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Safeguard Your Payments against Cross Compliance Penalties

10 December 2021
Type Media Article

Noel Bardon, Walsh Scholar, Teagasc Westport

Keeping yards clean and tidy should become a priority on farms over the winter housing period. Clean yards are safe, cross compliant and reduce the impact of your farming activities on water quality in your area.

Farmyards could potentially become critical source areas where there is always the possibility of nutrient loss to the watercourses. It is essential that every farm has a sufficient capacity to catch and store slurry, farmyard manure, silage effluent, parlour washings and soiled water.

Under cross-compliance, the beneficiary of direct payments is required to meet specified minimum criteria in the maintenance of their yard and the storage of organic manures to avoid sanctions being applied to their area-based payments. The Protection of Water against Pollution caused by Nitrates is a cross compliance Statutory Management Requirement (SMR) that attention should shift to over the winter housing period.

A minimum of 1% of Basic Payment beneficiaries receive full cross-compliance inspections each year. There are a few key areas where simple improvements can protect water quality on your farm that help ensure your payments are not sanctioned on inspection:

  • Scrape outdoor pens, collecting yards and handling facilities immediately after use.
  • Ensure shed guttering and downpipes are in good working order and have been diverted away from dirtied areas into clean water outways.
  • Prevent any run-off or seepage from all organic manure storage facilities. Collection tanks, farmyard manure storage areas and silage slabs should be free from all defects and fit for purpose.
  • Make sure that silage effluent channels have not become blocked and that tanks have not filled. Baled silage cannot be stored within 20m of a watercourse where there is no capacity to collect effluent.
  • Ensure that tank capacity allows for a minimum of 18 weeks slurry storage for the closed period in Co Mayo. Soiled water storage capacity must be at least 10 days where tanks were constructed before 2015 and 15 days for those built from 2015 onwards.
  • Consider collecting soiled water separately from slurry where possible. Once soiled water mixes with slurry, it is considered slurry and bound by the same closed period and minimum storage requirements.
  • Farmyard manure cannot be stored in the field over the closed period for spreading, which lasts from 1st November to 15th January in Mayo. When farmyard manure is moved into a field before spreading, ensure a buffer zone of 20m is kept from all watercourses.
  • Sheep dipping tubs must be leak proof, emptied immediately after use and must not have a removable plug at the base of the tub.

Consult your local advisor on the options available for compliance with the Nitrates Directive where slurry storage capacity is limited. The sole and contracted use of another holding’s slurry storage facilities may allow a farm to remain cross compliant with limited tank capacity.

To ensure no sanctions are applied to your area-based payments, such as the Basic Payment, ANC, GLAS or the Young Farmers Scheme, take the time to check that your yard is in working order, bearing in mind that a clean yard is also a safe yard.