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Minister acts to help dairy farmers

21 October 2015

​The Environment Minister Deputy Steve Luce has pushed back the start of the closed season for slurry spreading to help farmers by giving them more time to apply the fertiliser to their fields.

It follows a wet august, which delayed the maize harvest in Jersey, reducing the amount of land available to spread slurry on. Slurry is a mixture of manure and water, used by farmers as a natural fertiliser for their crops.

Mild weather

Deputy Luce took the decision because October’s mild weather and firmer soil conditions are still favourable for spreading slurry. Plants will continue to grow and will take up the nutrients in the manure more easily. Many farmers also prefer to carry it out later for operational reasons.

Deputy Luce said “Weather conditions can make all the difference between a good season and a bad one for farmers. It’s not been an easy year and conditions towards the end of the summer were disappointing. Making this small but significant date change, is a way in which we can respond quickly to the sector’s needs, making things a bit easier for them.”

The closed period, when farmers can’t spread slurry on fields, was due to be October 14 to 13 January and is set out in the Water Code. The Minister has pushed the start date to 1 November. The end date will stay approximately the same.

Plant growth

The closed period is in place so that farmers don’t spread manures, which are high in nitrogen, at a time of year when there is no or little plant growth, as this could increase the chance of nutrients polluting the groundwater and streams with nitrate.

In a ministerial decision, the Minister agreed amendments to the Water Code to alter the closed period for the application of slurry to agricultural land. The Water Code is an authorised Code of Practice under the Water Pollution (Jersey) Law, 2000.

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