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Spreading Organic Manure on Agricultural Land

Following on from the Environment Agency’s (EA) publication of the regulatory position statement 252 (RPS 252) on the 3rd of August 2021, there has been some uncertainty over what this means for land managers.

 

The rules governing the use and spreading of organic manures were set in November 2017 (revised March 2018) in the “Farming Rules for Water” policy paper. These were put in place to tackle the issue of diffusion pollution from agricultural land i.e., run-off and leaching of nutrients into surface and ground water.

 

In summary, The Farming Rules for Water say, all land managers must plan their applications of fertiliser and organic manures, and need to have the following in place;

 

  • Nutrient Management Plans
  • Applications, based on RB209 rules and are made to crop or soil requirement only
  • Up to date soil samples, less than 5 years old
  • Soil Nitrogen Supply assessments, or Nitrogen soil samples
  • Application machines calibrated and records kept
  • Pollution risk assessments
  • Controls in place to minimise or eliminate pollution
  • Work with neighbouring farms to create contingency plans

 

Storage of Organic Manures, this must not pose a risk of pollution, stores must not be:

 

  • Within 10 metres of inland freshwater or coastal water
  • Within 50 metres of a spring, well or borehole

 

These should all be marked on maps as part of your Nutrient Management Plans

 

Organic manures cannot be applied:

 

  • If the land is to be left bare over winter
  • If the land has been drained, pipe or mole, or subsoiled in the last 12 months
  • If surface water is within 10 metres or a conduit leading to surface water
  • If a spring, well or a borehole is within 50 metres
  • If the land is within a designated ground water source protection zone 1
  • If the land is at field capacity above the land drains, i.e. the land drains are running
  • If there is a risk of nitrate-nitrogen leaching at above 5kg/ha
  • If there is a high risk of leaching or run-off

 

On the 3rd August 2021 the EA released the RPS 252, which whilst not a derogation, has given land managers some leeway over the details set out in the “Farming Rules for Water”, although there must not be any risk of pollution. The RPS 252 is in place until the end of February 2022, after which land managers must comply with the regulatory requirements unless the EA extends the RPS.

 

If there is potential of a breach the RPS must be used to inform the EA and can be done by contacting them on enquiries@environment-agency.co.uk.  Examples of breaches include:

 

  • Unavoidable production of solid livestock manure or slurry and no available storage, followed by spreading on cropped land with an application that exceeds the needs of the soil and crop
  • No available storage for treated sludge from sewage plants treating domestic or urban waste waters (biosolids), supplied within a contract with the sludge producer, followed by unavoidable spreading on cropped land with an application that exceeds the needs of the soil and crop

 

If you wish to discuss further please contact your FACTS qualified advisor, or if you want to discuss this with one of our consultants, please do not hesitate to contact our office. Any further information can be found on the links below:

 

 

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Harvest Safety

According to data recorded by the HSE, Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing industries recorded 41 fatal injuries in Great Britain between March 2020 and April 2021. This was 18 deaths more than last year and 8 more than the 5-year average.

With the 2021 harvest season well underway and with it being a busy time of year, safety can soon be forgotten, so being prepared can help minimise the risk of any accidents occurring. Here are some key points regarding harvest safety that can help your business be prepared.

Produce a harvest safety pack, these are good to give to all staff, students and contractors working on-site and could include:

  • Farms Health and safety and risk assessment around harvest
  • How to act in case of emergency
  • Any rules around the farm such as speed limits, one way systems, field etiquette
  • Farm maps
  • Store locations
  • Fields and varieties
  • Safe working speeds and weights for trailers.
  • Machinery daily checklist and name of the person to report any faults too. The use of Apps such as Head to Tow can help with recording trailer maintenance https://www.tillypass.co.uk/head-to-tow-1
  • Numbers for emergency services, UK Power networks, all Key staff in charge on-site
  • Maps with locations of low power lines and underground cables
  • The main first aiders on site, locations of first aid equipment and who to report accidents to
  • Machinery maintenance and instructions, ensuring staff are trained on how to operate the machinery correctly and safely and can check for any issues with their machinery which may cause it to fail
  • Fire can be a major hazard at harvest. Being prepared for fire can help prevent catastrophe. By checking that all fire extinguishers are in date and are in good working order and ensuring that there is a form of water bowser or tractor with a cultivator on standby if needed. Ensuring that the team are informed that if a fire occurs who has what responsibilities can help maximise time
  • BE SAFE BE SEEN – make sure that all staff wear hi-vis clothing, it is a big must at harvest to help prevent injury
  • Store safety – if using bins and silos ensure all staff is aware of the dangers of firstly falling from heights and secondly the dangers of being entrapped by grain. The use of traffic management around stores such as one way systems and speed limits and designated human walkways can help minimise risks of collisions
  • Lone working – ensure when people are working alone for long periods of time such as drier operators or cultivations operators that they check in regularly by text or phone
  • Fatigue – ensure that staff are getting adequate breaks during the day and have the correct amount of food and drink required to last the full day
  • PPE – all staff should be equipped with any PPE that they require to fulfil their job correctly
  • PPE to consider, dust masks, steel toe cap boots, bump hats, cut resistant gloves and coveralls
  • COVID 19 – this is the second harvest where farms have had to deal with COVID 19. For guidance on how to manage COVID 19 in your business visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/construction-and-other-outdoor-work
  • The what3words app could be a useful addition in the armoury when trying to locate fields for emergency services if an accident did occur on site. The app can also be used to locate fields for new staff and contractors https://what3words.com/products/what3words-app/

 

Useful Links for harvest safety ideas and information

https://www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/safety/around-power-lines/i-need-advice-about-working-near-overhead-power-lines

https://www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/internet/en/safety/staysafecampaign2/BeBrightStaySafe%20Farming%20leaflet.pdf

https://www.nfumutual.co.uk/farming/farm-safety/farming-training-solutions/

https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg185.pdf

https://www.hse.gov.uk/agriculture/topics/electricity.htm#ohpls

https://www.hse.gov.uk/agriculture/topics/machinery/farm-vehicles-5.htm