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Beware, muck can cost you far too much money; Farming.

Byline: Karen Dent

THREE workshops are being held in the region during January and February covering issues raised by the controversial new rules on muck spreading and storage.

The Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ) regulations, which came into force at the start of the year, amend the dates of the closed period when manures such as slurry and poultry manure which contain 'highly available' Nitrogen cannot be spread in NVZs.

The free workshops will be held in Piercebridge, Lanchester and Hexham, and will last for around two hours, focusing on issues such as how to find out if your farm is in an NVZ and what you have to do and when.

They will also look at farm case studies, examining the different records that need to be kept to comply with the new rules and the different storage requirements for manure.

The events have been put together by environmental consultancy, rural development services and policy advisers ADAS on behalf of Natural England.

ADAS senior consultant Dr Paul Newell Price will be speaking at the North East meetings alongside a representative of the Environment Agency.

He said: "The main body will be about the new rules, how farmers can find out if they are in NVZs and key points from the Nitrates Action Programme.

"We will be using example farms and there will be opportunities for questions throughout and breakout sessions. I think people are more aware of NVZs now but I don't think people have got to grips with the detail yet. Quite a few people will already be in NVZs and they will be aware of the subtle changes to the rules."

Invitations to the events will be posted within the next few weeks to all farms in the region based in the new and old NVZs.

However, the regulations have already caused controversy due to the expense of compliance.

Dennis Gibb's dairy farm at Eachwick near Ponteland, which he runs with his brother Richard, became part of the new NVZs on January 1. Mr Gibb, who is an NFU dairy board member, says that building new slurry storage facilities from scratch will cost some farmers up to pounds 90,000.

He said: "Luckily we have enough storage but if we expand our cow numbers, which we may well do, we will be expanding our present storage. It would cost probably pounds 35,000.

"There doesn't appear to be any help available. There was a possibility there was going to be some Rural development Programme money but farmers will have to pay 100%. Dairy farmers have been using their slurry very efficiently because of the high cost of bagged fertiliser. Dairy farmers have been responsible and sensible about the use of slurry anyway. I can't see a positive to the new regulations."

Farms in new NVZs have until January 2010 to ensure compliance with the storage requirements.

The NVZ workshops will be held between 1.30pm-3.30pm at:

January 28 at The George Hotel, Piercebridge, Darlington.

February 2 at Hall Hill Farm, Lanchester, Durham.

February 12 at Hexham Mart.

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WARNING Dennis Gibb reckons building new slurry storage facilities will cost some farmers up to pounds 90,000.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 6, 2009
Words:530
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