Poole Harbour Catchment – Nitrate Leaching Tool

Published: 09/01/2023 By Morgan Clement

Farmers and landowners within the Poole Harbour Catchment area must compile and submit a nitrate loss report annually, before 31 March 2023. Graduate Surveyor Morgan Clement and fellow Rural Agents recently attended training and can help with the reports.

It has been recorded by the Environment Agency and Natural England that agriculture contributes the largest source of Nitrogen to the Poole Harbour Catchment. As a result, goals have been set to reduce Nitrate and Phosphorus emissions by 2030.

The Poole Harbour Consent Order Technical Recommendations (PHCOTR) recommend farmers follow some minimum farm rules.  To meet these, all landowners and occupiers should:

1.            Reduce their average nutrient loss to no more than 18.1 kg/N ha/annum (lower in certain areas).
2.            Calculate and report average N loss annually as part of nutrient planning (adjust the nutrient plan and measures to meet targets) by completing annual whole farm nutrient balance for implemented and proposed nutrient plans, ensuring targets are met and/or if part of agreed scheme nutrients is traded to achieve the glide path.

Our Rural Agents recently attended training sessions on completing the published Nitrate Leaching Tool (NLT) and are well placed to help you with the annual completion of this document, as well as guide you towards meeting the required levels of compliance.
The annual NLT return needs to be submitted by 31st March.  To complete the documentation on your behalf, we will require details of each field parcel that you farm, together with soil conditions, cropping, grazing, and fertilising records.  The NLT will then calculate the average N loss - a statistic that may be interesting if you apply additional fertilisers.

Farmers applying less than the required amount of N will have the opportunity to trade their ‘credits’ to farmers who are struggling to meet their requirements.  This record-keeping will become a legal requirement, and fines could be issued against farmers who are not complying with the regulations.
If you would like assistance in compiling the necessary data and completing the reports, please contact Morgan Clement in our Wimborne Office on 01202 843190.