In recognition of the recent unseasonably wet month, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, in consultation with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, has agreed to allow an extended period of time for farmers to complete the shallow cultivation measure required post-harvest.

The current 14-day period to complete the shallow cultivation measure has been extended to 28 days for crops that are harvested up to 4 August.

Where shallow cultivation is required on this land, it must be done by 1 September.

Announcing the decision, Minister O’Brien said: “I recognise recent weather conditions have made it particularly difficult for many farmers to harvest crops and clear straw to allow shallow cultivation take place.”

Since mid-July it has been exceptionally wet in many places, as evidenced by Met Éireann data, which shows over the 7 days to 27 July rainfall in some cases has been in excess of 300% of the 30-year mean.

Forecast

Looking to the forecast, Met Éireann states the national outlook is “remaining unsettled into next week with further outbreaks of rain or showers expected", he added.

Commenting on the flexibility, Minister McConalogue said that some early crops of winter barley were successfully harvested with shallow cultivation completed.

However, for more recently harvested crops, there are many instances where straw is already lying on the ground for over 14 days, as it has not been dry enough to bale.

"When weather conditions improve, this straw will have to be 'tedded out' to dry before being raked up again to facilitate baling.

"In difficult weather conditions, tillage farmers have to prioritise trying to save their grain to avoid further loses.

"I recognise harvesting grain must be the priority ahead of clearing straw; the flexibility agreed by my colleague Minister O’Brien will allow this," he said.

Current flexibilities

There is already flexibility for farmers in the rules around shallow cultivation of land post-harvest.

These flexibilities include an exemption for all land where a winter cereal crop, oilseed rape or beans is due to be sown by 31 October.

In addition, to avoid unduly impacting the source of food for seed eating birds, there is a requirement not to conduct shallow cultivation post-harvest on 20% to 25% of the total cereal land area on each holding.

“These flexibilities cover a very significant majority of the land that is already harvested or being harvested at present.

"However, this situation will quickly change as the spring barley harvest commences," he said.