AT the start of a new year, and with the end of the closed period approaching at the end of January, this is an appropriate time to examine all slurry storage tanks on the farm. It is important that you should check around your yard to ensure that you are making the most of your storage capacity.
Check your tanks. Due to prolonged poor weather conditions many slurry tanks will have been filled with more silage effluent and rainwater than normal. As a result, you may find some tanks may be fuller than normal for this time of year. It may be necessary to pump slurry from one tank to the other, where there is spare capacity, in order to maximise your slurry storage.
Keep clean water clean. Examine the rainwater running from roofs or clean concrete areas. Where this is entering into slurry tanks and stores, valuable slurry storage space is being used unnecessarily. Check that all guttering and downpipes around your farmyard are functioning properly and repair where necessary. This is critical as every typical roofed shed could contribute around 7,000 gallons of rainwater in the last two weeks of January. Likewise any rainwater falling onto clean yard areas should be diverted to storm water drains and not collected in slurry tanks.
Minimise the dirty yard area. A reduction in the volume of contaminated water produced could also be achieved by reorganising the farmyard to reduce the area of yard which livestock have access to. Keeping the yard free from manure will significantly reduce the volume of dirty water or slurry to be collected in a tank.
Slurry Storage Capacity. Remember you are required under the Nitrates Action Programme to have sufficient capacity to store slurry for a minimum of 26 weeks for pig and poultry enterprises and a minimum of 22 weeks for all other enterprises.
Remember that even though the closed period finishes at midnight 31 January, weather and ground conditions are major factors in defining when you can spread slurry. This is especially the case in areas of high rainfall or where land is waterlogged. You must also ensure that your storage is adequate to cover periods of adverse weather and soil conditions outside of the closed spreading period.
Conditions for spreading slurry. It is important to remember that no organic or chemical fertilisers can be applied on land which is frozen or snow covered, waterlogged, flooded, liable to flood or when heavy rain is forecast. Applications also cannot be made on steep slopes where a risk of water pollution exists. Remember too that to make best use of the fertiliser value of slurry, there needs to be crop growth to use the nutrients it contains.
It is important to note that the Nitrates Action Programme is a requirement of Cross Compliance. Failure to comply may result in a breach and could potentially result in the loss or reduction of the Single Farm Payment and other direct payments.
More information about your requirements under the Nitrates Action Programme is available at http://www.dardni.gov.uk/ruralni/countrysidemanagement