Wet Weather Requires Slurry Spreading Period Lengthened

UK - The NFU's Environment Team has released their monthly newsletter. Flood management and slurry spreading are some of the key issues discussed with the wet autumnal weather causing problems.
calendar icon 14 November 2012
clock icon 3 minute read
National Farmers Union

Exceptional rainfall has caused many farmers difficulty regarding spreading sufficient slurry to empty their stores prior to the closed periods.

Defra has extended the slurry spreading 'window' by 4 weeks on soil types other than sandy or shallow, but continued rainfall and waterlogged conditions over this period, together with the late stage of the season, makes it likely that there will be chronic slurry spreading issues for much of the winter period.

Defra IS expected to issue advice to farmers on actions they should take in the circumstances, via its website.

The NFU hass stressed the importance of giving farmers the confidence to act in the way which is best for the environment and to lift the threat of serious penalties for their businesses if they act in the most responsible way they can.

For example, Environment Agency advice might be that where half full slurry stores mean some slurry spreading in the closed period is necessary, it may best to delay spreading in the hope of improved conditions and lower nitrate losses later in the winter.

Farmers who act responsibly and follow the advice should not be at risk of being penalised for doing so. The advice which Defra decides to issue is expected shortly.

Abstraction Licence Renewal

The Environment Agency is concerned that some licence holders may be unaware that they may be at risk of losing the right to water needed to support businesses. A surprisingly low number of applications have been submitted so far, to replace existing time limited water licences that are due to ‘time out’ shortly.

Records show that, despite sending reminders, of the 750 licences due to expire on 31 March 2013, applications for less than a quarter have been submitted so far.

Flood incident management

The NFU has responded to an informal Environment Agency consultation asking for thoughts on a new Flood Incident Management (FIM) Plan to set its direction for flood forecasting, warning and response for the next 5 to 10 years.

In response, the NFU has suggested that the Agency could build on the flood advice and warning service that it already provides to by providing better contact details for those with livestock in areas that may be at risk of flooding.

Flood risk management plans

The NFU has responded to an Environment Agency consultation on its approach to managing flood risk planning in England and Wales. Along with Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs), the Environment Agency has to prepare and publish Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMPs) by December 2015.

The NFU reinforced the need to consolidate the many management plans produced by the Agency, which can cause confusion, and encouraged the Agency to consult and engage early in the planning process with the NFU and farmers.

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