Farmers want deadlines for slurry and fertiliser spreading abolished

The ICSA says farmers are hugely disappointed that the deadline for the spreading of slurry has not been abolished altogether, rather than extended, but one ecology group believes even the extension is putting the environment at risk.

The Government’s closing dates for both slurry and fertiliser spreading have been pushed back by two weeks. The last day for spreading fertiliser is now September 29, while the new slurry deadline is October 29.

ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said: “As ICSA has pointed out repeatedly, the abnormal level of rainfall seen in most parts of Ireland over the past few months has made farming exceptionally difficult this year. “The extension of the deadline will probably be sufficient and I welcome that; however I am hugely disappointed that the Government not seen fit to take the bull by the horns and fight for the abolition of ‘calendar farming’, which, in present circumstances, would mean going against best farming practice, ie forcing farmers to spread slurry on land that is not fit in order to comply with bureaucracy.”

However, the group Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) have said the Department of the Environment should not have allowed any extension due to the likelihood of heavy rainfall outside the agreed periods.

FIE cautioned that the ground conditions were “so wet that much of the nitrogen had not been taken up by the crops as it was”.

In a statement, the group said that excessive nitrogen leading to poor water quality was not the only problem arising from slurry spreading outside the agreed season.

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