Compliance With Revised Nitrate Vulnerable Zone Guidance

27th February 2014

<p>DEFRA have recently updated regulations regarding Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs). The update has come about as a result of the EU Water Frame Directive (WFD).  All member states have to apply measures to reduce nitrate pollution in the designated areas.  Polluted waters are ones which contain at least 50mg/l nitrate or waters which are likely to contain that level if no remedial action is taken.</p><p>The two main aims of the WFD are:</p><ul><li><p>good water body status must be achieved by 2015</p></li><li><p>standards cannot be allowed to drop</p></li></ul><p>Each river basin requires a management plan to be drawn up every 6 years.  This does have the provision to be extended to 2021 and 2027 if needed for “technical or economic reasons”.  This is obviously something which is going to be with us for the long term, and farmers and occupiers should be aware that they do need to start implementing certain measures.</p><p>Farmers within the new boundaries of NVZs must abide by certain timescales on the spreading of certain organic manures and manufactured nitrogen fertilizers.  This along with detailed records of the dates applications of fertilizer and organic manures were made, need to be kept.  A lot of the guidelines and requirements are to be found in historical advice and best practice procedures. The difference being now is that within the NVZs you have to adopt these practices and record your activities.  A lot of farmers who have been practicing “good house-keeping” will be able to meet the requirements through their existing records and general cross compliance.  Albeit with the addition of a few more forms.</p><p>A lot of the emphasis is on managing nutrients better and reducing the amount of manufactured nitrogen fertilizer which is used.  The value of “home produced fertilizer” has long been undervalued and not really taken into account on lots of farms.  There are significant savings to be made from evaluating these manures and adjusting the applications of manufactured fertilizer accordingly.  A typical application of well-rotted FYM at 15t/acre, potentially has an equivalent value of Nitrogen N £6, Phosphate P £28 and Potash K £72 per acre.</p><p>Areas of particular concern are intensive livestock farms, (pig, poultry and large cattle fattening units).  Depending on the amount of land at disposal to the individual farmer, it may become necessary to have an agreement with a neighbour where he has surplus capacity for excess manure, and you can “export” it to him.  All this must be recorded as evidence towards your compliance.</p><p>The Environment Agency has an <a title=”Environment Agency Map” href=”http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/sectors/54714.aspx” target=”_blank”>interactive map</a> available to everyone to view.  Some farmers have had a pleasant surprise and found that their land is no longer in a NVZ.  </p><p>The Environment Agency will liaise with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and is expected to report non-compliance with any Statutory Management Requirement (SMR) or Good Agricultural Environmental Condition (GAEC) for which they are the regulatory authority to the RPA. On receipt of this report, the RPA will apply the appropriate reduction to the Single Payment and/or agri-environment payment.</p><p>Complying with the new guidance will not only protect your Single Farm Payment, buy might also prevent any secondary action regarding pollution etc. </p><p>Detailed guidance can also be found on the <a title=”DEFRA” href=”http://www.defra.gov.uk/” target=”_blank”>DEFRA website</a>. </p><p>For any further advice or assistance with your compliance please contact <a title=”JessicaCardEmail” href=”mailto:jessicacard@georgefwhite.co.uk”>Jessica Card</a> on 01388 529569. </p>

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