Farm Ireland

Friday 15 December 2017

Nitrate concession welcomed by IFA

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Some farmers will be allowed to increase their chemical phosphorus application under the new Nitrates Action Plan if they can prove that the phosphorus content in concentrate feed is lower than previously calculated.

The new rule is expected to benefit intensive producers in the dairy sector, winter beef finishers and liquid milk producers who feed straights to their animals.

Farmers can now calculate their phosphorus balance based on the actual P concentration of the concentrate feed ingredients, which is provided by Teagasc or the feed supplier.

Previously, the default P concentration of 0.5kg P per 100kg of concentrate was used in all calculations, even though that figure was acknowledged as too high for some ingredients, such as citrus pulp.

A farmer who can prove that there is lower P content in the animals' concentrate feed will be allowed to spread extra chemical P as fertiliser.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture has undertaken to establish working group to resolve the outstanding issues in the nitrates regulations.

Welcoming the move, IFA environment chairman Pat Farrell said there was a responsibility on the Department and Teagasc to immediately find workable solutions for the pigs and poultry sectors in advance of the new 2013 deadline for continuation of the phosphorous provision.

He also called for Teagasc to start research to provide flexibility for slurry spreading during the closed period and the targeted usage of fertilisers, particularly phosphorous, on winter sown arable crops.

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However, Macra na Feirme president Michael Gowing was sharply critical of the Government's Nitrates Action Plan, saying it failed to tackle one of the most impractical restrictions, farming calendar dates.

"They fail to acknowledge that qualified farmers have a greater level of knowledge of what is 'best farming practice' in terms of the overall farm and environmental management," Mr Gowing said.

Irish Independent

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