RP9: Earth banks and soil bunds

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the earth banks and soil bunds item.

How much will be paid

£155 for each unit (100m of bund).

Where to use this item

Available for Mid Tier and Higher Tier


  • in areas targeted for the reduction of water pollution from agriculture or to help address flood risk
  • on sites identified in either a Feasibility Study, an Implementation Plan or a CSF commissioned design plan

Where this item cannot be used

  • on historic or archaeological features or areas of wildlife value as identified on the Farm Environment Record (FER), the Environmental Information Map or the HEFER
  • without relevant advice or consents from the Environment Agency (EA), or Local Planning Authority, or Internal Drainage Board

How this item will benefit the environment

An earth bank or soil bund can be used to:

  • slow the movement of water, protecting streams and rivers from pollutants
  • slow flows during high rainfall and reduce downstream flooding
  • control water levels to aid raised water levels for habitat creation and restoration


  • complete the construction as set out in the Feasibility Study, Implementation Plan or CSF design plan (Water-Holding Feature Management Plan)

Keeping records

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them on request:

  • any consents or permissions connected with the work
  • receipted invoices, or bank statements where a receipted invoice is unavailable
  • photographs of site before works start
  • a copy of the Feasibility Study or CSF design plan (Water-Holding Feature Management Plan)
  • please see the record keeping and inspection requirements as set out in the Mid Tier manual for more detail

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them with the claim:

  • photographs of the site during the different stages of construction or contracts, invoices or other documents confirming the technical specification for the completed works
  • photographs of the completed works in place and installed

Before applying, applicants must seek advice from the Environment Agency, and where relevant the Internal Drainage Board to check if consent is required to carry out the planned work. you do not need to provide this consent with your application, but you will need to submit this consent with your payment claim.

This item can be used on the same area as the following options and items:

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this item

The following section gives advice on carrying out this item successfully but does not form part of the requirements for this item.

Pick a location

Position bunds or banks on land that can support damp, vegetated habitat. Ideally on:

  • tracks
  • small, lightly contaminated yards
  • hard standing
  • the bottom of slopes

This item also works on grassland and arable fields, as single entities or to support buffer strips.

Design and construction

Details of the design and construction of the earth bank or soil bund will be in the management plan. Agreement holders are likely to need to:

  • form infiltration basins into ‘V’, ‘U’ or ‘C’ shapes
  • measure bunds in a continuous length of 100m per unit with up to a 250m2 runoff store
  • dig down 0.8m in depth
  • grade side slopes to no more than 1 in 3
  • ensure half the stored water can empty within 24 hours
  • flatten the soil when damp to strengthen the structure
  • plant grass species in banks that can withstand wet and dry conditions
  • establish vegetation on the basin floor to reduce clogging
  • build bay silt traps where soil erosion is high to stop the basin from clogging
  • regularly remove excess sediment from banks and bunds, reapplying it back to the field (contact the Environment Agency to check if a waste exemption is required)

To enhance buffer strips

  • place soil bunds at the field edge of buffer strips, to slow runoff
  • build bunds 300mm to 500mm high by 600mm to 1000mm wide
  • place larger bunds where complex field slopes divert runoff to pinch points

Establishing soil bunds

Compact down soil bunds and then sow a seed mixture at a rate of 24g/m2. Form the seed mix from grass, legumes and wildflowers, e.g.:

  • creeping red fescue (70%)
  • smooth meadow-grass (20%)
  • creeping bent (10%)

Building weirs and outlets

Weirs and outlets can be built into the design as they can discharge more water than pipes and are less likely to block up.

The water should be directed on to stones or boulders to slow flow for piped overflows, or weirs in ditches and ponds.

Further information

Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) operates in parts of the country where there are water quality issues linked to farming. The scheme provides farmers with free advice and training. See guidance for further information on CSF support.

See the Mid Tier manual or Higher Tier manual to find out more about the scheme and how to apply.

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 29 March 2016 + show all updates
  1. Information updated for applications in 2016
  2. First published.