Issues with Nitrates Directive need to be addressed

Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers' Association (ICMSA).  - Photo: Kieran Clancy   � 19/1/12
Following a recent public consultation on the Nitrates Action Programme, chairman of ICMSA’s Farm Services and Environment Committee, Patrick Rohan, said there were still a number of key issues that needed to be addressed including ‘calendar farming’ and Phosphorus allowances.

Following a recent public consultation on the Nitrates Action Programme, chairman of ICMSA’s Farm Services and Environment Committee, Patrick Rohan, said there were still a number of key issues that needed to be addressed including ‘calendar farming’ and Phosphorus allowances.

“Specific closed periods have been causing considerable difficulty for farmers since the introduction of the Nitrates Regulations and while slurry is a valuable resource, it is essential that farmers are allowed to use and manage it based on best environmental and agronomic conditions.”

He said the use of calendar dates which permits or prohibits the application of slurry to land, does not take account of the extreme variations in Irish weather, and land spreading conditions that exist from year to year. “There are difficulties associated with the restrictions on slurry spreading during the closed period and that is being compounded by poor weather conditions.”

In relation to the Phosphorus allowances, Mr Rohan pointed out that current regulations were “unnecessarily” complicated and leading to further anomalies and structural P deficits. “ICMSA believes that the current review must address the structural P deficits that are arising on Index 1 and 2 soils as a result of current restrictions, and therefore prevent any undesirable long-term decline in soil fertility.”

Mr Rohan continued, “A specific allowance should be made for those individual farmers who now find themselves in a situation whereby P application will be severely restricted in 2013/2014 as a result of supplementary concentrate fed in 2012 and to-date in 2013.”