UFU encourage farmers to manage slurry carefully

Thursday, 12 September, 2013

The Ulster Farmers’ Union is encouraging farmers to make use of the good ground conditions and start to thinking about maximising slurry utilization as the closed period approaches on the 15th October.

UFU Environment Committee Chairman James Brown stated:  “Farmers faced significant challenges earlier this year with the scarcity of fodder and the appalling weather conditions.  We have had a favourable summer to date which has been a very welcome change from what we have been used to over the past number of years.  This has in most circumstances allowed farmers to spread slurry in ideal weather and ground conditions, getting maximum benefit from the nutrients applied.”  

“Farmers will be making provisions for the winter period over the next number of weeks.  Ground conditions are optimal at present and this allows for suitable opportunities to prepare for the closed period.  To get the best nutrient value from the slurry being applied, farmers should be thinking about doing this job as soon as possible, assuming weather conditions allow.  This will hopefully enable farmers to build up their grass covers going into the autumn and reduce pressure on fodder stocks.”  

James Brown added, “Spreading slurry in the last week of the open period can present risks, especially with our unpredictable climate.  As with previous years, farmers must not spread slurry after midnight on the 15th October.  There is however flexibility to apply farmyard manure up until midnight on the 31st October.  Spreading during the closed period is a breach of cross compliance rules and would result in a penalty being applied to the Single Farm Payment.”

“The difficult circumstances experienced earlier in the spring demonstrated how important this support is for farm incomes in Northern Ireland.  The UFU would advise farmers to remind themselves of the rules set out in the Nitrates Action Programme in order to protect themselves from receiving any unnecessary penalties which could result in delays to the SFP being made.”

 “Farmers should also be aware that the European Commission continues to monitor compliance with the Nitrates Action Programme and this will once again be coming into focus with a review expected in the early months of next year.  European Commission officials have in the past outlined the concerns they have with our current rules, particularly spreading in February.

 Spreading practices are being monitored and while water quality has improved in Northern Ireland since the Programme began, we cannot allow the good work that we have done so far to be reversed.  It is vital that local farmers continue to display good levels of compliance ensuring that we do not give the Commission an excuse to further complicate the rules.”