DONEGAL TD Joe McHugh has welcomed a hotline set up by Cabinet colleague Michael Creed for farmers in the county who are concerned about breaching regulations concerning the spreading of slurry.
Minister McHugh has urged farmers facing difficulties contact the Nitrates Section of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine by this Saturday 14 October, at the latest, to avail of some flexibility with regards to the spreading of slurry.
The Department has also said up an email address for the scheme.
“I have been raising this issue in Government. I know from speaking to farmers over the past few days there are real concerns and I want to thank Minister Creed and his officials for allowing some flexibility,” said Minister McHugh.
“I would urge farmers to make contact as soon as possible via the phoneline which has been set up or via email.
“We all know in Donegal that the weather over the past few months has been poor and Minister Creed knows after his visit to Inishowen in the wake of the floods there that there are specific weather-related problems.
“Farmers are now advised to contact the Nitrates Section of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine at 053 9163444 or by emailing email@example.com with details of the flooding / trafficability situation, their herd number and other relevant data.
“Such contact should be made by Saturday 14 October at the latest as the closed period commences on Sunday 15 October.”
The Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters Regulations 2014 give legal effect in Ireland to the Nitrates Directive and to our Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (DHPLG) is the lead Department in this regard.
The Directive requires all member states to define set periods when the land application of fertiliser is not allowed.
Findings from the Agricultural Catchments Programme (ACP) operated by Teagasc support the current closed periods in Ireland. A key message from the research is that there are disproportionately high nutrient losses to waters during the winter and the current closed period coincides with the time during which risks of incidental nutrient losses to water are highest. Farmers are advised to spread slurry early in the season when growth and nutrient uptake are at their peak.
Farmers wishing to avail of such flexibility will be advised:
- To spread only that volume of slurry necessary to ensure adequate storage capacity for the remainder of the closed period
- That any spreading should occur as soon as good spreading conditions exist
- That they will be prioritised for inspection by Local Authorities in the immediate future to ensure compliance with the Nitrates Regulations
- That assessment of overall on-farm storage capacity may be part of that inspection process
- That the Nitrates Section DAFM will subsequently contact the farmers to ascertain and record the date(s) on which this additional spreading takes place.
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