SOME flexibility is to be allowed to provide extra time for farmers to spread slurry after Sunday’s closed period for spreading begins.
However, according to Teagasc Cork West regional manager Billy Kelleher, ‘Strict conditions apply to this and it is only for farms with exceptional wet circumstances. Farmers must apply for individual permission and may be subject to inspection.’
The Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters Regulations 2014 give legal effect in Ireland to the Nitrates Directive and to our Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (DHPLG) is the lead Department in this regard. The Directive requires all member states to define set periods when the land application of fertiliser is not allowed.
Findings from the Agricultural Catchments Programme (ACP) operated by Teagasc support the current closed periods in Ireland. A key message from the research is that there are disproportionately high nutrient losses to waters during the winter and the current closed period coincides with the time during which risks of incidental nutrient losses to water are highest. Farmers are advised to spread slurry early in the season when growth and nutrient uptake are at their peak.
It is recognised that there may be some potential concerns for animal welfare arising from heavy rainfall in specific parts of the country (the north west in particular) and farmers with such concerns are advised to contact the Nitrates Section of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) at 053-9163444 or by emailing [email protected] with details of the flooding / trafficability situation, their herd number and other relevant data. Such contact should be made by this Saturday, October 14th, at the latest, as the closed period commences on Sunday 15th.
Farmers wishing to avail of such flexibility will be advised:
1.To spread only that volume of slurry necessary to ensure adequate storage capacity for the remainder of the closed period
2.That any spreading should occur as soon as good spreading conditions exist
3.That they will be prioritised for inspection by local authorities in the immediate future to ensure compliance with the Nitrates Regulations
4.That assessment of overall on-farm storage capacity may be part of that inspection process
5.That the Nitrates Section DAFM will subsequently contact the farmers to ascertain and record the date(s) on which this additional spreading takes place.
Local authority inspection reports will be returned to DHPLG and shared with DAFM and those farms needing to avail of this flexibility will become a priority category for inspections in future years also.
Both Departments stressed the importance of farmers ensuring that safety is their number one priority as toxic gases are released when slurry is agitated and one breath at this time can cause instant death. All of those working with slurry should be aware of the dangers involved and make sure they work safely at all times.