On September 18, 2009, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs jointly announced new rules and guidelines for applying non-agricultural source materials (NASM) to farmland. These changes are designed to strengthen the rules and remove overlapping approval processes for farmers and generators of NASM.
The new rules establish consistent standards and requirements across the province which focus on the quality of the material being land-applied, ensuring it meets strict criteria and is beneficial to the soil. The revised regulations will cover all Ontario farms where NASM will be applied.
NASM includes yard waste, fruit and vegetable peels, food processing waste, pulp and paper biosolids and sewage biosolids. Proper spreading of these materials on farmland returns essential nutrients to the soil to help foster new plant growth. It allows the soil to breathe and hold water, decreasing water runoff and soil erosion and increasing overall water conservation. Soils that have good organic matter content are easier to work and plant roots can find water and nutrients more easily.
New requirements focus on the quality of the material being land applied, building on standards that already exist. They include greater consideration of alternatives and cover all the agricultural land where non-agricultural source material will be applied in Ontario.
The requirements took effect in two stages. Stage 1 changes took effect in September 2009 and were made up of general requirements that established the framework. These general requirements were needed to transition to the requirements of the new system for managing NASM which took effect at stage 2 on January 1, 2011. Transition periods are also outlined within the regulation to assist in moving from the current framework of approvals to the new requirements.
The NASM regulation establishes consistent environmental standards across the province and clearly defines who is impacted and the requirements they must follow.
MOE's longstanding role in ensuring environmental protection through compliance and enforcement activities continues with the new regulation. Through proactive inspections and responding to reports of pollution or other incidents, MOE will help to ensure that materials are land-applied according to provincial standards.
NASM land application standards and requirements are enforceable under the Nutrient Management Act and, if an adverse effect occurs or may occur, the Environmental Protection Act or the Ontario Water Resources Act may also apply.
Please see our publications section for specific information for Haulers, Farmers, NASM generators, and more.