Get ready for NVZs – cut down slurry

January 2012 may seem a long way off, but producers should be preparing now to fall in line with new NVZ regulations, according to ADAS soil consultant Sheila Royle.

Speaking at an Environment Agency-sponsored NVZ meeting for beef farmers at Stowmarket, Suffolk, she explained that all cattle producers in an NVZ should have enough storage to accommodate five months of slurry by 1 January 2012.

“Although you may have another two years to get organised, you must show you have calculated and planned storage to meet new regulation by 30 April 2010.”

And when calculations show there is not enough storage for slurry, producers should consider options for removing excess dilution. “Ask yourself if you can reduce the volume of liquid going into the slurry store.”

It may also be possible to make adjustments to the volume, she said. “It is possible to deduct the volume of slurry that is always exported and reduce the volume by 15-20% when you always use a mechanical separator.”

The volume of slurry which you always apply to low run-off risk land at the end of the closed period can also be deducted from the total volume.

“Low run-off risk land must be naturally free-draining, have no pipe drains and be at least 50m from a water course.” These areas must be marked clearly on the risk map.

And there may be a number of practical ways to reduce the volume of slurry being produced, said John Bailey, ADAS mechanisation consultant.

“Knowing the difference between dirty water and slurry is key to reducing volumes. Slurry can only be spread outside the closed period, whereas dirty water can be spread all year round and only requires a two day storage tank to accommodate the heaviest of rain fall.

Slurry is excreta produced by livestock that has a consistency allowing it to be pumped or discharged by gravity, whereas dirty water is lightly contaminated run-off from lightly fouled concrete yards or from the dairy/parlour that is collected separately from slurry.

“The initial flush of ‘juice’ from FYM or the silage clamp is deemed as slurry for the first 2-3 weeks. However, after this it can be viewed as dirty water. By separating these and storing separately, a saving can be made in slurry volume.”

And loose-bedded straw yards also have the potential to contaminate. “Before straw has the chance to absorb the liquid muck, this liquid will be viewed as slurry. By placing a sleeper under the door and preventing seepage, this will be later viewed as FYM.”

This will also prevent water from running into the shed and could potentially allow the outside yard to be deemed clean. “This is a negligible cost and is worth the inconvenience if it saves you elsewhere – most of these steps are just good housekeeping.”


Practical considerations – Thelveton Farms, Diss

“In light of the NVZ regulations, we will consider making changes to how we deal with the run off from FYM,” said Alexander Mann, business partner at Thelveton Farms where they farm 325 sucklers and 300 finishing bulls.

“At the moment all run-off from FYM and the maize clamp is treated as slurry and drained into a permastore, which is emptied twice a year.

“Now we have two options; either we accept it as slurry and get a contractor in to spread it, or we split the dirty water and slurry.”

This would involve isolating the initial “juices” produced as slurry in a tank and then treating everything else produced after as “dirty water”. This water could then be spread in house, explained arable manager Jonathan Lloyd.

“The next step is to work out the costs of each and see whether it is worthwhile.”


Key Dates

Existing NVZs

New NVZs

1 January 2010

A Complete NVZ map of your farm should have been drawn up.

• This should clearly mark areas where you should never spread slurry, such as along a ditch and areas of sandy and shallow soils which have different closed periods.

All farms should be compliant with the 170kg/ha N Farm limit and the 250kg/ha N field limit.

Record Keeping

30 April 2010

Farmers should have calculated the amount of N produced by farm livestock for the 2009 calendar year

Farmers must have calculations in place to show they will have enough storage in place by 2012 to meet new requirements

30 April 2011

Farmers should have calculated the amount of N produced by farm livestock for the 2010 calendar year

1 January 2012

All farms should

  • be compliant with storage requirements

  • Comply with the closed period for organic manures

  • Not use high trajectory slurry spreading equipment (below 4m from ground)

Help available from Catchment Sensitive Farming.

In priority catchments, there is funding for free farm visits to discuss:

• FYM/slurry/dirty water storage

• Free soil/manure analysis

• Soil management planning

• NVZ compliance

For more information and to find out about any grants that may be available, contact your local Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer.

Derogation can ease the pain on grassland

dairy-cows-at-grassSome livestock farmers may be eligible for a derogation to allow them to exceed the 170kg N/ha farm limit outlined in the NVZ rules.

Producers with more than 80% grassland can apply for a derogation to a 250kg N/ha farm limit for grazed livestock, excluding pigs and poultry, explained Nigel Crane, agricultural adviser for The Environment Agency.

“Producers should refer to the NVZ guidelines to check they qualify for the derogation and put their application in before 31 March to be eligible for 2010.”

To receive the derogation, farmers must also comply with additional controls, Mr Crane said.

“Producers will have to take account of phosphorous, as well as nitrogen in their fertiliser plan and undertake four yearly soil sampling for phosphorous levels. There are also additional rules concerning cultivation and a ban on using nitrogen fixing plants in crop rotations.”

However, with these additional controls accompanying the derogation, it may be worth considering other options first to comply with the 170kg/ha limit.

“Grass derogation is the fourth string in the bow for farmers struggling to meet these targets,” he said.

“The three main options to reduce stocking rate and meet targets are to increase the area of the farm, export manure or reduce livestock numbers.”

How to apply for a grassland derogation

When can you apply?

• Eligible farms have until 31 March to apply for a grassland derogation for 2010.

• Farmers can apply from October 2010 for a derogation for 2011.

How do you apply?

• Through the Whole Farm approach website

• Read guidelines and ring 0845 603 3113

You can read a full rundown of the new NVZ rules here.