The new national fertiliser database should be used by the Department of Agriculture to ensure there are sufficient stocks of protected urea available to farmers, according to the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC).
Reacting to recently published figures which showed that protected urea accounted for just 13% of all fertiliser sales last year and 22% of straight nitrogen sales, the CCAC called for more to be done to promote usage of the product.
The climate action plan calls for 90% to 100% uptake of protected urea on grassland farms by 2030, with an 80% to 90% uptake by 2025.
“The use of protected urea lags behind the rate of expansion required to achieve the ambitious target set by the sector in the climate action plan," a CCAC spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.
"Farmers must be further enabled to access and use protected urea, not least by ensuring widespread promotion and availability by suppliers,” the spokesperson maintained.
“To support this, the Department [of Agriculture] should be utilising the new national fertiliser database to monitor the supply chain to ensure that it has sufficient stocks and publish how much protected urea is available for farmers," the spokesperson added.
Commenting on fertiliser usage figures during 2023, Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president Tim Cullinan blamed the low uptake of protected urea on the difficulty in sourcing the product.
“Farmers looking to use protected urea should not be held back because merchants do not have it,” Cullinan said.
Meanwhile, the CCAC welcomed the 18% drop in fertiliser usage in 2023, and the 33% reduction since 2021.
"The achievement of the climate action plan target to reduce the use of chemical nitrogen is encouraging and reflects positively on the agricultural sector's ongoing commitment to sustainable food production in Ireland,” the CCAC spokesperson said.
“However, it is important that farming and land-use practices continue to evolve in line with best available science to ensure that we can consolidate these gains whilst maintaining and improving farm incomes,” the spokesperson added.