9 January 1998

Dont spread slurry on wet land

WET weather means slurry stores may need emptying, but producers are strongly advised to avoid application on wet ground; if slurry must be spread the risk of run-off and pollution can be reduced.

That is the opinion of ADAS soil scientist Brian Chambers, who says avoiding steep, sloping or land adjacent to watercourses is common sense. But beware land with rapid-flow underdrains, especially gravel back-filled and mole drains, as these empty quickly. As a guide he recommends a maximum application of 50cu m/ha (4500gal/acre) in present conditions. If it is too wet for tankers, the risk of run-off from umbilical systems is just as likely, he adds.

"Producers may be waiting for a ground frost to access land, but underneath it may be waterlogged and the resulting thaw can cause problems with run-off."

Axient consultant Paul Henman advises against spreading on maize stubble because of the run-off threat. The Environment Agency is concerned about its pollution risk.

Dr Chambers warns against applying high rates of slurry to a small, sacrificial area, even well away from watercourses. Smothering the sward, jeopardising quality and quantity of subsequent grass growth, is not good practice.

"There is no right way other than keep on top of the situation. If a store is full, partial emptying is better than an overspill and a major pollution incident." &#42