Ban on Ploughing Grassland on Derogation Farms Needs to be Reviewed

IFA Environment and Rural Affairs Chair Paul O’Brien said the new condition under the Nitrates Derogation that grassland cannot be ploughed after May 31st is an ill-thought out move that has been poorly communicated and needs to be reviewed. 

“The 2022 Nitrates Derogation states that farmers who wish to plough grassland can only do so between March 1st and May 31st,” he said.

He said the change is causing significant concern to farmers, particularly in parts of the country where, due to soil type and weather conditions, it may not be possible to plough and reseed grassland within this timeframe. 

“This is a major change from the 2021 Nitrates Derogation where the condition only related to temporary grassland.”

He said reseeding is an essential management tool available to farmers, not only to increase grass production, but also to encourage the uptake of clover and other multi-species swards.

“This is essential to reduce our long-term reliance on inorganic fertilisers. Reseeding by way of ploughing is also often necessary to better incorporate farmyard manure or ensure better new sward establishment,” he said.

“Options such as extending the date to later in the season have to be looked at. Otherwise, we will end up discouraging farmers from adopting clover and multi-species grassland, which would be a hugely retrograde step.”

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