EA relaxes application rules for manure and slurry spreading until 2022
Farmers will be allowed to apply slurry or organic manure in the fall, although it may exceed the needs of the soil or crop on that land, as long as there is no risk of water pollution. according to a new regulatory position statement (RPS).
The guidelines indicate that land managers should consider nitrogen and phosphorus risks to water when planning nutrient application, and that the application of organics as a means of disposal breaks the rules.
It also states that mitigation measures should be taken when there is a significant risk to the water, including examining the need for organic matter, adjusting application rates, examining alternative fields. or the export of manure.
No river or lake in England meets a legal threshold for water quality, according to data released by DEFRA last year.
Despite the easing, farmers will still have to explain why they need to apply organic fertilizers in the fall.
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has responded negatively to this, with Vice President Stuart Roberts saying Agriculture United Kingdom he is “deeply disappointed with the content of the EA statement”. He added that it “establishes an idealistic and impractical barrier in many agricultural situations.”
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents about 28,000 landowners and land managers, has expressed frustration with the requirement to justify application of organic matter, and says the latest guidelines are “likely to be affected. ‘have a significant impact on many businesses. , both practically and economically, with little time to adapt the plans for this year ”.
The Agricultural Diffuse Pollution Reduction and Prevention Regulation (England) was introduced in 2018 – known as the Farming Rules for Water (FRfW). Rule 1 concerns the planning of nutrient applications and the assessment of pollution risks, and according to a briefing from the standards body FACTS, in recent months, compliance with Rule 1 has been “a particular challenge”.
This updated guide also follows “a hard time discussion ”between EA and the agricultural sector according to BASIS, an independent standards and auditing body for the pesticide, fertilizer and allied industries.
Susan Twining, CLA’s Chief Land Use Policy Advisor, said: “Of course, water quality should never be compromised. A healthy aquatic environment is essential for the prosperity of wildlife, and everyone has a role to play. “
However, she continued, “more thought is urgently needed on how to balance the value of organic matter for building healthy soils with the benefits for carbon sequestration, reduction dependence on manufactured fertilizers, improving water holding capacity and associated flood risk “.
The RPS comes a week after the EA said it was concerned that biowaste operators, many of which produce sewage sludge that is applied to agricultural land for food production, “lack awareness of existing legal obligations. “.
The EA conducted a consultation on appropriate measures for the sector last summer, based on the proposed guidance it issued at the time.
In his response document, the EA said some respondents “did not seem clear about the waste characterization and due diligence requirements”.