Soil samples for GLAS 'running behind target'
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal on Tuesday, Barry O’Neill of Farm Business Advisers laboratory in Cappoquin, Co Waterford, said that the number of samples to have come into the laboratory are only 80% of what was expected before Christmas.
“We have currently received about 80% of projected sample volumes to the end of the year,” he said. “Over the last few weeks, sample volumes received are running behind the targets we expected given the good weather conditions. However, with three and a half weeks to go until the end of the year, we expect volumes received to reach our target level.”
Soil analysis is required under the Green Low Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) to enable planners to draw up nutrient management plans, a core component of the scheme.
According to the terms and conditions of the scheme, all GLAS participants must have a NMP prepared by a GLAS adviser. The twin purpose of the plan is to improve soil fertility, while also achieving environmental objectives by monitoring the threat posed by soil additives to waterways.
Farmers and planners are only putting themselves under pressure by not sending the soil samples in early
FBA is the main lab in the country for soil analytical services and covers all 26 counties.
Pressure to complete NMP
O’Neill is worried that by not submitting soil samples in good time, farmers and planners are putting themselves under extra pressure to get the NMP drawn up before the deadlines expire – 31 December 2016 for tranche one participants and 31 March 2017 for tranche two participants.
If the NMP is still not submitted by the end of the second full year – 31 December 2017 for both GLAS I and II participants – the GLAS participant will be terminated from the scheme.
“The weather is good at the moment, so there is no reason why the soil samples should not be coming in now,” he said. “Farmers and planners are only putting themselves under pressure by not sending the soil samples in early,” he added.
“I know planners are busy getting farmers set up under the third tranche of GLAS so maybe the timing of the whole thing is not great,” O’Neill continued. “The Department might need to look at extending the deadlines for NMP.”
The Irish Farmers Journal has sent a query to the Department to find out how many NMPs have been completed to date but we have yet to receive a response.