Slurry Storage Key Sustainability Issue

UK - Increased slurry storage will have the biggest financial impact of any element of the new Nitrate Vulnerable Zone Action Plan, according to a poll of farm advisors at Dairy UK's environment conference on Tuesday (3 June).
calendar icon 6 June 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

But there is plenty of help available for farmers looking to manage nutrients more efficiently and cut their greenhouse gas emissions, delegates heard. Dairy farming and the environment:- this year's challenges' brought together some 150 farm advisors to hear presentations from Dairy UK, the Environment Agency, Defra and a host of farmers on the opportunities and challenges ahead for milk producers.

Maria Wasley Environment Manager at Dairy UK said: "Environmental issues are important to everyone in the dairy supply chain. The ambitious green targets contained in the recent Roadmap for liquid milk shows how seriously the industry is responding to those challenges.

"However, Defra will soon unveil changes to its Nitrate Vulnerable Zone Action Plan, which will put dairy farmers on the front line. Through events like today's conference, we are trying to help farmers improve their environmental footprint. Better nutrient management and careful use of manure and slurry can cut the need for synthetic fertiliser, reduce nitrates in groundwater and lower farmers' greenhouse gas output."

In a straw poll of conference delegates on Defra's proposals, around 60% of them said that the requirement to increase slurry storage was the biggest threat to farm sustainability. And more than 80% of them said that maintaining the existing 250kg/ha nitrogen loading limit was either very important or vital. Despite some concerns, the majority of delegates were positive about the future for dairy farming.

Maureen Nowak, Defra's Head of Policy on Nitrates, said significant costs were an inevitable part of the new rules, but added that she was pleased to note a major change in farmers’ attitude to nitrate pollution.

She said: "It's really encouraging to see how the industry is engaging with environmental issues. There's so much work going on to cut diffuse water pollution, where just a few years ago it was hardly on the radar."

Tricia Henton, Director of Environmental Protection for the Environment Agency, congratulated the dairy industry on its Environmental Plan for Dairy Farming. She called it a model for other sectors to reduce their environmental impact.

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