MEPs veto plan to increase slurry usage on farms
A bid to increase the use of slurry as a fertiliser in ares with high nitrogen pollution has been ruled out by a committee of MEPs.
The move came during a parliamentary committee vote to amend draft EU fertiliser rules which aim to boost the use of organic fertilisers.
Over 6,800 Irish grassland farmers already have an opt-out from EU rules that limit slurry spreading to 170kg of nitrogen per hectare per year, allowing them to spread up to 250kg per hectare. The rule change would have made the opt-out automatic.
The MEPs also voted through stricter limits on the presence of cadmium, a naturally occurring but toxic heavy metal found in phosphate-based fertilisers. The measure was passed by MEPs in Parliament's internal market committee last week.
The rules have yet to be agreed with EU governments, who are likely to have concerns over trade and rising costs for the fertiliser industry.
The EU is highly dependent on imports of phosphate rock - around 90pc is imported, largely from Morocco - to produce its fertilisers.
But the only country that will be able to comply with the stricter cadmium limits is Russia, where the substance is present in lower levels.
The cadmium limits - which MEPs want to lower from 60 mg/kg of phosphorus to 20 mg/kg after nine years - go further than the Commission's 2016 draft law, which had proposed they be phased over 12 years.