South West Farmers Urged To Improve Slurry Storage

UK - Farmers in the South West are being reminded that time is running out if they need to enlarge their slurry storage to become compliant in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs).
calendar icon 25 November 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

With less than six weeks left to comply with the 1 January 2012 deadline for new regulations, farmers are being told: "it’s not too late to act."

Under the regulations, dairy and livestock farmers within a NVZ must have at least five months slurry storage and pig and poultry farmers must have six months storage. Those who fail to comply will put their Single Payment at risk, and may face prosecution.

"Farmers still have several weeks to comply with the NVZ regulations. Equipment suppliers are reporting a rush of enquiries and orders from farmers everywhere, even outside NVZs. The clock is ticking and the deadline is looming. But, just because you fear you may struggle to meet the 1 January 2012 deadline isn’t a reason not to act," said Phil Shere for the Environment Agency.

Slurry storage systems qualify as plant and machinery for capital allowance purposes, meaning farmers can claim 100 per cent tax relief on the first £100,000 of capital expenditure until April 2012.

"Help and advice about capital grant funding, and reducing the amount of clean water that ends up the store, is available from Defra, your farm advisor and the Environment Agency," said Mr Shere.

Slurry and manure contain high levels of nitrate and other nutrients, which can wash off farmland if applied in the wrong conditions.

This is one of the biggest threats to the health of rivers and lakes, and can seriously damage the environment.

NVZs are designated where surface water or groundwater is at risk of becoming polluted from the amount of nitrate being lost from agricultural land.

Storage is needed as the Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations set closed periods when farmers in NVZ’s may not spread slurry or other high risk fertilisers.

This will reduce pollution incidents caused by spills, leaks and spreading in poor conditions and will maximise the benefits of the nutrients in slurry by avoiding spreading when crops will not absorb them.

Research by the Environment Agency and the National Farmers Union (NFU) shows that many farmers have already taken steps to ensure they have enough slurry storage to avoid nitrate pollution incidents, meet the new regulations - and cut their bills in the process.

"Not all farmers are going have the required slurry storage by the beginning of 2012. We will look at the steps these farmers have taken towards becoming compliant when considering enforcement action. For example, evidence of submitting planning applications, getting quotes, placing orders or booking contractors. The more evidence a farmer can provide that they have taken steps to comply, the less likely we are to prosecute," added Mr Shere.

It’s not just farmers in NVZs who should ensure they have sufficient slurry storage to get them through the winter closed period. Spreading slurry on the land when it is frozen or waterlogged is a waste of a valuable resource and a breach of cross complaince.

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