Thousands of livestock farmers are being reminded that they only have until the 31 March to apply for a derogation to NVZ regulations that could save them thousands of pounds a year.


So far, only 56 farmers have applied for the derogation, which increases the farm limit from 170kg/ha N from livestock manure each year to 250kg/ha, according to NFU North West representative Helen Forrester who spoke to farmers at Muck North West this week. “Initially, it was thought that up to 3000 livestock farmers could benefit from the derogation, so we’re extremely concerned by the low number of applications.”

To qualify, farmers need to have 80% of their 2010 rotation down as grassland (containing less than 50% clover) but crops that are under-sown with grass can be used to make up this total. If granted, the derogation allows farmers to stock to the equivalent of 250kg/ha of N which is roughly the same as 1 cow/acre.

Chris Harvey of consultancy firm Harvey Hughes commented that the derogation would be applicable to many of the North West region’s densely stocked dairy farms and would be a better option than having to reduce stocking rates or gain extra land to comply with the Environment Agency regulations.

Some farmers may have resisted making an application to the EA for fear of triggering a cross-compliance inspection, he added. “But failure to meet the NVZ obligation could mean a breach of cross compliance and a potential loss of Single Payment.”

The application process can be done online: https://secure.wholefarm.defra.gov.uk/wps/portal or by phone: 0845 603 3113