Union Reminder on Slurry Spreading and Storage

With heavy rain forecast to continue over the festive period, NFU Scotland continues to work with Scottish Government and SEPA on the problems being experienced with regards to safe slurry storage and application in a year of record rainfall.

All farmers are obliged to store and spread slurry and manure in a responsible manner.  However, sodden ground and full slurry stores are making compliance challenging for some.

For those in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ), where compliance is policed by RPID, the closed period is in operation.  In recognition of the atrocious conditions, RPID has said that it will work with farmers to investigate options to reduce storage pressures.

If any farmers outwith the NVZ are experiencing similar problems with storage and spreading, they should contact SEPA in the first instance where it will consider applications for spreading on waterlogged ground.

Scottish Government and SEPA both state that they are well aware of the difficulties and are monitoring the situation closely.

NFU Scotland Environmental Policy Manager Andrew Bauer said:

“Given the ongoing atrocious weather, with many parts of the country receiving almost 200 percent of their average rainfall, managing slurry and manure storage and application has been a huge headache for many farmers. We continue to field enquires from concerned members on a daily basis.

“At an early stage this year, we approached RPID and SEPA and asked them to consider how to assist farmers in all the affected parts of Scotland manage and spread slurry, whilst minimising environmental risks.

“While SEPA has said it is willing to consider applications for spreading on waterlogged ground, RPID has said for those in the NVZs, they will want to investigate all options with farmers and a farm inspection by RPID is likely.  Farmers may wish to ensure all the paperwork associated with NVZs is in order before approaching RPID about their situation.  

“Whether approaching RPID or SEPA, any farmer will need to confirm that they have explored all options on storage and spreading. If agreement is given, good practice in spreading will still be required and risk of run-off to watercourses minimised.  Both bodies have confirmed that there is no guarantee that they will not take action against the farmer if water pollution occurs.”

Notes to Editors

As a guide to the process, SEPA’s requirements for those farmers outwith the NVZ looking for an agreement to spread slurry on waterlogged ground are:

  • Alternative spreading options have been explored
  • Requests to spread are made in writing
  • Stores may be emptied to allow 6 – 8 weeks capacity
  • Good practice when spreading is required regarding slope, distance from watercourses, application rates etc to avoid pollution.
  • A standard letter will be issued by SEPA.
  • Farmers will be reminded that spreading on waterlogged ground is an offence, but subject to no pollution taking place SEPA will not take enforcement action, due to the exceptional circumstances


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 159/12

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