Last week, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government announced that farmers will be allowed as an exceptional measure to spread chemical fertiliser and slurry for a fortnight longer than the deadlines set out in the European Communities (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017 (SI No 605 of 2017).
The start of the closed period during which land-spreading of chemical fertiliser is forbidden will be pushed back from 15 September to 30 September and the closed period for slurry will not commence until 31 October instead of the normal 15 October.
The Minister emphasised that his announcement represents an extension of time only.
All land-spreading activity is conditional on weather and ground conditions being suitable as set out in the nitrates regulations and the importance of preventing agricultural runoff to water bodies is critical to the good operation of the regulations.
Livestock manures or any fertilisers may not be landspread when, for example, land is waterlogged, flooded or likely to flood, frozen or if heavy rain is forecast within 48 hours.
The Department told the Irish Farmers Journal this week that on an exceptional basis for 2018, applications in relation to the collection of toppings on low input permanent pasture parcels in GLAS can be submitted in writing and will be examined on a case-by-case basis. A farm visit may be required before such applications are approved.
In terms of silage cutting from these parcels, the Department says further consultations with the Commission are ongoing on this.
The Department of Agriculture is issuing text messages to 10,000 farmers this week who are at risk of exceeding the 170 or 250 kg N/ha limit this year based on their end of June stocking rate. The text messages are a warning to farmers to stay below the above levels or they are at risk of a penalty.