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Fertiliser advice puts SFP at risk

Farmers are wasting money and endangering their Single Farm Payments (SFP) due to incorrect fertiliser recommendations from local merchants and co-ops.

Kilkenny-based agricultural consultant Michael Tennyson says that up to half of all of his 350 clients are wasting expensive fertiliser on the back of advice from sales representatives.

"Very often, co-ops and merchants are doing the soil analysis for farmers and using this as the basis for fertiliser recommendations," said Mr Tennyson. "But this doesn't take account of any of the slurry that may be applied to the land or the phosphorus component in the concentrates imported onto the farm."

As a result, a lot of farmers are breaching the limits of the nitrates directive and leaving their SFP open to penalties.

Automatic fines for non-compliance with the nitrates directive can be as high as 20pc for farmers who breach their limit by more than 80kg/ha.

While Mr Tennyson has not seen any of his clients docked part of their SFP for this issue, he believes that "it's only a matter of time" before it happens.

"There's a lot of farmers out there who are quite confused about all of this. You can't blame the rep -- it's their job to sell the product," he said.

Mr Tennyson says this is a nationwide issue and isn't con-fined to compound fertilisers.

"Farmers are also being encouraged to spread granulated lime, despite the fact that it costs up to €250/ac, which is many multiplies of what ordinary lime will cost."

Darragh McCullough

Indo Farming