An NFU survey has found that nearly half of farmers will be unable to comply with the new Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) regulations on slurry storage due to come into force next January.
The survey has also revealed that 20% of farmers will not invest in more storage facilities to meet the regulation, with more than 33% planning to invest less than £25,000.
Compounding the situation even further, 46% of dairy farmers have revealed that they have a nitrogen farm loading above the 170kg per ha limit stipulated under the NVZ regs.
The new regulations state that from Jan 1 2011 farmers in NVZs must provide at least six months' storage capacity for poultry manures and pig slurry, and at least five months' for slurry from other types of livestock. The requirement is linked to changes extending the periods during which farmers are prohibited from spreading manures during the year.
The NVZ rules cover about 62% of England and 3% of Wales and the NFU estimates that between 3,000 and 5,000 farmers in England and Wales in NVZs will be required to erect new storage facilities or exten existing ones.
The majority of these are dairy farmers. Sian Davies, NFU dairy adviser, said the NVZ rules were 'yet another mountain to climb for struggling dairy farmers'. She predicted the requirement could be the final straw for some producers.