IFA Environment + Rural Affairs Chairman Harold Kingston has called on Ministers Coveney and Hogan to immediately take steps to assure farmers that if traffic-ability and soil nutrient demand improves then an extension to the period during which chemical and organic fertilisers can be spread will be granted.
Harold Kingston said, “This year has been an extremely difficult one and the inflexible calendar farming regime is simply not working. Farmers should use every opportunity to use slurry as early in the year as possible, but have made the right agronomic and environmental decisions and not spread in unsuitable conditions. The Government must recognise this by providing some fertiliser spreading flexibility later this year.”
“Feed bills are rocketing currently and a recent Teagasc survey found that 36% of dairy farmers and 15% of drystock farmers will be short of silage next winter. Grass is the most cost effective form of feed any farmer can have. If farmers can manage their fertiliser spreading over the next number of weeks, instead of racing to meet an inflexible deadline, then significant feed costs can be reduced. In autumn every extra day at grass saves approximately €2.10/cow/day or €2.3million/day to the dairy sector alone when compared to the cost of feeding on concentrates.
It would therefore be unreasonable of Ministers Coveney and Hogan to force farmers to spread slurry on good grass and spoil this feed, in order to meet an inflexible deadline. I am calling on both Ministers to look at this issue now, and provide some direction to the thousands of beleaguered farmers that find themselves battling with both deplorable weather conditions this year and escalating feed bills.