Due to “unprecedented” demand for the 2023 €8 million National Liming Programme, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed that, in line with its terms and conditions, it will have to limit approvals to stay within the allocated budget for the programme.
The scheme’s terms and conditions state that “in the event of eligible applications being received in excess of the available budget, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine may implement a reduction coefficient to determine the tonnage of ground limestone approved for each applicant as appropriate”.
Farmers, according to a DAFM spokesperson, have shown “huge” interest in the new programme, with 4.5m tonnes sought by 41,000 farmers before the programme’s deadline on April 20th, 2023.
With support in respect of over 4.5m tonnes of lime sought, the average tonnage sought per applicant under the programme is just over 111 tonnes.
At a rate of €16/tonne, this would require a budget of more than €72m if all lime sought were approved and claimed by farmers.
Annual tonnage of lime applied nationally in recent years, including on those farms ineligible under the scheme, has ranged from 700,000 tons to 1.3 million tonnes.
The programme will be funded as a once-off Ukraine-funded measure from the national exchequer and aims to encourage farmers to purchase and spread calcium ground limestone/magnesium ground limestone.
Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, confirmed the application numbers for the programme describing it as “a show of environmental strength” by farmers.
Commenting on the level of interest in the programme, Minister McConalogue said he will now “assess how to best step forward in light of the enormous demand”.
A letter of approval will issue to each successful applicant confirming the tonnage approved after all applications have been assessed.
Reduce chemical fertiliser use
The minister continued: “The innovative and pioneering National Liming Programme has been a huge success and underlines clearly how engaged farmers are in soil fertility and reducing their chemical fertiliser usage.”
“I very much welcome how farmers have engaged with this new programme and the fact applications are well ahead of farming norms.
“This is a tremendous show of environmental strength by farmers. I want to see how best we can step this forward to ensure as much lime as possible can be spread this year.”
“We need to correct soil pH on a significant proportion of our farmland to improve environmental and economic sustainability and reduce overall emissions from the sector.”
“With this in mind, it is great to see how farmers have engaged in soil sampling over recent months, and we will now hopefully see that translate into improved nutrient management planning resulting in targeted lime and fertiliser application in line with crop requirements.”
The DAFM will communicate directly with each applicant in due course.