New rules for English farmers to prevent nitrate pollution

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Many farmers and land managers in Lincolnshire are missing the chance to be better prepared for new Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations, with the 14 January free seminar at Market Rasen Racecourse barely half full.

Many farmers and land managers in Lincolnshire are missing the chance to be better prepared for new Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations, with the 14 January free seminar at Market Rasen Racecourse barely half full.

Around 60% of the nitrate pollution found in rivers, lakes and groundwaters is caused by agriculture; and the new regulations, which come into force on 1 January 2009, are a vital measure in protecting and sustaining the quality of our water supplies.

Environment Agency, Head of Land Quality, Aileen Kirmond, said: “The majority of nitrate that’s found in our waterways comes from fertilisers, including animal slurry.

“Fertiliser is an important addition to soils to ensure strong growth of grasslands and crops, but if you spread too much or at the wrong time, the nitrates can be lost into rivers, lakes and groundwater.

'High levels of nitrates can cause problems for our aquatic plants and animals from the smallest stream right down to our marine environment.

“Nitrates can also be an expensive substance for water companies to remove from drinking supplies during treatment.

“The problem is now so wide spread that almost 70% of land in England now falls into a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ), and under the new regulations farmers in these at-risk areas must ensure they do not spread excess nitrates onto their land.”

NVZs are those areas that drain into waters that are polluted, or are likely to become polluted without action.

These free seminars, run for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency, will cover:
• Background to the new NVZ rules
• Planning nitrate use and the nitrogen requirement limits of different crops
• Storage of livestock manures
• Field application of both organic manures and manufactured fertilisers
• How compliance with the new NVZ rules will be checked
• Support, advice, and a question & answer session.

During October, farmers with land located in a NVZ should have received a letter detailing how the new rules will affect them, and an invitation to a free seminar in their area. Farmers who are already following an NVZ Action Programme will find the seminar helpful as the new rules have important changes.
 
In addition to these seminars, farmers and land managers within NVZs can access advice and support aimed at helping meet the new regulations. These include:

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