Calendar farming on Nitrates hit list
Farm bodies to target 'unworkable' rules in talks with Department
UNWORKABLE calendar farming rules will be targeted by farm organisations in a major review of the Nitrates Action Plan, set to commence this week.
Stringent slurry spreading rules that cost the dairy sector €2.3m per day in 2009 and a permanent lifting of the ban on winter ploughing are among the main issues that will be addressed.
A draft Nitrates Action Plan, produced by officials from the Department of Agriculture and from the Department of the Environment, is expected to be published in the coming days. The mandatory review will include several weeks consultation with farmer representatives, Teagasc and other stakeholders.
Unrealistic calendar farming, winter ploughing, phosphorous rules for pig and poultry farmers, and sterilisation of land due to buffer zones have been highlighted as priority areas by IFA environment chairman Pat Farrell.
"Pressure to spread slurry in the days before the closed period last year meant dairy farmers could not graze off paddocks and were forced to feed additional silage and concentrates," he said.
The total cost of the slurry rules was estimated at €2.10 per cow, or a staggering €2.3m per day for the dairy sector.
The imposition of excessive buffer zones around water abstraction points is also costing farmers dearly, according to the IFA chairman. Buffer zones, the size of which are decided by local authorities, mean a loss of yield, income drops and devaluation of land for the farmer.
"In one case, Laois Co Council imposed a 300m buffer zone that resulted in 11ac of land being sterilised for one of the farmers," explained Mr Farrell. "Between income loss and property devaluation, that buffer zone cost the farmer €50,000."