditch
  • Liquid fertiliser – undercover – bund too small to contain all contents and excess could overflow to ditch. Pipeline for umbilical cord system – crosses ditches

What are the issues?


What are the issues?


What are the issues?


Assessment Questions

  1. What is the difference between Codes of Practice and Legislation?
  2. What 3 key areas are covered by the Code of Good Agricultural Practice?
  3. What is the purpose of a Soil Management Plan?
  4. What is the purpose of the Environmental Management Plan?
  5. What is the purpose of a Manure Management Plan?
  6. What is the purpose of a Nutrient Management Plan?
  7. What is the purpose of a Crop Protection Management Plan?
Use the Code of Practice to form your answers.


Planning the overall environmental management of your holding will help to identify any pollution risks, routes that pollution might take (e.g. slurry running down a track to a surface water) and potential problem areas.

It will help you be better prepared for, or prevent, any environmental issues that may arise.

Environmental incidents on farms include fires, silage effluent runoff, or slurry lagoons leaking or bursting. They could also include damage to protected areas, such as a fire on a SSSI.

Following good practice will help you:

  • Plan the use of resources, reducing the risk of pollution from inappropriate resource use; and prepare for any potential incidents.
  • Save money by: Reducing any clean-up costs; providing a source of funding to carry out environmental measures.