Could farmers be facing a new environmental measure?
Farmers may be held to account for soil quality, if calls for a soil directive are implemented.
The Environmental Pillar, which represents 29 national environmental NGOs, is calling for a Soil Directive, which would make countries protect soils.
Currently there are similar directives which protections for water, air and nature.
“Protection for soils at European level would see the government have to assess the condition of Ireland’s soils and take action where needed. This could take the form of incentives for farmers to improve soils.”
Klaus Laitenberger of the Environmental Pillar said soil issues are very different throughout Europe. Ireland, he said, has a subtle problem of soil compaction which is building up over the years. "Heavier machines, heavier breeds of cows are all adding to soil pores compacting and limiting the air in soils.
"This has an impact on flooding. Soil compaction has a lot to be blamed for when flooding happens. If you have good soil you can pour a lot of water on it and the soil will absorb it. Soil compaction is a damage that will last for a long, long time."
"The change from farmyard manure to slurry and artificial fertilisers is not good. Artificial give nothing back to the soil, they don't increase the life of the soil."
He said it's partially EU directives that casued the issue and admitted its hard to take that back. "There has always been a divide between forestry and farming. To take land out of farming and turn it into forestry land, we need to combine forestry and farming with tall hedgerows and smaller fields.