Agricultural contractors have urged the government to implement a national contingency plan to grant an extension to the slurry spreading period from October 1st, 2023, to October 15th, 2023, due to “ongoing difficult” harvesting conditions.
The FCI has written to both the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage of Ireland, Darragh O’Brien, and the Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue in relation to the matter.
The body has acted on foot of concerns surrounding “deadline dates which will be impossible to achieve due to ongoing poor harvesting conditions for grass silage and tillage crops”.
The Association of Farm Contractors demands that the ministers immediately use the powers available to them under SI 113 of 2022, to extend the period for slurry spreading from the above dates, “against the background of approved scientific criteria”.
FCI has called upon the ministers to put a national contingency plan in place now, rather than “waiting until the end of September”.
National contingency plan
According to the body, the national contingency plan will allow farmers to plan their workload in conjunction with their agricultural contractors, where the priorities remain to maintain environmental safety as well as the safety of agricultural contractor employees, who in the absence of such a plan, will simply not be able to achieve the work objectives of their farming clients, a statement reads.
“This will allow for the completion of the crop harvests, grass, maize, and cereals.”
“It will then allow for full utilisation of excess organic slurry nutrients that are now being produced on livestock farms as animals are being housed earlier than usual or have been held back for later applications, due to unprecedented wet weather conditions.”
“This situation will deprive farmers and their farm contractors of the opportunity to spread animal slurry on fields between now and six/seven weeks’ time. This time-lapse will mean harvesting grass silage into the first week of October, which should be followed by the application of slurry to this grass stubble if weather conditions allow,” added John Hughes.
Article 8 (7) of SI 113 of 2022 states: Notwithstanding sub-article (6), slurry may be spread between October 8th and October 15th in 2022, and between October 1st and October 15th, from 2023 in accordance with criteria to be published by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, in consultation with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, by September 1st, 2022.
Schedule 4 of SI 113 of 2022 (Page 52) clearly states the following regulations:
- In relation to the commencement of the closed period for slurry application, the Minister (Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage of Ireland) shall by September 1st, 2022, following consultation with the Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, publish criteria for the application of slurry from October 1st to October 15th.
The spreading of all slurry shall be in accordance with these criteria from October 8th, to October 15th, 2022 and from October 1st, to October 15th, 2023, in subsequent years.
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