Slyri project group makes significant progress in nutrient management best practice

An innovative industry-wide project is making significant strides to develop a farmer-led approach to nutrient management in Wales.

Spearheaded by NFU Cymru, the Slyri Project (Slurry Project) aims to lower the risks of eutrophication, spillage and pollution from farmyard manure.

The project aims to develop a slurry treatment process which can recover nutrients and allow the water recovered from slurry to be reused or discharged to a watercourse without lowering the water quality.

Extracting most of the water from slurry can reduce the volume by around 80% making it easier to transport and spread in wet weather conditions.

The initiative, which is the first of its kind in Wales, is led by water quality manager Lorna Davis and overseen by two key stakeholder groups; the project steering board and the water quality task and finish group.

The project is funded by NFU Cymru and Natural Resources Wales (NRW). The project steering board includes representatives from the project lead NFU Cymru, FUW and Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, with advisory support from Welsh Government and NRW.

The water quality task and finish group comprises of NFU Cymru members from all sectors across Wales providing insight and guidance on the aspirations of industry to evidence best practice, and how to achieve this.

Both stakeholder groups are chaired by former NFU Cymru president and Pembrokeshire dairy farmer Stephen James.

The groups held meetings last week to identify the requirements of the assurance scheme supporting the delivery of the farmer-led approach and the systems of accreditation and information needed to attain the necessary high standards of compliance, known as ‘earned recognition’ status.

Project manager John Owen and power and water chief executive Gareth Morgan provided an update and guided tour of the Slyri Project, describing the relevance of this within the earned recognition approach.

The group then went on to discuss current methods of evidencing best practice and developing the assurance structure, engagement methods and deliverables which provide farmers with the opportunity to deliver multiple benefits on-farm for their environment.

These benefits include improved surface water, groundwater and soil quality; improved habitat quality and fish populations; improved farm business resilience and viability through resource efficiencies and marketing opportunities, as well as the ability to deliver ‘more with less’ in synergy with regulatory models.

NFU Cymru deputy president Aled Jones said: “While there is a range of factors and sectors affecting water quality in Wales, all of us working in agriculture know we must work together to make improvements in the areas under our control.

“Having been a part of this project since its inception, I strongly believe that there is a genuine commitment from all partners across the two key project stakeholder groups to explore all options and drive improvements that will make tangible, long-lasting changes across our industry.”