The ICMSA President, John Comer, has welcomed the announcement of details of Ireland’s 3rd Nitrates Action Programme by Ministers Simon Coveney and Phil Hogan.
Mr Comer stated that increases in phosphorus application and clarity regarding the definition of soiled water are welcome changes announced by both Ministers today.
Mr Comer said that the problems associated with structural P deficits and a significant increase in the proportion of Irish soils at Index 1 and 2 was causing considerable difficulties on-farm.
He continued to say that adequate levels of P are essential to provide for maximum grass production and animal health as well as the efficient uptake and use of other plant nutrients, particularly nitrogen.
Mr Comer stated that the changes announced to the grassland phosphorus allowance and the discounting of the first 300kgs concentrate used per dairy cow (or each 85kg livestock manure N equivalent) when calculating P allowances will provide for much needed additional P application on many farms that were significantly deficient.
Mr Comer noted that the clarification regarding the definition of Soiled Water will have a significant positive impact on dairy farmers. The problems with the previous interpretation of the Regulations resulted in almost all dairy yard effluent being regarded as slurry with considerable implications for dairy farmers in terms of the amount of slurry storage capacity required.
However, Mr Comer stated he was disappointed that the problems associated with “Calendar Farming” were not addressed in the current review and that more flexibility is required to take account of the unusual weather patterns being experienced both now and likely into the future. The need for flexibility was never more evident than over the past few months when we experienced ideal weather and ground conditions with grass growing but farmers were prevented from spreading slurry due to “Calendar Farming” restrictions.
In conclusion, the ICMSA president stated that it is crucial Ireland secures a successful vote at the EU Nitrates Management Committee on 5 February 2014 to retain Ireland’s Derogation which is vital for farmers across the country.