AEM CODE


AEM Code

Agricultural Environmental Management Code of Practice (AEM Code)

On February 28, 2019, the Code of Practice for Agricultural Environmental Management replaced the Agricultural Waste Control Regulation (AWCR). BC Agriculture Council (BCAC) has partnered with the Province of BC to assist communicating the key changes related to the AEM Code.


There are new tools already developed to support implementation with more to come. Please ensure to keep your eyes and ears open for any updates on tips and tools available to you through emails, websites, regional info sessions, industry events, and more.

We will be posting news, updates, tools and resources here on our website as communication is rolled out over the next year (and beyond). Please check back regularly for updates.


COMMODITY SPECIFIC INFORMATION:

Cattle Operations

This information applies specifically to cattle operations. For more information on the new Agricultural Management Code of Practice, visit the Ministry of Environment's webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management.

Do Now

Records: Keeping records of your farm activities will help show that you are meeting the expectations of the new regulation. Records are not submitted to anyone but are required to be kept at least 5 years as your own back up and could be requested during an inspection by provincial environmental protection staff. If requested, you should be able to provide records within 5 days that show:
  • Animal numbers and the amount of manure generated on farm. Records should indicate how much of the manure is used on farm and amounts of any exported to other operations.
  • If manure leaves the farm operation, records are required to document the overall amount, and if in lots of 5 m3 (6.5 yards3) or greater include a log with lot size and receiver information.
  • If you have manure stored temporarily in the field, keep a weekly monitoring record.
  • Fertilizer on use on forage (hay, silage, pasture) land.
High-Risk Areas: Determine if you are in a high-risk area and what actions may need to be taken. High-risk areas include high-precipitation areas, vulnerable aquifer recharge areas, and phosphorus affected areas. An interactive map is available online where you can enter your address.

Temporary Field Storage of Manure:
  • Temporary piles are meant to be temporary (≤ 7 months). If not, a structure should be used for storage.
  • In high precipitation areas, cover temporary piles from October to April.
  • Location matters. Temporary piles must not be in low lying areas that may be flooded seasonally or closer than 30 m to a watercourse or drinking water source. Keep piles off of coarse-textured soil if you are in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area.
  • Change where your temporary piles are located - using the same area continuously will cause nutrient buildup. After a temporary pile is removed from an area, re-establish grass or another type of vegetation to remove any nutrients that may be leftover in the soil.

Different livestock areas are described with requirements which become more stringent as the environmental risk associated with the area increases. For all areas the requirements aim to protect clean water from leachate, contaminated runoff, and manure itself. The code defines and includes requirements for confined livestock areas, feedlots, seasonal feeding areas, grazing areas, and temporary holding areas.

Access to Watercourses: If cattle have direct access to a watercourse in seasonal feeding areas, grazing areas, and temporary holding areas, ensure that measures are in place to:
  • minimize trampling and erosion along the watercourse.
  • minimize contaminated runoff and manure from entering the watercourse

The code does not include specific practices, however fencing, off stream watering, or limiting watering points are measures that would discourage loitering and help meet this expectation.

Confined Livestock Areas: A confined livestock area is an outdoor area where cattle are confined, either by structures or the land itself. Normally this is an outdoor feedlot, yard, or holding pen. The definition does capture pastures that are enclosed by fencing, however temporary holding areas on range are not.
  • No access to watercourses: Cattle should not have direct access to a drinking water source or other watercourse while in a confined area.
  • Runoff: Ensure any runoff that comes into contact with by manure or leachate is contained so that is does not enter a watercourse or flooded areas.


Confined Livestock Areas: In addition to the noted requirements for confined areas, feedlots must follow added requirements: If animals are in a soil-based feedlot, accumulated organic material will form a self-sealing layer over time, preventing nutrients from leaching downwards. The new regulation requires that this layer is not damaged when cleaning out pens.

Seasonal Feeding Areas: A forage production area other than a grazing area, confined livestock area, or temporary holding area where animals are located seasonally and provided supplemental feed.

Make sure that on-ground feeding locations and mobile feeding bins are not placed near drinking water sources, watercourses, or the property line. Use the following setbacks:



Grazing Areas: The only code requirements specified for grazing areas is noted above related to protecting bank integrity and minimizing contamination if cattle have direct access to a watercourse.

Do Now

Records: Activities that you require records for include:
  • Use of commercial fertilizers and other nutrient sources containing N and P, such as manure or compost – how much, what product, when, and where.
  • Yields for fields that are fertilized.

Do in the Fall

Soil Testing: You are required to have soil test phosphorus and soil post-harvest nitrate results from within the last 3 years for soils that receive fertilizers or other nutrient sources containing nitrogen and phosphorus, including compost or manure. This does not include areas that receive manure directly from livestock, only manure that is collected and applied to land.
  • The post-harvest nitrate test is intended to quantify any residual nitrate left in the soil at the end of the growing season. Samples for nitrate should be collected to a depth of 30cm (12”) in the fall or early spring
  • If the post-harvest nitrate test is 100 kg N/ha (25 ppm for a 30cm/12in sample) or over, the area needs to be sampled again the following year
  • Each sample for post-harvest nitrate should be representative of areas with similar management (crop, fertilizer applications, and irrigation) and soil. Fields or sections may be grouped if they are similar as long as all areas are sampled accordingly.
  • See the Ministry of Agriculture’s website for more information and recommendations on soil sampling and testing.
Application of Manure, Fertilizer, or Compost.
  • Manure, fertilizer, or compost must not be spread on frozen or snow-covered ground.
  • In high-precipitation areas, no manure should be applied during November, December, or January.
  • In high precipitation areas a risk assessment should be completed in October, February, and March before any manure is land-applied. An online risk assessment tool will be available from the Ministry of Agriculture.
For more information, please visit the AEM Code webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management

More information on soil sampling and testing is available on the Ministry of Agriculture’s website here.
Cranberries

This information applies specifically to the cranberry sector. For more information on the new Agricultural Management Code of Practice, visit the Ministry of Environment's webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management.

Records: Keeping records of your farm activities will help show that you are meeting the expectations of the new regulation. Records are not submitted to anyone but are required to be kept at least 5 years as your own back up and could be requested during an inspection by provincial environmental protection staff:
  • Activities that you require records for include the use of commercial fertilizers and other nutrient sources containing N and P, such as manure or compost – how much, what product, when, and where.
  • Records should back up that you have taken steps to determine what the right rate is for your crops – record crop nutrient requirements, yields, and nutrient application rates.
    • The Code requires specific soil testing requirements if applying nutrients, unless the crop is flooded after harvest. Cranberries therefore would not need to follow this requirement. Though not specified in the Code, it is recommended that growers follow standard practices such as tissue testing to inform nutrient application rates.
  • If you store compost, or other agricultural by-products in temporary piles, records are required of the location and monitoring to ensure the materials and nutrients stay where they should.
Application of fertilizer, or other nutrient sources containing N and P: The Code requires nutrient sources (fertilizer or other materials used to supply N and P) to be applied at rates that meet and not exceed the crop requirement for nitrogen:
  • Commercial fertilizer must be applied at least 3 m away from drinking water sources, and 1.5 m away from other watercourses (including ditches that drain into watercourses).
  • Nutrient sources must not be spread on frozen or snow-covered ground, or on saturated soils.
  • In high-precipitation areas, (600 mm or more from Oct to Apr, e.g. South Coast) there are some restrictions to applying nutrient sources during the wetter season.
    • In November, December, or January no nutrient sources may be applied
    • In October, February, and March a risk assessment should be completed before any nutrient sources are land-applied. An online risk assessment tool will be available (link to website below).
Sawdust and other wood residues: The Code outlines allowed uses of wood residues on farms (such as ground cover or mulch, soil conditioner, composting), and also prohibits uses (such as construction of berms, fill, or access ways through watercourses):
  • For most uses, when applied in layers of a foot or less, wood residues must be kept 3 m from watercourses, and 30 m from drinking water sources.
Ensure that the wood residue and any contaminated runoff or leachate from piles stays contained, as they must not enter a watercourse or cross a property boundary. Piles should not be sited in low lying areas prone to flooding, in locations with standing water or saturated soil:
  • If your farm is in a high-precipitation areas, (i.e. South Coast) cover any temporary piles of wood residues stored in the field from October to April.
  • Check if your field is in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area. If your farm is in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area, make sure the pile is not on coarse-textured soil when storing wood residue for two weeks of longer.
  • Stored wood residues must be 30 m from drinking water sources (ie. wells) and 15 m from watercourses. If applied in a layer of a foot or more, the same setback applies.
  • Temporary piles of wood residues are meant to be temporary (≤ 12 months). If longer, a permanent storage should be used which ensures that any leachate is contained and runoff from outside the area is diverted away.
  • Change where your temporary piles are located - storage sites should not be used again within a 3-year window.
Other Topics covered in the AEM Code: In addition to the above the AEM Code includes requirements for:
Dairy

This information applies specifically to the dairy sector. For more information on the new Agricultural Management Code of Practice, visit the Ministry of Environment's webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management.

Do Now

Look up the designated vulnerable aquifer recharge areas and high-precipitation areas to find out if your property is located in one of these areas. Requirements for several areas of the Code, such as temporary manure storage or creating a nutrient management plan, depend on where you are located.

Records: Keeping records of your farm activities will help show that you are meeting the expectations of the new regulation. Records are not submitted to anyone but are required to be kept at least 5 years as your own back up and could be requested during an inspection by provincial environmental protection staff. A complete list of activities requiring records can be found through the AEMCoP website , the most relevant to dairy farms include:
  • Animal numbers and the amount of manure generated on farm. Records should indicate how much of the manure is used on farm and amounts of any exported to other operations.
    • If manure leaves the farm operation, records are required to document the overall amount, and if in lots of 5 m3 (6.5 yards3) or greater include a log with lot size and receiver information.
  • Use of fertilizers containing N and P, and manure and other nutrient sources like compost – how much, what product, when, and where
    • The crop or fertility requirements that you used to determine the application rate of your nutrient sources
  • Monitoring manure piles of temporary field storage for signs of runoff and leachate
Setbacks: There are new setbacks required when spreading (applying) fertilizer and manure near a watercourse or ditch that drains into a watercourse:
  • Keep surface applied manure 3m away
  • Keep fertilizer or injected manure 1.5m away
  • Keep 30m away from drinking water sources like wells or surface water diversion points
Temporary Field Storage of Manure: There are new rules regarding the temporary field storage of solid manure:
  • Temporary piles are meant to be temporary (≤ 7 months). If longer, a permanent structure should be used for storage.
  • Keep temporary piles off of coarse-textured soil if you are in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area.
  • In high-precipitation areas , cover temporary piles from October to April.
  • Change where your temporary piles are located - using the same area continuously will cause nutrient buildup.

Do This Fall/Winter:

Soil Tests:

If you apply manure or fertilizers, you are now required to have a fall soil test from within the last 3 years to inform your application rates. This includes soil testing for both post-harvest nitrate and phosphorus.

Shoulder Season Manure Applications:

If you are in a high-precipitation area, check before you spread in October, February, and March. A risk assessment has to be completed and kept on record before applying manure. A quick, field specific, Manure Application Risk Assessment tool will be available by the fall.

Winter Manure Storage (or No Spread Period):

In high-precipitation areas, plan to have your manure storages empty by November 1, as application is not permitted during November, December, or January.

Review your Nutrient Application Rates:

The Code requires nutrient sources to be applied at rates that meet the crop requirements and not more. Records like soil tests, crop yields and the crop nutrient requirements needed to achieve those will provide documentation that shows you are following this requirement. The BC Nutrient Management Calculator can be used to document and assess crop nutrient requirements.

Later – 2020 and Beyond

The new regulations are being rolled out over a ten-year period. The following requirements may affect you and are important to be aware of, but will not come into effect until 2020 or later.

Earthen Lined Lagoons: If you are in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area and have an earthen lagoon, have it inspected for leaks by a Qualified Professional.

Shoulder Season Manure Applications: In fall of 2022 you will only be able to spread manure in October, February, or March if your risk assessment is low. This will affect how much manure storage you need.

Nutrient Management Plans: Requirements for these plans will be phased in over the next ten years for farms in certain high-risk areas. The Hullcar Aquifers area is phased in first this year. A list and maps of the areas that are gradually phased in starting in 2021 is available on the webpage below.

For more information, please visit the AEM Code webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management

More information on soil sampling and testing is available on the Ministry of Agriculture’s website here.
Fruit Producers

This information applies specifically to fruit producers. For more information on the new Agricultural Management Code of Practice, visit the Ministry of Environment's webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management.

Do Now

Records: Keeping records of your farm activities will help show that you are meeting the expectations of the new regulation. Records are not submitted to anyone but are required to be kept at least 5 years as your own back up and could be requested during an inspection by provincial environmental protection staff.
  • Records should back up that you have taken steps to determine what the right rate is for your crops – record crop nutrient requirements, yields, soil tests, and nutrient application rates.
    • Though not required specifically in the Code, leaf tissue tests would also show that you have taken steps to evaluate and set your nutrient application rates.
  • If you store manure, compost, or other agricultural by-products in temporary piles, records are required of the location and monitoring to ensure the materials stay where they should.
Applying at the Right Rate: The Code requires nutrient sources to be applied at rates that meet and not exceed the crop requirement for nitrogen.

Minimum Setbacks: There are new setbacks required when spreading commercial fertilizer, manure, or other nutrient sources near a watercourse or ditch that drains into one.
  • Keep commercial fertilizer 1.5 m away.
  • Keep manure 3 m away unless using injection.
  • Keep 30 m away from drinking water sources like wells or surface water diversion points, such as the point where the pipe enters a watercourse for application of all nutrient sources.

This Fall

Soil Testing: Farms with a total of 2 hectares (5 acres) or larger are required to have soil test phosphorus and soil post-harvest nitrate results from within the last 3 years if you apply fertilizers or other nutrient sources containing nitrogen and phosphorus. Refer to the Ministry of Agriculture’s soil sampling web site for more info, important items to note include:
  • The post-harvest nitrate test is intended to quantify any residual nitrate left in the soil at the end of the growing season. Samples for nitrate should be collected to a depth of 30cm (12”) in the fall. Exact timing may vary by region and its climate.
  • If the post-harvest nitrate test result is 100 kg N/ha (25 ppm for a 30cm/12in sample) or over, the area needs to be sampled again the following year.
  • Each soil sample should be representative of areas with similar management (crop, fertilizer applications, and irrigation) and soil. Fields may be grouped if they are similar.
Applying at the Right Time: The Code restricts the application of nutrient sources (specifically those containing nitrogen and phosphorus) under certain conditions and during certain times of the year.
  • If you are located in a high precipitation area* (mainly the South Coast), nutrient sources containing nitrogen and phosphorus must not be applied in November, December, or January.
  • If you are located in a high precipitation area* a risk assessment must be completed prior to the application of nutrient sources in October, February, or March.

Long Term

The Code gradually phases in triggers for nutrient management plans (NMPs) over the next 10 years, starting with the Hullcar area and adding vulnerable aquifer recharge areas* and phosphorus affected areas* over time. Aside from the Hullcar area, fruit growers and other non-livestock operations are not included in NMP requirements until 2023. Phase in dates relevant for most fruit growers include:

After July 15, 2023 farms managing 30 ha (74 ac) or more may be required to have NMPs prepared depending on location and soil test results. The following criteria would determine if an NMP is required:
  • If you are located in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area and have soil post-harvest nitrate results of 100 kg N/ha (25 ppm for a 30cm/12in sample) or over on any fields.
After July 15, 2025, outside the aquifer and phosphorus areas noted for NMPs, farms of 5 ha or more that apply nutrients sources may have that have to prepare a Nutrient Application Plan:
  • if soil post harvest nitrate is 150 kg N/ha or grater, or soil test phosphorus is 300 ppm or greater.
A nutrient application plan is a self prepared, but formal documentation of how nutrient application rates were determined. Other Topics Included in AEMCoP In addition to the above, AEMCoP includes requirements for:
  • Storage of manure and other agricultural by-products such as vegetative debris,
  • Agricultural composting and storage,
  • Use and storage of wood residues,
  • Siting and management of outdoor livestock areas.
For more information, please visit the AEM Code webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management

More information on soil sampling and testing is available on the Ministry of Agriculture’s website here.
Livestock Auction Operations

This information applies specifically to the Livestock Auction Operations. For more information on the new Agricultural Management Code of Practice, visit the Ministry of Environment's webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management.

Confined Livestock Operations

A confined livestock area is an outdoor area where cattle are confined, either by structures or the land itself. Normally this is an outdoor feedlot, yard, or holding pen. The definition does capture pastures that are enclosed by fencing, however temporary holding areas on range are not.
  • No access to watercourses: Cattle should not have direct access to a drinking water source or other watercourse while in a confined area.
  • Runoff: Ensure any runoff that comes into contact with manure or leachate is contained so that it does not enter a watercourse or flooded areas.


Feedlots: Although auction yards are not feedlots, it is good practice to follow the requirement described below for feedlots, when removing manure from an auction yard or cleaning out the yard. In addition to the noted requirements for confined areas, feedlots have the following requirements: If animals are in a soil-based feedlot, accumulated organic material will form a self-sealing layer (e.g., a ‘gleyed’ layer) over time, preventing nutrients from leaching downwards. The new regulation requires that this layer is not damaged when cleaning out pens.

Manure Storage and Exports: Producers must prevent leachate, contaminated runoff or manure itself from going into watercourses from any manure storage. Solid manure needs to be stored either in a permanent storage structure or as temporary field storage. If the location of the manure storage never changes, permanent storage structure requirements apply:
  • If you are in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area, (e.g., the Okanagan Falls and Williams Lake auction facilities), a “protective base” is required as part of the permanent storage structure. A protective base is typically a concrete pad. A protective base is less commonly an engineered (compacted) soil liner, and most soils would not be considered a protective base.
  • There are minimum setback distances from the edge of the storage to water sources: 30 m to a drinking water source, and 15 m to a watercourse that isn’t a drinking water source.
Manure Export Records: Keeping records of your farm (livestock auction) activities will help show that you are meeting the expectations of the new regulation. Records are not submitted to anyone but are required to be kept at least 5 years as your own back up and could be requested during an inspection by provincial environmental protection staff. If requested, you should be able to provide records within 5 days that show:
  • If manure leaves the farm (livestock auction) operation, records are required to document the overall amount, and if in lots of 5 m3 (6.5 yards3) or greater include a log with lot size and receiver information.
  • Animal numbers and the amount of manure generated on farm (the livestock auction site). Records should indicate how much of the manure is used on farm and amounts of any exported to other operations.
For more information, please visit the AEM Code webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management

More information on soil sampling and testing is available on the Ministry of Agriculture’s website here.
Nursery - Container Production

This information applies specifically to Nursery Container Production. For more information on the new Agricultural Management Code of Practice, visit the Ministry of Environment's webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management.

Records: Keeping records of your farm activities will prove that you are meeting the expectations of the new regulation. Records are not submitted to anyone but are required to be kept for up to 5 years as your own back up and could be requested during an inspection by provincial environmental protection staff. Activities that you require records for include:
  • Use of fertilizers containing N and P, and other nutrient sources like compost – how much, what product, when, and where.
  • The crop or fertility requirements that you used to determine the application rate of your nutrient sources.
  • Monitoring of temporary piles of wood residues, compost, manure, or other agricultural by-products for signs of runoff and leachate.

If your farm is on the South Coast (a high precipitation area) and/or in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area be aware that in these areas there are specific requirements for piles of materials like vegetative debris, composts, or wood residue temporarily stored in the field.

There are new rules regarding the temporary field storage:
  • Temporary piles are meant to be temporary. If you always use the same location a structure should be used for storage.
    • 7 months for vegetative debris, soilless media, finished compost
    • 12 months for wood residues and sites where composting is taking place
  • Change where your temporary piles are located - using the same area continuously will cause nutrient buildup. Storage sites should not be used again within a 3 year window.
  • In vulnerable aquifer recharge areas keep temporary piles off locations with coarse-textured soil
  • In high precipitation areas cover temporary piles from October to April.
The regulation requires you to manage production such that leachate and any resulting contaminated runoff does not enter watercourses, contaminate groundwater, or cross a property boundary. Steps to ensure this:
  • Apply fertilizer to match crop requirements, not more
  • Avoid excess irrigation of container crops to minimize leachate
There continue to be requirements for registration and monitoring of boilers and heaters on agricultural operations. The new regulation has harmonized these with other regulators and added an exemption for registration of small capacity boilers and heaters (0.15 MW capacity or less and provided they are labelled in accordance with industry standards). For more information, please visit the AEM Code webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management
Nursery - Field Production

This information applies specifically to Nursery Field Production. For more information on the new Agricultural Management Code of Practice, visit the Ministry of Environment's webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management.

Records: Keeping records of your farm activities will prove that you are meeting the expectations of the new regulation. Records are not submitted to anyone but are required to be kept for up to 5 years as your own back up and could be requested during an inspection by provincial environmental protection staff. Activities that you require records for include:
  • Use of fertilizers containing N and P, and other nutrient sources like compost – how much, what product, when, and where.
  • The crop or fertility requirements that you used to determine the application rate of your nutrient sources.
  • Monitoring of temporary piles of wood residues, compost, manure, or other agricultural by-products for signs of runoff and leachate.

If your farm is on the South Coast (a high precipitation area) and/or in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area be aware that in these areas there are specific requirements for piles of materials like vegetative debris, composts, or wood residue temporarily stored in the field.

There are new rules regarding the temporary field storage:
  • Temporary piles are meant to be temporary. If you always use the same location a structure should be used for storage.
    • 7 months for vegetative debris, soilless media, finished compost
    • 12 months for wood residues and sites where composting is taking place
  • Change where your temporary piles are located - using the same area continuously will cause nutrient buildup. Storage sites should not be used again within a 3 year window.
  • In vulnerable aquifer recharge areas keep temporary piles off locations with coarse-textured soil
  • In high precipitation areas cover temporary piles from October to April.
There are new setbacks required when land-applying fertilizer near a watercourse or ditch that drains into one:
  • Keep fertilizer 1.5 m away, keep composts and manure 3 m away.
  • Keep 30 m away from drinking water sources like wells or surface water diversion points.
New Soil Testing Requirements: You are required to have soil test phosphorus and nitrate results for production areas from within the last 3 years if:
  • Your operation is 2 ha in size or greater, and
  • You apply fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus or other nutrient sources, including compost or manure, to soil.
When soil samples are collected matters: the test results must be from soil samples collected in the fall in order to provide a ‘report card’ to assess residual nitrate at the end of season. There is more information on recommended soil sampling and testing available on the Ministry of Agriculture’s website). Starting in 2023, the soil test results required by the regulation and your location relative to vulnerable aquifer recharge areas will inform whether additional nutrient management planning is required for your operation. For more information, please visit the AEM Code webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management

More information on soil sampling and testing is available on the Ministry of Agriculture’s website here.
Peace Region Field Crops

This information applies specifically to field crop producers in the Peace Region. For more information on the new Agricultural Management Code of Practice, visit the Ministry of Environment's webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management.

Do now

Records: Keeping records of your farm activities will help show that you are meeting the expectations of the new regulation. Records are not submitted to anyone but are required to be kept at least 5 years as your own back up and could be requested during an inspection by provincial environmental protection staff (if requested, you must provide records within 5 days). Activities that you require records for include:
  • Use of commercial fertilizers and other nutrient sources containing N and P, such as manure or compost – how much, what product, when, and where
  • The crop or fertility requirements that you used to determine the application rate of your nutrient sources.
Apply at the Right Rate: Review your nutrient application rates. The Code requires nutrient sources to be applied at rates that meet the crop requirements and not more. Records should back up that you are following this requirement.

Setbacks: There are new setbacks required when spreading commercial fertilizer, manure, or other nutrient sources near a watercourse or ditch that drains into one.
  • Keep commercial fertilizer 1.5 m away
  • Keep manure 3 m away unless using injection
  • Keep 30 m away from drinking water sources like wells or surface water diversion points, such as the point where the pipe enters a watercourse.

This fall (after August 1)

Soil testing: You are required to have soil test phosphorus and soil post-harvest nitrate results from within the last 3 years for land that you apply fertilizers or other nutrient sources containing nitrogen and phosphorus to.
  • The post-harvest nitrate test is intended to quantify any residual nitrate left in the soil at the end of the growing season. Samples for nitrate should be collected to a depth of 30cm (12”) in the fall, or early spring.
  • If the post-harvest nitrate test is 100 kg N/ha (25 ppm for a 30cm/12in sample) or over, the area needs to be sampled again the following year.
  • Each sample soil sample should be representative of areas with similar management (crop, fertilizer applications, and irrigation) and soil. Fields or sections may be grouped if they are similar.

Long Term

In the long term (after July 15, 2025) if your soil test results are above the levels shown below, you will be required to prepare a formal document showing how nutrients are used on farm – a Nutrient Application Plan, to be implemented for the 2026 growing season. The following soil test results would trigger the extra action of completing a Nutrient Application Plan.
  • Soil test phosphorus of 300 ppm or higher (as by the Kelowna soil extraction method)
  • Post-harvest nitrate of 150 kg N/ha or higher (37 ppm for a 30 cm/12in sample)
For more information, please visit the AEM Code webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management

More information on soil sampling and testing is available on the Ministry of Agriculture’s website here.
Poultry

This information applies specifically to the poultry sector. For more information on the new Agricultural Management Code of Practice, visit the Ministry of Environment's webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management.

Do Now

Records: Keeping records of your farm activities will help show that you are meeting the expectations of the new regulation. Records are not submitted to anyone but are required to be kept at least 5 years as your own back up and could be requested during an inspection by provincial environmental protection staff. If requested, you should be able to provide records within 5 days that show:
  • Animal numbers and the amount of manure generated on farm. Records should indicate how much of the manure is used on farm and amounts of any exported to other operations.
  • If manure leaves the farm operation, records are required to document the overall amount, and if in lots of 5 m3 (6.5 yards3) or greater include a log with lot size and receiver information.
    • Records should indicate how much of the manure is used on farm and amounts of any exported to other operations.
  • If you have manure stored temporarily in the field, keep a weekly monitoring record.
  • Details on the application of fertilizer and manure to crop land (see below).
Storing Manure: Producers must prevent leachate, contaminated runoff or manure itself from escaping any manure storage and going into watercourses. If your farm is in a high-precipitation areas , and/or a vulnerable aquifer recharge area., then there are some additional code requirements, such as practices involving temporary field storage of manure. After cleaning out your houses and barns, watch where you pile manure and wastes. Manure needs to be either in a permanent storage structure or in a temporary pile.

Permanent Manure Storage: If the location of the temporary field storage never changes, permanent storage structure requirements apply:
  • If you are in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area, a “protective base” is required as part of the permanent storage structure. A protective base is typically a concrete pad. A protective base is less commonly an engineered (compacted) soil liner, and most soils would not be considered a protective base.
  • There are minimum setback distances from the edge of the storage to water sources: 30 meters to a drinking water source and 15 meters to a watercourse that isn’t a drinking water source.
Temporary Field Storage of Manure: Temporary piles are meant to be temporary (≤ 7 months). If not, a permanent structure should be used for storage.
  • Temporary piles are meant to be temporary (≤ 7 months). If longer, a permanent structure should be used for storage.
  • Keep temporary piles off of coarse-textured soil if you are in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area.
  • In high-precipitation areas , cover temporary piles from October to April.
  • Change where your temporary piles are located - using the same area continuously will cause nutrient buildup. After a temporary pile is removed from an area, re-establish grass or another type of vegetation to remove any nutrients that may be leftover in the soil.
  • Temporary piles of manure need to be located 30 m away from watercourses and drinking water sources (wells or surface water diversion points).
  • Monitor the temporary storage pile at least once a week to ensure compliance with the code.
  • For temporary field storage, record the type and source of materials being stored, location of the pile, and log the weekly monitoring of the pile.
Mortalities: Producers are allowed to dispose of mortalities on their own land through incineration, burial, or composting. Only animals that died on the farm may be disposed of on that farm - i.e., mortalities can’t be sent to another farm for disposal, and must be handled in compliance with biosecurity requirements. If mortalities need to be stored before disposal, ensure that the storage area does not allow anything to escape.
  • All composting of mortalities should be in either a composting structure or an outdoor pile. Outdoor piles should not exist for more than 15 months and should not be started on the same location within a 3-year period. If the outdoor pile exists for a period of 15 months or more, the pile needs to be moved to a permanent storage facility.
  • If incinerating mortalities, opacity should be checked regularly and recorded along with the type and number of mortalities and inspections of the incinerator.
Application of fertilizer, or other nutrient sources containing N and P: The Code requires nutrient sources (fertilizer, manure, or other materials used to supply N and P) to be applied at rates that meet and not exceed the crop requirement for nitrogen.
  • Commercial fertilizer must be applied at least 3 m away from drinking water sources, and 1.5 m away from other watercourses (including ditches that drain into watercourses).
  • Nutrient sources must not be spread on frozen or snow-covered ground, or on saturated soils.
  • In high-precipitation areas, (600 mm or more from Oct to Apr, e.g. South Coast) there are some restrictions to applying nutrient sources during the wetter season.
    • In November, December, or January no nutrient sources may be applied
    • In October, February, and March a risk assessment should be completed before any nutrient sources are land-applied. An online risk assessment tool will be available (link to website below).
  • In high precipitation areas there are restrictions on applying nutrients to bare soil in the fall
    • only on medium to fine textured soils and if a cover crop is being used after application.
Soil Testing: If you apply nutrients and your farm is 5 acres or larger, you are required to have soil test phosphorus and soil post-harvest nitrate results from within the last 3 years for soils that receive fertilizers or other nutrient sources containing nitrogen and phosphorus, including compost or manure. This does not include areas that receive manure directly from livestock, only manure that is collected and applied to land.

More information on soil sampling and testing is available on the Ministry of Agriculture’s website here.

AEM Code NEWS, UPDATES, TOOLS & RESOURCES

Post: March 21, 2019 - Where to go for information:


Post: March 21, 2019 - Useful tool for farmers and ranchers

INTERACTIVE MAP: This interactive map aims to help farmers understand if they need a nutrient management plan and when they may need it.


Post: March 21, 2019 - New Interactive Map on Its Way!

Another interactive map will be made available on their website if it isn’t already where producers can find out if they are located in a high precipitation area (which impacts on what rules they will need to follow as per Part 5 of the regulation). Stay tuned!