THE Scottish Government’s plans to ban the spreading of fertiliser, manure and slurry on farmland with a slope of 12 degrees or more have been slammed by farming leaders.Source: © FARMERS GUARDIAN please contact 01772 799445.
THE Scottish Government’s plans to ban the spreading of fertiliser, manure and slurry on farmland with a slope of 12 degrees or more have been slammed by farming leaders.
The new measures, included in the Government’s plans to amend the General Binding Rules on Water Environment Regulations, would come into force unless the farmer had a 10-metre buffer zone at the foot of the slope.
However, the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA) said the measures would be ‘deeply damaging’ to the productivity of a large proportion of Scottish farms, particularly in the uplands, and render the growing of crops, uneconomic.
But Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said such fears were ‘entirely unfounded’ and the impact on farmers would be ‘minimal’.
Brian Shaw of the STFA said they were concerned such a ‘controversial’ regulation had been introduced with only a four-week consultation period in the busiest time of the year.
He said: “If there are concerns relating to the spreading of fertiliser, let’s have common sense. An outright ban is an over-reaction in anyone’s book.”
He said insisting on a 10m buffer strip at the bottom of fields for spray irrigation was also disproportionate. It would make the growing of crops in many areas unviable and, combined with a fertiliser ban, impossible.
“These proposals will do nothing more than impose yet another layer of red tape on to farmers and do untold harm to many farming businesses,” he added.
Hamish McBean, NBA chairman and a farmer from Nairn, said: “The vast majority, if not nearly all farms, will have some land with a slope of more than 12 degrees.
“I have no idea what we would do with our muck if we couldn’t spread it on this land, let alone the production losses that would result from not being able to provide grassland and crops with the fertiliser and sprays they need.”
Scottish Conservatives rural affairs spokesman Alex Fergusson condemned the proposals as ‘unworkable and unwanted’.
NFU Scotland chief executive Scott Walker met with Mr Loch-head on Wednesday and said clarity had been provided on the issue.
He said: “Following these discussions it has been clarified the ruling will only apply to sloping land where the risk of fertiliser, slurry or organic manures entering surface water is a factor, affecting only land which is directly linked to watercourses.”
Mr Lochhead said the proposed amendments would simply bring Scotland into line with current CAP cross-compliance regulations and there would be no additional burden on farmers beyond complying with EU rules.