Most people accept agricultural odours as a part of being in the countryside.
For some a common source of odour complaints relate to the spreading of bio-solids (sewage sludge), animal manures (such as chicken manure) and slurries (muck spreading). Prevailing winds can carry these odours some distance across fields and into residential areas.
Spreading of all these waste materials is recognised as standard agricultural practice. As Erewash Borough contains areas of field and working farmland, such odour must be expected from time to time. Sewage sludge may cause more of an odour than other forms of bio-solids. This is the semi solid material left over from the sewage treatment process. It is a readily available and sustainable resource which contains valuable nutrients and trace elements essential to plants and animals.
It is not always possible to predict the expected duration or intensity of odours, as this can be dependent upon weather conditions but odours usually only last for a short period of time. Farmers are encouraged to use best practice whilst spreading on their fields.
When does spreading take place?
Spreading can only be undertaken in fair weather as ploughing in wet, cold or frozen ground is not feasible. The growing season dictates that most crops are harvested in summer. Ploughing in of manures follows almost immediately to replenish the soil ready for the following year. Unfortunately this means that spreading is most likely to occur at times when people will want to have their windows open or be outside in their gardens.
The process of spreading is a key factor in successful farming; unfortunately the weather and positions of their fields/crops dictate when farmers can spread.
Are farmers allowed to spread?
The spreading of bio-slude, manure and slurry onto agricultural land is:-
• A lawful activity
• Considered the best option for disposal
• Recognised as a sustainable agricultural practice as it reduces the use of chemical fertilisers.
Without recycling in this way, these by-products would need to be disposed of in much less sustainable ways, for example by being sent to landfill.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has published a Code of Good Agricultural Practice for Farmers, Growers and Land managers. The code is a practical guide to help farmers protect the environment in which they operate. Whilst the code in itself is not law, compliance with it can help farmers meet their legal obligations. The code provides advice to farmers on how to carry out their activities, such as spreading, whilst causing minimum nuisance to neighbouring properties.
What can the council do?
It is unlikely that action will be taken against agricultural odours in a country location, unless the odour is unreasonably excessive and is identified as being the result of bad agricultural practice.
For complaints to be investigated by the council it is necessary to provide details of:-
• the duration of the odour.
• The farm undertaking the spreading or as much detail of the source as possible.
If the source of the odour can be identified the farmer may be contacted and advised on best practice and encouraged to use it.
If you need further information or help please contact Environmental Health on 0115 9072244 extension 3820 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org