NFU Cymru seeks exemption for NVZ closed periods

NFU Cymru has written to Welsh Government to seek an exemption that will allow farmers operating within Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) to spread during the forthcoming closed period.

It comes as Wales has seen the most September rainfall in a century.

The union said many farmers based within NVZs had contacted them distressed that the recent wet weather has prevented them from spreading, and as a result, they head into the closed period with their slurry storage near or close to full capacity.

The closed periods relate to the spreading of nitrogen fertilisers including manufactured nitrogen fertiliser, slurry and other organic manures and prevent spreading of organic manure with high readily available nitrogen between specific dates.

For grassland on all other soils, this is October 15 to January 31, inclusive.

The issue was also raised by NFU Cymru members at Clwyd county meeting held on October 9.

Commenting after the meeting, Paul Williams, NFU Cymru Clwyd County chairman, said: “Over the past few days farmers in NVZs have been getting increasingly concerned and contacting us about the ongoing wet weather and the impact this is having on slurry spreading and storage.

“Rainfall in the second half of September easily exceeded average rainfall figures for the month.

Long-term Met Office data shows that September rainfall for Wales was higher in 2019 than in any other September this century.

“October has been no better in terms of rainfall and based on current weather forecasts, with rain predicted until Monday, it seems unlikely that farmers will be able to ease pressure on storage by spreading before the closed period.

“As a result, we have written to Welsh Government to bring this matter to their attention and to seek flexibility and an exemption that will enable farmers to spread during the forthcoming closed period to prevent stores over-spilling.

“We very much hope Welsh Government will be able to look favourably on this request and provide information to farmers within NVZs at the earliest opportunity.”