The IFA has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, to ensure that all farmers who applied for the new liming programme are accepted into the scheme in full.

This comes as the new €16/t lime scheme faces massive over-subscription, with 41,000 farmers applying.

This has raised questions over how much money farmers will receive from the scheme - since it only has a budget of €8m.

If the demand was to be met, the Government would need €72m to accommodate all farmer applications.

Farmers' climate ambitions

IFA rural development chair, Michael Biggins, said: "Department of Agriculture figures released this week show huge interest among farmers in the new National Liming Programme, with 4.5mt sought by 41,000 farmers.

“There’s huge focus on farmers regarding the climate challenge.

"However, what isn’t acknowledged is the significant ambition among farmers to improve on-farm efficiencies and their environmental footprint."

He argued that the huge demand for the National Liming Programme is because farmers want to improve their soil fertility and thereby reduce chemical fertiliser usage.

Challenge for McConalogue

"Earlier in the year, we had 46,000 applicants for 30,000 ACRES places. Minister McConalogue found a way to get all 46,000 ACRES applicants into the scheme," Biggins stated.

"He now needs to do the same for Tranche 2 of ACRES later in the year, but more immediately for farmers who applied to the National Liming Programme."

As there was only €8m provisionally allocated for the scheme, Biggins said more will be needed to satisfy demand.

"Limiting support per tonne or eligible volumes will prove counterproductive overall," he said.