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.


Update - July 15: Six More High-Risk Areas Phased-In For NMP Requirements

As of July 15, 2020, six more high-risk areas are being phased-in for nutrient management plan (NMP) requirements under the Code of Practice for Agricultural Environmental Management. Livestock and poultry operations with 5 or more animal units located in the Abbotsford, Cobble Hill, Grand Forks, Langley, Osoyoos or Spallumcheen vulnerable aquifer recharge areas (Schedule 2 - Map B2) that have 5 hectares or more total agricultural land base, apply nutrients to land, and have a post-harvest nitrate test result of 100 kg N/ha or more are required to have a NMP prepared for implementation for the Spring 2021 growing season.

All livestock & poultry operations in the Hullcar Aquifers high-risk area (Schedule 2 - Map B1) continue to be required to have an NMP if they meet the conditions of an agricultural land base of 5 hectares or more, apply nutrients to lands, and their post-harvest nitrate test results are 100 kg N/ha or more.

Please check the AEM Code Website for more information, or contact AEMCoPenquiries@gov.bc.ca for any questions.


Frequent Questions:

Who does the Code apply to? The Code applies to all agriculture operations in BC, from small hobby farms to large commercial operations.

When will the changes happen? The code came into effect on February 28, 2019 (replacing the Agricultural Waste Control Regulation of 1992). Some components of the code like soil testing, record keeping and other various activities have already begun, while others will be phased in over the next ten years.


Commodity Specific Information:

Blueberries

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

To Do in the Growing Season

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 may be required during an inspection by environmental protection staff. Some records required for blueberry farms include:
  • Fertilizer application (how much, 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, soil tests, and nutrient application rates.
    • Although leaf tissue tests are not required by the Code, records of these tests and observations of plant vigour may be used to explain your nutrient application rates.
Setbacks: Observe minimum setbacks for spreading nutrient sources (e.g. fertilizers).
  • Keep fertilizer 1.5 m away from watercourses including drainage ditches.
  • Keep fertilizer 3 m away from drinking water sources like wells or diversion points.
Store wood residue (e.g., sawdust) according to requirements:
  • For any storage of wood residue, 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
  • Temporary field storage or permanent storage structure?
    • Temporary piles of wood residues are meant to be temporary (no longer than 12 months). If longer, permanent storage structure requirements apply.
    • Sites for temporary field storage should be changed: they must not occur in the same location again within a 3-year window. Otherwise, permanent storage structure requirements apply to the sawdust pile.
  • Temporary field storage requirements:
    • Ensure that the materials in the pile and any contaminated runoff or leachate from the pile 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 area (i.e. South Coast), cover any temporary piles of wood residues stored in the field from October 1 to April 1.
    • Be sure to keep temporary piles off of coarse-textured soil if you are in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area. These are typically soils that are deep and well to excessively drained sands or gravels.
  • Permanent storage structure requirements:
    • Ensure that any leachate is contained and runoff from outside the area is diverted away.
    • 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.

To Do in the 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 website for more information. Important items to note include:
  • Organic soils (peat and muck soils) are excluded from the soil sampling requirements
  • 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. 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 12” sample) or over, the area needs to be sampled again the following year.
  • Each soil sample should be representative of areas with similar management (variety, fertilizer applications, and irrigation) and soil. Fields may be grouped if they are similarly managed.

Long Term

The Code gradually phases in triggers for nutrient management plans (NMPs) over the next 10 years. Fruit growers and other non-livestock operations, aside from those in the Hullcar area, are not included in NMP requirements until 2023. Phase in dates relevant for most fruit growers include:

After July 15, 2023, a farm managing 30 ha (74 ac) or more may be required to have an NMP prepared depending on location and soil test results if the following criteria apply:
  • If any field is in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area and has a soil post-harvest nitrate result of 100 kg N/ha or greater (25 ppm for a 12” sample).
After July 15, 2024, additional farms are phased in: a farm managing 5 ha (12.4 ac) or more may be required to have an NMP prepared if the following criteria apply:
  • If any field is in a phosphorus affected area and has a soil test phosphorus result of 200 ppm or greater (6“ sample).
After July 15, 2025, outside the aquifer and phosphorus areas noted for NMPs, farms of 5 ha or more that apply nutrient sources may have to prepare a Nutrient Application Plan:
  • if soil post-harvest nitrate is 150 kg N/ha or greater, or soil test phosphorus is 300 ppm or greater
  • A nutrient application plan is a self prepared, formal document that explains how nutrient application rates were determined.

Other Topics covered in the AEM Code:

  • 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.
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.
Floriculture

This information applies specifically to Floriculture (flowers grown in soil, under cover or in the field, including cut flowers, such as chrysanthemums grown in soil). 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 show that you are meeting the expectations of the new regulation. These are not submitted to anyone but are required to be kept at least 5 years as your own back up and may be required during an inspection by provincial inspectors. If requested, you should be able to provide records within 5 days that show:
  • Yields for fields that are fertilized.
  • The crop or fertility requirements that you used to determine the application rate of your nutrient sources.
  • Use of commercial fertilizers and other nutrient sources containing N and P, such as manure or compost – how much, what product, when, and where.
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.
  • 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 may be grouped if they are similar.
  • More information on soil sampling and testing is available on the Ministry of Agriculture’s website.
Setbacks when spreading fertilizer: 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 30 m away from drinking water sources like wells or surface water diversion points, such as the point where the pipe enters a watercourse.
Temporary field storage of crop residues, agricultural vegetative debris, or compost: If these materials are stored in the field in a location for more than 2 weeks, the following requirements apply:
  • If you are in a high precipitation area (Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and a few other small parts of B.C.), cover temporary field storage from October 1 to April 1.
  • 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.
  • Temporary piles are meant to be temporary (≤ 7 months). If not, or if the location of the manure storage never changes, permanent storage structure requirements apply (including having an impermeable base like a concrete pad).
  • if you are in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area keep piles off of coarse-textured soil.
Have a boiler or heater? 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

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.
Horses
This information applies specifically to the horse 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.

For any of the new requirements that reference specific areas, such as high precipitation areas or vulnerable aquifer recharge areas, interactive maps of these can be found on the AEM Code webpage .

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. Relevant records include:
  • Animal numbers and the amount of manure collected on the farm. Records should indicate how much manure is used on the farm and any amount exported off the farm (in m3).
  • 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 record of the date you started, location, material, and keep a weekly monitoring record.
  • Manure or fertilizer that is applied for hay or pasture (how much, where, and when).
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.

Storing Manure:

Producers must prevent leachate, contaminated runoff, or manure itself from escaping any manure storage and going into watercourses or crossing property boundaries. If your farm is in a high precipitation area and/or a vulnerable aquifer recharge area, there may be some additional Code requirements for practices such as temporary field storage of manure. After cleaning out pens, watch where you pile manure. Manure needs to be either in a permanent storage structure or in a temporary pile.

Permanent Manure Storage: If the location of the field storage never changes, permanent storage structure requirements apply:
  • Permanent structures are not necessarily brick and mortar constructions but have to be able to ensure that the code requirements are met.
  • 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, 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.
  • 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 temporary piles off 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, do not use that area again for at least 3 years and re-establish grass or another type of vegetation to remove any nutrients that may be leftover in the soil.
Livestock Areas:

Different livestock areas are described with requirements that 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 animals 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 animals are confined, either by structures or the topography of the land itself. Normally this is a turn out, paddock, or yard.

No access to the watercourse: Animals 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, flooded area, or cross the property line.



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:



Wood Residue (e.g., sawdust and hog fuel) Storage Requirements:
  • For any storage of wood residue, 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.
  • Temporary field storage or permanent storage structure?
    • Temporary piles of wood residues are meant to be temporary (no longer than 12 months). If longer, permanent storage structure requirements apply.
    • Sites for temporary field storage should be changed: they must not occur in the same location again within a 3-year window. Otherwise, permanent storage structure requirements apply to the sawdust pile.
  • Temporary field storage requirements:
    • Ensure that the materials in the pile and any contaminated runoff or leachate from the pile 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 area (i.e. South Coast), cover any temporary piles of wood residues stored in the field from October 1 to April 1.
    • Be sure to keep temporary piles off of coarse-textured soil if you are in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area. These are typically soils that are deep and well to excessively drained sands or gravels.
  • Permanent storage structure requirements:
    • Ensure that any leachate is contained and runoff from outside the area is diverted away.
    • 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.
Forage: Records: If your operation has a land base of 5 acres or more, you require records for:
  • The application of commercial fertilizers and other nutrient sources containing N and P, such as manure or compost – how much, what product, when, and where.
  • Yields and soil test results (see below) for fields that are fertilized.

To Do in the Fall

Soil Testing: If your farm is 2 hectares (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:
  • 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.
  • Manure, fertilizer, and other sources of nitrogen must not be applied in excess of the crop nitrogen requirement

Other Topics covered in the AEM Code:

  • 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 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.
Mushroom Production

This information applies specifically to mushroom production. The new Code of Practice for Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM Code) replaced the Agriculture Waste Control Regulation in February 2019. It does not replace the Mushroom Compost Facilities Regulation (MCFR).

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

All mushroom growers must adhere to the new AEM Code. However, the new Code does not apply to producers of mushroom growing media covered by a Pollution Prevention Plan as required by the Mushroom Compost Facilities Regulation.

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 to find out.

The definition of “agricultural by-product” under the new AEM Code includes spent mushroom substrate, (SMS), trimmings and also all other materials that are produced incidentally or secondary to the mushrooms, such as spoiled hay or mushroom compost.


Changes that May Affect Producers

Emissions: Growers must ensure that emissions from the production of mushrooms, or from the storage of agricultural by-products, that contain substances like ammonia, sulphur or other potentially harmful components are managed in manner to avoid that those substances do not:
  • settle out into a watercourse, and/or
  • cross the property boundary and cause injury to health or safety of a person or any life or injury to a property, interference with visibility, discomfort to a person or other damages to the environment.
A generally effective management consists in the treatment of the emissions ― a combination ammonia scrubber and biofilter.

Leachate Management: Leachate or contaminated runoff from crop production or storage of agricultural by-products must be stored in a manner that prevents its escaping into watercourses. It must be contained and collected until treated, for example in a goody water treatment system or transported away from the land base.

Storage: Storage of agricultural by-products must be in a manner that deters the access of wildlife, flies or other disease vectors, but also pets.

Permanent structures or areas built for the storage of agricultural by-products must be sufficiently large to store all material until transported away. Where that structure is located above a vulnerable aquifer recharge area, the producer must ensure that it is built on a surface which does not allow for any leaks (on a “protective base”). The protective base must be inspected at least once every six months.

Setbacks: A permanent storage structure or area for agricultural by-products must be at least 15 m away from any watercourse, at least 30 m from a drinking water source, and at least 4.5 m from the property boundary.

Biomass fueled Boilers and heaters: There are continued fuel restrictions, and new opacity and particulate matter limits. Boilers or heaters used for agriculture need to be registered, unless their capacity is 0.15 MW or less and meet Canadian or US Environmental Protection Agency standards.

The AEM code covers more topics, and more information on temporary field storage of agricultural by-products, or using a boiler or heater , is available on the regulation website. For more information, please visit the AEM Code webpage: gov.bc.ca/Agricultural-Environmental-Management

More information 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.
Pork

This information applies specifically to pork 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.

To 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. Keep Records: Keeping records of your farm activities will show that you are meeting the expectations of the new regulation. Records do not need to be submitted but are required to be kept for 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 AEM Code website, the most relevant to hog 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
Setbacks: There are new setbacks required when applying commercial fertilizer, manure, or other nutrient sources. The setbacks differ for watercourses versus drinking water sources.

Setbacks from a watercourse or ditch that drains into one:
  • Keep commercial fertilizer and injected manure 1.5 m away
  • Keep surface applied manure 3 m away

Setbacks from a drinking water source, such as a well or surface water diversion points:
  • Keep commercial fertilizer 3 m away
  • Keep manure and other nutrient sources 30 m away

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 area and/or a vulnerable aquifer recharge area then there may be some additional code requirements for practices such as temporary field storage of manure. After cleaning out pens, watch where you pile manure. Manure needs to be either in a permanent storage structure or in a temporary field-stored pile. Permanent Manure Storage: If the location of the field storage never changes, permanent storage structure requirements apply:
  • Permanent structures are not necessarily brick and mortar constructions but have to be able to ensure that the code requirements are met.
  • 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, 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: Temporary piles are meant to be temporary (≤ 7 months). If not, a permanent structure should be used for storage.
  • 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 temporary piles off of coarse-textured soil if you are in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area.
  • Change where your temporary piles are located from year to year - 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.
  • In high-precipitation areas, cover temporary piles from October to April.

To Do This Winter

Soil Tests: If you apply nutrients, e.g., 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, Application Risk Assessment tool is available on the Ministry of Agriculture website.

Winter Manure Storage (or No Spread Period): In high-precipitation areas, plan to have your manure storages empty by November 1, as application is prohibited 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, nutrient application records which match crop needs 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.

2020 and Beyond

Some requirements 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 by February 28, 2021.

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. 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
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.
Raspberries and Strawberries

This information applies specifically to raspberry and strawberry 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.

For any of the new requirements that reference specific areas, such as high precipitation areas or vulnerable aquifer recharge areas, interactive maps of these can be found on the AEM Code webpage .

To Do in the Growing Season

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 may be required during an inspection by environmental protection staff. A complete list of activities requiring records can be found through the AEM Code webpage , the most relevant to berry farms include:
  • Fertilizer application (how much, 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, soil tests, and nutrient application rates.
  • Although leaf tissue tests are not required by the Code, records of these tests and observations of plant vigour may be used to explain your nutrient application rates
Setbacks: There are new setbacks required when applying commercial fertilizer, manure, or other nutrient sources near a watercourse or ditch that drains into one:
  • Keep commercial fertilizer and injected manure 1.5 m away
  • Keep surface applied manure 3 m away
  • 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.
Temporary field storage of manure and other agricultural-by products: If you temporarily store piles of manure or compost in a location for more than 2 weeks, the following requirements apply:
  • 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 areas.
  • In high precipitation areas cover temporary piles from October to April.
  • Change where your temporary piles are located from year to year - 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 should not be in the same location within a 3 year period.

Temporary piles are meant to be temporary (≤ 7 months). If not, or if the location of the manure storage never changes, permanent storage structure requirements apply.

To Do in the 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 website for more information. 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 or early spring. 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 12” sample) or over, the area needs to be sampled again the following year.
  • Each soil sample should be representative of areas with similar management (variety, fertilizer applications, and irrigation) and soil. Fields may be grouped if they are similarly managed.

Long Term

The Code gradually phases in triggers for nutrient management plans (NMPs) over the next 10 years. Fruit growers and other non-livestock operations, aside from those in the Hullcar area, are not included in NMP requirements until 2023. Phase in dates relevant for most fruit growers include:

After July 15, 2023, a farm managing 30 ha (74 ac) or more may be required to have an NMP prepared depending on location and soil test results if the following criteria apply: After July 15, 2024, additional farms are phased in: a farm managing 5 ha (12.4 ac) or more may be required to have an NMP prepared if the following criteria apply: After July 15, 2025, outside the aquifer and phosphorus areas noted for NMPs, farms of 5 ha or more that apply nutrient sources may have to prepare a Nutrient Application Plan:
  • if soil post-harvest nitrate is 150 kg N/ha or greater, or soil test phosphorus is 300 ppm or greater
  • A nutrient application plan is a self prepared, formal document that explains how nutrient application rates were determined.

Other Topics covered in the AEM Code:

  • 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.
Vegetable Producers

This information applies specifically to Vegetable 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 show that you are meeting the expectations of the new regulation. These are not submitted to anyone but are required to be kept at least 5 years as your own back up and may be required during an inspection by provincial inspectors. If requested, you should be able to provide records within 5 days that show:
  • If you have manure or compost stored temporarily in the field, keep a weekly monitoring record.
  • 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.
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.

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.
  • 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 wet season.
    • In November, December, or January no nutrient sources are allowed to be applied.
    • In October, February, and March a risk assessment needs to be completed before any nutrient sources are land-applied. The BC Application Risk Management tool can be used to do this.
Setbacks: 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 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.
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 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.
  • See the AEM Code website for more information and recommendations on soil sampling and testing.
Temporary field storage of manure and other agricultural-by products: If you temporarily store piles of manure or compost in a location for more than 2 weeks, the following requirements apply:
  • 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.
  • Temporary piles are meant to be temporary (≤ 7 months). If not, or if the location of the manure storage never changes, permanent storage structure requirements apply.
  • Change where your temporary piles are located from year to year - 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.
  • If you are in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area keep piles off of coarse-textured soil.
  • If you are in a high precipitation area, cover temporary piles from October 1 to April 1.
Permanent Manure Storage:
  • Permanent structures are not necessarily brick and mortar constructions but have to be able to ensure that the code requirements are met. Producers must prevent leachate, contaminated runoff or manure itself from escaping any manure storage and going into watercourses.
  • 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. Most soils in BC 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.
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.

Where to go for information:

MORE USEFUL LINKS

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

Interactive Map - This map aims to help farmers understand if they need a nutrient management plan and when they may need it.