The government consultation on reducing ammonia emissions from solid urea fertilisers closed in January 2021. In March 2023 Farming Minister Mark Spencer warned that, should the industry fail to self-regulate the use of urea this year, Defra planned to impose regulations. Consequently, to support this self-regulation approach, the industry asked Red Tractor to introduce a standard in 2024 which will help to demonstrate the responsible use of unhibited urea fertiliser.


Tom Bradshaw

NFU Deputy President, Tom Bradshaw said ’We have informed Defra that the industry self-regulation approach to the use of uninhibited urea fertiliser under a new Red Tractor standard be enforced from 1 April 2024. The NFU and industry partners fought hard for two years to achieve a robust and pragmatic industry-led approach, without this, the clear proposal from Defra was an outright ban on the use of uninhibited urea fertilisers.’

He added ‘With the Government’s Clean Air strategy targeting, among other things, a reduction in ammonia emissions, farming must demonstrate we can play our part in reducing emissions while maintaining competitiveness.  Demonstrating responsible use of urea fertiliser will show government that we can act responsibly and hopefully open the door to other industry-led solutions.’


CLICK HERE to read more from the NFU 



From the 1 April 2024 fertiliser containing urea must only be applied where the following requirements are met:


  • Protected/inhibited fertilisers containing solid urea can be applied within any product use-by/best before dates.
  • Protected/inhibited fertilisers containing liquid urea can be applied with the prescribed rate of protector/inhibitor for the application, and within any product use-by/best before dates.
  • In England, unprotected/uninhibited solid fertiliser containing urea can only be applied between 15 January and 31 March.
  • In England, unprotected/uninhibited liquid fertiliser containing urea can be applied between 15 January and 31 March.
  • In England, unprotected/uninhibited liquid fertiliser containing urea can be applied between 1 April and last application in autumn only if agronomic justification is provided by FACTS-qualified farm personnel or advice specific for the crop has been provided by a FACTS – Qualified Adviser and been followed (see EC 9.1).
  • In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, fertiliser containing urea (solid and liquid) can be applied as per relevant legislation.

Businesses not complying with the new standard after 1 April 2024 will be required to undertake a NEW BASIS module: Reducing Ammonia Emissions. The module, which has been funded and developed in collaboration with AIC, AICC, CLA, NIAB, Red Tractor and the NFU, is designed to give farmers the knowledge and tools to reduce ammonia emissions from both manufactured fertilisers and organic materials in livestock housing, storage and when applied to land. The online module includes a mixture of videos, audio and interactive learning and will take approximately 45 minutes to complete.