AS farmers are now learning to their cost, failure to comply with Cross Compliance or GAEC (in other words land in 'good agricultural and environmental condition') will lead to penalties being applied to all direct payments.
Farm Inspections are taking place on an ongoing basis and the following tips are intended to help farmers identify some issues that may need to be addressed during the autumn and winter period.
The face of the silage pit must be kept clean because a clean, tidy feed face reduces the risk of run-off.
It's surprising how large a volume of rainfall comes off silage pits but if concrete is regularly cleaned, the rainwater runoff will be regarded as clean water.
Do not store waste silage or farmyard manure in the pit. Rain coming off silage plastic is clean so ensure, when covering the pit, that the plastic extends over the channels. Rain coming off the plastic can then be directed to a clean water disposal system or watercourse.
If the water is collected along with silage effluent, it adds unnecessarily to the storage and disposal requirements.
Where the pit is opened at the high end, rain on the plastic is directed away from the feed face to the clean water system. It is also easier to strip the pit.
Rain on self-feed silage areas, where animals stand, must be collected with their manure.
In REPS, silage bales may not be stored more than two metres high, but this is not a requirement under cross-compliance.
Any effluent leaks from around the bales must be collected. If bales are leaking and the effluent is collected this will incur a penalty. Bales cannot be stored within 20 metres of any dry drain, stream or river.
Farmers need to set aside an area to deal with farmyard manure coming from calving pens, calf houses and waste silage. The main source of problems here is rain falling onto farmyard manure.
If this rainfall is collected it must have storage for 18 weeks and cannot be spread during the closed period. It will help to keep the manure storage area as small as possible and use channels or a ridge of blocks to create a bund to direct rainfall or deal with any seepage.
Avoid allowing rain to fall directly on manure by keeping it under cover, either a roof or a sheet of plastic. Farmyard manure cannot be stored in a heap in fields between November 1 and January 15. It may be landspread before November 1 and again after January 15.
Farmyard manure cannot be stored on hardcore but it may be allowed to build up under cattle housed in loose houses.
In REPS, do not place field farmyard manure stores within 50 metres of a public road.
OPEN YARDS AND SHEDS
Yards to which stock did not have access, are considered to be clean and run-off does not have to be collected.
Make sure run-off from these yards does not mix with soiled areas. This is a common problem which adds to the storage required and the cost of spreading. Make sure downpipes and gutters are not leaking and are directed to a clean water system or watercourse.
In dairy collecting yards, if manure is scraped into a tank, subsequent rainfall on that yard is considered to be just soiled water with a 10 day storage requirement, and can be spread during the closed period.
If rainfall from yards is mixing with slurry/faeces this material cannot be spread during the closed period from October 15 - January 15.