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Land spreading

2General land spreading conditions 2 Land spreading refers to any waste or wastewater application onto or into agricultural soil. Only waste or wastewater beneficial to the soil or crop nutrition can be spread. By their nature, characteristics and amount, the handling and application of the waste or wastewater due to be spread should not affect, directly or indirectly, human and animal health, crop quality and plant health, the quality of soil and aquatic environment, and nuisances should be restricted to a minimum (art. 36 of the ministerial order of 02/02/98).

Any land spreading activity is subject to a preliminary study, included in the impact assessment, demonstrating the harmlessness (within the conditions of use) and agricultural relevance of the wastewater or waste, the soil’s ability to receive it, land spreading scope and implementation procedure. This study should justify the compatibility of the land spreading process with the environmental constraints identified or existing planning documents.

The pH of the wastewater or waste ranges from 6.5 to 8.5. However, different values can be selected subject to favourable conclusions in the preliminary study.

Waste or wastewater should not be spread onto soil with a pH before use of under 6, unless the three following conditions are simultaneously fulfilled:

  • the pH of the soil is above 5;
  • the nature of the waste or wastewater can contribute to increasing the pH of the soil to 6 or above;
  • the maximum cumulated flow of elements spread onto the soil is below a number of precisely defined values.

Permanent waste or wastewater storage structures are built to cope with periods when land spreading is either impossible or prohibited by the preliminary study. These structures must not cause any nuisances.

Land spreading is prohibited:

  • During the periods when the soil is largely frozen or covered in abundant snow, with the exception of solid waste.
  • During heavy rain periods and periods with a risk of flooding.
  • Outside regularly cultivated land and operated pastures or forests.
  • On steep-sloped terrains, under conditions that would lead to runoff outside the scope of the land spreading process.
  • Using air sprays generating fine mist when the wastewater is likely to contain pathogenic micro-organisms. 2Soil addition2 The level of addition is determined according to:
  • the type of crop and realistic yield target
  • the crops’ requirements in terms of major and secondary available fertilising elements and trace elements, all additions included
  • the content of fertilising elements in the soil and the waste or wastewater and other additions
  • the content of unwanted elements or substances in the waste or wastewater to be spread
  • the soil’s water status
  • addition frequency in the same year or for a succession of crops over several years. 2Land spreading management2 An annual provisional land spreading programme should be established, in agreement with the farmer, who must be bound by contract with the waste or wastewater producer.
    A land spreading log, kept for ten years, should monitor land spreading operations.
    An assessment is carried out every year.
    Wastewater or waste will be analysed during the first land spreading year or when changes in the processes or treatments are likely to modify its quality, in particular its content in trace metal elements and organic compounds. After the first land spreading year, wastewater or waste will be analysed periodically in accordance with the requirements of the permit order.
    The volume of wastewater spread is measured by time meters fitted onto the delivery pumps, by direct measurement or by any other equivalent process.
    In addition to the analyses specified in the provisional programme, the soil must be analysed at each reference point (representative of each reference area):
  • after final land spreading, at the reference point(s), in case of exclusion from the land spreading scope of the parcel(s) on which they are located,
  • at least every 10 years.


    Decree no. 97-1133 of 8 December 1997 on the land spreading of wastewater treatment sludge.

Order of 8 January 1998 stipulating the technical requirements applicable to the land spreading of sludge on agricultural soil.

Section IV of the order of 2 February 1998 relative to the water withdrawal and consumption as well as different types of emissions of permit holding classified installations for environmental protection (OJ of 3 March 1998).

Circular of 16 March 1999 relative to the legislation on the land spreading of sludge from municipal wastewater treatment plants