Farm Ireland

Friday 23 February 2018

Poultry units need extra 750ac under Nitrates rules

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

POULTRY producers will need access to an extra 750ac of slurry spread lands each to meet with nitrates regulations from January 1.

Transport costs for the removal of slurry and chicken litter are also set to rise to €56,000/farm from €14,000, a Teagasc meeting in Cavan on Thursday night was told.

IFA national poultry chairman Alo Mohan claimed that unless the present derogation for slurry spreading for the pig and poultry sectors was extended, 14,000 jobs were in danger.

"This would render the broiler industry closed in Ireland," Mr Mohan claimed.

"Already we have higher wages and costs than our counterparts in the North so we're finding it very hard to compete."

The derogation, which allows pig and poultry farmers to spread slurry up to the 170kg organic nitrogen limit without having to take account of the phosphorous content, ends on December 31.

Mr Mohan said the IFA figures were based on an average poultry farm with 100,000 birds.

Figures relating to the pig sector, which have been verified by Teagasc, show producers will have an additional 50pc land requirement.

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He called on Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith to support the sector in the Nitrates review, pointing out that 45pc of the broiler industry was based in his Cavan/Monaghan constituency.

"Not one of the recommendations of the Intensive Livestock Committee which was set up by the Department when the nitrates regulations were introduced in 2006 has ever been implemented," he said.

There was also criticism at the meeting of the perceived failure by Teagasc to set out the devastating economic consequences for the pig and poultry sectors if the phosphorous provisions are not continued.

However, environmental specialist Mark Gibson said the Teagasc proposals for the nitrates review did not claim to be the solution but could go some way towards alleviating the problem, particularly in relation to grassland.

"The point we're making is that part of the regulation is too crude and it does not take into account the amount or the type of slurry," he said.

In its submission, Teagasc proposes changes to the nitrogen index for tillage crops to encourage the use of pig and poultry manure by tillage farmers.

It also proposes the provision of storage facilities on tillage farms be encouraged so manure is available during the limited time it can be applied.

Irish Independent