31 May 2002

NVZs:Dont panic

WITH Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) consultation now over, many producers are questioning what impact an NVZ designation will have on their farm.

But most have little to fear and it may save money, Paddy Johnson of ADAS told a Grassland 2002 seminar.

"There are already NVZs in operation in England, evidence from these areas suggest that only more intensive producers will face problems" said Mr Johnson.

"Under NVZ rules no manure, either organic or inorganic should be applied when ground is waterlogged, flooded, snow covered or has been frozen for more than 12 hours in the preceding 24 hours. This is really only common sense.

"While the regulations may appear to be set in stone, there is room for interpretation," said Mr Johnson. "Despite a rule stating that no inorganic nitrogen may be applied to grass between Sept 15 and Feb 1, it may be possible to apply a limited amount of inorganic manure where grass grows all year round and is needed to feed stock."

There were nitrogen application limits, but not many producers would exceed those, he said. "Producers can apply an average of 250 kg/ha of nitrogen to grassland and 210 kg/ha to arable land."

Citing an example farm with 60ha (150 acres) of grassland and 10ha (25 acres) of arable, he said 17100 kg of organic nitrogen could be applied across the holding. "If this farm were stocked with a 125-cow dairy herd and followers the total organic nitrogen produced would be about 16850kg a year. This is below the farm limit, so this producer has nothing to worry about.

"Producers on shallow or sandy soils will face more restrictions than most. They will be unable to apply slurry, poultry manure or liquid sewage sludge to grassland or land to be sown with an autumn crop between Sept 1 and Nov 1 or to other land between Aug 1 and Nov 1. But they can apply straw-based farmyard manure during these times," said Mr Johnson.


Another issue causing producers concern is the level of record- keeping required under an NVZ. "The requirements for record keeping are not too onerous, most producers already have these records as part of assurance scheme requirements.

"The introduction of NVZs may in fact save producers money, as many will now think more carefully about the value and application of organic manures. Organic manures produced in the UK contain about £200m worth of nutrients a year." &#42


&#8226 Reassess soil nitrogen.

&#8226 Organic manure values?

&#8226 Simple record keeping.


&#8226 Reassess soil nitrogen.

&#8226 Organic manure values?

&#8226 Simple record keeping.