Paying out €1,000/ha to rent additional land would make more financial sense for the majority of derogation farmers facing the cut to 220kg organic nitrogen/ha than exporting slurry would, the Irish Farmers Journal’s Dairy Day event heard on Thursday last.
Head of animal and grassland research at Teagasc, Laurence Shalloo, stated that the true cost of exporting slurry is not incurred by contractor or diesel bills, but in the nutrients that leave the farm and which must be replaced by chemical fertilisers.
Shalloo cited Teagasc modelling which looked at the “least offensive” options available to farmers to cope with a reduction in stocking rates, but gave the warning that “they are all offensive”.
He said that contracting out heifers for rearing has the lowest impact on margins, followed by renting land and exporting slurry, while a cut to cow numbers is the most damaging option available to farmers.
I think exporting slurry, just from a nutrient point of view, should be thought of in a secondary light, rather than the first option
“When we done this exercise looking at ways to mitigate these effects, even at – and we are not trying to drive up the land rental price – but even at €1,000/ha it was cheaper to rent land than export slurry because of the value of the nutrients that are going out the gate,” Shalloo commented.
“I think exporting slurry, just from a nutrient point of view, should be thought of in a secondary light, rather than the first option.”
The researcher did state that the preferred option could vary depending on each farm’s situation and he urged all farmers impacted to do a “piece of work for themselves” to determine which route to take from 2024 onwards.