By Stephen Cadogan
NEW Teagasc advice will be finalised in the coming week before being sent to the Government, which will then make a case to the European Commission for revising the new rules on phosphorous and nitrogen usage which the Government wrote into legislation in December.
Teagasc is likely to recommend revised phosphorous levels for low index soils, which would have no detrimental consequences for the quality of waterways. The new levels proposed for grassland will take account of the nutritional needs of ruminant animals, and the grass crop’s requirements, and the protection of water quality.
For farms with low stocking rates, new limits on nitrogen fertiliser applications are recommended, which would provide greater flexibility for the farmer, while ensuring that the nitrate levels in waterways meet environmental standards. This recommendation is of particular importance to farmers in REPS.
The new phosphate recommendations would increase the amount of spread lands available for the pig, poultry and mushroom industries, and Teagasc is likely to also put forward arguments for a long lead-in time to allow them adjust.
Officials in the Environment and Agriculture Departments will closely examine the new Teagasc advice to ensure it respects the environmental requirements associated with the Nitrates Directive, at least cost to Irish farmers, while not undermining Ireland’s case for a derogation on the nitrogen limit.
Any amendments to the Regulations passed in December will also require the agreement of the European Commission.
IFA’s Returning Officer, Ruaidhri Deasy, said he has withdrawn his motion of no confidence in Teagasc Director Dr Jim Flanagan, "to facilitate further discussions on the future role of Mr Flanagan."