The terms and conditions of the €8m liming scheme are being finalised by Department of Agriculture officials, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said.

The Government announced the scheme under Budget 2023.

The Minister will announce further details around the scheme in the coming weeks, he added.

“Soil and environmental protection are key considerations for the Government.

“The liming measure is being introduced by my Department to incentivise the use of lime, a natural soil conditioner, which corrects soil acidity by neutralising the acids present in the soil and in turn allows for an improvement in overall soil health and biodiversity, as well as improved nutrient use efficiency.

“This in turn facilitates a reduction in fertiliser use,” he said in response to Minister of State at the Department of Defence Paul Kehoe.

Optimum level

The number of soils at the optimum level of fertility for soil pH, phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) decreased by 3% to 16% in 2021, Teagasc has said.

Optimum soil fertility is when the soil has a pH of 6.5 and the P and K indices are at index 3.

The 2021 national farm survey sustainability report showed that there was a big uptake in lime spreading in 2021 on the year previous.

In 2016, 15% of cattle farms were applying lime. This figure increased to 21% in 2021.

On dairy farms, the liming figure stood at 37% and this increased to 44% in 2021.