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Agricultural odours

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Friday 20 July

Working with farmers to minimise agricultural odours

The recent hot weather means local farmers will be harvesting some crops slightly earlier this year, which means organic matter will be spread on to fields over the coming weeks.

During the summer months (after harvesting), local councils usually receive complaints concerning agricultural odours.

Generally, the most common source of odour complaints relate to the storing and spreading of materials such as bio-solids (sewage sludge), paper waste, compost and animal manure (muck spreading).

Cllr David Simmons, cabinet member for environment and rural affairs at the council, said:

"The use of manures and other products to replace nutrients in the soil after growing a crop is a legitimate agricultural practice and it is regulated by the Environment Agency and the Local Authority. Using these materials in such a way has significant environmental benefits and it recycles these otherwise ‘waste’ materials.

"Although spreading is recognised as standard agricultural practice, the process can lead to an odour.

"Contractors and farmers should be making sure that any materials are incorporated into the soil quickly to reduce the impact, but some odours should be expected from time to time.

"However, if the smell is excessive or persistent after the operation is complete, the Local Authority or the Environment Agency will investigate."

Muck spreading should always be carried out using best practice guidance (pdf) from Defra, and regulations say materials should be incorporated into the soil within 24 hours of spreading to minimise the impact on neighbouring areas.

The guidance is not legally binding, but the council would have more of a case for enforcement if the guidance has not been followed.

To report any persistent odours that have lasted more than a few days please contact the EA on 0800 807060, or the council on 01795 417850.

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