Co Leitrim IFA Environment & Rural Affairs Chairman, James Brennan, has said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan must ensure there is no closed period for the spreading of organic fertiliser this year. “This announcement must be made as soon as possible, and must include an extension to the deadline for chemical fertiliser,” he added. “Unfortunately, the heavy rain, which has been a feature of this summer has not cleared away and sodden ground conditions have made it impossible for many farmers to empty their tanks. The ministers will have to make a convincing case to the EU Commission that, due to the exceptional circumstances that have prevailed this year, there must be maximum flexibility in the autumn to carry out the spreading of fertiliser at the optimum time. Organic fertiliser is a valuable nutrient and farmers will want to identify the best opportunity to use it.”
A recent Teagasc survey found that 36 percent of dairy farmers and 15 percent of drystock farmers will be short of silage next winter. “Grass is the most cost effective form of feed any farmer can have,” Mr Brennan explained further. “Farmers can manage their fertiliser spreading over the next number of weeks, instead of racing to meet an inflexible deadline; then significant feed costs can be reduced. In autumn every extra day at grass saves approximately €2.10/cow/day or €2.3million/day to the dairy sector alone when compared to the cost of feeding on concentrates.