The National Liming Programme launched last week by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue is generating high levels of interest.

This is not surprising given the many production benefits of applying lime and potential support payment of €16/t for lime approved.

A significant volume of questions being raised relate to the requirement to base the desired volume of lime on eligible soil analysis results, the implications of the programme being oversubscribed and how soon lime can be applied.

Regarding soil analysis, the terms and conditions of the programme state that the volume of lime applied must be based on soil samples showing a need for such levels.

Soil samples can be a maximum of four years old from the date of purchasing the lime. This means that farmers can apply to the programme using an estimate of the quantities of lime required and in the meantime take soil samples to confirm the volume of lime required.

/ Donal O'Leary

Soil analysis does not need to be submitted and must be available on request as part of the Department’s administrative and compliance checks. The maximum eligible application rate is 7.5t of ground limestone per hectare.

Quantities exceeded

Funding of €8m has been allocated to the programme, which is sufficient to support the application of 500,000t of lime.

The terms and conditions advise that where the scheme is oversubscribed a coefficient may be used which will reduce the volume of lime an applicant is approved to receive the support payment on.

A number of categories of farmer or land types are not eligible for support.

These include farmers with a grassland stocking rate in 2022 of above 170kg organic N/ha prior to the export of organic fertilisers.

Farmers who intend to participate in the 2023 eco-scheme practice relating to liming are also ineligible.

Land categories excluded include commonage land, forestry, lands under Natura 2000, NHA/pNHA designation as well as Annex 1 grassland and environmentally sensitive permanent grassland.

Application dates

Farmers can apply lime before receiving approval with the Department stating that “ground limestone invoiced and paid for after the date of submission of a valid application is eligible for inclusion under the scheme”. However, there is an associated word of warning that there is no certainty that the full quantity applied for will be approved.

The volume of lime supported will be outlined in the scheme approval letters. These letters will not be circulated until after the scheme closes for applications on 20 April and final figures are analysed.

Application process

Applications must be submitted through the Department of Agriculture’s online portal. Farmers can apply in their own right or through an agent authorised to act on their behalf.

  • The application portal for the programme can be accessed from the homepage by selecting the first option, “Agschemes – Expression of Interest”.
  • This will bring you through to a web page giving three options in the ‘select scheme’ drop down menu. These include Nitrates, Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme and the National Liming Programme, which should be selected.
  • The next page requires you to enter the tonnes of lime which you intend to apply for support under the programme. Once the level of lime required is entered the only task left is to tick the relevant boxes to state that you agree with the statements and press the submit button. The status of the application at the top right of the page will change from “Not submitted” to “Submitted”.