Farm nitrate controls start

The rules governing England’s new Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs), covering 55% of the country have now started. Farmers now have to limit activities such as using nitrogen fertiliser, and spreading organic manure on land that drains into nitrate-polluted waters.

The new NVZs, designated in June this year (see related story) comply with a European Court of Justice judgement in December 2000 that the UK had failed to protect all waters against nitrate pollution from agricultural sources.

As part of these rules farmers in these areas will have to limit their use of manure on arable land to 170kg per hectare once their land has been in a NVZ for four years.

On sandy or shallow soils, farmers will have to make sure their slurry storage capacity is adequate, and they will not be able to spread slurries, poultry manure or liquid-digested sewage sludge onto grassland or autumn sown crops between September and October. Arable land without autumn sown crops cannot have such manure spread on them from August to October.

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