Representatives of tillage farmers have hit out at the new nitrates proposals ahead of the deadline for submissions to the Nitrates Action Programme Review this week.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) described the new proposed closed period date of 15 September for spreading slurries as “far too restrictive” and stated that it “must be extended to 15 October to ensure organic manures can continue to be used ahead of planting winter cereal crops.”

The organisation added that the use of organic manures is important for building and maintaining soil fertility, while helping to decrease artificial fertiliser use.

While stating a willingness to work with the consultation process on the nitrates action plan, the IFA outlined that the proposed seven-day interval for cultivation after harvesting is “unworkable”.

In a statement to the Irish Farmers Journal, the IFA’s grain committee noted that “the natural regeneration of crop volunteers without cultivation for 28 days post-harvesting creates sufficient re-growth to trap nutrients.”

“A requirement to cultivate almost immediately after harvest could negatively impact farmers’ abilities to control certain aggressive grassweeds (sterile brome/wild oats etc), which require undisturbed stubbles to germinate freely.”

The Irish Grain Growers’ Group (IGGG) stated that Teagasc figures show nitrogen use efficiency in the tillage sector is approaching 70% compared with other sectors at 25% and questioned the extra demands being put on the sector as a result.

The IGGG stated that the proposed date change to the closed period for slurry, along with incorporation requirements, would intensify workload at an already busy time of the year.

The group added that if the deadline is changed to 15 September, it may result in less organic manures being spread on tillage land.

It also outlined the need for support for protein crops, which do not need any artificial fertiliser.