In light of current snow and frost conditions, organic fertilisers have been applied to soil in Luxembourg.
The nitrate directive regulates the application conditions of organic fertilisers such as manure and compost. These conditions include deadlines and climatic restrictions aimed at preventing violations of current legislation.
On grassland and winter crops, the application of liquid organic fertilizers has been permitted since 16 February, whilst on non-covered soils such as maize, the application is allowed again from 2 March onwards. However, the application of liquid and solid sewage sludge is prohibited in water conservation areas, whilst manure and biogas slurry application is permitted from 1 March on all surfaces.
Regarding surface waters, on agricultural land which has a slope of more than 15% and whose distance to surface water is less than 30m, the application of organic and mineral nitrogen-containing fertilisers is prohibited, except on the slope of the area where there is a green strip of 6m or a permanent grassland area. Moreover, a distance of 10m to the surface water must always be observed when applying organic fertilisers.
Furthermore, the landscape management premium has stipulated that manure, sewage sludge (liquid) and digestate are only allowed to be applied to uncovered soils if they are incorporated within 24 hours. As for farms that do not claim the landscape management premium, the 48-hour training period applies to liquid organic fertilisers and to mineral fertilszers on uncovered areas that have a gradient of >8%.
Despite the fact that agriculture has to cope with the natural conditions of climate and soil, it is in their interest and in the sense of water that the nutrients from the manure can be absorbed by the soil and vegetation as quickly as possible. The Department of Water Management has therefore called for all affected farmers who cultivate parcels within water protection areas to use liquid organics only from the middle of next week, when the temperatures are milder and the plants have grown. These areas can then be used with moderate doses of 15-20 m3/ha.
Taking into account the guidelines on snow, the application of manure and compost is currently allowed, despite frozen soils. However, it should be ensured that no surface runoff takes place in adjacent streams or rivers.
In view of the fact that the vegetation period starts in the first week of March, the following guidelines for surface waters/water protection areas should be observed. In general, it is important to carefully estimate and avoid the risk of possible flooding. In designated and provisional water protection areas, it is necessary to wait until the soil has finally thawed and the vegetation has re-established with the spreading of manure and digestate.