Nitrates Changes Provide for Development of the Sector, but Calendar Farming Remains an Issue – IFA

IFA President Eddie Downey has described the changes to the Nitrates Regulations announced today as necessary to support the growth of the sector. However, he has described the decision not to change the calendar farming regime as a missed opportunity that needs to be addressed.

He welcomed the announcement to increase the phosphorous allowances that can be spread on grassland, and the change in the definition of soiled water which will provide flexibility for farmers.

Eddie Downey said, “Two-thirds of soils are currently deficient in phosphorous, which directly impacts on grass growth and feed supply for animals. The changes to the regulation should begin the process of restoring soil phosphorous nutrient levels to support increased and sustainable grass growth. This will directly impact on the bottom-line for many farmers, as grass is the cheapest form of feed for livestock.”

IFA National Environment and Rural Affairs Chairman Harold Kingston said, “The failure to address the inflexible calendar farmer regime in this review is a missed opportunity to allow farmers to work during the best farming conditions rather than the time of the year. Since the open period began two weeks ago, many farmers have been unable to spread slurry that could have been put out during the mild in December when grass growth and ground conditions were suitable”.

“The increased nitrogen application rates for the tillage sector will contribute to improved crop yields. However, any improvement in competitiveness will be impacted by the introduction of new buffer zones.”

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