Splash-plates are in the clear following government discussions

There has been no move made to ban splash-plates for slurry spreading, according to the President of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), John Comer and Sinn Fein Spokesperson for Agriculture, Martin Kenny.

The continued use of slurry splash-plates is accepted by government officials, who took the nature and structure of farming in Ireland into account, Comer noted.

Comer was speaking following discussions with senior officials in the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment regarding the rules on organic fertiliser application and, in particular, on concerns around a possible splash-plate ban.

The ICMSA president said that such a scenario would present an “insurmountable problem” for many small family farms in rural Ireland that are already under pressure to survive, and would just hammer another ‘nail in the coffin’ for the type of farm that supports the rural economy in many parts of the country.

Comer stressed that it was a fact plain and simple that the cost associated with alternative measures is beyond most farmers’ financial capabilities, even taking current grants into account.

The point was also made by the president that the splash-plate is the only viable option at this time for most farm systems as “alternative systems available do not work in practical farm situations”.

Comer reassured farmers, noting: “The ICMSA believes that the current measures being adopted under GLAS and TAMS – with some further enhancements – and through information campaigns on the most appropriate time to spread organic fertiliser will enable Ireland to meet the EU targets set for us. We won’t need other measures.

We particularly won’t need to consider obviously unworkable measures such as a future date for the banning of the splash-plate.

“I’m very confident that the department officials understood the practical impossibility of a ban on the use of splash-plates and the ICMSA trusts that such an unrealistic and unworkable proposal will not be implemented by the department,” Comer finished.

Possible future bans of some sort?

Sinn Fein Agriculture Spokesperson, Martin Kenny, also confirmed that no decision has been taken to ban splash-plates on slurry tanks. He said: “Due to headlines in some farming publications on the banning of splash-plates, I took the opportunity to ask the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, to clarify the situation in the Dail.

The minister assured me that no decision has been taken on a total ban on splash-plates, which are commonly used on slurry tanks.

“There has been a National Clean Air Strategy consultation process and it was recognised that the spreading of slurry can result in excessive gasses entering the atmosphere through ammonia volatilisation,” Kenny noted.

“However, no decision has been taken on the banning of slurry plates, but the minister pointed out that his department is assisting farmers, through TAMS, in the purchase of low-emission slurry spreading equipment.

I believe that any ban on splash-plates must be confined to large-capacity tanks and that a blanket ban is not necessary.

Concluding, the spokesman said: “The Department of Agriculture, in co-operation with the Department of Communications, Climate Action, and Environment, should employ common sense and flexibility and not extend any forthcoming ban to smaller tanks, while taking measures where necessary to protect air quality.”