In response to a question about the requirement to separate soiled water from slurry, Jack Nolan from the Department of Agriculture said the measure was designed to increase the availability of slurry storage on farms, as there is evidence that soiled water mixing with slurry reduces capacity.
“Obviously, if someone has a large tank and there’s four weeks of storage for soiled water in it, plus the storage for slurry that can get them out over the 16-week period in this part of the country, that should be considered to be OK and that’s what you should submit [to the consultation process] if that’s what you believe,” Nolan said.
As highlighted in last week's Irish Farmers Journal, if this measure was to be included in the final document unchanged, it would require thousands of farmers to build additional soiled water tanks to catch silage effluent and other soiled water that is currently being gathered in slurry stores.
It was pointed out that where soiled water is mixed with slurry, the product is considered to be slurry.
On TAMS grants, Nolan said farmers can apply to TAMS for soiled water storage and low emission slurry spreading equipment for up to one year after the measure is introduced in law, but that this is proposed to be extended to two years in the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
In relation to covering external slurry stores, Nolan said that an external slatted tank is considered to be covered. This measure relates to ammonia losses.
A larger freeboard and capacity for rainfall is still required for external slatted tanks. He also clarified that topless cubicles or open yards will not need to be covered.
Also speaking during the webinar, Bernard Harris from the nitrates division in the Department of Agriculture said that, in some instances, information contained in the technical tables of the nitrates directive is not up to date and needs to be reviewed.
“The nutrient content of livestock manures, including pig and poultry manure, will be reviewed by December and also whether existing slurry storage capacity figures are considered to accurately reflect changes in animal size over the last number of years will also be looked at,” Harris said.
At present, dairy cows are said to produce 0.33m³ of slurry per week and farmers are required to have minimum storage for this slurry based on their location, ranging from 16 to 22 weeks.
If weekly slurry excretion rates increase, then extra slurry storage will be required on many farms in order to remain compliant.
Laurence Shalloo from Teagasc explained the background to the new bands for organic nitrogen in dairy cows, which was derived from Teagasc models.
He said that 11% of milk suppliers will be affected by the highest band of 106kg N/ha per cow, while 65% of dairy farmers will fall into the middle band.
Chief inspector with the Department of Agriculture Bill Callanan encouraged farmers to submit their views on the proposals in writing before the deadline of 20 September.
In 2019, 65% of dairy cows were on farms stocked at a rate greater than 170kg organic N/ha.