A NEW rule dictating which way farmers can plough certain fields in December has been slammed as another ‘example of the government’s ridiculous attitude’ towards the agricultural community.’
The rule states that ‘any field with a slope of more than 15º must be ploughed horizontally by tillage farmers – should the ploughing take place after December 1st.’
It continues: ‘Should a field not be suitable for horizontal ploughing on health and safety grounds, the land should be left until as close to sowing as possible before ploughing vertically – but until after January 1st.’
However, the dictate has been blasted by local independent deputy Michael Collins, who said it was ‘another example of the government’s ridiculous attitude when it comes to issuing rules and regulations to farmers.’
He said: ‘As usual they are following a one-size fits all approach. There are fields with different gradients all within the one field, land that can only be ploughed vertically and what can a farmer do if there is a sharp rise in the middle of a field? More thought and work needs to be done before the department makes these proposals in the future.’
A Department of Agriculture spokesperson said: ‘This only applies to those tillage farmers who wish to plough in the month of December and leave the land fallow. The change is necessary to reduce the risk of soil erosion or the run-off of valuable nutrients during heavy rain. The Department will be in contact with those arable farmers with such land who may be affected.’
But Deputy Collins insisted the move showed a complete lack of common sense by the Department.
National Ploughing Assocation chairman, Denis Keohane from Ballinscarthy, agreed there were other more important issues than this that the department could concern themselves with.
‘Farmers know what they are doing and are not going to abuse their land – in terms of regulations, this could be a step too far.’