Agri contractors seek slurry spreading deadline extension

Agricultural contractors are seeking an extension to the slurry spreading deadline, which is due to come into effect from October 15.

An extension until the end of October is being sought by the Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI).

The group has made the call on the back of requests from contractors across the country, who are concerned about their ability to meet the current deadline due to the poor weather conditions.

An extension until the end of October would provide farm contractors with an opportunity – weather and ground conditions permitting – to complete land-spreading activities which have been delayed for reasons outside of their control, the National Chair of the FCI, Richard White, said.

Our members are concerned about their ability to meet that deadline date on behalf of their farmer customers, as laid down in the current regulations.

“Farm contractors in Ireland provide sustainable management and land-spreading services for more than 10 billion litres of animal slurry on Irish farms, annually,” he said.

Members of the FCI have reported that the exceptional rainfall in recent weeks has caused widespread flooding of farmlands in many areas, or in some cases has left land waterlogged.

This has left land liable to severe damage by machinery and, of course, unsuitable for the land-spreading of livestock manures for long periods of time, the FCI explained.

‘Impossible to beat the deadline’

Despite taking all the necessary measures, many farm contractors now find it impossible to complete their normal land-spreading operations, on behalf of their farmer customers, before the start of the prohibited period on October 15, the group added.

White said: “We have advised our 1,100 member database that livestock manures or any fertilisers may not be land-spread when – for example – land is waterlogged, flooded or likely to flood, frozen or if heavy rain is forecast within 48 hours.

Both the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, and the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, were called upon by the FCI to grant an extension concession for this year on account of the adverse weather.

This extension that we are now seeking, will allow our FCI farm contractor members an additional two weeks to complete their land-spreading operations, on behalf of farming customers.

“Our proposals for an extension to the slurry spreading date will alleviate the difficulties being experienced by livestock farmers and our FCI farm contractors due to unprecedented wet weather experienced during the summer and autumn of 2017,” White concluded.