Tillage farmers are to follow nitrates regulations approved in March 2022 with regards to post-harvest stubble cultivation, the Irish Farmers Journal understands.

This is the case until an update is made to these regulations to allow some stubble to be left over winter for endangered bird species dependent on this habitat.

This means growers must cultivate stubbles within seven days of harvest and chopping or within seven days of baling and no later than 14 days after harvest in all cases. This is to create a green cover and help to reduce nutrient loss to water.

The new Nitrates Action Programme stated: “Further consultation highlighted that some uncultivated cover must be retained through the winter period to support seed-eating birds and mitigate against any potential adverse impacts on biodiversity.”

The nitrates expert group was to review the practices and publish the new measures within four months of the start of the new Nitrates Action Programme, after consultation between the ministers for housing and agriculture, which were to be applicable from 1 July.

However, as harvest looms and some farmers expect to begin cutting in the second week of July, no new regulations have been published.

The Department of Agriculture told the Irish Farmers Journal that the group is “currently reviewing appropriate measures for this and following consultation between both ministers this will be published in the near future”.

CAP decisions needed

Tillage farmers are also unsure of what to do in relation to break crops, and indeed catch crops as a result, as CAP 2023 and the optional eco scheme requiring 20% of crops to be a break crop are yet to be confirmed.

Decisions on rotations and seed orders are being made and if oilseed rape is being planted in August, brassica catch crops may not be suitable.