An allowance has been made to permit dung stored on land in preparation for spreading, to remain unspread over the closed spreading period.
The rule change comes after Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien moved to give flexibility to farmers amid poor soil trafficability and the potential for spreaders to cause soil compaction in current conditions.
However, farmers have been warned that manure must be stored in a suitable area, with the risk of runoff taken into consideration, as well as the observance of buffer zones.
Ordinarily, farmyard manure cannot be stored on land over the closed period. This lasts from 1 November until mid-January in most of the country, pushing out to 31 January in counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim and Monaghan.
The departments have said that where farmyard manure remains in suitable yard storage facilities, it should remain there until the end of the closed period.
If capacity becomes an issue before the end of the closed period, farmers have been advised to engage with their county council to discuss the situation.
Minister McConalogue stated that the announcement is intended to give farmers clarity.
“The wet weather this summer and autumn meant many farmers could not spread farmyard manure without the risk of severe damage to soil structure,” he commented.
“Farmyard manure that is currently appropriately stored on land can remain there for the duration of the closed period this winter”.
No spreading extension
An extension of the spreading period was off the table, given such a move’s potential to hit water quality, according to Minister O’Brien.
“We must be conscious of the need to protect our soil as impacts on soil increases sediment and nutrient loss to watercourses,” he said.
“As a result, this limited exemption from the regulations will apply this winter as a once-off measure in response to the very difficult weather conditions, especially over recent weeks.”
The ministers also reiterated that sanctions will follow any inappropriately stored or spread manure over the closed period.
IFA environment committee vice-chair John Murphy said the flexibility around the storage of farmyard manure is important given the weather conditions.
“Given the prolonged period of wet weather, particularly after storm Babet, the IFA made the case that farmers would be permitted to store FYM in temporary field heaps in appropriate locations on land where there is minimal risk of runoff polluting watercourses,” he said.