Snow threat to slurry spreading

Farmers hoping to spread slurry after months of restrictions face a further wait due to heavy snow and ice.

Bad winter weather means some farmers risk being left without enough storage to take them past a five-month closed period if land remains frozen.

But even if land is to thaw, conditions may still be unsuitable for slurry spreading, warned Natural England adviser Alan Brewer.

“Once the snow is gone, it’s important to assess whether land is suitable to spread slurry on as it’s likely in some areas the land will be very wet and may not be suitable for spreading.”

He suggested for those farmers reaching the limits of their storage capacity to contact the local Environment Agency.

“The Environment Agency will be able to deal with the situation on a case by case basis,” said Mr Brewer.

“It is something that has been done in the past when there have been wet conditions and they will be able to discuss the best course of action.”

A DEFRA spokesperson also recommended those farmers in difficulty to contact the Environment Agency and reinforced what the regulations stated.

The code of good agricultural practice means spreading of organic manure is banned when soil is waterlogged, snow covered or frozen for more than 12 hours in 24.

“If farmers are running out of storage capacity they should contact the Environment Agency to identify the best solution available,” said the DEFRA spokesman.

Heavy rain seen at the end of 2009 is adding to the situation for some farmers.

Those without out appropriate water harvesting and slurry storage covers could have fuller tanks than usual.

It’s a problem that’s unlikely to go away, with this winter predicted to be one of the coldest on record.

According to Met Office forecasts, the cold weather is likely to continue throughout January and into February.