The DAFM (Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine) has announced the opening of its new €8 million National Liming Programme 2023 to incentivise farmers to purchase and spread ground limestone to maintain soil fertility.
The programme provides a financial contribution to participating farmers of €16 per tonne of calcium ground limestone/magnesium ground limestone applied.
Subject to budget availability, the DAFM intends to make payment on a minimum of 10 tonnes of ground limestone and a maximum of 200 tonnes.
Minister Charlie McConalogue secured the measure as part of Budget 2023 with the aim of assisting farmers to “deal with input costs and help them reduce the need for artificial fertilisers”.
Teagasc trial work shows that liming not only increases soil microbial activity but can also unlock soil phosphorous (P) and potassium (K).
Research has also indicated that increasing soil pH to optimum levels leads to a significant reduction in Nitrous Oxide (N2O) emissions while simultaneously increasing grass and other crop yields.
Results from the Teagasc Soil Fertility Report in 2022 indicate that while soil fertility nationally has improved, it is still estimated that up to 57% of our soils require lime.
Soils that are at their optimum pH levels allow for the release of soil N and increase the availability of soil P and K, which, in turn, will reduce chemical fertiliser requirements.
This is particularly important in the current climate of high fertiliser prices, a statement from the DAFM reads.
“With overall increases in input costs over the last year, the Liming Programme will ensure that the price of lime is not an impediment to its purchase and application, where soil analysis reports indicate that lime is required,” a spokesperson outlined.
How will the programme operate?
- The farmer or his/her advisor will sign up to participate in the Liming Programme through www.agfood.ie, the Department’s online service, by selecting the AgSchemes-Expression of Interest and then National Liming Programme 2023
- They will indicate on their application the quantity of lime they intend to purchase and spread.
- To qualify for payment, lime can only be purchased directly from quarries licenced by the DAFM to manufacture and market liming materials.
- Applicants that have submitted a Basic Payment scheme (BPS) application in 2022 and/or a Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) application in 2023 are eligible to apply.
- Farmers that availed of a Nitrates Derogation in 2022 or 2023 and farmers with a grassland stocking rate above 170kg livestock manure nitrogen/ha prior to export in 2022 are not eligible to participate in this programme.
- Herdowners who are participating or intend to participate in the 2023 Eco-Scheme practice relating to soil sampling and liming are not eligible to participate in this measure
- The following land categories are excluded from the Liming Programme, Commonage land, forestry, lands under Natura 2000, NHA/pNHA designation as well as Annex 1 grassland and Environmentally sensitive permanent grassland
- Ground limestone can only be applied in accordance with the lime requirement stated on up-to-date soil analysis reports (maximum of four-years-old from the date of purchasing the lime).
- The programme will be open for applications from March 15th to April 20th, 2023;
- Apply online through agfood.ie before the closing date above;
- Claims for payment must be submitted by October 31st, 2023;
- The DAFM advises prospective applicants to read the scheme’s terms and conditions on its website.
Launching the measure, Minister McConalogue said,
“Soil fertility is the foundation of a profitable and sustainable farm.”
“As part of our response to the price increases in input costs, I am delighted to launch this new €8m National Liming Programme which will help offset part of the expense of using lime.”
“Lime is an important component of achieving balanced soil health, improving nutrient use efficiency and thereby reducing the requirements of chemical fertilisers and contributing to both climate and water targets.”
“By having a balanced soil pH, we will reduce the need for artificial fertilisers, which is good for the environment and good for the farmer’s pocket,” he concluded.
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