UFU issues slurry warning
The Ulster Farmers’ Union is urging farmers to be cautious when spreading slurry now in order to protect their Single Farm Payment. The Union is also warning contractors that they too can now be penalised under the updated Nitrates Regulations which were introduced in 2011.
UFU Environment Committee Chairman, James Brown said; “The UFU fully understands that ground and weather conditions are very difficult across Northern Ireland and therefore farmers need to be cautious. In addition to the closed period which ends on 31 January, the Northern Ireland Nitrates Action Programme also restricts slurry spreading at other times when conditions are unsuitable and outlines that spreading must occur at specified distances from waterways. Any farmer caught breaching these conditions could see their Single Farm Payment penalised. With cash flow a huge issue for farms this winter, this is something the industry cannot afford. Many farmers will be facing a very difficult dilemma because tanks are filling up but ground conditions are not suitable for spreading.
“When the EU Nitrates Directive was introduced, the UFU effectively lobbied for the ‘reasonable excuse’ clause to be included in the NI Nitrates Action Programme to assist with exceptional conditions when farmers are unable to fully comply with the rules due to no fault of their own. Farmers forced to spread in early February may find that ‘reasonable excuse’ could be appropriate but as was the case during the closed period, documentation may be required to avoid penalties. The UFU can assist members with this process.”
James Brown added; “Contractors carrying out slurry spreading must also be cautious as they too can now be penalised under the new Nitrates Regulations for spreading organic manures and chemical fertiliser in inappropriate conditions or too close to a waterway and if they have a Single Farm Payment, a penalty can also be applied even if carrying out the work for another farmer.”
The Union has highlighted that the need to be vigilant is also important given the on-going review by the European Commission on compliance with the NI Nitrates Action Programme and water quality.
James Brown added; “European Commission Officials have clearly outlined that they have concerns with spreading slurry in February and have stated that they have been and will be monitoring spreading practices and water quality data for February. It is vital that local farmers act responsibly during February to ensure that there are no detrimental results which could threaten slurry spreading in February in the future. We believe that farmers in Northern Ireland could not live with any extension to the current closed period and the Union has always strongly argued on the need for February spreading. It is also important to note that with increasing fertiliser prices, organic manures are a vital source of nutrients on farms and if spread carefully when conditions are most suitable will allow farmers to not only make best use of their slurry but also reduce fertiliser costs on farm. ”
The UFU also reminds farmers that those wishing to avail of the Nitrates Derogation, which allows up to 250 kgN/ha/year on certain farms operating under certain conditions, must apply to NIEA by 1 March 2013. Fertilisation Accounts should also be submitted by 1 March 2013 to NIEA to those farmers who had an approved derogation in 2012.
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Weather for Ballymena
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 8 C to 15 C
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