NVZ changes create slurry headaches for pig farmers

With the Nitrate Vulnerable Zone final action plan nearing release, it is expected there will be a £36m cost to the UK pig industry, said Nigel Penlington of BPEX.

“As much as 70-100% of land could become designated as NVZs, with whole-farm limits for organic nitrogen reduced to 170kg/ha/year.

“Closed periods could run for 3-5.5 months and, with closure of traditional slurry periods, spreading will be forced into spring.

“Most pig producers will need provision for 26 weeks’ storage, requiring producers to reassess availability and requirement, spreading windows, housing types and systems, and also rainfall.

“It is important to look at the whole system. Farmers in NVZs should recalculate whole-farm nitrogen allowances, as increases in pig genetic efficiency mean there may be more allowance on-farm.

“Every farmer should be thinking about putting a manure management plan in place, particularly with nitrogen costing more than 80p/kg.

“Now is the time for producers to realise the money available in manure, with the value of manure estimated at £12.50/t. Using muck better could maximise output considerably.”

Speaking further about making money from muck was Derek Knight from England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative.

“With muck such a valuable resource, it is vital to sample manure at least twice yearly to determine total nitrogen, phosphate and potash. This is vital in basing economic decisions and using the product better.

“Having soils sampled will help identify areas of lower fertility where manures would be more useful. Spreading in the spring can save as much as £80/ha of nitrogen alone compared to autumn, due to reduced leaching.

“Storing the product is vital having covers over slurry tanks can avoid leakage and also avoids dilution from rainwater, which can add extra spreading costs.”

CAP: New NVZ rules could create slurry storage and spreading problems for pig producers.